The aftermath of the SOPA/PIPA protests on Wednesday have served to galvanize the bleak reality that if you give a darn about the well-being of individuals odds are you’re going to wind up as an Independent in America’s political system.
Traditionally I come from a conservative background emphasizing individual merit, doing your best, working hard, making something of yourself, getting things done, and recognizing individual achievement over collective labels, not burying individual accomplishments in a mess of bureaucracy and collectivism and recognizing that human beings should be more than just another number in the system. Sadly, the tech issues that have landed in Washington over the last decade have seen to it that people like me have no place in any predefined political group.
Let’s take the Democrats for example. I should theoretically hate everything they do because I hail from a more conservative background right? After all they’ve traditionally been big fans of social engineering and collectivist stuff in America, BUT the pro Net-Neutrality stance of tech-savvy Democrats helps individuals out against those large collective organizations known as the Telecom industry (or Tele-con industry as I like to put it) that has been out there squeezing more money out of people and stagnating broadband development in America for years. Plus some of the green tech initiatives out there basically represent the implementation of various individuals’ good ideas and putting science to work, such as LED house lighting, power-saving flat panel TVs, and solar cookers, so why should I as a fan of technology auto-hate any green tech stuff just because it’s green?
Then there’s the Republicans, a party that for the past decade has drifted more and more into Identity Crisis Mode. The loud GOP voices on C-SPAN nowadays are talking about “smaller government, controlling spending, helping create private sector jobs, letting Americans keep more of what they earn” etc. Sounds good right? Except what private sector jobs do they hope to create besides crappy McJobs so long as money keeps moving out of this country like water from a burst pipe? Not to mention the Republicans can boast of having some of the biggest corporate shills (a.k.a. collectivists who value collectives over individuals) I’ve seen in the Net Neutrality debate who blatantly act like they’re paid off by Big Telecom companies so heck with the individuals they’re supposed to represent. Then you have Lamar Smith who was one of the big pushers of SOPA, blatantly coming up with anything he could to keep pushing for it even though under his own piece of legislation he could’ve ended up liable for the very things the bill opposes. Plus the Bush years in the 2000s showed us that Republicans can spend money we don’t have all over the place too.
The recent surge in Libertarianism is probably the worst. Just take the problems with the Republicans and jack them up even more, especially the trend to ignore real world results in favor of theoretical rhetoric. For example, check out this recent article from an Institute Of Justice blog which tries to frame the SOPA/PIPA debate as a matter of whether corporations have rights or not. What?! Then compare it to this posting from the Electronic Frontier Foundation which catches MPAA head honcho Chris Dodd (and one of my state’s former senators) framing SOPA/PIPA as a mere dispute between different types of corporations. On one hand, making everything all about collective organizations and ignoring the individual part of it. On the other, a supposedly pro-individualist Libertarian group doing the exact same thing in one of their blog articles by skipping any discussion of how SOPA/PIPA is about individuals. One of the critiques of the Libertarians is that they’re just a bunch of paid-off fringe extremists who want corporations to be able to run amok by shrinking the government until it becomes helpless to stop private sector corruption. I’d like to think that’s not what it’s about but these eerily similar gaffes between these allegedly very different folks isn’t helping any. :-\
For the record, the uproar about SOPA/PIPA is not about collective entities of any kind. It’s not about corporations having or not having rights or the government censoring the Internet. It’s about INDIVIDUALS!!! Even the tech industry companies who oppose SOPA/PIPA are ultimately doing so because INDIVIDUALS are who they do business with and why they even have a growing business in the first place. Google is what it is because lots of INDIVIDUALS have made Google the huge search engine that it is, as well as using Google Docs and other cloud applications they’ve come out with, plus Picasa, Google Earth, Google Chrome, etc. YouTube’s also under the Google umbrella – another site that owes its existence and popularity to INDIVIDUALS. Reddit, eBay, Craigslist, Wikipedia, Social Media sites, and various other Web 2.0 companies are what they are because of INDIVIDUALS. It’s individuals that have benefitted from the free and open information that has created these industries and driven the Information Age to become what it is. It’s individuals that were the reason why the Founding Fathers gave a darn about individual rights and created a nation centered around the value of individuals as opposed to the social strata of the Old World. That’s not the way things are nowadays though. There’s so much collectivism sneaking into both major parties these days that I might as well just register for parties to vote in primaries and that’s about it. :-\
I give a darn about people, and I give a darn about technology. Unfortunately, with how things are today, not only is giving a darn about people and technology a liability instead of an asset, but it makes you an outsider in America’s political system. So be it then. =(