Beautiful Children

Fourth World Eye

Achieving Coherence


Communications in Conflict

Fighting for Our Lives

Before November 30, 1999, most people in the world had no idea what

the World Trade Organization (WTO) was or did. The anti-globalization

special forces changed all that. N30, the Battle in Seattle, and the WTO became part of history.

Had there been no special forces, however, no one would have known

the devious plans of this secretive United Nations agency working in

tandem with transnational corporations to enslave the world. The

marchers in Seattle would have had their thirty-second news spot, and

disappeared from public memory.

But as the world knows, even a mainstream media blackout and

subsequent cover-up by government officials were not enough to prevent

N30 from being the downfall of the Seattle Chief of Police, and the Battle in Seattle from becoming a badge of honor for the pro-democracy movement.

And that only happened because some of the anti-globalization

activists were thinking strategically about communications in conflict,

and adapted their tactics accordingly. Those engaged in conventional

marches and seminars were minor news items, easily dismissed by media

and officials alike. They would not change the world, the Independent

Media Center images from the lockdown at 4th and Pike would.

By outflanking network news through use of live streaming on the

Internet, anyone in the world could watch Seattle police beating seated

young people singing freedom songs, while television talking heads

claimed protestors were running amok. The age of netwar had arrived.

In December 2008, the United Nations met in Poznan, Poland to hatch a

new scheme for transnational corporations and investment banks to

control the world: it was called REDD, a Ponzi scheme for carbon-market

trading that would make the Wall Street heist of today look like chicken

feed. Indigenous nations sent delegates to protest this

life-threatening fraud by the UN and its agencies like the IMF, World

Bank, and WTO. Civil society groups spoke in support of the aboriginal

peoples, UN officials closed them out, and the world never knew.

December 2009, ten years after the Battle in Seattle, the

world’s first nations and Fourth World peoples attended the UN

Conference on Climate Change held in Copenhagen. Whether the

carbon-market cartel will be allowed to take over the world, without a

fight, depends in part on what happened there. Will the

anti-globalization street-fighters, a no-show in Poznan, once again

remind the planet’s netizens that, another world is possible?

Working with Words

The four modes of social organization — tribes, institutions,

markets, and networks — all intentionally utilize words to communicate

their unique perspectives and preferences. Words are chosen for their

effect in creation stories, in mythologies, in advertising, and in


Words themselves are invented for a purpose. They serve as tools of

social organization, as weapons of war, as means of manipulation, and as

medicine for the maligned.

Depending on how they are used, words can cause horrendous harm or great good. Meanings can be distorted or clarified.

Working with words can gain one respect, renown, and reward, but it

can also generate resentment. Not all messages are appreciated.

Learning to use words effectively requires an understanding of the principles of communication, especially in what is termed netwar,

which assumes that all communication in all its dimensions is

contested, no matter the stated intent of the participants. Words are

meant to achieve, and as propositions in the arena of human

consciousness, they will be confronted; as such, working with words is

serious business.

Achieving Coherence

As an editor, blogger and correspondent, I frequently come across

brilliant scholars and committed activists struggling to communicate

vital stories to institutional leaders, philanthropic donors, and media

gatekeepers. As a communications advisor, I am amazed at how little

attention is paid by these devoted humanitarians to the principles of

this science.

As it is, many writers in academia – while often informative – are

sometimes difficult to follow, as they offer bits of topics here and


Part of effective storytelling is to be interesting, which few

writers accomplish, but to arrive at academic stature, that story needs

to be sufficiently coherent. With essays by emerging authors, it is best

for them to learn to think about structure and narrative coherence by

doing that work themselves, but for those lacking a background in

journalism or literature, manuals on such topics as briefings are worth looking at. Some pertinent articles are listed below.

Storytelling and Globalization

Networks and Netwars

Communication, Power and Counter-power in the Network Society

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