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The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom [Kindle Edition]

Evgeny Morozov
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Updated with a new Afterword

“The revolution will be Twittered!” declared journalist Andrew Sullivan after protests erupted in Iran. But as journalist and social commentator Evgeny Morozov argues in The Net Delusion, the Internet is a tool that both revolutionaries and authoritarian governments can use. For all of the talk in the West about the power of the Internet to democratize societies, regimes in Iran and China are as stable and repressive as ever. Social media sites have been used there to entrench dictators and threaten dissidents, making it harder—not easier—to promote democracy.

Marshalling a compelling set of case studies, The Net Delusion shows why the cyber-utopian stance that the Internet is inherently liberating is wrong, and how ambitious and seemingly noble initiatives like the promotion of “Internet freedom” are misguided and, on occasion, harmful.



Editorial Reviews

Review

Evgeny Morozov offers a rare note of wisdom and common sense, on an issue overwhelmed by digital utopians

Review

Winner of the 2012 Goldsmith Book Prize
 
A New York Times Notable Book of 2011
 
Michael Walzer, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton
“Evgeny Morozov is wonderfully knowledgeable about the Internet—he seems to have studied every use of it, or every political use, in every country in the world (and to have read all the posts). And he is wonderfully sophisticated and tough-minded about politics. This is a rare combination, and it makes for a powerful argument against the latest versions of technological romanticism. His book should be required reading for every political activist who hopes to change the world on the Internet.”
 
Thomas P.M. Barnett, author, The Pentagon’s New Map, and senior managing director, Enterra Solutions LLC
“Evgeny Morozov has produced a rich survey of recent history that reminds us that everybody wants connectivity but also varying degrees of control over content, and that connectivity on its own is a very poor predictor of political pluralism…. By doing so, he’s gored any number of sacred cows, but he’s likewise given us a far more realistic sense of what’s possible in cyberspace—both good and bad—in the years ahead. Morozov excels at this sort of counter-intuitive analysis, and he instantly recasts a number of foreign policy debates with this timely book.”
 
Stephen M. Walt, Belfer Professor of International Affairs, Harvard University 
Net Delusion is a brilliant book and a great read. Politicians and pundits have hailed the Internet as a revolutionary force that will empower the masses and consign authoritarian governments to the ash-heap of history, but Morozov explains why such naïve hopes are sadly misplaced. With a keen eye for detail and a probing, skeptical intelligence, he shows that the Web is as likely to distract as to empower, and that both dictators and dissidents can exploit its novel features. If you thought that Facebook, Twitter, and the World Wide Web would trigger a new wave of democratic transformations, read this book and think again.”

Malcolm Gladwell
“Evgeny Morozov offers a rare note of wisdom and common sense, on an issue overwhelmed by digital utopians'”
 
Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2010
“In his debut, Foreign Policy contributing editor Morozov pulls the Internet into sharp focus, exposing the limits of its inner logic, its reckless misuse and the dangerous myopia of its champions. A serious consideration of the online world that sparkles with charm and wit.”
 
The Economist, January 7, 2011
“the resulting book is not just unfailingly readable: it is also a provocative, enlightening and welcome riposte to the cyber-utopian worldview.”
 
New Statesman, January 7, 2011
“This book is a passionate and heavily researched account of the case against the cyber-utopians.”
 
The Independent, January, 2011
Internet freedom", in short, is a valiant sword with a number of blades, existing in several dimensions simultaneously. As we go down the rabbit-hole of WikiLeaks, Morozov's humane and rational lantern will help us land without breaking our legs.”
 
Huntington News, January 7, 2011
Morozov's ‘The Net Delusion’ should be read by cockeyed optimists and pessimists alike. It's as important today as McLuhan's  books ("The Gutenberg Galaxy," "Understanding Media," "The Medium is the Massage," etc.) were in the 1950s through the 1970s.”
 
New York Times, January, 23 2011
The Net Delusion, argues that Westerners get carried away by the potential of the Internet to democratize societies, failing to appreciate that dictators can also use the Web to buttress their regimes. A fair point.”
 
Boston Globe, February 9, 2011
“Morozov has produced an invaluable book. Copies should be smuggled to every would-be Twitter revolutionary, and to their clueless groupies in the Western democracies.”
 
New York Times Book Review, February 6, 2011
As Evgeny Morozov demonstrates in ‘The Net Delusion,’ his brilliant and courageous book, the Internet’s contradictions and confusions are just becoming visible through the fading mist of Internet euphoria. Morozov is interested in the internet’s political ramifications. ‘What if the liberating potential of the Internet also contains the seeds of depoliticization and thus dedemocratization?’ he asks. The Net delusion of his title is just that. Contrary to the ‘cyberutopians,’ as he calls them, who consider the Internet a powerful tool of political emancipation, Morozov convincingly argues that, in freedom’s name, the Internet more often than not constricts or even abolishes freedom.”

 

New York Times, February 6, 2011
“Among cyber-intellectuals in America, a fascinating debate has broken out about whether social media can do as much harm as good in totalitarian states like Egypt. In his fiercely argued new book, “The Net Delusion,” Evgeny Morozov…challenges the conventional wisdom of what he calls “cyber-utopianism.” Among other mischievous facts, he reports that there were only 19,235 registered Twitter accounts in Iran (0.027 percent of the population) on the eve of what many American pundits rebranded its “Twitter Revolution.” More damning, Morozov also demonstrates how the digital tools so useful to citizens in a free society can be co-opted by tech-savvy dictators, police states and garden-variety autocrats to spread propaganda and to track (and arrest) conveniently networked dissidents….This provocative debate isn’t even being acknowledged in most American coverage of the Internet’s role in the current uprisings.”

 


Product Details

  • File Size: 792 KB
  • Print Length: 432 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1586488740
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; Reprint edition (February 28, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006VE7YS0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #287,310 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
(31)
3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
50 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent, Realistic Take on Internet Freedom January 6, 2011
By Kevin D
Format:Hardcover
The Net Delusion by Evgeny Morozov is an instant-classic in the field of technology studies that will be of interest to both serious scholars of the global Internet and those interested in making sense of the widespread excitement about using technology for advancing goals such as individual freedom.

Morozov's starting point is the belief, promoted by everyone from world leaders to prominent bloggers, that the Internet is an emancipatory agent. Millions of dollars have been spent guided by the belief that if unfettered Internet access is made available globally, especially in repressive countries, democracy will prevail because citizens will be empowered to speak freely, coordinate politically, etc. Morozov convincingly argues that the truth is far more nuanced and difficult. Although much of the rhetoric and policy in this area comes from the belief that technology has been an essential tool in promoting individual freedom throughout history, most notably being arguments about samizdat's role in ending the Cold War, Morozov provides a very readable explanation of how this metaphorical thinking is misguided.

Instead, he argues that the Internet is subject to the power of the state and therefore is largely impotent as a mechanism for promoting democracy. He shows that throughout the world, the Internet is a) more likely to be used for entertainment purposes, b) censored in ways that are not easily surmountable, c) used a tool for propaganda by both governments and individuals that are not pro-West, and d) used for spying on dissidents.

The Net Delusion is thoroughly entertaining throughout, but that doesn't stop it from digging into some very serious subjects.
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86 of 102 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
In The Net Delusion, Morozov positions himself the ultimate Net "realist," aiming to bring a dose of realpolitik to discussions about how much of a difference the Net and digital technologies make to advancing democracy and freedom. His depressing answer: Not much. Indeed, Morozov's book is one big wet blanket on the theory that "technologies of freedom" can help liberate humanity from the yoke of repressive government.

Morozov clearly relishes his skunk at the garden party role, missing few opportunities to belittle those who subscribe to such theories. If you're one of those who tinted your Twitter avatar green as an expression of solidarity with Iranian "Green Movement" dissidents, Morozov's view is that, at best, you're wasting your time and, at worst, you're aiding and abetting tyrants by engaging in a form of "slacktivism" that has little hope of advancing real regime change. The portrait he paints of technology and democracy is a dismal one in which cyber-utopian ideals of information as liberator are not just rejected but inverted. He regards such "cyber-utopian" dreams as counter-productive, even dangerous, to the advance of democracy and human freedom.

Much of the scorn he heaps on the cyber-utopians is well-deserved, although I think there are far fewer of them around than Morozov imagines. Nonetheless, there certainly is a bit too much Pollyanna-ish hyper-optimism at play in debates about the Net's role in advancing liberation of those peoples who are being subjected to tyrannical rule across the planet.

But Morozov simply doesn't know when to quit. His relentless and highly repetitive critique goes well overboard.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Net Delusion December 22, 2011
Format:Hardcover
Social studies scholar Evgeny Morozov may occasionally be cranky and stylistically conflicted, but his original arguments provide refreshing insights. He debunks nearly religious beliefs about the intrinsically positive power of the Internet and total information access. Morozov demonstrates how propagating this optimistic view of the web drowns out more subtle positions and keeps governmental and societal attention focused on less meaningful activities. getAbstract recommends this worthy polemic to those engaged in cyberculture, those trying to decipher cultural change, and those dedicated to understanding and promoting freer societies.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars best book about geopolitics and the Internet January 8, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The Net Delusion is the first non-academic book to place the Internet in the proper geopolitical and historical settings. It's written by someone who has deep familiarity with latest developments in both global affairs and technology - and the resulting book is an extremely well-informed text that provides a much-needed correction to some of the wild and irresponsible cyber-utopian claims of pundits like Tom Friedman or Clay Shirky.

The Net Delusion was a pleasure to read. Morosov is a skillful and funny narrator with a dark sense of humor (perhaps, the product of his Eastern European roots?) who is amazingly well-read; the book builds on fields as diverse as sociology, philosophy, anthropology, and history but is also rich in examples and anecdotes - it never gets boring. I found Morosov's insights into the Cold War roots of the current e-euphoria are particularly enlightening...

Morosov doesn't shy from controversy, providing one of the sharpest critiques of the US government's affair with "Internet freedom" to date (The Net Delusion makes a convincing case that in the long term it's likely to cause more harm than good to the broader democratic project). Silicon Valley gets plenty of bad rap too - for its complicity in enabling censorship in countries like China, in stealing user privacy, in facilitating surveillance by aurhotriaan governments...

The Net Delusion manages to pull off the impossible: to simultaneously appeal to geeks who read Wired and policy wonks who read Foreign Affairs - and to remain highly readable throughout. Solid five-stars.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Internet. Menschliches, allzumenschliches
This book will open your eyes to the fatuous marketing of Twitter_Facebook_Google and other internet tools as primary political drivers toward liberal democracy. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Reading
4.0 out of 5 stars Pointed Critisism of Techo-Optimism
Prone to pithy codas—"It's as if the Mad Men have set up an office in Beijing"—as well as name and theory dropping (presumably those who still have 24x7 Internet access... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Jeremy Mates
4.0 out of 5 stars I was disarmed
I was primed not to like this book, but Morozov disarmed me by writing an intelligent critique not of the Internet per so, although he has lots of negative things to say about it,... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Jeffrey Hart
5.0 out of 5 stars Very well thought out
I work at an IT helpdesk, so any bright ideas I had about tech utopia are long gone, but I still learned a few things and I'm only in the first 100 pages or so. Worth reading.
Published 6 months ago by Karl Vogel
4.0 out of 5 stars At last some common sense about the internet.
Debunks most of the usual shallow and trivial "analysis" of the internet and its supposed effects on society and culture. Puts the horse before the cart where it belongs. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars It takes a hard look at the net
Morozov explores the dark side of the net that the futurists gloss over. The picture of the net is not as rosy as some want us to believe. Read more
Published 11 months ago by James Sibley
3.0 out of 5 stars IMPORTANT INSIGHTS BUT PEDANTIC STYLE
This book is important. Morozov offers a sober caveat to those who would make an idol of the internet as a free ticket to democracy. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Deon Opperman
1.0 out of 5 stars Read this as entertainment; factually incorrect in many instances
If I had it to do over, I would not spent money on this book. Within the first chapter "The Google Doctrine," I found several pieces of information that I know to be "not true," at... Read more
Published 13 months ago by anonymous
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative
I don't agree with the author 100% but his points are well laid out and supported. Definitely worth the time if you are interested in the future of the internet and 'net freedom.
Published 16 months ago by Lynoth
3.0 out of 5 stars WAY too many words, but a thoughtful exposition of the subject
This book's title is obviously a play on words and echoes Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion." I don't exactly mind the fact that this author is so long-winded because his prose is... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Lemas Mitchell
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