This article that describes Tim O'Reilly, publisher of tech manuals and political mover and shaker, as a "meme hustler," is very long and obliquely-worded. It's gotten me thinking about a lot of the things I used to take for granted, though.
The tl;dr is "Silicon Valley tycoons are trying to dismantle social safety nets, erase the idea of civic participation, and become the world's unquestioned rulers." They might phrase it more like this sentence from the essay, though:
if only we had more data and better tools, we could suspend politics once and for all.
It kind of hit home for me because back in 2007, I was really high on the open source stuff and thought "we can empower everyone to solve their own problems!" But there were an awful lot of people that I was ignoring or blaming for their own circumstances, and I didn't realize that back then. Or the difference between empowering elite technogeeks, the way "open source" does, and empowering people to not be subject to them, the way that Free Software is meant to.
I think the biggest thing I learned from the article is to ask "who benefits?" when examining people's rhetoric, especially if they're skilled propagandists.
Everyone knows liberal social policies are designed to benefit the poor, which is why people who disparage them have to attack the very idea of benefiting the poor. No one wants to live in Rapture except Andrew Ryan, so the Andrew Ryans of this world have to appeal to your own selfishness; get you to think "this will be totally awesome for you," and pretend no one else in the world has different needs or abilities. Or that if they do, they'll fend for themselves somehow, which is another way of saying that they don't deserve to live.