Hacker News, Xahlee.Org, and What is Politics?

Xah Lee xahlee at gmail.com
Mon Mar 15 08:16:33 CET 2010


A essay related to the recent discussion of banning, and lisp
associated group at ycombinator.com .

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Hacker News, Xahlee.Org, and What is Politics?

Xah Lee, 2010-03-14

Today, i noticed that someone posted one of my article “Why Emacs is
still so useful today” on my blogger site (xahlee.blogspot.com) to
Hacker News site here: Source.

Note that my site XahLee.org was unceremoniously banned around 2009-02
by the admin geekers there. (see bottom of: Ban Xah Lee). But,
apparantly, someone found my article useful. Now, in order to submit
my articles, you'll have to use my article mirror at
blogger.blogspot.com instead of xahlee.org.

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Tech Geeker's Ignorance Of Politics

The human nature of power struggle never ends. Many of these tech
geekers think they are apolitical, that they are peace loving, they
ride bikes not driving machines that pollute, they don't have interest
in business, they embrace the Free of “freedom” Software or Open
Source of “openness” software. The problem of human animals is that,
we all think that, yet, power struggle or the formation of politics
isn't something you consciously decide to do. Rather, it is something
that you unconsciously do whenever you have interaction with peers
when resources are not infinite. At the basic level, you have quarrels
with ya brothers about toys, in high school about seats, girls. Going
up a bit, you have all these teens, gamers, tech geekers, shouting,
kicking, banning, in all sort of internet forums, irc chat rooms,
mailing lists, in-world gaming channels. Going up, you have managers
fighting in corporations, politicians pissing at each other, leaders
warring among nation states. Note the word PEER here, because, you are
out of the game with those who are much more powerful than you, and
similarly, you can't be bothered by those far beneath you.

Of course, the tech geekers all think they are fair, just, maintaining
peace. But you can almost see the smug on their faces whenever any of
these “admins”, “group owners”, “sysops”, “operators”, exercise their
power. It is a basic human pleasure to force onto uncooperative
others. (See: What Desires Are Politically Important?)

Serious fairness and open policies never actually come up unless the
community becomes large, larger then the original special interest
clique. Before the group becomes large, typically their political
structure is academically called oligarchy. i.e. basically whoever
started the group, his cronies, rule.

We all understand conscious power struggle. However, it is when we
think that we are not doing politics when exercising our power, is
when it is likely most damaging, with respect to human progress. (the
subject of human progress, its ideal direction, goal, is itself is
quite not agreed upon among historical figures (big philosophers,
politicians, leaders, etc.).)

Part of the problem is ignorance. Most tech geekers, those coders,
engineers, type of folks, typically don't have much education or
interest in social sciences. Few years ago on irc channel, i was
ranting on the subject of politics, due to some difference of opinion
on tech stuff, and learned, rather not surprisingly, that one of the
guy don't understand that politics essentially means power struggle.
Most tech geekers think that Politics is what politicians do, that it
is something about rulers, about bad ass evil lords, ambitious guys,
Napolean, or about controversial subjects, back stabbing, cloak and
dagger, and isn't about, say, admins or policies in some online forum.

--------------------
What Is Politics?

Here's some Wikipedia quotes from Politics:

    Politics is a process by which groups of people make collective
decisions. The term is generally applied to behavior within civil
governments, but politics has been observed in other group
interactions, including corporate, academic, and religious
institutions. It consists of "social relations involving authority or
power"[1] and refers to the regulation of a political unit,[2] and to
the methods and tactics used to formulate and apply policy.[3]

    ...

    Political science, the study of politics, examines the acquisition
and application of power and "power corrupts".

It quotes this juicy quote:

    “Politics: A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of
principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.” —
Ambrose Bierce[15]

I much prefer older edits of Wikipedia's opening paragraph. Here's few
excerpts

    Politics consists of "social relations involving authority or
power"[1] and refers to the regulation of a political unit,[2] and to
the methods and tactics used to formulate and apply policy.[3]

    ...

    In a broader sense, any situation involving power, or any
maneouvring in order to enhance one's power or status within a group,
may be described as politics (e.g. office politics).[3] This form of
politics "is most associated with a struggle for ascendancy among
groups having different priorities and power relations."[4]

And here's a point-blank shot:

    Politics is who gets what, when, and how. — Harold Lasswell

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the url for this essay can be found on my website or blog.

  Xah
∑ http://xahlee.org/


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