In humble recognition of great writers

The technology of the Internet will prove to be of huge democratic value.

Those who know me know a disquieted man.  Someone, who despite being more at peace with himself than ever before, nonetheless senses that we, as in the mankind of Planet Earth, are already deep in the ‘no mans land’ of change between the last, say, forty years and a very different future just around the corner.

In the past opinion and commentary has been in the hands, more or less, of the giant media moguls.  But technology has changed that.  Now more than ever a huge people have access to the Internet.  Indeed, a quick Google search reveals that of a world population of 6.85 billion people, just under 2 billion (29%) have internet access.  In North America that percentage is 77.4% (226 million) and in Europe the percentage is 58.4% (475 million).  I.e. nearly a billion people in just North America and Europe!

My point is that, in a manner never before experienced in human history, the vast majority of us have the ability to read, learn and muse about the critically important issues facing us today, coming to conclusions that carry political weight.  We have almost infinite choice as to where and how we form opinions.

Thus having access, via the internet, to the scribblings of so many wise people may end up giving democracy the boost it really needs in the face of overwhelming powerful plutocratic forces.

Here are just a couple of those wise voices.

Simon Johnson

I first came across him in an article in The Atlantic Magazine back in May 2009.  That article was called The Quiet Coup.  If you haven’t read it, go here.  It is introduced thus:

The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government—a state of affairs that more typically describes emerging markets, and is at the center of many emerging-market crises. If the IMF’s staff could speak freely about the U.S., it would tell us what it tells all countries in this situation: recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform. And if we are to prevent a true depression, we’re running out of time.

Simon is also one of the lead writers for the Blog Baseline Scenario.  Have a read of a recent article about the appointment of Bill Daley as President Obama’s new chief of staff.  That article concludes thus:

Top executives at big U.S. banks want to be left alone during relatively good times – allowed to take whatever excessive risks they want, to juice their return on equity through massive leverage, to thus boost their pay and enhance their status around the world.  But at a moment of severe financial crisis, they also want someone in the White House who will whisper at just the right moment: “Mr. President, if you let this bank fail, it will trigger a worldwide financial panic and another Great Depression.  This will be worse than what happened after Lehman Brothers failed.”

Let’s be honest.  With the appointment of Bill Daley, the big banks have won completely this round of boom-bust-bailout.  The risk inherent to our financial system is now higher than it was in the early/mid-2000s.  We are set up for another illusory financial expansion and another debilitating crisis.

Bill Daley will get it done.

Now let’s turn to that other writer, Patrice Ayme.

That name is a nom-de-plume but so what!  Having read Patrice for some time now and corresponded via email from time to time, I have to tell you this is one giant of an intellectual thinker.  Take this Post from example: Pluto Lie #1: Glass Beads Matter More It’s a beautifully written article but not something that you should try a skim read through; it deserves a really focussed mind on the words and the meanings expressed. Here’s a flavour:

Abstract: An American historian paid by the hyper rich, exhumed again the old fallacy that material riches matter more than anything else. He points at recent electronic gadgetry, and attributes it to Reagan. This article of faith in Reagan and American plutocracy amusingly gives, obviously without knowing, prominence to recent French and German governmental research, which allowed to make such gadgets.

I skewer this lamentable, not to say corrupt, piece of dismal propaganda which was published all over the American media, for Christmas. I use the occasion to give a new metric to evaluate riches over the last 100,000 years, explain why the USA does not use the metric system, and what European kings were really about.

Too great a disparity of riches is another name for plutocracy.  Indeed, money is power, and thus, too much money is too much power.

Here is how Patrice’s article closes (but it would be so much better if you read the article in its entirety):

Morality? Europeans Kings of old could live long, and lived strong.The best of them were working relentlessly, brandishing whatever it took to stabilize the situation ethically, politically, and civilizationally. They were incredibly brutal. They would die, and kill, just over the length of hair (kings and prospective kings wore it long, religious wore it nought). Even small children, if viewed as potential kings, would be presented with the scissors and the sword (if they did not go for the former, they would get the later).

So of course, kings of old would have made it to today’s highest class. Kings were often the richest people around, and they got there, or stayed there, by killing, in the name of new, and higher principles. This only happened because their subordinates agreed to strive towards the same new and higher principles. Hanson misses completely the spiritual dimension of the kings of old. Kings of old led an ethical revolution, which was their reason for being in power, and why people elected them (or elected to follow them).

Kings of old lived very comfortably by their metrics, with residences all around Europe, and wives, concubines, nobles under oaths to serve them (to death). Some, such as Charlemagne, were very healthy into old age. What’s more fun than to make war for decades, mostly winning, as Charlemagne did?

Dr. Victor Davis Hanson, a classicist and military historian, is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal.

That appurtenance, too, tells volumes. Hanson has tales to tell, and they sing of American plutocracy. It remains to be seen if history will sing along. Two things, though: history does not tell lies, and human beings are not reducible to gadget loving midgets.

So to repeat my point.  Whether or not one choses to agree with the likes of Simon Johnson and Patrice Ayme there is no doubt that in my mind it will be writers like these that, through the better education of millions of citizens, will not only preserve democracy in so many countries but will ensure that the age before us will be fairer and more just.

Change can be achieved by the threat of tomorrow being the same

even quicker than by the hope of tomorrow being different! C. Graham-Leigh.

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