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Posted on Feb 15, 2010

By Chris Hedges

(Page 2)

And yet the utopian promoters of the Internet tell us that the hive mind, the vast virtual collective, will propel us toward a brave new world. Lanier dismisses such visions as childish fantasy, one that allows many well-intentioned people to be seduced by an evolving nightmare.

“The crowd phenomenon exists, but the hive does not exist,” Lanier told me. “All there is, is a crowd phenomenon, which can often be dangerous. To a true believer, which I certainly am not, the hive is like the baby at the end of ‘2001 Space Odyssey.’ It is a super creature that surpasses humanity. To me it is the misinterpretation of the old crowd phenomenon with a digital vibe. It has all the same dangers. A crowd can turn into a mean mob all too easily, as it has throughout human history.”

“There are some things crowds can do, such as count the jelly beans in the jar or guess the weight of the ox,” Lanier added. “I acknowledge this phenomenon is real. But I propose that the line between when crowds can think effectively as a crowd and when they can’t is a little different. If you read [James] Surowiecki’s “The Wisdom of Crowds,” he, as well as other theorists, say that if you want a crowd to be wise the key is to reduce the communication flow between the members so they do not influence each other, so they are truly independent and have separate sample points. It brings up an interesting paradox. The starting point for online crowd enthusiasts is that connection is good and everyone should be connected. But when they talk about what makes a crowd smart they say people should not be talking to each other. They should be isolated. There is a contradiction there. What makes a crowd smart is the type of question you ask. If you ask a group of informed people to choose a single numeric value such as the weight of an ox and they all have some reason to have a theory that is not entirely crazy they will center on the answer. You can get something useful. This phenomenon is what accounts for price fitting in capitalism. This is how markets can function. If you ask them to create anything, if you ask them to do something constructive or synthetic or engage in compound reasoning then they will fail. Then you get something dull or an averaging out. One danger of the crowd is violence, which is when they turn into a mob. The other is dullness or mundaneness, when you design by committee.”

Humans, like many other species, Lanier says, have a cognitive switch that permits us to be individuals or members of a mob. Once we enter the confines of what Lanier calls a clan, even a virtual clan, it possesses dynamics that appeal to the basest instincts within us. Technology evolves but human nature remains constant. The 20th century was the bloodiest in human history because human beings married the newly minted tools of efficient state bureaucracies and industrial slaughter with the dark impulses that have existed since the dawn of the human species. 

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“You become hypersensitive to the pecking order and to your sense of social status,” Lanier said of these virtual clans. “There is almost always the designated loser in your own group and the designated external enemy. There is the enemy below and the enemy afar. There become two classes of disenfranchised people. You enter into a constant obligation to defend your status which is always being contested. It is time-consuming to become a member of one of these things. I see a lot of designs on line that bring this out. There is a recognizable sequence, whether it is pianos, poodles or jihad; you see people forming into these clans. It is playing with fire. There are plenty of examples of evil in human history that did not involve this effect, such as Jack the Ripper, who worked alone. But most of the really bad examples of human behavior in history involve invoking this clan dynamic. No particular sort of person is immune to it. Geeks are no more immune to it than Germans or Russians or Japanese or Mongolians. It is part of our nature. It can be woken up without any leadership structure or politics. It happens. It is part of us. There is a switch inside of us waiting to be turned. And people can learn to manipulate the switch in others.”

“The Machine Stops,” a story published by E.M. Forster in 1909, paints a futuristic world where people are mesmerized by virtual reality. In Forster’s dystopia, human beings live in isolated, tiny subterranean rooms, like hives, where they are captivated by instant messages and cinematophoes—machines that project visual images. They cut themselves off from the external world and are absorbed by a bizarre pseudo-reality of voices, sounds, evanescent images and abstract sensations that can be evoked by pressing a few buttons. The access to the world of the Machine, which has replaced the real world with a virtual world, is provided by an omniscient impersonal voice.

We are, as Forster understood, seduced and then often enslaved by technology, from the combustion engine to computers to robotics. These marvels of humankind’s ingenuity are inevitably hijacked by modern slave masters who use the newest technologies to keep us impoverished, confused about our identity and passive. The Internet, designed by defense strategists to communicate after a nuclear attack, has become the latest technological instrument in the hands of those who are driving us into a state of neofeudalism. Technology is morally neutral. It serves the interests of those who control it. And those who control it today are ravishing journalism, culture and art while they herd the population into clans that fuel intolerance and hatred.

“A common rationalization in the fledgling world of digital cultures back then was that we were entering a transitional lull before a creative storm—or were already in the eye of the storm,” Lanier writes in his book. “But we were not passing through a momentary calm. We had, rather, entered a persistent somnolence, and I have come to believe that we will escape it only when we kill the hive.”


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thebeerdoctor's avatar

By thebeerdoctor, February 15, 2010 at 8:32 pm Link to this comment

re: Geza Eder
You are correct about the MBA problem. I actually saw it applied to established industrial corporations, where a fresh wunderkind, right out of business school would come on board to tell them how to “fix” their operating business model, which usually meant (hell, nearly always) slash and burn the work force, outsource as much as possible, and crack into any unused revenue streams, such as pension funds and matching contributions to 401k retirement accounts.
What is truly unnerving is that such unethical, greed-driven behavior is not only acceptable but applauded. The question arises: how many of these executive captains of the board room can this lousy ship of state stand?
In such a shameless environment where corrupt manipulation and fraud are the order of the day, blaming it all on the excesses of a chaotic Internet seems to me to be a very cheap shot at best.

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, February 15, 2010 at 8:20 pm Link to this comment

For many years I rode on the Muni bus to unemployment and back, so when a pregnant women or older lady even a young lady entered the bus I always offered my seat and for something like 12 years I donated my life standing up on the the bus, it bothers me that all those ingrates only said thank you, but not one of them offered me any money for my seat, though now I believe it may have something to do with the bus being empty.

I even helped blind people cross the street and all they said was thank you, even though sometimes they were just waiting for the bus.  I used to stand on a busy street corner and clean windshields with a dirty rag, now that earned me some money, but people paid me not to wash their windows.

So Ellis you could try a dirty rag on a busy freeway.

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By Géza Éder, February 15, 2010 at 8:07 pm Link to this comment

@John Ellis: Are you being sarcastic?  Your post seems to be either utterly stupid or way over my head.  And why do you need to deduce stuff about how I think and what I believe in?  You can just ask me, I’ll be happy to answer and you won’t need to base your posts on things that aren’t true.

Also, please stop building strawmen.  Noone wants you to work for free.  People are not saying they have a right to every creative effort with no compensation.  They’re bringing up issues with the ownership model and the concept of intellectual “property”, both technical and ethical, but this does *not* mean what you think it means.  Try to understand what people are saying and not re-interpret it.

truedigger3 wrote:The problem is not the television but it is the viewer.
The television can be a good source of information, good entertainment and be an educational window on the world if you use it dicriminately.

Apart from TV very often not being a good source of information (it’s often just the opposite, like in politics or when you want to get substantive information on consumer products) you forget the way TV programming is created and used, which is far from neutral.  It’s engineered to be addictive, to replace ambitions for real life achievements with ambitions for buying stuff, and it’s doing this quite openly and obviously.  It’s increasingly aimed at children, and its educational effect is easily comparable to that of parents and schools - but schools and parents simply can’t compete with mass produced super high production value entertainment products that were designed for easy consumption with guaranteed immediate satisfaction.

I think your argument is very similar to the typical “media overconsumption is the parents’ fault” argument (whether regarding violence or attention deficit problems).  Thing is, it’s allowed for people who make TV programs, which are still extremely powerful (although less and less) to design them to manipulate you (and your children of course) and you’re required to constantly exert effort to counter this, which is hard - and pointless - work.  There seems to be a constant level of basic ill will towards people watching television, basically a predatory attitude that says “we’ll get them if they’re not careful for even a moment.”  I don’t think that’s a positive attitude, and I don’t agree that people have a right to approach other people’s life (and their children’s) like that, especially if they have that much power.

The same apply to the internet with the added bonus that the user is able to connect with many other viewers and have access to and share iformation and ideas much more than what was and is possible with the television.

Technology might be neutral in concept, but it’s not really neutral in the forms it actually exists.  The Internet has far more possibility for grassroots organisation and democracy (not just political either) than a lot of other media, but overall, there are still ways to use it for centralisation of power and control, through ownership, legislative means or otherwise.

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By lichen, February 15, 2010 at 8:03 pm Link to this comment

Yes, the poor people in this disgusting radical capitalist world do deserve access to more art, music, and literature then they can personally pay for out of pocket.  Thankfully, the cheap digital distribution aids in this; and we will find new, better forms for everyone to make a living wage as time goes by; no going back and no letting the reactionary genocidal capitalists such as john ellis win.

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By lichen, February 15, 2010 at 7:59 pm Link to this comment

Yes, john ellis, there is such a thing as the creative commons, and there are such systems where the arts are subsidized.  The fruit from my garden has nothing to do with blocks of text, music, or video files, which yes, should be free for everyone to see; it brings greater democracy and new horizons to the world.  I’m not surprised that you sympathize with multi-millionaires and the corporations that try to own art.  You think you deserve billions of customers who would just like to briefly sample your work?  Who would never have heard of you if not for the internet?  Sounds like you just want to be a billionaire yourself and don’t care about social justice; you can shove your books.

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By bozh, February 15, 2010 at 7:00 pm Link to this comment

i tried once more to login. let’s see if i get posted right away?

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By bozh, February 15, 2010 at 6:55 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I see that my post was not put on. it wa truthful but maybe to peppery for TD crew?
In any case i cannot register; so i better leave the site.
It’s a good site; lotsof intelligence out there. I think it is my clazy computer that’s playing all kind of tricks on me. All the best to y’all! tnx

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By rachel, February 15, 2010 at 6:48 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is a bit of a tangent, but should be addressed.

John Ellis, did you seriously compare disliking content on the internet to rape?

I agree the “if you don’t like it, GTFO” argument is lazy in ANY situation. It provides a solution without acknowledging the problem. But please, find another way to make your point that doesn’t involve making light of rape. It’s kind of a loaded word, and definitely not a good analogy.

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By lichen, February 15, 2010 at 6:09 pm Link to this comment

I agree with Samson that we should be able to access any creative work we wish to, and, of course, we can have a system for compensation that is very different from the current one. 

Ultimately, Chris Hedges article just sounds like yet another rant from someone who didn’t grow up with the internet themselves.  I did—from 14 on anyway—and I see things quite differently.  There is a wide internet world out there that goes beyond big myspace/facebook/youtube networks.  I’m so glad I have access to a wide range of opinions, information, art, ideas, perspectives and people via the internet.

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By truedigger3, February 15, 2010 at 6:07 pm Link to this comment

scotttpot wrote:
“It is clear to me that Television has done the most damage to society, reality, and health so far. 
Kill your Television . “
_____________________________________________________

The problem is not the television but it is the viewer.
The television can be a good source of information, good entertainment and be an educational window on the world if you use it dicriminately.
The same apply to the internet with the added bonus that the user is able to connect with many other viewers and have access to and share iformation and ideas much more than what was and is possible with the television.

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By bk, February 15, 2010 at 5:49 pm Link to this comment

who let all the riff-raff in our club?  this used to be such a nice neighborhood until those people showed up.

change is bad.  choice is bad.

a corporation has to pay you to be creative.  the only way to make money is to work for a corporation. 

all of those millions of people making music, videos, and text on the web are not creative.  neither are the millions of people writing software.

only get news from television, newspapers, and glossy magazines.  bloggers are not qualified to deliver news.  believe everything you see on tv and nothing on the web.

the economic problems we are facing can all be blamed on the internet, not on the individuals that run corporations or set trade and fiscal policy.

media corporations have the best interest of the artist at heart, not the artist or their fans.  media corporations would never harm an artist.

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By Géza Éder, February 15, 2010 at 5:46 pm Link to this comment

thebeerdoctor wrote:The late Frank Zappa said some time ago that the need for corporate record companies, was basically, an unpleasant anachronism, which keeps alive the notion that some college graduate in marketing knows what is best for the music business to sign up for a contract.

This is not a problem specific to music.  The concept that an MBA makes you automatically fit for leading a company in any business is basically destroying markets.  These people jump from one executive position to another, often between completely different businesses, and think every problem can be solved by marketing, downsizing or mergers and other generic, market independent techniques - and when they’re faced with a competitor that succeeds because they actually know the market, they have no idea what to do, other than copying their ideas (but putting more money into it) or merging with it.  Couple this with decreasing stockholder control over executives, and you get a form of capitalism that doesn’t even have a remote chance to work.

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thebeerdoctor's avatar

By thebeerdoctor, February 15, 2010 at 5:31 pm Link to this comment

Samson ‘s point about musicians taking matters into their own hands (the Deadhead model, etc.) is well taken. The late Frank Zappa said some time ago that the need for corporate record companies, was basically, an unpleasant anachronism, which keeps alive the notion that some college graduate in marketing knows what is best for the music business to sign up for a contract. But with the advent of modern technology, nearly anyone can produce their own musical product without having to receive permission from executives whose only real wisdom is their amount of money.
The other old saw about writers being deprived of a pay day. Any professional writer around before the Internet (or for that matter, the word processor) remembers those glorious days of the mailed back rejection slip, and the “thank you for considering us, but it is not quite suitable for us” alibi. At least with the Internet, people can be directed to your site to read your actual work, instead of just lonely editors on the lower rung of the publishing company food chain.
Speaking of which, my typo prevented a proper link to my web page, it was all my fault. Here is the proper connection:
http://beerdoctor.wordpress.com/

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By Culley, February 15, 2010 at 5:30 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“The program of liberalism, therefore, if condensed
into a single word, would have to read: property,
that is, private ownership of the means of
production. . . . All the other demands of liberalism
result from this fundamental demand.”

“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of
men living together in society, they create for
themselves in the course of time a legal system that
authorizes it, and a moral code that glorifies it.”

There is not a single society on earth that advocates
the protection of private property.

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By Jack, February 15, 2010 at 5:24 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The biggest problem with the internet is that it is killing professional journalism. Publishers have been trying to do it for years, but now they too may perish with the journalists they try to manipulate and use. It costs real money to maintain a real, professional system of journalism. Reporters, of course, but also editors, fact checkers, libraries, etc. As the NYT found out, no one is going to pay for what they can get for free (although they are going to give it another try). The internet does provide us with not only the dissident opinions, but also many facts that the MSM has either ignored or refused to publish. But who is monitoring all this and vouching for the accuracy? As bad as the NYT and Wapo are(consider the run-up to the Iraq war and the middle east coverage) they at least bring some sense of accuracy and responsibility to the task.

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By Géza Éder, February 15, 2010 at 5:08 pm Link to this comment

John Ellis wrote:

“I hope you don’t think this
“too smart for hard labor but too dumb to ever be rich”
stuff is even close to being true.”

Yes of course, we are all born with the identical intelligence, the identical ability to achieve, and the reason some are poor and some are rich, this has all to do with ambition.

I’m starting to think you’re deliberately misinterpreting what I’m saying.  I never ever said that people are born with “identical ability to achieve” and didn’t even imply that in any way.  My point is that this romantic view of talent and hard work being the most important factors for succewss is mostly wrong.

As far as I know, the fact that some people are poor and some are rich has somewhat to do with ability, a lot to do with the circumstances they were born in (race, class and what these influence, like quality of education) - and a little to do with luck.  Considering how much influence relatively simple changes in economic systems have on polarisation numbers, I’m pretty sure that the underlying economic system is far more important than personal qualities (well, there’s a lot of written material on this, lots of research done, with numbers and stuff grin  ). In fact, the personal qualities that this system selects for don’t seem to have anything to do with talent and hard work in the traditional sense, and a lot more with qualities that are not as obviously positive as these.

One more thing about ipr: the main problem is that they can be sold, and thus most of the time you’re basically forced to sell them, which allows large institutions to concentrate them, just like a huge problem with how current capitalism works is the ability for companies to buy other companies, which allowed companies to concentrate market shares and thus turn competitive markets into monopolies.  I don’t have a problem with you wanting to “own” the book you’ve written - the problem is that a company can “own” that right long after you’re dead.  And even that’s not that big an issue, compared to being able to “own” abstract ideas (like software, business processes or genes) and not actual products of labour (like books or music).

So, do you agree with the following:

20% of voters are the rich and most ambitious Republicans, from high society down to the country club set.

30% of voters are middleclass Democrats, to ambitious for manual labor, to lazy to ever be rich.

50% of voters are poor lazy laboring class no-voters, those to lazy to even go to the poles.

At first glance this looks like a not very insightful or accurate but very convenient simplification of reality, but if you have the supporting data, I’ll have to believe it, obviously.

Calling the American “laboring class” lazy is wrong though. Work hours are actually mid-range according to OECD data (surpassing Japan).  This is not surprising, we have this same image of the “lazy Hungarian worker” in Hungary too - even though we’re second behind Korea (according to OECD data) in actual hours worked (but not in the same league, obviously).  The reason for non-voting might not be “laziness” either, it’s probably more the realisation of the actual function of voting (which is actually a pretty smart realisation), the “spectacle” etc and lending one’s weight to one of essentially equivalent candidates. Apart from objective problems (being out of town or sick etc) the main reason for non-voting is actually a feeling of political powerlessness according to polls (by the Census Bureau).  I’m also not sure that there are more non-voters in the labour class than elsewhere (the last thing I read on this was pretty old, but it said just the opposite).

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Samson's avatar

By Samson, February 15, 2010 at 5:00 pm Link to this comment

For the case of musicians, they can make money from live performances.

That model’s been around for at least 40 years.  The Grateful Dead were always the top grossing band around in ticket sales because they used it.  They always allowed people to record their shows, and then to pass around and trade the recordings (as long as its for free).  This wide exposure to their music created the ticket demand that used to let them sell out football stadiums full of tickets in an hour or two, and to do it with very little advertising or promotion expense.  And since they either promoted their own shows or worked with friendly promoters, they kept a bigger chunk of that ticket revenue for themselves.  Those guys did very well for themselves while putting out tons of music for free for everyone to listen to.

Sometimes, people just have to change with the world.  I think a world where everyone can access the creative works of anyone is wonderful.  The potentials for creative growth and discover in such a world are amazing.  Yes, the trick is how to allow creative people a chance to live a life and pay the bills while participating in this world.  But I suspect we can figure it out.

To me, the biggest problem right now is that the middle men like record companies or newspapers or publishers are still trying to hold on to their role where they sit in the middle and abuse both the customer and the artist for their own profit.  We need to end that role completely, and figure out a fair way to pay artists directly.  ( I really need a web page with a paypal link so people can give me money that I can put in here!)

Me, I like that open world a whole lot better than one where every piece of information or creative work is blocked to me by some webscreen demanding to charge me lots of money on a credit card I don’t have.  That’s just a world of walls and closed doors to so many people.

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By Steve, February 15, 2010 at 4:55 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I have to start by saying that I really like Chris Hedges writing.  But this article
seems very shallow compared to what he usually writes. 

If we substitute other technologies for Internet, at the simplest level like a
mirror or fire, yes we can get on a long one-sided rant about the problems
with that technology.  But like other technologies, the Internet is just a
reflection of our selves, and the imperfection in ourselves.  There are so many
ways in which the Internet is positive - not reflected in the article. 

At its core, one of the greatest powers in the Internet is its ability to destroy
existing power structures, like physical distribution of media.  And, in the
vacuum created new, different and unfamiliar power structures emerge.  This
rebirthing process is uncomfortable.

What I feel Chris is really uncomfortable with is the people in the middle of the
country who have very different values.  These people with different values can
get power with the Internet, and that power is uncomfortable. 

We are at the edge of a war within this country - and the Internet is not the
cause.

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Samson's avatar

By Samson, February 15, 2010 at 4:51 pm Link to this comment

The one interesting thing about the internet is that absolutely nothing is “thrust upon” my screen.  I get to choose what I look at and what I see and what I read.

So ok, I still don’t have any clue what that commercial with the dancing hamster leading a exercise video is all about.  I suspect there’s some video out there that I’ve never seen.  Meanwhile my latest little research search project last week was to go listen to and read as much Stephen Hawking as I can.

The point is, no one is forcing me to watch some video about a hamster.  Or whatever the latest top YouTube video is this week?  Me, I can go listen to Stephen Hawking tell jokes in that perfect dead-pan of his.

“We think we have solved the mystery of creation. Maybe we should patent the universe and charge everyone a royalty for existence.”

(http://commondebate.blogspot.com/2010/02/stephen-hawkings-sense-of-humor.html has a link to the video if anyone’s interested)

Its all in how we use it.  We can keep control for ourselves. Or we can give up this control to others.  We can go along with the pack.  Or we can strike out on our own.

The lovely thing about the internet is that its still very possible to strike out on one’s own.  I can’t do that on cable TV where some corp picks the channels I can see. I can do that over the internet.

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By Willis Davidge, February 15, 2010 at 4:36 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dear Mr. Hedges:

As a freelance journalist trying to cope with the changes in the economy, let me quote Peter Fonda’s embattled record producer in “The Limey” by saying:

“Great. This is sure making the fuck out of my day.”

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By gerard, February 15, 2010 at 4:31 pm Link to this comment

I forgot to mention one other mind-boggler:  The fact that there are far more people in the world with “creative potential” who, for various reasons never get a chance to develop those potentials.  So we never know how much beauty (or second-rate kitch) or inventive ingenuity we prevent from reaching the light of day.
  Merely because of either “the market” or “luck” some things get through and others are suppressed—and the criteria of “usefulness” (to whom?) or “beauty” (in whose eyes?) or “humanitarian value” don’t necessarily have a voice in the decisions.  It is only because we do not know what we have missed that we tolerate the crap-shoot which is the “market” or “luck” as decider.
  Should the internet act as a “market” and if so, to what extent?  And if so, what happens to “humanitarian values?” And if not, what does that say about the dire necessity of a practical public education in value judgments?  And what in the world would that mean? Whose values?  And on and on.

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D.R. Zing's avatar

By D.R. Zing, February 15, 2010 at 4:26 pm Link to this comment

Hmm.  It’s in an interesting article, an interesting dilemma.  The Web does allow the common man to speak what is unpopular with the powers that be.

For example, I can say:  the United States should cut off all military aid to Israel until Israel reaches a peace agreement with the Palestinians, which is not an opinion you’re likely to see in a major newspaper, despite it being a popular and reasonable opinion. 

But I am a creative writer, too. And my short-short stories float around the Internet.  People forward them in e-mails.  People write back to me to say they really enjoyed this or that, which is nice, but the publisher who was going to publish a book of my stuff canceled it because publishing companies are suffering horribly right now, partly due to the economy in general but also because of the Internet. 

I’m also very good at editing video and creating multi-track audio recordings.  Who pays for that service?  Porn of course. 

Who pays me to write?  A corporation does of course. And they pay me astoundingly well, and, bonus points, I don’t have to write marketing nonsense. 

What I do write is highly technical, extremely difficult, largely fulfilling because it is challenging, but each time I hear our executives telling us how great we are doing and how great the company is doing, I feel like a whore. 

I would much rather be writing scripts for multi-media art projects. I would even prefer to be producing porn. 

But both of those media, despite what you might think, are being ravaged by “free sites” that offer adult material for free and as far as art goes, it was hard enough to get paid before. Now, much like Mr. Hedges points out, why pay for art when I can watch it for free on YouTube? 

As for the pack mentality, I have a friend with a skyrocket IQ who enjoys creating multiple characters for himself on forums—Digg mostly—and then debating himself, always taking the most extreme and absurd points of view and then delighting when people jump in on one side or the other to endorse his absurdities.

I would say TruthDig has some of the best and most literate commentary on the Web. 

So, again, there is some balance to it all.  A lot of it sucks and people manipulate it for kicks, but some of it is very good and people get to voice good ideas and great thoughts. 

The kicker would be if people would use the Web to meet in person, some of them might work for positive change, some might work for armed revolt.

It will be interesting to see how it all works out. 

Let’s just hope we don’t end up wishing we all lived in China.

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By Géza Éder, February 15, 2010 at 3:20 pm Link to this comment

John Ellis wrote:

But it took me 12 years of research to publish a book on nutrition, working long hours and weekends while my regular job paid for “day-to-day.”  So according to poster my giving up 12 years enjoyable leisure to endure immense creative pain, all was a waste because my book now belongs to him free of charge.

And so, if poster be such a sincere giver and not a confusion generator, if he will just give us the address to his garden when all his fruit is ripe for the picking, a most perfect society would be in the making.

Problem is, in his very long comment this poster expressed not the slightest gratitude for all the free intellectual property he takes for granted on the WEB.  Truth is, the root cause of all corruption in this ingrate world is all the ingrates who expect something for nothing.

For if my poor laboring class were not such ingrates as to think that welfare was due and owned to them, they would be now supplying the homeless with all food, clothing and shelter they need to survive.

I never intended to say anything like that.  My point was not that you shouldn’t be compensated for your work and so motivated to do it, but that there’s nothing natural or sacred about the ownership model, that it’s a function of a particular culture and not a god-given law.

John Ellis wrote:

And if the intelligent middleclass, those to smart to hard labor but to dumb to ever be rich, if they were not such ingrates as to realize that the super-intelligent rich owe them nothing, then they would be not so blinded by pride and realize the those most intelligent will always control everything.

The problem is that it’s quite obviously not the inventors and scientists, the musicians and the writers, ie. the actual people doing the hard work who become “super rich” in most cases.  I hope you don’t think this “too smart for hard labour but too dumb to ever be rich” stuff is even close to being true.

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By NZDoug, February 15, 2010 at 3:17 pm Link to this comment

I like the cat picture.
The author is expressing his discontent through the internet which proves the authors opinions are unfounded.
Im happy that I can provide work to my suppliers in india and China.
Its like “Live Aid”.

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By Leefeller, February 15, 2010 at 3:08 pm Link to this comment

Anarcassie, good points. Hedges offers rehashed hash, though some refer to it as enlightenment.

“the thing which bothers Lanier and Hedges, is not the copyright issue but the anarchic nature of the Internet, which allows almost anyone to gain publication and almost anyone to read.”

Exclusive clubs are not of the web’s all inclusiveness.

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By Géza Éder, February 15, 2010 at 3:06 pm Link to this comment

gerard wrote:

Question:  What is “authentic creativity and innovation?”  At this late date in history, almost every new thing refers back to something or many things that preceded it. Everything is more or less a mirroring.

It’s not just at this late date.  It was Newton who talked about standing on the shoulders of giants after all (and he’s not exactly someone who needed it as an excuse because he didn’t have achievements on his own grin ). Basically, no individual can create anything that’s larger than (or even close to) the cultural heritage they’re building on (not even Newton, not even Goethe), and this has been the case for most of human history (certainly after discovery of fire and the invention of the wheel). 

Science at least (but all culture) actually works by sharing knowledge, and it simply cannot work otherwise. In science, there’s basically no achievement that wouldn’t have been born without a particular genius. Limiting the use of knowledge should only be used for practical reasons, for motivating people and protecting the investment of time and resources for example, but not because someone “owns” an idea - as someone else would have come up with it anyway.

gerard wrote:

As to earning a living from creativity, the problem is in the limited capitalistic notion of “earning a living.”  Capitalism could not survive if gifts were given freely from one to all.

I don’t really know.  Capitalism is not entirely evil imo.  I think markets (as long as they’re regulated competitive markets that are as close to perfect competition as possible…and with lots of other restrictions, like no externalities) could be a pretty good way to distribute surplus resources (although not things like food and energy) and labour.  Maybe competition is good for stimulating the creativity of some people. Even in a world in which you don’t have to live by day to day labour, you might need some forms of restrictions on how others can use what you created for practical reasons.

gerard wrote:

If this idea of being paid for “creative” work is pushed just a bit further, ridiculous questions arise, like: Should we not still be paying Shakespeare’s family royalties on his plays?  If ot why not? Why should there be a limit at which point everything enters “public domain”?  Should it not have been there all along?

Thing is, these are not philosophical questions.  These are practical, pragmatic questions, and the way one answers them is inherently subjective, a decision about what you want your world to be like.  There’s no objective “natural law” of intellectual property rights, they’re more a reflection of values and priorities in a society (and conversely, what these values and priorities are can be seen from the actual real world effect of these laws and regulations grin ).  So these questions have no answer in this form - it’s not a question of where something “should” be, but what the effects of a particular regulatory system are. 

Afaics the effects of this particular system are centralisation and control of knowledge and intellectual achievements, not their wide distribution and democratic use.

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By thebeerdoctor, February 15, 2010 at 2:50 pm Link to this comment

Hedges’ complaints seem a bit of a stretch, considering he actually does get paid for his screeds. Despite the par-for-the-course doom and gloom, I notice he does not even bring up the idea of Bloggers creating their own union, so as to extract some royalty fees from all the sites (including Truthdig) who use are opinions for eyeball entertainment.
When was unbridled creativity ever a guarantee for money? At least people working through open source software can create their own web sites, without interference from corporate owners.
http://beerdoctor.wordpress,com/

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By Anarcissie, February 15, 2010 at 2:49 pm Link to this comment

gerard, February 15 at 6:06 pm:
‘Chris Hedges always raises huge controversial questions that need wide dissemination and discussion. Thanks for that, Chris.
  Just one example:  From Lanier’s book Chris comments, “Digital collectivism, he warns, is destroying the dwindling vestiges of authentic creativity and innovation ... and while there are a few sites that do pay for content—Truthdig being one—the vast majority are parasites.”
  Question:  What is “authentic creativity and innovation?”  At this late date in history, almost every new thing refers back to something or many things that preceded it. Everything is more or less a mirroring. ...’

That has always been the case.  All art is derivative, part of a broader cultural flow; if this were not the case, it would be incomprehensible.  For more on this, see http://blog.ninapaley.com/2010/02/09/all-creative-work-is-derivative/

Nina Paley is an anti-copyright activist; for more on that, see:
http://sitasingstheblues.com/
http://questioncopyright.org/
http://anticopyright.org/
and the numerous pages linked from those sites.

Copyright, of course, is only one of the issues involved.  The wider issue, the thing which bothers Lanier and Hedges, is not the copyright issue but the anarchic nature of the Internet, which allows almost anyone to gain publication and almost anyone to read.  It is evident that they would prefer to go back to the days when only rich people, corporate managers and the government determined what people could read and see in the media.  They are, in other words, authoritarians, reactionaries and possibly fascists (depending on whether they wish to use force to reinstitute the status quo ante.)  They are opposed to ordinary people having the power to publish and communicate.

I am not surprised to see them applauded by many who imagine themselves to be leftists, although it is sad to see it yet once again.

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By scotttpot, February 15, 2010 at 2:48 pm Link to this comment

Thank You , Chris. Television also promised to inform and connect us .It hasn*t
exactly worked out well for the people , has it? Americans are fat, mis-informed
and unconnected to reality . Over-spent Spectators .
Television was derided by some in the 60*s as “the boob tube ‘’ and ‘‘Idiot Box’‘.
It is clear to me that Television has done the most damage to society, reality, and
health so far. 
Kill your Television .

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By marcus medler, February 15, 2010 at 2:38 pm Link to this comment

Well the debate starts! The same type of
concerns were raised when Television became
ubiquitous. The debate should be with the lack
of referee. Like a sporting event, with no rules
and refs, it becomes a phony game. When mass
communication is subjected to the inexorable
laws of monopoly capital, the result is what is
being described by this author. Intellectual
analysis needs a language. One need only read
Karl Marx and other free market analyst and the
above described picture is presaged.
Unregulated markets are the problem. They are
overrun by deep pocket money hogs. The irony
of American public discourse of the last sixty
years is the discrediting of referees in the arena
of economic activity. In a—free for all—-we
end up with money bullies calling the shots.
Americans have unlearned the fundamental
concepts that underpin the bill of rights. To
ensure freedoms, a society must have law and
referees. Certain ‘infrastructures’ need to
be(sorry) collective, a trust that is for the equal
benefit of all. We understand this when it
comes to fire stations and armies or will they
be the next institutions to fall prey to the
‘greed is good’ crowd.

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By gerard, February 15, 2010 at 2:06 pm Link to this comment

Chris Hedges always raises huge controversial questions that need wide dissemination and discussion. Thanks for that, Chris.
  Just one example:  From Lanier’s book Chris comments, “Digital collectivism, he warns, is destroying the dwindling vestiges of authentic creativity and innovation ... and while there are a few sites that do pay for content—Truthdig being one—the vast majority are parasites.”
  Question:  What is “authentic creativity and innovation?”  At this late date in history, almost every new thing refers back to something or many things that preceded it. Everything is more or less a mirroring. 
  As to earning a living from creativity, the problem is in the limited capitalistic notion of “earning a living.”  Capitalism could not survive if gifts were given freely from one to all.
  If this idea of being paid for “creative” work is pushed just a bit further, ridiculous questions arise, like: Should we not still be paying Shakespeare’s family royalties on his plays?  If ot why not? Why should there be a limit at which point everything enters “public domain”?  Should it not have been there all along? 
  Compound this kind of question with another kind:
How should we reward people who create things which editors, managers etc. decide are not “creative enough” to merit financial reward?  Or should we?
  And yet another quibble:  Does “creative” mean different things to different people? Who should define it definitively?  Is a universal definition possible?  Desireable?  Such propositons raise a morass of hairsplitting quandaries.
  Thankfully, all the time while we dither, Nature continues creating living forms and recreating them, free of charge, giving them to the “public domain” and we scarcely notice the multiplicity, let alone appreciate it.
  As for paying for it:  Even when our “way of life” destroys it, we refuse to pay for stopping the destruction.  (Example: Global warming)

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By scotttpot, February 15, 2010 at 1:58 pm Link to this comment

....intensified progress seems to be bound up with intensified unfreedom.
And the most effective subjugation and destruction of man by man takes place at
the height of civilization , when the material and intellectual attainments of
mankind seem to allow the creation of a truly free world.
                                                                    - Marcuse

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By Géza Éder, February 15, 2010 at 1:18 pm Link to this comment

I think the article is actually a nice description of Anonymous (/b/), which is just a pattern of primitive behaviours, basically stemming from a mob’s acceptance of the manipulative principle, ie. that perception is more important than truth.  It’s a simple way to behave, with lots of premade panels (some of which are known as memes (an incorrect and superficial use of the word btw)).  One such pattern is “you watch too much porn”, btw. It’s basically a purely negative behaviour, that focuses on dismissing stuff with “witty” retorts and interjections, and lots of ad hominem attacks, most of these based on a few simple patterns (they have to be simple and require no creativity, so that everyone can join in the process), but it’s completely unfit to be part of any actual discussion.  It’s a hundred percent destructive trash but it’s also not very difficult to moderate, if there’s a will grin

Anyway, there’s a lot of truth in what Mr Hedges has written here, although I disagree with a couple of points (or maybe I’ve misunderstood them).  First of all, I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with the concept of intellectual property being dissolved by the Internet.  Not all cultures, and not even all phases of Western civilisation believed that creative work ought (or is even fit) to be the basis for a personal livelihood and that its results should be sold for day-to-day living.  It’s the only approach in a capitalist economy, where you sell your work to live, but overall, I’m not sure it’s the best and only way.  Even attribution (which I like) wasn’t always thought necessary (or prudent) in every case.  In fact, intellectual property might actually be doing more harm than good at this moment in time - that you can (or rather, are forced to) sell your “intellectual property rights” to institutions is doing way more harm than the Internet imo.

There’s also quite a bit more than just the herd mentality and stealing ideas on the Internet.  Web 2 is basically the business exploitation of people’s natural tendency for grassroots self-organisation and personal creativity.  It didn’t really start with Tim O’Reilly in 2005.  He just gave a name to this concrete manifestation of a perfectly natural human trait, I guess because he thought it would be a good idea for business to take it over and exploit it to make money - as basically all the money that was put into Internet startups in the dotcom era failed to produce anything, save the most trivial results (ie. interactive on-line mail order catalogs) - the “business community” again had to steal and pervert these ideas for its own purposes grin  Things like Linux and Sourceforge are pretty good examples from “bottom up” organisation and creativity.  Now this doesn’t work all the time, and of course (as the differences between Wikipedia and “real” encyclopedias show) the simplest “democratic” principles of organisation and evaluation aren’t always the best, so people have to experiment with different mechanisms, but it’s actually a good thing imo.

All communication technologies can be and are used simultaneously both for centralisation of control and for its distribution and sharing.  There’s also a degree of difference in which of these a particular kind of technology is better suited to - so TV, because it needs a centralised and expensive infrastructure and because it transmits moving images and sounds and not abstract stuff like text, and for a lot more reasons, is more fit for “control” than for personal creative expression than, say, books.  The internet is at this point pretty open and technically not easy to control completely, so it can be more democratic than TV, but we have to remember that it’s a tool, and tools do something they evolved for/were planned for, which can be changed through legal, legislative, technological etc means.

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By mike turner, February 15, 2010 at 1:12 pm Link to this comment

thankfully…chris the forces which swallow the swill will destroy the donkey show.
As a capitalist…the COSTS in simple terms expose the absurdity of the techo
babblers. But as long as corporations can obtain technology, then pass the costs
along to TAXPAYERS via overhead write-offs…then shred their own
ideology/dogmas by using Taxpayer trillions to bailout an utterly bankrupt &
fraudulent system….the rats spying on internet users on the taxpayer dime will
continue to shoot the fishes in the barrels. Then there are the Trillions of
taxpayer dollars used to fund R&D….that China & India buy on the cheap.
Not a good. And, since when is realism…“shallow…soulless…negativity”?
Not bright and shortsighted!

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By Inherit The Wind, February 15, 2010 at 11:57 am Link to this comment

Thong-girl, February 15 at 12:43 pm #

Chris Hedges needs to dump his browser cache and quit watching too much porn.
*********************************************

Nearly had a spit-take, choking to keep from spraying coffee on my keyboard!  Good one, T-girl! ROFLMAO!

If Chris Hedges (back to his usual crap) took a moment to think about it he’d realize that it’s damn ironic to warn people about the internet….on the internet!

(BTW, Indian programmers live like kings on what they are paid in India, especially if they are USA-trained and experienced. Hedges’ assumption about the working conditions of high-tech folks there is just that: an assumption).

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By Eric L. Prentis, February 15, 2010 at 11:48 am Link to this comment

I don’t agree, I love the Internet and cannot imagine living without it. As for corporations controlling communications, their control is already total and complete on TV the radio, for almost all newspapers and over most magazines. At least on the Internet I have some small control over the information I read, such as Truthdig.com, most notably from non-journalistic experts who are informed on a particular topic, such as this comment section, I then make up my mind if it is believable or not. Who gets paid and when is the corporate game which I don’t want to play.

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By Anarcissie, February 15, 2010 at 11:24 am Link to this comment

I know it’s obvious, but anyway: I suggest that those who think the Internet is bad stay off it.  Especially if you’re seriously troubled by LOLCATS.

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By Jon, February 15, 2010 at 11:24 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Excellent article.  In a way, I see the ‘net, especially blogs, as an electronic version of the ‘pamphlets’ that were such a part of American political thought and action, starting arguably with “Common Sense,” by Thomas Paine in 1776.  But surely Paine’s writing wasn’t all that was around, and then as you move into the 1800’s, we had hundreds of newspapers, including William Randolf Hearst’s papers that in 1897 helped foment the Spanish-American war; ‘yellow journalism’ is what it was called.  So in terms of today’s ‘net and media, we’ve got it again, with the likes of Fox News, and hundreds of bloggers, news sites, all pushing a point of view, and it’s chaos.  That ‘free’ is the rule makes the larger news online sites, columnists who contribute meaningfully, commodities ‘for free’ and as Chris mentions—the attractive pieces that are used to attract Google and other ad services—-with no return to the actual writers and contributors.

As for some blogs, the political ones, there is definitely a group think on some that just won’t criticize whatever party or members of that party—no matter how obvious criticism is justified.  Kind of like how everyone supported Bill Clinton, right or wrong, and in this, blind eyes were turned when he signed NAFTA, banking deregulation (how’s that working out these days?), and broadcasting deregulation.  Today, same thing on some blogs.  It’s not healthy, but you can also see the blind spots in supporters then, and if on the other side, use that blindness to exploit. 

Demographic segmentation is certainly the case with blogs and other online sites.  I read Chris because I believe he speaks truth, and I don’t watch Glenn Beck because I consider him not to speak for me or to me.  But, Beck is more dangerous, while Chris observes the scene and reminds us of the insanity out there in my view.  In this, Chris and writers like him help me solidify my own opinions that this ‘pamphlet’ ‘net we have, along with broadcast/cable media, is more destructive and limiting than we realize, while it appears on the surface to be ‘free speech.’  Really? Free Speech is what Limbaugh is about?  Etc.

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By MeHere, February 15, 2010 at 11:01 am Link to this comment

Thank you, Chris, for another good article.

The Internet is just another instrument that corporate/financial/government
entities are using as a means to increase their wealth and power.  Everything else, from medical care to education, is being used in the same way: mostly to fit their goals.  In many instances, we are being forced to pay for expensive technology just to be able to meet our basic needs, and this is happening at an outrageous speed. The key to their success is that they are constantly telling us that it is all good and fun for us, and most of us believe it and are willing to repeat the mantra without giving it a second thought.

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By Leefeller, February 15, 2010 at 10:24 am Link to this comment

Quoting but not quoting, both Girlie man and Nietzsche seemingly on the same breath, because both offer so much wisdom in common.

Only here on TD, may one profoundly compere interpretations of their great works side by side with comprehensive gusto, completely unparalleled in the real world of Never Never Land.

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By Tennessee-Socialist, February 15, 2010 at 10:10 am Link to this comment

DO NOT USE THE INTERNET THE WHOLE DAY, READ REAL BOOKS, GO OUT OF YOUR HOUSE. THE HUMAN BODY IS NOT MADE TO STAY INSIDE A ROOM A WHOLE DAY !!


Dear Chris Hedges, and friends:  Hi again, I think that what you are saying in this article is very related to what the philosopher Fredrich Nietzsche wrote in his book “The Will to Power” about technology, industrialization and modernity.  He claimed that the man of the XV and XVII Centuries was more developed than the man of the XVIII and XIX.  And i agree with most of what Nietzsche wrote, since he was one of the best geniouses and one the most realist philosophers.

I think that the individual of the XX Century was a lot smarter and better than the people of this internet culture of the XXI Century.

People are getting dumber, it is not true that internet is waking people up.  We have statistical proof that the 280 million US citizens who have access to internet, do not use it to get informed.  Stastistics say that 95% of US voters vote for capitalist parties, while 5% vote for small socialist parties.  That is a proof of how dumb americans are becoming.

Another thing is that even the USA left in the 1960s was better, bigger and stronger, than today, and in that time they didn’t have cell phones nor computers.

SO MY PERSONAL TIP TO ALL: TURN OFF YOUR COMPUTER, AD READ PRINTED BOOKS, STAY AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER AND DONT GET CONNECTED TO THE INTERNET THE WHOLE DAY !!!

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By MarthaA, February 15, 2010 at 9:55 am Link to this comment

“Ask journalists, photographers, musicians, cartoonists or artists what they think of the Web. Ask movie and film producers. Ask architects or engineers. The Web efficiently disseminates content, but it does not protect intellectual property rights. Writers and artists are increasingly unable to make a living. And technical professions are under heavy assault. Anything that can be digitized can and is being outsourced to countries such as India and China where wages are miserable and benefits nonexistent.”

Don’t blame all of this on the internet, blame the DLC, Democratic Leadership Council and the infernal Trade Agreements and deregulation of the corporations, NOT the internet.  It was the WTO agreements,  World Trade Organization, NAFTA, CAFTA, etc. that caused all of the outsourcing and it was the swing to the Right by the Democratic Party’s DLC that caused all the Right-Wing media, which caused the liberal populace to have to seek alternative media for truth.

What goes around, comes around.  Although, I am not a Buddhist Karma is, and Karma can be difficult.  It was a total political “desertion tyranny” of the liberals, the Left, which is 70% of the population, that caused the internet to become of primary importance for democracy, and squelching freedom of the internet is not a democratic solution for the liberal populace of the United States or any other country.  As long as the populace have no institutionalized political parties and the conservative Right-Wing continues unabated with dissing liberals, the Left, which is the 70% Majority population, the populace of the United States, it is absolutely necessary for the internet to remain open without regulation. 

“If” is a big little word, , but if there were many institutionalized political parties in the United States, so that all parts of the political left’s populace would be able to actually have a horse in the political race for legislators of law and order,  it wouldn’t be as important, but such is not the case and it is of paramount importance that the internet not be messed with.

If the engineers, academics, etc. want more for their work,  then they will have to compete like the populace, but autocratically and authoritatively controlling the internet so the populace will receive no benefit from the use of the internet is NOT the solution.

Read the following interviews with Professor Jeff Cohen, which explains the dissing of the liberal populace by the DLC that caused the deregulation of government laws and is the root cause of the economic crisis:

Progressives and the Democratic Party - Part 1:
http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=4775

Progressives and the Democratic Party - Part 2:
http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=4783

Progressives and the Democratic Party - Part 3:
http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=4786

Progressives and the Democratic Party - Part 4:
http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=4787

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By Tennessee-Socialist, February 15, 2010 at 9:54 am Link to this comment

Dear Chris Hedges, and friends:  I think that Lerner is overestimating the crowd-mentality in the US society.  In fact it would even be good if US citizens thinked collectively, and have a more crowd-mentality, national-identity and crowd, social-awareness. But most american citizens are too disconnected from what is happening in USA as a whole.  Americans think that politics will not influence their own private lives, that the money spent on the US imperialist wars comes from thin air, and that US government and USA are very good economically and will never collapse.

So if Americans were less narcissists and more united, and collective among each other maybe people would be more worried about the destruction of USA by the capitalist-imperialist system.

.

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By MarthaA, February 15, 2010 at 9:48 am Link to this comment

“Ask journalists, photographers, musicians, cartoonists or artists what they think of the Web. Ask movie and film producers. Ask architects or engineers. The Web efficiently disseminates content, but it does not protect intellectual property rights. Writers and artists are increasingly unable to make a living. And technical professions are under heavy assault. Anything that can be digitized can and is being outsourced to countries such as India and China where wages are miserable and benefits nonexistent.”

Don’t blame all of this on the internet, blame the DLC, Democratic Leadership Council and the infernal Trade Agreements and deregulation of the corporations, NOT the internet.  It was the Trade Agreements, NAFTA, CAFTA, etc. that caused all of the outsourcing and it was the swing to the Right by the Democratic Party’s DLC that caused all the Right-Wing media, which caused the liberal populace to have to seek alternative media for truth.

What goes around, comes around.  Although, I am not a Buddhist Karma is, and Karma can be difficult.  It was a total political “desertion tyranny” of the liberals, the Left, which is 70% of the population, that caused the internet to become of primary importance for democracy, and squelching freedom of the internet is not a democratic solution for the liberal populace of the United States or any other country.  As long as the populace have no institutionalized political parties and the conservative Right-Wing continues unabated with dissing liberals, the Left, which is the 70% Majority population, the populace of the United States, it is absolutely necessary for the internet to remain open without regulation. 

“If” is a big little word, , but if there were many institutionalized political parties in the United States, so that all parts of the political left’s populace would be able to actually have a horse in the political race for legislators of law and order,  it wouldn’t be as important, but such is not the case and it is of paramount importance that the internet not be messed with.

If the engineers, academics, etc. want more for their work,  then they will have to compete like the populace, but autocratically and authoritatively controlling the internet so the populace will receive no benefit from the use of the internet is NOT the solution.

Read the following interviews with Professor Jeff Cohen, which explains the dissing of the liberal populace by the DLC that caused the deregulation of government laws and is the root cause of the economic crisis:

Progressives and the Democratic Party - Part 1:
http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=4775

Progressives and the Democratic Party - Part 2:
http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=4783

Progressives and the Democratic Party - Part 3:
http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=4786

Progressives and the Democratic Party - Part 4:
http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=4787

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By Uncle Ernie, February 15, 2010 at 9:48 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

United we stand, divided we fall!

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By Tennessee-Socialist, February 15, 2010 at 9:35 am Link to this comment

THE TECHNOLOGICAL CYBER-REVOLUTION IS DESTROYING THE WILL POWER, TESTOSTERONE LEVELS, MANLY VIRTUES AND PHYSICAL STRENGTH OF AMERICAN MALES

http://www.mala.bc.ca/~johnstoi/Nietzsche/genealogytofc.htm

the philosopher Fredrich Nietzsche said that the most important things for a nation are the body, the diet and the physiology. And every thing else comes as consequence. And that’s why the greeks knew what they had to do and they did it. In this modern, industrial society of the spetacle, the body, the diet and the physiology is taken for granted. But as we can read in the book The Geneology of Morals only those superior men with superior physical strength will be able to be the caste of lords to rule the world:

“The knightly-aristocratic judgments of value have as their basic trait a powerful muscular body, a blooming, rich, even overflowing health, together with those things required to maintain these qualities: war, adventure, hunting, dancing, war games, and, in general, everything which involves strong, free, happy action.” -On The Genealogy of Morals. F. Nietzsche

Lift weights for the revolution. Arnold Shwarzenegger was correct when he claimed that this modern society of lap tops, playstations, nintendos, xbox, computers, ipods, cell phones is turning american males into girly, soft afeminate, muscularly weak men low in testosterone levels,  unable to have the necessary musclular will aggressiveness and manhood that are necessary for any revolution, popular uprising, rebellion and changes that the world demands.

.

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By Self Wise, February 15, 2010 at 9:26 am Link to this comment

Chris always seems to be concerned with what is on the horizon but in subtle ways already detected and present, or on other occasions what un-pleasantries still linger that most would rather look past or forget.  So I always read from this perspective, and must say that this phenomenon is present on these blogs, and in most places on the web. 

The guarding of one’s status and fear of one’s identity being altered is such a strong driver in passivity and the limiting of expression, and before that free thinking.  I know for one, that I have always been regarded as being a free thinker, do my own thing, etc. 

But online I notice myself scanning comments sections to see how many people if any share my same viewpoint.  And subsequently I also scan to see how many posters are shouting down conversation as opposed to introducing new information, perspective, or just adding on to the conversation. 

I imagine my own insecurity, and then think about those with maybe more mental barriers from expressing new thoughts or maybe what is non-traditional compared with their upbringing or community’s common viewpoint.  And the mob mentality appears to be right there on the horizon waiting for individuals will and emotion to give way to fear of losing status or security of one’s identity. 

I must say that this article captures a lot of what has been on my mind in trying to identify what exactly it is that frustrates me with this current G4 “Attack of the Show” internet pop culture crazed generation.  And I think Chris is on to something that will need to be revisited and analyzed often if we are to escape the trappings of a hive-mind. 

Excellent article

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By Socrates, February 15, 2010 at 9:14 am Link to this comment

The Alex Jones sites are good.  I like reading Chris Hedges every Monday on Truthdig.  Finding worthwhile websites is easy.  The mall type bookstores are mostly full of disappointing fluff.  If you browse through a college bookstore you will be delighted by comparison.  The same applies in choosing which websites you favor.

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By Jim R, February 15, 2010 at 9:01 am Link to this comment

To add a bottom up view from the working class over the last forty years, I’ve observed that subjects now missing from our workplace discussions or taboo, which used to be common and served a valuable function of educating each other.

Now, it seems, almost nothing controversial, i.e. politics or religion, is even broached. I fear the internet, while serving a valuable function in exposing many of us to facts and views not otherwise approved or offered by the corporate media, has become an anonymous outlet for bottled up views we no longer express face-to-face.

Years ago it was common for nonsensical views to be swatted away publicly amongst your peers, nowadays those self-destructive views are harbored but not challenged, and then reinforced in the nightly visit to their own hive or clan.

I don’t know the answers, but for my own part have taken to posting differing views in comment sections just so the mantra-like incantations of falsehoods and hatred don’t stand unchallenged in the misty milieu of the “tubes”.

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By bozh, February 15, 2010 at 8:57 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Sorry,folks! Still unable to register on TD.Must be my computer. It seems clazy! So i have to continue post as that dreadful Unregistered scribbler.

“Anti-semitism” bad, according to hedges.To me,‘zionism’ means oppression of many americans, land theft, murder, oppression of pal’ns, discrimination,colonialism,racism, nazism, separatism, cultism,exploitation, expulsion of people from their habitat, warfare.

Be free to add s’mthing of ur own in case i have missed s’mthing.

And i just love those aghas, beys, deys, amirs, kings, sultans, princess, and princeses, mullahs, imams,et al. So i better not write ab them. For if i do i may labeled antishemite and antimuslim.

And ‘jews’ not being a people nor shemitic, but some or most of them cultish,divisive, warfaring,etc., we still have to show them some respect by not writing ab this?

nevertheless, one cannot be antishemic, antimuslim- one can be only against what a prince, agha, ayatollah, mufti does and stands for.
Similarly one cannot be against a person called jew- one can be only against what particular jew says or does.
I don’t hate her legs, heart, brain, etc.

I cld be also called antipolish, -irish, -italian because i don’t like a bit what a priest or pope says or does.

My devil i cld even be antiwifish when she screams at me or calls me bohunk or cooks me a meal i asked her not to. OK, OK, i’m just kidding u; i lv my isabella!

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By Thong-girl, February 15, 2010 at 8:43 am Link to this comment

Chris Hedges needs to dump his browser cache and quit watching too much porn.

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By Leefeller, February 15, 2010 at 8:18 am Link to this comment

Finally some food for thought, maybe even a little reflection, let me stand on my soap box here. One may ask what would happen if the web ended? Maybe it is to big to fall? Individual thought seems to be lacking on the web but is is really lacking more than in the non web?

Clans, hives whatever one prefers to call them have always been and will always be, it is just they seem more in ones face on the web.

For instance, the hate Zionist crowd seems to permeate their gospel with heart beat regularity on the web. Bigots, love to constantly stoke the fires, the web shows their ugly posterior on the web with regularity. It seems as if Paris Hinton’s promotion of High Colonic’s have obtained wide acceptance?  How about the tinfoil hat conspiracy clowns, loving the ability to promote on on the web with what seems Republican cloned idiom.  Web only means,  morons have a sounding board on the web, instead of a soap box on the street and moron means anyone I do not agree with. 

Hell, Hedges promotes his weekly sermons, and one can elect to read them or not, so web seems a sewer to Hedges, though I prefer to see the web as Mark Twain’s Mississippi River, only much more crowded and with more floating garbage.

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By davidreese, February 15, 2010 at 8:03 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Chris Hedges makes a cogent point, as he does every week.

Notwithstanding his excellent essay, I call his attention to one of the most
worthwhile aspects of the Internet: It allows me to read what he has to say at least
once a week.

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By expat in germany, February 15, 2010 at 6:53 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

While Chris Hedges’ articles always seem well-reasoned, or “right,” in some way, they also strike me as a bit too strident and hastily written. Here’s my issue with the current criticism of the Internet. The people who, through laziness or ignorance, submit to the Internet’s crowd mentality, or use Wikipedia as a source of information, are likely the same people who used Cliffs Notes to write a term paper in high school. In other words, I don’t think the Internet causes human laziness and turpitude. It was the inventive, expansive human mind that led to the Web and its by-products in the first place. It is a site like TruthDig that helps fills the void left by monopolistic journalism, but most of us read what we already agree with anyway. Chris, you should lighten up a little! Laugh a bit more. Life is short, human ignorance long.

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By diman, February 15, 2010 at 6:45 am Link to this comment

“And if you are TWITTERING, fuck you!!!”

                          Lewis Black

A very clear and straight-forward message, I think.

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By kerryrose, February 15, 2010 at 6:08 am Link to this comment

I have just tried to read ‘The Empathic Civilization’ by Jeremy Rifkin.  Immediately, I sensed something was wrong with his viewpoint.  He believes we have already become an empathic civilization partly through the internet, but in our urge to connect more we have unfortunately used too much fossil fuel.

Rifkin’s spin blames our empathic desires for the environmental mess.  Horrified, (because we are NOT an empathic civilization) I researched his background, and found that he is instructor to CEO’s and corporate management at the University of Pennsylvania among other things.

This book serves corporate interests, and is a terrifying example of how a monied interest joins the debate on humans attempts to evolve to higher consciousness.

If anyone has a different take on this ‘garbage book’ please let me know.

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By parnell44, February 15, 2010 at 5:29 am Link to this comment

This is indeed, at first glance, a harsh article. 
But having given it some thought and reread it, I
find I must agree with Chris Hedges.  The net has
become, to a large extent, an open sewer; it is
becoming difficult to discern what is worth spending
time with.

I prefer to challenge/be challenged but have found
few sites where that is acceptable.  The tendency
seems to be for the “herd” mentality; banding
together for comfort, to diminish feelings of
isolation with the knowledge that one is part of a
“group”.  To challenge the group-think is to threaten
the existence of the group (in most groups’ minds).

Having started on the Internet at the demise of the
BBSs and the rise of the WWW, I have seen this take
place but have not noticed it until it was brought to
my attention by this article.  Thanks, Chris.

P.S. I have placed Lanier’s book on reserve at my
library; sounds good!

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By Chris Burgess, February 15, 2010 at 5:03 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I gave up reading the generalised statements. Half way through. No facts. Just sweeping statements. Are you sure it wasn’t submitted by a Tea Bagger?

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By bachu, February 15, 2010 at 4:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Despite what Hedges claims, the Internet only takes from the undeserving. It is the great equalizer.
And why does he begrudge low paid workers in China and India while he has not raised a finger on behalf of the millions of undocumented workers in his own country.

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By Andrew Lowry, February 15, 2010 at 4:36 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Somebody needs to read Jeff Jarvis’ “What Would Google Do.”

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By truedigger3, February 15, 2010 at 4:01 am Link to this comment

This article is very harsh on judging the internet.
The internet can be a very good source of information and different points of views that are hard to find in the main stream media and also the internet can counteract and shed light on all the bullshitting and brain washing that is done by the MSM. I learned a lot from the internet.
Of course, as in any situation if people don’t have critical thinking and honesty then problems will arise.
Many of the problems the article talked about would have happened anyway but by different roads. For example music and films could have been pirated from CDs and DVDs and the problems facing engineers and programmers because of the internet would have happened by corporations having more subsidiaries abroad and hiring local people there or bringing more engineers and programmers on work visas. All the above is even happening right now in conjunction with the internet.

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By Carolyn Kay, February 15, 2010 at 3:33 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Yes, well, the demand for cheaper labor led the
corporate titans to insource and outsource IT work to
the point where it destroyed MY profession.

Welcome, creatives, to the brave new world of not
getting paid for your work.

We’ve all been outsourced now.

Carolyn Kay
MakeThemAccountable.com

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By Chilisize, February 15, 2010 at 2:54 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Ho hum—more monumentally gloomy scolding from Mr Hedges. I try, I really do—I try to listen when he’s on the radio, and I try to read what he’s written, but the mind wanders, the eyes glaze over.

Guess I’m just to shallow and soulless to appreciate the relentless negativity. Guess my progressive pose is now permanently crushed, I’ll never be even as much as a wannabe leftist…

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