The George Bush chimp meme set off the meme wars, if only because he was president when Facebook took off in a big way. As soon as Obama was elected the Right–especially the Tea Party–went nuts with their own vicious memes. And now with Trump we return the favor. And it’ll keep happening because each side holds the other side to rules that they themselves do not abide by. Which is nothing new, the pamphlets and newspapers in the 18th and 19th century were incredibly offensive and insulting and just as low brow as anything you see on your iPhone today. And both sides back then raged the same way we are all raging now, mortally offended by what the other side posts and finding all sorts of excuses for posting their own. Calls for censorship abounded, like they abound now, though the First Amendment prevented that for the most part. Now, though, with Facebook and Twitter essentially privatizing communication in ways that Ronald Reagan never imagined, wholesale censorship is possible in social media because the internet is somehow not considered to exist in the same heady constitutional air as the airwaves. Funny seeing the conservative stance on the internet suddenly condemned by outraged conservatives bewildered by the First Amendment. And funny too watching progressives defend social media as privately owned and free from those First Amendment restrictions. Meanwhile memes are fading, replaced by furious bursts of words. Not particularly intelligent words, necessarily, but words nonetheless. We’re getting oddly literate in the Age of Trump, even as Trump himself can barely tweet a coherent sentence.
I’d actually never heard of the Pentagon’s Task Force for Business and Stability Operations in Afghanistan, but it was the heart and soul of Neocon philosophy. It was the office that was in charge of changing Afghanistan into a modern, democratic nation. The idea was simple enough: given enough investment, one could kickstart a free enterprise economy, free of government regulation and control, out of which would come a natural stability and the formation of a democratic system. It was almost a magic trick, taking an economy and society that had not changed appreciably in centuries and with a few hundred million dollars turning it into a market for computers and cars and hamburgers and western concepts of democratic government. But unregulated commerce and democracy went hand in hand in their thinking. The power of the free market. Regime change just naturally followed economic change. It seemed so clear to them and so absurd to us. We, of course, were right, this eight hundred million (and the goats) disappeared into thin air and Afghanistan’s ancient ways are still there. Continue reading