In the West…

In the West there was panic when the migrants multiplied on the highways. Men of property were terrified for their property. Men who had never been hungry saw the eyes of the hungry. Men who had never wanted anything very much saw the flare of want in the eyes of the migrants. And the men of the towns and of the soft suburban country gathered to defend themselves; and they reassured themselves that they were good and the invaders bad, as a man must do before he fights. They said, These goddamned Okies are dirty and ignorant. They’re degenerate, sexual maniacs. These goddamned Okies are thieves. They’ll steal anything. They’ve got no sense of property rights.

And the latter was true, for how can a man without property know the ache of ownership? And the defending people said, They bring disease, they’re filthy. We can’t have them in the schools. They’re strangers. How’d you like to have your sister go out with one of ’em?

The local people whipped themselves into a mold of cruelty. Then they formed units, squads, and armed them- armed them with clubs, with gas, with guns. We own the country. We can’t let these Okies get out of hand. And the men who were armed did not own the land, but they thought they did. And the clerks who drilled at night owned nothing, and the little storekeepers possessed only a drawerful of debts. But even a debt is something, even a job is something. The clerk thought, I get fifteen dollars a week. S’pose a goddamn Okie would work for twelve? And the little store- keeper thought, How could I compete with a debtless man?

John Steinbeck: The Grapes of Wrath

Thoughts on the Political Economy of the Internet – A call to Bloggers, Writers and Activists

Critical Media Review will begin a series where it will gather and collate blogs, articles, thoughts and comments on issues surrounding the great ‘public sphere’ of the twenty-first century – the internet. CMR calls on bloggers, scholars, activists and any interested individuals to send their thoughts, articles and links here.  Short articles and links to already existing work are welcome.  CMR can be reached at criticalmediareview@gmail.com

CMR is interested especially (but not restricted to) the following areas:

The Internet, privacy and the commodification of everything – one reading of the growth of the internet and especially social media is the encroachment of our private lives by capitalism. Now alongside the privatisation of such services as water and power, in recent years  our most intimate private lives, friendships and networks have become mere informational commodities to be recorded, commodified and traded. Moreover our ever connectedness through smart phones and other mobile devices mean we are connected to our workplaces, the markets and advertisers twenty-four hours a day seven days a week. It allows for the dystopia of the surveillance society as predicted by Orwell and Foucault. And finally  is the very success of social networks built upon the commodified free-labour of users themselves?

The internet and open-source as an alternative to capitalism as we know it – the internet its connectivity and its potential for collaborative and co-operative work offers a model to move beyond commodity capitalism.

The internet and the alternative media – the internet offers an unprecedented opportunity to working class and subaltern groups, firstly as it offers a cheap and effective platform for the production and dissemination of alternative views and news; secondly as it offers the possibility of two-way and three-way discussion. It bypasses traditional gatekeeping practices of the mainstream corporate media and even within the working class movement bypasses traditional gatekeeping by party hierarchies (by access to party publications and networks). However is so-called ‘citizen journalism’ a match for the resources and power-structures of the corporate media?

The internet as a site of struggle – As seen in the Arab Spring and in battles over copyright legislation the internet is becoming more and more a site of struggle itself. How will the state react to perceived threats coming from hacker activists and how will users of the internet react to current state policies attempting to bring capitalist laws on copyright to the cyber sphere?

The internet and its relation to the material basethe internet and other communicative networks can be perceived in terms of the base/superstructure as defined by Marx. In a rethinking of the base /superstructure concept what is the relationship between material ‘reality’ and the internet. How does the internet effect the economic and social base in terms of politics and class struggle and indeed how does the material base of class and the relations of production affect the development of the internet itself?