Yesterday a lot of American websites were blacked out in protest against the new legislation in that country aiming to give more control over the internet to major corporate copyright holders. In fact, not since Gutenberg invented the printing press, has there ever been such a revolution in publishing and freedom of speech as over the past fifteen years or so.
However, like the Catholic church tried to contain the Reformation in Europe, many powerful institutions are looking at the proliferation of internet speech with a jaundiced eye. Certainly, copyright does seem to be under threat. Never again will some rock group like the Beatles or Pink Floyd earn enough money from album sales to afford a private airliner to fly from one gig to the next. When my youngest son was about three, he could already say “download”.
The question is: do mediocre pop artists and Hollywood actors deserve to be so stinkingly rich? While much more talented and accomplished classical musicians starve and the theatre falls by the wayside.
When it comes to politics, many people and interest groups perceive the internet to be something of a threat to society. One of the most hilarious statements I have ever heard was made by Max du Preez at the Boekehuis in Melville, Johannesburg. With an irritated snort, Max said to fellow journalist Tim du Plessis, at the time editor of Beeld: “Don’t talk to me about the internet. It has been taken over by racists and fascists.”
Until very recently, certain taboo topics could not be discussed in print. You all know what they are, so I will not dwell on them. Suffice it to say that race, immigration, differences between men and women, and whether the Bible prohibits homosexuality are some of them. Nobel prize winners in science or the Harvard president have lost their jobs for making a casual remark about these subjects. A body of writing like Stalking the Wild Taboo could only exist on the internet.
Sometime during the twentieth century, during and just after the nineteen-sixties, a profound change took place. Not that the world had suddenly changed. But that decade of protest and decadence had ushered in a revolution in two very influential institutions: the universities and the media.
Journalists, with the exception of court reporters chronicling murder cases, are usually trained at university. Because university professors are usually left-wing radicals, journalists, by and large, tend to be left-wing radicals. In the USA, eighty-six percent of tenured academics vote for the Democratic Party. The fourteen percent who vote Republican are probably confined to disciplines like mathematics and engineering where graduates are unlikely to end up in the journalistic profession.
So the traditional media are no mirror for society. Print and television show us the world as it ought to be, not as it really is. With the liberation of the common man, online man, the journalists and professors have become utterly horrified. Reading Facebook or Twitter or millions of WordPress blogs, the media elite encounter heterosexual, middle-class people, many of whom are white, who are revelling in the opportunity to say what they think.
The internet has brought a real demoratisation of opinion, regardless of spelling and grammar. You could call that a quotable quote, except that Max du Preez and the rest of the media insiders will never quote me. Nor will the professors quote me, because to them I represent part of that new threat, the uprising of the internet scribes and rebels.
As we know, the Left has never really liked democracy. When the working class of Europe and North America refused to rise up against capitalism, they called it “false consciousness”. When black people in this country at first refused to rebel against the former government, they were called “sell-outs” and beaten and necklaced into submission.
A democratic debate on the internet around taboo issues also represents anathema to those who still lament the fall of the Berlin wall. The masses are fine as long as they can be cajoled, intimidated or brainwashed into the point of view of the leftist elite. But if they stray too far from accepted norms it must be denounced as populism. Or worse still: racism and fascism.
There is a worldwide persecution of people who are more or less normal, like you and me. I know a Swedish girl who was expelled from school for saying she loved her country. Of course, her teachers were just your average Swedish teachers, socialists and supporting everything from gay marriage to the right of African dictators to spend yet another trillion dollars’ worth of aid without having anything to show for it. Being in love with a beautiful Nordic country like Sweden with its silver birch trees, its lakes and snow, its fine old cities and blue-eyed citizens, was enough to betray her nationalism. And as we have been taught, nationalism and fascism are just two sides of the same coin.
The average middle-class, heterosexual man or woman has children, a house, a car and responsibilities. He or she is already besieged by the threat of instability: break-up with the spouse, the drug dealer on the school corner, homework, getting to school and work on time, the next exam, meeting payments to the bank, keeping one’s job, office politics, staying healthy and solvent. Just coping with modern life is in itself stressful enough without the added complications, so dear to the Left and their spokesmen – forgive me the sexist blunder! – spokespeople in the mainstream media.
So to Koos or Marietjie van der Merwe out there, the esoteric neo-Marxist pursuits of the PC brigade seem at once outlandish and downright dangerous. Being tolerant of gays is one thing but teaching children to become gay, as happens in some European countries, is another. Especially if you have children yourself. My personal bête noire is people mixing up English and Afrikaans, as on Sewendelaan. It must eventually lead to barbarism, even cannibalism.
If South Africa’s white middle class had to vote again in an honest referendum asking the real question: “Do you want to turn South Africa and the SADF’s weapons over to the ANC so that they may spend your taxes on Mercs and holidays, make anti-white laws and pamper the criminals?” more than ninety percent would vote “no”. But in the early nineties the local media had simply followed the lead of their overseas counterparts in predicting a brilliant outcome if the purveyors of communist theories and the necklace would be given carte blanche to “transform” South Africa. The Left had a dream in Europe and they called it “scientific socialism”. It killed a hundred million people and then finally it was labelled the gulag.
In South Africa the Left brought us “democracy”, which means that a small group of people may appropriate all the wealth and make laws to prevent your child from being admitted to university, at least in the medical faculty – and some other faculties too. If you complain about that, Max and company will smear you as a racist and a fascist.
But Max doesn’t know an IP from a config file. Or a template from a plug-in. Neither do those media execs who are trying to put a lid on it in the name of copyright protection. The European socialists, no matter how they deride their opponents as populists and extremists, have already lost the war, thanks to intrepid anti-Islamic websites in no small measure.
When my sixteen-year old daughter saw the black screens yesterday, she exclaimed: “This is the internet! This is power! This is us! Don’t you just feel it?”
Somewhere, someone must be trembling…