History rhymes. First physically, then digitally

 

Even with privatization.

History rhymes. First physically, then digitally /img/history-does-not-repeat-itself-it-rhymes.jpg

Mark Twain famously said (maybe! that “History never repeats itself but it rhymes”. A long, interesting essay titled “The silenced majority”, on the critical situation of Western democracy in general, contains a great, quite relevant today example of this principle, that is. So, please read the excerpt below (edited and rearranged for clarity), because it is valid even as it is. Then, seriously consider reading the whole essay.

Three centuries ago, some open-minded, radicals elites…

History rhymes. First physically, then digitally /img/silenced-majority.jpg

(In 17th century England, and USA) “Freedom” was the slogan, but it applied only to some; the purpose of government was to protect property, not people.

The elites of that time, who may be considered the “founding fathers” of our modern world, were open-minded radicals for their time.

And yet they presided over a political system as brutal as it was exclusive. Why? The answer is simple. They could not afford democracy, but also, crucially, they did not need it.

Concretely, those open-minded elites transformed the state, and politics too, in their own image - not only for British people, but for everyone.

They remade the British state, forcing it to expand in order to secure their worldwide interests, that is huge, private trading monopolies.

In 17th/18th century England, that is, the most fantastic gains derived from new schemes to privatize the globe.

Two aspects of those trading monopolies were crucial. First, they served elites almost exclusively. Second, they made the growth of elite fortunes eerily independent of the British population at large.

Today, instead…

In 17th/18th century England the most fantastic gains derived from “new schemes to privatize the physical globe”.

Today, they derive from new schemes to privatize the digital globe. The previous paragraph could also describe what is happening today. History is rhyming, right now. Or, as that essay puts it:

  • Silicon Valley will not simply destroy the jobs on which the industrious society was built. It will corrode and negate the principle of labor.
  • Facebook possesses the greatest potential to restore the political balance of the eighteenth century.

Me, I already pointed out that “Big Tech” really looks a lot like nothing more than “Feudalism + Animal Farm, digitized, via tax havens”. I also think that the “principle of labor” did need some reboot, if not “corrosion and negation”, even before Silicon Valley… but like this, not like both elites and “old labor” continue to propose.

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