25 September 2012


There are times when the literati can be just a touch too emo.

In the US fashionable neoluddite Kirkpatrick Sale and associates such as James Starkey and Charles Keil offer The Montpelier Manifesto
We, citizens of this American land, haunted by the nihilism of separation, meaninglessness, and powerlessness, subsumed by political elites who use corporate, state, and military power to manipulate our lives, pawns of a global system of dominance and deceit in which transnational megacompanies and big government control us through money, markets, and media, sapping our political will, civil liberties, collective memory, traditional cultures, sustainability, and independence, and as victims of affluenza, technomania, cybermania, globalism, and imperialism, do issue and proclaim this Document of Grievances and Abuses.
Boo yah, as one of my students says.

They go on to complain about -
  • A government too big, too centralized, too undemocratic, too unjust, too powerful, too intrusive, and too unresponsive to the needs of individual citizens and small communities 
  • One that is too big and corrupt to be fixed or reformed, certainly not by such fantasies as campaign finance reform or corporate-personhood amendments. 
  • One that has lost its moral authority, is corrupt to the core, and is owned, operated and controlled by Wall Street, Corporate America, and their political lackeys. 
  • One run by a single brain-dead national political party on life-support systems, sustained by national and Congressional elections that are sold to the highest bidder, disguised as a genuine two-party system. 
  • One that relies on and fosters the illusion that only the U.S. government can solve all or our problems all of the time, in the face of the fact that it is the U.S. government that is the problem. ...
But wait, as they say, there's more -
  • An economic system absolutely dependent for survival on consumption and affluenza (the illusion that the accumulation of more stuff, provided by big-box stores fostered by government globalization policies, can provide meaning to life), despite the knowledge that unrestrained growth in a world of finite resources is unsustainable and unworthy of pursuit. ...
  • Corporate-owned, government-subsidized agriculture with its use of toxic pesticides and fertilizers, anti-biotics, genetically-engineered seeds, systematic animal cruelty, and virtual absence of food safety regulations creating a menace to public health, the environment, and small farmers. 
  • An immoral, often clandestine and illegal, imperial system based on full-spectrum dominance, military overstretch, might-makes-right, and the proposition that the world wants to be just like us, leading us to provide support to dictators and authoritarian regimes in the Middle East, North Africa, and elsewhere in the world ...
The solution?
“Whenever any form of government becomes destructive … it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government … as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness,” says the Declaration of Independence. Alteration and abolishment include the right to disband, or subdivide, or withdraw, or create a new government. 
Let us therefore consider ways peaceably to withdraw from the American Empire by (1) regaining control of our lives from big government, big business, big cities, big schools, and big computer networks; (2) relearning how to take care of ourselves by decentralizing, downsizing, localizing, demilitarizing, simplifying, and humanizing our lives; and (3) providing democratic and human-scale self-government at those local and regional levels most likely to effect our safety and happiness. 
Citizens, lend your name to this manifesto and join in the honorable task of rejecting the immoral, corrupt, decaying, dying, failing American Empire and seeking its rapid and peaceful dissolution before it takes us all down with it.
Bring on the crispy squirrels, deep-fried acorns and other free-range organic treats!

Taking a more optimistic view, 'Yes, Vinton, There is a Human Right to the Internet' by Kay Mathiesen notes that
A recent United Nations report asserts that states have an obligation “to make the Internet widely available, accessible and affordable to all….” I defend this claim against critics, such as Vinton Cerf (one of the founders of the Internet) who has argued that “technology is an enabler of rights, not a right itself.” 
I argue that the right to the Internet derives from the right to communicate. Using James Nickel’s account of relations of support between rights, I show that the right to communicate provides essential support for all other human rights. I argue that, given this linchpin role of the right to communicate and the increasing importance of the Internet as a means of communication, states have both a negative duty to refrain from restricting citizens’ freedom to communicate on-line and a positive duty to see to it that citizens have access to Internet technology.