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March 25, 2006


Thanks emptywheel. FWIW, not all of your readers may be instantly aware that 1848 was the "Year of Revolution," in Europe. IIRC every major European Capital, except London, experienced a revolution. (I think this is what Rove/Cheney had in mind for the Middle East after we were "greeted as liberators." They expected everyone in the Middle East to apply for dual citizenship with the U.S. and then register as Republicans.)
If you have the time or inclination, I am interested in how you think DSL and internet phone calls figure in your post. It seems to me that shareholders of the Baby Bells (or what is left of them) depend primarily on phone calls to drive revenue. Internet phone calls, local and long distance, eliminate that revenue stream if the competing cable company provides the bandwidth. DSL can turn the "twisted" copper wire eading into the house into a broadband connection. It's a very good technology that allows the Baby Bells to duplicate cable's internet service using the existing phone line.

You are right. The Internet threatens everything.

--It threatens lazy, snarky young plagiarists with overnight exposure.

--It harnesses the energies of hundreds, even thousands, of bloggers to accomplish in minutes what mainstream newspapers no longer want to do before deadline: fact-check.

--Hypocritical politicians can no longer depend on their tacit agreements with the media cocktail circuit to keep their personal sins in the closet.

--demogogues can no longer drown out everyone else with their lies

--it records for posterity what some would like to forget

--it compresses time by a hundredfold

The Internet threatens the established order. It must be stopped or it will ruin everything.

Ooops. Too late.

Speaking of blogs, if you really really really really want to laugh your ass off, go to www.RedState.org and read Krempasky's announcement that Ben Domenech is going to "spend some time in the wilderness" while he takes a leave of absence. The prose gets really purple when he talks about a man who would use the name "Augustine" and how that individual has shown the combat of "sin and salvation" in the world. Talk about Seriously Hilarious!!!

This shows the big problem with the home-schooled: they never get past a mental age of 13, since they never learn to deal with reality as found in going to school (probably the most important thing one learns in school).

As Bugs said: What a Maroon!!!!

Be careful, swallow all liquids before reading over there.

TCinLA, thanks for the spew warning. Turtle boy Domenech and his groupies don't understand that while the real Augustine of Hippo (North Africa btw) was a "man of his time," wrt legalized male supremacy, theologically he was such a giant wrt "individual responsibility."

John Casper - thanks for the heads up on 1848.

just a few thoughts:

from Kosmopolitian # 4283 to Kosmopolitian #149, thanks for the brilliant assesment regarding what DailyKos has become, but we're more than just "We The People". DailyKOS has become a clearinghouse of ideas, and a directory for the farm team blogs on the left (and you were a big part of that, so thanks for that too)

have you ever considered the history of "Citizen's Band" (CB Radio) in your analysis of amatuer "radio telephony" ??? I grew up in a household that participated in this phenomenon before it became "hip" in the 1970s, and I think it might have a place in your study. You might be particularly interested in the deterioration of internal decorum that occurred when the little know hobby became a popular fad (I'm surprised that the biggest flame wars at DKOS occurred in the early days)

and I think your worries about the telephone companies overcharging for their services is a bit unfounded. The fricken telephone company where I live can't even provide service when it rains, how are they gonna raise the rates ??? < / snark >


You're right, the 1970s CB culture is another example, isn't it. But what caused CBs to fall back into the purview of cops and truckers?

ew - Don't know if you will see this. I am more intuitive than thought. What is happening at the present? What are we seeing unfold? It is just the fight against neo feudalism and the revolt against it (without the masses understanding what is happening)? That the players/factors in the U.S. are CIA, FBI, military, corporations, lobbyists, bloggers, MSM, national debt, NeoCons, religious zealots, Congress, Executive, Judicial, economic war (John Casper at FDL)? We are off. No?

CB Radio is the electronic equivilent of the neighbors talking over the back fence

aside from having extremly low powered transmitters, CB creates no record. It's just a chat network without transcripts. This makes it useful to a narrow group of users who need real time road information and a chance for interpersonal communications

the internet is slightly comparable to the CB community.

consider the screenname's resemblence to CB's "handles"

the meetups and conventions I hear about at DKOS are also exactly similar to the CB "Breaks" and conventions ie, meetings of a bunch of people who have communicated together for a substantial time without ever meeting face to face

here is another CB-Internet analogy, the techies. There were always a few nuts who wanted to build a bigger, more powerful CB radio, just like there are nuts who continually try to build a faster computer

I don't think a written record is necessary--the (broadcast) radio was critical to Iran's Revolution and cell phones were crucial to Chavez' defeat of the US backed coup in Venezuela. In fact, in a place like Venezuela, with widespread illiteracy, a written record would be counter-productive.

This post nails it in pointing out that the easiest terrain for the government to regulate is a shared Commons, undergoing the tragedy of commons -- to the point where the users themselves demand outside regulation.

Amateur radio is an interesting example of that happening, but as you point out the internet is unlimited -- or at least, we are not yet within sight of the edge. I hadn't made the connection that as ISPs introduce artificial resource limitations in the form of limited bandwidth (for profit not for regulation) it can create an articial 'tragedy of the commons' scenario that would make regulating the internet politically easier. Bloggers are at least on the right side of things, since it doesn't get much more low-bandwidth than plain text -- it would be different if we posted, say, streaming video of ourselves instead of just our words.

A possibly interesting analogy to the CB radio case is community wireless, facilitated by groups like CommunityWireless.org. The idea there is a return to the early days of networking, where individuals simply make peer-to-peer connections at the hardware level (no ISPs, no dial-up, no centralized "internet" as we know it today).

In practice today it would mean people sharing wireless connections out of their homes (in my apartment now I regularly get 6-8 other people's wireless networks, and that's just with standard home wi-fi base stations). In the future, who knows -- the network could be extended through your cell phone and PDA.

(Imagine if every cell phone could make a peer-to-peer wireless connection with any cellphone within 100 ft., directly, with no cell phone towers or central receiver. How far would it reach? I think you could nearly cover Manhattan (horizontally and vertically) already. Imagine in 15 years.)

All of which is just to say, with technology moving so fast, as long as regulation is 5-10 years behind the technology I have hope for the future! We may find a predator-prey co-evolution between regulatory policy and technology, but as long as technology is not wiped out by it, maybe that's healthy. I would rather be writing blogs than feuilletons anyway. :)

This is a brilliant, thought provoking, informative post. And to think a "suspense thriller" like "V" was a catalyst. This is what noospheric resonance looks like. Thank you emptywheel for being prepared to respond to the moment "V" reflects. The capacity of "V" to inform the emergence of such critical thinking is a testament to the power of art.

Great post, EW. Around the time I discovered blogs I also read Jonathan Schell's book "The Unconquerable World," an underappreciated book which deals with the limits of the use of force and the nature of truly democratic revolutions. He had a long section about the revolutions in Eastern Europe.

Basically, he argued that truly democratic revolutions occur when the people on their own withdraw their consent from the government. That may be followed by a violent revolution (caused by a crack-down) or revolutionary war (as it was in this country), but the actual withdrawal of consent comes first, and must be peaceful. If the subsequent government is established by force (as in Russia after the October Revolution) the result won't be democratic.

He dwelt at length on the creation of an alternate culture in East European countries, particularly Czechoslovakia, by the dissidents and their allies, often through small acts of rebellion or withdrawal of consent. At the time (early 2003) I wondered what would be our means of doing that to the Bush Admin and GOP.

You draw the parallel to the internet as the "alternate culture" for information dissemination at this point in time. The internet provides for direct information-sharing between individuals without the intermediation of the media--killing the mddleman, as it were. (See here for more.) That is why it is so powerful, and dangerous. It allows both comnmunication and organizing.

The WaPo and Times, who have so mercilessly fallen under the internet knife in the past year, aren't going to be our allies here, even though it is a classic issue of maintaining freedom of expression. It's up to us.

The point about the creation of the alternate culture and the acts of rebellion by ordinary people is their power. There comes a point in a democracy when so many people have so demonstrably withdrawn their consent that the government can't crack down and has to give in--repeal prohibition, legalize abortion, end the war, whatever. Or, I should say, can't crack down and remain a democracy. That is what we have to preserve here.

It isn't the guns that will save us (sorry Page, Meteor and DH), but enough people who are willing to do what it takes to remain free. The internet is a big part of this, and given their incompetence in cracking down on terror, I can't believe that BsuhCo can really shut things down. At least not in the country as a whole.

I couldn't agree more with your summation, Mimikatz.

"A Force More Powerful" by Peter Ackerman and Jack DuVal, I found even better than Schell's book.

I took great heart from it as it clearly makes the point that non violent/non co-operation is much more powerful than guns. Even a max security prison requires major co-operation from almost everybody.

Guns and violence are the weapons of choice of any (repressive) state. So why do battle with these weapons when you are clearly "outgunned"?
Much better to chose the weapons that you have an advantage with.

Ackerman and DuVal(Ex CIA!) powerfully make the point that you and Schell make and that is that the MEANS of the revolution determine the nature of the society that follows.

To be effective, non co-operation needs sophisticated communications and organisation which are by their nature inclusive and social.
After the fall of the tyranny, you already have in place a structure to form an inclusive and equitable government. (It's nature is co-operative).
This does not happen with armed resistance which relies on top down, hierachical power sructure exactly like the one just overthrown. (It's nature is coercive).
The leopard then has to change it's spots to have a happy ending. Doesn't happen.

A lesson I drew from it (but not touched on in the book) is to be careful who you make your allies. Solidarity in Poland accepted major help from the Catholic Church and the CIA (old partners) and now they dominate Poland in place of the Russians. I am VERY wary of the DC Dem Machine. It will come ofering all sorts of support and will be attractive but the agenda of the DC Dens will be to co-op the whole blog/internet movemnent and it will be back to square one.

Self sufficient grassroots, although daunting, is best in the end, IMHO. Fo more, google "Gene Sharp".

I saw a photo of a woman protesting the start of the Iraq War which read "I Can't Believe I'm STILL Protesting This Shit". It has stuck with me.

Here is a link to a free downloadable book in pdf format entitled "On Strategic Nonviolent Conflict: Thinking About The Fundamentals" by Robert Helvey - (a long time colleague of Gene Sharp's and ex Colonel in US Army). It's not just academic: these guys have actually trained people on the ground around the world in dictatorial countries.


I don't think the link will come through live. You may have to copy and paste it into the browser.

Oh, and great post, Emptywheel. Very timely.

Give the man an inch, and he will keep posting!

"A Force More Powerful: A History of Nonviolent Revolutions in the Twentieth Century" was first made as a TV series. I think it was by the Canadian Broadcasting Commission. I haven't seen it unfortunately.


Thanks for the link. I'm taking a long trip next week, so I'll try to bring this on the plane to read.

I'll also try to do a post on the Havel/Vaculik argument I mentioned. IMO it was one of the most fascinating moments int eh dissident culture that led up to the Velvet Revolution.

I have engaged in conversational inquiry someone who was in Prague at the time of the Velvet Revolution. I think that the degree of repression is something that we are not necessarily encountering at present but surely we can see the seeds of this tangled possibility. As I understood it what existed in Czechoslovakia at the time of the Velvet Revolution was a commmand economy governed through a criteria of political loyalty. In other words for example a high school principal who ran afoul of the discipline of a political officer may have been reassigned to janitorial duties or less.

When I have questioned someone who lived through the changes in Russia in the late '80's and early 90's and asking where the political discourse toward a liberating unity occurred I was told that such discussions were "taken to the kitchen."

So in Prague at that point that marches upon the offices of the bureauray began to emerge what occurred was a phenomenon of acquiesence of the government as it were to the purposes of the revolution. But we must remember that some tradition of humanism was viable in Prague.

And this is why the institutons of theater, the arts and letters and even the so-called sports culture must be allowed to continue to flourish but primarily through a commitment of the creative class both as creator and critical audience as it were. Afterall it was during a Super Bowl commercial that "V" first lit a fire under many of us.

The creative effort is an effort rife with the potential for imperfection but if the delights and fruits of creative freedom are deeply appreciated by the "people" especially in the face of the those who would classify by law and economic demand their spirit and life then the great movement of creative humanity which is symbolically hidden beneath the mask of Guy Fawkes and in the conscious allusion to the "Count of Monte Cristo" in "V is for Vendetta" cannot help but be sustained in the tedious grind of history and the evolution of media.

But for this to happen there must be an attentiveness to the subtle disciplines of the immortal conversation. In other words it is in the numinous that consciousness is risen. Forgive me for wanting to expand what I meant by "noospheric resonance". And the richness of this thread continues to explore the critical possibilities for our continued growth and constructive change with full inquiry into both the past and circumstantial requisites of the present.

I would appreciate background on the Velvet Revolution, Emptywheel, as I don't know nearly enough about it.
Have a good trip!

J. Thomason, expand away (I say, anyway!), particularly on this statement -

"But for this to happen there must be an attentiveness to the subtle disciplines of the immortal conversation. In other words it is in the numinous that consciousness is risen. Forgive me for wanting to expand what I meant by "noospheric resonance"."

One of the aspects of the blog the government would like to regulate is its knack for exposing political argument and offering riposte.
Of course, internet based peer shared research, and development of historical factfinding are assets of the blog medium which create uncomfortable effects for political organizations which create artifices which bloggers debunk.
Additionally, there is the more classically Republican attraction for using tax to repress, and its complement, the Democratic party's tendency to use more egalitarian design in tax.
As the regulations were finalized at FEC this week, there was an outpouring of moderate sentiment online grateful at the leeway for speechmaking in blogs; e.g., see here. Yet, as one electoral expert noted, the regs still will allow political organizations to pay bloggers to troll.
I would estimate that the quick visit to dK's blog rankles among some conservatives in congress who would like to clamp some fees on dK's blog for serving as a vehicle for political speech, anything to thwart the dynamo which is that multi-million-hit blog. The Dk site is redolent of lucre, as well, as all that freespeech is framed by a stream of cute political animated ads.
In your panel with Froomkin in June 2006, this might be an interesting topic to discuss.

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