Net Neutrality is the principle that makes the internet a level playing field concerning users' worldwide access to information. To abandon it puts all that power in the hands of internet providers, mostly telecommunications corporations like AT&T and Comcast. Here's a few articles about the FCC's efforts this week to destroy net neutrality and widen the digital divide.
I don’t believe the white supremacist attack in Charlottesville comes as a shock to anyone in America. I think we all knew it was coming on November 9th 2016.
The torch march through University of Virginia that included holding clergy hostage in a campus church was disgusting. The fighting in the street with clubs and shields was depressing.
The video of the car attack was horrific. It does not appear random. There is no video of the driver being in danger before driving straight into a crowd of protesters at high speed. It looks like what we’ve all seen coming for a long time. An escalation in domestic terrorism.
When the President refuses to acknowledge that a white supremacist killed a woman and injured 19 others with a tactic lifted from ISIS and talks about “violence on many sides”, it’s a shrieking dog whistle to every white racist and fascist in the country. All they hear is that they are part of a legitimate movement. They’re not.
When Trump tries to spin the issue of white nationalist terrorism into a cultural clash over historic monuments he justifies violence against those who resist a bleak program of xenophobia .
No surprise. He’s broadcast this message proudly since deciding to run for office. Trump didn’t engineer the increase in hate crimes worldwide, he’s only capitalising on it, and thereby emboldening the most dangerous actors.
On June 17th 2015, Dylan Roof, then 21, opened fire on a black church congregation in Charleston, South Carolina, killing Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd, 54, Susie Jackson, 87, Ethel Lee Lance, 70, Depayne Middleton-Doctor, 49, Clementa C. Pinckney, 41, Tywanza Sanders, 26, Daniel Simmons, 74, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45, and Myra Thompson, 59.
In November of 2015, Allen Scarsella, 29, shot into a crowd of protesters occupying a park across the street from the 4th Precinct in North Minneapolis, wounding 5 people. His victims were protesting the police killing of Jamal Clark. Scarsella shot them from his car, accompanied by 3 friends.
In February of 2017, Adam Purinton, 51, told 2 Indian men to get out of his country and shot them in a bar in Kansas. He killed Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, injured Alok Madasani, 32, and Ian Grillot, 24, a bystander.
On May 27th, Jeremy Christian, 35, harrassed 2 teenage girls because one was wearing a hijab on a Portland light rail, screaming at them to get out of his country. After they fled to the back of the train, 3 bystanders intervened and Christian stabbed them, killing Ricky Best ,53, Taliesin Namkai-Meche, 23, and wounding Micah Fletcher, 21.
I’ve lived in Virginia Beach, VA and Portland, OR. In both places I’ve seen people do exactly what those 3 did. Stand up for a stranger against a volatile attacker because it’s the right thing to do. To see that resolve result in such a brutal end is a chilling proposition.
In both Virginia and Oregon, I’ve marched in the streets against police brutality with people who were disregarded by the media and much of the general public as “troublemakers”, “professional victims”, and “dangerous radicals.” This may account for why the attack in Charlottesville weighs on me so heavily. Blocking traffic, being herded by riot cops, even in a crowd of thousands, made me feel the fragility of my body. Watching the fragility of a crowd being plowed through by a car was visceral. Imagining Heather Heyer, 32, dying in a street, crushed by metal, leaves me very cold. I can’t muster any righteous sentiment about her “dying for what she believed in.” All I see is a woman slaughtered by America for being American.
Trump snubbed her memory before her body was cold to needlessly pander to racists. 99% of his supporters wouldn’t have blinked an eye if he had acted like a president and denounced the murder and the neo-nazis who cheered it. But support isn’t enough for him. He needs the mindless adulation that only the dregs of his base provide. Hence, “many sides”, and “fine, upstanding people.”
Justice won’t be served for Heather Heyer when James Alex Fields Jr., 20, is convicted, no matter how harsh the sentence. It won’t be served if he’s executed.
The only justice we can salvage from all these murders is to oppose the culture of fear that justifies and incites the violence. Trump won’t because he needs it to support his agenda, and the Republican Party has gone along for the ride, no matter how many times they “denounce” neo-nazis. The hate groups that call an organized, aggressive mob a peaceful protest need to be called on their equivocations and their ignorance, willful or not.
The groups that claim to be fascists that don’t condone violence, to only want a white nation for white people that would coexist with nations of other races, are the greatest cowards. Greater than the subhuman clods who terrorize and murder high on their rhetoric. And no one should believe their lies.
Richard Spencer and the National Policy Institute, Matthew Heimbach and the Traditionalist Workers Party, Dillon Irizarry and Vanguard America, don’t get to rationalize white supremacy as identitarian politics or equal rights.
The Oath keepers and Three Percenters don’t get to claim to be patriots while they threaten their country with vigilantism. Steve Bannon doesn’t get to pretend to be a populist crusader instead of a chickenhawk internet troll.
What can we do? We can oppose the arguments of the right that enable and support racism and similar discrimination. Arguments such as, the playing field is level now, or that we’d all have jobs if illegal immigrants were deported. Hate groups recruit hundreds of young white people who’ve come of age at a time when even the “moderate” right wing culture has committed to a party line of a post-racial America where whites, particularly white men, suffer the worst discrimination. Affirmative action and programs to relieve poverty are framed as an attempt to destroy white communities and American values. They create a myth that American prosperity was achieved by white people alone, and that liberal policies use white guilt to manipulate bleeding hearts with the true aim of subjugating Americans to a communist international order.
What can we do? Show up.
We can do what people in Charlottesville and Boston did. They showed up and shouted down fascists. In the aftermath of a tragedy, there are accolades for it. How long will it be before pundits on the right and the left are back to dissecting the “problematic” nature of such direct action?
Show up. Pay attention. Talk back. Realize that white supremacists aren’t foreign invaders. They’re the result of a country that’s been hiding in the dark for decades
The videos are gut wrenching. I wouldn’t advise many people to watch them.
I would advise they watch one with their children every day for the rest of their term looting the government.
Jaron Lanier has worked on the cutting edge of computer programming since the 70s. His books, You Are Not a Gadget (2010), and Who Owns the Future (2015) are incisive, readable critiques of the most dominant digital networks. He’s not just talking about Uber and Facebook, but the architecture that underlies modern banks, news outlets, manufacturers, and just about everything else our standard of living depends on.
“A sufficiently copious flood of data creates an illusion of omniscience,
and that illusion can make you stupid.”
His 2010 Atlantic article, The Hazards of Nerd Supremacy, considers the case of Wikileaks and networks like Anonymous that claim to leak private information of individuals and institutions in the name of transparency. Lanier provides history on the evolution of some of the most influential cyber actors of our time and notes that most of them cultivate the kind of privacy protection they suggest the general population should learn to live without.
“Totally aside from whether Wikileaks has hurt the USA or anyone else, we should ask the question, "What has it done to us?" The hacker idea has gotten meaner, less sensitive, more combative, and more reactive. This is what I mean by the problem of nerd supremacy.”
Lanier is not a pundit or a guru. He’s a scientist who understands how computers work and how they’re profited from. He’s also a thoughtful person who doesn’t see profits and stability as mutually exclusive. His article is a much needed alarm for a public that insists that wealth created by apparent technological innovation is the only solution to society’s problems. The idea that political engagement and coalition building are viable tactics is at an all time low, creating fertile ground for cyber vigilantism and violence in real time.
I can’t recommend his books enough, even if you only skim a few chapters. There is plenty of jargon and abstraction to confront, but Lanier’s humor and insight boost the reader through. Even for a layman like me, the path tech giants are taking to economic hegemony becomes clear.
The refrain running through both works is that none of this is inevitable. It is the result of structural decisions that date back before the birth of the internet. Today we have the perspective to see what those early decisions by programmers locked us into. This can teach us what kind of structures we should avoid today, if we take the long view. Doesn’t sound much like markets/people, though, does it?
“Isn't it clear that we tend to become
like what we mock and fear?”
All quotes from The Hazards of Nerd Supremacy: the case of Wikileaks. Jaron Lanier. The Atlantic. Dec 20, 2010. http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2010/12/the-hazards-of-nerd-supremacy-the-case-of-wikileaks/68217/ Accessed Jan 19, 1017.
All Images from jaronlanier.com
I discovered Douglas Rushkoff through Disinformation, a short-lived show referred to as “the punk rock 60 minutes.” The DVD includes a number of speeches from the Disinfo.con at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom in 2000. Rushkoff pushed back against the idea of necessary duality, Grant Morrison explained basic sigil magic, and Joe Coleman detonated himself in protest of humanity. Pretty inspiring.
Rushkoff writes both fiction and nonfiction. He teaches at several schools and works as a consultant with organizations large and small, fringe and corporate. He is most often described as a media theorist, a cyberpunk, or a technologist, but a cursory look at his work reveals a thinker primarily concerned with how people create. Rushkoff writes about media and its effects on everything from the human brain to the global community. His latest 2 books focus largely on the digital economy.
Present Shock -2013
Table of Contents:
- Narrative Collapse
Narrative Collapse speaks to the loss of basic foundation. The story, the plan, the beginning, middle, and end. Numeracy overtakes literacy. The distance and perspective of the reader is replaced by the immersion and interaction of the player.
Digiphrenia is the condition real people develop as we try to adapt to a world of digitized, automated, “always on” information. Our business, financial, and media networks are automated into 24-7 cycles that we compete to keep up with. Capitalist propaganda finds new life in our digital age. More choice = greater freedom. But are we free to stop choosing?
Overwinding deals with how our digital architects overlook the effect of their systems on the end-user in favor of instant feedback from every aspect of our lives.
Fractalnoia is another condition humans develop once they’re unmoored from reliable narratives, time tables, and information scarcity. Conspiracies abound, statistics overwhelm, all theories, fears, and prophecies seem to find supporting evidence somewhere just under the waves of the digital ocean. The sheer volume of information makes it impossible for even the richest, most entrenched organizations to control the narrative.
Finally, Apocalypto. The mass media disconnects us from the past and the future, locking us in an eternal present of fight or flight. We’re left to hoard and prep for the endgame. Many are seduced by a cult of human obsolescence that unleashes a cultural backlash against not only religion and politics, but humanism and free will as well.
These are the elements of Present Shock- a phenomenon wherein technology speeds up the rate of change in society, causing institutions- government, business, education, culture, media- to lose their foundations, leaving individuals in a desperate race to regain understanding, advantage, meaning, and a vision for the future.
Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus -2016
Table of Contents:
- Removing Humans from the Equation
- The Growth Trap
- The Speed of Money
- Investing Without Exiting
The underlying shift is away from Hours Served
and towards Value Created
This book examines our current economic moment and gives a brief history of how authorities devised debt-based tools to profit off the work and creation of poorer communities.
On corporate welfare:
“It would be much simpler, more sustainable, and less expensive to get that region to work without putting it into debt or the service of a remote entity. Instead of installing industry, equip regions with the tools and information they need to develop a means of value exchange. After all, if people have skills and needs, then they have the basis of an economy.”
Google Bus distinguishes itself from other books on the subject by reminding us that it doesn’t have to be this way. Rushkoff submits numerous examples of alternative corporate charters, local currencies, and new labor paradigms. Rushkoff’s worldview is optimistic, but it challenges the reader to take action. Not all the people at the top are unreasonable, but they are not going to change course until someone shows them how it will benefit them.
“The beauty of such possibilities from the perspective of charting a 21st century career, is that they offer a glimpse of an employment path structured around the needs of real people today rather than the priorities of 13th century factory owners who have long since left this realm. In nearly all these strategies, the underlying shift is away from Hours Served and towards Value Created. It’s less symbolic and more real, less based in legacy systems and more grounded in productivity. Instead of tying workers and our current entire economy to the industrial age machine, we reprogram our economy from the ground up.”
Donald Trump is a corrupt businessman who poses a real threat to the security of our nation. His history of not paying the people who work for him, and suing people, businesses, and municipalities that do business with him, is well known. How long will it be before he’s suing private citizens for dissent? His move to embed his children into the government with full security clearance displays his nepotism. Filling his cabinet with his campaign donors is textbook crony capitalism and shouldn’t surprise anyone. He bragged about having paid off the same politicians he ran against in order to discredit them, while claiming that he himself was not corrupt, just smart.
Richard Painter, a Republican, and former ethics czar for President Bush, has made this case most forcefully. Trump cannot keep assets that create an ongoing risk of influence peddling by foreign governments or foreign nationals. He especially should not be liable in debt to foreign banks or governments—as his companies reportedly are to Deutsche Bank for more than $300 million. We need a president who is independent of personal interests that might affect his presidential judgment—for the same reasons Trump was right early in the campaign to complain that super PACs compromised the independence of his opponents. Trump’s refusal to comply with the Constitution’s restrictions is plainly reason enough to reject him.
I don’t believe we should or can rely on moral arguments to shape our politics. Government should be about what works in material terms. And yet there is a moral call to vote against Trump. It is not partisan, or ideological, it is simply intelligent.
Mr. Trump has been found corrupt and unaccountable throughout his entire career. 65,444,673 popular votes (over 2.5 million more than Trump) should prove Hillary Clinton a qualified alternative, but the partisan stalemate of the past decade is sure proof that won’t happen.
Sadly, the threat to our country should compel us to negotiate with republicans to substitute another member of their party to the presidency. If you are an elector, please read about the Hamilton Electors, the reasons they reject Trump, and the mechanisms they seek to invoke. If you are an elected official, please let these people know that they will be supported for voting as the Constitution intended. Please put the people of the United States before your parties.