Thursday, February 02, 2012
Mark Zuckerberg’s Nerd Manifesto
by Bernie Quigley
For The Hill on 2/2/12
Mark Zuckerberg presses himself into the public eye. It was his insistence and demanding countenance that first brought to my mind those ancient socialist realist statues of Lenin pressing forward against the wind, oversized, waving a bronzed document, almost a hundred years ago in the century’s first great wave – worldwide wave – of “new man” generational politics. It came then from the realization that they simply had the numbers. Capital had already fled Russia. Russian gentry were now waiters in Paris and all was left were peasants; comrades then, millions upon millions of them. And the document: The three-page, single-spaced letter that Zuckerberg had prepared; a letter to potential investors for a $5 billion initial public offering of Facebook. It was a manifesto:
We live at a moment when the majority of people in the world have access to the internet or mobile phones — the raw tools necessary to start sharing what they’re thinking, feeling and doing with whomever they want. Facebook aspires to build the services that give people the power to share and help them once again transform many of our core institutions and industries. . . There is a huge need and a huge opportunity to get everyone in the world connected, to give everyone a voice and to help transform society for the future.
But the key was in the urgency of his voice before the microphones: They had the numbers. Not so many as Borodin would have in Russia and China when he put them together, but they were getting there. And the legitimacy of the vision came from that: There are more of us. And we will change you: We will change government, we will change what you buy, we will change your life and who you are. But Trotsky was a better writer. Here, from his defense of the October Revolution:
It is true that humanity has more than once brought forth giants of thought and action, who tower over their contemporaries like summits in a chain of mountains. The human race has a right to be proud of its Aristotle, Shakespeare, Darwin, Beethoven, Goethe, Marx, Edison, and Lenin. But why are they so rare? Above all, because almost without exception, they came out of the upper and middle classes. Apart from rare exceptions, the sparks of genius in the suppressed depths of the people are choked before they can burst into flame.
The agitprop was breathtaking:
Anthropology, biology, physiology and psychology have accumulated mountains of material to raise up before mankind in their full scope the tasks of perfecting and developing body and spirit. Psycho-analysis, with the inspired hand of Sigmund Freud, has lifted the cover of the well which is poetically called the “soul”. And what has been revealed? Our conscious thought is only a small part of the work of the dark psychic forces. Learned divers descend to the bottom of the ocean and there take photographs of mysterious fishes. Human thought, descending to the bottom of its own psychic sources must shed light on the most mysterious driving forces of the soul and subject them to reason and to will.
Say what you like but fearless they were to a flaw and would shake the world in 10 days. Facebook, basically a Yellow Pages for kids, will take longer.
Trotsky’s famous phrase was repeated often; Everyman a Plato, Lincoln, a Marx. But maybe we have reached the end of the cycle as we find the Everyman today a Newt, a Maynard G. Krebs, a Donald, a Lady Gaga.
Time ahead to begin again from scratch.