Oi, forum posters - listen up!

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Steven.'s picture
Steven.
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Nov 17 2004 14:20
Oi, forum posters - listen up!

An editorial written for Freedom by RG aimed at people like you!

Take heed internet nerds wink

Quote:
Lost In Cyber Space

Anarchists were amongst the first to recognise the benefits of the web as a means of communication, propaganda, organisation and information. Well before authoritarian left groups had a presence in cyber space anarchists were there arranging and promoting demonstrations like Mayday through the web. Type 'anarchist' into Google and you'll get 283,000 results, compared to 188,000 for 'Marxist'. Given how prevalent the internet is in the life of many people today it has probably played a significant role in raising the profile of anarchism and attracting people to our ideas in recent times. We may not be able to turn too many people out to sale copies of Freedom on demos' but you don't need to search too far on the web to find out about anarchism or Freedom.

The internet is in fact particularly suited to anarchism. Open, democratic, participatory, non hierarchical and generally out of the control of the state (although as the recent seizure of Indymedia's server and the attack on the US based Raise the Fist site shows not completely immune from the state's attention).

So far so good but is the web becoming a problem for us? I think it might be. Technology should be a means to an end, not an end in itself. For some anarchists though posting on the web is becoming a substitute for engaging with real politics. Go on any anarchist discussion board and you will read post after post after post. You will notice that some people seem to spend most of their day posting - it's almost like an addiction. Some of the stuff that's posted is rubbish, egotistic or self indulgent (sometimes all three), a fair amount though is decent and some very good. Whatever the quality though it is clear that there are plenty of anarchists spending a fair amount of their time on the web. How can it be then that most issues Freedom has to scrape around for copy? Why is it that some people spend hours posting but won't bother writing for the main anarchist newspaper? How can it be that Black Flag is about to go under because there are not enough people to keep it going? Couldn't some of those frenetic posters give up a little of their time and help out? It seems odd that in less than a year 13,500 articles by 700 odd people have been posted an enrager.net but the movements main publications are struggling.

This wouldn't matter so much if the web had replaced paper based sources of information and propaganda but it has not. Despite early predictions people still like to read books, papers and magazines, but as a movement we are struggling to produce and support these. Much of what is posted is also inward looking of little appeal I expect to people outside the movement. I support Reading FC whose fans have a great website (Hobnob Anyone?). I regularly read Hobnobs message board but I can't imagine any one who doesn't follow the club bothering. I also doubt it will add one person to Reading's fan base.

Here's another thing - the internet isn't real life. It is not a substitute for meeting people, organising activities in local communities or whatever. For some people though I suspect posting on discussion lists has become their idea of being active when in fact it can be a distraction. The movement will only grow and develop through human contact with real people not someone who glories under a clever assumed web name.

The web's a great tool and anarchists are great at using it. The sheer volume of stuff that is posted on sites like enrager.net though makes it hard though to see the wood for the trees: yeah their may be something important buried away there about international solidarity but I can't be bothered to plough through a plethora of posts about some ones favourite books and what they'd do if they won the lottery to find it.

I'm not suggesting we throw the baby out with the bath water. It's about balance. Sure use the web but decide whether the time you are spending on it is really worth it. What else could you be doing? Writing an article for Freedom perhaps?

JDMF's picture
JDMF
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Nov 17 2004 16:46

nice one. Though i am quilty for 300+ of the posts mentioned in the article. I post mainly from work, so nothing lost there.

But why don't i write for freedom? Well to illustrate, here's a post on enrager:

Quote:

fucking hippies activisty wanky shit

or

Quote:

it's class

and compare these posts to the one written above in freedom. Point being, this is mostly chit chat, not deep analysis (and conflicts arise when some try to have a serious conversation which gets derailed by chit chat).

Also, i don't feel confident enough to be contributing. As you know, i have shit politics anyway grin

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Joined: 26-09-03
Nov 17 2004 18:26
JDMF wrote:
Also, i don't feel confident enough to be contributing. As you know, i have shit politics anyway grin

Hey!

You see how the anarcho movement wastes its talent?

Shameful.

Seriously, writing for Freedom is no biggie, they're so desperate they'll accept any old crap. black bloc I'm sure you've got plenty of interesting news/views that would be good to see.

Jacques Roux's picture
Jacques Roux
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Nov 17 2004 18:53

See my post below...

JDMF's picture
JDMF
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Nov 17 2004 19:06

and perhaps this forum can be used more by freedom to fish articles, columns, and news from. Just approach people when you see something which might become printworthy.

And it's not all doom and gloom - i haven't been involved in purely anarchist stuff in ages, in fact i just realised i've never been a member of an anarchist group, just a syndicalist one in another country and then IWW here. But of course, like many here i've kept my anarchist politics alive in other issues loike trade union/workplace stuff, different so called single issue things and in my every day life in general.

So this forum has been important to me to get in touch with other anarchists. I've also met a few nice people from here.

On the downside it has enforced the feeling i've had about the anarchist movement in this country that it is not in the best of states, and judging from here it won't get any better for a while. But i guess thats important to learn as well.

On the other hand it has been great to hear from many individuals who have sound politics and know how to articulate it. So i've definitely learned loads and hopefully continue to do so.

Anyway, my wife thinks i'm wasting too much time on this board, she is yet to be convinced it is not total waste of time grin

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Jacques Roux
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Nov 17 2004 19:33

Ok, hopefully a more articulate thread...

I think Richard's article is great because someone has written it and got some ideas out in the open but i also think it has its limitations....

Quote:

The internet is in fact particularly suited to anarchism. Open, democratic, participatory, non hierarchical and generally out of the control of the state (although as the recent seizure of Indymedia's server and the attack on the US based Raise the Fist site shows not completely immune from the state's attention).

Is the net really all those things? The author already points out one of the limitations - that the net is increasily under restrictions from governments. Also the costs involved, I would argue that its not really that non-hierarichal, even projects like this one have people who are overseeing how it grows and works. There's a great article on the the internet revolution - how great the internet is and what it meant for breaking up existing power relations - and what really manifested:

http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/%7Eswilson/research/wilson_peterson.pdf

Quote:
For some anarchists though posting on the web is becoming a substitute for engaging with real politics.

Or is it? I would say that politics is not losing out from the web, because people would not be particpating in politics anyway - for other reasons.

Quote:
Go on any anarchist discussion board and you will read post after post after post. You will notice that some people seem to spend most of their day posting - it's almost like an addiction.

But thats probably to do with the fact that its easy to talk crap and just have a chat with sometime people with similar minds. While its much harder to address people formally through a movement mouthpiece like a newspaper.

But also the nature of the medium, to write an article for a newspaper or magazine there are a number of systems to go through, while posting on a message board is much easier and less formal. Im not saying one is better than the other, im just saying that one is much more accessible.

Quote:
but as a movement we are struggling to produce and support these.

Obviously the stats dont exist but it would be interesting to see if the link and decline in interest in serious (?) poltics is even related, are people looking at the internet without considering the other options?

Quote:
Much of what is posted is also inward looking of little appeal I expect to people outside the movement.

But that applies to just about everything anarchist related!!!! No way can that be confined to the internet. And at least the internet often gives people a change to challenge that - through email, mailing lists etc. unlike an anonymous leaflet handed out.

Quote:
Here's another thing - the internet isn't real life. It is not a substitute for meeting people,

Here's a point i have hd lots of arguements about - Real life? Hmm the internet is just as real as anything else. It takes up physical space and uses the same processes in your mind to digest as a newspaper or speech or whatever. Obviously its not a substitue for meeting people but it is very often a very good way of finding new people to meet up with in real life.

I wouldnt be posting here if i hadnt been able to google ideas about Anarchism after Mayday 2k. And i know there are many people like me.

The internet is now an essential part of life in britain. It is changing how we have to organise as activists or whatever. It cant be dismissed as not being real.

Of course it is about balance. Of course the net isnt the end all and be all. But i think people often see the internet as a conveninet excuse to lay the blame on for other things.

The internet is here, its simple to use and accessible - we need to harnass it and fit it into how we work, not struggle against it.

Nice one again RG for bringing this up and startin some debate....

3rdseason
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Joined: 19-09-03
Nov 18 2004 02:22

Basically I agree with that article...

Not much to add really....

Anarchists are so spaced out that the net is a great thing in helping us not feel so isolated.

But I do think people use it as a substitute for other types of activity and it can make the movement too inwardly focussed.

neutral

WeTheYouth
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Joined: 16-10-03
Nov 18 2004 22:01

If i wasnt online, i'd be watching emmerdale with me mom, what choice do i have?

Anarch
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Joined: 22-09-04
Nov 19 2004 20:09

I don't know...spreading anarchism offline seems kind of dangerous sad

I mean, people are killed for this shit! I say we stay on the computers where we can pretend that most people agree with us and that the state is about to collapse.

red n black star