It was the best of times, It was the worst of times

Nov 07, 2020


"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of this noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil..." Appears to be so prophetic and penned down describing today's order of things. Charles Dickens in the 1800s while describing the times unfolding of the French Revolution! It was dusk for the old feudal order and the dawn for a new order shaping itself.

Now we have innovation disrupting the old order of production-distribution. With "tech as its core" - the highest abstraction of human labour is being appropriated away from the commons.

The best of the times is the innovation and the worst of the times is the alienation, the age of wisdom is where we have the choice while the institutional mechanisms of the corporations push people towards foolishness, it is an epoch of belief that problems of commons can be solved, while the subversion by the corporations pushes the the world towards incredulity, Occupy Wall Street, Arab Springs, Anti-Corruption movement were the spring of hope with tech as a core for organisation while Cambridge Analytica, Facebook and Google in Elections is the winter of despair in subverting the democratic process.

The order of the day is now manifested by corporations, where they reached the levels of predicting and influencing the commons, to suit the behaviour of the markets. Data being primary and being termed as the new oil of this era has become central. Privacy of people is being violated to extract this data. There is a 360 degree profiling of the individual by the corporate-autocracy and shared between the state and the corporations - on the one hand to protect the interests of the free market and on the other to subtly negate the possibility of any protest arising as a fallout. Silencing the commons covertly and overtly is being aided through regressive legislations.

Digital India Initiative that was launched with much fanfare and with a claim to move towards self-reliance has ended up being hollow and lame. Rather than working for digital inclusion through self-reliance, the Indian government ended up paving the way for Reliance emerging as a monopoly and it becoming sub-subservient to the data oligopolies like Facebook and Google.

"Freedom Matters" which is being launched today, on the 8th of November 2020, vows to carry forward the legacy of the struggle in the interest of the commons. We remember Aaron Swartz on this day, whose death was nothing but an institutional murder on the part of corporate-autocracy to silence him. Aaron, if he were alive, would have been with us, working together for the emancipation of mankind and led the struggle for freedom from tyranny and for a peoples democracy.

Kiran Chandra

Editor-in-Cheif. Y Kiran Chandra is the Founder - Chairman of Swecha and General Secretary of the Free Software Movement of India