'd. - none of the above'
First of all: a shoutout to techPresident for being a great resource for thinking about the relationship between technology and politics. Full of consistently engaging and challenging work, and just generally pretty dope.
Anyways – the much-ado about Obama’s plan to use the internet to govern needs some fleshing out. The key remains changing the internet from a tool of access and transparency into a tool for people (writ-large) to make decisions. Questions remain about how to transform feedback and criticism into decision-making authority, and transparency into power for the people viewing. As it stands, the folks in government being monitored by internet-tools often still have the authority to act as they please, even if hundreds of thousands of voices dissent.
At the very least, internet tools put into more explicit terms the incongruencies of power and time that define the modern bureaucracy. In the same way that I think that Obama’s Presidency throws into better contrast certain types of exploitation (and makes certain new stridant critiques more sayable), internet transparency movements do the work of making critiques of state power more visible and potent.
Another recommendation: “The Dreadful Genius of the Obama Moment“
A pretty jarring analysis of the numerous problems left unsolved, and the problems created by the Obama election. I’m worried that my own focus on the symbolic/rhetorical elements of politics sometimes distracts from the real material facts of US exceptionalism. We really do have a war on most of the world, with terrifying implications.
I feel very conflicted. On the one hand, I know that no matter how right you are, you have to be able to effectively communicate and organize people for your voice to matter. In the current political environment, trying to take ‘hope’ head-on and out and out deny that people should enjoy Obama’s election feels like political suicide. On the other hand, I know that arguments about ‘effectiveness’ can straight-jacket real dissent, and prevent people from saying what needs to be said about Obama and the violence of the US government.
I guess my real feelings go something like this: I agree with the commenter on the article above that the real alternative is to ask people to hope further. What did we hope for? Was it Rahm Emanuel and a return to the Clinton foreign policy? Or are we really hoping for an end to racism (white supremacy), and something more fundamentally just in the world?
from for love or exp's flickr
Arujn Appadurai gets at some really interesting stuff regarding the language of Obama’s election, and its revolutionary potential.
Appadurai calls the feeling of November 4th ‘magic.’ While the language people used to describe Obama on election night was nearly religious, it wasn’t exactly devotional – the hype about Obama-as-Jesus was just that, hype – but his election did represent something special, something a little bit transcendent, beyond what has gone before. Magic implies a sense of the unknown, openness, play and potential.
It is precisely this sense of embracing uncertainty and creative potential that now President-Elect Obama has tried to eliminate since his election. Gone is the euphoric devotion to the man-as-symbol that represents radical change, replaced by the calculating Rahm Emanuel, and the mundanity of press conferences. He needs to pre-emptively tone down the sense of radical change that he developed during the campaign as to avoid any more commitments to leaps of faith on the part of his supporters – he needs them to become disciplined, calculating types that embrace him wholeheartedly as the lesser of many evils, and no longer as a transcendent force.
But that sense of magic he fostered for however many months might be precisely the energy that could be harnessed for other types of radical change.