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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Same game, new gadgets

Imagine Pompey Magnus and Julius Caesar hashing it out over cyberspace, with Fox News, CNN, BBC, and Al Jazeera covering the action.
Following my recent post on communication in politics, here's a rebuttal piece by a friend of the blog here at Life With Subtitles: Argumenthol. Enjoy
Humankind has not yet developed a flawless governance system, nor is it likely we ever will. It never hurts to keep trying of course. In the meantime though, our information and communication technologies keep getting faster, cheaper, and more pervasive. What used to be a flawed political game has become a very very fast flawed political game.

Are dishonest communication and backstabbing really new like Fadi suggests? Has a lack of trust really just recently infiltrated our political and diplomatic processes? Wasn't it over two millennia ago that Caesar made Pompey an outrageous truce offer he hoped he wouldn't accept, then rescinded his offer when Pompey did accept? Dishonesty and untrustworthiness are not infiltrating politics and diplomacy. They have always been their central tenets.

Things only seem harder now because the flaws are on steroids. The same flaws. Just imagine Pompey Magnus and Julius Caesar hashing it out over cyberspace, with Fox News, CNN, BBC, and Al Jazeera covering the action. Imagine the war for Troy with Wiki Leaks. At the core, not much has changed in the way we communicate, just the communication tools and channels available to us. Gossip, pamphlets, or twitter. Same game, "better" gadgets. Politicians and activist are still trying to kill the same fly. They've just traded the swatter for a cannon (great metaphor, Fadi).

Where does that leave us? Maybe we do need national therapy, but we need to recognize that "communication" is only a small part of the solution (if there is a solution), and that it is also part of the problem. The question is not whether we need national therapy, but rather what effective national therapy would look like.

Maybe I'll write another post soon. Maybe.

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