There is a new mob. You and I, and everyone we know, are part of it. We have freedoms no one could have dreamed of a hundred years ago. We have access to, and the power of, a Mob Medium that has transformed humanity on a global scale, and each of us on a personal level. With the possibilities and the capabilities enabled by the Mob Medium, we have new obligations, and serious responsibilities. If we don’t grab this opportunity, take control, and shepherd it for the benefit of all of us—our community, our country, our world, of all humankind—it’s going to be, instead, commandeered by minority forces that will abuse its power and turn it against us, the majority.
The word mob has negative connotations. Associated with unruly crowds or organized crime, it’s also, more neutrally, a reference to ordinary people—the commoners, the majority. Mob rule is another way of saying democracy. The word is derived from the Greek : demos, people or mob; kratia, power or rule. It could be taken a step further and called group rule, or group self-rule. We instinctively understand the importance of democracy. Whenever control is put in the hands of a single person, or a small number of people, we have abuses of power from the top down, and power struggles within the ruling class that have consequences throughout society. We have people in dominant positions taking undo advantage, subjecting the remaining majority to underclass status. They keep them there by economic coercion. They maintain their position with brute military and crude police force. They make the people minions of the oligarchy. But we have the possibility of a [new] mob, one enabled by a new medium.
The medium that has opened the floodgates for the mob is digital : the internet. This website is an exercise of this new freedom. It’s an excercise of the power enabled through it. Every blog, every noncommercial site, all the wikis, all the wealth of information (despite the loads of junk and misinformation), all the leaked secrets, are part of this new freedom. This is your new democratic power, provided you take on your role. Provided you don’t give away your power. Provided you take command of the opportunities.
Digital communication has changed the value of information. It has democratized information and knowledge, and the potentials they carry. Information is now worth zero, or infinity, either way you look at it no dollar amount can be put on it. This explains the feverish push for extensions of copyright ownership and stronger intellectual property laws by the corporate minority, while ignoring individual rights and suppressing the right to know. If these new potentials are not appropriated and controlled by the mob, we will be subjected to a new form of submission—oppression by data, data extortion, data-ocracy. Who controls the data, controls your life.
Free public libraries began in the US early in its history. They are a cornerstone for the dissemination of knowledge to the mob. Publicly funded for the public good to empower anyone who wishes to learn, and to learn at liberty. Public schools were another leap forward for American social equality. It became a basic right to provide education to all its citizens. Combined they form the foundation for a viable democracy. The internet gives us a new, two-way vehicle for sharing among ourselves all the knowledge humans have accumulated. Teaching to others and learning from others is the hallmark of human success.
Knowledge is a great equalizer. Free for the taking, the internet is an extraordinary resource for building and sustaining a real democracy. Free because the principles of democracy call for open access. Free because democracy requires an educated, well informed, and fully participating mob.
Knowledge is a great equalizer. Take advantage of these freedoms, use them, flex them, strengthen your self-ruling muscles. Your freedom of speech has never been greater—use it. Your freedom to access knowledge has never been greater, nor easier. Yet your freedoms are at risk.
WARNING : Keep in mind, this cannot be done through commercially controlled “social” media, or by the sharing of personal trivialities it encourages to distract us from the important issues. Commercial media are the antithesis of democracy in practice—and the bigger, more well known, more capitalized the source, the more those sources attempt to limit, manipulate, and profit from the information that belongs to you.
Knowledge is a great equalizer. Knowledge belongs to no one. Knowledge belongs to everyone. Knowledge, the freedom to learn, and the freedom to know is the fundamental freedom from which all other freedoms emanate.
Demand your right to know. Exercise your voice. Let information flow.
review : [Who Owns the Future?]
read : Imperial America : Reflections on The United States of Amnesia, Gore Vidal, Nation Books, 2004