Friday, July 15, 2005

Driving The Slander-Monkeys From the Temple of Knowledge

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A couple thousand years ago, an itinerant Rabbi was teaching a message of hope and compassion to the world, not a new message so much as a reminder of the original truth, and a personal lesson by example. It happens, the accounts are written, that this Rabbi came to the Temple in Jerusalem, where he saw merchants exchanging currency for acceptable sorts of coin, and selling various animals for the required sacrifices. It happens, say the stories, that these merchants were not content to perform a necessary service or provide a convenience for pilgrims who did not have the proper accessories for their obeisance to God Almighty; they regularly cheated the people with inferior animals and high fees and dishonest scales. This outraged the Rabbi, who was ordinarily the most peaceful of men, so much so that later when he was murdered, he asked God to forgive his killers. In his rage against this injustice, the Rabbi fashioned a whip out of rope, and he drove the merchants from the temple by force.

This story is an interesting one to me, not only because it tells how Jesus Christ loved Justice, but notes that his actions were not always predictable to the people around him. While Jesus taught a consistent and deep lesson of forgiveness, he also taught about consequences, and the need for Good to oppose Evil.

What does this have to do with a political blog? According to Blogherald, there are now more than 60 million blogs in the world, more than 10 million in the “Anglosphere” (US-Canada-UK-Australia-NZ). I couldn’t find an official count for the number of political blogs, but a quick look on any subject at Technorati shows a continuing explosion there, as well. Lots of opinions, enough to suit any taste. And a lot of them have endured; where the average blog dies out after the initial excitement wears off, there are many political blogs which have survived and grown. Partly, this is due to Dan Rather, whose failed attempt to influence last year’s Presidential Election with forged documents demonstrated the value of all sorts of specialized knowledge websites; the nation learned a new respect for typesetters and military clerks. But also, the continuing prevalence of slander-screaming, lie-flinging dung monkeys shows the deep need for regular sweeps by volunteers in the web world.

In “The Third Wave”, Alvin Toffler explained that the world operates on a basic system of social intercourse, which drives the worth not only of nations but individuals as well. This intercourse is defined by a “wave” of development which drives the character of its identity and growth. The first wave was Agriculture, which greatly improved the production of food and led to the first towns and communities of nations. The second wave was Industry, which greatly improved distribution and trade, significantly improving living standards and driving the natural order through cooperative ventures and alliances. The third wave is Intellectual Property, which opens the door to mutual-gain initiatives and truly symbiotic relationships at almost every conceivable level.

But there are threats to these waves as well. Robber gangs pillaged first-wave towns to take the food they wanted, while monopolies and oligarchies perverted the operation of industrial nations and communities. Today, there are people strongly opposed to the free exchange of ideas and the development of integral associations. What could once be dismissed as Luddites and Flat Earthers, have themselves used the very tools of Intellect to pursue a strategy of conquest against the common good. Rather than correct their views to withstand scholarly scrutiny, they mock scholars to deny them the chance to consider their actions. Rather than adopt constructive and realistic worldviews for their future resolutions, they do their all to smear the lens from gaining a proper context to their intentions and efforts. Rather than cooperate to common gain, they demand the absolute destruction of their enemies, defining as ‘enemy’ anyone who dares to question them or suggest constructive alternatives. They are cunning with words, in the manner of the ‘Newspeak’ and ‘Doublethink’ Orwell warned about more than a half-century ago. They oppose all that must come to bring a better future, and so must be denied the influence they demand, so long as their motives and tactics are destructive and zero-sum. That’s where the blogs come in.

You may notice that in describing these Slander Monkeys, I did not name their political party or any specific identity. This is partly to avoid the distraction of focusing here on one individual or claim, but also because we also carry the responsibility for countering such tactics regardless of who is using them. That is where the MSM collapsed; it no longer can claim to represent the public interest, but each agency and conglomerate does as it pleases, following a self-interest rather than the national priority. I can’t be too harsh on the individuals, I guess, since we all put up with various disappointments in order to continue receiving regular paychecks (itself an issue worth discussing, but for another time), and the slide from committed defender of the truth to Hairspray Flunky can be hard to notice by the person in the descent. Blogs, for the most part, are not only totally controlled by their writer/editor/janitor/programmer, but do not generally provide very much in the way of revenue or influence, so that the blogger is not particularly tempted to sway from his/her original purpose in writing the blog. For good or ill, bloggers tend to maintain their character and integrity. Bad for personal finances, true, but worse for Trolls and Slander Monkeys, because bloggers tend to be quite an idealistic community, determined to shine the light of objective analysis and comparative evidence on just about any claim, and they tend to be rough on posers and rhetorical thugs.

Ideas are more important now than ever before. This is not only because it is so easy to convey an idea around the world, but also because in combination with supporting writers and theorists, an idea can become a movement almost immediately. It is therefore more important than ever before, to sweep away obstacles from the work of honest debate and analysis.

Time for driving the Slander Monkeys from the Temple of Knowledge.

1 comment:

Terrell Ruegg said...

Very interesting.