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Wednesday, December 24, 2003

The Internet and Mobocracy

Arnold Kling writes an insightful piece detailing the dangers of the Internet Mobocracy:

The Dean movement likes to refer to itself as a Smart Mob. I believe that there is no such thing. If the future of politics in America is to swing back and forth between Freepers and MoveOn'ers, then I fear that we really will turn into Weimar Germany.
My concern here is the combination of weakened Constitutional protection and Internet-facilitated extremism. In my lifetime, I believe that what has protected our country from extremist demagogues has been the need for coalition-building in the two-party system. To build a winning coalition at the national level, each party must lean toward the center.

The Internet might change the dynamic. It appears that in 2004, the Democrats will be taken over by left-wing militants. My view is that this is because the centrist forces in the party are poorly motivated. The question is whether this could happen to both parties at the same time. If so, then some day we may see an election in which each party is captured by a narrow, rabid constituency. I hope that the Internet does not end up fostering such a mobocracy.

Whatever happened to the Cluetrain conversation?