Deconstructing the Hirschhorn Op-Ed...
Making the rounds in the blogosphere is an Op-Ed piece by Joel S. Hirschhorn, in which he argues that America is a "delusional democracy" full of "revolting conditions" and that the reason why Americans don't revolt to stage a "Second American Revolution" is that we are simply too distracted.
Ah, where to begin?
If you read the piece, it seems quite obvious that this is conspiracy-theory madness run amok. Hirschhorn makes outlandish assumptions such as "Americans are aware of their oppression, but the power elites have successfully drugged them with a plethora of pleasure-producing distractions sufficient to keep them under control". Among these distractions are television and the internet. The internet, he says, "has provided a release valve for some pent up anger and frustration. But it too has mostly become another source of distraction, rather than an effective tool for rebellion".
First of all, does any rational person truly believe that the reason you and I watch television and send email is because the power elites have brainwashed us to do so in order for them to consolidate political power? It would be nice if Hirschhorn might identify which people exactly he is referring to, but in the meantime it is ridiculous to suggest that politicians created TV and the internet as a control tool over the masses. The truth is, we just like them.
Second, there is certainly much to be said on how the internet acts as a distractor from different activities we might otherwise be doing. After all, it's hard to find anyone who argues that playing on MySpace or YouTube is actually leading to greater workplace efficiency. However, that's still quite a leap for Hirchhorn to suggest that if not for distracting ourselves with the internet we'd be throwing a "Second American Revolution". How he alludes so matter-of-factly to the internet being designed as "an effective tool for rebellion" is beyond me. Anyone who has even a minuscule knowledge of internet history has enough sense to know better.
Here are some quick truths to inject into Hirschhorn's ludicrous essay. The reason why the American people aren't throwing a revolution is apathy towards politics and dissatisfaction with the political system - not because TV and the internet have distracted us. Also, the internet offers a potential new venue for political activism, and maybe even for organizing forms of rebellion, however that was certainly not why it was created, and it certainly should not be lamented if that is not how it develops in the future.
The bottom line is that Hirschhorn's op-ed piece is laughably ridiculous and should not in any way be taken seriously. This is the type of crap that gives a bad name to blogs everywhere.