I have tried to stay out of this debate. But I post Chiapas news on the web. I traveled on the Zapatista caravan from La Realidad to Mexico City in 2001, and produced one of the few television reports that actually made it to American viewers at the time. And I was appalled this spring at the invasion of Rancho Esmeralda by neighboring Zapatistas, and the justifications put forward for it.
Polemics among leftists are an old, old story. I call it the do-gooders versus the do-betters. And this particular academic debate is 3 years old.
But the debate surrounding online activism and real versus virtual social change is even more compelling today.
"...as internet users we enter discussion groups and chat rooms with "compañeros" with whom we will never really need to work out our differences as we once had to do in political groups. We are no longer required to encounter each other, nor to work to persuade others of our position. We can just log off when we tire of the terms of debate on a particular list. The anonymity that is provided to us in this form of political participation, the potential for instant withdrawal from the group, the small degree of effort that is required to express solidarity through these means constitute both the attraction and the limitation of internet activism."
Judith Adler Hellman's critique of electronic rebellion appeared in the 2000 issue of the Socialist Register:
Here's one critique of the critique, from Harry Cleaver:
Hellman's response to Cleaver is at the end of this page:
Justin Paulson responded to Hellman in the 2001 Socialist Register;
And Hellman answered:
There it is for those who are interested. Now I'll go back to social change in my own neighborhood, for the time being. And keeping an eye on the Usumacinta River in Chiapas.Posted by Dave at May 03, 2003 11:28 AM