In related news, Dialog Solutions, Inc., released a report stating that "the market of interpersonal conversations requires stronger Analog Rights Management protections". Dialog Solutions aspires to be the world's leader in producing professional quality dialogs, polylogs, and solitary musings which can be used for both commercial and entertainment purposes.
The demand for their products, however, has been allegedly hurt by the rampant piracy. "What is to stop people from taking the fruits of our hard work and using it in their private conversations?" said Gill Bates, the chief of marketing, "Without any kind of copy protection in place, anyone is free to talk about anything they want with their collegues and friends without paying us a dime. Not only it hurts our bottom line, but it also lowers the overall quality of conversations."
The report goes on to further indicate that without an effective copy protection scheme the culture and society as we know it might come to an abrupt end. "If no one can benefit financially from producing a conversation, then who is going to talk?", it states, "It may seem that the economy is thriving in spite of the conversation piracy, but in fact the pirates are only re-using the intellectual property of others. If the content creators cannot get paid, then the primary source of conversations will dry out."
In order to combat piracy and recover the slipping-away market, Dialog Solutions proposed to implement the system of Analog Rights Management along with the Trusted Thinking Platform. This technology would allow the interlocutor to be absolutely certain that he or she is always using genuine, properly licensed dialog lines, while at the same time ensuring that the content creators are receiving their due payments. To thwart piracy, the Trusted Thinking Platform would have to be implemented somewhere in between the memory region and the speech apparatus, in order to authenticate everything that's coming out a person's mouth and to ascertain that the user has a proper license for the spoken content.
It has been suggested by many people in this forum that America is asleep, so to speak, oblivious to the fact that the President and the government are fighting a war which, if continued, will only exacerbate the global conflict. More is assumed. America is oblivious, they say, to the apparent collusion among the two parties, the three branches of the government, and the heads of the biggest corporations; oblivious also to the apparent attack on civil liberties, such as the right of habeas corpus and right to privacy, and the ongoing efforts to reshape the political structure into something very much resembling a police state (Indeed, DavidTC argued rather conclusively for the latter in a recent discussion). To sum it up, it is implied that the State is waging a war on American people, and that the people are too dim or too unconcerned to realize that.
I would like to offer a different explanation for the direction taken by our political vessel--one inspired by the ideas of Ortega y Gasset; specifically, by his analysis of the source of the political power in Revolt of the Masses. There he identifies a certain type of man--a "mass-man" he calls him, who comes into the spotlight on the political arena most visibly in Russia after the Communist revolution. Those who are unfamiliar with Ortega might be able to relate to this idea by remembering what Nietzsche said about a member of the herd: this special kind of man is the one who values above all the security, both material and spiritual, granted to him by the massive herd of like-minded individuals. But Ortega goes on to specify other qualities: a mass-man is a man of craft, an educated man who is extremely proud of his abilities in his narrow field of expertise. The trouble is, the mass-man is also arrogant enough to presume that he is well qualified and suitably equipped for governing the state. Yet, according to Ortega, governing the state requires considerable skill; it takes an expert governor to stir a ship that is a country, and a mass-man is taking on himself more than he can bear when he aspires to take a shot at plotting the political course.
As for the source of power, it always lies within the general population. The people choose where to bestow their power, and virtually nothing can be done (in terms of governing) if they opt to withhold it. Iraq provides a great demonstration of this concept: the American army remains the uncontested raw power in that region, yet the people just cannot be governed since they already decided to bestow the political power onto a local authority.
Now put these two together and consider what happens when the herd becomes large and its political voice can no longer be ignored. Naturally, Ortega argues, it invests the power into the kind of government that protects the herd. But what is "protecting the herd" if not getting rid of the wolves? Anyone whose stance is incompatible with that of a mass-man, anyone whose political voice strays away from the choir thus becomes the enemy of the state. And what kind of state is most efficient in exercising this kind of control over the minorities? Ortega draws his grand conclusion: the totalitarian government and the police state never have their roots in the soul of a dictator; on the contrary, the said dictator conveniently arises to answer the call of a mass-man.
Now ask again: is America really asleep? Or is the mass-man finally awake and is flexing his muscles? In my opinion, all signs point to the latter. The populace is far from being fooled. Bush, for example, was re-elected exactly because he had shown that he has what it takes to be a dictator, not in spite of it. The mass-man has no fear of a police state: he craves it; it protects him from everyone who is not a mass-man. Take a look at the legislation: do you believe for a moment that the Patriot Act will be used for jailing blue-collar workers who spend their life watching TV? White-collar workers watching TV? The wealthy elite who support the State (and so indirectly--the mass-man)? No. Criminals? May be. Exceptions are possible, but they are all freak accidents. This kind of legislation adds no utility for criminal cases, since criminals can be tried in court and convicted by the law anyway. The troublesome thing about the police-state-enabling legislation like the Patriot Act is that it might (and probably will) be used to get rid of dissidents. "But isn't the dictator himself the primary beneficiary of such acts", one might ask, "as they allow him to stay in power?" But they don't--the source of the political power is not in concentration camps or the gallows, it's in the will of the general populace. In Soviet Union, for example, the basic structure of the government and the key people in it were unshaken by the torrent of Perestroyka and the following period of unprecedented political freedom. I happened to be there, and guess who was complaining the most? Stalinists--the mass-men who suddenly realized the the herd is no longer tended and the extremists are free to express their opinions.
As we continue down this path, we can see that the collusion of the branches of the government in USA is due to the fact that the political process is becoming more streamlined. What need is there checks and balances when the only item on the agenda is to appease the herd? The very nature of the mass-man ensures that the herd speaks in a single voice, informing everyone of its latest desire. The most efficient government, from the herd's point of view, is the one that carries out the orders without much ado. Sure enough, the results are bound to be chaotic. Are you wondering if Bush and his team are insane? Many agree that the mistakes they have made are as numerous as they are damaging. It seems especially puzzling because it can be argued that these mistakes are damaging for everyone in the USA. The war in Iraq, for example, the way it is conducted, will likely cause tremendous grief to all Americans, including the mass-man, and yet the government shows no sign of repenting. It seems like the power has been usurped by some kind of irrational, emotive amateur. Everyone points at Bush. Really? If his incompetence is so obvious, why isn't the Congress stopping him? Are Corporations to blame? Are they really so short-sighted as to believe that burning Iraq to the ground and alienating the rest of the region will improve anyone's economy? There is, however, an emotive, arrogant amateur right under our nose, one who finally succeeded in electing a President who will listen to his voice. This amateur is, of course, the mass-man. The mass-man is never a statesman. He is a garbageman, a factory worker, a businessman, a housewife, a teacher, a writer, a programmer, a biology professor, etc., yet he is convinced that he is wise enough to govern the state, and now the state is finally falling under his control.
If this analysis is correct, what are our options? Impeach the President? But... He is doing his job rather well! And I say that even though I believe that we would all benefit if the entire PNAC was abducted by aliens tomorrow. We would like to see Bush go, but that will fix nothing, for the mass-man will just replace him with another puppet. No, our only hope is to disperse the herd. It will get harder as it grows larger, since its power and its arrogance grow together with its ability to shut out everyone else. May be we reached the point of no return already, and so we'll have to live through the dark ages of a totalitarian state, waiting for the herd to drive itself off the cliff (it always does in the end). When the state is finally in ruins, the mass-man will naturally loose his confidence (which means, he will cease to be a mass-man) and people will be able to find a competent ruler. For now it looks grim, and whatever our options are, I cannot advise a course of action. I am not a statesman.
Note. If you can discuss Revolt of the Masses without using sexist language, give yourself a star.
Torque is cheap.