Wake up: Bill Gates’s creation is an illiberal corporate dictatorship, and only concerted online action will deter it from all-out war on the pc owner
A couple of months ago, I closed all comment threads at The Slog. The two key reasons for this were first, the amount of time it involved servicing a minute proportion of the readership; and second, the apparent inability of some threaders to move from default transmit mode to receive.
After the ban had been effected, I went into receive mode every day as (literally) hundreds of loyal Sloggers wrote to say, “We understand your frustration at dealing with egomaniac plonker syndrome, but the general badinage at the site is one of its strongest points – please reconsider your decision”. So after five weeks, I relented. There is a point to this throat-clearing, stick with me.
The straw that broke the camel’s back was having asked half a dozen halfwits a zillion times NOT to thread ‘get a Mac’ or ‘buy this freeware instead’ every time I reported on the frustrations of working with Microsoft. Over and over I would point out that (1) the vast majority of pc users are real people without either the time or knowledge to dig around looking for esoteric options that will merely confuse them further; (2) Macs cost 6-7 times what a pc does, and are thus way beyond the budget of ordinary people; but above all (3) this was an issue of globalist monopolism and corporacratic control, not my personal frustrations…which were and are nothing more than micro examples to make a macro point.
What angered me most about this smartassism (really nothing more than narcissism) was the inability of these ‘I’m alright Jacks’ to realise that, in taking the attitude they did, they were every bit as élitist (in the perjorative sense) as Camerlot’s Black Knights telling the poor and generally disadvantaged to “get on yer bike”. It’s the exact same belief system as that of featherweights like Dan Hannan insisting that universal health insurance would be better than the NHS. In fact, for all his otherwise lachrymose shortcomings, it was summed up superbly by this 1968 Paul McCartney lyric from the Beatles White Album:
Blackbird singing in the dead of night/ take these sunken eyes and learn to see/ all your life/ you were only waiting for this moment to be free
Park that thought and then read on.
About six months ago, I began looking seriously at utilising new media as a way of getting my message across to a broader audience. For some eight years now, I have been saying that two million lone-gun bloggers firing off air-pellets in all directions are not going to make a jot of difference to the creeping neoliberal sociopathy all decent human beings would prefer to be without. Not even the success last week of the indefatigable Nick Wilson in getting the HSBC fraud cases reopened nullifies my view that coordinated online action stands the best chance by far of scaring The Bastards into changing their ways.
However, the simple observation to be made here is that this is not in reality ‘my message‘. Give it whatever name you want – ‘the call of the caring’, ‘the search for utility’, ‘the desire of the Decent’ – it amounts to nothing less than the restoration of grounded policies aiming to produce fulfilment for the great majority…..NOT the enrichment of the tiny minority via nonsensical concepts such a trickle-down wealth and the voluntary charitable donation.
The main online success story of ordinary citizens triumphing over corporate dictatorship in recent years is, to my mind, the triumph of US vegetarians, who forced the massive Mars conglomerate to go back to non-animal bases for its countline flavourings. The key to vegetarian success was a shared belief system (to which, as it happens, I don’t subscribe): the sheer gritty perseverance and dogged determination of America’s veggies made Mars dump their new formulation and plant investment in favour of customer pressure. Especially when the customer pressure began showing itself in a falling share price.
As always, the lesson is the same: it’s all about the munneeee.
Customer pressure in large numbers + Stock Exchange nerves = ACTION. Yes, I too wish it wasn’t true, but it is: this really is one of those cases where the fuel required to fight fire is fire. So having teed up that truism, let me tell you about my latest ‘interface’ with Microsoft….in very simple terms.
Microsoft is, as its name suggests, a pc software company. It does not, in 99.5% of cases, own the hardware it drives. Yet it reserves the right to do the following:
1. Restrict my access totally to that hardware which I bought and thus is mine, not theirs
2. Remove all my purchaser rights to know why they have done so
3. Overrule my personal choices to refuse certain updates
4. Deliberately make it near-impossible to contact them while failing utterly to live up to what every manufacturer’s responsibility should be: viz, the provision of easily accessible after-sales service
5. Deliberately disguise the forcing of updates upon me by insisting that my password is incorrect – when quite obviously they know it isn’t….because once the force-feeding of the Suffragette has occurred, by some miraculous power my password returns to being correct again.
This situation (well-known and documented on myriad sites right across the Web) represents corporate dictatorship in its most distilled form. But attempts at redress as an individual will get you nothing – except, perhaps, a record somewhere within the national security services for being an NVE.
Why? Because the legislators have been bought by Microsoft…and Google, and Newscorp, and Facebook, and HSBC, and the European Central Bank, and the European Commission….et al et al ad nauseam et ad infinitum.
So you see, this post is not about how I spent two hours this afternoon being lied to, driven round the houses and refused access to my own computer. This post is not about telling the sunken eyes of the poor blackbird to arise and become the Hubble telescope. This post is not a 1-blogger rant.
It is an appeal. It is, to be precise, an appeal for coordinated symphony to create a wall of sound the money-mad dare not ignore. It is an appeal to end the isolated and thus easily ignored cacophony of a million complaints about symptoms….when what The Bastards really fear is 10,000 opinion-forming diagnoses of the causes of those symptoms….and the resultant threat to their businesses on the neurotic bourses of neoliberal capitalism.