Tuesday, August 12, 2008

On organized efforts

Duncan Cameron comments on the potential for online organizing to serve as a great equalizer against corporate media control:
Making appeals for donors is not the same things as engaging the citizenry in debate. Seeking out other others as equals in dialogue and discussion is what digital politics is about. Facilitating spontaneous action to mobilize against cuts to federal funding for artists, or outrageous telecommunications billing is the sort of task that can lead a political party to be a real force for electoral mobilization.

Canada has yet to become a thorough-going democracy, where citizenship is prized and understood as conferring political power. The emergence of a digital left has the potential to even out the balance of power between government and the populace, as Netizens talk to other Netizens, and counter-movements to power form more swiftly than ever before. The extension of communications networks outside corporate control to include ever wider digital participants holds out promise for fostering a more open political process where the left can make its case for democratic renewal, where party and movement can listen together to more people than ever, and where action in the common good becomes not only desirable, but feasible.
Now, I share much of Cameron's optimism as to the potential for electronic organizing to fundamentally reshape how politics are practiced - with an emphasis on sharing and refining diverse ideas rather than merely funnelling power to the centre. But it's worth noting that there's another looming barrier beyond merely the need to discover how best to make use of the online medium.

After all, it surely can't have escaped notice that corporate interests aren't exactly eager to facilitate the free use of the internet when they stand to make a buck cutting back on how easily information can be spread. And with a battle for access to the possible equalizer set to play out in the very near future, it looks far too likely that the current potential will largely go unrealized.

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