Ansgar Heveling is a German politician (CDU) and an elected member of the German federal parliament (MP). He holds a seat at the parliament's Enquete Commission “Internet and Digital Society”.
He was born in 1972 so he is roughly my age and part of my generation.
This is my translation of Ansgar Heveling's guest post published by handelsblatt.com on Jan 30th, 2012 (see below).
His post sparked a controversy - not just across party lines but also within the Christian - Liberal coalition. Even many CDU/CSU party members fundamentally disagree.
And while many consider his post just plain "stupid" I actually think it is dangerous. This is why I decided to publish my translation to make it available to the international community.
In the aftermath Heveling has even defended his statements and said he would write the same text all over again. What is even more frightening than his original text is his defense:
"I think there will soon be a generation that will use the Internet in a different way. Then bloggers will not be relevant any longer." (source:
I am not sure what Heveling means when he claims the Internet will be "used in a different way". But I am very sure of what his fear is: free press and free speech. Why else could someone hope for "different" or "better" times without blogs (which are the symbol for free & unfiltered speech all across the world).
This battle has just begun.
Note: While translating I have tried to maintain the original text structure as much as possible. While some of the English translation might seem to be confusing, so is the German version.
Net community, you will lose the battle!
by Ansgar Heveling
Dear "net community", Web 2.0 will soon be history. The revolution of the "digital Maoists" will pass - the only question is how big the damage will be.
The current discussions around the U.S. legislative plans "SOPA" and "PIPA" to regulate the Internet contain all elements to provoke - finally? - the “Clash of Civilizations” that has been long-awaited and that some people have maybe even longed-for. It is the battle between the brave new digital world and real life. While the "digital natives" declare that real people are dinosaurs they forget that this way of life is common for the vast majority of people. Revolutions have rarely taken into account majority stakes.
In the last couple of days the order of battle fought in the media has suggested that we have arrived in part three of "The Lord of the Digital Rings", and the final battle for Middle-earth was imminent. So this is an opportunity to publish an early obituary for the heroes of bits and bytes, the fighters for 0 and 1. Dear "net community": You will lose this battle. And that's not the revelation of a lonely seer, it is the perspective of a politician who is conscious of history. Even the digital revolution will eat its children. And Web 2.0 will soon be history. And this just raises the question of just how much digital blood is shed by then.
We have to be on alert. Even if the Web 2.0 concept as an imaginary life of a lost generation may soon be history, it definitely has plenty of power to be destructive. After the withdrawal of the digital hordes and the battle fog we should not want to stretch the ruin-like stumps of our society into the sun. If we don’t want to look at the scorched earth of our culture then we have to be vigilant now. So, citizens, watch out! It is worthwhile to defend our civil society online!
This bourgeois society which values freedom, democracy and property has been formed through hard work from the barricades of the French Revolution - this is how the Citoyen was created. And the concept of intellectual property was born right there in the streets of Paris in 1789. A great achievement opposing the spiritual bondage of the Ancien Régime! Finally you were able to start something economically with just an idea - regardless of origin and status. This idea of intellectual property should prove to be an engine for innovation and development on the European continent. This concept should be preserved in the digital age.
On the Internet this concept is at risk. Not because bits and bytes are nibbling from within on the ideas and ideals of our civil society like little Pacmans. No, it's people sitting behind machines who want a different society. They apostrophise total freedom and what they ultimately mean is "digital totalitarianism” as proclaimed by Jaron Lavier. At work is an unholy alliance of these "digital Maoists” and financially sound monopolies. Even if they say they are the good guys - just claiming to be a good guy doesn’t actually turn you into one.
In the recent days Wikipedia and Google have shown their strong arm. But Googles and Wikimedias of this world, let me tell you: Even if Wikipedia is offline for a day and Google shows a censorship bar, that's not the end of human knowledge. Such a hubris! Let’s be clear: The knowledge and above all the wisdom of the world are still in the minds of mankind. So, people, climb the barricades and let’s quote Goethe, the Bible or Marx. And let’s do this reading out from a bound book!
Of course, the ongoing digitalization changes our society. Many tasks become easier. Even this text was created with the help of the achievements of digitalization. But we should begin to fight back if individual people behind the many machines start to dictate our way of life. It is still not too late.
We must not leave the shaping of the future to those who see themselves as a digital avant-garde and think they knew what was best for all those people in front of the machines. In any case, pirates are the worst counselor. They do not respect the property of others, only use their knowledge for their own benefit, are keen to pile up what they can get from others. And obviously, narcissism and “nerdzism” are twins. Of course nobody should be banned from living through his second puberty via Twitter. But you should not call this a political agenda. We still have time to stop this movement. We need the Citoyen who deeply cares about values such as freedom, democracy and ownership - even on the net.
- Technische Universität Darmstadt
- University of Trier
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