The italics of Teo Dalavecuras on Bernard-Henri Levy
Bernard-Henri Levy and the eponymous hero of the “Nouveaux philosophes”; and not only for the notoriety that has accompanied him in the role for many years, but also for having baptized “new philosophers” in 1976 the group of French anti-Marxist intellectuals “from the left”, in the not yet vanished atmosphere of the French May, the forefather of in the turn of the various European “Sixty-eight”, an ideological and social upheaval imported from the United States of America (detail not to be overlooked). Today the position on the left of the group (but above all of Levy or, as he likes to be called, “BHL”) is widely questionable, but this aspect does not excite me, and I apologize to those who continue to give importance to this type of distinctions .
For a long time Levy has neglected philosophical reflection in favor of a much better paid role of “maitre a penser” (in the Catholic world of the past “director of conscience”) dispensing ready-to-eat recipes on important media in the Western world, for the benefit of a broadly progressive audience, about what to think, and above all say, about the main problems of the moment. In Italy, after having reserved his teaching for years to the readers of the Corriere della Sera, he embarked on the flagship of the fierce media fleet of the Gedi-Elkan Group, the Republic.
I cannot be counted among the most enthusiastic followers of Levy’s verb, but the title of one of his italics a few days ago in the comments page of the Roman newspaper (“The new digital barbarism”) intrigued me, also because I was unaware that Levy had transferred, arms and baggage, from the pages of Corriere to those of Repubblica, a choice which perhaps – without underestimating the ideal motivations – is not totally extraneous to the well-known thrift of the publisher Urbano Cairo.
After a lapidary beginning (“The President of the Republic Macron is right. There is seriously a collective barbarism ascribable to the success of social networks”) Levy dwells on the five reasons (as a good philosopher “systematizes”) of the barbarism, which are the unreflective nature of the judgments entrusted to social networks, the effectively asocial nature of these, the dislocation of individual memory from the head of humans to that of the smartphone, the transformation of public communication into a “global chatter” where it is impossible to distinguish between intelligence and delirium and finally in the control of everyone against everyone made possible, says Levy, by the emergence of social networks.
Apart from the last one, the other reasons indicated by Levy break open doors already wide open, even if the list is embellished by the evocation of Plato, Hobbes and Hegel. The merit of italics, however, is based not on what Levy says but on what he manages to keep quiet. Apart from the fact that Levy’s denunciation, fourteen years after the launch of Steve Jobs’s first smartphone and slightly late, reading his article gives the impression that the emergence of social networks is a sort of natural phenomenon, a climate change or perhaps a bradyseism, or even a case of generalized malpractice: anything but the business of some gentlemen who have literally plundered in all these years, to applause, the private lives of billions of consumers around the world by building strongholds named Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Google,
It must be admitted that filling two columns of text on the theme “social networks and barbarism” without even accidentally writing the name of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos or their businesses, does honor to the great profession of BHL. .
But there is more or, depending on the point of view, better. The “reason number five” of barbarism via social networks is the following. Unlike Bentham’s Panopticon, the advent of social media has produced a situation in which everyone, “jailers” and “inmates”, scrutinize each other continuously without distinction of roles.
It was believed to have understood that the transformation of social networks into trillions (euros or dollars, you name it) depended on the fact that the owners of the “platforms” appropriate all the information generated by the interaction between those who frequent them and derive from it, processing them in various ways, other information that can be sold or otherwise exploited with great profit. Instead, BHL lets us understand that you are, trivially, immersed in a boundless mess where it is no longer clear who is the controlled and who is the controller. From a certain point of view, a consoling conclusion: one would like to be able to believe it.

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