Twofish's Blog

September 30, 2007

Random notes

Filed under: china, chomsky, internet — twofish @ 1:48 am

Interesting article about Chomsky and Chavez

One of the big disagreements that I have with Chomsky is when he talks about turning the public into an organized force. That scares me because within the public there are lots of interest groups that disagree about some pretty fundamental things, and turning the “public” into a large monolithic block removes a lot of the diversity within the “public.” Also, having things decided by the “majority” becomes really scary when you are a “minority.”

As far as Chavez, I really have no idea what to think about him and what is happening in Venezuela. One thing that I’ve learned about the media, is that you should always be careful when the media tries to make you feel strongly about something, and whenever I hear something in the media about someone that makes them look like either an angel or a devil, I get suspicious.

Rebecca Mackinnon has done a good job talking about misconceptions about the Chinese internet, and how the internet didn’t end the Communist Party of China. I actually was one of the few people that didn’t think that the internet would bring the end of the Communist Party and that was in large part because I had read Chomsky, Gramasci, and Foucault. Google for Panopticon.

I also think that Chomsky is making a mistake when he says that the internet will be the end of corporate domination of the media. It will certainly change the mechanics of corporate domination, but people with money and power will figure out how to use the internet for their own ends (and vice versa, people who figure out who to use the internet before anyone else does will end up with money and power).

Another good like about whether NGO’s are selling their soul to be in China. Of course they are. The question that people need to ask themselves is not whether or not they are selling their souls. You *have* to sell your soul to some extent in order to do something useful in politics and economics. The real question is *what is the price you are getting for your soul*? By agreeing to do or not to X in exchange for Y, are you making the situation better or worse? That’s a tough question to answer sometimes.

One final note with relevance to getting around internet censorship in China. I’m suspicion of technical tools to do so because they may be worse than useless. A faulty anti-censorship system is *MUCH* worse than no system, because it gives people a false sense of security, in which they start doing things that they wouldn’t if they didn’t think that they weren’t being watched. The big mistake that Yahoo China made with respect to Shi Tao was to not make it clear that everything someone writes on Yahoo should be assumed to be readable by the Chinese government, and I doubt that most of the cyberdissidents would have said the things that they did if that warning had been present.

About how Yanukovich has become extremely popular due to American media strategists. Of course, this is a very funny article because I’m sure that this article is part of Yanukovich’s media strategy.

1 Comment »

  1. For Venezuela there is an interesting (pro-Chavez) blog in english here that often deals with the economy and MSM:

    In particular the ex ruling class hates Chavez for one big reason: he restored a mostly working tax system where people do pay the officially published taxes (instead of paying nothing).

    Comment by Laurent GUERBY — October 1, 2007 @ 9:15 pm

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