Sacco and Vanzetti Jr., or
E-Commerce versus the remainder of the world

The hysteria over the recent disruption of service on a few well-known websites will no doubt make it a lot easier for US authorities to boost their multi-million dollar budget for internet policing. The New York Times was eager to characterize the likes of Yahoo and Ebay as "victims" "crippled" by the dastardly work of "vandals". It does not matter that no permanent damage was done to these sites. It is enough that so-called 'cyberterrorists', even for a few hours, seemed to have threatened e-commerce. The government is ready to step in with big guns to protect your god-given right to shop online.

    E-Commerce is little more than a giant shopping channel experiment on steroids, pumping up the American economy on anabolic expectations that people will be completely doped up by the rapturous possibility of spending their entire paychecks, on stuff they can only see as pixelated images on a computer screen, with a click of a mouse. Regardless of who is behind the recent disruption, the effects will be the same: more corporate-sponsored government hysteria, more police state tactics against anyone in cyberspace who does not have their platinum visa heated up for the next purchase. Globalized American capitalism is now a fully fledged surveillance apparatus that treats the world like a company town: no expressive activity allowed, no gatherings of more than three people outside the workplace. And if this action was a grass-roots movement of discontented internet users and not malevolent 'foreign' cyberterrorists, then their desire for a public space that is not merely a marketplace will be completely squelched, and the FBI will have succeeded in making the internet a safer place for ever more mindless business transactions. Intelligent community activism is being destroyed by the sledge hammer of mercantile paranoia.

    The level of hysteria whipped up by the hacks of the New York Times and the special interests behind the strong arms of the FBI will mean less freedom and more surveillance for everyone, and not only online. It is as if the government were to bar all pedestrian activity because it discovered that people could gather in massive crowds outside the mega mall, obstructing the smooth flow of traffic into the sacred halls of retail. The future is here, kids, and it is ugly: say good bye to any possibility of dissension and political activism, say hello to big brother's repressive cyberpolitics masquerading as the protection of e-business; sit back, relax, and wait for more bandwidth. Keep shopping, stop thinking.



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