In his speech to the Yearly Kos, Howard Dean argued that the internet could just be our best weapon in the battle for a democratic world. And he's right.
Though I doubt he, or anyone else using the Nets today would either recognize or believe it, in a fairly short time, it may well be the epitaph on the virtual gravestone of the much-beloved, hitherto mostly anarchic 'Tubes.'
Every other medium of wide-spread public communication has been effectively co-opted by the oiligarchs and corpoRats to the interests of the ruling elites: First newspapers; then film; then radio, then TV. Next: Internet. Izzy Stone memorably remarked: Freedom of the press belongs to those who own one. The world belongs to who controls the agenda of the public discourse. There has been too much time, energy and money--to say nothing of the lives--expended by the ruling elites and the propaganda apparati of the State to gain a virtual stranglehold on the agenda-setting function of public communication to permit continued--to say nothing of eternal--untrammeled access to the public mind to anyone not already a certifiable, reliable, loyal member of the club. Not prudent.
I really think the watershed moment, which predicted the eventual neutralizing of the Web, was the impact of the so-called 'net roots' in the 2006 'election.' It was determinative in only a couple of contests. And even if, in the main, the effects were modest, it was a serious hint toward what might be the truly emancipatory consequences of unfettered political discourse, even in a democracy in decline.
You must see that is a threat to power which must be curtailed--regulated, channeled, neutralized---one way or another by those already in possession of and unwilling to relinquish, much less share, power.
Now it isn't even a matter of 'whether.' It is only 'when.'
And I do not know how the regulation I fear to be coming will be accomplished. I do know that the State and the big telecoms and the ownership of the SCUM (SoCalledUnbiasedMedia) have thousands of engineers and accountants and lawyers already hard at work on the problem of how to scuttle the democratizing potential of the Web.
My guess: it will be done through the application of coersive economic stimuli. Possibly ISPs requiring libel bonds in the millions of dollars before they'll agree to provide 'space' to bloggers?
I honestly do not know. I doubt (I HOPE) I am not of suffient meanness of spirit and/or deviousness of mind to devise the ultimate Web-killing strategy.
But I do know (I am, in any case, morally certain) there are whole squadrons of people who are, and are getting paid incredibly well for it.
By the numbers....
13 hours ago