Atari_Democracy

Posted by Kurt Daradics on December 05, 2009

So check out thisexcerptin a recent Rolling Stone article on Al Gore, and I'm not necessarily a fan or advocating, but read on...

So we're starting to see the kind of digital democracy you envisioned when you entered Congress as an "Atari Democrat"?

The Internet is now getting close to the stage where it will be possible for it to eclipse television, making it possible for people to really participate in representative democracy. But we're not there yet. We're still at a stage where TV is completely dominant in our political culture, which enables those with a lot of money to exercise enormous influence in the political system.

Is that why online activism hasn't been able to galvanize action on climate change?

It's the quintessential example of how the broad public interest is directly contrary to the passionately held special interest of large carbon polluters. The entire world is waiting for the United States to get its act together and become a champion for the broad public interest in saving the future of civilization. But the system is still so dysfunctional and the influence of these special interests is so obscenely great that they have paralyzed the political system to the point where it's not responding to the most powerful public interest of all: survival for future generations.

But can't the same social-networking tools Obama used to mobilize voters be used by carbon polluters to defend their interests?

I don't think it's an accident that every major progressive reform movement is based on the Internet. The nature of the medium is such that it invites new ideas and a regular challenge to orthodoxy. And that's a good thing for human civilization at this stage of history, where we're confronting this brand-new reality, where the relationship between the species and the planet has been radically altered. We have to quickly find a new pattern, one that doesn't continue the process of destroying the ecosphere on which human life depends. Eventually, as the Internet eclipses television, politics will emerge at a higher level of complexity where the individual's role is restored. But the individual has to fight for it. And the individual has to feel like it's worth fighting for.

So here's what I'm thinking...

1) Obviously I'm interested in this conversation,consideringI co-founded CitySourced and FreedomSpeaks. Regardless of what you or I think about Al Gore, what captured my imagination was this notion that "The entire world is waiting for the United States to get its act together and become a champion for the broad public interest in saving the future of civilization." Is this really true?? If so this is an amazing opportunity for us, especially those of us that live in LA, SF, NY and DC.

2) Al Gore makes this point "But the system is still so dysfunctional and the influence of these special interests is so obscenely great that they have paralyzed the political system to the point where it's not responding to the most powerful public interest of all: survival for future generations." Well, duh! Our friends at the Sunlight Foundation are doing their best to battle on this front, and I'm sure they'd love your help too. Follow Sunlight Labs Director Clay Johnson and/or Ellen Miller, Sunlight's Exec Director to get the real time feed.

3) So Al goes on to make this next point " Eventually, as the Internet eclipses television, politics will emerge at a higher level of complexity where the individual's role is restored. But the individual has to fight forit. And the individual has to feel like it's worth fighting for."This last point triggers a reminder of a profound and timely quote from Buckminster Fuller that transformed my thinking, "If the livelihood of humanity and of the planet depended on what I did and who I was, what would I do and who would I be?" How do we get folks asking these questions is something I'm interested in finding out.

If you were in charge of designing the marketing campaign to save humanity from self destruction what/how would you do it??