Last week Nick Margerrison posted a follow-up to his inspiring essay, The Global Awakening published last year on Disinfo.com. In Improve Yourself First, he reminds us of the importance of inner development as a means to avoid violent revolutions which replace one form of tyranny with another. He also makes the connection between today’s internet-based self-improvement movement and how printed culture facilitated the age of enlightenment. In his words: “the most important revolutionary aspect of the printed page: it allowed people to learn how to improve themselves and change the way they thought. This is the driving force behind any meaningful long term social change ever experienced in any society“. For these reasons, authoritarians love censorship, controlling what people think and controlling how to think.
Based on trends he has observed, he writes “the entire notion of a hierarchical dictatorship is coming apart” in part because “leaders lead by controlling information and the communications revolution makes this impossible.” Furthermore, “victory in the oncoming ‘war on information’ is beyond their power, no matter how hard they try, just like the ‘war on drugs’. The Western World’s massive financial difficulties limit their ambitions for now but make no mistake, the internet is causing them to lose their grip on reality.“
As an antidote, he encourages the practice of questioning ideas requiring others to follow orders and suggestions (even his own). In other words, thinking critically and independently, which an uncensored internet facilitates. The true path for a revolution in Margerrison’s view begins with self improvement and learning “not what to think but how to think…The biggest most important changes that you can make to your world are the ones you can make right now to yourself and the way you think.” In his long-term view, the more people who take up the challenge of self improvement, the less unlikely the wider changes needed in society will be. By making such personal efforts in myriad ways, “we might well all move in different directions but the definition of the word “revolution” will move away from something which involves violence and brings long term suffering.”