As socialists we recognize and support the existence of a truly free and open internet, maintained by the principle of net neutrality. We reject the proposals being made by the digital media giants backed by the politicians they have purchased who wish to segregate the internet by dividing access to it between high-speed fee-paying users and those who receive low-speed access without a charge. The internet is the “Great Cloud” through which many of us work, play, and communicate. It must be maintained as it is, outside of the rules of the capitalists who carry a definition of property rights too narrow for this anarchic technological mass.
The corporate behemoths who lease out our internet lifelines would have us believe that they should be free to do as they see fit. These entities, empowered by a sense of corporate personhood, feel that they should be allowed to organize a ‘pay-to-play’ internet. If allowed to be put into effect, every step of the communication process would be subject to additional fees, controls, and content monitoring that the corporations would arbitrarily determine. We cannot allow such changes to pass.
The debate about net neutrality is a perfect illustration of how obsolete the rules of the capitalist system are. The internet has fostered revolutionary changes in the way people build communities, identities and invent new ways of conversing. However, this sort of unregulated free association is a threat to capitalist profit motive. In response, capitalists attempt to impose market rules in order to commodify these new relations even if the process of commodification ruins or severely limits the new relations. Simply put, the narrowness of capitalism, its need to profit from every act that makes us human, will destroy the complex interconnections the internet has helped us all establish.
As Socialists, we believe that the internet is not broken, and Google-Verizon must not be given free hand to “fix it”. Does the airline industry own the sky? Does the trucking industry own the streets and highways? No, these vital arteries are there for all, as it must remain with the internet. We should also note that the origins of the internet itself lie with publicly funded research conducted by the US military.
Socialists believe in freedom – the freedom to associate with one another, the freedom to access information and the freedom share our thoughts, ideas and emotions without corporations telling us how fast or slow we can do so. As such, we reject any legislative attempt to end net neutrality or even seemingly “progressive” reforms that reduce net neutrality to a frozen set of relations that could eventually be regulated. The internet should be allowed to exist as it is – through a fluid association of ad-hoc networks
Keeping net neutrality means resisting the establishment of a digital hierarchy that may do just as much damage as our increasingly wide economic hierarchy.
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