brian carroll on 14 Oct 2000 06:33:43 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] Re: US presidential election

 Ronda, while i appreciate your response to the
 issue of the elections in US politics and the
 question of democracy, it seems that it is easy
 to get involved in details and lose a sense of
 the larger picture. thus, i'll try to respond
 at the scale at which i initially wrote:

 2 parties, 10 parties, or 30 parties, i do not
 think it would make a substantial difference
 in American politics until other structural
 changes were to occur. i'm not sure if it is
 Italy, but some country has dozens of parties,
 and i believe this same country has a high-
 turnover rate of governments, one after the
 other. (correct information is appreciated)
 this, in my opinion, is not a question of
 partisanship, of Democrat, Republican, Green,
 or Libertarian leadership in a democracy.
 it is supra-partisan. it could be any party,
 and its inability to change the system at work.

 for example: i would argue that it is unlikely
 that any candidate, using the current system,
 would be able to pursue the major issues of
 change in the system within one or two terms,
 except in a state of war or reconstruction.

 if a candidate has a platform of change, in
 which all the issues are addressed, and gets
 elected into the position of leadership, i
 think it is beyond doubt that there would be
 special interests from every aspect of the
 specific issue countering any momentum that
 a candidate for change might make. and that
 is just _one_ issue. think of the dozens and
 hundreds of major changes that are needed,
 and how little gets done, if anything. most
 work today is cosmetic. big ideas do not
 work, unless they feed the status-quo way
 of getting things done, which feeds into
 the current power system, no matter what
 your politic is. 

 on education. sure, we could talk about
 the issue of education, its importance, etc.
 but to me that is not the question. it is
 a truism, at least in academia, that education
 will cure all ills. the thing about the US
 education system is, it is not democratic
 in any sense. it is limited, has its special
 interests, garners and wields power, and is
 a major part of the corporate government,
 feeding `successful' students into the
 workforce, to continue the system that exists.

 to think that change is going to happen in
 the university system, from my point of
 view, ignores the complicity of the
 educational system in the reigning economy.
 there are exceptions, but where do the
 elites get trained, to replace the old
 guard? funny, candidates push basic
 reading and writing, but not thinking
 or questioning, as education. no auto-
 didacticism, but learning by Authorities.

 the hierarchies of power in the universities
 are the perfect platform for controlling
 the outcome of the future thinkers and doers.

 how many people, whom are not wealthy, can
 afford to question authority and challenge
 their teachers or the educational system,
 and risk losing their ability to get a
 sustainable wage job in the marketplace?

 if you do question authority, and inevitably
 fail because of an authoritarian bureaucracy,
 you have lots of student loan debts and no
 college degree, and a stigma that you could
 not compete with the other 'thinkers', whose
 conformance to the status quo is mainly out
 of self-interest and necessity. when Bush
 proposes 'education' as policy, it is an
 obvious issue of using the educational system
 for control and conformance and the continuation
 of traditional ways of seeing and doing things
 and the status quo. it is not about thought, but
 about the ability to obey established authority.

 common folk is probably a myth, unless it
 can be defined as being human beings in
 society. that is what is especially scary
 about religious use of populism, in that
 the candidates (or whomever's) values become
 everyone's values, supposedly. the question
 becomes, what is the price for disagreement?
 an argument in some cases, a debate in others.
 oppression, imprisonment, and death in others.

 sure the electoral system needs to be changed.
 from what i've heard, the votes of a state go
 to one candidate. there is no such thing as
 a proportional vote. it is black and white,
 winners and losers. whereas, a proportional
 system would have different candidates whom
 won part of the vote, as part of the government.
 yet, it is still questionable whether this
 could enable the large scale changes necessary
 to change the course of governance in the US.
 this solution is not enough to affect change
 in both the scale and areas needed. dozens of
 major changes like this are needed. again, what is
 the possibility of rewriting the US Constitution
 without massive bloodshed? slight. what is the
 realistic chance that a candidate of differing
 opinion could get _anything_ done with their
 administration in the current political system,
 even if they won the election? improbable.

 as for media influence. it is nothing new, and
 it seems to be accepted, as there is no choice,
 even public television is a commercialized spin
 cycle. how to say it... i was once watching the
 local 5 o'clock TV news a few years ago, a San
 Francisco NBC station. the news anchor stated,
 in some kind of nostalgic sense, `we [broadcasters]
 are the public.' that got me furious. i mailed
 off a diatribe and demanded an on-air retraction,
 as absurd an idea as that seems now. and i've
 come to conclude, from experience with many other
 aberrant events, that one issue which often goes
 unaddressed is the blurred conceptual difference
 between what is public and what is private. it
 could be a world problem, no matter what system
 of governance. 

 for example, National Broadcasting Corporation,
 NBC, is a private corporation using publicly
 granted airwaves, for their private television
 broadcast of news and opinion. huge amounts of
 money and power and influence and corruption,
 due to the insular nature of systems of order,
 power, and control. to hear a broadcaster, then,
 say without any checks-and-balances, that they
 are indeed 'the public', is, in my opinion,
 criminal, and undermines democracy. sure, there
 is a fuzzy logic, and in the gray area of paradox
 it is partially truth and partially not, but
 there is no debate or discussion, just declaration.
 it is just the way it is. and the way it will be.
 private power. and the assemblage of private
 individuals, representing the communal public,
 in governance. without any sense of demarcation
 between what is public and what is private.

 therefore, it is near impossible to differentiate
 public from private interests in politics. it is
 not an easy line to draw, especially given a
 holistic and difficult concept as `the public'
 and a constitution which emphasizes the rights
 of individuals without reference to what is
 public and private, besides reference to man
 and mankind, privatized words in themselves.

 as unpopular or as popular as it may sound, i
 think one way to deal with this scale of change
 is to deconstruct the words and sentences themselves
 in the US constitution, by defining what is public
 and what is private. how else can one determine
 a `special interest' without having a sense of
 where that interest becomes privatized? maybe
 it is an illusion that there can be a differentiation
 between a public and private individual and-or group.
 there will probably always be a complex interweaving
 overlap and questionable relations to issues. yet,
 dealing with corporations, with religious populism,
 and ethnic majorities, will continue to keep the
 issue at the forefront. it seems probable that
 a future or present US presidential candidate's
 'public' agenda could easily turn into a 'private'
 government, literally, by taking the public out
 of representation altogether. again, juxtaposing
 concepts, is it possible for privatized democracies
 to exist? is it still a democracy? what about the
 privatized communism of corporate culture, too?

 world over, i'd wager that private interests still
 and will continue to infuse public governance, and
 thus, public democracies will always be unrealized
 because of special interests, until the concepts of
 the public and private are legally defined, which in
 turn would reframe the US Constitution, amongst others.

 i think deconstructing language is a way to do this,
 using logic, reasoned debate, and public discourse
 in addition to protests, as a replacement for violence.
 but then again, it is doubtful the current establishment
 can be reasoned with, can be changed, in the scales
 necessary to enact large-scale societal and world change.
 thus, i refer to my original post as why this is so,
 as demonstrated by the current US presidential election.

 on democracy on the Internet. it is a myth. it is a
 small portion of the population, most wealthy, most
 educated, and most of it is likely non-political in
 the overt sense. sure, complaining about how corrupt
 Sony is, is a political discourse. but it is not going
 to do anything to change the larger system. i believe
 many discussions are not occurring in public forums
 which are planning to address major changes. why would
 one leave their strategies in the open-air, if the
 powers that be do not play by the rules of democracy
 and free speech? the Internet is *not* democratic,
 anymore than America is an actual working democracy
 because of its Constitution. free speech, without
 results, is not a democracy. it is a lunatic asylum.

 there is hope and optimism, but hey, if there is no
 oil, there is no Internet. if there is no war to procure
 this oil, there will be no free speech. what kind of
 deal is that? and what is the likelihood of changing
 this way of operation? nil. new strategies are needed.
 new definitions. new logic. working within the rules
 as they are handed down only reinforces the traditional
 powers that be. and their reign needs to be overthrown.
 not by physical force, but by the force of human reason.


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