Sunday, January 21, 2007

Technology is not sufficient, but it can help


A message to the Speaker from her constituents. In this era of the corporate mass media and the internet are wall posters still a medium for transmission of alternative culture?

Over at Hullabaloo, poputonian makes the point that resistance against the U.S. imperial project is winning the culture and especially young people, even if there are not thousands of protesters in the streets.

The culture battles are playing out in the schools and I believe the side of reason has the edge. Though it might not hold the visual drama of a street protest, per se, it is the rejection of bad ideas and beliefs. ...

As I see it, protest is still there, but it's perhaps a bit more efficient, subtle, and less obvious to those we're protesting against. Hopefully, this way leads to a greater gathering of numbers, and more sustainability as the precision-memory of digital reporting, coupled with smart governance, leads to a better world. I think the kids will figure it out.

aimai followed up with some very pertinent observations based on political experience both in the U.S. and in the remote mountains of Nepal.

The first question to ask when we start talking windily about the political activities of individuals, young or old, is what context those activities took place in technologically and socially. ...

Political action that takes place outside, or in parallel to, regular machine politics is very hard to organize. All those things that we associate with political or economic change simply can't run on the same rails as the status [quo] they are attempting to change. All those contacts, all those interactions, take time, and are highly dependent on very small and often almost autonomous groups of people. ....

In a place like Nepal, for instance, farmers and workers had to rely on someone walking literally days to tell them something that had happened in a neighboring village. ...

The internet, a largely literate populace, the existence of internet connections in libraries, stolen wifi, home computers has meant that at one stroke of the electronic key information about what is happening, where, and who is doing it has become democratized. I don't have any illusions about the ease of the translation of ideas into political action--nothing replaces a committed, energized, politically active populace and the internet is as much a source of deadening, anomie inducing "mass entertainment" as TV. But it is also a source of connection ....

I agree with aimai -- just because lots of people know that something is wrong isn't going to change it unless organized forces are built to impede the forces that like it just fine. We won the culture in the 60s too -- far more obviously than today. But we didn't turn that cultural victory into effective power.

To be specific, U.S. wars in the Middle East will go on unless overwhelming political forces are built to turn the actions of the U.S. state around. Just knowing they lied to us and that their whole project is a murderous sinkhole won't do the trick. I hope all who can will be turning out to the demonstration in Washington next Saturday and to the lobby days that follow.

If we want to change things, we have to do it all: find out as much truth as we can and build effective democratic power that can make the world more secure, more sustainable, more equitable and more peaceful. The internet offers opportunities -- and like any technology, it can be coopted by those who would lull us into comfortable compliance. Technologies don't determine whether we can make change: a mix of necessity, grit, luck, smarts and willingness to sacrifice underlie all successful organizing for progress.

1 comment:

bjohanna said...

Clicked on "Nancy's to do list" and was able to enlarge it. It's now on a window of my car. Love it! My greatest appreciation to person who created this.

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