[Reader-list] Microsoft helps China to censor bloggers

Keith Hart keith at thememorybank.co.uk
Thu Jun 16 13:15:14 IST 2005

There has been much commentin the western media about Microsoft 'caving 
in' to Chines government pressure and someabout how Google, Yahoo etc 
aree not averse to suspending international law in order to get a 
toehold in the Chinese market. This misses the larger point that 
Microsoft has made a strategic decision to line up with states in the 
struggle for democracy on the internet.

India offers an equally compelling, but more decentralized case study of 
the samething. Thousands of decisions are being made at every level of 
government and society there to install the software and machines that 
will establish Indian standards for decades to come. The main 
competitors are Microsoft and Linux (represented by its own commercial 
corporations such as Red Hat Linux). The latter promote their software 
by stressing that it is cheaper, more robust and flexible than Windows. 
Bill Gates, on the other hand, emphasizes Microsoft’s track record of 
collaboration with government bureaucracy in regulating access to the 

The point is that the corporate model of capitalism, inaugurated in the 
late nineteenth century and brought to its climax in the so-called 
'neo-liberal' world economy today, rests on legal collaboration between 
states and corporations to subject people everywhere to a system of 
command and control from the top. The main issue is how do you force 
people to pay up within a generalized system of private property brought 
to this stage of monopoly? China is really a boon for democrats since it 
makes clear what the stakes are in a way that is not so obvious in 
India, for example. And the old men in Beijing are likely to lose in the 
not so long run.


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