Here Thar Be Monsters!

From the other side of the argument to the other side of the planet, read in over 149 countries and 17 languages. We bring you news and opinion with an IndoTex® flavor. Be sure to check out Radio Far Side. Send thoughts and comments to luap.jkt at gmail, and tell all your friends. Sampai jumpa, y'all.


Into The Great Wide Open

Tyranny holds within itself the seed of its own destruction.  At some point, the tyrant steals so much from those it would subjugate that they no longer have anything left to lose.  For that reason, the subjugated masses will always rise up and destroy the tyrant when they have lost everything of value in their lives.

The uprising, at least in western history, typically gels when a technology comes along that undermines the tyrant's ability to control information.  The control of information is crucial to a tyrant's rule.  If the masses become privy to the same amount and quality of information, they no longer have a need for the tyrant.

The last time this happened in western history was the invention of the printing press, which led to the Protestant Revolution on the religious side, and the Renaissance on the the cultural side.

Gutenberg's mass printing of the Bible wrenched control of the central literature that had been used to subjugate people for centuries.  Imagine living in a world where your whole life is controlled by a priviledged few who demand that you live according to the precepts of a book, yet that book can only be obtained by the priviledged few who are initiated into a secret cult called the priesthood.  They enter a rarified realm where only they know what's actually in the book, and they only quote to us masses what they find applicable to maintaining the control of their positions.

Then along comes this German guy who applies information brought back from China by Marco Polo about the use of carved blocks in a rack to print multiple copies of documents in a very short amount of time.  Before this point, information was controlled by economics.  Making copies required paying literate people good money to sit around writing the same text over and over again.  Suddenly, one man can arrange a rack of blocks with letters on them to form a written page.  He put it into a modified wine press, and BLAMMO!  He can crank out dozens of copies in a day, that would take scriveners weeks, if not months, to duplicate.

Under the prime law of economics, having enough of something for everyone to own one makes the price fall precipitously.  So, Gutenberg spins out piles of Bibles, where rooms full of scribes used to produce one or two a month.  The price falls and us normal people can afford to buy our own copy of the Bible and see for ourselves what was only hear-say before.

POOF!  Instant revolution, because half the stuff the priests were telling us from the pulpit can't be found anywhere in the Bible.  They just made it up and took a few out-of-context quotes to back them up.

On the cultural side, science and art exploded for the same reasons.  In the old order of things, information and knowledge were only available to those who went up to university, and thus only the very rich had access it it.  Being part of the elite, it was in their self-interest to keep that information to themselves.

Movable type suddenly burst on the scene bringing Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, Euclid, and all the rest of it to the common man.  This, in turn, caused a huge explosion of art, literature and science.  People could read the classics for themselves and didn't need the expense of university educations to do it.  Galileo, Newton, Copernicus, and da Vinci could publish their treatises for distribution directly to the masses.  Art went from two-dimensional, hierarchical cartoons to three-dimentional realistic representations.  Geometry, physics and philosophy were democratized, and that information expanded the mass' minds into new realms of thinking.

Ultimately, this explosion of thought and science led to the Enlightenment and the downfall of the European monarchies and seminal events like the American Revolution.  A key factor in the latter event was pamphleteering, in which allowed people to organize across vast spaces.  Benjamin Franklin's postal service delivered the information at unheard of speed and efficiency.  The Pony Express pushed that ability into the wilderness of the frontier areas.

Now 500 years later, we stand at a very similar precipice.  Three key and related technologies have emerged in our time that have further democratized information and sped up its dissemination to unimaginable speeds.

First, there was photography.  This single invention had a profound affect on life.  Folks no longer needed artists to render portraits or scenes, taking months to produce single copies.  Now a camera could capture the actual photons from a subject and copies could easily be made.

Suddenly, art was freed from the need to render realistic subjects and could explore all the myriad forms that it has taken in the past 150 years.  One didn't need to print a book, one could photograph the page and make hundreds of copies in the time it took the press to make dozens.

Cameras captured events that happened so fast that the human eye could not discern discreet  processes within the event.  Things like horses running and men doing things as simple as sneezing or throwing something were recorded.  Science exploded again with new information and knowledge that led to vast new discoveries and technologies.

Then came the telephone.  Now people didn't have to write and send things by post.  They could actually hear the voice of the other person in real time, with all the emotion and reality of being present in the same room.  And they could do it at increasing distances, until this moment when someone on the far side of the Earth can instantly communicate by text or voice with any other person on the opposite side of the planet!  We have become blase about it, but if you are old enough, you remember having to use long-distance operators and telegraph offices and so on.

Finally, all of these technologies came together, including the printing press, in something called the internet.  When you stop and think about it, this is a truly mind-blowing technology.  Entire libraries and museums can now be delivered to your bedroom or office.  You can examine the collected works of Monet from four museums in Paris, while chatting in real time with an art historian.  You can customize your news feeds to offer stories that interest you, and you can get the news when you want without waiting for someone to deliver it to you at a pre-defined time.  And you can go as deep into any story as you choose, and find independent commentary on it.

This is revolutionary stuff.  Think how much power has been yanked out of the hands of the elite  Though they are deperately trying to put the genie back in the bottle, they are finding it virtually impossible.  The voice of dissent finds a way around the road blocks.  Researchers and philosophers can get their ideas directly to a mass audience without gatekeepers.  Home businesses can completely circumvent the massive chain stores and reach a global marketplace with minimal effort.

This is decentralized power the likes of which have never existed in our history.  The social, educational and spiritual upheaval represented by this technology is incredibly profound.  And it has the elite scared to death.

For centuries, the elite have enjoyed a complete monopoly on information.  Even the printing press could be controlled to one extent or another, but in any case, change moved slow enough that they could prepare for it and seal the leaks.

With the internet, though, as fast as they build a dam, there are three channels going around it.  How do you fight the flow of information when any individual with desire and patience can get the same information once only available to the select few?  This has implications for nearly every stratum of society, and certainly every institution.

How do you control libraries when they are obsolete?  How do you swindle money out of people for higher education, when all the materials are available free online?

Amateur astonomers are photographing exoplanets and posting online before the stuffy professional system can get around to it.  Writers can self-publish their work without going to the publishing houses that can make or break careers at a whim.  Independent researchers can link up in self-organized collectives.  In fact, people of any stripe with common interests can come together from any part of the world and trade their ideas.

This completely destroys the entire framework of careful review and vetting that the elite have spent centuries installing to prevent us regular folks from accessing information.  It blows away universities, peer review, publishing, libraries, museaums, institutions...literally everything.  This kind of change is creating a social-political-spiritual upheaval the likes of which have never before been seen.

Life has already radically changed, and there is more to come.  The old paradigm, mistakenly called the New World Order, is coming completely unraveled at break-neck speed.  And what's even worse, at least for the elite, is that they have no where (literally) left to run or hide.  If they fail this time, as it is becoming increasingly clear that they are, they can not regroup and rebuild.  They are completely without dark corners in which to hide.

In all of human history, at least far as we have been allowed to know it, nothing like this has ever happened before.  Those of us alive now are literally treading on new ground.  There are no rules for this realm.  We are without precedent.  Literally everything that has come before is being swept away.  We are truly standing at the threshold to the unknown.

We no loner have to fight the NWO or the elite.  They are already doomed.  The last few kicks and flops are just St. Vitus' dance for those institutions.  Our job now is to figure out where we go from here.  It is up to us to set a course for the future.  It's a mighty big task, too.  For good or ill, we can not rely on anything that has gone before.  This is the time for visionaries or demagogues.  Either we formulate and emulate true leaders and people with vision, or we devolve into a state of existence so vile and so demeaning that none of us can imagine such a thing.  We really have a choice now.  We own the future.  The only question remaining is whether we will seize the opportunity to create, or squander it on destruction.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Feel free to leave your own view of The Far Side.