Beyond the political lefts and rights

In the video, Lawrence Lessig urged the Occupy Protestors to frame their discussion against the lobbyists in Washington that have taken control over the US congress. The target should be crony capitalism rather than the capitalist system or corporations.

Reframing the discussion this way can help to unite the Occupy and the populist Tea Party movement. The Tea Party believes in limiting the power of the government; the Occupy protestors calls for limiting the power of corporations. In fact, the government and the corporations, though being two distinct political entities, are one and the same, given their underlying networks. For instance, a person can be an elected government officials one day and a CEO of a health insurance or GM food company another day. The politicians serve the interests of the corporations, which then contribute to get the politicians re-elected.

Despite their different political convictions, the Tea Party members (not the leaders) and Occupy protesters share in the belief in harnessing the power of social media and rebuilding networks that can ultimately reconfigure the power relations.

In “Power does not reside in institutions, not even the state or large corporations. It is located in the networks that structure society”, Manuel Castell writes, “Power is exercised by specific configurations of these networks that express dominant interests and values”. In crony capitalism, the government, the business-controlled media and the business and financial elites have enormous power over the masses and the distribution of resources.

However, as new media platforms have sprung up, digital activists can build open networks to force greater transparency on the part of the government and corporations and reach out to the masses who crave knowledge and transparency.

This digital revolution, however, does not mean dismantling the established structure of society, i.e., the government or the corporations. Rather, it reconfigures the power relations in society, which gives back to the masses or the citizens the power to effect change in the government and corporations.


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