The Internet connects humans across the world like nothing before. At the same time, it inserts itself as an alternate reality between everyone. People haven’t changed and the communication does enable us to recognize each other as real people, but it doesn’t require us to do so. Instead, it makes it all too easy to dehumanize each other for those so inclined. But it does rip away the past dehumanizing that allowed tyrants to ignore our unique differences. The Internet is a place where everyone is ostensibly equal in power, and only those who truly absorb it’s nature can gain any advantage.
But that advantage is an extra layer, as it were. Most Internet users simply fail to notice that extra layer because it does not demand their attention. The extra layer is that collection of protocols and conventions that make the system work rather transparently. Having a good acquaintance with the underlying system is the path to power on the Internet. It reduces Social Science to a much narrower field of study for those intent on taking advantage of the situation. The options for human interaction are divided between what actually comes across the Net on the one hand, and what the average users infer — accurately or not — on the other hand. Most people bring their meat space habits into the virtual world and fill in the blanks with their imaginations. Those who push that aside and study what actually comes through the wires aren’t distracted by such things.
While the Internet forces everyone to treat each other ostensibly as equals in some ways, so that unique individual demands are appropriate, the protocols also take away any hope of privacy. Most people by instinct tend to avoid taking advantage of the lack of privacy, but there’s almost nothing at all preventing a virtual Peeping Tom from seeing everything you send across the wires. The privacy instinct does not translate well into the habit of encryption. Encryption that works is cumbersome; encryption that is automatic seldom does much good. The arms race between encryption and code-cracking offers precious little advantage to those who don’t put serious effort into hiding. In very practical terms, it’s almost not worth the effort unless you actively keep abreast of the technology. Most people don’t and won’t. The majority of users leave themselves exposed, relying on social protocols from meat space.
This plays into the hands of marketers who have embraced the technology of networking. If the Internet is a vast population of unique individuals, then advertising means tracking as many of them as possible and turning them into individual algorithms to exploit. While it is entirely dehumanizing, it also happens to work well enough that advertising technology companies are forging ahead with their own technology advances.
On the one hand, the mainstream of government has been the last part of human society to embrace all of this shift into the networked world. On the other hand, certain select agencies within governments have pretty much kept pace and gained advantages thereby. Keep in mind that large government bureaucracies are collections of competing agencies, and each is always seeking its own survival advantage. Bureaucracy dehumanizes both the insiders and their victims. The Internet was created by a government bureaucracy, and those agencies that embraced the technology have gained a long term advantage, having become almost their own governments within a broader bureaucracy.
But the advantage is slipping because more and more of the rest of the government has become aware, if for no other reason than that major figures themselves have experience with using the technology commercially. They show up first in appointed positions, whereas elected officials are the last bastion of resistance to technology. Still, the bridge is there and government figures are crossing it. There is a further bridging as government agencies tend to use contracted corporations to supplement their networking activities, so that the barrier between public government and private commerce is almost gone. While the agencies born to the Internet are striving to keep their advantages, the rest of government is catching up quickly on one major area: merging marketing technology into political manipulation.
This is not being implemented cleanly and firmly, so the result is yet another horrible boondoggle, which is nothing new with bureaucratic government. Part of the problem is that those with the most hard driving partisan agenda rests with the elected officials who seldom have any real clue how it all works. We haven’t seen too many ambitious politicians who were also tech savvy. For now, those who are most tech savvy have avoided the spotlight, which means avoiding the kind of exposure that comes with getting elected. That is likely to change when the current Old Guard dies off.
The virtual certainty of major upheaval will accelerate the process, though. What we see coming toward us is nothing less than the end of one civilization as another rises. This change won’t offer a clear line of departure, and it’s already in progress. However, the radical degree of change will come in relatively short time simply because the kind of mass human perceptual shift that causes such a thing is now facilitated by global instantaneous communications. That has never existed until the past few years; it’s a totally new factor in human existence on the planet.
For once, the end of a civilization will not be the direct result of war. Instead, it will spawn conflicts all over the world, but they will be more a symptom than a cause of this civilizational shift. This is part of why the economy will not simply halt and require starting from scratch. The global economic exchange of goods and services has been under way for quite some time, despite national borders, and has been routing around the global credit system already.
The primary failure of the globalist agenda is that it grew out of older technology and refused to adapt to the new. The Internet is global and borderless, but globalism as a political agenda blindly chugs along on its dead end track that assumes the necessity of physical force to unite humanity under an oppressive smother-mother government. All that love, peace and flowers is a facade. And globalism has maintained a stranglehold on leftist politics and the Democratic Party in the US. This is why we should look for that whole Progressive thing to break down before our eyes. Maybe not right away, and it’s just possible someone or some small group can rescue it in the final hours, but this seems increasingly improbable. The wound is fatal.
What’s left is some select elements of the Progressive identity that have already been adopted by the first networked generation. The classical “left” is done.