Thursday, November 09, 2006

Living the Revolution

After a year without touching a club, I hit a bucket of golf balls on this beautiful Southern California day. My concentration broke down; I was sloppy and rushed my shots. In golf mental stamina is important.

As I was out there at the driving range it occurred to me that I focus too much on the negative in politics. There are good trends too, such as the internet. The average man has more power to make his voice heard than ever in history.

Take this blog -- peanuts as blogs go. I would say no one reads this blog, but House of Eratosthenes has a copyright on that line. My biggest day so far came when Michelle Malkin linked to me and I got a Malkinlanche of around 1,000 hits in one day. Atrios and Instapundit can sneeze and get more than 1,000 hits, but for me it was something of a thrill.

Before the internet, I did not communicate my political or philosophic ideas to 1,000 people in my entire life. Only professionals had the power to reach that many people in one day. Now amateurs can do it.

The blogosphere is a big place where millions speak their mind. The world is better for it. I believe that truth prospers and lies suffer when the “marketplace of ideas” is so vast and efficient. Look at how fast bloggers demolished CBS’s Texas Air National Guard smear of Bush.

The world has changed since 1977 when I read Atlas Shrugged at the age of 20 and became an Objectivist. I did not know any other Objectivists then. I knew they existed, but their image was vague and unreal in my mind. I listened to a taped speech about gold by Leonard Peikoff and from his voice I pictured a bald man around 70 or 80 years old. I remember thinking it was a pity he would be gone soon. Such was the extent of my ignorance!

When I was stationed at Ft. Meade in 1979 I spent an afternoon in the Library of Congress looking through the five or six books they had about Ayn Rand. It was disappointing because most of the books were bizarre attacks by people like Albert Ellis.

In college in the early ‘80s I still had not met an Objectivist. I was so starved for anything about the philosophy and its founder that I spent one afternoon looking through the Reader’s Guide of Periodicals and reading every article the library had on Ayn Rand. I read very nearly all that had been written about her in major publications from the 1930’s-1980 in one afternoon.

Today there is too much written about Ayn Rand to read in a lifetime, much less an afternoon. Today a young Objectivist cannot experience the isolation I went through because the internet connects people with common interests. And it’s not just Objectivists, it’s every imaginable interest. I suppose lepidopterists have forums where butterflys from around the world are discussed.

When I first got on the internet in 1996 I researched a novel about Vikings (that I’m still working on; I did not like the style in my first attempt; yes, Myrhaf is a character in the novel). I read a document that was in Oxford’s library. Now, before the internet what are the chances I ever would have seen that document? Today anyone who can afford a computer and an internet hookup has a research library in his home. How will that change the world?

And here’s another good thing. I think both the Republicans and Democrats would love to censor information if they could. If they thought they could get away with it, the worst politicians would vote for total suppression of speech like the Nazis and communists had. This will never happen. The internet is here to stay. The world is a place where billions of individuals communicate in freedom.

Such a vast pool of voices makes it easier for the truth to be get out and perhaps to be heard. I hope the truth rises to the top. I hope this unprecedented freedom of communication helps the best philosophy to rise to the top.

We are in the midst of an information revolution that will change the world at least as much as the printing press did in the Renaissance. What you are doing right now, reading these words, is part of the revolution. We are living the revolution.

UPDATE: Slight stylistic revisions. It would be good if I sat on a piece overnight before posting it, but I'm like a kid on Christmas Eve -- I can't wait that long.

7 comments:

Blair said...

Myrhaf,

Thanks for your post. You're right that neither party will impose censorship "outright". The magic word in politics is incrementalism. A single law to 'oversee' an aspect of the internet, or a law like the one recently passed where online/offshore gambling is effectively curtailed by adding regulations to US banks. Or an attack on 'pornography' sites to "protect children" etc. This is how the Internet will be eventuallly controlled by Washington.
Also, don't forget the 'Net Neutrality' movement that wants to 'democratize' the internet by violating the property rights of the companines who built the infrastructure of the web.

Myrhaf said...

Good points. They could also pass PC speech codes making everyone afraid to write anything "offensive." They would not have to ban the internet outright if they made us terrified to use it.

EdMcGon said...

Myrhaf,
While I agree with your assessment of the Internet's potential, remember that a tool is only as good as its user. In a world of people who are arrogantly blind to their own ignorance, what good is having all the collected wisdom of mankind only a key click away?

On the bright side, thanks to the Internet, this is a wonderful time to be alive, ain't it? ;)

Myrhaf said...

Ed, the idiots are all over on Myspace. ;)

EdMcGon said...

Myrhaf,
If you want to see true idiocy, visit Daily Kos. Some of them don't even have the excuse of youth. ;)

Myrhaf said...

John Kerry and Edward Kennedy have both posted at Kos, and I think other prominent Democrats have. It's really astonishing that Daily Kos is not fringe left fanatics; it is the base of the Democrat Party.

EdMcGon said...

"Astonishing" isn't the word I'd use. "Scary" is much better. ;)