Activism online: an ideal place?
In the very beginning, I’m not sure that I know one exactly, so I go to Wikipedia to do the research and find a list of political organizations in alphabetical order. Another problem is, I cannot tell which one is belong to political party, thus I choose one named China Support Network (CSN), which cannot be an official websites led by CCP (Chinese Communist Party), and in the meantime, this is certainly blocked in Mainland China.
According to Rohlinger and Brown, and many previous scholars, compared to traditional media outlets, Internet is a well-know platform for public voice and higher-level citizen engagement. Since political shocks like Pearl Harbor and 9/11 result in increasing fear and risks perceived by activists, anonymity, a principal nature of the Internet, “enabled respondents to voice dissent but in a much less public way” (p. 142). However, what the respondents said surprised me somehow as they mentioned they worried about “anonymity was not guaranteed” or “is this being tracked by someone” (p. 143). I don’t know whether American people would equal this kind of surveillance to censorship, as the latter is always linked to China context. In other words, there is no pure, absolute freedom and democracy even in cyberspace; is it reasonable to say the so-called free space might be just an “illusion”?
When China Support Network is juxtaposed with MoveOn, it’s easy to recognize that MoveOn puts more emphases on moving individuals “from the armchair to the street” (p. 134) by creating diverse political action such as Eat, Call Win Party. Both online and real-life participation are crucial for activists within MoveOn community. Furthermore, participation contributes a lot to democratic process. But CSN seems like more “silent” by only posting some news articles and video clips. However, I just wonder whether CSN’s online protests actually have impact on current political climate. Does Chinese government really care about what the activists say overseas? I doubt.
In addition, weeks ago we found online political discourses often shaped polarized viewpoints. How about online political organizations? I have to say CSN is sort of egregious radical, at least for me. I don’t like their wording such as “Demand to Chinese government” or the slogan “Free Tibet”, it’s more anti-China than activism. When people discuss about democratic society, they always suppose government should allow diverse voice. But I don’t think it’s reasonable for government to allow everything—this is misunderstanding of democracy.
Burma’s issue reminds me of Iran’s protest via Twitter. It’s necessary to notice that “we don’t like things they way they are doesn’t mean we don’t like our country” (p. 144). Therefore, how to deal with being both patriotic and liberal is the crux. With respect to Rohlinger and Brown’s case study, MoveOn provides collective sense of belongingness while I think CSN does the same. But all the content on CSN is based on Tiananmen Square issue in 1989; without this historical event, CSN talks about nothing. This point makes its oppositional opinions less grounded and sound. Finally, it’s less risky for activists to conduct any action in a foreign country rather than in home country. Therefore I think CSN is a much more transnational community whereas MoveOn is definitely a local one.