FreePress McChesney's Latest Collectivist Manifesto -- Radical Fringe Series Part I

FreePress co-founder and collectivist ideologue, Robert McChesney, wrote his latest Internet manifesto: "The Internet's Unholy Marriage to Capitalism," in the Monthly Review - An Independent Socialist Magazine."

McChesney's collectivist and elitist manifesto warrants attention because it is widely disseminated to:

  • Also to his new FreePress spawn: The Democracy Fund, founded by FreePress co-founder Josh Silver to raise funds to "curb the undue influence of corporate lobbyists," and RootStrikers founded by Larry Lessig, co-founder of Save the Internet, in order to organize an activist network "to fight the corrupting power of money in politics."
    • Both of these new FreePress spawn networks are being created as new indirect organizing vehicles to advance FreePress' collectivist vision for net neutrality, Title II broadband regulation, and media reform.

The dual thrusts of McChesney's latest laborious diatribe against capitalism and private property are:

  • First, the Internet is essentially a zero sum game where "private riches grow at the expense of public wealth," and
  • Second, capitalism invariably leads to monopolization.

Some other major McChesney points:

  • "Our critique... will repeatedly demonstrate the weaknesses of allowing the profit motive to dictate the development of the Internet."
  • Concerning the Internet " is difficult to avoid noting that what is emerging veers toward the classic definition of fascism as right-wing corporatism: the state and large corporate interests working hand-in-hand to promote corporate interests, and a state preoccupied with militarism, secrecy, and surveillance."
  • "In sum, the Internet, if left prey to capitalism -- to having the hunt for profits dictate its development -- has veered off in a direction that downplays and undermines, rather than exploits and accentuates, the most revolutionary and democratic aspects of its technology."
  • "... the Internet is being turned into... a new means of alienation. ... The moral of the story is clear. ... A global network of resistance is both necessary and feasible."

Mr. McChesney's screed cherry-picks and copiously documents the little bits of history that support his theory, while largely ignoring most all of economic and Internet history that does not fit with his collectivist revolutionary vision and agenda.

For example, Mr. McChesney waxes nostalgic for the early Internet days:

  • "The early Internet was not only non commercial, it was also anti-commercial. ... If anyone dared to sell something online, that person would likely be "flamed," meaning that other outraged Internet users would clog the individual's email box with contemptuous messages demanding the sales pitch be removed. This internal policing by Internet users was based on the assumption that commercialism and an honest, democratic public sphere did not mix."
    • Ironically and tellingly, Mr. McChesney is silent on the fact that it took commercialism of the Internet for:
      • "The masses" to have near universal access to the Internet available to them,
      • The broadband Internet to be deployed, and
      • All the amazing variety of Internet applications and innovations to reach over two billion people around the world.

Another incredible example of Mr. McChesney's selective amnesia is that after recounting essentially how there can be no market competition only monopolization, he asserts "these firms have no particular incentive to upgrade their networks."

  • Mr. McChesney obviously ignores that the U.S. private sector has invested an estimated half trillion dollars in investment upgrades to their broadband Internet networks over the last decade alone!

Yet another glaring flaw in Mr. McChesney's tortured and backed-into analysis to reach his factually-unsupportable conclusions about the Internet, is his assertion that: "Communication is more than an ordinary market. Indeed it is properly not a market at all. It is more like air and water -- a form of public wealth, a commons."

  • This is a patently ridiculous, as air and water don't embody ideas, thoughts, solutions, innovation, information, emotions, hopes or dreams to name just the most obvious characteristics of communication.
  • Air and water are commodities. Communications are unique and ever-changing.

Finally, Mr. McChesney's rewriting of Internet history as a non-commercialized commons totally ignores the reality that constitutional democratic processes commercialized the Internet under President Clinton, and a near unanimous Congress of constitutionally elected representatives and Senators put into law in 1996 that: "It is the policy of the United States -- to preserve the vibrant and competitive free market Internet that presently exists for the Internet... unfettered by Federal or State regulation."

In conclusion, the latest screed from FreePress co-founder Mr. Robert W. McChesney is collectivist and eilitist propaganda that is a desperate attempt to rewrite Internet history and recast their radical fringe ideology as reasonable and serious.

  • What I found most remarkable about this latest collectivist manifesto was that Mr. McChesney acknowledged and thanked three current and former officials of the current Administration for reviewing and assisting him in this effort: former White House Special Assistant Susan Crawford, current State Department employee Ben Scott, and current FTC employee Tim Wu.
  • Their handiwork was evident in that this latest manifesto was largely scrubbed of much of Mr. McChesney's most outrageous, red meat, and radical fringe rhetoric that he employed in the past.
    • Nevertheless, their attempt to publicly sanitize Mr. McChesney's views were not able to soften or change the main message in his diatribe against capitalism and private property that was captured in his title: "The Internet's Unholy Marriage to Capitalism."
  • The fact that so many people were asked to review and edit Mr. McChesney's latest collectivist manifesto is telling.
    • Either Mr. McChesney, his followers, or both realize that Mr. McChesney's radical fringe collectivist views are way out of the mainstream, offputting, and a big liability to their ultimate revolutionary goals to reform media and impose an information commons on the Internet.
    • Apparently, they get the fact that FreePress' ideological grounding, sympathies, and views which are embodied by Mr. McChesney, are essentially an anethema to most all of American society.
  • Mr. McChesney's radical fringe views are hardly non-partisan or in the American public's interest as FreePress constantly claims.