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

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Ah, Good Times!

Upgraded and adapted from the Moot, "JimF" provides a blast from the past (let us say, stoopid footures past):
"Former President Bill Clinton said many political leaders are 'out of touch' with the acceleration of technology, speaking at Brainstorm 2001: The Fortune Editor’s invitational summit conference... He recommended several books including Non Zero by Robert Wright... and The Age of Spiritual Machines by Ray Kurzweil, which he called a “compelling view of the future.”
Consider that another data-point for the "futurological as reactionary point of entry in progressive politics" thesis. Of course, Gore had/has his own eco-techno-fix and p2p-triumphalism problems, when it comes to it. It should be recalled that Clinton/Gore were a major force in the acceleration of neoliberal deregulation and looting and race-to-the-bottom globalization, too. They presided over the irrational exuberance of the dot bomb. They derided "big" government (it's so over!) and weakened organized labor like the good DLC-founding market fundamentalists they were. This is part of the context in which we should read the weirdness of Virginia Postrel's notorious "dynamism" manifesto of the time (in which fellow travelers Clinton/ Gore were cast as arch-villains), a book re-packaging (yet again) right-wing plutocracy as "beyond left and right" techno-spontaneism (people fall for this line of bs every time), all the while Wired digirati were celebrating reactionary Gingrich's techno-whiz-bang along with covers touting the crypto-anarchic fall of the nation-state and the beginning of "The Long Boom" paradise being brought to us by the sooper-geniuses of Enron and The briefly popular Tech Central Station website was powering up right about then, celebrating "where free markets meet technology" (operated by right-wing lobbying firms and funded by secretive major corporations who used the "high theory" of spontaneous order and futurology to deceptively editorialize for the wholesomeness of their obscene profit-taking and looting and fraud), meanwhile transhumanism was born in earnest in its Extropian phase, demanding the techno-transcendence of both taxes and death. The transhumanoid PR may have changed but the eugenicism and techno-triumphalist naturalization of mass consumption-elite plutocracy as "progress" remains the same.


Anonymous said...

This is very valuable history and context that you bring up to current attention and deftly summarize. thanks!

Barkeron said...

So, Dale, certain left-ish individuals regard Clinton and Gore as saintly figures in the same way others do with Kennedy, what with the economic surplus, joblessness rate and environmental commitment (for particularly egregious examples see Seth MacFarlane's body of work).

Do you want to say that this was all build on civilizational dismantlement bubbles and the house of cards would have collapsed sooner or later anyway, all of Bush's crazy-pants boondoggling aside?

Dale Carrico said...

In my view, Clinton/Gore was something like a respite of Eisenhower Republicanism in the middle of the long generational trajectory of Movement Republicanism of Reagan through the Killer Clowns of Bush/Cheney. I do indeed think the irrational exuberance of the dot.bomb, the deregulatory/ looting of DLC-style neoliberalism, his amplification of evil right wing talking points about "Big Gov" and "Welfare Queens," ending Glass-Steagall, ending the fairness doctrine and unleashing hate-talk, triangulating his way to "accomplishments" we are still undoing, like DADT and DoMA (those who call Obama's compromises "caves" seem not to notice he always creates virtuous circles that amplify best progressive effects, builds foundations on which progressives can keep building if we have the gumption to push on) was the fruit of a poisoned tree. Obama, warts and all, is a Democrat and the tide has turned. As I always say, Obama is objectively the most progressive president since FDR, and that tells us something objectively true about how not very progressive our presidents have been. Gore probably wouldn't have gone to Iraq or pushed the Bush tax cuts for the rich or done Medicare D without paying for it, and might not have let the housing bubble inflate without noticing (I suspect he listened to the same dumb elites that did). Without regulation, the financial sector would have screwed the pooch anyway.