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Reading: “Spying for the People”: surveillance, democracy and the impasse of cynical reason

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“Spying for the People”: surveillance, democracy and the impasse of cynical reason

Author:

Michael Kaplan

Baruch College, US
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Abstract

This essay examines the Snowden affair as a sort of Rorschach test that traces the contours of what I am calling the impasse of cynical reason. In particular, I contend that the emerging form of algorithmic dataveillance both elicits and actively thwarts theoretical and critical approaches predicated on an a normative, symbolic model of epistemology that this form aspires to supplant. As a result, what such approaches tend to discern in the emerging culture of surveillance are its own epistemological commitments—the very ones comprising the impasse of cynical reason. Breaking out of this impasse will thus require disrupting the deep, hidden complicity of such critique with its ostensible object. I contend that this will require taking seriously the often disingenuous or fallacious arguments on behalf of dataveillance in order to overcome the critical resistance to the quite genuine eventuality they connote—that of the decline of cynical reason as the prevailing form of social coordination.
How to Cite: Kaplan, M., 2018. “Spying for the People”: surveillance, democracy and the impasse of cynical reason. JOMEC Journal, (12), pp.166–190. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18573/jomec.165
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Published on 08 Feb 2018.
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