Posts tagged freedom
“We must make our freedom by cutting holes in the fabric of this reality, by forging new realities which will, in turn, fashion us. Putting yourself in new situations constantly is the only way to ensure that you make your decisions unencumbered by the inertia of habit, custom, law, or prejudice—and it is up to you to create these situations Freedom only exists in the moment of revolution. And those moments are not as rare as you think. Change, revolutionary change, is going on constantly and everywhere—and everyone plays a part in it, consciously or not”
“Everything has boundaries. The same holds true with thought. You shouldn’t fear boundaries, but you also should not be afraid of destroying them. That’s what is most important if you want to be free: respect for and exasperation with boundaries. What’s really important in life is always the things that are secondary.”
According to Keynes, the nineteenth century had unleashed such a torrent of technological innovation—“electricity, petrol, steel, rubber, cotton, the chemical industries, automatic machinery and the methods of mass production”—that further growth was inevitable. The size of the global economy, he forecast, would increase sevenfold in the following century, and this, in concert with ever greater “technical improvements,” would usher in the fifteen-hour week. To Keynes, the coming age of abundance, while welcome, would pose a new and in some ways even bigger challenge. With so little need for labor, people would have to figure out what to do with themselves: “For the first time since his creation man will be faced with his real, his permanent problem—how to use his freedom from pressing economic cares, how to occupy the leisure, which science and compound interest will have won.” The example offered by the idle rich was, he observed, “very depressing”; most of them had “failed disastrously” to find satisfying pastimes.
“Freedom is the negotiation of ghosts on a haunted landscape; it does not exorcise the haunting but works to survive and negotiate it with flair.”
–Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing. The Mushroom at the End of the World.
Many on the listserv are framing Angola’s Wikipedia pirates as bad actors who need to be dealt with in some way so that more responsible editors aren’t punished for their actions. This line of thinking inherently assumes that what Angola’s pirates are doing is bad for Wikipedia and that they must be assimilated to the already regulated norms of Wikipedia’s community. If the developing world wants to use our internet, they must play by our rules, the thinking goes. But people in developing countries have always had to be more creative than those for whom access to information has always been a given. A 20-year-old developer in Paraguay found a vulnerability in Facebook Messenger that allowed people to use Free Basics to tunnel through to the “real” internet. Legal questions aside (Angola has more lax copyright laws than much of the world), Angola’s pirates are furthering Wikipedia’s mission of spreading information in a real and substantial way.
On the horizon is more technology that will make it even easier for governments to monitor and track everything that citizens do. Yet I’m convinced that, if we’re sufficiently motivated and sufficiently clever, the future can be one of more freedom rather than less. I saw this tweet not so long ago: unless you’re over 60, you weren’t promised flying cars. You were promised an oppressive cyberpunk dystopia. Here you go.
When Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley Manning) was thirteen, the US government announced it had launched “Operation Infinite Justice”. Operation Infinite Justice sought to punish the perpetrators of the September 11, 2001 attacks, destroy Al Qaeda, and end the reign of the Taliban. Operation Infinite Justice was renamed “Operation Enduring Freedom” after protests from Islamic scholars, who argued that God, not the US government, was the arbiter of justice. But freedom, it seemed, was something the United States could give and take away. When Manning was fourteen, the Bush administration announced that detainees in Guantanamo did not deserve protection under the Geneva conventions and that torture was justified. When Manning was fifteen, the US invaded Iraq in response to fabricated reports that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. When Manning was sixteen, US soldiers tortured and sodomised prisoners in Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison. When Manning was seventeen, a movement emerged to prosecute the Bush administration for war crimes. Nothing really came of it. When Manning was nineteen, she joined the army.