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The fight for Web neutrality was lost decades ago. The regulation that emerged in the last decade of the last century is lousy. And now we see the consequences. Repealing the worst, would not be more state, not more regulation, but less. But it would not be the best solution. Some of what was legislated and regulated was indispensable for business operations and communications on the Web.
The problem is that instead of guaranteeing neutrality, it guaranteed -voluntarily or involuntarily- impunity for the abuse of dominant positions and for economic and ideological purposes. And in a Silicon Valley where what we now call “woke culture” prevailed, this guaranteed the imposition of what was already prevailing in the academy as the future cancel culture.
Denis Prager warned in the 2019 documentary “No Safe Spaces” that, by imposing itself on big tech it will spread everywhere and reach everyone.
The Wikipedia problem
As a professor, I have noticed the problem of the growing, and increasingly open socialist bias in Wikipedia for years. I was not surprised when Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger, in a recent interview with Fox News, charged that many Wikipedia pages have been transformed into exercises in totalitarian leftist advocacy.
Sangler asserted that the broad open collaborative effort of the article tree is completely and irretrievably broken by the most radical socialism. “The days of Wikipedia’s commitment to neutrality are behind us,” Sanger sentenced adding that “Wikipedia’s ideological and religious bias is real and troubling, especially in a resource that many continue to treat as an unbiased reference work.”
I have been telling my students for at least 10 years that, while still useful as a first resource, Wikipedia is not neutral, unbiased, or reliable on such topics. I also make a habit of explaining to them that this is not a conspiracy, but rather the tireless willful efforts of fanatical misinformation by those who believe, Marcuse-like, that anything that favors the left should be tolerated and anything that favors the right, censored. This is the prevailing political culture among Wikipedia’s volunteer editors, and they will cancel anyone who does not share it in order to tightly control the editing of pages on topics that affect socialism, one way or another.
I admit that an open collaborative effort can easily be penetrated by ad hoc organizations, equivalent to the “50 cents army” of Chinese totalitarianism. But even without that, the problem would be exactly the same. Just as in the universities, the radical totalitarian socialists took control. They exercise it through cancelling. And nothing and no one is willing to stand up to them.
What Sanger denounces is that little by little the editors – volunteers with the ability to self-organize to control the rules of the article tree in the direction they want – have been embedding socialist propaganda and skillfully concealing the crimes of real socialism. And we are talking about the first source of reference for students and professors around the world.
The way the editors of Wikipedia operate makes clear their patient sustained effort, clear shared goals, growing organization in spontaneous cooperation. And, logically, their accumulated expertise. They have a deep understanding of how the average user employs the tool. And how to manipulate it to achieve their ideological goals.
They do not need to erase what they want to make invisible, but to move it from the main pages, minimize it -eventually qualify it and put it in doubt- but above all to throw it to sections set aside for further consultation, which are reached through hidden links that almost no regular user will ever use. They can claim that everything is there. Out of sight of consulting students. And that is their goal.
Everything related to the two main pages “socialism” and “communism” cover at the time of writing about 28 thousand words. And whoever does not delve into recondite links will find nothing about the genocides – and other crimes – of socialist and communist totalitarianism. The “neutral description” that you will first see – from children and teenagers to young people in training who are the majority of users – and that includes teachers and professors, especially the youngest ones – has so little of neutral that it cannot be qualified as anything but pure and simple propaganda. As I write, Wikipedia states that:
“A socialist ideology criticizes the evils and injustices of capitalism (such as unequal distribution of wealth, fierce competitiveness in the marketplace, coercion of certain freedoms, undermining of democracy or inability for self-realization and human development, etc.) by transcending them for a morally superior socio-economic system.”
A “morally superior” system that murdered no less than 100 million innocents last century would outrage anyone who knows about it. And obviously, the goal is for almost no one to do so. “The omission of large-scale mass murder, slave labor, and man-made famines is negligent and deeply misleading” explained economist Bryan Caplan, a scholar of the atrocities of socialism.
Chinese-American Lily Tang Williams, who lived through Mao’s Cultural Revolution, explains that she is outraged by Wikipedia’s approach to Chinese communism “I went through the entire 10 years of Mao’s Cultural Revolution as a child. (…) Of course, I was brainwashed, we just didn’t know the truth, it was like living in a concentration camp. Every morning at 6:30 a loudspeaker was turned on and interspersed “news” with chants to Chairman Mao. The main memory of my childhood (…) is that we were hungry all the time.”
And of course “What about the students, who now won’t know the real story of what happened? Or even the teachers who won’t know?” wonders Tang, who volunteers in U.S. schools to teach children about the history of communism in China and her personal experience of the tragedy.
Guillermo Rodríguez is a professor of Political Economy in the extension area of the Faculty of Economic and Administrative Sciences at Universidad Monteávila, in Caracas. A researcher at the Juan de Mariana Center and author of several books // Guillermo es profesor de Economía Política en el área de extensión de la Facultad de Ciencias Económicas y Administrativas de la Universidad Monteávila, en Caracas, investigador en el Centro Juan de Mariana y autor de varios libros