Was the moon landing a hoax? Think about it. And now think about this: Margaret Atwood, the Canadian Queen of Letters, arguably the greatest authoress this nation has ever produced, just might believe the Apollo 11 moon shot that marked "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," was one big giant scam. Or, then again, maybe Ms. Atwood was just kidding. And maybe she still is kidding. It is truly hard to say. But this much we know. In a 2009 interview with Spartan Youth Radio, a radio podcast program produced by students at Espanola High School, in Espanola, Ont., near Sudbury, Ms. Atwood, or Peggy to those who know her best, gets to talking about the old days, when she was a girl, and how Sudbury, in her imagination, with its treeless landscape and blackened rocks might as well have been the surface of Mars…or the moon. – National Post
Dominant Social Theme: Atwood has finally lost her mind.
Free-Market Analysis: We were glad to read this article (excerpted above) about Margaret Atwood who is one of the greatest writers in the world and also what Samuel Johnson would call a "leveler." We always wonder how such great minds, with such great insights into human character, can also be socialists. There is no wondering about Ms. Atwood. She is a wonderful prose artist, a great storyteller and a determined communitarian who believes in state enforcement of social aspirations. Sub dominant social theme: "Why would a woman of such brilliance believe such a wacky thing."
In fact, Atwood is merely expressing the skepticism of the age. Ten or 20 years ago, we would think, she likely wouldn't have done so. But times are changing. We have mentioned this before. The Internet is a process and the power elite promotions that it has exposed are extremely corrosive to the trust that elite had created in public institutions in the 20th century. Over 50 percent of Americans are distrustful of government these days and after the elite is finished imposing "austerity" on Europe, we would think that the statistics would be somewhat similar. And we don't expect an improvement any time soon.
There is no real "hive mind" in our opinion; but human beings are certainly influenced by cultural assumptions and attractive ideas. Fashion itself – and this year's popular clothes, cars and resort "hotspots" – are determined by a somewhat inchoate process that Hayek called "spontaneous order." Humans do tend to seize on what is new in order to refashion it further. A tool or concept (a meme) begins to percolate through society; if it is powerful enough, people begin to interact with it and elaborate on it. The instinct we would argue has to do with survival and perpetuating one's genes. The best tool and idea manipulators are likely the most attractive mates.
The elite in fact is quite aware of the human propensity for thematic elaboration. Whether it is a mathematical concept or a technological innovation, once it is available it will be repurposed in any one of dazzling number of ways. In fact, we write in our other article today about intellectual property rights and one could make an argument that the Draconian enforcement of copyright is not just aimed at the Internet but at human innovation generally. It is important, one could argue, that innovation proceed, but only along certain lines and within the parameters of elite-controlled Big Science.
Yet skepticism is growing on all fronts, especially as Internet debunking proceeds. Global warming gradually gives way to the truth of global cooling; peak oil never seems to arrive; the war on terror exists mostly in the mainstream media; questions about 9/11 persist; central banks stimulate without success; the EU provides no profit to its member states, only crushing austerity; wars do not create peace; taxes do not create prosperity … On and on. There are dozens of significant promotions (and even more sub-dominant themes) and the truth-telling of the Internet in combination with the financial crisis is undermining many, if not most of them of them.
Do we believe that NASA landed men on the moon? It would seem so. But there are so many "accepted truths" that have proven questionable that we don't blame Margaret Atwood for her skepticism. Was Jack Kennedy killed by Oswald? Skeptics tells us (among many other things) that "the trajectory of the bullet, which hit Kennedy above the right shoulder blade and passed through his neck, supposedly would have had to change course to pass through Connally's rib cage and wrist." (Wikipedia)
We were reading a little bit about Marshall McLuhan recently, and the great analyzer of communication technology apparently stated that there had been three communication revolutions in human history. The first was the Western alphabet (we mentioned its influence on Persian culture the other day) and the second of course was "moveable type." The third, he stated, was the telegraph. We have to disagree with him on that one. The telegraph was just a faster carrier pigeon from our point of view. It was an elaboration not a breakthrough.
We see the progression of technology a little bit differently. It begins perhaps with cave painting and Cro-Magnon tool kits some 30,000 years ago and proceeds to hieroglyphics on clay tablets about 5,000 years ago. Then comes the Western alphabet about 1,000 years ago and the Gutenberg press about 500 years ago. See the pattern, dear reader? The gaps between major communication revolutions are growing considerably smaller.
By this reading, we are due for another "major" innovation in about century. (Machine-driven telepathy?) One thing is probably for certain: the elite will create it with the idea of perfecting another level of control (as with the DARPA and the Internet) and the free-market itself (the invention of the PC) will interact with it and turn it from a tool of repression into a mechanism for intellectual expansion and inspiration. The window for elite control over the rest of us is beginning to close.
Each time one of these major communication revolutions comes along, the power elite of the day has to entirely revamp its messaging – and often, in areas, start from scratch. The same techniques are used to regain control of society, but it is not an easy process and the rebuilding seems to have taken about 400 years from the advent of the Gutenberg press. For this reason, we are optimistic about the future of the human species and even about the preservation and expansion of human freedom – for many rather than a few.
We realize such an opinion is distinctly unfashionable in this day and age, especially within the parameters of the alternative Internet press that makes the power elite out to be an almost unstoppable adversary. But from our humble point of view, technology itself is history's major driver, especially in modernity, and major communication revolutions tend to revivify human culture and expand freedom. Margaret Atwood's skepticism is part of a larger pattern, though (intelligent and talented as she is) she probably doesn't realize it and might even deny it. We think it's true.