Digital Technologies vs. Truth Suppression
Tea Party Economist
by Gary North: Government
Default: Yes or No?
I am going
to tell you some stories. To make it interesting, I will begin with
one which could make one of my readers the deal of a lifetime. It
ends on September 30. He who hesitates is lost.
I begin with
the obvious: the falling cost of Internet communications is revolutionizing
the spread of knowledge. In doing so, it is undermining every establishment.
Every establishment rests much of its power on official views of
the past. This is seen in the novel by George Orwell, Nineteen
Eighty-Four. The tyrant who enforces the totalitarian state
says this. "Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls
the present controls the past."
The cost of
controlling the past has risen exponentially since 1995: the year
that the graphics browser was introduced. Then came Google.
I know Orwell
said this, because I just verified it on several websites. That
took under one minute. There is some debate over punctuation: period,
colon, or semicolon. I think I will not go to the trouble of looking
it up in my library, which is in a special room miles away.
The cost of
research is a tiny fraction of what it was in 1995. The Web has
me to my special offer. In the late nineteenth century, only those
people who lived near Boston could research the history of American
Puritanism. Only there were the primary sources available: Harvard
University's library and the collections of the Massachusetts Historical
Society. You had to go to Yale after you were finished in Boston.
There were other collections that were scattered across the region.
The main one was at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester,
Massachusetts. According to the AAS,
K. Shipton, who became librarian in 1940, improved access to primary
sources through partnerships with technology companies. The Early
American Imprints microprint edition provided scholars with images
of pages of books and pamphlets printed in America before 1801.
Researchers around the world were soon eagerly reading the contents
of imprints housed in libraries miles away.
what this means: everything printed in colonial America from 1639
to early 1801. Then a follow-up collection was published: 1801-1811.
I wrote my PhD. Dissertation in Riverside, California, based mainly
on that microcard collection. That was over 40 years ago. I do not
know how much the University of California's library paid for that
set. I think it was a lot.
microfiche. You could make crude photocopies of these microfiche.
You could not with microcards. You had to take notes by hand. I
still have mine in one long note card box. Historians never toss
out their notes.
of the microcards fell to zero. A man I knew 20 years ago found
out that the publishing firm was going to use the sets for land
fill. They did not want competition for the microfiche edition.
He made the company a deal. He would buy them. He wiuld sell them
only to research organizations and private high schools that would
not buy the microfiche sets. The company agreed.
for Christian Economics bought the set for $10,000. It paid $8,000
for a complete set of all the newspapers, 1780-1800. I got five
readers. In today's money, that is at last $30,000. I overpaid.
digitization and online searching. The microfiche are worth nothing.
ICE gave the
microcard set to a private Christian day school. But it has run
out of space in its library. It is going to give the set away. For
the price of a trip to northwest Arkansas and renting a 16-foot
truck, someone can own the set.
If no one
wants it, it will return to land fill. Ashes to ashes, plastic to
set, you can train students to do primary source research. Or you
can do such research yourself.
You have all
the newspapers of the American Revolution. You can verify anyone's
You get a
complete index. This is an ideal tool for any day school that focuses
on America's Christian history.
For a private
high school that advertises itself as an academic institution for
college-bound students. This set on the library's walls says "this
institution is serious."
apply: September 30, 2012. That is the email inquiry date deadline.
If you are interested, send a note to Art Cunningham, [email protected].
It is getting
close to impossible for any establishment group to get its version
of the past accepted. There are rival sites that provide links to
evidence that undermines the establishment's view.
In the good
old days pre-1995 an establishment did not face a
major challenge. It cost too much to research the facts. It cost
too much to typeset a book, print it, store it, advertise it, and
get distribution. The few that did this got a tiny market. It could
be easily dismissed: "conspiracy theory." The old tactic is still
used: "conspiracy theory." But it's a hard sell, because so many
documents are online disproving the establishment's view. Too many
people are not buying it.
man may not have an opinion about what did happen, but he has doubts
about the official view. In the case of 9-11, people ask: "Where
is the evidence that a plane crashed in one spot in Shanksville?"
There was zero debris. There is video evidence of an empty hole.
"Let's roll!" is inspiring. A missile shot by an Air Force jet isn't.
But debris scattered over miles conveys a message: "This plane fell
apart in the sky, not on the ground."
theory? You bet!
If the official
view is clearly impossible regarding 25% of 9-11, how about 50%?
Where was the debris at the Pentagon? Why was the hole so small?
How did anyone navigate the required turn?
If we get
to 50%, what about New York City? Why did Building 7 come down so
fast? Why did a tiny paper fire bring down this building? And so
theories? You bet!
the official stories lead to doubts regarding all official stories.
Doubt undermines legitimacy. Without legitimacy, an establishment
must substitute power for authority, external government for self-government.
The cost of forcing people to behave is too great for any government.
Without widespread self-government to enforce its demands, an establishment
becomes just another competing interest group.
This is why
the World Wide Web is the biggest threat in history to every government-supported
special-interest group. They all know this. There is hardly anything
they can do about it. They rail against conspiracy theories, but
the mantra is not working any more. It worked when the average person
did not have access to books. He did not have access to supporting
evidence one click away. Now he does. There is nothing that the
various establishments can do about this, other than invoke the
mantra: "Conspiracy theory."
It is a case
of a government-subsidized pot calling a privately funded kettle
von Mises Institute was the first comprehensive website to make
available a comprehensive alternative to the Keynesian/monetarist
establishment in the economics guild. It offers books, articles,
and videos produced by scholars who reject this establishment view
of economic cause and effect.
titled "Literature" offers hundreds of classic rejections of the
Keynesian/monetarist outlook: in theory, in policy, and in economic
history. Only the largest research libraries have even half of these
books. These books are in PDF format and other e-book formats. The
student can download all of them free of charge.
can also buy print-on-demand copies for about $20 each. This printing
technology has broken the cartel of the book publishers. They never
had to burn books. They only had to return the manuscripts to authors.
This was so much more urbane than book-burning. Book-burning was
so "National Socialist, 1936. "These days, any author can typeset
his book with Microsoft Word $100) or Open Office Write (free).
Or, if he wants to go big-time, he can buy a copy of inDesign and
climb the learning curve. The point is, the barrier is merely a
cheap software program and learning time. The barrier is no longer
the press is guaranteed only to those who own one." That was what
radical activist A. J. Liebling said in the 1950s. Now anyone with
an Internet connection who wants one can lease one free of charge.
You can post anything on Scribd. It stays up, free of charge.
Institute has found that giving away PDFs of books sells lots of
printed books. Book readers suffer from what I call Picard's syndrome.
They just have to hold a book to enjoy it. A
PDF or a Kindle is not good enough.
from the Keynesian/monetarist establishment's outlook is the power
of YouTube. The Mises Institute posts all lectures delivered at
its meetings. Then the video manager uses the YouTube embed feature
to post it on the Institute's site. Somehow, I never see any ads.
The videos begin at the beginning of the lecture session.
a good way for people to get a quick overview of any topic. The
student can decide if it's worth pursuing. If he thinks it is, he
can use the Literature section of the site to get started.
videos. They watch lots of them. They can more easily and more rapidly
pick up new information in a well-delivered speech than in a book.
The speeches stay on the site permanently.
that the Mises.org site receives
is greater than the traffic on the site of the American Economic
Association, the most important academic organization in the field
of economics. Its site is rated as 140,000 on Alexa. The Mises site
is rated at 17,000. There is no comparison.
of the Mises Institute is to give everything away. This strategy
Internet has overcome the establishments' distribution systems.
Information delivery systems present numerous outlets to anyone
with an Internet connection. Very skilled communicators can now
overcome what would have been nearly impenetrable barriers to entry
of the broad mass of digits is low, but the quality at the top is
very high. Open entry has produced outlets for people with very
great skills in both research and expression.
will accelerate. Every establishment will come under fire intellectually
and rhetorically. They will eventually suffer major reversals.
It is happening
today. The ability of any establishment to manipulate the relevant
climate of opinion among younger Web users is limited and shrinking.
As these users get older, they will pay less heed to the opinions
of the establishments.
North [send him mail]
is the author of Mises
on Money. Visit http://www.garynorth.com.
He is also the author of a free 31-volume series, An
Economic Commentary on the Bible.
2012 Gary North
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