Monday, April 18, 2016


They say that in Africa, where travel is often impossible and people stay apart from the rest of the world, that smart phones are almost instantly understood and forming networks.  Electrical power is the problem but they have a lot of sun.  Money has been a problem, but the phones are a solution for handling small amounts in databases that record exchanges of value without risking pieces of paper.

But there is one factor more powerful than the others, IMHO.  They have no industrial paradigm.  They take the internet as it is, as they experience it, a global village.  They are not captured by unconscious notions of lever/gear/inclined plane.  Nor are they aware that consciousness is a thing considered higher and more worthy than the unconscious because to them the unconscious is still the virtual dream time of great significance, not a garbage can to stuff full of emotion and illusion, two great devils of the Empire Building “white” men.  

Industrial thinking is perverting the uses of the Internet: low cost labor, speculative venture capital, international corporation interests, promises of striking it rich.  What are the components of industrialization?  I would propose that the steam locomotive, the steam ship, mining for power, damming for power, and the illusion of government-enforced land ownership are a big part of what destroyed the indigenous people of the West.

Add onto that our understanding of wealth as acquisition, government-backed forced compliance to requirements invented by an elite and profit-driven body, and the illusion that writing is more powerful than talking, have backed us into a state of rage, suppressed into depression that requires drugs to prevent self-destruction.

Chicken racks

Industrialization gets all the chickens and pigs crowded together in pens in a way we only accept for ourselves as the price of transportation in subways and airplanes.  It invents things and markets them en masse: shelves and shelves of invented and chemically infused foods and soaps that are not that different from each other.  So efficient.  So unreal.

Between venture capital and the shift to a writing-obsessed world — I’m not talking about novels, I’m talking about regulations, laws, best practices, insurance policies, handbooking, prescriptions, IRS forms, and money, which is a kind of writing — we even call it script.  Written rules are vulnerable in a thousand ways: definitions, interpretations, displacements.  We require an army of lawyers and their support clerks to justify everything with precedent.  And the Supreme Court elects presidents by splitting hairs, just as the founders feared.  

Ask an Indian.

My cousin married a lawyer who avoided military service by taking one of the alternative service-to-the-community jobs.  He came here to this reservation and was assigned the task of clarifying who owned which property.  The Dawes Act magnified the mischief of the Euro obsession with inheritance. One person’s allotment was inherited by six children with various parentage, and those six when they had six children (now 36 owners of a few acres of land) didn’t always have legal entitlement since actual biological relationship was informal, undocumented.  Only the old ladies could even speculate.  

Those 36 multiplied, though the assumption was that they would all die off, and soon there would be “no more Indians.”  The next generation of a hundred or so did not stay put but wandered the continents, sometimes disappearing.  Marriage was casual, overrun by circumstances.  Children were born unreported, maybe in far countries.  Industry requires inventory records.

Will Halpin
Currently President of Prediletto, Halpin, Scharnikow and Nelson, P.S.  in Yakima, WA.  He joined the firm in February of 1972 and has practiced exclusively in the area of Social Security disability and workers' compensation law during his career.

So Will (poetic name for a lawyer) spent his time with us trying to figure out what happened to people who had not been seen for decades so they could be declared dead to clear titles in order for sales or development; or so that their formal recorded marriage could be recognized so that a divorce could free people to remarry without legal bigamy, because so many entitlements, exemptions and definitions depend upon one’s marital status.  Of course, in terms of a tribe, all these legalisms apply to tribal membership with its advantages and drawbacks.  Written culture came to real life in a great snarl of written barbed wire.  Paralysis and blood-letting.

The shift from oral culture to written culture probably began with the first tally marks on clay tablets to keep track of transactions and locations in Egypt where the annual Nile floods wiped out all markers on the ground.  “Owning” meant the right to use, not to register a piece of paper about it at the courthouse and leave it sitting empty.  (I’m told that the Sunrise venture capital consortiums, which are building up a portfolio of technical ownership by acquiring tax delinquent properties leave many of the shabby properties empty.)  Technical entitlement trumps (sic) use.  Occupation of houses depends upon people who can find jobs there.  Industries mean boom towns, then deserted houses as the fortunes of the businesses go up and down.

UN building in Manhattan.

Most of law rests on the authority of nations, separately or by agreement, except that the international corporations — pretending to be persons — have now discovered that some nations have no authority, and that’s where they rest, industry profits sequestered.  Or like copyrights which are enforced by international agreements, the entitlement simply dissolves.  Every document I create for a book as a PDF or a blog post has been mysteriously pirated.  No more warehouses, because the contents ship on a Star Trek transporter.

Free access to anything that can be coded and transmitted (including secrets) has seized music, literature, porn, blockbuster movies, industrial deals, and governments controlled by lawyers.  (Check out the enormous preponderance of lawyers as our representatives which they are not, since they represent only themselves and their associates.)  Every cat with a pocket phone can look at the Queen now.  Or Trump.

The old paradigm of industrialization rested on the Newtonian world of solid objects and their forceful interaction, plus the raw resources deposited unevenly by the restless planet: iron here, coal there.  We thought this was also what a human being was: an unchanging entity meant to acquire and disperse in a writhing social world where hoarding is a survival value.

A contemporary cry I hear increasingly, now that people speak online, is not “how can I get richer” or “how can I control more people”.  Rather I hear, “why doesn’t anyone pay attention to me?”  They are hungry enough to accept little hearts, thumbs and stars rather than sitting down face to face.  Everyone “friends” everyone without any real contact at all.  On the other hand, what’s so great about contact?  Monica Lewinsky, who believed in celebrity and the power of association with powerful people, got into trouble over entirely too much contact, ultimately rejected by the recipient.  Wrong era, my dear.

Approaching the internet and the computer culture that grips some nations through the paradigm of industrialization which assumes “progress” and “growth” is about exhausted.  There are days when I want to just go back to paper and pen to escape the insidious advertising, sensationalizing, yellow listicles.  The newest thing is sound invasion where something triggers a blast of radio-type advertising and you can’t find anyplace to turn it off except the mute button.  Soon you will have to pay extra to HAVE a mute button.  At three AM, trying to concentrate, I might consider it money well spent.

Or you could just stay off the internet, which doesn’t preclude using the computer itself.  Or we could keep working at the problem as it evolves in the same way that the industrialization of the world painfully evolved out of wars among kingdoms into the nations and capitalism that have now become demonic, possibly a blind alley.

“. . .the process of industrialization entailed profound social developments. The freeing of the labourer from feudal and customary obligations created a free market in labour, with a pivotal role for a specific social type, the entrepreneur. Cities drew large numbers of people off the land, massing workers in the new industrial towns and factories.”  Encyclopedia Britannica  This whole entry is consciousness-raising.

“Internetting” may be a way of coping with the explosion of population that the present system has created.  In an early population explosion, created by the exploitation of grain and domestic animals -- displacing “hunter/gatherer” society -- the answer was specialization.  It was an ecological response.  I’m thinking that the internet may be less constructed and exploitative than industry.  We should pay better attention to the Bioneers.  

Tech bus protests

I think about a world where the power grid has crashed, which could easily happen, partly as a result of the Internet unpreventable access by hackers.  I see that like Adolf Hungry Wolf who lives off the grid, we could power our individual computers with photo voltaic devices, so long as their manufacture could continue.  But we could not sustain the big satellite and cable network infrastructure without much money and collaboration.  Even Africa will need that, even if their human relationships are still on the scale of villages.


Whisky Prajer said...

My wife noticed the African embrace of cell phones about eight years ago. She mentioned it to me after a trip to Uganda. My phone was still the old flip-phone type, which I was quite happy with. She said no African would be caught dead with such an antique.

In her travels, she'd met one of the country's brewers, who said more phones = less beer. They can afford one or the other, and the phone is the higher of the status symbols.

People have conflicted feelings about it all, of course. I haven't listened to this podcast (yet) but the subject matter seemed potentially pertinent, so I share. Cheers -- Darrell

Mary Strachan Scriver said...

Thanks, Darrell. I'm happy to have on-the-ground opinion instead of just the reports of journalists conforming to their editors. It just struck me that this is one of those small changes that transform everything. People in this small town who would not DREAM of touching a computer will demand smart phones.

Thanks for the link. More after I listen.

Prairie Mary