In the early days of the commercial Internet nothing was commercial at all. Those who surfed didnâ€™t know they were surfing, the term hadnâ€™t been invented yet, but rather felt like they were jacking into a whole new way of seeing existence. All we had,.. was a vision that all information really was free and would now finally be free, and that there was no authority that could regulate us any longer. Today that vision is all but a decayed and dying folklore. The naturally agrarian vision of cyberspace has been replaced with the same Corporate Capitalist outlook that has taken over every other aspect of our culture. If we donâ€™t act now, the free agrarian fields of the Internet will be replaced by the same repetitive ‘Ad’ supported vision that has put a stranglehold on radio and T.V.
A Brief Historical Perspective
In the early American Republic, there were two distinct visions of how best to govern the country. On one hand you had the Federalists, consisting of the first two presidents, George Washington and John Adams as well as figures like Alexander Hamilton. They were the party of business, of the national banking system and of a strong centralized government.
On the other side of the fence was the Jeffersonian Democrats (who would later become the Democrats under Andrew Jackson.) This group consisted of coarse of Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe and over time Andrew Jackson. Their vision was that of an egalitarian, agrarian culture. They believed in the myth of the Yeoman farmer, were vehemently against a national banking system and a strong central government, and in the case of men like Andrew Jackson many of them were against the use of paper money over specie (coins and such) which they believed, correctly, didnâ€™t actually represent anything other then paper and what the banks felt would make the economy run better.
After the election of 1800 when Thomas Jefferson defeated John Adams the Federalist Party was all but defeated. No president after that point would call themselves a Federalist and many of them would run as far away as they possibly could from their original heritage.
You might ask yourself then, why it would seem that the Federalists and their principals have won out in history. Big business, big government, a new national banking/monetary organization, lets say the Fed and the world bank etcâ€¦ has taken over our economy and the Yeoman farmer has all but vanished from our lexicon.
There are a million reasons that we can point to, not the least of which would be both technological progress and the creation of ever increasing disposable incomes. With technology farmers became producers for the entire community and not just for their family, and with that income they became businessmen.
But more importantly through Supreme Court decisions, congressional hearings, and presidents like Andrew Jackson who strengthened the role of the presidency (seems to go against his core belief mentioned above doesnâ€™t it?) our culture was brought together, compartmentalized and simplified into the vision of businessmen and capitalists.
A Communications Boom
Flash forward about a hundred years or so and you will find the same trend within the field of mass communications. In the early 1900â€™s anyone who had studied up on their Marconi and had some extra cash and technical know-how could manipulate and play with radio signals.
There were virtually no laws passed dealing with radio in its beginning and it wasnâ€™t even mentioned in congressional law until 1910 when all ships holding 50 or more passengers became required to own one for safety purposes. But beyond that the government did not centralize radio and regulate it until around the time of World War One.
At that time bitter disputes were occurring about radio spectrum licensing and the government stepped in to handle disputes. The electromagnetic spectrum remained as a free entity to all in our country, unlike in Britain and others where the governments claimed the spectrum as its possession, however the United States would now decide which frequencies would goto whom in order to maintain a coherent, interference free radio spectrum.
The same deal would later be dealt for television, cordless and cell phones, HDTV and all the rest.
Now, this was a beneficial move for us all in the sense that we can watch our televisions, listen to our radio stations and make telephone calls with little worry about major interference. However the part about the spectrum being free for us all somehow got lost in the shuffle.
Caught up to Speed
Today, as was the case from the beginning, rich corporations own our televisions and radio stations. Thanks to the 1996 telecommunications act one company increasingly owns most if not all the popular radio stations in your area and probably a television station too.
All of these companies, once again thanks in large part to the 1996 Telecommunications Act, own shares in one another making them joint share holders in the future of basically all of your media outlets. Ever wonder why everything looks and sounds the same on both T.V. and Radio? Well you are starting to see your answer. (Lots more about all this in future columns.)
Here is the point. The Electromagnetic Spectrum as a whole is an abstract concept just like that of the open agrarian fields that some saw as ungovernable two hundred years ago. At its core the medium is agrarian and free of ownership. Itâ€™s the moneyed corporations that tell us everything is capitalist in nature and tends to want to be owned and paid for its services.
This is not to say that there is anything wrong with capitalism or receiving money for services. This is everything to say that despite what corporations and governments tell you, there are many sane alternatives to looking at each issue.
In the early days of the commercial Internet nothing was commercial at all. Those who surfed didnâ€™t know they were surfing, the term hadnâ€™t been invented yet, but rather felt like they were jacking into a whole new way of seeing existence. I remember the first time I moved from using local bulletin boards to using Internet Relay Chat. I marveled at the idea that I was talking to people in Australia, New Zealand, England and more. Itâ€™s something that seems commonplace now.
Whatâ€™s more is how easy it was to find information that defied all avenues of decency, morality and social mores. It was wonderful! Everything seemed okay to talk about and if you were astonished by one thing more than anything it was that there were millions of people like you out there, thinking the same thoughts, wanting the same things only they lived on whole other continents.
There were no banner advertisementâ€™s, there was no talk about making money.
Today that vision is all but a decayed and dying folklore. The naturally agrarian vision of cyberspace has been replaced with the same Corporate Capitalist outlook that has taken over every other aspect of our culture.
The Corporate Hand in Public Governance and Manufactured Consent
The advertisers and the one percent they represent have made their move into cyberspace and slowly legislators are following. Those of us who continue to believe that â€œinformation wants to be freeâ€ are a minority that have been given that always hated label of communist anti-patriot by the media, politicians and businessmen.
As our politicians metaphorically piss all over our constitution on a daily basis, we are told to feel like we are the ones destroying our national heritage. As we question the righteousness of five corporations controlling how much we pay for music, as at least that small a minority decide what we see on movie screens and experience through our airwaves, we are being told that we are stealing from unique and brilliant creators who either donâ€™t make a half a percent of what the corporation does or who have pissed enough money away on alcohol, crack and lawsuits to feed the entire worlds population a couple of times over.
How did we get this way? Simple, we have just stood back and let it happen. Not enough people have questioned it, not enough money has filtered into our causes and when it has, too often then not, corruption hits the organizations that attempted to do good and turned them over to the side we dislike the most.
If you had the patience to read through my descriptions of the early republic and the stranglehold over radio then you probably have already figured out what the point of all this is. The point, put simply, is that its time to make a change.
The Future: Now
As Time Warner and AOL have merged, as the son of Colin Powell has taken over the FCC and big business has moved in, as we pay more and more at box offices, in record stores and at concerts for less and less quality material and finally as we move closer to a funeral for Napster and file sharing, we need to start realizing that there really is another way and we can be the voice of that new direction.
We are the people of the United States. We are the bosses of our elected officials and the consumers of the corporations. If all these hundreds of millions of people are buying CD burners, logging into Napster and other file sharing programs and downloading copyrighted material. Then I think thatâ€™s a message that the majority is ready for a change.
I think thatâ€™s a message that we are ready to see copyright laws revamped, corporations regulated, mass communications opened to the people and free from regulatory laws and a new way of looking at the world.
If we donâ€™t act now, the free agrarian fields of the Internet will be replaced by the same repetitive ad supported vision that has put a stranglehold on radio and T.V.
This is the beginning of the end. But only we can chose weather itâ€™s the end of us, or the end of the system that controls us.
Author: Jeffery Commaroto
News Service: thinkersden.com