Poverty has been and is the most effective means of censorship. In a society where every conceivable relationship is governed by money, the lack thereof means exclusion from that relationship or transaction. This can be anything the ability to say something and be heard to acquiring enough food and/or water to survive. It also controls who can influence politics by various means like lobbying.
Money, that abstracted labour value, makes everything a controlled substance, even if that substance is virtual in nature. Now there are those on the fringes of civilization who can live quite well without the need for money, but civilization encroaches upon them as surely as it is wiping out sensitive ecological regions. Civilization has always encroached upon peoples who live closer to nature, destroying the old ways and supplanting the poverty of civilization in its stead. One need only look to the history of the conquest of the Americas, Australia and Africa to see what has gone on. Typically, old cultures are destroyed and replaced by the one of the conqueror and the conquered are seldom given any opportunity in the new culture. They are sequestered in remote regions on land of little or no value. They, due to poverty cannot make their cause heard and known to the world. Reliance on an arbiter becomes a reality, which may or may not help. They have lost their old ways with the wealth of information and ability to live in harmony with nature and gained extreme poverty and ignorance in an artificial environment, alien to them. In addition, the glitter of the new civilized world draws many into the flame of destruction through crime, gambling, drugs, disease, sexual exploitation and alcohol. At every turn, the powerful gain and the poor die in silence. They depend on others to speak up for them and often misrepresentatives do so for profiteering ends.
All around, poverty equals censorship. The poor cannot get adequate shelter, food, water, education and expression through the arts. If they get work, it is dangerous, dirty work at little or no pay and often effected through intimidation rather than from benefits. Promises come one after another and each in turn is unfulfilled or broken and even reversed. One of the newest on line is the so called freedom of the internet. But again, if there is no money, there is no internet. Further, as expression the poses a threat to the established order becomes more prevalent, the urge to control the net and treat everyone like two year olds increases. If the problem becomes too prominent, then the net may be censored completely and it might come in the form of a false flag operation to whip up war hysteria.
This writing is also a response to the increasing censorship that is found on the internet. The internet that we know and have come to take for granted was originally designed for use by the US military prior to, during and after the cold war with the USSR. It was developed to be secure and accessed by a “back door” if need be by the developers. It was later adapted for the business interests of Wall Street through IBM and the like. It was only later, from the late 1980’s that it became “available” to the public. In the early days it was “free and open” to encourage use by the public. In the early days prior to AOL, Google and Yahoo, there was little cost. Increasingly, one had to and has to pay for internet services and add-ons. This gave many people the illusion that the net represented the greatest expression of democracy and free expression. But even then business had the goal to turn it into a huge shopping mall, sports, gambling, gaming and entertainment facility. The early heyday days of the net suggested that maximum freedom of expression would be allowed and expressed. But that was only a selling gimmick to attract the masses to the net so that they could later be sold everything conceivable and be swept up in sports, gambling, shopping nets, scams and propaganda. As it stands now, most traffic on the internet is nothing more than scams of a criminal nature.
As it evolved, security concerns born of warring interests brought ever tighter rounds of censorship. Censorship was sold on security concerns and the threat of pederasts stalking everyone’s children. Today the net exists in five discernable discreet levels. For the poor, the net either does not exist due to lack of the necessary components, or due to strict censorship, such as in school settings where only that information that the state deems necessary is allowed to be accessed. The next tier is those who access from public libraries. One cannot fully access information except what the library allows. Then there are pay as you go internet cafes that allow access except all that is considered militarily sensitive. The home internet service has the problem of being traced and controlled back to the home source with the same state and military sensitive issues. All computers have an IP address that can be traced by the authorities; government, military and police right back to any computer you use. If you are hacking and they trace your IP address, expect the police to kick in your door if you remain at the same IP too long. Once they have you in their sites, you may get a tasering.
The military and state command under the control of the bourgeoisie has the greatest control and freedom on the internet and can individually selective or globally shut down the net at will for security reasons. Those reasons could be anything like a local demonstration that has suddenly occurred outside of state permission or information coming out of China, military juntas or general strike situations as well as state identified terrorist concerns. Individuals or whole countries can be controlled this way. The net is not a free place where any idea can be expressed openly. Either poverty will control content or state web monitors will block access to certain content. You may be able to say your piece, but it will not be accessible by others. Further any web site you develop is under certain censures based on how much you invest. Free sites allow very little. Ones you pay for allow more. And then there are search engine placement strategies, most of which are scams.
Enter the social internet! Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Yuwie and a host of others have exploded over the last few years. Many will control your activity. You cannot agitate or sell products unless you join Google or EBay schemes that profit big business. You are warned that your boss and family are watching and that you may end up unemployed, homeless and excommunicated by family, friends and associates if your content is not to their liking. If you break the fundamental rules, you'll be censored by being deleted. Some folks don't learn, sign up again under a new ID, re-offend and get re-deleted. Keep your activities to inanities and you'll be left alone. Try to make a solid case for something and you're likely to be blocked even if that means mere sequestering. Further, you will have government spies watching you as a potential terrorist and a candidate for off-shore torture; even if it is the "kinder, gentler torture" promised by President Obama.
The computer internet was primarily developed in the west, where capital reigns supreme. It was designed initially for defence/offence by the military in places such as NORAD and the now defunct DEW line (Defence Early Warning) system placed in Northern Canada as a means of monitoring the Soviet Union’s activity such as the often stated concern of a pre-emptive nuclear missile strike. It was top secret in its day, allowing instantaneous communication between military command and the US and Canadian governments. Certain government officials had to give authorization to launch a retaliatory nuclear strike from silos and submarines. This condition existed virtually from the outset of the nuclear arms race. The internet, developed in its rudimentary form in the 1940’s remained a military-government tool until business was allowed in with IBM in the mid 1950’s. It remained in that domain until the advent of the PC in the early 1980’s. By 1986, the rudimentary form of the now popular internet came in the form of the electronic DOS (Disk Operating System) based bulletin board service (BBS). By the 1990’s, the net started to develop in its present form.
To sell the idea of the net, all varieties of expression were encouraged, but by the mid 90’s, even the likes of Noam Chomsky predicted that the net would become what has evolved to, a giant shopping mall and a sports arena. He mentioned nothing about gambling, spams and scams, which now forms the majority of internet activity. Other concerns would disappear into the back ground and indeed, that has occurred to a large extent as of this writing in 2009. The mall offers everything, with or without E-Bay and Google for sale, including a flood of bogus get rich cock-eyed business sucker punches, ready to swallow up masses of unwary desperate people searching for that elusive and often unattainable financial break. New twist arose due to the world wide financial collapse that made tens of millions suddenly desperate. Bogus mortgage and credit service popped up right on the very heels of foreclosures.
Then there are casinos galore in the virtual realm ready to take advantage of the gambler. The difference between real gambling and virtual gambling is the real random factor versus the virtual pseudo randomness of computer gambling, read fixed or rigged gambling where the house is the guaranteed winner. The days of getting rich on the net are long gone for the major part. It’ll take a new flash of insight or opportunity to allow another individual to profit hugely. Bill Gates profited immensely from Microsoft and the internet; everyone else was left in the cold more or less. Today, we have youth who are familiar with life under the influence of the net and have no concept of life without it. Yet in the developing world, most people don’t even know what a computer is let alone the ‘net’. Many older people, even in advanced nations are not net savvy. The poor of the developed and developing nations represent a majority censored out of the “information web”, such as we have it today.
Bear in mind that a wealth of misinformation exists alongside the genuine on the net. There is a sheer virtual mountain of just about every conceivable thing or idea on the net and finding anything specific can be mind boggling. The typical search string will often produce a million or more results. This overwhelming avalanche is a type of censorship by burial. Overkill on the net has buried many into obscurity if not virtual oblivion. As in real life, the virtual one on the net has this condition; i.e., the more wealth you have, the more you can influence the course of history and the world. If you are poor in life, you are ignored at best and hounded to death in the worst. The same appears to be true of the net. We have been told that robots will never be harmful to people. But a robot, like a computer will do exactly as the set of instructions tell it to do, including being part of a weapon of mass destruction. Remember that smart bombs are computer and laser guided to their targets employing the use of Global Positioning Satellites. This is kill-bot robotics in action as it is now.
For most people, the net has become a swamp of products, sports, internet games, gambling, scams and entertainment. Very few hunt out information. As a web page developer, I know that a minor sports oriented page will receive a hundred times more hits than one on astronomy/astrology or history. Political sites of a left nature get even less visitors than ones on science or history. Religious bigots on the other hand get millions of hits. With major sports sites, that differential expands to millions to one. So instead of being a speak easy of freedom of expression, it has become a free for all of shopping, sports, gambling, gaming, scamming and bogus schemes. Net surfer beware! If you have something to say that may ire the rich and powerful, they have your IP (your number) and your e-mail, etc. Further they have access to your private records of all sorts. In addition, the powerful can reach out and censor you at the least, or “disappear” you at worst. The net is still sold on the idea of freedom of expression, but consider this. Your boss can access what you say and this can censor your career and job prospects, leading you impoverishment, the height of censorship, for the poor have no representation, real or virtual beyond themselves. We say much about the poor and homeless, but what do we really know beyond propaganda. With the recent explosion of social nets, there is an interest on the part of the affluent and influential concerning what you say and who your contacts are. The net can serve as a type of virtual trap and black listing as surely as many people were black listed under McCarthy’s America in the 1950’s in the Senate’s House Hearings on Un-American Activity, during the anti-communist witch hunt era. Under a democracy that supposedly guarantees freedom of speech, there should have been nothing like "un-American activities".
You may say there are charities and sites that “Make Poverty History” helps the poor, but these are public relations and charity for profit schemes. Further, with the world wide economic melt-down, the race to end poverty is in full reverse with mind boggling, staggering and frightful increases instead of moderate shrinking. The jet propelled decent into grinding world poverty has alarmed many people into shutting down credit and cash spending fearing the worst is about to engulf them and their loved ones. When it does, it drives many to suicide. And besides, anti-poverty drives are buried under the same virtual landslide as the host of small sites that bury one another en masse. In the midst of all that spam and flood of e-mail, a tiny voice can no longer be heard or seen. There are over a billion people trying to be heard every day. Most simply do not even have the net as an option. Those that do, rely on word of e-mail and contacts others make by promotion.
As the internet is a more or less controlled and sometimes closed community depending on your circumstances, it begs the question, “What can I do as an alternative?” Before the internet, there was the mail service, telegraph and even short wave radio. Before even that there was direct contact, but this was limited to communities that were in close contact. As those of us who use the internet, also have use of the mails, telegraph and short wave radios, etc., then when the net is closed for some reason as outlined above, then these alternatives exist for our use. Given the volatile political circumstances in the international scene, it is necessary to be flexible, adapting to circumstances as they unfold. One should not limit themselves to the expression of the net that can be wide open for scrutiny by a variety of known and unknown monitors, friendly, inimical or otherwise and can be closed without warning. It is true that when push comes to shove, then other resources can also be closely monitored, but the sheer volume of activity is a challenge to those who spy on us for a variety of reasons, whether it is to sell us something by spamming, to interfere with our career, family life or to “disappear” a person perceived as a "terrorist" threat. Note that I say perceived; as perception of something is as real to the mind as an actual situation, occurrence or event.
What is needed more than ever is a world wide unity of people. But to do this requires an opening of minds, the end to censorship and the major cause of censorship; poverty. This will require a revolutionary transformation from capital-centric modes of thinking and operation to one of genuine equality of the world’s peoples. That equality has to be economic in foundation or it is just more myth spinning. It will also require the elimination of greed. These are tall orders indeed, but necessary if we are to transform, preserve and heal what is left of the planet, nature and ourselves. The main enemy of the poor is censorship brought on by their very condition of poverty.