Through a Glass, Darkly
I've started a strange new habit. I'm currently perusing real estate. Each Saturday I buy the weekend paper, remove the real estate section, and throw the rest of the paper in the nearest trash can - unread.
Six years ago, I used to have the daily paper delivered - and read it over breakfast. How times, and habits, have changed.
Then there's the TV news. Once upon a time I used to religiously turn it on every night at 6 pm. Now I avoid it like the plague.
Have the announcers become more ugly? Is the news more gruesome? Have I lost interest in what is "new"?
The truth is, these so-called information mediums have become tedious and unsatisfying. I no longer believe I can learn anything worthwhile from them. They are redundant and irrelevant.
Instead, I spend hours reading alternative sources of news on the internet. I check the main headlines at a number of different sources - major newspapers in different countries. I like to compare and see how the same news is perceived from different viewpoints.
Then I skip around to some of my favourite commentary sites - not news but commentary on the news. The news behind the news.
And for a good dose of reality, I enjoy reading various blogs put up by real people in real situations. I get a firsthand look at events through the eyes of those who are actually there - and not from someone embedded in the corporate media or state apparatus.
In this way, the internet provides a rich and diverse menu of news and views - a way to get a grip on what is happening.
But more importantly, this self-directed news gathering is a completely different ball game than being "fed" the news by the traditional methods.
I believe this information "revolution" is similar to the Protestant Reformation. In the same way people rebelled against the priestly class - demanding their own direct access to God - we, in the 21 century, are demanding direct access to the news.
Just as priests used to define the exact nature of God - and man's place in the greater scheme of things, so journalists and news organisations seek to define the nature, content and meaning of the news we receive.
The priests were intermediaries between God and man. The news organisations are intermediaries between what's happening in the world, and our knowledge of it.
Organised religion lost its battle against the reformers. Now, you can define your own god. You can define your own behaviour. You are no longer expected to simply follow a set of rules as handed down from above - but can evaluate these rules under the mandate of your own authority.
That's how you get the dichotomy of, for example, the Catholic Church providing a clear moral demand that believers NOT use condoms - while the very same believers make their own judgement and use them anyway! They face "god" directly, and take the consequences.
In the same way, "ordained" news organisations are losing the battle against the internet. They are losing the hearts and minds of the "citizens" of their long-standing fiefdoms.
So you get this strange occurrence, where news organisations are continually growing bigger, and eating up their competitors, while at the same time their relevance is diminishing.
Now there are two info worlds - the official news that is spoon- fed to you, and the news you source yourself. The official opinion, and the opinion you make for yourself. You have a choice.
This is an absolute world first. Never in history has there been this type of information freedom - in the midst of an aggressive information clamp down.
The information moguls are akin to our political masters. On the face of it, they are growing ever bigger and more powerful. While the reality is something entirely different.
We are confronted with a world of official news, official opinion and official policy. And like a pugilist wanting to show off, our media and political masters are forever stomping, romping and raving - in order to reinforce their view of the world.
The game is already over. But of course they do not know it yet. Just as the power of those who sought to represent themselves as God's intermediaries is gone - even though such people still exist - so too the power of the information intermediaries is over. The genie is out of the bottle. Pandora is out of the box.
Oh sure, the outside forms of institutional news gathering and dissemination remain, but their power is already gone. And in the same way, the outside form and appearance of our political masters and structures remains - but in truth is but a sham.
This didn't happen yesterday. The process has been ongoing. But if you wanted to put a date on when this reality broke out into OUR reality - into the public domain - then I believe it began with the demolition of the Berlin Wall, and the ensuing collapse of the Soviet Union.
Those two events represented the first visual confirmation of a fact already underway - the collapse of what we know as the nation state, the monopolisation of political power.
The official media is currently the handmaiden of orthodoxy, the official spin master of the nation state and the political status quo. As the state comes under greater and greater threat, so the media are deemed to be the one remaining bulwark to stem the loss of power.
The fall of the Berlin Wall signalled the end of monopolised political power, just as the rise of the internet signals the end of monopolised media power - the power to shape the content and meaning of events.
Take some examples. With the advent of the digital camera and the mobile phone, every single person has the potential to be an on- the-spot reporter. If you are where something is happening, you can record it AS it happens. Now, if your account is different from the official account, then yours may not "win", but will certainly call into question the veracity of the official version. And more than that - the very possibility of on-the-spot alternative "reporters" makes the business of official news gathering fraught with difficulties. The official line could be overturned at any moment.
We have also seen this phenomena with alternative media - like Aljazeera. On the one hand, we've had the official line from CNN, Fox News etc. - and their take on the war in Iraq. But at the same time, like a persistent irritant under the skin, we've had this tiny Arabic station putting up it's version of events - directly on the internet, for world consumption and evaluation. No wonder the powers-that-be have attempted to get it "taken down".
Then there's the growth of blogging - where anyone can become a reporter. During the Iraq war, one of the most interesting developments was the rapid rise to global prominence of the "Baghdad Blogger". This is revolutionary stuff - when a single person can literally take on the global media moguls for a slice of the world's attention.
On a broader scale, the rapid development of China is proof of the assertion that centralised political power is dead. The "new" China is a result of a REDUCTION in political power over the market. Once that power and control was reduced, the innate initiative of individual Chinese took over - and the current China is a direct result. It's a triumph of the market over the market-controllers.
The market is a wonderful anarchic mechanism and precursor to the way the world should be organised. It represents the complete opposite of machine-age command and control. One glaring example of this occurred when I was in Australia last year - during the lead-up to their federal elections. The government was using the tried-and-true tactic of fear-mongering. They were the only party that could keep Australians safe. But they weren't just talking about safe from terrorist attacks. No, they were also talking up their ability to keep Australians "safe" from higher interest rates.
Naturally, the general media failed to point out to the hapless voters that, in fact, the government had no control over interest rates whatsoever. More significantly, the government of any country has no control over the economy in any sort of positive way. Sure, they can destroy it by attempting to control it. But they cannot cause it to work. The economy works in the ABSENCE of government. Government can only impede an economy, not improve it. As far as the economy is concerned - the government is already redundant.
When this reality finally hits home, then one of the most potent ideas supporting governments will have been trashed. And it's only a matter of time.
On a broader scale again, we see it in the failure of the United Nations. Created after World War II, the UN was designed to be a global watchdog, a means of expanding the political order from within the confines of the nation state, to embrace the entire world. Its natural successor would obviously be a one world government.
However, from any perspective, the UN is under attack for being ineffective. And it is. If a bureaucracy can only impede progress and economic growth on a national scale - then it's hardly a good prescription for success on an international scale.
Which brings us back to now, today.
On the face of it - we are bombarded with images of powerful nation states and world leaders - reported on by world media. They strut their stuff, huff and puff - and pontificate on all matters concerning you and me.
Every day this "reality" is enforced - starting with state monopolised education and continuing through adulthood, via traditional, status-quo supporting media.
If you simply believe what you are told at school, read in the newspapers, and listen to on your local evening TV news, you will be missing the bigger picture entirely. You will be cocooned in a world of myths and stupidity - and will suffer the logical consequences.
The tools for your liberation from "intermediaries" are readily available and at hand. You can start to wean yourself off the present order as soon as you start to ask the hard questions. And, fortunately for you, there are more and more answers that are readily available to anyone who is seriously looking.
A sovereign individual is one who has discarded the need for any intermediaries - whether in religion, politics or the media. A sovereign individual is one who has experienced his own Berlin Wall collapse, or her own religious reformation.
But it takes a special type of courage and vision - the courage to see beyond appearances, to what is actually happening, and the vision and commitment to do something about it.
Yours in freedom