chrisgilbey

Synergistic Technologies And Media

In Technology on December 8, 2010 at 9:16 pm
The ideas of Aristotle and Plato, shown in thi...

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It would be impossible to let the week (or day) go by without making some comment on the Wikileaks saga.

Let’s face it, regardless of anything else the Wikileaks brand is phenomenally strong. The Western nations know this. That is why they are trying to starve the organization of air, by stopping the flow of money to it.

You have to wonder, though. If you could stop an organization that easily, why didn’t the West stop the flow of cash to the terrorists after 9/11? Why didn’t they stop it back when the IRA was blowing up British people in London? Because at some point in the story the logic breaks down and the benefit of clearing all the money took over. In the case of Wikileaks it may be a bit more complicated, but I can foresee some extremely rich philanthropist stepping in somewhere in the mix to provide the funding.

I also think that Julian Assange has been pretty smart to give himself up in the UK. Much better than in Australia, where there is a stronger tendency to just do what the Americans tell us. In the UK the government is fiercely defensive of the need for the country to follow a legal path – in spite of the fact that Tony Blair clearly didn’t when the UK fell in lock step with the Americans after 9/11.

But what is important to also consider when looking at Wikileaks is all the other synergistic things that are taking place now… I read this piece earlier today that I thought had a lot of relevance because it covers the macro political and economic issues that the Americans have to consider right now. It was written by Alfred McCoy, who is a professor of history, and has written recently about the rise of the surveillance state.

Here are some of the conclusions that McCoy reaches – and when you read these, and think in terms of the role that Wikileaks plays, by keeping the truth in the public domain where the cleansing light of honesty shines, you realize that if the West is successful in punishing Wikileaks, it will just go to prove how bad our system has become. We need truth to be the beacon that makes democracy truly a great system.

Even if future events prove duller than these four scenarios suggest, every significant trend points toward a far more striking decline in American global power by 2025 than anything Washington now seems to be envisioning.

As allies worldwide begin to realign their policies to take cognizance of rising Asian powers, the cost of maintaining 800 or more overseas military bases will simply become unsustainable, finally forcing a staged withdrawal on a still-unwilling Washington. With both the U.S. and China in a race to weaponize space and cyberspace, tensions between the two powers are bound to rise, making military conflict by 2025 at least feasible, if hardly guaranteed.

Complicating matters even more, the economic, military, and technological trends outlined above will not operate in tidy isolation. As happened to European empires after World War II, such negative forces will undoubtedly prove synergistic.  They will combine in thoroughly unexpected ways, create crises for which Americans are remarkably unprepared, and threaten to spin the economy into a sudden downward spiral, consigning this country to a generation or more of economic misery.

As U.S. power recedes, the past offers a spectrum of possibilities for a future world order.  At one end of this spectrum, the rise of a new global superpower, however unlikely, cannot be ruled out. Yet both China and Russia evince self-referential cultures, recondite non-roman scripts, regional defense strategies, and underdeveloped legal systems, denying them key instruments for global dominion. At the moment then, no single superpower seems to be on the horizon likely to succeed the U.S.

In a dark, dystopian version of our global future, a coalition of transnational corporations, multilateral forces like NATO, and an international financial elite could conceivably forge a single, possibly unstable, supra-national nexus that would make it no longer meaningful to speak of national empires at all.  While denationalized corporations and multinational elites would assumedly rule such a world from secure urban enclaves, the multitudes would be relegated to urban and rural wastelands.

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