The Revolt of the Public: And The Crisis of Authority in the New Millenium – Martin Gurri

I imagine every asshole since the conception of the idea of history has thought they were standing in the most pivotal point of history. I imagine that to be a very human bias. Even a nobody somewhere in the European hills during the pax Romana thought that he was there when it all changed, even though we can no pretty much wipe that idea from drawing board. I try to live my life with the recognition that I am not even an after though on the grand scheme of history, and that the period surrounding my life span will probably be summed up by a single paragraph in a future history book. Whether or not I like it.

Still, I think something interesting is happening now. And honestly, I didn’t feel this way in the 90’s when I was a kid, or in the early 2000’s in my twenties. I feel it now. I think there is something interesting happening now, and I am trying to get to the bottom of it.

Martin Gurri puts his hat in the ring in an interesting way. Briefly, his main idea is that we are living in unprecedented times because of the internet, and how communication technology undermines the authority of centralized authorities (such as States, but also other institutions of authority, such as universities and Newspapers). That actually feels pretty spot on.

I relished how Gurri went out of his way to insist that he does not see himself as any kind of a prophet, and this book should thus not be taken to be any kind of gospel. What he does is point out pieces of evidence for his ideas and talks about the effects of them.

I think to a certain extent he had provided some explanatory power as to what is going on now-a-days, when you consider just how skeptical of authority everyone is. Still, although I cannot place my finger on what it was, something in this book gave me pause. Not so much to want to out and out say that Gurri is wrong, but enough to want to wait a little longer and see how other things pan out. Frankly, over the past few years (since 2016) there seems to have been some popular rejection / mounting distrust of the very technology that Gurri credits for the initial change. It’s that damned Hegelian pendulum at it again. This wouldn’t render Gurri incorrect, but it would render his point pointless.

Let’s wait and see.

Frankly, I have no idea. And I am happy this way.

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