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

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Dispatches from Libertopia: Comcast Hires People to Fill a Public Hearing So Public Can't Attend

[via SavetheInternet]

They look so sleepy! Privatizing the public sphere is hard work.


seth said...

One frustrating aspect incumbency’s ability to purchase the space available for public debate in this way is that the only way to use what we "get" out of it is through costly PR campaigns.

While it is helpful, in a very limited sense, for the cause of Net Neutrality that Comcast admitted to filling the hearing to capacity with witless stooges, it's highly unlikely to result in a replacement for the hearing that, in terms of its purpose, may as well not have happened.

I am more and more convinced that the most important element to the maintenance of incumbency is the prevention of discussion. Next would be keeping discussion hidden, and then discrediting it.

Dale Carrico said...

Just as industrial media models complement secretive decision making, p2p media models complement a2k (access-to-knowledge) and consensual deliberative decision making. p2p/a2k commitments are an unmistakably good dem-left fit.

I take a measure of comfort from the fact that not even Comcast has enough money to buy off the public as a whole and interminably, nor even a consortium of corporate media interests joined to protect their collective necks could manage it -- not that they would be able to maintain such a coalition for long in any case, there being little honor among thieves.

Only government has that kind of money, and the fundamental check generated by the guarantee of representation with taxation is a genie you can't get back in the bottle.

The fact remains that the dem-left is opportunistically taking up the educational, agitational, and organizational possibilities inhering in the lowered costs associated with p2p networks -- while at the same time the same shortsighted profit-taking rationality that causes incumbent interests to disregard ecosystemic signals and non-proximate effects of their military adventuring when there is easy money to be made here and now will also lead them to abandon broadcast media formations that would serve them as no others will over the longer-term as well.

The vicious circle of profit-taking rationality and incumbent interest will be replaced by the virtuous circle of p2p accountability and problem-solving, dismantling incumbency and replacing it with democracy, re-articulating what counts as profit-making to better reflect the actual diversity of stakeholders to social change, in my view.

p2p democratization will continue to pressure our domestic party structures (people powered challenges to unpopular incumbents, small campaign donor aggregation, rapid media pushback and organization, etc.), government institutions (de facto transformation of the electoral college via state by state referenda, universal health care, re-instatement of progressive taxes all seem likelier in the near future than ever before in my lifetime), and international formations (the world knows as few Americans do that US corporate-militarist hegemony is unsustainable and in extremis, and soon our treaties and commitments will reflect this reality, even if the rhetoric we hear fails to put what is happening in such terms) -- eventually breaking the stranglehold of corporate interest over the progressive base of the Democratic Party while splintering the coalition between corporatists and cultural conservatives in the Republican Party (the ever more multicultural and ever-less racist generational demographic pressures on the racist Southern Strategy that has secured Republican power more than anything since LBJ will only exacerbate these tendencies).

Sorry to sound like a Mouseketeer in moments like this -- of course, I realize and to some extent expect that social disruption caused by climate change, reactionary mass movements, military misadventures encouraged by our insane budgetary priorities, pandemics, disruptive technodevelopment -- not to mention well-organized incumbent politics to undermine p2p formations -- can all align in unexpected combinations to overturn the progressive and democratizing tendencies presently in motion.

To step back a bit further still, p2p and planetary awareness of ecosystemic costs/risks both represent in my view two unprecedented and utterly transformative world-historical forces that have been unleashed in our midst -- one enormously hopeful, one unspeakably horrifying, both deeply and definitively inter-implicated.

The parochialism of militarist, corporatist, elitist (whether aristocratic or technocratic) rationality dooms these formations to cope with the forces abroad in the world in our generation -- and fortuitously enough, the creative and problem solving genius of collaboration has p2p formations to facilitate its emergence as an adequately improvisatory, responsive, resilient, and equitable alternative... precisely in the nick of time.

That's how it looks to me, anyhow.