A tale of two protests

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Storming of Capitol Hill on left and a one month old Farmers’ Protest in India on the right.

Have been observantly watching unfolding events on the Shining Hill (Capitol) & myriad views, tweets and a deluge of concern, which in many cases is a masked scorn. Innumerable jokes & narrations, while expressing concern, carry the undercurrent, “Good you Americans, you deserved a thrash”. Whenever in foreseeable future through one’s lifetime, an American tries to take a high pedestal, one will have a thorny stick (of Capitol stormed & looted) to beat him red & blue (metaphorically).

At last, America has seemed to be the very Republic that O Henry described in Cabbages and Kings & the one Trump wanted to build a wall to, ‘Banana Republic’. Noticeable diversity in views & analysis is interesting & intellectually provoking in those cases that suggest dawning of a realization on how little, armchair-intellectuals of today effect the action of masses, which are left to be led by the demagogues.

Here in India 100'000–120'000 farmers are protesting three laws which give them freedom to sell to whosoever they deem fit, rather than essentially selling through Govt. organized markets, in which the licensed traders have been financially skinning them for ages. But north Indian farmers abhor free markets. They have blocked highways into & out of Delhi, because they believe Government wants to bequeath them to large private corporate market makers and quietly recede into demise. Big business will peel whatsoever remains of them. Local traders, who have been taking these farmers for a ride, for over half a century, seem lesser of the two evils, at least they are known. Between the lion in front and a raging river at back, death by drowning seems certain, while chances of the lion not being in a feasting mood seem higher. Large corporates are some leather-chair mounted baboons waiting to snatch the Banana. Yes, these are remnants of India’s socialist & planned-economy past. Killing, but convenient. Complacency breeding, but comfortable.

The tale of two protests — one on Capitol Hill and other at Delhi’s borders is an allegory of opposing causes, similar events & similar outcomes. Indian farmers do not want freedom from Govt. regulation (regulated markets), irrespective of how inefficient & corrupt they are. American protestors on the other hand abhor the perceived theft of their freedom. The other commonality is loathe of large Corporates both in America & India. Former feeling they are stealing their freedom, latter believe the imparted freedom will impoverish them.

India is mature in its protests. There are innumerable people, who sympathize, provide food & warmth to the protesting farmers, sitting in open through the chilling Delhi winter. I don’t agree with the farmers, but will fight unto death to protect their right to protest & express themselves. The protestors are sitting since one month blocking Delhi. All Delhites supporting the protest or not, aren’t complaining, because all Indians want farmers to progress. Though, there is no agreement on what is progress.

In aforementioned two cases, protestors storming the Hill & Indian Farmers blocking radiating highways from Delhi are interesting co-occurring instances. Fundamentally, its change that inconveniences people. Thus, there is a resistance to it. American Democrats, realize they cannot carry forward the ‘establishment attitude’, but find it difficult to change for fear of enraging sponsoring interests. Trumpist Republicans see a windfall in clinging to their base, which was represented, but was never ever heeded to. The other half of Non-Trumpen Republicans are touting their conservative value system and sticking to an electoral process that seems bankrupt at best, dead at worst.

Truth, as Buddha said, lies always in the middle. In my humble view as a neutral third party observer, notwithstanding deep analysis & complications of the left & the right & Trump & protestors, the two most crucial (easily resolvable) problems are left unaddressed.

a) US needs to reform its election process to make it transparent.

b) US has a problem of plenty. There is abundance of everything, America is a rich nation, which has enjoyed high income, partly because it has been importing goods & exporting promises [US$] without inflation. Those interested in this aspect of Economy, should read my Book Indycia and the Global Monetary System co authored with Come Carpentier. Had America been a developing country like India, one would have a very different attitude. Abundance breeds the inclination of ‘taking’, ‘acquiring’, ‘acquiring followers’, or ‘acquiring subscribers’. Deficit on the contrary invokes the urge to ‘give’ and to let others be (live and let live). Poor give and share more willingly, their miniscule belongings, vis-a-vis rich ‘want-to-be’ rich.

And then there is the intellectual elite that believes that the polarization effect of social media and decline of common sense-making are the culprits of both American and Indian protests. Induction of polarization by social media is overstated according to me, though some effect may be true. Social Media’s contribution is connectivity to like-minded. Collective and common sense-making (without any aspersions on the quality of sense made) indeed has increased substantially. Irrespective of how exotic is one’s view, one will always discover like-minded on social media. Reason is that everyone, who think their views are ‘different’, ‘unusual’, ‘exotic’ or even ‘difficult to express’, actually shares them with thousands, who he doesn’t know, because most of these views are sculpted by milieu, which contributes 90%, while only 10% is contributed by an individual himself.

For my Book “Living Vol 4: Morality, Concealment & Lies”, I interviewed a few tens of people who stated, they do not believe in God of convention & religious texts, but believe they have a personal concept of God, difficult to express. When prodded with similar questions, 80%+ responded to provide exactly same description of what their ‘personal’ concept of God is.

The conclusion, I desire to make is, while most might think in their minds that they have a personal concept of God; it really is not so personal, because it is inserted by milieu in their minds and is hence alike for numerous. There is really little that can be called personal. I used this to provide a reason for why modern day Gurus of various kinds are so popular and successful , they articulate the minimum common denominator to most. Every such follower of Guru is surprised that he (the Guru) is vocalizing his very inner, unique, personal concept of God & the supreme. Not realizing that the other 4000 sitting in the congregation are thinking more or less alike. The smart guy among all of them is the Guru, who learns & articulates the minimum common denominator.

Social Media is just an electronic Guru. It finds like-minded and connects them, conferring on them the power of collectivism. Pre-social media this was completely absent. That is what good rhetoric does. Indeed, President Trump iterated successful Gurus. Pre-social-media many views were not expressed for fear of ridicule or disdain. There was no way, one would know what view an unknown person has. It is different today. Most strip their personal lives — displaying choices, views and beliefs so it is easy to find people, who will not ridicule one’s perceived ‘unusual views’. Giving the small, but violent minority the power of collectivism against a pacifist majority.

By the way, this collectivism of the previously unexpressed is here to stay for eternity. Technology will only further induce stratification followed by connectivity in each evolved strata (good, bad or ugly).

So newer mechanisms will need to be developed. The quite majority will need to speak or they will simply loose their vote. Technology will enable this change. Get ready for technology induced referendums, reduced power of executives, lesser visionary leaders & more crowd followers. There will be more sorting & order, which will seem chaos & disorder to the pre-social-media intellectuals, who will loose power to guide masses & also loose the tag of elite. Because that which they ignored, are now organized & opposing.

Listen to the intellectual elite of last decade, they find the “common sense-making” lacking in “common-sense making”, because in pre-social-media period, minority views were never admitted to mass media for airing. Though they existed, they got no recognition or air-time as they lacked convention and were not accepted as a part of establishment. So in some sense there was a ‘bliss of ignorance’ forged by the monopoly over mass media of the elite & the analytic-paralytic.

The occurrences on Hill yesterday & underlying causes do not merit a degree in sociology to understand & fathom the deepness of occurrences. I am sure the guy sitting in Nancy Pelosi’s office with feet on her table, doesn’t have a degree in either sociology or ethics. Experts chronically fail in detecting new phenomenon, because they are trained to look back & observe analogues & patterns projecting from past, to that which they know, while those thinking from first principles just stitch a new fabric of perceived truth [which has higher probability of being patently wrong or out-of-the-box pioneering, than being on expected lines]. This indeed is what diverse view-points bring to symbiotic-thinking. So listen to experts but think & decide for yourself.

Social Media induced — echo-chambers, confirmation-biases, viral spread of false information spread and the notion of “contagion,” power dynamics involved in the control of platforms, and a number of social psychological mechanisms at work have been inferred from decades-old research on conformity and authority. My counter question is, “what amongst all the aforementioned is born with social media?” All of it predates social media & was indeed much stronger. The difference that social media brought is that it tilted the scales, from few information sources & infinite sink that existed prior to social media to the new normal of infinite sources & infinite sinks. This led to easy discovery of like-minded & a deluge of information (owing to spike in supply). Indeed, this deluge will lead to slipping of control over choice from human hands to machines, because one will have no option but to depend more & more on machines (AI) to do sorting and ranking of incoming information. I foresee that in the next phase information generation from humans (currently) will become marginal when compared to that the machines will generate (especially with automation & IOT), further overloading society with information, and requiring more machine interpretation. There will be a time when machines will generate information and machines will interpret it, creating a virtuous cycle amongst machines and executing an informational overthrowing of the human race. In my book Awareness & Consciousness, I have written in details on how information density is increasing and humans are living more per hour (more events are happening in one’s life per unit time, leading to more information, more memories etc).

To comfort bruised American souls all I can say is, “do not worry, its okay America. All of this is nothing but change, the system is resetting itself in a different orbit. Buckle up people of the world, the discomfort caused by collectivism of the few is here to stay & the writ of the pre-social-media elite & intellectuals passed peacefully in bed yesterday”.

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