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Selfie policy in us too

23 February 2024 - 08:06

In an article recently made by journalist Mikel Asurmendi, I read a beautiful summary of the book The Victory of Screens, recently published by the philosopher Iñigo Martínez Peña. I was curious to get the book at full speed, because I thought it would be as deep as it was juicy.

When I read the initial pages, I was savoring the word cyberpolitics written by the writer, images of the politicians’ umpteenth pre-campaign appearances come to mind at the weekend.

This weekend, as usual, representatives of the political parties of Hego Euskal Herria celebrated two political acts. With the help of Iñigo's reflection, and seeing what was seen, I realized that these political acts are virtual acts. Proof of this is the attitude of the politicians attending to perform mutual selfies, smiling at the cameras of the media, in sessions without real listeners, only six members per act.

For some time now, on the narrow agenda of politicians it has become mandatory to get 20 seconds on television. If these golden seconds are not reached every day, it is a disaster, according to those responsible for communicating these aspects. It doesn't matter the message that's being sent, it doesn't matter if you say the same motto for the eleventh time or you launch a new argument against the previous day's message, the goal, the image: smiling, sympathetic, elegant, angry, responsible, joyful, worried -- according to the day, but on the screen.

Political parties are not ancient mass movements. Three decades ago, in the batzokis, in the basements of the Bars of the People, in the Alkartexes, in the Houses of the Peoples, in the Associations of Neighbours, hundreds of people met each month. Because the opening of a new seat was often the most precious demonstration of strength by the political parties.

Political parties needed not only the participation of the militants, but also their voluntary work and their approval. Cyberpolitics isn't like that.

It was necessary to have first-hand reports, proposals, strategic itineraries. All kinds of work were useful: photocopy, put up posters, fill in envelopes, follow the debate in the poteo, bring the strike proposal to the assembly of the workplace... the political parties needed not only the participation of the militants, but also their voluntary work and their support. Cyberpolitics isn't that way.

The PSE has long seen elections won with a non-militant party, one of the pioneers: Odón Elorza. Since Xabier Arzallus first gave him the mayor's gift, it was the antecedent of the selfie politician Odón. Every day in the press: with the gabardine in the hand screaming, playing the drum, running with Borrel on the beach of la Zurriola in the gutter, thinking about the opera in the Kursaal, in the Zinemaldia... Any excuse was good for a gold photograph. It's often good!

This type of activity gradually spread. In order to achieve the most attractive image, media competition is required, while the seats and premises of the political parties are vacated. Gradually the need for militants was weakening. The quota of militants was replaced by the subsidies granted by the electoral system itself. The advertising companies took over the election campaigns. A liberate who has the ability to disperse a large number of "chicks" to a computer has replaced militants used to moving through the streets, neighborhoods and workshops. In these cases, paradigmatic, was Podemos, a political group that also extended virtual militancy. A virtual structure as weak as a pyramid of cards, but a new behavior that has drawn permanent consequences.

The year of the pandemic was, in my opinion, one of the turning points. During these months, professional politicians began a selfie policy. Being all closed at home, the political agenda continued without meetings, without assemblies, without debates. The hearings, the proposals, the orders were broadcast from the television, and nothing happened, normalized, approved and consolidated when it was approved.

Currently there is hardly any active militancy.

All right, ours is an outdated society; of course, we want to think that the burden of decades has allowed us to rest; the motto of Strategic Patience can be considered as permission to rest. There are many reasons, but what is the main one? Is selfie policy a post-democratic scenario brought by politicians or is selfie policy the "comfort" that we citizens have brought, accepted and internalized?

Cyberpolitics has come to us, the "victory of screens", selfie politics.

Patxi Azparren, Bachelor of Social and Cultural Anthropology

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