Friends, As I was driving over the beautiful highway from Vancouver to Vernon in British Columbia, I listened to Jeff Jewell's review of Guy Debord's book, "The Society of the Spectacle". I can't pretend to understand such a deep book by listing to a one-hour review, but I understood enough to be impressed. The central idea, if I got it right, is about 'spectacle' in the sense of 'Roman games', as in 'bread and circuses'. That is to say, modern society is about presenting us with an unending sequence of 'things' that are their own justification and in which we have no participation (except to the extent we contribute to production in the workplace). 'Things', or 'spectacle', includes gadgets, entertainment, politics, news reports, etc. In previous ages people were inspired (ie, led by the nose) by promises of future utopias (eg, religion), or progress toward utopias (eg, socialism). Today, the 'things' themselves -- the 'spectacle' itself -- is supposed to be our utopia. GE used to say "Progress is our most important product". Not progress toward anything, but just progress. That is, an endless progression of the 'new', of 'spectacle'. 'Economic growth' as an end-in-itself. 'Spectacle' becomes ever-more remote from reality, and from us. We have ever-less role to play in it, and it becomes an ever-more indirect representation of the world. Last night, watching PBS with Caspar Davis, I could see this 'spectacle' thing in action. It was a show about the upcoming Congressional elections. So many levels of indirect. Politicians are remote from power to begin with, power which hides behind the curtain. Media is then remote from real politics, showing us only public posturings. On the show we saw pundits and politicians giving us their opinions (more accurately their public sound bites) about what the elections are about... whether so-and-so is for-or-against such-and-such, and how this will play for-or-against the republicans-or-democrats. Not debates between positions, not discussion of the issues, but opinions about what the effect of various posturings might-or-might-not be when 'the people' (an abstraction, not you-and-me) go to the polling places to press Diebold buttons which are again remote from the pre-determined totals they will later display. 'The Matrix' image can be seen as an extrapolation of this 'Spectacle' thing. The ultimate of 'indirect and remote'. Nothing but a non-participative observation of an indirect representation of non-reality. Not that different, really, from our present circumstance. Instead of going outside and being with nature, we watch documentaries about nature. Instead of participating in sports, we watch sports (and lots of commercials) on TV. Instead of deciding our future, as is the promise of democracy, we contribute a vote, .00001% of a 'voice'. And that was before the days of Diebold. In the face of all this, I have been very encouraged by my tour. Everywhere I've gone I've met people who want to break out of this Matrix, this Spectacle. People who want to participate, people who shared their own personal views and concerns. In two places (Nanaimo and Vernon) the outcome of the meeting was "How can we start?", "Let's start organizing to have our own dialog process, our own Wisdom Councils". Those two outcomes themselves have made this tour worthwhile. There is a saying, 'Nothing can stop an idea whose time has come'. I have faith that it's true. The neocons believe it, and that's why they're installing a police state. They know the people have had enough. There are billions of us and only a few of them. When we find our unity we will prevail. --- The notion of Spectacle underscores the revolutionary nature of the Internet. What is most special about the net is that it enables participation. Unlike everything else in our society, it gives us a voice. Partly what we say is important, and who we say it to, but perhaps most important is that the net gives a sense of empowerment. It reminds us that participation is possible. That is why 'they' are in the process of figuring out how to take the net away from us, without at the same time destroying its commercial aspects. There's no sense crying about this, but what we can do is make the most use of it while it still exists. In my own work, what I have been most encouraged about is the fact that real democracy does not depend on 'public opinion' or centralized media. It is about face-to-face dialog at the local level, in our own communities. Let 'them' do what they want at the mass level, at the centralized level. Our power is at the local level, where we can see and hear one another, where it is most difficult for 'them' to interfere. best regards, rkm http://cyberjournal.org ps> People have said messages to me have bounced recently. At the same time, some messages have gotten through. This could be some general problem on the net, or it could be some kind of attempt to isolate me from my friends. If the latter, that means I've finally shown up on their radar! That would be very encouraging, but I kind of doubt it. People who start major wars and run the world are unlikely to care about what people like me are up to.