Last night Carole Cadwalladr published an article in the Observer, a British periodical, entitled “Parliament seizes cache of Facebook internal papers”. Evidently the visiting head of Six4Three (a United States software company) passing through London was virtually ambushed and litigation documents protected by a court order in the United States involving his company and Facebook were seized. The article did not disclose his name but it was not hard to find, it appears to be Ted Kramer. Despite his formal protests, I sense that he is not really displeased and that the intrusion may in fact have been a sham to get around a judicial non-disclosure order in the United States.
Ironically, Facebook, led by backers of the United States Democratic Party who actively assisted former president Barack Obama win the presidency through disregarding of internal rules designed to protect user privacy, has been under virulent attack by backers of defeated presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Mr. Obama’s designated heir, for allegedly facilitating the dissemination of information by her opponents that they aver cost her the 2016 presidential election. That the information was largely accurate and necessary in a functioning democracy is irrelevant. It purportedly originated from foreign sources and despite the United States claim to leadership of the entire world, apparently participation in the United States political process by some (but not all) foreigners is anathema. It’s hard to pity the social media giant but the irony is so great that it generates the need for reflection in a world gone topsy-turvy.
One can’t help but wonder how much the British ambush involves real concern for the public and how much is just abuse of the legal system for political purposes, hypocrisy now the rule rather than the exception in the United States (and obviously elsewhere), notwithstanding Chief Justice Robert’s protestations to the contrary. Donald Trump is not always wrong. The consequences of democratic decisions are now regularly calumnied, ironically in the name of democracy, while democracy is censored by the perverse alliance between politicized governmental institutions and leaders of the technology companies who once promised us a way to communicate freely, breaching the propaganda barriers imposed by the tame “mainstream media”. The attack is led by the “faux left”, really as right wing in most things as the neoconservative right, but somewhat efficiently disguised as progressive as evidenced by the latest legislative elections in the United States. Ironic given that Facebook’s executives, like those of Google and Twitter and YouTube and well, almost the entire Internet infrastructure, are important faux liberal “players”, the juncture of high-tech and politics become for some reason cannibalistic rather than cabalistic.
The “faux liberal” element, omnipresent in so called liberal democracies, seems to be leading the world deeper and deeper into political dysfunction, a world already devastated by our forever wars and neoliberal plundering of the many by the few. In that distressing context, the unquenchable quest for power by a demented dowager and her minions seems to be leading us all closer and closer to perdition. Of course, the more blatant “right wing” seems to be leading us in the same direction at a similar speed, political sanity existing only in the smallest and least powerful of states, states like Iceland and perhaps Ireland, but we are convinced daily, hour by hour, minute by minute, second by second by the purportedly “mainstream” media that the faux left and the rigid right are our only two options.
They are not, there are plenty of others, options like democratic socialism on the real left and libertarianism on the reasonable right, but we lack the courage to base our political decisions on anything other than fear of greater evils, manufactured fear that demands that we accept the evil we find most palatable, evil just the same. “Populism”, not in the perverted sense of the abuse of the trappings of democracy by self-centered and egotistically selfish leaders and groups, but in the sense of popular rebellions against the restraints on popular will by calcified governmental institutions and traditions, the only way to really challenge the rule of the faceless elites who milk us dry, real populism that is belittled, calumnied, distorted and maligned daily in what today passes for journalism, the term perverted to describe results that graceless losers in democratic elections derogate. And so, trapped together in sticky webs of political disdain and journalistic malpractice, we go spiraling faster and faster into the incoherent singularity at the bottom of the rabbit hole.
© Guillermo Calvo Mahé and Diana Marcela Cardenas Garcia; Manizales, 2018; all rights reserved. Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.
Guillermo Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia although he has primarily lived in the United States of America (of which he is a citizen). Until recently he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales. He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies). He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com. Diana Marcela Cardenas Garcia is a Colombian social communicator and journalist who collaborates with Dr. Calvo on diverse civic, social and political projects.