C. Richard Allen
John Perry Barlow
C. Richard Allen SnagFilms, CEO
Well, I think democracy's always been a messy process. I remember having a conversation with President Clinton about the fact that he was -- his enemies were attacking him vociferously. He felt that he was being pretty savaged. I said, "Look, you're the best student of history I know. Clearly, this is nothing like what Abraham Lincoln went through or what Thomas Jefferson went through or others."
So democracy's always been at its worst -- mean spirited, non-substantive and a blood sport. It's gotten, at the national level, very painful. It's hard for me to recommend to young people that they go into politics, which is really what I spent the first 20 years of my adult life trying to do was to get more young people involved in politics. It's tough now, because you do it to have an impact. It's less and less clear that you can have an impact through the political process.
I think that's why many people try to approach it differently. They work through the nonprofit sector. They volunteer, and they do it very directly. They work through their church groups. They find other mechanisms where they believe that they're having some efficacy. But you can't move a nation except by national policy. It doesn't work if the citizenry is disengaged.
So somehow, the concept that Robert Kennedy spoke about so eloquently -- about politics being an honorable profession -- has to come back to the forefront. We cannot denigrate the efforts of folks who make significant sacrifice, whether it's in what we so lively condemn as the bureaucracy of the government, but composed of hard-working Americans trying to make a difference or folks who stand for election under circumstances where they're subjected to scrutiny that none of us would willingly go through.
John Perry Barlow Peripheral Visionary
I'm an optimist by nature, and so I assume that everything is somehow fixable, but we're in the middle of a gigantic cultural transition everywhere in the Western world. I feel like what we're seeing is the end of monotheism, the end of this great white pillar of authority with God on top and you on the bottom and an unquestionable line of descent. What's replacing it is something like a more horizontal web of pantheism, if you will.
All of these sort of vertical structures are having an increasingly difficult time maintaining their credibility. They certainly can no longer maintain that kind of reality distortion field that was a big part of their power from the time that Abraham left Ur. And so they have to rule by consensus rather than decree.
This means that there's a fundamental re-negotiation of all the existing power relationships. I have been thinking about this for 20 years, and now I see that it has truly come to pass. So I would be a little surprised if things weren't in kind of a confused mess.
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