Adapt to Experience

There has always been strong public discourse among intellectuals in democratic societies.  With the Internet the discourse widened.  Can everyone now participate?  Perhaps.

 Margaret Thatcher said; "Society doesn't exist"!  Was she right? 

The Rise of Civil Society.

If society is rapidly changing, the only way to successfully adapt is for each person to become part of that change.  In industry, the Japanese have made that point.  The Toyota system engaged the line workers in the process of improving the production process.  In the beginning progress was slow, but in the long run the results have been outstanding.  

In every society, the rate of change in our institutions and in our political parties and in government itself was being over shadowed by the rate of technical change and the demand for social change.  In churches, universities, charitable trusts, humanitarian agencies and international sporting codes, there is an incessant demand for change.  Institutions are established to be venerable and long lasting, with rules intended to withstand the test of time.  There is both necessary pressure and justified resistance to excessive change.  

It does appear more clearly now, that electronic news media, television and radio, and more recently the Internet played a significant role in destroying the apparent power of leaders who once held respected positions.  Groups are forming everywhere to demand action on issues they think are important.  Long before the Internet, the influence of satellite television made people in Eastern Europe disgruntled with their communist past.  The Berlin wall fell to pressures that were invisible until they suddenly came to the boil.  We have recently seen the power of cell phone photographs and low grade video taken by ordinary people in the streets of Iran and circulated on the Internet.  The G.W. Bush administration didn't fare any better.  Photo's of the torture of prisoners appeared on the Internet.  Long before the War in Iraq, the clear evidence that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was clearly written all over the Internet.  The only people telling a different story were the CIA, and politicians both Democrat and Republican in the USA, supported by Tony Blair, in the UK, and the John Howard in Australia.  Personally I don't expect those people to tell me lies.  But that's exactly what happened.  They fed the public on "political truth". As a result, an honourable and highly respected man, Dr David Kelly, was forced to endure public disgrace leading (apparently) to his suicide, in order to protect his lying Prime Minister.  

Politicians, and the news media are used to being able to control the information agenda.  The Internet makes that impossible.  When the Internet was young people said, "How can your trust what's on the Internet?"  The answer is that you can't trust what's on the Internet.  But what we've also learned is that you can't trust official and government sources either.  Civil society is the public response to the lack of accountability that's obvious in high places everywhere.  Where ever there's a gap between that is being said and the truth people experience on the ground, people are speaking up.   The Internet empowers groups like this, not only to get members, but it also fuels them with information that makes those groups that are well led, formidable forces.  A politicians life is suddenly a lot more difficult.

Moreover, across the Internet you can see future leaders, honing their skills, building their knowledge and their networks and preparing for action.  I see these people in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan; in Bulgaria and across Eastern Europe.  That's a powerful force, slowly growing in strength and knowledge.  Not to mention the seething anger in the USA at the failure of both the Democrats and the Republicans to represent the voting public.  The news media isn't carrying this story.  One day that story will be visible to everyone.  

18th Century Guilds

Political Action in Africa
Political Rally

The Women's Movement, USA
Political Meeting

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