For the Week of June 19, 2006
One of the key tenets of an open source politics is the idea of joining the world.
The present Administration came to power with the intent of leading the world. After 9-11, the world was there to be led. The Administration then tried to lead the world off a cliff, and the world politely declined the invitation.
Thus ends American Exceptionalism, the idea that, somehow, America is a better country, with better values, and better motives, than other nations. That we're not just in this for ourselves.
In fact, we've always been in it for ourselves. Our Revolution extracted the fastest-growing economy in the Empire from Parliament's grip. Our early leaders founded their new economy on slavery, committed genocide against the natives (while the Spanish merely converted theirs) and waged wars of aggression against Mexico and Spain. The Monroe Doctrine wasn't everyone hands off the Americas - it was Europe hands-off, America hands-on. And then Vietnam, and Cambodia. Then Iraq.
Americans are taught through their history classes to put a finer gloss on this. We're taught that we believe in freedom, in liberty, in government "of the people, by the people, for the people."
"Remember the Alamo," Texas kids are taught, but forget that they were slave-traders, that Mexico had banned slavery, and Texas became a slave state, that its men fought and died in three wars for slavery. The fact is elections have often been stolen in America, and oppression has always existed. We have not lived up to our ideals most of the time.
Sure there are exceptions. Civil Rights. The Golden Door. Women now vote here, they control their bodies here (for now) and gay people enjoy rights they couldn't dream of having in many places. These freedoms have been hard won, and it's always two steps forward, one step back.
The rest of the world knows this history. (Some are taught worse about us.) The truth is neither what you were taught as a child nor what our enemies are taught as children is entirely true.
But the idea that Americans are better, that Americans have a natural right to lead, that they have the military and economic strength to control the world and its nasty actors - that's gone. Dead. Buried. Ended. Khattam-shud.
This is the lesson of the next two years. Our credibility is gone, our dollar is going, there is nothing you nor I nor George W. Bush himself can do to change it.
The question is what happens next?
I believe the Internet offers an answer. I believe the open source process offers an answer.
A free Internet, a people unafraid to use it, and an Internet whose infrastructure takes advantage of Moore's Law, is the last great hope of America. We can make friends there. We can build partnerships there. We can learn there, and teach there, and achieve great things there. If we're free, if we're unafraid, we have the education and skills to lead this medium for decades.
Sure, this Administration is trying hard to toss away that advantage as well. But this Administration will pass. The question, again, is what happens next?
International institutions deserve our support. They won't always do the right thing. Usually they will do nothing. But we need to sign those treaties this Administration walked away from, enforce those treaties this Administration ignored, and be willing to take the consequences of violations that have occurred this decade.
That means paying our UN dues, without question. That means bringing supporters of international cooperation back into the State Department. It means signing-on to the International Criminal Court, and accepting extradition of anyone deemed a war criminal to it. That means accepting the world's verdict on our recent actions, and becoming a solid citizen again. It means rehabilitation.
That last paragraph is going to be very controversial over the next few years. The idea of accepting international law is anathema to present-day Republicans. That's part of the current Thesis that the new Thesis will sweep aside.
Because in the end this is just one small blue marble swirling through the vastness of empty space, spinning on its axis, orbiting a Sun with a limited lifespan, and holding on it just one species that can possibly get its descendents away from here.
But before we get serious about Star Trek, we need to face An Inconvenient Truth. We need to save this planet. And we need to work together, as one species united, if we're to have a hope of doing that.
Every period of excess in American history brings a great evil to our attention. The first brought slavery into the open. The second brought union-busting and monopoly into the open. The third brought laissez-faire ignorant government into the open. The fourth brought our own excesses and fecklessness and irresponsibility, as individuals, into the open.
This period of excess is bringing the limits of our nationalism into the open. The next Thesis must accept that, and bury that, and move on to rejoin the world, and help save it.
Because we have met the enemy and he is us.
I have made a big decision. I have moved my main blog, formerly called Mooreslore, to danablankenhorn.com under the name Dana Blankenhorn. (Hey, that's MY name.) The blog is written in Typepad and is also available at 200billionscandal.typepad.com
I'm continuing to produce a special blog on Open Sourcefor ZDNet. I am pleased to say it has grown into a real money-maker. I work as a freelance writer in Atlanta, and am on the development team for Voic.Us, which aims to become a political "super-site" and offer mobile marketing services. Please visit that blog as well.
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Best of the Week
The Internet has become a political issue.
When you get right down to it, the Bells' attempt to get into TV is just another way of avoiding any increase in DSL speeds. Which is a hole you can drive a train through.
What China most fears is mob rule. Unfortunately, mobs are what the Internet does best.
Yes, Howard Dean is Barry Goldwater. But he is much better-placed than Goldwater was to achieve results.
For those confused by the item which follows, let me offer a review of the terms I'm using:
A thesis which can't stand open debate has fallen.
Globalcomm is where Bell companies worldwide go to buy equipment and tell lies.
This is not an either-or proposition.
The generational crisis needed to effect major changes in how we view the world is coming. But it is not here yet.
Today, book publishing is about marketing. That's it. Marketing.
The Open Source Myth is based on the Internet. Knowledge should be freely available. You should be free to read any page, link to any page, and use any service that can travel on TCP/IP transport.
The code that defines how voting machines work is a closely-guarded secret. This makes the results naturally suspect.
It's just too evil to contemplate.
ZDNet Open Source
Clued-in is is Larry Augustin. Open source values matter.
Clueless is every House member who voted against net neutrality. They are on the wrong side of history, and deserve to be tossed.
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