Kuro5hin.org: technology and culture, from the trenches
create account | help/FAQ | contact | links | search | IRC | site news
[ Everything | Diaries | Technology | Science | Culture | Politics | Media | News | Internet | Op-Ed | Fiction | Meta | MLP ]
We need your support: buy an ad | premium membership

[P]
We are not the intelligentsia.

By ObeseWhale in Op-Ed
Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 02:52:54 AM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)
Freedom

Day after day k5 readers are exposed to countless essays on the corruption of our governments, the evils of big business, and the Forces Behind It All. We curse the stupidity of our rulers, the ignorance of the population, and the immorality of the mass media. At the same time we all know that most of us live in "democracies", that is, systems where the people control the government. The question remains, however, who controls the people? And what can we do about it?


Before I begin my ascent to a thesis, I must begin with a small description of my environment. Each day I go to my rich, homogeneously white high school in Americatown, USA, and am exposed to the uncaring conformity of the masses. I see in it a microscopic reflection of the macrocosm of American classism. The rich, affluent students flock to the eastern hallways of the school to discuss among themselves their latest problems, the trials and tribulations of their lives, who Jenny's latest boyfriend is, the regular garbage of American social discourse. On the other end of the spectrum are the poor students from the townships, who huddle among themselves by their lockers in the industrial education section of the building to discuss matters not so different from those of the rich. Sure, instead of chattering about their best friends' new sports cars they may be discussing Billy's brand new truck, but the matter is still the same. The vast majority of what goes through their minds is irrelevant, unimportant, and vastly useless.

Each day I bear witness to this, and most of the time I remain silent. I must admit that I too have had my own sets of discussions about the social atmosphere of our school, the latest events among my friends, and the regular conversational tripe, but I get sick of the matter quite quickly. I'll do whatever I can to bring my mind to more "important" matters. Matters of thinking about the world at large, realizing the control and manipulation being enacted around me by non other than my peers. Most mornings I will pace down to the social studies office of the high school, where I can discuss such matters with a Government teacher who holds feelings similar to mine, but often my real thinking only begins when I am at home, reading the comments on Kuro5hin.

Kuro5hin is where I see the true geniuses of our society speaking out on the issues which directly affect the way our world works. I have the opportunity to discuss matters more important than the paltry political issues brought up in school ("who would you vote for", the Economics teacher asks, "Bush or Gore?") The act of this discussion often invigorates me, gives me new hope for the future. As I pound out a new comment on an issue that concerns me, be it politcal or technological, I often feel as if, finally, somebody is listening, finally my view will be heard, and maybe, just maybe, I might invoke a change.

Lately, however, my joy has been burdened by the weight of futility. The more I have read, the more I have become revolted, even disgusted by the idiocy of it all. I've begun to realize that while posting on K5 brings me personal enjoyment, helps me think, and brings my thoughts to the table, that very table is one hidden in the forests of FUD, obscurity, and the ignorance of our ruling class. Indeed, what we post to k5 has little to no ultimate effect on the entrenched system of policy unless we begin to take action.

Now that I've scared off anybody who is satisfied with the status quo, and does not feel the same frustration with the masses as I do, I'll touch back to my intro. These same people who I mentioned in the beginning of my essay, from the rich social butterflies to the impoverished and undereducated, are all elements of the same corrosive system, are the people who are making our decisions. These are the people teaching in the public schools, these are the people making the decisions in our corporations, and these are the same heartless militants ruling the global political landscape. And these are the people voting for it all.

But indeed, wasn't my initial question that of who is controlling us? Conspiracy theorists claim that the government is keeping us down on our knees, filling us with propaganda about the values of obedience. From the day we hear from our elementary school teachers to when we see the posters advertising the "glory" of military service on high school walls, to when we age and are babied and taken care of by social security, "the man" is supposedly shovingconformity down our throats. I reject this theory, for it is the people who control the government.

Others say that the press is what is controlling us, that the only propaganda is that being flashed across our television screens twenty-six times a second, and the anti-revolutionary messages sprawled across the pages of our newsmagazines. Many seem to think that it is indeed the big bad claw, heading the global newscorps, that wishes to penetrate us with the counter-intuitive messages so common in our newspapers. They seem to think that it is only within the press's interest to modify our culture and push through revulsive ideals in the form of "western values". But indeed, I reject this notion too, for the newscorps rely on but one thing for them to exist, sales. Without the support of the people, they would fail, and it seems like the people have developed an appetite for indoctrination.

So who is it that is controlling the masses? Who is there behind the scenes, pulling the strings of the western world.

We, the people, are.

To me it's begun looking like a downward spiral. The people elect government officials that develop policies of war and exploitation. The people are fueled by a press that indoctrinates them with the fascist messages of obedience and counter-insurgence. In turn, the people, blind towards the manipulation going on around them, run for political office, in turn becoming yet another cog in the machine of our own masochistic system of disempowerment.

So, if society is disembowling itself, is there anything we can do other than sit, watch and talk about Linux? There sure as bloody hell is. For one, we can reject the values that society tries to chain us down with. I for one want you all to forget about voting for a standard in your next election. Vote Green, Socialist, Reform, Natural Law, I don't care, just don't vote to further entrench our system, no matter how afraid you are of the other candidate. We don't need to settle for less with the current system, we need to tear it apart, smash it down, and bring democracy to a state in which voters can make enlightned choices. A state in which voters won't work for policies that only tear the rights away from each other. Wear your views on your t-shirts. Advertise them publicly on your body, for democracy's sake, let your government see your rage. When you're done writing an impassioned political essay on k5, mail that essay off to your representatives. Better yet, BECOME a representative. Democracy was meant for the people to voice their views, and damnit, it's about time we quit letting ours get masked by the noise of the mainstream. I want to hear what you have done, what you WILL do, to change the way the people around you think!

Let this be a notice to you all that we are NOT the intelligentsia. We may sit at our computers typing up impassioned manifestos about our views (as I am now), but it is all futile if we don't take those views to our government officials, to the media, to our school, and if nothing else, to the streets. K5ers, it's about time you all took action.

Sponsors

Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure

Login

Poll
What is your most daring political act?
o I've distributed campaign literature 5%
o I've protested in the streets 23%
o I've written letters to newspapers... 2%
o And had them published. 11%
o I've mailed letters to my representatives 15%
o I am a representative 2%
o I've done other things (please comment) 10%
o I've done nothing 28%

Votes: 148
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Kuro5hin
o Also by ObeseWhale


Display: Sort:
We are not the intelligentsia. | 114 comments (113 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
Buddy, you can write. (2.73 / 19) (#1)
by maynard on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 10:34:15 PM EST

I know you're just a kid, but hot damn you can write! Don't try to turn the skill into a career, unless you like being poor. But if you love writing you certainly have the basic skill necessary to become an artist. Wow, wish I had that kind of writing talent at your age. This is the second submission of yours I've noticed... keep it up.

--Maynard

Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.

hmm... (4.50 / 2) (#5)
by Smiling Dragon on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 10:56:39 PM EST

As it happens I fully agree - nice to see such strong, persuasive writing.

Niggle though: that really should have been an editorial comment, not a topical one. But the again, so should this have been. Aargh. :)


-- Sometimes understanding is the booby prize - Neal Stephenson
[ Parent ]
I agree. (4.00 / 2) (#6)
by maynard on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 11:03:52 PM EST

I thought I had selected editorial before I pressed "post". Whoops. Hey, I also missed a possessive apostrophe in the title of a previous post tonight. Whoops. At least I spell check my posts; thank God for emacs. :-)

--Maynard

Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]

voting green, socialist, reform... (2.86 / 15) (#2)
by lemmingEffect on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 10:37:50 PM EST

I agree with the author's comments: there is certainly a lot more talking than doing in the world today.

but this article touched on something that's been bothering me a bit since the beginning of this election craze: the cry from those advocating action and involvement for people to vote third party.

what happens when the one of the two main parties DO represent our views?

as one of those centrist luantics i'm stuck with two options:

  • vote third party and not for the candidate that would most represent my views.
  • vote mainstream and be lost in the stream of conformity and be disregarded in my wishes for changes.

in this past election the former won and i voted gore. so sue me. i think the thing that swayed me is the entire meaning of my vote: an indication of who i believe would represent my views the best.

anybody else feel the same?

"Just do me a favor, ok? Don't breed." -- Adam Carolla, Loveline

Sorta... (3.33 / 3) (#13)
by pb on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 01:15:44 AM EST

If I had voted, I would have voted for Nader. Of course I didn't see anyone who really represented me and my views, but he came the closest.

However, I'm in North Carolina, where votes for Nader didn't count. He wasn't on the ballot, and they weren't about to tally the write-ins, so what's the point?

If I knew what the difference was between Bush and Gore, maybe I'd vote for one of them. But from what I saw of the debates, I'd be better off voting for BRAK. I will say that I never saw two people agree more in a debate before, though....

Hey, which state were you in? If you were in certain counties in Florida, your vote might have counted. Maybe even twice!
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]
Of course they agreed. (4.00 / 1) (#14)
by AndyL on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 01:36:08 AM EST

Look at the kind of things they were talking about. If you asked 100 people "Do you think small babies should get the health-care they need?" or "Do you think Goverment should be more efficiant?" I think you'd find that most people agree, no matter thier political views.

-Andy



[ Parent ]
Rhetoric (3.00 / 2) (#17)
by pb on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 01:44:20 AM EST

Well, yes, insofar as the whole thing is stupid rhetoric, they have to pretty much agree; the issues are pretty moderate too.

But I never thought I'd see a Democrat stand up there and talk about the need for a stronger military. I wanted to go up there and slap Al Gore and remind him what party he was in...
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]
IL (none / 0) (#114)
by lemmingEffect on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 08:21:57 PM EST

hehe. wonder if anyone reads these things anymore...but for what it's worth i live in illinois and unfortunately (or maybe a good thing given your perspective) gore clearly won this state.

so my puny one vote didn't count for much. =)

"Just do me a favor, ok? Don't breed." -- Adam Carolla, Loveline
[ Parent ]

Grumble.... (4.15 / 20) (#3)
by blixco on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 10:42:06 PM EST

This kills me.

It's very well written, but it's written from the viewpoint of someone who *hasn't* taken her own advice. Blinded by the popular media, cajoled into action by the common sense that tells you that Old Navy is not the banner to rally under, yet You Assume Too Much.

Hi there. My name isn't blixco, and I'll tell you a little secret: people *are* doing something about It, in larger numbers and with more backing and more coordination than ever. I know of at least two people that have been arrested twenty four times in the past two years during direct action campaigns. Did you see any coverage of Seattle, of the convention in LA, of the election? And that's just the loud, obnoxious, mediapathic ones.

How many people here contribute code to free software projects? That's a direct action, affecting change. How many people have given money or time to charities? Probably not as many...but still, that's getting It changed. How many use napster? That's taking money directly from the pockets of the corporations that tell you how to behave, who to like, how to dress, and what "culture" is....at least, that's what they say. May as well run with it.

The problem is, High School USA is controlled by trend, advertising, media..."popular culture" is a reflection of some ad company's latest client. And kids fall for it. Always have, probably always will.

Thankfully there's always a few who recognize this, who realize that life isn't a Gap commercial. In high school, actually, there's more passion behind direct action...most of the enclave I know of is between 16 and 18. The best ones are under 18, can't be charged as adults when they get busted for peacefully assembling and practicing free speech.

So, as always, and once and for all: speak for yourself. Painting broad strokes based on your limited view of the hallways at school is a bit, well, insulting to those of us who have bled and been beaten fighting for what we believe in (no matter how misguided the Enemy thinks we are....heh).


-------------------------------------------
The root of the problem has been isolated.
Very true (4.00 / 4) (#4)
by ObeseWhale on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 10:49:15 PM EST

What you are saying is, of course, very true. Many of us are being active, are taking a stand, are working towards making a change. But are all of us? No. And I won't be satisfied until every one of us has had our turn at the podium. Perhaps I have made a hidden assumption that many k5ers are "closet revolutionaries", but regardless, I wanted the effect of making a motivational speech. I hope I have satisfied that ambition.

---

"The hunger for liberty may he suppressed for a time; yet never exterminated. Man's natural instinct is for freedom, and no power on earth can succeed in crushing it for very long."
-Alexander Berkman
[ Parent ]
I can respect that..... (4.00 / 1) (#31)
by blixco on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 09:27:33 AM EST

And one day you'll respect realistic goal setting. If you set your sights this high, you'll always have an excuse to hate the people around you, bare minimum. One of my most favorite people always tells me "I really do want to help out, but you've only got five people going.....shouldn't we get everyone?" He'll man the phones and email, and fervently try to get a few more people...and by the time he's done, he's exhausted and bitter, and he hasn't done anything except make bail for me. He applies himself to an unrealistic goal.

Don't fall for that. Your energy shouldn't only be applied to rallying others. That's a step, but only a step. You should move forward and act. Your actions, if anything, will speak volumes more....especially in a population of people who seem to be looking for a cause.

You're in a good spot to affect change. You should try to do that....and not try to rally us. Those of us susceptable to rallying will have responded already, and those that aren't will just argue symantecs and grammar and philosophy with you, like they always do.


-------------------------------------------
The root of the problem has been isolated.
[ Parent ]
Think again (3.66 / 6) (#9)
by slaytanic killer on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 12:07:21 AM EST

Don't take any undue honor for being beaten & having bled for your ideals. Respect does not come from getting your ass kicked. It comes from what you accomplish.

Good cover stories are made from angry demonstrators who impede progress made by the poor important diplomats who bravely came to town to create landmark decisions... Manipulating that media is what ObeseWhale advocates, and his point is just as valid as yours. There is such a thing as subversion through conformity.

Think of this scenario: The Enemy has far fewer people than you, but their coordination is far better. Your communication disadvantage is roughly equivalent to the barbarian tribes' disadvantage against the Romans. You throw and throw and throw people at The Enemy until their mistakes are hopefully one day magnified. That is how you win.

But now you have The Internet, with the ability to make their intelligence only marginally superior. The only thing holding you back now is how long it will take you to begin understanding what lies behind others' words, and to finally use it.

[ Parent ]
I'm sorry, but none of that makes sense. (5.00 / 1) (#28)
by blixco on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 08:38:46 AM EST

Seen from a purely academic standpoint, I'm sure that sounded good, but the internet is no more a tool of social change than a printed page. In fact, with printed pages being so rare these days compared to web pages, you'd probably generate more of an audience with a printed page.

I'm all for non-violent opposition. I'm also all for violent opposition. I don't think it's a polar issue. I think it's all opposition, and all of us have means to whatever end.

I'm not about throwing bodies into the machine, mine or anyone elses. The people I work with *do* take the time to carefully assess the best response to a given situation. Best response to jack booted thugs is a streetfight. Good media coverage, and lots of outrage from the slacker neophytes and right wing yupsters. Gets people off their asses and starts 'em thinking.

The quiet hacks, these are typically far more effective. Court cases, information warfare, manipulation of the press....these are all useful tools as well. Especially useful are the "politicians" once you get them in front of a camera.

As a side note, I don't take any honor for fighting for what I believe in. It's just work. We all do it everyday. I just don't like it when it gets discounted. Especially by people who don't understand that the end goal is not glory. The end goal is freedom. (apologies to raby for stealing that last bit).

-------------------------------------------
The root of the problem has been isolated.
[ Parent ]
Tyranny of the masses (3.37 / 16) (#7)
by Friendless on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 11:22:34 PM EST

It's called the Tyranny of the Masses. It explains tabloid journalism, the popularity of Ally McBeal, MSOffice, and many other things which smart people can't understand.

de Tocqueville (4.50 / 2) (#10)
by kei on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 12:48:51 AM EST

Alexis de Tocqueville would disagree with you, although I admit he was writing in a period of much more optimism for democracy.
--
"[An] infinite number of monkeys typing into GNU emacs would never make a good program."
- /usr/src/linux/Documentation/CodingStyle
[ Parent ]
Ta (none / 0) (#67)
by Friendless on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 07:43:37 PM EST

Thank you for the link. At first glance, I will have many hours of relaxing sleep as I try to read Mr De Tocqueville. I'll be interested in how his comments apply to other democracies, such as Australia, where there is less emphasis on the right to do your own thing.

[ Parent ]
Standing up. (3.80 / 25) (#8)
by Signal 11 on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 11:36:52 PM EST

First, I'm going to state the current state of online activism as I see it, then I'll wrap up with what can be done, currently.

The problem with geeks is that we are largely politically apathetic, being interested in politics only where it crosses our avocation, and nowhere else. Even when issues are brought up, we cling to the naive idea that somehow technology will bring about social changes; That we can out-smart the system by out-coding it, or creating new technology - Napster, Gnutella, mp3 encoders, DeCSS, just to name a few of the latest examples. While we pound our keyboards and post to message boards and send e-mails to our copatriots, outside of our community there is little to no awareness of the issues we find important. Of the issues that do come to mainstream attention, our opinions are invariably marginalized or altogether unknown. We show a remarkable inability to organize for change. The most vocal and active protests for geeks have involved a mere three major offensives - the 20 or so people who showed up at the US Patent Office, the Kevin Mitnick affair, and Refund Day. As far as Kevin Mitnick goes, the protests there were a complete and utter failure - seen as wide-eyed hippie radicals by the mainstream, the so-called hacker community was quickly marginalized and then ignored by the mainstream. The remaining two did not have any lasting effect on the general public's mindset, and the interest by the media was fleeting.

The few leaders we have we routinely rail against, ripping them apart in our online forums. Our net.celebrities routinely bear the brunt of hundreds of derogatory comments weekly, many of them little more than "You suck!" We ruthlessly cut into our leaders. When pressed, some will answer that geeks prefer peer-based relationships - we have no "leaders". The truth is somewhat more sobering. Political infighting amongst geeks, particularily those involving software projects, can take on epic proportions involving hundreds of people. If there are any leaders out there to rally behind, they are remaining hidden after seeing what shark-infested waters are waiting for them should they wade in and try to suggest that we organize for change. The "old farts" in our community have all but given up any hope of progress from within our community - disenfranchised even amongst the disenfranchised, many of them vacate the online forums and now lurk, thus feeding a vicious circle.

While we routinely point out to newcomers to our online forums that, as geeks, we control the plumbing of the so-called "e-commerce revolution" and are in control of critical infrastructure components of the United States (and increasingly abroad as the internet spreads, taking global capitalism along with it), we also routinely overlook the fact that most of us are paid by people who know little, if anything, about the technology. These people are the ones making the decisions, not us. While we possess the knowledge, a lack of organization in our ranks leaves us incapable of capitalizing on this opportunity.

That, is the current state of affairs.

This situation is not isolated to our community, nor is it unsolvable. It will, however, require the dedication and commitment of about thirty or fourty people who can agree on a basic course of action, form a core leadership, and take up the cause (whatever it may be). We need to get a small group of politically active and motivated geeks who have a thick skin and are willing to step up and start talking to the general public, and also to our politicians. Anyone who has ever tried to get others to the polls, or even to do more than have an opinion on an issue can appreciate the challenges herein, and why you need a thick skin. The success rate will be under 3%. 97% of the people will shrug off the issue, be disinterested, and a vocal minority will become hostile for these efforts. . These people will also need to educate and involve as many interested parties as possible, whether it be corporations, the typical slashdot poster, or members of the general public. These issues are ones that will affect all of us, therefore the appeal and focus should be to include as many people in this political movement as possible.

This would take an incredible amount of work, a small amount of risk, and require a moderate investment in resources. However, it is do-able, and it is certainly more straight-forward than building a free software project such as Linux. The question is, is there anyone left to step up to the plate? I address this question to the Kuro5hin community, small though it may be, partially because the poster of this story believes you are all capable of it, and partly because I do too.


--
Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.

You are mostly right (3.61 / 18) (#12)
by maketo on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 01:08:22 AM EST

Unfortunately. The big business got too big. You are a drone. Even if you care, noone listens. Not even the high-school inteligentsia of Kuro5hin (this really made me laugh). Is the spirit of Robin Hood dead? Or is it burried in the new Windstar van that your average TV family has parked in their nice green backyard?

Well, rebel, what are you waiting for? Sword to the hand, saddle the horse. Maybe chivalry and fighting for justice solely is not dead after all? I know that someone not so long ago here on kuro5hin told me that "I have to learn to set priorities and filter the junk from important stuff I should fight for" (it was the case of that RICE University radio that got shut down). So, the big bro taught you that you should only fight for what concerns you, personally.

I lay this to rest with a tear in my eye.


agents, bugs, nanites....see the connection?

Solution to Apoliticalness: Lead by Example (3.91 / 12) (#15)
by lucas on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 01:39:31 AM EST

I have to agree with Siggy on this. Geeks are apolitical, but, however, for a good reason: we want to be noticed not apart from our geek peers.

The presupposition seems a good one, that we are, indeed, the steelworkers of the information age. I think as with any sort of union or community, there are people who are leaders, however, they must act informal and also be perceived as not cajoling to more sinister forces.

As an example, ESR and Bruce Perens have capitalized on their geekiness and people scream (as Siggy mentions), "You suck!" Even Linus is disrespected for winning a "book deal" with a publisher. Is it any wonder no geek wants to take another step and become political?

I don't agree with the Author's drastic tone about things falling apart or the need to "tear down" the system. And, outside of high school, people *do* believe in things... not to fear... as I recall, no one really believed in anything in HS except superficial regurgitations from their parents and religious rhetoric. Abstractive mechanisms for deduction and appreciation don't come into play until about age 19 - 22. Some might also say that this because you start to get "stuck in your ways".

As has been discussed, we live in a republic, not a democracy. Our founding fathers believed the will of the people too dangerous (and perhaps uneducated) for majority rule. Today, we can see this protecting somewhat of a status quo. Trends sweep through the masses like wildfire; they are able to affect government, but not to the extent that they could be otherwise. Status quo is a good thing in many ways.

If we are all equal in government, then everyone is given a voice in leading and nothing is done because there is no one to follow. Right now, the majority wants the Internet to be regulated to improve security and accountability. We don't agree with this. However, the only way they are winning is because they are demonstrating that such an idea works through ideas like e-commerce. They are not muscling geeks around to believe in this way or tearing up the system.

If you (or any geek reading this) wants change, your choice is thus: you must not advocate radicalism, but work to change the dominant paradigm by showing that the ideas work. It's how American society works. When you try to force a revolution or push people around in the dominent paradigm without having the details and specifics worked out (e.g., communism or Green party socialism), you're going to have some serious problems. As it is said, when you live by the sword, you will die by it.

Lucas
lucas@spindl3top.org.nospam

The K5 Disclaimer: please don't mod this down because you don't agree. rather, please respond.

Something else you can do (4.14 / 14) (#16)
by Wah on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 01:42:51 AM EST

Start to take over the media. I see an absolutely stunning example of this, every time I go check this out. This is what happens when you give the masses a voice. It doesn't come through quite as loud and clear as it does from a television commercial.

I really liked this essay until it got negative.

We, the people, are.

This is the part where I hoped you were going to say something like...

It is we who are in control of our futures. Despite how ever many times I may hear in my life that "Coke is it!", I will drink what I want. Despite how every many times I am told I don't matter, I will do what I feel is right. The world that I want can exist, if only I can keep moving toward it.

or something to that effect.

Returning to that "taking over the media theme." Take a page from the playbook of Rusty or CmdrTaco, or whoever else takes the time to create and build a media outlet. Sites like k5 right now may just cater to the geek masses, but I hope that doesn't hold for long (a problem I'm looking into). I have come to understand that many of the issues I see recurrent in these circles are important to "regular folks." Many times they are unfamilar with the precise facts about the issues, but if you can put how and what you feel in simpler terms, highlighting basic issues, nearly anyone is a receptive audience.

I say these things because I do talk to random people on the street about stuff like this. I haven't really done this in an organized way, or to a large group of people, but small talk can lead to these issues quickly if you know how to relate it to everyday life. All of my friends, far and wide, have at least a basic understanding of many of these ideas. A number of them completely buy into image based lifestyles, they can still grasp deeper issues, but often choose not to, for the simple discomfort of it. But I have their e-mail address, and when I think the need is right, I have a direct path to their attention. The power of networking like this can be easily seen in the spread of the "e-mail media" that seems to make the rounds (something I've taken to calling "web schwag").

These are the people you have to convince if you ever wish to forment sweeping change. And their very reluctance to wander into such basic territory, because of thier unease in such situations, makes changing those opinions ever more difficult.

There are a lot of foundation type issues that are not quite expressed in this paper, or my comments. This leads to a general concensus in these forums without a clear course of action. I'd say to keep reading this site and others like it for movements in that direction...if enough people care about it enough. Critical mass of public opinion is an interesting topic.
--
Fail to Obey?

Media is old-style; organizations are new-style (4.00 / 2) (#19)
by Sunir on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 03:41:04 AM EST

Take a page from the playbook of Rusty or CmdrTaco, or whoever else takes the time to create and build a media outlet. Sites like k5 right now may just cater to the geek masses, but I hope that doesn't hold for long (a problem I'm looking into).

That approach isn't sufficient any more. Sites like /. and k5 are apolitical as they are discussion sites with no real target effect (such as stopping polution!). At best, they have editorial biases, but that's mere advocacy and kind of boring (Open Source is good, ok, but now what? Talk more about how good Open Source is?). To make a dent, especially with online media, it's superior to go beyond mere advocacy and actually organize your patrons to do something. While this may seem like a tremendous amount of work, it's not. Online media makes this automagic (almost).

I help people build organizations online. I call them online communities, but really they are just open-ended organizations built around media (or media built around organizations?). Currently, most of my work goes into MeatballWiki, an online community about online communities (go figure). I encourage anyone interested in building self-sustaining organizations to keep it in your sights (or even become a recent changes junkie like the rest of us).

Personally, after MeatballWiki, I am working on Crystal Palace, a would-be online community to track ownership relationships. Thus one can ask who really owns Kraft Dinner? A. Philip Morris. These kinds of community-minded fora will become more prevalent as the 'net matures, and they will necessarily be community supported. Well, they should be, I think. It would be terrible to be community-minded and not be capable of maintaining a community.

"Look! You're free! Go, and be free!" and everyone hated it for that. --r
[ Parent ]

Doesn't cut the mustard. They who? (4.45 / 24) (#18)
by Sunir on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 02:48:35 AM EST

I suggest that your disdain for the common problems people have is misplaced. It's too much (and wrongheaded) to require everyone to aspire to altruism all the time. Life isn't a constant struggle between philosophies. Life is the little bits in between: choosing Grey Poupon over Honey Dijon mustard, not choosing a free market economy over social capitalism.

I don't think it's fair to look condescendingly upon your peers for being concerned with the trivialities that constitute a day, like who dates whom and what clothes to buy. I admit, certainly, by not being greatly involved with the real troubles of the world (like paying bills and dealing with disruptive neighbours), those concerns will likely be superficial. But, on the other hand, so too are zealous politics (un)informed from this lack of worldliness. I don't think the near synomity of "student" with "protestor" comes just from youth energy and youth freedom. Youth naivety certainly plays a role. Issues aren't cut and dry, sound biteable, true or false things. I challenge you to explore your municipal government's functioning. Choosing a landfill location is an excellent example of real democracy in action. The devil's in the bloody details, as they say.

I get really annoyed at folks who think activism ends at culture jamming. Actually, I get really annoyed at folks who think democracy ends with activism. Sure, pushing an issue onto the psyches of the populace is important, but that's only the first step. Someone's has got to actually solve the problem.

Further, taking a combative stance towards the so-called conspiracies of control is the worst move. First, there are no media conspiracies, and the government isn't the enemy. The superior move in a democracy is to engage the other parties as if they were people just like you because they really, truly are. Journalists and politicians alike all have to buy mustard. Assume good faith! Try to resolve conflict peacably. And remember that voting is one of the most violent means to resolve conflict (as there are guaranteed losers).

I hope you recognize the false labeling you have engaged in with this article. Polarizing us vs. them, "elected officials" vs. "the people", the "society" vs. "us", "the press" vs. "the masses". You accomplish only demonizing those who act in good faith, a totally unfair stance. You are spouting the same one-sided, myopic propoganda culture jammers use to combat equally disgusting propoganda from "the other side".

My hard advice: believe in people as people, not as them. Most of us want a better world. Trust that and treat them with the respect you want for yourself. Then go out and work with them to get something done.

"Look! You're free! Go, and be free!" and everyone hated it for that. --r

Err, I think you're agreeing with ObeseWhale? (2.00 / 3) (#21)
by seb on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 05:22:06 AM EST

OK, so ObeseWhale could censor school peers a little less, though I'd suggest that's pretty hard thing to do in a HS environment where most people have yet to mature to the point where they can treat each others with respect.

Otherwise, I don't think ObeseWhale was polarising Us v. Them at all:

"Conspiracy theorists claim that the government is keeping us down on our knees...Others say that the press is what is controlling us...So who is it that is controlling the masses? Who is there behind the scenes, pulling the strings of the western world...We, the people, are."


[ Parent ]
I most definitely am not agreeing. (4.66 / 3) (#22)
by Sunir on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 05:42:08 AM EST

If you read the second and third last paragraphs closely, you can see what I mean. A sample:
  • The people elect government officials
  • The people are fueled by a press that indoctrinates them with the fascist messages of obedience and counter-insurgence
  • we can reject the values that society tries to chain us down with.
The last one is particularly telling. Instead, note that the government officials are people, the press is run by people, and we are part of society.

Also note that in the first two cases, government officials can vote too, and journalists also read the press to get caught up on the news.

My point is that ObeseWhale is falsely setting it up as "us" (the people, us) vs. "them" (government, press, society).

"Look! You're free! Go, and be free!" and everyone hated it for that. --r
[ Parent ]

Them.... (2.00 / 3) (#25)
by ambiguous on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 06:51:40 AM EST

Actually, ObeseWhale is quite correctly setting it up as "us" verses "them".

Us being the individuals and them being the organizations (government, press, society, etc).
These organizations have little to no interest whatsoever in our (the individual) opinions or well being.
For the most part they are made up of a tight knit community which acts in its own self-interest.

To run for election takes millions, and in the case of the presidency billions, of dollars to be elected.
The majority of this money comes either directly or indirectly from large corporations.
And the politicians, knowing this, are more concerned with what these corporations think than what individuals think.
This is clearly evident by looking at the state of the environment, the health care and education systems.

You are correct in your assertion that "government officials are people" but what you've missed is that when they act in the capacity as members of these organizations they are no longer acting as individuals but with their organizations best interest at heart.

As I see it, the "us" versus "them" is really about insuring that the world is not run by the few at the expense of the many.
And I believe this is the point ObeseWhale was making.


"Against one that is insane, insane measures are often best." -- Pirx The Pilot ("The Hunt", Stanislaw Lem)
[ Parent ]
More appeals to humanity's better half (5.00 / 2) (#65)
by Sunir on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 07:23:05 PM EST

You presume that organizations naturally suffer from groupthink and groupshift, but that's false. Some may fall into that mode, but even then, the people that constitute the organization can be dealt with individually.

When you encounter a civil servant, for instance, I admit that many are Policy Pinheads--people who strictly adhere to the rule book. But that isn't because they deeply believe in the rules; it's because they're afraid to break them and being censured for it.

On the other hand, most of the other people attempt to be reasonable (for some definition of "reasonable"). If you go in with a non-combative attitude and attempt to relate to them on a human to human level, things almost universally work out. An occasional bad apple appears, but that isn't enough to characterize the whole of humanity as depraved powermongers.

These organizations have little to no interest whatsoever in our (the individual) opinions or well being. For the most part they are made up of a tight knit community which acts in its own self-interest.

The organization by necessity works at least partly in its own self-interest or it couldn't, wouldn't exist. But most people aren't cold-hearted, automatons executing the will of a calculating troll oppressing them. People really do act in good faith. People have consciences. People feel better when they help other people. And the latter point isn't just a platitude; it's been shown empirically, for instance by Hackman and Oldham in their Work Design Theory.

Really, organizations are made up of people. If you can't deal with the abstract entity that is the organization, you can frequently appeal to its constituent members.

To run for election takes millions

So what? Running for election is the least interesting way to get something done. You only elect people who you feel are competent enough to lead an organization, but that doesn't mean they are going to solve all the problems themselves. Instead, a whole slew of people are involved to get things done in the real world. From civil servants to you and I sitting in our homes to everyone in between. It's false to believe that you can leave society to government alone to run. You are society.

I'm serious. If you want to see how a free society really works, get involved with your own municipality. Or if you're one of those drama addicts, looking for the high-rolling stakes of federal government, watch the minutes of your legislature in action. (Even though all the real work gets done in Committee.) The intricacies of farm subsidy zonings should give you a clue of how bogus the image of Government the Oppressor is in most cases. The only real point of bogosity comes from the level of abstraction people in those high positions have to work with. With only so much time, and so many decisions, affecting so many people, sure enough things get a bit wonky. But I chalk that up to normal human failings, not to evil. Not something to be fought against, but something to be worked through.

"Look! You're free! Go, and be free!" and everyone hated it for that. --r
[ Parent ]

It's called capitalism. TINA. (3.88 / 18) (#20)
by streetlawyer on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 04:21:54 AM EST

I'm unsure exactly what it is you're actually against here. You don't seem to have a problem with wage labour under capitalism per se -- you're not a Marxist. Your main thesis appears to be anti-militarist; but if so, it seems strange to be complaining so hard about a status quo which, whatever its faults, has kept major powers off each others' throats for a surprisingly long period of time, even if it does seem to have a serious grudge against Iraqi children.

Your main point of complaint appears to be that culture is homogeneous, and that people tend to have very similar views on things. But how could it be any other way?

Capitalism is the form of social organisation which is associated with a particular arrangement of productive forces -- specifically, mass production. Culture and media is just another industry, so like everything else, it is mass-produced. Weblogs and sites are interesting, but the productive forces of the web aren't yet well-developed enough to compete with mass producers.

And is this really so bad? Mass production has given us a lot, and has made life immeasurably better for a small but significant proportion of humanity. The alienating effect you identify was spotted by Marx as early as 1844, but so far, humanity has decided that the level of psychic pollution is tolerated. Call me a terrible old historical materialist, but the possible solutions to your problem all lie in the development of the productive forces to a point beyond that where capitalist mass production is necessary, and the only hope for that development is the current system.

Furthermore, you seem to believe that the people control the government. I'd be interested in your evidence for this startling and counter-intuitive idea :)

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever

You are the mass! (3.25 / 8) (#23)
by Nickus on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 05:48:50 AM EST

The general public is quite stupid, when taken as a crowd. Each individual may be an intelligent thinking human being but only to some extent. I.e, in issues that are important for me like my closest environment, my work and in bigger issues like Free Software I know quite a lot. But when it comes to issues I don't care about I take the medias coverage for granted and many times as the truth. When you see something in a news coverage you probably think "Oh, is it so. Too bad for those poor bastards" and that's all. A few more episodes of that and you think you know the truth. Since it isn't an issue important for you then you are prone to accept the "media truth". But when it comes to a subject you know you all rise to the barricades and yell that media is corrupt. How strange and how human.



Due to budget cuts, light at end of tunnel will be out. --Unknown
the problem with smart people, and k5 too (4.00 / 18) (#24)
by John Smallberries on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 06:45:55 AM EST

The problem with bright people is that they make the mistake of thinking because they are smarter than anyone (any individual) they think they are smarter than everyone (as a group).

I think I may puke if I read another teen-agnst manifesto on K5. There are some good discussions here, but far too much back-patting misunderstood youth/brilliance/your-favoriate-quality-about-yourself posts.

Ignore my politics, but recently at a party I was talking to a die-hard comunist (I live in Boston, they grow on trees). I asked him how he would go about setting up a perfect government, and he started "I would get myself, and some of the people I know, and ..." I died laughing. Western countries work because people tackle alot of small things, and there are alot of people. Don't cry at the plight of the world, its always to big as a whole, utopias can't be made from whole cloth. Pick something you can change and do it. Other people will pick something else, and work at that. This is the only possible way for real change. If you are still allowed to write about revolution, things haven't gone far enough where you need one yet.

I don't mean to slight this author, but there has been a slew of these posts lately, and the line

Kuro5hin is where I see the true geniuses of our society speaking out on the issues

is just toooo much.

-sb

The problem with changing the world (5.00 / 1) (#58)
by 2fish on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 04:53:57 PM EST

I think your post is right on target, with one exception: you imply that choosing your assistants from among your like-minded associates is a Bad Thing®. Although I see your point, every initiative for change (at least those involving more than one person) eventually boils down to the initiator (or someone who has taken his/her mantle of leadership) choosing assistants from people with whom he/she is comfortable; this usually means "...some of the people I know...." This is not because these people are the most qualified, but because they are the ones who work together the best. As the ego wars among Open Source developers illustrate, constant in-fighting slows down change.

2fish

Give me liberty, or give me death!
[ Parent ]
further reading (3.75 / 12) (#26)
by fantastic-cat on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 06:59:34 AM EST

If your interested in this kind of stuff you should certainly read Noam Chomsky.

Very quick summary : According to Chomsky, the elites who control and benefit from the American political system preserve that system by marginalizing alternative political views, selectively reporting on the consequences of United States foreign policy, and creating political apathy among the general populace by encouraging them to watch professional sports and TV sitcoms rather than actively participate in the political process.

Theres a great collection of his writings over the last 40 or so years here at zdmag

Because of his views he's somewhat marginalised in the US but in the rest of the world he's taught in most politics courses as well as being a highly respected linguist and philosopher.
t.

World orders old and new (2.00 / 2) (#35)
by ObeseWhale on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 10:02:16 AM EST

I've read chomsky before, book above. Another author that I feel is right on track is Howard Zinn, author of Declarations of Indepedence: Cross Examining American Ideology.

---

"The hunger for liberty may he suppressed for a time; yet never exterminated. Man's natural instinct is for freedom, and no power on earth can succeed in crushing it for very long."
-Alexander Berkman
[ Parent ]
Zinn (none / 0) (#48)
by a humble lich on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 02:43:19 PM EST

Another book by Howard Zinn that I liked was _A People's History of the US_. It is a fairly one sided look on history and as with all things it is important to read it with an open mind, but he talks about things that don't usually get discussed in most US history classes.

[ Parent ]
Nonsense. The elite don't do that. (2.80 / 5) (#41)
by marlowe on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 11:58:28 AM EST

The masses do it to themselves. Censorship in a free country is driven from the bottom up.


-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
I dissagree (none / 0) (#75)
by fantastic-cat on Wed Dec 13, 2000 at 06:49:08 AM EST

I don't understand, where do you consider the bottom of society? those with the least power? if they have the least power how can they drive anything. I may be missing your point so some further explanation may be helpful backed up with some examples perhaps.

[ Parent ]
Power (5.00 / 1) (#78)
by fizban on Wed Dec 13, 2000 at 11:56:34 AM EST

The power they have is the power over themselves, which, when occurring en masse, leads to this drive from the "bottom" up.

--
Lyell Haynes
fizban@umich.edu
[ Parent ]
the way I see it (none / 0) (#91)
by fantastic-cat on Thu Dec 14, 2000 at 09:30:09 AM EST

The political system has virtually no flow from bottom to top, apart from the local level; the general public appears to regard it as largely meaningless, as witnessed by voter turnout in just about every election over the last 50 years.

The media present a spectrum of opinion, largely reflecting tactical divisions within the state-corporate nexus. Anyone speaking out side this sanctioned arena of discourse is condemed as "anti-American" (a strikingly totalitarian turn of phrase) dissenting protesters and organisations (even third parties in general elections) are viewed as threats to democracy, which seems to me to be in direct contravention of the dictionary deffinition of democracy under which these things, the introduction of further view points to the political landscape, would be viewed as an enhancement and a benefit to democracy. If this isn't a corporate/media elite protecting it's own interests I don't know what is.

[ Parent ]

Right (none / 0) (#80)
by Khedak on Wed Dec 13, 2000 at 12:11:31 PM EST

But the United States is not a 'free country' in that respect. For example, most Republicans know absolutely nothing more about politics and foreign affairs then they hear from their "superiors", that is to say, politicians like Bush, and pundits like Rush Limbaugh. Why? Because they're trained to believe that the media lies to them (which it does), and therefore listen to people whom they trust (whom they shouldn't) to tell them "how it really is." Most of the people driving censorship against Video Games, Drug information, "Pornography" actually believe that they are in the right, but they have rarely ever seen or know the significance of the documents they're censoring. Most people for drug information censorship believe, as they've been told, that it will keep the streets safe and keep kids off drugs, when that simply is not the case.

Why do they think this? Because they've been told. This is just one example, but the principle holds throughout all of society: People trust other people, but by and large the people whom they trust don't tell them the whole truth. They use the populace to their own political advantage, and when it's pointed out, the people are actually glad, because they want their trusted leaders to be re-elected. Because they've been trained to want that, too.

People like the sheep metaphor, but they often miss the most important part of the sheep metaphor: Sheep did not evolve in the wild to be submissive to humans and sheepdogs. They were bred like that over thousands of years by humans. People are like sheep, they want direction and to be led, but the reason isn't because that's their true nature: it's because that's the way our society (as well as most others) scripts people from birth.

[ Parent ]
Primetime TV Education (none / 0) (#113)
by strawser on Wed Dec 20, 2000 at 01:00:22 PM EST

> According to Chomsky, the elites who control and
> benefit from the American political system preserve that
> system by marginalizing alternative political views,
> selectively reporting on the consequences of United
> States foreign policy, and creating political apathy
> among the general populace by encouraging them to watch
> professional sports and TV sitcoms rather than actively
> participate in the political process.

Not that I consider Biaffra an intellectual leader, but old Jello says the same thing. I tend to agree.

Eric


"Traveler, there is no path. You make the path as you walk." -- Antonio Machado
[ Parent ]
Say what? (2.20 / 15) (#27)
by PenguinWrangler on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 07:06:51 AM EST

Kuro5hin is where I see the true geniuses of our society speaking out...
What? True Geniuses? Like high-school kids whining because they don't have things all their own way?
Still, why whine at mummy and daddy when you can whine at people on the internet who give even less of a shit?

"Information wants to be paid"
Two problems with this (3.16 / 12) (#29)
by ignatiusst on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 08:56:55 AM EST

First, let me begin by applauding your effort. You have attempted to indicte us for our passive acceptance of the status-quo, and that should not go unrecognized.

For future reference, however, I offer this criticism:

  • Do not let us know you are in High School. Most of us have already been where you are standing, and having experienced it ourselves, we have little trust of a young man's/woman's fiery indignation over societies ills.
  • You seemed to be carrying the theme quite well up until the last sentence, "K5ers, it's about time you all took action." That just destroyed any chance you had in getting us to take up your challenge. What is this "You" shit? For the last 1000 words, you were talking about how "We" needed to affect a change, but in the end, when it came down to taking action it suddenly shifted to "You".

Overall, a good effort, but your call to revolutionary reform still need work.

When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. -- Jonathan Swift

You miss the obvious... (3.22 / 9) (#30)
by Zeram on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 09:14:12 AM EST

Americans don't want democracy, they don't want a republic, they want a nanny state. Most Americans want a place where they can lead what ever sort of jag-off lifestyle they want, but at the same time have the government sheild their kids from ever learning about said lifestyle. This is a nation built on an extreme sense of entitlement, and the governement is stripping us of our liberty faster than you can say "Johny go and get your gun" in the guise of giving us our fix of that entitlement. The men who founded this conutry felt that there needed to a little bit of revolution every so often to keep things honest, however we never get taught about that because the structures that are in place have a vested interest in staying there. Not that we should reinvent the wheel all the time, but change is neccessary and has been avoided for way too long and now the problem becomes removing socieatial structures that are entrenched. That removal will be neither pleasant, nor quick, nor easy, but it is coming.
<----^---->
Like Anime? In the Philly metro area? Welcome to the machine...
A Touch of Hubris (4.56 / 23) (#32)
by kostya on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 09:44:50 AM EST

Perhaps this has already been noted, but I would like to give you one bit of advice: seek humility.

I'm sure that sounds lame, and I bet I sound like I am supporting the status quo by "keeping you down." But I'm not. I live a deliberate life and I do my best to encourage those around me to think for themselves--something which I think fights the "culture" rather effectively. That being said, I have been where you are: idignant and holding an answer.

The issue is that of pride. Some might say arrogance, but I think that has too much negative connotation to it. Your essay smacks of eltism and righteous indignation--warning signs that perhaps you don't have all the pieces. Yes, we need people to get motivated, to do something practical. But if they are not fully informed, if their minds are already closed before they are taking action, then they are just going to contribute to the problem. They will become yet another group screaming in the distance, being marginalized because they are missing the point. With such exclusive thinking, such rampant assumptions that IQ equals wisdom, I fear that you have no more answers than the culture you are fighting against. You are simply a new elite which wishes to displace the entrenched elite.

You may have stopped reading by now. That would be too bad. I read your entire article. I see some great points in it. However, these points are surrounded by a lot of "I'm better than you are" that makes me wary.

At the risk of overgeneralizing your essay, it appears to be another, "Geeks should rule because we are so smart" essay. And those kinds of essays scare me. They show how much we don't know. They show that we would screw things up just as much. We aren't enlightened. We are blinded by the magnificance of our own IQs. With that kind of attitude, we would be no better than the culture you rail against.

An open mind resting on a foundation of humility would be the best thing to seek. That doesn't mean we sit on the sidelines, but that we are wise enough to realize that we don't have all the pieces to the puzzle. Scale back on your "We've Got It Right" stuff and seek some middle ground.



----
Veritas otium parit. --Terence
Not my intent (2.50 / 2) (#33)
by ObeseWhale on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 09:54:32 AM EST

My intent is not to say "geeks are better than others". My intent is to say that k5ers have a LOT to say about the world, and I see it fitting that we communicate our message not just within ourselves, but with those around us. The whole premise of the essay is "we are not the intelligentsia" isn't it?

---

"The hunger for liberty may he suppressed for a time; yet never exterminated. Man's natural instinct is for freedom, and no power on earth can succeed in crushing it for very long."
-Alexander Berkman
[ Parent ]
Who are the k5ers? (5.00 / 14) (#40)
by B'Trey on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 11:21:50 AM EST

I'm out of school, but I now go to work each day. I have stood in the hallway and talked about Gary's new truck, John's troubles with his wife and how Dale's recovering from his vasectomy. If you saw me, would you know me? Or would you listen to a few words of casual conversation and assume that "the vast majority of what goes through my mind is irrelevant, unimportant, and vastly useless?"

Do you think k5 and those who participate here are particularly unique? In the late '80s, I began hanging out on Bulliten Boards. Among other things, BBS's transfered messages. I hung out in a network called U'NI. It had various forums, similar to Usenet but on a smaller scale. My favorites were Opinions and Politics, although I was a frequent contributor to various programming, software and hardware forumns. Today, the BBS's are gone. The folks that I met back then now have a private mailing list and we still keep in touch. Currently, we're talking about the role of government in health care, whether rights are an inherent attribute of humanity or a philisophical construct, how society should handle child porn, and a host of other subjects of earth shaking importance. One of these people is a lawyer; one's a career military man; one's a stock broker; one's a quadrapeligic who uses voice recognition software to send his messages; one's a cantankerous old fuck who lives in Singapore and does who-knows-what for a living. Although I've known and talked and argued with them for a dozen years, I wouldn't recognize a single one of them if I walked past them on the street. Would you?

My point here is that k5 is neither unique nor new. The people that hang out here aren't geniuses. We aren't particularly special. We aren't any more profound or important than the people you look down your nose at as you walk down the hallway. We're just people expressing our opinion and relating to each other in a way that we find comfortable. Just because you don't hear someone articulate a particular political position or expounding upon some deep philisophical point doesn't mean that they don't have opinions and beliefs that are just as well thought out and as fervently held as any of your own. Sorry, and no offense intended, but you ain't that special. And neither am I.

[ Parent ]

Sorry Matt, but I agree. (3.00 / 1) (#44)
by Shaggie76 on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 12:34:52 PM EST

Once, when a reporter complimented Ghandi by saying "You're an ambitious man, Mr. Ghandi" he replied, "I hope not."

You're on the right track, and it's encouraging to see such exuberance, but I don't think it's as simple as you think. You might convince more people if you kept that in mind.

Your rant was well written, though.

[ Parent ]

"True geniuses of our society" (2.12 / 8) (#34)
by ObeseWhale on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 09:56:41 AM EST

I have recieved several comments thus far taking the stance that labelling k5ers as geniuses is going too far. Perhaps it is, maybe "thinkers" would be a better word. However, I find that anyone who can muster the mind to question the current system, to rethink the basic principles society has handed him/her on a platter, has a little bit of genius inside.

---

"The hunger for liberty may he suppressed for a time; yet never exterminated. Man's natural instinct is for freedom, and no power on earth can succeed in crushing it for very long."
-Alexander Berkman
Dr. Peanut's new clubbing stick. (3.00 / 9) (#36)
by DeadBaby on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 10:07:02 AM EST

People talk about a lot of stupid, pointless, irrelevant things but it's normally the only common bound they share. It's the only way they can communicate. Billy's new truck is some pathetic excuse for interacting with their peers. In this sense, is Linux or various other topics on K5 any better? Some. At least most of them have some value but it's more similar than it might appear. Anyway...

The greater issue is change. We all think change should happen in front of our eyes. I don't. Look at all the change in the last 100 years. The average 15 year old today probably knows more than most people who died 100 years ago ever did. They still THINK the same way. Their worlds are still very small, very local, very narrow and uninspired. High school is the most awful example of this. Public schools are not really that bad in most cases yet you see people who just don't want to learn. They'd rather play with their hair and use popular catch phrases of the day.

We're part of a self-imposed dark age. We figure there are "people" to take care of us, "people" to make sure we don't blow ourselves up, "people" to make sure there is always a hot meal less than 6 hours away. People figure there isn't much reason to be smart. You don't even have to be literate in this country to function.

The simple truth is, if you're smart enough to find a job your life in America is really pretty easy and pointless and it's not surprising that's all most people limit their minds to. I have absolutely no clue how you could even begin to fix it. I'm not even sure I want it fixed. I think it's just a flaw of the human mind.

A happy ape is an ape who can talk about Dr. Peanut's new clubbing stick instead of how to evolve into a human. I think the bulk of the human race as temporarily out grown their brain cases. We should just all be glad we're not part of that group and let them be happy with what they have.
"Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us." - Carl Sagan

Wake up call. (4.18 / 16) (#37)
by finkployd on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 10:19:42 AM EST

You don't know squat about politics, economics, forign relations, education, government, etc.

Got your attention yet? :)
That wasn't meant to be mean or rude, but that is what any economist, public official, etc is going to say when a "genius" computer scientist tells him how he should be running things. Being able to write in assembly language certainly raises my opinion of someone when it comes to programming, but that doesn't mean I'm going to give any credence to their political views or economic theories. Where do we get off assuming that because we can code, we must have all the answers to the world's woes?

Not to say that we should just sit back and let those who do understand economics, politics, etc. do it for us and trust in their wisdom, that wouldn't be the hacker spirit I know and love :) But before we spout off about how much better the world would be if 'the man' would just listen to our enlightend opinions, we should perhaps educate outselves on the topics we are ranting against. I'd also like to see many of us get off this "I'm a genius" kick because we understand the 'towers of hanoi' problem. That kind of thinking makes geeks look like a bunch of whining elitists with no real understanding of the world around them.

How would you like a physician telling you that your code is awful and he knows how to do it much better because he went to medical school?

Finkployd


Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
The point of democracy... (none / 0) (#57)
by ObeseWhale on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 04:50:23 PM EST

Is that the people know how to best run the country, and make their decisions based on their worldview. Thus, everyone has some sort of power if they vote, and those politicians you speak of rely upon our input. The realm of politics (excluding economics), is also one that, while can be studied, isn't one I consider to be an area of "experts" and "newbies", everyone has their own views. Coding is completely different.

Your comment also makes a hidden assumption that k5ers are all code-gobblers who don't know a tear about world politics. This is completely untrue. My government teacher, who isn't the biggest computer geek, is a k5er, and I know several people who are barely computer literate who are fans of this site. I am sure there are political science students who read the site and even agree with many of the proposed views on it.

---

"The hunger for liberty may he suppressed for a time; yet never exterminated. Man's natural instinct is for freedom, and no power on earth can succeed in crushing it for very long."
-Alexander Berkman
[ Parent ]
Reponse (none / 0) (#83)
by finkployd on Wed Dec 13, 2000 at 01:16:25 PM EST

Of course my comment wasn't meant to be all inclusive of everyone at K5 (or that other site). I was mearly making a generalization that the majority of geeks on both sites seemed to operate on the assumption that they were very intelligent (most likely true) and were more qualified by virtue of that to better make decision for the economy or politics than those who are making the decisions (flawed reasoning). I'm not saying that there is nobody here that has the experience and intelligence in these fields, I'm mearly saying that expertise in computers alone doesn't make one qualified to act as an expert in everything.

Lastly, we are not in a democracy with the assumption that the people know best how to run the country. We are in a republic where the assumption is that the people can best pick those who DO know how to run the country.

Finkployd


Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
[ Parent ]
who we are (3.00 / 10) (#38)
by mami on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 10:54:13 AM EST

the vast majority of what goes through their minds is irrelevant, unimportant, and vastly useless. ...

No, it is what life is all about.

Kuro5hin is where I see the true geniuses of our society speaking out on the issues which directly affect the way our world works. ...

No, it's a place where some people cuddle around and exchange their fears and thoughts to make sense about life. Like any other place where other people do the same.

Indeed, what we post to k5 has little to no ultimate effect on the entrenched system of policy unless we begin to take action...

Indeed, and if you take action you would answer your own questions by being faced with realities of our human genetic make up and understand what role nature plays in our actions.

So who is it that is controlling the masses? Who is there behind the scenes, pulling the strings of the western world. We, the people, are.... .

You got it. Aren't we always behind everything ? Are darn DNA .

So, if society is disembowling itself, is there anything we can do other than sit, watch and talk about Linux? There sure as bloody hell is....

And there sure as bloddy hell is nothing more changed than your real time, local living conditions for one tiny, itsy bit of issue, you are able to manage to change. Boy, am I lucky it works like that. Have you ever seen great revolutionaries change life to the better for the masses ?

K5ers, it's about time you all took action.

Til you understand that humankind is not capable of learning from history or from generations before them. Don't expect to be smarter in anything you do than anybody else. God as sure as hell will teach you differently. Even if it takes as long as you live.

Not a revolutionary... (none / 0) (#59)
by Solaarius on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 06:03:34 PM EST

Thank God you've never heard of Voltaire, Gallileo, Alexander Graham Bell, Albert Einstein or even your very own founding fathers.

I'm sure God "sure as hell" taught them that they couldn't expect to be smarter in anything they did than anybody else. After all, we all know that not one of these people brought about any kind of positive change for anyone but themselves.

Thank God for "are" DNA that makes us all the same...
----

"The Age was called Dark not because there was no Light, but rather because the People refused to see It."
[ Parent ]

Thinkers. (4.18 / 11) (#39)
by Alarmist on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 11:14:17 AM EST

This is an interesting thesis. It strikes me as being a rant about one basic subject: that the people around you who happen to be about your age ("peers" would be a nice shorthand, but I don't think you'd like it) are seemingly not concerned with the same things you are.

As others have doubtlessly pointed out, not all humans think about things in the same way. We all have different priorities. While it might not be earthshaking to you that Jenny's broken up with Bill, it is important to some people because that's what they choose to involve themselves with. Their lives are a Gap commercial? Certainly. But that's their choice. It seems to us that these people are shallow, concerned with things that are of no consequence, and ultimately will destroy the United States through their apathy. Perhaps this is true. But what's really killing us is the fact that so many people--even thoughtful sorts who lie awake at night wondering what kind of world their children will inherit--do nothing about the problem.

You address this to some extent, but it strikes me that nobody here is really getting to the meat of the matter. Nobody is suggesting that we could be the shepherds of this vast flock of sheep. Nobody is saying that the ability to sway the public through misdirection and balderdash isn't a tool that both sides can use. We treat this as an evil--"Let people make their own choices!" Indeed. I have no problem with letting people make up their own minds. It's a practice I encourage. But I see no ethical argument against feeding them information in such a way that they are likely to form opinions that favor us.

Put your money where your mouth is. If we regard ourselves as being superior in any way to these people, shouldn't we shoulder the responsibility of taking care of them? Shouldn't altruism drive our actions?


You've got it wrong. (3.50 / 10) (#42)
by GreenCrackBaby on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 12:11:38 PM EST

You do not live in a democracy and your gov't is not run by the people. I don't want to come off sounding like a conspiracy theorist here (or some Nader supporter), but the simple fact is that you live in a country that is controlled by corporations.

In a true democratic society, the will of the many would always prevail. That isn't my "made-up" definition of a democracy...that's what the word means. The idea is that people vote for a person to represent them (and their views) in gov't. This should mean that regardless of partisan feelings or lobby efforts, that representative will always vote for what his constituents believe in. Does this happen...no. Therefore you don't have a true democracy.

Given that the average IQ of people is 100, this probably isn't a bad thing, but it does open the door for coporations and special interest groups to step in and dictate policy. This is hardly ever a benifit to the average joe.

</Rambling speach off>

I need a coffee...

Democratic republics... (5.00 / 1) (#54)
by Miniluv on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 04:08:39 PM EST

It's the great American myth that we're a "true demomcracy". We are, and have always been, a freely elected republic. This is, fundamentally, not a bad thing. The system is not the problem, it's the people being put into that system to work with it who are. It's not a question of political parties but instead one of individuals.

At this point in time we honestly have more pressing issues than attempting a conversion to a totally untried form of government, especially one that is as time consuming for the average citizen as "pure democracy". Republicanism is a pretty fair middle ground, provided people are willing to take the step to spend some time each week/month/year/election cycle and honestly evaluate the candidates placed before them.

Becoming involved in your political process is not actually very difficult, the Gov't does a pretty decent job of making all sorts of information available online about your representatives, at least here in the US, for your consumption. Check out their voting record, read the actual legislation they voted on, then give 'em a call and speak your mind, but do so in an intelligent, informed manner. You may not like this person or their politics, but he/she is still a human being and deserves a bare modicum of respect.

The old saw "Think Globally, act locally" has a lot more value than it might look to at first glance. Nobody has the power to influence the whole world, and that's a good thing. No one person is smart enough to know what everyone needs, or even wants. We do however have the ability to see what is best for us in a specific region. Start with city governments, work with your state legislature, then think about the federal government. That is the most common order of importance in your daily life of those legislative bodies.

When you try to educate your fellow citizens about your beliefs, don't tell them they're wrong. Don't even try to show them that they're wrong, because what they believe isn't wrong, it's a belief. Instead, try to show them that you have a better way, better vision, whatever. Encourage them to exceed what they have now, not abolish it. People are motivated by progress, not threats. Be ready to sit down and explain to them how they'll directly benefit from what you're proposing, if at all possible.

A lot of people can spout about the hopelessness of a situation, that doesn't take a heck of a lot of brilliance. What's harder is doing something about it. What's really damn difficult is making a difference. There are times when Ghandi is the answer to a problem, the way to force a solution. There are also times when someone more on the order of Ted Kennedy is what you really need. Working the system isn't inherently bad, or wrong, just frustrating.


"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
[ Parent ]

About to run into a brick wall.. or mack truck (2.45 / 11) (#43)
by amokscience on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 12:23:53 PM EST

I've felt the same way more often than not. I usually decide to push the feelings away and ignore them. When I see that I can make an obvious difference I try to step in. Such are the choices in life...

BUT: People are sheep. They are dumb, they are stupid. A quote from the movie "Men in Black" sums it up nicely, to paraphrase: the person may be intelligent and rational but people are dumb stupid panicky animals. People are cattle, give them grass to eat and prod them in the right directions. It takes very few individuals to keep large groups of people under control.

You're headed on the road to political activism. This means you will be giving up a large portion of your life to pursue your goals. It's a choice I am unwilling to make. Aim high but start low. You will fail, miserably, you will be laughed at, spat at, trampled, ignored, and perhaps arrested. Start small and grow big. If after the bleakest hour you can keep going, you may succeed. This is the tried and true formula for social and political change.

I admire people who can choose such ways of life. We all do because all of us have or had that desire at some point in our lives. However, that feeling goes away or decreases; priorities change and so does your outlook on life. My outlook on life was bleak enough to contemplate human extinction. Remember the movie "12 Monkeys"? I wanted to be David Morse's character, the guy who releases the virus that devastates the world. Now, it stays in the back of my mind, but it is largley unthinkable. Why? As 'people' I can easily rationalize things away, but when I meet individuals with faces personalities, and incredibly infinite value those rationalizations are shattered.

Two literary works I suggest you read are the poem "If" (by Rudayard Kipling I think) and Isaac Asimov's Foundation series. Perhaps they will give you insight into the situation. Remmeber, there is a huge different between a person and people.

don't cop out with a generalization. (3.00 / 4) (#46)
by DigDoug on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 01:58:48 PM EST

People are sheep. They are dumb, they are stupid.

And are you, amokscience, not a person? You are, so one of two things has to be true:

(1) You say "people" meaning everyone else, then think of yourself as somehow better, as a Superman (old man Neitzche would have called it Ubermensch). If that's the case, I'll add another literary reference to the list of them you provided: Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. There's no such thing as Superman, and if there were you wouldn't want to be it--great gifts bring great responsibility.

(2) You say "people" to include yourself, so you're a sheep, and dumb and stupid. If that's the case, should why we respect your opinion at all?

[ Parent ]

you misunderstand (2.00 / 2) (#66)
by amokscience on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 07:42:51 PM EST

People - plural, a group.

Person - singular, an indiviadual.

There is a vast difference between people and a person. People in a mob do things they would never do as an individual. Police know this facet of psychology very well. I hope you can see the difference.

I never said I was a great, above the crowd person.

[ Parent ]
Unfair Rating Alert! (1.00 / 2) (#103)
by unfair_rating_alert! on Fri Dec 15, 2000 at 11:06:52 PM EST

Here is an intelligent rebuttal to a comment which now sits at 1.00. This rating is obviously unfair!

---- Canned Text ----

This comment was provided by unfair_rating_alert!, a troll account created strictly to look for intelligent comments unfairly rated below 2.00. You may not agree with the contents of the previous post, however, if you're fair you should agree that it didn't deserve a less than 2.00 rating. To preserve the integrity of this troll account no comments from here will be rated as it's simply too easy to open multiple accounts to stack a rating. The purpose of this account is not to affect or change individual ratings, not but to show bias within the rating system. Therefore, this account will not post topical or editorial content, rebuttals, story submissions, rate comments, or vote on story submissions. Readers are encouraged to reconsider a rating and act according to their conscience.

[ Parent ]

Some things never change (2.66 / 6) (#45)
by kibomaster on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 12:55:12 PM EST

I felt the exact same way when I was in high school. I was never intrested in who was dating whom. I was more concerned with what was going on in the world. However, I think people make a choice. People have made the choice to discuss "who Jenny's latest boyfriend is" They made a choice to discuss what is relivent to them. Is their life like 90210? The answer is yes, but it's their choice.

You talk about making a choice to get involved, but what about the people who choose to not get involved? I completely agree with what you're saying, but over the last few years I've come to realize that there is no use in pandering to the apathetic. There are people out there who just do not care.

Unfortunately, you are in the minority. If you want to get anything done it's going to be a long uphill battle. (through a snowstorm with no shoes, uphill both ways)

Well, I have more to write... but I've got a final exam to get to.

to be continued....

http://www.helixcomputers.com/

Adaptivity -> rigidity/stability (3.25 / 4) (#47)
by Cuthalion on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 02:23:07 PM EST

The System, The Man, as you put it, was initially designed to be responsive to the wants and needs of the populace. However, any adaptive system becomes more rigid (or, if you prefer, stable) as time progresses. People learn best when they're young. You can be sure that biological evolution used to happen a lot faster too.

This is not because it makes sense or is advantageous for the system to do so, but because some adjustments to the system reduce flexability. I don't feel that there's any conspiracy of government officials and media moguls conciously maintaining the status quo. Instead the status quo has evolved into something which people maintain themselves out of self-intrest or even out of compassion for others!

Is there a solution to this? I doubt it. Any legal or social system (or otherwise) which is adaptive or evolutionary MUST calcify, otherwise it un-learns things as fast as it learns things, and can only adapt to a few conditions at a time.

The Status Quo (4.28 / 7) (#49)
by MrAcheson on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 02:55:38 PM EST

I'm seeing just a few problems with the "activism is the answer" tirade. I've seen lots of activists and you know what has happened because of them? Almost nothing. Who ended the government sponsored racism of slavery and segregation? Hippies and activists? No slavery was ended by the Republicans working inside the system, not by years of abolitionist violence. Likewise segregation was ended by Kennedy and his legacy with the help of northern legislators. The hippies made noise and did little else but screw and smoke up. Some times noise is a good thing, but it is the participants, not the activists, who make the lasting contributions in the form of legislation. The only time the activists lead is in revolution and rarely do they lead for long once the revolution is over. The world is run by pragmatists not activists.

Here's a secret about human psychology. Provided they have the necessities of life (food/shelter/etc), around 50-75% of any society likes the status quo if it is stable and appears likely to remain so. People like routine. They aren't necessarily sheep, but they don't see anything wrong with doing what worked yesterday today. They don't like extremists who make big waves. What does this mean in a country like America? It means if you go to a political convention and block traffic to "get your message across" you will be effectively marginalizing yourself in the eyes of the most important people for you to reach. Why? Because they will consider you an unstable short-sighted ideological nutcase and rightly so.

People don't listen to violent activists they distance themselves from them. Shouting on rooftops gets you marginalized not heard. People listen to people who convince them with the carrot not the stick. You need to work with people and slowly bring them around. Make lots of little waves. As I said, a majority of the people in America basically like where they are. If you tell them they're wrong then they will turn a deaf ear, if you gradually show them by example how they are wrong then they will listen and think.

The way to lead and encourage others to take action is by idealism tempered by experience and pragmatism. Pure idealism fails because it is unstable and often unrealistic. Pure pragmatism fails because it defaults to the behavior of the lowest common denominator and no one hopes for anything better. It is in the mixture of the two that great things happen.

So work within the system to reform it. Run for government office where you have a chance at winning or help someone else run failing that. Get input by buying in. Then work your way up. Keep your idealogical goals but advance them by patient pragmatic methodology.


These opinions do not represent those of the US Army, DoD, or US Government.


Slavery (5.00 / 1) (#53)
by shankster on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 03:43:04 PM EST

Your comment about slavery being ended by Republicans working inside the system is totally erroneous. It was ended through a civil war and the death of 600,000 Americans. Abolitionism had been a movement for some 30 years, and had been an idea for long before that, and achieved nothing.

[ Parent ]
Erm, no. (none / 0) (#61)
by Parity on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 06:20:02 PM EST

Slavery was ended as a -punishment- to the south -for- rebelling, it was not the purpose of the war. -If- the south had felt more influential in federal policy and if state's rights had been stronger, the south would probably not have seceded, which would probably have had the effect of maintaining slavery for twenty to forty years longer than it actually lasted.

Also, the abolitionist movement had outlawed slavery in a number of individual states, and would've probably gotten federal legislation through sooner or later anyway. (Which is about the only tie between slavery and the civil war; -one- of the many issues was that, for the north, ending slavery meant giving up their household servants, or at least paying them a fair wage; for the south, giving up slavery meant the end of livelihood for the farmer, because of the cost of replacing slaves with capital equipment - and in historical retrospect, if anyone wanted to look at the agrarian/economic stuff instead of the slave stuff, well, we all know that the big corporate farms have all but completed their takeover of the agriculture industry because they're the only ones who can afford the economies of scale. Anyway.)

Parity Odd


[ Parent ]
To continue an off-topic issue... (4.00 / 1) (#62)
by shankster on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 06:41:48 PM EST

...but only because I think it has bearing on the main issue.

Slavery and the civil war are inseparable. The reason the South seceded was because they feared Lincoln would try to end slavery. Lincoln was elected of a party formed expressly to abolish slavery. Sure, the South talked about states' rights, but the only reason they did so was to protect slavery. And while Lincoln and many other Northerners talked early in the war about how it wasn't about slavery, that was simply them trying to convince themselves of something other than the obvious. Everybody knew it was about slavery, and by the third year of the war, most Northerners were behind abolition. It wasn't to punish the south, it was because the war had become a holy war.

So how does this relate to the issue at hand? Well, you will find that as we realize that the world around us is plenty fucked up and needs reforms, that there will always be people with entrenched interests who will oppose those reforms, and more importantly, ordinary people who will defend those interests through the ideological arguments. The South was able to hold on to slavery for 250 years despite strong opposition to it, and it took a war to end it. Our present problems are not going to be easily solved, and while it might not take a war to end corporate control over our lives, it will take a fight, and it will be tough, and it will be opposed. We must realize this and prepare for it.

[ Parent ]

Okay, I'll bite. (History Lesson) (4.00 / 2) (#70)
by flieghund on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 11:04:27 PM EST

Growing up in the Northwestern United States (Oregon to be exact), I must have been exposed to some horrible, pro-South, revisionist history books. (No, not really.) Granted, it was about eight years ago that I took my AP US History course, so my facts may be a wee bit rusty. But here goes:

IMHO, the single greatest "cause" of the Civil War was the tragically disparate natures of the Northern and Southern economies. The Northern States were largely industrialized and relied heavily upon a capitalistic system of free labor. The Southern States, in contrast, were mostly agrarian; their economies rested upon large farms, and their labor mainly consisted of slaves. (Though slaves were cheap, they weren't "free" (as in beer) -- there were upkeep costs to consider, though usually they weren't considered too important...)

Abolitionist movements in the Northern States wanted to prevent the spread of slavery to new states and territories (short-term goal) and eventually outlaw it completely (long-term goal). This naturally ran against the popular sentiment in the Southern States, who saw a threat to slavery as a threat to their very way of life.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm not trying to defend slavery... rather, try to imagine just how threatened these people felt. It would be roughly equivalent to someone trying to outlaw computers; it's not like other alternatives (good ol' fashioned people power) don't exist, right? When your way of life is threatened, do you just cave-in and run away? Or do you set yourself and dig in for a fight? The latter is the attitude exhibited by the Southern States, and by-and-large most threatened peoples throughout history. (Those who give up too quickly usually find themselves wiped out just as fast.)

But this threat to their way of life, though certainly a major issue, was not the critical cause of the Civil War. The Abolitionist movement may have been making progress towards their goals, but the Southern States had managed to compromise for decades to keep slavery alive.

Larger issues loomed for the Southern States. The Northern States wanted to impose tariffs and taxes on various goods (namely tobacco and cotton, the two big exports of the South). Combined with a general trend eroding the rights of individual states in favor of a stronger central (federal) government, the Southern States rightfully believed that the North had it in for them. When the Northern States elected Lincoln as President (he showed poorly in the South, garnering only a single vote in his home town -- Mommy?), it was the straw that broke the camel's back. The Southern States genuinely felt that the United States no longer held any value to them, and they asserted their rights as supposedly sovereign states to secede from the Union. To prove they weren't fooling around, they shelled Fort Sumter, and the Civil War began.

So, Lincoln was elected President and pretty much stepped into a fire storm. His primary concern -- which I think is pretty revealing -- was the preservation of the Union. Slavery was not an issue (at least for him) until abolitionists within his party gained control of the government and began to make it one. Lincoln himself was not an abolitionist! Read his writings! There's that famous quote (which I'm going to bungle right now): "I would like to have God on my side, but right now I need Kentucky." Kentucky was a slave state right through the Civil War -- but more on that in a bit.

Reading Lincoln's famous Emancipation Proclamation leads to some interesting conclusions. From the above-linked web page:

On Jan. 1, 1863, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln declared free all slaves residing in territory in rebellion against the federal government. This Emancipation Proclamation actually freed few people. It did not apply to slaves in border states fighting on the Union side; nor did it affect slaves in southern areas already under Union control. Naturally, the states in rebellion did not act on Lincoln's order. But the proclamation did show Americans-- and the world--that the civil war was now being fought to end slavery.

Lincoln had been reluctant to come to this position. A believer in white supremacy, he initially viewed the war only in terms of preserving the Union. As pressure for abolition mounted in Congress and the country, however, Lincoln became more sympathetic to the idea. On Sept. 22, 1862, he issued a preliminary proclamation announcing that emancipation would become effective on Jan. 1, 1863, in those states still in rebellion.[emphasis added]

But wait! you cry. Slavery was outlawed in the blessed Union! Funny, according to my history book, as well as this web site and numerous public records I'm sure anyone closer to Kentucky could easily obtain, Kentucky was both a member of the Union and a slave state throughout the Civil War. It wasn't until the passage of the 13th Amendment -- in December 1865, or the better part of a year following the end of the Civil War -- that slavery was finally abolished in Kentucky. From the above web site:

When the U. S. Congress passed an act in March 1865 freeing all male slaves serving in the U. S. military, as well as their wives and children, a Kentucky circuit court ruled the measure unconstitutional because Kentucky law did not recognize slave marriages. When the federal military commander, John M. Palmer, told 2,000 slaves that they were free during a Fourth of July speech in Louisville three months after the war ended, a city court indicted him for violating the slave code. An estimated 65,000 blacks remained slaves after the war ended. Freedom did not reach them until December 1865, when the Thirteenth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution took effect.

Just another reminder that Kentucky was a Union State. Following the war, however, Democrats took control, and it wasn't until 1895 that Kentucky finally elected a Republican Governor...

So no, slavery and the Civil War are not inseparable, except perhaps in the minds of some people who refuse to accept any other possible explanation. I'm not trying to rationalize that slavery was not an issue. Just look at the results of the war! Rather, I think the North/Union used slavery as a FUD delivery mechanism, to get people riled up against the South. Once there was enough anti-South sentiment to throw around, they just had to point the public in the right direction and yell "Fire!" In the end, they used the ensuing power to further diminish states' rights and "prove" once-and-for-all that the federal government was the sole source of power in the United States, from which all other powers were to be distributed.

Now, to attempt to salvage this post... I find it odd that, given the above, you would use the "fight against slavery" as a noble basis for current political activism. As I just alluded, the Northern politicians skillfully used "abolitionist fever" to sway public opinion against the South. In that context, it seems like you should be championing the South's states' rights movement (since it specifically weakens the power of the federal government) over the North's pro-federal stance. But then, most of this is just my own two cents.


Using a Macintosh is like picking your nose: everyone likes to do it, but no one will admit to it.
[ Parent ]
So... (none / 0) (#77)
by fizban on Wed Dec 13, 2000 at 11:29:46 AM EST

Are you personally for or against slavery? ;-)

--
Lyell Haynes
fizban@umich.edu
[ Parent ]
That's not entirely accurate. (none / 0) (#112)
by hjones on Tue Dec 19, 2000 at 09:55:19 PM EST

Lincoln spoke out against slavery on a regular basis, long before he ran for President. He strongly favored abolition, but he wanted it to be gradual and peaceful. The South didn't cooperate, hence the Civil War. So he finally made the Proclamation. Also, the South wasn't content just to have slavery where it existed. They wanted to extend it into Nebraska, Kansas and even Mexico. This is why in 1854 they repealed the Missouri Compromise. There's no denying that this was an act of bad faith.
"Nietzsche is dead, but given the way of men, there may still be caves for thousands of years in which his shadow will be shown. And we -- we small-minded weaklings, we still have to vanquish his shadow too." - The Antinietzsche
[ Parent ]
In response to the poll.. (1.66 / 6) (#50)
by kibomaster on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 03:04:45 PM EST

What is your most daring political act?

I have this posted on my dorm room door:

Don't blame me


http://www.helixcomputers.com/

It's both better and worse than you think it is... (2.20 / 5) (#51)
by cryon on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 03:19:37 PM EST

Here's the good part:
We are living far longer then we used to. That's a Good Thing.
Our tools (written word, science, our infrastructure) are becoming more than we are.
Here's the bad part:
We are all dying, headed straight for the dirt.
That's a Bad Thing. In fact, it's the worst thing.
Yes, we are "social animals," and all that phrase implies. Youi might find some interesting material in the anthropology field, especially the area that specializes in comparing humans to other animal species. A good starting point is _The Naked Ape_ by Desmond Morris. There are many more and better books in the same vein.
My goal: live forever. I have chosen not to have children; I recently sold my only car. Yes, we get caught up in living the way we see others live. But I think this is something we can recognize and overcome. We can be more than a tool of our DNA
HTGS75OBEY21IRTYG54564ACCEPT64AUTHORITY41V KKJWQKHD23CONSUME78GJHGYTMNQYRTY74SLEEP38H TYTR32CONFORM12GNIYIPWG64VOTER4APATHY42JLQ TYFGB64MONEY3IS4YOUR7GOD62MGTSB21CONFORM34 SDF53MARRY6AND2REPRODUCE534TYWHJZKJ34OBEY6

the poll misses "all of the above" (1.00 / 6) (#52)
by mami on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 03:26:14 PM EST



But... (none / 0) (#55)
by Malicose on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 04:25:09 PM EST

"All of the above" could not possibly be "your most daring political act." You have overlooked or disregarded the singular nature of the word act.

[ Parent ]
Vote for ppl who DON'T want the job (3.50 / 6) (#56)
by Skippy on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 04:38:55 PM EST

If you want government you can understand and that you can control, then vote for people who don't want to be politicians. Vote for the guy who runs the hardware store. Vote for a farmer. Vote for your plumber. Vote for your boss if you think he's a good boss. But for God's sake DON'T vote for a politician or lawyer.

Many of the people listed above are good people and they DON'T WANT the job of legislator. It keeps them from what they really do. Many of them, however, would serve if elected and do the best that they could do. What's more is that they are sick and tired of the way they get treated by the government. Put those people IN the government in sufficient numbers and you can guarantee things will change.

If you want to change the government, find someone YOU would trust to run it. Convince them to accept if nominated and campaign like hell for them. Maybe they'll even win. Always remember though, that anyone you don't have to convince to take an office against their will isn't someone you want there.

# I am now finished talking out my ass about things that I am not qualified to discuss. #

hmm (none / 0) (#79)
by fizban on Wed Dec 13, 2000 at 12:11:10 PM EST

I'd have to disagree. I think you take the statement of "Anyone who wants to rule should by no means be allowed to." as too much of a truth. There are a LOT of people who run for office because they care about issues and they strive to make a good impact on the people around them. Getting my plumber elected to office just because he doesn't want to be there is not smart.

Most people get into politics not because they want to "rule" but because they want to make a change, just like you do. It's just that we assume that since they want a position that carries power with it, we should hate them. Don't hate them for wanting to make a difference. They realize that the best way to affect change is to have control over the area they want to change. And they know that within a society that uses its government to create change, the best place to be is in that government. So they become educated on how the system works and how to become a part of it so that they can make the most impact with their actions.

If they get corrupted by the system, it's not necessarily their fault and therefore, I would say that putting your hardware store guy, or a farmer, or a plumber, or a "politician" or a lawyer in the role isn't going to make a difference in this instance. But at least the latter people have a better idea of how things work and how to make a good difference. And if they are good-hearted people, which I believe most are, they will try to do the best for the people around them.

--
Lyell Haynes
fizban@umich.edu
[ Parent ]

A reply (none / 0) (#84)
by Skippy on Wed Dec 13, 2000 at 02:34:57 PM EST

You are absolutely right that picking someone to run based on whether or not they want to is a bad idea. I'm not advocating that as your only criterion for choosing a candidate. Decent understanding of the issues or intelligence to aquire it are also necessary. Sorry for the oversimplification.

And they know that within a society that uses its government to create change, the best place to be is in that government. So they become educated on how the system works and how to become a part of it so that they can make the most impact with their actions.
Here I have to disagree. My reasons are below:
  • our government is almost NEVER a tool for change. It is a tool of those who wish to maintain the status quo.
  • Learning to use the system is ok except that to achieve your goals you usually have to use the system against itself.
  • Becoming part of a broken system is a really bad idea. It is corrupting.
  • Government is never the best way to make an impact with your actions.

    I think the problem is, exactly as you suggested, people become part of the system. It happens slowly and by degrees and many of them never realize it happened. That exact problem is another argument against my suggestion. What I suggested would only work if you replaced a LOT of people in government with "common" people. If you elect them one at a time they are swallowed into the system.

    I don't have any answers but electing good intentioned people who want to work within the system isn't going to help.

    # I am now finished talking out my ass about things that I am not qualified to discuss. #
    [ Parent ]

  • people aren't necessarily stupid (2.00 / 7) (#60)
    by weirdling on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 06:09:51 PM EST

    I'd like to take humbrage with the point that people are stupid. Yes, their average IQ is lower in the branches of people you are talking about and yes, the average IQ is assumed higher on K5, but that there is somehow a link between (collective IQ) == (average IQ) I'd take into question. First, average IQ I'd define as the average maximum effective IQ per person of a group. Second, collective IQ is a bad word per connotation, so I'll use group IQ. Group IQ is defined as the effective IQ of the group as a whole; eg, some set of sixty lawyers have a group IQ of 137 while their collective IQ is in the 165 range. Often, a group IQ is lower; sometimes it is higher. In the case of low IQ people, I'd say that their group IQ is often higher than their collective IQ.
    Now, group IQ is controlled by many things, including the organization of the group, the effective IQ of people in parts of the group, the elasticity of the group, etc.
    However, you pose an interesting question as per who is controlling this mess. The answer, equally fascinating, comes from complexity theory: this system is actually a collection of smaller entities that are dynamic. Essentially, the US can be thought of as a giant sentient entity, whose effective IQ can be estimated and whose intentions can be guessed at. Over time, these things tend to lose IQ points. I spent a while thinking the thing was malignant until I understood that the group IQ of the nation is the important coefficient. Now, when the US was young and vibrant as people immigrated here, it had a very high group IQ. Stagnation is hurting us like it hurt Europeans, and short of sending away/killing off those dragging down the group IQ, there really isn't any way to change this because it is fundamentally what people do.
    Larger groups tend to have a greater suppression effect on group IQs. Systems with a lot of inertia tend to have low group IQs. Both of those are indications of a system that has been around a while. The holy grail is a system with an infinite resistance to group IQ fade, but none has been yet made. The US has had a very long run of it, though, using a democratic republic, and Great Britain had a long run of it as a monarchy/parliamentarian feudalistic society. Essentially, looking at a result, there isn't much of a difference between the two for longevity and resistivity to IQ fade. I personally prefer the parliamentary form of government with heavy separation of powers between the levels, maximising power at the lowest possible level.
    Sure, go get yourself arrested and abused; what have you accomplished? Not much anymore. The general opinion isn't changed much because it is more a function of the group IQ than of enlightenment, awareness, empowerment, or whatever doublespeak people subscribe to. Essentially, those who talk about who Suzan is dating will not be interested in the question of the legality of Gore's court challenge, rather preferring to parrot whatever it is that their group believes. Now, if that group is successful, it gets more money to spread and therefore more accolytes after that money or influence, and thus grows in strength. Simple genetic algorithm.
    So, on the coasts we have areas which are heavily Democratic and the central US Republican, mostly because that is what has worked, not because an awful lot of thinking is done. The freethinkers, the Libertarians, the Naderites (insert flamebait here), these societies actually exist on a separate plane, one perpendicular to the norm. Both Democrats and Republicans want to take away freedoms. Both of them want to spend your money for your good. Looked at from Libertarian vs. Green, they seem the same. They are on the horizontal axis, left vs. right, while the new radical parties are on the vertical axis, up vs. down.
    Now, if you've been trained from a child to think only left vs. right, you'll have a very hard time grasping up vs. down. Trust me. I have a lot of relatives who have trouble with it and I've tried many times to explain it.
    Anyway, if the best your average in the society can do is unable to comprehend whatever it is that you wish to change and furthermore simply does not care, you cannot change their mind. You will invariably hit the 'good for my parents; good for me' wall and that's it.
    The solution, of course, is a new, ennobled race somewhere that is a new frontier, where people happy with the status quo and stagnation will not go. I'm thinking of Mars right now. There, we will once again see a high group IQ, as Darwinism will help remove the low ones and we'll have a better stock to start with.

    I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
    The Case for Mars and group IQ (none / 0) (#68)
    by krogoth on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 09:30:42 PM EST

    Have you read the Case for Mars too? :)

    About the group IQ idea, I just thought of something this morning. To explain it, I have to explain "virtual ideas". Virtual ideas are ideas that people say they believe, but they only believe because they read is somewhere or their friends told it to them. In some cases, it would go so far that an idea exists which no one really believes, but which everyone says they believe to fit in. Virtual ideas are ideas that are formed by a group instead of a person.

    Now what if this went farther? What if there are so many virtual ideas floating around and interacting (and with the internet, a much larger cycle), going from internet sites to people to newspaper editors to newspapers back to people, that they form a sort of intelligent mind? If this was happening, then each person who is well-connected would act as a bunch of neurons in a human brain, taking input, processing it, and passing it on, even if it's not something they really think about. So a whole sentient being could evolve out of nothing but virtual ideas....of course this would be so big and hard to understand for us that it would be very hard to detect or find, but this is an interesting idea.
    --
    "If you've never removed your pants and climbed into a tree to swear drunkenly at stuck-up rich kids, I highly recommend it."
    :wq
    [ Parent ]
    One man's "important matter" is another' (3.85 / 7) (#63)
    by broody on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 06:56:37 PM EST

    I'll do whatever I can to bring my mind to more "important" matters. Matters of thinking about the world at large, realizing the control and manipulation being enacted around me by non other than my peers.

    Everyone is absolutely free, most people simply never realize it.

    Thinking is good start but creating & doing is the most radical act one can practice. We have been robbed of the fruits of creation by complex systems of production. If you want to change the world make unique, horrid & beatiful, creations that inspire shock & wonder among people around you.

    Become an active artist & member of your community; perfer live bands to CDs, hand crafted goods to mass produced cheapies, theater to film, and simply DIY. The closer you are to the creator/artist the stronger your community.

    Perhaps you want to start a activist theater company to educate and entertain, do so.

    Perhaps you want to start a weekend coffee house where people can reflect and discuss things that are "important matters", do so.

    The next time you think to yourself I wish this incredible, wonderful, fantasy idea was here; instead of bemoaning it's absence make it real! Make things that people can touch, feel, and ponder; your world will change and it will do wonders for feelings of "control and manipulation".

    And the best surprise benefit of all is many of "those people" talking about banal nonesense will suddenly become vibrant, alive, and active with the appropriate inspiration.


    ~~ Whatever it takes
    Good post (none / 0) (#71)
    by ChannelX on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 11:18:05 PM EST

    I liked this one. Good job.

    [ Parent ]
    Freedom (none / 0) (#99)
    by Brandybuck on Fri Dec 15, 2000 at 02:09:32 AM EST

    Everyone is absolutely free, most people simply never realize it.

    Reading you post, it's a sure bet that we have contrary political views. But the above quote stood out.

    Amen Brother!

    As an anarcho-capitalist I often ponder questions of freedom from an uncommon viewpoint. And the more I look at it, the more I realize that the only unfree people are those who choose to be unfree or unaware that they have a choice in the matter.

    I've seen a certain phenomena on occasion. A member of a "strict" church will go through most of their lives obeying religious laws in fear of divine punishment. Then suddenly something clicks inside them. They realize that God knows and loves them personally. They stop feeling unworthy and lowborn, and realize that being saved means a lot more than not going to hell. No longer afraid of doing wrong, they are free to do right. They become free. And not just free in the religious sense, but in the secular sense as well.

    The only real prisons are those we build for ourselves.

    [ Parent ]

    Freedom II (none / 0) (#108)
    by broody on Mon Dec 18, 2000 at 11:49:06 AM EST

    Reading you post, it's a sure bet that we have contrary political views. But the above quote stood out.

    I suspect that there is a lot more common ground then would initialy appear. I would consider myself strongly influnced by the work of Robert Anton Wilson, Harry Browne, Peter McWilliams and many others lending themselves towards market with a little "m" solutions. The crux of my concerns is in decentralization of both poltical and economic power. I lack a catch phrase to represent my political views being more a patchwork of disperate influnces.

    All of that aside, the "strict church" allegory was well spoken and I agree wholeheartidly.


    ~~ Whatever it takes
    [ Parent ]
    Why should I? (3.00 / 1) (#106)
    by Miniluv on Mon Dec 18, 2000 at 03:48:21 AM EST

    Become an active artist & member of your community; perfer live bands to CDs, hand crafted goods to mass produced cheapies, theater to film, and simply DIY. The closer you are to the creator/artist the stronger your community.
    What's wrong with CD's, especially when they're bought directly from the artist? Why should I prefer hand crafted goods if they aren't in fact superior to the mass produced ones? What's so special about theater compared to film, they're different mediums with different strengths.

    This is the same bullshit I read from neo-hippies all over the place, on a regular basis. I don't need to create "unique, horrid & beatiful, creations that inspire shock & wonder among people around you." just to be a person contributing to change. Shock value is all well and good, but it really doesn't contribute much, and it's very hard to target to produce positive results.

    "Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
    [ Parent ]

    Perhaps you shouldn't.... (5.00 / 1) (#107)
    by broody on Mon Dec 18, 2000 at 11:32:23 AM EST

    What's wrong with CD's, especially when they're bought directly from the artist? Why should I prefer hand crafted goods if they aren't in fact superior to the mass produced ones? What's so special about theater compared to film, they're different mediums with different strengths.

    In one short word, alienation. The original author is the article expresses what I would characterize as frustration, alienation, and a deep disatisfaction with consumer culture. The best cure for it that I am aware of is getting closer to creative activities & people. Consider for a moment how his view might change if he saw the concerts, plays, peotry readings, and other creative endevors of his peers. It is not the selection of one media at the expense of the other but rather the ratio that affects how people relate to their community.

    Secondly, I never suggested you should do so, only the original author.

    There is nothing wrong with CDs & Film, I have an extensive collection myself. What I do strive for however is balancing the performances that I experience live and those that are bundled & packaged for home consumption.

    This is the same bullshit I read from neo-hippies all over the place, on a regular basis.

    LOL. That is first time someone has suggested that I am a "neo-hippie".

    Shock value is all well and good, but it really doesn't contribute much, and it's very hard to target to produce positive results.

    The best example of effective "shock value" that I can suggest is here. Obviously there are many other ways to express yourself. The point is simply to create something, do something, be someone.


    ~~ Whatever it takes
    [ Parent ]
    More interesting spin... (none / 0) (#109)
    by Miniluv on Mon Dec 18, 2000 at 03:39:47 PM EST

    I have to admit that's a well thought out reply, and one I can much more easily understand. The "neo-hippy" remark was somewhat ill considered when I typed it, though I'll stand behind the statement in a more general sense. I cannot stand aimless railing against consumerism just because it's consumerism.

    I agree it's important to balance one's intake of prepackaged creativity and live atmosphere. I think one of the most important things the author of the story could do would be to stop brooding so much about society as a whole and start improving the quality of his life individually. It's a common failing amongst people, especially intelligent ones, to analyze everything and experience nothing.

    I'm a rabid devotee of film and music, and I try to experience things first, before I give them one iota of conscious thought. That's especially useful in the world of film, in that there are a lot of things devoid of any value beyond sheer entertainment, and a purely analytical viewpoint of them is going to take away that last vestige of value. Sure it's great that films like "RAN" exist, that can be watched on many levels of analytical and experiential enjoyment, but not every film can, or should, be another Kurosawa masterwork.

    When it comes to music, there are some artists with whom I communicate, usually more local like you suggest, but one or two have been "big name consumer acts" so to speak. In most cases the communication and experience sharing is an awesome thing, though one of the most creative and enjoyable bands I've seen live and had on cd turned out to be virtually impossible to communicate with on any level. Sometimes it's gonna be a letdown, and that's worth remembering.

    I apologize for coming across as so combative, I hadn't realized the real thrust of your post. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it's more in the vein of a recommendation to broaden horizons and get the chance to change perspective, rather than embrace things sheerly for their nature?

    "Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
    [ Parent ]

    Yet more spin.... (4.00 / 1) (#110)
    by broody on Mon Dec 18, 2000 at 04:28:35 PM EST

    No worries on the tone; simply a vibrant discussion. LOL.

    Sure it's great that films like "RAN" exist, that can be watched on many levels of analytical and experiential enjoyment, but not every film can, or should, be another Kurosawa masterwork.

    True but I would content to see masterworks produced more often then seems the norm today.

    When it comes to music, there are some artists with whom I communicate, usually more local like you suggest, but one or two have been "big name consumer acts" so to speak.

    One of my favorate live bands is Green Day, which these days would be a "big name consumer act". In every show that I have attended, they have taken people from the audience to play their songs on stage before the crowd. I am sure that for many people it had a driving influence to continue playing and practicing but if nothing else it would be a very powerful experience. There are true performers and responsive to the crowd & atmosphere they work to create.

    For me the important part is to experience an artists creativity in real life in balance with less direct forms. From my experience people could use more exposure to the former then the later. While Fugazi is a local act for my geographic area, I still see a lot more of Green Day; based soley on the logistics of the shows. Oh the irony of the modern world.

    Now if I started feeling that I was living in a community that was bland, boring, and slavish I would increase the ratio of local events that I experience.

    Correct me if I'm wrong...

    No need, you seem to be right on target.


    ~~ Whatever it takes
    [ Parent ]
    Masterworks... (none / 0) (#111)
    by Miniluv on Mon Dec 18, 2000 at 08:04:31 PM EST

    True but I would content to see masterworks produced more often then seems the norm today.
    A very understandable position, and one I held for a long time myself. The realization I came to though is multi-fold. First, masterworks are considered so in part because of their scarcity. Second, film is such an incredibly diverse media in what it allows you to pursue...similar to theater in that respect. That diversity means that you can have "masterworks" in many different categories, all of which have high levels of validity within that sphere of artistic endeavour.

    Instead I'm more interested in enjoying what's presented to me, and if necessary, analyzing with an eye towards finding the strengths and weaknesses of an individual film, rather than evaluating it compared to the overall pantheon of films.

    "Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
    [ Parent ]

    electric sheep (3.85 / 7) (#64)
    by snowlion on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 07:06:14 PM EST

    Read Patrick S. Parley's Electric Sheep , The Guy I Almost Was in particular. It has a lot of good observations, and a good message as well. I think everyone here will like it.

    As for social change: Read Ursula Leguin's "The Lathe of Heaven". In fact, read anything that Ursula Leguin wrote.

    Improve yourself. Become an inspiring person to us. Practice before preaching. We all need to do our introspection. I don't take communists seriously unless they help out at the local food shelter. Study hard. Explore the world. Find where you help, and help.

    If you're thinking in terms of sheep and non-sheep, you've got it all wrong, and can't help anyone. Loving other people is really important.


    --
    Map Your Thoughts
    I agree...partly (2.80 / 5) (#69)
    by krogoth on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 09:59:52 PM EST

    I agree with most of your post (although i don't really understand the second last paragraph, about horizontal and vertical...is it just that the difference between Bush and Nader is different from the difference between Bush and Gore?). For a bit less than a year, I've noticed that people on slashdot complain about the injustices of the US, but you never hear about any of them doing something. I think that our problem is that the system is fair. The majority wins, and the majority doesn't care if DeCSS is legal our should be legal. Unfortunately, because of the political systems in the US and Canada, the people who want it to change have to do all the work of convincing people. If the majority controls the government, then the best thing for us would be to live in a place where we are the majority. This could mean either starting a country (highly unlikely), or supporting and/or joining people who are trying to change the country (although I doubt that "we" will be the majority in the US (not that I even live in the US) in the next 1-3 centuries, because it would take a long time to change the majority to the "more educated" people)

    I think the best thing we can do is support the other parties (although you have to decide if you want to do this to send a message or if you think they would be able to run the government well, and not just focus on one goal). Not everyone wants to be a politician, but we can still support those parties and other organizations like the EFF. I will be able to vote in the next Canadian election if everything works normally, and I will become a member of the NDP to support them, because they are trying to change the political system (and I think they would actually be a good governement, not just a one-message party).

    Another problem is that with nothing to unite us, we are turning to personal advantage. As "The Case for Mars" says, without a big project or cause that most of the population wants to actively support, society will stagnate. When North America was discovered, people worked very hard in bad conditions, something that would seem crazy to us. But to them, it may have been the fact that they were helping to create a new country that kept them there. I think Mars would be a good oportunity for colonization, because, as "The Case for Mars" says, it's the closes planet that can be used to set up an independant base, the cost would be very small (the cost would be about 2B USD per mission). This would have two advantages: the people on Earth would have something to work for (most people like to work for a good cause or project, and to see that their work makes a difference. The feeling of power and importance that this gives us is important (I think we all know what it's like to be powerless, and we all hate it)), and the people who think that's not enough could move to Mars, where the society is even more "modern", and they can be directly involve with one of the most important projects in recent history (the two things that can unite people like this are a new frontier and a war).

    The injustice of the current goverment is because too many people want only personal profit. Most of the injustice comes from large corporations that don't care about their customers and would do anything for a profit, but the problem isn't regulated enough by the government, because the government or the members of the government can get a profit from a successful corporation. I've seen both sides of this - it's not always easy to give the customer everything they want, but what we get can be a lot less than we should. Some of this problem is created by inefficiency - it takes so much work to make a product or service that is as good as the customer expects that it can't always be done (the demands would be a lot lower if the customers actually had to do the work). Nearly everyone is wants to have more money and an easier life, so that creates destructive cycles. The effect of this depends on the power of the person. A large number of ordinary people who want an easier life can cause inflation (by asking for higher salaries), but a single person who controls a corporation can do a lot of damage to make a profit. If we were working for humans and society instead of ourselves, it would improve the situation a lot.

    Back to the subject of Mars, it would be very useful to us. We are starting to run out of resources and space (sure, you can send the corporations to the middle of the desert, but who would do that?). Mars could be used as a launching point for missions to the asteroid belt (an average asteroid would be work ~150B$, according to "The Case for Mars"), and would have a lot of resources and space for expansion (it has about the same dry surface area as the Earth). A project to colonize Mars could help fix a lot of problems (although you can't fix problems like poor countries with a low quality of living by colonizing another planet).

    I hope that this will have the same effect as "The Case for Mars" had on me - to get more support for a government that works for society and not profit, and for the colonization of Mars.
    --
    "If you've never removed your pants and climbed into a tree to swear drunkenly at stuck-up rich kids, I highly recommend it."
    :wq
    I appreciate that you're looking for more.... (3.85 / 7) (#72)
    by ChannelX on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 11:45:01 PM EST

    ... out of your current existence than who Jenny's new boyfriend is but dont rip other people apart for choosing to do that. Most people get past that. Go to college and you'll find tons of people to talk to on the level you wish you had right now. Life is hard enough as it is. Let other's live their lives and go out and find what you're looking for.

    Why change when things are good now? (3.50 / 4) (#73)
    by Pink Daisy on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 11:57:42 PM EST

    I'm in the same exam boat as a few other posters, so I'll keep this brief. My thoughts are summarized in the subject line.

    From what I can tell, now is the best time to be alive. Take an objective measure, apply it across the past century, or the past ten centuries, or as far back as you can find records for. People now live longer, are healthier, richer and safer than ever before. I think the Internet isn't the Incredible Tool of Social Change that some people make it out to be, but it does give me much greater ease in looking at more options for my life. Life is very good. Why should I try for some revolution, and risk throwing that all away for no forseeable gain?

    What do I have to gain with change? That someone sitting in a glass tower somewhere will listen to me? That that person will listen to everyone around me? Perhaps that I will become that person in a glass tower listening only to myself. I don't really want any of those thing. As ObeseWhale said, most of what goes on in my life is useless and irrlevant. I'm sure that in the glass towers of our nations, the vast majority of what goes on is similarly normal and boring, just made of glass. Why should I force or exchange views with them? Better to stick with my peers who have some relevance to me.

    I wondered, just a few years ago, when I was in high school, if I was human. I was drawn inescapably to the conclusion that I am human. I am human, no more, no less. There is nothing that makes my ideas inherently more valuable than someone else's. I have no right to force my views on someone else. Would I even want to? By any standard I can measure, the world is getting better. That didn't satisfy me, though. Like ObeseWhale, I thirsted for change and for action.

    Where could I go when I abandoned the biggest goal? I went closer. Now, I do things for small groups, to improve things locally. When my friend makes fun of homosexuals, I ask him not to because they are people who deserve respect, just like him. When some small local group needs help, I give a few hours to help. When activists mob the provincial legislature, I stay home and study. One small bit at a time, I can improve the world.

    But showing my rage, and acting by voting? To me, that is too infrequent, too ineffective and too arrogant. Ultimately, it also misses the main point, that things are good and getting better.

    Let's do some statistics (3.00 / 1) (#82)
    by luisdom on Wed Dec 13, 2000 at 12:58:26 PM EST

    Let's suppose you are born in an "average" country. According to OECD you have a chance of 4 in 5 to be born in a "less developed" country. In fact, you have a chance in 4 to be living with less than 1$ a day, and according to World Bank, 1 in 2 for 2$. Hey! you shouldn't have a computer to write this! It costs your 3-year salary! So, you can correct your comment: where you say "things are good and getting better" you must say "things are good for me and getting worse for half the population of the world" After all, who cares about niggers and chinese? they deserve dying because of hunger, AIDS and malaria. Don't worry, keep on living in your lolly-pop world; it is an easier way to live. But keep this on your mind: as long as politician don't feel the rage of the people knocking at their doors, forgotten people will keep on starving.

    [ Parent ]
    I know I'm lucky (none / 0) (#86)
    by Pink Daisy on Wed Dec 13, 2000 at 08:21:59 PM EST

    I know I'm lucky. I know most people are not so lucky. Still, I think you are making worse of the situation than it is. You are certainly losing my point completely. All the figures you give are for now. What statistics do you have showing that the wages are not improving for the people in the bottom half? From what I know, the situation in many less developed nations is improving, particularly India and China. That's approximately two fifths of the world's population.

    I may be wrong; I don't know enough to say with very high confidence. If you have evidence my view is wrong, please say so. In the meantime, I expect my views are justified.

    [ Parent ]

    www.oecd.com (none / 0) (#89)
    by luisdom on Thu Dec 14, 2000 at 08:44:53 AM EST



    [ Parent ]
    www.oecd.com? (none / 0) (#93)
    by Pink Daisy on Thu Dec 14, 2000 at 03:50:23 PM EST

    I was able to find www.oecd.org, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, but a brief look at their statistics page shows only figures for their member nations, and a select few others. It completely skips Africa and South America, and has few Asian nations. From what little I read, they support my view, but it would be misleading to draw conclusions based solely on those numbers. Are there any particular figures you want me to look at, or was I at the wrong site?

    [ Parent ]
    you miss luisdoms point methinks (none / 0) (#98)
    by speed reada on Thu Dec 14, 2000 at 10:56:53 PM EST

    well I can't quote exact figures but never in history has things been like they are today for poor people: the top 5% of the world owns almost 80 - 90 % of the worlds known wealth. And hey this is capitalism baby, all for one and frag everyone else. right now the nike corp. is actually trying to force certain small countries to give up on their anti child and slave labour laws... the company that makes pay day chocolate bars made 300 million in profits in 1997, their biggest gain ever and to celebrate they closed down three plants that employed over 30-50 000 people. if you look at the basic fundamental idea of capitalism you will see that things will never get better unless capitalism and the greedy dogs who proliferate it are made to go away

    [ Parent ]
    your probably white? (none / 0) (#97)
    by speed reada on Thu Dec 14, 2000 at 10:47:33 PM EST

    well, reading that little bubble was very interesting but I must point out some things to you that you may not know. if your black and a cop shoots you because he thought you were the drug dealer he was looking for, you probably don't think things are good getting better, espeecially since the racist justice system will not prosecute that cop. Or maybe your a doctor who believes that women have the right to have an abortion, so you provide the service. You wouldn't think things are good getting better if a "pro life" psycho bombs your house. Oh yeah and that gay person you saved from verbal abuse, who can't have the same rights as heterosexuals couples, in marriage, because no one took any action to make sure that they did, probably doesn't think things are good getting better. And since all the people out there who think things are good getting better take no action, just take "advantage", and since racist, sexist, white males are using those same people's tax dollars and corporate profits to do what ever the freak they want, than I think its safe to say that the world is pretty darn rotten and things are gonna get a helluva lot worse. You just won't know about 'till they've already put everyone else in a work camp. by the way I am mostly whit and male =)

    [ Parent ]
    get over yourself. (2.20 / 15) (#74)
    by Signal 12 on Wed Dec 13, 2000 at 03:05:20 AM EST

    Fuck. I've never read such arrogant rambling in my life.

    Get a life! (2.33 / 6) (#76)
    by Bluesun on Wed Dec 13, 2000 at 08:05:51 AM EST

    If the world and the people in your school bother you so much ... you have a problem beause, it is not going to change ... Instead, you should realise that the best way of dealing with the system is using it ... Make the most of it and become one of the "Puppet Master" ...

    frag that shite (5.00 / 1) (#96)
    by speed reada on Thu Dec 14, 2000 at 10:29:32 PM EST

    did you know that the definition of insanity is : repeating an act continuously and continuously thinking that you will get different resuslts... point being, don't Become a puppet master stoopid, controlling people doesn't work, doesn't make people happy and will get you killed (I hope)

    [ Parent ]
    Nice Sentiment (4.00 / 6) (#81)
    by Khedak on Wed Dec 13, 2000 at 12:40:19 PM EST

    I agree with your post, most of it had a personal perspective, but that's understandable. I think most people here have had similar experiences. Probably some people here who are angry at you are actually angry at the fact that they believe the same thing, but they don't like being called on the fact that they just sit on their asses and talk about political reform rather than actually enacting it.

    Other people are actually mad because they disagree with what you say and they think you're a pompous jerk, but I think they're missing the point. ;)

    It's funny that you consider this to be a wake-up-call, though. Everyone on k5 knows that sitting around doing nothing won't change the world. We just feel better knowing there are like-minded people out there, that it's not all bad. And I'll bet that after you've written this nice little post, and you participate in the discussion that it spawns, either one of two things will happen:

    You'll feel a lot better, and you actually won't go and do any of the politically active things you're instructing us to do. -OR- You'll feel a lot worse (because you perceive sentiment as being against you), and you won't go and do any of the politically active things you're instructing us to do out of despair, thinking that if k5 resists you, well, the world is lost.

    You're right, k5 is not the intelligentsia, but we are intelligent, we have opinions, and we don't like the way things are. Chomsky says (I think I'm going to catch flak for this), that if you're in a position to speak the truth and expose lies, you have a responsibility to do so. That's how he views his work. I think that's how many of us feel here, and judging from your post that's not too far from how you feel, either.

    We aren't the intelligentsia, we're normal people. The only reason many of us have radical political views is because our field of interest is so new that the clenching of the Man's iron fist around the throat of Information Technology is painfully evident. But if I have a point, I guess it's this:

    K5 is not the answer. K5 is a discussion board. We're here to talk, not to change the world. I don't want to belittle Rusty et al., but this place simply cannot effect change as it is now. Preaching to the few hundred people who will read your post won't do any good. You perceive your peers and you want to help them. But everyone who would take your message to heart already knows the what you say to be true (or at least portions of it if they disagree). There's only going to be three kinds of reply to this, I think:

    1. Posts asking where you get off for your arrogance, complaining about your rant, etc.
    2. Posts agreeing with you and calling us to action (which will probably result in nothing).
    3. Posts agreeing with you in principle but pointing out the futility of the attempt (like this one).

    What we need, and what K5 was designed for, is information. Tell us the data, write posts, reveal the truth. Don't tell people what to do, just give them the facts. If you really want to be rid of the puppet masters, you have to let go of the idea that you can make other people act. I speak my mind, and you speak yours. We talk, and maybe someone's opinion gets changed.

    People cannot be freed: They must free themselves. You can only give them the opportunity.

    Just like in the Matrix! :D Oh shit, there goes the serious tone of my whole post...

    "We just feel better knowing there are like-m (none / 0) (#85)
    by krogoth on Wed Dec 13, 2000 at 06:57:08 PM EST

    "We just feel better knowing there are like-minded people out there, that it's not all bad. "

    One of the worst things that can ever happen to me when I have a big project at school is to think that i'm doing well and i'll have it ready on time. That's when I start coding when my parents aren't watching, and I end up doing all the work at the last minute, even when I started well.
    --
    "If you've never removed your pants and climbed into a tree to swear drunkenly at stuck-up rich kids, I highly recommend it."
    :wq
    [ Parent ]
    It starts in your brain (3.00 / 2) (#87)
    by strlen on Thu Dec 14, 2000 at 12:38:53 AM EST

    First step towards any sort of change of the government is getting yourself educated. Don't rant about the government, learn what it does. I suggest using books at the libraries, Indymedia and other non-mainstream political resources. Learn about how our own government sponsored Indonesian attack on East Timor and how Clinton even refered to Soeharto as "our kind of guy". Now start looking for alternatives. But see all sides to it. Yes, look at mainstream media as well.

    And also we are a technical community. Linux (along with OpenBSD and NetBSD) is what I think about the most. Technology is my field. A man who worked with my father on defending his doctorate (who also happened to to France from Russia after Bolshevik revolution, then went to France where he became a member of resistance during World War II, making his way to a Concentration Camp (while there creating mathematical theories which came to be usefull in electrical engineering) )said that it's not wise for a man to drink from a cup other then their own. And this is especially true if you don't know what's in the cup. So , remember, technology is first . In fact we must fight fascistic ways of the government to prevent it from tinkering with our ideas, our technology; get it out of our way. So learn, and from the information learned educated others, debate your views, learn as much as you can. And then act.



    --
    [T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
    Changing the system is not a solution... (4.00 / 5) (#88)
    by bigbug__ on Thu Dec 14, 2000 at 05:51:19 AM EST

    Changing the political (or whatever) system is not likely to change too much in our lives. Whatever the change is, it will merely bring about another political system. I'll give some examples to try to make my point.

    I was born in a communist country some 20 years or so ago, during the glorious shiny days of communism, when everyone was equal and the brightest future was still ahead. A decade later, it was all over with a spectacle of burning goverment buildings by mobs of football-hooligan-like zombies and severe confrontation. Another decade later, and here I am, living in a free market/free speech/free whatever european democracy on its way to join the EU.

    You would be surprised to see how little has changed

    The people that were better off after the change, were the same people, which were already successful in the olden days of communism. Well, probably you should add to these a big bunch of "bad guys" who made a fortune during the days of revolutionary turbulence, when the police was kept on a short leash "to ensure peaceful transition to free economy".

    It is not about the system you are living in, it's about HOW you are living in it. People adapt. I can asure you that when communism collapsed, most of the people I knew were devastated. They were born in communism, trained to live in communism and believed in communism. You would probably have experienced the same if the USA collapsed instead of the USSR. These same people live in a democracy nowadays, free market is their basic social institution, free speech is their religion. They are OK with it.

    It does not matter in what kind of system you live in, as long as it is a sensible system. Democracy is sensible. Communism is sensible, but it was managed too badly in the last years - it simply went bankrupt.
    Whatever the system, enterprising, intelligent, aggressive people will always be better off.

    Diferent systems have diferent advantages. If communism had not been arround, my grandfather, son of a construction worker in the beginning of the century, would have never had the chance to go to medical school and become a famous doctor. If it was not for democracy, I would have never had the chance to be studying in Helsinki University (the home of Linux btw.:))

    Another example, idiotic but kinda suitable:)

    I was a fine young programmer in the days of DOS. I wrote my TSRs and my demos and I was happy. I was a fine young programmer in my days of Win9x. I could even make some money out of my skills and I was happy. I am a fine young programmer today, and I basically don't use anything else but Linux and FreeBSD. I am happy. Whatever the system, I was always able to handle my mail, write code, do word processing or whatever. Yet I always chose to change my system and go ahead, to make myself more productive and empowered. This happened because I was informed, because my values in the computer world called for efficiency, ingenuity, power, freedom etc.

    Well I think I finally came to the point - Believe me, you DON'T want a revolution. What we need to do is share opinions, spread information, urge people to speak out what they feel and believe and thus let our society (even if it is just the K5 society) EVOLVE and thrive in whatever system we are stuck in. We need to change our VALUES not the system. The system will follow.

    That's why I am in K5.

    BTW: Think about using Windows as living under totaritarian regime, and using Linux as living in perfect communism. It's fun:)


    BigBug__

    Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth. -- Alan Watts
    revolution (none / 0) (#95)
    by speed reada on Thu Dec 14, 2000 at 10:20:53 PM EST

    I must agree with almost everything you said. Yes it's fine to adjust to whatever system is currently running and yes its always good to challenge yourself and to do the best you can and make the most of life. But if they, and when I say they I mean the "man" or the people who just hop from being in power during communism to being in power during democrazy, decide to make the system a police state, with jail cells for homes and complete control of your life in their hands, than I'm sure you won't be so happy... unless of course you happen to be intelligent, enterprising and aggressive at brutal oppression freedom is freedom there are no degrees...

    [ Parent ]
    I largely agree, but the issue is getting too big. (none / 0) (#100)
    by bigbug__ on Fri Dec 15, 2000 at 10:10:12 AM EST

    I am afraid we are getting a bit out of context on this one. The initial post was actually referring to the US political and social system, and how we should fit in and change it for the better. I don't live in the US, but my impression is that it is a big democratic multiracial country, budled with human rights and, at least in theory, quite compliant with the western civilization's ideal for equal rights, oportunities, freedoms etc.

    I believe that this situation is completely tolerable. (or why on earth would so many people try to emmigrate there?) Yet the system needs some changes, as the author points out. These changes can be achieved evolutionary - strarting with forming educated opinions, raising social values, making ourselves heard.

    Unfortunately the later are not options in some systems - there are lots of countries, where we witness opression, genocide, ethnic cleansing, police brutality. I agree that issues like this MUST be resolved by using all means available and needed. The true point here is determining what means are justifiable and adequate.

    A favorite example - the Kosovo crisis. Was bombing civilians justified to stop ethnic cleansing? Was it the only way out? Check "The New Military Humanism" by Noam Chomsky if you have time and interest.

    My attitude is strongly anti-violence, unless inambiguously necessary. The question of setting criteria and standards is a very broad issue, and I believe, a subject of a whole different conversation.

    bigbug__

    Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth. -- Alan Watts
    [ Parent ]
    Thoughts (3.66 / 3) (#90)
    by slaytanic killer on Thu Dec 14, 2000 at 09:29:12 AM EST

    I am rereading this post. It strikes me that while it is easy to dismiss it because there is a certain lack of walking the walk, such an article would be very potent if one were unveiling something new. Perhaps motivation must have a point, a punch. Otherwise the energy dissipates.

    That is more a mental note to myself, not a criticism.

    There have been a lot of meta-articles here, saying things like quality bad, instead of this is how to increase quality. Perhaps I am a nihilist at heart and my universe does not fall apart because quality is not up to snuff. But our culture is very meta, as we find that a sophisticated way of viewing things, and we may at some point run into the danger of losing the intrinsic meaning of things.

    I agree (none / 0) (#92)
    by fantastic-cat on Thu Dec 14, 2000 at 09:39:57 AM EST

    Seems to me there's a bit too much focus on the "quality" of the writing rather than what is being said. I think this has the effect of causing people to write long flowery prose rather than striping it down and letting us judge the ideas without the rhetoric.

    Having said that obviously when poor grammar stops the point from being made clearly that should be addressed

    [ Parent ]

    Please excues my bad english. (2.00 / 2) (#94)
    by oisteink on Thu Dec 14, 2000 at 08:35:08 PM EST

    Like every extinct culture in the world we're gonne be extinct in a few decades (I sure hope so). You talk about intelligent people, and I see a few semi-inteligen people posting their oppinions on a western (or captialist) way of seeing the world. There have been cultures in the past that have surpased our knowledge in several areas, but we never learn anything from the past. We look at what other cultures have done before us, and we say: "That's intresting. They knew how to build pyramids" or something. But we always elevate our own culture above them. How come that we're the most advanced people that's ever lived. Today's people (including yourself) is to narrow-sighted to see the whole picture (or we're to affraid to recognize it). It's time we start to think as the planet as a whole. What ever we do, we do for the whole human race. What's nader vs. gore or any small political feud going to change? Nothing. It's just pure bullshit, and you know it. Every aspect of the world that western culture touches gets tainted. We create wildlife parks, and think that we preserve the wildlife, but all that we really do is interfere with nature's way of life. Why do we even bother? You think you can change the world by taking some "action"? I've got time on my side. In a few year's you'll all give up, and I'll have it my way. Go to sleep. You don't wanna know what's really happening in the world (and you don't know). Every sucessfull culture so far (AFAIK) has been dependent on some sort of cencorship. Our's is no different. Øistein Kjos Out of Norway "I need a hammer, to hammer them down"
    Øistein Kjos Out of Norway "I need a hammer, to hammer them down"
    Why the anger? (none / 0) (#101)
    by bigbug__ on Fri Dec 15, 2000 at 10:26:00 AM EST

    Your comment surprised me. I may well see your point, but I disagree with your tone. We are here to discuss what WE think is important, and I don't see why we should care that you don't care. I don't see why you should point your anger at us. There's plenty of folk out there poisoning seas, burning down forrests and doing whatever you seemed to be angry at.

    Join Greenpeace or move to a hut in the country - I know people who did and are happy. I also would, but I'll miss the bandwidth:)

    Don't drink and post.

    Greets from Finland - bigbug__

    Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth. -- Alan Watts
    [ Parent ]
    Re:We are not the intelligentsia. (2.25 / 4) (#102)
    by m4dc0w on Fri Dec 15, 2000 at 05:44:56 PM EST

    first off, its great to see other people my age thinking on this scale, and with similar views. i do think you stumble in a few places, though i'm probly not too qualified to judge :) i'll start with my reactions to each of your points:

    Before I begin my ascent to a thesis, I must begin with a small description of my environment. Each day I go to my rich, homogeneously white high school in Americatown, USA, and am exposed to the uncaring conformity of the masses. I see in it a microscopic reflection of the macrocosm of American classism. The rich, affluent students flock to the eastern hallways of the school to discuss among themselves their latest problems, the trials and tribulations of their lives, who Jenny's latest boyfriend is, the regular garbage of American social discourse. On the other end of the spectrum are the poor students from the townships, who huddle among themselves by their lockers in the industrial education section of the building to discuss matters not so different from those of the rich. Sure, instead of chattering about their best friends' new sports cars they may be discussing Billy's brand new truck, but the matter is still the same. The vast majority of what goes through their minds is irrelevant, unimportant, and vastly useless.

    Each day I bear witness to this, and most of the time I remain silent. I must admit that I too have had my own sets of discussions about the social atmosphere of our school, the latest events among my friends, and the regular conversational tripe, but I get sick of the matter quite quickly. I'll do whatever I can to bring my mind to more "important" matters. Matters of thinking about the world at large, realizing the control and manipulation being enacted around me by non other than my peers. Most mornings I will pace down to the social studies office of the high school, where I can discuss such matters with a Government teacher who holds feelings similar to mine, but often my real thinking only begins when I am at home, reading the comments on Kuro5hin.

    i am in basically the exact situation you describe (right down to the government teacher, though i have a couple i can talk to intellectually), barring the k5 part, as i've only just begun to read it regularly.

    Kuro5hin is where I see the true geniuses of our society speaking out on the issues which directly affect the way our world works.

    there are indeed high level, important issues discussed on k5, and the site probably has its fair share of geniuses, but dont talk yourself into believing this is some sort of hidden intellectual epicenter of contemporary society. hell go check out the edge if that's what you want. ok that was massive flamebait ;)

    I have the opportunity to discuss matters more important than the paltry political issues brought up in school ("who would you vote for", the Economics teacher asks, "Bush or Gore?")

    the president of your country is a paltry issue? that's a stunning statement. the election of the most powerful man in the world is just some petty issue to you (bear with me, i'm really on your side here)?

    The act of this discussion often invigorates me, gives me new hope for the future. As I pound out a new comment on an issue that concerns me, be it politcal or technological, I often feel as if, finally, somebody is listening, finally my view will be heard, and maybe, just maybe, I might invoke a change.

    excellent. open discussion is the foundation for any sort of intelligent breakthrough. i see this as one of the most valuable resources the internet can give to us.

    Lately, however, my joy has been burdened by the weight of futility. The more I have read, the more I have become revolted, even disgusted by the idiocy of it all. I've begun to realize that while posting on K5 brings me personal enjoyment, helps me think, and brings my thoughts to the table, that very table is one hidden in the forests of FUD, obscurity, and the ignorance of our ruling class. Indeed, what we post to k5 has little to no ultimate effect on the entrenched system of policy unless we begin to take action.

    don't be so hard on the politicians. yes they take a lot of semi-retarded actions. but i think it's impossible for people from our generation to understand their mentality. for one, culture has progressed so radically since even we were born, that their is an inherent lack of communication between us. this is quite unfortunate, as it angers both sides, causing conflict. that's not to say the gap cannot be bridged, but human nature is incredibly stubborn, especially when it means admitting you're wrong.

    there is also huge pressure on politicians. it's easy to sit around and theorize about various solutions to modern problems on an internet bbs; it's quite another to put them into practice. one problem with democracy (especially in our horribly crooked 2 party system, but don't get me started on campaign fianance reform ;) is that big, neccesary change often takes a lot of time and compromise before its original intent can be fully realized. the other big problem, which socrates so elegantly pointed out from the start, is that democracy's greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. the average man controls the government (note this was much more the case in socrates' day)? the average man is generally simple minded, and, to make a long story short, eventually end up steering the nation towards anarchy (yes i'm cutting out a lot in between there). but i digress.

    Now that I've scared off anybody who is satisfied with the status quo, and does not feel the same frustration with the masses as I do, I'll touch back to my intro. These same people who I mentioned in the beginning of my essay, from the rich social butterflies to the impoverished and undereducated, are all elements of the same corrosive system, are the people who are making our decisions. These are the people teaching in the public schools, these are the people making the decisions in our corporations, and these are the same heartless militants ruling the global political landscape. And these are the people voting for it all.

    ok, now i fear you may have fallen into the trap so many of we angst-ridden teens do; the need to rebel, and be outside the "status quo". while i won't argue that the status quo rarely fits my tastes, i would like to make sure you aren't against the status quo just to be (grammar?). i don't suspect you to be one of these people.

    what really bothers me is how biggoted you come across. i take you think we would be better off without the "rich social butterflies" and the "impoverished and undereducated"? wipe them out? genocide? yes that's all well and good. what bothers me more is how tempting an arguement this is. though i like to think of myself as a kantian when it comes to moral decision making, there is no denying the disgust many wealthy folk generate in me. don't pick on the less-fortunate though. while i would agree that there are plenty of poor people out there who could make something of themselves, there are many who aren't born in a region that allows any kind of vertical shifting within economic class lines. gee, it would be nice if we could eliminate all that mess wouldn't it? so, give communism a try? its unfortunate, but we have to face the facts that there will probably always be the rich and the poor.

    But indeed, wasn't my initial question that of who is controlling us? Conspiracy theorists claim that the government is keeping us down on our knees, filling us with propaganda about the values of obedience. From the day we hear from our elementary school teachers to when we see the posters advertising the "glory" of military service on high school walls, to when we age and are babied and taken care of by social security, "the man" is supposedly shovingconformity down our throats. I reject this theory, for it is the people who control the government.

    well, to an extent anyway :)

    Others say that the press is what is controlling us, that the only propaganda is that being flashed across our television screens twenty-six times a second, and the anti-revolutionary messages sprawled across the pages of our newsmagazines. Many seem to think that it is indeed the big bad claw, heading the global newscorps, that wishes to penetrate us with the counter-intuitive messages so common in our newspapers. They seem to think that it is only within the press's interest to modify our culture and push through revulsive ideals in the form of "western values". But indeed, I reject this notion too, for the newscorps rely on but one thing for them to exist, sales. Without the support of the people, they would fail, and it seems like the people have developed an appetite for indoctrination.

    So who is it that is controlling the masses? Who is there behind the scenes, pulling the strings of the western world.

    We, the people, are.

    yes. ultimately everyone controls their own actions, but don't doubt that these actions aren't heavily influenced by much of what you mention above. psychological and anthropological studies tell us this. as americans, we just have a wildly different set of ideas than, say, the chinese.

    To me it's begun looking like a downward spiral. The people elect government officials that develop policies of war and exploitation. The people are fueled by a press that indoctrinates them with the fascist messages of obedience and counter-insurgence. In turn, the people, blind towards the manipulation going on around them, run for political office, in turn becoming yet another cog in the machine of our own masochistic system of disempowerment.

    whoa, slow down on this one. no doubt we are in more than a bit of a slump right now, but i think you're imagining things that aren't there, or are convenient for your arguement. cold war times were much closer to what you're suggesting, but hardly to the same extent. i guess i've been missing out on all the recent war policies. fascist messages? if anything, the press serves to make people more upset with the government. i know you don't have to try too hard to find examples of this. clinton/lewinsky anyone? people don't know what's going on around them, so they blindly decide to become involved in politics? sorry but this just makes no sense to me. please elaborate on this, give examples, something, because that is a very puzzling statement.

    So, if society is disembowling itself, is there anything we can do other than sit, watch and talk about Linux? There sure as bloody hell is. For one, we can reject the values that society tries to chain us down with. I for one want you all to forget about voting for a standard in your next election. Vote Green, Socialist, Reform, Natural Law, I don't care, just don't vote to further entrench our system, no matter how afraid you are of the other candidate. We don't need to settle for less with the current system, we need to tear it apart, smash it down, and bring democracy to a state in which voters can make enlightned choices. A state in which voters won't work for policies that only tear the rights away from each other. Wear your views on your t-shirts. Advertise them publicly on your body, for democracy's sake, let your government see your rage. When you're done writing an impassioned political essay on k5, mail that essay off to your representatives. Better yet, BECOME a representative.

    you mean just another cog in the machine? sorry, j/k on that one :p

    Democracy was meant for the people to voice their views, and damnit, it's about time we quit letting ours get masked by the noise of the mainstream. I want to hear what you have done, what you WILL do, to change the way the people around you think!

    Let this be a notice to you all that we are NOT the intelligentsia. We may sit at our computers typing up impassioned manifestos about our views (as I am now), but it is all futile if we don't take those views to our government officials, to the media, to our school, and if nothing else, to the streets. K5ers, it's about time you all took action.

    ok, your conclusion is a valid one. your arguement just became a bit muddled in the middle. my main question is, what are you going to fight? first you seemed to be going down "fight social class structure" road, which is valid, albeit fairly futile at this point in time. then you went towards the pitfalls of democracy. here you started to contradict yourself and getting too carried away. you bitch about how inferior other human beings are, but tell us to vote for anyone that will shake up the system, now matter how much they might scare us? these aren't the "just another cog in the machine" or whatever people? the american election system is horribly broken, and i believe it won't be fixed until there is some decent campaign fianance reform, but democracy won't work any better by voting in lunatics. they should be part of the discussion. that's really an issue for another thread though...

    i think you are naive in many of your judgements. especially that we have complete control over our actions. jefferson said "the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. it is its natural manure.", but we are hardly in a time ripe for revolution right now. revolutions don't occur in the middle of prosperous, for the most part happy times. people naturally resist change, and the u.s. isn't going anywhere anytime soon. i wouldn't be trying to "tear apart" or "smash down" the current system. we need to seriously reform, add, and subtract from it. don't be so quick to take an all-or-nothing route.

    what i feel is the real solution, which you actually touched on early in your post, is education. i suggest you read "the two cultures", a lecture/book by c.p. snow. it's a quick read, and really helped me get my political views about modern society in line with the big picture. we don't have the life to make these types of grand judgements yet, but understanding the root problems of politics in the 20th century and beyond can give you a good head start.

    i'd also like to say again that it's very encouraging to me to see other people my age who have similar concerns and ways of thinking. while i have a good amount of friends, there are hardly any i can discuss important issues with, mainly because, most alarmingly, they could care less, or don't have any sort of world view.

    thanks for making it to the end of my brief response :)



    You made a mistake (3.00 / 2) (#104)
    by job on Sun Dec 17, 2000 at 10:07:08 AM EST

    You make the classic mistake of not understanding the difference between a group as such, and a group as lots of individuals. The group is not stupid, not at all. Most often a group can outperform an individual. This, basically, is why humans so far is a relatively successful species.

    You look upon yourself as an individual, above the group-socializing about the Jenny / Billy-thing. If you fail to see the importance of being social, the importance of groups, you are a loser.

    K5 is just like /. or Jenny's new boyfriend. K5 is a group of people, sharing thoughts and ideas just because we like it. We speak about the things we have in common, just like everybody else.

    Join with the groups. You don't have to be interested in Jenny's relationships. Find you own niche. But team up with the rest of society. Then you can make a difference. Then you can be yourself. It's not about giving up.



    I disagree (as usual) (3.00 / 2) (#105)
    by JohnHopfrog on Sun Dec 17, 2000 at 03:55:28 PM EST

    I want to change things, but giving ultimate freedom to the human being is not one of my goals.
    They who can should read this:

    Ernst Jünger (Tagebuch vom 16. April 1943):
    In Gesprächen über die Grausamkeit dieser Tage taucht oft die Frage auf, woher all die dämonischen Kräfte, wie die Schinder und Mörder, kommen, die doch sonst niemand sah und nicht einmal vermutete. Doch waren sie potentiell vorhanden, wie nun die Wirklichkeit erweist. Das Neuartige liegt in ihrer Sichtbarwerdung, in ihrer Freilassung, die ihnen erlaubt, den Menschen zu schädigen. Zu dieser Freilassung führte unsere gemeinsame Schuld: indem wir uns der Bindungen beraubten, entfesselten wir zugleich das Untergründige. Da dürfen wir nicht klagen, wenn das Übel uns auch als Individuen trifft.

    Loosely interpreted: Speaking about the cruelty of the day, one wonders where all the demonic forces, like those of the murderers, came, forces of whose existence nobody suspected. The new lies in their appearance, in their freedom, which allows them to harm the human [...]

    Give the human freedom, and you give an animal freedom; the people you now call stupid will be the people who will torture you.
    Let capitalistic democracy live, let a good thing live, reform it, do not change it. There is much bad, there is much evil; the internet allows you to choose to see what you want to see.
    You are not the correct person to make any political decision. You have seen the world from the same point of view since you where born, you are getting bored, so want out. But you do not understand the implication of a change in the democratic political system for the world. The 80% (or whatever percent) who voted for a major party understand that they are living well, and want it to stay that way.
    What would you like - the intelligent minority ruling of the stupid majority? Intelligence qualifying you for a political office?

    -John Hopfrog the against.

    We are not the intelligentsia. | 114 comments (113 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
    Display: Sort:

    kuro5hin.org

    [XML]
    All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. The Rest © 2000 - Present Kuro5hin.org Inc.
    See our legalese page for copyright policies. Please also read our Privacy Policy.
    Kuro5hin.org is powered by Free Software, including Apache, Perl, and Linux, The Scoop Engine that runs this site is freely available, under the terms of the GPL.
    Need some help? Email help@kuro5hin.org.
    My heart's the long stairs.

    Powered by Scoop create account | help/FAQ | mission | links | search | IRC | YOU choose the stories!