Saturday, January 19, 2013

Free the Internet and Don't Hope for Change at the Inaugural BalI

Look out kid
They keep it all hid
Better jump down a manhole
Light yourself a candle

Subterranean Homesick Blues - Bob Dylan

This weekend events will highlight two Americas who cohabit in a state of mutual, smoldering conflict, like an unhappy marriage, and a third America of creative destruction arising out of the ashes of its parent's culture wars. In Washington Sunday, Democrats will hold a lavish, corporate sponsored bash in the time honored tradition of second inaugurations. Obama will party hardy, making peace with the way business gets done in the capital of squeaky-wheel America, but in the process putting the kibosh to hope and change as a rhetorical flourish.
Earlier today, gun-loving, camouflage wearing so-called "patriots" marched on state capitols across the country to show their disfavor with the president's forthcoming gun-control measures. Riding tractors and brandishing their machine guns, they came to make war, not peace, at least by waving signs and looking fierce.
Both of these weekend entertainments are more about style, tribal affiliation and cultural alignment than substance. Both events feature a fair share of over-the-hill types flaunting their prowess and waving things around in inappropriate ways. And both Obama's inauguration and the gun rallies will be followed by a day honoring a man whose sacrifice and commitment to non-violent principles makes us all pull up our socks and try a little harder to live up to our best lights. 
The interesting development is the celebration this weekend also marking the advent of a third America, a young person's America that is in the process of upending the first two. This tribe had a first anniversary, a year since wide-spread internet protests shut down an effort in Congress to pass bills protecting against copyright infringements in January 2012. Proponents of internet freedom now have their own cultural icon as well in the figure of Adam Swartz, who committed suicide this week while facing prosecution for illegally downloading and sharing files owned by MIT on the internet. The views Swartz and other internet activists espouse are controversial and go to the heart of assumptions about what human nature consists of. So do the principles of non-violent resistance. But a distrust of government motives is something this new wave group has in common with conspiracy mad NRA supporters. Is there a political realignment in our future? Keep tuned for which way the wind blows.
Post a Comment