Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All
Thursday, December 22, 2011
You Never Know Enough to Justify Despair
This time last year I was angry and disgusted about the results of the mid-term elections, and I was perfectly right to be, since we all know the mid-terms were pointlessly disastrous in precisely predictable ways. But even as I was sunk in despair, I should have remembered one of the very simple points I try to drive home to my students in critical theory courses: that there is always much more going on than even the most attentive and engaged of us can know (Haraway), that history always breaks out unpredictably (Arendt), that the street always finds its own uses for things (Gibson). Elections have consequences, and I knew the consequences of the mid-terms would be terrible, and they have indeed been terrible. But even as I felt the terror of what I knew so well, I had no inkling of Tahrir, Madison, Zucotti, the Oakland Port, the Ohio repeal, the Wisconsin recalls, and so much more. In politics, the knowledgeable know knowledge isn't enough, and that if courage and perseverance don't fill the gap inevitably introduced by our ignorance then despair and excuses will fill it instead, making our knowledge worse than useless.