Strengthening the Present System
(1-2 bolts)

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.

Examples 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 few. 

The 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 general citizenry.

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.

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