‘No longer the province of elites’

In a Guardian interview, UK PM Gordon Brown says that the internet changes foreign affairs forever:

He described the internet era as “more tumultuous than any previous economic or social revolution”. “For centuries, individuals have been learning how to live with their next-door neighbours,” he added.

“Now, uniquely, we’re having to learn to live with people who we don’t know.

“People have now got the ability to speak to each other across continents, to join with each other in communities that are not based simply on territory, streets, but networks; and you’ve got the possibility of people building alliances right across the world.”

This, he said, has huge implications. “That flow of information means that foreign policy can never be the same again.

“You cannot have Rwanda again because information would come out far more quickly about what is actually going on and the public opinion would grow to the point where action would need to be taken.

“Foreign policy can no longer be the province of just a few elites.”

Neither government nor business nor education.

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  • Does Gordon Brown really believe that today is “more tumultuous than any previous economic or social revolution” ?

    That is dangerously ignorant.

    In just 35 years between 1844 and 1879, the world first experienced dependable electric lights, the telegraph, the telephone, a transatlantic telegraph cable, publication of the Communist manifesto, motion pictures, locomotives, the discovery of penicillin …and dozens more. Add a couple more years and we can throw in the Model T, locomotives, and AM radio.

    I’m sure he’s right that better communication will means changes in foreign policy. Good thing, too.

    But the most tumultuous period ever? Such ignorance undermines the credibility of everybody who makes claims like that, certainly including the hugely unpopular PM Brown.