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Frank Schnittger:
and what I sense as a failure of "progressive cyberspace" in Europe to connect to the "real world" of opinion makers, political leaders, and popular culture.

I tend to see it as two different trends coinciding and having interesting effects on each other. On one hand we have the real world leaders distancing themselves from their populations, shifting the window sharply rightwards. This trend has gone on since the 80'ies and has accelerated during the 00'ies. The EU project is suffering badly from this as a) EU-made-me-do-it is one of the more popular scapegoats and b) the EU structure is rather fluid and has a lack of public input.

In Sweden, one of the metrics indicating the abandonement of public consent is the number of members in the political parties and just to pull some numbers:

In 1979 there was 1 582 000 members in the political parties represented in parliament. About 19% of the population. In 1991 that number has shrunk to 625 000 or 7%. Last year with availeble data is now 2006 with 280 000 or 3%. (Members, Population)

The progressive cyberspace is the first pan-EU public space and as such is very interesting. It has little influence because there is little interest in listening, which is of course frustrating. From my experiences with the swedish pirate party I would say that blogs and other means are wonderous means of communication and discussion. You do not get a direct effect by a good argument, effects has to be forced through. Having good arguments and dispersing them are however crucial once you have activists handing out leaflets and organisers getting 10 seconds of airtime. It can also be used as means for organisation.

Again I will use Sweden as example. The FRA law was almost sneeked all the way through parliament. Through party organising (that would be pirate party - forum, irc, skype, IRL), wikis, action pages and blogs momentum was built until this was the main question in the swedish blogosphere. Then on the day of the voting 2000 gathered outside the parliament:

The interesting thing is that this happened without the old media (papers, tv, radio) catching on. Not that it was not tried, but as the narrative was not in pace the story could not break. Until there was 2000 people outside parliament that is, then the story became how this happened with blogs - blogquake was on of the terms. Law was passed tough, but the FRA law turned into the story of the year.

So my general tips for affecting change is organise, analyse the situation and find a path to what change you want to effect. Then work hard and expect to be patronised, lied about and not listened to by anyone who has power now. If people in power listened to reasonable arguments we would not be in this situation in the first place. Reformation is no tea party.

I am late to the general crisis/pity party here and not at all sure what it is about. Though I suspect it has a lot to do with the frustration of creating wonderous deconstructions, undressing the myths and prescribing good ways and not affecting clear political change. Over and over. If so I would like to point out that the stop Blair campaign worked, at least for the time being. I think more such campaigns could work if we formulate:

  • specific goals
  • means
  • narrative

And then put in heaploads of work.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Wed Feb 25th, 2009 at 09:11:36 AM EST
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