Friday, August 11, 2006

Net Democracy

The more deregulated media gets, the worse off are the voters. Democracy in the U.S. has for long been up for sale. As ever fewer media conglomerates control ever more of the media(practically all tv, radio and print media is in the hands of 5-6 big companies in the U.S.), they gain an ever stronger hold on what the truth of the day will be. But there is a counterbalance that's gaining momentum. It seems regular Joe is starting to realize the possibilities of the net as a tool for furthering grass-root democracy(Netroots as they've been dubbed). And just the other day, one not so regular Joe, felt the effects of just one such historic showing of netroots activism.

What happened was that the unknown political newcomers Ned Lamont toppled a political old-timer in the Democratic Party Primaries for the Senate in Connecticut. Ned Lamont ran on a platform against the war in Iraq and against Senator Liebermans close ties to the President. This is a stance which landed him the support of MoveOn, who mobilized their members to make close to 80,000 calls to get out the vote for the elections.

The possibilities for the people to organize and freely assemble on the net as well as communicate and come together behind a joint cause show great hope for the democracy of tomorrow. In the U.S., the powers that be have already taken notice. Even though the motives behind the Net Neutrality Act are primarily business orientated, there is no question that such an blow to the freedom of expression on the web would also deal a great blow to the brewing net democracy. What's shocking is that these decisions are being made by a single country even though the effects will be global. The U.S. retains control of the central servers upon which the internet operates, and any policy enacted by the U.S. government concerning the internet will effect all of us surfing the web. This even before net democracy has gotten off the ground in Europe, much less the rest of the world.

On a sidenote, it seems the net, more specifically blogging, has been providing a way for frustrated Lebanese people to vent their feelings over the ongoing aggressions against their nation. Look forward to many more days of blogging by these poor souls, because Israel is only getting started, no matter what Olmert has been saying to try to appease the international community. He can't afford to go soft or end the war, not without dooming his own political future.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Sanity is boring

The BBC recently produced a documentary called I Love Being...Mad, which deals with how we approach mental illness in society. This is an interesting subject as more and more normal people are getting a prognoses of having some form of mental illness and put on psychiatric drugs. But this was not the perspective the documentary took. Instead it looks at how we deal with people who are quite psychotic indeed. One in six people suffer from some kind of mental illness. How abnormal is it then really? Is it a sustainable approach to keep on forced drugging the mentally ill? Or should we instead look into new ways of approaching the insane? Should we listen more to the mentally ill concerning how they could best be helped, by involvement instead of shutting them out, by therapy instead of drugs, by activities instead of restraints. After all, there's a bit of madness in anything creative. How boring would the world be without any madness? I know I couldn't bare complete sanity for even a moment. Luckily, I don't have to.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Let's get this over with

Right now is an utmost boring time in politics. Yes, that's right. Israel is having at it with Libanon, who have a whole lot of nothing to put up a fight with. As a result, Israel is killing a bunch of civilians, the worlds is "shocked" and nothing is getting done about it because the U.S. is blocking all actions. The EU has no say in the region as both parties belive they are biased toward their enemy, and you can't really expect anyone else to stand up and take charge either. So nothing is happening, except a 24/7 news coverage re-affirming that nothing has changed, except that Israel is now targeting Lebanese civilians instead of Palestinian civilians with their tanks.

Is it just me, or is there something incredibly absurd about using tanks to fight guerilla troops?

What's really interesting is the effect this is having on Hizbollahs reputation and status in the region. This is a shiite organization which has hijacked the Palestinian cause to promote the rebirth of the Islamic State which fell along with the Turks after World War 1. Essentially, the only people who were truly behind Hizbollah before this little war was Iran. Syria were backing them because it was convenient and they wanted the Gholan Hights back from Israel, and the Libanese(85% Sunni) mostly hated them. The assassination of prime minister Hariri didn't help their popularity. And yet now they are experiencing a violent surge of popularity, and the more civilians Israel kills, the more supporters Hizbollah gains. How many more will be willing to die for the cause once robbed of their livelihood and loved ones? As long as Hizbollah manages to stay alive, they will have no lack of new recruits to replenish their ranks. They will be hailed as victors, some have even suggested that parades may be held in their honor in the streets of Beirut once this is over. Once Israel ends this futile campaign(unless it is to become a permanent occupation of Lebanon as well, in which case I'll be interested to see how the U.N. justifies that without incurring the wrath of every last Muslim on the planet), they will have strengthened Hizbollah beyond what the organization has ever known before.

Don't hold your breath for peace in the middle east.