We are in the middle of a revolution that isn’t receiving the attention it not only deserves but which is growing exponentially and which has taken over the world.
It’s not that it hasn’t been noticed or acted upon, it’s just that it needs more attention paid to it for its own sake, because it is a huge deal and we’re all part of it.
Information technology has given us the ability not only to share knowledge, insights, understanding, commentary and debate but has made it both free and interactive in a way that has never been possible before.
We are no longer locked into teaching spaces or conference spaces, we are no longer isolated in learning and whilst I hope that books will never die out, whatever we read we need not grapple with the information books contain alone. If we don’t understand something we can interact with others and ask for help and that help is, by and large, freely available, be it on a forum, chat room, social media or whatever and in which we are also intimately located in the frame of learning, in that we can share the personal highs and lows of our experience and even seek help for, say, our frustration, in the process.
But there is another facet to this revolution. Capitalism in founded on exclusivity, the control of products for profit. So far as information is concerned capitalism is on the back foot and is struggling because it is unable to do anything about this revolution because it cannot contain it or control the supply. Any attempt to do so would create a swift response because the majority want it and as such it is a the greatest mass movement ever known on Earth.
In the light of this, the governments Snoopers Charter can be seen as a desperate attempt to control the fearsome masses in a retrogressive way in order to maintain the historic imbalance of power in favour of the ruling elites. Anyone who is paying attention knows full well that the Snoopers Charter has nothing to do with containing violent extremism, indeed, as we also well know, the most violent extremists on Earth are those who have the exclusive power to make war and kill millions of innocent people, governments. The Snoopers Charter is aimed at us, ordinary people, because we are (and always have been) a force to be reckoned with and they want to contain us, just as they always have.
Today the main stream media is struggling, the news empires are trying to maintain their exclusivity, because they are essentially money making outfits first and purveyors of news second. Pop up messages for funding are now a regular occurrence, users of ad-blockers are asked to white list web sites and papers like the Guardian ask for subscriptions as do most alternative media sites by way of subscription or donations. Many of us are happy to self fund with occasional help from kindly donations, but essentially we are free of the constraints of having to conform to a business model in which money is the master.
I am not for one moment suggesting that money isn’t an issue, but it is the issue of money that needs examining because the old paradigms of money are being challenged as a means of control. I have no idea what the outcome will be, but the historic role of money as a means of control is looking decidedly flaky and desperate. What else are benefit sanctions if not the abuse of money and power as a means of control? They are still doing what governments do best, killing people, a (self given) right and the might exclusive to them which they also insist we pay for.
Globally right wing politics is on the rise and I dare to suggest it is at least in part due to the rise and rise of information technology and the empowering of ordinary people. I would also suggest that the dumbing down of mainstream education, and making it prohibitively expensive and debt ridden, is an attempt to control and suppress our natural inclination to learn because knowledge is power.
Back in 2015 David Cameron said, “For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens ‘as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone’.” He said a lot of creepy things, but that has to be the creepiest. A fearful populace is a controlled populace and it might have worked were we still locked down in our individual pre-internet worlds, but shared on the interweb of all things it just made him look what he is, creepy and ridiculous, as a million interconnected jaws dropped in outraged disbelief at his effrontery.
The pedestals of power are no longer unassailable, they are doing their best to maintain the old paradigms of power but they are being chipped away by an informed world. We may be frustrated by their machinations to maintain their power, but it is being eroded daily through shared information, thoughts and feelings. We are no longer alone if we choose not to be, the online world has many faults, but it is a vibrant place and very much alive and well, used or abused.
If you are reading this, you have access to a world of information right at your fingertips. How you use it is your choice, you can choose to watch porn all day or entertain yourself on YouTube or just buy stuff, but if you want to engage and be informed (with all your critical faculties fully engaged) then it’s all out there, freely available to you, you may be on your own but you are not alone.
The choice is yours and that alone is remarkable. In this you have absolute freedom of choice, if you want to be informed, you can be, and, indeed, probably are. They can try and blind side us with fake news and ‘post-truth’ bullshit, and is it any wonder? Information is truly a fearsome thing if your life is predicated on using and abusing others, as so many politicians and corporations do. But it is no longer a one way street in which we are given little choice but to comply not knowing what else we can do. We can seek help and support and much of that is entirely free from those so inclined to give it. We can share our individual expertise and develop our skills as we go as never before. And it is happening right now. It’s revolutionary and it is amazing and the technology of access is right here at our fingertips.
There is much that is wrong with the world, neoliberalism is driving disastrous poverty and the transfer of wealth from ordinary people into the hands of a few and indiscriminately killing on the way. Social safety nets are being destroyed at an alarming rate and we’re in the midst of the biggest global heist in history, but not silently, nor unremarked. If we want to be informed, though many have not yet woken up or realised that there is anything to be informed about, we can be and are and we can grow and develop and share and foster that in others. Welcome to the revolution, it ain’t being televised. We’re it.
It may seem that progress is slow and that it is an uphill struggle (it is), those in power still have it. None of us know what the future holds, in fact no one knows what the future holds and there are no certainties as to what may unfold. But we do not have to be ignorant or ill informed.
I look back at my own school days with sadness, school was awful and I loathed it and came out intensely learning phobic. I am now better educated in ways that school could never have given me. If I can thank school for anything it is the ability to read and write, I left with little else. I could wish they’d left it at that, that was enough for a lifetime of voracious enquiry which is alive and well to this day. Education is now free for the price of an internet connection and a device to access it and we can follow any interest we desire from the political to the utterly puerile (which are all too often the same thing).
It really is down to us to call it as we see it and to sift information with intelligence and discernment. We owe it to ourselves and each other and to the next generation who will inherit whatever we are able to leave them, above all, information.
KOG. 06 January 2017