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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 11/14/16

Adieu, Progressive Internet?

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fy"> During the afternoon of Election Day, November 8, the progressive website Democratic Underground was hacked and shut down. At this writing, five days later, it remains offline.

The identity of the culprit is unknown. Best case: a presumably Trump supporter acting spontaneously on his own -- an isolated and rare event. Worse case: an early shot in an incipient cyber war against liberal dissent.

We must hope for the best case, and prepare for the worst. Absent any useful information we cannot, at this time, draw any conclusions regarding the source of the Democratic Underground hack.

Of course, the internet itself is in no danger. There is far too much commercial investment in it. Amazon, Home Depot, Victoria's Secret, Target, and millions of other retailers and their congressional lackeys will see to it that the internet will live long and prosper.

But the internet "marketplace of ideas"? That's quite another matter. A coordinated and persistent cyber attack against liberal and progressive websites could result in an American internet less free than the Russian internet is today.

This outrageous claim requires an argument.

In a June 2015 Vice TV interview, President Obama said: "what Putin is doing with state-run media and the suppression of civil society and the suppression of the internet and the suppression of dissenting voices is obviously different from what is happening here [in the United States]."

Granted, the state influence and presence in the Russian media is overwhelming, and this is most unfortunate. But it is not total. In fact, foreign publications are readily available in Russia, and the opposing parties in the state Duma (parliament) freely publish dissenting opinions. In addition, numerous independent publishing houses are flourishing in Russia, as are independent news media, such as Moscow Times and Nezavisimaya Gazeta and websites, such as

As for the "free" US media, remember that 90% of that media is owned by six mega-corporations. Regarding US media diversity, recall the unanimous media support for the Iraq war, and the unanimous acceptance of Colin Powell's bogus argument before the UN Security Council. Recall too that at that time, dissenting voices on the corporate media, such as MSNBC's Phil Donahue, were thrown off the air. But lets put all that aside, perhaps to return in a future essay.

Instead, let's focus on the internet in Russia, about which I have direct personal knowledge. Obama says that it is suppressed.

I happen to know for a fact, that Obama is wrong. The Russian internet is open and free.

I know this because I frequently correspond by email with several friends inside Russia, whom I have acquired as a result of my professional activities and publications in Russia. Over the past several years, I have sent and received hundreds of internet links to and from Russia. Many of these links, to sources in the US, Europe and Russia, are openly critical of Putin and his government. My Russian friends and I discuss these links, so clearly they are read in Russia. Never have any of my Russian friends told me that any of the links that I send them are "unavailable" in Russia. All the links that they send me are intact. Moreover, Russian friends fluent in English tell me that they routinely access the internet to read foreign news and opinion, and to watch American TV shows and movies on the internet, totally without restriction. (More about this in my next essay).

So much for the alleged "suppression of the internet" in Russia. It is as free in Russia as it is in the United State -- for the moment. Will it continue to be free in both countries? That remains to be seen.

But this much I know as a confirmed fact, contrary to widespread opinion in the United States, including the opinion of the President: there is no internet suppression today in Russia (except, possibly, of internet porn, which I would not lament). "We are entitled to our own opinions, but not our own facts."

Let me be clear: I am no fan of Vladimir Putin. He is much too autocratic for my taste, and if I were a Russian I would likely vote against him. But this is the essential point: I would be free to vote against him without fear of retaliation, as many of my Russian friends have done, none of whom have been sent to a Siberian gulag. Nor have any of my friends who have openly criticized Putin.

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Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the field of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. Partridge has taught philosophy at the University of California, and in Utah, Colorado and Wisconsin. He publishes the website, "The (more...)

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