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  • Fire with Fire (328 posts)
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    A Jeremiad

    A jeremiad is a long literary work, usually in prose, but sometimes in verse, in which the author bitterly laments the state of society and its morals in a serious tone of sustained invective, and always contains a prophecy of society’s imminent downfall.

     

     

    The biggest collective mistake of humankind is the Digital Revolution.  It makes civilization impossible.

    In Understanding Media, Marshall McLuhan accurately predicted the changes to the social order that have taken place over the last half century, recognizing that the way we have looked at existence for the last five centuries would evaporate as the age of print gives way to electronic communication, which is happening before our eyes.  McLuhan was famously aloof and matter-of-fact about the coming changes in how people relate to each other, without making any judgment about the wisdom of where the new technology and the media created by it would be taking the human race.

    The cutting edge of the digital age was the Internet.  It allows universal and practically instant access to data.  This universality of access is what makes the “hack” possible — unauthorized access to data.  At the most fundamental level of folly, we have turned “money” into data which can now be hacked.  The battle between banks and bank robbers was very one sided. The money was behind steel and there were armed guards to keep thieves away from it. Electronic “money” does not exist anywhere, and it can be hacked and stolen without anybody pulling a gun.

    I represent some of the unionized work force at Sony and I have spoken with a number of our members who were impacted by the hack of their system a few years ago.  Trade secrets, Social Security Numbers, inside information all gone in a flash — and to this day there is no resolution of the mystery.

    In our pathetic culture we now have profit making companies who will help you clean up the mess made when somebody hacks your personal finances.  Sony bought such “products” for its employees after the hack because there was nothing else that could be done.  What a typical American solution to a problem.  Worried that your life might be destroyed by a hacker?  Here is product you can buy that will solve your problems.

    So now we have no privacy and no security for all the “information” that defines our Age.  But it gets worse, the more you look at it.

    The progress that enables me to write this screed has already almost destroyed the profession of writing.  Now everybody who can afford the few hundred dollars it takes to buy a computer and get internet access can communicate with everybody else.  That is definitely progress, ending the gate keeper game played by the publishing industry and the profession of book reviewers.  But in ending that game, the new technology also made it impossible to protect your copyright, and we now have therefore “democratized” writing — while making it almost impossible already to make a living at it.

    The same thing happened to music recording.

    OK, that is not so bad, is it?  By itself it is plenty bad, but hey — starving artists are the only real artists?  Right?

    Maybe so, but take a look at the American presidential election.  In the first place, there is no argument at all about whether the Democratic National Committee’s private email traffic was made public.  Rather than ponder what this means about how we communicate with each other, or how elections are now conducted, or even about why privacy is now obsolete, this has led to the most fascinating speculation as to who got the material to Wikileaks and why.  Allegedly Wiklieaks was “weaponized” to help Russia and/or Vladimir Putin to manipulate our election.  Whether that is true is a matter of controversy.  What is not controversial is that it is possible that Putin and a whole lot of other shady characters have both the means and the opportunity to rig our elections.

    And leaking purloined emails is not even close to the most effective way to rig an election.  Flipping votes is, and there is no way for any of us to be sure that “electronic” votes are counted correctly.

    Excuse me.  This is insane.  I don’t really care at this point whether it was Putin or some pimple faced geek living in Stockholm who snooped into the DNC email data.  The fact that a wide variety of suspects has both the motive and means to manipulate elections makes me wonder what the hell we have done by doing away with paper, which can be locked up in a vault and replacing it with the medium of digital communication.

    If elections are vulnerable, if major global corporations are vulnerable, if governments are vulnerable, what is the answer?  There isn’t one.

     

    Finally, looking ahead to even more of the  jolly benefits of the digital age, next up is the self driving car and the self driving truck. This technology will put another five million people out of work. But that is just the beginning. If you can teach a robot to drive a car, you can teach a robot to repair a car, or a truck or anything else. In fact, there are very few paying jobs that cannot be either eliminated or drastically shrunk by developing digital technology that will be soon be operational.

    So there you see the glory of the Digital Age.  No privacy.  No security from hackers.  No jobs.  The trend lines are set and appear to be irreversible.

     

    I submit that you cannot have civilization if it is impossible to prevent the hacking of everything.  Nor can we have civilization if robots put tens of millions more people out of work.  Neither of the major parties has a word to say about this unravelling of civilization.  Nor does anybody else, save for a few esoteric intellectuals.

    Unless our political institutions face this burgeoning social catastrophe caused by changing technology, we are all just biding our time  until civilization collapses due to its utter dysfunctionality.  We live in a world in which property itself becomes meaningless — an old lefty dream that really just adds up to chaos.

    Obviously there is no turning back.  The “efficiency” of digital communication runs every previous mode of commerce out of business, eliminating jobs relentlessly.  The graphs showing the explosion of Income Inequality are usually cited to indict neoliberalism — but they also depict the reality that the accelerating efficiency is exploding profits, while speeding up the work place, and killing “unnecessary jobs.”  That is, making human beings unnecessary.

    There is no way to impose a rejection of this alleged “efficiency.”  You cannot put the digital genie back in the bottle.

    So we better come up with something PDQ.

     

     

     

    OzoneTom, davidgmills, arendt and 5 othersFanBoy, Shlabotnik, id-entity, elias39, jwirr like this

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  • id-entity (2015 posts)
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    1. Aikido with Digital Revolution

    The word “aikido” is formed of three kanji:

    合 – ai – joining, unifying, combining, fitting
    気 – ki – spirit, energy, mood, morale
    道 – dō – way, path

    In aikido there are no opponents, just practicing directing force with practice opponents. Joining the dance of forces.

     

    When I procreated in this world and became a Worried Parent – so worried that I entered the dark night of the soul – I sought redemption and Path from our tested and trusted precivilization know-how: gardening, shamanistic spirituality and intentional communities combining the two. The first book about permaculture that came by was called Aikido With Nature. Nature does not mean a walled garden, object to human subject, but a whole that I/we/etc. pronoun participate in. Perhaps in some weird holographic and holodynamic part-whole relation. Even if Digital Revolution is purely human made, it is part of Nature. And maybe it’s the higher collective intelligence of endogastric etc. bacteria that can eat pure electrons that is using human space suits as application programming interfaces and our human self-importance is just a Matrix trick to keep space suit API in working condition.

    End of Civilization you say? In that case, about time! And no, I don’t mean regress back to the good old pre-civ days, but evolutionary leap to our post-civ utopias, our hearts desire, for which each individual dreams and speaks in unique way. But first, let’s examine for a while, a working definition of civilization, that could narrate itself in harmony with our desire for progress. Pre-civ communities and nuclear families in all their anthropological variety were… small. Small by individual count, remaining by commonly held view under Dunbar number. The limit of human to human, peer to peer, face to face, heart to heart social organisation set by natural languages as part nature adapting to local ecosystems, in their variety creating also the Babel veil of language barriers as Bible narrates.

    Civilization has been so far the ruling way to solve the Scaling Problem, how to grow our societies beyond Dunbar number, how to cooperate in larger units, more efficiently? Did I just say “ruling”? Indeed, I suggest that the defining character of civilization-as-we-know it is social model of top down centralization, which the Greek word ‘polis’ and its derivatives, police etc., inherently contains. The geometry of a pyramid. Symbolically, this acme or these last days of civilization, these days of neoliberal globalization, are systemically ruled by pyramid with Sauron’s hypnotic eye at the top of the pyramid, on the back of the one dollar bill. By centralized fractional reserve banking gone wild with digital printing of money. Monopoly money monopolized by taxation and state monopoly of violence, ponzi money by the money creation algorithm of debt and usury, with mathematical requirement of exponential growth of the monetary system, with money derivatives and derivatives on top of derivatives. We have become slaves to money, and can’t stop hurting ourselves, with no escape in sight from this collective psychosis.

    Except, could there be an opening, already whispering in seductive voices of cryptic techno jargon? Blockchain, decentralized cryptocurrencies, p2p? Could it be that the God that Heidegger invoked, saying “Nur noch ein Gott kann uns retten”, is Deus ex Machina? In the age when human-to-government interaction happens more and more through computer interface, when phenomenology of governance is increasingly becoming a collection of automated software programs, this digital revolution of decentralized and bottom-to-up reprogrammable social contracts, models and communication platforms, that are inherently as global as Internet and radio waves?

    Never before has the distance between economic etc. social theories and their practical tests and applications been so short. All over the Internet global network the Big Discussion is going on, innovation is going on, various money creation recipes etc. blockchain apps are being put into practical test of people behind computer screens, people with smart phones in hand, computers computing their algorithms.

    In this narrative that I’ve tried to scratch the surface of, the big question is the question of civilization, defined as top down centralized model, and the emerging decentralized p2p networks of post-civilization. The question “what shall we do the day after revolution?” has become obsolete. The day after revolution is today.

    Today, friend, what is your answer today? Stay with civilization, cling unto the old centralism of polis and pyramid, or step boldly and confidently into Brave New World of post-civilization, of decentralized digital globalistan? Could this be, at least, discussion worth participating, question worth studying?

     

    Disclaimer: You are free to reproduce, distribute, interpret, misinterpret, distort, garble, do what you like, even claim authorship, without my consent or the permission of anybody.
    • Fire with Fire (328 posts)
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      2. Excellent Post

      Today, friend, what is your answer today? Stay with civilization, cling unto the old centralism of polis and pyramid, or step boldly and confidently into Brave New World of post-civilization, of decentralized digital globalistan? Could this be, at least, discussion worth participating, question worth studying?

       

      A Jeremiad is a call to spirituality.  My sermon is not intended as a call to go backwards, and your critique of the dying civilization is in perfect accord with my thoughts.  And your description of new modes of social coordination is exactly what McLuhan foretold.  You may or may not agree with him that the hierarchical structure of the current civilization is the result of the printing press, but whatever its genesis, it is dying now and digital communication is subverting its top-down system of control with the lateral organization that this new technology embodies.

      I would like to share your optimistic take on making these changes take place.  And here is where the collective good and the personal situation come into conflict.  I am looking at my 64th birthday later this month.  I grew up in Dallas, Texas in the 50s and 60s and all my baseline notions of normalcy grew out of the ecological catastrophe of the American car culture.  I am used to space, to privacy, to the mobility of 3o cent gasoline and $2000 cars.  I realize that it is my responsibility to adjust to the better world that could follow the end of this civilization.  But I am not so sure about the mass of humanity adapting.

      Changing social paradigms always create massive dislocation.  With today’s speed of change so much faster than anything previously seen by humankind, the dislocations to come will be on us before most of us know what hit us.  And with modern civilization’s triumphs over disease and death, there are now upwards of seven billion people on the planet and probably four of those billions are utterly dependent upon our current paradigm for food and shelter.  When it crumbles there will be a lot of pain and death.

      My lamentation ends with the cryptic comment — “So we better come up with something PDQ.”  Thanks for responding right on point.

      • id-entity (2015 posts)
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        3. Bad news drives out good news – Spiro Agnew

        Vice President Spiro Agnew used Gresham’s law in describing American news media, stating that “Bad news drives out good news,” although his argument was closer to that of a race to the bottom for higher ratings rather than over and undervaluing certain kinds of news.[22]

        Thanks for teaching and showing jeremiad. This sub for Radical Philosophy was born from Spiro’s jeremiad and how it is reflected in JPR GD. Going on tangent – not necessarily orthogonal, as my philosophical scepticism particularly enjoys doubing that particular in this twisted world – Gresham’s law is very interesting and full of promise. But first, bit of frogspiracy jeremiad, from the link above:

         

        Choire: Kek! Brekekekex koax koax!

         

        The course our city runs is the same towards men and money.

        She has true and worthy sons.

        She has fine new gold and ancient silver,

        Coins untouched with alloys, gold or silver,

        Each well minted, tested each and ringing clear.

        Yet we never use them!

        Others pass from hand to hand,

        Sorry brass just struck last week and branded with a wretched brand.

        So with men we know for upright, blameless lives and noble names.

        These we spurn for men of brass…

        (Aristophanes, Frogs)

         

        Just had a cigarette. It’s snowing outside, houses painted red, according to ancient local custom, covered in white snow, dark green forest in the dark night, now so calmly and softly reflecting the light of stars. Santa Claus is real.

        So let the bad money replace the good money, for what is “bad” in bad money? It’s just even more ridiculous than the previous “good” money, that we, for a while, took so seriously that we became the biggest joke of this comedy. Comedy we play for fun, for the lulz, no matter how elaborate the joke, how long we build it with serious Buster Keaton face. Also mathematicians, who told little Peter Pan that “numbers are what we count with”, later with serious face say that there are “non-computable, ie. non-algorithmic real numbers”, created not with mathematical induction but with magic wand of ZFC ad-hoc axioms. And should Peter Pan and Tinker Bell ask them, how are those non-computable numbers different from fairy dust pixels, mathematicians and physicists start to look awfully serious, which makes Tinker Bell sad. No, we don’t want to make Tinker Bell sad, that’s not the purpose of our jeremiad and comedy of errors.

        There are fears to confront. It is not our task to take the fear away, to deny the challenge to conquer our fears, individually and collectively. These are days of the frog, the skin breathing most vulnerable creature, the liminal archetype who lives in both fluid water and on firm ground, who can turn into prince from a kiss, a form that God of Forest, god of undivided living breathing whole, likes to manifest in.

        A Canadian professor, who is making his battle for freedom of speech very personal journey also into Jungian depths or archetypes and myth living, discusses his encounter with the frog:

         

        It is not our task to take the fear away, but for some reason or no reason we do like to remind that yes, Santa Claus is real, Tinker Bell is real, the light is inside you.

         

         

         

        Disclaimer: You are free to reproduce, distribute, interpret, misinterpret, distort, garble, do what you like, even claim authorship, without my consent or the permission of anybody.
  • id-entity (2015 posts)
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    Disclaimer: You are free to reproduce, distribute, interpret, misinterpret, distort, garble, do what you like, even claim authorship, without my consent or the permission of anybody.