Can we realistically separate the resurgence of authoritarianism in the West from the unravelling of the Middle East? The issues of refugees and terrorism have been among the greatest factors feeding support for the new populists.
It is tragically ironic how the greatest democratization of expression in history led to the breakage of our public sphere — and it just happens that a failing public sphere has a symbiotic relationship with demagogues: Desperate news establishment, in their search for ratings, subsidize demagogues, whose outrageous rhetoric is in turn, well, “good for ratings”.
What Habermas referred to as “the fragmentation of publics”, we today call the “filter bubble”. When we can choose who to connect (or not connect) with, we tend to connect with people with views similar to ours. Social media are, by design, built to allow us to do exactly this. “Filter bubbles” worsen polarization, making us live in our own online echo chamber, accessing only opinions that validate rather than challenge us.