Web as a weapon: visionary stuff from Gordon Brown

It didn’t generate much media coverage, but there were some stirring words in Gordon Brown’s speech on Saturday to the Church of Scotland general assembly. One of the recurring criticisms levelled against him has been a lack of a defining vision: well, try this one for size.

The greatest arsenal of power today is not nuclear or biological or chemical but people – the discovery of our capacity to come together across borders and oceans and to stand together as one. And what I want to argue is that the joining of these two forces – the information revolution and the human urge to co-operate for justice – makes possible for the first time in history something we have only dreamt about: the creation of a truly global society.
A global society where people anywhere and everywhere can discover their shared values, communicate with each other and do not need to meet or live next door to each other to join together with people in other countries in a single moral universe to bring about change. I believe that these vast and swiftly summoned movements of people coming together can now become the most powerful weapon for justice ever put in human hands.

It’s great to see a politician, the Prime Minister indeed, going a step beyond the ‘information revolution’ phase, and talking about the impact on society and human relationships both nearest and distant. Steadily we’re seeing The Establishment start to recognise how far the transformation goes. But one wonders if the PM will feel it even more directly after the Crewe by-election on Thursday night: the Tory bloggers, like the party they support, are pushing as hard as they possibly can.
Interestingly, what little media coverage there was – particularly in the Scottish papers – has been overwhelmingly positive for the PM; in stark contrast to virtually everything else from the nationals lately. ‘If Gordon Brown was Prime Minister of a better Britain, then his speech yesterday would have confirmed this son of the manse as the man Britain believes is right to run the country,’ writes Scotland on Sunday’s Kenny Farquharson. The Sunday Mail was even more direct: ‘On his home turf he showed that he is still the man to lead Britain.’ It’s not all bad out there.

5 thoughts on “Web as a weapon: visionary stuff from Gordon Brown”

  1. This is Milliband speak – I was at a speech he gave to the Fabian Society conference in January where he was talking about his idea of the ‘civilian surge’, which he’s since repeated elsewhere. The link between the growing power of the individual in the information arena, and the growing power of the individual in civil society, has been noticed by those at the top, and my fingers are crossed that they start to take even more seriously the efforts of organisations like MySociety to use one to strengthen the other.

  2. I’m not convinced on this one. I’m a sceptic anyway wrt Mr Brown and I won’t take a single word from this govt at face value – based on their record and my bitter experience.
    On the point at hand, there’s a very narrow dividing line between net democracy and net marketing.
    I’m a member of Avaaz.org, and the “million members” campaigning for change can be as little involved as being names on a read-only email list.
    Net transparency is a fog compared to traditional politics. I’m not sure how to fix it.
    Politicians need to be extremely suspicious of net-campaigners claiming millions of supporters.

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