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Authoritarian ApprehensionsIdeology, Judgment, and Mourning in Syria$
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Lisa Wedeen

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226650579

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226650746.001.0001

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On Uncertainty

On Uncertainty

Fake News, Post-truth, and the Question of Judgment

Chapter:
(p.77) 3 On Uncertainty
Source:
Authoritarian Apprehensions
Author(s):

Lisa Wedeen

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226650746.003.0004

Chapter three exposes the mechanisms that make it possible for an excess of information and the velocity of its circulation and consumption to be exploited for political gain. The chapter raises questions about the changing meaning of the distinction between democracy and dictatorship in the context of what appears to be the eroding factual basis of political discussion worldwide. Organized around the thinking of Hannah Arendt and Ludwig Wittgenstein, this chapter explores the fragility and stubbornness of factual truth, as well as the political-affective conditions of uncertainty and forms of discursive addressability these circumstances promote. Despite the democratizing aspects of recent technological innovations as greater Internet access, the regime in Syria has proved able to exploit the conditions of what I call “high-speed eventfulness” to the advantage of its counterinsurgency project. Yet, at the same time, with factual truth and the conceptual systems they presuppose under attack, new forms of expression are brought into being. The chapter concludes with the efforts of an artist collective to stretch, even circumvent, the conventions of documentary film representation, hinting at how judgments might be animated by a mode of reflection able to appreciate contingency without abdicating responsibility.

Keywords:   information, circulation, consumption, democracy, dictatorship, Arendt, Wittgenstein, uncertainty, addressability, counterinsurgency

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