Is “free expression” a right or a product?
If Turkey shut off its market to Coca cola or McDonald’s would there be the same outrage and ridicule we see today? “Wait! Twitter is not Coca-cola!” you cry? Just as Coca cola is not all beverages, Twitter is not the Internet. It is not “free speech” or “free expression”. It is a private company owned by private shareholders, some of the largest players in global finance. What does it mean to complain that people are being deprived of a corporate product worth billions to a handful of global finance investors? Who is generating the contemporary outcry for what purposes?
Is “free expression” a human right or a product of global finance capital? Inversely, is anything which exists outside of global finance capital automatically not free? For all those around the world who believe in the emancipatory potential and the democratic exigency of free expression, and that this can be fostered on the Internet, the technology is there to provide it for everyone. This is a provocative point of Telekommunisten’s Thimbl. Thimbl is a distributed microblogging platform based on Finger, a protocol from the 1970s which is still usable today to provide robust networked messaging around the world. Thimbl is an artwork which proves the point that anyone could implement an alternative distributed global networked messaging system.
The reason a platform like Thimbl is not being used right now to circumvent official Turkish censorship is because it does not have the finance capital investment necessary to be able to provide the extent and ease of services any web-user could use. The web could offer a plethora of federated, distributed, and also publicly- and commonly-owned-and-managed networked messaging platforms, a beautiful, diverse landscape of services whereby users could choose myriad alternative paths to the people they wish to reach or, if desired, broadcast to the whole freedom-loving world.
That monopolistic platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have come to be synonymous with “free-speech” and “free-expression” indicates the conflation of these ideas with “free-trade”. This “freedom of financial expression” is the historical meaning of ‘liberal‘. Resistance to this ‘freedom’ is historically called “conservative”. What we are more likely seeing in Turkey today is a desperate stand of a cabal of (conservative) local oligarchs against a (liberal) insurgent bourgeois with globalist finance capital backing.
Let’s try to disentangle our terms to understand what is really happening so that we can channel our anger to challenge what we truly cannot accept.
emancipation-ists of the world unite!
keep the focus of our indignation
on the right fight
global finance capital
will own our days and nights
until we all can coalesce
our power and insights!