lobbyism

Information flow and the grievances lobby

One would think that people who stand up for something right and good are strong in character, brave, and to be commended for that.

But what has crystallized after my observations, experiences and pondering is that in such cases, you can distinguish between those doing it for strong selfish motives and those who actually do it regardless of whether they are personally involved. The latter seems quite rare, and they might elude attention due to the many who are motivated to do right for the wrong reasons.

The recent case of Drawponies (a.k.a. Traceponies) making money by selling traced MLP show art caused an impressive degree of attention, or you could say, publicity. Because what I see is that in such cases, there is a lobby. There are people who invested financially by buying ‘his’ material. There are people who are artists themselves, following proper rules, and thus being upset about someone else breaking them to gain an advantage. On another level, there can be emotional investment, which is still connected to time spent and to the bad feeling of being deceived. All this is still personal though.
Add to that the legal ramifications. Legal means business. Serious stuff. Connected to money again.

People who you’d never expect to take up any noble cause can suddenly morph into bloody revolutionaries if their personal material interests are under attack.

But the true test of character is whether someone would do the same in the interest of others. This is the crucial indicator of whether the motivation is egoistical or altruistic. When you have a big group of people all following a shared egoistical goal, it can easily be mistaken for mutual caring. (I blogged about this point before.)

I know from personal experience how decisive it can be whether an issue has this kind of lobby or not. If, like in the case of Drawponies, interest groups like Equestria Daily start sweating because they have been unknowingly supporting art theft and because they have a large following of other artists that they might piss off if they don’t react strongly and decisively, you thus have a major content distributor with a self-interest of publicating the issue.
If, on the other hand, someone does something rotten while such interest groups don’t see their own interests under attack, it can continue without interference. And when you witness enough of such things, you cannot just forget and deny, even if you want to. You then see the shadowy side of people and the many deceptions they practice towards themselves and others.

If Drawponies had not sold his material, but merely claimed it as his own, thus lying to others for personal admiration, just as he has done anyway, this incident would have had a wholly different character and far less public attention. Especially since then it would only have been Hasbro who’d have material grievances. If he had noncommecially stolen art from other fans, the lobby would have been stronger, since then material concerns of fans would have been involved. It would still have caused a more forgiving reaction though, especially by Equestria Daily and such, but also since many people aren’t that much of warriors for justice if it’s not about their own money.

Remember when animators used the leaked Flash puppets, not just for internal practice purposes, but in their publicated work, making no mention that they didn’t create the puppets themselves and silently accepted any praise based on that misconception? That was willful deception, but (potential) material grievances were only on Hasbro’s side. (And fan works and leaked production assets are two different things, so this is not the same as using show material where it’s totally apparent and goes without saying that it’s not original material.) So here, too, artists gained an unfair advantage through deception, and for them this strategy worked. To this day they’re still benefitting from the fruits of that deception. And just like Drawponies, they didn’t come forward until someone else called them out.

If the ‘brony community’ was as noble in principle as they’d like to see themselves, then those animators would have received as much flame as Drawponies now did.
And if they applied the same standards to Drawponies that they applied to others, then Equestria Daily would continue publishing Drawponies’ material, but only his original works. … Sounds unthinkable? Unacceptable? That’s because money.

Start caring for others not because you have a vested interest to do so, but because it is right.

Beware of imagined people-power

There’s that saying that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.
Well, with all the activism growing in the world, of the people’s voice being heard and all that, a new challenge arises.

Because those movements are challenging powerful interest groups, those groups will try various approaches for securing their power. And one really clever method that is likely applied from the very top is along the lines of the saying:

The most hopelessly enslaved are those who falsely believe to be free.

What I call “worldsaving bread&circuses” would be one example of this, and another one could be, and I will mention it for elaboration of my point:

Net neutrality.

I read an article about it, talking about it being likely to be preserved in the USA, and the article itself, unaware of its implications, contained some warning signs: It mentioned that net neutrality has the support of president Obama, some democratic allies in politics as well as various big telecommunications corporations. So apparently there are some in the business who believe that, after weighing possible pros and cons, net neutrality is their preferrable way.

So if net neutrality ends up being preserved … How do we know the popular activism had any say in that?
Tricky one, isn’t it? All you can do is believe it did, unless you have damn well documented every chain of cause and effect. A decision being made that happens to match the preferences of the people isn’t evidence of causation.

Studies have been made about US politics that draw a picture of the people ultimately having virtually no say at all on what decisions are being made, so that’s certainly cause for heightened vigilance and scrutiny.

This is an urge for more activism, but not the blind kind. You gotta be smart and not hastily jump on any feeling of triumph or power. It is a character weakness based in your ego that will be exploited in order to deceive you. Just like people’s lack of purpose in life and falling-out with traditional religion made them vulnerable to aforementioned tales of being heroes and saviors in the context of the modern armageddon prophecy of global warming. Too many people put more importance on believing they are making a difference than on knowing for sure they actually do. It’s egoistical, really. Personal convenience. Soothing your conscience. Selling of indulgences. And when your self-deception is challenged, you will condemn those who actually care about the result as pessimists or call them much worse, revealing that the whole time you’ve really just cared about yourself.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but you can be an activist for social justice and still be a mere pawn of big business, in ignorance or outright denial of the massive human suffering you might be causing.