NNSquad - Network Neutrality Squad

NNSquad Home Page

NNSquad Mailing List Information


[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[ NNSquad ] The Impending Chaos and an Internet Scent of Fear

           The Impending Chaos and an Internet Scent of Fear


I'm old enough to remember much of the civil rights movement.  I'm
definitely old enough to vividly remember the peak years of the
Vietnam war.

In the decades since, the U.S. and the world have weathered numerous
crises, many of our own making, but we've usually pulled through one
way or another, often at the loss of lives and great amounts of money

But never in my life have I felt the rising tide of incipient social
upheaval and possible chaos that we can easily sense today, like Edgar
Allan Poe's "Red Death" contagion spreading at a touch, a breath,
a glance.

Fundamentally, the civil rights movement mainly affected blacks, and
Vietnam was (in this country) largely of most concern to young males
(including me) who were vulnerable to armed forces induction.  If you
were black and of draft age, you were twice behind the eight ball.

But today, so much is going wrong, along so many different avenues and
vectors, that virtually everybody around the entire world is likely to
be affected.

There is a sense that economic inequities across the planet, in
absolute and relative terms sufficient to drive both desperation and
anger, are going rapidly out of control.

The Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement and its offshoots here in the
U.S. and in other countries, despite their often amateurish tactics,
sometimes misguided targeting, and frequently substantial lack of
practical demands, are the understandably direct result of
unacceptable conditions that have been allowed to fester to the
benefit of the very few, and the detriment of the great many.

The risks of these protests -- now or in the future -- spinning out of
control in response to aggressive police actions are very real.  Word
comes today of an Iraq war veteran in critical condition after his
skull was apparently struck by a police tear gas grenade in the
Oakland protests.  Another sign of gathering chaos.

The list is long enough here in this country.  Lack of decent health
care.  The housing crisis.  The job crisis.  Dramatic and rapidly
growing income and wealth disparities.  Crackdowns on liberty and
communications.  Government censorship.  Surveillance and secret
information gathering techniques by law enforcement that would seem
familiar in any police state.  The list goes on.  And on.  And on.

Much of the rest of the world is in even worse shape, and the European
Union still totters on the brink of an economic disaster that could
drag the entire planet down with it.

What's different now is not only that there's something real and
tangible for almost all of use to increasingly fear in these respects,
but in contrast to past times of crises in my lifetime, there is no
sense now that our political leaders are up to the task of making
things better.

In fact, there is every indication that many of them are personally
and politically motivated to make things worse, even if that means
everyone below that still happy top 1% ends up crushed like bugs.

Congress' approval rating, apparently for the first time since polls
have ever been taken, has just come in at under 10%.  That means more
than 9 out of 10 people disapprove of what Congress is doing.
Congress is of course a creature of our own votes, and the vast move
farther to the "no compromise" right on the GOP/Tea Party side, and to
a lesser extent on the left as well, have created a situation where
politicians are much more an escalating part of the problems than of
solutions.  Compromise is often the only way out of such dilemmas, and
compromise has now become a dirty word.

This means escalating issues, escalating fear, a positive feedback
loop that could drag us all into the abyss.

And there's another factor as well.  The Internet and mobile
technologies allow us to communicate as individuals to each other, and
to the world, in manners that never were possible before in human
history.  Our eyes are open such as was unimaginable before the wide
deployment of these technologies.

Government in general, politicians, and law enforcement have been slow
to understand the ramifications of this fact.  Not only are we now
able to see and discuss inequities and abuses unfiltered by media, but
we can organize in ways that strike fear in the hearts of those who
have traditionally been -- in various guises -- our masters and

No wonder governments around the world -- including here in the 
U.S. -- are rushing to try pass draconian laws to restrict the Internet, to
control it, to try coerce it -- or if necessary beat it -- into
submission in the manner of traditional media and mass communications.

And they may succeed.  As vast as the Internet appears, in reality
around the world (especially in but not limited to here in the U.S.) a
relatively few large corporations and entities serve the vast majority
of Internet users.  We can be reasonably sure that plans are already
in place to assert governmental control in case of civil disorder or
other perceived threats to the social fabric and the status quo.

Have you sensed the rising chaos?  Perhaps a throbbing in your head
that doesn't seem to quit.  A shortness of breath that's hard to
shake.  A twinge of a panicky feeling when reading the news.

We have allowed our leaders and the financial community at large to
herd us like sheep to the edge of the precipice.

But it is ultimately our fault, our failings, our poor judgments, that
have taken us to this place, for we have figuratively allowed
ourselves to be leashed like dogs and branded like cattle.

The question is, with our politicians obviously unable or unwilling to
tackle these issues for our benefit, how can we divert from the
current race towards what could be a calamity?  How can we make the
situation better, when our emotions are pushing us in directions that
will almost certainly make matters worse?

The first step is to clearly understand what's really going on.

I fervently hope that we can find the next steps, before chaos 
engulfs us all.

Lauren Weinstein (lauren@vortex.com): http://www.vortex.com/lauren 
Co-Founder: People For Internet Responsibility: http://www.pfir.org 
 - Network Neutrality Squad: http://www.nnsquad.org 
 - Global Coalition for Transparent Internet Performance: http://www.gctip.org
 - PRIVACY Forum: http://www.vortex.com 
Member: ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy
Blog: http://lauren.vortex.com 
Google+: http://vortex.com/g+lauren 
Twitter: https://twitter.com/laurenweinstein 
Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800 / Skype: vortex.com