"The Christian must discover in contemplation, and in the giving of his life, those symbolic actions which will ignite the people's faith to resist injustice with their whole lives, lives coming together as a united force of truth and thus releasing the liberating power of the God within them." - James Douglass, Contemplation and Resistance.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Unindicted Co-conspiriators

As progressives, we are often given (and give) the impression that once the Cheney/Rumsfeld/Bush troika are defeated, then things can go back to normal and we progressives can renew our battles with the success they formerly met. In fact, this is probably as much an illusion as the wonderworld that the troika tries to paint. What this ignores is that most of us are former progressives who became involved with the pro-business culture of the eighties and nineties, sparked by the explosion in information technologies. This industry has two characteristics that make it hostile to progressive politics, though one might suppose otherwise when its origins are considered. First, to keep up with this industry, even post-boom, requires the dedication of a monk. No one who is not willing to commit themselves 24X7 to enhancing their skills and understanding will be able to survive for long. Being a technologist is largely a matter of facing one crisis and revolution after another - it is almost a pure case of Darwinian capitalist exploitation. Of course, it's supposed to be exciting and fulfilling to do technology all the time, but in reality this is true in most cases only for the very young. Therefore, it is physically impossible for those who work in this industry to spare time for progressive activities. Secondly, the very subject causes attention to be focused on purely technical issues, as if they were the heart of life. It tends to abstract and objectify human problems into a set of technical specifications which can be solved by the application of well-known techniques. We make money when that situation is true, so we are highly motivated to believe it is so. The entrepeneurial push of most technology companies strongly reinforces the culture of individual superiority and the elimination of cooperation.

Consider, for instance, the willingness of Yahoo, Google and MSN to filter search engine traffic for anything that might offend the political sensibility of the Chinese segment of the empire. I don't think we should be surprised when many of the sources of Internet news that progressives depend on suddenly and mysteriously start disappearing. The technological revolutionaries have demonstrated their commitment to profit and their willingness to cooperate with the forces that guarantee that profit. Their supposed commitment to progressive values (usually with the qualification 'libertarian') is much shakier.

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