Newmedia on Fri, 10 May 2013 16:27:48 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Digital Politics <--> Digital Economics

Digital Politics:  What happens to "democracy" in a world where we all  
live in TWO *civilizations* (as presented by Eric Schmidt in his "The New  
Digital Age")?

Democracy is *very* loaded term -- in part  because it is the primary 
"negative" being directed at China -- and its  Cold War *origins* (i.e. this was 
also what was throw up against the Soviet  Union) are CERTAIN to come under 
very close scrutiny as a "meme" with some nasty  origins.
Someone recently sent me this very interesting link --

It  is fairly detailed account of the historic "control" elements involved 
with the  Rockefeller funding of the Radio Research Project and its 
mass-media  "manipulation" of the population after WW II.  This is a subject that I  
first started to research nearly 40 years ago, when I too was a young 
"leftie"  trying to understand the machinations of the "ruling-class."  <g>

Okay -- as far as it goes.  But there is so MUCH more . .  . !!

The most important new "discipline" coming out of WW II was Social  
Psychology -- blending sociology and psychology and based on the techniques that  
were developed during the war which are generally known as "psychological  
warfare" (including everything from studies on "morale" to the fire-bombing of 
 Dresden and nuking of Japan.)

The *heart* of Social Psychology -- which,  incidentally, my "godfather" 
Norbert Wiener announced in the introduction to his  1948 book "Cybernetics" 
he would NOT cooperative with (by naming Kurt Lewin,  Margaret Mead and 
Gregory Bateson as people who had asked for his help to apply  cybernetics to 
"social problems," which he refused to give) -- was the *sharp*  distinction 
between the AUTHORITARIAN and the DEMOCRATIC  personality.

Yes, these are the terms that they used (first against the  Germans and 
then against the Russians and Chinese) . . . !!

So, if we  want to figure out what most people mean by "democracy," then 
posts/essays like  the one above -- plus all the back-and-forth that comes 
with "blog" comments --  will provide us with some approaches if not some 

The  result is NOT going to be pretty.  What does "democratic choice" (as  
opposed to "evil" one-party rule) actually mean?  What do we really think  
about China?

Gregory Bateson (who is a folk-hero to many in today's  "media studies") 
describes what was being planned as "rigging the maze" so that  
"anthropomorphic rats" could get the "illusion of free-will."  Btw, he  meant this a 
POSITIVE, since people were being "guided" (through the design of  the "maze") to 
make "healthy" and "democratic" choices.

What happens when  people take CHOICE seriously and refuse to "vote" for 
the options that are  pre-built into the maze?  Could it be something like 
Italy's 5 Star  Movement . . . ??

Digital Economics:  What happens when -- as a  result of living in TWO 
*civilizations* (where the "virtual" one is constantly  pointing out via 
person-to-person feedback how STUPIDLY we have been behaving in  the "physical" 
one) -- people stop simply choosing between different brands of  toothpaste?

However, what those, like the essayist above (and myself in  my early days 
of studying all this), miss is that CONTROL-THROUGH-CHOICE is not  a 
permanent condition!

It relies on "subliminal" influence and requires  constant reinforcement.

That is what *television* (and the culture that  revolves around 
mass-media) does for-and-to us -- constantly reminding us that  we are "inadequate" 
and that we *must* choose products to "improve" our  lives.  Over-and-over . . 

It turns out that the basis of *both*  the "democratic personality" and the 
"consumer economy" are the same -- Social  Psychology (aka "psychological 
warfare") delivered day-in-and-day-out through  MASS-MEDIA.

So, it is no surprise that the PROGRAMMA of the Italian 5  Star Movement is 
mostly about basic *economic* issues -- starting with a  "citizens wage" 
and continuing through to Internet access-for-all.

And,  it should also be no surprise that some prominent members of the 
MoVementi  (where the "V" refers to both the "V-day" that began the movement, 
roughly  translating into f*ck-you-day, as well as the movie "V for Vendetta") 
were  recently kicked out for appearing on  . . . TELEVISION!!  

It  turns out that one of the primary points of the 5SM is that they will 
*not* use  mass-media to talk to their audience -- partly because they know 
they can't  "compete" with Berlusconi (who owns the biggest media company) 
but also because  they know that mass-media strives to make everything into a 
"false" choice (i.e.  where there are no choices offered to get out of the 
"maze" of the typical  party-choices).

What happens to "economic choice" when NOT buying  anything is an equally 
valid option?  Not just because you have less money  but because you don't to 
play that "game" anymore?  Could it be an economic  slowdown caused by a 
reduction in consumption?  Might that be going on  right now?

Clearly, Eric Schmidt doesn't understand all this.  He  still thinks that 
it's "evil" that China isn't "democratic" (without knowing  where that "meme" 
came from or likely knowing much about China.)  He  probably doesn't 
understand that living in a "virtual" civilization has  significant implications 
for the "physical" economy.
Both politics and economics have *already* been fundamentally changed by  
DIGITAL technology but, so far, very few have even tried to grasp the  
implications of this new reality.

Mark Stahlman
Brooklyn NY

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