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The Dream Machine --- The Imagination of the World Wide Web
Right now, the air quality in Beijing on the BEST day is about the same as Los Angeles on its WORST day! Residents of LA and anyone who has visited LA during a bad day will shudder at this thought. Yet China is still building more and more coal burning power plants to support its rising economy. There is a "carpet" of plastic bags floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean the size of the state of Texas! Who is doing ANYTHING about this? Groundwater pollution from industrial and municipal waste is growing alarmingly fast. Add to this the recent gigantic oil spill in the Caribbean that promises to despoil the whole southern coastline of the U.S.. The only entities doing much about any of this are individuals and local governments. Those who face drinking this pollution in their water buy bottled water…often nearly as polluted as the stuff coming out of their faucets. Medical problems caused by the introduction of poorly tested pharmaceuticals or epidemics of once rare diseases caused by who-knows-what are increasing and this is hardly discussed, much less ameliorated. The best we seem to be able to do about it is introduce MORE medicine, more pollution, more contaminants in our food and attempt to find ever more ways to pay for ameliorating the adverse results.
War and its modern form...terrorism...is clearly on the rise and attempts...by governments or individuals...to put an end to these are either ineffective or haphazard. Efforts at disarmament have focused either on simply reducing the levels of violence or stopping individual conflicts, but little but lip service is given to putting an end to these crimes...for crimes they are no matter who participates...once and for all. Recent movies and television events have...finally...shown just how insane total warfare is. The introductory scenes in the movie Saving Private Ryan of the Normandy Invasion in WW II are stomach churningly gross, while the subsequent scenes merely serve to reinforce the notion that war is madness. The Hurt Locker, last year's big Oscar winner, shows that it is addictive as well. Band of Brother does the same at a bit slower pace, by pointing out the prevalence of "atrocities" like the summary execution of prisoners by both the "good" guys and the "bad" guys, making it sometimes difficult to see who's who. Then there are the continued existence of nuclear weapons with the only thing stopping total-total warfare from occurring is the doctrine...appropriately named...MAD...Mutually Assured Destruction. The United Nations was presumedly formed to prevent this, but it is an undemocratic and politically feeble "government" scarcely worthy of the title of government.
There are a multitude of other global problems, but in no case is it clear that humanity is ready to cooperate in order to solve that problem. But, we the people better get ready, for the so-called leaders of the world's nations are hopelessly corrupt. It is well known that autocratic governments...with their penchants for secrecy...tend to simply hide the corruption of its aristocracy. Thus, the former Soviet Union and its remnants in Russia or the Chinese Communist party are constantly wrestling with the rampant corruption that accompanied their transitions to market capitalism. Less well understood is a similar tendency in representative governments to gradually acquire the characteristics of the aristocratic societies they replaced. As time goes on a new political class of "electables" and their retinues arise to become the only people who are judged capable of running the countries. The only people able to break into these closed micro-societies tend to be celebrities in other forms of enterprise than pure politics. Still, the hereditary political class...think Rockefeller, Kennedy, Daley, etc....soon whip these newcomers into line protecting their class and its privileges. The only real principles that any of these functionaries obey is to be reelected...over and over and over...to remain in power. Of course, wealth also plays a big part in these matters, either directly in that wealthy people have greater access to the tools necessary to sell their political "product" or indirectly as the powers behind the "thrones." As has clearly taken place in the United States and most European powers is that the political class and the corporate powers have made common cause and cooperate fully in running things...all things. Those who lose elections move seamlessly into industry as "consultants" on how to use the government as their most powerful tool to keep the river of wealth flowing into their coffers.
While the macro-economic theories of Marx and Keynes have provided a basis in talking points for the so called left and right respectively, in truth neither group uses these theories as much more than talking points. The actual behavior of the participants really differ very little in practice. Liberals and conservatives are much more compatible than the blah-blah they spew would tend to suggest. The policies of a Richard Nixon or a Lyndon Johnson may have sounded quite different, but in practice they turn out to be not much different at all. Similarly, in the most recent example...Obama replacing Bush...the promise of change by the winner turned out to be much more sound than fury.
The bottom line is that the real purpose of ALL current political action remains the same as it has always been... to control the populace...us. "Dirty" words...like "communism"...or more recently "socialism"...are used not to inform...but to keep us from paying attention to what is really going on in our so-called democratic societies. Similar words, like "oppressors" or "imperialists" are used in autocratic societies to the same ends. In both cases, the losers are those of us who "go for it," who actually believe that the powers that be give a damn about any of the things they so blithely debate.
Next we will discuss the role of the media in advancing the cause of the ruling aristocracy. The media, with the sole exception of the Internet, have long ago fallen into line in all nations. In the autocratic nations, all these media are strictly government controlled. In more open societies, the control is more subtle, in some sense more insidious, as the illusion is preserved of freedom of expression when in fact, rigid rules of "conduct" govern the both print media and airwaves.
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