Why the Internet Is Ground Zero in the Global Consciousness War
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His answer startled me. I tend to forget that so many people in our society still believe, with a startlingly naive faith, in the Horatio Alger myth and have even extended this idea: it is no longer the case that people imagine they can become wealthy from hard work and ingenuity. It is more the case that they believe wealth to be their natural right, and expect it to happen to them in the same inevitable way that the sun rises each morning.
This is one reason that the developing situation is so extremely threatening and dangerous to the powers that be: through rigorous indoctrination via the media, they have set up unreal expectations in the populace, who may become irate when it finally dawns upon them that these expectations will never be met. Instead, in reality, the little that they have is being inexorably stripped from them. The recent riots in Greece and France, and the volatile student protests in California, reveal the potential for civil unrest on a scale that will, I suspect, ultimately dwarf what we saw in the 60s.
The proposition that only one form of economy, one type of money, is inevitable and innate to our human nature is a story that our culture tells us and constantly repeats and reiterates to compel our belief in it. In many arenas, a fierce battle is taking place for control of the story. A war is being waged to determine what type of cultural conversations are encouraged and what ideas get systematically suppressed, ridiculed, and rejected. Most people are unwitting participants - I am tempted to say victims - in this struggle.
Because this battle for control of the stories our culture tells about itself - the myths and beliefs that give form and structure to consensus reality - is so crucial and so intense right now, the new mechanisms for distributing, marketing, and promoting new art, challenging information, and radical content are extraordinarily important, not only because they define the culture in which we live, but for our near-term survival as a species. It is not likely that our environment can continue to withstand our primitive technological assault upon it, and our negligence of the basic support systems that give us life.
Part of the new myth that our culture needs to tell about itself, as many thinkers have proposed, is the story of how we became deluded into believing we were separate from the earth, rather than a part of her, and how this led to imbalance and discontent. Another, more controversial element of our new emergent myth, I believe, is the realization that the psychic and physical aspects of our being are not cut off from each other, but inseparable and inextricably meshed.
I began this essay by discussing media distribution, how the extraordinary mobility of creative content today poses challenges that are also amazing opportunities for new ideas to spread rapidly. The potential is for a real alternative, a substantively different paradigm, to emerge rapidly, as the old myths and accompanying belief structure become increasingly untenable. Right now, we have an opportunity to change the underlying story and operating system that runs global society, that determines its priorities and practices. I propose that there is a relatively short window in which we can bring about this change, for a number of reasons. Most intensely, because we are approaching a threshold of civilizational chaos, leading to authoritarian control and ecological collapse, or a reinvention of our world. Also because the controlling forces are seeking to trap the liberatory potential of the Internet in new static forms. This is what 'Facebook Connect' suggests to me, among other ways that the Internet is being homogenized.