Correct me if I’m wrong but when reading Stefan Meretz’s Ten Theses About Global Commons Movement (2010) I understand the term ‘commons’ as a description of a global movement of diverse people who stand objectively in opposition to capitalism and want to find a new, non-material way of production. Or as Jay Walljasper (2010) says that the commoners see possibilities for large numbers of people of diverse ideological stripes coming together to chart a new, more cooperative direction for modern society. I prefer not to call it a movement that works against government controlled and corporate market economies, but rather a movement that wants to alter those characteristics away from materialism.
Walljasper (2010) states that “sweeping transformations that rearrange the workings of an entire culture begin imperceptibly, quietly but steadily entering people’s minds until one day it seems the ideas were there all along.” He explains how movements, government system alterations and societal changes have begun and succeeded in this way in the past to integrate corporate power and market fundamentalism on examples of Thatcher, Reagan or Mitterrand (Walljasper, 2010). I think we would all agree that there was never a more easy, wide reaching and fast method than using modern, mobile communication technology to cause such movements and implement controversial thinking into society. One of the most recent examples that spontaneously comes to mind is the Arab Spring. Knowing that this was not a movement that focused on the change away from corporate economies, this example clarifies that it was a social movement that started on Facebook and resulted in revolutions and civil wars to change political systems and authority.
Social media such as Facebook and its new forms of publishing make it easier to spread ideas. They make it easier for commons to communicate, exchange ideas, form groups, construct ideas and convert those into action. Another very recent example of social media’s capability to spread an idea across the world in very little time is the ALSIceBucketChallenge, which went viral. Thus social media such as Facebook is a medium that constructs, as Rheingold (2009) states, a combination of internal thoughts and ideas that can be generated and communicated through mobile communication technologies in a social cyberspace.
So, in very simple terms it could be argued that new communication technologies evens the playing field for commons to introduce their ideas and ideologies which oppose capitalist materialism in a more cost, time and quantity effective way. But hang on isn’t the whole construct based on governmental control of capitalist, western societies? Turkey’s president Erdogan’s banning of YouTube and Twitter after heavy protests against his government is a good example of the final power and control of these forms of origins of social movements, of publishing and creating collective power. Maybe Mr Zuckerberg would need to alter some of his regulations as well if there was a comparable situation in America. Who knows? So I’m asking will capitalist societies, governments, corporate markets and economies always alter publishing to cause an alteration of power, which in its final consequence might weaken their own authority?
My critical point is the assumption that as long as the interests align there won’t be an issue with the freedom of speech on social media. But keep in mind that it’s only a resource of someone you are opposed to. A whole other discussion at this point is the opportunity that lies in our and the internet’s most valuable good; attention. Maybe we have to find out more about sociological, physical and even evolutionary changes that have occurred due to the information age and that creates a whole new and multifarious set of non-material target markets.
- Meretz, Stefan (2010) ‘Ten Theses about Global Commons Movement’, P2P Foundation, <http://blog.p2pfoundation.net/ten-theses-about-global-commons-movement/2011/01/05>
- Rheingold, Howard (2009) ‘Mindful Infotention: Dashboards, Radars, Filters’, SFGate, <http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/rheingold/detail?entry_id=46677>
- Walljasper, Jay (2010) ‘The Commons Moment is Now’, org, <http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/01/24-0>