We share with our readers the text of the paper presented by Javier Tolcachier, in the event “Unraveling Digital Social Networks”, held in Quito on August 29, 30 and 31, convened by ALAI, FLACSO and CIESPAL.
We have become media beings, we live online, we are connected, we are between media and very little of what we do has nothing to do with them. Moreover, communication today has gone beyond the limits of time and space. The digital world of communication is replacing the old analog world. Everything is immediate and close. The bits of information are introduced through all the pores. 55% of the people on the planet already have access to the internet. The short time when the Internet seemed to be what it promised, a fabulous knowledge exchange network, is over. Today, more and more trash travels through the Internet. It couldn’t be any other way.
Knowledge is power and power does not want to be shared, so it prevents knowledge from being democratised.
The control of knowledge is a historical fact. The ancient role of traditions, kings and priests has now been assumed by corporations. Speaking only of the Western world, today in decline but still conditioning, the five major internet corporations Alphabet-Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft, but also the content producers Disney, Time Warner, Comcast, the owners of AT&T communication systems, Verizon, to name but a few, make up much of almost everything you see – and of course, what you shouldn’t see. These corporations are in turn controlled by investment funds. Always at the forefront are institutional investors Vanguard, BlackRock and State Street Global Advisors, managing trillions of dollars, which are major shareholders in 90% of the companies listed on the SP500.
In other words, the monopolies are monopolized and the control of the largest communication companies on the planet is under the control of financial capital through the voting power granted by the stock packages of a few investment funds, whose only logic is the expansion of business.
Investors’ earnings come through dividends and the value of the shares, which in turn depend on the earnings of all these companies. For the most part, these gains and market value depend on the number of users. Therefore, the logic of companies is to snatch users away from the competition, until they liquidate it. The investors’ option is to invest proportionally in all of them, so as never to lose. The logic of monopoly is that of business and the logic of business is that of monopoly.
This completely unmasks the lie of “free competition”, “free market” or “free trade”, lies and fictions on which all capitalist ideology is based, which in reality, on its own foundation, is absolutely monopolistic.
In what we often call Our America – which has never been and is not yet “ours” – media groups, those who control most of the media and public opinion are more provincial, although the trend of increased foreign participation is already discernible. In many of them, Clarín, Globo, Cisneros, Santo Domingo-Valorem, González or Telmex, the majority shareholder is family owned. The few exceptions are Televisa (61% controlled by mutual funds and banks), Grupo Prisa (with a majority shareholding in a US vulture fund, although previously with a majority shareholding in the Polanco family) or Telefónica (controlled by banks and investment funds). Yet they all disseminate and use the same channels and content.
That’s the order to subvert. That is the firewall, the wall to be torn down so that communication can be democratic, made by everyone and for everyone.
They have the licenses, the technology, the channels, the laws, the rogue journalists, the invented but deadly bank money. They have censorship, news and false stories, they have algorithms, propaganda and confusion. They are the owners of the lie, but also the owners of the truth, as we have already said, so as never to lose.
What about us? How are we gonna tear down the wall?
Above all, we need to be clear about three possible actions in the face of the acid flood of manipulation and monopoly control.
1)Consumption. We read, watch, listen, consume information is – to a greater or lesser extent – the main action we take every day. But where we do it is something else. The monopoly wants us to do it in its millions of branches. We may choose to consume elsewhere. The more “our” means we consume, the less we consume theirs. It is clear that this has its limits, but it is essential to vary the proportion, to make the void to stupidity, to damage their business in part, denying our collaboration.
Another aspect of consumption to talk about is what do we look at, read, listen to and what for?
The monopoly offers us entertainment, although repetition makes it boring. We all know that the rich protagonist is going to fall in love with the maid and that some illegitimate son will appear, some evil witch and so on. All predictable. As for information, it is about what those who pay want. That’s why it’s misinformation. Even criticism of their agendas is welcome by them because they install them.
Finally, how do we look? You have to look at the intention, that is the primary thing and not the content, which is secondary. Exercising an attentive look at what you are looking at or hearing, seeing who is saying it and what they are saying it for is a good antibody against manipulation.
Today the slogan is “the means of monopoly are the opium of the people”, Nothing with them! The best answer is the vacuum to their issues and ways of raising them. You have to consume our own agendas. What are these? Human rights: peace, distribution of welfare, freedom, gender equality, diversity, to name but a few.
2)Reproduction: This is the second action on a quantitative scale. We don’t just consume data, we reproduce it. We share postings, forward photos and videos, talk about certain things. And in this reproduction we can also be collaborators of the monopoly regime or revolutionaries of the causes of democratisation. Broadcasting your own agendas and sources makes all the difference.
3)Production: This is the most beautiful part, the most creative part, the one that allows old barriers between intellectual and manual work to disappear, the one that makes the artist’s dream come true. The production of content makes us actors, subjects, protagonists of the revolution. The new generations, born in the midst of the whirlpool of communication technology, have their instruments as permanent prostheses.
However, the system gives positive weight to atomisation, individual, isolated and occasional production, that does not harm you and adds data and minutes to your coffers. To defeat the firewall, we need organised, articulated, permanent production in a revolutionary direction.
We need to create and strengthen radio stations, television stations, news agencies, websites and all kinds of media of our own that are a real alternative to the monopoly.
For that to be possible, we need powerful communication alliances, articulations that can collaboratively produce, share and massively disseminate content.
The concept is one of unity in diversity, so that each medium can influence its real area of impact and in turn, we can reach large numbers.
We need to serve and make use of the political change that will ban media concentration and help open the door to a new system, we need the militants of change to use our means, in an alliance of reciprocity.
Our endogenesis, of speaking for our own, for the convinced, is criticised, but we do not even reach them as the others arrive.
Talking about what we want is not endogenous if we strengthen its scope and it is more and more “ours for whom we speak”. This requires: quantity, quality, the massive role of young people (this ensures styles and narratives in keeping with the times), horizontal and democratic organisation, production in all media, perfecting techniques, networking worldwide, training. In short, to subvert the idea that voracious capitalism, that mortal competition is the only possibility of life in common for the human species and to propose and live as coherently as possible the alternatives that we propose.
We need to clarify and reach the 99% oppressed by a system of sick domination that prioritises money as the motor and objective of life. To advance the lie and demand a new way of existence. Creating a new world is feasible from the utopia that is installed as an image and possibility in the consciousness of millions of people, especially young people. We have to contribute to this by creating and spreading utopia as the only way out of this decadent civilization of buying and selling.
Our means and their increasing articulation are the means to do so.
Translated from Spanish by Pressenza London