We are all upset and outraged at the recent dismantling of Net Neutrality; however, it’s essential to understand the broader context within which this attack on the internet is taking place. As neoliberal late capitalism spirals the drain and continues to devour everything in its path, there will be an intensified effort to dismantle and privatize what we call the “commons”: places and resources and institutions that are meant to be accessible to the general public regardless of the amount of money one happens to have in their bank account. This attack on the internet is an attack on the very idea that some things should be free and open to everyone and not privatized and sold back to us at inflated prices in order to increase the profit margins of a handful of already extremely rich and powerful corporations. If we zoom out a bit, we can see this vampiric attack on the commons in many other areas: for example, the Trump administration recently issued an executive order dramatically shrinking the size of two national monuments in Utah, reducing the acreage of protected public land by 80% in one case in order to open them up to drilling by oil and gas companies. From healthcare to prisons to education, we are facing a corporate onslaught from all angles, and working people are being robbed, beaten down, and tossed aside at every turn.
This disgusting excuse for political system has also begun dropping even the *pretense* of democracy and representative republicanism. Over 80% of Americans were opposed to the dismantling of Net Neutrality, and getting 80% of Americans to agree on anything these days is damn near impossible. Additionally, our two “choices” for president, Clinton and Trump, each had Disapproval ratings in the 60-70% range *during the campaign*. And finally, this new GOP tax bill which seeks to transfer 1.5 Trillion dollars away from working Americans and into the pockets of the already extremely rich has only a 30% approval rating from the general population. Yet despite these clear numbers, Net Neutrality was gutted, Trump and Clinton were our choices, and this horrifically cruel GOP tax bill is almost certainly going to be passed into law. We do not live in anything even resembling a democracy, and getting to choose every few years between a handful of representatives of the ruling class doesn’t change that. We live in the Dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, of the capitalist class. They don’t give a fuck what you and I think, they will do whatever they want to do, and we are expected to sit down, shut up, and take it…
But I do not want us merely to despair; if they want a fight, they will get one. And with every sociopathic policy move they make, they stir more and more of us into action. Karl Marx once said that capitalism produces its own gravediggers, and here we all are, with nothing but shovels and plenty of dirt… we weren’t born to bend the knee, we were born to knock off crowns from atop the heads of kings.
And when it comes to the internet, the liberal solution of net neutrality has failed to hold up. Now its time for a socialist solution: if the internet infrastructure is a neutral public carrier of data, then it should be publicly owned by the cities. The internet is a utility, and in this modern world, if you don’t have equal and free access to it, you are at a material disadvantage. Net Neutrality was great, but it wasn’t enough. The internet belongs in the hands of the people; it should be a public utility and access to it should be a protected right. After all, public spending built the internet, capitalists merely sold it back to us at a premium. Its time to get the corporate vampires completely out of the equation and bring the internet under democratic, collective control. That should be our goal, and every move we make in this fight, that goal should be held firmly in our minds. And its not some utopian idea either, its precisely what happened in Chattanooga Tennessee. That mid-sized city, not at all unlike our own, was fed up with private corporation’s inability to provide low cost, high speed access to the internet, so they did it themselves. Now the internet in Chattanooga is democratically owned by the people of that city, costs have gone down, and internet speeds skyrocketed past the speeds offered by the big private corporations.
This fight is just beginning, and as long as we have capitalism, we will have to keep fighting these battles off and on indefinitely. In fact, the very idea of destroying net neutrality in the first place would be inconceivable in a democratic society run by and for regular working people. *Only* in a system where the super rich and private corporations have wildly disproportionate power and influence would this ever even be an issue in the first place. But the single biggest blow we could hit them with would be to respond to this assault on the commons by wrenching their greedy, blood stained fingers off our internet and taking back what is rightfully ours. In order to do this, we have to organize here in Omaha, put massive pressure on our local representatives, and normalize this idea within our social circles as well as online. Let people know that a better way of doing things is a possibility, and then fight like hell to make it a reality.
We live in an uncertain time; the 21st century is perhaps the largest and most important crossroads in the history of our species. The class war is being intensified on every front and from every direction. What we need now more than ever is a national working class movement that can rise to the challenges of our time and fight back against the blood-soaked corporate and imperialist monsters who wish to plunder and loot every corner of this planet.
Time is running out, and our choice, in the words of the great revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg, is clearer today than its ever been: Socialism or Barbarism.