11 February 2016

TPP, the Internet and the Establishment Agenda

There's such a profound difference in the way the TPP has unfolded in the media vs. what happened when NAFTA was being put together in the early 1990s. There was a lot of resistance to NAFTA and the unions were a little stronger then and able to get the word out, but the educational campaign is paltry compared to what's happening with the TPP. The Internet has opened up a new world in dissent and challenge to the establishment narrative. Of course there's also a lot of false information out there. That's the risk isn't it?

There's a good chance the TPP will fail in Congress. For many different reasons it is opposed by the various political factions and in the end we will likely see a repeat of the TIA programme. TIA or Total Information Awareness was the programme suggested by the Bush administration in the wake of 9/11. It was to be headed by John Poindexter of Iran-Contra fame. There was a great deal of public resistance so the administration backed down.

As the years have passed it has become pretty clear that the programme survived. It was simply parceled and laundered but the leaks regarding the surveillance programme under Bush and subsequent leaks by Assange and Snowden have revealed that almost every aspect of it survived. In fact it ended up being much worse than was imagined back in 2003. That was the pre-Smart Phone, pre-Facebook era.

The TPP is a lot more complicated. It's an international agreement. Yet, there are mechanisms in place that will allow for some aspects to be passed through congress, others to be implemented through side deals, other treaties and other internationalist organisations.

The Internet Age is exasperating the powers that be. It's not so easy anymore to work their magic and its costing a lot more. There are so many people watching and so many ways to collect and disseminate information. A big component of TPP was the restriction of information and the 'terrorising' of journalists and whistleblowers. Its failure will only raise the stakes.

One wonders if we will look back on this era as the Golden Age of the Internet. Personally I think that era has already passed but twenty years from now it may seem like a free-wheeling carefree time. I foresee an era in the not too distant future in which people like me will want to disengage and turn it off and yet it will be hard to function without it. I refuse to give in on the accursed phones and yet I'm already beginning to feel the squeeze. It won't be long before it's hard to go to the grocery store or park your car without one.

Like the medieval dissenters I will feel like I have two choices... either live in the very heart of the city, a place you can almost disengage the mainstream or way out in the country. It's the middle, the 'respectable' areas that generate all the problems.

Thankfully I live in a place where there are still stores around that don't take debit cards. They're disappearing rapidly but in some ways it's nice to live in a place that's way behind.