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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/8556/liberation-by-internet/

Liberation by Internet

September 19, 2008 by

As a decentralized communication system facilitating the sending and receiving of messages by billions of people, the Internet has greatly shifted the balance of power away from governments and toward sovereign individuals. Even in its early days, the Internet played a vital role in bringing about the downfall of the Soviet Union’s government. Since then, it has catalyzed tremendous economic, social, and political liberation in countries ranging from Cuba to the United States. FULL ARTICLE


Barky September 19, 2008 at 5:19 pm

Seems to me Ross Perot got a lot further than Ron Paul without the internet. As they say: money talks.

Fephisto September 19, 2008 at 7:52 pm

Printing Press.

Ellen September 19, 2008 at 11:43 pm

@Barky: I had to Google him to find out who he was. Anyone in real life knows who the main candidates are, and anyone who spends time actually on the internet (checking email, facebook, and news sites doesn’t count) knows who Ron Paul is. So, the internet definitely helped.

IMHO September 20, 2008 at 1:29 am

There are those who think of the Internet as the wild west. That they can do as they please, because no rules apply.

What these individuals do not seem to understand is that if you are posting, retrieving e-mail, or if your website is hosted at another party’s server, you are subject to the terms and conditions of the individual whose site you are using. In other words, you’re under a contractual obligation to play by their rules, or else you risk being banned from the site.

To my knowledge, contracts are supposed to be important to libertarians. So, violating the terms of service while using another’s website/server would, IMHO, be against libertarian philosophy.

Curt Howland September 20, 2008 at 7:24 am

Barky, you’re forgetting that Perot served a purpose: Splitting the Republican vote so that Billary would be elected.

Once done, he takes his government assured money and walks away.

IMHO September 20, 2008 at 7:44 am

Ron Paul did quite well with the Internet and could have done much better overall had both sides and the media not marginalized him. But they did that because, quite frankly, his message scared them. It’s just my opinion, but FAUX News was out in the forefront of a disinformation campaign. Remember how Hannity kept accusing Ron Paul supporters of cheating on the text message voting after the debates, even though it was impossible to vote twice?

Ron Paul won’t run on a third party ticket because he doesn’t want to be a “spoiler”.

N. Joseph Potts September 20, 2008 at 1:12 pm

The listing at the beginning of Hitler and Stalin as heavy users of centralized media for propaganda purposes omitted F. D. Roosevelt and Churchill.
Fireside Chats and all that. You can still hear them to this day. On the Internet, of course.

averros September 20, 2008 at 4:36 pm

Thanks for the good article… a minor correction: “Relcom” stands for not only “Reliable Communications” (which was quite important quality back then when to make an inter-city call one in most cases needed to talk to an operator and then wait, postal mail had 50:50 chance of getting lost or taking few months to arrive, and most phone lines were too poor-quality for faxes on rainy days. Radio and TV worked fine, though) – but also for “Russian Electronic Communications”, underscoring the intent to develop Russian-language community rather than an appendix to English-dominated Western networks. I know that first hand – I coined the name :)

(There also was a satirical element to this name, which sounds like “partcom”, “narcom”, etc – common abbreviations for “party comissar”, “narodny (people’s) comissar”, etc).

Anyway, the founders of the company which created Relcom (which was the first Internet Service Provider in the USSR) couldn’t be called libertarians – most were engineers with dissident leanings, but otherwise rather well-integrated within Soviet regime. I still remember, however, one conversation with Valery Bardin (one of the founders), who told me that a decent person has no choice but to be an anarchist.

pippin September 22, 2008 at 8:28 am

To averros: And Internet played no part at all in the downfall of USSR. A recitation from Relcom own site: “1st august 1990 Relcom was founded … to the end of 1990 there were some thirty organizations, mainly scientific centers of Serpukhov, St Peterburg, Novosibirsk connected to our network.” Half year later USSR fell. The main part of ideological job had been done by common medias such as TV, magazines etc. Remembering the time, I can confirm an unprecedented level of freedom of speeches. This article is a sample of slackness in the work with sources, undermining the public trust toward the whole matter in question. Author’d better learn how to tell between reality and illusion.

jimmy September 22, 2008 at 8:51 pm

The Tor project is helping to fight government censorship online. Many people in China, Germany, and the Middle East use Tor to access portions of the web that governments actively block. Type “Tor” into youtube and you will find a number of very informative talks about how to defend freedom online.

They have a Firefox plug-in, and you can learn more about them here: http://www.torproject.org/

averros September 22, 2008 at 9:15 pm

pippin – have you been there? At the critical days (19-21 August 91) the Internet was the only broadcast-capable communication medium not controlled by the coup leaders.

The coup was planned and executed along the same lines as the Brezhnev’s hardline coup which removed Khrushev from power – taking over media, and then waiting for the regional leaders to switch allegiance over to the new clique. It is crucial to success of a coup d’etat to create impression that the new clique is firmly in control (since offering allegiance to the losing side meant an end of career (or worse) to these leaders).

By mid-1991 Relcom had presence in every mid-size city in the USSR – mostly in research and military institutions, and high-tech businesses – all of which had some links to local powers-that-are. The distribution of contrarian reports during near-total media blackout ensured wait-end-see attitude among the regional civil administrators and military commanders, which, in turn (when the anticipated pouring of offers of loyalty didn’t materialize) caused coup leaders to lose their nerve.

There was no significant media or government participation in on-line activities before the coup; that changed on 19th – every major news agency and a lot of government offices in USSR became connected to the Internet on that day (the entire staff at DEMOS spent most of that day (and night – didn’t get much sleep for three days) activating new accounts and instructing new users – in some cases by going directly to user premises (including Yeltsin’s office in Parliament building) and bringing pre-configured equipment. All “progressive” newspapers (and leaflets) printed 20th and 21th consisted mostly from the news arriving over the Internet (they credited it, too).

In the retrospect, the coup turned out to be a major advertisement campaign for the Internet; by the end of 1991 there were about 150 regional ISPs (mostly affiliated with Relcom, but other independent networks such as Glasnet got a boost, too) – as evident from the routing maps from that time.

pippin September 25, 2008 at 4:18 am

It’s a fault to think that USSR fell because the coup took place. The coup was the last stroke. Beforehand a good deal of work had been done, and Internet had been nothing to do with the work, because it simply didn’t exist in USSR at the time. I repeat, the main part of job was done by common medias, such as “Ogonyok” magazine (do you remember who is Mr. Korotich?) , “Vzglyad” TV program, and so on. “At the critical days” the main source of information were “Ekho Moscvy”, BBC and “Voice of America” broadcasting services. What good is in having “presence in every mid-size city in the USSR – mostly in research and military institutions” if total audience is tiny, simply because computers are rather rare, and in consciousness of a man of the street lay close to concept of “wonder”? Telling that, in the coup’s morning, the population waked up and ran to nearest Relcom office to by Internet connection, and after such was obtained, in three days time “the veil of lies” fell down from people’s mind – is a downright lie by itself. Mind change is a slow job. So, I repeat again, the author plays with facts, and pity about that, because such a unfairness undermines readers’ trust toward the whole site, bright though it is in other aspects. Sorry for my English.

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