Evgeny Morozov wrote this recently:
To say that “the Internet” is our “sharknado” is to accept that the current configuration of practices, services, and conversations – the Internet discourse – already structures how we talk, what we say and what we do after all the talking is done.
It’s not that the current crop of Internet intellectuals are factually wrong or blinded by some false ideology. It’s that, in seeking to explain “the Internet,” they keep reinforcing a discourse that itself is in great need of disruption. Simply put, the Internet discourse has outlived its usefulness. [...]
Meanwhile, Chris suggests:
[...] Many professionals of around my age and younger downsize, step off partnership-path careers, leave to work for charities, become part-time consultants or singing teachers and so on. In a more abundant economy, many more would do so.
And then there’s the desperation many people feel with respect to latterday – certainly latterday British – politics, as it bumbles its way brutally from racist nods at awful Berlin Walls of immigration to “free” (presumably not as in beer) schools of a manifestly limited utility to ideologically driven privatisations in health, postal services and even – in this day and age of pained experience – profitably public East Coast rail services.
If Morozov is right about Internet discourse having outlived its usefulness, and if everything we do right now is gravitating more and more to being dependent on all those infrastructures sustained by such unwisely received opinion, it’s hardly surprising that intelligent and thinking people might wonder more and more – as Chris’s professionals are clearly doing – of the value of this constant collaboration we call liberal democracy, in this 21st century now bemusing us.
Those few people now still reading this blog will understand where I am heading. Over the past ten days or so, as I share less of what I am, and more importantly peer less into the vicariously shared lives of others I may barely know (at least face to face, at least person to person), I am slowly recovering a sense of peace. I may not deserve this sense of peace. There are others suffering dearly right now: the poor, the sick, the disabled, the unemployed; the employed, too, who fear for their jobs; the employed who do not know from week to week where they will next earn a crumb of consolation; the employed who work in undignified conditions; the employed, even, in living hell.
So what right do I have to retire from a politics which inevitably affects you and me – whether I participate or not? Perhaps because that politics, like our Internet discourse, like economies which serve themselves of people instead of – far more rightly – serving us, is at an end of times. And we resist the temptation to acknowledge it.
For it’s not just the Internet which has been deconstructed by the surveillance state. It’s all our liberal and free-market tendencies in our businesses; all our liberal and free-market impulses in our politics; all our liberal and free-market instincts in our writings.
And neither has this surveillance state consisted only of government spies. In parallel, in tandem, sometimes in cahoots it would now appear, large companies have destroyed the conditions for healthy innovation: have destroyed the conditions which allow healthy economies to both evolve and – where necessary – commit timely revolution.
An end of times ain’t necessarily a time to end. But it is a time to be honest and sincere: to be honest and sincere with not only each other but also, on a singular man-in-the-mirror basis, with ourselves.
Our Internet, our economies, our politics too … on the one hand, they’ve all become inefficient through systemic and individual greed and laziness; and on the other, through a despairing disconnect by the majorities the rest of us make up.
Inefficiency is obviously the mother of an end of times. The question is whether we can recover our previous vigour, our previous sincerity, our previous honesty, our previous truths.
Yep. I guess it is so. A revolution of a cultural bent is needed. Not that revolution, but one of a certain kind for sure.