[iDC] The Twitter Revolution Must Die

Brian Holmes bhcontinentaldrift at gmail.com
Wed Feb 2 14:46:50 UTC 2011

On 02/01/2011 11:31 PM, Michael H Goldhaber wrote:
>  As far as I can tell, the developers of
> Facebook and Twitter were only partly motivated by money, but they
> saw the need to make easy-to-use tools to penetrate a new market.
 > Simply to condemn them for that is absurd.

Have you considered the notion of liberal empire, Michael? For that is 
the US since 1945. The idea has always been to penetrate, as you say, 
new markets, in order to extract whatever value lies there. This has led 
to continual waves of technological change imposed by US companies, of 
which the last one was the Internet and the associated computer toolkit, 
forming the basis of a new worldwide expansion of American-led 
free-market capitalism after 1989. Its great liberal promise is freedom 
of expression and freedom of self-organization, both politically and 
economically. However, that same promise has always had its other side: 
the domination of the new markets by mega-corporations along with the 
political subjection, by police and military means, of entire 
populations whose only function for the economic system is to give up 
whatever meager earnings they may have to those same corporations. 
Therefore, as an American I would propose that it is simply obscene to 
celebrate any part of this corporate system, including those aspects 
which appear "promising." Let's use the tools, of course; let's listen 
to people and talk with them in whatever way we can; and in the case of 
Egypt let's try to understand what it has been like to live for thirty 
years in a country whose police force and secret services have been paid 
for by the US government, trained and equipped by the US, in order to 
carry out US policy in the Middle East, while the economy of the country 
stagnates, jails proliferate and political freedoms are nil. Let's also 
try to imagine what it is like to live in a region where the US (along 
with the arms industries of Britain and France and Germany and Russia) 
promotes war after war after war, both to safeguard its oil supplies and 
simply in order to sell its weapons systems which literally shred people 
to pieces. Cluster bombs for breakfast? It's reality, man. Your taxes 
pay for it. Having been responsible for this, shall we now claim that we 
have done a wonderful thing, that we have brought democracy with some 
branded app? This is not about being hot-headed. This is about having a 
bit of lucidity and some compassion towards the people who have been 
dominated by "our" failed promises, or rather, by the neoliberal 
political economy which is the current version of liberal empire.

That the people who invented the new communications tools did not plan 
to become part of liberal empire just means they are unconscious of what 
they are involved in. But they are still involved in it. Since the 
bursting of the Internet bubble way back in 2000, every new development 
has had a strict corporate business plan, which entails treating the 
users not as conscious human beings (which is the way open-source 
software addresses its users) but as unwitting pawns in a strategy of 
market penetration, i.e. the rape of consciousness itself. Exactly that 
kind of strategy has produced the proto-fascist zombie nation of post 
9-11 America with its two ongoing wars, for which, of course, we are not 
all directly responsible, but in which we are complicit when we remain 
silent or mouth corporate slogans. If you continue to think Facebook is 
an innocent tool for some good clean college fun, well, I am afraid that 
is really the absurd belief. Facebook is a mega-corporation striving to 
reduce your brain to jelly. Twitter is following the same pathway, with 
a particular focus on the erasure of historical consciousness and 
dialectical thinking due to the nature of the abbreviated message. This 
is the rule of the game, and those corporations are clearly of a piece 
with liberal empire, precisely to the extent that they have been 
developed according to the laws of the financialized economy. The only 
decent thing to do is to revolt against the full system of domination.

Actually, we probably agree on most of what I said and there is no 
personal animus in this message.



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