Warring Ideas Death Of The Masses
Warring Ideas And Their Environments
Deteriorating Internecine Human Dialogues
I vaguely recall the phrase: "Politics is art of the Possible". Anything is possible now, and technology is forever expanding this reality. In a sense, the crumbling of the economy, people losing jobs and healthcare has exacerbated the social relations. History attests to this behavior which can be traced back to the life-span of this country.
The rising tension of racism and hate have their antecedents in the colonial days to the present. Today, with unlimited access to the Internet and a population unable to shed-off its divided past, cyber babble and cable talking heads are the fueling the discord fast raising to a shrill and crescendo, that in the end some of us do not engage, others up the ante to dizzying heights.
This cacophony of Youtube videos, editorials of the talking heads, comments on the many controversial blogs and hubs and other similarly affected web sites, newspapers, magazine, shows the zine as agitated and somewhat distorted and intended to intimidate and determine the direction and context of ideas.
It is easy to turn away from it all than to know more of the boogeyman called Politics. The media is accused of polarizing dissent, but the flames are fanned from one direction at this juncture, and common sense and cooler heads are desperately needed.
Is it the Reinforcement of Bigotry and Bigots
The Archie Bunker Show, All in the Family was defended by the CBS TV network, which aired the program, commissioned at a study that showed the program could contribute to a lessening of racial bigotry by humorously exposing its shortcomings. The NAACP even gave its 1972 Image Award to All In The Family for contributing to better race relations. The program continued on the network television for more than decade and beyond that into syndication on local and cable stations.
Its basis of humor moved into other areas as the program and characters evolved. Although several research projects dealt with the impact of the program on its viewers, one of the most important was also one of the first. In 1974, psychologist Neil Vidmar and sociologist;psychologist Milton Rokeach published an article analyzing viewers of All In The Family in the United States and Canada and the apparent impact of the program on them.
Noting the debate then taking place over the effect of Archie Bunker on bigotry and prejudice, the researchers tested the audience reaction to the program in terms of the previous studies showing the way audiences use selective exposure to regulate and filter the media. Under the selective perception hypothesis, Vidmar and Rokeach theorized that viewers with different degree of prejudice or racism would have different reasons for watching the program, would identify with different characters, and would find different meanings in the outcomes.
Under the selective exposure hypothesis, the researchers proposed that owe prejudiced and high prejudiced would not watch All In The Family to the same extent. To test the hypothesis, they surveyed 237 high school students in a small town in the midwestern United State and a Canadian sample of 168 adults in London Ontario. The people surveyed were asked to respond to a questionnaire with 11 items designed to probe their reactions to the television program to measure their ethnocentrism or prejudice.
The initial analysis of the results showed that more than 60% of the respondents liked or admired Archie more than Mike, that 40% of the US respondents felt that Archie won at the end of the show, 46% named Mike as the one most made fun of, and 35% saw nothing wrong with Archie's use of racial and ethnic slurs. Results from the Canadian sampled followed thee same pattern.
Vidmar and Rokeach then compared the exposure and interpretations of the program among respondents who were rated as high prejudiced and low prejudiced on the six items designed to measure ethnocentricity and prejudice. Both groups found the program equally enjoyable, but there was a big difference in their reactions to the program. The analysis of data testing the selective perception hypothesis found a number of significant differences showing that people at different levels of prejudice drew different conclusions from watching the same television characters.
"High prejudiced person in both the US and Canadian samples were significantly more likely than low prejudiced people to admire Archie over Mike and to perceive Archie as winning in the end," the researcher wrote. The high-prejudiced US adolescents were also more likely to report that Archie made better sense than Mike and to report their attitudes similar to Archie Bunker's in 20 years.
High prejudiced Canadian adults also condoned Archie's racist slurs more often and saw the show as poking fun at Archie less often than did low-prejudiced viewers. The researchers summarized that they tend to support the selective perception hypothesis — namely, that prejudiced persons identify more with Archie, perceive Archie as making better sense than Mike and perceive Archie as winning. Furthermore, high-prejudiced viewers indicated a number of things they disliked, about Mike and low-prejudiced viewers indicated things they disliked about Archie.
Vidmar and Rokeach also found support for the selective exposure hypothesis, but in a different direction than the one proposed by a report commissioned by the CBS television network. Network researchers, assuming that the program would be interpreted as satirizing bigotry, speculated that low-prejudiced persons would be the most avid viewers.
But Vidmar and Rokeach researchers found that US teenagers who were most frequent viewers of All In The Family were those in the high-prejudice group. No significant differences were found in the Canadian sample. The data also showed that the most frequent viewers admired Archie more than Mike and condoned Archie's ethnic slurs more than infrequent viewers did.
The researchers concluded that the testing of the elective exposure hypothesis showed "All In the Family" seems to be appealing more to the racially and ethnically prejudiced members of society than to the less prejudiced members. Is this the reinforcement of bigotry and bigots or What is it? This maybe can be replaced and reinforced with multicultural understand and racial tolerance by all human beings.
The internet has offered to people what books did to the early US, when books were distributed to the far corners of the land(except for the slave). What this medium of books has done,it has become a library for would be thinkers and thought givers. By this I mean to say that what people could do orally to their fellowmen with their retention skills, today we have people who bully anybody who does not follow their Blog Posts or comments they make in their blogs or in their comments elsewhere.
What the computer with the wired and connected Internet has done was to enable ideas to clash on all converging technologies clearly exposing the latent and undercurrent of the history of war of Ideas. The war of ideas is iconic, on signs, orally as well as on print(Internet, Newspapers or TV, Twitter, Facebook and so forth). The run to the elections, there was a lot consternation with the "change" in the way technology was being utilized to rally votes and collect money.
This still needs to be investigated, i.e., the means and ways, the effects and affects of technology and packaged rhetoric on the intended audience. One of the most interesting aspects to look at is the use, today, of the very technologies, Internet and TV, by Huge Oil Companies and other Mega Financial and Insurance companies to pacify and outflank their opponents.
They have not only invested millions into pitying opposing views within the milieu and upgrading their success level, they are always in the background punctuating all this garbled discourse with memes that agitate and inflame passions. The combination of Big business and racist rhetoric makes for the crumbling of civility, tolerance and humaneness. The main idea here is to divide and conquer.
The Crumbling Facade
The crumbling schools, falling bridges, closing factories, weakened infrastructure in all spheres like abandoned houses, cracked pavements and pot-holed highways, falling and failing schools, millions of jobs lost, healthcare costs raising and millions with no health care; a combative and recalcitrant opposition party; a lynch mob with aggressive and negative demonstration, rowdy and agitated rallies and Town Hall meetings. A division of white and the rest of the colored people on two sides of the divide.
The out shouting and trampling of other American citizen's rights willy-nilly; the threat of violence by gun-totting Gun Rights activists; disrespect of the sitting President which is without precedence. Hospitals with doctors inundated with paperwork and less patient care; spiraling Insurance fees, gas and oil rates, electricity rates, rising house taxes and toxic mortgages; Car industry in state of bankruptcy; corrupt and failing banks with questionable banking practices; calling the President a 'liar' inside the Cabinet At The PoOYUSE'S State Of Union Address.
The opposition is working to make Obama fail' strategies of heightened rhetoric and consistently becoming belligerent and testy; talk-show radio hosts who spew vitriolic and vile denunciations of everything the President does or proposes; poverty lines increasing; unemployed checks coming to an end; many families on food stamps and some surviving on social security checks; rise in diseases, poverty and popping of pills; drug abuse; some are screaming cessation; others announced they will not serve under Obama as the Commander-in-chief; placards or portray him as a "tribesman with feathers; or given the 'sambo'.
Or, as Hitler; a water-mellon-fried-chicken-eating african person; the black population suffering mostly from the depression, incarceration at abnormal rates; Aids more prevalent in the black population, poverty-unemployment and drugs ruining the fabric of that community nationally; this applies in many ways to other brown people of non-European descent and poor whites; there are shouts of "I want my America back" and other snipes best left out of this article.
It is not popular to say that we are a nation of immigrants, and we form the USA. The pertinent ideas here are those of authoritarianism and divide and conquer. The notion that we are still a super Power is not backed-up by any tangible fact. True, we still possess some modicum of greatness, but our ideas no more determine nor rule what the world and civilization is about. We are involved in losing and senseless wars; we have become a credit nation in debt and not producing, with a chronically low GDP and a bloated national debt.
Some members of our population are homeless, and very distressed and angry; Banks that were propped-up have not improved nor learned lessons, and are still in the red; we are still beholden to the Arab, African and Middle East oil; there are signs that there are those that are spoiling for a racial fight or confrontation; Are we at the cusp of some 21 century United States Civil War? I bet and hope not...
History as the Harbinger of the Present
It is important to put this matter into historical perspective In the North, the Civil War and Reconstruction significantly affected the development of race relations and, ultimately racial attitudes. The war brought black men a much needed measure of pride and confidence. When the nation was at war, they had given money and blood to preserve the union and extended the range of liberty.
White men forgot but black leaders could not, and the memory enhance both their self-esteem and their claim to fair treatment in the US. When Southern violence and Northern prejudice prevented the enforcement of laws designed to implement the amendments and the Supreme Court began to interpret them narrowly, the guarantees of citizenship were plainly incorporated in the basic law of the land. Black leaders turned their attention to tactical questions and begun to devise methods for gaining in practice rights already granted in principle.
The era also significantly affected the long-range development of white attitudes. Though Reconstruction ultimately failed to establish a new and civil and political order in the South, it did enable Republicans to include in the Constitution an indelible repudiation of racism-a fact of no small weight in a nation of Constitution worshippers.
White men would long continue to discriminate against black men in clear violation of the Constitution, but the amendments were reminders that at a moment in the past white men had behaved toward black men in a way consonant with the democratic principles of the nation.
The Reconstruction amendments rebuked succeeding generation and established a standard against which men of conscience would continue to measure themselves and their society. If the steps toward creating racial equality during the civil war and Reconstruction turned out to be small ones, they were critically important, as first steps always are.
The Ideas that prevail in latter-day America emanated from a checkered past. Even when laws were passed, the attitudes carried over into the next generation up to now as we can see are the eruption of hostilities, belligerency, shouting and ominous placards and topsy-turvy and agitated racist reactions.
These are spilling out onto the cable and net, that you end up hearing ex-President Jimmy Carter denounced these shenanigans as racism. Some people say it is a fringe element, but it is strangely from the Congress down to the man-in-the-street. This behavior has found it way into the Web and is used in a myriad ways.
Articles like this one touching on these issues and points are somehow conveniently ignored and people would rather see life through rose-colored glasses; the predominant ideas are that one does not want to involve oneself in these 'politics' and so forth. The very politics everyone is running away from, are dismantling and wrecking of the social cohesion we see everyday.
Some people state that ideas of Obama and his people are dangerous and making us unsafe. The preponderance and proliferation of divisive vitriolic cyber babble and talking heads 'talking points' are derailing the social glue that binds us all as Americans. History informs us as to how these attitudes came about and how and why they have been perpetuated.
The explosion of free speech on the net and TV has escalated to the extent no one wants to deal with it. The issue is the first African American President to be in the white house in America. It has not yet been fully accepted that a black man can have his finger on nuclear weapon.
These attitudes can be traced throughout the history and its perception of African people. This does not mean the whole country is against Obama, anyway, a significant majority of voters and large majority of the Electoral College gave him the nod. But the fierce and very loud motley crew and majority white protesters and demonstrators swell the ranks of the angry people.
These lynch-like mobs have been tabulated throughout history, but the verve with which the present ones are manifesting, leaves most people filled with serious uncertainty. Reading history we can better understand the present and its malcontents. Whenever we can look much more clearly and straight into the feared unknown, we become better armed to deal with it, because at close quarters, it is intense, but not scary; although I will hasten to add that the situation out the in the land is becoming 'very, very scary' indeed.
There is some silent confidence within the majority of the Americans, the idea that we will give our President his chance to turn 'this ship around; there is also a silent majority which elected and still believe in Obama, and are seeing the change taking place and see him everyday on TV, internationally and locally, building a different America, that is not fueled by war and racism. History is on his side and the changes that he is implementing are slow, but working.
Why civilizations fail is due to many factors. Ours is not unique in the way things are going. There is always and abundance of hope which stresses goodness over negative rhetoric. Dominant social ideas that have come down with us form the past are those of superior and inferior complexes.
These ideas that one race is above the other, or is better or not properly equipped to deal with the vicissitudes of governance and power, in this young civilization are what have been the cause of the heated reaction which we see today manifest in many forms. The War of ideas, that the old ideas of domination of one race over the other have long been challenged and debunked, the only thing left is for them to become an implemented reality in the behavior and conscience of men of all cultures in the US today.
When a civilization crumbles, it begins to have many loose ends, it buckles, shakes either implodes or explodes unto itself and despite itself. There are many ideas that are purported to be the reason for the state of affairs in our country. There are those counter thoughts that say it has much further genesis, and where it's at, is no more different from whence it originated.
Once we ignore history, we ignore what is happening to us now in the present, because we do not know or understand the past, thus making us uncertain about the future. We know why our Empire is in dire straights, our past informs us why we are who we are. The present is very turbulent, and a lot of ignorance at times passes for knowledge because the Internet has made us to be an interconnected, and the problem is we have not yet had time to fixate on its affects and effects on us and our society.
We have not yet understood the impact we are having on the world and its inhabitants, and how that creates perceptions about us, which in most cases can be negative than positive. We claim that what we do and think is no concern of the world and whoever is our critic, but that's no way of the Empire.
We cannot be perceived as acting like brutes and spoiled children; if we want to be taken seriously, we need to lead by just and fair examples and popular ideas. History teaches us how to hold together a disintegrating civilization by learning both its negative and positive ideas. Warring ideas do not facilitate for harmony and development, but chaos and destruction.
The Idea That We Understand Capitalism, Is Preposterous
People in the United States live in a capitalist society, and this fact has significance not only for Americans but for the rest of the world. The essence of capitalism is the accumulation of capital, the making of profits in order to invest and make still more profits. The first law of capitalism is: make a profit off the labor of others or go out of business.
And the best way to accumulate capital is not to work hard but to get others to work hard for you. Private gain, not social need is the central idea and imperative of this economic system. An erstwhile chairman of Castle and Cooke put it this way: "We are in the business of making profit. We are not in business primarily to satisfy society.
"We're not going to satisfy society very long if we go out of business. So. profits are the number one consideration. In the war of ideas, that is the general idea of capitalism, not what we expect to be the satisfaction of society, but conglomerates accumulating profits for themselves only."
Capital does not grow of itself; it must be mixed with labor to create marketable value. Certainly one can make money by mere speculation — but only because there is a small stratum of people accumulating enough money off the labor of others to invest in speculative things at increasingly higher prices.
One's money must be either spent on direct consumption or invested to accumulate new value from labor. Money can just be saved and one can earn interest on the savings. But savings are a form of investment. And the interest earned on savings are but a portion of the profits once removed.
The only reason the bank will you a percentage on your savings is because it then lends those same funds out to a business at a doubled percent interest to the bank is because it is making quadruple percent off the labor of its employees, and using their money to do it.
Wealth comes from two sources: from the natural resources of the environment and fro the labor that is mixed with those resources 0 the mental and physical labor that produces the commodities and services of our society. Profits are the money you make without working. Investment earnings are wealth created by people who work and distributed to people who take no part in the work, the stock holders.
For small owners who both work in the own businesses and employ others, it can be said that some of their income represent the value produced by their own labor and some portion, usually the larger if they are ding well, represents the value produced by the labor of their employees. Corporate managers also work; they administer and supervise and can be considered employees of the firm, albeit highly paid ones who represent the large investor's interests. Often they themselves are also large investors.
Capital does not produce anything, but capital is produced by labor Putting one's money to work means mixing it with labor to extract more capital for that labor. Capitalists are always running advertisements telling us how to capital creates jobs, commodities, factories and prosperity. The truth is, purely on its own without labor, capital id incapable of making a pencil, let alone building a pencil factory(Karl Marx) Capital is deal labor, the accumulation of past metal and physical effort. It must constantly be mixed with labor to realize its value and increase its sum.
Corporate manager swill tell you that investors will not put their money into anything unless they can extract more than they invested. Increased earnings can only come with an increase in the size of the corporate operation. A central law of capitalist motion and development is expansion. Furthermore, a capitalist economy is an unplanned and competitive one in which security is guaranteed to no one, not even the corporate giants.
A corporation searches for security by increasing its hold over resources, developing new technologies through the applications of mental and physical labor, searching out cheaper labor markets, getting governments to subsidize everything from production to exports, capturing a competitors market, merging with other companies, devising new sales networks, and the like.
As the practical limitations of investments are reached in one country and the margin of profit narrows, outlets are sought in other less advantaged and more vulnerable lands Harry Magdoff states: "What matters to the business community, and to the business system as a whole, is that the option of foreign investment [and foreign trade] should remain available.
For this to be meaningful, the business system requires, as a minimum, that the political and economic principles of capitalism should prevail and that the door be full open for foreign capital at all times. Even more, it seeks a privileged open door for the capital of the home country in preference to capital from competing industrial nations.
There are more than 200,000 corporations in the USA today, but 100 companies control more than half the nation's industrial assets. Fifty of the largest banks and insurance companies won half of all the financial assets. Ten firms make 22 percent of all the profits. Some 400 corporations control about 80 percent of the capital asset of the entire nonsocialist world. One-third of the assets of the US industrial corporations are located outside the United States.
Eight of the nation's nine largest banks now rely on foreign sources for over 40 percent of the their total deposits. Many of these holdings — often the larger portions — are in other industrial countries. But more and more investment is going into the Third World. Citibank, for instance, earns about 75 percent of its profits fro overseas operations, mostly in the Third World.
American and other Western corporations have acquired control of more than 75 percent of the known major mineral resources in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The USA is south Africa's largest trading partner and its second-largest foreign investor, with investments amounting to about $2-3 billion as of 1986. US banks provide the apartheid regime with one-third of its international credit. (New York Times).
Given the low wages, low taxes, nonexistent workers benefits and nonexistent occupational and environmental protections, US multinational profit rates in the Third World are 50 percent greater than in developed countries (Monthly Review) Hence, giant companies like Exxon, Cargill, Coca-Cola, IBM, Honeywell, Woolworth, Upjohn, Mobil, ITT, Gillette, and Reynolds make more than half their total profits abroad. As early as 1963, Business Week noted:
"In industry after Industry, US companies found that their overseas earnings were soaring, and that their return on investment abroad was frequently much higher than in the US. As earnings abroad began to rise, profit margins from domestic operations started to shrink.... This is the combination that forced development of the multinational company."
The idea here is that, Americans today are surprised that the economy has fizzled, by the same companies listed above are making good business overseas. In most of the Countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, one finds all the companies listed above making huge profits, while in the US people are told how poor the US has become.
Yet, it is from the early sixties that the domestic economy of the US has ben falling from what today is known and called "globalization". Globalization is not a new 'idea' but an idea which has long been in place and had started bankrupting America in the early sixties.
In the world of the war of ideas, it is not necessarily what is being talked about today that what has bankrupted America was the exportation of jobs today, but this has long started if we heed what Magdorff wrote about in 1963. In the realm of the 'war of ideas' or contemporary prevailing ideas within the US the American people have always come very late to the issues that plague the nation.
Everybody else in the world knows about the power, investment and wealth of some of the companies in the Third World, and the Americans, to date, are still not aware that these companies hold tightly to the ideas of making profit without having to work for it, not having to be taxed much for it, and not having to pay cheap labor, which is in abundance in the developing countries. The Bankrupting America is an old idea which is not necessarily a new idea as it is being understood today.
It is the observation and belief of this author that any and all war, properly so-called,involving bloodshed is absurd, entering a careful caveat that ideas about and on warfare is not the only, or possibly the most ludicrous, absurdity mankind has long pursued in its long adventure on earth.
Therefore, do we also, like other proper, civilized hypocrites, both despise the idea of warfare and cannot defend rationally its most noble and holy manifestations, granting that any other device or instrument may in other ways, achieve a reasonable quantum of its practical objective. That means we prefer absolutely the substitution of intelligence for brutality in any of its manifestations. And we believe all wars that men have fought have had open before their combatants such pragmatic alternatives.
It is also important to know why wars are fought. That is, why is it that some nations fight those with natural resources and in the end run those poor economies of those countries down, and continue to extract their natural resources… Over centuries, capitalism has been — and still is — a dynamic expansionist, imperialist force, principally beneficial to the owning classes of the world and harmful to the earths people, especially the masses of the Third World.
'More than a matter of "planting the flag," imperialism is a system of forcibly expropriating the land, labor, resources, and markets of other nations. Along with that, it is a coercive and often violent method of preventing competing economic orders from arising.
There exists, answerable to no nation, a plutocracy that can go against almost everywhere, transferring its operations from one country to another, punishing resistant governments. This plutocracy battens on tax-free creditor for increasingly indebted nations. Attached to no country, international finance capital is a distant ruler over outwardly sovereign states.
For example, US imperialism has a harrowing arsenal of nuclear weaponry and a growing accumulation of conventional firepower that is approaching the nuclear level in its destructive capacity. US policy-makers have deployed troops, fleets, and bombers around the world, and waged some of the most destructive wars in Indochina, and now of late in Iraq and Afghanistan.
They have promoted counterrevolutions, counterinsurgency, and political repression — complete with death-squad assassinations, torture, and terror — in scores of nations and have overthrown democratic governments in bloody coups.
They have engaged in massive military spending programs, an outpouring of Anti Soviet invectives(and today anti-muslim tirade), and frightening cold-war confrontations, today's war on 'terror,' saturating the American public with threatening images of the Red Tide, in the past, and today, of Muslim terrorists, today.
Nor is the US policy a captive of excessive moralism or utopia globalism; nor is it compelled by the nation's vision of its role in history. If there is a utopianism or a historical vision, by some strange coincidence it is always directed against popular revolution and socialism or oil and other natural resources and is supportive of global capitalism.
The "vision" may be universal and inspirational but it is also remarkably selective and class bound, capable of putting aside its democratic or utopian idealism to support the worst fascist regimes in the Third World. To be sure, fine sounding ideology and idealism have played an important role in justifying imperialism's man methods, and exploitative goals.
Far from dismissing the role of ideas and ideology, this hub was dedicated to countering the prevailing ideology and war against other prevailing idea about peace, not war. As Gil-Scot heron said, Peace is not the absence of war, it is the absence of the rules of war, because, as I am noting, there is no profit that can be garnered from making peace.
The war of ideas can be seen in the areas of the media and in communications.For instance, According to Thomas Ferguson states that, "The leading US right-wing foundations have devoted nearly all their resources to pushing the media and educational systems to provide more explicitly pro-business positions."
The same "free market" foundations have also highlighted the need to reduce or eliminate the role of organized labor in society. It is also worth noting that the political right leads the fight against any and all forms of noncommercial and nonprofit media; and, failing that, leads the battle to see that public broadcasting stays within the same narrow ideological boundaries as he commercial media.
As a result of this pressure, Public Broadcasting Service refuses to permit labor to sponsor programs about workers, but permits business to lavishly subsidize programs extolling free enterprise" (Janine Jackson)
In the United States, at least, the response of the progressive and mainstream foundations to this right-wing ideological assault has been tepid at best. These groups are uncomfortable about being "political," and most of their funds are reserved for examining disasters produced by the market, especially in an era of reduced pubic spending for the poor and working class.
Regrettably, organized labor, too, has been snoozing for the most part, providing little counter to this right-wing ideological class war. Liberal and progressive foundations play by the rules of the Marquis of Queensbury; the political right plays to win; labor and the left are hardly playing at all.
All corporate media giants are the direct beneficiaries of pro-business policies, and all are going to be hostile to anything that stands in their way — left governments,organized labor, environmentalist, whatever. Disney is not alone in manufacturing much of its lucrative merchandise in the sweatshops of Haiti and other Third World locales.
In short, in the War of Ideas and For Ideas, any efforts to reform the balance of class power int the United Stats, or any other effort for that matter, has to deal directly with corporate media power. Nor is this merely an ideological issue, as may have ben the case in generations past.
Today, the largest communication firms rank among the most important firm in the global capitalist economy, media, advertising, and communication, increasingly are at the very center of the capital accumulation process and the global market economy. To leave the communication sector untouched, while elsewhere labor and the left challenge the prerogatives of capital — as any left or labor movement invariably must do — is absurd.
There can and should be plenty of left debate over the proper strategy and tactics for media politic, and there should be plenty of debate concerning media reform proposals. But the left needs to accept the necessity of media reform and move forward.
The future cannot be forecast when the mind revolts from reality and the natural laws. Only love of life and respect for reality can provide men of reason and freedom and means to help shape and forecast the faint outlines of the future. The future is what men make it, so long as they never close their minds to the heroic potential of the human mind and ideas.
The Idea of Dismissing "Others" Past And Living The Present In The Past
When I first sat down and wrote this Hub, the idea was to present ideas and their warring nature in the universe of Human ideas. Thus far, I have let it gel and marinate so that at this point and time, I might conjure up some more ideas as to what War of Ideas are those that I am addressing, and how these come into play around the world.
At times this seems like too broad a topic to take up on, but, nonetheless, I will expand on the Ideas in collision and negating each other from different perspective, because, whatever I will write about, is different around the world, but these ideas do form a confluence amongst different people at different times.
These Warring ideas need to be fleshed-out and their manifestations be seen for what they are: discordant entropic disorder or randomness in a closed system; or, an inevitable and steady deterioration of a system or society.
There are numerous times, to may to count, that nations or people get caught-up with their own ideas and foist them on others and maintaining that their ideas are better, supreme or much developed than the ideas of others. Take for instance, if one were to begin to examine American culture and ideas and its history, just a tad bit, one begins to get the idea of what life is about here in America, and later on will show how this affects others around the world.
We learn the following from Tim wise who states in his piece titled:
"Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority."
"As Lee Greenwood's 'Proud to Be an American" blares from a sound system loaded onto the back of a truck and the yearly Independence Day parade begins, I bide my time. Then, just as the first procession of Boy Scouts passes, I turn to the man standing next to me with the big "God Bless USA" button on his hat, and ask: "Why can't you just get over it? I mean, why do you insist on living in the past? That whole 'breaking away from the British' thing was like more than 200 years ago. Isn't it time to move on?"
Then, before my stunned and increasingly belligerent target can manage to slug me for my apparent apostasy on this, the 'holiest' of all national holidays, I break into a flat-out sprint, hurtling down the block. He gives chase, of course, but having consumed one too many pieces of Mom's apple pie, he becomes winded, ultimately giving up, shaking his fists and calling me names, before getting back to the orgy of Americanism in which he had been engaged prior to my arrival.
Please know that I'm not a sadistic type. I don't actually seek to cause distress, be it physical or emotional, to anyone, even to the kind of person who truly believes, against all visual evidence to the contrary, that the colors(Red, White and Blue), Betsy Ross sewed into that flag so long ago make for an acceptable wardrobe palette.
It's just that every now and then I remember how quick so many of us(he means white people here) are to use a similar line, and I feel as though we should perhaps be required to consider how it feels: all that judgmental arrogance and dismissiveness.
This is, after all, the common response that so many of our people offer whenever someone of Color dares to mention the less than celebratory aspects of our national history: you know, like some of the parts involving them; especially the parts concerning the multiple centuries of human trafficking and racial subordination to which they were subjected, and from which we benefited, at least in relative terms.
Indeed, whenever someone deigns to mention any of those matters — like the national legacy of enslavement, Indian genocide, and imperial land grabs — the rebuttal to which we so often retreat is as automatic as it is enraging.
Oh, that was a long time ago, get over it, or "stop living in the past," or "At some point, we just have to move on."
In other words, the past is the past, and we should't dwell on it. Unless of course we should and indeed insist on doing so, as with the above-referenced Independence Day parade spectacle, or as many used to do with their cries of "Remember the Alamo" or "Remember Pearl Harbor."
Both of these refrains, after all, took as their jumping-off point the rather obvious notion that the past does matter and should be remembered — a logic that apparently vanishes like early morning fog on a hot day when applied to the historical moments we'd rather forget. Not because they are any less historic, it should be noted, but merely because they are considerably less convenient.
Oh, and not to put too fine a point on it, but when millions of us have apparently chosen to affiliate ourselves with a political movement known as the Tea Party, which group's public rallies prominently feature some among us clothed in revolutionary War costumes, wearing powdered wigs and carrying muskets, we are really in no position to lecture anyone about the importance of living in the present and getting past the past.
All the less so when the rallying cry of that bunch appears to be that they seek to "take their country back." Back, after all, is a directional reference that points by definition to the past, so we ought to understand when some insist we should examine that past in its entirety, and not just the parts that many of us would rather remember.
Truth is, we love living in the past when t venerates this nation (America) and makes us feel good. If the past allows us to reside in an idealized, mythical place, from which we look down upon the rest of humanity as besotted inferiors who are no doubt jealous of our national greatness and our freedoms (that, of course, is why they hate us and why some attack us), then the past is the perfect companion: an old friend or lover, or at least a well-worn and reassuring shoe.
If, on the other hand, some among us insist that the past is more than that — if we point out that the past is also one of brutality, and that this brutality, especially as regards race, has mightily skewed the distribution of wealth and opportunity even to this day — then the past becomes a trifle, a pimple on the ass of now, an unwelcome reminder that although the emperor may wear clothes,the clothes he wears betray a shape he had rather hoped to conceal. No, no: the past, in those cases, is to be forgotten.
Vast numbers of us, it appears, would prefer to hermetically seal the past away in some memory vault, only peering inside on these occasions when it suits us and supports the cause of uncritical nationalism to which so many of us fid ourselves imperviously wedded. But to treat the past this way is to engage in a fundamentally dishonest enterprise, one that, in the long run, is dangerous. Unless we grapple with the past in its fullness — and come to appreciate the impact of that past on our present moment — we will find it increasingly difficult to move into the future a productive, confident and even remotely democratic republic.
Oh, I might add, Tim Wise is White and in the preface he writes that: "This critique is less about white people and more about mindsets; it is less about white people and more about whiteness as a social and institutional force-a social category created for the purpose of enshrining a racially divided polity. To condemn the latter is not to condemn the former."
Ding-Dong Democracy or Shamocracy
The Global Mind-scape Of Warring Ideas
The piece above by Tim White gives us a snippet s to the roots of American imperialism and Imperial culture, and how this dominates the minds of White people, inasmuch as those they disdain or oppress and affect and effect with their mindset and culture.
This point is important because it shows us the genesis of American mind-set and their ways of imposing themselves, not only to the African Americans, Hispanics and Red men in America, but also to the people of color the world-over.
The United State has foisted its ideology and democracy to the world and have fought wars to implement their brand of Democracy and social living. Now that we are seeing the elections of a few days away, the world is witnessing how the white Americans are suppressing the African-American, Hispanic and other minorities right to vote.
They are also seeing how they treat and disrespect their first African American President, Barack Obama; the take not as to the deficiencies that are contradictions emanating from the American landscape and psyche and thee World is left wondering and puzzled.
Now that the whole World is hooked-up with the world through the Internet, there tends to be several discourses and ideas that get thrown around and purpose of the pieces below is to bring to light these exchanges and see what other people around the world are thing about or how they think about things.
The Internet has facilitated for the exchange of talk and ideas, and this has some form of democratic quality and substance to it, but it also exposes the old skeletons of American jingoism and biases embedded within the minds of the people of the world, whether they be right or wrong, but one sees the American effect in many instances and ideas and talks; we also see how the world perceives,or the Americans themselves, see the fate of the present civilization.
The Ideology Process
Domhoff discuses the ideology process thus:
"The ideology process consists of the numerous methods through which members of the power elite attempt to shape the beliefs, attitudes and opinions of the underlying population. It is within tis process that the power elite tries to create,disseminate and reinforce a set of attitudes and values that assure Americans that the United States is for all its alleged defects, the best of all possible worlds.
The ideology process is an adjunct to the other three processes, for they would be able to function smoothly without at least the resigned acquiescence of a great majority of the population. Free and open discussion are claimed to be the hallmarks of the process, but past experience shows that its leaders will utilize deceit ad violence in order to combat individuals or organizations which espouse attitudes and opinions that threaten the power and privileges of the ruling class.
The ideology process is necessary because public opinion does not naturally and automatically agree with the opinions of the power elite. ... Without the ideology process, a vague and amorphous public opinion - - which must often be cajoled into accepting power-elite policies — might turn into a hardened class consciousness that opposed the ruling-class viewpoint at every turn.
In order to prevent the development of attitudes and opinions contrary to the interests of the ruling class, leaders within the ideology process attempt to build upon and reinforce the underlying principles of the American system.
Academically speaking, these underlying principles are called laissez-faire liberalism, and they have enjoyed a near monopoly of American political thought since at least the beginnings of the republic. The principles emphasize individualism, free enterprise, competition, equality, opportunity and a minimum of reliance upon government in carrying out the affairs of society."
The Manufacturing Of Consent
The Ideation of Ideology
The central aim of the ruling elite's ideology process is to define the "Domain of discourse." That is, the corporate elite seeks to define the limits of "acceptable ideas" and to define what is worth talking about, worth learning, teaching, promoting, and writing bout. Of course, the limits of the "acceptable," the "responsible," are set at those points which support and justify the interests of the elite itself.
To a great extent the elite ideology process essentially involves the reinforcement of long-held, orthodox "American" values, perspectives, practices and ideals (which the system of power relations has already indirectly shaped to begin with). These factors are the ideological bases of elite power. It is a well-known fact that propaganda works best "when used to reinforce an already existing notion or to establish a logical or emotional connection between a new idea and a social norm (Hirsch)
It is important to note that many of these pre-existing notions are the products of elite propaganda and conditioning processes harking back to earlier historical eras; to socialization experiences in the early childhood, adolescent and young adulthood years in the family, educational institutions,peer groups; and to media exposures during these impressionable years as well.
The ideas, attitude and response tendencies implanted by these early experiences are often mistakenly identified by their hosts as self-generated; these previous "selective exposures and experiences" become the infrastructure which helps to maintain a later accrued "selective attention," "tunnel vision" orientation.
This orientation serves to resist new ideas and practices not compatible with the old or pre-existing set of ideas and practices(as we read from tim Wise above). This may be the case even when such pre-existing set of ideas and practices are not producing desired or satisfactory outcomes.
Thus, through its monopoly of the media and the means of disseminating and "validating" informations and interpreting reality, the ruling elite not only reinforces and channels those orthodox values which support its supremacy, but also utilizes its monopolies to simultaneously prevent "groups with a different ideology from presenting their interpretation of events. As Hirsch further contends:
In order to preserve ideological hegemony, it is only necessary for the ruling group to reinforce dominant values and at the same time prevent the dissemination of opinion that effectively challenges the basic assumptions of the society. Public knowledge of inequality and injustice isn't so damaging as long as these perceptions are not drawn together into a coherent, opposing ideology."
David Sallach very aptly observes that the ruling elite achieves its ends when it prevents groups with opposing ideologies from attaining a value consensus through its attempt to create confusion, fragmentation and demonstrate inconsistency in their belief systems, or, as Domhoff argues, when it ensures that opposing opinions and values are only partially developed, remain isolated, and are made suspect.
Thus, as Domhoff summarizes, the elite ideology process and network "is not the be-all and end-all of ruling-class domination. ... It does not function to eliminate conflict [thereby maintaining the illusion of "the free flow of ideas," "freedom of speech"] but to keep conflict from leading to an alternative ideology that provides the basis for an anti-corporate, anti-capitalist [anti-White supremacy] social movement.
So that, the contradictions and tensions inherent in ruling class domination and in White global supremacy make such domination vulnerable to a successful challenge from insurgent mass class and ethnic-based movements. An appropriately innovative, united, well-organized, political-economic counterattack by such movements can take successful advantage of the economic or political conflicts and vulnerabilities now present in the White supremacist establishment, or of its inevitable future contradictions and conflicts, particularly in the realm of Ideas.
What is socially constructed is not itself imaginary or illusory, and its evidence gives credibility to the justifications advanced for a given system of power.Yet the fact that it is constructed indirectly by that same system of power is obscured by the complexity of the processes involved; and by the fact that these processes, such as those of socialization, are not necessarily managed by the powerful, but often by the subordinate themselves.
The most ineffective means of disseminating ideas in society, and int African American and Continental Africans, along with those in the Diaspora, in particular, is to have these communities perceive their dissemination and reproduction as the work of disinterested, unbiased, non-manipulative, liberal, yet authoritative, White American or White European individuals, groups, institutions, or as flowing from sources independent of the marked influence of the powerful.
In the final analysis, the rich and powerful,in this context, of all the groups which compose American or Western European societies, have the greatest need for ideology and to see that the other groups are well indoctrinated with it. J. Reiman sums up all what I have been saying above about the War of Ideas in the following manner:
"A simple and persuasive argument can be made for the claim that the rich and powerful in America and Europe have an interest in conveying an ideological message the rest of the [sic world]. The have-nots and the have-littles far outnumber the have-plenties. This means, to put it rather crudely, the have-nots and the have-littles could have more if they decided to take it from the have-plenties.
This, in turn, means that the have-plenties need the cooperation of the have-nots and the have-littles. Because the have-plenties are such a small minority that they could never force this cooperation on the have-nots and have-littles, this cooperation must be voluntary. For the cooperation to be voluntary, the have-nots and the have-littles must believe that it could not be right or reasonable t take away what the have-plenties have.
In other words,they must believe that for all its problems the present social, political and economic order, with its disparities of wealth and power ad privilege, is about the best that human beings can do. More specifically, the have-nots and have-littles must believe that they are not being exploited by the have plenties.
Now, this seems to me to add up to an extremely plausible argument that ours is a social system that requires for its continued operation a set of beliefs [and ideas] necessary to secure the allegiance of the less well-off majority. These belief [ideas] must be in some considerable degree false, because the distribution of wealth and power int the United States and Europe,is so evidently arbitrary and unjust. Ergo, the need for ideology."
Obviously, those most interested and active in inculcating and sustaining such an ideology, that of the fact that despite its gross inequities and inadequacies a critical mass of the populace must accept the ideology used to rationalize and justify its existence, would be those who are the chief and major beneficiaries of the socioeconomic status of those who believe they stand to gain in the future from its continuance and/or who fear losing what they have-though it may be less than they need it the system were to be reconstituted.
Therefore, in sum, the relationship between socioeconomic power and social ideology is an intimate one. For ideology legitimates power systems, hierarchical structures and social relations through its provision of rationales and justifications for the exercise of power and the necessity of certain social relations.
If ideology successfully justifies the distribution and exercise of power within social relations, then it represents itself as a potent source of control over the consciousness and behavior of the participants. The power of mind, of thought, imagination and vision; the power of symbols and the word; the power of ideation and the translation of ideation into action, are manifested in a multitude of personal, social, cultural and physical forms. Knowledge is idea,the product of ideation reciprocally interacting with reality.
Therefore, if knowledge is power, ideas have power. Ideas can be coercive and compelling. Beliefs, symbols, doctrines, and idea systems can enable or empower men through their capacity to induce them into state of consciousness conducive to the achievement of certain personal and social goals which wont be achievable by other means.
If the idea of having a war because of the differences embedded in those ideas, then we need to constantly remind ourselves of what War is really about, and see it for what it is, as an executed idea prompted by the negation of another idea. I will therefore try and utilize the words of Harry Patch, in this instance to make my point about the pointlessness of war. I will cull a bit from an article written by David Randall, the last journalist to meet to meet Private Patch.
Harry Patch, the last survivor of the Western Front, and the man who reminded the modern world of its filthy slaughter, died at the age of 111 (in 2009) His life ended on a fine summer's morning in his native Somerset, many miles and 92 years from the Passchendaele mud where so many of his comrades fell, and where he, but for the aim of a german officer, so nearly joined them.
For decades he the sights and sounds of that butcher's yard to himself. But then, beginning at the age of 100, he began to talk about them. In so doing, he became the very voice of history: the last Tommy, still fighting. But now his campaign is over.
Upon his passing, Prime Minister Gordon Brown, paid tribute to his and his comrades. "The noblest of all generations has left us," he said. But they will never be forgotten. We say today with still greater force, 'We will remember them'. There were British soldiers who were fighting in Afghanistan before Patch was born.
They were still there when he was discharged form the army in 1919, and yesterday, on the day he died, they were still there. And as Harry's life concluded, cam news that a far younger one who wore the British uniform died on the same day. Not on his bed, surrounded by friends and those who cared for him, but on a dusty road in a country that has defied, for generations, all efforts to subdue it in the name of civilization and politically justified armed forces.
Harry Patch had words for an occasion like this — indeed, for all such conflicts. They were spoken with a soreness that lasted all his adult life. "War," he said, "is organized murder, and nothing else."
The experience which shaped that opinion was, as it was for a generation later in 1939-45, forced upon him. He was born in Somerset Village of Coombe Down in 1898. He left school at 14 for an apprenticeship with a plumber, and would, no doubt have lived a life of peaceful anonymity, had the squabbling leaders of Europe been able to resolve their differences. They couldn't. Germany invaded Belgium, Britain responded, and in a wave of patriotism, a whole generation of young men volunteered for uniformed adventure.
Harry was not among them; too young at first, and then, through his brother's tales from the front, too wary. Instead, at the age of 17, he was conscripted. "I didn't want to go and fight anyone, but it was a case of having to," he said.
He found himself translated into No 29295, Private Henry John Patch of the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry. With a talent for marksmanship, he was drafted into a machine-gun crew, and by his 19th birthday, was in a waterlogged trench in what was to be known by the dread name of Passchendaele
"Anyone who tells you he wasn't scared, he's a damned liar," he would later say. "we lived by the hour ... You saw the sun rise; hopefully, you see it set. If you saw it set, you hoped to see it rise." Many didn't.
One was a young Cornishman whom Patch and comrades found in no-man's land, disemboweled by shrapnel, but still, just, alive. "Shoot me," he said, and then, before Harry could react, he died with the words "Mother!" on his lips. It was but one of the specters from the trenches that Harry carried with him until he died.
He was, far too soon, a teenaged veteran in this open-air human abattoir, a little expert in what happens to the bodies of young men when they are ripped open by hot metal and left to rot in a shell hole. And then, in late September 1917, came the German shell with his name on it. It burst among his mates with such force that the remains of three of them were never found again.
Harry, some yards away, was seriously wounded, his stomach pierced by a jagged lump of shrapnel. He was taken to a casualty station, where he lay, untreated in roiling pain, for 36 hours. Finally, a doctor came, and with no anesthetic, cut out the metal while four men held him down. It was, although he not be de-mobbed for another year, the end of Harry's war. He returned home, to plumbing, marriage, two sons, duty with the fire service in another war, and an old age that saw him survive both sons and his wives.
He had never given an interview nor talked about his experiences until he as 100 years old, and spoke of the waste of conflict. "At the end, the peace was settled around a table, so why the hell couldn't they do that at the start without losing millions of men," he said.
In many instances and cases, wars are fought because of conflicting ideas… and in the end, it all comes out as being utterly futile and useless, as Harry pointed out about the peace, signed on tables, which according to him should have been the starting point than end up with millions wasted life for a futile effort...I think it is when the Cookie crumbles, metaphor, that we end up with unjustified and useless wars and conflicting ideas and take as to what the War of Ideas is all about. Below I cite some sources and "ideas" that are prevalent today and are also "Wars Of Ideas".
War of Ideas
Comparing And Contrasting: The Pros And Cons
Why mainstream and liberal foundations and the think tanks they support are losing in the War Of Ideas in American politics
Andrew Rich's Wrote the following article about the War of Ideas from an unusual perspective which reads thus:
For a century, foundations have been sources of private wealth for public purposes; they have committed great resources to address society’s ills — but they have remained wary of straying too close to the political sphere. Foundations are prohibited from engaging in partisan political activity and from lobbying elected officials about legislation. So foundations have often viewed their funding as a counterweight to public spending, supporting, for example, domestic social services or international public health initiatives.
Yet a notable portion of foundation spending — a growing portion for some foundations — is targeted almost directly at the political process. This spending is intended to win the “War of Ideas” under way in American politics. It supports research and advocacy that aims to influence how elected officials and the public think about a broad range of policies.
This “War of Ideas” is fundamentally a battle between liberals and conservatives, progressives and libertarians, over the appropriate role for government. Some progressive writers argue that conservatives have been winning battles in the war of ideas because liberal foundations are not spending near the amount that conservative foundations are on the war and the liberal money is not deployed nearly as effectively.
My research suggests that while it is true that conservatives have been more effective than progressive funders, this is not because they spend more money. Nonconservative foundations — what might be labeled “middle of the road,” “mainline,” or “liberal foundations” — have devoted far more resources than conservatives to influencing thinking about public policy
. This spending simply has not been as deliberate or effective. Conservative think tanks have quite successfully provided political leaders, journalists, and the public with concrete ideas about shrinking the role of the federal government, deregulation, and privatization.
They are succeeding by aggressively promoting their ideas. By contrast, liberal and mainstream foundations back policy research that is of interest to liberals. But these funders remain reluctant to make explicit financial commitment to the War of Ideas, and they do relatively little to support the marketing of liberal ideas.
It’s Not About Money
The 15 largest foundations are spending more than $100 million a year on public policy institutes, and these are not conservative foundations supporting conservative think tanks.
These are large, mainline foundations often led and staffed by progressively minded people that do not share the agenda of reducing the role of government. In the 1990s, their endowments grew, and their interest in supporting groups in Washington grew as well.
In 2002 these foundations spent $136 million supporting public policy institutes that are mostly in Washington producing policy-relevant work. These foundations do not generally make policy research one of their top funding priorities, but it remains an important part of their annual giving.
An evaluation of how these foundations apportion their funding to policy institutes relative to scores of other categories of spending reveals that funding for public policy institutes ranges from the third highest category to the 26th, with the exception of one foundationRICH that makes no grants in this area.
To put these amounts in context, I updated an analysis done by Michael Shuman in 1998, and I have listed the 2002 assets and spending on public policy institutes by 12 notable conservative foundations and 12 of their liberal counterparts.
The conservative foundations, which have been a focus in three reports since 1997 by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCPR), are often characterized as central to the conservative efforts in the War of Ideas. These foundations are all significantly smaller than the 15 largest foundations in the United States.
The largest one had 2002 assets totaling $580 million, compared with between $2.5 and $32 billion among the 15 largest foundations. The total amount these conservative foundations spent on public policy institutes was about $29.5 million — less than one quarter of what the largest mainline foundations devoted to such work.
Any idea of a funding edge to the conservative foundations is further diminished after looking at 12 loosely comparable progressive foundations that are members of what’s known as the “National Network of Grant makers,” a network of funders focused on supporting causes that promote social and economic justice.These foundations spent $37 million in support of think tanks. Comparing the two sets of 12 foundations, the progressives spent $12 million more on public policy institutes in 2002.
Given these numbers, it’s hard to attribute the conservatives’ success in the war of ideas to their greater resources. The advantage lies in how the money is spent. Conservatives have found ways to package and market their ideas in more compelling ways, and their money is providing more bang for the buck.
Indeed, a closer analysis suggests that conservatives structure their financing much differently than liberal and centrist foundations. A look at the data from 2002 reveals that conservative foundations consistently make funding policy institutes one of their top three priorities, while the liberal and mainline foundations rarely treat it this way. (Tables 2 and 3, right-hand column.) To understand the significance of this difference, it’s necessary to consider how the different types of think tanks and foundations evolved.
From Science to Ideology
Think tanks made their debut just after the turn of the century with missions reflecting a Progressive Era confidence that expertise from the burgeoning social sciences could solve public problems and inform government decision making. Progressive reformers looked to experts to generate the “scientific knowledge” that would move policymaking beyond rancorous logrolling and partisan patronage.
The first generation of foundations and the industrialists who established them played a critical role in creating and sustaining the first think tanks. John D. RockefellerSr., the Rockefeller Foundation, founded in 1913, became the single greatest contributors to the Institute for Government Research (which became the Brookings Institution). The foundation provided similar core support in the early days for the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), formed in 1919.
The industrial magnates who were first interested in supporting social research saw it as wholly desirable for think tanks to become credible voices in policymaking circles without becoming promotional or ideological. Under attack themselves from some corners of government, the industrialists were publicity-shy.
They and the foundations they established actively discouraged the think tanks from including high-profile marketing among their efforts. Until 1970, the total number of think tanks active in American politics remained relatively small (fewer than 70). Those that existed had little public profile, devoting their efforts instead to policy research made available quite straightforwardly — and sometimes discreetly — for consumption by public decision makers.
The founding of the conservative Heritage Foundation in 1973 marked the birth of a new type of politically aggressive and openly ideological expert organization. Ideological, marketing-oriented think tanks modeled after Heritage proliferated, particularly on the right (e.g., the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Progress and Freedom Foundation), although also in the center (e.g., the Progressive Policy Institute) and on the left (e.g., the Economic Policy Institute, the Center for National Policy). The number of think tanks more than quadrupled between 1970 and 2000, growing from fewer than 70 to more than 300.
More than half of the new think tanks that formed in this period were identifiably ideological. Two-thirds of these were identifiably conservative — mostly producing and promoting work supportive of limited government and free markets.
How Conservatives Took the Lead in the War of Ideas
The dramatic growth of conservative think tanks in the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s was made possible principally with support from a small corps of newer conservative foundations, such as the Bradley, Smith Richardson, and Sarah Scaife foundations. Before the 1970s, many conservative foundations and their patrons reviled government so much that they refused to support efforts related to what was going on in Washington.
But with the advent of increased government regulation in the late 1960s, the leaders of these foundations wanted to stop the tide of government activism. Funding organizations to fight the War of Ideas became their way of doing it.
During this same period, mainline and liberal foundations scaled back their support of a number of efforts that engaged politics and government in Washington. Many of the older, more progressive foundations were disappointed by what they perceived as the failures of Great Society programs in which they had invested.
Perhaps more important, many of the older, nonconservative foundations were operating with less. The endowments of many of the largest foundations lost hundreds of millions of dollars when the stock market declined in the 1970s.
Many older foundations put the brakes on activities in Washington that seemed overtly or overly political.7These foundations happened to be those that supported what today are often thought of as more liberal or progressive think tanks and public policies. The Ford Foundation is the best example.
For several decades before 1970, Ford was the principal source of support for the Brookings Institution and Resources for the Future, and it provided key support to many more think tanks, including the Institute for Policy Studies. Ford moved to cut much of its core support for think tanks in the 1970s and ’80s.
Yet the financial advantage that the conservative foundations enjoyed in financing policy work as the mainline foundations cut back was short lived. Despite complaints by some liberal advocates of insufficient backing, in the 1990s, think tanks and policy institutes actually became beneficiaries of restored support from mainstream and progressive foundations, as their endowments grew. The data from 2002 are evidence of this trend.
The Conservative Advantage
Funding for think tanks was largely restored, but between the 1970s and the 1990s, Ford and other foundations changed their missions, their structure, and, in some cases, their staffing in ways that affect how that funding is distributed.
For those on the left who desire more support, the problem is that the mainline/progressive/liberal foundations are now often not organized to effectively provide support to progressive think tanks or other organizations in the broad-based war of ideas — or even to see that as their role.
On the one hand, these foundations tend to be organized by issue area. That means that prospective grantees are also organized that way. Think tanks on the left tend to be organized by issue area — around women’s issues, poverty, or the environment — rather than taking on the broad range of issues with which Congress and the president deal.
The specialization of think tanks and advocacy organizations on the left tends to mirror the programs and organization of their main foundation funders. These more specialized groups can be — and have been tremendously effective. But they are not organized to do battle in the same ways as their conservative counterparts, across a broad range of topics.
Whereas a multi-issue, conservative group can redirect portions of its resources and energy from promoting ideas for, say, environmental regulation to Social Security reform as the immediate priorities of Congress and the president change, more narrowly focused progressive think tanks cannot be so nimble – and, as they are currently organized, many would not want to be.
To make matters more difficult, progressive think tanks have a hard time getting general organizational support. Foundations want to support projects — specific, well-defined, discreet projects. The generally progressive Mott Foundation, for instance, gave slightly more to policy institutes in 2000 ($7.45 million) than the conservative Bradley Foundation ($6.53 million), but most of its funding was devoted primarily to specific projects.
By contrast, the majority of Bradley’s funding went to general organizational operating support. In this regard, Bradley outspent Mott by roughly eight to one, investing about $3.8 million to Mott’s $460,000.
By providing general operating support to policy institutes far more rarely than their conservative counterparts, progressive foundations make it difficult for progressive organizations to sustain operating staff and functions.
As James Piereson, executive director of the conservative John M. Olin Foundation, commented about his liberal counterparts: “The liberal foundations became too project oriented — they support projects but not institutions. They flip from project to project. … We, on the other hand, support institutions. We provide the infrastructure for institutions.”
Preoccupation with Neutrality
There is one more distinction between conservative and liberal foundations that affects the disparities in their level of support: Funders on the left appear to have a different view of the role of the researcher — and the role of the research organization — than those on the right. For many of the mainline foundations and the foundations that are more clearly progressive, the primary concern when it comes to funding think tanks is in funding rigorous research that strives to be neutral. For them, think tanks and policy institutes should be homes to the disinterested expert.
Concern for neutral, unbiased research is not a preoccupation of the foundations on the right. As one longtime think tank leader observed, “Liberal foundations are liberal not just in their belief in social and economic justice, but also in their belief in the possibility of neutrality, which makes them uncomfortable with making grants that seem too ‘political.’”
The comments of a research director of a new progressive think tank are even more pointed: “If you’re on the left, you have to go to the foundations and say you’re neutral, unbiased — not politicized. You’re certainly not liberal. If you’re ideological, they don’t want to support you. It’s frustrating — because, by contrast, if you’re on the right, the foundations will only fund you if you toe the ideological line, if you want to do battle for the conservative cause.”
So where is much of the money from the more progressive or liberal foundations going? It is going to think tanks that shun being classified as either liberal or conservative, including the Brookings Institution, the Urban Institute, and Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation (MDRC). This type of think tank — think tanks of no identifiable ideology — makes up the greatest proportion operating in American politics, and these groups receive the biggest portion of resources that go to think tanks.
In 1996, there were more than twice as many think tanks of no identifiable ideology (96), like Brookings and MDRC, operating in national politics than think tanks that were identifiably liberal (38); the total dollar amount devoted to these think tanks of no identifiable ideology was more than six times more than that spent on liberal think tanks.
For the most part, however, these groups are not major players in the war of ideas. They are not a counterweight to conservative think tanks, and they don’t want to be. The Brookings Institution is qualitatively different from the Heritage Foundation. Brookings and its researchers are not so concerned, in their work, in affecting the ideological direction of the nation. Brookings tends to be staffed by researchers with strong academic credentials, whereas Heritage is staffed by researchers with more political experience.
And while Brookings devotes most of its budget to research, Heritage puts a substantial portion into media and government relations. In 2004, Brookings spent 3 percent of its $39 million budget on communications; in 2002, the most recent year for which information is available, Heritage spent 20 percent of its $33 million budget on public and government affairs.
Reflecting on this difference, Herb Berkowitz, Heritage’s former vice president for communication, observed: “Our belief is that when the research product has been printed, then the job is only half done. That is when we start marketing it to the media. … We have as part of our charge the selling of ideas, the selling of policy proposals. We are out there actively selling these things, day after day. It’s our mission.”
Today, it is not so much that progressive foundations will not support policy research. The problem now is that these foundations will not support progressive policy think tanks that are focused, in the ways that conservative think tanks are, on promoting progressive policy change through research, advocacy, and the Marketing of Ideas.
Ideas Need Strong Organizations
The war of ideas remains a loosely defined phenomenon and more substantial examination of the ways it is (or is not) being won by conservatives demands further research. Yet the preliminary evidence suggests that conservative think tanks have made marketing conservative ideas a priority with the full knowledge and support of conservative foundations. This is what the conservative funders want them to do, and it is what makes conservative think tanks not only well funded but also influential.
Some new evidence suggests that a few more progressive or mainline foundations may be starting to engage the war of ideas in earnest — more or less on the terms set by their conservative counterparts. The creation in 2003 of the Center for American Progress (CAP) by President Clinton’s former chief of staff, John Podesta, is perhaps the best example.
CAP is a new progressive think tank organized to do battle in the war of ideas following a model similar to that of the Heritage Foundation on the right. George Soros and his foundation, the Open Society Institute, provide substantial support to CAP. Still, CAP and several other new progressive initiatives are raising at least as much support from individuals as from foundations, where some of the obstacles outlined in this article are still in place.
New commitments by nonconservative foundations have been modest and suggest that interest in investing in the infrastructure for the war of ideas remains weak. The missions and complicated leadership structures of some of these foundations may make adjusting to the war of ideas difficult or undesirable.
But in light of the stakes for American politics and policymaking, nonconservative foundations should at least reconsider their political role, how they do grant-making, and the return they hope to achieve on their investments.
At this moment, conservatives are still winning in the War of Ideas, and that success cannot be chalked up only to the power of their ideas. It is because these ideas have a winning organization behind them.
And yet, Sultan Knish Blogged:
The Ideological Wars: Why Conservatives Are Losing and Liberals Are Winning
While most people may still identify as loosely conservative and while conservatives continue to win elections often enough, it's hard to miss that conservative politics continues to get watered down and compromised while liberal politics continues to intensify its ideological orientation.
Put simply liberals have been left to the left... but so have conservatives. And that's a serious problem as the drift continues to move the "Center" or what's considered politically moderate to the left. In other words liberalism is winning the ideological and culture wars.
The reason why this is happening is the orientation of legitimacy. For much of the 20 century, liberals demonized conservatives and conservatives demonized liberals. On a national scale though it was the liberals whose negative portrayal of conservatives triumphed with the perception of McCarthyism serving as a turning point. With culture of the culture through entertain, education and media, the liberal image of the bad conservatives has predominated far more than the conservative image of the bad liberal.
The result has created a negative image of conservatives even within conservative movements, a negative image that has created a pressure to "mainstream" conservative parties by pushing them toward a compromise "center" with liberalism.
"See we're reasonable folks. We can be moderates," say the Conservative Charlie Browns, aiming for the center. And right as they kick out, the Liberal Lucy's pull the football away leaving them in the muck again and toss that football further to the left, leaving the conservatives to follow. On and on the same charade keeps being repeated with the same results leaving not only First World nations but conservative movements leaning further to the left than ever.
The orientation of legitimacy therefore points different ways within Conservative movements and within Liberal movements. Where in Conservative movements the orientation of legitimacy is toward the "moderate" conservatives moving toward the left, in Liberal movements the orientation of legitimacy is toward the "extreme" left whose ideas slowly become mainstreamed.
As conservatives become more moderate, liberals become more extreme. Among moderate liberals, leftist politics, even extremist leftist politics are often viewed as a badge of honor. The unacceptable ideas of a few decades ago are now mainstream consensus not only among liberals but generally among people as a whole. By contrast the acceptable conservative ideas of a few decades ago are today considered extremist even among conservatives.
The result of this unbalanced situation is that there is nothing that exists to arrest the leftward drift. While a stable political culture achieves a balance between extremes, the modern political consensus, like a boat drifting out to sea, continues to float away.
Conservatives feed this cycle by giving up the balance and pursuing liberal ideas. In turn liberals are driven to distinguish themselves from conservatives by pushing further to the left.
The left pushes even further to distinguish itself from the liberals. Like an absurd children's game, conservatives chase liberals, liberals chase the left and the left begins chasing after a new level of extremes by embracing everything from terrorism to a world devoid of human life.
The watering down of conservatism is the bill paid by short term thinking. Conservatives look to win present day elections by seizing the center and driving liberals further to the margins. This has worked well enough for them to be able to win elections by portraying liberal candidates as extreme.
The problem is that a few years later the margins have become the mainstream and another battle in the ideological war has been lost through outright surrender. As a result such tactics lead to the belief that conservatives are advancing when in reality they're retreating. Every step forward turns out to be a Leninist step back.
The price of making liberals look radical by seizing the center is to make your own present day beliefs radical a few years from now. The deeper conservatives advance into liberal territory, the more liberal they become.[Or do they, given the emergence of the Tea Baggers(Party-my addition]
This is the price of going native. The best way to be condemned by a liberal is to be more conservative than him. The best way to be condemned by a conservative is to be more conservative than he is.
As conservatives, even staunchly conservative conservatives drift toward the "center," the people they leave behind to take their place are often on the loony and bigoted fringe. They then become the flag bearers of old conservative ideas and quickly discredit them by association, only furthering the leftward drift.
As the right becomes associated with extremist bigots and Nazi sympathizers, the stampede only intensifies. Meanwhile liberals are never held accountable for their extreme wing, despite the fact that liberalism is actually drifting to meet them.
While conservatives keep winning elections, liberals keep winning the argument by shifting the goal posts. Conservatives mark an electoral victory, liberals mark cultural victories. The voters of today come to the polling station with a definition of mainstream that falls well within the boundary of liberal ideas of a few decades ago. They may cast their ballots for a conservative candidate, but that is only because the conservative candidate has moved well within that boundary himself.
Using Cultural Technology in the Culture War
Again, Sultan Knish Writes:
We often talk about a culture war, but we don't usually talk about what that means beyond protests over movies and art exhibits. Culture is programming. The culture war is a programming conflict. Ideas are code. They're viruses. They're memes.
Our form of code is communication. A man alone isn't an island, he's one of those feral wolf children that sometimes turn up in abusive households or backward countries. And those children are never fully human because they are missing something basic. They have never been shaped by talking with another member of their species.
The communication that we engage in, through reading and talking, comes to define who we are. It programs us with concepts and ideas, which we bash up against other concepts and ideas, both very sophisticated and very simple.
Brainwashing is the hostile takeover of a human mind. The most effective way to brainwash someone is to take a lonely individual and embed him into a peer group which bombards him or her with love and acceptance that is conditional on accepting an idea or belief.
That is how cults do it and it works frighteningly well. Governments attempt to replicate it on a national scale, but it never works as well as it does in a compartmentalized cult or ideological cell. And as a history of Communist groups around the world shows, the two can be very hard to tell apart.
The second most effective way is to take that individual and place him at the disposal of people who have complete control over him. This is how police extract false confessions on a regular basis, sometimes even without meaning to. And at the opposite end of the law enforcement scale, this is how Stockholm Syndrome works.
People adapt to the group. Unlike animals, we are verbal creatures. We depend less on non-verbal signals for flocking behavior and more on direct communication to tell us where the group is going and what we are supposed to do to fit in with it. That is why controlling communication also means control of the group.
Cultural Programming Is A Simple Thing.
Like Pavlov's dogs, people are programmed through emotional control points. Empathy, guilt, love, hate, fear, pride, etc. Instead of associating a ringing bell with food, an idea, attitude or worldview is associated with a particular emotion or set of emotions.
Suppose you want to program your test subjects to hate guns. The simple way is to keep showing them dead kids and guns together. And that's something you can see on every television news hour. Children are a primal control point. It's a button that everyone overlays a message on. In this case, the message is that guns kill but government can keep you safe.
Programming isn't debating. Not in the conventional sense. It's about instilling responses that are emotional, even if the subject convinces himself that they are actually the result of his own careful consideration of an issue. Those responses then short circuit any more reasoned approaches with an emotional response overlaid with a 'shortcut' message.
A 'shortcut' message is code. It encompasses a larger idea in an easily accessible form. Think of it as an anti-virus program for the meme. Once the meme has been implanted, it's used to defend against any competing ideas. An anti-gun meme might be, "Do we care about kids or about guns?" while a pro-gun meme might be, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people."
People have open idea receptors. The meme's goal is to flip those receptors from open to closed by bonding with the idea receptors. From, "I want to learn more about this" to "I already know what I think and this is it and I don't want to hear any more about it except if it reinforces my beliefs."
The goal of cultural programming is to create an automatic response system for a set of ideas that operates below the conscious level. This is the automatic response system that we farm out work to that we don't want to waste time consciously dealing with. It's a sub-program running on the mind that we have conscious control over, but, like viruses on a computer, whose existence we are not always aware of. The task of a cult deprogrammer lies in removing all these subprograms, these automatic responses, to free the person within by engaging their core emotions and intellect.
If you have ever tried to win an argument with someone who fundamentally disagrees with you, only to realize that it is going nowhere, the reason is because you are spending as much time arguing with his sub-programs as you are with him.
Eventually both of your sub-programs argue with each other and it becomes a festival of cliches. Deprogrammers, police interrogators and other people in a line of work that requires them to get past automatic responses focus on engaging the core person through their emotions while bypassing the sub-programs as much as possible.
Sometimes these sub-programs are consciously programmed by us. We program ourselves to get up at a certain time. We program ourselves to avoid foods that are fattening. We program ourselves to like certain people that we dislike, and to our surprise it works if we are really serious about it. But we're not the only ones programming ourselves. We are also being programmed.
Culture is programming. The moment we link up to other people, we begin getting signals that trigger other signals. This is communication that eventually sets up automatic responses that become the sub-programs that run in the background. We learn to ignore certain people and pay attention to others. And the same goes for the ideas that they communicate.
Mass culture is the same thing, except much bigger. It's a mass group signal from something that isn't a group. NBC News is not a peer group, but its mass broadcasting power makes it seem like one. Lean Forward is flocking information. So is Forward! Even if it is, lemming-style, over a cliff. People automate enough of their behavior so that they can be programmed to do stupid and evil things.
People have murdered babies while following orders. They have jumped off cliffs while undergoing training teaching them to obey unquestioningly. Once the sub-programs run, you can build your own army of suicide bombers programmed to go off when they are told to, even if the programming code is in an ancient book known as the Koran.
Once you persuade an individual to outsource the decision making to a subprogram that is programmed by an outside authority, then you have something that begins to resemble a killer robot that is aware of what it is doing, but does not feel entirely in control of it…
Mass culture however is a slightly different kind of programming. Its form of communication is the ancient one of the narrative.
Human beings are natural storytellers. We tell and receive stories, both real and fictional, and respond emotionally to them. The basic story has a protagonist who seeks to accomplish a worthwhile goal and an antagonist who seeks to prevent him from accomplishing that goal. Mass culture programs people by providing narratives in which the protagonist mirrors its goals while the antagonist has the goals of an opposing philosophy.
Narrative is how we identify with others. The stories that other people tell us enable us to form deeper bonds with them. Mass culture programs ideas by maximizing identification with the hero of the story and by extension with his ideas using existing archetypes.
The plucky underdog struggles against the powerful evil man is a theme that most people can identify with. In mass culture, the plucky underdog becomes an environmental crusader fighting an evil corporation. But to flip things around, he can just as easily be an inventor with a brilliant new technology fighting the EPA. It's the same story with different masks and the choice of masks reveals the agenda of the programmers.
Programming associates the archetype with the idea until the idea becomes shorthand for the archetype so that when we think plucky hero, we think environmentalist or social justice crusader. And while we may not think that way, a generation of teenagers has grown up with that archetype. Association is one of those sub-programs that runs in the background, sorting and classifying items according to their perceived relevance. Manipulating associations is one of the simplest forms of programming.
The narrative forms the personal and 'tribal' identity. It tells us who we are individually and as a group. When media types talk about "Explaining America to itself," they mean using mass media to define tribal identity through narrative. Their choice of narrative is meant to form specific associations. Run enough stories about America's racism and that becomes the association. Run enough stories about America at war and we become a nation of soldiers.
Associations alone do not brainwash an individual. What they really do is shift his affinities. That is what advertisers do with commercials, which don't immediately persuade customers to buy a brand, but build up positive associations with that brand so that when you think of Coca-Cola, you think of Santa and polar bears and traditional Americana, or modernism, new generation and fun when you think of Pepsi. But ideologies are after bigger things than just influencing your preferences.
Affinity shifting prepares people for brainwashing by making them receptive to the actual ideology. It breaks down their boundaries and opens their minds to a more complete program. A trojan in a computer just opens the door for other malicious programs to get in and take over. The goal of any ideology is to open a door. Once the door is open, by any means, a lot of other things can come inside.
True brainwashing goes beyond just running sub-programs. Its goal is total identity reprogramming. Identity reprogramming means that the individual must adopt a new identity that is based on the ideology so that the individual and the ideology are inseparable and the identification is so total that the individual becomes willing to die for the ideology. Then the individual is no longer running "Communism" sub-programs covering a set of responses to domestic repression and foreign capitalism, but he has achieved total identification and has actually become "Communism".
Before this can happen, the sub-programs must begin running linking his emotions to automatic responses. People program most naturally in response to personal experience. A liberal is a conservative who got a drug test. A conservative is a liberal who got mugged. The association generates new sub-programs. Conservatives are associated with authoritarianism. Liberals are associated with crime. Arguments between the two are handled by sub-programs running on the emotions generated by the original experience so that the experience has become the ideology.
Radicalization is the process by which the sub-programs become the program and the individual experience becomes the generalized collective experience of the group. The radical leader embodies the ideology with his ego.
The radical follower subsumes his ego into the ideology. The two are no longer responding to the ideology as a function of their individual or group interests. The ideology is now the group and there are no more individual interests. There is only the program whose perfection of purpose will achieve all their goals in some unspecified way.
Purity of purpose is the difference between the program and the sub-program. Sub-programs are never pure of purpose. They are subservient to the individual and the group. Programs are the pure purpose. They are subservient to nothing. Not even the death of the people running them. The sub-programs become the program as they take more and more of the core functions of the program.
The core functions are how we do things and why. The sub-programs allow us to cope with the external. The core programs are the motivations for the things that we do. Sub-programs automate existing motivations and associate them with ideas.
An environmental sub-program tells us we should vote for Democrats to avoid being killed by pollutants, taking an existing motivation, the avoidance of harm, and linking it to an idea. An environmental program however tells us that we should die sooner to avoid being a burden on the planet. This reprograms a natural motivation, survival, and replaces it with a new group motivation that is suicidal, on individual terms, and even for the species, but that runs on hijacked emotions.
A programmed person does not own his emotions and therefore he does not own his motivations. The program decides what he will feel and in response to what. The program can make death seem beautiful and self-defense seem horrible. It can make children seem vile and the murder of children an act of empowerment.
At the start, the program runs by associating a person's interests with its goals. By the end, the person is utterly incapable of identifying or defending his own interests and the emotions once associated with his interests are welded to the program's goals.
Collectivism occurs when mass culture hijacks group communications. By transforming group identity through programming, mass culture can promote any number of horrors from genocide to mass suicide. People can be taught to kill themselves for the survival of the group ideology. Martyrdom being the idea so compelling that people will die for it.
Collectivism offers the individual immortality and transcendence through the destruction of the self. By accepting the program, the individual becomes more than the self, he becomes the group. With the program he transcends his flaws and takes on the imagined strengths of the collective. His identification with the group is so total that he does not fear death. As Muslim terrorists chant, "You love life, we love death."
The ideology is not truly the group, it is an idealized version of the group that becomes a substitute for the group, even to the point of a willingness to destroy the group for its idealized version. Think of Japan in WW2 or Western liberals today who care more about the moral high ground than national survival. The idealized group is so transcendent because it is elevated above all individual and group limitations. It is impossibly perfect and destined to fail.
By hijacking group messaging, mass culture falsely conflates the ideology with group welfare and survival, so that, for example, being American comes to mean following international laws of war, supporting immigration and international democracy, when it really has nothing to do with any of this.
But by associating America with a set of values, in the hope that those values then come to be shorthand for America, the absence of those values then comes to be defined as the death of America. Those values become the things that we would rather let America die than allow it to abandon.
Programs like these penetrate trojan style, by pretending to be something that they are not. Educational systems disguise Liberalism as Americanism. The ideology gets inside by pretending to represent the group. Ideological programming is conflated with group flocking behavior. Once a sub-program begins running, then group interests become overwritten by ideological agendas. That is what happened to many minority groups in America, including the Jews.
The left has always excelled at using cultural technology like this in its culture wars. It studies the mechanics of how people can be convinced of something with far more intense interest than any car salesman. It is not interested in winning the debate, but in rigging the debate. It does not want to convince you that it is right, but to change you into the sort of person who innately understands that it is right.
It is trying to program you. It has been doing so since you were born. It will go on doing it every time you turn on the television or set foot in a movie theater. It will do it through your interactions with those who are already running its programs or sub-programs. It will target you demographically, by race, sex, income level, regional area and so on and so forth.
It will combine all the information it has about you with all the information about what types of arguments will work best on someone like you and it will hit you with them over and over again.(These are some of the ideas that have embedded in them constant conflict and contradictions)
This election was a warm up. For the first time, the left had the backing, money, power, expertise and technology to really do what it has always wanted to do in this country. And it worked. The left is not any good at policy, but it is very good at controlling people. Like the world's worst car company, they can't make a car that works, but they have a hell of a sales staff.
We are in a culture war and that means it is time to understand the nature of that conflict(And All the ideas inherent and constant Warring Ideas within it). For the left, American identity and any other kind of identity, just scroll through the many options on the rainbow coalition of the Obama campaign site, is a program to be overwritten by their program using their cultural technology. Resisting that effort requires awareness and learning to use those same tools to fight back by spreading awareness, building mental anti-virus programs to fight infection and virus programs that attack the mental programs and sub-programs of the left.
When It Comes to The Battle of Ideas, The US Has No General
“Our adversaries are way ahead of us in the use of the Internet and the use of the media,” said Army Lt. Gen. William Boykin, undersecretary of defense of intelligence.
It was a stunning statement.
The United States invented the Internet. Its entrepreneurs in a few short years transformed the world. Google, Yahoo, Amazon.com, YouTube — the list goes on.
Hollywood produces films that generate billions of dollars worldwide each year. Foreign audiences can’t get enough of them. Network television, Cable TV, 24-hour news channels — all born in the USA
The nation possesses enormous human capital as well. Every spring, America’s world-class universities produce legions of behavioral scientists, cultural anthropologists, sociologists, media specialists, film school grads and computer engineers. Its citizenry includes populations of moderate Muslims from every corner of the world.
But despite all of this, when it comes to fighting the ideology of radical Islam, the United States is getting its butt handed to it on a plate.
“The question is on a day to day basis, who is responsible for information operations for the United States government?” Boykin asked. “And the answer is ‘nobody’… There is no one in charge on a day to day basis.”
Although the message hasn’t sunk in with the general population, think tanks, academia and even some at the Pentagon will insist that all the bullets, fighter jets and high-tech sensors aren’t going to win the so-called global war on terror. Bombs can’t kill ideas. (Although they can kill civilians and their tragic deaths can deftly be used as anti-U.S. propaganda.)
The Quadrennial Defense Review spelled it out. The end of the war will only come “when extremist ideologies are discredited in the eyes of their host populations and tacit supporters.”
Thomas O’Connell, assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, is among those who are lamenting the nation’s lack of unity in countering the ideas of radical Islam. The enemy is adept at using information technology tools, he said at the conference. He criticized the US and international media, but also laid some blame on the Defense Department.
He described a successful raid by Iraqi forces on a terrorist compound. Insurgents immediately posted a video of the aftermath that showed dead bodies inside what they said was a mosque. It was a prayer room in a house, not a mosque, he contended. There was plenty of evidence uncovered that showed the insurgents there had tortured Iraqi troops and weren’t innocent civilians as the propaganda video claimed.
US Central Command responded to the allegations a day and half later, O’Connell said. By that time, the Iraqi units had already taken a “hammering” in the press, he said.
“We have got to do a better job of telling our story,” he said. “I think we make efforts. I don’t know if they’re efforts that are very well coordinated both on an international and a domestic level.”
The false mosque story was a tactical victory scored on the part of a nimble and sophisticated enemy. Strategically, the nation is losing ground in the larger ideological war. Al-Qaida and its sympathizers are creating their own “narrative,” in which their spin on world events is widely believed, two recent reports have pointed out. The terrorist group now has its own media production arm, dubbed As-Sahab, which serves as an information clearinghouse. Any US public relations firm would recognize its methods.
A recent Senate hearing pointed to the lack of attention being paid to the issue.
On the same day US Central Command’s chief, Navy Adm. William Fallon, sat before a packed Senate Armed Services Committee, the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held the second in a series of three briefings on terrorism and the Internet.
Fallon attracted several television cameras. At the Homeland Security hearing, the room would have been half empty if not for the groups of high school students stopping by for 30-minute intervals. Reporters for the Associated Press and a handful of niche publications were present, but the hearing generated few headlines. Only three senators attended.
Testifying were a Georgetown university professor, a West Point officer and a representative of the Defense Department’s newly formed “support to public diplomacy office,” who had been on the job for three days.
The new office — serving the undersecretary of defense for policy — is tasked with “ensuring strategic communication and information are integral to policy making … developing and coordinating key themes within the Defense Department to promote policies,” and working with other US government partners, particularly the Department of State … to design and facilitate whenever possible strategic communication policies and plans to effectively advance US national security,” the new deputy assistant secretary of defense, Michael Doran told the committee.
The Internet is the “primary repository of the essential resources for sustaining the culture of terrorism,” Doran said. As far as spreading Islamic extremist ideology, the Internet functions “as a kind of virtual extremist madrassa.”
Attempting to shut down web sites is an exercise in futility, those testifying said. They will pop up in a matter of minutes somewhere else. Password protected chat-rooms are even harder to penetrate. The Internet is the ultimate terrorist safe haven.
Boykin said the solution to winning the war against extremists “is not killing or capturing every terrorist ... That’s a never-ending process. We’ll never be successful.”
That presumably also goes for the legions of al-Qaida sympathizers who sit at computers and contribute to the jihad through their technical and media expertise.
The nation must enter a new phase of its battle, said Frank Cilluffo, director of the Homeland Security Policy Institute at George Washington University.
“These myths and falsehoods must be debunked and discredited,” he said at the hearing.
And that means coming up with a compelling counter-message to the violent ideology spreading through the Internet and other means, he added.
Cilluffo came to the committee with a new report in hand — “NETworked Radicalization: A Counter Strategy.” About the same time, Rand Corp.’s Center of Middle East Public Policy released a similar report — “Building Moderate Muslim Networks.”
Both papers argued that the United States needs to do a better job helping Islamic moderates spread the word that extremists are harming the Muslim world and that their beliefs are based on false tenets.
The Rand authors pointed out that the United States does have some experience in this area. During the Cold War, the nation was in an ideological battle with communists, and it eventually prevailed. Comparing Bin Ladinism to communism isn’t always a perfect fit, but there are similarities. America’s cold warriors successfully built networks and coalitions of those who opposed the political ideology.
The anti-communists included those who disliked the United States, and that was okay, the report said, as along as they were on board with the idea of ending communist rule.
“The US government and its allies need, but thus far have failed, to develop clear criteria for partnerships with authentic moderates,” the Rand study said. Despite numerous policy statements, speeches by President Bush and other documents, no consensus on how to identify and support partners in the “war of ideas” has emerged.
There are few existing moderate networks to engage with, the study noted, so they will have to be created. Possibilities include: liberal and secular academics and intellectuals; young moderate religious scholars; community activists; women’s groups engaged in gender equality campaigns and moderate journalists and writers.
US funds should flow to members of these groups, Rand analysts recommended.
Credibility is the key. If the message is perceived as coming from the United States, then it wall fall on deaf ears.
The State Department is spending $700 million per year on the US Middle East Television Network, better known as Al Hurra, which has been sharply criticized for failing to gain market share. Radio Sawa, part of the same effort, has gained an audience, but it is not clear whether either of them has been able to positively shape attitudes in the Muslim world toward US policies, Rand said. Both stations are seen as proxies for the United States.
The ultimate goal, Cilluffo said, is the deconstruction of the al-Qaida brand. That’s “not to be confused with a public relations campaign to improve the image of the United States,” he added.
Rand said moderates must “reverse the flow of ideas.” The communists attempted to export their ideology into the West, but the United States and its allies turned the tide by infiltrating democratic ideas behind the Iron Curtain.
Some countries are more open than others. Strict regimes in the Middle East may not allow much meddling, but moderate, relatively open nations along the region’s perimeter are a good place to start. Indonesia, North Africa and Turkey, and nations with minority Muslim communities are potential spots to get a foothold, said the Rand report.
Now, all that’s needed is someone to take charge, or at least show some leadership.
If the United States is to help “reverse the flow of ideas,” who is responsible?
Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, at the hearing asked the Pentagon’s Doran if anyone was in charge of countering extremist ideology.
Karen Hughes, the undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, was his answer.
Hughes was a close political advisor to President Bush, tasked with reinvigorating the State Department’s public diplomacy sector, which had its post-Cold War budgets eviscerated by Congress.
But within the State Department, Rand analysts said, there is little consensus on what public diplomacy means. Is it changing opinions, garnering support for policies or marginalizing extremists? The sector gets short shrift there. And at the Pentagon, the public diplomacy office didn’t open its doors until more than five years after 9/11.
“This strategic uncertainty ensures suboptimal policy performance,” said the Rand study.
There is no “unity of command,” Boykin said, putting the leadership issue in military terms. “We’ve given up on that. What we do hope to achieve is unity of effort.”
All agreed that waging an effective war of ideas against radical Islam is not the responsibility of one department or agency. In fact, to wage an effective campaign, the effort should reach to the nation’s allies, Cilluffo said.
Meanwhile, Boykin said, “We are coming up short on the whole concept of inter-agency, government-wide information operations and how it’s applied against this ... global insurgency.”
Unfortunately, until the US government gets its act together, the extremists will continue to beat America at its own game-In The theater and sphere of the War Of Ideas.
David Ronfeldt writes:
"Western strategists and policymakers should stop talking about a clash of civilizations and focus on the real problem: extreme tribalism. Recent events — riots in many nations protesting cartoons of the prophet Muhammad, Sunni-Shiite warring in Iraq, the Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan - confirm that the West is not in a clash with Islam. Instead, Islam, which is a civilizing force, has fallen under the sway of Islamists who are a tribalizing force.
Unfortunately, the tribalism theme has difficulty gaining traction. After the end of the cold war, many American strategists preferred the optimistic "end of history" idea that democracy would triumph around the world, advanced by Francis Fukuyama in 1989.
A contrary notion — reversion to tribalism — made better sense to other strategists, such as France's Jacques Attali in 1992. Indeed, the emergence of ethnic warring in the Balkans and elsewhere confirmed that when societies crumble, people revert to tribal and clan behaviors that repudiate liberal ideals.
Perhaps partly because the idea of "tribalism" sounds too anthropological for modern strategists, it has not taken hold. American thinking has shifted to revolve around a more high-minded but less accurate concept: "the clash of civilizations" articulated by Samuel Huntington in 1993.
But what troubles the world is far more a travail of tribalisms than a clash of civilizations. The major clashes are not between civilizations per se, but between antagonistic segments that are fighting across fringe border zones (like Christian Serbs vs. Muslim Kosovars), or feuding within the same civilization, such as Sunnis vs. Shiites in Iraq.
Most antagonists, no matter how high-mindedly they proclaim their ideals, are operating in terribly tribal and clannish ways. Some, such as Al Qaeda terrorists, are extreme tribalists who dream of making the West start over at a razed, tribal level.
This travail is sure to persist, fueling terrorism, ethnonationalism, religious strife, sectarian feuds, and clannish gang violence and crime. Thus, the cartoon protest riots pose an effort to mobilize an Islamic global tribe, not a civilization.
Al Qaeda and its affiliates comprise an information age network, but they, too, operate like a global tribe: decentralized, segmental, lacking in central hierarchy, egalitarian toward kith and kin, ruthless toward others.
What are tribes like? The tribe was the first major form of social organization. The hierarchy, market, and network forms developed ages later. Classic tribes are ruled by kinship principles about blood and brotherhood that fix one's sense of identity and belonging. Tribes are also egalitarian and segmental.
Everyone is deemed equal and must share. Each part, such as a clan, is structured similarly, aiming for self-sufficiency. And there is no formal chief, though a "big man" may arise. Democracy may appear in tribal councils, but it is not liberal, since it does not tolerate minority rights and dissident views once a consensus emerges.
What maintains order in a tribe is not hierarchy and law — it is too early a form for that — but kinship principles stressing mutual respect, dignity, pride, and honor. Reciprocal gift giving is essential. Humiliating insults upset peace more than anything else, for an insult to one is seen as an insult to every one of that lineage. And there are only two ways to restore honor: compensation or revenge. Finally, a tribe may view itself as a realm of virtue, but see outsiders as a different realm that may be treated differently, even brutally, especially if they are "different."
Much of the world is still like this. Of particular concern to strategists, a dense arc of tribal and clan systems runs across North Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, up into the "stands" of Central Asia. Even modern societies still have tribal cores and impulses.
That shows in their cultures, nationalisms, identity politics, kindred glues like sports clubs and social fads, and in cronyism, nepotism, and gang life. Tribalism, for good and ill, is alive everywhere, all the time. We just don't think about it much, and use other terms.
So let's shift away from the civilization paradigm. The tribalism paradigm is better for illuminating the crucial problem: the tribalization of religion. The more that extremists create divisions between "us" and "them," vainly claim sacredness solely for their own ends, demonize others, revel in codes of revenge, crave territorial and spiritual conquests, and suppress moderates who disagree — all the while claiming to act on behalf of a deity — the more their religious orientation becomes utterly tribal and prone to wreaking violence of the darkest kind. They can only pretend to represent a civilization.
The "War Of Ideas" should be rethought. Western leaders keep pressing Muslim leaders everywhere to denounce terrorism as uncivilized. But this approach, plus counter pressures from sectarian Islamists, has put moderate Muslims on the defensive, stymieing them from speaking out. An approach that focuses on questioning extreme tribalism may be more effective at freeing up dialogue and inviting a search for common, ecumenical ground.
Shifting to a travail-of-tribalisms perspective would have to be carefully thought out. The point is not to condemn all tribal ways. Many people around the world appreciate (indeed, prefer) this communal way of life and will defend it from insult. It is not always uncivilized to be tribal. The point is to strike at the awful effects that extreme tribalization can have — to oppose not a terrorist's or insurgent's religion, but the reduction of that religion to raw tribalist tenets.
Permanent Wars In Africa
In these type of wars without ideologies and no definite goal, Jeffrey Bettleman writes:
"There is a very simple reason why some of Africa's bloodiest, most brutal wars never seem to end: They are not really wars. Not in the traditional sense, at least. The combatants don't have much of an ideology; they don't have clear goals. They couldn't care less about taking over capitals or major cities -- in fact, they prefer the deep bush, where it is far easier to commit crimes.
Today's rebels seem especially uninterested in winning converts, content instead to steal other people's children, stick Kalashnikovs or axes in their hands, and make them do the killing. Look closely at some of the continent's most intractable conflicts, from the rebel-laden creeks of the Niger Delta to the inferno in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and this is what you will find.
What we are seeing is the decline of the classic African liberation movement and the proliferation of something else -- something wilder, messier, more violent, and harder to wrap our heads around. If you'd like to call this war, fine. But what is spreading across Africa like a viral pandemic is actually just opportunistic, heavily armed banditry. My job as the New York Times' East Africa bureau chief is to cover news and feature stories in 12 countries. But most of my time is spent immersed in these un-wars.
I've witnessed up close -- often way too close -- how combat has morphed from soldier vs. soldier (now a rarity in Africa) to soldier vs. civilian. Most of today's African fighters are not rebels with a cause; they're predators.
That's why we see stunning atrocities like eastern Congo's rape epidemic, where armed groups in recent years have sexually assaulted hundreds of thousands of women, often so sadistically that the victims are left incontinent for life. What is the military or political objective of ramming an assault rifle inside a woman and pulling the trigger? Terror has become an end, not just a means.
This is the story across much of Africa, where nearly half of the continent's 53 countries are home to an active conflict or a recently ended one. Quiet places such as Tanzania are the lonely exceptions; even user-friendly, tourist-filled Kenya blew up in 2008. Add together the casualties in just the dozen countries that I cover, and you have a death toll of tens of thousands of civilians each year. More than 5 million have died in Congo alone since 1998, the International Rescue Committee has estimated.
Of course, many of the last generation's independence struggles were bloody, too. South Sudan's decades-long rebellion is thought to have cost more than 2 million lives. But this is not about numbers. This is about methods and objectives, and the leaders driving them.
Uganda's top guerrilla of the 1980s, Yoweri Museveni, used to fire up his rebels by telling them they were on the ground floor of a national people's army. Museveni became president in 1986, and he's still in office (another problem, another story). But his words seem downright noble compared with the best-known rebel leader from his country today, Joseph Kony, who just gives orders to burn.
Even if you could coax these men out of their jungle lairs and get them to the negotiating table, there is very little to offer them. They don't want ministries or tracts of land to govern. Their armies are often traumatized children, with experience and skills (if you can call them that) totally unsuited for civilian life. All they want is cash, guns, and a license to rampage. And they've already got all three. How do you negotiate with that?
The short answer is you don't. The only way to stop today's rebels for real is to capture or kill their leaders. Many are uniquely devious characters whose organizations would likely disappear as soon as they do. That's what happened in Angola when the diamond-smuggling rebel leader Jonas Savimbi was shot, bringing a sudden end to one of the Cold War's most intense conflicts.
In Liberia, the moment that warlord-turned-president Charles Taylor was arrested in 2006 was the same moment that the curtain dropped on the gruesome circus of 10-year-old killers wearing Halloween masks. Countless dollars, hours, and lives have been wasted on fruitless rounds of talks that will never culminate in such clear-cut results. The same could be said of indictments of rebel leaders for crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court. With the prospect of prosecution looming, those fighting are sure never to give up.
How did we get here? Maybe it's pure nostalgia, but it seems that yesteryear's African rebels had a bit more class. They were fighting against colonialism, tyranny, or apartheid. The winning insurgencies often came with a charming, intelligent leader wielding persuasive rhetoric. These were men like John Garang, who led the rebellion in southern Sudan with his Sudan People's Liberation Army.
He pulled off what few guerrilla leaders anywhere have done: winning his people their own country. Thanks in part to his tenacity, South Sudan will hold a referendum next year to secede from the North. Garang died in a 2005 helicopter crash, but people still talk about him like a god. Unfortunately, the region without him looks pretty godforsaken. I traveled to southern Sudan in November to report on how ethnic militias, formed in the new power vacuum, have taken to mowing down civilians by the thousands.
Jihadism Versus Democracy
We learn more about this topic from Walid Phares that:
"One of the strangest, but not unexpected,battles of words and ideologies is over the claims made about the Muslim perception of jihad and Jihadism and their impact on public speech. I will introduce here some tenets and the essence of the ideological confrontation. In the tree Wars of Ideas from 1945 -2006, the heart of the Western engagement in the conflict was the understanding of two issues: what jihad was historically and what Jihadism is in modern times. These are tow different by related phenomena.
"Jihad, like a number of other historical developments throughout the world, was religiously based geopolitical and military campaign that affected large parts of the World for many centuries(From the history on this the reader can read my Hub called: "The History And The Age of The Moors in Spain: How The Moors Civilized Europe - The History Of Africa.") It involved initial theological teachings and injunctions, followed by 14 centuries of interpretations by adherents, caliphs, sultans and their armies, courts and thinkers. The historical reality of jihad is intertwined with the evolution of the Islamic State since the seventh century.
It is emphatically not a modern, recent, and narrow creation by a small militant faction. It has to be seen in its historical context. But on the other hand, this giant doctrine, which motivated armies and feelings for centuries, also inspired contemporary movements that shaped their ideology based on their interpretation of the historical jihad. In other words, today's jihadists are an ideological movement with several organizations and regimes, who claim that they define the sole interpretation of what jihad was in history and that they re the ones to resume it and apply it in the present and future.
"It is equivalent to the possibility that some Christians, either convinced believers or those with a sociological Christian bent, have gone beyond the Christianity of the times of the Crusades. Today's jihadists make the assertion that thee is a direct, generic, and organic relation between the jihads that they and their ancestors have engaged in from the seventh century to the twenty-first century. But historical jihad is one thing, and the jihad of today Salafists and Khumeinists is something else.
"As with all historical events, literary, analytical, and documentary efforts to interpret and represent past episodes frequently influence the psychology, imagination, and passions of modern-day humanity. Textbooks across the world detail battles, discoveries, and speeches that are the benchmark of the formation of the national or civilizational identities of peoples. But even if the events in some nations' eyes are proud episodes, they are often considered disaster by other nations.
"The Native Americans[Red Men] do not celebrate the Spanish Conquests; the British Empire is a matter of pride to the English, but not to the colonized peoples; and Napoleon's 'liberations' are not fondly remembered by those who were conquered. And this is the perception of jihad among classroom pupils in the Arab and Muslim world: it is a matter of historical pride.
"For example, in the books which I was tested for my history classes, a famous general of the Arab Muslim conquest, Kalid Ibn al Walid, is treated as a hero because he conquered Syria, Palestine, and Lebanon's shores. But to Aramaics, Syriacs, and Jews, he was a conqueror. He was what Cortes was to the Mexican Indians-and invader. In the same textbooks, Tariq Bin Ziad, the general who led the Muslim armies into Spain, is presented as the hero of heroes; but in the eyes of the Iberians, he was a conqueror, and in the modern lexicon, he would be described as a colonial occupier.
"So, historical perception is really int he eye of the beholder. This is about Western guilt here.While the latter culture has largely demythologized its own conquerers and ideologies, once described as heroic-Napoleon, Gordon of Khartoum, "Manifest Destiny, Etc.,-it has accepted docilely ideas like the 'spread of Islam,' the benevolence of Arab occupation, etc. Westerners are schooled to repudiate the errors of the past in their own culture, but to overlook those of other cultures today. This is where jihad propaganda campaign deliberately harps on "Muslim resentment of the Crusades," in order to play upon this "guilt complex."
"Historical Jihad doesn't escape this harsh rule of history. Those who felt their ancestors' deeds were right-see jihad as a good thing. This is the drama of the invading Arabs on the one hand and conquered Persians, Assyro-Chaldeans, Arameans, Copts, Nubians, and Berbers on the other; of conquering Ottomans and conquered Armenians, Greeks, and Slavs. It should be noted that many of the conquered had been conquerors earlier, such as the Greeks, Persians, Assyrians, and Egyptians(On the Egyptians see my Hub: "The Military Leadership of Egyptian Pharaohs: The Creation Of Dynasties.)"
World history is made up of such reversals. But the emotional perception of the past should stop at contemporary reality. Feelings and passions about tragedies of the past cannot be erased and should not be forgotten, but they have to give way in the end to International Law and doctrines of Human Rights.
This Hub is attempting to encrypt and crystalize the different ideas that are flourishing, have flourished amongst different parts of the world at different times up to now. It is also important to begin to lay bare the facts about some of these event and put them in their correct historical perspectives of the past, and recognize that the present, although it may be informed by the past, it also need to be put in its correct and propers contemporary historical perspective and reality.
Human Digital Hand
Warring Digital Ideas, but Mainly for Profit
There are other Wars of Ideas that are shaping in the digisphere. the conglomerates that manufacture these gadgets/gizmos have warring ideas about their products. They are, around the world, battling each other's brands and the ideas that are put into their designs, and the target is to make each very sophisticated, but very much user-friendly.
They also have to come up with ideas of the idea faction of the digiworld, how to block hackers, and this has seen better products from the ideas churned for this other war against hackers.We learn from 'idealist' that:
The recent patent war between Apple vs Samsung has stirred up the continuing discussion of the idea economy. There have been many lawsuits around intellectual property, but a nice bookend to the Apple vs Samsung trial would be the lawsuit between Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook vs Winklevostwins of Harvard connection. These are two extremes on the spectrum of the Idea Wars: patented software vs business concepts.
Both of these have the potential of stifling long-term innovation and collaboration because in the end, the Idea Wars are more about profit than they are about protecting ideas.
In Apple vs. Samsung, the battle was over documented patents for features for mobile devices.Â. It really came down to who can prove who invented what first and were there actual documentation to prove it. Both parties are claiming rights to their innovations.
One could argue that patents protect intellectual property, and therefore allows freedom to innovate without danger of intellectual theft. (Open source, to a degree, has shown how open collaboration can inspire as much innovation as protection of intellectual property, but that’s a different blog.)
The problem is patent trolls. Patent trolls have become the mercenaries in the Idea Wars. They are opportunists just waiting for someone to create some code that would violate one of their patents.Â. Patent trolls are not interested in innovation… They are interested in profit.
Imagine having to check every line of code you write against a patent database, and then having to apply for a patent for every line of code you write.Â. Is that progress?. Is that pushing innovation forward?
The Facebook Effect
The Facebook vs Harvard Connection battle is a little different. Although email communications were used during litigation, the lawsuit was not about code; it was about the idea itself.
Coming up with a new startup idea is easy. Coming up with a unique and sustainable startup idea is not.Â. Launching a unique and sustainable startup idea is even harder.
Founders could try to get free advice from fellow startup founders and (if they’re lucky) from a VC mentor, but they still run into the problem of ownership should they ever launch.And since many VCs are reluctant to sign NDAs (as they should), protecting your unique sustainable idea becomes even more difficult, hence the rise of stealth startups.
This problem becomes more problematic at hackathons where there typically aren’t any formal agreements on intellectual property rights. Some teams have resorted to bringing their own NDAs to hackathons for this exact reason.
Because of the Facebook case, many founders are now (or at should be) leary of sharing ideas with colleagues, even friends. The Facebook case, in this sense, has stifled innovation and collaboration, not improve it.
Just Add Water
It used to be that one had to be a programming ninja and have access to expensive servers in order to launch an online business. Inspired by books like “4 Hour Work Week” and “$100 Startup,” entrepreneurs can literally launch an online business within the hour by utilizing a few simple SaaS solutions.
With the barrier to entry being so low, startups are popping up faster, and products are flooding the market faster. In some cases, founders are able to get VC funding just by pitching an idea, and presenting a mockup built with SaaS tools. They literally get funding with just an idea.
Having worked for the Lean Startup Machine, I have seen multiple instances of multiple people in multiple cities come up with similar ideas for their MVP, even though none of them had ever met one another. Can these people sue each other for their MVP ideas? How does that jive with the lean startup philosophy? Will this inspire people to share ideas or stifle collaboration?
Apple, Samsung, and Facebook are all global brands Internet startups are global enterprises that have no boundaries other than the government regulations that govern them. As the world becomes more connected, the Idea Wars will persist. Some will be fought in the courts, while others will be fought in the arena of public opinion.
As stated above, like most wars, the Idea Wars will mostly be about profit. The potential causalities will be innovation and collaboration, the very thing that intellectual property rights were suppose protect in the first place.
Marketing, another battlefield, Uses New Ideas of War from Masters of War
Marketing Has Evolved into Battlefield-Ideas Like sun Tzu's have offered some Respite
It is also important see how executives gather their ideas in their war against other's ideas from Sun Tzu, as clarified and explained by Chad Pollitt in this following manner:
"Sun Tzu’s 'The Art Of War' was written in the second century BC. He was a high-ranking general in the Chinese military and wrote one of the most influential strategic and tactical military books in history. The book’s influence can be felt in both the East and the West today — not just in the military sciences, but in law, government and business.
Like many professionals before me, I’ve found Sun Tzu’s writing to be prudent and impactful for today’s business environment. The number of takeaways is almost incalculable. However, below are a few of the most important executive marketing lessons a professional can take away from The Art of War today.
“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”
Translation – The most effective marketing doesn’t even feel like marketing to the consumer.
“In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.”
Translation – Consumers are being inundated with a record number of marketing messages today. To capture and keep consumer attention, be different and be helpful.
“Pretend inferiority and encourage his arrogance.”
Translation – Ignore peer pressure when competition markets with a bullhorn — market with a magnet instead. Use content and your online community to generate discussion and dialogue.
“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go
to war first and then seek to win.”
Translation – Backwards plan you're marketing — define what success looks like and how you’re going to get there, up front.
“Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.”
Translation – The most effective marketing gets consumers to buy without selling to them.
“Opportunities multiply as they are seized”
Translation – Technology and consumer behavior are ever-evolving and represent multiple marketing opportunities.
“Earth gives birth to length. Length gives birth to volume. Volume gives birth to counting. Counting gives birth to weighing. Weighing gives birth to victory.”
Translation – The most effective marketing measures and tracks tactics, strategies, goals and ROI. Measure your progress every step of the way.
“If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain to be in peril.”
Translation – Marketers who ignore the changing media landscape and consumers’ ability to avoid advertising altogether are at risk of brand-obsolescence.
“Put them in a spot where they have no place to go, and they will die before fleeing.”
Translation – Sell something to a consumer and gain a customer today. Be truly useful or remarkable when marketing to a consumer and gain a customer for life.
“The general who advances without coveting fame and retreats without fearing disgrace, whose only thought is to protect his country and do good service for his sovereign, is the jewel of the kingdom.”
Translation – Don’t be afraid to fail and don’t chase influence. Marketing that is truly helpful to consumers is appreciated by them and positively impacts a brand’s bottom line in perpetuity.
The above 10 lessons from The Art of War are meant to reflect today’s marketing reality. Inbound marketing as a strategy is beginning to filter into the boardrooms and both earned and owned media have started to demand more attention from traditional paid budgets.
Laggards and late majority adopters will soon feel the impact as millennials begin to take prominent leadership roles and their incomes rise. Marketing to Baby Boomers doesn’t attract Generation Y. Sun Tzu said, “Thus those skilled in war subdue the enemy’s army without battle …. They conquer by strategy.” Marketing has evolved, the battlefield has changed and so have the stakeholders. Will you conquer or capitulate?
WEB Du Bois and Back Obama on Race in America
The Ideas Of the Past Century Still Prevail Today: Du Bois Still Relevant today
There are also those ideas that defy time and still stand the test and vicissitudes of the ages as they go bye. Each epoch produces men who talk about issues, although they be in a different time span, they withstand and they also linger and still bear their relevance throughout the ages.
For instance, since his death, Du Bois is still relevant today, because when he wrote, "The Souls of Black folks", he said in it 'that the problem of the 20th century was the problem of the color line", and today, in the 21st century, this still remains a valid truism, because the primary problem of the 21st century in America remains the problem of the color line.
Now, forty-seven years, Dubois's observation are still pregnant with truth and reality that Africans in America and throughout the world face the stigma of racism. We just have to look at the case of Obama, who is being hounded by the Tea baggers and racist Whites, no because he is a Bad President or has to many scandal.
No, he has none of these. The problem that Obama is facing such opposition and rejection from many Whites is because of his ancestry and the color of his skin. Obama is an African Man, and his being Black has brought the problem of the 21 century to the fore in America. This problem then is the "problem of the color line."Obama knew about this point and he addressed it when he was attacked about the reverend Wright issues.
It is important to revisit part of the Speech on race that Obama gave and I will not cite the whole speech, but some relevant point of it below:
"I chose to run for president at this moment in history because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together, unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction — toward a better future for our children and our grandchildren.
"This belief comes from my unyielding faith in the decency and generosity of the American people. But it also comes from my own story.
"I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived a Depression to serve in Patton's Army during World War II and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. I've gone to some of the best schools in America and lived in one of the world's poorest nations.
I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slaveowners — an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters. I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.
"... Despite the temptation to view my candidacy through a purely racial lens, we won commanding victories in states with some of the whitest populations in the country. In South Carolina, where the Confederate flag still flies, we built a powerful coalition of African-Americans and white Americans.
"This is not to say that race has not been an issue in this campaign. At various stages in the campaign, some commentators have deemed me either "too black" or "not black enough." We saw racial tensions bubble to the surface during the week before the South Carolina primary. The press has scoured every single exit poll for the latest evidence of racial polarization, not just in terms of white and black, but black and brown as well.
And yet, it has only been in the last couple of weeks that the discussion of race in this campaign has taken a particularly divisive turn.
"On one end of the spectrum, we've heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that it's based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap. On the other end, we've heard my former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation, and that rightly offend white and black alike.
"Despite the temptation to view my candidacy through a purely racial lens, we won commanding victories in states with some of the whitest populations in the country. In South Carolina, where the Confederate flag still flies, we built a powerful coalition of African-Americans and white Americans.
"This is not to say that race has not been an issue in this campaign. At various stages in the campaign, some commentators have deemed me either "too black" or "not black enough." We saw racial tensions bubble to the surface during the week before the South Carolina primary. The press has scoured every single exit poll for the latest evidence of racial polarization, not just in terms of white and black, but black and brown as well.
"And yet, it has only been in the last couple of weeks that the discussion of race in this campaign has taken a particularly divisive turn.
"On one end of the spectrum, we've heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that it's based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap. On the other end, we've heard my former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation, and that rightly offend white and black alike.
"But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America — to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.
"The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we've never really worked through — a part of our union that we have not yet made perfect. And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care or education or the need to find good jobs for every American.
"Understanding this reality requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point. As William Faulkner once wrote, "The past isn't dead and buried. In fact, it isn't even past." We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist between the African-American community and the larger American community today can be traced directly to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.
"Segregated schools were and are inferior schools; we still haven't fixed them, 50 years after Brown v. Board of Education. And the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between today's black and white students.
"Legalized discrimination — where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from owning property, or loans were not granted to African-American business owners, or black homeowners could not access FHA mortgages, or blacks were excluded from unions or the police force or the fire department — meant that black families could not amass any meaningful wealth to bequeath to future generations. That history helps explain the wealth and income gap between blacks and whites, and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persist in so many of today's urban and rural communities.
"A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one's family contributed to the erosion of black families — a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened. And the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods — parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pickup, building code enforcement — all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continues to haunt us.
"This is the reality in which Reverend Wright and other African-Americans of his generation grew up. They came of age in the late '50s and early '60s, a time when segregation was still the law of the land and opportunity was systematically constricted. What's remarkable is not how many failed in the face of discrimination, but how many men and women overcame the odds; how many were able to make a way out of no way, for those like me who would come after them.
"For all those who scratched and clawed their way to get a piece of the American Dream, there were many who didn't make it — those who were ultimately defeated, in one way or another, by discrimination. That legacy of defeat was passed on to future generations — those young men and, increasingly, young women who we see standing on street corners or languishing in our prisons, without hope or prospects for the future.
Even for those blacks who did make it, questions of race and racism continue to define their worldview in fundamental ways. For the men and women of Reverend Wright's generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. That anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop or the beauty shop or around the kitchen table. At times, that anger is exploited by politicians, to gin up votes along racial lines, or to make up for a politician's own failings.
"And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews. The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright's sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour of American life occurs on Sunday morning.
That anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity within the African-American community in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change. But the anger is real; it is powerful. And to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.
"In fact, a similar anger exists within segments of the white community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don't feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience — as far as they're concerned, no one handed them anything. They built it from scratch.
They've worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pensions dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and they feel their dreams slipping away. And in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense.
So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear an African-American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they're told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.
"Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren't always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition.
Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.
"Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze — a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many.
And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns — this too widens the racial divide and blocks the path to understanding.
T"his is where we are right now. It's a racial stalemate we've been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naïve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy — particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.
"Obama knew he had to tread lightly in the face of issues of race facing America, and it is the very issues of race that he addressed in this speech that are attempting to destroy and derail his Presidency. In fact, it has even come more to light in his second term, what the Republicans said on the Day of his Presidential inauguration that they would like to make Obama a one term President." (NPR)
When this pledge fell flat and Obama was reelected to his second term in 2012, they GOP and its Tea Bagger minions resorted to overt racism and hatred/dislike of Obama. some even uttered the fact that they could not stand him even when he was a few feet from them; others wagged their fingers at him on the Airport's terminal; in one of his state of the nation address, they called him a liar; they have dubbed him a Hitler,Communist and dishonest, and everything but good.
Now, back to Du Bois, who according to Clarence Page was a man ahead of his time regarding race relations and the struggle for Civil Rights. Clarence Page writes and informs us thus:
A hundred and five years ago, the great black scholar William Edward Burghardt Du Bois prophesied that the problem of the 20 century is the problem of the color line.
Some people think the color line is the problem of the 21 century, too. In some ways, that's the optimistic view. A look at the headlines shows America facing big problems in its multiple lines of color.
We used to speak of racial profiling, for example, and think of black males being singled out. Since 9/11, we are just as likely to think of targeted Arabs or Muslims. In some neighborhoods, blacks, Hispanics, Asian-Americans, native Americans, and immigrants of all colors work together for limited resources.
Just as often today, they compete for those same resources. But the optimist sees problems as opportunities in disguise. When I look at other countries today, watching the riots in France and ethnic violence elsewhere, I marvel at how comfortable Americans have learned to be with our diversity, despite our differences.
Du Bois was a Harvard-educated activist, sociologist, and historian who might well marvel at how the color line has been reduced as a barrier compared to lines of class and economic opportunity.
Black middle class Americans complain sometimes of being passed over by a taxi or receiving bad service in a restaurant and wondering whether it's because of our race. But when we compare such problems to the days when we did not have to wonder, when we knew discrimination came because of our race, we have made some progress.
The larger problems are faced by those who have been left behind without jobs, education, strong families, or safe streets, or that most valuable tool for upward mobility, the gift of hope.
Du Bois helped to found the NAACP in 1909, but he left the organization in the 1930s. He wanted to fight segregation but he also wanted to save black colleges and other black institutions. He thought they should be defended and improved to help the black poor gain skills to help themselves.
Du Bois also understood another color line, the one that defined what he called the double consciousness of being African and American. "One ever feels his twoness," he wrote in 1903, "An American, a Negro, two warring souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings, two warring ideals, and one dark body whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder," unquote.
Our double consciousness is still a problem in the 21 century. It can also be an opportunity for us to launch ourselves into a new century and a larger world.
Two different people, including Page, that is Du Bois and Obama, addressing the issues of race, which du Bois did some 47 years ago, and Obama in the 21st century-the same problem of race; the same warring ideas since slavery to date; the same ideas i collusion with one another, that is those of race, and still dominant when Souls of black Folks was written, and when Obama gave his speech which a bit of it I have cited above. This prompts one to say, when it comes to the War of ideas on the racial front, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Police State That Already Exists..
Mandela Was Unable to Dismantle the White Oligarchy Keeping South Africa in Economic Chains
The two articles below, one by Danny Schechter and the other one by Mark Rubenstein five us an idea of how The past of apartheid caught up with Mandela and theANC. It is important we begin to see a clearer and much better picture as to why the poor got more poorer. What role did the INF play along with other big private investment in dissuading Mandela to follow the principles of the Freedom Charter.
Also, we begin to learn about the intrigue and the covert actions that were in the mix in the coming of the ANC to power, and the disposition of Mandela and his relationship with his wife, the ANC and foreign investors, that, what came or became of them. It is also a sobering look at how the struggle of African people was hijacked and dissembled by the deep pockets of Capital along with Mandela and his lackeys-cajoled by some world leaders to have a 'mixed' economy.
"What we see as a poor as 'poor' and 'unreliable' service delivery, is part of the shenanigans of the IMF/World Bank, Western and Local investors, and the complicity of Mandela in all that. This then gives us a sense that when it comes to African people globally, their being controlled and exploited is first and foremost the order of business from the Capital potentates, and the collaboration of the leaders of the poor with them, their second achievement. Mandela is and was not immune to this, as Schechter demonstrates above, and in his book.
The book Schecter wrote is an interesting book in filling up the gaps that persist amongst the armies of the poor in South Africa as follows.
"The late Nelson Mandela became an icon of a fearless leader on behalf of equality. He fought oppression, but in winning the battle of justice in South Africa, he did not pursue a path of vengeance. Instead, he sought reconciliation and compromise.
"Seven Stories Press has just released a book by journalist Danny Schechter that provides a revealing contextual background to Nelson Mandela, the man and the leader. You can obtain a copy with a $25 minimal contribution to Truthout by clicking here.
In Schechter's new book, accessibly organized into alphabetical sections about Mandela's life, a passage on Mandela the negotiator exposes how much the majority population in South Africa had to give it to achieve a democracy.
'The following excerpt from Madiba A to Z: The Many Faces of Nelson Mandela offers insight into how while the nation changed in terms of who politically ruled it, the economic power remained concentrated in white and western economic hands. It is from the section entitled, "Negotiator":
"In their 2012 book, Who Rules South Africa?, journalists Martin Plaut and Paul Holden wrote that the ANC had little grasp on how to transform the economy. International investors opposed nationalization on principle. Nationalization was viewed as "socialistic" at a time that the socialist countries were collapsing.
"When Mandela visited the World Economic Forum in 1991, and again a year later, he was advised — not just by capitalists but by leaders of socialist countries like Vietnam, as well, to promote a mixed economy. His original speech was promptly modified to appease that sentiment.
"[Danny Schechter] asked historian Verne Harris of the Mandela Centre of Memory about this. I expected he would dismiss it. He didn’t. Here’s part of our exchange:
"I think there’s an element of truth in that. . . . I think that under Madiba’s leadership the ANC embraced a neoliberal agenda with unseemly haste and we’re paying a terrible price for that now . . . . We’re only beginning to understand the nature of this phenomenon. From the late 1980s, a huge seduction was underway, of the liberation movement by capital and it’s playing out in all kinds of destructive ways now, from arms deals to corruption. We’re having it at all levels of our society."
"In his biography of Mandela, Anthony Sampson acknowledged, "Mandela had no experience in economics, but he accepted the imperatives of the global marketplace." In furtherance of this market logic, he appointed Derek Keys, de Klerk’s pro-market finance minister as his own, and then,when he stepped down, replaced him with Chris Liebenberg, a banker. He kept Chris Stals, a conservative former member of the Broederbond, on the Reserve Bank. In essence, he said, "The old guard was running what to all the world looked like a new show."
"Ronnie Kasrils, the MK commander turned government minister, looked back on this history and wondered whether compromises made then sealed the country’s fate, in effect blocking deeper social change. Twenty years later, in a new 2013 introduction to his autobiography, Armed and Dangerous, Kasrils wrote:
"What I call our Faustian moment came when we took an IMF loan on the eve of our first democratic election. That loan, with strings attached that precluded a radical economic agenda, was considered a necessary evil, as were concessions to keep negotiations on track and take delivery of the promised land for our people. Doubt had come to reign supreme: We believed, wrongly, there was no other option, that we had to be cautious, since by 1991 our once powerful ally, the Soviet Union, bankrupted by the arms race, had collapsed. Inexcusably, we had lost faith in the ability of our own revolutionary masses to overcome all obstacles. Whatever the threats to isolate a radicalizing South Africa, the world could not have done without our vast reserves of minerals.
"To lose our nerve was not necessary or inevitable. The ANC leadership needed to remain determined, united and free of corruption — and, above all, to hold on to its revolutionary will. Instead, we chickened out. The ANC leadership needed to remain true to its commitment of serving the people. This would have given it the hegemony it required not only over the entrenched capitalist class but over emergent elitists, many of whom would seek wealth through black economic empowerment, corrupt practices and selling political influence."
"Kasrils had hoped the West would commit to a "new Marshall Plan," - like the one that led to the reconstruction of Europe after World War II - to rebuild South Africa’s apartheid-ravaged economy, but the West did not respond.
"Instead, Western financial agencies counseled more privatization and fewer jobs in the face of dramatic unemployment. South Africa’s needs and the hopes of its people were not persuasive to a self-interested US-dominated economic order, he said.
"Later, in a conversation with Richard Stengel for his last book, Conversations with Myself, Mandela revealed thatAmerican businessmen put a lot of pressure on the ANC to drop its initial commitment to nationalization. Mandela recounted meeting many leaders at the World Economic Forum who advised against it and he admits, "We had to remove the fear of business that . . . the assets will be nationalized."
"Jay Naidoo has agreed that many of South Africa’s current problems go back to what was resolved or not resolved in the negotiations, but he doesn’t blame Nelson Mandela:
"These were our decisions. The decision to replace the RDP with a macroeconomic program that just focused on the financial industries was our decision. No one made it for us. We have to hold ourselves accountable for that. And that document was drafted in secret. Not even the ANC office bearer saw it. Not even the national executive committee of the ANC saw it. We saw it on the day it was published. So there was a conspiracy in our own ranks which obviously had interacted with very powerful economic forces in the country, and felt that the RDP was too radical."
"Naidoo’s conclusion is hard to argue with: "We have created a Molotov cocktail in this country. And all that we see today, the violence that we see, the anger that we see, is a consequence of those decisions that we made then. I don’t hold Mandela responsible for it. Sometimes I hold myself responsible. It’s my generation that has failed the country."
"But these problems were not caused simply by personal failures. South Africa was never in the driver’s seat when it came to its economy. It was subject to decisions about trade and investment made elsewhere. Also, the ANC government never controlled the economic levers that were dominated domestically by a small number of banks and companies that may have praised Nelson Mandela as a leader, but didn’t necessarily listen to him in terms of his government’s priorities.
"In interviews with key decision makers in the ANC and in the ANC-led government that took place over a period of years, scholar Padraig O’Malley kept asking local leaders about these issues. Often the responses were overly optimistic or indicated a lack of knowledge about who was calling the shots in economic terms.
"Here is an interview from May 17, 1996, between O’Malley and Pallo Jordan:
Padraig: Unemployment. Stuck. No improvement being made at all. At the same time we pickup Business Day every other day and you see that corporate profits are soaring. Where are the corporate profits going? Are they being ploughed back into technology that eliminates jobs or are they being distributed to shareholders or are they being siphoned off into other investments that are essentially non-productive in terms of creating jobs?
Pallo: What I think we’re stuck with is limited growth, but growth without job creation. And perhaps we need much more rapid growth, to increase the growth rate to something like 6% to make that sort of impact. But of course one of the problems, I think, is that new technologies tend to be more capital — than labor-intensive.
One is going to have to look much more at your public works programs for the immediate, for your job creation programs, and one is also going to have to look to your small- and medium-size enterprises and encouraging those as job creators.They tend to be much more effective job creators than your large corporations.
Perhaps not sufficient attention has been paid to encouraging that sector because I think you will note also that even with your black economic empowerment programs lots of those are targeting the big corporate giants rather than seeing the emergence of small- and medium-size enterprises.
"And around and around the discourse went but, perhaps because of the government’s pro-market neoliberal direction, as well as pressure from elites and fear of alienating local and global business, reforming the economy wasn’t given the attention it deserved. Politicians tended to rule over politics, while big business, in South Africa like elsewhere in the world, have mostly demanded a free hand to run the economy.
"In 2013, I asked Thabo Mbeki for his perspective on what went wrong. He was Mandela’s deputy president before serving as president for nine years himself. His take: "I think that the fundamental problems of South Africa have remained unchanged since the transition in 1994. The fundamental problems of poverty, inequality ...
"One of the problems, one of the challenges that we have never been able to solve in all these years since our liberation, is the attitude of white capital. Even today, I promise you as we're talking now, there are large volumes of investable money that South African companies are holding in cash, and not investing in the economy."
Madiba A to Z: The Many Faces of Nelson Mandela by Danny Schechter was published on November 26, 2013 by Seven Stories Press.
Why the US would have killed Nelson Mandela
An Interview of Danny Schechter About Mandela
Danny Schechter is an Emmy Award-winning producer for ABC News, and the author of 16 books. He's produced and directed six documentary films about Nelson Mandela.
Danny wrote a fascinating book about Nelson Mandela, entitled Madiba: A to Z. He talked with people ranging from Thabo Mbeki to Nadine Gordimer; from Mandela's prison cellmates to his guards; from former presidents and cabinet ministers to his closest friends and family members.
Madiba: A to Z paints an intimate portrait of Nelson Mandela, and wrestles with the questions Mandela himself raised: What is forgiveness? What are justice and equality? How long must the long walk to freedom go on before we are free?
First, tell us the meaning of the word Madiba.
Madiba is a tribal clan name. Mandela grew up in a rural area and within the tribe there were many different clans. He was referred to reverentially as Madiba, which is a sign of affection and respect for a senior member of the tribe. He was part of the Madiba clan and now that name is on everyone's lips in South Africa.
How did you first meet and get to know Nelson Mandela?
I went to South Africa at the age of 25 on a mission to support the anti-apartheid movement. I'm not sure if it was an act of bravery or stupidity. 1967 were the darkest days of apartheid. I learned more and more about the country.
When I got there, Mandela was beginning his life sentence on Robben Island, a draconian prison off the coast of Cape town. I didn't meet him then; in fact his image was kept off posters.
There were no photographs or interviews. I just knew of him. Years later, I was producing a television series called South Africa Now, for public television in the U.S and 40 other countries. Mandela left South Africa for Zambia, where the ANC had its base. We set up an interview with him there for the Phil Donahue Show, which was seen live in the US You know, they had no television in South Africa when he went to prison; yet, when he got out, he became a TV natural.
He was getting interviewed by every top journalist in the world, and when we interviewed him, I was awed and embraced by him. It was a triumphant moment. I discovered the so-called hype was correct: he was an extraordinary leader; was very articulate; and very thoughtful. I ended up traveling with him to other parts of Africa; to Europe; and I helped organize a concert in Wembley, England.
He came to America in June 1990 and I was asked to cover the trip. We visited eight US cities in 11 days and I had daily exposure to him. I made a film called Mandela in America, and went on to make five other films about him.
We know a good deal about his journey in life, but tell us about Nelson Mandela's inner psychological journey over the course of his life.
With the making of the movie Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, I realized there was still a great deal I didn't know about him. That led to Madiba: A to Z: The Many Faces of Nelson Mandela. I learned that when you start getting very personal with him, a shutter comes down. He shuts off inquires he's uncomfortable with.
He's had a painful past. He lost his father and mother while he was young. He lost two of his children. He lost his most active years being confined to prison. He had to "go inside" in order to survive. He became a disciplined athlete of exercise while imprisoned. He drove some of his comrades crazy by pushing them to do more exercise. That physical discipline kept him alive so long despite living under conditions of extreme deprivation: for ten years there was no hot water.
He lived in the cold and slept on the cell floor. So, he came to know himself. He said he matured in prison. He had so much time for introspection and reflection. There are elements of his inner life we'll never know. He was not into self-promotion. He saw himself as part of the struggle of his people.
He believed in collective leadership and was loathe speaking for the movement. He always consulted with his colleagues. He was very thoughtful. His last book was called Confessions for Myself. He felt he was flawed as a person. He always said, "I'm not a saint or a savior." Even though he was mythologized and adored, he was very aware of his flaws. He was a very humble person, in addition to being celebrated.
In the chapter called "Jailed" you describe Nelson Mandela's imprisonment. Tell us about his routines, his relationships with the guards and fellow prisoners.
I interviewed some of his guards. Mandela told one guard there wasn't enough time in the day because he felt he had so much to accomplish. He had a vegetable garden. He read biographies. He taught himself Afrikaans.
He learned about Islam and other things. He made time for exercise every single day. He met with his fellow prisoners. He turned the prison into what was called Mandela University. The young prisoners never had a decent education. He was deeply involved in teaching them. Among those he taught was Jacob Zuma, the president of South Africa. Zuma learned English in the prison.
Mandela was one of his teachers. He was also a performer in prison. He played the part of Creon in Sophocles'Antigone. He played Abraham Lincoln in a prison play. So he was very conscious of being a performer, which he was as an attorney, and had been known as a great cross-examiner.
In the chapter entitled "Forgiveness" you discuss the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Mandela's own words about forgiving those who imprisoned him. He said, "As I walked out the door toward my freedom I knew that if I did not leave all the anger, hatred and bitterness behind I would still be in prison." Tell us more about that aspect of Nelson Mandela.
He began seeing his jailers as human beings trapped in a cycle of fear and ignorance. They didn't understand the people in the country they lived in. Many prison guards were poor and the least educated of the Afrikaner people. He taught himself the language so he could talk to them in their own language.
As a result, many of the guards became close to him and learned from him. He encouraged them to educate themselves. He promoted studies -- he wanted the guards to improve themselves -- he asked about their families and got to know their children. He could insinuate himself into peoples' lives in a way they welcomed. He was able to break through the antipathy the guards felt for the prisoners. At the end of the day, the government that had demonized him as a communist, talked to him.
They realized they had to talk to him if there was going to be a settlement of the country's problems. He felt he was not a negotiator, per se, but rather, facilitated negotiations. He felt there had to be a breakthrough and felt, "This is how it starts." The breakthrough would lead not only to a new government but also to some degree of reconciliation. The racial divide is still there, though lessened. But, South Africa still has deep economic divides.
In the chapter entitled "Humble" you describe a talk you had with South African writer Nadine Gordimer and her views of Mandela as "an ordinary man." Give us some insights about that.
When he came out of prison, the world welcomed him. He was celebrated. But privately, he was in despair. He and his wife Winnie came to a parting of the ways. He was very lonely. He no longer had the camaraderie of prison. Now, he was expected to walk on water and personally deliver a whole new South Africa. He was under a great deal of pressure. He became a performer.
People tend to have one image of him: a cuddly grandfather; Prince of Peace; someone who left hatred behind. We reduce him to what we would like to see. But, he was much more complicated than that. He had intense personal feelings. He was cut off from his children. His daughter said, "You're the father of our country but you're not being a father to me." No matter what he did, someone demanded more from him.
Nadine Gordimer had known him before he'd gone to prison and saw him when he was released. She empathized with what he was going through. She realized he was in terrible pain though he had outlasted the people who'd wanted to kill him.
In the Chapter entitled "Global" you discuss Nelson Mandela's iconic image around the world. In that same chapter, you discuss Clint Eastwood's film, 'Invictus' and the role of the American film industry in the crafting of Mandela's global image.
Yes, the film detailed the incident where Mandela embraced rugby, a sport beloved by the Afrikaner community.
He supported the rugby players, engaging the Afrikaner community and making them stakeholders in the new South Africa. Much of the hatred was based on fear and the notion that if Mandela was freed, "They're going to do to us what we did to them." There was a fear of revenge and retaliation from South Africa's blacks. He attempted to transcend that by identifying with something they were absorbed by -- rugby. He backed the team, which was a turning point.
He certainly became an important part of his country's history.
What this addresses in part, is the question of who makes history? Is it, as we learn in school, the great men such as the presidents of the United States? Is history a top-down process of great leaders? Or is it a bottom-up process of great movements; of great struggles for independence as in America's case? Or the civil rights movement?
You know, events in which people themselves are mobilized to achieve great goals. With Mandela's release from prison, in a very real sense, the world came to his aid. That's what really put the pressure on the South African government, along with sanctions and UN resolutions, and pressure by the ANC's armed wing. It was a struggle with many different elements to it.
We rarely look at history as a process. Rather, we view it as involving great dates: August 28, 1964, the march on Washington and Martin Luther King's "I have a Dream" speech. But, there was much more going on back then. The same was true of Mandela. It's important to recognize, that in addition to Nelson Mandela, many people, movements and countries rallied around this issue.
In the chapter, "Love and Loss" you talk about his regrets.
At one point, he regretted everything. He felt he'd given his life away to the movement. He had mixed feelings about it. He was involved in the movement for so many years and no one was listening. For a long time, the US government supported apartheid. The American media wasn't fully covering the story.
One of the things we don't hear much about Robben Island where he was a prisoner, is that many men cracked in there. He managed not to lose his mind. At one point in the film, Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom, it's dramatized. One prisoner nearly slaps a guard, but Mandela says, "No, don't do that. If you do that, they win."
He became extremely disciplined. But when you keep things inside, it has an impact. None of the prisoners ever thought they would be released. He had no idea he would walk from being a prisoner to being the country's president. You can't make that up. Yet, despite all he achieved, it came at a price: he gave up a good part of his life.
Mandela In America (1990) Directed by Danny Schechter
Nelson Mandela the definition of a leader
Filmmaker Danny Schechter: The Anti Apartheid Movement Behind Mandela Can't Be Forgotten
Conversations with Felicia: Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, A Tribute to Women in the Struggle
Nelson And Winnie....
The Struggle Against Foreign Domineering Ideas
Nelson Mandela came out of prison a changed man in vastly and greatly transformed world than the one he left going into gaol. There have been many things that happened leading to his release. International pressure and divestment, for one, did the Apartheid in. Also, the fight that was led by his people, created an advantage for themselves.
Many died for Mandela to be released, and are still dying after his release. The nub of the issue from the perspective of the people who bled so much, was he's selling out without consulting them or telling them the truth. Accepting foreign loans, and taking care of the Apartheid debt, and in the process sideline the masses, is one of the most discussed and hotly debated legacy of Mandela.
May people vilify Winnie for letting Stompie be killed. What they are not talking about; also, the murderous and most damaging trail left by Apartheid and the present ANC-led government. The thing about the ANC is that they pretend as if everything is normal, but listening to Kasrils, Naidoo and Paulo above, one begins to see the reality that we are faced with: an amateurish and inept ANC at the helm, and the Apartheid government controlling the economy. John Pilger talk about this eloquently in the video above, that Apartheid never died.
Many 'johnny-come-latelies' into the South African real-Politick and history, many people are not familiar with the nut-and bolts of Apartheid. What Apartheid meant and did to African people is very much obscure from many people who never saw nor experienced, that many, when they see Mandela come out of prison, to them, it was not the people of South Africa who made it possible by dying and being tortured, no. It was they(the International community) that some think did it. Yes, the International support was crucial, but it was not decisive and definite.
The history of the struggle of South Africa and the fight, not only against Apartheid, but international investors, is still to be told in full and I will be writing a Hub specifically dealing with that topic.
In the present War of Ideas, the story of South Africa fits into that mode, because, as I am onto this Hub, the dominating ideas are still those of the White minorities and their foreign government and multi-corporation interests. This will be discussed further to elucidate the point.
The Mzantsi and African American Connections
There is an immediate need for the Africans in America, South Africa, Africa and the Diaspora to pay close attention to: The oppression, repression, depression that is happening to them, is the same and related to one another globally. Marcus Garvey tried to ameliorate this lack through his African struggle for African people globally. We need something like that today, and because of the Social media, we can all begin to let each other speak about their particular struggle and take notes from each other on the common issues that enslave us even today.
The idea that we have a common suffering should be what starts us off into inquiring about it and seeing it for what it is, globally, and maybe we can cull some lessons from it as a collective, thus raising African consciousness even much more. There are many ideas that at war with each other in south Africa and in America. The contradictions between those struggling to free themselves and their targeted object reality, is filled with obfuscation, covert action and disinformation-if not elimination of opposition-to the present state of 'Free Market' economical and liberal politics within the entire systems of South Africa.
I will first use an article written by Plythell Benjamin wherein he broaches this subject about the suffering of African Americans and South African(African) people. This article by Plythell is important because we see him affording and enabling Africans to begin to discern their realities as being the same and common and should be understood better by the masses that are not necessarily involved in issues that intellectuals dabble in daily.
Barack Must Keep Playing Past The Noise
The best thing President Obama has done from a political perspective — which is to say decisions that would help him and other Democrats get elected and then get his legislative agenda passed through both houses of Congress – was to pay the black leftist and nationalist factions no mind! Having cut my political teeth in those ideological enclaves, I would never have believed that I would one day come to view them as a menace to black progress.
Yet I am convinced that had Barack attended Tavis Smile’s black gabfest, where all sorts of reckless rhetoric was thrown about, and allowed Cornell West to define his administration’s legislative priorities, while adopting the Black Agenda rhetoric of Glenn Ford, he would have never been President and the Republicans would have been able to take over both Houses of Congress!!
What would America have looked like had that happened? Well John McCain would have been President for the last four years, and there is the possibility that the Republicans would have fucked things up so badly a Democrat would have won the last election. But it would have been too late to stop the Republicans from adding two more right wing zealots to the Supreme Court, and stacking the Federal Courts around the country with same. And it would be too late to stop a President McCain from bombing Iran and escalating the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in a futile effort to win the elusive victory that escaped him in Vietnam. (search John McCainon this blog).
We might also be in a war on the Korean Peninsula, all of which would add another couple of trillion to our war debt — and we could already have completely rebuilt the nation’s infrastructure with half of what we squandered on the Iraq and Afghan wars. The economy would be in shambles, because there would have been no 800 billion stimulus, the auto industry would have disappeared and McCain’s self-correcting “free market” fiddle faddle would have made the Bush depression deeper — alas chances are we would be in a second “Great Depression” that would be worse than the first one. And all those now yapping about how the President bailed out the bankers — which was actually done by Bush but Obama would have been forced to do it too — while not addressing black poverty instead, would be singing a different tune. They would be crying about the collapse of the financial system and how it took everybody they know down with it.
Since McCain would not be a “food stamp President” like Barack Obama, there would be millions more added to the ranks of those Americans who are literally locked in a Darwinian struggle for food, because there is an acute shortage of jobs at a living wage. The tax code would encourage investment overseas, including those “job creators” who have created ten million jobs overseas while the unemployment rate soars here at home. And while millions of American workers suffer from structural unemployment these patently unpatriotic acts would be accompanied by super patriotic rhetoric of the sort we hear from the likes of Mitt Romney and Darrell Issa.
Of course there would be no Affordable Health Care Act, no Lilly Ledbetter Act, the social safety net constructed under New Deal and Great Society legislation would be completely shredded, and any form of Affirmative-Action would now be illegal, ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. And the way that reactionary racist grease ball Antonin Scalia feels about the Voting Rights Act, which he has called “a racial entitlement,” would be more widely shared by other Judges on the High Court. And thus the protections afforded minorities against the efforts of white Republicans to scrap the law and rig elections would have succeeded for all intents and purposes.
There would have been no 20 billion dollar fund from British Petroleum to clean up the Gulf oil spill and compensate the businesses that were hurt due to the spill — some of which were Afro-American owned. In fact the Republican Congressman who now heads the committee tasked with oversight of the oil industry apologized to BP and called President Obama’s demand that they set up the recovery fund a display of “Chicago gangster” tactics. The historically black colleges would be 100 million poorer, and some would be out of business altogether. Plus the banks would still be making millions off unnecessary fees from student loans, If the Republicans had been in office the last four years, with their aversion to government spending, investment in the scientific community would be a trickle of what it was under President Obama.
NSA's Hacking Unit: TAO
The Growing Cyber Cold War
Peter Symonds writes in his article:
"The Obama administration, working hand-in-hand with the American media, has opened up a new front in its aggressive campaign against China. A slew of articles, most notably in the New York Times, has appeared over the past week purportedly exposing the involvement of the Chinese military in hacking US corporations and hinting at the menace of cyber warfare to vital American infrastructure such as the electricity grid.
The Times article on Tuesday based itself on the unsubstantiated and self-serving claims of a report prepared by cyber-security company Mandiant alleging that a Chinese military unit based in Shanghai had been responsible for sophisticated cyber-attacks in the US. (See: "using hacking allegations to escalate threats against China”). The rest of the media in the US and internationally followed suit, with articles replete with comments from analysts, think tanks and administration officials past and present about the “Chinese cyber threat," all but ignoring the emphatic denials by China’s foreign and defense ministries.
This set the stage for the release on Wednesday of Obama’s “Administration Strategy on Mitigation of Theft of US Trade Secrets,” which, while not formally naming China, cited numerous examples of alleged Chinese cyber espionage. In broad terms, the document laid out the US response, including “sustained and coordinated diplomatic pressure” on offending countries and the implied threat of economic retaliation via “trade policy tools.”
US Attorney General Eric Holder warned of “a significant and steadily increasing threat to America’s economy and national security interests.” Deputy Secretary of State Robert Hormats declared that the US had “repeatedly raised our concerns about trade secret theft by any means at the highest levels with senior Chinese officials.”
The demonization of China as a global cyber threat follows a well-established modus operandi: it is aimed at whipping up a public climate of fear and hysteria in preparation for new acts of aggression—this time in the sphere of cyber warfare. Since coming to office in 2009, Obama has launched a broad economic and strategic offensive aimed at weakening and isolating China and reinforcing US global dominance, especially in Asia.
Accusations of Chinese cyber theft dovetail with the Obama administration’s economic thrust into Asia through its Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)—a new multilateral trade agreement aimed at boosting US trade at China’s expense. The protection of “intellectual property rights” is a central component of the TPP, as the profits of American corporations rest heavily on their monopoly over markets via brand names and technology. Allegations of cyber espionage will become the pretext for new trade war measures against China.
However, the more sinister aspect of the anti-Chinese propaganda is the US preparation of war against China. Under the banner of its “pivot to Asia,” the Obama administration has put in train a far-reaching diplomatic and strategic offensive aimed at strengthening existing military alliances with Japan, South Korea, Australia, the Philippines and Thailand, forging closer strategic partnerships and ties, especially with India and Vietnam, and undermining close Chinese relations with countries like Burma and Sri Lanka.
Obama’s “pivot to Asia” has already resulted in a dangerous escalation of maritime disputes in the South China Sea and East China Sea as Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam, encouraged by the US, have pressed their territorial claims against China. The focus on these strategic waters is not accidental, as they encompass the shipping lanes on which China relies to import raw materials and energy from the Middle East and Africa. The US is establishing new military basing arrangements in Australia, South East Asia and elsewhere in the region to ensure it has the ability to choke off China’s vital supplies in the event of a confrontation or war.
The Pentagon regards cyber warfare as a vital component of the huge American war machine and has devoted considerable resources towards its development, especially under the Obama administration. In May 2010, the Pentagon set up its new US Cyber Command headed by General Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency (NSA), drawing on the already massive cyber resources of the NSA and the American military.
US accusations of Chinese cyber espionage are utterly hypocritical. The NSA, among other US agencies, has been engaged in electronic spying and hacking into foreign computer systems and networks around the world on a vast scale. Undoubtedly, China is at the top of the list of prime targets. The Chinese Foreign Ministry claimed this week that at least 14 million computers in China were hacked by 73,000 overseas-based users last year, including many cyber attacks on the Chinese Defense Ministry.
The US has already engaged in aggressive, illegal acts of cyber sabotage against Iran’s nuclear facilities and infrastructure. Together with Israel, it infected the electronic controllers of the gas centrifuges used in Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment plant with the Stuxnet worm, causing hundreds to spin out of control and self-destruct. This criminal activity took place alongside more traditional forms—the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists and other acts of sabotage by Israel.
It is inconceivable that the Pentagon’s cyber capacities are being deployed for purely defensive purposes against the “Chinese threat.” Indeed, in taking over as cyber warfare chief in 2010, General Alexander outlined his credo to the House Armed Services subcommittee. After declaring that China was viewed as responsible for “a great many attacks on Western infrastructure,” he added that if the US were subject to an organized attack, “I would want to go and take down the source of those attacks.”
Last August, the US Air Force issued what was described by the New York Times as “a bluntly worded solicitation for papers advising it on ‘cyberspace warfare attack capabilities,’ including weapons to ‘destroy, deny, deceive, corrupt or usurp’ an enemy’s computer networks and other hi-tech targets. The same article referred to the Pentagon’s research arm, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, hosting a gathering of private contractors wanting to participate in “Plan X”—the development of “revolutionary technologies for understanding, planning and managing cyber warfare.”
This week’s propaganda about the “Chinese cyber threat” provides the justifications for stepping up the already advanced US preparations for conducting cyber-attacks on Chinese military and civilian targets. Amid the rising tensions between the US and China produced by Obama’s “pivot to Asia," reckless American actions in the sphere of cyber warfare only compound the danger of open military confrontation between the two powers.
The digital war on all aspects of societies and countries is now burgeoning and this is when we see the army recruits ditching their foxholes and heading into the digital realm of the army.The Spiegel Staff put together the following article:
Inside TAO: Documents reveal Top NSA Hacking Unit
"In January 2010, numerous homeowners in San Antonio, Texas, stood baffled in front of their closed garage doors. They wanted to drive to work or head off to do their grocery shopping, but their garage door openers had gone dead, leaving them stranded. No matter how many times they pressed the buttons, the doors didn't budge. The problem primarily affected residents in the western part of the city, around Military Drive and the interstate highway known as Loop 410.
Mexico's Secretariat of Public Security, which was folded into the new National Security Commission at the beginning of 2013, was responsible at the time for the country's police, counterterrorism, prison system and border police. Most of the agency's nearly 20,000 employees worked at its headquarters on Avenida Constituyentes, an important traffic artery in Mexico City. A large share of the Mexican security authorities under the auspices of the Secretariat are supervised from the offices there, making Avenida Constituyentes a one-stop shop for anyone seeking to learn more about the country's security apparatus.
That considered, assigning the TAO unit responsible for tailored operations to target the Secretariat makes a lot of sense. After all, one document states, the US Department of Homeland Security and the United States' intelligence agencies have a need to know everything about the drug trade, human trafficking and security along the US-Mexico border. The Secretariat presents a potential "goldmine" for the NSA's spies, a document states. The TAO workers selected systems administrators and telecommunications engineers at the Mexican agency as their targets, thus marking the start of what the unit dubbed Operation WHITETAMALE.
Workers at NSA's target selection office, which also had Angela Merkel in its sights in 2002 before she became chancellor, sent TAO a list of officials within the Mexican Secretariat they thought might make interesting targets. As a first step, TAO penetrated the target officials' email accounts, a relatively simple job. Next, they infiltrated the entire network and began capturing data.
Soon the NSA spies had knowledge of the agency's servers, including IP addresses, computers used for email traffic and individual addresses of diverse employees. They also obtained diagrams of the security agencies' structures, including video surveillance. It appears the operation continued for years until SPIEGEL first reported on it in October.
The technical term for this type of activity is "Computer Network Exploitation" (CNE). The goal here is to "subvert endpoint devices," according to an internal NSA presentation that SPIEGEL has viewed. The presentation goes on to list nearly all the types of devices that run our digital lives -- "servers, workstations, firewalls, routers, handsets, phone switches, SCADA systems, etc." SCADAs are industrial control systems used in factories, as well as in power plants. Anyone who can bring these systems under their control has the potential to knock out parts of a country's critical infrastructure.
The most well-known and notorious use of this type of attack was the development of Stuxnet, the computer worm whose existence was discovered in June 2010. The virus was developed jointly by American and Israeli intelligence agencies to sabotage Iran's nuclear program, and successfully so. The country's nuclear program was set back by years after Stuxnet manipulated the SCADA control technology used at Iran's uranium enrichment facilities in Natanz, rendering up to 1,000 centrifuges unusable.
The special NSA unit has its own development department in which new technologies are developed and tested. This division is where the real tinkerers can be found, and their inventiveness when it comes to finding ways to infiltrate other networks, computers and smartphones evokes a modern take on Q, the legendary gadget inventor in James Bond movies.
Having Fun at Microsoft's Expense
One example of the sheer creativity with which the TAO spies approach their work can be seen in a hacking method they use that exploits the error-proneness of Microsoft's Windows. Every user of the operating system is familiar with the annoying window that occasionally pops up on screen when an internal problem is detected, an automatic message that prompts the user to report the bug to the manufacturer and to restart the program. These crash reports offer TAO specialists a welcome opportunity to spy on computers.
In the United States, a country of cars and commuters, the mysterious garage door problem quickly became an issue for local politicians. Ultimately, the municipal government solved the riddle. Fault for the error lay with the United States' foreign intelligence service, the National Security Agency, which has offices in San Antonio. Officials at the agency were forced to admit that one of the NSA's radio antennas was broadcasting at the same frequency as the garage door openers. Embarrassed officials at the intelligence agency promised to resolve the issue as quickly as possible, and soon the doors began opening again.
It was thanks to the garage door opener episode that Texans learned just how far the NSA's work had encroached upon their daily lives. For quite some time now, the intelligence agency has maintained a branch with around 2,000 employees at Lackland Air Force Base, also in San Antonio. In 2005, the agency took over a former Sony computer chip plant in the western part of the city. A brisk pace of construction commenced inside this enormous compound. The acquisition of the former chip factory at Sony Place was part of a massive expansion the agency began after the events of Sept. 11, 2001.
On-Call Digital Plumbers
One of the two main buildings at the former plant has since housed a sophisticated NSA unit, one that has benefited the most from this expansion and has grown the fastest in recent years -- the Office of Tailored Access Operations, or TAO. This is the NSA's top operative unit -- something like a squad of plumbers that can be called in when normal access to a target is blocked.
According to internal NSA documents viewed by SPIEGEL, these on-call digital plumbers are involved in many sensitive operations conducted by American intelligence agencies. TAO's area of operations ranges from counterterrorism to cyber attacks to traditional espionage. The documents reveal just how diversified the tools at TAO's disposal have become -- and also how it exploits the technical weaknesses of the IT industry, from Microsoft to Cisco and Huawei, to carry out its discreet and efficient attacks.
The unit is "akin to the wunderkind of the US intelligence community," says Matthew Aid, a historian who specializes in the history of the NSA. "Getting the ungettable" is the NSA's own description of its duties. "It is not about the quantity produced but the quality of intelligence that is important," one former TAO chief wrote, describing her work in a document. The paper seen by SPIEGEL quotes the former unit head stating that TAO has contributed "some of the most significant intelligence our country has ever seen." The unit, it goes on, has "access to our very hardest targets."
A Unit Born of the Internet
Defining the future of her unit at the time, she wrote that TAO "needs to continue to grow and must lay the foundation for integrated Computer Network Operations," and that it must "support Computer Network Attacks as an integrated part of military operations." To succeed in this, she wrote, TAO would have to acquire "pervasive, persistent access on the global network." An internal description of TAO's responsibilities makes clear that aggressive attacks are an explicit part of the unit's tasks. In other words, the NSA's hackers have been given a government mandate for their work. During the middle part of the last decade, the special unit succeeded in gaining access to 258 targets in 89 countries -- nearly everywhere in the world. In 2010, it conducted 279 operations worldwide.
Indeed, TAO specialists have directly accessed the protected networks of democratically elected leaders of countries. They infiltrated networks of European telecommunications companies and gained access to and read mails sent over Blackberry's BES email servers, which until then were believed to be securely encrypted. Achieving this last goal required a "sustained TAO operation," one document states.
This TAO unit is born of the Internet -- created in 1997, a time when not even 2 percent of the world's population had Internet access and no one had yet thought of Facebook, YouTube or Twitter. From the time the first TAO employees moved into offices at NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland, the unit was housed in a separate wing, set apart from the rest of the agency. Their task was clear from the beginning -- to work around the clock to find ways to hack into global communications traffic.
Recruiting the Geeks
To do this, the NSA needed a new kind of employee. The TAO workers authorized to access the special, secure floor on which the unit is located are for the most part considerably younger than the average NSA staff member. Their job is breaking into, manipulating and exploiting computer networks, making them hackers and civil servants in one. Many resemble geeks -- and act the part, too.
Indeed, it is from these very circles that the NSA recruits new hires for its Tailored Access Operations unit. In recent years, NSA Director Keith Alexander has made several appearances at major hacker conferences in the United States. Sometimes, Alexander wears his military uniform, but at others, he even dons jeans and a t-shirt in his effort to court trust and a new generation of employees.
The recruitment strategy seems to have borne fruit. Certainly, few if any other divisions within the agency are growing as quickly as TAO. There are now TAO units in Wahiawa, Hawaii; Fort Gordon, Georgia; at the NSA's outpost at Buckley Air Force Base, near Denver, Colorado; at its headquarters in Fort Meade; and, of course, in San Antonio.
One trail also leads to Germany. According to a document dating from 2010 that lists the "Lead TAO Liaisons" domestically and abroad as well as names, email addresses and the number for their "Secure Phone," a liaison office is located near Frankfurt -- the European Security Operations Center (ESOC) at the so-called "Dagger Complex" at a US military compound in the Griesheim suburb of Darmstadt.
But it is the growth of the unit's Texas branch that has been uniquely impressive, the top secret documents reviewed by SPIEGEL show. These documents reveal that in 2008, the Texas Cryptologic Center employed fewer than 60 TAO specialists. By 2015, the number is projected to grow to 270 employees. In addition, there are another 85 specialists in the "Requirements & Targeting" division (up from 13 specialists in 2008). The number of software developers is expected to increase from the 2008 level of three to 38 in 2015. The San Antonio office handles attacks against targets in the Middle East, Cuba, Venezuela and Colombia, not to mention Mexico, just 200 kilometers (124 miles) away, where the government has fallen into the NSA's crosshairs.
Having Fun At Microsoft's Expense
"Sigint" Stands For "Signals Intelligence"
When TAO selects a computer somewhere in the world as a target and enters its unique identifiers (an IP address, for example) into the corresponding database, intelligence agents are then automatically notified any time the operating system of that computer crashes and its user receives the prompt to report the problem to Microsoft. An internal presentation suggests it is NSA's powerful XKeystore spying tool that is used to fish these crash reports out of the massive sea of Internet traffic.
The automated crash reports are a "neat way" to gain "passive access" to a machine, the presentation continues. Passive access means that, initially, only data the computer sends out into the Internet is captured and saved, but the computer itself is not yet manipulated. Still, even this passive access to error messages provides valuable insights into problems with a targeted person's computer and, thus, information on security holes that might be exploitable for planting malware or spyware on the unwitting victim's computer.
Although the method appears to have little importance in practical terms, the NSA's agents still seem to enjoy it because it allows them to have a bit of a laugh at the expense of the Seattle-based software giant. In one internal graphic, they replaced the text of Microsoft's original error message with one of their own reading, "This information may be intercepted by a foreign Sigint system to gather detailed information and better exploit your machine." ("Sigint" stands for "signals intelligence.")
A Bit About The Trans-Atlantic Spying Consortium
One of the hackers' key tasks is the offensive infiltration of target computers with so-called implants or with large numbers of Trojans. They've bestowed their spying tools with illustrious monikers like "ANGRY NEIGHBOR," "HOWLERMONKEY" or "WATERWITCH." These names may sound cute, but the tools they describe are both aggressive and effective.
According to details in Washington's current budget plan for the US intelligence services, around 85,000 computers worldwide are projected to be infiltrated by the NSA specialists by the end of this year. By far the majority of these "implants" are conducted by TAO teams via the Internet.
Until just a few years ago, NSA agents relied on the same methods employed by cyber criminals to conduct these implants on computers. They sent targeted attack emails disguised as spam containing links directing users to virus-infected websites. With sufficient knowledge of an Internet browser's security holes -- Microsoft's Internet Explorer, for example, is especially popular with the NSA hackers -- all that is needed to plant NSA malware on a person's computer is for that individual to open a website that has been specially crafted to compromise the user's computer. Spamming has one key drawback though: It doesn't work very often.
Nevertheless, TAO has dramatically improved the tools at its disposal. It maintains a sophisticated toolbox known internally by the name "QUANTUMTHEORY." "Certain QUANTUM missions have a success rate of as high as 80%, where spam is less than 1%," one internal NSA presentation states.
A comprehensive internal presentation titled "QUANTUM CAPABILITIES," which SPIEGEL has viewed, lists virtually every popular Internet service provider as a target, including Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter and YouTube. "NSA QUANTUM has the greatest success against Yahoo, Facebook and static IP addresses," it states. The presentation also notes that the NSA has been unable to employ this method to target users of Google services. Apparently, that can only be done by Britain's GCHQ intelligence service, which has acquired QUANTUM tools from the NSA.
A favored tool of intelligence service hackers is "QUANTUMINSERT." GCHQ workers used this method to attack the computers pf Employees at partly government-held Belgian telecommunications company Belgacom, in order to use their computers to penetrate even further into the company's networks. The NSA, meanwhile, used the same technology to target high-ranking members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) at the organization's Vienna headquarters. In both cases, the trans-Atlantic spying consortium gained unhindered access to valuable economic data using these tools.
The NSA' Shadow Network
Traditional Spying Method Still Being Used In The Age Of The Internet
The insert method and other variants of QUANTUM are closely linked to a shadow network operated by the NSA alongside the Internet, with its own, well-hidden infrastructure comprised of "covert" routers and servers. It appears the NSA also incorporates routers and servers from non-NSA networks into its covert network by infecting these networks with "implants" that then allow the government hackers to control the computers remotely. (Click here to read a related article on the NSA's "implants".)
In this way, the intelligence service seeks to identify and track its targets based on their digital footprints. These identifiers could include certain email addresses or website cookies set on a person's computer. Of course, a cookie doesn't automatically identify a person, but it can if it includes additional information like an email address. In that case, a cookie becomes something like the web equivalent of a fingerprint.
A Race Between Servers
Once TAO teams have gathered sufficient data on their targets' habits, they can shift into attack mode, programming the QUANTUM systems to perform this work in a largely automated way. If a data packet featuring the email address or cookie of a target passes through a cable or router monitored by the NSA, the system sounds the alarm. It determines what website the target person is trying to access and then activates one of the intelligence service's covert servers, known by the codename FOXACID.
This NSA server coerces the user into connecting to NSA covert systems rather than the intended sites. In the case of Belgacom engineers, instead of reaching the LinkedIn page they were actually trying to visit, they were also directed to FOXACID servers housed on NSA networks. Undetected by the user, the manipulated page transferred malware already custom tailored to match security holes on the target person's computer.
The technique can literally be a race between servers, one that is described in internal intelligence agency jargon with phrases like: "Wait for client to initiate new connection," "Shoot!" and "Hope to beat server-to-client response." Like any competition, at times the covert network's surveillance tools are "too slow to win the race." Often enough, though, they are effective. Implants with QUANTUMINSERT, especially when used in conjunction with LinkedIn, now have a success rate of over 50 percent, according to one internal document.
Tapping Undersea Cables
At the same time, it is in no way true to say that the NSA has its sights set exclusively on select individuals. Of even greater interest are entire networks and network providers, such as the fiber optic cables that direct a large share of global Internet traffic along the world's ocean floors.
One document labeled "top secret" and "not for foreigners" describes the NSA's success in spying on the "SEA-ME-WE-4" cable system. This massive underwater cable bundle connects Europe with North Africa and the Gulf states and then continues on through Pakistan and India, all the way to Malaysia and Thailand. The cable system originates in southern France, near Marseille. Among the companies that hold ownership stakes in it are France Telecom, now known as Orange and still partly government-owned, and Telecom Italia Sparkle.
The document proudly announces that, on Feb. 13, 2013, TAO "successfully collected network management information for the SEA-Me-We Undersea Cable Systems (SMW-4)." With the help of a "website masquerade operation," the agency was able to "gain access to the consortium's management website and collected Layer 2 network information that shows the circuit mapping for significant portions of the network."
It appears the government hackers succeeded here once again using the QUANTUMINSERT method.
The document states that the TAO team hacked an internal website of the operator consortium and copied documents stored there pertaining to technical infrastructure. But that was only the first step. "More operations are planned in the future to collect more information about this and other cable systems," it continues.
But numerous internal announcements of successful attacks like the one against the undersea cable operator aren't the exclusive factors that make TAO stand out at the NSA. In contrast to most NSA operations, TAO's ventures often require physical access to their targets. After all, you might have to directly access a mobile network transmission station before you can begin tapping the digital information it provides.
Spying Traditions Live On
To conduct those types of operations, the NSA works together with other intelligence agencies such as the CIA and FBI, which in turn maintain informants on location who are available to help with sensitive missions. This enables TAO to attack even isolated networks that aren't connected to the Internet. If necessary, the FBI can even make an agency-owned jet available to ferry the high-tech plumbers to their target. This gets them to their destination at the right time and can help them to disappear again undetected after as little as a half hour's work.
Responding to a query from SPIEGEL, NSA officials issued a statement saying, "Tailored Access Operations is a unique national asset that is on the front lines of enabling NSA to defend the nation and its allies." The statement added that TAO's "work is centered on computer network exploitation in support of foreign intelligence collection." The officials said they would not discuss specific allegations regarding TAO's mission.
Sometimes it appears that the world's most modern spies are just as reliant on conventional methods of reconnaissance as their predecessors.
Take, for example, when they intercept shipping deliveries. If a target person, agency or company orders a new computer or related accessories, for example, TAO can divert the shipping delivery to its own secret workshops. The NSA calls this method interdiction. At these so-called "load stations," agents carefully open the package in order to load malware onto the electronics, or even install hardware components that can provide backdoor access for the intelligence agencies. All subsequent steps can then be conducted from the comfort of a remote computer.
These minor disruptions in the parcel shipping business rank among the "most productive operations" conducted by the NSA hackers, one top secret document relates in enthusiastic terms. This method, the presentation continues, allows TAO to obtain access to networks "around the world."
Even in the Internet Age, some traditional spying methods continue to live on.
REPORTED BY JACOB APPELBAUM, LAURA POITRAS, MARCEL ROSENBACH, CHRISTIAN STÖCKER, JÖRG SCHINDLER AND HOLGER STARK
Present-day Cyber Incursion and Subterfuge..
Cold War Digital Warfare Into the Future
The Digital Wars in the present future we all exist in are flaring up. There are now more reported instances of cyber-spying, cyber-war and attempts to regulated and censor the Internet, that there is also a similar push-back to that notion. some people in the UN wants the Internet to be controlled by countries and governments, some in the United States are saying that is not going to happen, because the Internet was a public and consumer initiative and the government had nothing to do with it, up to this day(this still remains to be seen).
My interest and attempt to address this growing social phenomenon and environment is that I see a need that it should be recorded, discussed and investigated fully, because, right now, we are going in deeper and might forget these starting historical points about Cyber War and Technological Cold War, we will need to understand it much better
Cyber Warfare In The Viral Soup
Familiarity Breeds Knowledge
It is becoming clear and apparent that with the novel appearance, to some, of the technological age and society, it has its unseemly side. This is the part which this Hub tries to communicate and interrogate. What is important is for the users and people with no clear knowhow and focused attention on these maters to be aware of the few basic Key Words and concepts that are part of the jargon and modus operandi of the present-day Digital Warfare that is ongoing, and has been described above.The article below give us a heads-up on these phenomena:
Cyber-Attacks: From Social Networking Sites to Secret Nuclear Facilities
The largest social network site has more than 500 million subscribers and it uses external e-mail services such as Google’s Gmail, Yahoo Mail , etc., to help members find friends that are already part of the network.
Those Mail-Accounts contains many confidential information of our real life and nowadays also these social networks are closely related to our real life. Data on nuclear generating facilities are also stored in the private sites of a country.
So, those data should be kept highly secure. A high level of Cyber-Security should be maintained there.
Introducing a comprehensive White House report on Cyber-Security released at the end of May, President Obama called Cyber-Security “one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation.”
But, this cyber-security is violated through many Cyber-Attacks.
- Also known as distributed denial-of-service attack (DdoS), this involves criminals attempting to bring down or cripple individual websites, computers or networks often by flooding them with messages.
- Malicious software designed to take over individuals’ computers in order to spread a bug onto other people’s devices or social networking profiles. It can also infect a computer and turn it into part of a “botnet” — networks of computers controlled remotely by hackers known as “herders” to spread spam or viruses.
- Attacks designed to steal a person’s login and password details so that criminals can access their bank account or assume control of their social network. As many as 70 per cent of internet users use the same password for almost every web service they use making them vulnerable to identity theft if their details are stolen.
- Criminals who use underground online forums to sell stolen bank or credit card details for as little as £1. Gangsters then employ “money mules” to use duplicate cards to withdraw cash at ATMs or in shops.
- A spoofing attack is a situation in which one person or program successfully masquerades as another by falsifying data and thereby gaining an illegitimate advantage.
It is important to note that the piece above gives us a smidgen of the entire enchilada, which is far more bigger and broader than the piece above. Nonetheless, we live in age that is hooked-up, everyone is online, and there are other shenanigans that take piece, and as one is onto this topic, I will call it as the experts see it and I learn from it. So should all of us begin to look much deeper into the affects and effects of technology, its techniques and environments and the cyber war inlaid and embedded within.
Global Digital Divide
The foursome in their Digital Wars, and Changing Communications As we Know It
The Digital Wars In Brief Summation
Charles Arthur writes:
"The world we experience is analogue: colors, sounds, smells, all merge and mix smoothly. the digital world ushered in by computers is different, binary, on or off, yes or no. The arrival of affordable personal computing beginning of the 1970s, followed by the addition in the 1990s of of the Internet, began to create entirely new businesses - such as Yahoo, a website that is offered up-to-minute news, weather and free e-mail - and to overturn existing ones, such as the music industry, at a pace that multiplied geometrically with the number of computers to the network. Into this maelstrom of change came three companies: Apple, Microsoft and Google.
There were radically different companies. By the time all three arrived on the digital battlefield, the glory days of one were apparently behind it; another stood atop the computing and business world; the third was barely more than a clever idea in the minds of two very clever students.
"The companies would subsequently fight a series of pitched battles for control of different parts of the digital landscape. Their weapons would be hardware, software and advertising. At stake were their reputations — but, equally, our future. Does it matter which search engine most people use? Where we buy our digital music? Who makes the software that powers or mobile phone, or the tablet that we use while waiting for a train or meeting?
"Some think not: that the momentum of human intentions means we will always get the correct outcomes, no matter who is overseeing our experiences. Others say that the digital landscape is covered in tollgates, and that those who control them will always determine the shape of the future."
What is certain is that to control any of them is a golden opportunity to exact tolls from the millions and millions of people passing through. The reward for winning any of the digital wars is enormous wealth — and, often, the chance to use that to build a fresh set of tollgates on another part of the landscape, or displace the existing rival. The first time that all three found themselves sharing the same digital space was 1998. They could not know of the battles to come. But those battles would be world changing.
WW II Posters: Books Are Weapons in the War of Ideas
Iraqi Insurgent Media: The War of Images and Ideas
Iraqi Insurgent Media: The War of Images and Ideas: How Sunni Insurgents in Iraq and Their Supporters Worldwide Are Using the Media http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/rfe/insurgent.pdf "Sunni insurgents in Iraq and their supporters and sympathizers worldwide are pursuing a massive and far-reaching media campaign that includes daily press releases, weekly and monthly magazines, video clips, full-length films, and even television channels.
Iraqi Insurgent Media: The War Of Images And Ideas casts light on this crucial yet understudied factor in the battle to shape perceptions in Iraq and the Arab world. The report surveys the products, producers, and delivery channels of the Sunni insurgency's media network; examines their message; and gauges their impact.
The report shows that media outlets and products created by Sunni insurgents, who are responsible for the majority of U.S. combat deaths in Iraq, and their supporters are undermining the authority of the Iraqi government, demonizing coalition forces, fomenting sectarian strife, glorifying terrorism, and perpetrating falsehoods that obscure the accounts of responsible journalists. Insurgent media seek to create an alternate reality to win hearts and minds, and they are having a considerable degree of success.
But insurgent media also display vulnerabilities. The lack of central coordination impedes coherence and message control. There is a widening rift between homegrown nationalist groups and the global jihadists who have gathered under the banner of Al-Qaeda in Iraq.
Moreover, insurgent media have not yet faced a serious challenge to their message on the Internet. The popularity of online Iraqi Sunni insurgent media reflects a genuine demand for their message in the Arab world. An alternative, no matter how lavishly funded and cleverly produced, will not eliminate this demand."
Social Media Has Democratized Information Sharing On A Mass Scale
21 Ways to Use Nonprofit Social Media: Care, Be There or Be Square
Increasing access to the internet, together with the development in social network sites and mobile devices, has resulted in the ability for individuals and communities to be able to quickly share information, ideas and proposals for action to an ever-increasing audience. This has allowed protest movements to promote and have their voices heard outside traditional mass media outlets and government institutions that have excluded them in the past.
The development of social network sites has provided an easier opportunity to build online networks but has also impacted on social networks outside the internet terrain. This article will discuss the significance and impact of social network sites on social change focusing on the “Arab Spring”. It will work towards an assessment of how online social networks can impact networks in broader society that result in social change.
Social movements such as the democracy movements in Tunisia and Egypt have successfully used social network sites to not only publicize information but also to help expand and organize online and off-line communities. Sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Youtube are increasingly being used to form new networks and quickly and effectively get information and proposals for action out.
The ability and scope of protest movements to utilize such sites has had a variety of successes. The social network sites have played an important role in promoting alternative information and proposals, not only on a national level but also across the globe.
In Tunisia and Egypt, for example, repression by government authorities in late 2010 and in the first few months of 2011 was captured via video and photos and quickly shared around the world via social network sites. This is significant considering that, “Facebook is the second most accessed Website in Egypt after Google and there are more Facebook users than newspaper readers … Youtube is also very popular among the Egyptian youth. It ranks the fourth most visited Website” (Lim 2012, p. 235). Soon after the distribution of video footage showing repression it quickly spread among the population in Egypt.
The ability for more and more people to access and use social network sites (SNSs) has impacted significantly on communication, organizational capacity and information distribution among alternative groups and social movements around the world. “Through status updates and feeds, SNSs enable individuals to broadcast both major life changes and ephemeral activities to their broad network, allowing others to engage in lightweight social surveillance” (Ellison 2009, p. 7). Furthermore, technological changes such as the smart phone and relatively accessible internet plans tied to the smart phones has resulted in the internet being accessible to users on a 24-hour basis.
Social Media. It’s just a tool. If it doesn’t serve your ends, don’t use it.
But, and this is a really big ‘but,’ it’s hard to imagine a scenario where it won’t serve your ends to some degree. Assuming you want to create greater awareness for your cause and to persuade more people to support you.
The digital revolution has democratized publicity. You no longer must command a huge advertising budget. Everything is online. The playing field has been leveled.
Why Nonprofit Social Media is for You
Let’s take a look at how social media can benefit you:
You can create awareness. You can get your name and the impact you have in the world out in front of hundreds and thousands of people. And you don’t need to spend a huge amount of money to do so (though you do need to take the time).
You can create engagement. Online petitions are huge now. Consider change.org and moveon.org. You don’t have to stand on the street to ask people to sign up. You can get your signatures, fast, online.
You can fundraise. The most powerful ask is a peer ask. Social media is the most effective peer-to-peer medium we’ve ever known. It’s immensely powerful. And there’s no barrier to entry. Anyone can use it. Small nonprofit and Large nonprofit.
So, what do you need to do to take advantage of the tremendous power of social media?
Care. Be there. Or be square.
To care you must listen
1. Set up Google alerts for your organization, your cause, or particular phrases related to your work. Google will then let you know whenever this comes up online. Find out who’s interested in you. See what platforms these folks are on. There are numerous ways to become a “spy” on social media and learn more about your target audiences.
2. Go on Twitter and go to “search,” Enter your organization name. Enter your Twitter handle. Enter a few key hashtags. If you’re not on Twitter yet, enter the names of some of your competitors. Listen to what’s going on. See who’s contributing. See what people want and need.
3. Go to Facebook. See who’s following you. Check out the aggregate demographics. You no longer have to guess. Pay attention to what folks are sharing and talking about. Learn what floats their boats.
4. Don’t neglect LinkedIn. This may be my favorite site for finding and building relationships with major donor prospects. You can keep in touch with (and find) professionals here (it’s a great online rolodex). Beyond that, you can create your own organizational profile. Ask all your staff and board to add you to their personal profiles as well (including your website). Also, ask folks for testimonials. It’s a great “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.” Finally, use the Groups feature to join and start and join discussions to establish your expertise and demonstrate how you can be of service.
5. Everywhere you are, be a friend. Friends don’t make the conversation all about themselves; they show an interest in each other. Create opportunities to let your supporters talk about themselves and pay attention to what they have to say. Be a friend by sharing information that might be helpful.
6. Fit social media into your overall integrated customer-centered marketing plan. Don’t silo it. Everything works with everything else. Social media has become a mainstream communications tool. Use it not just to broadcast, but to ask folks for feedback. And to give them ‘gifts.’ What do they think? How can you help them?
Be there and engage
7. Pick the platforms where your constituents hang out. You must determine which platforms are the most beneficial for your organization. If you try to be everywhere, you won’t be anywhere. You’ll also drive yourself nuts! Go narrow and deep rather than broad and shallow. One place to consider is Google+. While it’s not as big as some of the other platforms (yet) for most US nonprofits, it’s got a lot of users internationally. It has many other benefits as well. When someone searches for your nonprofit, Google will pull information from your Google+ profile if you have one and it’s active (remember: Google pretty much owns the internet for the time being).
So, this is a great way to provide information about your cause and give folks a reason to visit your site. Google hangouts can be a nice way to share news, gain feedback and interact with active donors in a group setting, doing away with the need for expensive video conferencing systems.
8. Start with the folks you know to be your audience. Ask your board, volunteers and committed supporters to share your content with their networks.
9. Recruit folks to like you. To follow you. To be helped by you. To ultimately help you.
10. No more than 50% of your posts should be about you. That’s like going to a cocktail party and completely monopolizing the conversation. That’s NOT a conversation. You want back and forth on social media. Otherwise, you’re not engaging.
11. At the end of the post, ask your readers to do something. Maybe you just ask them to share the post. Or subscribe to your newsletter. Or sign a petition. Or go to your website. Or simply leave a comment. Make sure it’s a question however, and not a declarative statement. You want to invite your constituents to engage.
12. Be nice. Be polite. Thank folks when they respond to you.
13. Be there when you’ll be heard. It’s different for every organization, which is why you should use a free tool like Google Analytics to see where and when your traffic comes from. As a general guideline: Morning 8:00 – 9:00 am when folks are on commuter transports. 12:00 – 1:00 lunch time. End of the day. This is down time. Folks are tired, but not quite ready to go home. 4:30 – 6:00. Night time, 9:30 – 11:00 pm Especially if your messages are directed to parents with kids. Weekends are very big. Folks get up late. They relax. They check their social networks and email.
14. Talk enough, but not too much. You don’t want to be a boor, or a stalker. For most organizations, just once/day on Facebook. Twitter, 5-6 times/day. Because people don’t see you every time; just when they happen to be on.
15. Don’t back burner mobile. This is something nonprofits can no longer afford to do. Check out Top 6 Tips for Taking Your Cause Mobile by Darian Rodriguez Heyman on Beth’s Blog. The digital revolution keeps making new work for us — but that’s the way it is. Did you know that over 28% of web traffic now comes from mobile devices and that Kleiner Perkins released a report projecting that mobile web traffic will eclipse desktop traffic this year? You can also use Google Analytics to see how much of your traffic comes from mobile. And it doesn’t have to be expensive to optimize for mobile. Many web templates (like WordPress) come already “responsive.” Be there, or be square.
16. Keep it short and simple. People increasingly have no patience. For example, if your website takes more than 2-3 seconds to load on a computer, or especially a phone, you can expect to lose about half your visitors. So be concise and punchy if you want to grab attention. Avoid big files, but do use images and short videos to draw folks in.
You’re ‘Square’ just standing on the sidelines … Activate
15. Determine your desired action response (DAR) for every post or tweet. Don’t just blather mindlessly. What do you want folks to think, feel or do? Don’t just stand there waiting for something to happen. Put calls to action into your communications so folks know how to respond. And don’t give them a zillion choices. Focus in on the one thing you want people to do.
16. Learn how to activate your key influencers (this includes your volunteers and board members). For those you know, look for them. Recognize them. Ask them to share your stuff. Engage them. Compliment them. Share their stuff. For those you don’t know yet, Rowfeeder will tell you who they are. Engage and interact with your top 10%.
17. Use share widgets to make it super easy for folks to share your stuff. Put these on your social media accounts, you emails, your blog, your website — everywhere. Don’t make folks work for it! Invite folks to join you. “Please follow us.” “Please share this message.” “Please like this page and share it.”
18. Use photos, videos and other images. Folks share them more. Especially if they’re cute and creative. Loosen up a bit and think from the perspective of your audience. What would intrigue them? What would get them to want to share this with their network? Perhaps share a bit of a different side of yourself. A great way to do this is on Pinterest.(I invite you to follow me)! If you’ve got great original images, that’s the best. But you can also use images from free photos sites on the internet. And don’t rule out Instagram, especially if you cater to a younger demographic.
19. You can easily upload short video to YouTube (generally 2-3 minutes maximum — but some folks say as little as 8 seconds)! YouTube just came out with a Guide to help you. You can even set it up as a nonprofit page and access donations (include a text-over call to action with a “Google check out.”) You can do this with a simple smart phone camera. Donors actually prefer these to highly polished videos. Of course, do try to assure there’s not a lot of background noise and that you focus, use good lighting, etc. Go to youtube.com/nonprofits. [Note: if you’re tempted to use Vimeo instead, remember that Google owns YouTube and Google owns the internet. So sharing on YouTube results in greater search optimization and linking to your other networks.]
20. Follow other people. This is simple. Don’t follow mindlessly, of course. If you find people’s content useful, retweet it. Be friendly. Be generous. You love them; they’ll love you.
21. Measure; then optimize. See what’s working; what’s not. Where is your traffic coming from? Put more time into this. Ask some experts why traffic is not coming from some of the other places. There may be things you can do to tweak the system. Or you may just decide it’s not a good platform for you.
Final Word: Just Do It!
Social media is the great equalizer. It enables community organizations of all sizes to have massive impact, and to get their message out more efficiently and effectively. The world is now your oyster.
Activism Regarding The Internet
Peeking Into And Understanding Social Media
An important impact of social network sites has been that they have helped in the democratization of information distribution and shareability of that information. In 2011 an Egyptian activist was quoted as saying, “We use Facebook to schedule the protests, Twitter to coordinate and YouTube to tell the world” (Howard 2011, para. 2).
These sites have different user profiles that specify what content the user would like to share and view. For example “Twitter lends itself to cause and action. Every day, we are inspired by stories of people using Twitter to help make the world a better place in unexpected ways” (“Twitter” 2013). Similarly, Facebook promotes in its mission statement that its role “is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected” (“Facebook” 2013).
Activists have taken to these online spaces to help them promote their ideas and proposals for action, and help them distribute them to a broad community.
The increasingly ubiquitous nature of social network sites has dramatically democratized information sharing on a mass scale. In large sections of Europe, Asia, the Americas and the Middle East, news and information can be accessed outside the mainstream media outlets. Through the use of social network sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Youtube any individual cannot only share their thoughts, ideas and proposals for action with potentially thousands of people instantly, but also receive information that in the past would have been extremely difficult to access. Media censorship in Egypt had been rife before the revolutionary upheaval, Mackell writes:
It is hard to imagine a more perfect example of media malpractice than the events of 9 October (2011). Unarmed protesters were being shot and crushed to death under army vehicles, literally within spitting distance from the famous Maspero building, where state media is headquartered… Meanwhile, inside, state TV anchor Rasha Magdy was reporting the opposite: armed “Christians” had attacked soldiers, killing three, she said. She went on to call for “honourable citizens” to come to the streets and defend the army(Mackell 2011, para. 5).
Boyd (2007) argues, “What makes social network sites unique is not that they allow individuals to meet strangers, but rather that they enable users to articulate and make visible their social networks” (Boyd 2007, p. 211). Social network sites in the case of Egypt were able to work outside government censorship parameters but also the censorship that existed within mainstream media outlets themselves.
Social network sites have also began the process of transcending the framework we have been used to in terms of time and space. People no longer need to wait for the daily TV news or “tomorrow's paper”. In Egypt that process had been happening for a number of years. Lim (2012, p. 232) argues “that social media have been an integral part of political activism of the Egyptian for years, showing, for instance that 54 out of 70 recorded street protests from 2004 to 2011 substantially involved online activism”.
Furthermore, not only did social media play a vital role in the removal of the Egyptian regime but it also facilitated in the building of opposition networks themselves, hence, the power of networked individuals and groups who toppled Mubarak presidency cannot be separated from the power of social media that facilitated the formation and the expansion of the networks themselves” (Lim 2012, p. 232).
Digital Age Revolutions
Revolution In The Digital Age
Cyber-protest and civil society: the Internet and action repertoires in social movements
The development of social network sites has increasingly captured the attention of a variety of individuals and alternative organizations. One of the earliest examples of the use of the internet to promote a cause was that by the Zapatista movement in the early 1990s, which “quickly dramatized how new media and grass roots progressivism might synergize, excite the world, and challenge status quo culture and politics” (Kahn 2004, p. 87).
Since then various organizations and individuals have logged on for social change. Jeroen (2009) argues that, “On the one hand, the Internet facilitates and supports [traditional] off-line collective action in terms of organization, mobilization and transnationalization and, on the other hand, it creates new modes of collective action” (Jeroen 2009, p. 231). For the opposition movement in Egypt social network sites helped in bringing together weak and fractured communities so that they could be united against a common cause.
“Around the world, in open and repressive nations alike, internet-based communications challenge the traditional regimes of public mass communication and provide new channels for citizen voices, expression of minority viewpoints, and political mobilization” (Etling 2010, p. 7). In the case of the political uprisings in the Arab world, sites such as Twitter and Facebook were used to expose repression where it was occurring and then help in the organization of a response.
Dynamics for change
What has become known as the Arab Spring took many people around the world by surprise? For decades a number of repressive regimes such as in Egypt that had seemed invincible came crashing down in a relatively short period of time.
Opposition movements and groups had existed for many years prior to the overthrow of the regime, however they had not been able to successfully harness a large enough public profile and thus make significant headway in the social, political or economic transformation of society.
In Egypt “the increase in popularity of … new communication tools coincided with the American invasion of Iraq in 2003” (Tarkowski 2011, p. 2). The social network sites that had gained support alongside these revolutionary movements for change offered a means to organize and share information in a way that had not been able to be achieved in the past.
Rather than simply concluding that the revolutions happened due to the use of Twitter and Facebook it is clear that the dynamics for change existed prior to the introduction of these tools.
Gladwell (2010) argues, “With Facebook and Twitter and the like, the traditional relationship between political authority and popular will has been upended, making it easier for the powerless to collaborate, coordinate, and give voice to their concerns” (Gladwell 2010, p. 1) .
“Deplorable economic conditions, political deprivations, corruption, and social repressions are ubiquitous among most Arab countries and represent the motivating factors for these revolutionary actions” (Allagui 2011, p. 1436).
Lim argues that “social media may be viewed both as technology and space for expanding and sustaining the networks upon which social movements depend” (Lim 2012, p.234) . Twitter itself states, “And with just a Tweet, millions of people learn about or show their support for positive initiatives that might have otherwise gone unnoticed" (“Twitter” 2013).
Anderson also asserts that social network sites “were able to act as a tool used to ignite revolutionary thought across the country as well as the world” (Anderson 2011, p. 11). As in the case of the revolutionary process that unfolded in Egypt in 2010-2012 and throughout the Arab world, social network tools were being utilised as a means to distribute information and organise protests on a large scale.
What was unique during 2010-2012 was that social network sites filled a vacuum that had existed for the opposition movement. In Egypt, the brutal bashing of Khaled Said by police offices in front of many witnesses which was captured through photos and then shared via Facebook was a turning point for the opposition.
Wael Ghonim, a Google marketing executive in the Middle East, had been secretly utilising Facebook to spur protests under the guise of El Shaheeed. After seeing the photos, Ghonim created a new Facebook group title, "We Are all Khaled Said". Ghonim anonymously called for Egyptians to participate in a mass demonstration against the Mubarak regime. His request was answered, "as the page’s following approached 400,000 people" (Anderson 2011, p. 12).
However it is important to note that these regimes did not enjoy popular support in the first place. “The Arab World set the bar by using Twitter as an effective tool to mobilize the public. Protesters used Twitter to send short status updates about when, where and how to organise and mobilise during the events that have become known as the Arab Spring” (Yette 2012, p. 10).The role of social network sites was to provide a voice and organisational structure to the movement which it did not have before.
With mass opposition to the regime being clear, the central question for those who wanted change was how to organise and inspire the population to achieve it. “Using Twitter as a means of communication, indeed, as a means of motivation and mobilisation, allowed protesters to circumvent censorship and detection by government and military authorities” (Yette 2012, p.11).
However the impact of social networking sites on the revolutionary process that unfolded in Egypt also reflected the increasing role that such sites are having on social movements overall. “The Arab revolts exemplify how online social networks facilitated by social media have become a key ingredient of contemporary populist movements.
Social media are not simply neutral tools to be used or adopted by social movements, but rather influence how activists form and shape the social movements” (Lim 2012, p. 234). In the case of Egypt the opposition movement continues to use social network sites even after the collapse of the Mubarak regime, however discussion is now around what new role it should have.
The use of social network sites by movements in opposition to government structures and or policy has been significant in the case of the Arab Spring. They have played a key role in the ability of those movements to share, communicate, discuss and set political action.
Social network sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Youtube have also democratised the distribution of information providing the power to do this to the individual through the software and hardware application itself. The ability of smart phones to be able to take quality photos and video and share them instantly has also been a vital step forward in information sharing.
It is clear that in Egypt social network sites have created a new form of political participation, engagement and information sharing that allows individuals to bypass traditional media outlets that have censored their participation in the past.
Social network sites played a critical role in sparking the revolutionary uprisings that led to the removal of regimes in Tunisia and Egypt. On the other hand, social network sites also helped reshape the opposition movements that utilised those very same platforms.
Viral Streaming Activism
Egypt: Revolting with and without internet: —Repression and Revolt in a military dictatorship
Dr. Albert Benschop writes in the Ar
- Another well-known activist is Abdul Kareem Suleiman. He used his blog to air his dissatisfaction with the state of affairs in the Egyptian society. He particularly turned against the doctrine of the islam and the bad treatment of women according to the islamic sharia. He started his blog in August 2005. Two months later he was arrested because he had attacked the islam on a blog ‘The Naked Truth About Islam As I Saw it in Muharram Beik’. In this blog he describes how his fundamentalist father forbids his two 10-year-old sisters to go to school any longer and compels them to cover themselves from head to toe. His analysis was designated as anti-religious and as an insult to president Mubarak. In the early morning of 25 October 2005 non-uniformed units of the state security service (Amn Al) assail his house in Alexandria. He is carried off handcuffed and blindfolded and during endless interrogations he is confronted with printed texts of his blog. After having been confined in the notorious Tora prison in Cairo for 11 days, he was released by order of the Home Secretary. After renouncing his faith he was sent away from Al-Azhar university and in November of the same year he was arrested and interrogated again. His self-willed comment was: “If death is a must, then it’s a sin to die a coward.” On 22 February 2007 he was arrested once more and sentenced to 3 years imprisonment for insulting the islam and Mubarak. In prison he was beaten up by his guards, and released on 17 November 2010. The campaign to free the brave Egyptian blogger has been beautifully documented in the YouTube Gallery Fee Kareem.
- Attempt to be in control: all international connections go via one gateway which is monitored by a telecom state monopoly.
- As early as June 2008 the government of president Hosni Mubarak considered blocking the access to Facebook. Facebook had become a popular meeting place of dissatisfied young Egyptian people. The 6 April movement had succeeded in mobilizing more than 80,000 demonstrators against the absurd rise of food prices. The network built up in Facebook played a crucial role in expanding the support of these demonstrations and company occupations. Under the exception law it was not allowed to assemble with more than five people without permission in Egypt. The Facebook generation violated this ban on a large scale. The internet seemed to be the safest political space (and thus seemed to take over the role the mosque played in the past). Secular young people met each other on Facebook. There they could freely communicate, set up virtual networks and communities, and exchange their opinions. The government warned the traditional media that they were not allowed to report about this phenomenon. The websites of the 6 April movement were put in a bad light and visitors were discredited.
In an article subtitled:
"Internet as medium and domain of social movement" - He informs us thus:
A lot of people still believe that the internet is a medium with a large democratic potential. This conviction is based on a number of conclusive arguments. First of all, internet is an easily accessible medium, allowing all citizens to bring up their views and desires. The only necessity is a computer and internet access. Secondly, it is a global medium, with which in principle everybody can be reached quickly.
Geographic boundaries between continents, countries and regions and between social classes, professional, income or status groups would vanish into the thin digital air. Thirdly, it is an interactive medium, enabling us to communicate in every possible way. Via internet we can communicate both synchronously (chat, video conferencing) and asynchronously (website, weblog, web forums, etc.). Besides, we can communicate one-to-one, but also one-to-many, many-to-one and many-to-many. These are almost ideal conditions for the forming of democratic opinion.
Every self-respecting interest group, political party or social movement manifests itself on internet nowadays. They try to disseminate their aims on internet, they articulate their group specific interests, desires and aspirations, they agitate against other social or political groups that stand in the way of their options. And they use the internet to inform, expand and mobilize their own supporters.
To participants of social emancipation movements or political mobilization movements internet is a communicative space in which they can discuss their political options and plans, exchange their experiences and pass on information to each other. By ‘communicating globally’ and ‘acting locally’ social movements can substantially extend their public nature. Here lies the actual potential of the internet public nature: it creates new communication spaces for processes of opinion and decision-making of social, emancipatory and national movements that, in their turn, can complement and correct institutional politics.
So the internet indeed offers new opportunities for a democratic and just society. But such society does not arise automatically. Internet is not an ‘inherent democratic medium’ only generating positive effects. In the course of the years internet itself has also become a political arena in which opposing social forces are fighting for power. More than that, internet can also become a new channel with which the guardians of the status quo protect their positions of power. So, on the one hand internet is a powerful instrument for democratization and individual freedom but it can, on the other hand, also be used to maintain and legitimize exploitation, oppression and discrimination. “And so, the control of communication and manipulation of information have always been the first line of defense for the powerful to get away with their misdeeds” [Castells 2011:347].
In countries in which the rulers completely monopolize the traditional media (newspapers, radio, television) via the state, as in Iran, the opposing powers completely rely on the internet for their internal and external communication.
Preliminary SkirmishesFrom the moment the internet became popular outside the universities and governmental institutions in the 90s the Egyptian authorities have been trying to control the internet. The government particularly tried to curb the lively blogosphere by demanding that bloggers had to apply for a license. Egypt was placed on the list of ‘enemies of the internet’ by Reporters without Borders, because bloggers who make a plea for democratic reforms risk imprisonment and torture.
Yet, the Egyptian blogosphere is one of the most extensive and active ones in the whole world. The number of active Egyptian blogs increased from 40 in 2004 to over 160,000 in July 2008. In a country in which the press is chained so tightly to the choke collar of Mubarak’s government, internet offers a way out to obstructionists, dissidents and opponents. Internet is not only a medium of nearness, but also a medium of contradiction.
One of the most prominent bloggers and fighter for the free word is Alaa And El-fatah. Together with his wife Manal he runs the blog BitBucket, which won the prize for ‘Best of the Blogs’ in 2005, presented by Reporters Without Borders. In 2005 he was arrested for the first time because he had joined a demonstration against the government.
On 7 May 2006 he was arrested again together with 10 other people after he had participated in a demonstration against the regime. A group of Egyptian human rights organizations condemned the arrests: “There is an urgent need for more serious and hard work, not only to release the detained pro-democracy activists in Egypt but also to hold the perpetrators accountable for these savage practices” [The Guardian 8.5 After 45 days Alaa was released from prison. Before that demonstrators were also arrested, but usually released after a few hours. The regime had decided to uphold the public order in a harder way.
- Another well-known activist is Abdul And El-fatah. He used his blog to air his dissatisfaction with the state of affairs in the Egyptian society. He particularly turned against the doctrine of the islam and the bad treatment of women according to the islamic sharia. He started his blog in August 2005. Two months later he was arrested because he had attacked the islam on a blog ‘The Naked Truth About Islam As I Saw it in Muharram Beik’. In this blog he describes how his fundamentalist father forbids his two 10-year-old sisters to go to school any longer and compels them to cover themselves from head to toe. His analysis was designated as anti-religious and as an insult to president Mubarak. In the early morning of 25 October 2005 non-uniformed units of the state security service (Amn Al Dawla) assail his house in Alexandria. He is carried off handcuffed and blindfolded and during endless interrogations he is confronted with printed texts of his blog. After having been confined in the notorious Tora prison in Cairo for 11 days, he was released by order of the Home Secretary. After renouncing his faith he was sent away from Al-Azhar university and in November of the same year he was arrested and interrogated again. His self-willed comment was: “If death is a must then it’s a sin to die a coward.” On 22 February 2007 he was arrested once more and sentenced to 3 years imprisonment for insulting the islam and Mubarak. In prison he was beaten up by his guards, and released on 17 November 2010. The campaign to free the brave Egyptian blogger has been beautifully documented in the YouTube Gallery Fee Kareem.
- Attempt to be in control: all international connections go via one gateway which is monitored by a telecom state monopoly.
- As early as June 2008 the government of president Hosni Mubarak considered blocking the access to Facebook. Facebook had become a popular meeting place of dissatisfied young Egyptian people. The 6 April movement had succeeded in mobilizing more than 80,000 demonstrators against the absurd rise of food prices. The network built up in Facebook played a crucial role in expanding the support of these demonstrations and company occupations. Under the exception law it was not allowed to assemble with more than five people without permission in Egypt. The Facebook generation violated this ban on a large scale. The internet seemed to be the safest political space (and thus seemed to take over the role the mosque played in the past). Secular young people met each other on Facebook. There they could freely communicate, set up virtual networks and communities, and exchange their opinions. The government warned the traditional media that they were not allowed to report about this phenomenon. The websites of the 6 April movement were put in a bad light and visitors were discredited.
Internet And Cognitive Bias
Digital Darkness - Enlightenment Of People's Protest Digitale Duisternis
On the day large demonstrations were planned the government completely cut off the internet traffic at 01:00 a.m. On 28 January 2011 the internet providers were ordered to break off all connections. Only a small provider, the Noor Group, which serves only 8% of the Egyptian internet users, remained available (although this provider was also taken off the air on 31 January). All other providers (such as Link Egypt, Vodafone/Raya, Telecom Egypt, Etisalat Misr and all their partners) went off the air. Companies, banks, internet cafes, educational institutions and government services were disconnected from each other, their customers and the rest of the world.
During the night of 27 to 28 January the researchers of Arbor Network saw the following occur:
Egypt Loses Internet
Between 3 and 5pm EST, Egyptian traffic rapidly climbed to several Gigabits. At 5:20pm, the all Egyptian transit providers abruptly withdrew the major of Egypt’s several thousand BGP routes and traffic dropped to a handful of megabits per second.
At present, the cause of the outage is unknown though many press reports have drawn parallels to the Internet outages following Iranian Political Protests during the summer of 2009. Further, the simultaneous failure of Internet across multiple different Egyptian ISPs and diverse physical paths (i.e. satellite, fiber optic, etc) suggests this was a coordinated event rather than a natural failure. Typically, telecommunication companies operate under strict regulatory control in many countries around the world.
As of Monday (January 31), Egypt remains disconnected from the Internet. A week view of traffic in and out of Egypt below.
The demonstrators on the Tahrir square were at the same time together and alone. Without access to reliable information the crowd became sensitive to rumours. In this darkness the participants often had no idea how their family and friends were doing. For a week they often they didn’t know if they had been caught by the police or beaten up. Besides, it was often unclear to the demonstrators when and where to regroup, or how to protect the revolt against the violent provocations of the hoodlums that Mubarak unleashed on them on horses and camels.
The fact that the internet was cut off for a week didn’t prevent the Egyptians from bringing forward their objections and demands in the streets, loudly protesting. The activists who had joined forces on the internet hadn’t forgotten how to use the physical public spaces to make their point — Mubarak had to go, and as far as they were concerned immediately.
After a week of severe social unrest and political protest internet traffic slightly got started again. Since then all main providers and websites have been accessible for the rest of the internet again
Presenteism Into the Present Future
Revolutionary Digital Zeitgeist"
Disconnecting the internet was extremely damaging to the Egyptian economy every day. The Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) published an estimation of this damage: 13 million euro ($18 million) per day. In all it would have cost the country 65 million euro ($90 million).
This doesn’t even include the secondary economic consequences, for example for the tourist industry. In the long run the effect might even be much larger, because it will be more difficult to attract foreign companies in the future and to assure them that the networks will remain reliable.
In 2008 the ministers of the Egyptian government had signed an QECD, in which open internet was advocated as a crucial factor in the growth of the national economy. In their anxiousOECD-Statement haste to break the people’s resistance the authoritarian rulers not only forgot the principles of free information and freedom of speech, but also how strongly the internet and mobile phone have been integrated in the economic system in the meantime.
Governments of technologically developed nations cannot disconnect the telecommunication system without causing substantial economic damage and disrupting the regular social traffic. Internet is so firmly rooted in nearly all aspects of our personal and social existence, that a disconnection immediately results in a dramatic disruption of society. Meanwhile internet has also become a medium of mass disruption.
Digital Activism Is Hard And difficult work
“People really do underestimate the amount of work that has to be done for a digital campaign to really be effective, it’s incredibly difficult to cut through the noise specifically if your attempt is to generate international support on a channel as busy as the internet. This is no easy challenge to overcome, but many digital activists do overcome those challenges through creative ideas and tough, long hours to pull it off.
United4Iran United4Iran is a great example of that. These guys work around the clock. Sometimes it even becomes apparent that they’re exhausted, but they keep going knowing that the community is relying on their ideas, their efforts, their organizational skills to keep the movement running. That is an example of a mission with leadership. No idea can succeed without a leader really pushing towards making it happen.
This is the kind of work ethic that is admirable – Mideast Youth have also tried to maintain that ethic. One editor per site is all that it takes to keep that site kicking through traditional media outlets — the papers, the news, the mainstream, being heard by the world, transforming ideas, inspiring new ones, etc. One hard working person can achieve what a billion RTs cannot, and those individuals are not clicktvists.
However, let it be known that the people who “clicked” and RTed helped get the idea continue gushing through people’s screens, radios, etc. It’s really part of a huge, ongoing circle and every bit counts. It really does, because we witness it happening right here on our network of sites.
We very much rely on our community to get the word out — once we built something, or created a new tool, or a video, or a new campaign, that’s where the “clicktivists” come in. Then we take the new readership and traffic and turn it into a movement. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but the attempt is always there.
Don’t be distracted by what anyone accuses you of, I have seen articles like these (slacktivists/clicktivists) discourage would-be activists who could have been influential leaders. Accept that digital activism is much beyond clicking/RTing and consider articles such as Micah White’s [Clictivism is ruining leftist activism] to be tips, a reminder of your greater potential perhaps. Just be sure to work hard if you are passionate for change. Don’t rely on RTs always, but if it’s literally all you can do, so be it. It does help in some little ways, but they’re never really the backbone behind a movement.
Don’t be scared at some point to be a leader of your own campaign to understand what it feels like to fail and to succeed, because you will undoubtedly experience much of both, but only if you are consistent with your efforts.
One final note, do what you can! But be the best at it. Clicktivist or activist, we are all relying on you to make it happen.”
According to Richard Ebbs:
I decided to write about the future and some of the technologies that will develop for a number of reasons. Firstly, some of the technologies that are emerging will obviously have a massive impact on our way of life and on the societies in which we live. Secondly, as I have a (largely) business orientated audience; there is money to be made and opportunities to be had and whilst I may not be bold enough to suggest where you should be investing, I am more than happy to point out some areas that you most definitely shouldn’t! Lastly, I find it really interesting and it’s my website and I guess I can write about anything much I choose!
This intro may seem a bit ‘off target’ but I would disagree and state that it should set the scene and is, in fact, pretty representative of the logic that most people would use. As you will see as I look at different technologies a lot of it is very obvious, a simple extension of where we are now and then into the next stage and beyond. I lay no claim to being a futurist (or futurologist), those wonderful people that task themselves with looking at things many, many years in advance.
The future for me just involves the application of logic combined with simply keeping my eyes and ears open. Combine these two points with a, self-taught, knowledge of history and an understanding of how people work, and I arrive at some pretty simple conclusions. Of course there will be developments that occur that no one can foresee at the moment, that’s just the nature of this game but even with this there are some things that I’m prepared to speculate on.
I suppose that my interest really started with the arrival into this world of my three daughters. When children arrive, your life changes in many ways, as many of you will be aware. Not just the obvious things either like your money disappears a whole lot faster! Your attitude on life, society and the world in general changes too.
Before children you can sit and watch television looking at naked people using foul language and doing rude things to each other and it is all fine, it’s okay. After your children arrive then things like that are ‘disgraceful,' ‘unnecessary’ and are responsible in general terms for society being on a slippery slope to the end of the world. I’m sure you get the picture. You also ask yourself what kind of world your children will grow up in and what they will do later in life to pay their way, that is, what will they do for a living?
So after my little ramble there are some other points that I would ask you to bear in mind as you read through the articles in the ‘future’ category.
Firstly, I will refer regularly to a quote by Bill Gates, as I’m sure you are aware, a man who knows a thing or two about how the world works, it is this — “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten”. It is important that you understand this. I may even post this image on more than one post in this future category to reinforce the point.
Secondly, and this is a point missed by a lot of people, we have left the Industrial Age and are now in the Digital Age. The only dispute really on this is when it actually occurred, some saying 1989, some 1990, I’ll be honest, I don’t know and for what we are looking at here it doesn’t really matter, the only thing that is important is that it has occurred and the clock cannot be turned back.
I’ll sum this up in a nutshell, for those who want to research it then go ahead; this is just a history recap. For centuries our society was predominantly based around agriculture. Most people were either involved in the production, transportation or trading of agricultural products. Then industry came along and people left the fields and went to work in the factories producing goods and products.
It is an important point to note that when this occurred we didn’t stop growing food (kind of an obvious point)!; we just became better at it. Less people were needed and machinery began to play a much bigger part. In the late 1980s when the Industrial Age ended we didn’t stop producing goods and products it’s just that we became better at it. Now we are in the Digital Age and this throws up a significant problem for our society, you see, in the Agricultural Age the more people the better it worked, the more mouths to feed.
In the Industrial Age the more people the better it worked, the more people, the more products that were needed. Now the problem. In the Digital Age people are not ‘needed’ in large numbers for the systems that now drive our world, regardless of what our political leaders will tell you when they want your vote. This ‘Digital Age thinking’ is important. No politician that I’m aware of thinks like this (not publicly anyway).
Thirdly, human behaviour doesn’t really change, in essence, just the environment in which we live. The primary driving force of mankind is self-interest, not fairness, greed or anything else as Friedman said. This is important because it means we all pretty much work the same, year in, year out. Human and society behavior is predictable.
This means our political leaders work like this too. They are concerned with being popular and getting your vote at the next election not necessarily with doing the right thing and giving leadership during times where our future is being shaped. Politicians confuse this leadership point.
Looking at which way the crowd is heading and then jumping in front of them with a rallying cry isn’t leadership. Real leadership is a far more lonely and frightening thing to do and requires enormous courage. There are not many people displaying this and as a result the future will ‘happen to us’ rather than us planning for it, which we are perfectly capable of doing as a society.
As a last point, read and digest this statement; ‘We are moving from a computer assisted world to a computer doing world’. Do not underestimate this, it is revolutionary. It has a massive impact on our whole way of life, on jobs, on the distribution or redistribution of wealth, on everything.
So I hope you enjoy reading through the articles that I’ll post in this section just as much as I’ll enjoy writing them. I would particularly welcome any feedback, comments or contributions that my readers would like to make. Drop me an email, which you’ll find it here.
Flash Mobs, digital Activism And dilemmas Of Collective Action
Revolutionary movements can only dispel strong authoritarian regimes when the opponents are able to operate in a strongly decentralized, network like organization form that is all the same capable of joining forces on one or more strategic goals at the right moment.
Opponents that associate on the internet develop distributed virtual organization forms in which the leadership is distributed in mesh networks. Such virtual oppositional networks derive their special power from the combination of a far-reaching decentralization of command and control and a broader view of the entire scene of action. This enables them to join the virtually associated forces at great speed and proceed to mass mobilization in the local public domain, for example occupying streets and squares, radio and television stations, parliaments or palaces.
This can be compared to the phenomenon of the Flash Mob. Flash mobs are groups of people that are mobilized via internet and other electronic media to gather somewhere briefly at a certain point of time in order to do something absurd or provocative. The difference with the local actions of social-political resistance movements is not only their more limited size, but especially the sustainability and goal of the actions. Social-political resistance movements, mobilized via the internet, can suddenly show up in local public spaces to demonstrate for their joint demands. These are no absurdist staged provocations, but politically motivated collective actions organized by virtual mobilization.
The leap from virtual discussion to local participation is not as simple as it seems. By endless internal discussions in the virtual public domain local collective actions can be blocked. By the large extent of decentralization and heavy pressure of the rulers the opposition, trying to organize itself via internet, is often split up in factions fighting each other. Moreover, these factions can be set against each other by infiltration of the secret services and secret police. In merely virtual connections between opponents it is often more difficult to find out if you communicate with real opponents or with infiltrators trying to provoke and shatter the movement.
Yet, in Egypt and in other Arabic regimes the leap from virtual discussion to local participation was made. Before the opponents of a dictatorship hit the streets, they want to know to what extent their opinion is shared and how many fellow demonstrators there will be.
- “What prevents oppressed people from protesting, is the fear that they will take part in an unsuccessful demonstration. Under such a regime it is extremely difficult to demonstrate if after this demonstration nothing changes” [Daron Acemoglu -VK 19.2.2011].
This indicates the dilemma of collective action under a dictatorial regime. Before the opponents of a dictatorship hit the road, they want to know to what extent their opinion is shared and how many other demonstrators there will be. If everyone who is against the regime actually shows up, the chance of success is big. But most people only participate if they know everyone will do so. If only few people participate in the actions the regime will be tough on them.
Via internet information was distributed in Egypt about the actions taking place in the country and people were called on to take part in these demonstrations. In this way also the skeptics gradually believed that their opinion was widely shared. Exactly by this virtual organization the dilemma of collective action could be conquered. Virtual social networks facilitate the process of unification in the battle against social injustice and against political dictatorships. As long as the internet cannot be controlled completely by a dictatorial regime, individual citizens can meet each other in relative freedom in virtual social networks. There they can discover if there are sufficient like-minded people to take the risk of actually ‘going out’ in order to show their own face en masse.
Organizing Digitally: The Pushback - Unclick...
Interness Medium Nearness
Internet is a 'medium of nearness' Even if the participants of the virtual world stay in very diverse locations, via internet they can interact and via internet the (mutual) feeling of social presence occurs. Meaningful and personal social relations develop in each situation in which the social presence of the Other is experienced.
If this were true, the internet would have to be pre-eminently a medium of solidarity. During the Egyptian revolution a Facebook group came into being, in which about half a million people launched the plan to organize a virtual solidarity march with the demonstrators in Egypt. The central slogan of this Virtual 'March Of Millions' in solidarity with the Egyptian protesters was as clear as it was ingenious: “I am present.”
Demonstrating virtually for a just cause while you remain seated behind your pc or laptop. A sheer symbolic collective action. But this is what demonstrations were from the very beginning: joint symbolic articulations of joint discontent with the existing situation.
The organizers succeeded in creating a viral online movement, in which possibly millions of (mainly younger) citizens in the whole world could participate.
A young Egyptian, Samantha Haikal, wrote:
“Please let everybody share this with his or her friends. The least we can do outside of Egypt is keep showing solidarity with them and let them know that the rest of the world certainly hasn’t forgotten them! Their fight teaches the world so much about not leaning back while your rights are taken away from you. This is a lesson we have learnt well."
The number of participants was disappointing: on 23,02,2011 the virtual march counted more than 22,500 participants.
By making creative use of new media the opponents in Egypt and other North-African states have been able to establish virtual power in the public domain of the internet. This is how the government monopoly on traditional media was broken. The symbolic power of the opposition was reinforced even more by the international solidarity actions. In the strategic interactions with conflict opponents this solidarity plays an important role. The conflict party receiving most encompassing international solidarity feels morally encouraged by this and can generally also count on monetary, medical, logistic and other support.
Solidarity with activists who risk their lives in the fight against ruthless and predatory rulers is of the utmost importance. We cannot virtually join them to support them, but we can virtually look after them via internet. And we can even, if only symbolically, be virtually present.
Only cynics (who invariably believe in the impotence of each form of activism) can arrogantly dispose of this activism as ‘clicktivism,' ‘slacktivism’, ‘retweet chatterboxes’ or as ‘Facebook Revolutionaries Without Balls’. Nowadays power doesn’t only come from the barrel of a rifle, but also from the movement of your finger tips.
Digitalia and Democracy
Digital Democracy and the New Age of Reason by David Winston
,'Before I say anything, I think you should know that I am an unabashed optimist. Not everyone would agree that is necessarily a good thing. Somebody once said that if you see good in everything, you may be an optimist or you may just be nuts. I'll let you can make up your own minds when I've finished, but I appreciate the opportunity to be here to discuss the most important issue facing us as a civilization — the future of democracy in the Information Age.
But before we head into the future, I think it's important to reflect upon where we've been. Four hundred and eighty-one years ago, a young priest tacked 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany and created a cultural upheaval called the Reformation that sent shock waves across the Old World. His ideas, put to paper with pen and ink, divided families and brought down kings. The world would never be the same all because a single man posted a powerful idea in a public place.
In Martin Luther's time, however, communicating an idea was much more difficult. In fact, nearly impossible, and so political conversations were, for the most part, the purview of the elite. Luther's ideas were powerful, but political conversation was almost entirely dependent on oral communications that only time could facilitate.
Now, let's fast forward two centuries to 1776. This time a fiery young printer wrote a pamphlet that called for revolution and freedom from an oppressive king. 100,000 copies of Common Sense were printed on a cumbersome hand press. Still a very slow way to disseminate information but light years faster than the pen and ink of Luther's time. Political conversation now reached a mass audience despite obstacles of illiteracy, geography, and government opposition. Out of that political conversation and the power of ideas, democracy was born.
Now, fast forward again... this time to the present. Today, we have the most fantastic means of communications in the history of the world literally at our fingertips, and more people are literate than ever before. Yet, we have a system of democracy where political conversation has become 10 second sound bites; where we hear media monologues instead of political dialogue; where politics has become the cult of personality instead of the power of ideas.
Then end result? People are rejecting current political conversation by simply saying, "This is not an important part of my world," returning politics more and more to the elite and that is dangerous to the future of democracy.
But like I said earlier, I am an optimist, and I believe the era of digital communications is, in fact, the prescription for what ails our current political system. Digital technology is the best way to communicate ideas, and democracy is the best means of realizing those ideas. I believe this to be the most powerful combination for improving civilization in the future.
Let me explain why. To me democracy is based on individualism, which is reflected in our ideas, freedom in all its forms, and in the effective balance of government and its people. Digital communications is going to change the political landscape in an extremely profound way. But it's also important to understand that the political terrain has undergone a dramatic transformation itself over the past eight years. Previously, we fought the war of ideas upon an ideological battlefield. Every issue or value had a conservative viewpoint and a liberal viewpoint. The philosophical battle lines were clearly drawn having evolved since the beginning of the New Deal. In recent years, however, culture has replaced ideology as the battlefield for the war of ideas — culture in a broad sense.
The focus in an ideological world is on individual values viewed by groups. In a cultural world, while values or issues may still have conservative or liberal viewpoints, it's the mix of values viewed by individuals that matters, and the relative importance of any one value is seen through a prism of other values. This creates our changing fabric of culture. So, for example, in an ideological world, the Communications Decency Act is a discussion about pornography with social conservatives favoring the legislation while libertarians oppose it. In a cultural world, it is a debate about pornography, international commerce, freedom of speech, family responsibility, and our right to define values for the world and government regulation. Individuals weigh all or some of these competing values in deciding how they stand on the issue.
Another way to see the change is to look at the evolution of technology magazines over the past fifteen years. In the 80's, these magazines were a litany of new products coming to market — how to use them, their cost, and their quality. There were several prominent magazines - PC Week, PC World, BYTE. All very good, but focused on the "how to" of technology. This is now shifting. Wired magazine isn't really about technology as much as it is about the vast behavioral change technology is bringing to our culture and just in time.
Over the past fifty years, we have strayed from our democratic roots. Robert Hutchins said, "The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference and undernourishment." Digital technology gives us a second chance to revive political conversation in this country and bring democracy to the world; to go beyond the Information Age to a new Age of Reason.
We began to see the change in the early nineties when we, as a culture, crossed a digital Rubicon moving beyond mere computing to what I call the Four C's of the digital world: communications, content, collaboration and community, and no area of our lives will be more impacted by this change than our political conversation.
With the advent of the Internet, digital technology changed fundamentally from computing to communications. This transformation reached critical mass in the early nineties when it became a reliable means of communication between individuals. This gave people the ability to create better and richer content by combining the written word with voice and video. Additionally, content became data and could be searched for important bits of information. Suddenly, millions of documents were searchable instead of looking up indexes in books, or reviewing video or audio tapes. This ease in developing content was combined with a tremendous increase in speed and in a more convenient asynchronous communications paradigm that led to more effective collaboration. Finally, the ability to communicate more easily, develop better and more usable content, and the ability to more effectively collaborate led to new communities that allowed people, in a new way, to share interests and discuss them.
So, I'd like to take a moment to talk about how these four elements are changing this new world.
First, in this new Age of Reason, digital communications will deliver content and meaning in a way that empowers individuals at the expense of the elite. It will be individual-based. By that I don't mean extreme niche marketing — down to a market of one. In that paradigm, you gather all relevant information you can about a person and then deliver the message most likely to succeed. In this way, you are using several sets of behavior to target message i.e. young, eastern, white, wealthy, educated, liberal. In the new digital communications model, you begin to create a relationship so you know what interests the individual, the best way to address their concerns and you are instantly aware of the degree of your success. This is a model that requires you to focus your efforts beyond simply communicating an idea to creating a relationship in order to ensure that your ideas have meaning for the individual.
Second, the tempo of this new communications medium will be at a pace that is barely comprehensible today. There will be fallout. Most organizations are incapable of operating at this pace and failures will occur. Speed brings with it immense pressures as well. Whether you are CNN or network television or MSNBC or Al's "News on the Web," deadlines become irrelevant or in reality, non-existent. With the pressure to disseminate news in real time increasing dramatically, political conversation become constant.
Third, digital communications are also asynchronous. Both the political world and the media world will find it extremely difficult to adapt to this change. With increasing speed of communications, we will see the electorate demanding political information on their terms and in their time. Individual convenience will be an integral part of political conversation in the future.
Fourth, the American people will become increasingly more difficult to reach as information options explode. Today, we have several hundred channels of satellite television; remote controls to bounce from one information source to another; video tapes, computer games, and chat rooms as well as traditional outlets like radio and newspapers. This fracturing of the market has serious implications for those whose function in life is political conversation — namely the media and campaign professionals. In the 1980s, a 400 gross rating point buy was considered an effective level of advertising. In theory a single gross rating point means that an advertisement was seen by 1% of the media market it was shown in. A 400 point buy would mean that on average each person in the media market was exposed to an advertisement four times. In reality, some would see it six times, and others would see it only twice. If the buy were very targeted, some would see it eight times, others not at all. Now, it can take 1000 points a week or more to create a memorable impression with an audience, and this fracturing is likely to continue.
We're seeing fewer and fewer people reading newspapers. In fact, according to James Adams, the CEO of United Press, the number of newspaper readers has declined by 600,000 a year for the last ten years. Moreover, younger adults are abandoning the newspaper enmasse. While adult readership has gone from 81% to 64% over the past 30 years, the majority of young people 18-24 don't read a newspaper at all.
Television isn't doing much better. A Veronis Suhler survey predicts that we will see a 20 percent decline between 1990 and 2000 in the number of hours watched per person per year. Another survey, by ActivMedia Incorporated found that Internet users spend less time reading books and 70 percent said they watched less TV. Reaching people with a political message is becoming problematic and will get worse.
Fifth, in the past, even bad programs could get an audience. Now content is king and without it the audience evaporates. Message must be clear, pertinent, persuasive, and personalized, and people are demanding more and more interactivity in their communications. Political conversation must function under the same parameters.
Finally, the delivery of message — the cost of political conversation — will become much cheaper. The expense will be in creating the message and identifying the participants.
Communications, content, collaboration and community will clearly be the new arbiters of political conversation in the new Age of Reason. I'd like you to keep one thing in the back of your minds, however.
There is a real conflict going on in the communications world that is not party-based or ideologically based nor is it limited to the political arena. It's a paradigm shift from those who are analog-based in the way they think and communicate and those who are digital-based in their approach. This transition is difficult whether you're a Fortune 500 company or an elementary school or the United States Congress because it requires a fundamental shift in behavior -- never an easy task for the most flexible among us.
I believe, inevitably, digital will succeed. Our culture will dramatically transform itself. It's already happening and nowhere is the pressure more evident than on the three areas that most impact democracy — the media, the Congress and political campaigns.
I'd like to take a few moments to talk about these key elements of democracy; and how their role is changing in a digital environment. Let me start with what I know best — the Congress. There are two major relational shifts occurring in the congressional world.
First, members are beginning to build relationships with their constituents in different ways that provide a richer experience for both; and second, average citizens are gaining access to the kind of information only highly paid Washington lobbyists had before. This second goal has been a particular priority of the Speaker and is an important construct of his clear vision for an Information Age Congress.
The Congress has begun to move to a more information friendly environment. Votes, texts of bill, schedules and floor statements are available on-line as well as the member information through individual websites. Most committees have done the same thing. All are realizing they have a unique opportunity to talk directly to the public. Moreover, they can communicate without the filters of the news media — an important political consideration.
We do see a certain unevenness in the implementation of digital technology member by member having more to do with age and attitude than party affiliation or ideology. Congress is still struggling with the concept of relationship building with constituents in place of traditional one-way communication.
The fear of constituent e-mail is a major hurdle. Most offices simply refuse to change how they do business to accommodate e-mail traffic. They view several hundred daily additional requests for information as a problem that will overwhelm their operations. Since most are still analog in behavior, they're probably right. Culturally, they must begin to view these new requests for information as an opportunity to convey their views to more citizens and from a mechanical standpoint, must redesign their internal processes to achieve this goal.
A lot of progress has been made, but major changes in organizational behavior are necessary. In most offices, there is a "geek" that puts up the web page. It's updated maybe once a week — if at all. Many web pages are put up by a central technology support unit for the House - never to be changed again. There are some offices that make regular updates. The Speaker's website is current as are other members' sites like Rick White of Washington, but too many waste their websites by lack of content and timeliness.
As a body, the Congress needs to understand the Four C's and the fact that the web is not primarily a technical environment but a communications environment. In most Hill offices today, a techie operates the website and begs the press person for something to put up on the website to keep it fresh. It is usually not a part of the overall communications plan but simply a device that lets the communications director present their member as technically savvy. However, as the Congress becomes younger, the number of members who understand the value of the web is increasing.
Eventually, offices will learn that it is much easier, faster and cheaper to respond to e-mail. Additionally, once the e-mail address has been captured, a member can begin to develop a relationship with that person. This shift alone makes me optimistic about the interaction of the Internet and democracy. Technology will make it easier and easier for Congress to talk to the public and vice-versa, and it is that political conversation that will generate the ideas to sustain democracy. When members change their focus, and they will, and begin building e-mail listservs of 15-20,000 people, they will be able to generate levels of contact with constituents unheard of before. As a result, they will be more effective in understanding and representing their constituent's views, and in a democracy, that's the name of the game.
Campaign politics is no different. Building a relationship with voters in a campaign is just as important as congressional constituent service. Digital communications, I believe, will radically change the way we conduct campaigns in this new Age of Reason.
Campaigns have been using the Internet for the last two cycles, but it is still a secondary consideration particularly in contrast to TV advertising. Many campaigns have had websites, but, like congressional office, sites have not been a part of the communications plan here either. In reality, campaign sites amounted to little more than digital direct mail or an easy outlet for media contacts. Once the content was put up, it changed little as the campaign progressed.
The Dole '96 website is a perfect example. It was a sophisticated site put together by techies but in a campaign full of people looking at the world through analog-colored glasses, no one saw the value in providing content that could have helped build relationships with potential voters.
Even though e-mail is free in contrast to snail mail, it also has not yet been effectively used to contact and deliver message in campaigns. The mechanism to create good e-mail lists has not been developed either in the political arena or in the marketplace. Most campaigns, however, are mass media oriented. It is much easier for campaigns to purchase advertising than to build a knowledge base of its relationships and then sustain those relationships through communication, content, collaboration and a sense of community.
But as we move into a digital world, as the market fractures and people demand convenient and personally meaningful information, the mass media paradigm that has been the staple of political campaigns and the bread and butter of consultants for years will become obsolete. This shift is not only a fundamental change. It will be a major battle as well. Many political consultants ridicule the concepts of the digital communications world or try to interpret them in an analog context to sustain mass media or keep the gravy train running.
The idea of not using mass media to win a campaign is outside most political operative's sphere of comprehension or, given the lucrative nature of mass media, is beyond their willingness to accept as reality. Certainly, for the foreseeable future, mass media will continue to be more important, but as the audience continues to fracture, the effectiveness of mass media will only decline. Eventually, even its staunchest defenders will have to admit defeat and move toward a digital campaign environment or go the way of the dinosaurs of another age.
Speaking of dinosaurs, the last area I want to discuss in terms of the impact of a digital world is the traditional mainstream media. Here again, the 4 C's - communications, content, collaboration and community will shape the future of the media and its role in encouraging and sustaining democracy.
We know that voter participation has declined steadily over the past thirty years with just over 50% of eligible voters casting a ballot in the last presidential election. We don't know all the reasons why, but what we do know is that people have tuned out the political conversation and that occurred long before the latest Washington scandal. The traditional media must accept some of the blame for this apathy and television the lion's share. In fact, Paddy Chayevsky once called television "democracy at its ugliest."
Can you imagine ABC News covering the Boston Tea Party - "This is Peter Jennings. Extremists polluted Boston Harbor today claiming to be fighting for lower taxes. Environmentalists called them tools of the landed gentry."
George the Third calling George Washington "out of control," I suspect, would earn more air time on CBS than a content-driven explanation of the key message points of Tom Paine's Common Sense.
And you can count on Dateline, Twenty-Twenty, 60 Minutes and Prime Time Live to all compete for the first exclusive interview with Benjamin Franklin's landlady on the good doctor's latest dalliance.
It's no wonder that today's political conversation means so little to most people, and why many now seek alternative sources — digital sources — of information. That search for unfiltered or at least self-filtered news is what's got the media elite up in arms.
Mainstream journalists will say they're fighting to maintain ethics and credibility in news dissemination, but they're actually fighting for their very existence. They understand that to lose control of the content and timing of news is to lose their power base. On-line reporters are generally given the same status in the mainstream reporting world that Ken Starr would get lunching at the White House mess these days. A digital-based reporter is considered credible only when he or she is published or appears in the mainstream media.
We see more and more analog stories on the dangers of the Internet: the threat of spreading wild rumors; the pressure of producing news in real time leading to bad reporting; the risk of having so-called "non-professionals" allowed to report news; the ability of any and every kind of group to push propaganda; the dangers of the Internet to our children. It's a Chicken Little approach to change that has little merit; more self-protective coloration than legitimate complaint.
James Adams, UPI's chief I spoke of earlier, has had a lot to say on the subject of the traditional media's ostrich-like rejection of on-line information as potential competition. He recently told a story of appearing on a panel of media representatives in Washington when the topic of the Web and the future of the media was raised. "Among my colleagues on the panel, " he said, "the word Internet was received like a bad smell, a passing inconvenience that no members of polite society would wish to discuss in public. It is that attitude that has contributed to the current sorry state of the traditional media." Those are the words of the leader of one of the world's oldest news organizations.
Clearly, the demise of traditional media, if it comes, will be the result of the media's failure to acknowledge the 4 C's of the digital age. They refuse to acknowledge the value of digital communication. They fail to understand that the increasingly filtered content of their news and, in the case of television, its 30 second sound bite paradigm no longer provides what people want. They seem unable to adapt to the notion that new collaborations are necessary in the new digital community in which we seek information and ideas.
News in the digital age — the new Age of Reason - will be increasingly individual — based. If you want to watch hype, you can still watch analog media, but if you want to understand the substance of issues, there will be many locations to walk you through even the most complicated of proposals. That doesn't mean these sources are any less biased than traditional news organizations but the filter will be out front and the focus will be on content; on ideas — which in anybody's framework is a better result.
America will be better off because political discussion will be driven more by the electorate; and when the electorate is engaged, it becomes more participatory. That's good for democracy. I think all of us understand that not all ideas are equal nor is every idea a good one. Winston Churchill put it this way, "When there is a great deal of free speech, there is always a certain amount of foolish speech."
The digital world doesn't prejudge ideas, it simply makes them more accessible — good and bad. But it isn't a substitute for the human mind. The individual must make the distinction between ideas of merit and madness. We didn't ban books because Mein Kampf was written. There will always be evil in the world, but censorship is never an acceptable substitute for diligence.
Consequently, culture, values and education become more important in a digital democracy because the individual will be vested once again with real power — the power of ideas.
I began today by telling you that I am an optimist. Digital technology, I believe, has the potential to radically change the world order much as Martin Luther's rough parchment and Thomas Paine's ink-stained pamphlets did in their time. I believe it can change the world for the better bringing education and enlightenment to corners of the world held too long in dark tyranny.
We've already seen the beginnings. Under siege in the Russian White House, Boris Yeltsin sent a fax to let the world know freedom was still alive. As academics connected on-line to reach across the Iron Curtain, the undeniable power of democratic ideals brought down the Berlin Wall. Today, over 600,000 people in China have access to the net and that number is expected to reach 7 million in the unbelievably short span of the next three years. Can democracy long be denied a people once they have tasted freedom? I believe the answer is no.
Franklin Roosevelt said that "Democracy is not a static thing." He was right. It is constantly changing; reinventing itself; expanding and retracting as the political environment warms and cools to its precepts. Digital democracy will be no different at its core, but it has an opportunity unlike any in the history of the world to bring people and ideas together. If we embrace this exciting digital world, our own democracy will be strengthened and civilization will surely embark on a new Age of Reason and a new era of individual freedom.
This Is How The US Army Views And Deals The Media
With the optimistic view above by David Winston… When it comes to Wars of Ideas and Images and making propaganda information efficient, the Army has a different point of view as to What the Media is supposed to and be used for. I will cull from their report some excerpt to further elucidate this point coming from the Army And the Contemporary Media.
"Yet, DOD’s digital natives are led by a generation of senior leaders who are 'digital immigrants,' many of whom spent their careers planning for conventional combat and possess a deeply ingrained belief that kinetic action is the principal means for achieving strategic outcomes. These leaders are legitimately concerned about the threat to OPSEC that can come from blogging, twittering or use of cell phones by war fighters or those that work alongside them.
They are also wary of deploying capabilities for which there is no accepted standard of measure, and legitimately conservative when allocating staff and planning time to creating effects that may extend well beyond their Area of Responsibility (AOR) and which raise difficult legal and policy issues with potentially career-ending repercussions.
War is nothing if not a constant process of adaptation. Today, anyone armed with a digital camera and access to the Internet can become an information warrior, potentially reaching global audiences. Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and blogs have become as important to the strategic outcome of military operations as bullets, troops and air power. Appreciating the game-changing properties of new media are as important for today’s war fighters as are the skills, training and tradecraft required to maneuver conventional forces.
"In the contemporary operational environment, new adversaries have leveraged new media
to achieve strategic outcomes. New media are their tactical tools for effective strategies
that privilege the informational battle space as the main effort. In this respect, The Israeli-Hezbollah war of 2006 is instructive. Hezbollah was out-matched by the IDF at all levels, with little hope of prevailing in the conventional military battle space. And yet, by employing an information-led war fighting strategy that exploited tactical lethal encounters to generate strategic effects, Hezbollah was able to claim a strategic win by denying the IDF the achievement of its principal war aims.
This clever use of the information environment, which Hezbollah used to create multiplier effects of its limited conventional military capabilities, essentially outflanked Israel’s campaign strategy. By shifting the center of gravity into the information space, Hezbollah was able to generate and sustain the initiative. Hezbollah’s war fighting strategy masterfully synchronized conventional and information “fires,” creating strategic “information effects” that eventually forced Israel to cease its operations without achieving its stated war aims. The 2006 War provides important insights on the dynamics of the contemporary operational environment and the role of new media, which is why it was selected as the case study to drive workshop discussions.
"New media challenges warfighter and senior leaders across several levels. It requires recognition of the complexity of cyberspace as a war fighting domain. It is not just about defending networks or winning the information fight. Rather, it is the degree to which cyberspace exists as a domain in which warfighter will deploy, and the extent to which new media penetrates the war fighting effort in ways that are beyond the commander’s ability to control or limit.
"For example, today’s Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines come from a generation of
“Digital natives” who have grown up with, and expect, 24/7 connectivity. They are consumers and users of new media, employing it in ways that are often poorly understood by senior leadership, and which can inadvertently compromise Operations Security. They network relentlessly with peers, colleagues, family, and friends. They learn from this networking. Numerous informal blogs and chat groups among war fighters have reinforced and invigorated a culture of peer learning in this generation. It has also aided morale and allowed war fighters on multiple and continuous deployments to remain close to their families and communities, which is critical for a professional military force.
Present future Presenteism: Here And Now
Living in the Present Is a Disorder
We’re living in the now, we no longer have a sense of future direction, and we have a completely new relationship to time. That’s the premise of Douglas Rushkoff’s latest book Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now, a sort-of update to Alvin Toffler’s influential Future Shock from decades ago.
I met Rushkoff back when I was editor of the cyberpunk magazine Mondo 2000, when he was working on his first book about digital culture. But the original publishers canceled that book, thinking the internet was a fad and would be over by the time it hit stands. And even when it was finally published, its potential readership was still limited.
The internet is still with us (to put it mildly) … so Rushkoff’s latest book is for everybody. Throughout the intervening years, Rushkoff and I have been in a dialogue about technology, culture, and the future that, in some ways, has never really stopped. So here we are, continuing that conversation; only now, the challenge we’re discussing is “presentism” — What happens when the future is here, now?
R.U. Sirius: You describe five symptoms — pathologies, really — of “presentist” culture. One of these is “narrative collapse.” Can you explain it for those who haven’t read the book?
Douglas Rushkoff: Narrative Collapse is what happens when we no longer have time in which to tell a story.
THINK GAME OF THRONES. IN THE OLD DAYS, THIS SORT OF SHOW MIGHT BE CONSIDERED BAD WRITING. IT DOESN’T REALLY SEEM TO BE MOVING TOWARD A CRISIS OR CLIMAX.
Remote controls and DVRs give us the ability to break down narratives — particularly the more abusive ones. This is a great thing for escaping the “ends-justify-the-means” traps of 20th-century wars and religions, but it can also make it hard to convey values.
However, the inability to tell stories over time has yielded new forms — like video games and fantasy role-playing — which tell stories in the present tense. They are less about getting to some conclusion and ending the play than they are about keeping the play going. That’s a better structure for a world contending less with victory than sustainability.
R.U. Sirius: So how can analog narratives negotiate a digital landscape?
Douglas Rushkoff: Think Game of Thrones. In the old days, this sort of show might be considered bad writing. It doesn’t really seem to be moving toward a crisis or climax, it has no true protagonist, and it’s structured less like a TV show or a movie than a soap opera.
Yet it really does capture the qualities of a fantasy role-playing game or massive multiplayer online world. Even the opening titles sequence conveys this presentist style: we move over a map, as if exploring the various worlds on the game board. Almost all the families have good justifications for “winning” the throne, and I don’t think anyone wants a particular family to totally win and end the story. (Though if anyone wins, I hope it’s the Khaleesi.)
The audience is voluntarily surrendering authority to the storyteller as long as he isn’t abusing it. Really, we just want the narrative to keep going. In a small way perhaps, it’s suggesting a new shape of narrative that can respond to the need for sustainable solutions instead of finalizing victories. These open-ended narratives are much more consonant with the open-ended, fantasy-role-playing-like sensibility of presentism.
R.U. Sirius: Okay, so besides narrative collapse, what are the other struggles of presentism?
IT’S THE BOTOX ADDICTS TRYING TO LOCK THEIR FACES IN AT AGE 29, AND IN THE PROCESS LOSING THE ABILITY TO REGISTER FACIAL REACTIONS IN THE MOMENT.
Douglas Rushkoff: One is “Overwinding," where we try to compress huge time scales into the moment.
It’s ultra-high-frequency trading: seeing how many algorithms Goldman Sachs can fit on the head of a temporal pin. Instead of investing over time, we try to make money off the trade, in the moment.
It’s also the Botox addicts on Real Housewives of Orange County, trying to lock their faces in at age 29, and in the process losing the ability to register facial reactions in the moment.
There’s a bunch more syndromes identified in the book: “Digiphrenia” — not information overload, but the confused mental state that comes from having too many identities running in parallel; “Fractalnoia”, when we try to make sense in the frozen present moment without the benefit of cause and effect sequences (thus making ourselves more predictable and more paranoid); and “Apocalypto”, our intolerance for a world without endings and our attraction to finalizing myths like the singularity or worse — many of us find it easier to imagine a zombie apocalypse than to imagine next week.
R.U. Sirius: Is virtual presentism unhealthy?
Douglas Rushkoff: It certainly can be. For instance, the drone pilots I’ve interacted with have higher levels of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) than pilots who are flying real planes in Afghanistan. Now what’s that about?
I think they’re suffering from digiphrenia. All day, they experience themselves in Kabul, flying planes and sometimes killing real people. That’s bad enough in itself. But then they take off their headsets, get in their cars, and drive home to the Nevada suburbs and sit down to dinner with their wives and kids. “How was school today, honey?” They are living two very different lives at the same time.
Unlike a traditional, real-world pilot who lands his plane on an aircraft carrier or military base and then hangs out with other military people, the drone pilot is doing all this essentially from home — living two, conflicting yet simultaneous instances of himself. These two different instances are occurring in essentially the very same present. That’s present shock.
R.U. Sirius: Another post-internet book out right now is Evgeny Morozov’s To Save Everything, Click Here. What do you think about the ongoing discussions around his attitudes about futurists, and more broadly, his criticisms of net culture?
R.U. Sirius & Douglas Rushkoff
R.U. Sirius is the former editor in chief of Mondo 2000 and the author of numerous books. He is currently writing a book on late 20 century cyberculture, as well as a political screed called Steal This Singularity.
Douglas Rushkoff is a media theorist and author of several books about technology, society, and economics. Rushkoff also made the PBS Frontline documentaries Merchants of Cool, The Persuaders, and Digital Nation; wrote the graphic novels ADD and Testament; and advocates for digital literacy at Codecademy.
Douglas Rushkoff: Too many of our best thinkers and developers fall into the trap of disrupting some institution — government, education, insert-yours-here — without acknowledging the underlying economic operating system they’re still enforcing. So for the most part, I agree with Morozov’s position on how the “open” possibilities of digital platforms are faux-open patches on status-quo corporate capitalism.
While I’m all for getting folks to understand the effects of these crucial compromises, I’m not sure the best way to go about it is to call them out as individuals. I get that Morozov doesn’t mean it as a personal attack, but it is nonetheless cast as the story of and framed as the takedown of a Meme Hustler. It may be click-view sensational, but it becomes a non-starter for engaging the very folks whose minds need to be further opened.
I guess having been both an attacker and an attack, I’m growing disenchanted with more combative styles of rhetoric. Morozov hates the Program-or-Be-Programmed notion I argued in my last book, equating it with insisting that people learn plumbing when I’m really just asking people to think critically about the platforms they’re using.
Since the name of the game here is restoring our humanity, I feel much more comfortable engaging with “opponents” as people who mean well.
R.U. Sirius: Do you think there will be a youth dropout reaction, 1960s style, to the stresses of presentism? Or are they too well trained now by the authoritarian turn in education (with its constant testing and so forth)?
Douglas Rushkoff: I think the overwhelming presentism of our era could motivate a healthy form of dropping out. The authoritarian turn in education only exacerbates the sense of pressure to perform in the present for some undefined future where the companies you work for don’t really take care of you, anyway.
But there’s also a danger in rejecting all disciplines and the lessons of history. I sometimes worry that we’re devaluing lineage, history — even the time it used to take to explore a counterculture — by making it all so instantaneously available. Not everything in life needs to be on demand.
Young people certainly seem more willing to get what they want when they want it and how they want it. MOOCs are bound to be even more disruptive here than they are already. For the most part, I don’t see presentism as a cause for dropping out so much as the key to liberating from the more stultifying legacies that keep us from experiencing live moments with each other.
DRONE PILOTS HAVE HIGHER LEVELS OF PTSD THAN PILOTS WHO ARE FLYING REAL PLANES.
R.U. Sirius: Your book focuses on the challenges of presentism, obviously. But is there still a place for futurist movements to add value? For example, the singularity (which you criticize in the book), transhumanism, or even Long Now?
Douglas Rushkoff: I think there can be a positive sort of futurism even in a presentist society. But I think it’s a kind of futurism that envisions augmenting human ability and intellect rather than creating some artificial machine intelligence that displaces us. It’s time we begin to envision futures for ourselves, rather than the self-loathing futures in which humans are obsolesced.
As for Long Now — I loved reading it and admire Stewart Brand tremendously. But it’s really hard to put the weight of 10,000 years on every moment: it feels less like a “long now” and more like a “short forever.”
Looking at the distant horizon every time you end up with a piece of plastic for which there’s no appropriate recycling bin makes me feel weighed down by history and the future, and it doesn’t fit the temporal liberation of a digital age. So instead I started looking at how do we elicit the appropriate behaviors in ourselves and others, and out of the moment itself?
EDUCATION EXACERBATES THE PRESSURE TO PERFORM IN THE PRESENT FOR SOME UNDEFINED FUTURE WHERE THE COMPANIES YOU WORK FOR DON’T REALLY TAKE CARE OF YOU, ANYWAY.
R.U. Sirius: Most — or maybe all — of the symptoms of present shock are viewed as pathologies. How much of this struggle is the result of a competitive economic system and lack of a social “safety net”?
Douglas Rushkoff: Almost all of it. The early cyberpunk idea was that networked computers would let us do our work at home, as freelancers, and then transact directly with peers over networks. Digital technology would create tremendous slack, allow us to apply its asynchronous, decentralized qualities to our own work and lives.
Instead of working for someone — as we had been doing since the dawn of the Industrial Age — we would be freed from the time-is-money rat race and get to be makers. Then business and marketing caught wind of this, and it shifted from a bottom-up people’s renaissance to a top-down finance revolution.
So instead of using digital technology to create more time and creative space for people, we used it to take more time from people. The technologies we developed became much more about retaining the attention of consumers, monitoring employees, and keeping people engaged 24/7. Email, for example, is not intrinsically annoying. It would sit there and wait until we got to it. It’s the people on the other side of the email whose expectations have been raised. And we who have agreed to keep checking, or to get pinged every time someone wants us.
And that’s a primary form of Present Shock — turning these devices from asynchronous stacks into live, real-time appendages.
Editor’s Note: This interview was conducted over email between R.U. Sirius and Douglas Rushkoff, beginning with one set of questions and a series of followups mixed in. The entire Q&A was then edited for length and flow.
Editor: Sonal Chokshi
Buddah's Presentism Dictum
Curating the Digital World: Past Preconceptions, Present Problems, Possible Futures
The following Research Paper was written by Susan Cairns and Danny Birchall:
In some corners of the Web, a semantic battle is being fought for the meaning of the word “curate.” Once a term describing the activities of museum professionals, in the early twenty-first century curate has come to be applied to a wide range of online activities involving the choice and presentation of other people’s content.
Technology evangelist Robert Scoble sees “real-time curation” as the bundling of social micro content (Scoble, 2010), while Maria Popova refers to her selection and contextualization of online material as “curating interestingness” (Sweeney, 2012).
Meanwhile, many from the museum and art world defend the “age-old skill” and “meticulous practice” of fine art curation against an activity they see simply as “fancy choosing” (Ahn, 2013) or even just “filthy blogging” (Sicha, 2012). Still others monitor the usage of the term as it proliferates and mutates (see Curating the Curators, http://curatingthecurators.tumblr.com/)
In this paper, it is not our intention to settle or even join this battle (or to discuss “digital curation” in the sense of the maintenance of digital archives), but rather to use this particular moment as an opportunity to examine what curation might come to mean both inside and outside museums in a world of ubiquitous digital objects.
Traditional acquisition patterns of material objects are being disrupted; a superfluity of digital objects exists to be arranged and filtered both inside and outside museums; and museums increasingly find it necessary to share the authority of meaning-making with their audiences and other communities. New methods and meanings of curation might also offer a common ground where the work of the museum can be done both within and without its walls.
Though curators now might stand for a certain intellectual authority and authenticity in museums, the emergence of the curatorial profession has certainly been a troublesome process. As museums emerged as major public institutions in the nineteenth century, control of collections still rested with the collectors, with museums staffed by amateurs and enthusiasts; the role of curator was often more like a “caretaker-servant to those in authority.”
In the United Kingdom, establishment of the Museums Association (MA) went some way to establishing both a professional ethos for curatorial employees and their centrality by displacing collectors and artists in the new museum hierarchy: as the president of the MA declared that year, “[T]he soul of the Museum is the Curator” (Teather, 1990).
Nevertheless, the ambiguity of the curatorial role, with its many responsibilities, and overlap with academic disciplines in subject knowledge have hindered its development as a distinct profession with its own structure of qualifications and professional hierarchy. Even Velson Horie in codifying the profession of curator primarily distinguishes it by its separation of responsibilities from other museum roles (Horie, 1986, 269).
If professional establishment was hard, the role of the curator came under new scrutiny in the 1990s with the development of an academic museology that looked at both the historical emergence of the museum as an arbiter of cultural values, and the museum’s role in embodying dominant social values. The continued relevance of museums in a changing world, argued critics like Eilean Hooper-Greenhill, was dependent on recognizing the political nature of the museum’s authority and giving new credence to voices from outside the museum. In the process, this also offered curators a “chance to invent new definitions of curatorial professionalism” that bring audiences and museums closer together (Hooper-Greenhill, 2000a).
Meanwhile, in the world of contemporary art, a new breed of curator as auteur was emerging. Harald Szeemann and Walter Hopps eschewed permanent collections for an exhibition-making practice outside the museum, working with artists directly using the blank canvas of the kunsthalle for exhibitions structured around idiosyncratic new ideas rather than conventional art history (Levi Strauss, 2006).
Hopps compared the role of the curator to that of the conductor of an orchestra; Szeemann saw himself as “more conjuror than curator” (Obrist, 2008). For both, the act of curating was less about the presentation of collections and more about the creation of new forms and experiences using the raw material of art.
The influence and inspiration of independent curators has created an understanding of the contemporary art curator as an entrepreneurial auteur, a “free agent, capable of almost anything” (Levi Strauss, 2006). Today we have superstar “name” curators like Nicolas Bourriaud, whose 2009 “Altermodern” Tate Triennial came replete with its own curatorial rhetoric about a new wave of artistic production (Tate Gallery, 2009). Contemporary art curation has become a form of artistic authorship itself.
The emergence of the idea of curating as a digital activity seemed to come from contemporary art’s understanding of curation as an authorial act. One of the earliest mentions of “curating” outside the art gallery was by media theorist Steven Johnson in a New York Times roundup column of the underrated ideas of 2003. Regarding Apple’s newly introduced celebrity playlist feature in iTunes, he proposed the idea of a “curatorial culture” where a music industry traditionally polarized between makers and listeners would come to focus on an “unrewarded group in the middle: people with great taste in music” (Johnson, 2003).
The idea of professional filtering also came easily to another old media titan—journalism—with pundits like Jeff Jarvis exhorting journalists to curate information rather than generate content (Jarvis, 2009). If in the early 2000s the Internet had held out the promise of disintermediation, the removal of “old media” gatekeepers like publishers and record stores, by the early 2010s a new culture of mediation flourishes. At its core, this new curation is a concept borrowed from museums and contemporary art, yet functionally stretched well beyond it to include ideas like a “globally networked consciousness” emerging from the links created by humans between different pieces of content (Van Buskirk, 2012).
But why has the concept of curation risen to such prominence beyond the museum, and why now? For Steven Rosenbaum, curation “addresses two parallel trends: the explosive growth in data, and our need to be able to find information in coherent, reasonably contextual groupings” (Rosenbaum, 2011, 5).
This latter need, to be able to find information, has been complicated by the horizontal organization of the Internet. Rather than relying on hierarchical methods for prioritizing and categorizing information, all data on the network is linkable to other data, creating “a vast network of information, all of which is equally accessible and none of which is privileged” (Dreyfus, 2009, 12).
Not only has the information landscape been reconfigured; a priori tactics for negotiating it cannot cope with the emerging terrain. New tactics, both algorithmic and social, emerge to help make sense and meaning from the swaths of hyperconnected, hyper flexible data. The algorithmic approaches use the processing capabilities of computers to sort and manipulate the data according to human-created rules, but frequently do so in ways invisible to the eye.
Meanwhile, social tactics such as curation of digital content, whether on a personal scale or via broadly curated websites, rely on personal arbitration to discover, draw attention to, and contextualize the interesting and useful. The curator of the digital world is positioned as mediator and tastemaker, using content created elsewhere as raw material for the making of meaning.
Such proximity to information and audience gives the curator of the digital world an opportunity to wield substantial power. Influential online leaders gain credibility because, over time, they establish themselves as competent and credible through demonstrating a commitment to a group’s goals or purpose; by being centrally placed within a network (or multiple loosely connected networks); and because their online communications use affective, assertive, and diverse language (Huffaker, 2010).
Such online leaders can frame a conversation or shape the way a subject is discussed. This shift is reconfiguring the operation of power over information, particularly around questions of who owns and controls its spread. Being the controller or broker of information is a powerful position to hold, and just as collecting institutions (and the curators within) can affect the marketplace for collectibles or indeed the perceptions of science, history, art, or other subject matter, the curator of the digital world can impact the marketplace for news and ideas.
That an individual can him-or herself shape the way people understand the world is not itself radically new; however, concomitant with the rise in data has been what Clay Shirky has called a “cognitive surplus” (Shirky, 2010), whereby the connection and aggregation of humanity via the network also makes it possible to aggregate humankind’s time and energy to capitalize upon the opportunities the network makes available: a kind of collaborative creativity.
Such accretion enables the multiplication of labour (Ridley 2011, 38), which additionally enables more people—more curators—to sort, organize, and distribute networked information, and to do so without institutional affiliation. The opportunity for influencing the world by controlling the flow of information has scaled alongside the data itself, and that is novel. As individuals and societies we are, as Shirky proposes, living through “the shock of inclusion” (Shirky, 2011, 4). He explains:
…Surplus always breaks more things than scarcity. Scarcity means valuable things become more valuable, a conceptually easy change to integrate. Surplus, on the other hand, means previously valuable things stop being valuable, which freaks people out.
The surplus now facing humankind is multifold. It comes in the form of a radical increase in hyperconnected data, and similarly linked people. What has not scaled, yet, is the capacity of our institutions to cope with such changes.
Museums act as filters for cultural abundance. Only so much can be kept within museum storerooms or displayed in exhibitions. Limited word counts on exhibition texts require the winnowing down of very large topics to the small and essential. Many core museum functions, from the selection of what objects and information should be kept through to decisions about what information should be shared about objects, seek to do precisely this.
Indeed, Ann Rigney, in an analysis of Michel Foucault’s concept of a loi de rareté, discerns that culture always operates according to a law of scarcity; that it “is always in limited supply, and necessarily so, since it involves producing meaning in an ongoing way through selection, representation and interpretation” (Rigney, 2005, 16).
Scarcity, therefore, exists at the core of museum practice. Not only are rare objects frequently perceived to have greater value than if the same objects were common, the limitations on time and space within the museum proper require that curators and other staff must employ regular tactics for reduction in the face of abundance. The critical roles of selection, preservation, and dissemination are all linked to the core requirement of deciding what of a culture to keep, and how best to do so.
In Museums and the Interpretation of Visual Culture, Eilean Hooper-Greenhill documents how museum work “has involved the establishment of a canon” through which order is created “by giving authority to certain texts, figures, ideas, problems, discursive strategies and historical narratives” (Hooper-Greenhill, 2000b, 20).
This process of “boundary maintenance” by experts and those with grounding in an academic and professional school of thought has had brought to prominence certain voices, or objects, through filtering and elevating. It has been through this filtering of information and culture that, for David Weinberger, museums and other knowledge institutions have drawn much of their authority (Weinberger, 2011, 10).
However, the sheer scale of the problem now creates new challenges for museums and the public alike. Whilst previously the process of filtering information and culture could be trusted to curators and academics, to publishers of books and editors of news and journals, the continuously burgeoning data has broken the informational floodgates.
The influx of new voices, of new curators of information, that has arrived in response threatens the very notion of a canon of knowledge with established common languages and understandings of the world. How can any single frame of reference shape a discussion about what will be important to history, when so many individual and self-appointed curators now control flows of knowledge?
How can museums make sense and meaning of such inordinate amounts of hyperconnected data, organized flatly and without a clear hierarchy for establishing value? The algorithmic and social curation tools that have been adopted by the wider connected population in response to just such questions may provide some answers, but uptake is still in its nascency within museums.
The Walker Art Museum’s website, launched in late 2011, is one site built with the shifting informational landscape in mind. Director Olga Viso (2011) writes, “Understanding that we exist as part of a diverse media ecosystem, we’ve instituted a feature called ‘Art News from Elsewhere,’ which provides a curated list of annotated links to relevant stories about contemporary art that provide greater context for the work we host and produce.”
Characterized as an “idea hub,” the site has a full-time editor, whose role includes the generation of original content, as well as sourcing content from both within and external to the museum. Such a response to the problems of surplus information created elsewhere draws upon new models of curation and moves the institution’s website closer to that of a news site than a traditional museum website.
Early results have been positive. By May 2012, the Walker’s site had become a destination website, meaning that people went directly to it rather than accessing it only via searching or links. In addition, it received 50 percent more links in, and had greater on-site engagement, visitation, and repeat visitation (Dowden and Solas, 2012).
The Walker’s approach to curation of the digital world relies on individual curatorial and editorial judgment. But other solutions to the surplus information online are surfacing within the museum and art sector. In 2011, Will Brand of ArtFagCity asked “can computers curate?” He writes,
“If we strip out the myriad social and administrative tasks of the real-life curator—the connections, the negotiations, the shipping and hanging and lighting and writing—we can arrive at a pretty simple job description: good curation is the discovery and display of unexpected or heretofore unknown patterns and flows in visual culture. So why can’t a computer do that?” (Brand, 2011)
Brand argues that an algorithmic curator can counter the “certain tyranny” of the curatorial voice, and that a “convincingly unique curatorial voice is counterproductive,” a perspective that leads him to propose that, “algorithmic curation may well be the most democratic method of curating possible.”
Arguably, algorithms already curate the information that we encounter online. They are, as Kevin Slavin puts it, “Like an invisible architecture that underpins almost everything that’s happening” (Slavin, 2011).
In doing so, they reshape how our culture works and how we understand the world. Unlike Brand, whose view of the curating done by the algorithm is that it is democratic, Slavin holds that the algorithm can actually be destructive and create a monoculture, which is far removed from how human culture actually works.
“The pernicious thing about algorithms is that they have the mathematical quality of truth — you have the sense that they are neutral — and yet, of course, they have authorship” (Slavin, 2011). Additionally, there are frequent strong ties between a capitalist, consumerist society and the mathematics of search algorithms (Mager, 2012). danah boyd (2012) writes
…Those who can control the flow of information and those who can control people’s attention are extraordinarily powerful. The only folks more powerful than those who control the networks are those who can make the networks… If you want power in a networked society, you need to orchestrate control over the ecosystem.
The algorithms that make sense of and manipulate the vast digital ecosystem are already becoming powerful forces in the mediation of information.
In 2009, Clay Shirky explored a similar topic when he proposed that algorithms are increasingly treated as authoritative, and that this opens the nature of authority up for grabs. “Algorithmic authority is the decision to regard as authoritative an unmanaged process of extracting value from diverse, untrustworthy sources, without any human standing beside the result saying, ‘Trust this because you trust me'” (Shirky, 2009).
If authority is indeed related to acts of filtering, as Weinberger proposes, then it should come as little surprise that the algorithm itself is becoming increasingly trusted. Eli Pariser (2011) sees that our increased faith in algorithms has moved the act of gatekeeping from humans to algorithms. However, for Pariser, this presents a new hitch. He writes (of the Netflix algorithm):
The problem with [the algorithm] is that while it’s very good at predicting what movies you’ll like — generally it’s under one star off — it’s conservative. It would rather be right and show you a movie that you’ll rate a four, than show you a movie that has a 50% chance of being a five and a 50% chance of being a one. Human curators are often more likely to take these kinds of risks. (Popova, 2011)
The end point of an algorithmic filter need not always be the tastes of an individual. The algorithmic curation of historical and visual objects can also be used for a very public purpose. The National Maritime Museum’s on-site “Horizon” interactive allows users to navigate five categories of museum objects on a three-dimensional immersive canvas, which uses an algorithm to organize objects by their visual similarity, offering an immediate alternative to their historicized classification and interpretation elsewhere in the museum (RenderHeads, 2011).
Privileging the visual and formal as a way of breaking through the classificatory rigidity of historical and ethnographic museums is a tactic previously used by artists including Eduardo Paolozzi and Martha Fleming (Birchall, 2012). While an algorithmic performance of this task lacks some of the wit or sensibility that an artist delivers, it also offers the possibility of new discoveries by the viewer, of sensing new patterns in a field of data, provided by computation, but previously unseen by human eyes.
Outside the museum but within the realm of visual culture, Flickr’s “interestingness” algorithm is used to generate “Explore,” a browsable selection of the “best” of the photo-sharing service. Interestingness uses various patterns of behavior among users on Flickr to create its photo stream, but it is not personalized, like Netflix, and indeed few other photo-sharing services such as Picasa or Instagram offer any kind of exploration function that isn’t based on a user’s network of personal contacts.
“Explore” offers the same experience for all users, and has often been derided for doing so, providing no more than “mediocre cliched photographs by complete strangers” (Hawk, 2011); nevertheless, achieving global exposure through Explore is still a highly sought-after accolade for Flickr users. While both Horizon and Explore cede the function of curation to algorithms, both also hold true to the vision of the Enlightenment museum: to provide a common experience of culture for all. Objects are filtered and arranged, but in the sight of all: algorithmic curation can generate not only relevance, but also importance and insight.
So can or should museum curators consider algorithmic methods as part of their work? Koven Smith at the Denver Art Museum has raised just such a question. In his 2012 presentation at MuseumNext in Barcelona, Smith proposed that a possible future for the museum curator was to “tweak an algorithm so that correct information is displayed” (Smith, 2012). Inspired by the work being done by Narrative Science, a Chicago-based company that automatically generates narratives and stories from data, Smith proposes that museums could use a similar approach for object records, drawing upon internal and external data to algorithmically produce collection-related narratives. He continues,
I don’t think that this is actually a radical redefinition of the curatorial role. It’s the same mission that they’ve always had, but refactored to work at web scale and speed. So instead of changing one line of text in a book to reflect current research, the curator is changing one line of code to affect a change in thousands of records at once. (Smith 2012)
How different might such an approach to curating be to current practice? How would this integrate with our understanding of curating as an authorial act? And could a move towards algorithmic narratives and curation impact upon not just the interpretation of culture, but also its collection?
Collecting is, as Russell Belk puts it, “Consumption writ large” (Belk, 2013, 1), and is one of the primary roles of many museum curators. If curating is changing, will collecting and acquisition change, too? Ken Arnold writes that the museum building has a three-fold purpose in which it houses collections (objects and specimens), the people who work with these artifacts, and the knowledge that is produced out of that interaction (Arnold, 2006, 5).
The museum object separates from its former life beyond the museum once it is acquired into the collection; however, the adoption of new forms of information curation raises questions about this practice. Will objects continue to be so comprehensively separated from life or their prior circumstances to be the subject of a museum’s attention? The curator of the digital world does not collect objects or information in the same way that a museum curator might, nor does he or she necessarily place the same value on care and maintenance of collated resources.
This raises interesting questions for institutions that include preservation at the core of their mission. Is such a mission either relevant or achievable for museums in an era of hyperconnectivity, when the online collection—as digital document—may be more fragile and evanescent in both content and underlying platform than its counterpart in the physical museum?
For museum curators themselves, the reconfiguration of the information landscape might offer an alternative to working in isolation as a professional arbiter and guardian of collections. Hooper-Greenhill’s recognition of the necessity of allowing previously suppressed voices into the museum has been followed by explicit calls to open up the museum, and the role of curator in particular, to greater participation.
Elaine Heumann Gurian suggests that the role of the curator should be transformed “from teacher and transmitter to facilitator and assister” in a museum environment in which “the visitor is intended to be the prime assembler of content, based on his or her own need” (Gurian, 2008, 6). Nina Simon’s manifesto for shared museums, The Participatory Museum, sees the need for museum visitors to “actively engage as cultural participants, not passive consumers” (Simon, 2010).
Both Gurian and Simon take inspiration from the emergence of a participative and social digital sphere, one in which “curation” as defined by Scoble and others is an everyday practice, but largely limit their recommendations for change to exhibit design and physical access to museum collections. What might participative curation look like in its full digital extent?
Typically, museums’ invitation to participate in curation online has been to curate a selection of artworks from a digitized collection to save and share. Even in its very slickest manifestations, such as the Rijksmuseum’s Rijksstudio website (Rijksmuseum, 2013), this has been essentially no more than the creation of a list of “favorites,” reflecting back to museum audiences that the museum indeed sees curation (for them at least) as substantially no more than “fancy choosing.”
Steps towards opening up the curation of actual exhibitions were taken with the Brooklyn Museum’s Click! Photography exhibition, which filtered an open call through an online forum, experimenting with crowds’ wisdom to curate the consequent exhibition (Brooklyn Museum, 2008). Elsewhere, more sustainable crowdsourcing of social and material history has been achieved by local history projects like Toledo’s attic, a collaborative history project at the centre of a web of social media through which history of twentieth-century Toledo is discovered and told (http://www.toledosattic.org/).
Toledo’s attic has evolved from an older “virtual museum” to what Arjun Sabharwal (2012) describes as “networked co-curation,” a model that is “democratized, visitor-centered, de-centralized and collaborative.” While problems of inconsistency may arise from a lack of centralized curatorial control, networked co-curation more effectively enriches public discourse, identifies emerging knowledge from outside the museum, and increases access to cultural heritage.
Even in larger institutions, an understanding of how authority and knowledge are distributed across the network in the form of both people and algorithms is shaping a new generation of digital museum presences. For the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, the process of redesigning an online catalogue from the ground up has taken into account not only that museum collections are now as likely to be accessed by the general public as researchers, but also that that public might be more capable of offering context and interpretation to those collections than curatorial professionals.
“We are having to deal with the fact that someone else might be breathing life in to our collections for us or, frankly, despite us. We are having to deal with the fact that it might not even be a person doing it” (Cope, 2012). Cooper-Hewitt’s alpha catalogue in development offers the potential for crowdsourced interpretation via Wikipedia, and uses machine-tagging to draw in photographs and other types of interpretation from social and distributed content networks. “This is where the collection site will really begin to take shape as well not only be displaying the ‘thing we have’ but its relevance in the world. It puts a whole new spin on the concept of ‘collecting'” (Walter, 2012).
All of this raises many questions for museums and museum curators. Is it the museum curator’s job to act as a filter for a world of digital content? Does curating digital content, rather than just creating it, actually bring “authority” back to the institution, as Nate Solas has asserted? (Dowden and Solas, 2012)
And if so, how can museum curators begin to incorporate this work with their existing practice? Do current curators require new skills and expertise, such as the writing and manipulating of algorithms, on top of their subject-specific expertise, or is the curation of the Web as it relates to the museum and its collection a new job altogether?
Writing of the Walter Art Museum’s website, The Atlantic’s Alexis C. Madrigal (2011) proposes,
In a networked world, people and institutions become valuable by becoming important nodes. That means taking on some (but not all) of the attributes of a media company… They have to learn to exist within different, overlapping ecosystems—Tumblr, Twitter, the art blog networks, cultural institution sites—and figure out how to receive ideas and content from those places, not just broadcast to them.
Such an approach raises more questions of the museum than just how these tasked should be incorporated within organizational structures (no small question in itself).
Regardless of how each institution negotiates such questions, what is clear is that the superfluity of hyper-connected information now online requires new approaches and new tactics to make meaning. In The Archaeology of Knowledge, Foucault writes that history “organizes the document, divides it up, distributes it, orders it, arranges it in levels, establishes series, distinguished between what is relevant and what is not, discovers elements, defines unites, describes relations” (Foucault 2010, 6).
The Internet, too, demands organization and distribution, discovery and contextualization, and recontextualization. Although museums cannot be wholly responsible for this process, neither can they neglect it. Failure to connect that which is within the museum to the broader information ecology beyond is a failure to understand the context in which the institution’s offerings are found.
From a museum practice with uncertain beginnings and recent crises of confidence, curation has been symbolically thrust into the limelight as a means of dealing with a new order of digital information and objects. In the process, it has mutated: curating a digital world requires more than the transference of museum connoisseurship onto the realm of the Internet.
At the same time, this has thrown back onto museums both possibilities and necessities for changing the way in which curation happens within the museum: which is to say that museums must deal not only with the problem of a newly flattened and connected world, but they also must deal with it through the recursive filter of their core method being adapted as a paradigmatic way of dealing with that information, even to the extent of that work being done by machines.
We might simply throw our hand: the flip side of the passionate defense of the term “curation” by the likes of Sicha and Ahn would be to abandon curation altogether; to find the museum’s true mission in education or participation and turn our backs, temporarily at least, on the museum’s role as filter and organizer of culture. More bravely, we might admit that a museum now needs to know as much about algorithms as art history; that influence is earned not given; and that interpretation is of necessity a collective activity. From there, we can begin to join others in curating the digital world.
Direct Interaction Of the Nervous System: The Suppression/Suspense Of Disbelief
According to Leslie Bradshaw:
"Immersion into virtual reality is a perception of being physically present in a non-physical world. The perception is created by surrounding the user of the VR system in images, sound or other stimuli that provide an engrossing total environment.
The name is a metaphoric use of the experience of submersion applied to representation, fiction or simulation. Immersion can also be defined as the state of consciousness where a "visitor" (Maurice Benayoun) or "immersant" (Char Davies)’s awareness of physical self is transformed by being surrounded in an artificial environment; used for describing partial or complete suspension of disbelief, enabling action or reaction to stimulations encountered in a virtual or artistic environment. The degree to which the virtual or artistic environment faithfully reproduces reality determines the degree of suspension of disbelief. The greater the suspension of disbelief, the greater the degree of presence achieved.
The most considered method would be to induce the sensations that made up the virtual reality in the nervous system directly. In functionalism/conventional biology we interact with consensus reality through the nervous system. Thus we receive all input from all the senses as nerve impulses. It gives your neurons a feeling of heightened sensation. It would involve the user receiving inputs as artificially stimulated nerve impulses, the system would receive the CNS outputs (natural nerve impulses) and process them allowing the user to interact with the virtual reality.
Natural impulses between the body and central nervous system would need to be prevented. This could be done by blocking out natural impulses using nanorobots which attach themselves to the brain wiring, whilst receiving the digital impulses of which describe the virtual world, which could then be sent into the wiring of the brain. A feedback system between the user and the computer which stores the information would also be needed. Considering how much information would be required for such a system, it is likely that it would be based on hypothetical forms of computer technology.
Rigorous methodologies, sophisticated analytic engines can still be wrong if no one corrects for flaws in data fed to them.
When you collect the 5 billion or so items posted to Facebook, Twitter and other social networks every day into one massive database, those bits of individual drivel combine into a massive pointillist masterpiece that is already changing the way governments and corporations relate to individual humans, allowing marketers to tailor products more precisely to the customer preferences (and target spam campaigns more effectively) with up to the minute insight into the thinking of their constituents.
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Deep analysis of social-network data has changed online marketing so quickly that senior-level marketing executives are still struggling to come to grips with their new power to analyze customers, according to the CMO Council that represents them.
Which is a shame, because the picture all those petabytes of badly spellchecked musings provide of the thoughts or preferences of actual customers is mostly wrong, according to a study published in today's issue of the journal Science.
The problem isn't with the data; the problem is with the way data is presented and analyzed, according to the article's authors, Derek Ruths of McGill University and Jurgen Pfeffer of Carnegie Mellon.
Social-media datasets often munge together all those personal revelations into a big picture without correcting for things that make a big difference in their accuracy — like the demographic differences between social network populations, the type of information usually posted on each the number of bots and spammers pretending to be human users and even the effect of the site design on the tone of the content posted.
Facebook, which is the single largest contributor to the social-network-data universe, has a Like button but not a Dislike button, which makes it harder to detect a negative reaction to a particular piece of data, the two argue.
-Facebook, which is used by about 71 percent of Americans skews significantly female, young and (relatively) lower income, according to December, 2013 survey by the Pew Research Center. Seventy-six percent of women polled use Facebook compared to 66 percent of men; 84 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 29 use Facebook, as did 76 percent of those with incomes under $50,000 per year.
-Twitter is almost gender balanced, but twice as many African-American respondents said they Tweet than either white or Latino, and its user numbers skew far more heavily toward those in the 18-29-year-old age group (31 percent) than Facebook.
-Instagram is 28 percent more female than male, but is far less skewed than Pinterest, which attracts five times more women than men.
-LinkedIn is more male than female (24 percent to 19 percent) and more black than white but skews drastically toward the middle ages (30 years old to 64 years old), college-educated and upper income (38 percent make $75,000 per year or more).
Researchers and service firms that collect, clean and sell social-media data sets often slot users into easy-to-identify groups according to age, income and other variables, which make the data look more consistent than the users they came from, according to Ruths and Pfeffer.
Even worse are reports that use smoothed-over data with analytics that are a little too smug to infer things like a user's political affiliation.
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Even using analysis methods that are "sound and often methodologically novel," Ruths and a co-author wrote in an earlier paper, "reported accuracies have been systematically overoptimistic due to the way in which the validation datasets have been collected."
The real accuracy levels for political affiliation are closer to 65 percent than the oft-reported 90-percent Ruths and Pfeffer wrote.
Far from being unfixable, however, miscalculations in social-media analyses can already be fixed using methods developed to fix similar problems in studies in epidemiology, statistics and machine learning.
"The common thread in all these issues is the need for researchers to be more acutely aware of what they're actually analyzing when working with social media data," according to Ruth, who compared social-media mis-analysis to the flaw in survey methodology that produced the "Dewey Defeats Truman" headline from the 1948 Presidential election. That survey, which was done by telephone, drastically underestimated the number of Truman supporters, many of whom, in the days before telephones became ubiquitous even in rural areas, didn't have phones.
"We’re poised at a similar technological inflection point. By tackling the issues we face, we’ll be able to realize the tremendous potential for good promised by social media-based research," Ruths said in a McGill press release about the paper's publication.
Fortunately for marketers hoping to produce social-media analyses with results that won't send their companies racing off in very close to the right direction, there are already projects underway to fix social media's identity problem.
-In October Twitter announced it was giving the MIT Media a $10 million grant and the promise of a real-time public feed of Twitter data to create analytical tools that would bring deeper, more accurate insights into the meaning of billions of Tweets.
-The Social Media Research Group at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia have actually come out with a Web-based platform with algorithms specifically designed to provide an "academically rigorous" analysis of social-network data.
The online service, which is available to a few early testers but is otherwise still under development, was announced Nov. 11.
"We want to move the analytics discussion beyond counts such as likes, favorites and retweets into prompting action based on real-time content and metrics placed in national and industry contexts," according to an announcement quoting co-developer Darryl Woodford, a research fellow at the university.
Teaching With And About Technology
Information Is The Oxygen Needed In Present-Day Democracies...
In today's mediarized environ, it's also important that we begin to recalibrate our understanding of the affects and effects of these new emerging media's on individuals and whole societies. What the two cited articles above are displaying is that there a new vistas to be vetted out. What I am saying is that, there are new ways of communicating through the new media and their gizmos that have caused a huge paradigm shift. Old ways of analysis and understanding the media have forever been altered and are now functioning in ways that are totally new and challenge the old media dissemination methodologies.
Cairns, Birchall and Bradshaw are broaching new environments and the effects of computers and the streaming patterns that it has brought along in its manifestations. In the article by Cairns and Birchall, we begin to get a sense and view of museum as Media and communication. The authors, in the topic of their article, wrote it in this manner:
"Curating The Digital World: Past Preconceptions, Present Problems, Possible Futures."
The sub-topic is what is of interest to me. The authors have done a remarkably excellent research on the topic as the relevance and meaning of the term "Curator" today, given the new forms of media communications, needs to somewhat conform to and adjust their operations and role of the curator and museum in dealing with the public. This is where I say that the new ideas of digital wars of the present and future, is thoroughly addressed and dealt with by Cairns and Birchall, in that, they are able to show a need for a paradigm shift in the way muse disseminate and parcel out their information.
Censorship is bad for a democratic society, as well as paucity of disseminating the glut of information that is apparently there on the Web, is detrimental for development of men and their democratic institutions. Cherry-picking and 'fancy choosing ' of information as pointed out by the two authors of information, is retarding the role that museums play in our present day societies. In the digital wars that we are witnessing, is of paramount importance that the Museum and such like institutions, The Smithsonian and so forth, avail their collection and data much more people and public-friendly in the contemporary mediarized environment.
"The relevance of museums in a changing world is dependent on recognizing the political nature of the museum's authority and giving new credence to voices outside the museum."(Hooper-Greenhill). My take, on this part of the Hub, in regards to the new and emerging technologies, they bring along with them the unveiling of the closed and closet nature of the operations of the Museums. they are the outside forces that are not in the museum, and demand to be used in terms of what they are designed for: reach as many people as possible, and empower them with the information, akin to what power the museum curators wield.
That is why Levi Straus, according to the article above, sees the museum Curator more as a conjuror than curator. Levi foresaw the limited and myopic role of the Curator as indefensible and a non-starter, within a changing mediarized and streaming environment that we all exist in today. This is addressed in the article by the cited observations of Rosenbaum above: "curation addresses two parallel trends: the explosive growth in data, and our need to be able to find information in coherent, reasonably contextual groupings. This latter need, to be able to find information, has been complicated by the horizontal organization of the Internet. Rather than relying on hierarchical methods for prioritizing and categorizing information, all data on the network is linkable to other data, creating “a vast network of information, all of which is equally accessible and none of which is privileged”
This is key to my pointing out above that information is the oxygen for democratic society, for if it is shared without boundaries and Gatekeepers, democracies can breadth, so to speak. This is important in the world today that faces a constant and incessant class of Digital Wars of the Past and present. The present world of digitalia is very forceful in its technique(which controls everything technological) and the anagogic but now defunct media of yesteryear. The museum, the authors, sum it up, should be a collective activity: The museum easily made accessible to the general mediarized users, globally.