The United States has always lacked a single, universal public. But when popular media consumption was restricted to a smaller range of outlets with consistent editorial standards, it did have something like a public sphere. Now, instead of creating a new public sphere, Big Tech has colonized the existing one and shattered it into pieces.
Meanwhile, the QAnon conspiracy theory is far from dead. While some adherents have suffered a crisis of belief after Inauguration Day failed to bring the arrests of Democrats and supposedly disloyal Republicans, many are renewing their faith through promises of a hidden world that explains its failures.
And while in 2020 international attention focused on Italy’s plight as the epicenter of Europe’s initial COVID-19 outbreak, Rome has emerged in 2021 as the fastest-rising economic power in the wider Mediterranean region. In fact, the map of Italy’s commercial prowess now looks a lot like the first-century map of the Roman Empire.
Here are Foreign Policy’s top weekend reads.
The internet was supposed to revive the public sphere. But thanks to the failure of politicians to act through meaningful legislation, Big Tech has come to dominate and shatter it, Joshua Foust and Simon Frankel Pratt write.
Nothing that QAnon conspiracists were told would happen on Inauguration Day actually transpired. But that doesn’t mean QAnon will disappear. Instead, with its visions of a hidden world, it’s likely to mutate further, Foreign Policy’s James Palmer writes.
The Biden administration’s foreign policy will ultimately be determined by the people who are a part of it. Their bylines throughout our recent archives offer a unique view into their ideas, concerns, and affinities, Foreign Policy’s Cameron Abadi and Allison Meakem write.
Rome has emerged as Europe’s fastest-rising economic power in the wider Mediterranean region. Its focus on commercial connectivity has achieved something akin to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, Michaël Tanchum and Dimitar Bechev write.
After 9/11, Washington formed a national commission that made the country safer. In the wake of the Capitol insurrection, it should look closely at what made that commission successful to fight online disinformation, hate, and harassment, Vera Zakem and Moira Whelan write.