Spiked special on Oz internet censorship

keza and Danu Poyner just got published on Spiked

Spiked: “Humanity is Underated”

spiked is an independent online phenomenon dedicated to raising the horizons of humanity by waging a culture war of words against misanthropy, priggishness, prejudice, luddism, illiberalism and irrationalism in all their ancient and modern forms.

keza: Liberal Tyranny on the World Wide Web ( revised version of my article about Clive Hamilton)

Danu: ‘Digital Natives’ take on censorious Kevin

There’s also an article by Guy Rundle:  Tear Down Australia’s Great Firewall Reef

While I’m at it, I’ll republish a comment by David Jackmanson on the very anaemic response by the mainstream pseudo-left  (originally posted to our Allying with the Right  thread). I think it needs more prominence:

Following up on the Net censorship issue and the difference between Right and Left responses:Check out this appalling article on Larvatus Prodeo, my least favourite social-democratic Australian blog.

It’s a languid whinge about how the anti-censorship rallies aren’t being organised to the liking of Mark Bahnisch, the apparent self-appointed arbiter of protest tactics. It’s a pity he didn’t bother to get involved in the organising if he felt so strongly about it. And they haven’t even bothered to embed the YouTube video advertising the protest.Obviously the 870 people who’ve confirmed on Facebook that they’re attending the rally don’t think that Bahnisch’s concerns are enough to keep them away.

In contrast, the right-libertarian site Catallaxy posted the video almost two weeks ago, and even after the number of views has started to rise quickly, they still provided 4.5% of the total viewers for the video (about a hundred views out of 2 200). They stepped up to the plate, as have a lot of angry Internet users who neither know nor care about Larvatus Prodeo.

My disdain for the comfortable groupthinkers at Larvatus Prodeo is obviously showing. But even if some of their arguments have merit, where were they when the planning meetings for the rally were being held? Sniping from the sidelines is very easy, especially if you claim to support the cause in the first place. But helping to convince the public of the rightness of our cause is what is needed now, not concern trolling.

16 Responses to “Spiked special on Oz internet censorship”

  1. 1 Arthur

    facebook link requires login.lavartus prodeo link broken.others interesting.BTW, it might be useful to do a critique on Spiked’s smug self congratulation on being still unable to recognize how obviously wrong they were and are on Iraq.Just because they aren’t as clueless as the pseudos, and aren’t viscerally opposed to any progress whatever, doesn’t mean they rise above the conventional wisdom when it matters.

  2. 2 Sam D

    Hey Kerry, great article on Spiked! I agree (as we have discussed previously) on the response from the much of Left (pseudo or otherwise).

  3. 3 James

    Looks like the social conservatives of the Libs are unconvinced by Conroy – Cory Bernardi has blogged his opposition to it.

  4. 4 youngmarxist

    Well it took a lot of needling, but Larvatus Prodeo finally trash-talked us in return for this article. Thanks for the link guys, we’d love to talk to anyone who is interested in a real conversation.

    Bahnisch complains: “[Strange Times] can’t resist a side swipe at us “pseudo-leftists” even when we’re on the same page”.

    No Mark, we are NOT on the same page. Not after your nasty little comment saying that the timing of the rally was chosen for the “personal convenience” of the organiser. You know nothing about who is organising this rally, what factors they had to weigh up and why they made the decision they did. I’m in regular contact with the chief organiser of the Brisbane rally and I can tell you that she’s working bloody hard to get this thing going. If she were concerned about her “personal convenience” she wouldn’t be doing this at all.When it comes to organising activism, “being on the same page” means you support people who are doing hard work. If you think they are wrong, you still show them the respect they deserve for the work they’ve put in.

    Amusingly enough, I suspect that on many issues the main organiser is far closer to the views of LP than us. The work I’m doing won’t convert her to our point of view, but it will strengthen the alliance between a host of people who disagree on much else. And that will make it easier to win the war against Internet censorship.

    What you don’t do if you want to be “on the same page” is say you support the issue, then snipe from the sidelines while not lifting a damn finger to make things happen. That is how you demoralise and undermine people who are actually trying to get things done. I’ve been white-anted by people when I’ve tried to organise things in the past – people who wouldn’t put up a single poster but who claimed to right to judge every single last thing I was doing. It sucks, it drained my energy, and that’s exactly the effect that Bahnisch’s piece will have.

    Bahnisch has no idea what the rally organisers are planning to do about the need for shade.This rally is being supported by other people who we profoundly disagree with. The Queensland Greens are getting on board, for instance. That means I’m forming a working alliance with people whose other views we’ll be criticising in the future. I think it’s important to use the word “pseudo-left” precisely. 

    What marks of the actions of Banisch as pseudo-left on this issue is that he claims to be “on the same page” while his actions make social change harder. In contrast, other people we disagree with are working hard to make these rallies happen, so at least on this issue they are not acting like pseudo-leftists

  5. 5 youngmarxist

    This comment on the Larvatus Prodeo article sums up the anti-political culture that has been actively encouraged on that site:…spend most of your spare time on blogs making witty comments and providing extremely amusing you tube links that display your erudite command of whatever subject is up for discussion, while insulting those who have the temerity to disagree with you. [Then] Rinse and repeat until boredom and ennui set in.

  6. 6 melaleuca

    Mark Bahnisch is a vile and disgraceful hypocrite in many ways I’m afraid. It is because of him and others of his ilk that these days I often call myself a centrist rather than a leftist.  By the way, if you ever organised a rally in favour of more pork barreling for the “arts community”, Bahnisch would be there come, rain hail or shine.

  7. 7 Adrien

    It’s a languid whinge about how the anti-censorship rallies aren’t being organised to the liking of Mark Bahnisch,

    Well that’s a little bit reductionist isn’t it? For some reason this little squabble reminds me of Life of Brian something about the only people we hate more than the Romans are….?Anyway. I think <a href=”http://adrienswords.wordpress.com/2007/02/05/the-left-is-useless/”>protests are naff</a>. They’re boring, they’re easily ignored, if few people show they’re discredited. And protests are a media event – an overused dull one.

    Sure sure if you get 10 000 people, if this happens a lot, then…. There are other techniques of communication. There are other things that can be done. I believe a small group of people, with larger ties of support, dedicated to a purpose orientated campaign would be more successful than the usual political cadre vying with each other for their place in the line to go up and bore the shit out of everyone with yet another: speech, chant, march routine.

  8. 8 Adrien

    Steve – Next Saturday there’s the MORE PORK FOR ARTS DORKS rally in Toorak. I know I’ll see you there. 🙂

  9. 9 youngmarxist

    melaleuca, shh! Don’t give away our secret plans! Adrien, I wouldn’t go as far as you appear to. While I agree that protests and rallies can be, and often are, meaningless, mindless rituals, they don’t *have* to be, and in this case I think it was well worth doing a rally (which I’ve just got back from).                    

    The reasons I think a rally was worth it this time was that about 200 people turned up, and I’d bet that 80% of them aren’t the “usual suspects” who’ll go to any rally that’s happening. When you get people out to an event who are doing something different, I think that’s a sign you are tapping into a movement that has real power.   I don’t have any reports from the other rallies yet, but at the Brisbane rally we very deliberately didn’t go in for the usual “Hey Hey! Ho Ho! Mindless Chantings! Got to Go!”.

    I was the first speaker and I revved up the crowd by talking about how great it was to see people come out on a stinking hot day, and how everyone who left their cool houses to come to a rally just *rocked*. That got some enthusiastic cheers.       

    Then, I talked about strategy – how we need to focus on arguments that are going to win the middle ground over, how we need to confront the Government’s dirty attempts to label opponents of censorship as pro-child-porn. I was surprised how well this went over – I got several cheers in this bit of my speech too, when I was half-expecting people to be resentful, to be thinking that just demanding more freedom of speech is all we need to do. I was wrong about that – people at the rally were very receptive to listening to a serious discussion about how we win the people in the middle ground and thus isolate the social conservatives who want Internet censorship.         

    After I spoke, I wandered through the crowd handing out some pamphlets we had printed up which re-inforced the message about strategy. That meant I was able to talk, to a majority of the people who turned up, thank them for coming out in such hot weather, and hand them a pamphlet. I think that sort of personal mingling is very important for a successful rally – it’s not _just_ an opportunity for speakers to lecture the crowd, it’s about getting people talking with you and with each other, helping them to realise that we have power and we are collectively smart enough to use it and beat this censorship. 

    I also spent some time talking to 4ZZZ-FM (the alternative community radio station) live on air, and doing two interviews with 4BC (a fairly right-leaning talk/news radio station). So I think we used our rally much more effectively than many others. Also, these rallies were thrown together on the fly, by a group of people who only came together in the last six weeks or less. For instance, on my YouTube video advertising the national rallies, you can see that a user called PureCaffeine has left a comment complaining that there was no rally in Canberra. Another user explained that this was because Canberra had no volunteers, and suggested that if they want a rally to happen, they were going to have to drop into the forums where it was being organised, and volunteer. Well, PureCaffeine did, and in less than a week and a half managed to get a rally up and running in the ACT.

    When you are working with these short times, (the first planning meeting in Brisbane was six weeks ago), and the limited resources that the rally organisers have at the moment, a rally looks very attractive because it’s cheap and easy. If we continued to hold only rallies, or if we didn’t use rallies to their full potential like we did today, and just turned them into the usual ritual, then I would agree with you that they are worthless. But it ain’t *necessarily* so, IMO.   If you click here you can read a two-year-old article of mine where I make sharp distinctions between the good bits and bad bits of a rally that I had nothing to do with organising. I’m just as weary as you are of stupid rallies, but I think that in this case, it was the right, smart thing to do.              

    Quickly, on your point about the People’s Front of Judea, I’m certainly biased against Larvatus Prodeo after the treatment I’ve received there attempting to debate a dissenting viewpoint. (I’m sure you can relate to that). I’ll accept that I can be more measured, and I will be so if I have to discuss this issue in the future. But I still say the tone of Bahnisch’s post is poisonous and is likely to undermine the work and morale of people who are taking the fight up to the Government – while all the time claiming to be on the same side. I think that sort of thing is worth calling out. I think it’s far more damaging than the mere challenge to justify the tactics of a rally that is implicit in your comment. ***BTW, the link in Adrien’s post goes to this article.***

  10. 10 Arthur

    Melbourne rally had a reasonable turnout with crowd staying despite light rain (will leave estimation of numbers to others).Included usual suspects but not dominated by them. I got the impression it was organized by ISPs as there were several speakers from ISP background.

    Re tactics, rallies are where tactics should be discussed!

    Speeches aimed at reinforcing convictionswith which the speaker is quite certain the audience already agrees, are absolutely pointless (and therefore a hallmark of the pseudoleft).At the least, speeches at rallies should aim to provide advice and ammunition for the people attending, on how to convince and organize others. Better still, is to be actually organizing those who turn up directly.

    Some of that was happening, but it was obviously embryonic and had not got to the stage of openly debating how best to organize and what line would win the campaign.

    Several speakers and posters referred to internet “filtering”.

    That, like the “no cleanfeed” campaign name, reflects success of the enemiy’s slick marketing strategy which has involved spending millions to spread the concept of “internet safety” – and similar doublespeak.

    Other speakers did not mention filtering and spoke only of “censorship”. I suspect the organizers understand the point, and are trying to make the shift, but have not yet grasped the fact that making the shift itself requires open discussion/debate of the difference at rallies – ie take the opportunity of those speakers or posters referring to filtering to explain the purpose of a policy of never referring to filters, but only to censorship.

    Also, such policies need to be debated at organizing meetings and formally adopted, so people fully understand (and can change) the tactics.

    A tactic I would suggest is to really up the ante against the proponents. What they are trying to do is fiddle with people’s internet connections because they are obsessed about children’s sexuality and want to interfere with the children. That should be spelled out in slogans (directed at Government, not just Hamilton). “Kevin hands off our kids!” “Stop governments interfering with children on the internet”. Obviously such a campaign needs careful drafting. This is only a top of the head attempt.

    But formally specifying slogans that can actually mobilize and extract a political cost for supporting the other side, is what should be debated at organizing meetings. (“Talking points” without sharp clear slogans result in idiocies such as naming the campaign “no cleanfeed”).

  11. 11 melaleuca

    I remember Bahnisch proudly telling his adoring audience that he marched against the American liberation of Kuwait back in 1990. Throw in an anti-American angle and the pseudo-left drones will exit the hive and march for anything.

  12. 12 youngmarxist

    Bush wants to censor the Internet! It’s all his fault! Cheney and Rumsfeld are in on it too! And Bush is like, SO stupid, and Tony bLIAR is his POODLE who also wants to censor! Man.

  13. 13 youngmarxist

    Arthur, the main reason that I’m using #nocleanfeed is not as a title for this rally or campaign, but as a hashtag on twitter. Too many twitter users are using the #nocleanfeed tag to mark their posts about internet censorship to not use it, despite the very good arguments that there are better ideas. The reason I’m puting #nocleanfeed into article titles is that our posts get automatically sent to the Strange Times Twitter account, and then they can be picked up by websites designed to track these tags – click here to see the #nocleanfeed tags that are being tracked by twemes.com.                                  We weren’t able to directly organise anyone at the Brisbane rally, and that is IMO a high priority. To do that we need to get more people in the organising team.

  14. 14 youngmarxist

    There’s a good discussion going on at the Brisneyland LiveJournal community about Brisbane’s rally, appropriate tactics, etc. This shows quite a few people willing to take the issue seriously and think about how to win.

  15. 15 Sam Clifford

    David, I’m glad you got a fair bit of media from the event. Had you invited them specifically or did they turn up of their own accord?

  16. 16 youngmarxist

    Sam, I did a big email-out of media releases a fortnight ago and followed up by phone mid-to-late last week.

    BTW I did a brief “how to get in touch with the media” post at the nocensorship.info forums which may be worth copying and reposting for anyone who needs to do publicity but is feeling a bit mystified by where to start.

  1. 1 No censorship - leave our kids alone! at STRANGE TIMES
  2. 2 Global Voices Online » Australia: Reflections from ‘No Clean Feed’ rallies
  3. 3 Stopping Australian Internet Censorship: Strategy Discussion #nocensorship #nocleanfeed at STRANGE TIMES

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