It was a leading question in retrospect, because you understood the context, but I wasn’t certain if you did because I didn’t want to make any assumptions. I just wanted to know if you perceived an imbalance in ability between you and Murdoch. Many people making your prior arguments don’t, it wasn’t intended as a slight or disrespect, just clarification as to what your understanding was.
If you wish, I won’t use leading questions, and I apologise if I slighted you. My objective in this discussion is to determine what society should do about speech if it should do anything, in a local and contemporary context of what the Pirate Party should adopt as rational, evidence-driven policy.
Now I want to know whether you believe ability (in the sense of “possession of the means or skill to do something”) to be granted by the decisions of structures within society, or to be inherent to people, which (to clarify so this isn’t taken as an unfair leading question) is a question as to whether people are fundamentally equal to each other within a small margin of error, and if the very large inequality in ability we see in current society is then due to the organisational structure of society affording some people ability and not others. If people are fundamentally equal in ability to each other within a small margin of error, this would mean that assignment by society of ability is arbitrary (normally by birth, occasionally by accident, rarely by a lifelong devotion to working as hard as possible to gain as much money as possible).
In this example, Murdoch has the ability to communicate information to many more people than you granted him by societal structures (very specific ones, if we want to go into them, News Corp and the governments whose laws ensure protection of his control of the company), all else being equal. You mention a few incidences of you reaching quite a large audience with your position, and I’m going to assume for this conversation that the only reason you have the position you do is because of your hard work. After listing those incidences, you assert that:
Both talent and drive have connotations of being inherent rather than assigned by society, but I won’t put words in your mouth so I’ll let you clarify whether that’s what you meant. This sentence I think is saying that talent and drive (it’s probably worth just saying hard work, I think that’s what you mean if you aren’t saying people are inherently unequal to an extent reflected by the society we see around us, correct me if I’m wrong) are factors that have the capacity to overcome all of the structural barriers between a given person and Rupert Murdoch. This statement sidesteps the argument about what society should do about speech pretty significantly, but I recognise you’re trying to address fundamental concerns rather than surface ones and I’m happy to address it.
My main contention with this argument is that if all that was required was talent and drive to achieve the level of control over various structures Murdoch has then we would presumably see many, many other people as powerful as him, because his personal pluck, moxy, hard work, talent, drive, bootstrap-pulling-ability etc is really nothing special in the grand scheme of humanity. Day labourers in Bangladesh, soldiers in trenches, builders etc all have very significant levels of talent and drive, I’d venture higher than someone who inherited a position and exploited a rare accident to arrive where he is.
Many labourers have more talent and drive than I think it’s reasonable to expect any human to have in order for them to survive and live in peace and comfort, certainly more than Murdoch, but instead we see the world around us, where more than a billion people are in desperate poverty and hunger, and I find it hard to believe it’s because all of them didn’t have the talent and drive necessary to rise to the top. I think factors assigned largely at birth, like their country of origin, race, gender status, and probably most importantly the amount of wealth or ability to control they will directly inherit determine where they sit between the top and the bottom.
In Australia and Denmark, “class mobility” is amongst the highest in the world, at just under 20% of the population rising a decile in income over their lifetimes (this is while income inequality is increasing). That means that, statistically at the time of your birth, you have a 1 in 5 chance of having your income raised to the decile above that of your family (moving beyond that decile gets exponentially harder with each decile). Another way of looking at that statistic is that 80% of people will remain at their level of wealth or poverty, or drop, over their lifetime. As long as income and wealth inequality is increasing, it’s numerically impossible for these statistics to combine and mean that anyone has much of a chance at all of rising to a position where they can control large numbers of people and amounts of production, including speech (like Murdoch). If we accept that people are fundamentally equal to within a small margin of error, then this situation is either arbitrary at best and unjust at worst, if we consider human suffering to be a negative, but either way I think it disproves the idea that talent and drive are all that’s required to rise to the level of Rupert Murdoch.
WikiLeaks achieved what it did by engaging in illegal organisational activities that fundamentally challenged the current structure of society. It’s why their leader is currently wanted on espionage charges, likely to face the death penalty if he’s ever captured by the US, and why the financial institutions that manage this system try their hardest to obstruct anyone materially supporting them. It’s an inspiring example of what can be achieved by a handful of smart and courageous people if they’re willing to break the law and resist the status quo, but as inspiring as it is it hasn’t achieved the end of the unjust status quo and the implementation of a just status quo or at least an earnest attempt at creating one. It didn’t even achieve any material change in the US military, except for a crackdown on operational security.
I’m a critic, not a driver (I don’t even have a licence). If we lived in some radically different societal structure I’d be critiquing that instead, with the aim of living in a better world. I have ideas about policies that seem like they’d work, like democratisation of feasible decision-making areas (which could also be called redistribution of those decision-making areas, but I think it’s important to specify how they’d be redistributed) and mass education and organisation campaigns, but unfortunately most of the methods of achieving those aims that have worked well historically are illegal, and I’m unwilling to break the law. The legal methods to achieve them (like voting or having conversations like this, assuming I’m not tried for sedition) haven’t worked at any point historically, but I see no reason to stop trying. Nothing else to do really, I suppose. Do you have any suggestions?