QOTD: You cannot arrest an idea | 每日报价

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The quote comes from the sole tweet left on the Twitter micro-blog account of LulzSec member Topiary.
It also signals the likely start of something significant. Of the Anonymous and LulzSec suspects arrested by the UK authorities, they all share common traits:

  • Middle-class
  • Intelligent
  • Young

In previous generations, these would have been the followers of Marx and Engels, formed a punk band, they would have joined the International Brigade in Spain, set up a squat / commune or marched across China with the Red Army.

Ideologies aren’t beaten with criminal prosecutions or laws on internet behaviour; but with alternative better ideas. The internet in the West has a number of ideological tectonic plates butting up against each other. Some of these spring out of western values focused on the individual and existentialism, rather than the Confucian value system that permeate East Asian societies:

LibertarianAn instrument of control within a regulated walled garden
Human rightProfit centre
Lean businessBig business
Free-tradeDigital protectionism / mercantilism
We the peopleBig media
Global villageNational primacy

This butting of ideological tectonic plates is similar to the challenges that pioneers of the Old West faced in a maturing United States. The key difference is that these digital desperadoes are not constrained by physical space and their numbers can be easily replenished.

Whilst the Old West was civilised; the civilising process also penalised many of the big business interests including the likes of Standard Oil, Northern Securities Company (railways) and American Tobacco Company with the Sherman Antitrust Act, and the Morgan family’s banks with the Glass–Steagall Act later on.

I suspect that things are going to get a lot worse for all parties involved throughout the Western world before they get better.