Spontaneity in politics

Joe Klein has a great article in at Time: Pssst! Who’s behind the decline of politics? [Consultants.] Here’s how he starts, and I found what followed fascinating.

On the evening of april 4, 1968, about an hour after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, Robert F. Kennedy responded with a powerfully simple speech, which he delivered spontaneously in a black neighborhood of Indianapolis. Nearly 40 years later, Kennedy’s words stand as an example of the substance and music of politics in its grandest form and highest purposeto heal, to educate, to lead. Sadly, his speech also marked the end of an era: the last moments before American public life was overwhelmed by marketing professionals, consultants and pollsters who, with the flaccid acquiescence of the politicians, have robbed public life of much of its romance and vigor.

Klein contrasts the extraordinary impact of the words Robert Kennedy created on-the-spot, with the pre-packaged, sterilised forms of policitcal discourse we get today. And he ends with a plea for some kind of return to a less dehydrated politics.

For me, that’s the potential of Web 2.0, to allow us a return – in politics and elsewhere – to more spontaneous forms of interaction, away from the broadcast, one-size bores all equally model.

Thanks to Jerry Kail for sending me the article.

4 thoughts on “Spontaneity in politics

  1. Kaka5998

    Hello John,

    The problem with web 2.0 is, at present anyway, how many are connected? I mean total world populations. I know the news paper ooh and aah about how many millions Chinese are connected to internet, but do not forget that is a country that has 1.6 billion inhabitants. So what is a few millions?

    Unfortunately for mankind, TV is still is the most popular form of ‘spreading the news'(althought mobile phone seems to be the most popular but I don’t think is the right tool for mass communications in this present form).

    Web 2.0 also seems to be the life-style of the educated, wealthier, upper class. But TV is for the common people. So who is much easier to sway? Think back to the 2004 election in the US. Who were the red states? Who were the blues ??

    I am not giving my opinion on a negative note (I have given similar opinions on some other blogs that goes along the same line as this post). What I am looking for is someone who can come up with a much better form of mass communications … TO THE AVERAGE PEOPLE.

    As an experiment, I have limited myself these days to not more than 2 hours on internet. And watch plenty of TV instead. What do I miss most from the internet? Nothing much except a lot of frustrations of seeing things going wrong, and yet, the WEB 2.0 people seems to be so contented that things are going well … Things are not going well. If things are going well there would not be ‘gold farmer’ in China playing ADDITIVE online games for ‘richer’ American. A different kind of slavery.

    Do I have an answer? Yes. If the Web 2.0’ers’ want to influce the world, stop using internet. Use TV instead. Promote REAL interactive TV (not just for games). There must be some clever people around that can make it happens.

    We become so INDIVIDUALISTIC, we no longer live in the world as a ‘real’ community. Not when each of us sitting infront of a little box, and then hope to solve a community problem.

    Perhaps the internet has divided the world a lot more than we bargain for. In the world of the TV, family (and friends and neighbours for those days when not every one could afford a TV) would watch the programme together. There is contact, verbal, physical. The internet is a silent world. People in the physical world around us don’t know who we are ‘talking’ to. We ‘dis-associate’.


    I can’t be bothered with anything these days, but shrug. I just don’t have anything to say recently. I haven’t gotten much done recently. Nothing seems worth thinking about.

  2. Johnnie Moore

    Hi Cindy. Thanks for a good pushback. My line about Web 2.0 was a bit of a throwaway and fairly simplistic. Technology is only part of what will lead to better politics and then only when it serves a real human need. Personally, I am optimist about what it can contribute and you’re quite right, there’s a lot more that needs to happen offline.

    Kaka5998: Congratulations, not that you’ll ever read this. You are the only Spam comment I’ve ever chosen not to delete, although I have deleted the impotence URL you are trying to boost. Your comment made me laugh as I think it captures rather well what I imagine is the mindset of spammers; only very depressed people could really get satisfaction out of your activity. Plus I’m guessing you fastened on this post automatically because of the word spontaneous in the headline. Another irony too rich to pass unnoticed.

  3. Ric

    Kaka5998, given the MO, could be a spambot—and probably emanating from Russia, given past experience at Lucire’s phpBB forum. The MO usually consists of the spambot finding keywords, and the user name is a combination of letters and numbers. You may well find Kakas elsewhere with different numbers, or, indeed with the same number. The generic comment is also typical, though in our case we had all manner of wares being sold (I won’t mention them as they may trigger your spam guard).


    One could be forgiven for thinking that Kaka5998 was one of those dehydrated politicians you mentioned, so apt were the words …

  4. Jack Yan

    Oh, Ric (and pardon me for taking this off-topic, Johnnie), I notice this comment went on coComment. Did you have any submission troubles? I have noticed some incompatibilities (that weren’t there before) with Moveable Type blogs and I had to enter my comment twice. I’ve alerted coCo but I am not sure they realize it.


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