Volume 47, Issue 5: September/October 2013
In the months leading up to this issue we’ve seen an explosion of popular protest, from the streets of São Paulo to the occupation of Gezi Park in Istanbul.
As Nora Loreto writes, one of the key features of global protests today is the speed at which images are distributed and dispersed. Popular protest and the internet share a common thread of spontaneity, which holds both enormous potential and its own dangers. Memes and tweets themselves do not change society. Solidarity, the real flesh-and-bones stuff, as Max Haiven reminds us, is the original social media.
The first three articles focus on the internet and digital politics. Broadly speaking, they ask whether the internet has broadened or restricted democracy and how progressives might engage with online struggles in effective ways. Media scholar Robert McChesney calls for an analysis of the internet that takes into account the dynamics of actually existing capitalism. The internet, as he puts it, “is a testament to socialism,” and far too valuable a resource to be left to the likes of Microsoft and Google. Nora Loreto asks whether online platforms can reinvigorate the Left’s organizational capacity while Max Haiven takes us on a tour through the viral world of meme warfare.
The internet increasingly resembles the structure of modern capitalist society, where those with wealth and privilege have access to knowledge and the rest are trapped behind low bandwidths and paywalls. Struggles against commodification are crucial, on and offline. Dustin Ferretti profiles Chilean student struggles for free and high-quality education, and the common linkages between what has been described as the Chilean Winter and the Maple Spring. All successful protests have elements of good theatre. Sarah Keenan and Mel Evans describe the ways in which UK activists have used live streaming to protest the relationship between major art galleries and oil companies.