Thursday, August 09, 2007

We Now Interupt Our Regularly Scheduled Program...

We now interrupt our regularly-scheduled program for this important announcement from CONELRAD...

The concept of a national information superhighway is dead--in the United States. Touted by technology geeks and politicians alike only a few years ago, the goal to bring high-speed Internet access to Americans of all economic and geographic persuasions has been replaced by the utopia of corporate monopolization. The "Information Superhighway" modelled figuratively after the interstate highway system initiated during the Eisenhower administration will never materialize, according to a recent essay by Robert Cringely, Game Over. While King George and Congress were busy conducting a now-routine extension of the American Corporate Empire in the Middle East under the usual government-inspired false pretenses, at home, Congress converted a little thing like the Information Superhighway into a Corporate Monopoly Internet Toll Road.

Such a move centralizes information distribution in the hands of a few mega-corporations, thus damaging democracy, and pushing the U.S. far behind much of the rest of Western Europe and Japan in terms of public broadband access. By any quantitative analysis, the US is not anywhere near the top in global Internet access. Oh well, corporate health care, corporate Internet--privatize anything in the interest of protecting American corporate interests. Enter the Dark Ages of the American Empire. Anything and everything in the public interest is now branded as dangerous socialism, while universal health care and universal Internet access become disparaged as elements of the decidedly unmacho "nanny state" or "welfare handout."

More accurately, I argue that the U.S. is now the most extensive corporate welfare state in human history. Never before has so much money been funneled out of the dwindling middle class and into corporate monopolies ranging from the likes of robber baron Bill Gates to war-business Haliburton. Never have so many been swindled by so few, so thoroughly, through such persistent corporate propaganda passed off as "education" and "news."

In other news this week, the number of people now online in China surpassed that in the U.S.. Increasingly, if we do not fix the farce that we call democracy here, the rest of the world will soon leave us behind, or worse yet, far more immoral violence will be employed by the government in the Orwellian name of "protecting democracy" in the interest of extending the American Empire abroad. In the throes of xenophobia and jingoist distractions, corporations have stolen the Information Highway.

Remain silent.

Silence is the forge of fascism. The professional class, whether Germany in 1937 or the U.S. in 2007, are trained to remain silent, in service to power. To speak out is to lose "professional" status. This is the bane of modern civilization. The most serious mistake of historical interpretation would be to consider Nazi Germany as an anomaly of human social behavior. As Herman intimated, social power may be defined as the clout to "normalize the unthinkable." What Bush can do is spew lies directly into sycophantic corporate TV cameras, and claim that the U.S. does not employ torture, all with impunity. This can only be accomplished within the institutional contexts of complicity to deception. The role of public education is to produce a professional class that functions in service to power, first within the context of the corporation. It is no small matter that the most influential institutions in America today are fundamentally anti-democratic. The corporate workplace is a model of tyranny, devoid of democracy, managed by an unelected board of directors, and a training ground for "good citizenship"in the form of obedience to power. The highest form of corporate citizenship is functioning as a "team player."

The silence of the professional class in Nazi Germany was based on the standard role of the professional class as found in any Western society. Angry people are cast as "bad" or "evil" people by the power elite in corporate-dominated societies--they're not "team players." Whether one examines Stalinist Russia or Bushist U.S., the high social status of the professional is maintained by feigning independence through silence. The social climate for meaningful discourse on serious public policy issues is thus iced. The professional elite silenced through maintenance of class status; the poor silenced by their invisible status in the corporate media. The First Amendment becomes neutered through the power of the institutions controlled by the apparatchik professional class-- news media monopolies (TV, newspapers, radio) and public education, most notably. For the press to question assertions made by powerful interests--whether the President of the U.S. or a corporate CEO--is perceived as unseemly, undignified, and unprofessional. The role of the professional journalist in Western democracies is to provide happy-talk news. After all, a journalist is not a team player otherwise. The so-called serious news sources such as CNN, the New York Times, and the Washington Post are not immune to this affliction. A corporate journalist learns that professional promotions are not had by questioning corporate authority. Institutions that in practice reward complicity and subservience to power within the institution cannot expect to question power outside of the institution. There is no conspiracy; a process of self-selection operates to sort those who stay on, learning the rules, and prospering within, whereas those who do not adopt the principles of complicity to power, leave. Thus, CNN ends up with the likes of a Wolf Blitzer, who represents an astonishing achievement of lobotomized naivete that could never be consciously planned by management. The structure and function of social systems manufacture the professional class. Mark Twain said it more succinctly, Circumstances make man, not man circumstances.

One means to fix one social inequality in the U.S. would be to bring back the military draft as Congressman Conyers has suggested. The one difference between now and 1967 is that only the poor kids get killed in Iraq. True, during the Vietnam War mostly it was the poor kids like some of my high school buddies who were killed for the corporatocracy, but the American warfare on brown people was much more the equal opportunity enterprise than it is today.

Putting the rich kids in line down at the draft board tomorrow would transform the social dynamics of the silent elite. The veneer of social aloofness can only be maintained when the poor pay the price of empire. When the risk is more equitably distributed throughout society, the utopia of American-sponsored corporate empire harvested on the graves of the poor becomes supplanted by the "suits" taking to the streets in protest. Protest? Tres chic!

Meanwhile, back on the Internet ranch, the cable and telco monopolies own the physical infrastructure of modern communication. If you think this doesn't matter, think on this one: During the past weekend, an Internet webcast of the well-known rock group Pearl Jam was censored by AT&T. The voice of the lead singer was intentionally muffled as he moved into lyrics urging the impeachment of George Bush. Hmmmm...

We now return you to our regularly-scheduled program intended to waste your precious time with diversionary entertainment and happy-talk McNews...

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