Will Australian hyper-politics defeat censorship legislation?

In my presentations, I often present the three laws of asymmetrical competition, which drawing on the hyperproductivity of peer production, predicts that proprietary for-profit companies will lose whenever they are faced with an open business ecology drawing on a peer producing community.

The same argument has been made by Mark Pesce concerning politics and he has called it hyperpolitics.

Australia is now offering a case study, with a powerful reaction against the proposed internet censorship legislation by Minister Conroy, as Mark Pesce has himself reported, writing that “Australia’s Twitterers, better connected than the Government which governs them, have out-organized, out-thought, and out-manoeuvered the government. ”

The story is of course much larger than a mere use of Twitter, and the hyper-empowerment of the new type of internet-enabled social organisation is well expressed in this following contribution by Mark Newton:

Senator Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, has brought the issue up again, and much to his apparent surprise it doesn’t seem to be tracking as well as it has in the past.

Not only does everyone know that the Internet isn’t frightening or uncontrollable; not only do the population’s own experiences clash with the Minister’s hysterical allusions to unrestricted access to child pornography; but, much to the Minister’s apparent astonishment, he doesn’t even have the loudest voice anymore.

In the past, politicians have been able to shut-down debate by casting McCarthyist slurs which compare opponents to child pornographers: but when Mr Conroy used the same tactic in Senate Estimates on October 20, the blogosphere’s incredulous ridicule seeped through into the commercial media, yielding headlines about the Minister’s disgraceful debasement of the public discourse.

In the past, politicians have been able to monopolise the debate by having disproportionate access to media. Not so for Mr Conroy, who has been so thoroughly discredited by the controversy that his press office has refused to comment to media outlets since October 24, while the new media represented by the blogosphere is atwitter with fulminating dissent.

In the past, politicians have had message-control; but this time it’s different, with the online community pre-empting the Minister with their own talking points, their own arguments, their own technical and financial analyses, and boundless quantities of embarrassing ridicule on the Minister’s position. The Minister has been caught flat-footed without a response, and, as reported by Asher Moses in The Age on October 24, his first and most public reaction has been to try to silence my opposing political views by exercising inappropriate political pressure on my employer.

Every broken promise is coming under scrutiny. Every debating point is being disassembled and debunked. Every piece of emotional extremist rhetoric emanating from the Minister’s office is being deconstructed for political jargon, turned around, and aimed right back at its originator. And new supporters who join the Minister, such as Family First and Senator Nick Xenophon on October 27, are instantly associated with the same criticisms.”

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