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The main purpose of a political party is to get its members elected to office and then push specific objectives that follow a sustained line-of-thinking.
Although our current president (I used small caps, purposefully) Barack Obama, is clearly more interested in staying in office for the sake of just being in office. He is apparently in mortal fear, now, of being ousted after a single term – an ultimate form of humiliation suffered by tense denizens of the Oval Office (see the hapless Jimmy Carter). This is the only reason he petulantly gave up his efforts to over-tax the wealthy (under his own earthly father’s vision). But, let’s all of us, collectively, firm up our satisfaction in knowing the fellow and his government whore group have been routed (as in seriously ass-kicked).
Meanwhile… Parties are, otherwise, made up of people who have the same general idea and goals about governing. Once in power, the purpose of the Party is to accomplish its goals for the city, state, or nation. While not in power, the Party acts as the “loyal opposition” until it can elect a majority of its members to power.
Look for Obama to devolve into a form of petulant terrorist if he finds himself wobbling towards lame-duck status under eight years. I’m currently of the belief that he thinks wealthy people, not of his design, don’t deserve their status, and need their assets reallocated to fuel his ideals. More on this later. However, we need to be ready. That’s both the Heterodox and Jeffersonian in me – as well as the Prudent and Optimistic Gentleman.
To be clear… The Founding Fathers disliked political parties, calling them “factions” motivated by self interest.
Historical footnote: Then President, George Washington, was so disturbed over the quarreling between Hamilton (Federalists) and Jefferson (anti-Federalists) that he famously devoted much of his Farewell Address to the evils of parties. You need to understand that the people who supported Hamilton and Adams were called Federalists (ironically supporters of the Constitution) but they were not, in fact, an organized political party.
The first recognized party in America was made up of the followers of Jefferson, who, starting in the 1790s, called themselves Republicans (or, I love this, Jeffersonian Democratic-Republicans). Hamilton and those who opposed Jefferson, kept the name Federalist and appeared to be content with a form of rabble-rousing.
Let’s be clear, Jefferson’s Republican Party has no ties to the current Republican Party. In fact, the current Democratic Party considers Jefferson and Andrew Jackson as the founders of their party. But, somehow, after Bill Clinton, the Democratic party forgot that they are public servants, and appear more intent on creating an environment that serves their own miserable means.
More later. Read between the lines. Talk amongst yourselves. Care.
There might be the gnashing of teeth. Possibly the shaking of fists. Certainly voices will be raised.
Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.
Brian Patrick Cork
It’s been a rather long, tumultuous, and educational experiential journey refamiliarizing myself with the PC (as opposed to Apples), Windows – by way of the Android Operating System – and technology in the form of upheaval; the kind that requires and creates change. “Experiential” is an interesting word for the purposes of this post. The word derives it’s meaning from a learning process at the feet of old philosophers, yet it’s also apropos to a dedicated process of learning something new by, essentially, immersion. And, here we are…
Along the way, I find myself constantly reminded that we’ve become terribly reliant upon the internet for information with it being the uncertain arbiter of truth.
So… It’s become my view that the Internet, or any technology can not, will not, and should not act as a proxy to achieve the dreams and social goals we lack the courage to propose, debate, and legislate.
Thusly, I stand firm the Jeffersonian and Heterodox.
And, not often enough, we’ve discussed what being Jeffersonian means, on this Blog. However, today I’ll add some thought around what it does not mean. There will most certainly be the shaking of fists – and, furiously, that. Possibly the gnashing of teeth. Heated words, to be sure. The portent of change, inevitable.
NOTE: Don’t be overly concerned if you are reading this and come to a bound conclusion that you’ve waded, possibly unsuspecting, into my thinking mid-stream. We must all begin somewhere, and it’s how we finish, and that likely, counts for the most.
In any event, I’ll offer this abstract to maneuver you along:
It is often claimed that Internet technology will revolutionize society by privileging the small and benefiting the individual. We term the utopian tendency to hail a new communication technology as an inherently positive, decentralizing, and democratic force. In a manner of speaking this might be referred to as an example of the: “the Jeffersonian syndrome (named in honor of my hero so often appropriated to identify the decentralized, democratic outcome – the predicted triumph of the many over the few).”
It’s not just me, mind you. Others started it…
“Life in cyberspace seems to be shaping up exactly like Thomas Jefferson would have wanted: founded on the primacy of individual liberty and a commitment to pluralism, diversity, and community” (Kapor, 1993).
“…the social liberalism of New Left and the economic liberalism of New Right have converged into an ambiguous dream of a hi-tech ‘Jeffersonian democracy’. Interpreted generously, this retro-futurism could be a vision of a cybernetic frontier where hi-tech artisans discover their individual self-fulfillment in either the electronic agora or the electronic marketplace” (Barbrook & Cameron, 1998).
Social critics dislike paucity. For example, society (that collective you), they (the social critics) complain, suffers when there are too few firms in a market, too few political choices, or too little communication. Small numbers of firms coordinate actions to stifle entry and innovation, largely at the expense of consumers. Concentration at the most extreme results in rapacious monopolies that produce inferior products at high prices. Likewise, a small number of political parties limit voter choice, stifle policy change, and produce voter apathy and special interest politics. Society would clearly be better served, so the critics argue, by greater political choice and the accompanying increased voter participation. Too little communication is also bad for society, as limited communication precludes understanding, diversity, and community.
Weep not for the minority, although, it is that collective “they” that hold most of the power, and the wealth, under many definitions, that is part of it.
Social critics often place their hopes in technology to erode the dominance of the few and foster diversity. Many view the internet as a liberating technology. Indeed, they embrace the internet as subversive, a technology that will pry power away from the few – tyrants, censors, robber barons and phone monopolies (let’s not forget Obama, Obamacrats, and that insidious media) and return it to the people. The internet, so the critics claim, will usher in a new era of perfect market competition, more direct democracy, and greater community-building (cf. Dyson, 1997). Ultimately, it will undermine the dominant few in many segments of society, and usher in a more democratic and heterogeneous political and economic system. A system that will produce infinite consumer choice in the marketplace, deliver true democracy in the political realm, and provide unlimited and enhanced communication in the cultural realm.
This view leads to fallacious expectations about the impact of technology. And, these misguided expectations are cyclic and predictable. Corollary to this might be a brief historical discussion of earlier communication technologies. Jeffersonian claims about the Internet are rebutted by the three propositions:
1. New technologies do not operate in isolation from existing organizations and systems;
2. Valuable information is never cheap; and,
3. The economics of information markets imply concentrated structures.
And, so… The Internets non-Jeffersonian impact on economic, political, and community structures is discussed using three cases:
1. The online market for books;
2. The claims made about direct democracy; and,
3. And, political parties, and the hopes for computer- mediated communities.
It’s not that I wish to promote an opposite, dystopian perspective, nor do I consider the Internet impotent in terms of societal change.
Instead, I wish to call attention to the Jeffersonian-esque view of technology as a very predictable mis-perception that is a waste of our energies.
First, as a society we must, in reasoned deliberation, conclude that we are in need of one or more of the goals we have discussed here; be it less concentrated markets, greater economic efficiency, more direct democracy, a more decentralized political system, or more participatory and emancipatory communities.
Second, after a rational analysis of our goal and the changes needed in the social, political, and economic domains to approach it (addressing also the question of if and how “the” internet has the potential to aid us in these ends).
Third, and perhaps finally, we need to advance that goal through policy.
The hype surrounding technology is also predictably old: the introduction of the PC ushered in the “PC revolution” quite simply because many analysts expected the technology to usher in just that – a revolution (a revolution of what and how the revolution was to happen was never quite specified). The hype and bluster of the internet and in particular electronic markets is thus just yet another round of new technologies and anticipated revolutions.
Think in terms of what the catapult meant to war nine hundred years ago.
These technologies have had, and may yet have, a broad range of important and far-reaching implications. The question on the table is whether these technologies will deliver on the promised Jeffersonian expectations of decentralization and democratization, or whether this revolution will yet again fail to materialize. As I’ll struggle, here, in my own inarticulate manner, to have made clear, the weight of history leads us to doubt, the present conditions in electronic commerce lead us to doubt, the claims made about direct democracy lead us to doubt, and the idolatry of the computer-mediated community lead us to doubt.
This makes me perhaps not fearful, but certainly watchful of the idyllic, sophomoric generation that sees computers and the internet as the “easy button”.
While this post has approached these domains largely using an economic perspective, I’ll grimly suspect that judicious analysis from other perspectives would also cast the Jeffersonian expectation in an unflattering light. But, stay focused on me. But, as my own Mother expounded: Question everything, and accept nothing until the truth of the day is best known.
Where the drive of the heterodox crosses paths with the passion and intellectual nuance of the Jeffersonian, you’ll find that truth in the light of the seeking heart.
Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.
Brian Patrick Cork
follow me boys. it’s glory or death, then.
dramatic words, to be sure.
however, we’re realizing another period in our nations history where drama and action are relevant and required. Aubrey Nelson said it first (as far as I know), but Neal Boortz repeated it – and, with great emphasis. We may well be facing the single greatest challenge to our country since the Civil War. mind you, war has a unique way of catapulting a society to another level. that can be a higher level, or a lower level.
I don’t know if shots will be fired, other than from debating floor. but, I’m convinced that change needs to be the result.
our national deficit, which means debt, may be creeping towards unprecedented levels. back when England, France and Spain were much younger as nations they also owed a lot of money so they set out to discover new territories. we may not have that option, other than Mexico. more on that later, but annexing Mexico makes a lot of economic and strategic sense.
England has committed to reducing government spending by twenty-five percent (25%) until their deficit is “manageable”. trust me, they mean it. and, few people can knuckle down better than the English. I’m married to one of them. the French on the other hand are rioting in the streets. I don’t know if it’s because they have embraced a Muslim culture, or if it’s because they can’t survive, as a people, without direct government distribution of broader fiscal management.
historically, our own (more) direct ancestors faced some tough decisions and then challenges in terms of whom they might follow – the English and/ or the French.
by the way… the French are not as self-entitled as our media would have you think. it’s mostly that they have become dependent on a government that tells it’s people what to do as opposed to leading by example.
as it turned out, from the historical rear-view mirror, we learned vital lessons from both and followed our own destiny. now Barack Obama and his total lack of both business acumen and disregard for anything other than his personal desire to stay in power, threaten everything that a Capitalist-oriented nation with appropriate oversight and checks and balances should stand for.
broad statements, I know. and, the debate, with salient details, will take better form elsewhere.
but, the question, here, is whom shall we follow? England or France?
lessons both learned and taught from my own experience with standing armies, and in business, is if you don’t like what is happening you change the rules, or you change the circumstances. so, perhaps I run the risk of being called a dissident or a heretic – depending on your historical perspective – and, think like the English or the French. but, we must needs realize change.
so… getting back to that drama… it really might be about glory or death. I am a patriot. I am also an influencer. and, I think first, and foremost like a Jeffersonian and the heterodox. let’s go ahead and toss in some Ayn Rand for good measure. Barack Obama would fear, and also hate, both of them – just like Golem despised the light (Lord of the Rings). fight the evil. let’s not be like the French and allow an insidious and ill-conceived agenda inspire rot in our culture that will disallow our children to realize what this nation was founded upon, and can be yet, in terms of a global beacon of truth and light.
I have a torch, in hand. and, I’m lighting it here. follow me boys. it’s glory, or death.
meanwhile, lets listen to “its the end of the world, as we know it” by REM (this tune never had a dedicated music video of it’s own. but, this offering is relatively apropos.
peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.
brian patrick cork
I’m thinking it was either early 2001 or 2002 when David Gardner, the co-founder of The Motley Fool, and I were hanging out here in Atlanta in a local hotel bar pondering optimistic investment options, when it dawned on me how technology is, and will remain, a two-edged sword.
Between the two of us we had six gadgets scattered across a small table that included bulky cellular telephones, Personal Digital Assistants (PDA’s), and one pager (his, not mine), and a camera (again, his not mine). Since, statistically, the odds are good you are reading this blog, and you are at least thirty four years of age, you are probably thinking back with the vision of a similar array of your own.
I was telling David how one of my investors (think Palm Pilot and then PalmOne) that I was coaching and a company I was recruiting for called Handspring had collaborated around the Handspring Vizor devices (that, as you might know, then evolved into the Treo line of products) working with a cellular company to form (what is now) a “smart phone”. The Handspring was a PDA that you could now also use as a phone using a Sprint snap-on module (and, yes, I was an early adopter)! So, you had the least amount of “stuff” you needed to do a lot of business on the fly. By the way… The Handspring and Palm collaboration realized one of the first efforts to utilize USB connectivity for synchronization, and worked brilliantly with the Macintosh operating system out-of-the-box.
I was pondering my gadgets when I looked at him and asked:
“Do you think all this technology simplifies your life and business, or creates more stress and confusion?”
That was another of my “Forrest Gump” moments as we subsequently witnessed that Motley Fool take a lead in driving a great deal of attention around convergence and mobile technology platforms.
With the advent of Apple’s iPad (and, obviously the iPhone) maybe the answer to my question today is: “as complicated as you prefer”.
I think Nicholas Johnson would appreciate that because he likes to fidget and tweak stuff, in the spirit of all things Windows and Google. He is also apparently offended by things “that just work (a la Apple).
And, this will bring me around to what is currently a continued bastion of confusion – the PC (to be sure all computers are, essentially “PC’s” – some are just more PC, or useful, or work, for that matter, than others) – all of them aspiring to be compared to an Apples.
I have an iPhone and I’ve owned hundreds of computers (mostly Apples).
Here is another question in this time of economic uncertainty, continued efforts around convergence, mobility and the unending quest for what the real “truth” is, any where:
“are computers portals to chaos or confusion?”
Today, if you are under forty years of age, and asked a question, you will almost always go to Google.com for the answer. And, this might be where we realize the true cost of chaos. There is an old rule that allows: “if it’s in writing, it must be true”. Print is a powerful tool or weapon – and, misinformation can be the result.
Picture the twenty five year old “techie”, all-sophomoric, to be sure, at a cocktail party when they get challenged with a great question. The first thing they’ll do is whip out their Treo (well… maybe not) or Android device, fire up Firefox and google the question. Whether the information they find is accurate or not, it will often be touted as gospel and spread like wild-fire.
Think about it… If you Google a topic, most of what you read as a result is from blogs (sic), websites designed to influence thinking, white papers based on uncertain facts, “chat” responses posted on written articles of uncertain origin, etc. Other sources of information those which you find on MSN that can include media-hyped head-lines about the stock market and other economic reporting that is rarely based in fact. And, this is what forms our thinking and opinions daily. Wikipedia might have some credibility due to its community-based self-regulation that suggests some integrity from the intellectual community. But, how do you know if you don’t balance the information against information possibly found in a library or research facility.
I studied Social History (not a widely promulgated course-of-study, and some what “unofficial”) – or why things happened at Radford University and through other programs most of you won’t have access too. And, that has helped form my super powers perspective and position as a heterodox and contrarian. For example, if I read about a certain stock on a blog or through an oped, I know how to verify the information – and, first via skepticism. I focus on what most people don’t realize what they don’t know.
I also ask a lot of questions and always cross-reference. And, that is where I’ll end this piece and hope you pass this on as both a historical perspective of reference, and a warning around how to absorb knowledge, form your own super powers for good use, and be part of the solution, and not the problem.
Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.
Brian Patrick Cork
There is, or was, a fair amount of heat relative to Apple’s (well… Steve Jobs’) decision to give Adobe’s FLASH the cold shoulder.
However, as promised, if not simply hinted at, in this unworthy blog (shucks… who am I kidding?), and elsewhere, none of that really matters.
What does matter is that Steve makes vision-drenched decisions that drive people around the world to stretch, create, and be resourceful.
During my days as a fire fighter in Louisville, Colorado, my Battalion Chief called this: “being part of the solution, not the problem”.
This is a form of accountability that few people can immediately grasp.
That’s what leaders do.
And, it’s part of being a Heterodox.
So, here is an example, of just such a result:
Here is a thought: We have choices and consequences. you can whine, or drink wine.
I’m buying a vineyard.
Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.
Brian Patrick Cork