Sunday, 19 December 2010

Online Surfing Gone Red

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EcuRedEarlier this month, Communist alternatives to the websites Twitter and Wikipedia were launched by China and Cuba, respectively. Both regimes are known for their suppression of free-speech and regulation of the Internet.

On December 15, The Telegraph reported that “China has launched 'Red' Twitter, identical to the US micro-blogging website, except that its messages are designed to promote revolutionary spirit.”

The "Red" Twitter, or “Red Microblog,” as it is called, was launched on December 7 in a joint operation by the Municipal Communist Party Committee Department of Propaganda in Chongqing, the Deputy Minister of Flood Control, and the Chinese software company DragonSoft.

The local Chinese news website describes Red Microblog as “a joint effort to build a 3G gateway to the red culture as the main content of popular Internet and mobile phones and interactive communication platform.”

Red Microblog is the Communist government’s response to the online world of social networking and individual self-expression that has already assimilated China’s growing young adult population, which can no longer be contained in their yearning for freedom.

In what may appear as a “If you can’t beat them, join them” move, the Communist government of China has come to the realization that, if they cannot contain this yearning for online networking and self-expression, they will allow under their terms and scrupulous supervision to assure that “subversive” anti-communist ideas do not disseminate throughout the country.

Another statist Communist regime faced with a people yearning for greater knowledge is Cuba, where those who have the benefit of accessing the Internet cannot access websites that promote “anti-revolutionary” ideas, such as Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia.

Reporters Without Border lists Cuba in the bottom five of its 2008 World Press Freedom Index. The group also includes Cuba — along with Iran, North Korea, China, and other oppressive regimes — in its list of 15 “Internet enemies.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists is also not a fan of Cuba’s repressive policies. Cuba currently ranks fourth in its list of “10 Worst Countries to be a Blogger,” which states of Cuba: “Only government officials and people with links to the Communist Party have Web access. The general population goes online at hotels or government-controlled Internet cafés by means.” The only blog users allowed to post content are those who are supportive of the government, which is the only content that available to the privileged few allowed to use the Internet.

On December 13, the Cuban government launched EcoRed, its own online encyclopedia with the same look and feel of Wikipedia, just without the same intellectual and informational diversity.

The nearly 20,000 articles on EcoRed pose a one-sidedness that is not atypical of the Communist regime. For example, its article on the United States refers to the U.S. as “the empire of our time” that is “characterized by strip by force to other nations and countries of territories and natural resources to make them serve their companies and monopolies.” The article goes on to say that the United States “consumes 25% of the energy produced in the planet, [yet] despite their wealth over a third of its population has no guaranteed medical care.”

Although there are articles on philosophers such as Plato, Sir Isaac Newton, Karl Marx, and Frederic Engels, there are none on John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, or others whose ideas and words are attributed to the concepts of property rights and negative liberties.

The article biographies that do exist portray a carefully extracted history of the person. For example, the article on Joseph Stalin mentions his rule of the Soviet Union but omits any mention of the 23 million who died under his reign or of the 5.5 million condemned to the gulag labor death camps.

While various articles discuss the extent of U.S. military intervention, including one entitled “Imperiliso Estadus Unidos” (Spanish for United States Imperialism), articles such as those on the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba and the Soviet Red Army omit any mention of Cuban or Soviet interventionism.

U.S. President James Monroe and his Monroe Doctrine are attributed to U.S. Imperialism, and President Ronald Reagan is described as an “ultraconservative in his anticommunist phobia who supported the military dictatorship of El Salvador, the repression in Guatemala, the far-right groups in Nicaragua and the military dictatorships of Chile and Argentina, and orchestrated the invasion of Grenada.”

Although the Reagan article summarizes Reaganomics as being composed of four main pillars: (1) the reduction of the growth of public spending, (2) reduction of marginal rates on taxes, (3) deregulation of economic activity, and (4) the reduction of inflation — while charging that these policies “produced a debt crisis around the world.”

EcoRed also has an extensive article on the CIA, depicting its overseas incursions and covert paramilitary activities. However, as of December 17 no article exists on Cuba's DI, or Intelligence Directorate (formally known as the DGI; Dirección General de Inteligencia), which was responsible for the proliferation of “national liberation” movements and other Communist paramilitary terrorist forces throughout Latin America and Africa during the Cold War.

While college professors in the United States and other free countries frown upon the use of Wikipedia in student papers or research, it remains to be seen whether teachers and professors in Cuba will consider EcoRed a valid or “scholarly” source for information, considering that it is operated by the Cuban government, just like the media.

The rise and influence of the Internet might not be able to be fully contained by any government or state for the time being at least, but to whatever degree those who control the levers of political can regulate and filter the information released on the Internet, that's exactly what they will do in order to preserve their power and suppress dissent.

Photo: EcoRed logo

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