Parallel infrastructure may be the only way to protect people from both corporations and governments.
Of course, for decades the conservative agenda in this country and internationally has been systematically dismantling public infrastructures of all kinds, and fighting the development of any real new infrastructure.
We’ve been losing infrastructure, frameworks and safeguards like a clear cut landscape, and any re-forestation has been itself sabotaged whenever possible except in cases where the commons has been converted to private control.
Anti-government rhetoric has always failed to recognize, or been intentionally blind to or possibly simply tricked into believing, the fact that collective organizing, whether in government or unions, is essentially our only check on corporations, a fortiori after the twisting of the 14th amendment.
And the convenient and continued failure (read: systematic enclosure) of all places of social gathering that aren’t conditioned by controls, such as the conversion of public commons spaces into malls and parking lots, has curtailed free information flow to hinder people non-corporate political speech and organizing.
Like the endgame of net neutrality’s loss, where online speech is limited to enough upstream bandwidth to click a “buy” button, the lack of non-corporate space on the airwaves and in the landscape is a generally weakly recognized disaster. We didn’t need to move into company towns, the company towns have been built around us.
Then, there’s the power politics of apathy … which is either a symptom or a disease, maybe both. Frosting on the cake for some looking to channel populism into shaped opinion venues which support anti-regulation agendas like tea parties; but those who don’t learn to read the writing on the barn are easy to manipulate; or tapping off potential activists into giving up completely effective organized effort in exchange for the appearance of personal peace and quiet; but, those who don’t organize or vote ratify the ongoing disaster.
The irony of expressing this rant on Facebook, the new AOL is the same as the old AOL, is almost painful.
Without the structure and scale of government, I suggest your communication outside of a centrally planned system would turn into ham radio or worse. Either a mess or meaningless, in scale or in use.
It seems to me a typical libertarian fantasy that things happen without collective and interdependent effort, and that can happen in meaningful and sustainable ways without governments. Libertarians try to build without foundations and they imagine all it takes to have a house is an individual to lean against the walls to stop them from falling down; but the walls didn’t get there by individual effort in the first place and there’s four walls, not one.
I invite every libertarian to take an ethical holiday from all government built or required infrastructure or improvement, like the amish opting out of social security. Have fun trying to “Escape from New York”.
I disagree that the liberal idea of infrastructure is zero sum. Rather it is an idea of arithmetic progress, it is about constantly increasing social value. Like driving, one develops the ability to less consciously do things which while learning required much concentration, the liberal notion of infrastructure is one which builds frameworks for more and more personal freedom. (That’s the ideal, anyway.)
The idea of net neutrality is to force a space to exist for more and more communication to occur and is one part of what is necessary. It is the part that checks corporate power. The part that then is unaddressed is political, a la Egypt or NSA or nanny state, influence and control. (And, it must be, I agree, recognized that political power over these spaces is in danger of economic influence.)
The Internet was conditioned to be non-commercial when it started. It was heavily regulated toward only one use. Things changed, and continue to change toward another extreme. My expressed idea of a parallel infrastructure is to find a way, a stand-off of sorts, to maximize, and continually maximize the public and unconditioned space for people (not, mind you for corporations, which I feel must be conditioned).
And, no, I disagree about the effect of government involvement. Good government in my mind conditions the market toward the greater good. Mixing business into government is when the wild loopholes and abuse enter. Self-regulated business and captured regulatory agencies are when things go south; and by corollary unregulated business is unchecked abuse. As corporate charters lost the necessity for the public good, and as corporations became political entities, there is the cancer of unchecked and unregulated activity that has created monsters from who were merely bad men before.
The battle over the use of government is a founding and ongoing struggle in this country, and without government we would not be anywhere but disaster.
Unconditioned, modern corporations have the sociopathic motive to use whatever means they can to make money. Where corporations become entities with rights beyond those of the sum of the individuals in them, they become dangerous.
The point is to create a kind of stalemate where the structure, a la a freeway (which was a government project, though I recognize that I5 was spearheaded by the Seattle motor club but it required government) and the Internet (which was a government project) are equivalently agnostic about traffic (which is both commercial use mixed with social use).
The point of my theoretical parallel infrastructure would be to check both the inevitable abuse of a “free-market” by those with economic power as well as to check the potential for political manipulation of a public infrastructure.
However, one danger of parallel infrastructure is that then might lead to a completely unregulated corporate infrastructure and a complete political whimsy on the other side, and that’s just double the fun without the ultimate beneficial goal.
I wonder if “freedom of the press” might be a more usefully extended construct toward what I’m looking for, where press becomes more and more like public speech instead of a rarified specific information industry. Or “freedom of assembly” extended online.
Anyhow, I’m moving on to other things now. I’m not sure why of all the things I might rant about this was the one that got me tweeting, except of course: Egypt.
Well, I agree the complex of Reaganism is heavily to blame for much of what troubles us today politically and economically, and also the continuation of that philosophy where it occurs over and over and in the past which led to it being called that. And, we seem to sort of agree that corporatism and governments mixing must be managed somehow.
I don’t actually think the government can necessarily always do faster or cheaper or whatever, but I think it’s ultimately the only ally we’ve got for a complex world because it’s like Soylent Green, made of people and only people, not a fictional person, an emergent psychopath, like a modern corporation.
In fact, I think I don’t care if the government is inefficient or expensive, rather I hope it is both. First, inefficiency means that it can be watched, that it is ultimately transparent to the people and the inefficiency is part of the symptom of dealing with multivalent political needs and desires. Second, that it is expensive means that it is performing a function that business cannot do without failing. Yeah, I tentatively suggest that being expensive and inefficient are some things, actually, that might be prime indicators that government is functioning. It’s the niche. And, it should be celebrated for being a unique social mechanism.
But, I don’t think government is without faults or dangers. Never did. Nor do I think it cannot be improved … you know, by progress. It is an imperfect tool for dealing with imperfect humans trying to achieve social progress. And, thus it’s the right tool for the right job.
And, I think that most of that money should come from a progressive tax shockingly weighted against the upper percentiles, which recognizes that those sequestering wealth are taking that wealth from others and not participating in real economic weal for the common good, and the more efficiently that wealth is taken the more suspect is the mechanism by which they acquire that wealth.
The ultimate end of what I think is generally a liberal outlook is to make advances social and economic and so forth available to people without regard to power and privilege. That’s the never ending end. I don’t doubt that the means don’t always work well, but that’s why I support progress; which is like experimentation, and tends toward greater gains through improvements … that is when not being dismantled by those happy with the actual zero-sum philosophy of keeping others down in order to sequester economic and social value.
So, yeah, even if government is not a slew of corporate prospectus language, it’s always a necessary thing.
But, again, I invite you to live only on things that were developed in garages by five guys without a foundation of social negotiated infrastructure and that didn’t require that infrastructure to be implemented. I’ll expect your reply via something other than the Internet, like pigeons or ham radio … oops, not so much ham radio actually. And, probably not pigeons either, really since you’d have to travel on a freeway to find rock doves that aren’t alive due to a complex human social system. Of course, you’ll probably starve first without food. Nice knowing you!
The scope of your imagination becomes fantasy when you think you’d have any sustainable impact without a complex social system, and while I distrust both government and corporations, I admit that I trust government more. And, no, I really don’t have any faith that your an imaginary libertarian untopia (population zero, because anyone there doesn’t last long) would even enter the conversation in the real world.
You can blather your fantasy of some kind of “advanced self-sufficient individualism” more if you want, or better yet, save it for your fiction writing where it actually can exist. Maybe you can imagine a few amazing ways to survive, while you starve or end up in a shack in the woods dreaming dreams of being a Lord of Capitalism and the oxymoron of anarcho-capitalism, since inherently hierarchical while claiming lack of hierarchy, doesn’t make people laugh. Maybe you can survive by eating the four other guys in your hideout? You know, because that’s essentially the way capitalism works, unless you turn to hunting others; but careful that you don’t organize too much lest you start relying on a complex social system, you sneaky verisimilitudinous individualist you!
But really, that’s it. I’m not paying attention to this thread anymore now you’ve spun into weaving fables of living, not to mention being happy, without complex human systems. Because, after all, if that were even possible, why aren’t you there yet anywhere other than your imagination where the red light bulbs grow instead of sitting in suburbia, instead of enjoying hypocritically the fruits of government mediated and conditioned social contracts while whining about having to participate in that of which you selfishly take advantage?