The Internet And Democracy

by Patrick Appel

Clay Shirky responds to Evgeny Morozov:

It is impossible to know how the next few months in Iran will unfold, but the use of social media has already passed several tests: it has enabled citizens to coordinate with one another better than previously, to broadcast events like Basij violence or the killing of Neda Aga Soltan to the rest of the world, and, by forcing the regime to shut down communications apparatus, the protesters have infected Iran with a kind of technological auto-immune disease. However great the regime’s short-term desire to keep the protesters from communicating with one another, a modern economy simply cannot function if people can’t use their phones. The regime may yet crush protests, but even if they do, the events of June to November this year will still have broken the old illusion of a happy balance between democratic, theocratic, and military power in Iran.