cover image Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism is Turning the Internet Against Democracy

Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism is Turning the Internet Against Democracy

Robert W. McChesney. The New Press, $27.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-59558-867-8

Filtering the internet through a lens of political economy and free-market capitalism, acclaimed author and University of Illinois professor McChesney (Rich Media, Poor Democracy) presents a thorough and alarming critique of the corruption of one of the most influential inventions in human history. "People thought the Internet would be... a non-commercial zone, a genuine public sphere, leading to far greater public awareness, stronger communities, and greater political participation," McChesney observes. "To the contrary... the internet has been commercialized, copyrighted, patented, privatized, data-inspected, and monopolized." He deconstructs capitalism through its historical trends before painting a grim portrait of corporate concentration and monopolization; it reads like dystopian science-fiction where giants like Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon further entrench their market dominance, attempting to own consumers' "every waking moment," aided and abetted by lax government enforcement and deregulation. Such concentrated power brings with it a host of concerns; however, as McChesney cites, very little public opposition to such power can be expected as, "people care more about what unjustly harms them than what unjustly benefits them." Instead, we face the very real possibility of discovering the "digital revolution... to have been a revolution in name only"; the consequences of which are already revealing themselves. (Mar.)