“THE New Digital Age” is a startlingly clear and provocative blueprint for technocratic imperialism, from two of its leading witch doctors, Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen, who construct a new idiom for United States global power in the 21st century. This idiom reflects the ever closer union between the State Department and Silicon Valley, as personified by Mr. Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google, and Mr. Cohen, a former adviser to Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton who is now director of Google Ideas.
The authors met in occupied Baghdad in 2009, when the book was conceived. Strolling among the ruins, the two became excited that consumer technology was transforming a society flattened by United States military occupation. They decided the tech industry could be a powerful agent of American foreign policy.
The book proselytizes the role of technology in reshaping the world’s people and nations into likenesses of the world’s dominant superpower, whether they want to be reshaped or not. The prose is terse, the argument confident and the wisdom — banal. But this isn’t a book designed to be read. It is a major declaration designed to foster alliances.
“The New Digital Age” is, beyond anything else, an attempt by Google to position itself as America’s geopolitical visionary — the one company that can answer the question “Where should America go?” It is not surprising that a respectable cast of the world’s most famous warmongers has been trotted out to give its stamp of approval to this enticement to Western soft power. The acknowledgments give pride of place to Henry Kissinger, who along with Tony Blair and the former C.I.A. director Michael Hayden provided advance praise for the book.
In the book the authors happily take up the white geek’s burden. A liberal sprinkling of convenient, hypothetical dark-skinned worthies appear: Congolese fisherwomen, graphic designers in Botswana, anticorruption activists in San Salvador and illiterate Masai cattle herders in the Serengeti are all obediently summoned to demonstrate the progressive properties of Google phones jacked into the informational supply chain of the Western empire.
The authors offer an expertly banalized version of tomorrow’s world: the gadgetry of decades hence is predicted to be much like what we have right now — only cooler. “Progress” is driven by the inexorable spread of American consumer technology over the surface of the earth. Already, every day, another million or so Google-run mobile devices are activated. Google will interpose itself, and hence the United States government, between the communications of every human being not in China (naughty China). Commodities just become more marvelous; young, urban professionals sleep, work and shop with greater ease and comfort; democracy is insidiously subverted by technologies of surveillance, and control is enthusiastically rebranded as “participation”; and our present world order of systematized domination, intimidation and oppression continues, unmentioned, unafflicted or only faintly perturbed.
The authors are sour about the Egyptian triumph of 2011. They dismiss the Egyptian youth witheringly, claiming that “the mix of activism and arrogance in young people is universal.” Digitally inspired mobs mean revolutions will be “easier to start” but “harder to finish.” Because of the absence of strong leaders, the result, or so Mr. Kissinger tells the authors, will be coalition governments that descend into autocracies. They say there will be “no more springs” (but China is on the ropes).
From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/06/02
The Swedish riots appear to have ended, but while most of the media fumbles about to understand what happened, the answers arguably seem to have been provided 12 March, over two months before the unrest began. At that time I interviewed Paul Lappalainen, a senior Swedish civil servant who had run the Government’s 2005 inquiry into ‘structural discrimination’. It was a most prescient moment when he said “I prefer not seeing riots”, but warned it “seems that policymakers are not trying to avoid the conditions within which riots occur.”
Contrary to what many believe Sweden to be, while the country’s borders may indeed be open, certain ‘cultural borders’ within it are another matter, assorted reports documenting the prejudice minorities and immigrants daily live with.
What Lappalainen emphasized was a ‘structure’ of pervasive and disenfranchising discrimination, discrimination discussed in the report his 2005 inquiry provided, ‘Det blågula glashuset – strukturell diskriminering i Sverige’ (The blue/yellow glass house – structural discrimination in Sweden); by a 2007 report by the UN’s International Labour Organization, ‘Discrimination against Native Swedes of Immigrant Origin in Access to Employment’; by a 2008 report by the government’s Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (Brå), ‘Discrimination in the criminal justice process in Sweden…The direct and indirect discrimination of individuals from a non-Swedish or other minority background’; and, in a November 2012 government report, ‘Främlingsfienden inom oss’ (The enemy of strangers within us – my own translation). Significantly, while much media is blaming disenfranchised immigrants, the poor, and their allies for the recent violence, the government’s November 2012 report noted its title was justified by the significant threat posed to vulnerable groups by the ‘many different forms of everyday racism’ which ordinary Swedes can embrace, the xenophobia many harbor. Tellingly, the report’s summary ends by observing that Swedes “must begin with ourselves” (måste börja med oss själva) in addressing this.
The fuse gets lit
Unfortunately, while there’s long been much discussion about discrimination and prejudice, there’s a Swedish expression – ‘mycket snack och lite verkstad’. It means ‘a lot of talk and little action’. However, if a powder keg sits around long enough, sooner or later the fuse gets lit.
The start of the 2011 riots in Paris’ suburbs, the Brixton riots in the UK, and virtually all of the US’s major strife dating from the 1960s, do have one factor in common – perceived police wrongdoing triggered the unrest. In Sweden, the riots began following the police killing of a man in his late sixties, reports initially suggesting he had a machete, a woman hostage, and had threatened police. Swedish papers screamed “Machetemannen” (The Machete Man), the implications being obvious, printing that the fellow had died in hospital, attempts to save him failing…but, it appears this isn’t quite right.
Continue reading at: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/06/02
From Alternet: http://www.alternet.org/activism/how-protest-corporate-power
The broad movement for peace and social, economic and environmental justice is here and you should be part of it.
Two years ago, we announced October2011.org with an article called “ History is Knocking.” We asked if the time might be right for a larger mass of people to rise up and occupy public space to challenge the corporate control of our government, a corrupt economy and US militarism. We were not certain what the answer would be, but six months later hundreds of thousands of you did rise up in Occupy encampments across the nation. Many more were inspired by the massive mobilizations to join the work on a broad variety of injustices in their communities.
Today we know that history is no longer knocking. History has opened the door and is standing in front of us. The broad movement for peace and social, economic and environmental justice is here and you should be part of it.
Today we announce the launch of a new platform to connect and build that mass popular resistance that is growing in the US, PopularResistance.org. It provides daily movement news and resources to keep you informed about actions and events and to provide you with tools for organizing in your community (See for example these two new Occucards on Corporate Media and Public Banking).
The vision of PopularResistance.org is to end the rule of money so that people’s needs and the protection of the planet come before corporate profits. The website puts forward a strategic framework to achieve this goal and links to 200 tactics that have proven effective – our two track philosophy is to protest and build, i.e. stop the machine and create a new world. This process will build a mass movement, first by creating solidarity among the movements currently working for transformative change; and, second by pulling key groups of people to the movement, thereby weakening the power structure.
To make this next phase effective, we need you to be involved in PopularResistance.org. We ask you to share this article with people in your community, people you work with across the country and people who you think should be involved; share it on Twitter, Facebook and other social networks. We want this site to be the movement’s site and encourage you to use it: submit your projects to the calendar, send us your ideas, and share articles and tools. Many have already joined as contributors and more are being added.
Continue reading at: http://www.alternet.org/activism/how-protest-corporate-power
From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/06/01-2
Published on Saturday, June 1, 2013 by Common Dreams
Europe’s anti-austerity movement was flexing its muscles again on Saturday as tens of thousands joined street protests in Germany, Spain, Portugal, Greece, and elsewhere to voice their opposition and anger at the ongoing and worsening economic crisis on the continent.
Released this week, official statistics showed the EU has broken unemployment records, with the continent’s unemployment rate at over 12 prercent and nearly 1 out of every 4 youth jobless. Such statistics, say demonstrators, shows the ineffectiveness of the dominant economy policies over the last several years.
In Frankfurt, Germany a second straight day of protest was targeted at the European Central Bank, one of the three institutions in Europe known collectively as “the Troika” which also includes the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund. Under their authority, the struggling national economies of Europe have been forced to slash public budgets, cut services, reduce pensions and benefit plans, and privatize public entities like hospitals, energy companies, and transportation
On Friday, protesters under the banner of “Blockupy Frankfurt‘ shut down the ECB from “business as usual” by surrounding the institution’s headquarters and blockading the entrances. Following that, the group said many more thousands had joined for Saturday’s march, with more than 20,000 reportedly attending.
The Blockupy activists say that even though Germany is portrayed as Europe’s strongest economy, the reality is that many Germans object to the mistaken and heavy-handed role its country has played in the ongoing crisis in Europe.
Calling its government a “profiteer of crisis,” the group said in a statement, it was the labor market reforms pushed through in Germany in 2004, including “slashing long fought-for workers’ rights and securities” that is now serving “as the model for the neoliberal reforms that the German government and European financial elites try to push in all of Europe.”
Continue reading at: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/06/01-2