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Digital Fascism: Why Anti-PC Idol Smashing Isn't Just a Joke

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After Charlottesville, the mask of irony that wrong-footed so many commentators was ripped from the U.S. alt-right. And more recently, an email leak reported by Buzzfeed has stripped the irony defense from Breitbart’s former star provocateur Milo Yiannopolous who, leaked internal records show, was the celebrity nexus connecting Nazi-saluting race warriors, powerful Republican funders, and members of the liberal media and entertainment class who fed him tips and dirt. The transformation of Internet platforms into havens for the far right is crucial to understanding our current political crisis and what may lie ahead.

It’s easy to forget—especially when the most famous Twitter troll in the world is the president of the United States—but only a few years ago social media and unregulated online spaces were heralded by many political progressives as Utopian forces ushering humanity to a new age of equality and democratization. By 2011, Silicon Valley boosters were agreed that the digital revolution had finally arrived. That was the early, hopeful moment when Twitter was supposedly driving the Arab Spring, and the hackers of Anonymous—the main political product of 4chan before the alt-right—became symbols of the Occupy movement.

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