Evgeny Morozov’s article, ‘Technology’s Role in Revolution’, was very attention-grabbing. Evgeny argued that many revolutions throughout history do not transpire through internet and technology, but in effect, are shaped by cultural factors. His term, cyber-utopianism, suggests that online interaction between individuals is emancipatory, and that the internet favours the oppressed, rather than the oppressor. He makes evident, that this belief is nieve and stubborn because it refuses to recognize its consequences. Evgeny argues against the certain ideas of what he refers to as internet centrism, and cyber-utopianism, and indeed points out that there is a dark side to internet freedom.
Within Evgeny’s article, there are many points he makes that definitely articulate cyber-utopianism, and its affect on many populations. Evgeny explains the role of internet in the middle- eastern revolutions. He suggests that, people in the middle-east often brag about documenting police brutality, but is not what they should be focusing on. He argues that they should focus on how new leaders will shape the new constitution, and how to deal with issues regarding previous regimes. Morozov believes that the middle-east can obtain successful democracy, but depending on how they can react, and work on existing problems.
Evgeny implies that regimes would be a lot less hectic if it weren’t for the internet. He claims, if it the internet wasn’t around, they could have taken a different route in making decisions, could have been less violent, and decisions could have been made months earlier than they did. He explains how in Russia, kids were being so distracted by other websites that, for a short while, government had put up censorships so people would be less distracted. He believes that the most successful way of controlling the internet, “isn’t one that has the most sophisticated censorship, but one that doesn’t need a one at all.” In addition, Evgeny suggested that it is nieve to believe that something as complex and sophisticated as the internet, could create exactly the same outcomes. In conclusion, he creates an unpretentious approach of dealing with policy making; Cyber-realism.
Cyber-realists are people that make the internet a method for achieving specific policy objectives, rather than, people who only focus on the internet’s philosophical impact as a whole. Evgeny makes some remarkable points, and although I think he slightly dramatizes the negative impacts internet has on the utilitarian states, he still manages to convince me of his argument. For instance, I too, believe that internet is credited for some negative things such as: countries having lacked enlightenment in the topic of political decisions, being a distraction rather than a source of information, and finally, giving the government a disloyal reputation. 1
Evgeny suggests that certain countries do not have the ability to be notified of political suggestions online, because computers are not available to them. A relatable example he expresses is that, Fidel Castro has a twitter page, but people in Cuba, do not have computers, let alone twitter. In Italy, for example, only three hundred and sixty seven people have computers, out of one thousand people. That’s less than half of the population that would not be well informed. In addition, in places such as Russia, internet isn’t a system intended to gain information, but rather, a search engine utilized for personal enjoyment.
Internet is often a way of keeping kids away from politics because they become far to distracted on other sites, such as RuTube, to focus on government issues. I agree this is a negative effect, because if kids are uninformed, their kids will be uninformed, and the pattern of using internet for personal use will take its toll on future generations. Other countries, such as North Korea and Belarus, lack the ability to be technologically caught up in society. Evgeny mentions, “I wouldn’t have much hope in the internet in North Korea. It’s a country with some of the fewest internet connections in the world, and average North Koreans have been brainwashed to such an extent that you have serious psychological challenges that you can’t overcome just by using blogs and twitter.” This expresses the internet as being an unfair advantage to certain countries that are not as technologically advanced. Additionally, internet is giving the government a bad reputation for two different reasons.
First off, Evgeny states that bloggers publishing about dishonesty in local governments, are easily co-opted by higher politicians, and are turned against what they were blogging about. In this case, bloggers are absolutely being shut down, in that the power of the government is less on local authorities, but on the federal government. This demonstrates the government being disloyal to the people, and using a pessimistic way of controlling the local population, which in turn, can certainly lead to trust issues between the two. Secondly, the government will frequently reach out to citizens for their opinion, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are listening to what the citizens have to say. 2
Evgeny suggests that governments pretend to reach out to obtain citizens input, but in reality, it is only a way of making them seem legitimate. The problem with this is that it causes the government to lose power, in that, they can no longer be trusted by the people, therefore the people will slowly stop publicizing their input.
Another topic he could have reached upon would be that, because internet is so traceable, some negative things that might have gone viral will always be traced back to you. When bloggers write anti-government information, they are giving out their location, and can easily be tracked by local policemen. Overall I think that Evgeny truly convinced me of his argument because he had some very valid ideas, and as he pointed out, there are plenty of reasons people blame internet for the negative effects it has on the revolution.