Volume 3, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 2047-7368
  • E-ISSN: 2047-7376



This article responds to current critiques about the myths of digital democracy drawing on the case study of the Italian Movimento 5 Stelle/5 Star Movement (5SM) lead by comedian-turned-politician Beppe Grillo. We argue that the political success of the 5SM was largely dependent on a process of technological fetishism of the Net as an autonomous political agent. We also contend that this process has enabled the party leaders to build an ideology of the movement and represent the 5SM as a grassroots movement based on horizontal networks, participatory democracy, and characterized by the absence of leadership. Conversely, we claim that the digital rhetoric of horizontality, lack of leadership and spontaneity of the party is used to mask, facilitate and reinforce the authority of Beppe Grillo as political leader, thus forging a new type of authoritarianism that is supported and legitimated through the everyday construction of digital discourse.


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