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Communication

Building International Solidarity: Human Relations for Global Struggle

Despite the advances in technology, radical communications has not kept pace. Sure, many anarchics are aware of other struggles through communiques, news reports, or social media posts, but there is a deep rift between these casual interactions and meaningful relation building needed for resilient, effective, and meaningful struggle.

Skills For Revolutionary Survival: Communications

Face the facts. We are tied to our devices in ways that are incredibly useful for organizing, but that also expose us to isolation should the state and companies take away these technologies. Cell phones and the internet rely on corporate infrastructure and is subject to both government surveillance and service denial. What do we do when social media bans anti-capitalists and anti-colonialists? What do we do when our cell phones fully become monitoring devices we willingly keep by our side, all to the benefit of state intelligence services?

Federal Prisons Make Phone Calls Free

Now that in-person prison visits have been banned amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) announced plans to make prison phone and video calls free for incarcerated people, Politico reports.   Prison reform advocates have long condemned the unreasonably high prices predatory phone companies charge incarcerated people to make phone calls. Those concerns were exacerbated once the COVID-19 pandemic began tearing through prison populations across the country, making face-to-face visits impossible. Twelve Senators wrote a letter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the BOP, asking the agencies to cease burdening the 226,000 incarcerated people and their families with unnecessary fees, especially when their ability to maintain communication is now more urgent than ever. 

US Internet Companies Are Privatized Instruments Of US Geopolitical Power And They Are Not Even Hiding It

I was in the New York Public Library recently doing research in the archives when I stumbled on a 1944 pamphlet from Western Electric, the old American techno-telephone monopolist. It’s called “Circuits for Victory” and its 40 glossy, slickly produced pages are dedicated to one thing: celebrating all the ways that the company’s telecommunication technology helps the United States government fight and win wars. The pamphlet is a historical document, but if you squint at it right and replace “Western Electric” with, say, “Facebook” or “Google” or “Amazon,” you actually get an accurate sense of what Silicon Valley monopolies are today: privatized extensions of American Empire.

Lift The Ban On Communications! Free Julian Assange!

June 6 will mark 10 weeks since the Ecuadorian government blocked all communication by WikiLeaks’ editor Julian Assange with the outside world, including personal visitors. Assange has been trapped inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012, when Quito granted him asylum in the face of a legal witch-hunt by the governments of the United States, Britain and Sweden. Britain was moving to extradite Assange to Sweden on trumped-up allegations of sexual abuse as the first step in transferring him to the US to face charges of espionage, which carry a possible death sentence. Washington had vowed to punish Assange for having exposed before the world war crimes committed by the US in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as US intrigues against other countries.

Signal Foundation

Long before we knew that it would be called Signal, we knew what we wanted it to be. Instead of teaching the rest of the world cryptography, we wanted to see if we could develop cryptography that worked for the rest of the world. At the time, the industry consensus was largely that encryption and cryptography would remain unusable, but we started Signal with the idea that private communication could be simple. Since then, we’ve made some progress. We’ve built a service used by millions, and software used by billions. The stories that make it back to us and keep us going are the stories of people discovering each other in moments where they found they could speak freely over Signal, of people falling in love over Signal, of people organizing ambitious plans over Signal.

Why We Should Stop Using The Word “Activist”

By Jonathan Matthew Smucker for In These Times - One way that progressive political groups create barriers between themselves and society is through the construction of a relatively new category of political actor: the activist. The word activist was first used about a century ago to describe those Swedes who advocated for Sweden to abandon neutrality and enter World War I on the side of the Kaiser. But as it is now used, the term became part of our lexicon in the 1960s. Today, activist carries important meanings absent in words that described earlier manifestations of collective action. Classifications like abolitionist, populist, suffragette, unionist or socialist all referenced specific contents. Activist, on the other hand, is a “contentless” label that traverses political issues and social movements. Negative stereotypes about activists can negatively affect opinions about a given political issue once the issue is associated with activism. Consequently, because the term repels many people, it cognitively blocks their entry into collective action. Yet, some people are attracted to activism for that very reason. Many activists take pride in activism partly because it is an expression of their willingness to do something that is unpopular. Indeed, some come to see their own marginalization as a badge of honor, as they carve out a radical oppositional niche identity

PR Firm Says It Ghost-Wrote Thousands Of Op-Eds In Major US Papers

By David Swanson for FAIR - Of course, it goes without saying that organizations and political campaigns and businesses have staff ghost write or draft or assist with op-eds by their figureheads. So this could be described as merely outsourcing that service to a PR firm. But it’s considerably more damaging to public communications than that, I think. For one thing, there are millions of people with important and new and different things to say who do not have $5,000 to spend on saying it. Read these op-eds in the PDF and see if you can claim they are in the top 1,000 you’ve seen. Is there one among them you’ll have a hard time forgetting?

Confidential Emails Show Close Industry Involvement In TPP

By William New in IP Watch - Through a US Freedom of Information Act request, Intellectual Property Watch has obtained some 400 pages of email traffic between USTR officials and industry advisors. Most of the content of the emails is redacted (blacked out), but they still give insight into the process. The released emails, ranging from 2010 to 2013, are made public for the first time. What is striking in the emails is not that government negotiators seek expertise and advice from leading industry figures. But the emails reveal a close-knit relationship between negotiators and the industry advisors that is likely unmatched by any other stakeholders. A number of other big companies are included in discussions on trade secrets, such as DuPont, Corning, Microsoft and Qualcomm.
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