Archive for the ‘Media brainwashing’ Category
Now back to social commentary.
Here are some reasons you don’t want to use Facebook:
1. Basically lousy software: often doesn’t work; inflexible; lacks useful features;
2. Ads, ads and ads;
3. Unsettling feeling that you’re a pawn in Facebook’s get-rich-quick scheme;
4. Ultimately, Facebook is a tool of the corporatist/government/news media power structure, deceitfully hidden under the guise of a “community-building social network platform”.
They want to build a community alright – of dumbed down, brainwashed, stressed out, divided, agitated and confused consumer units.
The user-unfriendliness of Facebook is deplorable. Any decent software engineer could design a better interface over a cup of coffee (and probably implement it in a week!)
As proof, consider how easily we could lay out specs for a better system. It could be as simple as this:
1. Instead of subscribing to Facebook, you (and everybody) set up a personal blog, or just a Tumblr account.
2. Whenever you see an interesting web page or news story or have a picture or comment, post it to your blog or Tumblr page instead of FB. (These days you can do this automatically from your web browser.)
3. One more thing is needed. Each person needs a blog aggregator web page. This is basically a page you own, which has feeds to all your friends’ blogs. If one of your friends posts something to their blog, a notice is given on your accumulator page. This can easily be done using RSS feeds. Very possibly there is already way to set up such an accumulator page (or the equivalent) in Tumblr, WordPress or Blogspot etc.
4. If you see an interesting item on your accumulator page and want to comment, simply go to your friend’s blog and comment there.
Voila! A better alternative to Facebook, without ads, where you totally control the content. Someone with just a little programming knowledge could easily design a customized personal front-end page (i.e., accumulator page), in any format desired. For example, you could have your friends’ comments, news headlines on topics of interest, and announcements from business or organizations you like in separate columns or sections.
Another possibility would be to have some third-party service set up accumulator pages for people for free or a very nominal price.
(Yes, I know that, in theory, Google and Yahoo offer this feature; but you can only personalize the pages they supply to a very limited extent.)
This sort of thing — a fully personalized ‘news and views’ front end page is the whole point of RSS feeds anyway. These totally personalized pages should be routine. A likely reason people aren’t already using them is because the big corporate entities — Facebook, Google, etc. — are trying to co-opt the Internet for their nefarious purposes.
So, ultimately, Facebook is not needed – unless maybe you find it somehow beneficial to know how many of your friends’ ‘friends’ are illiterate, boring or nuts.
The Obsolescence of War and its Implications for Countering Terrorism
A point emphasized in several Nobel Peace Prize Lectures of the 1950´s and 60´s (e.g., those of Albert Schweitzer and Martin Luther King Jr) is the obsolescence of war. It was noted that modern technology had produced weapons of awesome power. This meant we had no choice but to evolve beyond war, because, with such weapons, the prospect of war was no longer thinkable — too much harm would be done. For those too young to remember, this was a widely held view in the years following the development of nuclear weapons.
However this reasoning does not just apply to nuclear weapons. As the 9/11 attacks illustrate, technology had made it possible to easily inflict massive harm in other ways. A few extremists were able to get control of huge jets and fly them into buildings, killing thousands. It could have been even worse. The jets could have been flown into nuclear reactor power plants, potentially producing much greater devastation and loss of life. Other realistic scenarios we must contend with are use of biological weapons on civilians, attacks to the electrical power infrastructure, poisoning of water supplies, or even things like computer viruses. Any of these could be used by a few terrorists or a small country to inflict great harm. Coupled with the continued threat of nuclear proliferation, the potential threats are so many, and so easily accessible, that, we are more vulnerable than ever.
Fifty years ago, the consensus was that our only choice was to evolve ourselves — by dint of sheer will, if necessary — out of the mentality that begets war and violence. If that was so then, how much more true it is now. Further, the very fact that people are not saying such things today is itself extremely serious and revealing. It means we are collectively less wise and more confused than people were then. In this atmosphere of confusion, desperation, and loss of vision, people are even more likely to lapse in their judgment and make use of such weapons.
This pertains directly to the US involvement in Afghanistan, and the stance of modern governments towards terrorism. Yes, terrorism is a terrible thing, and we must be prepared to work with intense dedication to prevent terrorist attacks. But in today’s technologically advanced world we must ask more than ever: can terrorism be effectively prevented by pre-emptive aggression or a just war? And yet, not only is the US now falling back on the notion of a just war, one is astonished to see that no public officials are questioning it.
Even if the war in Afghanistan is ‘just’ – and there is genuine doubt as to that – two other questions must also be asked. First, is the war winnable? Events so far would suggest that it is not. We are not countering a conventional army of hundreds of thousands of soldiers. The nature of terrorism in the age of modern technology is precisely that a group of dedicated extremists, few in number and extremely mobile, may hold at bay even a great military superpower. We cannot spend $1 trillion retaliating every time there is a terrorist attack — especially if the retaliation is ineffective.
Second, we must ask: does a large military response to terrorism cause more harm than potential good by affirming the principle of aggression as a way to solve problems?
Third, we should ask why governments are so chronically unable to work for peace pro-actively.
Fourth, what has happened to the moral and ethical fabric of society? Fifty years ago the view expressed by socially-minded intellectuals was that the moral evolution of humankind was not keeping pace with technological progress. But at least there was a sense of there being some progress. Now there is considerable evidence (and one need only turn on television any given evening to confirm this) that we are going rapidly going backwards.
We cannot lay blame on President Obama so much as on the failure of the intellectual community to question the continued dominance of war as a strategy for countering terrorism.
Letter to US Senator Barbara Boxer
December 24, 2009
Dear Senator Boxer,
Please be apprised that, I, as a US citizen, do not exclude the possibility of forgiving Osama bin Laden for the terrorist attacks of 9/11, or of some form of general diplomatic discussions. I believe many Americans feel likewise. Neither will I hesitate to mention that ‘forgiveness of enemies’ is a central ethical principle of Christianity.
I therefore wish that the US government not proceed unquestioningly under the assumption that all or even most citizens are intent on revenge, or see no possibility of peaceful resolution of current conflicts.
Nor do I simply take it for granted that bin Laden and Al-Queda are inherently ‘evil’ and hold positions inherently and irrevocably inimical, hostile, and dangerous to the welfare of the citizens of the United States.
Further, I perceive a tendency of the government to actively shape — though perhaps unintentionally — public opinion in the direction of revenge and violence. The president’s recent remarks on Afghanistan, for example, nowhere seem to acknowledge that many Americans are hesitant about continued military involvement in Afghanistan. In effect, a false consensus on this issue is presented to the American public. The government is not making a sincere attempt to determine the true sentiments and beliefs of the people.
Indeed, if we are concerned about the events 9/11, should not our first priority be to take better care of the survivors and their families? Imagine how much more we could help these people were even a small fraction of the $1 trillion spent on Iraq and Afghanistan devoted to assisting them.
That we do not do so calls into question the sincerity of our expressed motives in Afghanistan and Iraq.
John S. Uebersax PhD
Liberals, Conservatives, Joan Baez and the Nation-State
The other night I saw a reprise performance of the recent American Masters episode on the life of folksinger and political activist, Joan Baez.
It was a good program and showed what a remarkable person Joan Baez is. She walked the walk, even to the point of voluntarily accepting incarceration several times because of her (nonviolent) opposition to the Vietnam War.
But one detail that caught my attention was a brief remark by Joan in a film clip from an early 1970’s protest: she was exhorting people to “end the nation-state”.
End the nation-state? Sounds like a good idea to me — where do I sign up?
And here was Joan Baez, one of most visible “liberals” of the second half of the 20th century, saying something I agree with, even though I am a political libertarian — which most people consider a conservative position.
But there was no mistake. Joan Baez wanted to end the nation-state. That was the wish of liberals in the 1960’s (as with John Lennon’s song, “Imagine there’s no countries; it’s easy to do….”). It seemed obvious to anyone with good sense that governments were the cause of wars, and that governments served generally to suppress what is best in human nature.
To liberals, the government was the problem, not the solution. The government was causing the war in Viet Nam, and hurting everyone. Liberals wanted to reduce government power and to end the cultic worship of governments.
But roll things forward 35 years. Now so-called liberals are supporting massive government-run healthcare.
They’re militant about it, insisting that “poor people have a right to healthcare, and the government
should supply it, whatever the cost.” This is not only different from the liberalism of the 60’s, it’s really the complete opposite.
In the 60’s and 70’s, the view was that if governments would get out of the way, people could sort out their own problems. I can say that for sure, because, at least in the 70’s, I was there marching and singing “give peace a chance.” People were thinking, “Life is good. If governments would get out of our lives the natural impulse to enjoy life and to love and help others would manifest itself spontaneously.”
That’s still my view. If John Lennon were alive today, I’d like to think that would be his view, too. Somehow I just can’t imagine him singing, “Hooray for government! Let’s give them more power! Let them pick our pockets and design aversive, government health programs, so we can all stand in line, put up with terrible service, and be at the mercy of arrogant public officials.” No, that’s not how a working class hero would see things.
So the great irony is that true conservatives and true liberals are on the same side: both groups want a world which affirms human values, welfare and happiness. And opposed to these things is an ever expanding “statism” — a vast, inhuman, oppressive machine.
This is a rather important idea, and bears further thought. Consider how much the media makes of the supposed opposition between “conservatives” and “liberals.” What if this turned out to be all bunk! Could it be that human beings are in basic agreement about core values — and in an instinctive aversion to abusive government power? And could it be that the dominant economic institutions try to invent a false conflict in order to divide and conquer the population?