Democracy for Sale: Dark Money and Dirty Politics

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Democracy for Sale: Dark Money and Dirty Politics

Democracy for Sale: Dark Money and Dirty Politics

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One of the most striking points the political philosopher David Runciman made in his seminal book How Democracy Ends was that democracies don’t fail backwards: they fail forward. This is a story of ideology and finance – of how the long-term Hayekian, neoliberal project has played out on these shores. The middle section of the book explores how dark money has amplified the growing influence of the American right on British politics.He shows how antiquated electoral laws are broken with impunity, how secretive lobbying bends our politics out of shape, and how Silicon Valley tech giants have colluded in selling out democracy. These threats to democracy have, for decades, been visible to anyone disposed to look for them’: Boris Johnson in 2019. The combination of unaccountable, unreported dark money and its use to create targeted (and contradictory) political messages for individuals and groups means that we have no way of knowing how free and fair our elections have become.

He starts with the Brexit referendum and the various kinds of unsavoury practices that took place during that doomed plebiscite – from the various illegalities of Vote Leave, through Arron Banks’s lavish expenditure to the astonishing tale of the dark money funnelled through the Ulster DUP and a loophole in Northern Ireland’s electoral law. And it has been able to do this in what has turned out to be a regulatory vacuum – with laws, penalties and overseeing authorities that are no longer fit for purpose. It is accepted by you that Daunt Books has no control over additional charges in relation to customs clearance. Geoghegan investigates politicians, fabulously well-funded partisan think tanks, propagandists who know how to game a rigged system, and the campaigners and regulators valiantly trying to stop them. Payments made using National Book Tokens are processed by National Book Tokens Ltd, and you can read their Terms and Conditions here.It’s a great case study in how ruling elites can be infected with policy ideas and programmes via those “second-hand traders in ideas” of whom Hayek spoke so eloquently: academics, thinktanks and media commentators. This is the story of how money, vested interests and digital skulduggery are eroding trust in democracy.

Politicians lie gleefully, making wild claims that can be shared instantly with millions of people on social media. Democracy for Sale is the story of how money, vested interests and digital skulduggery are eroding trust in democracy - and a powerful account of what must be done about it. Facebook sets this cookie to show relevant advertisements to users by tracking user behaviour across the web, on sites that have Facebook pixel or Facebook social plugin. Photograph: Frank Augstein/Pool/Reuters View image in fullscreen ‘These threats to democracy have, for decades, been visible to anyone disposed to look for them’: Boris Johnson in 2019. The first is the massive concentration of corporate power and private wealth that’s been under way since the 1970s, together with a corresponding increase in inequality, social exclusion and polarisation in most western societies; the second is the astonishing penetration of “dark money” into democratic politics; and the third is the revolutionary transformation of the information ecosystem in which democratic politics is conducted – a transformation that has rendered the laws that supposedly regulated elections entirely irrelevant to modern conditions.This title tells the story of how undisclosed donations – ‘dark money’ – have infiltrated British politics, undermining public faith in democracy and fuelling the rise of populism across the West. We use Google Analytics to see what pages are most visited, and where in the world visitors are visiting from. Praise for Democracy for Sale: ‘Thorough, gripping and vitally important’ Oliver Bullough’A brilliant description of the dark underbelly of modern democracy. And in the UK, Martin Moore’s landmark study Democracy Hacked showed how, in the space of just one election cycle, authoritarian governments, wealthy elites and fringe hackers figured out how to game elections, bypass democratic processes and turn social networks into battlefields.

He investigates politicians, fabulously well-funded partisan think tanks, propagandists who know how to game a rigged system, and the campaigners and regulators valiantly trying to stop them. Instead, the referendum and its aftermath have revealed something far more fundamental and systemic. Publication dates are subject to change (although this is an extremely uncommon occurrence overall). Antiquated electoral laws are broken with impunity, secretive lobbying is bending our politics out of shape and Silicon Valley tech giants collude in selling out democracy. The final part of the book deals with the transformation of our information ecosystem: the ways in which the automated targeted-advertising machines of social media platforms have been weaponised by rightwing actors to deliver precisely calibrated messages to voters, in ways that are completely opaque to the general public, as well as to regulators.

That’s why those who see in the current difficulties of liberal democracies the stirrings of past monsters – Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, to name just three – are always looking in the wrong place. We are experiencing delays with deliveries to many countries, but in most cases local services have now resumed. Politicians lie gleefully, making wild claims that can be shared instantly with millions on social media. Remarkable’ Observer, Book of the Week Democracy is in crisis, and unaccountable and untraceable flows of money are helping to destroy it. The integrity and trustworthiness of elections is a fundamental requirement for a functioning democracy.



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