Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pacification Thy Name is Internet.

The following is part of a (slightly edited) correspondence I had with a friend on-line. I should add that, apropos of the thrust of this post, my friend is someone I've never actually met with face to face. This is not entirely down to the limits of the
internet-where virtual is the name of the game- as my friend lives in a part of the country that is quite distant and is not an area that I have reason to visit, well, aside from our seemingly (internet bound) friendship.

"No doubt – I do not know when as I am beginning to lose hope in that most people seem too stupid to know what is happening to them – that and the fact that fully half are now takers rather than makers. So it may be that in the end – the takers win out – who knows.

I've long pondered the whys and wherefores of contemporary citizen inaction, and, while I'm sure entire books could be (and have been) written on such things, I have a few pet ideas. One of them squares on the role of the internet, namely it's incredibly capacity to dissipate all kinds of emotions and energy. Consider the following:

In days of yore, if people wanted to be heard by their fellow man, and I mean heard in numbers, what options did they have? They had few options except to take out ads in the local gazette, manage to get themselves heard on radio or T.V., or, perhaps, rent out a hall-a favorite of political activists going back many generations-and say whatever it was they felt they had to say.

Now they boy do they ever blog by the boatload. Quite a few blogs are downright vitriolic, even incendiary in their style and content, and some, not too many, but some, are compelling. And yet, at least in the U.S., it seems, what transpires from all the chatter? Very little. I am not by any means suggesting that the blogosphere has, all by itself, sucked the life out of any potential political activism, let alone revolutionary spirit, but, still, I fear that the presence of the internet, along with myriad other kinds of (peculiar to our age) diverting fare, and some other, not to be named in this missive, crucial factors, have reduced us collectively to not much more than inveterate talking typists-and here I raise my hand up as a member of this guilty cohort- at the expense of aligning ourselves with one another for the purpose of taking genuine action, not in cyberspace, but in the real world


Debra said...

Hey, I feel for you.
I have moved out of blogosphere.
I noticed that there was not really DISCUSSION going on on the blogs.
It was mostly ISOLATED INDIVIDUALS spouting off over an article whose writer rarely bothered to DISCUSS comments either.
And I didn't want to send my little message in a bottle out over blogoland.
Free speech, huh ??
Just how much is "free" speech worth when we can say anything, at any time, anywhere, with no LIMITS ?
Nothing like A FEW LIMITS to make you value what you ONCE HAD BUT DON'T ANY MORE.
The human species works that way.
I have given up on activism too.
For complicated reasons.
Basically... I don't believe in democracy right now.
I am taking Tocqueville's "Democracy in America" on vacation this summer. Have already read the introduction, and am salivating over the idea of settling into it.
I am not the only one not to believe in democracy right now, either, by the way.
Because most of "the people" are behaving as though they are ripe and ready for a King.
We already had this discussion a while ago. On the disadvantages of ideology and disincarnation.
The bureaucracy has discouraged me beyond wanting to be an activist. AND the realization that the Enlightenment blueprint which INCLUDES CAPITALISM AND DEMOCRACY which are indissociable, is taking the planet down.

Edwardo said...

Hi Deb,

You've moved out of blogosphere, and yet, here you are.

How much is free speech worth? I think it's worth a great deal, but your point is well taken. You see, "they" have set up "free speech zones" where just about anything said within them-no one seems to have informed inhabitants of the blogosphere that we too exist within a cordoned off free speech zone- is allowed.

So, yes, the trade off is that this buffet area for free speech is, in effect, a ghetto, equivalent to the proverbial empty forest where the tree falls.

The blogosphere, whether by design or by accident, has become a marvelous release valve that siphons off any threat to the conduct of business as usual, redirecting any and all dangerous energies to a safe place where they can do no harm.

Objectively, Capitalism and Democracy aren't indisssociable. See Singapore, for example. Of course, I'm not sure that Democracy, depending on one's definition of it, is really practiced anywhere these days. Capitalism- which, properly conducted, at least the last time I checked, does not permit the use of state power to acquire a monopoly and then use that same state power to preserve said monopoly- is another phantom. In short, I think perhaps the strongest case to make is the one that asserts that we have neither Democracy nor Capitalism.

Fascism, a kinder, gentler one, devoid of the lunatic racial component sounds about right. Oh, wait, not so fast, there's the WOT.

Debra said...

Wot's the WOT ? Those acronyms...
We MIGHT be having a discussion here...
Really, I would rather discuss this with you over a provincial French cuisine dinner (maybe cassoulet, but since my spread is ballooning, we might have to sacrifice those calories...), with fantastic wine, maybe, under the stars, with a beautiful moon, nice breeze, the rustle of the trees in the background...
See what I mean ?
Why settle for gentle fascism when you can have BEAUTIFUL MONARCHY ?? (if we dusted it off a little bit, it might look more palatable to us. At least we wouldn't have to be hypocritical about it any more, and pledge allegiance to that president who we worship as a king...)
Publicity in our Western world has seriously contributed to making free speech look like an ad, in whatever context it may appear. Whoring.
I came across this beautiful sentence in Descartes' "Discours de la M├ęthode" which blew my mind. Here it is, courtesy of me. Part 6, at the beginning, 2nd paragraph.
"But as soon as I had acquired a few general notions about physics, and, after beginning to test them in different contextes, I noticed how far they can be taken, and how much they differ from the principles we have used up until now, I believed that I could not maintain them hidden without greatly sinning against the law which obliges us to obtain, insofar as we are able, the general good of all men : for they made me see that it is possible to acquire knowledge which is very useful to life, and that instead of the speculative philosophy that is taught in schools, we can find a practical knowledge by which, knowing the force and the action of fire, water, air, the stars, the skies, and all the other bodies around us as distinctly as we now know the different crafts of our tradesmen, we could employ them towards all the uses proper to them, and thus RENDER OURSELVES AS MASTERS AND POSSESSORS OF NATURE. Which is not only desirable for the invention of a myriad of artifices which would ensure that we could ENJOY WITH NO PAIN OR TOIL ALL THE FRUITS OF THE EARTH AND ALL THE COMMODITIES THEREIN, but principally also for the preservation of health, which is doubtless the first good, and the foundation of all the other goods of this life..."
Pretty cool, huh ?
I call that the Enlightenment blueprint.
If you look at it the way I know that YOU can look at it, you will notice how it is propped up on the Genesis creation myth, while in tension/opposition to it. The idea is.. TO GET BACK TO THE GARDEN... The idea is for MAN to get HIMSELF BACK TO THE GARDEN BY HIS OWN DEVICES. Anthropocentrism in a big way. After MAN gets back to the garden, he proceeds to EVINCE GOD as the master.
Look at : "become AS masters and possessors".
That little word "as" is doing A LOT OF WORK...
So much work that it will be easy afterwards to ax it, huh ? But when you ax it, the sentence DOES NOT MEAN THE SAME THING AT ALL ANY MORE...
That is why I say that capitalism and democracy go hand in hand. Look at.. FREE ENTERPRISE, for example.
Chalk up every use of the word "free" in our world.
And look how capitalism and democracy GO TOGETHER IN OUR MINDS...
Personally, I detest Descartes' paradigm. I just spent two hours weeding in my garden. I love weeding. That REPETITIVE activity that I can do in a rather mindless way IF I WANT..
Why not ?
It's very soothing. WHO WANTS ALL OUR PROGRESS ?? Who wants to be CONSTANTLY ITCHING TO TRANSFORM OUR WORLD, TO "IMPROVE" IT, to make it bigger, better, faster, etc etc ?
Not me.
At a certain point in the playing out of an ideology ITS DISADVANTAGES START PLAYING OUT WITH A VENGEANCE.
That is usually right about the time we start getting disenchanted with it...
What a coincidence... I wonder why...

Edwardo said...

Speaking of digging in the dirt and such.

I came upon a child of God
He was walking along the road
And I asked him, where are you going
And this he told me...
I'm going on down to Yasgur's farm
I'm going to join in a rock 'n' roll band
I'm going to camp out on the land
And then try and get my soul free

We are stardust
We are golden
And we've got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

Then can I walk beside you
I have come here to lose the smog
And I feel to be a cog in something turning Well maybe it is just the time of year Or maybe it's the time of man I don't know who l am
But you know life is for learning

We are stardust
We are golden
And we've got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

By the time we got to Woodstock
We were half a million strong
And everywhere there was song and celebration
And I dreamed I saw the bombers
Riding shotgun in the sky
And they were turning into butterflies
Above our nation

We are stardust -
Billion-year-old carbon -
We are golden
Caught up in the devil's bargain
And we've got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

Debra said...

My current antidote ?
My motto ?
If you HATE DOING IT, it is surely good for you...