Web sites that truly enrich
citizens within the present system are ones used to inform about the wealth of alternative
ways to look at issues involving the present political economy
(globalization). They can also be used to alert citizens to problems with the environment
and social justice as well as provide a lateral system of communications among citizens
and non-established political groups.
They do this by presenting a
massive pool of facts and opinions quickly and cheaply accessed that broaden the
debate provided by the cyberpolitics-as-usual sites along with the general run of
propaganda and establishment opinion in the mass media. These offbeat Web sites give
citizens greater and deeper insight into alternative ways of looking at
political issues and solutions and, ipso facto, make the representative
system more like it should be, that is, the free marketplace of ideas and
debate. These kinds of informational sites rate one lightning bolt.
However, the email capabilities of the Web are even more significant since they add
something lacking in all representative systems: a cheap and rapid way to organize
resistance to established power centers and interests.
Thus, we have seen many
examples of ordinary workers and citizens organizing via the Net to challenge the hierarchies
in which they play and live. This has been witnessed at local, state, regional, national,
and even transnational levels.
abound: The WTO protest in Seattle; the IMF protest in
Washington, DC; The Million Mothers March in DC in favor of
gun control; and worker organization to pressure both their
unions and employers prior to and during strikes, to name a
major characteristic of these cyberorganizations is to inform
and coordinate citizens and workers beyond the capacity of the
mass media and the telephone---once the sole tools at hand
that put them at a decided disadvantage.
A new kind of political
organization is thus emerging, one that is networked and non-hierarchical. Some
mass media outlets are confused as to how to cover these cybermovements, since
they have no usual pyramidical structure and no self-appointed leaders.
Yet, they are precisely
coordinated and are capable of turning out numbers way beyond what
authorities expect. These four events are excellent two-bolt examples.
Another two-bolter is
Citizens Solidarity in Korea. Established online in January 2000, it is a
cybercoalition of approximately 500 civic and nongovernmental organizations. Its main
goal is to rid the national parliament of corrupt and inept politicians. It does
this by publishing online reports on shady deals, low attendance at
legislative meetings, and their votes for programs unpopular with the
This new movement has
also created a new type of political protest they call the "Internet Rally."
This combines the information on the politicians with email debates, discussions, and
strategies, email campaigns, and fundraising. Due to their efforts, many of the
candidates they disfavored lost their elections and the election
code itself was revised. They presently have a staff of 50 people who are
paid through cybercontributions.
All of these examples,
however, are well within the parameters of the present representative
process and illustrate how a moderately democratic system is supposed to
work, that is, with informed active citizens making their views heard
and their votes count.