If you haven’t heard about the important vote coming up at the FCC on net neutrality taking place on December 14th, then that is exactly how they want it to be. If you’re not already, please listen. They don’t want you to know and they don’t want you to care, but there are two reasons why you should definitely pay attention to the neoliberal plan to kill net neutrality.
Firstly, it’ll make your bills go up; even if in the beginning they don’t change anything in order to disguise the impact of it, they will absolutely be jacking up prices as soon as they think they can get away with it. Secondly, for those of us who are trying to fight the oligarchy, it could mean a major setback in creating lasting change that helps everyone and not just the rich. There are things we can do to try and fix this, which I will summarize later, but for now, we need to all be made aware of why this is so important.
I know not everyone is as invested in the progressive movement as we are; it’s just the future of humanity we’re talking about, but considering how many of us are just scraping by at least recognize that your bills will take a major hit. There are at least three ways that you’ll see more of your money being siphoned off just to get access to what you already have access to now.
First, by destroying the narrative that the internet is a utility (which it is) and establishing it wholly as a commodity they will more easily be able to rationalize charging whatever exorbitant prices they choose to. Internet access in the US is already stupidly overpriced, imagine what they’ll do if given even more power to screw us over.
Second, the elimination of net neutrality will allow them to throttle access speeds. For those who don’t know what that means it means that they’ll be free to speed up or slow down the speed of the internet as they see fit, which further means that they’ll be able to charge higher prices to certain providers who use a lot of bandwidth, like Netflix and other media providers, for faster speeds. Those increased costs to them will be passed on to us eventually, even if not right away. So, as an example, Netflix will be charged by a company like Comcast to get access to the high speeds of bandwidth necessary to stream digital movies, but rather than just eat the costs, your subscription price will go up too in order to make up for that lost revenue.
Finally, their ability to throttle bandwidth, and thus access, will also mean that they can charge more for companies that they don’t like. Like, for example, any organization that is fighting the oligarchy. This will mean that if a company that they’ve singled out is able to afford the higher entry fee, they’ll need to pass that cost onto us in order to maintain their access. I’m sure many will try not to, but eventually, it’ll happen.
However, what is more important to Real Progressives and the progressive movement, in general, is how it’ll limit our reach. We are all aware of how the internet has been vastly important in disseminating information and accelerating how quickly we can learn of what is going on in the world, but it also represents the most powerful way for us to work together to create real change. Long lasting, transformational progressive change has been elusive precisely because every generation that has come before us with the same goal has had no way to get the word out effectively.
Books, songs, essays, poems, etc. all with the same messages that we are trying to disseminate today have been written for millennia, and yet it never sticks. Why? Those in power have spent as much time figuring out ways to prevent us from figuring out the truth. Disrupting distribution, owning the media, the same basic tactics that they try to use now will be that much more effective without an open internet, but in the past created just enough of a delay in the propagation of information that it was impossible to create a truly global movement.
They do not want you to know that they are just people. They aren’t special. Most of them aren’t even very smart, but something they do know how to do is keep us from organizing enough to be able to actually challenge them.
Yet now in this day, in this age, we have the tool we need to finally win. We have the ability not just to teach but to reach out to the world and speak to like-minded individuals all over the world almost instantaneously. As long as the internet is neutral and open, we have the power to build a truly global movement that rips the oligarchy out of their seats of power and puts we the people in charge.
And they know it. Ten to fifteen years ago, they did not understand the implications, and so they left it largely alone, but now they see the writing on the walls. They see their fated ending and are looking for any chance they can to delay it. This is why they seek to eliminate net neutrality and why you should give a shit about it.
If they can kill net neutrality, then they can kill the movement. Internet providers will not only jack up prices for content providers that are working against the establishment, thereby pricing them out of the market altogether, but be able to effectively censor the content that you see so that you’ll have to actively seek out alternative media and information. For those of us who are already in the fight, this is just a nuisance, but the problem is that we will not be able to grow, and THAT is how they stop the revolution.
Eventually. we may be able to circumvent it and find ways to break through their walls, but the damage will have already been done. At least in terms of the environment, we may not have that time, so it is imperative that we not give this ground at all. We cannot allow them to have this much control.
We already know how the rich connive with each other and their friends in Congress to ensure that their interests are met. This is just another example illustrating how far they’re willing to go in order to maintain their power. In places like China, it is the government who controls and censors the internet, but in the US, what will happen with the end of net neutrality is that we will have effectively the same kind of censorship. It will just be overseen by the major corporations and the few owners who control so much of our media.
So, there are your arguments for caring enough about net neutrality to get off your ass and do something, but I’m not just here to shout “WAKE UP!” at you and hope you figure out what to do next. We have three things we can do right now to try and affect the vote that will be taking place on December 14th. Talk about it in person and online; bring it up every chance you get and make sure people know what is going on. Beyond that, we must contact our elected officials. By phone, by letter, by e-mail, in person; they must all be reminded day-in and day-out that the people stand for net neutrality and there will be consequences if they do not stand with us. A phone is best but every kind of contact counts. Lastly, we must protest. Gather in numbers to show how much this means to us.
Hopefully, by spending the next two weeks doing these three things, we can change the vote. We can make the FCC rethink this plan and back down from it. If not, then we know that there are those who are already gearing up to sue the government if they kill net neutrality, and it’ll be our job to support them. The plan is to stop that from needing to happen, but if we activate enough people, then if it does happen maybe we’ll wake enough people up to be able to win the next battle.