Monday, 24 October 2011

Manufacturing Dissent: Why does Chomsky dismiss social media?

Through Twitter, I discovered that Professor Noam Chomsky would be giving a speech at the Occupy Boston camp in his native Massachusetts. Through a link on the #OccupyBoston hashtag, I watched a live stream of his speech, and read the in time quotations of his lecturing through others also posting and watching live. Through this discussion and promotion his wisdom was forwarded throughout the Occupy movement as a whole. 

It therefore seems shortsighted for Chomsky (as I read in an article linked to by Roger Ebert), to dismiss Twitter, or social media in general, as superficial, shallow, evanescent.” Of course, nobody should naively consider the internet as a replacement, or an equally effective method of campaigning, as advocacy, activism, at length speaking and publication, and indeed direct action. It is a worthwhile critique and grounding for journalists like Evgeny Morozov to remind us that retweeting something, or "liking" a cause on Facebook, is not equatable to taking to the streets in favour of it. That said, in his Newsnight interview with Jeremy Paxman , Chomsky noted the April 6 Youth Movement, a Facebook group created in 2008, even before the Iranian Green Movement, by a technologically directed younger generation supporting the strikes by Egyptian trade unions against the injustices and stagnation of Honsi Mubarak's rule. Such campaigns, uniting labour movements with modern activism, were arguably foundational to the facilitation and organization of Egypt's revolutionary protest demonstrations. There is a primary reason why authoritarian regimes impose censorship or total prohibition of the internet. China has already been quick to block all search engine terms relating to "Occupy".

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