The Fall of the House of Murdoch

Paul Raven @ 11-07-2011

While I’m not so optimistically convinced as some of my fellow Brits that Rupert Murdoch’s media empire has been as badly bloodied as we’d all like it to be, there’s no getting around the fact that the last week has seen a pretty spectacular sea-change in the relationship between British politics and the fourth estate. The BBC’s Paul Mason has a long searching post on these events which – very sensibly, I feel – contains more questions than confident analyses, and is well worth a read. It is a remarkable thing to see not just a very conspicuous case of, as he puts it, “the network defeating the hierarchy”, but to see so many people who were previously sceptical of the network’s power scratching their heads and wondering where the next sinkhole is going to open up.

I’m not naive enough to believe we’re driving headlong toward some sort of post-pyramid social utopia… far from it, in fact, as I suspect that – despite the spectacular scale of these clashes – these are merely the first border skirmishes between the crowd and the ziggurat rather than the culmination of a war. But even so, the Rejectionistas and cynics who’ve been telling us that the power of the network is illusory are sounding more behind the curve than ever.

The only certainty from here on in is change. Wear a helmet.

Why we shouldn’t be so hard on Spitzer

Paul Raven @ 17-03-2008

George Dvorsky has been thinking about the Elliot Spitzer scandal, and while he’s quite certain that Spitzer transgressed the law and deserves to be punished as such, he thinks we’re overstating the strangeness of the transgression itself:

“Why did Spitzer go to a prostitute in the first place? Well, it’s not because he’s corrupt or evil; those are labels applied to his actions after the fact. Rather, it stems from a deeply hardwired desire to get some action on the side, for sexual fulfillment outside of marriage.

Simply put, he was being a typical guy.”

Just to reiterate, Dvorsky isn’t trying to let Spitzer off the hook here, but he is trying to point out that Spitzer is a flawed human being, just like the rest of us. If democracy has a future, I think it depends on us waking up to the idea that people in positions of power are just ordinary people – which, at the same that it removes them from their pedestals, should also remind us that we’re more than capable of falling from grace ourselves.