A frequent topic of discussion is about how Ron Paul is ignored or dismissed by the smug MSM and other establishment elites. This is all true, and is clearly at their peril, but not only for the specifics of Ron Paul’s message or the number of his supporters. The fact that the campaign seemingly materialized out of thin air and promptly began registering real world accomplishments is the first shot in what will prove to be a protracted evolution of the mechanisms of governance. The organization of the Ron Paul campaign is demonstrating that the corporate and government monopoly on, well, corporatism and governance, is weakening. The general population has just now been armed with digital weapons that allow them to challenge anointed power structures and the Ron Paul campaign is evidence that they aren’t wasting any time getting to work.
As CTO of a small startup, I spend a lot of time thinking about what people will do with software in the future. Some years ago, I convinced myself that virtual/digital entities will arise that parallel much of the function of traditional geographic sovereign entities. Ultimately, these will conflict and lead to political and social realignments on the order of the Reformation. Clearly, this will be played out over years and decades. So for the past 10 years, I’ve been looking for glimmerings that support this conjecture; the RP movement seems to be the first significant digital entity fitting this pattern.
So the big question in this story is not why Ron Paul is gaining traction his ideas have been out there for decades but rather why now and not ten or fifty years ago. The answer is simply that the technology just now exists for like-minded individuals to form geography independent groupings that are capable of effective action at very low overhead and that do not rely upon any of the state or establishment apparatus.
Since the early days of the web, the population has been training itself how to develop collaboration and trust across the internet. This took a big jump a couple of years back with the emergence of social networking applications. This demonstrated and conditioned millions of users of the validity of online social organization and shared, trusted interactions with strangers. The final and absolutely vital ingredient has been Youtube and similar applications over the past 1.5 years; the supremacy of video for propaganda purpose is undeniable and seems to be in the genetic programming of human beings.
So we are just now, over the past year or so, at the juncture where people can frictionlessly organize and have informational tools that rival those of their complacent masters. Add a corrupt, bloated government that has been relying on its now broken monopoly on social organization, and voil, instant slave rebellion. The Ron Paul movement, or something similar, was scripted to happen as soon as it could and is now doing so with enabling tools and social acceptance of those tools that really is only a year or two old. The fact that the first digital nation formed around Ron Paul as a cause rather than Obama or banning transfats is a good early indication that perhaps digital nations will tend towards libertarian-friendly. Certainly, the internet at large tends in that direction.
But what should truly hearten freedom lovers everywhere is that the genie can’t be put back into the bottle. Even if Ron Paul fails at his Presidential run, there will be another Ron Paul, then another, a relentless series of assaults on the establishment by the grassroots. Each time, the challengers will grow much stronger because they are just now teaching themselves how to run a digital nation, fight this sort of battle. Plus, the enabling tools progress in the very non-linear leaps and bounds typical of software. The next digital nation will make the current high-tech campaign seem like musketry. Government can’t really fight back by shutting down or seriously restricting the internet, as that would hobble themselves and business while stimulating creation of alternate internets. The pattern already emerging will be governments, in their typical reflexive mode, playing defense with traditional means, innovative digital nations on offense with a constantly renewing arsenal of weapons and organizational tools.
Can Ron Paul win? Sure, it would be nice to have Ron Paul as President, but it would be much nicer to be governed in a manner similar to that by which the Ron Paul campaign is being conducted. This sentiment, whether or not consciously expressed, seems to drive many Ron Paul supporters. So while the campaign and message are important news and should not be ignored, another big story is that the workings of the Ron Paul campaign is the first demonstration of a viable digital nation taking effective action, what social organization is going to look like in the future, and all the negative implications this holds for traditional governmental entities.
In this story, Ron Paul has already won, in a very real sense.
October 2, 2007