5. Ideology

The coolness of the internet, as shown above, makes it the most democratic medium in existence. It has immense potential for disrupting authoritarian societies. But, in itself, it is no more a democracy than say, the high seas, or the cosmos. Although its content comprises every imaginable ideology, the most profound ideological effect arises from the nature of the medium itself.

Just as the printing press was the engine for nationalism, the medium of the internet (irrespective of its content) appears to be an engine for a form of a very un-Marxist internationalism as the nation state pales beside corporate globalism.

A recent indicator was the William Straw case in 1997 when the UK courts banned the hot media from publishing the identity of a government minister's son who had been arrested for dealing cannabis. However the information was freely available on the internet and within days the ban was dropped after the judiciary recognised the absurdity of a court ruling rendered unenforceable by the mere existence of the internet.

Whether this trend will continue to its logical conclusion remains to be seen. The ultimate realisation of McLuhan's global village maybe as Utopian as Marx's dictatorship of the international proletariat. Both Marx112 and McLuhan were projecting forwards from their rear-view mirrors. This may be the thin end of the wedge or a short-lived window of opportunity akin to that which closed on Bolshevism in Europe in 1924.

112 "McLuhan has said, with his usual Canadian-Texan brutalness, that Marx, the spiritual contemporary of the steam engine and railroads, was already obsolete in his lifetime with the appearance of the telegraph. In his candid fashion, he is saying that Marx, in his materialist analysis of production, and virtually circumscribed productive forces as a privileged domain from which language, signs and communication in general found themselves excluded" Jean Baudrillard, For A Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign (St. Louis: Telos, 1981) p. 164.