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We wrote two articles commenting on the failure of digital technology during the Iowa caucus last week.
In The Guardian, we compare Obama's campaign tactics to Bernie's, making the distinction between mobilising and organising.
The technology used in Bernie's campaign is lightweight, but it underpins and enables a political strategy that is genuinely bottom-up. Volunteers are given the confidence and trust to organise themselves and others, with a strong focus placed on relationship-building and conversation.
What can be learnt from the story here is that organising tactics work best when enabled and supplemented, rather than replaced, by digital technology. These should be deployed when there isn’t a deadline: the focus for any progressive campaign should be on building relationships, building confidence and trust, building power and using these to deliver political change.
In the Jacobin article, we argue that all digital technology needs to be understood as part of a complex social system.
In the twentieth century, social movements committed themselves to building the infrastructure needed for reproducing themselves. In the twenty-first century, they must commit to working out how to do the same in a new digital context. There are no easy answers. In examining a case like the Iowa caucuses, we can begin by asking the right questions, and also turn to considering them outside of electoral cycles. We need to examine the issues of infrastructure more broadly: looking at the appropriateness of technology to certain political tasks, and the funding models and institutional forms that underpin them.