Friday, July 16, 2004

USVI: Why I Surf.


The ability of the Blogosphere to cut through our accustomed socially-engineered crap of the media kelp beds amazes me every single day. Today's amazement came through reading a seven word (!!?) Instapundit entry which pointed the way to an interesting blog I'd never seen before. "Big blinking deal" you say - "millions of people now routinely click links in blogs every day", which is to say it's hardly an earth-shatteringly transformative act...Or is it?

Blogs connecting through this [internet] ocean enable even humble island-bound peons like myself to surf and propogate ripples of information within the global marketplace of ideas. In so doing, these tiny little blog things can indeed be profoundly earth-shattering and even transformative for peripheral island-bound formerly liberal lemmings such as me.

The supremely democrat act of clicking through that seven word puppy-blender post sent me paddling over to Billy Beck's Two-Four blog where I surfed his wave on over to another post that gave me the opportunity to set my line as it peeled-off toward this rather swell article - a piece of which I've dumped right here on our humble little Caribbean beach.
...Hertsgaard compares America unfavorably not only with Europe but—incredibly—with Africa. If "many Europeans speak two if not three languages," he rhapsodizes, "in Africa, multilingualism is even more common." So, one might add, are poverty, starvation, rape, AIDS infection, state tyranny and corruption, and such human-rights abominations as slavery, female genital mutilation, and the use of children as soldiers and prostitutes. Hertsgaard contrasts America's "frenzied pace" with the "African rhythms" that he finds more congenial and notes with admiration that "Africans live in social conditions that encourage inter- change, discourage hurry, and elevate the common good over that of the individual." In response to which it might be pointed out (a) that those "social conditions" generally go by the name of abject poverty and (b) that Hertsgaard fails to cite such recent examples of benign African "social . . . interchange" and expressions of concern for the "common good" as Mugabe's terror regime in Zimbabwe, ethnic clashes in the Central African Republic, Somali anarchy, Rwandan genocide (800,000 dead), prolonged civil wars in Sudan (two million dead), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (1.7 million dead), Liberia (200,000 dead), the Ivory Coast, and elsewhere, not to mention massacres of Christians by Muslims in Sudan and Nigeria. To recommend Africa to Americans as a model of social harmony without a hint of qualification is not just unserious, it's hallucinatory.

Every nation requires serious, responsible criticism, particularly if it's the planet's leading economic power, the arsenal of democracy, and the center of humanity's common culture. But Hertsgaard's criticism of America is neither serious nor responsible. Though at one point (apropos of American medicine and science) he concedes, with breathtaking dismissiveness, that "We Americans are a clever bunch," he usually talks about his fellow countrymen as if they're buffoons who have mysteriously and unjustly lucked into living in the world's richest country, while most of the rest of the species, though far brighter and more deserving, somehow ended up in grinding poverty. For him, Americans' intellectual mediocrity would seem to be a self-evident truth, but his own observations hardly exemplify the kind of reflectiveness a reader of such a book has a right to expect. For example, when he notes with satisfaction that the young Sigmund Freud "complained . . . incessantly about [America's] lack of taste and culture," Hertsgaard seems not to have realized that Freud was, of course, comparing the U.S. to his native Austria, which would later demonstrate its "taste and culture" by welcoming the Nazi Anschluss. One ventures to suggest that had Freud—who escaped the Gestapo thanks to intervention by Franklin D. Roosevelt—survived to see the liberated death camps in which his four sisters perished, he might well have revised his views about the relative virtues of American and Austrian culture.
WwoW! Riding this whole seemingly random cross-chop is exactly like having the passkey to the best and the worst ideas that this vast repository of connected humanity has to offer. Access to it arms we diverse peons with a double-edged sword which is increasingly being put to the jugular of the forces of collectivism - which are busily selling their vision for a socially-engineered monoculture of sackless followers...Though there is an edge they too can wield, as is illustrated through the above quoted article (you did read it...Right?), the wonderful fact remains that it is unlikely that I would or could have found the ideas it presented had it not been for seven little words and the seemingly random sequence of lines I chose to reach those ideas. And to think this underestimated communications revolution arose through the commercialization of another tool of global war...A war that although cold to the touch was hotly contested and ultimately won through the active application of the principles of armed liberty harnessed to common-sense.

Bitchin'!

Whilst the forces of "endarkenment" - which obscure their jagged intellectual reefs - do indeed ride the same wave, many of them do so in the full knowlege that they likely ride the very thing that is doing them in. I often hear the claim that 'information wants to be free' and It's quite easy to observe that the more fearfully dictatorial a regime is, the more restricted and controlled the internet is within the sphere of influence as deliniated by their power. Reality would seem to bear that maxim out. Many free people also fear this inherently fluid and chaotic network. I would hope that they could take some heart in observing that a tempest of confused seas always tends to propogate outward to spread to every shore. Providing an equally powerful opposing force doesn't cancel it out entirely (as by anti-market forces - i.e. government), and/or if the ripples aren't in possession of sufficient fetch to gather strength enough to reach a distant shoreline (as most probably this post is). I hope that they could take heart in observing that in a natural storm, chaotic seas eventually organize themself into ordered sets that often times remain powerful enough to be detectible on the far side of the globe.There is an aweful lot of truth and order hidden within the chaos. I've heard stories of Polynesian navigators who though out of sight of land and seemingly lost, could discern the true location of an unseen island or the location and intensity of a distant storm by merely touching the sea to feel the embedded patterns of refractions and reflections left by such waves. They've long known that the further away the storm lies, the more ordered and timely the swells tend to be. Experience and reason have since confirmed the efficacy of their art. I've even managed to stumble onto some small part of this knowlege myself through venturing into the tumult and observing for myself the patterns hidden within the seemingly directionless ebb and flow. Meanwhile insignificant metaphysical I - another anonymous surfing peon - has been further exposed to a bit more corporeal enlightenment and if you are reading this now...So have you to whatever degree you chose to do so. Of course you just might conclude that I'm completely bonkers...But you'd only be half right and gazing into a mirror.

Depending on each of our particular perspectives, and irregardless of whether we agree or not on whether we dropped into the same wave or chose the same lines, dangerous reefs and submerged caves are exposed by the flow of information emanating from the other side of the world - should we chose to see. I have yet to find a person who has ever successfully dodged a reef they have refused to see. Just the same as I've yet to hear or read of a war that was won by those refusing to yank their head out of the sand for long enough to fight it. Irregardless of wishfully thought theory or political ideology, we puny humans have no other choice but to trust in the clarity of non-negotiable truth. (There is such a thing you know... ) Especially when faced with a force that would sooner kill us without a care for our opinion, or our ability to discern safe water from dry shoal. If some force that has already demonstrated it's intent to murder you and salt the earth over the corpse of your achievements whilst continuing to shout that it will do just so - take it at its word and ignore it at your own peril. Your choice is opposition or submission. There is no 'third way' for the sane, no matter the variety of possible lines of retreat you are presented with. That force declared it's intent on September 11, 2001 yet there are millions who in their shock of aweful fear refuse to listen and instead have chosen to attack those who dare remind them that we, by our very existence, remain targets evermore so long as we dare continue to breath free air.

Like waves, information doesn't care a whit how it's propagated and that has apparently been reason enough to close a billion eyes. Far too many of the willfully-blind would rather expend vast amounts of collective energy denying or alternately attacking reality then cowering in fear lest the act of facing the monster makes it somehow more real than it already is. In much the same way that the advent of the telephone scared our recent technological ancestors, the potential for chaos inherent with this medium can be overwhelmingly frightening. After all we can see Osama's 8th century luddites passing their coded death even as the many participate in freely sharing the antidote of enlightened opposition. Perhaps this explains why those who have a stake in controlling the flow of ideas - Terrorists, tyrants, and our fearmongering information broker propagandists - display varying degrees of hatred for the threat of freedom posed by these humble individual ripples...These connection-facilitating threads that are increasingly gaining strength through the minds of proles like me sitting at our magical affordable boxes which allow me to communicate with 60 more people a day across a world of ideas that were previously closed to exponential us. In this alternate universe we inhabit, which somehow manages to represent the real human universe more accurately than any powdered network elite or jack-booted dictator can muster to match, It doesn't much matter whether I 'm maga, fat, man, woman, child, Soros, or Svengali - 'We the people in order to form a more perfect union' are armed to the teeth with the means to not only refute each other but also to fact-check and manifest thought into action to a degree that was impossible a few short years ago. And that's why I surf.

Have a Happy weekend I'm gonna wax my surfboard, the Navy's online wave model claims there might be waves tomorrow...And I mean to find out.

La revolución es pensamiento individual - libre para vivir.

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