The web will kill them all: new media, digital utopia, and political struggle in the Italian 5-Star Movement

2015-11-11T16:34:41Z (GMT) by Simone Natale Andrea Ballatore
This article examines the role of discourses about new media technology and the web in the rise of the 5-Star Movement (Movimento 5 Stelle, or M5S) in Italy. Founded by comedian and activist Beppe Grillo and web entrepreneur Gianroberto Casaleggio in 2009, this movement succeeded in becoming the second largest party at the 2013 national elections in Italy. This article aims to discuss how elements of digital utopia and web-centric discourses have been inserted into the movement's political message, and how the construction of the web as a myth has shaped the movement's discourse and political practice. The 5-Star Movement is compared and contrasted with other social and political movements in western countries which have displayed a similar emphasis on new media, such as the Occupy movement, the Indignados movement, and the Pirate Parties in Sweden and Germany. By adopting and mutating cyber-utopian discourses from the so-called Californian ideology, the movement symbolically identifies itself with the web. The traditional political establishment is associated with "old" media (television, radio, and the printed press), and represented as a "walking dead," doomed to be superseded and buried by a web-based direct democracy.