September 06, 2011

Forgot to Go Fishing

Time for the annual summer break, now that summer is almost over. Since I've never been entirely clear on why I do this, it's doubly nuts to write the blog when I can't think of anything I want to say. There isn't really much "news" these days anyway; all industrialized nations are financially strapped and drowning in unpayble debt; we're not doing much about climate change; we're still operating at the 1.5 Earths rate in terms of resource depletion; the United States is still fighting about six (6) wars, give or take an unmanned drone or two. Big Business still owns the federal government.

One thought that does occur to me: I read something about Noam Chomsky's idea of "spectator democracy," which he says has become the reality in modern America. The voters are moved around by the advertising business, which in turn is paid for by Big Business, and these ad campaigns determine who will serve in federal government and execute the business plan of the powerfully wealthy. Hard to argue with that. It helps explain Barack Obama's extreme passivity and seeming acquiescence in the status quo. He's just the front desk man -- it appears that his Wall Street bankrollers knew what they were getting, even if the rest of us, unfortunately, allowed ourselves one last illusion about "Light Workers" and conquering heroes.

I would add to this Chomsky concept the idea of "mediated reality," a term which first came to my attention thanks to the great Jerry Mander (and h/t here to the research scientist at the Great Southwestern University) in his visionary book Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television. It does seem that at the outset of every cultural watershed, there are those who see clearly, and first, what the real implications of a pervasive technology will be. Mander could see it where television was concerned. His point about the substitution of electronic images for the real world, and the consequent tendency of those living in industrial countries to become indifferent to the actual state of the natural world, has only gotten worse with the Internet and social media. Dmitry Orlov, I note, has taken up this theme - the younger generations growing up with Facebook and Twitter have happy glowing images and avatars to look at, to become absorbed in, so no need to notice the incredible ugliness of the artificial environment we have constructed around them.

Yet "mediated realities" have other effects. I think "spectator democracy" is one of them. We're so immersed in reading about the political scene, and "forwarding emails," and the rest of it (even blogging about it all), that we forget all of this solipsistic activity is largely impotent to change anything in the real, non-virtual world.

Perhaps a key distinction is the rise of the Tea Party, and it is here that the connection between the Tea People and Evangelical Christianity (and its darker spawn, such as Dominionism) is perhaps telling. Evangelical Christians get together, physically, on a regular basis, and they discuss their agendas, religious, political and otherwise. And the Tea Party people, building on this organizational advantage, do physically assemble for the petition of grievances - and it is this distinction from the passive liberals which accounts for their astonishing success. I cannot even tell what the Tea Party message is; their "platform" appears to be a hodgepodge of completely inconsistent planks. They seem to be both for and against Big Government, for and against Big Business, for and against almost anything you can name. I am sure the Tea Party people do use the Internet; the point is, they do not stop there. They assemble outside the White House. They show up, in droves, at political rallies and candidates' appearances. They're all over the place, and they force the Republicans to answer to them.

These methods were the ones used by liberals in the 1960's for the Civil Rights Movement and the anti-Vietnam War movement. Today liberals would hope to integrate Alabama lunch counters and Arkansas schools, and stop the war, by means of forwarding emails, I guess.

Anyway, see you in a month or so, probably. Or not. Depends on whether anything new ever happens.