“If the events of the past week seem on the surface to be about systemic corruption in British public life then there is also an ulterior process at work. Strange as it may be to state this, the unholy triple alliance between media, the political class and the police may be characterised as a merely epiphenomenal imbroglio. It’s been widely noted that the News of the World, despite being Britain’s largest circulation newspaper, was nonetheless something of a loss leader for News International in an era when not just hard news but also the kind of malicious tittle-tattle that was its stock in trade has been speedily uploaded on to the web.
“A tectonic shift is taking place in our culture, namely the transition from a print/broadcast era in which information, opinion and entertainment is transmitted down a pyramidal social structure, to a pro forma egalitarian web culture in which there is no longer the mediation of a class of editors and opinion-formers, but instead everyone swims about in a protoplasmic gloop of titillating supposition. Marshall McLuhan’s equation of the medium with the message has become a shibboleth to be lisped on a thousand thousand message boards, but less widely understood is that the “glocal” phenomenon of the web plus the internet has yet to crystallise into a definable medium – we live in an interregnum between cultural hegemonies, and in such times, as Marx observed of political interregnums, the strangest forms will arise.”
Read the rest of Will Self’s Guardian column here.