Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tyrants and Revolutions

In a distant land sits an aging, angry, voracious tyrant.
His grip over his people is powerful. Based on random acts of violence, unmeetable expectations, and unquestioning loyalty. Everyone is afraid of him. Everyone seeks to please him. He has money, power, reach, the ability to reward or ruin whomever he pleases.
And then one day, it all changes.
One day the people rise up, demonstrate, assert their power--and the despot's world is changed forever.
No, I'm not talking about Hosni Mubarak. Or Moammar Gaddhafi.
I'm talking about Rupert Murdoch.
It has taken this emerging hacking scandal in England to reveal the inner operations and cultural underpinnings of his empire.
But in some way, we already knew that. We knew about his politics, his appetite for power, his insatiable drive for control.
What was less clear was how willing, first, elected officials and police authorities were to subjugate themselves to Murdoch and his minions, and, second, how easily the rest of us convinced ourselves that, since this was the way things were, this must be the way things are meant to be.
In other words, to accept a horrific version of journalism and media as the new norm.
If it weren't for this scandal, for Murdoch's over-reaching (or under-reaching) of his abominable standards of ethical journalism, we'd all still be wearing status-quo colored glasses.
And, to be honest, less has actually changed than we might wish. But like Arab Spring, this uprising offers us a little crack through which some day light might filter, and a set of questions worth asking.
Why does it take so much obvious intolerable abuse to get us to voice our collective outrage at the status quo?
Where else can we look, emboldened by this example, to see other version, other models of large scale social-self-hypnosis? Where else are we convincing ourselves that everything's ok, just because it is what we've become benumbed into accepting?
Where should we be lending our voices, our energy, our dollars to try to right large-scale social wrongs (and I would put today's over-whelming media consolidation into the category of a very large-scale social wrong)?
And if what we are witnessing is the global practice of a huge convergence of money, power, politics, and opinion-making, then what can we do to fight back?
Can we launch a Media Spring? A Journalism Spring?
Is it time for social uprising that mirrors the twitter and facebook revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East?
Are there more aging tyrants who need to be toppled?

All Rights Reserved 2009 (c) Alan Webber, Rules Of Thumb