Taking on the System: Rules for Radical Change in a Digital Era
By Markos Moulitsas Zuniga; Celebra, 2008; 275 pages; $23.95
Reviewed by James Trimarco
A new book by Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, founder of Daily Kos, is esÂsential reading for anyone who wants to use new media to organize political activism. The author may rankle some progressives with his contention that today’s media landscape has often renÂdered mass street protests irrelevant. Yet it’s impossible to argue with the long list of achievements he attributes, at least in part, to “netroots” activism.
Many examples are partisan: for instance, an online progressive camÂpaign in Virginia used citizen pressure to draft a strong and ultimately sucÂcessful opponent, Jim Webb, to chalÂlenge Republican incumbent George Allen for his Senate seat. But Internet communities were also indispensĂ‚Âable in rallying support for the Jena Six — black students in Louisiana who faced charges for fighting with a white student, weeks after nooses were hung from a tree on school grounds.
For Zuniga, such achievements emerge from a more inclusive politiÂcal environment ushered in by Internet technology. While elite editors and proÂducers once served as gatekeepers, he argues, today there is nothing to stop the average citizen from setting up a blog, speaking out, and being judged on the merits of his or her arguments. Î¦
James Trimarco is a consulting editor at YES! Magazine. This review appears in the Summer 2009 issue.
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