Centipedes of the 21st Century

Bruce Sterling gives the canonical definition of a “centipede,” a new approach to political scandalmongering, probably coming soon to a polity near you. Unless you’re in India, Greece, Poland, Indonesia, South Africa, the UK or the USA, in which they’ve already arrived.

Basically, a centipede is an attempt to drive a politician from power by creating a moral panic. “Centipedes are a cheap, highly effective, low-risk, highly-mediated method of political destabilization. Centipedes are new phenomena because the barriers-to-entry in media have crashed. This means that subversive efforts formerly isolated and punished as libel, slander and whispering campaigns can swiftly take on avalanche proportions. While pretending to be about spontaneous indignation and moral values, centipedes are coolly calculated and all about power. … I named them ‘centipedes’ because they are segmented, covert, and poisonous.”

He also details their common characteristics. They’ll probably be increasingly recognizable.