Conference PaperPDF Available

Utopia and Liberty - Conference Paper Symposium Dürnstein 2015

Authors:

Abstract

This paper draws parallels between the invention of the printing press and the ascent of the internet and how they affected political developments.
3MS39
iJ
0
SYMPOSION
( _
'DÖRNSTEIN
POLITIK i RELIGION & PHILOSOPHIE
NÖ
Forschungs- und Biidungsges.m.b.H (NFB)
und
Donau-Universität
Krems (Hg.)
Glücksbilder.
Die Wirklichkeit der Utopien
,SYMPOSION
DURNSTEIN
^JtiL«»*
POLITIK
| RELIGION & PHILOSOPHIE
Tagungsband 2015
zum 4. Symposion
Dürnstein
r
den Inhalt verantwortlich: Ursula Baatz und Gudrun
Biffl
Die in der Publikation
geäußerten
Ansichten liegen in der Verantwortung der
Autor/inn/en und
geben
nicht notwendigerweise die Meinung der
NÖ
Forschungs- und
Biidungsges.m.b.H. (NFB) oder der
Donau-Universität
Krems wieder.
Verlag:
Edition
Donau-Universität
Krems, 2015
ISBN:
978-3-902505-74-3
Koordination: Daniela Stampfl-Walch
Lektorat: Friedrich Altenburg
Editing: Renate Porstendorfer
Impressum:
NÖ
Forschungs- und Biidungsges.m.b.H.
(NFB),
3100 St.
Pölten,
Neue Herrengasse 10
www.symposionduernstein.at
Donau-Universität
Krems (DUK), 3500 Krems,
Dr.-Karl-Dorrek-Strasse
30
www.donau-uni.ac.at/mig
Peter
Parycek, Ralph
Schöllhammer,
Malgorzata Goraczek
Utopia
and Liberty
John
Milton published one of the most persuasive defences of free speech, culminating
in
the
sentence: "Give me the liberty
to
know,
to
utter, and
to
argue freely
according
to
conscience, above all liberties." Most remarkable about Milton's speech were time and
place, delivered
in
1644 to the English Parliament. Milton's speech was heard only
by a
small
number
of
people but the "internet"
of
the time ensured
its
dissemination: the
printing press. In the 21st century people increasingly started searching for information
online,
while their ancestors in the 17th century did this
by
reading printed material. The
invention
of
the movable printing press by Johannes Gutenberg catalysed the spread
of
literacy across Europe. During Milton's time, half of the population in England had at least
a
rudimentary ability to read and write, similar to other, often Protestant parts
of
Europe
(G.
Clark 2009; Ferguson 2011). The printing press represented
a
significant invention
of
the
time, comparable to the internet today and the similarities between these two media
extend beyond new ways
of
spreading information. Once printing began,
an
increasing
number
of
people started to,
in a
metaphorical sense,
go
"online."
In
fact, the growing
reliability
of
postal services allowed the exchange
of
ideas across borders, comparable
only to the revolutionary effect
of
e-mail three centuries later. In this context, Ferguson
(2014)
notes "that the trajectories for the production and
price
of
PCs
in
the United
States
between 1977 and 2004 are remarkably similar to the trajectories for the produc-
tion
and
price
of printed books in England from 1490 to 1630".
Parallels
between the printing press and internet are even more astounding
if
we take
a
look at the crisis medieval universities
faced
due to the appearance of printed books. The
advent
of
literature
in
an easily available book format jeopardised the entire
concept
of
university.
As Arthur Herman points out, "why bother going
to
Paris
or
Oxford
to
learn
what the best minds had written,
[...]
when your children
could
discover that for
them-
selves
on the shelves
of
your own library?" (Herman 2010, Kindle Location 5862).
This
historical episode reflects contemporary concerns about higher education. The availability
of
online courses
could
make traditional universities with their lecture halls and
direct
interaction obsolete.
It is
also
a
powerful reminder that technological progress can lend
itself
to euphoria that may differ from actual outcomes. As observed
in
following cen-
turies,
the advent of the book reinforced the university as an institution.
Revolutions
in the dissemination
of
information, however, are never free of tensions and
political conflict. Many political systems nowadays consider the internet as
a
threat
to
their monopoly
of
power, just as the printing press
no
longer allowed knowledge and
information to be controlled by the few. Like today, different political systems reacted
in
various
ways
to
this new challenge. The Ottoman Empire, for example, outright resisted
using the printing press, claiming "scholar's ink is holier than martyr's blood" (Deen 2011,
4).
This
prohibition was reinforced
by
the Islamic preference for calligraphy
to
honour
their religious beliefs, which had an uneasy relationship with the figurative depiction
of
sacred texts (Lewis and Churchill 2008, 48-50). Not surprisingly,
in
1515, Sultan
Selim
I
instituted the death sentence for any person found
to be
using
a
printing press,
a
policy
that was more
or
less continued until
the
late eighteenth century
(Acemoglu
and
Robinson
2012, 213-216).
The
differences between England and the Ottoman Empire reflect
a
key problem related
to
advances
in
information technology. Technology itself can
be
regarded as neutral, but
different parties struggle for the power
to
define
its
application.
In its
early days, the
printing press proved to be a force for scientific advancement as well as for religious
fanatics. The most printed book in the sixteenth and seventeenth century was the
Malleus
maleficarum
with its twenty-nine editions, a
work
that contributed substantially
to
the
legitimisation
of witch-hunting, leading to 12,000 to 48,000 people being killed,
most of them women (Ferguson 2011, 62).
Shortly
thereafter, spreading information in Western societies became the most impor-
tant element driving the scientific revolution and supplanting of religious beliefs by
rationality.
The Protestant insistence on giving people the ability to read the scriptures
was
a driving force for literacy. Despite contemporary misinterpretations of the Reforma-
tion
as an "opening of the European mind", it was driven by religious passion rather than
religious moderation. Martin Luther criticised the church for neglecting their flock's
religious education. Although Luther encouraged the translation of the Koran and other
works
to prove their fallibility, the Reformation opened up society as an unintended
consequence. Printed books changed society beyond just facilitating the spread of
information;
as Latin lost its status as lingua franca across Europe, more and more books
were
printed in languages that ordinary people
could
understand. Although the printing
press was invented in China over 300 years before Gutenberg built his version, there was
no
ideological force behind it, driving the dissemination of printed material. The theolo-
gical
tenets of the Reformation were a perfect complement for this technological
break-
through in printing. The new religious doctrine forced even enemies of the press to
engage in an intellectual struggle that until then was neither necessary nor possible
(Ferguson
2011, 348).
Factors
such as increasing literacy rates, a
drop
in the
price
of books and intellectual
curiosity for non-religious texts were unpredictable. Ancient texts by Plato and Aristotle
were
rediscovered, as well as the works of the Humanists.
This
development was not
considered valuable by leaders of the Reformation, including Martin Luther, who despised
Aristotle
(Ferguson 2011, 61; Herman 2010).
These
historical occurrences remain relevant today. They demonstrate the unpredictable
consequences of technology, even for those who promote
them.
Technology is not only
liberating, it can also be a tool of suppression. As the ability to collect information increa-
ses,
so too does the potential for states to collect and store data about citizens and their
activities. There is no doubt that the spread of literacy and people's increased ability to
communicate have had an important effect on innovation and political and economic
development, but its effects have not only been liberating. On the one hand, knowledge
emancipates individuals, but on the other hand it also empowers the state. It is no
coincidence that the birth of the modern nation state and of modern identities fall into
the
16th and 17th century. Charles Taylor points out that modern identity politics started
at the time of the Reformation with rapidly increasing literacy and social mobility (for an
overview of Taylor and social mobility, see
Fukuyama
2006).
As
a consequence of the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, national identity became a driving
force behind the development of states, during a period which historically marks the birth
of
the nation state. For elite groups, national identity was already important in the 17th
century. Looking
back
at the early stages of developing national identities, David Canna-
dine cites Frederick
11
from 1241: "Germany was fervent in arms, France was the mother
and nurse of chivalry, Spain was warlike and bold, and England was fertile and protected
by its fleet" (Cannadine 2011, minute 21). The increased spread of information opened up
the
discourse about national identity to the majority of the population.
As
already mentioned, the liberating and suppressive effects of information technology
often
go hand in hand. While new ideas and their dissemination were crucial ingredients
in
the overthrow of the Ancien Regime, similar tools were used shortly afterward by
Robespierre to ensure his "Reign of Terror". The French Revolution can be used as a
powerful reminder how forces that push for an imagined
Utopia
can also
bring
about a
dystopia. Revolutionaries organise themselves around idealistic ideas that are spread
through available-technologies. In 1796, Destutt de Tracy coined the term "ideology" -
the
study of "ideas and sensations, of their generation, combination and consequences"
(Thompson
2013, 29). Many of these new ideas broke radically with previous concepts of
society and envisioned the ability to create a perfect society based on the power of ideas.
Liberation from dogmas seemed to be so pervasive that many revolutionaries were con-
vinced of the possibility to rebuild human relationships on a scientific basis and be able to
end the lethargy of monarchy and religion.
This
Utopian ideal turned into the bloody
reality of the Jacobin regime and culminated in the dictatorship of Napoleon.
The
French Revolution gave rise to numerous new ideas. Nationalism was a prominent
idea, fuelling political activity in the 19th century. Identity based on national
pride
had an
importantinfiuence
on European intellectual and social
life,
it
was a
guiding
force behind
the
French Revolution and explains why the French Revolution was not only admired but
also
feared for its new principles. The Divine Right of Kings came under a level of scrutiny
never experienced before. The masses demanded recognition of full social power by their
rulers.
In exchange, people were willing to make sacrifices in the name of the nation.
On
September
20th,
1792 the revolutionary armies of France defeated the forces of
Prussia
and Austria, saving the French Revolution.
This
marked a new epoch in history.
Sentiments
of nationalism and citizenship were victorious over the principles of monarchy
and aristocracy. Politics was no longer the vocation of chosen, but turned into a mass
movement propagated through all available media: newspapers, pamphlets, music and
theatre.
The historian G. P. Gooch wrote: "While patriotism is as old as human association
[...] nationalism as an operative principle and an articulate creed only made its appear-
ance among the more complicated intellectual process of the modern world [...] In the
fullness
of time the doctrine of nationalism issued from the volcanic fires of the French
Revolution,
carrying its virile message of emancipation and defiance to the uttermost
parts of the
earth"
(Gooch
1920:5).
Contrary to the modern notion of nationalism as an
anachronistic and illiberal ideology, in its early days it was a movement that pushed for
the
inclusion of people in the political process (Anderson 2006; C. Clark 2009).
This
development was not welcomed by the 18th and 19th century state. There were
numerous
undertakings to undo political consequences of the French Revolution. The
restoration
after the defeat of Napoleon was an attempt to return to 1789 and reestab-
lish
the union between
monarchs
and states under the exclusion of nationalist
senti-
ments.
The Metternich bureaucracy was a synonym for collecting and using information
to
detect and suppress ideas that
could
threaten the state. Improving education turned
out to be a threat for political systems, which were increasingly running out of
non-
violent answers to popular demands.
This
tension escalated in a wave of revolutions
across Europe in 1848. Although these uprisings were often brutally quashed, states
ultimately realised that a government, either without or against its people, was unfeas-
ible in an age of literacy and widespread mass communication
(Hobsbawm
and Ranger
2012;
Höhn
1963).
Ferguson
summarises European history in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries as
characterised by a succession of
network-driven
waves of innovation, including the
Enlightenment. Sharing novel ideas about liberty, quality and fraternity ushered in an era
of
political revolutions where Kings were toppled, aristocracies abolished and churches
dissolved. In his opinion, this happened without the support of a state (Ferguson 2014).
Instead of resisting new technologies that enabled mass communication, states started to
adapt them for their own use. From military conscription to compulsory schooling, crea-
ting national anthems and patriotic myths, all communication channels were used to
distribute national sentiments to the population
(Hobsbawm
2012).
Technological progress continued in the 19th century, and increased the production and
dissemination of
information:--Likewise,
the state increased its ability to use information
for its own interests.
This
development culminated in the emergence of totalitarian states
in
the 20th century. New technologies such as newsprint, radio, cinema and television
were
ideally suited to the creation of propaganda-based totalitarian states with an almost
unlimited control of major information flows (Ferguson 2014).
This
enabled
public
admi-
nistrations
to exert power via a massive police state, as well as through a softer form of
power: constant indoctrination of the population. Once seen as tools of liberation, new
technologies turned into a method of suppression by making the state the sole supplier of
a
uniform set of ideas, making it possible to track down anybody who deviates. Historians
call the emergence of the totalitarian state a consequence of the "dark side of modernity"
(Alexander 2013).
Extremist
groups always try to use technology to address their need to spread their ideas
or destroy ideas which contradict their ideology. It seems like history repeating when we
read about or see images of beheadings as a demonstration of power. Everybody recog-
nises
pictures or videos of beheadings; the current videos of
ISIS
are spreading like the
pictures of the guillotine did at the time of the French Revolution. The destruction of
cultural assets such as religious pictures was employed during the Protestant Reforma-
tion.
In the 16th century, Protestants destroyed Catholic art in churches and
public
places
in
the
'Beeldenstorm'.
Centuries later, we see the same destructive power of ideology,
only spread through different media. Recently,
ISIS
militants posted videos showing them
destroying ancient artefacts.
Technology itself is a central, but not the defining element in pursuing a certain policy.
Fascist and communist states used technology for mass coercion and indoctrination.
Under different conditions and circumstances, technology also plays an important role in
liberating people. The American Civil Rights Movement would have been inconceivable
without powerful pictures of anti-black violence which were transmitted to every house-
hold in the United States (Lee 2002). In this respect, the second half of the 20th century
was
a continuous challenge to state authorities, something that was embodied in the
toppling
of authoritarian regimes and a growing number of democracies (Huntington
1993).
Technological change increased the production and sales of mobile devices. The charac-
teristics of the internet - its ability to create spontaneous networks and empower indivi-
duals - have supplanted the monopoly of the state in the dissemination of information to
citizens. The events of the Arab Spring created a global trend towards
democratisation
and
included
parts of the world with the strongest resistance to democratic government.
The
Arab Spring demonstrated that social network technologies can be an existential
threat to the hierarchical approach of traditional autocracies.
It
also revealed the techno-
logical limits and the ability of autocratic systems to quickly adapt to new technology.
A
political system supported by technology has become a central element for modern
autocratic regimes like China and Singapore. The parallels between the Great
Wall
of
China,
built to protect China from its enemies, and China's Great
Firewall,
designed to
block
undesirable content, are obvious. China even provides unique and state-authorised
Chinese
versions of social platforms.
It
admits that surveillance takes
place
and defends
its
position by arguing that elements which pose a threat to the political system of the
state
require monitoring to ensure political stability. The extraordinary precision of online
surveillance allows governments in Beijing or Singapore to distinguish between danger-
ous,
systemic criticism and criticism of specific policies. China, for example, only interferes
if
it assumes that people are organising themselves, while Singapore allows almost any
kind of criticism as long as it does not instigate tensions between religious and ethnic
factions (King, Pan, and Roberts 2013). Such systems test the limits of liberty, while re-
maining the final arbiter on what content is available. Today liberty is more widespread in
China
than it was a few decades ago. Liberty, where it exists, is granted by the state and is
not a natural right of individuals.
This
is the central difference compared to liberal demo-
cracies, which are political systems based on the freedom of citizens, while autocracies
allow or ban liberty as they deem appropriate. At this point, technology - in this case
social media - has once again become a tool of state control instead of individual free-
dom.
The Great Firewall can be seen as a defence against ideologies deemed undesirable
by the Communist Party of China: censoring content by blocking and filtering it can be
considered a digital barricade against ideas such as freedom of speech and human rights,
or even as a means of protecting the economy.
It would be a mistake to assume that the temptation to use technology to control citizens
is
limited to autocracies; similarities can be observed in democratic systems as
well.
Private
corporations like Amazon, Google and Facebook were the first to store large
vol-
umes
of data for commercial purposes in the 21st century.
This
occurs under open and
liberal conditions - no one is forced to use their services and become part of their data-
base. It turned out to be only a matter of time before the state became aware of the
potential to tap that data for information about its citizens.
Some
of the most revealing information to emerge from the revelations concerning the
NSA
surveillance program
PRISM
was the readiness of internet giants like Facebook to
respond to information requests by government agencies (Ferguson 2014).
This
highlights
the
duplicity
of advances in communications technology as evidenced since the Middle
Ages. Technology can reinforce the power of citizens as well as the power of the state.
Social
media such as Facebook play a central role in organising protests in a global
envi-
ronment.
Yet at the same time, every single person who participated in, commented on
or just "liked" an organised protest can be tracked.
Privacy becomes an issue when sharing private information conflicts with the desire of
the
state to collect this information. After 9/11 and the resulting desire for enhanced
security, walls between private and
public
crumbled. Herbert Fiedler points out the
following issues: is the internet a lawless realm or should it be under stronger govern-
ment control?
Is
it possible to compensate for the internet's potential anarchy by
developing a
code
of ethics for its use and its surveillance? It is not technology that
defines the social impact of the internet, but how the political players use it (Fiedler
2002).
Political development as a search for order has always been founded on a relation-
ship between citizens and the state. Both
depend
on each other in order to escape a
Hobbesian world of brutal anarchy. The state has to provide order to cater to the desire
of
liberty. The main question is when does liberty turn into anarchy, and providing order
into
tyranny?
This
problem has been exacerbated in the last four centuries by growing
literacy, social mobility and individuals' desire for self-determination. Contemporary
debates about sexual, religious, cultural, political and social identities
in
socioeconomic-
cally
advanced nations are consequences of this development.
On the other hand, Ferguson reminds us
to
ask ourselves whether new networks have
really emancipated us from state hierarchies. As these hierarchies took over the com-
munication networks
a
century ago (1914), there should be strategies by which citizens
can prevent states from subordinating networks
in the
name
of
national security
(Ferguson 2014).
Instead
of a
liberal Utopia, modern technologies have created
a
setup for the ongoing
fragmentation of society. Different identity groups
build
up their networks with own news
sources and media channels. The ability for groups like Islamic State
to
efficiently use
social media
to
recruit volunteers amongst second and third generation Muslims
in
Europe demonstrates the uncompromising qualities of
a
free internet and liberty. As with
any other technology,
it
is the political will and the ideological convictions that will
decide
whether the internet spreads liberty or tyranny.
During
a
speech
at
an FTC conference on the Internet of Things, Vinton Cerf
-
Google's
futurist
-
provoked the audience with statements like 'privacy may be an anomaly' and
'it
will be increasingly difficult for us to achieve privacy'.
In
his point of view, the industrial
revolution created
a
brief period
of
privacy. Might this era
be
over? (Edwards 2013).
Cerf's statements can be viewed within the context of the hype about smart devices and
the trend towards tracking, collecting and optimising private data concerning the users'
work, sport, health etc. and their willingness
to
give
up
private data without
a
second
thought. Apps that track movement and use sensors to measure data are part of every-
day activities. People are willing
to
provide access
to
their private data and are even
sharing
it on
social networks (Kelly 2015). Like
in a
'real-life'
village, where news and
rumours are distributed quickly, we may have arrived in the 'global
village'
with almost no
more privacy as
a
result of new technology.
A contradictory phenomenon
we
observe
in
the context
of
the 'global village'
is
the
steady decline in communication via websites like Facebook, which offer limited privacy.
Due
to
the monitoring and surveillance aspects
of
technology, people are beginning
to
shift their private communication
to
non-public services like WhatsApp. These services
offer closed group and end
to
end encrypted communication. We call this phenomenon
the Digital Biedermeier.
The
Utopian vision of the internet considers
it a
place
of freedom
-
freedom of press and
speech. The benefits mentioned before are under serious threat. Will the associated
disadvantages of the internet
-
such as surveillance, loss of privacy or security
-
result in
a
dystopia? Will the internet become
a
battlefield for ideological confrontation between
democracies and autocratic states or extremist groups?
This
leads us right
back
to
John Milton and his speech
in
1644: whatever the possible
means of tyranny are, engaged citizens and civil society have to stand up for basic rights
like privacy
or
freedom
of
speech
if
they want
to
keep alive the Utopian vision
of
the
internet.
References
Acemoglu,
Daron,
and James Robinson. 2012. Why Nations
Fail:
The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and
Poverty.
New York
Alexander, Jeffrey C. 2013. The Dark Side of Modernity. Cambridge
Anderson, Benedict. 2006. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism.
New Edition. London
Cannadine, David. 2011. "The Construction of National Identities
-
Keynote Address
at
the 2011 Festival of
Ideas." Presented
at
the 2011 Festival of Ideas, The University of Melbourne.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DipeV57CgFw&feature=youtube_gdata_p!ayer
(January 21, 2013).
Clark, Christopher. 2009. Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600-1947. Cambridge, Mass
Clark, Gregory. 2009.
A
Farewell to Alms:
A
Brief Economic History of the World. Princeton, NJ
Deen,
S. M. 2011. Science Under
islam:
Rise,
Decline And Revival. London
Edwards, Jim. 2013. http://www.businessinsider.com/google-vinton-cerf-declares-an-end-to-privacy-2013-
11?IR=T
Ferguson,
Niall.
2011. Civilization: The West and the Rest. New York
.
2014. "Networks and Hierarchies." The American Interest. http://www.the-american-
interest.com/artides/2014/06/09/networks-and-hierarchies/ (July
15,2014).
Fiedler, Herbert. 2002.
"Cyber-Libertär?
Nach Dem 11. September." Informatik-Spektrum 25(3): 215-19.
Fukuyama,
Francis. 2006. "Identity, Immigration
&
Democracy." Journal of Democracy 17(2): 5-20.
Gooch, G.P. 1920.
Nationalism,
https://archive.org/detaiis/nationalism015075mbp (March
10,2015)
Herman,
Arthur. 2010. The Cave and the Light: Plato versus Aristotle and the Struggle
for
the Soul of
Western
Civilization. New York
Hobsbawm, Eric. 2012. Nations and Nationalism since 1780: Programme, Myth, Reality. Cambridge
Hobsbawm, Eric, and Terence Ranger, eds. 2012. The Invention of Tradition. New York, NY
Höhn,
Reinhard. 1963. Die Armee Als Erziehungsschule Der
Nation:
Das Ende Einer
Idee.
Bad Harzburg
Huntington, Samuel P. 1993. The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late 20th Century. Tulsa, OK
Kelly, Mark. 2015. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
http://www.iep.utm.edU/foucauit/#H5
King, Gary, Jennifer Pan, and Margaret E. Roberts. 2013. "How Censorship in China Allows Government
Criticism but Silences Collective Expression." American Political Science Review 107(02): 326-43.
Lee,
Taeku.
2002. Mobilizing Public Opinion: Black Insurgency and Racial Attitudes in the Civil Rights Era.
Chicago
Lewis,
Bernard, and Buntzie Ellis Churchill. 2008.
Islam:
The Religion and the People. Indianapolis,
IN
Thompson, John B. 2013. Ideology and Modem Culture: Critical Social Theory in the Era of Mass
Communication. Cambridge
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Article
Full-text available
The dilemma of immigration and identity ultimately converges with the larger problem of the valuelessness of postmodernity. That is, the rise of relativism has made it impossible for postmodern people to assert positive values for which they stand, and therefore the kinds of shared beliefs they demand as a condition for citizenship. If postmodern societies are to move toward a more serious discussion of identity, they will need to uncover those positive virtues that define what it means to be a member of the larger community. If they do not, they will indeed by overwhelmed by people who are more sure about who they are.
Book
'Imagined Communities' examines the creation & function of the 'imagined communities' of nationality & the way these communities were in part created by the growth of the nation-state, the interaction between capitalism & printing & the birth of vernacular languages in early modern Europe.
Article
In the West are the 'haves', while much of the rest of the world are the 'have-nots'. The extent of inequality today is unprecedented. Drawing on an extraordinary range of contemporary and historical examples, Why Nations Fail looks at the root of the problems facing some nations. Economists and scientists have offered useful insights into the reasons for certain aspects of poverty, such as Jeffrey Sachs (it's geography and the weather), and Jared Diamond (it's technology and species). But most theories ignore the incentives and institutions that populations need to invest and prosper: they need to know that if they work hard, they can make money and actually keep it - and the key to ensuring these incentives is sound institutions. Incentives and institutions are what separate the have and have-nots. Based on fifteen years of research, and stepping boldly into the territory of Ian Morris's Why the West Rules - For Now, Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson blend economics, politics, history and current affairs to provide a new, persuasive way of understanding wealth and poverty. And, perhaps most importantly, they provide a pragmatic basis for the hope that those mired in poverty can be placed on the path to prosperity.
Article
We offer the first large scale, multiple source analysis of the outcome of what may be the most extensive effort to selectively censor human expression ever implemented. To do this, we have devised a system to locate, download, and analyze the content of millions of social media posts originating from nearly 1,400 different social media services all over China before the Chinese government is able to find, evaluate, and censor (i.e., remove from the Internet) the large subset they deem objectionable. Using modern computer-assisted text analytic methods that we adapt and validate in the Chinese language, we compare the substantive content of posts censored to those not censored over time in each of 95 issue areas. Contrary to previous understandings, posts with negative, even vitriolic, criticism of the state, its leaders, and its policies are not more likely to be censored. Instead, we show that the censorship program is aimed at curtailing collection action by silencing comments that represent, reinforce, or spur social mobilization, regardless of content. Censorship is oriented toward attempting to forestall collective activities that are occurring now or may occur in the future --- and, as such, seem to clearly expose government intent, such as examples we offer where sharp increases in censorship presage government action outside the Internet.
Article
Der Beitrag von Alexander Roßnagel („Freiheit im Cyberspace” [1]) ist als Erwiderung auf meinen Beitrag („Der Staat im Cyberspace” [2]) der begrüßenswerte Beginn einer Diskussion – welche überfällig ist und nicht bald zur Ruhe kommen sollte.
Article
What motivates us to change our opinions during times of political protest and social unrest? To investigate this question, Taeku Lee's smartly argued book looks to the critical struggle over the moral principles, group interests, and racial animosities that defined public support for racial policies during the civil rights movement, from the late 1940s to the mid-1960s. Challenging the conventional view that public opinion is shaped by elites, Lee crafts an alternate account of the geographic, institutional, historical, and issue-specific contexts that form our political views. He finds that grassroots organizations and local protests of ordinary people pushed demands for social change into the consciousness of the general public. From there, Lee argues, these demands entered the policy agendas of political elites. Evidence from multiple sources including survey data, media coverage, historical accounts, and presidential archives animate his argument. Ultimately, Mobilizing Public Opinion is a timely, cautionary tale about how we view public opinion and a compelling testament to the potential power of ordinary citizens.
Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty The Dark Side of Modernity Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. New EditionThe Construction of National Identities -Keynote Address at the 2011 Festival of Ideas
  • Daron Acemoglu
  • James Robinson
Acemoglu, Daron, and James Robinson. 2012. Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty. New York Alexander, Jeffrey C. 2013. The Dark Side of Modernity. Cambridge Anderson, Benedict. 2006. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. New Edition. London Cannadine, David. 2011. "The Construction of National Identities -Keynote Address at the 2011 Festival of Ideas." Presented at the 2011 Festival of Ideas, The University of Melbourne. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DipeV57CgFw&feature=youtube_gdata_p!ayer (January 21, 2013).
A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World Science Under islam: Rise, Decline And Revival http://www.businessinsider.com/google-vinton-cerf-declares-an-end-to-privacy-2013- 11?IR=T Ferguson, Niall. 2011. Civilization: The West and the RestNetworks and Hierarchies The American Interest
  • Christopher Clark
Clark, Christopher. 2009. Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600-1947. Cambridge, Mass Clark, Gregory. 2009. A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World. Princeton, NJ Deen, S. M. 2011. Science Under islam: Rise, Decline And Revival. London Edwards, Jim. 2013. http://www.businessinsider.com/google-vinton-cerf-declares-an-end-to-privacy-2013- 11?IR=T Ferguson, Niall. 2011. Civilization: The West and the Rest. New York . 2014. "Networks and Hierarchies." The American Interest. http://www.the-americaninterest.com/artides/2014/06/09/networks-and-hierarchies/ (July 15,2014).
The Construction of National Identities -Keynote Address at the 2011 Festival of Ideas Presented at the 2011 Festival of Ideas, The University of Melbourne
  • David Cannadine
Cannadine, David. 2011. "The Construction of National Identities -Keynote Address at the 2011 Festival of Ideas." Presented at the 2011 Festival of Ideas, The University of Melbourne. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DipeV57CgFw&feature=youtube_gdata_p!ayer (January 21, 2013).