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This edited volume of cutting-edge radical political communication research is based on the claim that global capitalism and political injustice have reached crisis point. Superpowers, transnational corporations, and oppressive regimes are plundering and decimating societies, communities, and the natural environment in their ruthless pursuit of power and profits.
Trillions of dollars of capital are currently being invested (and laundered) via the Internet (New York Times 21-10-2021) rather than in the pursuit of political justice. This virtual universe is based on virtual reality technologies (VR), virtual currencies (cryptocurrencies), virtual art (NFT), virtual land (digital real estate), and virtual identities (avatars) – suggesting that grassroots political experience and struggle, Nature, and Life itself, could in the end be erased.
Our book, Beyond the Internet: Radical Voices of Dissent is committed to building bridges across a broad range of radical social grassroots movements in geo-strategic points of intense political struggle around the world, providing a medium for radical thinkers and activists to voice their dissent, to explore the significance of their life-and-death struggles, and to critique, develop and share their strategies of resistance.
Our central question is this: What is the relationship between the Internet and social activism?
On the one hand, our book argues that the Internet and social media is a simulacrum (Baudrillard 1988). Here there is no connection between signifier and signified. Political experience and resistance are often digitalized, monitored, censored, and detached from the outside world. On the other hand, the social movements represented in this volume are using Internet technologies to resonate with their members and consolidate resistance.
In so doing, our book has two main purposes.
Our first purpose is to understand the current nature and importance of these radical grassroots movements. And it is in this context that we are using the word ‘beyond’ in the title to examine the metaphysical character of the relationship between the Internet and social activism within grassroot communities and social movements. Metaphysics is based on searching for the nature of reality, identity, of understanding causality, theorizing time and space – which is central to many indigenous peoples’ thinking in Latin America. It also includes issues concerning potentialities, which connect with our questions below.
Our second and most important purpose is to support this quest for political justice that has claimed the lives of millions. In this sense we are representing the murdered, the disappeared, and the living spirit of these movements. Paraphrasing Lenin in What is to be done? (1902) our main questions are these – What is being said? What is being done? How are radical discourse and radical practice connected?
This book is important because it addresses threats to our current existence (global capitalism and the Internet) and explores and critiques the current nature and tools of radical political resistance around the world. This exploration of the usefulness and threat of the Internet is unique in academic research into political communication. Mainstream research has tended to address and capitalize on the political and economic power of mass media conglomerates rather than to address the possibilities of political resistance and justice. This research is centered on political justice rather than so-called balanced academic discourse.
Secondly, this book bridges the gap between academic research and radical grassroots activism, by providing a theoretical introduction and conclusion, and by creating a medium that encourages researchers and activists to engage with one another and to be both critical and creative. The contributors have been encouraged to produce political essays, creative, in-depth feature writing, narrative or literary journalism or reportage rather than academic articles – thereby engaging the minds, hearts, and imaginations of their readers.
Provisional table of contents
- The Internet & Dissenting Voices (Lawrie Phillips).
- When Radicalism Becomes Dissent (David Berry).
- The Cheran in Mexico: Peoples’ Grassroots Democracy (Victor A. Zerthuche Cobos).
- Anti-and post-Apartheid Resistance in South Africa (Shirley Gunn).
- Communism in Colombia (Lawrie Phillips).
- Kurdish Resistance & Homeland (David Berry & Harem Karem).
- Indigenous Environmental Issues/Resistance in Brazil (Dan Baron).
- Climate Resistance in Honduras (Jessica Fernandez).
- Grassroots Journalism in India: the story behind Khabar Lahariya (KL Collective).
- The Last Jihad: Radical Feminist Discourse in the Middle East (Maha Ghalwash).
- Digital Occupation & Resistance: The Sateré People, Brazil (Sue Branford & Mauricio Torres).
- Mapuche Resistance in Chile (Franco Ramos Gutierrez).
- An Autobiographical Profile (Andriy Movchan)
- Russian Resistance in an Age of Putin (TBC).