BRITISH Referendum: Lies, Damned Lies and Political Epidemics

Published on Global Handelsblatt, by PETER SLOTERDIJK, July 18, 2016.

One of Germany’s most famous living philosophers addresses the linguistic neglect, moral and political aberrations behind Britain’s decision to leave the European Union. But, faced with experimental politics, media distortions and the historic distance between the U.K. and its neighbors, the European Union just keeps on keeping on … //

… Moral and political aberrations almost always start with linguistic neglect, for which the events of June 23, 2016 and before offer a clear example. The word “Brexit” already contains a good part of the populist rubbish flushed to the surface in the “debate” over the matter itself. After all, if populism is an aggressive form of simplification, it’s obvious how the moronic “Brexit” opened the door to this. Though the phenomenon of populism was also attributable to the unprofessional recklessness that gave the British prime minister the idea of an unnecessary referendum. David Cameron let Nigel Farage, with his neurotic notions of independence, lead him astray … //

… The U.K.’s referendum is only upsetting when you consider it an example of an insidious populist “policy.” Need we point out that in Great Britain – once the greenhouse of democracy – is the most normal on Earth in political matters, a country more rested and used to conflict than many others? Compared with the British, the French seem abstractly hysterical, the Italians eccentrically divided and the Germans self-pityingly torn, unpredictably wavering between eccentricity and banality. How shall we interpret the fact that, in the country that gave birth to democracy, an agitation campaign could succeed so well?

We find the answer in a discipline now known as “media theory” – in the Middle Ages, it would have been called “rhetoric:” controlling the body politic with the public word. The modern mass media operate not so much a channel of information but a carrier of infection. What is touted as information is in fact often nothing more than the arousal, poisoning and destruction of public judgment. Democracy only happens on the surface, as an exchange of arguments and counterarguments. In fact, it is a constant conflict between strategic epidemics and vaccinations. Anyone who can goad the world’s most politically astute people to self-destructive actions of supposed assertiveness has shown the power of artificial epidemics.

Of course, the journalism profession is generally unwilling to acknowledge that the term “lying media” is an expression of a systemic diagnosis. Because large political entities can only be integrated through the effects of media, for systemic reasons, informing people about the effects of media is something so desirable that it should even take precedence over written constitutions. The blind spot in all constitutions is the media and its indirect exercise of power. This is not a new insight; the danger of the “black plague,” to recall the term coined by Austrian writer Karl Kraus, has been described throughout the history of enlightenment, from Lichtenberg and Heinrich Heine to Enzensberger and Baudrillard. Democracy, in epidemiological terms, is an emergency.

The rapid exit of Nigel Farage, the most prominent proponent of the Leave campaign, is telling. He unintentionally exposed the mechanics of populism. If the “people” demand to be led into the impossible, politicians like Mr. Farage are only too happy to comply. They stir up those who are vulnerable to their message, while ignoring other issues. Epidemics follow their own rules, and they usually suddenly come to an end. After that, we return to our shells. But remember: Not everything abandoned by rats is a sinking ship.

(full text).

Peter Sloterdijk Related Links:

  • Pointy heads and an absent ‘h’, on New Zealand, by Fred Frederikse, July 26, 2016;
  • Contro la comunicazione – L’editoriale di Michele Dantini, on , da Michele Dantini, July 23, 2016: Esercizio – prendere le riflessioni di Peter Sloterdijk sull’ideologia e applicarle al mondo delle immagini. È utile? Ci fa capire qualcosa di più sul nostro tempo? Ecco i risultati ottenuti da Michele Dantini;
  • Interview mit Peter Sloterdijk: Die Grundstimmung der Zeit ist Hilflosigkeit, Hannoversche Allgemeine, mit Lars Grote, 10. Juli 2017: Peter Sloterdijk war Gast des Literaturfestivals Lit:Potsdam, das sich vor allem dem Thema Bildung widmete. Im HAZ-Interview spricht der Philosoph und Schriftsteller über Populismus, die Fußball-EM und die Demokratietauglichkeit der Völker;
  • Peter Sloterdijk, born June 26, 1947) is a German philosopher, cultural theorist, television host and columnist. He is a professor of philosophy and media theory at the University of Art and Design Karlsruhe. He co-hosted the German show Im Glashaus: Das Philosophische Quartett from 2002 until 2012 …; /4.1. Critique of Cynical Reason; /9.2. Original German titles; /11. External Links;
  • Buch – Peter Sloterdijk: Der ästhetische Imperativ, 522 Seiten, Europäische Verlagsanstalt, Hamburg 2007, ISBN 9783865726292, auf;
  • all his books on;


Corbyn wants powers to close loophole used for pecial forces shadow wars, on RT, Aug 1, 2016;

Turkey summons German charge d’affaires over refusal to show Erdogan address at Cologne rally, on RT, Aug 1, 2016;

Islamic State’s Child Soldiers – First Come the Sweets, Then the Beheadings, on Spiegel Online International, by Katrin Kuntz, July 29, 2016: the Islamic State is holding thousands of young boys captive in Syria and Iraq, where it is teaching them the Koran and how to become deadly child soldiers;

Trouble in Paradise – Tourism in the Age of Terrorism – part 1, on Spiegel Online International, by Dieter Bednarz, Giorgos Christides, Julia Amalia Heyer, Ralf Hoppe, Maximilian Popp, Jan Puhl and Helene Zuber, July 13, 2016: [TURKEY: Side / GREECE: Nemea (Peloponnes)] – Terrorism is making life difficult for many vacation destinations, with European travelers choosing holidays closer to home. The travel industry is fundamentally changing as a result and many once popular places are facing ruin;
Part 2: Survival Loans in Paradise;
Part 3: A Spanish Revival;

Die geteilte Gesellschaft – #Beckmann im NDR, 43.47 min, von ARD, am 1. Juni 2016 … während die Unternehmensgewinne sprudeln, fürchten viele Deutsche den sozialen Abstieg …;

das ZDF lügt – die Lügenpresse ist mit Beweisen entlarft, 7.15 min, von Deutschland Russland am 20. März 2016;

… and this:

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