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1 May 97
(notes for this file:) this document is part of "How to Build the Party of the Future"

How to Build the Party of the Future -- Chapter 1

The Sword in the Stone

 Contents:       TIP: Clicking on any of the paragraph numbers
 ---------            along the left margin
                      will take you back and forth
                      between the body of the article
                      and the table of contents.
number           chapters sections subheads
   9  Chapter 1 -- The Sword in the Stone 
  24     1a. The Development of this List 
  36     1b. The Three Main Axes of Development 
  40         All Roads lead to Rome 
  50         Internal Development 
  58              --- Axis 1 --- 
  61              --- Axis 2 --- 
  66              --- Axis 3 --- 
  70         a) server-side bozo-filters 
  82         b) collaborative filtering 
  87              --- "the close" --- 
  91     Notes 
  93         Moore's Law 
  98         The hangman and the priest 
 101         The global digital communications infrastructure 
 108         "All roads leads to Rome" 
 111         "International Electronic Newspaper" 
 114     Appendix to Chapter 1
               "A Terror Discussed Nonstop
               at Washington Cocktail Parties" 
 115         Intro by cyberRed 
 120         Brock Meeks vs. Cokie Roberts 
 123         Jon Katz vs. Cokie Roberts 
 126         Cokie Roberts 

  • Can we strike terror into the hearts of the bourgeoisie?

  • We can--by learning how to lift "the sword in the stone".
To the readers and activists of the Spoon's Marxism-International list:
Comrades and friends,
This is my first appearance (so to speak) before the audience of readers of the Spoon Collective's "Marxism-International" list. I imagine a brief intro would be in order.
I have been active in the left for about as long as most people here. In addition to this, I am a student of information theory. The significance of the last item will hopefully become more clear with time. And that is the end of my introduction.
I have been reading this list for six months now. Before that I checked out the list at various times, including a period where there were lots of posts IN BIG CAPITAL LETTERS WITH LOTS OF EXCLAMATION POINTS !!!! about who was an agent of Fujimoro. Somehow none of the posts I was privileged to see ever got around to presenting any actual evidence. Also, at that time, approximately half of the posts were written (it seemed anyhow) by a single person, who insisted on using the word "and" when he meant "an".
This list, of course, has big problems. No one doubts that for an instant. And I will attempt to do a brief survey of these problems. But before that, I first want to touch on what I believe to be the significance of this list and why it is that, in spite of being fucked-up in so many ways, it has tremendous potential as a weapon for use against the bourgeoisie and for the development of authentic and powerful communist organization.
Chapter 1
The Sword in the Stone
From a historical standpoint, this list (and most lists like it) are fairly new. This list in particular (if I am not mistaken) originated in 1994. This list has been brought to us courtesy of capitalist development, under which, due to the relentless march of Moore's Law [note 1.1], computer-based communications devices will be steadily approaching the price of sand.
Now the great majority of the earth's people, of course, are still without this precious ability to communicate their views. In fact, much of the population of the earth, at present, lacks such things as clean drinking water, adequate food, a tin roof to keep them dry, or access to medical care. We all know this, of course. And to a certain extent this situation may improve somewhat in the next decade or two due to further capitalist development.
But I am not going to talk here about the majority of the population of the earth lacking these basic essentials because this is something we all (I hope) already know (and in fact is a powerful reason that we are at present gathered together here electronically).
Instead I am going to focus on a single aspect of this: The majority of the population of this planet do not at present have regular access to a telephone (much less e-mail or the web).
Why is this important ?
This is important because it is going to change.
We are standing on the eve of an immense revolution in the means of communication. This revolution will be unfolding before our eyes for the next several decades. Those of us who are in their 20's will obviously see more of it than those of us in their 60's or 70's. But this revolution in communications, which will steadily transform or catalyze immense changes in every sphere of human activity, places before us a series of tasks--and will eventually place within our grasp--a weapon of almost unimaginable power.
It has long been said that, in capitalist society, "freedom of the press belongs to him that owns a press". But what happens when the cost of owning a press plummets to zero ?
Bourgeois rule is predicated on a skillful combination of both force and political deception. Comrade Lenin described these two aspects of bourgeois rule as the face of the hangman and the face of the priest. [note 1.2] Today, in more modern times, we might use the image of the major TV networks or newspapers in place of the image of the priest. What happens when the ability of the bourgeoisie to carry out political deception undergoes a process of extremely rapid erosion ? Force alone will not be enough to maintain bourgeois rule. Without the ability to maintain political deception--bourgeois rule will inevitably enter a period of turbulent upheaval and fatal instability.
The global digital communications infrastructure, the foundations of which are being laid today, will be installed and brought online in the next several decades. And with this infrastructure--will be brought online (for the first time) the great majority of humanity--which will quickly learn to use this communications infrastructure as a weapon to puncture the near-monopoly on political thought which the bourgeoisie, at present, is still able to maintain. [note 1.3]
We are part of this process. Our tasks revolve around developing the ability to pick up this weapon. The bourgeoisie makes very skilled and effective use of one-to-many communications. But many-to-many communications, involving the interactivity of the majority of the population, will prove to be a weapon of a different kind.
The proletariat alone will have the ability to pull this sword from the stone. No other class will be able to lift this weapon. And once we have this weapon in our hands--once we understand how to wield this marvelous weapon--guided by humility and guided by science--we will find that the bourgeoisie can no more stand up against our warfare than the castle fortresses of the feudal nobility could withstand the newly developed cannon of the rising bourgeoisie.
This undoubtedly must strike everyone as somewhat grandiose and florid. Well it is. But what is important to grasp is that it may also be true.
Which brings us back to this list.
1a. The Development of this List
No one can predict the form in which will appear the mass organizations of the future--the future counterparts of the Soviets which developed spontaneously in 1905. But it is very likely that whatever form these organizations assume, it will be one which makes extensive and intensive use of electronic communications.
This list is itself of significance as an early manifestation of an epic revolution in communications--that will transform the terrain on which is waged the class struggle--and which will make the earth burn under the feet of the bourgeoisie. I believe that is how we should see it. Seeing it from this perspective--will assist us in transforming the various internal struggles over principles and ideology which this list catalyzes and enables--from struggles which to a large extent are the unconscious (or semi-conscious) reflections of the needs of the moment--to struggles which best represent the conscious strivings of a class whose time, at last, has come.
In the current (ie: the early) stage of its development, this list is inspiring to many but at the same time a disappointment and of little practical use to many others. This list is undergoing a process of development--but at times this development must seem painfully slow. Human consciousness developed as the result of an non-conscious process lasting approximately four billion years. The result is splendid but it did take a long time. The development of this list must, to many, seem to be an equally slow process of stupidity grinding ceaselessly against stupidity with no end in sight.
I believe this list is developing. I wrote a letter to a friend and said that if the consciousness-to-noise ratio of this list goes from 4 percent to 5 percent--that such an event would represent a 25 percent increase in consciousness.
This list is developing slowly--but it is developing. The Spoon's lists draw news bulletins from all over the world. This list draws experience from a large group of activists who have experience in a very wide range of struggles. All this news and experience comes to this list like sensory input to a large and newly forming brain that has not yet developed the ability to coordinate significant action. But it will.
There is a story about Ben Franklin, who as he watched an early demonstration of manned flight (an early balloon) in Paris, was asked by a woman "But what good is it ?" "Madam," he replied "what good is a new born baby ?"
This list has already demonstrated that it has the power to compel participants to recognize their errors. When Barkley Rosser apologizes to Louis Godena for being pompous, when Malecki apologizes (sort of) for spamming M1, when Adam Rose apologizes for calling Louis Proyect a Menshevik and when Louis Proyect apologizes for calling Malecki a cop (actually Proyect's suggestion that Malecki should "increase his medication" means that this was not a sincere apology--but we will call it one for now)--we are witnessing a phenomena demonstrating that this list really is more than the sum of its parts. This is real evidence that this list is on its way to developing the "human technology" of confronting and overcoming denial in a way analogous (very loosely) to the methods by which organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous assist people in maintaing sobriety. Such human technology, which can assist individuals in learning from their errors and reprogramming (so to speak) certain deeply ingrained and dysfunctional patterns of intellectual-emotional reaction, is indispensible for any group of people that is serious about reflecting, refining and redeeming the contradictions of the entire world.
But we must coolly survey the distance remaining in front of us.
This list appears to be (per my very limited survey) the most significant list of its kind in the world. This, of course, could easily change. Other similar lists (and/or newsgroups, bulletin boards or web-based discussion threads) exist and new ones will be emerging. In the period ahead, the number of people engaged in the discussion of Marxism may increase a hundred-fold. This could happen in the next five years but it might also take ten years (predictions of this sort tend to be more reliable in terms of what will happen--than when). After that, another hundred-fold increase may again take place. Again--this might take another five years--or another ten. And after that ? After that--the numbers of people engaged in this kind of discussion could grow to be large.
I will be presenting here my analysis of this list and its prospects for development. I will be focusing on this list--but I want to point out that the development of this list can not be considered to be separate or apart from similar lists which may exist or which will emerge. So my remarks (and speculation) should be taken as, to a degree, applying not simply to this particular list--but to the aggregate of all such phenomena, present and future.
This particular list may have a brilliant future. Or it may be destined for abject failure. In a certain sense, it makes no difference. If this list fails to amount to anything--other formations will learn from the experience and carry the torch forward.
1b. The Three Main Axes of Development
What are the most important phenomena to keep an eye on--to assess the development of this list ?
It is not the size of the list audience (whether we are talking of the 90% of the readers who are relatively passive or the 10% who are more active and who post more often). The size of the list is important and we want more people to be involved in this list. But the size of this list is not a "leading indicator" of the development of this list. The list size is more in the nature of a "trailing indicator".
Moreover, to judge the success of the list by its growing size can be very misleading. This list will likely continue to grow even if we considerably fuck-up how we manage and organize it. This is because, firstly, the number of people coming on-line is increasing geometrically with (at least within the lifetimes of many of us) no end in sight.
All Roads lead to Rome
Secondly, the size of this and similar lists (ie: centered on the discussion of Marxism) will increase because we are (so to speak) standing at the intersection of every major fault line in the world today. Every ill, every disease of the modern world is inseperably linked to commodity production--to economies that are based on exchange. Such a mode of economic organization inevitably corrupts not only the economic sphere, but the cultural and political spheres also--because it spontaneously produces a class (ie: the bourgeoisie) which is based on exploitation and which has the will and the resources to buy influence and corrupt anything.
Only Marxism can offer a scientific perspective of humankind, in partnership with nature, ending the reign of scarcity and the struggle of man against man for survival. Only Marxism can guide humanity forward into a world in which there is abundant material, cultural and scientific wealth for all.
This is because only Marxism can offer a realistic perspective of bringing about a political and economic system which does not rely on commodity production; which does not rely on exploitation and the consequent and inevitable cleavage of society into antagonistic classes. Only Marxism can offer a solid theoretical foundation for a political and economic system which does not spontaneously engender a privileged ruling class which then--in the savage pursuit of its own class interests--must keep the rest of society, the majority--plunged into a state of darkest ignorance concerning nearly every fundamental social, economic, cultural and political issue.
Consciousness of the class nature of society (and the nature of the class struggle) is necessary for fundamental progress in nearly any major or minor social movement. For example:
   (a) The workers' movements for better wages,
       working conditions and job security,
   (b) the movements against militarism and imperialist war,
   (c) the movements against racism and violent repression,
   (d) the movements of all the disenfranchised in society,
       including for medical care, housing, education
       and retirement
   (e) the movements to protect the environment from poisoning
       and ecosystems from extinction and
   (f) the movements for a liberating, empowering
       and healthy culture
-- all end up in opposition to the entrenched interests, skillful maneuvering and vast resources of the bourgeoisie, which, typically, can be forced to retreat--only with a great exertion of mass energy--and only to bide its time until it is ready for a counter-attack.
Until the bourgeoisie is knocked from power--all these struggles will never be able to reach their terminus (ie: apex, conclusion). As long as the bourgeoisie rules every sphere of society all of these struggles will only amount to pushing a rock up a hill without ever reaching the top.
And, in the wake of the coming revolution in communications, the general social consciousness of this fundamental fact can only grow.
What this means is that those who understand Marxism well enough to put it into practice--stand at the center of all the contradictions in the world today. In the European part of the ancient world it was said that all roads lead to Rome. Today, in a world in which the communications revolution will increasingly illuminate the dark shadows of political deception with the bright light of "transparency"--all struggles for nearly any kind of fundamental progress will lead to us. [note 1.4]
Internal Development
But the size and activity of this and similar lists will reflect something more than simply the interest in Marxism of people who are newly radicalized or who are newly on-line. The size of this list will reflect its internal development.
What is this internal development ?
To understand this internal development, we can categorize it into three buckets. These buckets (unlike buckets in the real world) overlap in various ways (as we shall see) but are still a useful theoretical tool to help us understand what issues are key to our development.
What are the three buckets ?
   1) The development of our theoretical consensus
   2) The development of our organizational methods
   3) The development of our communications technology
      and methods
Or, to put things more concisely, the three buckets are: theory, practice and communications techology.
I will often speak of developments in each bucket as being an "axis" of development. We could also (like Mao) talk of them as being the three legs of a stool. I don't care what we call them as long as we realize that they are all fundamental to the development of our list (or lists) as a weapon which will eventually strike terror into the hearts of the bourgeoisie.
--- Axis 1 ---
The first axis (the various struggles over theoretical and ideological questions) was sharpened a bit by Louis Proyect's proposal for a socialist party and the derivative threads that this spawned (ie: over whether a worker's organization or "party" should be "broad" or "narrow", and whether it is correct or helpful to call Proyect a "Menshevik"). These threads represent various struggles against both sectarianism and reformism.
Also central to our "political/theoretical axis" have been the various threads related to the never-ending battle between (real, authentic) "market socialism" and (real, authentic) "central planning" and whether or not it is "utopian" (and whether this is "good" or "bad") to have a goal of eliminating exchange as the basis for a future economy run by workers.
--- Axis 2 ---
The second axis of our development (organizational methods) involve a large number of questions (that have been either exasperating or amusing--depending on your perspective) related to:
   (a) what is or is not appropriate and scientific conduct
       on this list, and
   (b) what are appropriate methods
       of enforcing appropriate conduct.
We have, for example, had many thousands of messages devoted to such questions as to whether or not it is OK to call someone a cop (when they are not a cop), call someone a Menshevik (when they have done more than anyone else to build this list but may also have some degree of reformist conceptions in their ideology) or call everyone on the list a rabid dog (when, as a most distinguished professor has pointed out, there has been no specific rule requiring participants to act like grown-ups).
This axis of development is critical also because while, on the one hand, one of the key (and decisive) strengths of this list--is that anyone may participate--and we do not want to exclude anyone, on the other hand, we need to encourage scientific attitudes and an atmosphere of polemical decency.
--- Axis 3 ---
Finally, the third axis (the technical development of the methods that we use to communicate with one another) has not been the focus of very much discussion. This will eventually change. It may strike some as strange (or as some kind of deviation) that I place this axis on a par with the first two. Hey folks--that's the way the cookie crumbles. I remind those who think this way--that this list--as an uncensored, international forum owned by no single trend--only exists in the first place courtesy of Moore's law.
As we move into web and data-based discussion and take advantage of emerging techniques such as "collaborative filtering"--the way in which the digital form of our discussion will catalyze the development of our political content--will become more clear. As the communications revolution continues to unfold--and our mastery of (relatively) simple technologies such as web databases and collaborative filtering develop--we will be in a position to do our share in helping to lay the backbone for an international electronic newspaper that would be accessible to hundreds of millions--and would give workers everywhere a view of the world unfiltered by bourgeois interests. [note 1.5]
Since it may be a while before this extended, serialized article gets to the third axis, I will (briefly) describe here some of the ways in which technology can bring fundamental improvements to our efforts:
a) server-side bozo-filters
Right now many readers have e-mail programs with adjustable filters to eliminate messages from those who seem to often act like jerks. But this is not enough of a solution. You still have to download all that crap before the filters zap it. For many this is annoying and expensive. Further, not everyone has such filters. Also, many jerks can often get a response out of someone who is not a jerk (on the principle of bulk spam-mail--it only takes a very small percentage of replies to sustain the crap)--and hence you must wade thru responses which tell some jerk that he is stupid--something you already know and which you don't wish to read.
Even more important, is that it often takes a lengthy period of time to figure out who all the jerks are and hence the jerks (of which there will always be a fair number) represent a formidable obstacle to new readers and contributors.
The idea of having human moderators who could act as a filter to eliminate messages from the stupid and clueless has been much discussed. But the problem here is two-fold:
(1) It is an extremely complex issue for a few people to decide what nearly everyone else does or does not want to read, and
(2) the jerks are often smart enough to temporarily modify their behavior to get thru for a while and then, after a short period of time, resort to typical jerk-like behavior, with the result that much bandwidth is wasted discussing the pro's and con's of moderator actions.
In the future, things will likely work differently.
If, as a reader, I decide that I have had enough of Jerry Levy, Utica Rose, Andrew Wayne Austin, Karl Carlyle, Robert Malecki or Adolfo's abuse of Anna, I will simply send an e-mail to an automated program saying that, for the next X months, these people are on my "bozo" list--I don't want anything originating from these people to litter my e-mail box. And messages from these people will not be sent to me. Period.
(I do not want to imply that any of the above are not good people, dedicated Marxists, etc. Maybe they are and maybe thay aren't. And I don't necessarily have the ability to know one way or the other. But I do know one thing: My time is very precious and I don't want to read their posts.)
Not only this--but a public chart (and stats) of who is filtering out who--will be maintained and--as a new reader, I will have the option of selecting my filter from those put together from anyone who has an interest in doing so. There are innumerable variations on this theme so I will give here a single example: as a new reader, I will be able (with a single keystroke) to select a "bozo tolerance level" such that, for example, my mail volume is reduced 25% or 50% or 80% (automatically, without the necessity of human intervention) simply by automatically eliminating those contributors who have earned a place on the greatest number of bozo lists.
This can be effective in other ways also because it provides immediate, measurable feedback. If I, as a contributor, discover that (after sending a particularly stupid piece of e-mail) I am now (and for the next six months) on 30 bozo lists instead of 3--I will probably think twice about sending such mail in the future.
There will also (eventually) be the ability to put people on a bozo list "with prejudice"--which would mean that--you not only don't want to see posts from these people--but you don't even want to see replies to their posts. And there could even be a way to put someone on your bozo list with "extreme prejudice"--meaning that everyone who replies to their posts--would automatically be put on your bozo list for a week. No matter how far removed you wish to be from the sources of spam, technology can make it possible :-).
b) collaborative filtering
The above is but one (relatively simple) example of "collaborative filtering"--a technique which uses simple technology to leverage the intelligent choices made by others. Let me give another simple example: If I think a particular post is a "gem" (or a piece of crap), I will be be able to electronically give it a "thumbs up" (or a "thumbs down") rating. The compilation of these individual ratings is then aggregated to form a single, overall rating for that post. As a reader, I can then choose to filter out posts with poor ratings.
The most common variation on this--is for a computer algorithm to maintain a rating for each post--which is compiled from the individual ratings of people who, statistically, have tended to rate the same posts as "gem" or "crap" that I have. This means I will be able to tell the computer: let me see the stuff that is rated as "interesting" by the 20% of the readers who, on average, have made decisions that are closest to my own.
Collaborative filtering can take place at different levels of "granularity" (ie: by person, by post, by paragraph, by thread, etc). Our general practice would likely be to start simple and then gain experience with what is practical and robust.
The technology to accomplish stuff like this is not necessarily all that complicated. It is not rocket science. And it has the potential to be very useful.
--- "the close" ---
I intend to briefly survey what I consider to be the likely (and hopeful) developments--along each of these three axis. As I do so--I hope that readers and participants will go over my reasoning and methods carefully (to catch any errors I may make) and work out their own independent analysis of what are the key issues to move things forward along each of these three key fronts.
(to be continued)
   Next week:
   The Alpha and Omega of Communist Theory
[note 1.1]
Moore's Law
In 1965, Gordon Moore, the head of Intel (the company that, more likely than not, manufactured the CPU that is the "brains" of the machine you are using to read this) made a plot on paper of time vs. the number of transistors that his company had successfully packed onto a silicon chip. On logrithmic paper, he noticed, the curve made a straight line. He deduced from this that the advancing technology that was making possible the continued shrinking of transistor size--would allow the number of transistors that would fit on a chip to double about every two years. In the period since then, this has proven to be remarkably accurate. People who study the industry sometimes give a figure of 18 months instead of two years.
What this means, in practical terms, is that the cost of a piece of hardware with a given amount of computing power--falls in half about every 18 months, falls about a hundredfold every decade, falls ten-thousand fold roughly every 20 years and falls by a factor of ten billion (plus or minus a few zeros) in a period of 50 years. This has been the trend since about 1960 or earlier and is expected to continue for at least the next decade or so. After that, some analysts believe (including Moore himself), the laws of physics and economics may interrupt or slow down this process such that each doubling may takes three years--although others believe that the steady march of Moore's law may continue for the next 40 or 50 years or until one bit of information can be stored by a single electron.
Moore's law is generally considered to apply to all electronic computing devices which have no moving parts. The expression, common in the computing industry, that "the price of hardware is steadily approaching the price of sand" comes from the fact that the raw material used in semi-conductors, silicon, is also the main constituent of sand.
[note 1.2]
The hangman and the priest
"All oppressing classes stand in need of two social functions to safeguard their rule: the function of the hangman and the function of the priest. The hangman is required to quell the protests and indignation of the oppressed; the priest is required to console the oppressed, to depict to them the prospects of their sufferings and sacrifices being mitigated (this is particularly easy to do without guaranteeing that these prospects will be "achieved"), while preserving class rule, and thereby to reconcile them to class rule, win them away from revolutionary action, undermine their revolutionary spirit and destroy their revolutionary determination."
-- Lenin, "The Collapse of the Second International"
[note 1.3]
The global digital communications infrastructure
--- Information wants to be free to serve the proletariat ---
Why will the next 50 years be unlike any period that has gone before ?
Digital infrastructure will make the world transparent

     100 |                                            *********
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      80 |                                   ***:::::::::::::::
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      60 |                                *::::::::::::::::::::
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      20 |                      ***::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
      10 |                  ****:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
       5 |             *****:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
       1 |        *****::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
       0 |--+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+-
          1990 1995 2000 2005 2010 2015 2020 2025 2030 2035 2040


         (estimated penetration of digital communications)
           -- percentage of world population vs. time --

       (each percentage point on graph = approx. 60 million)
       (prediction method used: scientific wild-assed guess)

The cost of interactive digital communications technology plummets, following Moore's law, with the price of hardware approaching the price of sand. This results in the familiar "S" curve of penetration characteristic of the adoption of most new technology. Immense cultural and political changes will inevitably follow in the wake of this penetration -- as even the most isolated populations in grinding poverty become plugged into and interactive with the rest of humanity.
The world will become very interesting as the proletariat comes online.
[note 1.4]
"All roads leads to Rome"
A friend who has reviewed this has offered his opinion that this section is not necessarily very clear. The fundamental idea here, that interactive digital, many-to-many communications will lead, within a few decades, to a dramatic alteration in the balance of forces between the major contending classes (ie: "transparency" and "information war"), is the central theme of all my work and deserves more exploration than I can give it here. I have explored this concept somewhat in other material I have written and will return to it often. But the focus in this work is somewhat more limited.
[note 1.5]
"International Electronic Newspaper"
I will go into this in greater detail in future sections. For now I will note that by combining web database and collaborative filtering technologies--and the vast amounts of free labor to which the progressive community will eventually be able to lay claim--we have an opportunity to exploit to the max a huge vulnerability that will be opening up in regard to the bourgeois control of the news. Progressive news services will use this technology to select and summarize from bourgeois news sources and place matters in a perspective revolving around the interests of the working class. Furthermore, such efforts will likely tend to merge into a single, common copyright-free distributed database to which all have access and which will serve as the fundamental technical form of both cooperation and competition among the various warring trends on the left.
The bourgeosie is gradually becoming aware of the potential of the communications revolution to lead to the loss of their near-monopoly on news and political thought. This is their worst nightmare. As evidence of this I offer the following appendix:
Appendix to Chapter 1
"A Terror Discussed Nonstop
at Washington Cocktail Parties"
Intro by cyberRed
One of the most influential journalists in Washington D.C., Cokie Roberts (ABC News talking head and know-it-all airhead NPR commentator), said in a recent syndicated column that the internet threatens the functioning of the American system of government and the foundations of bourgeois democracy. The effect of the internet on Congress, she wrote, would be "no more consideration of an issue over a long period of time, no more balancing of regional and ethnic interests, no more protection of minority views".
Cokie Roberts is using all the code words used by the founding fathers to describe the safeguards of bourgeois rule. Note well: when Cokie Roberts talks of the need to "protect minorities from the majority"--she is not talking about protecting blacks, gays, etc. Rather, she is using the phrase precisely as it was used by Alexander Hamilton, whom she is quoting. Cokie Roberts, like Hamilton, is discussing how the minority with property (ie: the bourgeosie) is to be protected from the propertyless majority (ie: the workers). The bourgeoisie sees the specter of conscious workers rising up and overthrowing bourgeois rule. To the bourgeoisie, of course, this is not a good thing but rather amounts to "mob rule".
Brock Meeks and Jon Katz, the petty bourgeois commentators of MSNBC and Wired, ridicule the bourgeois view that the internet represents a threat to bourgeois democracy. This is because the petty bourgeois view ("why can't we all just get along?") cannot see that the unrestricted flow of news and information will inevitably lead to a series of increasingly fierce and violent clashes between the major contending classes: the bourgeoisie and proletariat.
But--as usual with such differences of opinion between representatives of the bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie--it is the bourgeoisie which sees matters with the greatest clarity.
Brock Meeks vs. Cokie Roberts
How the Net will kill democracy
Media elite discovers new plot!
by Brock Meeks
Jon Katz vs. Cokie Roberts
Cokie and Steven Roberts say
the Net threatens democracy
Mrs. and Mr. Roberts' Neighborhood
Media Rant -- Jon Katz
Cokie Roberts
Internet Could Become a Threat
To Representative Government
Steven and Cokie Roberts
Saturday, April 5, 1997