Thanks for the ping, and thank you and joanie-f for a very elevated discussion, which has been quite a rarity on FR for a long, long time. It provokes nostalgia for the days when such was more common.
I’m not sure I accept Whittle’s argument, assuming I understand it correctly. The parallel structures he proposes already exist, and have existed from the beginning. They are the churches, private schools, and voluntary personal and civic associations that fill the interstices of community life. Toqueville wrote about them. They embody the virtuous citizenry working to make their communities better places. So I don’t see that as anything new, not in the slightest.
I’m not quite sure how the Rather episode fits into the argument either. I see it as symbolic of how communications technology is disrupting the old information oligarchy. That oligarchy arose because of the nature, cost and distribution of communications technology. It is being disrupted by radical changes in the nature, cost and distribution of communications technology. A grandiose but nevertheless suitable analogy is to the role of the printing press in the Reformation.
Yet despite that, the MSM and the destructive cultural avatars of Hollywood and the professoriat remain the dominant voices. They are diminished but not yet dead. An no rag tag collection of bloggers can overcome them.
But their trendlines are all negative. The New York Times Company and the Washington Post Company, and many other MSM old media companies are headed for oblivion, brought on by a technological revolution they cannot outrun. No one has figured out how they can remain profitable. It would be good if those trends could be hastened to their ultimate conclusion. Perhaps a corporate raider will buy them and sell their assets for salvage value.
Similarly, the world of higher education is riding an unsustainable bubble and will eventually collapse. There are a number of forces at work here, but once again, technology is disrupting an ossified information oligarchy. Go to iTune U and check out the instruction available at nominal cost. iTunes U may do to higher education what it has done to record labels. Anything that can hasten the collapse of the higher education bubble is devoutly to be wished.
These trends weaken the enemy, but they do not strengthen our allies, or teach virtue to the young or strengthen the ties that bind. These same technological trends undermine virtue through the distribution of pop culture barbarism.
The technology itself is neutral. Weakening the enemy is certainly part of the strategy, but they’ll never be finished off. The inculcation of virtue is a continuous struggle between the forces of good and not so good that will never end. Entropy is only staved off by work.
BINGO! And I think one of Whittle's points is that work, for self reliance, builds virtue as more and more responsibility for self is realized.
Of course they do, Buckhead! As you correctly note, "They are the churches, private schools, and voluntary personal and civic associations that fill the interstices of community life." They care for the needy, give a helping hand "up" to persons who are "down"; they try to help those who are helpless and in despair (e.g., the Salvation Army) folks the federal government could not care a whit about.
If I'm hearing him right, what Whittle is saying is that the "third great revolution" of the human race the Information Revolution, and specifically the Internet provides a means for people to organize across communities in order to achieve goals they desire that the federal government is no longer interested in achieving, or is incompetent to achieve.
The beauty of the Internet is that it doesn't matter where you live; the Internet erases all constraints of physical distance between like-minded folks.
Whittle gives two prime examples of goals the government has either walked away from, or is not in a position to achieve, that NEW types of parallel organizations could achieve, PRIVATELY: (1) the space program; and (2) quality (read: non-publicly funded) education.
I am a life-long lover and supporter of the space program. But now NASA seemingly has been retasked to stroking the vanities of people who want to kill us, and our civilization. Not much new intellectual capital is created under such conditions, to put it mildly.
We already know public education is designed to make young people stupid and ignorant, incapable of exercising their constitutional role as rational citizens in a constitutional republic. Public schools are only interested in turning out future taxpayers, by training students up in "job skills" so that they might one day be gainfully employed, and subsequently fleeced to feed the insatiable maw of an overweening, illegitimate government. Period.
But who in his right mind would want to feed this beast, whose proper name is LEVIATHAN???
Hey, I'm open to new ideas.
You wrote "Im not quite sure how the Rather episode fits into the argument either." Well, I was simply impressed by the fact that an "obscure" individual could smell a rat, investigate a claim of an elite media type, and show it to be untruthful (to say the least) and then be able to disseminate the correction to the world, via the Internet. I score it this way: Truth, 1; and the elite, thoroughly corrupt media, 0. Thank you from my heart, Buckhead!
We live in a lying culture, where truth-tellers are scarce.... Personally, I honor and esteem truth-tellers. It seems to me they are the only persons who keep our civilization afloat these days.
I agree that the "old media" are on the brink of collapse, simply because Internet communications are ever so much more economical, with universal reach. The Internet overcomes the limitations of "locality."
You wrote, "Weakening the enemy is certainly part of the strategy, but theyll never be finished off. The inculcation of virtue is a continuous struggle between the forces of good and not so good that will never end. Entropy is only staved off by work."
Well, of course the inculcation of virtue is "a continuous struggle...." Or at least it used to be, when people had some appreciation of what "virtue" and (heaven forfend!) "Truth" actually mean.
But today, post-election, does it seem at all likely to you that the people who returned to office the most corrupt administration in the history of the United States for a second term have even a clue about what virtue and Truth actually mean???
You and I have both been around here since early 1998, but I don't recall we have ever directly communicated before. So probably neither of us knows where the other "is coming from."
So let me just say that I was troubled by this statement: "The inculcation of virtue is a continuous struggle between the forces of good and not so good that will never end."
I agree that the inculcation of virtue is a prime concern, believing that, in the long run, the survival and well-being of human beings absolutely depends on it.
But what are these weasel words: "the forces of good and not so good?"
What is this business, this "not so good?" Can you not say the word, EVIL???
"Good" is not opposed to "not so good." Good is opposed to Evil. Why can't we use that word???
If people are squeamish about "calling a spade, a spade" like this, eschewing to use the proper word, then how can anybody have a good-faith conversation about the forces that are tearing our society apart?
BTW, I certainly agree with this statement: "Entropy is only staved off by work."
So, how do we "get to work," do you think?
I'll stop for now.
Thank you for your kind words, dear Buckhead. Truly, joanie-f is an exceptionally fine thinker and writer, and I feel blessed to call her my friend.