Cyberprotest: New Media, Citizens, and Social Movements

By Brian D. Loader; Paul G. Nixon et al. | Go to book overview

8

ATTAC(k)ing expertise

Does the internet really democratize knowledge?

Brigitte le Grignou and Charles Patou

During the past years, who hasn't been fooled by those advertisements or articles presenting the internet as a panacea which could both free people and be considered as the origin of a 'new economy' promising sweet hereafter?

(Laurent Jesover, ATTAC-France's webmaster)

This chapter attempts to challenge the potential democratizing function of the internet as used by social movements by examining the case study of the Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions for the Aid of Citizens (ATTAC 1). ATTAC, as this chapter will show, is a unique organization, particularly in terms of its membership. Started in France in June 1998, the association claimed during its plenary assembly (in La Rochelle, December 2002) to be able to claim representation via 250 local committees as well as having 30,000 supporters, 28,700 of them being paid-up members. ATTAC was, indeed, surprised by its success. Over 6000 people attended its General Meeting in January 2002: more than double the board's expectations.

ATTAC's influence has spread through French political life, with communities signing up as members of ATTAC; members of parliament and senators have created an 'inter-group' within the French Parliament. Its power was recognized by the President's invitation to Bernard Cassen, the former chairman of the association, 2 to a conference organized by the diplomatic department of the Elysee Palace.

ATTAC has also achieved international growth, with 35 separate movements being created around the world (mostly in Europe but also in Brazil, Japan, Quebec, Senegal, etc.). This internationalization means that ATTAC-France has a team of 500 translators who translate all the data and documents of the website into Spanish, Portuguese, English, etc.

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