Failed Empire

Chronicling the collapse of a failed society

Ante Up or Go to Sleep

100,000 protest in Wisconsin

2011 is shaping up to be an extremely turbulent year – both on a global and personal scale.  I’ve been out of commission in the blogosphere for a mere two months, and the world seems to have turned upside down in the meantime.  Massive protests have spread across the Muslim world, even (faintly) into the deepest depths of one of the most repressive regimes on earth – the “Kingdom” of Saudi Arabia.  Meanwhile, the mild-mannered farmers and teachers of seemingly mundane Wisconsin have risen up in a remarkably spirited stand against the latest and most blatant advance of corporate power against the needs and interests of the common man.

In the midst of all this unprecedented political and social upheaval across the Middle East and, of all places, the American mid-west, 0ne of the largest earthquakes ever recorded has wrought untold devastation on the nation with the world’s second largest economy, unleashed a devastating tsunami and brought on what may very well end up being one of the worst nuclear disasters in history.

Truly, we are living in interesting times.  And thanks to the miracle of the Internet, we have access to unprecedented levels of real-time, on-the-ground information.  We can skim through endless Twitterfeeds and discover the latest atrocities committed under Ghadafi, or learn about the newest cowardly deeds committed by Republicans in Wisconsin, or watch startling live video feeds of a nuclear reactor in the throws of a partial meltdown.

For a blogger, it is hard to imagine more interesting times.  And indeed, the very phenomenon of blogging itself indicates that the world we inhabit today is a vastly different world than it was a mere ten years ago – to say nothing of 20, 30, 40 years and beyond.  Technology has changed the face of our world, and in spite of the corporate chicanery that goes on – the endless attempts to restrict the scope of the Web, the monotonous repetition of 24 hour news networks, the absolute corporatization and dumbing down of all mainstream media outlets –  I believe technology has changed us for the better.

It is impossible to avoid cliche here:  knowledge is power.  It’s everything.  Prior to the Internet age, it was far too easy for a powerful elite to control the flow of information, thereby restricting the masses to a state of virtual – and in many cases literal – slavery.  The history of human progress for the last 2,000 years is at its core a history of the development of our ability to access and distribute information.  As our capacity to widely disseminate information spread, so too did our level of genuine freedom.

The struggle is far from over.  The Internet represents an example of militaristic technology gone awry – it was developed as a weapon, and any benefits it has brought to humankind at large were wholly unintended.  There is no guarantee that this current path towards universal freedom of and access to information will continue.   It could be thwarted at any time, and we have ample evidence to prove that elite powers across the globe are trying to do just that.

But the numbers are on our side, and if history has shown us anything, it’s that the masses can only lose if they just give up and drift to sleep.  But as we’ve seen in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Algeria, U.A.E., Yemen, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Wisconsin, we seem more awake now than ever before.

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