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John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY NICK COHEN IN THE GUARDIAN

 

“The internet has helped polarise politics but the zealots need to look to themselves”

Sorry, I can’t agree that is a valid observation.

What we are seeing now, perhaps for the first time in human history, is the expression of virtually everyone, not a select few.

Everything you see has always been there, but it has not been quite so easily observable as it is now.

I cannot judge whether it is a good phenomenon or not, but it just is, and I always support basic human freedoms such as freedom of speech.

Many, working for or defending the establishment, do not like this reality, and we see a clear appeal to new forms of authoritarianism to tamp it down or repress it.

Establishments always behave this way towards the new realities which accompany changes in technology.

After all, they want their privileged position left untouched.

And part of what is happening on the Internet is a kind of democratization.

Those, such as columnists in major newspapers, once enjoyed an ability to speak their minds with little regard for what others might think.

The Internet equalizes things a little better.

And, truth be told, just as newspapers have fallen on hard times with the Internet – for example, in losing an important revenue stream from classified advertising – newspaper editors and columnists have begun to lose the weight of influence they once enjoyed. That’s not a bad thing at all, unless you happen to be one of them.

They face a more competitive world of ideas and expression out there. I can’t blame them for being grumpy about their loss of privilege, but that’s how it always is when competition enters any field.

And the unpleasant truth is many of them years ago abused their privileged positions, as people always tend to abuse privilege.

I don’t believe there is an ounce of evidence that the Internet polarizes politics. It does represent a brave new world in which many may say what they think instead of a privileged few. And competitive markets are always messier than monopolies or duopolies or oligopolies.

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