Sunday, October 23, 2011

All this unrest! Hope at last.

     The last few weeks and months have been especially interesting.  It might seem as though very strange things are happening in this country and around the world, but for those who have been waiting for these things it seems very late in coming.  The Arab Spring and the Occupy movements might be a direct result of the most recent demand-side recessions, but they are the in reality the accidental bi-product of almost 50 years of a movement by the wealthiest citizens of this planet to reclaim the wealth which they lost during the Great Depression. It is also the bold face of the reality which many have sought to deny:  the rich cannot become richer indefinitely.  I covered that in my last post, thankfully.  No econ + more hope = better reading. 

     I believe that the Arab Spring actually started with the youth uprising in Iran, in the June 2009 election protests.  I think this because we are seeing a new type of protest: information protests.  Quick explanation: information moves quickly and with almost no entropy in the digital age.  A hundred years ago, finding out what was happening a town over required a good deal of expended energy.  Either your energy or the input of printing presses and news staff.  A thousand years ago, it was worse.  To know what was happening around the globe was nearly impossible.  Today, information moves more quickly than many would like.  When the war in Iraq, the 2003 redux, started; I told everybody who would listen that it was nearly impossible to win.  The core reason was the speed of information.  The populace would know too quickly that they were being duped, that their government was being corrupted and that their oil was the end goal.  In 1990, many Iraqis did not even know that they were at war.  The internet was just out of it's infancy. 

     In June of 2009 I told that I believed sustained war would become almost impossible over the next few decades.  I had seen dozens of Iranian students, soldiers in the Axis of Evil I remind you, say that they loved America and Israel; that they had no desire to be at war with either country.  I was blown away.  Very little news makes it out of Iran, so I just assumed that they were as anti-American and fundamentally Islamic as we have made all the countries we bomb.  Instead, I saw twenty-somethings saying that all they desire is peace and a chance to make a life of their own.  They repeatedly said they barely consider themselves Islamic, and most who do so have taken the superstition out of the religion.  Well buckle my shoes, that was revelatory to me.  It made sense, though.  The youth of the world do not bear the same grudges as their parents and grandparents.  More importantly, they are able to go onto facebook and see that the young in other countries are equally bent on peace.  Studies have shown that to sustain a conflict, an enemy must be created: an outgroup which is unlike you in any way.  Information freedom has killed the outgroup to a large extent.  The Iranian protests was the first which used twitter and facebook to organize and share information instantly.  Suddenly, college-aged kids around the world could see themselves in the faces of Iranian kids fighting against a totalitarian theocracy. 

     Information movement has made it too difficult to maintain a puppet government in America, as well.  This is the reason for the Occupy protests.  When 80% of your elected congressional officials come from the top 1% of the income earners, the other 99% might not feel represented.  Access to information has also made the Tea Party a short-lived phenomenon--they were started by the Koch brother's PAC Americans for Prosperity, and they are largely affluent white persons fighting to keep their own wealth.  That really doesn't engender sustained support.   As revealed by The Atlantic this week, 50% of Americans made $26k or less last year.  That means that half of all Americans, all 150 million if you include protesting babies and toddlers, have a vested interest in Occupy Wall Street.  I was paying a good deal of attention via twitter for the the first week of the protests, because ZERO American news outlets were reporting on the protest.  For ten days, The Guardian and social media were the only way anybody was able to find information regarding the protests.  While that is sad (The Big Four media multinationals own every news, movie, music and television outlet in America) in one respect, it should give us all a sense of hope for the future. 

     Media censorship is no longer within the power of the media conglomerates or governments. 

     We are turning a corner.  What was impossible for the poor twenty years ago is now easily accomplished, and what was possible for thousands of years is now beyond the reach of the power elite.  Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky, who penned "Manufacturing Consent," have lived to see technology pry information back from the hands of the richest and most powerful.  Not only can angry, young citizens arrange a protest on the fly, they can also film and disseminate that information instantly.  Thousands of protesters in hundreds of cities, each with a printing press and worldwide audience in their back pocket.  This is a monumental change, quite possibly the most important in human history.  The speed of information is only growing, which means that clamping down on information is more difficult and more expensive.  Egyptian citizens were able to leverage the cost of shutting down many information outlets against the loss of business which accompanies the loss of information movement.  Hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue were lost because companies could not make internet sales or receive online payments.  Syrian businessmen are currently beginning to fear that their business will collapse due to the massive cost increases of imports and exports as their government fights off revolution.   3,000 Syrian citizens have been killed by government forces, but it is the loss of business which will likely be the end of Assad's regime. 

     Since information is traveling so quickly, that means citizens around the world are supposed to be calling on their local representatives to draft legislation to ask the U.N. to impose sanctions on Syria.  They have so far been stopped by Russian business interests, but how long will we be able to allow the rich to massacre the poor now that it is instantly brought to our doorstep?  Not much longer, I think.  People reading this might just be inclined to call their congressperson and demand that they take this case before both houses of congress.  After all, ignorance is no longer an excuse.  We have seen that the middle class and poor are the same around the world, and we bear no ill will towards those who struggle with the same burdens as ourselves.  We see that nationality is irrelevant, that the youth of the world are angrily expecting a chance to succeed and that stifling change is no longer an option.  These are all great things.  Hope is a great thing. 

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