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WOT: Nine Theses on the Emerging Revolution in Communications and its Significance....
by Ben Seattle (reposted by Marik)
Monday Nov 13th, 2006 7:39 PM
As decade rolls after decade, information war and political transparency
will transform world culture, world politics, the terrain of the class struggle
and the left ecosystem which gives birth to revolutionary organizations.
For the first time in history, the majority of suffering humanity
will have access to a clear, accurate and comprehensive
class-based understanding of what is wrong with the world
and how to coordinate their actions in order to end bourgeois rule
and usher in a world without hunger, privation or war.

The industrial revolution created the modern proletariat.
The revolution in communications will allow this proletariat
to make itself conscious and will lead to the overthrow
of the system of bourgeois rule.

...brought to you by the Weapon of Transparency channel...
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What is the Weapon of Transparency channel?
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Who is doing this?

We (ie: Marik and Ben) are working to build a distribution channel for open discussion of the political and theoretical principles which are decisive for the development of a powerful antiwar and revolutionary movement.

Your rights ...

We believe that readers must have the right to make their replies visible to our international audience -- and to also receive a public response to their questions or criticisms (if they want one) from Marik or Ben.

More about ...

More about how readers can publicly post their questions/criticism for our audience -- and receive replies -- can be found in the "Afterword" section following the main article (see below). More about the Weapon of Transparency channel can also be found at: http://WeaponOfTransparency.com

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Nine Theses on the Emerging Revolution in Communications and its Significance
for the Awakening of Proletarian Political Life and Consciousness
-- Ben Seattle, July 2001
=================================================================

These nine theses are the second installment of
"Seventeen Theses on the Destiny of the Revolution
in Communications and the Concept of Workers' Rule".
available online (with public forum) at http://struggle.net/17


9. Like a leviathan that cannot be stopped, the relentless march of Moore's Law advances, leaving in its wake digital machine elements that are steadily approaching the dimensions of mid-sized molecules. Thru all phases of the boom and bust of the capitalist economic cycle, the basic elements of computing machinery (ie: transistors) continue to become smaller and faster and to create communications devices that are more powerful, easier to use and, above all, cheaper. Further, as the possibilities of current technology exhaust themselves, new technologies, currently being developed, will be waiting in the wings to take their place.

10. We have already witnessed the first "wave" of digital communications technologies: email and the web. This first wave has not only dominated much of the business news, but has influenced the economic cycle itself, contributing to the length and the height of the recent boom and the timing of the current recession. The first wave of the revolution in digital communications has led to an increase in the productivity of labor in the countries with advanced economies.

Nor is this all. The first wave has also begun to impact the development of the progressive movements:

(a) making it easier to mobilize activists for militant mass actions such as WTO-Seattle in 1999 or, more recently, Gothenburg, Barcelona and Genoa

(b) thru the emergence of thousands of web sites and hundreds of email lists it is now easier for activists to overcome their isolation, coordinate their actions and form communities.

Finally, it should be noted that the first wave, in the form of the Napster/MP3 phenomenon, has brought tens of millions of teenagers into direct conflict with the capitalist "intellectual property" laws. The present skirmishes on this front represent the prelude to a struggle which will be both immense and protracted.

11. While much ink, in the last few years, has been smeared on dead trees in order to describe the first wave, it is important to keep in mind that this first wave is only the beginning. Over the horizon, in the decades to come, other waves are heading our way:

(a) increased functionality (and decreased cost) of cell-phone-like wireless devices (for example: (i) web access, (ii) the text messages that teenagers create with their thumbs and (iii) the ability to capture and transmit images)

(b) internet radio for cars (currently the only political radio commentary that is openly angry--is from the right-wing. The corporate liberals are polite and spineless. But how long can this last once progressive voices are available to millions of commuters?)

(c) the eventual merger of television and the web (which will follow the deployment on a mass scale of broadband cable and phone connections). This will allow, for the first time, ordinary people to watch, from their homes, live broadcasts of progressive meetings and militant mass confrontations of the kind that are routinely ignored or filtered out by the major media and "news" corporations.

(d) voice recognition plus automated language translation (still at a crude stage but eventually to be practical) to allow people to easily communicate across barriers of distance and language. Voice recognition, in particular, holds the potential to open up communication with hundreds of millions of who remain illiterate.

(e) above all, the spread of these communications technologies, as they become dirt cheap, to the half of humanity who exist in the midst of a communications famine of such severity that they have never used a telephone.

12. It has long been said that "freedom of the press belongs to him who owns a press". But what happens as the cost of this "press" plummets toward zero? The traditional media "gatekeepers" who protect bourgeois interests and who decide what is interesting and what is deserving of respect will find, increasingly, that their services are no longer in such high demand--that others, of greater talent, are performing these services on behalf of the interest of another class: the proletariat.

13. If we cast aside the narrow time frames used by stock market analysts, venture capitalists and business technology reporters--and think in terms of _decades_ rather than months or years, we will see that the emerging revolution in communications will be fully comparable, in its human impact, to the revolution in industry created in the 1800's by the then cutting edge technologies of steel and steam.

... The industrial revolution created the modern proletariat.
... The revolution in communications will allow this proletariat
... to make itself conscious and will lead to
... the overthrow of the system of bourgeois rule.

The development and mass production of digital communications devices "as cheap as sand" will bring, first hundreds of millions, and eventually billions, of people into contact with a digital "media sphere" which (while initially dominated by the slick Hollywood-style manufacturers of consumer culture) will include channels created _by_ the proletariat and oppressed _for_ the proletariat and oppressed. These proletarian channels, small at first, will grow in popularity--and will prove extremely resistant to censorship--because the suppression of these channels would require _crippling_ the growth and development of the internet itself--which is steadily emerging as the beating heart at the center of all modern economies.

These channels, interactive (ie: two-way) by nature, will draw on the life experience of hundreds of millions of workers and the oppressed and will tear away the veil of bourgeois lies and ideology which hides all things. For the first time in history, the majority of suffering humanity will have access to a clear, accurate and comprehensive class-based understanding of what is wrong with the world and how to coordinate their actions in order to end bourgeois rule and usher in a world without hunger, privation or war.

14. The emerging revolution in digital communications holds promise to transform the terrain of the class struggle and, in particular, to transform the "left ecosystem" that conditions and determines the development of revolutionary organizations. Two emerging phenomena, strongly related to one another, must be noted. Both of these phenomena exist today more as promise than reality. But, as decade rolls after decade, they will transform world culture and world politics.

(a) Political Transparency

-- The emerging tendency will be that all key facts, key analysis and key arguments can no longer be kept _hidden_ from anyone who wants to know about them. Nothing important will be able to be concealed. The truth will out. The information that is decisive will tend to break thru all barriers, all filters and all distractions. The information that is important will be discovered by someone or another and will, in turn, be brought to the attention of many. Every hidden My Lai, every CIA-sponsered coup, every dirty deed by corporations (or their politician/flunkies) will be exposed. Every great wrong will bring forth a singer who tells the story in a song. Within the progressive movements themselves, the nature and influence of the labor aristocracy will be revealed. Every unprincipled maneuver, lie, hypocrisy or act of charlatanism will find itself caught in the harsh glare of the sun.

(b) Information War

-- The term "information war" is often used today to refer to the use of a virus or denial-of-service attack against computer systems. Over time, however, the meaning of this term will shift in the direction of describing a more profound phenomenon: an organized battle of ideas; an organized struggle for the consciousness of the masses that will draw the masses into debate and will be fueled by their energy and passion.

The ultimate computer is the human mind. And the ultimate virus is the idea that the laws of the marketplace and commodity production are not destined to dominate humanity until the end of time--but will become extinct in the course of the events of the 21st century.

15. The proletarian channels are destined to evolve in the direction of becoming the digital nervous system of the working class. In this light, we must take particular interest in the relationship between these proletarian channels and the revolutionary organizations that will create them and, in turn, be created by them.

The proletarian channels must be seen, above all, as channels between progressive activists, on the one hand, and the masses on the other. These channels will, most assuredly, not be one-way channels. Revolutionary energy in vast and ever-increasing amounts, will flow in both directions. These channels will reduce the distance between the revolutionary organizations and the masses--and will place the masses in the position of being arbiters in the disputes between revolutionary organizations--and in all processes that will govern the dissolution of dysfunctional organizations and the creation of new organizations on a healthier basis. Organizations which fail to respond to criticism or act in an unprincipled way will lose reputation and mindshare relative to organizations which admit and correct their mistakes.

In particular, the proletarian channels will serve to concentrate revolutionary elements who emerge from the masses. Thousands (and eventually hundreds of thousands) of volunteer "reporters" will be drawn from the mass audience; will participate in the struggles of the day; will get to know one another by reputation; will guide scientific debate on the burning questions and will contribute their deepening convictions to the creation of revolutionary organizations.

The mass revolutionary parties that will organize the overthrow of bourgeois rule in the 21st century will likely crystallize in the process of the creation of these proletarian channels and will, in turn, use these channels to expand their influence.

16. There is no difference, in _principle_, between revolutionary organizations making use of electronic channels and the more traditional communist work making use of agitation on paper. The advantages of electronic channels, however, will lead to a qualitative and quantitative transformation of agitation and propaganda.

The electronic channels will, in the first place, be _interactive_. The forums and communities of opinion that are created will result in a relatively rapid "information metabolism" (ie: the gathering of related facts and the digestion of scientific arguments) of current issues as opposing views come into direct confrontation with one another in the catalyzing presence of an audience that demands scientific integrity.

Secondly, the electronic channels will differ from paper agitation in _scale_. The electronic format will eventually facilitate a much larger audience and, further, will allow numerous organizations (even competing and hostile organizations) to _aggregate_ their content in order to, collectively, better compete with mainstream bourgeois news services. The result will be a common database of agitation that will function as an _electronic backbone_ of a very wide variety of paper publications.

The resulting coopetition (ie: simultaneous competition and cooperation) of the various groups will help to break down the sectarian barriers which exist between groups and will facilitate the eventual formation of a pole of attraction based on an anti-reformist axis which recognizes the necessity of independence from the labor aristocracy and learns to effectively oppose the influence of these defenders of bourgeois interest.

17. Practical consideration of how to apply these principles in the first decade of the 21st century leads to the conclusion that:

...It is an electronic news service that will become
...the fundamental means of collecting, concentrating and refining
...the forces which will organize a mass revolutionary party.

Such a news service is now possible. It can and must be built with minimal reliance on either money or copyright. It must be open to all contributors and must experiment with forms of collaborative filtering to separate the garbage from the gems. Such public domain news services will eventually be able to compete with the more mainstream news organizations and will position themselves to overwhelm them in the same way that "free software" projects such as Linux are positioning themselves to eventually overwhelm the leading commercial operating systems created by Microsoft.

The proletarian channels, like the Linux project, will be overwhelmingly based on volunteer labor. This is the secret to their eventual victory: massive amounts of free labor drawn from every city on earth with a significant online population. For those struggling to see the fundamental path forward: it will be a free and open news service.

-- Ben Seattle, July 2001

This essay is posted at http://struggle.net/17
together with a web-based public forum where anonymous,
unregistered readers can post public questions and criticisms.

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Afterword
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Contents of afterword:
--------------------------------
1. How to get a reply to questions or criticism
...(and why can't you simply get a response to what you post here on Indymedia)
2. What is the "Weapon of Transparency" channel?
3. Who is involved in this?
4. What is our immediate aim?
5. Where do we come from?
6. The mission of our channel
7. A final word

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1. How to get a reply to questions or criticism
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Here is what we recommend:

1. Post your considered question or criticism as a comment
where this essay is posted at: http://struggle.net/17

2. If you want a response (ie: as opposed to simply making a comment)
then be sure to make that clear in what you post.

3. You may also want to add a sentence about your experience
in the movement and/or the class struggle.

4. It would be helpful (although it is not necessary) for you
to mention the Indymedia site where you saw this posting.

Either Marik and/or Ben will respond (hopefully with something that
you will consider to be thoughtful and intelligent) within TEN DAYS.

If your question or criticism is good and/or you make it clear that you have
experience in the movement (ie: you march in antiwar demonstrations, etc)
then you are likely to get a response with greater depth.

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Why can't you simply get a response
to what you post here on Indymedia ?
--------------------------------------------------------

(a) Intelligent replies take time -- and we need the time.

Anyone can write _something_ quickly. However our experience is that thoughtful responses require thought .. and real thought takes time (ie: more than the day or two that a posting will stay on the front page of an Indymedia newswire).

We don't have all the answers. We are activists just like you. We make mistakes and need criticism. And we need intelligent questions that can help us to better focus on the kinds of issues that practical experience throws up.

(b) There is another reason also. Activists from all over the country face similar problems. We think it is useful to have a common place where activists can post their questions and/or criticisms as well as see what questions and criticisms are on the minds of other activists.

Note: We may post a few of the better comments which we find in the comments section of this Indymedia posting to the page at http://struggle.net/17 -- in order to share these comments with a wider audience. But we cannot guarantee that we will reply to your comment unless you post it yourself to http://struggle.net/17. The reason for this is simple. Activists who post to http://struggle.net/17 are more likely to come by later and read the replies we make ... and we want to prioritize our replies for those activists who are likely to read them.

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2. What is the "Weapon of Transparency" channel?
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We are working to build a distribution channel for discussion of political and theoretical principles essential for the development of a powerful antiwar and revolutionary movement.

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3. Who is involved in this?
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The Weapon of Transparency channel is run by Ben Seattle with assistance from Marik.

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4. What is our immediate aim?
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Our goal is to post something useful and intelligent to at least a dozen Indymedia sites every month for at least six months -- and to give an intelligent reply within ten days to all thoughtful responses we receive.

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5. Where do we come from?
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Ben and Marik met and dreamed up this project as part of the Media Weapon community -- an open community which includes anarchists, trotskyists, maoists, techno-utopians, reformists, revolutionaries and idle dreamers. At this time, we are more of a community-in-embryo (organized around the pof-200 email discussion list -- where opponents treat one another with respect -- and everyone has the right to post once per week) than a real community. The Media Weapon community is based on a core of serious activists who intend to build our community around the following mission:

...To help develop the theory and practice of information war
...to mobilize the working class for the overthrow of bourgeois rule

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6. The mission of our channel
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We fight to forge and to bring to the attention
of the international working class
the principles of information war
(as a struggle for ideas organized on a mass scale) ...

... so that our class may use
these principles of extreme power as weapons ...

... to build an open community of activists
centered around a living, self-correcting,
politically transparent,
militant and absolutely fearless
disciplined mass organization
based on the unshakeable foundation of mass democracy ...

... with the determination and ability to shoulder
the immense responsibilities of the U.S. proletariat ...

...for the elimination from this planet
of the political and economic system of imperialism

... and the liberation of humankind
from the class rule of the bourgeoisie
under which imperialism and imperialist war are inevitable.

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7. A final word
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... Isolated from one another we are easily defeated.
... Connected to one another no force on earth can stop us.

Marik and Ben work together as part of the Media Weapon community -- which, at this time, is more of a community-in-embryo than a real community. The community's email list includes activists from a variety of backgrounds: reformists and revolutionaries -- anarchist and "authoritarians" -- and a good number of young people who seem to hang out just to see what is going on. But we have not yet developed a practical program of work of the kind which is needed to attract and hold the attention of serious activists.

We hope that building this channel can be a step in this direction.

We want to see our community attract talented and dedicated activists who recognize that the progressive movement needs an open community in which different currents of thought and political trends will openly compete with one another as well as cooperate on many kinds of projects.

Check out our work. We need your help.

Weapon of Transparency channel -- http://WeaponOfTransparency.com
The Media Weapon community -- http://MediaWeapon.com
Seventeen Theses on the Destiny of the Revolution in Communications
and the Concept of Workers' Rule -- http://struggle.net/17
Ben Seattle, information theorist -- http://struggle.net/ben