This is not a critique: Reactionary digital politics in the age of ideological entrepreneurship

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On digital platforms a distinct form of reactionary politics has gathered, intensifying and focusing its political arguments. Composed of diverse strands of political ideology it is unified by opposition to any and all forms of politics concerned with claims for equality. Key avatars of this politics are ‘ideological entrepreneurs’, individuals untethered from modern political institutions and engaged in the business of manufacturing criticism not only of this or that form of politics but of modern politicsas such. While highly politically consequential these political forms are peculiar insofar as their goal is not primarily political consciousness raising and organising but the growth of an audience and the intensification of its parasocial attachment. Because they are not seeking to attain political legitimacy or win office, standard forms of counter-critique, which measure the distance of reactionary political claims from what is imagined to be universal and legitimate, are misdirected. In addition to such normative critique those who would defend politics must learn how to do it better, in ways which understand the digital political conjuncture and the opportunities it contains. The force and meaning of political critique is found only in its effects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-48
Number of pages22
JournalMedia Theory
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2023


  • media, ideology, digital politics, reactionary politics, alt-right, far-right, criticism, critique

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