07 July 2005

Bombings in London

As everyone knows, there's been four bombings in London that are reported to have killed 37 people and included several hundred (BBC). I have never been to London, but of course the murder of random people to terrorism is always and everywhere a monstrous crime. Regardless of how one may feel about the governments in the West, or the G8 leaders & their relative influence, this is a vile and utterly indefensible crime.

At this time I feel a little sketchy about trying to find a technology "spin" to this atrocity. There's something repulsive about glomming onto people's anguish like a fly on a wound and say, "As an expert [sic] on telecommunications and information technology, this is important because..." It's important to human beings because it's a perverse, sick crime. Randomly chosen commuters don't deserve to have this happen to them.

Terrorism is part of the political theater; it's about lies purporting to be historical narrative. It is, in effect, a deed that tells a lie. The historical narrative is war between civilizations, as if the relationship of civilizations to each other could ever be one of bombings and hatred. Civilization is insight and imagination; it comprises the institutions we create to bring humans together to solve problems, not about might. In my next post, I want to discuss this political theater as something that is changing. The technology of "communication" [sic] is transforming the theater, changing the lies it attempts to cast as narrative, and changing the way we respond to it.

The moral urgency of all this, in my opinion, is that technology itself is a modality of civilization. It's always fascinated me: the irony of a nihilist on the computer, using a byproduct of civilization to attack it. People like Heinlein and Niven, in my view, are as wrong as it's possible to be about technology; that it's about gadgets and individual use of them. Technology requires extreme cooperation and it is really one of the things that civilization allows. It has no meaning and cannot be sustained without huge, functioning societies and globalized industries (that's why post-civilization tehnologies they write about are merely sci fi; if society broke down, this computer would be just 20 Kilos of toxic waste. Civilization itself has to harness technology to resist its expropriation by people who kill in its name (and by that, I mean, the unctious spokesmen of political theater everywhere).



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