The message matters, not the tools: Activism vs. Slacktivism Debate

Eric Lee, Founding Editor of LabourStart (News and campaigning website of the international trade union movement)

Eric Lee has been active on the democratic Left and trade union movement for forty years. He has written several books, including The Labour Movement and the Internet (1996). He is the founding editor of LabourStart, the news and campaigning website of the international trade union movement.

Summary of Eric’s position:
“While I consider online tools important, I think that to talk about what happened in Egypt or Tunisia (and even more so, Libya) as ‘twitter revolutions’ is absolute nonsense. It reveals a complete lack of understanding of what caused these and other revolutions. I was in Cairo a year ago meeting with the very same activists who last month occupied Tahrir square. I wrote about my experience with them – and I predicted a Poland 1980-type movement. In all my meetings in Egypt, I never once heard anyone mention social media. To use an American metaphor, social media are like the horse that Paul Revere rode the night the American revolution began. Without a fast and robust horse, Revere could never have sparked the rebellion. What we remember about that night in 1775 is not how effective the horse was at its job, but at the messenger – Revere himself – and the message that he carried.”

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