Prosophobia- the Fear of Progress

27Mar07

Well it’s taken quite a bit to get our little blogworld going. Part of the problem has been the classic infectious disease known as senioritis. The other part has been what some would call the “ethics” of our project.

 

It is all too common to think oneself into a cyclical dark hole, one with questions as answers and frustration as satisfaction. Our ultimate plan here has been to utilize the rapidly expanding (and transforming) medium of the internet as our classroom and to go ahead and pretend we know enough to make “intellectual” claims of our own. Bold, eh? We know. The critiques have been numerous and frequent, pushing us to delve deeper into why this project, in principle, is important.

 

Are we really positioned to accurately analyze the world and its people? The scholarly structures frequently remind us that we have a lot more schoolin’ and grunt work to experience. But through this education we learn that no one has ultimate authority, ultimate voice over our collective sphere o’ life. Hm. Does that mean what we think counts? Well we’ve clearly already made an affirmative assumption.

 

Does this project threaten to undermine the established practices of learning and acquisition of knowledge? I nod to Sean as his post tackles much of this issue, probably the most confronting and persisting of our critiques. Romanticizing the past (and current) structures of spreading information jeopardizes our evolving existence; as new doors open thanks to technology, we have the option to turn our backs risking plateau and decline or to square our shoulders welcoming change and hope. Perhaps it’s a personal thing, but I’d rather dream of possibilities than of glorified nostalgic fallacies.

 

David Graeber is a man I most admire, and I think it’s appropriate to bring in a quote from his book Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology which is available for you (and friends!) to read here! That’s right, Open Access is already real. But yes, back to the quote:

First, it would have to proceed from the assumption that, as the Brazilian folk song puts it, ‘another world is possible.’ That institutions like the state, capitalism, racism and male dominance are not inevitable; that it would be possible to have a world in which these things would not exist, and that we’d all be better off as a result. To commit oneself to such a principle is almost an act of faith, since how can one have certain knowledge of such matters? It might possibly turn out that such a world is not possible. But one could also make the argument that it’s this very unavailability of absolute knowledge which makes a commitment to optimism a moral imperative: Since one cannot know a radically better is not possible, are we not betraying everyone by insisting on continuing to justify, and reproduce, the mess we have today? And anyway, even if we’re wrong, we might well get a lot closer” (10).

 

This seems to sum up a lot of what is wrong with not only academia but with the world. Self-critique and constant deconstruction relies on misjudgments and mistakes. It’s fairly easy to retrospectively pinpoint what went wrong where and to create a “new” yet only improved version of the tried and true. It is a hell of a lot harder to muster the strength and skin necessary to come up with a revolutionary replacement.

 

We live in a time of constant corruptness and censored creativity. We are constantly promised by “those who know best” safety and shelter if only we shut up and believe; tell me now, who feels safe and sheltered in a society which thrives off the fear of terror? Our questions and comments have been filtered and categorized and prioritized, stunting dissent and autonomy. Perhaps the openness and accessibility of the internet is a “natural” response to the failure of our current information system.

 

To give access and knowledge is to give empowerment which ultimately creates a sense of responsibility. If people believe they are accountable they will become dependable collective social beings. Actively engaged people are the missing ingredient to our current idea of freedom. The internet is nothing if people do not participate; computers do not create ideas but transmit them for (gasp) critique and understanding, forcing intellectual growth on every level and in every user.

 

We have all been entrusted with a voice. I’m thinking it’s time to experiment with it.

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11 Responses to “Prosophobia- the Fear of Progress”

  1. 1 sasc

    Lovely! Good work. It’s agonizing to think of how easy it is to fall into work-blocking mind traps! We have an idea of what we’re trying to do here; let’s stick to our guns and do it. Rock on.

    It is our responsibility to do everything we can to make the world a better place for all. While we might be taking a different approach than someone else, ours is equally valid.

    Tell me what democracy looks like!

    Whose street? OUR STREET!

  2. 2 patty

    Word. Transfering knowledge does create empowerment as well as an engaged citizen. But the corruption to that would be the traditional sense of gaining knowledge is through lots of money and schooling. Well now the internet reshapes all that and ideally offers the transfer of knowledge to ANYONE.
    I believe I see your point
    Im also working on those thoughts outside of this

    Its sweat to see what yall have done
    Ive never participated in such, but its time.

  3. 3 Melissa

    I must commend you all! Indeed, Megan, it is QUITE bold to openly publish your thoughts and intellect for all to see; for readers to praise and to criticize, to agree and to disagree with. The bold step the four of you have taken is in itself a reflection of what your project symbolizes: not everything we read should be from ‘the man’, should be main-stream media, should be ‘correct’ … in the name of equality, the thoughts you and I have are no more or no less valid than the thoughts of any other single person. This project the four of you have taken on is not a reflection of prosophobia, but a reflection of fearlessness. It is innovative. Powerful. And yes, while you are not pioneers in this realm of ‘anthrobloggery’, you are another crop of anthrobloggery that has bloomed. Movements tend to start as such. A crop here, a crop there; I am personally connected to this crop, so I’ll feed off of it… etc. It is a beautiful way to spread uncensored knowledge and ideas that deserve to be heard just like anything. .. A hurdle I often come to when thinking about a really good book I’ve read, or even ‘best-sellers’ is: Yeah, but.. Who’s to Say?
    Your blog is illustrating the idea of: who’s NOT to say? noone. cancel out the double negative equals.. who’s to say? everyone. anyone.

    “Actively engaged people are the missing ingredient to our current idea of freedom.”
    -Megan, is that yours? Because I dig it. You should create a bumper sticker.

    Megan, I was very happy to see the quote and direct open access link to the David Graeber citation. You must have read my mind.
    Megan, Sean, Annie, & Sven:
    I have checked your blog a few times before (and have been meaning to write) – and the biggest criticism I had was that I wanted to see your (collective you, all of you’s, all ya’ll’s) references. The link: beautiful. That will only further enable (and empower) readers to be able to read more deeply into an idea you have referenced (that way, also, it will allow the reader to formulate his or her own opinion based upon further resources than just your post). It’d also be nice to see references for credibility (I am not at all suggestion we need proof of our own thoughts) – but when speaking of an idea that is not original and that has been brought to our attention through others.. it is good form to reference. (Maybe that is my brainwashed scholastic mind speaking, but in truth I do stem off of reference pages in light of a particular thread that caught my interest. And when you think about it, it makes perfect sense: because it doesn’t matter WHO wrote the book, article, etc… their mind is going to be structured than each of ours.. therefore the interests provoked from reading will infinitely vary… Got me?)

    Phew, okay, sorry :\ .. Notorious for typing a lot.

    Keep up the fabulous work guys, I’ve added ‘A World Among Worlds’ to my toolbar and will be checking daily. (I can’t promise daily comments though. And won’t make any promises to that effect.. but will simply do my best.)

    Oh, and in light of public dialogue… I am going to do a bit of advertising/awareness spreading. My cousin, Ryan Grim, is a journalist for The Politico. When I was in D.C. in January, he was telling me about this idea he had to add a blog to their site, http://www.thepolitico.com, in order to encourage exactly what you 4 are aiming to encourage, a public forum & opportunity for information/thought sharing. The public is now able to freely comment on all articles published on http://www.thepolitico.com, so spread the word…

    Alright, peace:)

  4. 4 Melissa

    Woops, sorry Sean.. I didn’t realize you had put links in too, not to discredit you… for some reason when I read over your post last night I missed that.

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