The Web as a Political Tool of the Anti-war Protest

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Kwang-Suk Lee
Univ of Texas at Austin

Since the Sept. 11 New York Terror, the rampant ¡®patriotism¡¯ among Americans has spread widely. The conservative climate has restrained the right to minors¡¯ opinion and has driven opponents of the war in Afghanistan to the edge. Especially, the public role of the US mass media have been reduced to the propaganda institutions for rationalizing the inter-national cause of war and for concealing the casualties or death of Afghanistan civilians.


Despite the patriotic and mind-controlling propaganda of the mass media, the Internet has become to be a powerful tool for communicating among dissenters and sharing the object news and information inter-nationally. The new generation of Internet activists such as the Web site signing an antiwar petition may well be spreading their message farther and faster than their predecessors in political protest.


With the empirical example of the anti-war Web sites, this pattern will observe that the character of political action organizing has completely shifted since the popular use of the Internet. The relative anonymity of the technology also allows Internet users to absorb and express alternative views without fear of reprisal to do so anonymously at a time when some protesters say the patriotic fervor makes it more difficult to voice dissent. This calls for the new information struggle between the institutionalized mass media and the self-regulated networks by users, who take for granted the ability to disseminate the war news with a few mouse-clicks.


This pattern aims to search the political possibilities of the Web that has become the mobilization headquarter for the resistant act of the Internet users. By the empirical analysis of anti-war Web sites, it will suggest how the dissenters construct the alternative use of the Internet. My perspective is closely connected to the following statement of Manuel Castells, in his book, End of Millenium (1998);

Cultural battles are the power battles of the Information Age. They are primarily fought in and by the media, but the media are not the power-holders. Power, as the capacity to impose behavior, lies in the networks of information exchange [...] (p.348).

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