Monday, November 21, 2011

Pepper spray in a digital world - emotionalization again

A few weeks ago (October 19, 2011) I noted the way emotionalization had been informed and generated by  the internet. The new emotional intensity of social life is powerfully constructed around information. It comes to us with few filters: this is the renewed definition of proletarianization. (The images of police in New York City battering Occupy Wall Street protesters was profound because it revealed how emotion - in this case anger - can be captured in the internet era. It looks so utterly pointless).

To all intents and purposes the intensification of emotion is what has been seen again in the pepper spraying of protesters by police at University of California - Davis. Of more interest is that the New York Times reports that chief of police at UC- Davis has been placed on administrative leave. The call has also gone out for the Chancellor of UC-Davis to resign. This as the result of the pepper spraying video going "viral."

This is the media terrain that everyone will increasingly navigate. Watch any of  the Occupy Wall Street protests and what is always present? The video cameras. Almost everyone is recording everyone else. We could call this the video court of digital exposure (VCODE).

The extreme of this is that you will be tried and your execution at the hands of an angry mob will be videoed - as indeed happened to Muammar Gaddafi, the former president of Libya. I strongly suspect that officials of the International Criminal Court and the United Nations felt a little queasy at the sight of one of their number, who was on the podium only a matter of months before at the UN, being unceremoniously murdered. The question is who is next?

"The frenzy of the visual" which Linda Williams used in 1989 to described video pornography - has given way to a new frenzy. As usual, I am not optimistic - but it is nice to see those cops getting some early vacation time.

Will their emotion give way to something else? For the time being probably nothing but the intensification of emotion.  

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Going French with Eric Beecher - Civil Society Journalism

Eric Beecher is probably Melbourne’s most outstanding media entrepreneur. To all intents and purposes he is a self-made media mogul, albeit on a small global scale and thankfully perhaps, one who did not inherit his media products from a parent. In this way he epitomises the spirit of liberal capitalism, which welcomes hard work, innovation and determination to take and make money in the marketplace.

The take and make framework is a well established model for all manner of enterprises – with some exceptions, namely the media. In Australia there are well known models of state funding for industries that cannot survive without Federal and State Government support. The Australian Film Industry, Ballet, Opera, Orchestral Music, Literature, Children’s Television are obvious ones which are all variously supported and defended by keepers of whatever faith is being promulgated therein.

Film buffs will defend to the death Australian cinema and government support. Ask an opera buff to give up that boondoggle and all hell will break loose. This narrative is played out over and over again and with good reason. Civil society in Australia and around the world is enriched by public support for otherwise unsustainable artistic activity. It is a long and worthy list.

So it was both a surprise yet nothing new to read the submission from Eric Beecher to the Australian Government’s Media Inquiry. Mr Beecher is advocating for an Australia Council-like institution to fund what he considers ‘quality journalism’.  

He also refers in the document to ‘public trust journalism’ and ‘meaningful journalism enterprises,’ suggesting that the categorization of what he considers worthy of promoting is mercurial at best. Unfortunately, he complicates the matter and his argument by talking about ‘commercial journalism,’ when what he seems to really mean is a type of journalism that makes civil society in Australia worthy of the name.    
 ‘Australian governments should engage in serious discussion and analysis of the potential collateral damage that could be inflicted on our civic society if expensive commercial-sector quality journalism is no longer viable,’ Beecher said in his submission.

‘This could be done – as it is France, on a large scale – by the creation of independently administered government incentives that foster media start-ups and innovative commercial journalism ventures. This approach, possibly using an independent funding mechanism like the Australia Council, could allocate grants on a project basis (to independent publishers as well as ventures such as The Australian Literary Review), would expand the diversity of ownership of independent journalism.’
Mr Beecher makes it clear that he is not in favour of questions about government funding of quality journalism.

‘The relevant question is not: “Is government funding of public trust journalism a bad idea?” The relevant question is: “What kind of country would we have if the commercial funding of quality journalism was devalued to the point where it no longer fulfilled its historic watchdog role?”’

Do we need a new category of journalism? How about civil society journalism? This is journalism that meets the old standards of social responsibility journalism by meeting the obligation to inform and educate and entertain. It would go beyond the claims that social responsibility journalism does little more than reflect the limited imagination that drives ‘responsibility’: the kind of ‘to whom much is given much is expected’ kind of cant, which every dubious evangelist mouths with cherubic solicitude.
Civil society journalism will not be directed to the good and the great, the educated and the excellent – in other words, the elites of society. It will be a much more complicated beast, a multi-headed hydra that represents the diverse interests pulling and pushing at society.

Curiously, civil society journalism already exists and has a name: it is the internet.
The bottom line here is that what Mr Beecher wants is journalism that is not News Corporation. In making this case for diversity of ownership he is absolutely correct – various cities in Australia are dominated by News Corporation publications. Brisbane and Adelaide, Hobart and Darwin citizens have few print media options but a News Corporation perspective.

News Corporation journalists and editors wave their hands in protest at suggestions that there is a News Corporation line and rightly so. Every paper has a line. Why Australian news organizations persist with the myth that there is an objective style of journalism, or that there is no bias is a waste of time.

The fact remains that all information is determined by its source and the forces that impinge of that source. This fact is well known from the history of The New Journalism which emerged in the 1960s, as a means of placing the messenger in first person form in the story. And yet we persist with the idea that journalists are capable of reporting some objective truth.

What we need are clear rules about enhancing the flow of information to citizens so that there is some confidence that as much as possible is available for scrutiny.

Mr. Beecher’s proposal for a funding organization to support quality journalism has value. However, it is not in the self-serving call for a public organization to offset News Corporation’s hegemony. It is revealing that Mr. Beecher believes that the refined tastes of traditional values and history should be embodied in quality journalism. In the era of the internet, such an appeal is conservative, and Mr Beecher is what I would consider a good Melbourne liberal.

These days, journalism is open to all sorts of abuses, mostly through the internet. Furthermore, most citizens under 35 gather their news from social media cites, not from newspapers.

Certainly the French have a grand idea for publicly funding full coverage of French society. That should go with their interest in the values of equality liberty and fraternity. The question for Mr Beecher and for anyone who cares about civil society, is how Australia can create an institution that promotes those values within the take and make framework.

Please see the link below for Eric Beecher's submission

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Euphoric Crisis – From the internet to the New Emancipation

"...other things being equal, we can say that the philosophy which certain biologists, geneticists and linguists today are busy manufacturing around ‘information theory’ is a little philosophical ‘crisis’ … in this case a euphoric one."*

What would a euphoric crisis look like today? How would information theory look if it produced euphoria, then articulated the euphoria to a crisis? Which of these two conditions, euphoria and crisis would it be correct to emphasize? 

These questions beg the ultimate question: Could information theory really determine a euphoric crisis? The empirical answers, of course, abound in the positive. They are rooted in our virtual and material lives. Surely the relationship between information theory and euphoria is becoming clearer by the day.

At every juncture of our lives the smart phone connection offers access to advanced telecommunications in a seamless network of experiential bliss. It is ubiquitous, ushering in the horizon. Never before in human history has it been possible to experience on a daily basis the euphoria that exists because of the internet. This is not a little philosophical crisis, as called out by Professor Althusser in 1971, it is a big one! It is the crisis of all established forms of philosophy.

This is the crisis that results from the impending unrestricted circulation of knowledge. In this moment, it may in fact be possible to achieve a nearly continuing state of machine induced euphoria. These days, 40 years after Professor Althusser’s comment it could be called wonderment. Such is the stimulation the digital always already makes possible.

This is not to be confused with the simulation the digital also makes possible.

The crisis is the stuff of a new kind of emancipation in which the conditions for the sensuous life are achieved. Every emotion is concentrated like a laser beam of perfect energy. It is a practicum of participation, in which the public dances on the horizon. The individual feels fully realized, liberated, unconstrained, momentarily transcendent.

I make a phone call, from anywhere, and successfully connect – euphoria. 
I wish to speak to my daughter in Boston and I hear her immediately – euphoria.
I speak to my son on the line in the same city – euphoria.
I look for a song, long forgotten and find it – euphoria.
I discover the song, its title and a moving picture of the artist – euphoria.
I stop the video to examine the pock marks on the singer’s face – euphoria.
I start then stop again as I look at the base player’s overlong fingernails – euphoria.
I whistle along to a happy tune, within a cocoon of the present – euphoria.
I look at the photo of Ken Wark and think about a conversation we had in 1992 with Meaghan Morris– euphoria.
I listen to “Dolphins” by Tim Buckley on You Tube– euphoria.
I reminisce about a friend whose image appears on line – euphoria.
I cannot be constrained - …

The infinity of possibility is terrifying. The foundation of the crisis is this terror. Old disciplines like philosophy cannot describe this terror, therefore it cannot claim it. For his part, Professor Althusser could never imagine this, especially the interconnection of geneticists with information theorists.

Who could predict that DNA would be the basis for the crisis? Now it is because it describes information theory, connected as it is to the internet.  Even the subject, “I” is removed from the DNA project, a field described by nanotechnology. The “stuff of life” is a series of structures, where “I” do not exist.

The experience of euphoria gives way to another set of possibilities – to call it reality would be misplaced. It is post-human sensibility.  

And in the post-human the crisis for philosophy is with us. Euphoric is a word – probably not the right one. So it is necessary to move into the transdisciplinary domain, where the usual conditions for analysis fade away. Under these conditions philosophy is terminated as an otherwise dead weight on the analysis. The transdisciplinary project makes it possible to get to the end point more speedily.

Emancipation is what human beings desire. The burden of life is finally realized in death. It is why death is the solution for those people who kill themselves, because it is the perfect realization of freedom.  All the prophets say this, suggesting that to become a prophet one must work out how to convey the hopelessness of life and replace it with emancipation in death. To be able to tell that story is to make a claim to prophetic insight.

Should the digital life be prophetic? This may be the end point of information theory euphoria. Certainly it marks the end point of life as it has been known. It is the beginning of the end of the crisis.  

*Louis Althusser, Lenin and Philosophy, 1971.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Emotionalization - The Internet in the "architecture of consciousness."

Last time I wrote about the emergence of affect as observed in Occupy Wall Street. This near-global protest movement has engaged hundreds of people in an invigorated movement aimed at the greed of the financial sector and their facilitators in related industries and in government. I suggested that the protests resulted from the connection of Internet-based material with a new emotional intensity. In an endless feedback, Internet media identifies and sustains the immediacy of affect - emotion in the raw.

US academic (and long term friend) Lawrence Grossberg showed how affect linked directly with the formation of rock n roll to generate a social movement that defined the 1960s and 1970s. It was a kind of collective emancipatory logic that congealed around what Grossberg called "affective alliances." This theory offers a way of elaborating on the current situation, where the shared territory of human emotions operates within a limited space offered by the computer monitor or, the monitor space.

In Uprising: The Internet's Unintended Consequences (2011, Common Ground Press) I wrote about the way the "monitor space" of desktop computers, laptops and handheld devices operate to make possible a new subjective territory. It is unregulated by social forces, freed from Enlightenment notions of responsibility or law to offer unregulated engagement with others - both real and virtual.

This kind of emancipation from regulation means that the constraints that moderated our emotions have been removed. The Internet makes it possible to respond immediately to things we see on the monitor.

This is the new territory and it is manifesting itself in Occupy Wall Street, just as it has in the Tea Party Movement. The Internet has made it possible for disparate groups to organize around incoherent messages. . Affective alliances have been replaced by disparate emotionalization.

No wonder that Polly Toynbee referred to "visceral protest" and "authentic outrage" in her column in The Guardian earlier this week. When emotion rises the non-Enlightened follow. This is indeed visceral. As the weeks progress, the emotion will fade - like after an evangelical rally - or they will become more cohesive and orderly.

Why hasn't this kind of protest movement happened before this? What happened to the post-Vietnam War generation which seemed to have no interest in protesting anything?

Clearly it would be misleading to claim that it's all due to the Internet. As if it has some magical powers. The material conditions have become so difficult that the visceral finds its realization in and through the Internet. Unemployment, dropping standards of living, shrinking US and Western European economies, all push the emotions that are fed by the images in circulation in the Internet.

This set of relationships - unregulated Internet+emotion+the visceral - is the new "architecture of consciousness," a phrase that captured New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman on October 16 ("In Protest the Power of Place," ). In fact, "architecture of consciousness" was included in an interview Kimmelman had with protester Jay Gaussoin at the Occupy Wall Street event. That makes it Gaussoin's phrase

This consciousness rocks! It will inevitably continue to expand.


Friday, October 7, 2011

Uprising – emotionalization: a US version in Occupy Wall Street

Recently I have relocated from Boston to Bond University on Australia’s Gold Coast, far, far away from the action in the US – in fact, far from the action anywhere! (As one of my cousins said – “Nothing ever happens here.”) But there’s plenty happening by way of uprisings elsewhere. Not least of which is the activity referred to in New York City as Occupy Wall Street.

Readers of this blog and my book of the same name (Uprising – The Internet’s Unintended Consequences) will be aware that my interest is in the relationship between the Internet and the unintended consequences that are generated by the unregulated flow of information and knowledge on the network. This relationship is viewed from a critical perspective. This perspective usually embodies actions against the status quo in a progressive political direction.

In Mass Communication Theory, Denis McQuail’s frequently used media studies textbook (now in its 6th edition), McQuail makes the point that the critical approach to media can begin with the “what ought” question. This is normative (read progressive sociology) in action, where media is expected to construct an imaginary set of possibilities for human emancipation, as well as inform the material results of those possibilities.

As a kind of respectable academic approach to the social world, normative sociology has had to give way to much more pressing needs. Cultural studies filled the gap left by a style of sociology that forgot the “what ought” and replaced it with theoretically inclined empirical reportage. Ultimately it was politically defanged sociology. 

The Internet is connecting with each other a generation of students trained in and around cultural studies. It is informing the otherwise politically uncharged academic space of sociology with “what ought” questions. These questions surpass academic work that documents the status quo, even though that is a necessary project.

To give this accolade to cultural studies would be to overstate the case. The connection between material conditions within everyday life – unemployment in the US at true rates of 16%+ and much higher in rust belt areas especially Detroit, and even higher amongst African American and Latino communities -  and the Internet is immediate. Cultural studies at least focuses on the immediacy of culture and its context.
Emotions are being generated in ways that have not been anticipated – look at the way New York City police attacked Occupy Wall Street protesters for evidence of how the immediacy of digital communication operates to mobilize action! Protesters can swarm, mass and congregate based on Internet-based communications.  
Everyone is ultimately on the same network, where there is little or no mediation and regulation of moderate the emotion. No authority is editing and managing the flow.

Proletarianization in this era is what I have defined as the link between unregulated information on the Internet and the emergence of behavior and action that takes the form of social movements.

It is especially helpful to contrast the digital intensity of the protestors’ emotions and actions around Wall Street (and in Athens, Cairo, Tripoli, Paris? London) with the old media of television and print.

Below is Canadian critic Naomi Klein discussing mainstream media on Democracy Now, October 6, 2011.
“It really is a sick cultural ritual. Every time there is a new generation of politicized, engaged young people who come forward, there is this ritual mocking of them, a kind of a hazing. And it’s such a corrupt and corrupting way to welcome a new generation into politics.

“Coming from a media culture that has worked so hard to dumb down this society it is enormously ironic that they are mocking these very, very well informed [people].”

The point is that there are parallel universes: the Internet and every other conventional or traditional media. The “sick cultural ritual” may interest some people, but to Internet users, it provokes the “so what?” answer. It is irrelevant.  

Media culture is the Internet. The “what ought” question arising from Occupy Wall Street is the question of emotion (what American media scholars tend to refer to as “effect.”) What ought media do in this new (Internet) context?

The answer will be an escalation of emotion from the police, the state, the government and official culture in general.  This escalation will continue because the Internet makes it so. A counter escalation will operate from the protests, as has been witnessed in the Arab Spring. No one will back down because there is no moral suasion within the conventions of civil society: the old media cannot generate the immediacy of emotion like the new media.

I call this the emotionalization of resistance. It is due to the Internet.

Expect chaos.

Friday, September 9, 2011

September 11, 2011 - 10th anniversary. Telephone terror

Media stories dealing with the tenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US are determined to claim that the terror events of that day “changed everything.” And while it is reasonable to suggest that flying commercial, passenger laden airplanes into American landmarks did change the way America views itself and is viewed, it is simplistic to suggest that the act alone changed everything. 

Rather, the digital technology that America championed, promoted and sold as the latest in the endless quest for human emancipation was the thing what changed everything. Digital technology changed everything by making the coordination of the attacks possible, then it doubly changed everything by more deeply invoking the event into the public mind again and again, through that same technology. This multiplication effect becomes clearer every year, as recollections of September 11, 2001 and the World Trade Center events are ramped up with an intensification that is fed by the digital.

The combination of the digitally refined – pixilated – imagery is reinforced by digital audio. For example, this year, 2011 the tenth anniversary, the public is offered a new series of “never before heard” telephone calls of the last few seconds of life for the tragic souls about to ride to their deaths as the Twin Towers collapsed, by The New York Times.

Vanity Fair has offered a collection of photos so clear in their clarity that we have to struggle to find a vocabulary to describe what they portray – the annihilation of the innocents. The closest media language may be in iconography, especially the massive classic oil painting images by the likes of Giotto showing the Head of John the Baptist. This classical iconic offers a single image of the grotesqueries of human behavior.

Picasso’s Guernica follows a similar trajectory – the single image in the Prado Galley in Madrid, protected by a massive plate of glass to keep the fascist protesters from attacking it – searing its singularity into the mind’s eye, its morality and anti-war sensibility delivered by a hand trembling with anger and disgust at Franco’s Falangists.

The digital takes us beyond this point of singular energy. We are surrounded by anger and disgust, but in a mutual feeding frenzy of digital disbursement. The streams of information seem endless, puncturing any sense of security, always demanding a response from an exhausted mine of emotion.  

The cell phone and the internet was the change that changed everything. They appeared before September 11 and provided the communication momentum and the facility for the final act of self destruction of the hijackers and innocent citizens. Then they fed the media lode of infinite digital stimulation.

If you chuckled at the double entendre at that last line, that’s OK. I have noted in my recent book, Uprising: The Internet’s Unintended Consequences, that internet pornography has powerfully engaged internet users with more sexual stimulation than ever before: infinite digital stimulation indeed. It is, as I suggested before, part of the continuum of intensification that the internet has created – huge contradictions in both the positive and negative aspects of human nature.  

September 11 , 2001 and its anniversaries embody both aspects of the contradictions. The digital feeds the best and worst of human nature. It facilitates the record through videos in mobile phones, to offer all the best and worst of human behavior. For the worst - the recording of a British soldier abusing to death an innocent Iraqi civilian comes to mind, as it is played on television, in another enless loop of digital dissemination and feeback. For the best – apparently You Tube videos of cats and kittens are a new source of pleasure!

September 11 2001 was a declaration of a new war. War after all that is not worth noting in much of the discussion.  But war we can watch with more clarity, depth and empathy as never before. After the television news, the kids can go and play Duke Nukem: all digital all the time. (Note to self – the kids don’t watch the news and don’t know about war unless they need a job and enlist.) 

Americans are historically masterful at overstating events in their exceptional history. Then, in order to raise the stakes in history, they dream of becoming more exceptional still. According to most popular contemporary history, Pearl Harbor was the major event of the Second World War even though informed and critical history increasingly suggests that it can be better understood as an initial side show. It has generally relied on Hollywood to keep the fire of infamy and the myth of exceptionalism alive.
Digital media takes that model of exception making to propound even greater forms of exceptionalism. It offers not only the exceptional, but the precision of the image, the sound and the event as powerfully invested with immediacy, speed and granularity. Every pore, every miserable detail, scars and blemishes are there or not – photo shopped in and out. With this level of detail we must be exceptional?     

The digital offers us the unrestrained insider’s view of the human condition. Are we up for it? Is it too much? This is the question that proletarianization prompts.  

By giving users so much access to the details of 9-11, the internet cuts them adrift from the certainty of the past.

The internet does not however offer us the future. That would suggest a clear end point. The only singularity in the digital is the absence of an end point. There is no future as an end point, only increasingly intense fragments, pixilated, digitized and flowing faster and faster through and into chaos.

Every effort to give the public more digital detail adds to the uncertainty of the present. It is possible to see more, to have more information, even while we know less about why it happened.

What we do know is that without the digital, 9-11 would not have happened. There’s a photo of Mohammed Atta the “leader” of the airplane hijackers moving through Boston airport security while talking on his mobile phone. Digital telephone was used to coordinate “the event” into the spectacular, the moment of many points of impact.

The digital changed everything: the telephone as terror, the digital as destroyer

Thursday, August 11, 2011

UK Prime Minister Cameron proposes banning Twitter and Facebook

"This is not about poverty, this is about culture." UK Prime Minister David Cameron speech to Parliament, August 11, 2011.

The connection between uprisings in the UK this week and those across North Africa and the Middle East is social media. As I have noted in earlier blogs, emancipation now seems so close for so many - members of the Tea Party and kids on the street, tribalists in the African desert, and religious fundamentalists everywhere. Social media makes it seem like everything is possible.

David Cameron's suggestion that users of social media who organize riots will be banned, is a major development. His phrase was, "if they are thought to be planning criminal activity" (italics added). What people are thinking when they use social media is another thing altogether.

This will get interesting, especially given that Cameron seemed to detest the idea of "rights" in favor of responsibility. This is the old trope, is it not?

There's nothing quite as perverse as a middle aged white male politician telling people to take responsibility for themselves... in response to riots. Pull yourself together man!

Cameron and UK conservatives, including the Labor Party it seems, have some way to go before they get a full handle on how to manage the relationship between social media and emancipation. Actually, everybody has a long way to go!

Threats to stop Facebook and Twitter use pushes a wedge between digital natives and those making the threats to ban them.

When the question is asked, as I have seen it asked, when will the UK riots happen in the US? The answer is that they are unlikely because of two "solutions:"

1. massive surveillance of networks at every level, amounting to the domestication of Cyber War against the US citizenry;
2. the massive incarceration of young people, the unemployed and the abject. The US has the highest per capita prison population in the world.

As a conservative, Cameron can pursue similar "solutions" in the UK. That is what his suggestions of banning Facebook and Twitter and social media suggests, together with the threatening tone of his speech. A regime of total surveillance will become commonplace in the UK, and following US models, private prisons may well spring up like mushrooms.

By the way, his statement that "This is not about poverty it is about culture,"  is a statement worthy of Cultural Studies. Can someone please tweet him and tel him that poverty is culture... or is that irresponsible?


Monday, August 8, 2011

New Media will not go away

The blindingly obvious is sometimes the most difficult to see. This is the case with the tidal wave of activity and anxiety around News International and the UK phone hacking scandal.

In less than a week it has been pushed underground, below the public radar of concern. This seems to be incredible, on the surface suggesting that concerns about using new media to collect private information will go away. However, it is premature to believe that there is a wind change taking us back to the good old days of media regulation. New media is here to stay, as are the rules that it has established for itself. Just like the Outback Steakhouse in the US, there are "No Rules - Just Right"  Or maybe it was the "Crave On" commercial for the same chain?

Whether it's "No Rules" or "Crave On," the internet meets both expectations. You can do whatever you like in an endless craving for stimulation-information.

(I made the point years ago that there's a major gap between information and knowledge.“Information does not = Knowledge: theorizing the political economy of virtuality,” Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, December,

Pretending or even imagining that the craving for information about other human beings will end is like believing in the tooth fairy. There's just no sense in it after all the evidence is available.

There are two other considerations that make a return to decency and civility within a regulatory framework unlikely: the emergence of new "standards" based on digital native behavior and cyber war. Both of these conditions are here already and should be incorporated into any analysis of phone hacking/ News of the World / UK tabloid newspapers.

Digital natives are the under 20 year old generation who have total facility with digital stuff. In fact, most if not all their social world is built around the internet and will continue to be. In this respect they have access to everything that is on the internet - for example, a young woman can look at pornography alone on her laptop. Her attitude to her body, to sexuality, to relationships, to pleasure will be totally different to the generation before her because she has observed human behavior that was previously quite difficult to get at. To pretend otherwise is to not recognize the cultural shifts changes that are under way among the young.

Cyber War has become part of everyday media coverage because of various computer threats / worms / viruses.

Demonizing enemies has been enhanced by concentrating on Cyber War threats - see for example,

Wikileaks helps confirm these moves: it operates at the point at which digital nativism and cyber war are taken for granted. The authorities who have been up in arms about Wikileaks may simply be talking into the void of the past when they complain.

The standards and ideas about what is permissible have changed dramatically. How the new regime is executed through the network continues the trajectory of change. Why should the everyday activities that define our lives - hacking, surveillance, identity theft, snooping, security - be kept from the media?  

New Media operates in the domain of new proletarianization, where total transparency combines with total information flows, which expose every human activity. To expect a return to old ideas about decency and civility is not the answer. The answer is to understand what the new conditions actually mean and how they impact everyday life.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tabloids - (mis)understanding class in the UK

Strong comments have been made about all kinds of morality, with appeals to "journalistic ethics" in the News of the World phone hacking scandal. Now that the story has moved to include accusations that London's Mirror newspaper also utilized hacking and digitally devious methods to gather and manipulate information, there are a few things we need to reconsider.

It is fair to say that UK tabloids are based on the continuation of the British class system. How else can the continuation of a system that is ill-informed about decency and civility flourish? There is a gap between our understanding of journalism as informed reportage of  everyday life and journalism as the intentional manipulation of information and affect (emotions).

Journalistic education at the university level is about the former. Tabloid activity addresses the latter.

Tabloids are for people whose lives operate at the level of the immediate everyday, where emotion is the primary source of information. It is at this point that the internet exerts a powerful pull because it offers emancipation from the barriers of rationality, logic, regulation or law. This is where new definitions of proletarianization can be operationalized.

Tabloids reproduce the class bias of irrationality. Proletarianization offers a way of understanding how journalism is "degraded" from the standards of "journalistic ethics" which are laughable when applied to tabloids. Journalistic ethics cannot coexist with the internet.  

There is massive cognitive dissonance when journalistic academics and critics intone about university standards like "journalistic ethics" in the context of News of the World or tabloids in general. The disconnect is massive.

For academics this is a dilemma. Universities exist to train middle class professionals and thereby socialize them into systems of thought and behavior that reproduce the values of civility. (That's why a fascist university would be an oxymoron).

Why did universities fully emerge after the Enlightenment? Before the Enlightenment, in the tenth and eleventh century universities were exclusively a part of the literate class and belonged to the priests and monastery monks who wrote and read, then told the people what to believe (and give us your money while you are at it!). The rise of secular knowledge came with the Enlightenment, the printing press and Martin Luther's suggestion that people could read the Bible for themselves and make decisions for themselves: free will. Universities emerged in this space and we still enjoy the pleasure of liberal education for this reason.

Does this have anything to do with tabloids? It suggests that freedom from standards imposed by university educated journalists is embedded in tabloids and the digital. People who own tabloids knowingly generate material to feed the emotional needs of the uneducated. It's good for business and no reviews, reports, inquiries or regulations will be able to reconfigure the appeal to class-based emotions in tabloids.

For universities training journalists, there are no courses in tabloidization. However, in business schools that's where we teach students how to get at those tabloid emotions.

Pop culture is another story.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

"Wilful blindness" and News International - old and new on the internet

Is is possible to get a handle on the goings-on around News International? Surely anyone who watched the interviews of Rupert and James Murdoch, Rebecca (look at my big, red hair!) Brooks to the UK House of Commons, Culture, Media and Sports Committee on Tuesday 19 July, 2011 would be hard pressed to reach any conclusion but one - this is a massive organization run by hundreds of ambitious managerial neophytes who do whatever they can to impact the bottom line.

No one in civil society, with its laws that demand certain decency standards, expects to see and hear executives say they do not know what the neophytes do! But there it was. Perhaps on this basis alone, News International as a company, is too big.

The best question of the day was the one about "wilful blindness."

Q 269 Mr Sanders: "Finally, are you familiar with the term "wilful blindness?"
James Murdoch: "Mr. Sanders, would you care to elaborate?
Q270 Mr Sanders: "It is a term that came up in the Enron scandal. Wilful blindness is a legal term. It states that if there is knowledge that you could have had and should have had, but chose not to have, you are still responsible."

It could be the touchstone for any discussion of corporate analysis in the context of digital communications. The point is not to discuss the details of the Murdochs and Rebecca Brooks et. al., but to understand how "wilful blindness" translates into the communications and media fields.

(Can someone please count the number of times Rupert and James admitted that they did not know, or had no knowledge of, or were unaware of? If this is not willful blindness, then is it incompetence? These are important questions for media, to which civil society entrusts the informing, entertaining and education of citizens. Then again, the very idea of civil society itself must be in debate because the internet suggests new theories of civil society, namely that of a global state of flux.)

The task is to recognize how the internet may enhance "wilful blindness," making it possible for new types of behavior to come into play. These types of behavior, as my theory of proletarianization suggests, are the unregulated ones: the values and ideologies that civil society has previously managed. By managed I mean suppressed. (Note that Rupert Murdoch himself mentioned human nature in the hearing.)

Like all astute people, Rupert's mention of human nature is utilized as a countervailing strategy to avoid responsibility for doing things that are unacceptable in civil society. If people are fundamentally interested in human nature, then the media must engage in the presentation of weakness, of evil and of good, which are its characteristics. According to this world view, people are viewed as fundamentally good or evil and it is here where the business opportunity arises. The argument goes that business is merely meeting and channeling human nature. The role of business, of the media, is to recognize that and allow it to flourish. This is liberty, the characteristic of emancipation.

At the time it was used at News of the World and elsewhere in News International, phone hacking was a means of exposing human nature.

If you have read this far, you will know that you do not need to be Einstein to realize where this line of thinking leads. It leads to excess, to admitting and allowing human nature to flourish, regardless of the consequences.

In the unregulated internet domain, you allow human nature to flourish and you do so by not applying old ideas like "wilful blindness" because that's irrelevant in the new era. It's a wonderful circuit of syntactical logic, cultural politics and the displacement of Enlightenment ideas.    

Any review of the phone hacking scandal could utilize "wilful blindness" as an analytical tool with which to evaluate the phone hacking activities. It would be a way of elaborating on the political economy of the media.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Proletarianization, News of the World - political economy

Proletarianization insists on analysis of the formation of new social relations due to digital communications. As an unregulated space, the internet is the game changer as News International is discovering.

The UK House of Commons hearings of Rupert and James Murdoch and Rebecca Brooks will come and go - watch for the appeals to Enlightenment values. West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller is quoted (July 13, 2011) as saying that News Corp's "reported hacking" is "a serious breach of journalistic ethics."  The Foreign Corporate Practices Act has been invoked by New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg, because a US based company, such as News Corporation cannot bribe foreign officials.

Are these analog values? We see pre-internet and post- internet values such as dignity, "the right thing," collective interests, compassion, civility clash with prurience, privacy, individualism, narcissism, aggression. All of these values already exist, but in the internet context they have newly independent power to circulate without regulation.  The clash is more intense. Who or what mediates the values in circulation on the internet?  (What happens to "journalistic ethics" as a category? In fact, isn't it better to reveal wrong doing -however that is now defined - using digital means?)

Answers to these questions have answers in political economy, defined here as the relationship between social, economic and public policy.

Internet values reflect a massive shift. They unravel the past, making more transparent the present, freed from legal and regulatory structures. The political economy of this change is profound, as proletarianization suggests. The emancipation that the media offers in its association with social and economic opportunity also creates the conditions for the rise of values that are not at once intellectually, socially or historically associated with progressive ideas. Emancipation is a complex thing.

For example, News International's use of digital phone hacking in the unregulated internet space, can be seen as the manifestation of its claim to emancipation from old regulations. This is the political economy of the digital and why it is attractive to business.

Take another example, the cable television industry. This generally unregulated  (not public) space is not constrained by established free to air television regulations. It's a great business because it offers emancipation from the public space of broadcast television and its regulations.

In ever increasing increments - how much a consumer is prepared to pay for cable and any digitally defined content - it is possible to imagine ever increasing levels of emancipation. You pay and in return you get more profanity, more nudity, more violence, more connectivity... Can this be considered a development in emancipation? This is the trajectory of emancipation and it is where proletarianization operates in the digital era. Forget the old analogue values.

News Corporation executives believed they were free of the old analog rules. They believed, apparently mistakenly, that it was permissible to hack into private phone calls and personal records because it was the internet. The unregulated space. Oops! Did the Enlightenment and its values come back to bite them?

For another take on the culture of News Corporation here is a You Tube link sent by Hans Sagan

Uprising: The Internet's Unintended Consequences

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Proletarianization, Les Hinson, News of the World - evidence

Proletarianization in action - the internet, the uneducated and News International

"If Rupert Murdoch asked me to get him his lunch I still will."

Back in the day when I worked for News Corporation's suburban newspapers in metropolitan Melbourne, Australia, Les Hinson was "the man." Or perhaps it was the talisman? He was the standard for success in News Corporation - total, unmitigated loyalty. Like Rebecca Brooks who allegedly started as a receptionist somewhere in the bowels of News (Hinson as a 15 year old copy boy), these executives were uneducated. No university is mentioned in their bios. In fact, Hinson may not have completed high school.

Both Hinson (most recently chief executive of Dow Jones, Wall Street Journal)  and Brooks have resigned from News International.

My first point and I will return to this later, is that Hinson, the outstanding "lieutenant" and Brooks, were  bereft of any theoretical framework with which to view their obligations to the corporation. In polite society where corporations are given carte blanche to do pretty well anything as long as they are not caught, loyalty is the only required quality.

Hinson claimed he was "ignorant" of the hacking at NOW when he was running the London operation.

This is a subset of my theory of proletarianization - the absence of Enlightenment principles like civility and compassion give way to anything that advances the bottom line. Ignorance is just a short hand way of admitting to and absence of curiosity: the condition of the untrained mind. The internet makes thess bottom line objectives of willful ignorance without civility or compassion more possible because it is unregulated - meaning there is no recourse to the standards of civil society. The uneducated can invoke this much better than anyone else because they have no theory, no moral compass. Their compass is loyalty... The banality of loyalty...Hanah Arendt anybody?

Hinson gave a talk on March 10, 2011 at Boston College's CEO Club which is where the epigraph comes from. Titled "News, Information and Technology: The New Age of Collective Intelligence," the talk is full of the kind of self-serving self interest that long term watchers of the internet have come to expect.

In reporting the talk The Boston Globe (July 16, 2011, page A3) drew attention to Hinson's comment, highlighted by the CEO Club: "Everything we know about news and information is changing - what it is, where it comes from how we consume it, and what we can trust."

That's why they pay him the big bucks!

This is why proletarianization theory is a powerful tool for understanding what's happening here. There are no rules and News Corporation used the unregulated, (can I say?) lawless world of the internet to enter the space of change.  This is the "creative destruction" world where business opportunities and new social relations are made and magnified - Joseph Schumpeter was right.  As I noted in an earlier blog, the original News International  blog scandal was in the earlier 2000s, specifically 2005 when there was even less understanding of the new internet domain.

Rebecca Brooks and Les Hinson "oversaw" the use of internet-based activities to hack phone calls and it seems, took private files of everyone from Jude Law, Elle Macpherson and the former British PM Gordon Brown. Apparently Hinson is married to a former adviser to Gordon Brown! This is a study in the culture of loyalty at News Corporation and elsewhere. In the unregulated world of proletarianization, loyalty maximization is always invoked.

But wait - more evidence of what really matters in the highly structured world of the Enlightenment past appears in The Guardian. Rupert Murdoch, on July 15 personally apologized to the Dowlers, the parents of Mill, the murdered girl whose phone NOW's people hacked. Here we get back to basics -    

Lewis (their lawyer) said Milly's parents, Sally and Bob, and her sister, Gemma, had told Murdoch his newspapers "should lead the way to set the standard of honesty and decency in the field and not what had gone on before".
Murdoch had replied that the News of the World's actions were "not the standard set by his father, a respected journalist, not the standard set by his mother", Lewis said.

With the internet, this appeal for going backwards to earlier principles of moral certainty will not have much appeal.

As a Melbourne boy and a former employee of Murdoch's News Corporation, I know how close Rupert Murdoch and his family are. There's a mountain of sentiment there. My experience suggests that his mother has told him to get the house in order. He will try to make Enlightenment principles part of his quest for salvation.

Proletarianization suggests that the internet will put paid to such a quest and to News Corporation as it has been known. Rupert Murdoch will start by hiring educated executives to run his business.

Uprising: The Internet's Unintended Consequences by Marcus Breen

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

News International - old media faces new media

As of today - July 13, 2011- News International is seeing its global business footprint unravel. Forget News of the World (it's folded anyway) and The Sun and The Financial Times, all London-based News International vehicles owned by Rupert Murdoch.

Perhaps the real news comes from Australia where John Hartigan, Chief Executive of News Limited, the Australian parent (?) of News International issued a statement that included the following:
"I have absolutely no reason to suspect any wrongdoing at News Limited. However, I believe it is essential that we can all have absolute confidence that ethical work practices are a fundamental requirement of employment at News Limited."

Hartigan shows the disadvantages of not having studied semiotics: the study of the meaning of language connotations. A denial like this is as good as an admission. Or as Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet:  "...protest too much..." suggesting that in the popular vocabulary the protest is an admission that something is in fact wrong.
Opponents of News Corporation/Limited/International and its multitudinous offspring are appearing more confident than ever to hit the injured, thrashing animal. Hartigan has not followed Winston Churchill's admission to never surrender, then not followed American business ethics to never admit wrong doing or the old saw, " say nothing do nothing."  

David K. Johnson has reported and then it was re-reported on National Public Radio on (July 13, an agenda setting strategy) that "News" paid no taxation but made money from tax breaks and gains from various financial transactions based in non-tax havens. News was paid almost $5billion in tax refunds, through tax haven subsidiaries, according to the report.

And "News" has withdrawn it bid to takeover BSkyB in the UK. 

Remember where this started - hacking new media cell phones! 

The unregulated use of digital media of which BSkyB is a part as a satellite provider, has relevance to proletarianization. In fact, proletarianization is at the core of this story. If total immersion in unregulated media excess is advocated - and Rupert Murdoch and his cohort have advocated self-regulation, a trope for no regulation - the result is what they now see: a collision with established values of decency, civility and respect for bourgeois sensibilities. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

News of the World, News International and the so called clean up

The Guardian has been extraordinary in its coverage of the NOW story especially given that it has seen the story escalate to a crisis for News International and the Murdoch family. 

Former Labour Member of Parliament and policy maker Peter Mandelson published a well considered piece in The Guardian on July 11, suggesting five ways to avoid what I have described as proletarianization.

He offers a variety of standard managerial solutions, which any established white male would be expected to support. Then he adds the truth that will make the entire edifice of contemporary media obsolete.  
"Fifth, digitise the process. Technology has shone a much brighter light on the nooks and crannies of public life. Public bodies should be much more open about media inquiries. Media organisations should be obliged to publish online the extent to which they check stories and the full response they receive, including whole email trails if appropriate. Articles that are subject to complaints should be clearly flagged on newspaper websites. If the process of scrutiny becomes more visible and easy to follow, fact-checking and reporting will quickly improve. ...
Utilising technology to create greater transparency and using a system of newspaper fines when pre-publication intervention has failed will give the public greater confidence."

Proletarianization theory suggests that it is precisely in the digital - the internet - that the challenge exists. While shining more light on the situation as Mandelson suggests, the situation will become more intensified, more outrageous to established tastes and standards of decency and ultimately rapidly move towards its own demise. Yes there will be scrutiny, but I suspect you don't want this kind of scrutiny where old standards like privacy cease to exist.

Mandelson's suggestions for reform indicate that he does not get it. Applying analogue policy ideas to the digital domain is like applying a horse analogy to the space shuttle.

 Welcome to the internet.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Proletarianization and News of the World

Proletarianization as it currently operates in the digital domain - the unregulated circulation of everything that can be digitized - can be observed in the phone hacking controversy at News International's News of the World, which closes Sunday 10 July.

The English have been particularly enthusiastic about the benefits of minimal regulation in the media space, believing that the best way to advance economic growth is via Chicago School market economic orthodoxy. (Tony Blair's New Labour was all about this, as is the totalizing agreement by social democrats pretty well everywhere. That subject is not the topic of this post.) Since Margaret Thatcher from the late 1980s on, English political ideals have been about removing as much of the welfare-statist system from the polity as possible and this includes any regulations at all. This is the ideology that allows the individual to maximize all their benefits, regardless of the previously existing standards of human interaction.

This latter characteristic when linked to demands for reducing regulation must be included in any full description of proletarianization.

News Of the World's efforts at breaking big stories by using leads and rumors created by hacking into mobile phone data bases and altering them was a masterstroke. It met the basic demand of News International as the epitome of market rationality - and it sold newspapers. If every human action is determined by economic concerns, then phone hacking was merely the means to the end. And so what? There were no laws, no regulations, nothing that suggested that this should not be done.

Of course, altering the phone records to make it possible for journalists to create falsehoods about news stories is in a class of moral turpitude all its own. But only after the fact. Or should that be facts? Once the full context about the so-called stories was revealed, then the stories were shown up for what they really were - fantasms of market manipulation.

Proletarianization offers a  magnifying glass through which to examine these events.

No regulation of the digital space, the internet means that any action can be attempted in this new "zone." From the perspective of proletarianization, News's action was understandable because it was operating  in the unregulated zone which "everyone" knew was the exciting new digital space where information was "free." For News Corporation that meant freedom from the tired ideas of modernist moral organization, liberty from the standards of decency and  emancipation from responsibility towards others. (When the market is everything and you are only responsible to yourself andf your family, then the tired ideas of the past, such as regulation aimed at managing the excesses of human nature, are always considered a constraint on business, improvement, growth...).But how quickly people caught operating against the modernist (or Enlightenment) standards return to them.

 Look at some of James Murdoch's claims from his July 7 statement:
In addition, I have decided that all of the News of the World’s revenue this weekend will go to good causes.
While we may never be able to make up for distress that has been caused, the right thing to do is for every penny of the circulation revenue we receive this weekend to go to organisations – many of whom are long-term friends and partners – that improve life in Britain and are devoted to treating others with dignity."
Claims to high minded liberal modernism. He could have been quoting John Wesley, the founder of Methodism in England.

The hacking events appear to have taken place in 2005. Given that and in retrospect, it is feasible to see the events in the light of the great big new vista of digital entrepreneurship. For News Corporations this is the gold standard - using whatever is available to make the market work in its favor. Dignity?

Jettisoning established standards and utilizing the digital to claim space in the zone is the new standard.

What happened in the News of the World case is that the News International executive Rebecca Brooks and James Murdoch forgot the phrase John Pilger made famous - "Truth is the first casualty." Curiously, no one else cared - including the readers - until the elaboration of the hacking emerged. Suddenly, faceless technical guys were altering phone records and pretending that the "truth" was what they had constructed. Everything is OK until you're caught.


I started this post writing about proletarianization. I have ended up in a curious place.What is the relationship between truth and proletarianization? Can the truth can be revealed in the unregulated zone? Would this truth be truth as it is classically defined, or the truth according to News Corporation and News of the World. I'd suggest that "the truth" is what we know outside of the determining logic of the marketplace. And yet it is a massively grey field of discourse that needs to be carefully defined in each situation in which it appears because we may never be outside the logic of the market.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Developments in proletarianization theory

News that the African Union has refused to cooperate with the International Criminal Court to demand the arrest of Colonel Muammar Gadaffi confirms the deepening rift between the west and the rest. The report from Associated Press appeared in the New York Times on July 2.

You'd think that this rift between Africa and the west would be maximum news and provoke much hand wringing. But no. As the saying goes, " No one cares."

Such cynicism would be deeply troubling if it was not understood as a combination of the balkanization of the west against the developing world - or sections of it at least - and the emergence of proletarian interests. By the latter I mean the increasingly large numbers of people and nations (including Russia and China) that have diminishing interests in western constructs of liberalism.

Enlightenment notions of rationalism produced the structures of western bourgeois liberalism. The courts, churches,  businesses, police, the state, civil society all coexisting are giving way to alternative sectarian systems. This aspect of proletarianization is characterized by the way it is promoted and mobilized by the internet.

Sadly, NATO and the US appear to be united on the utility of bombing the sovereign government of Libya into submission, assuming that Gaddaffi's government will give way to western styled democracy. The internet assures me that this cannot happen. Instead, the ongoing war or whatever it will be will be a thoroughly fragmented system of tribalist interests. The connectivity of people through the internet will lead to continued refusal to cooperate with the west's constructs, as proletarianization finds it energy through communication.

I suspect that many if not most recent uprisings have been the result of new communication technologies making it possible for a confused mess of non-elitist interests to be mobilized. The "confused mess" is now the standard system for understanding national organizations. In fact, the emergence of proletarianization means that the internet makes it possible for even tiny tribal interests to be organized around their own self-interests. Nations will increasingly be massively policed becoming police states, militarized to within a millimeter of the death of civil society.

Massive counter-western forms of social life are emerging and it is clear that proletarianization will become the standard operating method. Democracy may be shown to be a multi-headed hydra as well as a system that refuses the modernist imagination of the west. Alternatives to Enlightenment liberal bourgeois forms of social order are already in the beta stages of innovation.

More theoretical work sorely needed...


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Uprising - 2. Defining the Middle East Spring

News analysts have suggested that the recent departure of autocrats in Egypt, Somalia and Tunisia are an    "uprising." The detail is more interesting. What is happening in North Africa are uprisings of the privileged and elites who have not been allowed access to the benefits of globalization and development. This formation is not the same as that described by the uprising associated with proletarianization. That uprising would be the mobilization of the masses seeking total autonomy from established western legal structures.

The latter is the characteristic of jihad and its preferred social world. That is why jihad is so utterly powerful and bothersome - it offers an alternative model to the central tenets of western liberalism. The internet circulates this radical alternative on a global scale.

If proletarianization characterized the North African uprisings, few western democracies would be defending or supporting them. NATO would not be annihilating people in Libya under the pretense of democracy. There have however been aspects of proletarianization in the North African case - for example, the unknown quality and intent of the rebels in Libya. This suggests a mode of revolt that cannot be defined within pre-existing western definitions of government or management.

That is the point of the internet's relationship with proletarianization: it expresses and enhances unregulated aspects of human behavior. In seeking emancipation from the central control of Muammar Gaddafi's government, the rebels have positioned themselves against his Green Revolution, which was about not being "western." The rebels want to be free and in being free they want to be emancipated to be western. Unfortunately, it appears that the kind of "west" they have in mind in more in line with cowboys, not managed development. The latter was arguably achieved by Gaddafi's government. The question is: is the wild west being promoted by NATO and the US?

But the real question about he North African uprisings is how synchronous will the new governments be with the wests's interests? That is all that matters to the powers that be.

This should hardly be surprising. The most successful phase of western-style capitalism has been and continues to be cowboy capitalism. Its bastard offspring is crony capitalism with public subsidy capitalism driving the system for generations. It is not really capitalism at all, as the Chinese know... in fact, the Chinese are closely studying Marx's Das Capital. It is little wonder that they understand capital and its management, while the west continues to celebrate its cowboys. Look at which model is winning! But for the moment, freedom with minimal constraints, little or no regulation is preferred.

Proletarianization is a terrifying prospect for the western mode of thinking, because when it appears in formations such as the Tea Party in the US, it refuses to draw the veil of liberal deception across the public discourse. The internet is lifting the veil to reveal the cowboys, the cronies and the subsidized.

The "uprisings" in North Africa are the beginning of a continuation of  social movements informed and mobilized by internet media. People wanting emancipation now have access to the internet. Recent history has never been so unpredictable.   

Friday, June 24, 2011

Uprising - 1. Understanding the new meaning of proletarianization

The increasingly commonplace view that government and the state is "the problem" can be traced to the rise of the internet. This relationship is defined by the idea that the internet is unregulated. This means it is "free" of government oversight, thereby making possible an endless vista of human ingenuity. It would seem that everyone wants this combination - freedom coupled with ingenuity - and, say the anti-state advocates, government is a hindrance to achieving this state of being.

This theory of "freedom" is complex, which is ironic given that being free should be easy, simple, an everyperson's agreed state of being. The complexity is in the fact that an absence of regulation opens up the vista of human behavior. As soon as regulation is removed, the mass of society becomes much more complex indeed. Previous "agreements" within civil society about what to regulate give way to excess and the excess is what the internet is about.  

This moves marks the reinvention of proletarianization.

The term was first commonly used by Karl Marx and Marxists to describe the impact of the labor theory of value. In this industrial model, wages were given in return for hours worked, and in this relationship it was possible to see the exploitation of the laborer as s/he became valued only for the labor offered. Thus workers underwent a process of proletarianization because their autonomy was taken from them as they were reduced to laborers within the machine of industrial production.

Contemporary proletarianization is a condition where it is possible to see the entire edifice of human behavior, not just labor and its relationship to the capitalist project of surplus value or profit.

In other words, the internet has become the means of opening up this transparency, so that the nature of  being itself is observable. Without regulation every aspect of human behavior has entered the domain of the internet - from crime to pornography to excesses in violence - where it is observed, practiced, promoted, promulgated and sold.

The demise of regulation on the internet is a double edged sword. It allows everything digital to circulate and it allows our entire lives to be observed, surveilled and monitored by governments, corporations and other individuals. The absence of regulation means the new meaning of proletarianization can be understood as the unregulated exposure of human beings.

Next time I will consider the challenge the shift to proletarianization presents to governments which have relied on Western European Enlightenment concepts of regulation. By accepting the internet, they have undone the core rationale for regulation and civil society.  

For more on this subject see, Uprising: The Internet's Unintended Consequences by Marcus Breen at