Monday, 21 February 2011

The Internet, global identity and the overthrow of power.

The world is beginning to fracture, dissonance is building and if nothing is done by those in power the fault-line will snap.  The world may be talking of an Arab revolution, but History will, I believe, see this as the birth of something bigger: the emergence of the first global identity founded on equality and a rejection of power.

Why do I think this? Throughout my writing, one thing stands out as crucial: Morality is correlated with communication technology.  That we empathise with that which we know, that we connect with, has been known a long time yet it's ramifications have yet to be fully understood.  It is clear that the accelerating pace of technological change was responsible for an accelerating pace of emancipation, inclusion into societies moral sphere. Now this advance has progressed beyond national boundaries, we are seeing the first generation in History able to form an identity that was not of their masters creation.  And what do they see? They see others of their generation around the world cheering them on, helping them at risk of arrest, connecting with them far more deeply than they do with their own rulers.

Lets be clear. We are relative beings. Its all very well having lots of material goods, but if your 'advanced' nation has extreme wealth inequality then happiness it will not bring. Every nation on earth is governed by corrupt people who share more in common with each other than they do with their own citizens.  Let me explain why this is so important.

Imagine taking all the people in the world and splitting them into two groups. In the first group, you have all of the people with power: the wealthy, the politicians, the capitalists and all the resources they command.  In the second group we have everybody else: the dispossessed, the relative poor, the oppressesed.  Seems fairly one-sided right? Well you are right... the powerful don't stand a chance.  Here's why.

Imagine these two groups as two circles whose size is proportioned solely to the number of individuals. Now see the people tower over the powerful (at least on paper).  But, those resources I mentioned earlier are also people: the army, the police force, lower ranking officials who decide they don't have enough to risk their own lives... an awful lot of their family and friends may well be on the other side of the divide.  Those not fully indoctrinated, once confronted with a huge fucking circle that aint afraid no one no more, will switch sides, aware of their kingmaker status due to the reliance that power has on them.

Where it gets messy is when you consider those 'old-school' elements of society, potentially numerous, who have been subjected to living an identity constructed by others, be it religion, nationalism or free-market ideals.  These people know no other identity, literally.  They are unable to empathise with the 'other', unaware that all around them their children are coming to identify with them more than their own parents. This largely generational divide has never been more evident than now, the young having evolved beyond the power schemas of their elders, disgusted at the immorality of outdated politics.


N.b This is very generalised but, since I'm making judgement calls solely on systems theory, I don't feel like I'm being offensive in what is to come.  After all, I'm not actually passing judgement at all here, merely talking History.

America is an interesting memetic sandwich.  Down the coasts it is highly multicultural.  It is here we also find the most liberal, open-minded, largely Democratic individuals.  Through the middle and down south you have a more religious, largely Republican society with little memetic mixing at all.  If one looks at the different memes inherent in these two polarised views, you simply have to come to the conclusion that Democrats represent the most recently emancipated ideas. After-all, Republican dogma is wrapped up in religious ideas whose age is measured in thousands of years.  Their most recent dogma is that of the free-market, an unobtainable ideal decades old, long disproved, that is successful solely because of it's undoubted facilitation of greed.  These are ideas whose time came when communication technology was still limited to a state monopoly!  They may have been moral then, but in the face of an opposition whose ideals extend further they appear ever more selfish and immoral.

The problem is that there has been such limited mixing in many Republican heartlands that identity there is still created with mental tools that are decades old at best, retaining the 'other' of that time. History does not swing back as far as republicans want.  Not without major repression.  They are desperately clinging to certain ways, certain of God, certain of the possibility of the chance of the dream of becoming Rich; indoctrinated to blind subservience and supplied with pre-packaged, logic-defying ammunition with which to insult dissonance away. Group-think, positive and negative bias; a cultural bubble unto themselves where the unknown is riduculed in an unknowing way.  Whatever narrative Fox news says, is.

On the other side, Democrats too are now on the wrong side of History. They share more in common with their Republican counterparts than either party has with the citizens they represent.  Both comprise a Duopoly of corruption self-legitimised by unquestioned capitalist ideals of the primacy of wealth and misguided social Darwinism. Neither talks about the real issues: military spending, corruption, bought-power, a re-evaluation of what it means to be a state in the globalised world, because it is both parties that are guilty of forgetting their place.  The choice of social destination is a sham, a mirage; it is merely whether you take the scenic rout* to repression or the highway.

Yet through it all comes a youth that by human nature seems to grow into technology as if it has always been there (which to them it has).  This ability to adapt is leading millions of youths to plug in, along with like-minded individuals around the world, and witness global events of shared importance.  Images and voices of Tunisia and Egypt, Libya and Bahrain, have seared themselves into minds the world over, especially in the wired-up West, marking the beginning of a global identity that will countenance the universal use of the 'other' by states everywhere.  This breaking free of nationally enclosed, officially-manufactured identity will coalesce into a global moral force that will rally around the one issue that unites people everywhere: Corrupt Power.  Rationality will act as an attractor, and rationality derived from global communication structures will be global in its conclusions: One people, One planet.

When people see freedom, they yearn for it.  The opening up of social spaces into a global communication network will, without doubt, mark the greatest revolution humanity has ever known.  Until now, revolutions have been subject to limited, nationalistic worldviews, the oppressed becoming the oppressor because, like the abused becoming abusers, it was all they ever knew.  Global communication and the explosion of comparative data it brings marks a turning point, the first expressions of global identity no longer bound by the grip of the few.  Here dissonance begets cynicism and the very concept or 'power' begins to go the way of racism; a social ill that will no longer be tolerated.  This is the first generation for whom their moral common denominator is that of humanity as a whole, and that is something that the inherently nationalistic state, a concept born in ignorance of the wider-world, was not built to cope with.  

Read Anonymous's latest statement.  Tell me that social schema isn't way more moral than the racist, wealth-obsessed, real-politik of the status-quo.  That shit's contemporary, that shit's on the right side of History.

* (sic)


Retep said...

This is a great article. As a 27 year old American I've recently been asking myself have uprisings like this always been happening and am I just now noticing? Have I simply broken free from the ideals that have been pushed on me the same way that the young people during the Vietnam war did? I think both are true. The fact that we are so connected and can clearly feel the oppression by leaders around the globe through tweets and status updates and our human empathy sensors have kicked into high gear.

Ben King said...

I like that. We are now in a position in the west to be connected to so many people, from such diverse and difficult places, that coming to know them can open us up to the realities our lifestyles entail. And it can be painful, especially when you realise your own country is culpable.

As you say, our empathy is exploding at such grand unveilings of the corrupting influence of power.

AK Rockefeller said...

Outstanding! Bring on the new global identity! Down with the antiquated prisons of nationalist identity!