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volume 12
april 2009

The utilisation of the internet and the changing dynamic of international politics

 





  A case study of the Zapatista and People's Global Action movements
by Maarten Rikken
Previous
  The existence of previously silent groups and individuals on the international stage has seen a change in the dynamic of international politics as political actors now must share the stage with new actors, who are challenging the international communication of governments. The Zapatista and the Zapatista-inspired People's Global Action (PGA) were one of the first social movements to utilise the internet to both engage with foreign publics and propel a local struggle on the international stage. In doing so, originated a new social movement that placed its organisational, informational and communicational heart in the internet. It enabled them to participate in transnational communication, to disseminate information unfettered, and it encouraged global participation and solidarity. This subsequently enabled the Zapatista and PGA to adopt an active role in international politics that was seemingly unobtainable. This case study of the Zapatista movement enables us to evaluate the utility and application of the use of new media technologies by social movements.
 




1
Right: Subcomandante Marcos voicing his message from the Lacandon Jungle, Mexico, to the Free Media Conference in New York, 2006

Introduction

There is a video on YouTube titled "Subcomandante Marcos y la Cuarta Guerra Mundial," [1] in which a masked Subcomandante Marcos of the Mexican social movement, named the Zapatista, tells the camera: "The world of contemporary news is a world that exists for VIPs ... The everyday lives of the major movie stars and big politicians." He continues: "If they get married, if they divorce, if they eat, if they take their clothes off ... But common people only appear for the moment when they kill someone or when they die." Marcos believes that this disparity exists due to the control that communication giants and neoliberal forces exert over the dissemination of information. However, as Marcos continues, there are possibilities, "– to construct a different way, – to show the world what is really happening, – to become interested in the truth of what happens to the people who inhabit this world." This 'different way' to which Marcos refers involves the creation of an independent media network: "The work of independent media is to tell the history of social struggle in the world ... independent media has been able to open spaces even within the mass media monopolies — to force them to acknowledge news of other social movements." Subcomandante Marcos finishes by saying: "In August 1996, we called for the creation of a network of independent media, a network of information. We mean a network to resist the power of the lie that sells us this war that we call the Fourth World War. We need this network not only for our social movements, but in this project of life, of humanity, a humanity that has a right to critical and truthful information."

  Marcos is ultimately calling for an alternative information network, in which marginalised people can express their concerns and disseminate information unfettered by traditional information controls. In this respect the concept of an alternative communication network is intrinsically linked to the formulation and utilisation of the internet and its ability to enable the diffusion of information that can bypass traditional censorship and hierarchal controls. This ability to bypass traditional informational controls can increase an issue's 'newsworthiness', subsequently enhancing the chances that the mass media will grant coverage to the issue as it already has prominence in the public sphere. The investigation of these concepts will take place by first examining the theoretical arguments posed by leading authors; these ideas will then be applied to a case study focusing on the Zapatista-inspired People's Global Action (PGA) movement. This movement, which opposes 'neoliberalism', has been dubbed the first post-modern social movement, the attribution of this title is ultimately due to the movement's utilisation of the internet which has influenced its organisational structure, its ability to generate solidarity, its communication techniques and the methods it has employed to disseminate information
  It is my intention within this article to investigate the utilisation of the internet as a tool for the creation of global solidarity, the dissemination of information to foreign publics and the subsequent ability for individuals and groups to play and active role on the international stage. However, as found in the conclusion, these apparent blessings to international communication do not go without critics. Jürgen Habermas (1998), notably, believes that the creation of a global community would lack the necessary "common ethical-political dimension" in order to sustain a coherent political movement that is needed to create some form of global solidarity. Although, as this article will discuss, the Zapatista-inspired People's Global Action (PGA) have, through the utilisation of the internet, allowed groups to maintain autonomy, subsequently enabling them to maintain long term existence through the use of their own ethical-political dimensions. Hence, the PGA utilises the internet to promote transnational solidarity in a reactive fashion against instances warranting such attention, like G8 and WTO meetings which see a spike in PGA activity. The ability to mobilise and communicate with autonomous groups on a global scale can be attributed to new media, namely the internet, which has played a vital role in the establishment and organisational structure of the PGA and other international movements. However, the fact that computer and internet access is limited in many areas of the world remains a realistic quandary to the optimistic vision of a world in which the majority of its populace has the ability to actively participate in groups such as the PGA.
   



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Next
Right: The Silver Pink Samba Band at the European Social Forum (ESF), London — October 2004

Theoretical discussion

2.1 ICTs and globalisation. One imperative feature in the formation and sustainability of any internet based organisation like the Zapatista or PGA was the formation of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and the subsequent globalisation of communication and information. As Manuel Castells (2008: 91) states: "We live in a world marked by globalization. Globalization is the process that constitutes a social system with the capacity to work as a unit on a planetary scale in real or chosen time. Capacity refers to technological capacity, institutional capacity, and organizational capacity." Crucial to the process of globalisation has been, "new information and communication technologies, including rapid long-distance transportation and computer networks, allow global networks to selectively connect anyone and anything throughout the world" (Castells, 2008: 92). The emergence of ICTs has made the political environment more volatile, less predictable, and less amenable to traditional forms of control, as information can flow faster and easier from group to group (Lacy and Wilkin, 2006). Therefore as the power of ICTs continues to increase, while the cost continues to decrease, their ability to decentralise information and power have been able to outweigh their centralising effects.

  In this respect, US political scientist Joseph Nye (2004a) argues that the internet creates a system in which power over information is much more widely distributed; however this is an optimistic view of the internet and will be countered at a later section of this article. Hence, when the internet is viewed in contrast with radio, television, and newspapers, which are controlled by editors and broadcasters, the internet holds the potential to allow for unlimited communication, "one-to-one (via e-mail), one-to-many (via a personal homepage or electronic conference), many-to-one (via electronic broadcast), and, perhaps most important, many-to-many (online chat room [Facebook and MySpace])" (Nye, 2004a: 82). Internet messages have the capacity to flow farther, faster, and with fewer intermediaries. The capacity of the internet to globalise information and encourage a dialogue-based communication system is exemplified by Geoffrey Cowan and Amelia Arsenault (2008: 20) who described a situation of web based dialogue:
  "Largely because America is the world's only superpower, people everywhere want and even sometimes demand more pathways for dialogue with the American government and the American people and attempt to create pathways when they feel there is no other recourse. In recent years, concerned citizens abroad and in the United States have created dozens of Web sites in an attempt to provide a platform for dialogue with the United States, including Theworldvotes.org, www.apologiesaccepted.com, www.sorryeverybody.com, loveushateus.com and the OpenDemocracy: My Letters to America Project."
  In this respect, Cowan and Arsenault's example has illustrated one instance in which the internet has enabled publics to become actively involved in interactive public diplomacy with foreign audiences, subsequently demonstrating the ability of people to communicate, strengthen and form relationships with people outside of governmental communication channels.
  As exemplified by Cowan and Arsenault the current generation of ICTs, which link the speed and capacity of computers with the global reach of satellites are ushering in a qualitatively new era of human communication, with major implications for both social and cultural development, "the internet is seen as the ultimate technology of freedom, its diffusion among citizens has been hailed as a potential saviour for the political ills of representation and participation" (Castells, 2004: 341). All of these advancements in communication carry with them implications for communication and nongovernmental organisation, as ICTs enable the promotion of the public to adopt an active role rather than remaining passive objects of government foreign policy strategies. In this respect foreign publics can become actively involved in shaping the perceptions of domestic publics on any number of issues, as "social space is no longer wholly mapped in terms of territorial places, distances, and borders, diplomacy includes connections between a variety of agents other than Foreign Service officers and foreign ministries" (Gregory, 2008: 284). Hence, as Bruce Gregory (2008: 284-285) continues, "Transparency, speed, volume, and sharply declining transport costs generate greater diversity and competition from third parties including the media. Paper and written messages matter less; electronically mediated images and sounds, body language, and backdrops matter more." The ability for publics to participate within the international realm has lead to the birth of an internet or global based civil society, which is defined by Håkan Thörn (2007: 896):
  "To provide a definition, global civil society is a political space in which a diversity of political cultures interact and intersect. 'Political culture' refers to processes of communication and articulation of political experiences, action strategies, identities, values, norms and rules — and to the institutions in which these processes are embedded."
Next 2.2 The internet as civil society. The international realm is a diverse mixture of culture, ideologies and values and this diversity has led to the growth of an internet based civil society, which uses the internet as a medium for the communication and dissemination of this diverse mix of values and beliefs. The growth of this civil society and the impact of new global actors are changing the nature of international communication, "as its intergovernmental credentials are redefined in the light of growing participation by nongovernmental organisations (NGOs)" (Melissen et al, 2005: 30). Subsequently enabling social movements and individuals a scope for direct action in international affairs that was not previously available, carrying with it implications for national actors, as foreign policy will not be the sole province of governments. The spread of information means that power is becoming widely distributed; hence the monopoly of traditional bureaucracy could be potentially undermined by informal networks. "The speed of internet time means that all governments ... will have less control of their agendas. Political leaders will enjoy fewer degrees of freedom before they must respond to events, and then will have to share the stage with more actors" (Nye, 2004a: 82).
  The existence of a global civil society has provided increased relevance to a powerful actor within the international milieu, known as a social movement. Thörn (2007: 904) offers an analytical definition of a social movement:
  "I analytically define a social movement as a form of collective action that articulates a social conflict and ultimately aims at transforming a social order; it is a process of action and interaction involving as a fundamental element the construction of a collective identity, or a sense of community, of 'us', sharing a set of values and norms, and 'others', i.e. antagonistic actors, or 'enemies'. Empirically , a social movement can have national, international, transnational or global dimensions, depending on the territoriality of its different forms of collective actions."
  These movements deal with issues that ultimately require a global and systematic analysis and response if they are to be challenged with any success, such as women's rights, trade unions, the rights of indigenous peoples, plights for global social justice, along with the myriad of issues concerning human rights. Although these groups contain members with diverse ideological beliefs, which are often contradictory, they are ultimately trying to give expression to new forms of solidarity, "that would enable them to direct their critique and action against the major structural framework underpinning the neoliberal version of the New World Order" (Lacy and Wilkin, 2006: 155). One example is the movement for global social justice (MGSJ), which had to concentrate its attention on two factors that arguably formed modernity, the international state system and capitalism itself.
  In this respect, Castells' assessment of social movements that encompass the plight for social justice becomes invaluable:
  "It is a global network of opposition to the values and interests that are currently dominant in the globalization process ... Its nodes grow and shrink alternately, depending on the conditions under which each society relates to globalization and its political manifestations. This is a movement that, in spite of the attempts by some leaders to build a program for a new world order, is better described by what it opposes than by a unified ideology. It is essentially a democratic movement, a movement that calls for new forms of political representation of people's will and interests in the process of global governance. In spite of its extreme internal diversity, there is indeed a shared critique of the management of the world by international institutions made up exclusively of national governments. It is an expression of the crisis of legitimacy, transformed into oppositional political action" (Castells, 2008: 85).
Next 2.3 Gerlach's SPIN-model. Castells' belief that this movement does not share a unified ideology, but instead identifies itself by the values and institutions it stands against, poses an interesting paradoxical idea of unity. The absence of a coherent ideological framework for many social movements can be seen in stark contrast to traditional political parties based in select nation-states which were formed around coherent constitutional and institutional frameworks. According to John Boyle and Peter Wilkin (2006), in regards to the movement for global social justice (MGSJ), this partly reflects its ambitions, which are to build a movement that can express the concerns of people from very different cultures and with strikingly different needs. In this respect Luther Gerlach's SPIN (Segmented, Polycentric, Integrated Networks) model becomes increasingly relevant, which Lance Bennett describes as the best account of the type of movement organisation that enables vast networks to pursue diverse social justice goals on a global level (Gerlach, 2001; Bennett, 2003: 21).
  SPIN refers to movement organisation types that are segmented, polycentric, integrated networks. "Segmentation involves the fluid boundaries that distinguish formal organisations, informal groups, and single activists that may join and separate over different actions, yet remain available to future coordination" (Bennett, 2003: 22). The next aspect of SPIN is the idea of a movement being polycentric, which refers to the presence of multiple hubs or centres of coordination in a network of segmented organisations. It is worth noting that in earlier conceptualisations of SPIN (1968) it was referred to as "polysepalous," meaning many heads, which was more explicitly linked to leadership. The use of polycentric indicates a recognised progression from the idea that these movements hold formal leadership, as well as a preference for personal ties among activists that enable each to speak for the organisation and to simultaneously hold multiple affiliations. The third principle of integration has "also evolved to reflect the horizontal structure of distributed activism" (Bennett, 2003: 22). Gerlach attributes this to a far weaker requirement for a coherent ideology in modern global activists, which can be seen in contrast to earlier movement accounts, in which ideological coherence figured more predominantly. "The integrative function is provided by personal ties, recognition of common threats, pragmatism about achieving goals, and the ease of finding associations and information through the internet. Inclusiveness has become a strong meta-ideological theme" (Bennett, 2003: 23). The resulting networks epitomised by this segmented, polycentric, and integrated organisational form are not constrained by being centrally or hierarchically coordinated, subsequently allowing them to easily recombine around different threats or internal disruptions. The non-hierarchical structure of the social networks also allows information exchange to be relatively open. Finally, "the redundancy of links in segmented polycentric networks enables them to continue to function even when important organisations leave or change their roles" (Bennett, 2003: 23).
  Varied definitions of social movements notwithstanding, it is clear that social movements cannot exist without some form of sustained interaction with both internal and external reference groups, as Gerlach recognised in SPIN. The heterogeneous nature of large social movements, such as the MGSJ, that seems to embrace concepts such as diversity, decentralisation and informality rather than unity, centralisation, formality and strong leadership. In this respect, the communicational power within ICTs would satisfy the ideological and organisational needs of social movements. The internet is ultimately shaping the social movements "on its own web-like image with hubs at the centre of activities, and spokes that link to other centres which are autonomous but interconnected" (Della Porta et al., 2006: 95). Wim van de Donk proposes an elective affinity between social movements on the one hand and the internet on the other, as he states that the internet is a strong reason for the existence and utilisation of the modern SPIN model:
  "The internet is not used as a mere supplement to traditional media, it also offers new, innovative opportunities for mobilising and organising individuals. The new technologies, however, do not determine these innovations. The internet provokes innovation, but this innovation has to be organised and disseminated. NGOs are specially innovative in this field: not only has the internet helped these organisations, NGOs were also very important for the further development of the internet" (Van de Donk et al., 2004: 87).
Next 2.4 Attesting existence. The various dimension of communication have always been a strategic dilemma for social movements; in this respect, according to Donatella della Porta et al. (2006: 93), the mass media become an imperative (often ephemeral) source for attesting a movement's existence — "a movement lacking media coverage is, in the public eye, nonexistent." As Della Porta further states, media-generated communication affects people in different ways, subsequently forcing social movements to seek communication strategies capable of satisfying their own constituencies while increasing support and sympathy within the public opinion. ICTs, namely the internet, provide social movements with the ability to disseminate uncensored messages to the public which subsequently enables the movement's political and social ideals to enter the public discourse. This uncensored dissemination of information into the public sphere greatly enhances the probability that the mass media will grant coverage to the issue.
  The basis of this claim rests on the belief that once something gains prominence within the public sphere due to its diffusion from an alternative information medium, the mass media will be more likely to cover it as it has pre-existing prominence. This complies with David Conley and Stephen Lamble's (2004) description of 'newsworthiness' which is used to assess stories based on prescribed news values, "news values will determine whether stories are to be pursued. They will determine whether, if pursued, they will then be published. They will determine, if published, where the stories will be placed in news presentation." The newsworthiness of a story can be encapsulated in three core values that indicate whether the information should be transformed into news: interest, timeliness and clarity. In other words it needs to have appeal, be new, and be capable of being understood (Conley and Lamble, 2004: 42). In this respect the diffusion of information into the public sphere by an information medium outside of the mass media would give the story pre-existing interest and timeliness, hence increasing the chance it is granted coverage.
  In this respect, Natalie Fenton (2008a; 2008b: 233) offers an optimist's view of the internet and its use as a tool for social change: "The internet has become home to mediated activity that seeks to raise people's awareness, to give a voice to those who do not have one, to offer social empowerment, to allow disparate people and causes to organize themselves and form alliances, and ultimately to be used as a tool for social change." The importance of the internet to social movements is exemplified by Castells (2001: 135-136), who states that the internet "fits with the basic features of the kind of social movements emerging in the Information Age ... To build an historical analogy, the constitution of the labour movement in the industrial era cannot be separated from the industrial factory as its organisational setting ... the internet is not simply a technology: it is a communication media, and it is the material infrastructure of a given organisational form: the network." The characteristics inherent to the successful utilisation of the internet by social movements concerned with transnational political activism are the dual themes of "multiplicity and polycentrality; interactivity and cross-border participation" (Fenton, 2008b: 233). These themes will now be explored.
Next 2.5 Multiplicity and polycentrality. Multiplicity and polycentrality are inherent in the design and operation of the internet and subsequently render the internet as an attractive communication tool for social movements. In this respect Naomi Klein (2000) and Fenton (2008b) both argue that the internet enables the successful facilitation of international communication among social movements, subsequently permitting protesters to respond on an international level to local events while requiring minimal resources and bureaucracy. As Fenton (2008b: 234) further states: "This occurs through the sharing of experience and tactics on a transnational basis to inform and increase the capacity of local campaigns. According to Klein, the internet is more than an organizing tool. It is also an organizing model for a new form of political protest that is international, decentralized, with diverse interests but common targets."
  This belief reaffirms the fact that the utilisation of the internet is essential in the successful implementation and a strong influence on the SPIN organisational model as presented by Gerlach, in the sense that the internet allows for segmented, polycentric integration on an international scale with minimal cost. This reduced cost enables social movements to represent and encompass a greater proportion of transnational polycentric actors, hence giving power and a voice to people who were previously voiceless. This belief is reaffirmed by Lee Salter (2003) who claims that the internet is a novel technological asset for democratic communications because of its decentred, textual communications system with content most often provided by users. Therefore, it accords with the requisite features of social movements that have grown out of a decrease in party allegiances and class alliances. In this respect, social movements are more fluid and informal networks of action than the class and party politics of old. Fenton (2008b: 234) further discusses this:
  "Such networks are often staunchly anti-bureaucratic and anti-centralist, and suspicious of large organized, formal and institutional politics. New social movements share common characteristics with web-based communication — they lack membership forms, statutes and other formal means of organizing; they may have phases of visibility and phases of relative invisibility; new social movements may have significant overlaps with each other and are liable to rapid change in form, approach and mission."
  Hence, the global operation of ICT networks, primarily the internet, enables social movements to respond in a fluid manner to the unpredictable nature of global economic agendas, subsequently strengthening their capacity to both gain support and mobilise against the vagaries of global capital and injustice.
  However, there exist some strong criticisms of this type of polycentric organisational model. For example, according to Bennett (2004), the ease of joining and leaving polycentric (multi-hubbed) social movement networks means that it becomes difficult to control campaigns or to achieve coherent collective identity frames. "In addition, organisations may face challenges to their own internal direction and goals when they employ open, collective communication processes to set agendas and organise action" (Bennett, 2004: 124). Another vulnerability of a polycentric networked social movement becomes apparent when they are adopted into another network, essentially becoming an important hub for a larger network, hence they may experience internal transformation in order to accommodate the demands of the larger network.
  For the internet to be successfully utilised as a polycentric tool it must facilitate both interactivity and cross-border participation, as all points of control and authority must be able to engage and contribute to the social movement. In this respect the interactivity of the internet becomes an inherent characteristic of the internal organisation of the social movement, enabling it to forge alliances and coalitions across different movements. Therefore, the movement can gain and share knowledge in regards to the best practice and most effective campaign techniques, which can subsequently change the way the group is organised and operated. Although it must be noted that the influence is multidirectional as the protest activity and alliances of social movements on the ground can affect the way in which the internet is used and structured on the various and multiple websites (Bennett, 2004). Participation within a social movement can be both online and offline, although the online participation is often about moving people to action offline. Internet based participation within a social movement is about building relationships and forging a transnational community rather than simply providing information (Diani, 2001).
Next 2.6 Optimism and criticism. The notion that a movement based on the internet can form a community rather than just provide information encourages the belief that participation can be inherently based within a democratic social movement, this subsequently "encourages us to move away from the notion of participative, deliberative democracy being realizable only through the traditional political structures of the nation state" (Fenton, 2008b: 238). Hence, from an optimistic standpoint, one reason social movements hold legitimacy in this space is due to the fact that they put the power to solve or at least attempt to solve the problems that arise in the global civil society in the hands of the people, subsequently allowing for a plural authority structure along a number of different dimensions rather than a single location for public authority and power (Bohman, 2004). This is reiterated by Fenton (2008b: 236): "The internet ... has the potential to change the practice of democracy radically because of its participatory and interactive attributes. It allows citizens to alter their relationship to the public sphere, to become creators and primary subjects, to become engaged in social production. In this sense the internet is ascribed the powers of democratization."
  Chris Atton (2004) as well as Fenton do offer some criticism of this optimistic view of the internet as a miraculous tool for social change, stating that any "claims for the extension and reinvention of activism must be considered in the context of the material social and political world of inequality, injustice and corporate dominance" (Fenton, 2008b: 238). This 'digital divide', as it is called, is an important point of consideration as more often than not the people, who are most affected by the social injustice being protested against, will have little or no input, which can be attributed to wealth and the inability to buy a computer. As stated by Shashi Tharoor (2005), "the enormous gap in access that means that seventy percent of the world's internet users live in the 24 richest countries and that 400,000 citizens of Luxemburg can count on more international bandwidth than Africa's 800 million citizens." The use of the internet as a tool for social change is further criticised by Atton (2004: 24) stating:
  "To consider the internet as an unproblematic force for social change is to ignore the political and economic determinants that shape the technology; it is to pay little attention to how technological 'advances' may be shaped or determined by particular social and cultural elites (corporations, governments); and it is to ignore the obstacles to empowerment that legislation, inequalities of access, limits on media literacy and the real world situation of disempowerment necessarily place on groups and individuals."
  While Atton does acknowledge that there are movements taking place that have their informational and communicational heart in the internet, he believes that "we must proceed with caution here," stating that the extended growth of new decentralised and alternative mini-public spheres is likely to remain a fragmented secondary force in comparison to the increasingly centralised, commercially-orientated and global reach of mainstream information and communication systems. Further criticism comes to light when examining the predominant users of the internet: "If it is true that a global civil society is developing on the web, it is one that is segmented by interest and structured by inequality. The pre-eminent users of global communication networks remain the efforts of corporations and governments to strengthen the dominant economic regime. Issues of cultural and economic capital are ever prevalent" (Fenton, 2008b: 236). Furthermore, the fate of any social movement will often rest on the aptitude and ability of the people involved in the polycentric hubs; hence this requires both social and educational resources, which can often exclude poorer nations.
  In this respect (with 'digital divide' concerns notwithstanding), the creation of a public sphere based in micro-media (email, lists) and middle media internet channels (blogs, social network sites, organisation sites, e-zines), has offered social movements and activists a valuable method of mass communication outside of the mass media. While at the same time, as Bennett (2004: 131) acknowledges, "'culture jams' and logo campaigns initiated in micro-media and middle media have attracted surprisingly positive coverage of activist messages in the mass media." It can be said that online political mobilisation falls under the general banner of alternative media. In its most basic sense this refers to the internet as a space for the expression of views excluded from the mainstream media. On this note, Castells (2008: 87) offers a concise conclusion:
  "In sum, the global civil society now has the technological means to exist independently from political institutions and from the mass media. However, the capacity of social movements to change the public mind still depends, to a large extent, on their ability to shape the debate in the public sphere."
  Hence, Castells' belief that the global civil society now has the means to exist and operate independently from political institutions and the mass media puts social movements and their potential to induce social change in good stead. Thus, the remainder of this article will utilise a case study approach in order to investigate the social movements Zapatista and the Zapatista-inspired PGA.
   




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Next
Right: Protests against the Latin American-European Union Summit in Guadalajara, Mexico, on May 26th-29th 2004

The case of the Zapatista and the Zapatista-inspired PGA

3.1 Introduction to the case study. It is within the alternative means of communication at the disposal of the global civil society as stated by Castells, that social movements such as the Zapatista and People's Global Action (PGA) have arisen. The means to engage in transnational communication has enabled the Zapatista and PGA to become players within the international sphere. In this respect, Mexico, which is the Zapatistas place of origin, has seen independent movements since the 1970s, who have "pushed to deepen the definition of "democracy" and expand participation ... to demand and achieve democratic reforms" (Swords, 2007: 82). This push for reform within Mexico stems from, according to Daniel Levy and Kathleen Bruhns (2001; cited in: Swords, 2007: 82), the belief that democracy is central to development. This belief subsequently led diverse sectors of the population to challenge the concentration of power that saw the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (Institutional Revolutionary party — PRI) govern Mexico for more than seventy years (Swords, 2007: 82).

  Social movements such as the Zapatista and the Alianza Cívica-Chiapas (ACCh) forced the government to consider more far-reaching reforms than would have been considered prior to 1994. "Their demands extend beyond procedural democracy, the current hegemonic form of politics, in which voting is limited to certain spheres so that citizen participation does not constrain capital ... They extend to rights to participation in all areas of social, economic, cultural, and political life." These social movements within Mexico played an imperative role within the removal of the PRI and subsequently sought to promote "practices based on respect and protection for indigenous peoples, peasants, and others marginalized by neoliberal and electoral politics" (Swords, 2007: 82). The promotion of these values helped redefine democracy in Mexico, which had been marred by the PRI and its injustices towards the indigenous populace. In this respect, the implementation of global capital reforms by political leaders were principally detrimental to the indigenous people of Mexico, a topic which will be examined in more detail later, and such reforms were of particular importance to Mexican social movements. As Richard Stahler-Sholk (2007) states, when Subcomandante Marcos and his rebels rose up against the Mexican government in 1994 they discovered that the Mexican government did not exist; instead, they found themselves fighting against the structures of global capital.
  As mentioned before, Subcomandante Marcos called for a network of alternative information; which makes the Zapatista and the Zapatista-inspired People's Global Action (PGA) perfect investigation subjects. The PGA is an organised network of direct action, urban and rural collectives and grassroots movements for autonomy and against capitalism (Stahler-Sholk, 2007). Drawing strong inspiration from the 1994 Zapatista uprising against the Mexican government and its neoliberal reforms, "this network grew out of the Zapatista's intercontinental encuentros, formed to share information and coordinate action toward the goal of building one global network 'against neoliberalism and for humanity'" (Reitan, 2007: 189). Despite the difficulty in estimating the group's numbers due to the unpredictable and fluid nature of the network, there are now PGA affiliated groups across Europe, the Americas and Asia.
  Although the various groups lack a uniform ideology, which coincides with Castells' belief, it is what they oppose that unites them and makes them a transnational network, as these disparate groups and individuals subscribe to a set of militant, anti-capitalist, and anarchistic principles and taking direct action accordingly (Reitan, 2007: 189). The myriad of actions undertaken have been wide-ranging and astonishingly innovative, and include internet-diffused calls to action for global protests, indy-media, international activist caravans, street reclaiming and convergence centres. In the words of Ruth Reitan (2007: 188): "The PGA seeks to approximate a rhizomatic web of affinity-based, autonomous, direct action groups who are philosophically averse to hierarchal structures, centralised leadership, and spokespersons representing the network ... But these very characteristics seem to also create the most difficulty for sustaining transnational coordination."
  These points render the Zapatista-inspired PGA an extremely relevant investigation subject, as they exemplify the SPIN model of organisation, in which polycentric hubs contribute to a vast network of ideologically diverse individuals and groups. The PGA is a youthful organisation characterised by spikes of organisational activity and mass mobilisation around large-scale events such as World Trade Organization (WTO) and G8 meetings; the PGA is also actively involved in world and domestic social forums.
  The PGA and the young urban anarchists that largely comprise its membership may have vast cultural and geographical differences with the rural Mexican rebels that comprised the Ejèrcito Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN), but the Zapatista remain the "ideological inspiration for and the concrete brokers of the PGA's founding," (Reitan, 2007: 189) therefore the investigation of the Zapatista becomes crucial.
Next 3.2 The Zapatista. The Zapatistas originate from the very poor but resource-rich state of Chiapas in south-eastern Mexico, where nearly 70 percent of the largely indigenous population are malnourished, subsequently leading the state to have the highest infant mortality rate in Mexico. The EZLN itself stems from campesino (peasant) groups who had formed in the 1970s to fight against the discrimination of indigenous peoples, workers' rights and agrarian reforms. The movement gained intellectual and social merit when these indigenous campesinos were joined by leftist students and intellectuals, such as the Zapatistas' iconic spokesman, Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos, some of whom had been previously involved in Mexico City's uprising and the repression that followed in the late 1960s. The EZLN became more of a self-protection movement amidst the increased use of intimidation and violence by the armed security groups employed by the cattle ranchers. Although Article 27 of the post-revolution Mexican Constitution did affirm the right to land reform, legal recourse was effectively disallowed by electoral fraud, bribery, intimidation, and preclusion of indigenous voters by the governing body.
  The disputes continued to escalate throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, until, on the 1st of January 1994, the Zapatistas (the EZLN and non-leader, Subcomandante Marcos) emerged from the Lacandon jungle, and took control of the central municipalities in Chiapas. Although these indigenous peasants had been involved in a long-standing struggle for the right to their land and for equal treatment under Mexican law, the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) proved to be the act that triggered the EZLN and its supporters to pick up arms and form a local rebellion. The agreement led the USA, Canada and Mexico to share a free market zone, largely to the detriment of Mexican campesinos. According to Chris Gilbreth and Gerardo Otero (2001) the Zapatista feared this agreement would destroy the identity and very existence of the indigenous communities across Chiapas and Mexico.
  The ratification of NAFTA required substantial changes to Mexican domestic law, which are described by Reitan (2007). First, the already low level of support that the government provided to small farmers would be further reduced. Second, the price of their maize would fall and they would lose their internal market; this is due to external imports from the United States and Canada. Third, the Mexican government reformed Article 27 of the Constitution, effectively removing the legal right of ejidos (communally held land), subsequently erasing the sole legal mechanism by which land and property could be rightfully distributed to indigenous cultures. In the face of these uncertainties, posed by NAFTA, the Zapatista understood the importance in generalising their struggle to nationwide level in order to acquire the greatest range of support and legitimacy. They called on their fellow citizens to, first, recognize their struggle for sovereignty and against oppression as legitimate under the embattled constitution and, second, to join them in this liberation struggle "for work, land, housing, food, healthcare, education, independence, freedom, democracy, justice and peace," toward "forming a government of our country that is free and democratic" (Reitan, 2007: 190).
  In search of wide-reaching legitimacy, the Zapatista further reached out to the global community in search of solidarity and legitimacy. Their pained cry of "Ya Basta!" meaning "Enough is enough," echoed from one of the poorest and most marginalised corners of the globe, which subsequently brought forth calls of global solidarity against the forces of transnational neoliberalism. "The uprising was seen as a bold statement by an oppressed minority against an encroaching global capitalism that threatened the small Mayan farmer and, by extension, any subordinate group unable to shoulder the weight of global competition" (Gilbreth and Otero, 2001: 18). The avoidance of these dilemmas in international relations can be attributed to the fact that people could relate to the Zapatista's struggle and felt encouraged to participate, subsequently giving the sense of international equality and togetherness against a common enemy, neoliberalism. In this respect the Zapatista were attempting to foster a new kind of international solidarity based upon being interconnected, mutually dependent, and holding a sense of similarity and identification against neoliberalism while at the same time the network allows for groups to maintain autonomy (Reitan, 2007: 199). Hence the Zapatista's concept of solidarity encourages and permits people to undertake their own revolutions that are applicable to their own situation while still recognising a mutual dependence to the outcome of revolutions and struggles elsewhere. As was written in an introductory guide to the Zapatista rebellion in Chiapas on the internet:
"One of the most striking aspects of the Zapatista movement has been the ability to provoke an understanding of common struggle among diverse peoples around the world. In the context of the unusually homogenous character of capitalist policies throughout the North and the South, the Chiapas uprising has united diverse grassroots movements within Mexico and internationally around the recognition of a common enemy — inspiring a collective Ya Basta! from all the victims of international capital. The Zapatistas see themselves as a simple fragment in this kaleidoscope of the exploited people of the earth" (Chiapaslink, 2000). [2]
Next 3.3 A dialogue-based communication. The methods employed here by the Zapatista subsequently enabled them to engage with foreign publics through a dialogue-based communication, thus strengthening ties, and allowing for a uniformed feeling of identification while allowing groups to remain autonomous. Finally, and most importantly, the movements are able to learn from each other, hence the benefit becomes mutual.
  This can be seen in direct contrast to political institutions, which can lead marginalised minorities to feel disjointed and powerless in relation to international issues. Although, it should be noted that the Zapatista uprising's tremendous resonance within the broader international sphere can be heavily attributed to pre-existing alliances, and solidarity networks which had been established and strengthened through ICTs (namely the internet) (Reitan, 2007). This network of solidarity enabled a dialogue to be formed and for the news of the Zapatista uprising to be diffused quickly and broadly to all those in a struggle across the globe. As Harry Cleaver (1999) states: "Modern computer communications, through the internet and the Association for Progressive Communications networks, made it possible for the Zapatistas to get their message out despite governmental spin control and censorship."
  In this respect, further internet sites were developed to relay messages and support the Zapatista's struggle; one noted example was EZLN.org which was created by a Swathmore College student, Justin Paulson. "He was interested in the uprising, but was finding it increasingly difficult to get information, so decided to create ... his own homepage in March 1994 ... to post EZLN declarations to the internet, also setting up petitions for the release of prisoners. At first declarations were faxed from La Journada, a leftist newspaper close to the PRD political party, and every morning from 1995 Paulson would ... post them on his college server" (McDonald, 2006: 135). This interactive dissemination of information coincides with Cowan and Arsenault's (2008: 18) description of dialogue based-public diplomacy, which states: "Ideals and information can be exchanged in formal summits attended by elites; in academic or professional conferences; in call-in talk shows; on interactive web sites." All these forms of communication enable dialogue to be pursued in its ideal form, which is based around the formation of solidarity and relationships.
  According to Kevin McDonald (2006) there were over sixty similar internet sites within two years where people could get information and get involved in support actions, although only one was physically based in Mexico. The utilisation of the internet by the Zapatista, and its international followers, enabled the dissemination of uncensored messages to enter the public discourse, subsequently increasing the chance for mass media coverage, global legitimacy, credibility, international participation and solidarity. The ability to spread uncensored messages reaffirms Mark Lacy's belief that the emergence of ICT has made the political environment more volatile, less predictable and less amenable to traditional forms of control. In this respect, the Zapatista used the internet to engage publics with a dialogue-based 'public diplomacy', which enables and encourages interaction and participation from the public in regard to policy and ideology. This sentiment is echoed by Paulson, who in 1996 wrote:
  "Can the Zapatista really be so inclusive in their discourse and their activities that they might awaken these others' own dreams and struggles? If so, when the latter do become active, if they claim to be supporting Zapatismo, are they avoiding the "struggle at home" in favour of solidarity with an indigenous uprising in Chiapas? Or have they perhaps come to the recognition that it is part of the same struggle?"
  In this respect the Zapatista's tactics and rhetoric led their revolution to be dubbed 'the first postmodern revolution' (Lippens, 2003: 179). One critical element in the attainment of this postmodern title was the Zapatista's ability to frame the issue themselves, this can be attributed to the contribution of external websites and the increasingly internet savvy Mexican civic and solidarity organisations, which had started up around the Zapatista and soon took the lead in framing the issue (Reitan, 2007). Another key set of diffusion actors utilised by the Zapatista were locally based NGOs "who gathered and condensed firsthand information and then diffused it through their larger domestic and international networks ... Their larger networks, in turn, had both relational and non-relational access to the national, continental, and eventually transnational web of already-existing listservers, newsgroups, and websites" (Reitan, 2007: 192). The uncensored dissemination of information across ICT based transnational networks allowed for a diverse range of polycentric hubs to become involved in the struggle, such as anti-NAFTA activists, Latin American peace and solidarity groups, environmental, human rights, and anti-debt e-networks, such as PeaceNet conferences, the Mexico-L, Native-L and Centam-L listservers, and UseNet newsgroups. Through ICT enabled diffusion channels, "activists within and beyond Mexico's borders were able to quickly gain information as well as analysis that began to amplify the anti-NAFTA, and more broadly anti-neoliberal, character of the Chiapas uprising" (Reitan, 2007: 193).
Next 3.4 Framing an international perspective. This broad dissemination of dialogue-based information fostered an attribution of worthiness, interconnectedness, and similarity which progressed towards the formation of solidarity amongst a wide range of polycentric, segmented, integrated and networked (SPIN) individuals and groups, who all viewed neoliberalism as a global enemy. The resulting international focus, understanding and identification with the Zapatista's struggle shone a collective spotlight on the region which was instrumental in preventing the military and police from stopping the movement with total impunity (Reitan, 2007: 193). The ability to frame the Zapatista's struggle from one based solely in Mexico to an international struggle against neoliberalism was a brilliant move towards global solidarity in face of a common enemy. This framing, which was accomplished through the use of internet diffusion and Marcos himself, has prompted "discussions and analyses linking NAFTA to the neoliberal policies pursued in the US from Reagan to Clinton administrations, similarities between these and Thatcherism in the UK, the changes under the EU Maastricht Treaty throughout Europe, and the World Bank and IMF [International Monetary Fund] SAPs [Structural adjustment program] across the debt-ridden developing world" (Tarrow and McAdam, 2005: 195; quoted in Reitan, 2007: 195).
  As this ICT-based news and analysis of the uprising continued to be widely disseminated, the network subsequently sustained continual growth and soon attracted support from outside North America. "Peasant movements, including the Brazilian MST and the Indian KRRS, along with other members of the Via Campesina (VC), could rather easily frame-bridge [or relate] to the Chiapas peasant uprising and attribute similarity with their own situation ... Yet significant attribution of something — be it worthiness, interconnectedness, or even similarity — also came from European collectives of anarchists, autonomists, environmentalists, and anti-capitalists, such as the UK's Earth First! ... Italian operaista, Ya Basta! and Tute Bianche or White Overalls" (Reitan, 2007: 199). This global solidarity was propelled by the framing of neoliberalism as a common enemy and the universal applicability of Marcos and the Zapatista.
  Although the groups that support the EZLN movement do not share a unified ideology with the Zapatista, together they are attempting to create a vast network of ideologically diverse polycentric hubs that will become the PGA, as stated in We Are Everywhere, a collection of stories wriiten by activists: "Together they are creating a movement of movements that defies easy classification, a rebellion whose character is one of anarchic hybridity, a potent mixture of the symbolic and the instrumental" (Notes from Nowhere Collective, 2003: 28). This sentiment coincides with Castells' belief that the majority of modern social movements do not share a unified ideology, but instead identifies itself by the values and institutions it stands against. This belief is essential in the function of network containing ideologically diverse polycentric hubs, as the people might not share a unified reason for fighting neoliberalism due to the fact that it affects each of them differently, but the ability to stand against a common enemy provides that essential feeling of unity. This is further exemplified by We Are Everywhere which states, in relation to the European movements supporting the peasant movements: "These two groups, the natural resource-based movements — the indigenous, the farmers — of the South, and the post-industrial marginalised of the North, have somehow recognised in one another a shared enemy — global capital. Suddenly, the "blue Indians" and the real Indians are speaking the same language" (Notes from Nowhere Collective, 2003: 28).
Next 3.5 The People's Global Action (PGA). In this respect, the activists were attempting to build a concrete resistance network that would enable activists and organisations to communicate and coordinate resistance action. The PGA grew from face-to-face meetings and the internet-based listservers that preceded them, meaning the movement grew from grassroots activists and students, which can be viewed in strong contrast to many other modern social movements: "This means that rather than key NGOs strategically brokering relations around a pre-established agenda — as we saw ... in Oxfam's seminal role in Jubilee 2000 or in the Paulo Freire Stichting's thwarted efforts to the VC as a research network — the PGA forged itself largely through affinity ties among individuals and collectives who prize autonomy and direct action" (Notes from Nowhere Collective, 2003: 203). The resulting network captures the SPIN model in seamless perfection, as the PGA was formed by crafting a polycentric, leaderless, integrated, inclusive, segmented and distributed network structure.
  The PGA is often viewed as an instrument for coordination, not so much an organisation as it has no membership, in this respect the internet became "an instrument for communication and coordination for all those fighting against the destruction of humanity and the planet by capitalism, and for building alternatives" (Fenton, 2008b: 235). According to Cleaver (1999) the capability and subsequent utilisation of the internet to circulate information through e-mail and web sites made the internet an essential vehicle for circulating, organising and mobilising campaigns. Fenton (2008b: 235) offers further evidence of this by stating: "This circulation benefits from the decentralisation and autonomy of individual groups/campaigns that are at once inclusive and diverse but that produce a high degree of identification among citizens of the web." The use of the internet, and the organisational structure it induces, have strongly influenced the PGA's hallmarks, in particular hallmark two which is based around non-discriminatory participation, and hallmark five which corresponds with an internet based SPIN organisational model:
 
  1. A very clear rejection of capitalism, imperialism and feudalism; all trade agreements, institutions and governments that promote destructive globalisation;
  2. We reject all forms and systems of domination and discrimination including, but not limited to, patriarchy, racism and religious fundamentalism of all creeds. We embrace the full dignity of all human beings;
  3. A confrontational attitude, since we do not think that lobbying can have a major impact in such biased and undemocratic organisations, in which transnational capital is the only real policy-maker;
  4. A call to direct action and civil disobedience, support for social movements' struggles, advocating forms of resistance which maximize respect for life and oppressed peoples' rights, as well as the construction of local alternatives to global capitalism;
  5. An organisational philosophy based on decentralisation and autonomy (PGA, 1998/2001).
  The PGA's manifesto, hallmarks, and in particular the document containing its organisational principles specify an organisational structure inherently based around networking through the internet, comprising of organised nodes which connect into a horizontal structure with no designated centre (PGA, 1998/2001; 2001). As stated in article seven of their organisational principles' document, which notes the limitations of the internet, mainly the 'digital divide' concept which was previously discussed by Atton, Fenton and Bennet.
  "In keeping with PGA's philosophy, all communication processes will be diverse, decentralised and coordinated. There will be at least one point of contact in each region to be decided at regional level. Whilst recognising there are limits to the internet, the PGA website will comprise of PGA documents including conference notes and contact lists. All documents will be translated into as many diverse languages as possible. For all this communication to work effectively, responsibility must be taken at the regional level by as many groups as possible" (PGA, 2001).
  The communication or contact points specified in article seven of the organisational principles' doctrine can be viewed as nodes that can send and receive information with the capacity to organise local action, "and are to encourage the free flow and distribution of information, connectivity, mutual support, and complete equality among all members." This organisational principle and the utilisation of it can, to a large extent, be seen as their ideology, and as article seven demonstrates they do acknowledge that an organisational model inherently based in the internet does have imbalances in regards to information distribution. "They acknowledge, however, the current imbalances within their network — both virtually and in the face-to-face encounters" (Reitan, 2007: 204). This acknowledgement corresponds with Atton's view that observing the internet as a tool for vast communication and equality "is to ignore the obstacles to empowerment that legislation, inequalities of access, limits on media literacy and the real world situation of disempowerment necessarily place on groups and individuals" (Atton, 2004). Nonetheless, the PGA has acknowledged this and subsequently utilises the autonomous nodes in the distribution of information to activist without internet services.
   




4

Right: People partaking in the World Social Forum (WSF) on anti-globalisation, Mumbai, January 2004

Conclusion

There is one decisive problem in regard to the operation of a non-hierarchical, autonomous, open, polycentric and participatory movement and that is its effectiveness in influencing public policy, which is one of the main operational goals of any social movement. In this respect, the danger stems from constructing global solidarity on line, which corresponds with Bennett's previously discussed belief that due to the ease of joining and leaving polycentric social movements, it becomes difficult to control campaigns or to achieve coherent collective identity frames. In this respect Bennett's argument is based around the view that activists can rapidly change their focus from one issue to another, partly due to the fact that there is no predominant ideology, this according to Bennet as well as Sidney Tarrow and Doug McAdam (2005) subsequently forms a group of individuals that are fleeting and momentary instead of committed and loyal.

  Joseph Masciulli and Richard Day (2005: 697), while discussing Habermas' (1998) The Postnational Constellation, hold the view that the solidarity of "world citizens" would have a purely "reactive character," taking the form of indignation in face of human-rights violations but contributing little to civic solidarity within our own ethical-political community. Human rights have "a moral content," but they also "belong structurally to a positive and coercive legal order" without which they cannot be actionable. This means that "in spite of their claim to universal validity, human rights have thus far managed to achieve an unambiguous positive form only within the national legal orders of democratic states" ... The normative cohesion of any society is bound to history and culture, which form particular collective identities. The political culture of a world society would lack "the common ethical-political dimension that would be necessary for a corresponding global community."
  In this respect "Habermas has argued that solidarity at this level cannot simply be based on shared moral conceptions of human rights but only on a shared political culture; that political culture is constituted not only of social agents who can enable the mediation of dialogue across borders and publics but also institutions that can translate those claims into a reality" (Fenton, 2008b: 239). This subsequently raises important questions in regard to the credibility of the PGA's perceived international solidarity, if issues such as 'human rights', according to Habermas, cannot be the foundation for international solidarity on a long-term basis. In this respect solidarity can only come from a common 'political culture' which manages issues such as human rights under domestic law. However, the PGA's conceptualisation of solidarity is based around mass organisation, of autonomous groups, as the PGA is often viewed as an instrument for coordination, not so much an organisation and only seeks to maintain and strengthen the autonomy of the individual groups and movements.
  Therefore, Habermas' belief coincides with the organisational structure of the PGA as it allows for the individual groups to base their solidarity on their own 'political culture' in order to maintain long term existence, while the PGA utilises the internet to promote transnational solidarity in a reactive fashion against instances warranting such attention, like G8 and WTO meetings which see a spike in PGA activity. Although it should be noted, whether the action is national, local or transnational, it all opposes the same enemy, neoliberalism. Indeed, as Reitan (2007: 217) acknowledges, the very fact that most of these groups are autonomous and grassroots means that local and nation level action remains their priority: "... in recent years groups identified with the PGA have been involved in ongoing protests at the local and national level that have had considerable impact: PGA-linked peasant movements in Ecuador and Bolivia helped to topple unpopular administrations, while hundreds of thousands of PGA and VC affiliated Brazilian farmers have worked to shift their governments' positions on international trade closer to their own home."
  The PGA from the standpoint of its adherents is "not an organisation with a set identity but rather a tool for coordinating among autonomous groups" (Reitan, 2007: 220). In this respect, new media, namely the internet, has played a vital role in the establishment and organisational structure of the PGA. The utilisation of the internet by social movements such as the PGA can be attributed to the dual themes of multiplicity and polycentrality; interactivity and cross-border participation. These themes, which are inherent to the internet, have enabled autonomous groups to disseminate uncensored information, to self-frame the issue, communicate unfettered and partake in a dialogue-based public diplomacy with transnational publics. The internet has enabled the diffusion of alternative information to enter the public sphere; this diffusion is crucial in the attainment of mass media coverage, as it can help give the issue, in question, a sense of newsworthiness subsequently bypassing traditional hierarchical media controls. This is exemplified by Adrienne Russel (2005: 574):
  "New media tools such as the internet, video cameras and mobile phones offer alternatives to print and broadcast media and their traditional power flows. The Zapatista movement benefited from this independence partly by seizing the power to create and use myth, shifting that power out of the hands of an elite that includes journalists, government officials and corporate executives."
  From an optimistic standpoint, new media, such as the internet, has enabled groups and individuals to play an active role in world politics which was previously unobtainable. This active role has been expressed through social movements, such as the Zapatista and PGA, who claim to act as a global conscience representing the broad public interests beyond the purview of national governments, or interests that governments are willing to ignore.
  The successful utilisation of these tools through ICT has seen legitimacy increase for these groups and has subsequently seen governments and diplomats progressively lose their monopoly over international relations. As a direct result of this increased legitimacy that social movements hold within the global civil society, academics such as Manuel Castells and Ulrich Beck (2005) have speculated that these developments could potentially "rob national politics of their boundaries and foundations." However, in accordance with Nye, this belief does assert too much, as geographical communities and nation states will continue to play a major role in international politics for a long time to come. "Cyberspace will not replace geographical space and will not abolish state sovereignty ... it will coexist with them and greatly complicate what it means to be a sovereign state or a powerful country." Thus, the people shaping foreign policy in the global information age will have to "become more aware of the importance of the ways that the internet creates new communications, empowers individuals and non-state actors, and increases the role of soft power" (Nye, 2004a: 88). In this respect, an option for national governments would be to engage and interact with these new actors in the formulation and implementation of foreign policy. As Shaun Riordan reaffirms, "international relations increasingly operate not at a single inter-state level but through complex, multi-level and interdependent networks, governments and their diplomats must learn to operate in these networks" (Riordan, 2004: 190; quoted in: Melissen et al., 2005: 93).
  However, the fact that computer and internet access is limited in many areas of the world remains a realistic quandary to the optimistic vision of a world in which the majority of its populace has the ability to actively participate in issues of global concern. Although the Zapatista-inspired PGA has acknowledged this dilemma, their ability to sufficiently address it, is limited due to the sheer impossibility of granting computer and internet access to such areas. Nonetheless, new media, such as the internet, has enabled a greater proportion of the world's population to actively participate in issues that are of concern to them. Thus, this thesis has illustrated through the examination of the Zapatista and the Zapatista-inspired PGA, that through the utilisation of the internet, such groups are able to disseminate information, engage foreign publics, gain solidarity, and play an active role on the international stage.
   
Previous
  Notes
1. See: Youtube — Subcomandante Marcos y la Cuarta Guerra Mundial (9 min - Juli 2, 2006); retrieved from the internet on 16/9/2008. Return to text
2. This reference is quoted from Reitan (2007: 195). Chiapaslink is a concise introductory guide to the Zapatista rebellion in Chiapas, explaining the roots of the rebellion, the communities' struggle for autonomy and resistance to globalization. The website is now offline, but some of its pages can still be accessed on the Wayback Machine. Return to text
   
Previous
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