The old (erroeneus) theory of the twin revolutions of modernity (there were so many more) is clearly collapsing. that theory argued that freedom happened twice, once for political freedom, and once for economic, and that these two remain apart until the end of the nineteenth century (the French and the british experience), but were now united in the liberal consensus- and in a front to sweep the world. a theory very much for the world of the post second world war - a theory that gained in smugness after the collapse of the iron curtain, and yet id a theory which is clearly dying, leaving a highly mobile and collapsing front line between these two freedom.
The collapse was perhaps orchestrated intially from out side- two voilent conflicts one for each freedom as destroyed the old consensual border - and re-ignited the conflict between the two erstwhile friends. The first is of course Iraq and the collapse of the myth of America megapower, which died in the Iraqi sun and sand. america looks vulnerable, Its one club military power fraught of defeatable. it looses then the right to be the simple future - as with it the claim to be the end of history, the end where personal and economic freedom incarnate. The Irony is very real here. the alliance of freedoms needed military might(and all that implies) to keep it real!
At the same time China has rediscovered the suppressed forbidden truth that economic and political liberality have nothing to do with each other. one can have a repressive state and yet an economically liberal on and visa versa. The old alliance was a post war creation, sold as an absolute truth, and we are again being forced to remember this fact.
But this external collapse is only half the picture, for a far more complex front line has opened. It was one of the cardinal points of the old alliance that the respective roles of economic and political freedom were clearly mapped out and established. States did not interfere with economic and economic with states: the former was protectionism and led to inefficencies and pointless duplication; the latter was corruption and led to the mafia.
But of course new technologies rather change that. Are after all network sites a democracy or a market place? They have clear elements of both - elements that are not necessary complementary. Political campaigns can arise then from the virtual sphere, and sweep across the political system, forcing change. All the more so as the political system craves these campaigns as that which gives it purpose: They are Youth - they are its sex. And yet these political campaigns are one and the same with economic campaigns that lead to Apps becoming widespread. It additional to this confusion, there is also the fact that it is this very act of democracy (that is mass recommendation, a spreading a word) what ad men want to market to. They want to go viral, They lust after our democratic bits, and wish to use then to sell product. The mobile acts of immanenat democracy have become then an a ad mens wet dream. The entire system is the pockmarked with real campaigns, and stooge campaigns designed to sell product. A picture whose complexity is then doubled up because it must cut across that other line the one between fact and fiction that the internet already buggers up - because as we all know the very act of mass believing or even reading a rumour adds to it its own reality and power. Truth is always social: And the social always finds its own truth: The trouble is that we cannot really ever tell these two things apart.
It the complex virtual kingdom, real sentiment and money mingle, as do political activisim which genuinely can mobile with cod activism which bribes its armies, and they all do so in ways that can not be easily distinguished or thought apart. At the same time another rather different freedom becomes the battle line. for what still united and divides the old allies is the issue of information. it was of course an assumption of the twin revolution model that within reason, information in both systeme was free and true and was so in the same way. But in this old new world of ours that assumption is clearly broken in two directions. Firstly it is very clearly in the rumour mill actual truth does not matte rover much. Rumour is king and out runs everything. free choice has then become based on mass democratic (actual or contrived) rumours. But within these rumours are of course nuggets of truth. Real state power (or antistate powers) becomes then all about controlling these nuggets and stopping them either looking signifcant or making sure they are never found- or in extreme cases ensuring that if they are found a virus comes within them and undermines their effectiveness. Freedom t think becomes then a real battleland - a place of absolute distortions and dangerous suppressions
Secondly and more problematically, the reaction of the two bastions of the old orders are clearly different in verity if not in intention. I mean politicians come a cropper if they believe the rumours (they often do) and feel they have to act upon them, They make then foolish inoperable policies that have no effect and merely junk up the statute book with rubbishy illiberal twaddle -. too much information, or the wrong kind of information makes the politicians life very difficult therefore. they need to judge when to suppress the truth, when to talk of it (and sacrifice it to the rumour mill, and when to attempt to suppress it. while of course in contrast business, which does not need such practical policy is free merely to sell lies and stuff : Rumour becomes marketing. the only problem then are inconvenient truths such as the product does not work too well) these must then be dismissed or drowned in rumours.
It is No wonder then the old alliance is gone. The interests of business and politicians in the virtual world are simply divergent and likely to become increasingly so), and this is a system where the working assumption has always been that they have to operate together (what else is a capitalist democracy?) The trouble the is of course both start to flay around politicians dream of illiberal policies designed to make their lives easier, while business people want greater and great rumour spreading freedoms and need then to counteract the democratic rumour verse that is the internet). A flaying around which is all too visible and lads then to new rumours, rumours where the issue of truth both parts of the old alliance become under deeper and darker scrutiny than ever before. a mistrust that errodes then entire system and leads where exactly.....
now one needs to be a little careful here. There is a sense in which one can say as ever it was ever thus to this set of 'fact'. one always can say that in our system. there always was after all tensions between the two revolutionary armies. that is true state regulation versus business freedom; corruption versus democracy. and yet there was at least a clear stable alliance. It is surely this alliance or perhaps treaty that has collasped, and gradually gently we are going back into the mobile state of war that existed between these two freedom in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. a war that that leads of course to many dark places (empires depressions, world wars) - which the old alliance in part (but only in part petrified. We have to really face up to this movement therefore- as not to - not too attempt to think through new solutions,and to assume there is no problem, or that the problem will solve itself might leads to the very dark history the smug world of the twin revolutionarily allies had promised themselves was a thing of the past.