SOLOMON: Virtual Commandments of the Dot-Com Faith

Inside the temples of true believers, ardent faith has a way of prevailing. And so, in the Dot-Com year of 2000, vast numbers of followers seem eager to fulfill a sacred digital future.

Implicit and largely unspoken, the virtual Ten Commandments of Dot-Comity are now widespread:

* You shall have no other gods before media synergy.

* You shall not bow to any image above those of the profits. Technology and venture capital are marvels that turn the Internet into a cosmic pathway for the commerce of life.

* You shall not take the name of the Lord your Market in vain. It has little use for those who squander opportunity. It will not hold guiltless those who fail to appreciate Its transformative powers.

* Remember the stock exchange and keep it holy. You may pause and reflect on the meaning of your labor, but for the long days and during after-hours trading -- with the help of cable TV networks and online brokerage firms as well as some of the hottest investment websites around -- the Lord your Market blesses every breath you take and hallows it, especially when earnings soar.

* Honor your father and mother, for they made possible a balanced portfolio, taking into account the strengths of blue chips and Nasdaq, with careful attention to the most auspicious high-tech initial public offerings.

* You shall not fail to make a killing, within the constraints of mortal fallibility, which must be reduced to aggregate the momentum of digital technologies and the markets. In the Canaan of the Web, you shall revere those who develop software to let there be cyberlight, making new fiduciary horizons dawn and rendering mere human form secondary.

* You shall not adulterate the potential of Dot-Comity to raise our eyes to the heavens of capital formation, IPOs and long-term advancement of New Media.

* You shall not steal. Above all, entrepreneurial fortunes depend on respect for intellectual property rights.

* You shall not unduly cut corners for temporary advantage, lest you undermine the Dot-Com faith that rockets the blessed of us to seven figures and beyond. You should participate in all manner of fascination with interfaces between the technical and the financial, subjecting them to interminable media discourse, while bypassing qualitative evaluation of "content" and thus minimizing public debate about the cultural and political messages most widely promoted by centralized New Media power.

* You shall not covet the trademarked, copyrighted, patented or encrypted products of competitors, but you shall be free to attempt capture of fabulous wealth available to a small percentage of adherents. Take full advantage of the Internet and satellite technology that was massively subsidized by the federal government decades ago, but do not hesitate to claim that the Lord your Market has made it all possible and therefore the private sector deserves all its divine profits, and more, if only government would get out of the way.

The virtual commandments need not be belabored or even mentioned; they are mainly internalized by the faithful. Every month, hundreds of hours on national television and many large vats of ink go to prayerful meditations on how to better understand and analyze the Lord our Market, seeking to assess Its will to be done. Sanctified by an inexhaustible fountain of media reports and discussions, the Lord our Market reaches new and transcendent levels, nearing the iridescent light to shine on the human condition.

Some fundamentalist believers in Dot-Comity insist that the literal words of the Lord their Market include this admonition: "As for others who fail utterly in the glorious quest for rich holiness of the techno-age, you shall not be distracted by their misfortune nor attempt significant aid. For I, the Lord your Market, am a zealous god, smiting each generation with inequities that favor the best and lay low those who cannot glorify the Lord their Market. This need not bother the followers who embrace me and with steadfast devotion keep my commandments."

Norman Solomon is a syndicated columnist. His books include "The Trouble With Dilbert: How Corporate Culture Gets the Last Laugh."

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