Reading List: The Digital Disconnect

The Internet is eroding free responsible journalism, and capitalism often works at counter-purposes to democracy.

Capitalism, democracy, the media, and the internet revolution are the subjects of Robert W. McChesney's most recent book, Digital Disconnect, How Capitalism is Turning the Internet Against Democracy. McChesney, a professor of communications at the University of Illinois and author of Rich Media, Poor Democracy (2000), believes that most people fail to grasp the relationship between capitalism and the "political economic context" of the internet.

The tremendous promise of the digital revolution has been compromised by capitalist appropriation and development of the Internet.”

McChesney posits that the current American version of capitalism does not, in practice, live up to its stated purposes of allowing free competition among equal participants. Instead, he claims fewer than 1% of Americans are able to compete in this way, and economic mobility is becoming more difficult. Turning his attention to how this plays out across the media and the internet, he argues that the public should champion net neutrality, and governments should treat the “electromagnetic spectrum as a public resource” to counter the trend toward media becoming a monopolistic domain.

As we explore what it means to build a truly mutual economic system--and particularly how we measure the performance of that system--the evolution of the media, and how it impacts political and social capital, are of keen interest to us. McChesney’s economic analysis and societal explication as interesting food for thought.


-- Bruno Roche


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