Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Power to the people

It's been said for some time now that the internet is the great equaliser.  Everyone has equal access to it and no-one knows you're a dog, as the old saying goes.  For that matter, no-one knows you're a celebrity, a politician or a convicted murderer.  Anyone can have a blog, a Twitter account or a website and make their voice heard.

The old media hate the internet.  They were used to having control over the dissemination of information - what to tell, what not to tell, how to express information to influence opinion.  Now they can craft their articles with whatever slant they like, only to find it deconstructed by the denizens of the internet.  Sites like Wikileaks mean that information that governments don't want the general public to see can be made available.  Contrary opinions to those peddled by the mainstream media are freely available to people.

This is not to say that the internet isn't full of bad information, trolling and sometimes repugnant content.  Nevertheless, there is still a great deal of information out there at everyone's disposal.

Recently, however, things have moved up a notch, courtesy of a very simple idea called crowdfunding.  It has been used to raise money for a court action against Alastair Carmichael following his admission that he lied about his knowledge of the 'Frenchgate' memo.  And today we have another one to try and raise the 1.6bn Euros needed to make Greece's next debt payment.  That last one may seem ridiculous, but at the time of writing it has raised just under 1 million Euros.  Yes, you read that right, 1 million Euros.

Suddenly, courtesy of crowdfunding, justice is no longer the exclusive domain of the rich.  Solving financial problems is no longer restricted to politicians and their posturing.  Ordinary people can subvert the existing political systems.  Suppose the Greek bailout crowdfunder succeeds (unlikely I know but bear with me).  Where does that leave politicians?  All their posturing and backroom deals are for naught if the ordinary people can simply bypass them and solve the problem collectively.

I sense a shift in the zeitgeist from individualism to collectivism.  Won't that put the cat amongst the pigeons.


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