Just when you thought Andrew Keen had faded away he brings on the crazy:
On December 6, Barack Obama announced his intention to fund a massive public works program of somewhere between $400 and $700 billion which will create enough jobs to avert the economic catastrophe of the 1930s. But I fear that one element in Obama’s well-intentioned infrastructure plan—his goal of providing all Americans with broadband Internet access—might one day be seen as inadvertently laying the foundations for a return to fascism, the political catastrophe of the 1930’s.
Is it Godwin’s Law if you get to the Hitler comparison in the first paragraph?
I really can’t do this piece justice. You have to read it yourself for the full humorous effect. It is paragraph after paragraph of fearmongering about, well, how the internet will lead to fear-mongering. Apparently the traditional media, with all their “fact-checking” is all that stands between the unemployed masses with all their undirected rage and a new holocaust.
I’m not exaggerating. This isn’t some humorous restatement of what he says. This is his core argument — that broadband in every home combined with double digit unemployment will not only lead to nasty societal effects, but to the rise of “digital fascism”.
I hate to break it to him, but the lesson of history is that in times of unemployment and famine you really don’t need much technology to spread hate or instability. That’s one of the many reasons that keeping unemployment down is crucial to the survival of liberal democracies. You want to avoid the nastiness — do everything you can to keep employment within historical norms (an effort, BTW, that our media is currently trying to sabotage with their uncritically repeated Republican talking points about ‘belt-tightening’). Deal with the cause of the unrest and the rage.
The move from print to web has nothing to do with it. In fact, Keen seems blissfully unaware that this country’s most recent lurch to authoritarianism was ably aided and abetted by his fact-checking press corps, while those loons on the net, the bloggers, were left to do the fact-checking on everything from wiretapping to weapons of mass destruction.
History can be a difficult thing that way. But the larger question, reading Keen’s article, is whether anyone in the academic community can continue to take him seriously at this point. He’s drifting from pompous kook into Ann Coulter territory here, and those that have tied themselves to his line of reasoning best take heed now and cut the ropes.