Piece of Propaganda #2: “Net Neutrality”

In previous months, “Net Neutrality” was an Internet firestorm. Throngs of statists were pushing for this measure which, when analyzed rationally, amounts to little more than a corporate legislative war- between the state-appointed telecom monopolies on the one hand, and the Internet giants like Google and Yahoo! on the other.

What was particularly interesting during this whole campaign was the amount of propaganda on the Internet about it, and its sheer absurdity. The name of their campaign was “Save the Internet.” This is, of course, nonsense. Whether one group of corporations or the other gets more favours from the state would not destroy the Internet.

But most importantly, “Net Neutrality” (which should more properly be called “Net Socialism”) gets the state’s foot in the virtual door. In essence, it is yet another instance of the ubiquitous collectivist tactic “we failed, so we need to try harder” (on which I also intend to write). The state has delegated its power over the communication networks, and “Net Neutrality” was just an attempt, poorly disguised as a free speech issue, to get the state to take back some of its power.

Here are some examples of “Net Neutrality” propaganda:

http://www.savetheinternet.com/=faq
Net Neutrality is the reason why the Internet has driven economic innovation, democratic participation, and free speech online. It’s why the Internet has become an unrivaled environment for open communications, civic involvement and free speech.

http://bridger987.blogspot.com/2006/05/death-of-internet.html
In common sense terms it’s about the government withdrawing our right to Internet Freedom, it’s about the Death of The Internet.

http://jgrr.blogspot.com/2006/05/brownback-opposes-free-internet.html
Net neutrality removes the need for a heavy hand of regulation, instead allowing the invisible hand of the market to let businesses succeed or fail. Net neutrality is the principle that allowed the internet to be the tremendous influence it is, a power for democracy on the world stage and a powerful way of building links between unexpected corners of society.

http://www.savetheinternet.com/blog/2006/05/22/net-neutrality-something-on-which-we-all-agree/
Net Neutrality: Something on Which We All Agree
If Net Neutrality is gone, the future of the Internet will be dominated by only those large companies that can pay the phone cartel’s broadband fees. This predatory scheme would muscle aside the Internet’s real revolutionaries — the small-guy innovators who historically have made the Internet a beacon for democracy, economic growth and new ideas.

If you look past the loaded language in these comments, you see that there is an attempt in these quotes to equate “Net Neutrality” with innovation, freedom and democracy- all things which have absolutely nothing to do with it (although democracy does, insofar as being stuck in this democratic system forces us to deal with imbeciles who want to impose their vision of the Internet on everyone else).

There is somewhat of a self-contradiction in this rhetoric: if the big Internet corporations cannot withstand simple market forces, then how “innovative” can they be? A healthy market does not clamour for state intervention. In fact, the issue was not freedom or innovation but rather state-enforced “equality”.

Another common theme in “Net Neutrality” propaganda, not illustrated in these specific quotes, was the tactic of smearing the enemy: anyone who is against “Net Neutrality” was portrayed as being at the pay of big corporations. Once again this was a clear attempt to ignore the corporate interests on both sides of the issue and portray the conflict as one of free speech vs big corporations, an issue which actually occurs frequently. So it was an attempt to reduce the complex issue of “Net Neutrality” to an already-existing, simpler issue.

Now, most propaganda does not come from exploiters themselves but rather from people who truly believe what they say. This is a great example of that. This propaganda was not put out by Google, Yahoo!, eBay, or any other such site, but by their supporters. They have been misled and mislead others. But unfortunately, even though they are sincere, they are still part of the problem.

The propaganda they put out displays all the methods: projection and peer pressure at the same time (“anyone who disagrees is a corporate tool!”), FUD (“it’s the end of the Internet!”, “Save the Internet!”), and using symbols (“democracy”, “freedom”, “innovation”). If we look beyond all this, we get to the basic belief that in order to have a healthy market we need state intervention. This is a ridiculous belief, and yet a widespread one, and the propagandists were banking on the higher level of education of the Internet users who read their blogs to make that pseudo-scientific connection.

In the end, their propaganda is very much like the Greenie propaganda which asks us to “save the planet” and place that struggle in “big corporations vs freedom” terms, even though it is just as much of a lie there as it is here.

Corporations are, in the statist mindset, generally evil, but Internet corporations are not identified as corporations, but rather associated with positive concepts like “innovation”, a social force, and the Internet in general. They can get away with it because Internet companies are much more integrated in the Internet experience than, say, AT&T or Verizon in our telecom experience. We don’t pay Google or Yahoo!. So this fosters an illusion that is easy to use for propagandists, and may become a weak point of the Internet as well. Propaganda does not have to rely only on Big Lies (such as “corporations are detrimental”), but can also rely on more subtle misconceptions fostered by our daily experience (such as “the Internet is a unified whole”). These misconceptions are easy to use precisely because they are inherent in our daily experience, and hence necessarily widespread.

As usual, projection is used everywhere. Look at what they accuse their opponents of, and you will find their crimes. This is a universal principle.

If you have a propaganda item you’d like me to look at, just post it in the comments. I welcome all suggestions.

One thought on “Piece of Propaganda #2: “Net Neutrality”

  1. […] Check Your Premises (nice blog name!) examines the propaganda campaign that accompanies the push for Net Neutrality. Heavy stuff. […]

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