Saturday, October 21, 2006

For A LONG Time, I Have (Tiresomely, To Many) Cautioned That The "Internets" Were TOO Democratizing To Survive Success...

...for very long, in their present configuration. For the past several years (and to the enduring and increasing irritation of no small number of my blog-mates at Eschaton and elsewhere) I have--!optimistically!--predicted that the Web would not survive the 2008 election cycle in the current state of ideological anarchy and public participation which now prevails, and has marked the medium as something special from the very beginning.

As Ellul remarked in his foundational work "Propagandas", almost half a century ago, propaganda (which is of course nothing more or less than publically sponsored political ADVERTISING) is the ONLY way the modern state knows by which to communicate with the People. In the Modern State, all public communication emanating from the State is "propagandistic" (in the worst senso fo the word, since there is no other) in both form and intention. The public relations/State propaganda complex, set in motion almost 90 years ago mainly by Woodrow Wilson and Edward Bernays, has far too much invested--in money, lives, and effort--in the process of wholly controlling the media of public communication to permit this upstart medium to now upset the efficient, all permeating "applecart" they have built so laboriously, and expensively.

I am both proud and almost inexpressably saddended that Bill Moyers has come to a similar conclusion and recognized the truth of that proposition. Last Wednesday, Oct. 18, with the airing of the program Bill Moyers On America: The Net At Risk, the official template for the permanent alteration of the structure of the Net was unveiled, its parameters were revealed, and its advoactes and acolytes identified. to survive long in their present configuration. The attack on 'Net neutrality' is about to succeed in dimming--if not dousing--democracy's newest emerging beacon. In an essay published last week on, Moyers outlined the essential issues:

The Internet has become the foremost testing ground where the forces of innovation, corporate power, the public interest and government regulation converge. Already, the notion of a level playing field—what’s called network neutrality—is under siege by powerful forces trying to tilt the field to their advantage. The Bush majority on the FCC has bowed to the interests of the big cable and telephone companies to strip away, or undo, the Internet’s basic DNA of openness and non-discrimination. When some members of Congress set out to restore network neutrality, they were thwarted by the industry’s high spending lobbyists. This happened according to the standard practices of a rented Congress—with little public awareness and scarce attention from the press. There had been a similar blackout 10 years ago, when, in the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Congress carved up our media landscape. They drove a dagger in the heart of radio, triggered a wave of consolidation that let the big media companies get bigger, and gave away to rich corporations—for free—public airwaves worth billions.

This time, they couldn’t keep secret what they were doing. Word got around that without public participation these changes could lead to unsettling phenomenon—the rise of digital empires that limit, or even destroy, the capabilities of small Internet users. Organizations across the political spectrum—from the Christian Coalition to —rallied in protest, flooding Congress with more than a million letters and petitions to restore network neutrality. Enough politicians have responded to keep the outcome in play. (Emphasis added)
Until Congress returns for the 'lame-duck' session, that is.

Then, absent the constraints of the electorate, the filthy, fascist sell-outs of BOTH the GOPuke and Dumbocrap persuassions will succumb to their pressures of their REAL employers and confer upon the established media carriers their hearts' desire: the ability to commodify the public discourse in EXACTLY the same ways it was commodified upon the introduction of all previous means of mass communication and propagandization.

Remember these times, cuz they're passing. Moyers himself casts the outcome this way:
The monopolists tell us not to worry: They will take care of us, and see to it that the public interest is honored and democracy served by this most remarkable of technologies.
They said the same thing about radio.
And about television.
And about cable.
Will future historians speak of an Internet Golden Age that ended when the 21st century began?

That's the question, alright.

My guess is the answer is "Yes."

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