Tuesday, December 21

Too Good to Be True?

Author and social prognosticator Alvin Toffler is often wrong but always interesting. In an interview in Modulations: A History of Electronic Music Today, he discusses the peculiar cultural hazards of effective modern propaganda in the media, a la Fahrenheit 9/11:

"The technologies of deception are developing more rapidly than the technologies of verification. Which means we can use a television camera, plus special effects, plus computers, etc. to falsify reality so perfectly that nobody can tell the difference. And the consequences of that eventually could be a society in which nobody believes, everybody knows that seeing is not believing, and nobody believes anything. With the exception of a small minority that decides to believe one thing fanatically. And that's a dangerous social/cultural situation."

He concluded:

"One of the consequences of living through a period like this, which is in fact a revolutionary period, is that the entire structure of society and the processes of change become nonlinear. And nonlinearity I think is defined almost by the statement that 'small inputs can have large consequences while large inputs can sometimes have very small consequences.' That also means in a political sense that very small groups can, under a given set of circumstances, achieve power. And that is a very threatening idea for anything remotely resembling what we believe to be democracy. So we're going into a period, I think, of high turbulence and considerable danger, along with enormous possibilities."

If he is right, and I think he is at least partly so, we've got a good deal of work to do.

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