FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

John Kerry, Organization Man

Lots of people have lots of complaints about the Internet, and some of those complaints are based in fact. One that I hadn’t heard before, until US Secretary of State John Kerry brought it up in recent remarks to embassy personnel in Brazil, is that the Internet makes it “much harder to govern, much harder to organize people, much harder to find the common interest …”

Sounds kind of backward, doesn’t it? From protests to petitions, publicity campaigns to meetup schedules, the Internet has become the preeminent tool of political organization in the two decades since the World Wide Web debuted. The advance of technology has involved more people in political action, and more effectively, than anything before it. It substantially enables us to govern ourselves in far more effective — and far more consensual — ways than Kerry and the gang he works for could ever hope to.

But, of course, that’s not what Kerry means by “organization” or “government.” As a foot soldier of the political class, he uses those terms to mean putting the people he rules into lockstep motion in physical, mental and financial support of goals set by and for the state (the only “common interest” he recognizes). He’s happy to let us color the picture, but only so long as he gets to draw the lines we color within. And he takes comfort in the knowledge that other states will manage similar feats among their own subjects, reducing the number of real players in global polity and economy to a few political class representatives and simplifying the task of shearing billions of sheep.

The Internet is, from that perspective, his worst nightmare. It erases political borders and lets people living under the rule of different states mingle, discuss, debate … and agree … and organize … and act … with no need for approval or permission from the world’s John Kerrys or Barack Obamas or Vladimir Putins or Adly Mansours.

Kerry’s lamentation isn’t the first such, nor will it be the last: The American and global political classes recognize fast, cheap communication between their subjects as the death knell for their own tenuous grip on power. The bloated, bureaucratic, hierarchal, snail-paced organizations on which states rely are no match for the distributed, networked, ad hoc organizations that the world’s masses can put together in hours and adapt to changing circumstances in minutes.

That’s why the worm has turned in terms of state-to-state tutelage.

Back in the 1980s, the politicians of comparatively liberal states like the US encouraged “constructive engagement” with more oppressive states like South Africa and the People’s Republic of China. More talk, more trade, we were told, would encourage those states to “liberalize.”

These days, it’s the alleged “liberals” who envy — and increasingly attempt to emulate — things like the Great Firewall of China and Mubarak’s ability to shut down the Internet in Egypt.

Given the choice between a totalitarian state and no state at all, people like Kerry will choose the former every time. And that is always the ultimate choice — not just for him, but for us as well.

Thomas L. Knapp is Senior News Analyst at the Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org).

 
More articles by:

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

April 23, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
In Middle East Wars It Pays to be Skeptical
Thomas Knapp
Just When You Thought “Russiagate” Couldn’t Get Any Sillier …
Gregory Barrett
The Moral Mask
Robert Hunziker
Chemical Madness!
David Swanson
Senator Tim Kaine’s Brief Run-In With the Law
Dave Lindorff
Starbucks Has a Racism Problem
Uri Avnery
The Great Day
Nyla Ali Khan
Girls Reduced to Being Repositories of Communal and Religious Identities in Kashmir
Ted Rall
Stop Letting Trump Distract You From Your Wants and Needs
Steve Klinger
The Cautionary Tale of Donald J. Trump
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Conflict Over the Future of the Planet
Cesar Chelala
Gideon Levy: A Voice of Sanity from Israel
Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled Again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
LEJ Rachell
The Baddest Black Power Artist You Never Heard Of
Lawrence Ware
All Hell Broke Out in Oklahoma
Franklin Lamb
Tehran’s Syria: Lebanon Colonization Project is Collapsing
Donny Swanson
Janus v. AFSCME: What’s It All About?
Will Podmore
Brexit and the Windrush Britons
Brian Saady
Boehner’s Marijuana Lobbying is Symptomatic of Special-Interest Problem
Julian Vigo
Google’s Delisting and Censorship of Information
Patrick Walker
Political Dynamite: Poor People’s Campaign and the Movement for a People’s Party
Fred Gardner
Medical Board to MDs: Emphasize Dangers of Marijuana
Rob Seimetz
We Must Stand In Solidarity With Eric Reid
Missy Comley Beattie
Remembering Barbara Bush
Wim Laven
Teaching Peace in a Time of Hate
Thomas Knapp
Freedom is Winning in the Encryption Arms Race
Mir Alikhan
There Won’t be Peace in Afghanistan Until There’s Peace in Kashmir
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail