Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Rats, Sinking Ships, and What Comes Next

Francis Fukuyama is one of a number of neoconservative intellectuals who have recently started to backtrack at long last from their deluded daydreams of Empire as the disaster in Iraq so many of us saw so clearly from the very beginning continues to assume ever vaster, ever more irrevocable, ever more and more nightmarish proportions. Normally I wouldn't pay much attention to this sort of sadsack self-rehabilitation here on Amor Mundi, but I tend to notice Fukuyama's moves since he is such a prominent player in both of the "intellectual" currents of conservatism that preoccupy my critical attention for their perniciousness: neoconservatism and also bioconservatism. (As for the two conspicuously anti-intellectual currents that drive the American movement conservatives in reality on the ground, that is to say, religious fundamentalist hostility to "difference" and market fundamentalist greed, well, I hope it goes without saying how I feel about that horror show of humanity at its worst.) Be that as it may, now that Fukuyama is starting to slink away from his early neoconservatism we might hope that perhaps he will reconsider some of the bioconservative formulations of Our Posthuman Future as well before they do comparable damage. I won't be holding my breath.

But contemplating Fukuyama's skin-saving about-face I find myself thinking about where we have been in this miserable little historical episode and what we are all too likely to find comes next. When it comes to the Killer Clowns in the Bush Administration, when it comes to Iraq, when it comes to the fiscal irresponsibility of the movement conservatives, when it comes to the theocratic hostility of the conservative fundamentalists to queers like me, to women's freedom, to people of color, to people struggling to make ends meet, to science and education and civil liberties, when it comes to the whole stupid bloodyminded lawless thieving bigoted spectacle, well, what can one say now?

There are the ones who were right and there are the ones who were wrong.

The ones who were wrong ridiculed and viciously attacked the ones who were right.

Now some of the ones who were wrong are compelled to admit they were wrong.

But somehow this admission becomes a force that augments their expertise while somehow the ones who were right, despite the fact that they were right, will still be called shrill and immoderate and inexpert and unprofessional for struggling to say the things they were right about against the roar of the wrong.

It's like the investment gurus in financial shows who are always bulls and who, were you to follow their advice to the letter, would ruin you utterly, but who keep shilling for the cameras for the advertisers in suits and still lead all the sad young lemmings off the cliff.

This is straightforward brand recognition in a broadcast-media environment: the taint of immoderateness attaches to the right who were maligned by the wrong, the halo of "expertise" attaches to the questionable shill by virtue of the repeatedly reiterated scene whereby he administers his recommendations to gravely nodding suits on television.

How hard would it be, after all, to report an "expert's" track record in a scroll beneath his chin as he pontificates for the companies of the network's advertisers?

How hard would it be for the interviewer to demand an explanation how the surreally wrong neocon came to support his wrong views in the first place, views that were far in fact from universally held, after all, despite the fact that few countervailing views were circulated seriously on broadcast outlets. Shouldn't part of a woefully wrong pundit's rehabilitation be that they would have to explain how new criteria govern their assessments of circumstances now?

Will the actual pundits on television change now that so many who were so wrong did so much damage by their wrongness and by their awful willful denigration of others who were right? Will any who were right all along be elevated for being right to the spotlight as experts in the areas on which they were right?

I find myself wondering and worrying whether or not p2p network models might help us overcome the impasse and repair some of the damage done by broadcast media in this debacle. Or will some new mode of pernicious p2p "manufacturing of consent" arrive on the scene soon enough that I just haven't anticipated or cannot bear to fathom in my exhaustion and despair?

I'll try to end on the more promising note that readers who have not yet clicked on the link on the left that points you to the Independent World Television Network project should give it a look. Global independent jounalism funded by networked contributions and supported by the work of some of the best, smartest, most interesting and admirable working journalists may not save us from ourselves, but I will certainly be glad to see this development emerge on the media landscape.

I remember when I agreed with Barbara Ehrenreich that the Reagan era constituted The Worst Years of Our Lives, but Bush II has shown that one cannot ever underestimate the capacity of America's conservatives to surprise us all with their talent for devastation, criminality, hate, and endless self-congratulation. Now the rats are jumping the sinking ship and progressives are building the fledgling architectures from which a better world might emerge from the wreckage. Things are looking up at last. Shake your heads, have a good cry, help each other out, and get ready to get back to work, I guess.

1 comment:

Mujer del Rio said...

I'm speechless. Not that I disagree with your summation of the neocons, but how are the Democrats offering better alternatives? I follow politics well enough to understand that neither party is representing the people. And what is Bush if not a Globalist? He's not a conservative based on his fiscal irresponsiblity, alone.
Anyway, I'm just curious to read where you're coming from(your views).