I feel very strongly, that it is not enough to just live in the World as it is and just take what you are given, to follow the things that adults told you to do … and that Society tells you to do. I think you should always be questioning. I take this very scientific attitude that everything you’ve learned is just provisional, that it’s always open to recantation, refutation, or questioning. And I think the same applies to Society.
I felt growing up I slowly had this process of realising that all the things around me were just the natural way that things were the way things would be. They weren’t natural at all. They were things that could be changed and things that more importantly were wrong and should change.
Once I realised that there was really no going back I couldn’t fool myself into saying I’ll just go and work for a business and ignore all that once I realised that there were real serious problems, fundamental problems, that I could do something to address I didn’t see a way to forget that.
You know I’d always been wanting to get active. Even when I was at school I was very frustrated with school. I thought the teachers didn’t really know what they were talking about. They were very domineering and controlling and the homework was kind of a sham and was just a ways to piece things together and force them to do busy work.
I started reading books about the history of education and how this education system was developed, alternatives to it and ways that people could actually learn things as opposed to just regurgitating facts that teachers were telling them. This led me down this path of questioning things. Once I questioned the school I was in, I questioned the society that built the school, the business that the schools were training people for, I questioned the government that set up this whole structure.
Well, like I said, I got interested in educational stuff, I don’t think I got involved in a political campaign. I spent a lot of time after that wondering what is it that I could really affect. You know I did a lot of writing and a lot of reading, but a lot of the stuff I read about social change seemed to come from this model, you know, in the revolutions in the 60’s people thought if we just get enough people together who are angry, get a lot of people together who are angry, then all of a sudden magically this revolution will happen and will take over the country and, you know, it just didn’t make sense to me.
I think now that I’ve more background, more context, I think that it came out of this experience of watching the Soviet Union because the Soviet Union was so underdeveloped and you know there weren’t very many political structures in place. It was true that a small group of people getting a bunch of people angry could kinda take over a whole country and I just don’t think that that could happen in developed countries like the US or Ireland so I began wondering what is it that you can do in developed countries, you know everything seems so ineffective and so powerless and it wasn’t until just recently that I started thinking ok, the internet provides this opportunity now to raise money to get candidates elected.
It used to be that there was just no way for a small group of people to go up against the power of big money, but one of the things we’ve seen in the PCCC , there’s just a couple of us who work there and in the past year using nothing but basically computers and our own apartments we’ve gotten 300,000 people to join our list and to raise millions of dollars. I mean that just three people were able to make a huge difference like that and the internet provides this chance where we can start taking on big corporations.
I think the most important thing is to realise that you can accomplish something. I know that sometimes you just feel powerless that you’re one small person in this world of big corporations and big evil people and big media companies and so on, and there’s nothing you can do, but the fact is a lot of the reason it seems like that is that people feel powerless. People are afraid to do anything you know for a long time I watched the news and all I saw was this corporate propaganda and this kind of anti-activism attacks and I thought, that the news media was just inevitably biased against us, that there was just no hope that the only solution alternative was to create alternative news streams.
Now with the PCCC I’ve found that it’s not that the news media is inevitably biased against us, it’s just that, reporters you know, like all of us are just kinda lazy you know they report the stories that people give to them, and there are huge companies that are willing to write up stories for them and you know hand them to them on silver platters and all they have to do is just type them up.
Of course they’re going to do that and it turned out that when we did the same thing, we started writing press releases, going to reporters and pitching stories, they were just as happy to write about us as they were to write about Coca Cola.
So because I had believed for so long that change was impossible it precluded me from taking any actions that could have caused that change and so I think the first step for everyone out there is to believe that you can actually accomplish something because once you believe that you’re half way to actually doing something.
Aaron Swartz was a 26 year old internet pioneer, entrepreneur, writer, political organizer, and Internet hacktivist who died tragically on January 11th. Speaking of Aaron’s death, Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with inventing the internet said ‘We have lost a mentor, a wise elder’.
Aaron Swartz, a Stanford University drop-out, was instrumental in the development of the internet as we know it. He co-authored the RSS specification, co-founded Reddit.com, and co-founded the Progressive Change Campaign Committee for political reform which has almost 1 million members. Aaron was instrumental in the 2011 defeat of ‘SOPA’ bill in the U.S, which threatened free speech online.
Swartz’s work also focused on civic Awareness and activism. In late 2010 and early 2011 Aaron, who was a fellow of Harvard University’s Center for Ethics, downloaded millions of academic journal articles from M.I.T’s labs and was later charged by police. He faced 35 years in prison and millions in legal costs.
Swartz declined a plea bargain under which he would have served six months in federal prison. Two days after the prosecution rejected a counter-offer by Swartz, he was found dead in his Brooklyn apartment, where he had hanged himself.
Aaron was killed by the government, and MIT betrayed all of its basic principles. – Father, Robert Swartz
Aaron’s death has been covered by news outlets worldwide and the internet and activism community has rallied to keep his spirit alive and to protect freedom of speech online and to promote the values of truth, democracy, justice and compassion that Aaron lived for.