Fear of social change a step back | Bangkok Post: opinion

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Fear of social change a step back

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Those who live permanently in the past can't see the inevitability of the present. Those who worship the stegosaurus would do something so comical, so anachronistic as banning a computer game that most people have never heard of, prompting nearly everyone to hear about it and wanting to play it — just for kicks, just for a slap to the face, just to prove that techno-terrorism will leave the dinosaurs behind. In the world of bandwidth, in a time when information always slips through the iron fist like water or like pus, in short, in the downloadable, Wiki-leakable 21st century — banning data is the practice of ants trapped in prehistoric amber. 

The future is vulnerable and the past is perfect, that's our motto of the year — the motto of insects struggling against the lava of time. The Office of Cultural Promotion's decision to ban Tropico 5, a city-building simulation game that involves empires, coups and dictatorial exercise, is the funniest nonsense in recent memory; it cracked people up, because it shows how out of touch our cultural watch-puppy is. As soon as the laughable decision was announced, the pirates sailed into the bay and download links were distributed like supermarket coupons. Information, for better or worse, wants to be free. It's scary, but in many ways, information has been freed. Censorship is primitive and impossible (at least mentally), and those who fail to realise that are living in the unreal past populated only by ghosts, mammoths and extinct amphibians.

Naturally as the world hurtles forward, the reaction from the past-perfect specimen is intense. That's their only way to fight the vertigo brought by social changes, technology and individualism: they fight back with more bans, more surveillance, more moral paranoia, more national security alarm, more very old National Legislative Assembly members (I feel sorry for some of them), more self-righteousness, more 1970s-style audio-visual propaganda, and more conviction that the way to the future is to blast us back into the past — the political, as well as cultural and psychological past.

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