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
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 :)