Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Money Buys Society In The Capitalist World


counterpunch |  The end of Net Neutrality is as odious to us as the British Colonial government’s monopoly on salt was to the Indians. Salt was an essential ingredient for preserving life and health in humid, pre-refrigeration India. Net Neutrality and classifying the Internet as a public utility is essential for fair, affordable, and equal access to the Internet, and thus, the life of US citizens, as well as our innovation, creativity, information, education, research, marketplace, exchange, dialogue, organizing, and so much more.

Telecom giants like Comcast and Verizon have sought the end of Net Neutrality for years. This allows them to create a two-tiered system of Internet access, charging people for “fast lanes” and relegating everything else into “slow lanes”. The chilling effect this will have on our economy, research, movements, and society is incalculable. It is a massive advance for the corporate state’s takeover and privatization of all sectors of our nation. With it, they can control everything we see (or don’t see) through their greed. Money buys society in the capitalist world. For years, the Internet has opened up arenas of public space beyond what money can buy. The sheer volume of non-commercialized creativity and information online is staggering. It matches the incredible resources of the early commons. And, like the commons, the greedy have found a way to enclose them and charge us more and more for access.

Gandhi’s Salt Campaign offers us a model of how to get out of this mess – not just from the odious injustice of the end of Net Neutrality, but also from the tyranny of corporate rule. In 1930, salt was a keystone, yet stealth issue. When the Indian National Congress tasked Mohandas K. Gandhi with planning a new campaign against the British Empire’s colonial rule, no one expected the Salt Satyagraha would unravel the empire that the sun never set upon. Even Gandhi’s buddies were skeptical about salt. As for Lord Irwin, Viceroy of India, he famously stated that he wouldn’t lose any sleep over salt.

Instead, he lost the country.

Salt was an unexpected issue, but it touched every Indian citizen’s life. And, when Gandhi announced that he was going to use civil disobedience to directly disobey the “odious salt laws” and render them unenforceable through mass noncooperation, millions of ordinary Indians cheered. In defiance of the salt laws, they made, sold, and bought salt. Even more importantly, they openly refused to obey the British Empire and thus ousted the Brits from authority. This showed the Indians what Gandhi had been saying for decades: a paltry hundred thousand British cannot rule over 320 million Indians without the Indians cooperation. Deny your support, and British rule will crumble.

Fast forward to contemporary United States, which also has 320 million people and faces a parallel of colonial rule in the corporate state. In the case of telecom giants like Verizon and Comcast, well, they’re enjoying a monopoly on our modern-day salt of Internet access. With the repeal of Net Neutrality, they’re positioned to do like the British and start charging us for something we need for everyday life and survival.

But we can pull a Gandhi and make salt.