2010.02.26 Online Sex and Other Dreams
This is for all you techies and hackers out there. As I said last time, the fate of the world may be in your hands, and I'm not joking. The fact that you are reading this, perhaps passed on from a progressive friend even though your politics may be quite different from his or hers or mine, or even non-existent, makes my first point. I don't have to tell you, of all people, what an enormously powerful tool the internet is, or that (my second point) there are powerful forces gathering to bring it under the control of Big Brother, in the name of "security" and profitability. I'm not going to link to a bunch of articles to make this clear because I think you know what I mean, but I will add that even "progressive" commentators like Chris Hedges cannot be trusted in this respect. Let's put it this way: the internet is fine and dandy just the way it is. It is developing apace, becoming more and more accessible and attractive to more and more people, and all attempts to control and "monetize" it will stymie that growth and serve the interests of the corporations and the government, not the people. This is an open and shut case of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." If you don't believe that, just ask yourself if you would be more or less likely to be reading this if the corps and the government had their way. You have to stay ahead of them, and I think you can, which is why I said the fate of the world is in your hands.
I want to make a couple of other points, one about money and one about sex. Re money, it is highly overrated. Big Bro (the corporations and the government) want it all, of course, and that is a large part of what this is all about. Staying free means keeping their hands out of our pockets. Whenever anybody comes along with big ideas about how to change the internet, just follow the money; it will be going from you to them, and that tells you whose interests are being served. Take the Obama campaign. We have all heard the hype about how that was the first "internet" campaign, and how it was therefore a "democratic" one in which lots of little people gave little bits of money that managed to get the people's hero elected over the corporate stooge. By now we know, however, or should, that this is either a bald-faced lie or a trick, or both, because the people's hero is proving to be just as much a corporate stooge as the other guy. Do you really think Obama would have won just because a lot of little people threw pennies at him? No, he won because the big bucks behind the scenes wanted him to win. Don't ask me to explain it because it's not necessary. We all know it. The world is corrupt, and Mammon rules. That's why we want to change it. (I hope you're with me on that.)
No, Obama was not a democratic revolution. The internet did not elect him. That doesn't mean it can't happen, though. We would be very foolish to take that dog-and-pony show as evidence of the power of the people and the internet. It may be evidence of how Big Bro can use the internet against us, but it has nothing to do with the real power of the internet, which remains untapped. Hence my third point: Money doesn't matter. Never before in history have so many people been empowered with so much ability to communicate with each other as now, and this is not because so many people have become richer. The opposite is the case. On the whole, people have become much poorer, as our pockets are emptied by the plutocrats in Washington and on Wall Street, but we are much richer in our power to communicate with each other. This should be taken as a fundamental lesson in the relationship between wealth and democracy: they are not the same thing, and generally opposites because wealth defined as money is always determined by how much more of it one person has than another, which has nothing to do with democracy.
What we want is democracy, and this cannot be achieved, as I also said last time, by fighting propaganda with propaganda, because that is fighting wealth with wealth, or in our (the people's) case, with poverty. The big bucks will win every time, Obama being no exception. Get that out of your head, and get your mind on how we can actually do what they falsely tell us Obama did, which is use the internet to change the world, starting with winning elections.
Internet voting, for example. The other day a Facebook friend wrote that internet voting would be a bad thing because then there will be no way to recount or audit the vote counts. I don't know if that's true or not. She forgot, however, that provided the internet is kept free (i.e., the way it is now), internet vote fraud could be easily exposed by comparing the results of elections with the results of independent polls, much in the way that exit polls can be used to expose electoral fraud now, except that through the internet the polls could be organized and carried out in exactly the same way as the elections themselves, and thus would be equally valid. These "polls" would become referenda, and competing referenda, so that the government-sponsored referenda, which we now call "elections," would become just one of many. The winner or winners of this competition would be the ones who do the best job, namely the job of collecting and counting the opinions of the largest number of people in the fairest and most accurate way. That would be democracy in action. It would be up to the competitors to demonstrate convincingly that their methods and apparatus are better than others, and all of them would most likely be much better than our current electoral system, which is rotten to the core and totally worthless, as our government has very convincingly managed to demonstrate to us (even by Supreme Court edict) in the last few years.
The point I want to make about sex is that it, too, is a hoax, in relation to the internet. It is not possible to have sex online, and it never will be. Nor is it possible to have sex by watching a movie or reading a book, but most of us learn this through experience anyway. More important is the fact that Big Brother will use the basest excuse to undermine our new-found power of the internet, and in addition to "terror," sex is probably the biggest one. No one, or no one who is not criminally insane, would like to see child pornography or snuff films, for example, on the internet. There are plenty of people, though, who may also be criminally insane, who would like to use this as a reason to impose censorship and controls that would go far beyond what is necessary to police criminal activity. This is where you come in. The laws are there. All you have to do is show the cops how to enforce them in cyberspace. It can't be that hard. I just don't believe that it is technically impossible to track down the child pornographers just because they use a complicated server network or originate in foreign countries. The police in fact do a pretty good job of this already. Still, this is what we hear: We must clamp down on the internet to stop the child pornographers and the terrorists! BS. What they really want to do is clamp down on free expression. There is already a huge body of law and precedent to determine the limits of free expression, and they apply to the internet as much as to any other form of publication. This is a law enforcement problem, nothing more. I'm sure the kings and princes would have liked to outlaw the printing press, too, after it was invented, or at least be in control of who had access to one, but they couldn't. They failed. We have to make sure they fail to control the internet, too.
If you have read this far, maybe I can get you to help promote the demonstration in Washington on March 20. The IndictBushNow people are asking for money, too, but that's not necessary. Just get your bod to Washington. I can't go because I live in Germany, but I support it because it is a way to show what the internet can do. Could do. Can the internet get a million bodies to Washington, to send not only Bush and Co. but also Obama and the congresswimps a message? Can Big Bro prevent it? Can corporate big bucks prevent it? They would if they could (in this case at least), you can be sure of that. Furthermore, you might meet somebody nice.