cj#716> Mark Stahlman and “Democracy & Cyberspace”


Richard Moore

Date: Wed, 1 Oct 1997
To: •••@••.•••
Subject: Re: DEMOCRACY AND CYBERSPACE - conclusion

Sender: Mark Stahlman (via RadioMail) <•••@••.•••>


I wanted to wait for Richard to finish before commenting on his essay.
Overall, it seems to be a valuable contribution.  He's asking many of
the right questions; which is always the most difficult part.  What
really are the most likely consequences of the technologies which we
are creating?  Who are we?  Who are we becoming?

However, Richard left out the most important issue of all -- morality.
Without morality, Richard and everyone like him (that's to say, human
beings) will lose.  Hands down.  Without morality, the human race will
loses out.

Yes, a new coalition needs to be built.  It will include many unusual
partners.  In particular, some who used to be called "conservative"
will be joining hands with some who used to be called "liberals."  I
tend to think that the dividing line will be turn out to be between
the Realists and the Utopians.  And, the main issue dividing them will
not be crypto-law or e-voting or universal access to the Net; it will
be about the moral implications of human genetic cloning.

Two of the smartest people who I've ever found on these matters were
C.S.  Lewis and Norbert Wiener.  In his 1947 essay, "The Abolition of
Man", Lewis points out that when (not if) we master the technologies
to "design" individuals, we will "design" away their humanity if we
have abandoned morality (which he calls the "Tao") in society.  Wiener
pointed out (in his 1950 book, "The Human Use of Human Beings" and
again in his last work the 1963 book, "God and Golem, Inc.") that we
are locked in a struggle between computers and humans which can only
be won by the humans if we focus society's energy on educating that
quality which defines our humanness -- the ability to make moral
judgements.  Same message from two wildly different people.  Both
correct.  Both largely forgotten -- until now.

The Utopians wish to replace humanity with a better engineered
"product."  They will sell their efforts to "improve" humanity by
talking about longer life, less disease, less violence and better
behavior.  The Realists know that this is lie.  That's why they oppose
each other.

If you can put globalization, "open societies", media cartelization,
free-trade, electronic democracy, crypto-regulations, religious
fundamentalism, John Barlow's assertion that what is really happening
is "the shift from monotheism to pantheism almost overnight" and what
you dream about at 5 in the morning in this context, then you will be
ready for the political re-alignment which is already forming.
Otherwise, it's likely to be pretty confusing.

Mark Stahlman
New Media Associates
New York City


[rkm to cyber-rights:]

I appreciate Mark's response, and will offer some thoughts on it, but I
imagine he and I will need to find another forum if we're going to carry
this thread further [suggestions Mark?].

I challenge the notion that society's direction is decided any longer by
"liberal-conservative" debates or by "realist-utopian" debates - or indeed
by public debates of any kind.  Under the modern propaganda regime "debate"
- in the sense of arguments found in the mass media - is all phony stage

What we have is a capitalist elite who own the mass media, who have an
agenda of societal destabilizaton, and who stage "media debates" around
issues of their own choosing - and at a time of their own choosing - in
support of changes they wish to implement.  Whether it be term-limits,
three-strike-laws, NAFTA, or whatever, the frame of debate and the
spokespeople for "both sides" (and supporting news coverage) are selected
by the elite and the "debate" is then structured so as to be an effective
sales pitch for the elite-favored outcome.

The pivotal Gore/Perot debate on NAFTA was a classic example.  A worse
spokesman for opposing NAFTA could hardly have been found anywhere.  If a
genuine debate were held, someone like Chomsky or Parenti could have made
mincemeat of Gore.  By choosing a hothead egomaniac like Perot, the outcome
of the "debate" was obvious before it was ever held.  That's not to say
Perot's points were all poorly made, it's just that his overall
presentation - as was predictable from his previous appearances - was
highly inneffective to a mass audience.  20% seem to love Perot and 80%
think he's an a**h*** - and that's why he was selected.

Thus I think Mark is in error when he frequently points to Gilder and
Toffler, for example, as being the instigators of certain viewpoints - they
are given airtime because their perspectives serve elite interests, not
because they are noteworthy prophets.

I agree with Mark that a constituency for eugenics/human-bioengineering is
being created - but not because there is any popular surge of "utopianism"
in society.  Instead there is a multi-faceted propaganda campaign (Ninja
Turtles, crime-genes, gay-genes, anti-social-genes, etc.) which gradually
molds public opinion toward certain attitudes about genetic-engineering,
its morality, its efficacy, and its potential social benefits.

The propaganda comes first, and the consituency arises as a consequence.
There's not a debate between "utopians" and "realists" - rather the media
systematically develops a "utopian" constituency to the point that it
becomes large enough to politically support the elite-desired changes.

I therefore consider it a waste of time (apart from intellectual interest)
to debate morality in the terms Mark proposes.  All such debates will be
ultimately dominated by media propaganda and the actual issues will be lost
in repetitive, simplistic, big-lie rhetoric.

I also agree with Mark when he says "a new coalition needs to be built.  It
will include many unusual partners.  In particular, some who used to be
called 'conservative' will be joining hands with some who used to be called
'liberals.'"  But the only worthwhile goal of such a coalition - under
current circumstances of elite control - is to overcome elite domination
itself.  Until _that_ is achieved, no other human-centered goals can be

That is why my writing focuses on exposing the depth of elite control,
explaining that the destruction of democracy is the central goal of elite
designs, and calling for a coalition focused on strengthening democratic
institutions and bringing corporations (the chosen instruments of elite
power) under control.

I have a faith, and that faith is that humanity retains enough native
morality/Tao to build a decent society if in fact effective democracy is
ever able to assert itself.  This faith in "human nature" arises from my
own experience with real people, not from media-projected notions of
"public opinion".

To partialy quote Mark: "If you can put globalization, 'open societies',
media cartelization, free-trade, electronic democracy, crypto-regulations,
fundamentalism, and what you dream about at 5 in the morning in this
context, then you will be ready for the political re-alignment which is"

As for "already forming", I've seen no evidence.


Posted by Richard K. Moore - •••@••.••• - PO Box 26   Wexford, Ireland
         http://www.iol.ie/~rkmoore/cyberjournal            (USA Citizen)
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