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Towards a New Conservatism

Note:  A special thanks to Newt Gingrich and 
his staff, for expediting the transcription of 
his recent speech, originally aired on CSPAN on 
September 3rd.  Edited excerpts below:  

Towards a New Conservatism
Copyright (c) 1999 Jay Fenello -- All Rights Reserved

Over the last several years, a fight has been
raging over the very future of Internet.  Those
who have been following it closely, know that 
this fight is really about the establishment of 
Global Internet Governance.

The story begins with the phenomenal success of 
the Internet.  What was once a sleepy, little research 
experiment funded by the U.S. Government, the Internet 
has grown to become a world-wide frontier of freedom, 
ideas, education, entertainment and commerce.

Along the way, the informal processes used to govern 
the Internet became obsolete.  And when governments 
and organizations tried to address the issues that 
required world-wide decisions, they realized that 
no-one was in charge!

To address this situation, a couple of alternatives
were possible.  One involved getting legislation passed 
in over 200 countries throughout the world!  Not very 
likely, and certainly not very efficient.

Instead, the Clinton administration proposed a U.S.
based, non-profit corporation to assume the management
of the coordinated technical functions of the Internet.
This new organization would use "flow down" contracts
that would specify every right, as well as every 
obligation, for anyone wishing to use the Internet. 

Last year, the Commerce Department decided that ICANN 
was to be this organization.  It has been embroiled in 
controversy ever since.  

According to Commerce, ICANN was to be "a globally 
and functionally representative organization, operated 
on the basis of sound and transparent processes that 
protect against capture by self-interested factions, 
and that provides robust, professional management.  
ICANN's processes need to be fair, open, and pro-
competitive.  And ICANN needs to have a mechanism 
for evolving to reflect changes in the constituency 
of Internet stakeholders."

Instead of these lofty ideals, ICANN has devolved
into the worst kind of power grab.  Here is a 
description of recent ICANN Board activities, as 
reported by Ken Freed, a technology writer who 
has been closely following this debate:

"Tally the Board's closed-door meetings, the Board's 
stealth appointments of questionable players to key 
postings, the Board gerrymandering membership in advisory 
committees and supporting organizations and its at-large 
council to favor "gTLD" players, the Board rewriting its 
ICANN Bylaws as suits its needs, the Board funding itself 
through taxation without representation by declaring a 
fee (tax) on every domain name registration, the Board's 
self-destructive streak, shown by alienating Network 
Solutions, the Board backing reactionary censorship plans, 
the Board stonewalling all attempts to organize true 
independent review, and this just a sampling. Each new 
week seems to bring some fresh cause for complaint."

So what is actually at stake?  Here's a summary as 
reported in Business Week:

"After all the talk over the past few years about how 
difficult it will be to regulate conduct on the Internet," 
says David Post, a cyberlaw specialist at Temple University 
School of Law, "the domain name system looks like the Holy 
Grail, the one place where enforceable Internet policy can 
be promulgated without any of the messy enforcement" problems.

Thankfully, ICANN has yet to complete its power grab.  
Not only have diverse organizations like Ralph Nader's 
CPT and Americans for Tax Reform gotten involved, but 
Congress has held two hearings, and launched an 
investigation into possible collusion at the Justice 
Department, and illegal fundraising by the Clinton 

Unfortunately, though, ICANN is *very* close to 
fulfilling its mission.  

One of the reasons for its impending success is the 
lack of an organized opposition.  Not to say that an 
opposition does not exist.  Some say that there is no 
need for ICANN, nor anything like it.  Anarchy, they 
argue, has worked well for the Internet, why must we 
change it.

Others say that ICANN needs to have unlimited power,
for its mission is too complicated to be bothered 
with rules and procedures, especially when its role 
is nothing less than providing "adult supervision" 
for the unwashed masses.  

But perhaps the most damaging of the ICANN critics,
are those who complain about the blatant abuses of
ICANN, while they continue to support it because 
"ICANN is the best of the alternatives available."

So what does all this have to do with Newt Gingrich?

Everything . . . for the fight over Internet Governance 
is the same as the fight for conservative values that 
has been raging in the United States ever since the 
Reagan Revolution, and even before.  

For the benefit of our oversea's friends, Newt is one 
of the visionary leaders of the American conservative 
movement.  This movement was responsible for the Reagan 
Revolution, as well as the Republican "Contract with 

To get an idea of just how powerfully and profoundly
these efforts have affected our present reality, it is 
necessary to revisit the state of the union that existed 
before the Reagan Revolution changed everything:

Newt on Liberalism:
>Ronald Reagan took a country in malaise, whose elites were shattered, at 
>a time when democracy was demoralized, when the Soviet Union had invaded
>Afghanistan, the Iranians had seized American hostages, we were a weak,
>pathetic country.  Our economy was falling apart, inflation was running
>amuck, we were entering the worst recession since the Great Depression.  
>We had a government out of control.  
>And in three short years, Reagan led the American people to reestablish
>their sense of being American, to revalue the principles that made this
>country great, to cut taxes and de-bureaucratize, to launch the
>entrepreneurial economy we now live in, to reestablish the faith in
>technology and science which he had personally lived through in his
>lifetime, to create the military which contained the Soviet empire, and 
>to design the strategy which defeated the Soviet Union without a war.

After hearing these words, I realized how profoundly
different the world is today because of a man named
Ronald Reagan, because of visionaries like Newt Gingrich,
and because of a set of principles known as conservatism.

In some ways, the Internet is a direct result of 
Reagan policies.  And in many ways, the Internet is
the embodiment of Reagan ideology.  To adopt an
authoritarian despotic council to rule the Internet
today will have just as profound an effect on our
future world as Reagan had on ours.

And just like conservatism vastly changed our current
reality, the decisions we are about to make about ICANN
will vastly change our future reality.  It is for these
reasons that conservatives *must* get involved in the
Internet Governance debate.

Newt on the Conservative Agenda:
>What I'm suggesting to you is, in the tradition of Reagan in 1970, that
>what we really need is to focus on vision and values and principles,
>because that's where we win.  We lose tactical fights over details, because
>we don't control the news media, the left does.  And because we represent
>an alternative to the way people are taught in public schools.  I mean,
>we're talking about a much freer society, with much greater
>entrepreneurship, with much more volunteerism, with a much leaner

And one thing is abundantly clear -- the Internet
is a friend to vision and values and principles.

Over the last several weeks, I have made extensive
use of the Internet to expose the extreme bias the 
press has exhibited in their coverage of the ICANN 
fracas.  Due to the power of the Internet, these 
efforts have apparently worked.  Here are some 
recent articles exposing the ICANN power grab:

The Conservative movement faces these same media
biases.  Instead of talking about principles and
values, the press prefers to cover the sleaziest
and least important issues in Washington.  These
biases will only get worse, given the current 
trend at media consolidation as represented 
by the Viacom/CBS merger.

Today, the Internet is a powerful weapon against
these forces.  Tomorrow, given the current direction 
of ICANN, it may not be.

This is yet another reason why conservatives *must*
get involved in the Internet Governance debate, and
use the Internet in their traditional efforts as well.

Newt on U.S. Leadership:
>Lastly, I believe deeply, with all of my heart, that the United States has
>to lead in the world.  I believe we have no choice.  I think as a country 
>and as a movement, we have to take seriously the principle, not just that 
>we were once anti-communist, not just that before that we were anti-Nazi 
>and anti-fascists, but that we are pro-freedom, that we believe that every
>person on the planet has been endowed by God with the right to be free.

>They've been endowed by God with the right to be safe.  And they've been 
>endowed by God with the right to pursue prosperity and pursue happiness. 
>This has been a remarkable country -- people who came here for freedom,
>people who came here for religious liberty, people who came here for the
>right to pursue a better life.  This is a country which has said to the
>entire planet, "You have a chance.  You matter.  You are a real human
>being."  From the founding fathers, to the American Civil War, to the
>oration of Lincoln, to the willingness in the First and Second World Wars,
>to 50 years of sustaining the Cold War to defeat the Soviet empire, to the
>civil rights movement that insisted that all Americans had the right to
>vote, the right to work, the right to buy a house.  Over and over, for 220
>years, and if you go back to the Colonial Period for another 150 years
>before that, there has been a constant, daily effort to create greater
>freedom, greater safety, and greater prosperity.  It is a struggle which
>will never end. 

I have often wondered when this fight over Internet
Governance would end.  Thanks to Newt, I now realize
that it never will.  

>I recently visited Yad Vashem (sp), the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, and
>was grimly reminded of how Wilhemian Germany could decay in one generation
>to Nazi Germany, how Jews who fought in the First World War and were full
>professors at the university could end up in a concentration camp with
>their entire family exterminated.  Evil is always possible.  People always
>are willing to seize power to control and exploit others.  The struggle for
>freedom is eternal, and you retain only by being willing in each generation
>to do your best.

I can think of no stronger message to send to the hoards
of academics, lobbyists, business leaders, and government
bureaucrats who support ICANN and this illegal and immoral 
takeover of the Internet.  

When you support an organization that ignores its own
rules to pursue an agenda, an organization that approves
rule changes *after* the fact to justify its actions, it 
is only a matter of time before these same "procedures"
are used against you!

And when you consider that ICANN is still in its courtship
period pending the full transfer of authority from the U.S.
Government, just wait until after the honeymoon!  Anyone
who thinks that ICANN will become more reasonable *after*
it has consolidated power had better study history.

>We are very lucky.  We stand on the shoulders of generations who have
>bled, worked, thought, argued, fought passionately in politics as well as
>war.  I think the challenge to us is to lift our eyes from the bickering of
>Washington, the negativism of the elite media, all the temptations of
>political schism, to recreate for the American people the dream that all of
>us can be free and safe and prosperous, and to offer policies that work,
>based on principles that are sound, based on values that are universal.
>And I think that if we will do that, then just as Ronald Reagan over a
>20-year period moved this nation, I believe we will, in fact, give this
>country a fabulously better future, and through our example, give the

>entire human race the opportunity by the middle of the century to be free,
>safe and prosperous.  
>I believe that is our moral calling.

Newt's speech was one of the best I've heard in
a very long time.  It's great to have Newt back :-)

And just as Newt has argued for a return to 
conservative values and principles, so too must
we fight to embrace conservative values in our
newest frontier -- the Internet.  

In closing, I suggest that the Internet Governance 
debate should become the cornerstone of the "New 
Conservative Movement" -- and the Internet should 
become the venue.

Not only is this a way to combat any further erosion 
in the hard fought battle against liberalism, but it 
will help to export the best that America currently 
has to offer.


Jay Fenello
President, Iperdome, Inc.    770-392-9480
What's your .per(sm)?   http://www.iperdome.com 

"All truth passes through three stages.  First, it is 
ridiculed, second it is violently opposed, and third, 
it is accepted as self-evident." (Arthur Schopenhauer)