David Seaton's News Links
On Saturday the 11th of December, about 50 people demonstrated in favor of Julian Assange in front of the US Embassy in London. The demonstration was organized on the Internet.
Two days before, in the same city, a crowd of rioting students nearly lynched the Prince of Wales and his wife the Duchess of Cornwall. The royal couple's bodyguards were at the point of drawing their guns... imagine the political repercussions if they had smoked a few students... or had even fired warning shots into the air.
Before going any farther I must say that nobody loves the Internet more than I do. Thanks to the Net I have been able to triple my modest income, not to speak of all the fun and opportunities for self-expression that I have found on it. Having said that, I have lately become a bit skeptical about the political power of the Internet.
This recent skepticism of mine has it origins last spring, when the Spanish right wing was trying to crucify Judge Garzón. There was immediately a page in FaceBook supporting him and thousands of people "friended" it. Shortly after its online, viral success, this page, with thousands of "friends" and an enthusiastic stream of hourly outpourings of support on its wall, called for a demonstration of support for judge Garzón in a plaza in the center of Madrid, near the Court House, where Garzón had his offices. The page was all abuzz, you thought we were about to storm the Winter Palace.... The wife and I got on a bus and went... about twenty other people actually showed up.
Not long after that the major left wing institutions: trade unions, political parties etc, organized a demonstration for Garzón in the Puerta del Sol: the official center of Spain, and my wife and I went to that one too... thousands upon thousands of other people showed up too. This demonstration made a big difference, the right still want to crucify him, but they are more afraid to make their move now.
This experience was the filter through which I have observing all of this. Virtual people are virtual people and real people are real people was the conclusion I came to.
Wikileaks and the hacktivists that are attacking Twitter and MasterCard etc are going to do little more in the medium and long run than make some people very rich. Anyone who comes up with the technical answers to making the net secure for governments and large corporations will now not only have the blessing of China and Russia, but also of the USA and the EU and carte blanche, unlimited budget. This will make the net less fun and less free, but governments are not going to fall. That only happens when people actually take it to the streets.
But, Englishmen physically attacking the Prince of Wales... That is significant. England is not Czarist Russia or Bourbon France... The English don't do that sort of thing... Till they do it.
Except in black neighborhoods during the 60s, Americans don't take it to the streets either, just like the English don't try to beat up the heir to their throne, right?
Here is how an old hound whose been around, Arnaud de Borchgrave, succinctly describes the present situation:
The progressive Paladin in the White House is no more. There are 15 million jobless and even more if one counts those whose benefits have run out and those who have stopped looking. There are several million of still vigorous over 50 who can see neither job nor retirement benefits for the rest of their lives.
Friend Beetlejuice sent me this text from a very interesting article in TruthDig by Columbia University professor Moshe Adler entitled "Low Taxes are the Problem, Not the Solution":
"It is not inconceivable that 13 months from now, after the extension of unemployment benefits expires, the Obama/Republican plan will result in the kind of street riots we’ve begun to see across Europe, led here by the unemployed. The larger-than-ever deficit will make renewing the extension of unemployment benefits unacceptable, particularly to a Republican-dominated House. University students fed up with higher tuitions and employed workers fed up with the high prices for government services could even join in. In an economy with an impoverished middle class and political instability, investors will become even harder to find."
I am not belittling the significance of the harm that WikiLeaks has done to elite communication and the harm it may do to some governments who will be embarrassed to have their citizens become aware of their subservience to Washington, but those 25 million jobless and "vigorous" over 50s that de Borchgrave is talking about could care less. When They get violent, then things will move... they may get much, much worse, with real repression and the US Army being employed in American streets under Bush's Homeland Security Act but they will move. When they break out the tear gas and the rubber bullets, mouse pushing is willy pulling.
So that is why I take the attack on the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall more seriously than the DNS attacks by "Anonymous".
Zeitgeist it is called. DS