Anthony Barnett was the co-founder and first editor of OpenDemocracy. His most recent book is The Lure of Greatness: England’s Brexit and America’s Trump (2017). (December 2017)

Follow Anthony Barnett on Twitter: @AnthonyBarnett.

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Democracy and the Machinations of Mind Control

At School in the Year 2000, circa 1910

In both the US and the UK, investigations into the deployment of these shadowy forces are still in progress. In close contests, every influence counts. There is, therefore, an understandable temptation to emphasize that without secretive billionaires, or the Russians, or Facebook, the outcomes of the Brexit referendum and the US presidential election would have been different. And as elections are likely to carry on being close-run, it is important to track down and expose systemic manipulation. But it does not follow that slush funds, algorithms, and alleged conspiracies were primary causes of the electoral shocks of 2016.