What is Independent Media

Media, including radio, television, newspaper, magazine, internet media like website, message board, personal blog and social media, etc., is a kind of communicative instrument which helps deliver information to people and facilitate communication in society. Generally speaking, media refers to “mainstream media” or, as the critical theorists argued, “mass media” in the modernity. The main contents delivered by media can be advertisements, news reports, entertainment programmes and so on. In theory, people can have new knowledge and keep in touch with social reality. However, many commercial corporations and even governmental units have invested in global media market nowadays. Especially, some of them have specific political stance or have established an interest relation with parties or figures in the political realm, impacting the subsidiary media’s reporting orientation and programmes content negatively heavily. This is a serious problem of the development of media industry: media, in this context, becomes an instrumentalized means to direct the formation of a social consciousness or value of the mass conforming to the interest of the minority top, to control the concentration of the public and to silence people’s dissenting voice in society. For instance, please read the British Broadcasting Corporation’s report “Occupy protests disrupt ports across US West Coast”[1]. In this article, it can be discovered the national media has a “judgment” on the Occupy Wall Street Movement: first, the news content does not explain why the movement is organized, none of history or socio-political background of the movement introduced. Audiences are unable to structure a whole picture of the social activism because the report just concentrates on emphasizing the negative influence of the movement on society. On the contrary, in another news article “Deal in China rebel village Wukan welcomed”[2] the BBC does report the factors and other relative important developments of the Chinese subversive movement in detail. Different reporting orientations are shown in the above two instances, evidencing the social movements have been partly or distortedly reported by the media funded by the British government.

In view of this issue, some social activists start to operate their own media independent from any authority or business body, fighting for a public space against any form of media manipulation practice. The concept of “independent media”, or “alternative media”[3], is brought out based on people’s demand for the real and unbiased, opening up an alternative approach to social issues debating and political deliberation in the public. According to Ip Iam Chong (Ye Yincong葉蔭聰[4]), one of the founders of the Hong Kong independent media “Inmediahk.net (香港獨立媒體網)”[5]:

‘independent media’, in this discussing context, is a kind of media which is independent from the influence of governments, political parties and business corporations on financial and editorial matters of the operation with a non-profit perspective.[6]

In other words, this is a media which is run “by the people and for the people”, being free from being influenced or directed by the current development of media industry and mass consumerist culture. In addition, Ip emphasizes that the most important characteristic of the operation of independent media is a non-profit perspective: independent media should refuse to accept any financial aid from political and economic powers, escaping from the dominance of the capitalist economy apparatus.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

[1]Retrieved December 13, 2011, from the “BBC News” website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-16152553

[2]Retrieved December 22, 2011, from the “BBC News” website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-16297463

[3] “Chris Atton uses the term ‘alternative media’ to mean ‘a range of media projects, interventions and networks that work against, or seek to develop different forms of, the dominant, expected (and broadly accepted) ways of “doing” media’ (2004: ix). This is a useful definition as it includes projects outside a narrow definition of ‘media’, and allows space for consideration of, for instance, broader activities such as the open-source and anti-copyright movements that are aligned with many alternative media projects. Atton believes that alternative media must encompass all cultural forms of independent production and should display the following characteristics (Atton 2002b: 27): radical content, be it political or cultural; strong aesthetic form; employ ‘reproductive innovations/adaptations’ (ibid) taking full advantage of the available and cutting-edge technology; alternative means of distribution and anti-copyright ethos; transformation of social roles and relations into collective organizations and de-professionalization and; transformation of communications processes – ‘horizontal linkages’ (ibid).” See: Coyer, Kate, Dowmunt, Tony, Fountain, Alan (2007). The Alternative Media Handbook. Oxford: Roudledge. p. 3.

[4] Ip is Teaching Fellow of the Department of Cultural Studies at Lingnan University, Hong Kong.

[5] “Inmediahk.net” has been a representative independent media in Hong Kong since 2004: “The main purposes of the media are to support the development of Hong Kong democratic and social movements, to establish a ‘public space’ which is not controlled by governments, corporations and political parties, to organize citizens for social, political and cultural issues debating, to open up a grassroots perspective on humanistic knowledge, deep thinking and diversified information, to facilitate the dialogue between the Cross-Strait and international communities, to construct a radical approach to social progressive movement, etc. …Inmediahk.net does not accept any financial support from bussinesses or political parties. …Our resources are all from public donation and voluntary support as well as social groups offering.” Retrieved November 1, 2011, from the “Inmediahk.net” website: http://www.inmediahk.net/about

[6] See: Ip, Iam-Chong (2009). New Political Power: The Development of Hong Kong’s Independent Media (新政治力量:香港獨立媒體的發展). Mass Communication Research, 99, p. 223.


The Contemporary World and Anti-Globalization Movement

IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY, the contemporary world has been in a process of unprecedented change toward the “unknown”. It is said that there is now an “advanced” development of human society. However, socio-political conflicts and economic uncertainties are continuing because of the running of global powers’ politics which causes the disparity between the rich and the poor, the deterioration of people’s spiritual quality and the imbalanced distribution of material resources. Before the form of this complex climate, property, or called private ownership, which is an ideology used to justify the endless accumulation of wealth, has been enshrined in law. Owing to this, economy becomes more dominant and powerful in human civilization, nurturing the rise of capitalism around the world. Based on the logic of capitalism, globalization, known as a new phase of human economy expansion, has been further developed, directly causing the professionalization of politico-economic institutions, the development of digital technology and, on the contrary, the climb of consumerism as well as the ossification of human knowledge. The impact of globalization on the human realm is relatively huge – world population is increasing continuously; at the same time, socio-political antagonisms are not ended but are more intensified because of the complicated globalized tendency. This is the very big picture of the current development of human society as a whole.

Generally speaking, human civilization is of a process of improving people’s spiritual and intellectual quality and material life. It starts from refining the nature of custom and traditional culture. Then, some regulations or laws would be made and exercised for the purpose. However, it is anticipated that problems and challenges would be unavoidably emerged during the process. People may attempt to carry out adjustment or reform to tackle them, taking another try to enhance the “civilized” again and again. This kind of human development is ongoing, composing the content of history.

The contemporary world is changing. However, the quality of the changing does not correspond to the imagination of people for the well-being not only for the present but for the future.

Globalization is a social phenomenon that its effects are functioning in politics, economy, culture of the human realm with the characteristics of “unification as ‘one’” and “diversification of ‘choice’”. These characteristics of globalization are playing a crucial role in representing the power of globalization in the contemporary era. People’s way of life, as we can see, is being altered and remoulded every day, every minute and every second.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)


「為何在今時今日這個時空背景底下談『無政府』?」筆者必須先對於這個問題作出說明。如果考察人類社會的歷史發展,我們可以發現記載有關無政府的思想、主義及運動的史料似乎少之又少。若分開兩個層面無政府的歷史事件以及無政府主義者的著作來作理解的話,二十世紀三十年代初西班牙無政府運動的興衰係現代歐洲歷史發展當中本質鮮明、有關無政府主義政治運動的歷史個案1。而以無政府主義者(無論是「自稱」或「被認定為」)及其主張作為分析主軸的話,自十九世紀始則有蒲魯東(Pierre-Joseph Proudhon)對所有權(Property)的批判、巴枯寧(Michael Bakunin)及克魯泡特金(Peter Kropotkin)的無政府主義政治社會思想理論等。而當代無政府主義健將則有美國異議學者暨語言學家喬姆斯基(Noam Chomsky2












(摘自: 無政府與全球化. 台北: 國立政治大學. 2003)

1 Peter Marshall在其著作Demanding the Impossible—A History of Anarchism中對西班牙無政府運動的意涵作如此評價:TO DATE, SPAIN IS the only country in the modern era where anarchism can credibly be said to have developed into a major social movement and to have seriously threatened the State. There are some good local reasons why this should be the case. The anarchist principles of autonomy, association and federation are peculiarly suited to the independent cast of the Spanish social temperament. There was also a long tradition of independent communes which stretched back to the Middle Ages; these communes had had their own public charters and made their own fueros or local laws. The free commune was considered a self-governing organism capable of federating with others.” See Marshall, Peter (1992). Demanding the Impossible—A History of Anarchism. Great Britain: Fontana. p. 453.

2 Noam Chomsky並不直接稱自己是「無政府主義者」:Chomsky describes himself as a libertarian socialist …… For now, for the purposes of this discussion we can say that libertarian socialism for Chomsky means he believes that human beings can flourish best in, and should therefore have, conditions providing maximum freedom.” See Edgley, Alison (2000). The social and political thought of Noam Chomsky. New York: Routledge. p. 19. 他以「自由論的社會主義者」(libertarian socialist)來形容自己。所謂「自由論的社會主義者」,其主張和理念實與無政府主義互通:Libertarian socialism and anarchism are labels that are commonly used interchangeably. Anarchism argues for a society that can spontaneously organize itself without the coercive authority of the state. As libertarian socialists distinguish themselves from so-called authoritarian socialists by their attack on the maintenance of the state, it is possible to see why this interchangeability occurs.” Ibid., p. 47.

3 所謂俯視觀點,它的意涵在於強調一種「由上而下」的政治觀點陳述。過往,人類考察歷史行進的普遍方式,都是以俯視觀點(如朝代更替的脈絡、偉人英雄事跡等)作為理解人類整體歷史發展的主軸和重心。筆者認為此方式並非「錯誤」,但有必要被重新檢討和反省。

4 此處運用合法性一詞,旨在說明國家政府的組織構成必須合乎法律的明定和規範。

5 討論無政府必須假定一個前提:人自由的可能性。無政府主義肯定人擁有其自決能力。我們都是以自身的意志去決定屬於自己的生活型態和模式。筆者將在第三章對此論據作進一步討論。

6 William Godwin在其著作Enquiry Concerning Political Justice中對國家與人民的關係作下列說明:It is only in peculiar emergencies and matters that depart from the accustomed routine of affairs, that they conceive a private individual to have any occasion to remember, or to be in the least affected by the government of his country. If he commit or is supposed to commit any offence against the general welfare, if he find himself called upon to repress the offence of another, or if any danger from foreign hostility threaten the community in which he resides, in these cases and these only is he obliged to recollect that he has a country.” See: Godwin, William (1971). Enquiry Concerning Political Justice. Oxford: Clarendon. p. 18.

7 反對此一論點者可能認為,當一個政府訂立法律或推行涉及民生、經濟方面的政策時,政府對我們生活內涵的介入是何等真實和巨大。不過,反對論者忽略了:人民有其自身意志,外在環境、物質條件的改變固然對生活方式有所影響,不過,生活的「質」並未因內在條件的影響而有所改變。所謂「質」,就是存有的核心,使一個人成為人的充要條件、使其判斷成為意志體現的可能性要素。每一事體經由我們的同意或不同意,打造了其意志的輪廓。在生活世界裡,「政府」究竟佔去我們生命歷程中多少空間,是一個值得再三思考的問題。

8 每一個人的生活內涵都在與無政府產生關聯,(至少在上述意義來說)是可被接受的。必須強調,這是人類生活的個體層面的觀察。但是,「無政府」從未被每每被否定為不可能外化為群體範疇的層次當中實現。本文將對全球化資本社會發展至末端,無政府究竟有沒有存在可能性、無政府對於我們的生活又有什麼重要意義等問題作進一步探討。