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The Net Delusion
How Not to Liberate the World
- Read in 13 minutes
- Contains 8 key ideas
The Net Delusion tackles head on the beliefs we hold about the utopian power of the internet. Evgeny Morozov shows us how the internet isn’t always a force for democracy and freedom, and reveals how both authoritarian and democratic regimes control the internet for their own interests.
Key idea 1 of 8
The radio helped tear down the Berlin Wall, but the internet does not help overthrow modern dictators.
What caused the fall of the Berlin Wall? Some argue that the informative power of Western radio played a key role. This creates hope that the internet will play a similar part in the collapse of modern authoritarian regimes – but in fact, the internet is not comparable to radio, and historical events can’t be simply translated to the present.
This is because the fall of the Berlin Wall was a unique historical situation in which the power of radio came to the fore.
Before the radio was invented, there was no way for people to obtain information from independent sources. Regimes could easily control other mass media like newspapers and cinema, but not the open airwaves of the radio, which allowed people living in the German Democratic Republic – the Soviet part of Germany during the Cold War – to learn about what was going on outside their country. This new information led to more and more dissatisfaction with the regime, and eventually to the protests that brought down the Wall.
But even if the Internet is like the radio in some ways, the idea that it possesses the same political power is false.
Because the internet is easily manipulated.
Contrary to what many Western politicians think, the internet does not help overthrow modern dictators. They believe that like the radio, the internet will allow people living under authoritarian regimes to inform themselves about life in the Western world, and realize that life is better elsewhere. According to this line of thought, this awareness will eventually lead to a revolution within the repressive regime.
But what they don’t realize is that unlike radio, access to the internet can be easily manipulated by authoritarian regimes. While the leaders of the GDR couldn’t prevent their citizens from listening to radio channels from West Germany, modern dictators maintain control over the internet.