Thursday, September 30, 2010

Technology and Open Communication Blamed for Suicide

Virtual Homicide, Virtual Suicide
By Dr. Keith Ablow

Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi, 18, killed himself Sept. 22 after his roommate Dharun Ravi and his roommate’s friend Molly Wei allegedly taped him - secretly - in an erotic, homosexual encounter in his dorm room and then broadcast the video via Skype.

This "stunt" isn’t just a college prank gone bad. It is evidence of the dehumanizing effects that technology is having on young people. I very much doubt that Ravi and Wei are murderers at heart. The "thrill'' of using a Webcam and Skype and Twitter to playact as producers and directors turned their victim (Clementi) into nothing more than another contestant on a mean-spirited, ill-conceived reality show.

That’s what technology does to people, though. Working from behind a camera and sending images into Cyberspace now removes the human face from the actions of many, many people. The hardware and software of Skype and Facebook and Twitter and many, many other Web standards can be a virus that scrambles the code of the empathy on the hard drives of their souls. They literally turn into the purveyors of entertainment who lose sight of where Web life begins and real life ends...
Commentary by walford

Technology didn't cause this to happen. In the past, the perpetrators could have secretly filmed this with still cameras. Prior to that, they simply could have told people what they saw and the result would have been the same. People have had videos made of themselves doing worse things and didn't commit suicide.

Certainly the irresponsible people who posted the video should be prosecuted for privacy invasion and possibly sued for precipitating this situation, but
ultimately the person who killed himself was entirely responsible for his rash decision.

People like Dr. Ablow apparently are not comfortable with the fact that individuals can instantly publish all kinds of things w/o being filtered by Our Betters in the government or media. A healthy discussion on how to cope with this inevitable phenomenon in a free, technologically advancing society is certainly warranted and desirable.

But let us not cast blame upon an open means of communication and information-sharing.

Monday, September 13, 2010

What is Fascism?

Commentary by walford

Collectivism is an Utopian ideology which holds that everything and everybody belongs to a group, usually based in a certain location and is typically put into practice at a national scale. Collectivists believe that everything is produced by society as a whole, rather than the accumulated effort of individuals. Rather than allocating resources based upon effort, innovation, hard work, etc. and determined by supply-and-demand, collectivists believe that resource allocation and compensation should be allocated based upon "need" as determined by the political class. [In practice, resources are allocated based upon political considerations, with the most going to those most politically connected.]

Karl Marx and his ideological descendents developed the roots of modern collectivism, which then were put into practice either with government or private ownership. In both scenarios, the government actually controls property and individuals, ostensibly for the common good.

Socialists believe in collective [viz. government] ownership of the means of production.

Fascists, by contrast, tolerate private property, so long as it serves the State. They view private property as an allowance granted by the government and often refer to take-home pay that is not expropriated by the tax collector as a cost to society as a whole. They firmly believe that the State is the people and the people are the State. Therefore, the more powers the State has, the more empowered are the people. [Modern fascists express this as "we are the government" in response to objections to increased power centralized in the government.]

Rather than being driven by ideology, fascists think that there is a coterie of Our Betters who are somehow endowed with a certain Wisdom that is unassailable by reason and is superior to popular will -- which must often be thwarted if it cannot be manipulated. That's because the masses have been corrupted by the capitalist bourgeois culture and therefore don't know what's for their own good. They hold that everything belongs to the collective, so they often characterize a tax cut as a "bailout" or a "givaway" while taking from one and redistributing to another is regarded as an "entitlement." One is entitled to anything but their own earnings.

Hmm. Any fascists amongst contemporary politicians today?

The racism of the German version of fascism was peculiar to early 20th-century Germany [not Italy], but it should be noted that the National Socialist Worker's Party believed that the Jews were not only genetically inferior, but also were a pathogenic bourgeois capitalist element that was economically exploiting the German people.

Communism and Fascism are two sides of the same statist, collectivist coin. Their modern descendents are elitist and disdain democracy in favor of a cadre of Philosopher Kings to run our lives because we are too stupid/ignorant. The only difference between the medieval Divine Right of Kings and today's collectivists is that the latter holds that leadership should be selected by political pull rather than birth. Ideological heirs to medieval aristocracy, they share the conviction that the general population should be kept poor, ignorant and disenfranchised.

That they characterize themselves as "progressive" is therefore absurd. Their medieval mindset is the very definition of reactionary, because freedom is the most radical idea and the optimal human condition.

They are against anything that empowers individuals and for anything that empowers the government, holding that the only true freedom and justice can come from the State. Their modern ideological heirs are diverse in its particular goals, but is united in the proposition that all solutions involve higher taxes and bigger government.

They distrust private enterprise and hold that competition should only take place in the political arena as a blood-sport. They consider government spending to be "investment" while monies allocated by private concerns to be greed-motivated exploitation. And greed is only defined as economic aspiration, while lust for political power is not something they like to talk about.

This cadre is populated by incorrigibly intolerant True Believers who cannot abide that their conclusions would be subject to question, holding that anyone who disagrees with them are by definition stupid, ill-informed and/or evil.