Re-discovering the Language of Politics

Its well known by now that European Commission is involved in an anti-trust 
struggle/investigation with Google. The threat of a $6 billion fine hanging over the search company may 
hurt, just a bit, but in the end it will be little more than a pin-prick
 given the mountain of cash and power that Google is sitting on.

The larger question is how to move to a more generative place than the 
pleasurable but futile pastime of ritualised google bashing? The more 
interesting question is whether there is the political will to build new
spaces for the social media era, capable of conjuring something like a 
genuine public sphere. Meaning what? Meaning a place, with critical mass,
where we participate as citizens not customers.

Its not always an easy distinction to draw. Habermass made a good job of
 explaining why the distinction can be so tricky “Because private enterprise 
evoke in their customers the idea that in their consumption decisions they
 act in their capacity as citizens the state has to address its citizens as

During the campaign of the Scottish independence referendum, a police launched an investigation into eBay after a man claiming to be a resident of Glasgow posted a listing offering his vote for sale. If even the most ardent advocates of a free market would draw the line at
the buying and selling of votes then a reasonable corollary would be that
 public discourse – to be truly public – can not plausibly operate in spaces
that are founded on profit optimising filters and algorithms.images-1

Even though it feels like history, just a few weeks ago in the Scottish
Referendum, British politicians suddenly awoke -briefly- from their
 neo-liberal slumber, to discover that financial arguments within which they
had sought to couch the debate were not enough. They realised, with a
 collective jolt, that large numbers of people had re-discovered the language
 of politics and how, at key historical moments, the language of politics 
trumps the language of money. The terms of the debate were hurriedly
 reconfigured. The level of participation in that political moment speaks 
volumes for the importance of rediscovering this language.

Developing alluring spaces to rival with the behemoths (with their 
serendipity engines and happiness experiments) that are secure and ad free
will be very hard. Particularly given the great vaults of data their head-start has given them. Its hard to imagine any crowd funded DIY tactical 
solution will suffice. Maybe its time to admit that sometimes we need a 
top-down properly resourced, funded through general taxation, public service 
model. Judging by the the level of discussion taking place in the European
Commission this is a most unlikely outcome but it doesn’t make the need any
less urgent.

Is this a deeply unimaginative narrowly statist solution quite out of tune with Deleuzian space of rhizomatic networks ? Probably. But if not this then a natively net Wikipedia or Linux or (whisper it) Move On/Avaz like venture is required as a step in the direction of reconstituting the public sphere.