A Little Light

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Digital rights activist John Perry Barlow on Total Information Awareness, the downside of anti-warblogging, Aldous Huxley, and more…

Here's a portion of his take on anti-war blogging (and actually, on rallies and marches): "Actually I'm discouraged with the role of the Internet in the antiwar movement. Because so far what I see happening is that cyberspace is a great place for everybody to declaim. There are a million virtual streetcorners with a million lonely pamphleteers on them, all of them decrying the war and not actually coming together in any organized fashion to oppose it. It strikes me that existing political institutions—whether it's the administration or Congress or large corporations—only respond to other institutions. I don't care how many individuals you have marching in the streets, they're not going to pay attention until there's a leader for those individuals who can come forward and say I represent the organization of those individuals and we're going to amass the necessary money and votes to kick you the hell out of office. Then they pay attention. But not until. And so right at the moment it would strike me that the Internet is counterproductive to peace."

I think there's some merit to this. But I can think of a lot of counterarguments. For one, it seems to overlook the proven potential for bloggers to influence at least one institution–Big Media. And I'd also think that the power of the Internet to organize and energize would offset whatever flatfootedness comes from venting opposition within blogdom. Hmmm…

NEXT: Color Me Orange

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  1. It also overlooks the fact that the blogs are read to some extent and can have an effect on the electorate, which can effect who is in office.

  2. Is Trent Lott’s resignation already ancient history?

  3. I prefer to sit here and bitch without getting that damn pepper spray all over me.

  4. We need some evolution to get out of this way of warlike thinking. We are not animals.

  5. In some respects, I’d have to agree, altho to say that 9-11 would not have happened is, I think naieve. There are some things we can’t know. And we can’t even know what those things are. Trade is one of the things that makes the economy grow. To do that, we have to be engaged overseas. I also think you GREATLY overstate what the US has been able to do in the realm of overthrowing nations and maintaining “imperial gaarrisons”.

    In fact, we are, at it’s root, living the consequences of involvement in WWI. Without I, there probably would not have been II. II was, at least in part the root of the cold war. The cold war was our reason for intervention in damn near everywhere. And here we are.

  6. If that dog hadn’t stopped to shit he’d a’ caught that rabbit.

    Here we are.

  7. I’m thinkin’ when we don’t have to worry about someone killing our citizens, either by assassination, human guided airline-missiles, ICBMs or whatever else, this country can get out of this “warlike thinking”. Until then, I’m not terribly unhappy about the whole deal.

  8. Steve:

    Of course, if we didn’t have imperial garrisons in several dozen countries, and hadn’t overthrown more governments (I’m guessing) than any other empire in history, there would probably be a lot fewer people overseas interested in killing Americans. If the U.S. armed forces had limited themselves to defending the actual territory of the U.S. for the last fifty years, I don’t think America would even be on the radar for most people in the Middle East.

    Specifically, if a U.S. President hadn’t decided that one shitpot country invading another in 1990 was America’s business (after surreptitiously ENCOURAGING said shitpot country to invade), or armed 100,000 Islamic mainiacs in Afghanistan in the 80s, I can’t imagine 9-11 would ever have happened.

    As Pat Buchanan said, terrorist attacks are a necessary consequence of Empire. They will only get worse until we get back home and mind our own damned business.

    That being said, all this touchy-feely, New Age “getting out of our warlike thinking” stuff nauseates me. Sometimes, a loaded gun is worth a thousand candle-light vigils–I just think our real enemies are a lot closer to home.

  9. The people with no voice should get out and vote.

    The Nov elections put a pro-war majority into congress.

    I’m not too dis-satisfied with the result. In less than 2 years I will have a chance to course correct.

  10. Without the internet we’d never have the Onion.

  11. Steve:

    You’re right, any counterfactual speculation on what “would have happened” tends to reflect one’s starting assumptions. It’s just my gut feeling.

    As for free trade, I disagree that it requires being “engaged” in the sense of state policy. Free trade is just allowing the business firms within your territory to trade with anybody that’s willing to trade with them–NOT guaranteeing their investments overseas, creating a framework of IP rights, subsidizing the shipping costs, maintaining friendly governments, and the rest of the mercantilist project that passes for “free trade” among neoliberals. The latter–state guaranteed loans, gunboat diplomacy to protect investments, etc.–was the program of Palmerston, and was vehemently opposed by Cobden.

  12. Um…Lefty? The Onion is free in print edition all over Milwaukee.

    You should get out more.

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