The Revolution Will Not Be Webcast
Broken pipes, broken tools, people bending broken rules.
Hound dog howling, bull frog croaking - Everything is broken. - Bob Dylan
If Nazi Germany had been wired with fibre optics, I doubt whether the White Rose would have distributed a single leaflet. Perhaps, rather than cranking them out on a hand press, Hans, Sophie and the rest would have spammed Hitler Youth forums from cyber cafes across southern Germany. That is, if they had first evaded the Gestapo's Carnivore, sifting every email and seemingly anonymous web comment for anti-Fuhrer sentiment. (A headline today: "Pentagon sets its sights on social networking websites".)
Freedom of expression is often regarded as America's distinguishing liberty. "That's what's great about this country and all free countries: freedom of speech," Neil Young told CNN six weeks ago. "That's what makes us different from everybody else." Though it's suffered multiple paper cuts from the Patriot Act, it's still the go-to characteristic for those who choke on Nazi analogies. (Bush isn't Hitler, runs the argument, because you have the right to call him Hitler.) But it's also the cheapest freedom rulers can afford, when popular expression is cut off from the means of effecting popular change. Nothing is risked by allowing people to say what they feel, so long as it's understood they cannot act upon it outside of the unresponsive and compromised political system. But when the elections are rigged, and most politicians of prominence are beholden to the same security apparatus, what do you do then?
America is a free-speech zone, and Americans remain fenced within it so long as they mistake risk-averse expression with direct yet non-violent action. It's the difference between shouting slogans on a sunny afternoon and Tiananmen Square. And so much of the ineffectual sloganeering now takes place only in the cocooned and virtual America, where the empire obligingly hosts its chat rooms of dissent for political deviants. It has no worries, so long as everyone keeps talking.
I don't think I like paperless revolutions anymore. It seems the more sophisticated our means of communication, the more illusory our ownership of the media, and the greater the disconnect between our words and our words' implications. Under the Nazis, hand-cranking the press in the basement took courage. Under the NSA, posting online may take nothing more than naivité.
By the way, I'm still trying to get Blogger to address my broglem of the non-updating home page, though I'm increasingly pessimistic. So I'm beginning to consider alternatives. In the event Blogger is finished with me, I've registered rigorousintution.ca, and am starting to scout about for hosts and publishing options. (WordPress or Movable Type?) If I move - and I'd rather not, because the thought gives me a sick headache - I would want to leave this blog standing as an additional archive, but copy everything over, including comments. (I'd also like to consolidate the discussion board, bringing over the posts into a php forum.) I've received some good tips already, and would be happy for more. And thanks for your patience.