tv Question Time CSPAN May 8, 2016 9:40pm-10:01pm EDT
does the prime minister, as an aston villa supporter -- my commiserations to him on their season - agree that, in politics as well as in football, when people make a promise, they should keep it? prime minister cameron: i absolutely agree. i have been watching everything gary lineker has said since, and he is not quite answering the question -- something that, of course, no one ever gets away with in this house. i welcome what the right hon. gentleman has said. obviously, i hope it is just the start of him joining the blue team. speaker: order. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
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announcer: next, internet activist and blogger ethan zuckerman talked about civic participation and the role technology has in shaping social norms. he spoke to students at right is universally -- at rice university. this is one hour and 15 minutes. ethan: i want to tell you a little bit about where i'm coming from and how that informs some of the work that i'm doing at the moment. i teach at the m.i.t. media lab, which is one of the stranger academic institutions in the world, really the only rule behind the m.i.t. media lab is that you have to be working on inventing the future and you have to be studying something that nobody else is studying. my colleague at the top of the screen there used to be one of the top rock climbers in the world, ended up losing both of his legs below the knee in a climbing accident, and went on to become an amazing researcher in biomechanical limbs. below him is a designer, who
looks for inspiration in natural patterns and builds materials and buildings and services that look like organisms. my work is not nearly this , but it is sometimes a lot more global and more colorful. i studied civic media -- i study civic media, the idea that by making media we can change the world. the work i have been doing is with a group called global voices, which basically looks for people in developing nations who are writing about their country in a way that the rest of the world tends not to know about. there are pakistanis who are talking about their country not in terms of islamic fundamentalism, but in terms of science and technology, and people talking about west africa not in terms of poverty, but in terms of economic opportunity. and because this is the work that i do, i get to meet with
people in amazing, different places. this is a photo from september of last year. i was hanging out in the capital of ghana, akra. i was hanging out with a bunch of bloggers, because that's what you do when you study media for a living, and i was particularly interested to meet this group of people, mostly because i really wanted to meet the funny looking guy in the red hat. i had been reading the guy in the red hat. i had been reading him because he's a comedian and essayist and one of the most successful .olitical organizers in ghana more to the point, he had been very involved with organizing an up-and-coming social movement in ghana. ghana talk to you about for a moment. ghana is a country in west africa, independent since 1967, quite impoverished for about 40 years, and recently has turned things around. it's a now middle income country. it's actually a lovely place to
go and visit. there are lots and lots of people working in high tech, working in management, which is to say there are a lot of people who have cars, air conditioners, televisions. this is not a nation of stereotypical african huts. this is a modern, urban nation. and as a result, it really stinks when they don't have electric power, and that is happening a lot right now, both because the nation has gone very, very wealthy, and also because of climate change, they get most of their electricity from hydropower. the river is very low because the ring cycle has changed. is "on/off."ds to that's what happens to the power all the time. if you are going -- living in akra, this is driving you nuts. this has become the political movement. people are now getting together and driving to protests, holding up kerosene lanterns, because
this is what they need to use for like to read with -- for light to read with when the power goes off. if you look at their shirt, it # -- must stop. my friend in the red hat has been organizing marches for 5000 to 10,000 people getting together on the outskirts of a crawl -- of akra and marching into the center of town to say to the government, "look, you need to get your act together. we can't live without electric power." i'm watching this. i'm really interested in it. like a good social scientist i what's the best tool for political organizing here in ghana? when you are organizing these things, when you are doing politics, are you doing it through facebook, through twitter? is it whatsapp? is it networking, people one-on-one --
he says, "whoa, i'm not political." what? 5000 peopleanized to march through the center of the capital city to protest electricity, and you're going to tell me you are not political? in a lot of countries where i work, when you say i'm not ilitical, what it means is, don't want to end up in prison, i don't want to have trouble with the ruling party. but that's not ghana. ghana is an open society. according to reporters without borders, they have a much more free and open press than we do in the united states, which is a little bit embarrassing. so that's not the reason why. the reason he wanted to tell me that he was not political was, he did not want everyone else in the room to think that he was an idiot. and that's what's happening in politics in ghana right now. people who are strongly affiliated with the two major political parties are basically at least by the
younger generation, as wasting their time. late 20's,y in his he literally will not allow himself to be photographed near someone who is strongly associated with one of these political parties for fear that he will lose his credibility. someone will think he represents one or the other. someone with think that he is someone who is involved with organized politics, which is seen in ghana as being so ineffective, such a dirty game, and so far removed from what's actually happening on the ground , like the electricity shortage, that he simply does not want to be associated with it. i came back from ghana, and i was thinking about this, because i fear this all over the world. i go to india and i talked to anticorruption activists who are trying to track people taking bribes online. they say, "i'm not political."
i talked to people in organized -- people in russia organizing support, lending medicine, child care, support -- not political. back to the united states, you start hearing some of the same stuff. to the extent that these two gentlemen have anything in common, one of the things that senator sanders and mr. trump have in common is that they are both very attached to the idea that they are removed from politics as usual, that they are somehow separate from the institution of politics as we know it. but let me say, it's a little harder for bernie to make this case than donald. he has been a representative, senator. he has been in washington for an awful long time, but he's certainly been an unusual figure as the one socialist within those houses of assembly. ronald trump probably has a --itimate complaint -- claim donald trump probably has a legitimate claim to being an
outsider to institutional politics. institutions more generally are what i think we are now moving away from, and moving to a culture of sharp and extreme mistrust for them. one simple example of this is just looking at how we think about politicians in the united states. this is a survey that comes from gallup. it basically asks people, do you expect people in these professions to behave honestly and ethically? you can see the nurses do very well, police officers over the less well. we start getting into lower territory as we move down. once we get down to 8%, we have part salespeople -- car salespeople, members of congress, and telemarketers. the only people who come out lower, at 7%, are lobbyists. once you start getting into money and politics, we get to the point where we simply do not expect very much from people getting into these businesses. this has been happening for a
long time. this is a very long, slow change in how american society is structured. this is a compilation done by the pew research center, asking americans the question "do you trust the government in washington to do the right thing most or all of the time?" this number peaked in 1964 a 77%. this number now runs between 12% and 19% routinely. you can see it has been a long, gradual slide. it had a real come back around the year 2000. i was born in 1973. the only time this question has been in positive territory in my 43 year lifetime, the only time that 53% of americans have said they trust the government to do the right thing is just before we invaded iraq, with just goes to show what we know.
for the most part, what we have seen is a shift away from assuming that are government is going to be -- that our government is going to be acting in our interest to a moment where recent don't expect that to happen -- to a moment where we simply don't expect that to happen. when you poll americans and ask them about trust in large institutions of all sorts, that level of trust is falling sharply over time. when you look at high trust institutions in our society, the two that most people say they trust all or most of the time are the military and small business. this is strange when you think about a nation like egypt. after throwing out every other institution, they ended up with military. this is a chilling statistic. i've done that regulations. the military and small business are the only institutions where we have increased in trust. we trust the military now more than we did in vietnam.
everybody else has fallen. often quite far. we might understand the church and organized religion falling, from the catholic church -- religion falling, from the catholic church scandal. we've seen the medical system fall sharply. thanks, public schools, organized labor, newspapers and the press -- banks, public schools, organized labor, newspapers and the press, we trust these institutions less and less. the simple rule of thumb is, if we cannot see an individual human being, if we see a structure, if we see an entity, rather than a person, for the most part, as americans, we are shifting to the point where we don't trust it anymore. and it's not just us. company,a global pr has been running a similar survey around the world. they are finding these levels of institutional trust are dropping year on year.
the places they are not dropping are somewhat concerning. china, singapore, united arab .mirates it's not falling in the best open societies, which is to say scandinavia. it is falling in the most economically successful closed societies. if you are in a closed a proxy --closed government, it's worth asking the question, why is this? what happened? i have gases. it's possible that -- i have guesses. it's possible that the sitting impeachment -- that the impeachment of a sitting president had a lot to do with this. systemic attacks in the u.s. and
u.k. on the idea that government could do good. we had a real shift in the 1980's, what a lot of people refer to as neoliberalism, suggesting that, generally speaking, governments are going to be significantly less effective than the private sector. when you have government officials standing up and telling you the government can do no good, therefore you should not fund it, eventually, you end up at a point where the government can, in fact, do no good. it's a bit of a self fulfilling. we had public officials who have embarrassed themselves, damaged the dignity of the office. i'm doing my best to be bipartisan. there are arguments that the clinton administration caused as much harm to the institution of the presidency as some of the others here. i think, more than anything else, it has to do with actual systemic failure. i think for a lot of the people that i know, watching the u.s. government, watching this incredibly wealthy and powerful
nation failed to take care of our own during the aftermath of hurricane katrina was the moment of realization that this system wasn't working and that the safety nets we thought we could trust simply are not ones we can trust anymore. i think for people who might be closer to the right that the 2007-2008 banking crisis was another moment that short of -- sort of shook people to the core, a realization that these systems that we thought were too big to fail, that we thought had safeguards and different ways of counteracting negative effects, in fact were surprisingly fragile and needed a lot of help to recover from systemic fraud and abuse. i'm a media scholar. i end up thinking that the press has a lot to do with it, and that ending up with sort of an unshackled press in the era of watergate looks to be the start of this shift, the shift really
starts 1970's. and certainly the shift on taking this very close look at the nixon administration has part of to do with it. the fact that figures like edward snowden are capable of putting incredible revelations out in the press and have a widespread effect probably also has a way of undermining some of the opacity and some of the power of institutions. so, what does this mean? one of the first things that it means is that it is a real uphill battle for people who are strongly associated with existing institutions of government. it was amazing to watch all the good and the great of the gop stand up and support marco rubio to absolutely no effect. if you start thinking about it, if you sort of accept my theory that we are at an anti-institutionalist moment, an
insurrectionist moment, a moment at which people are incredibly suspicious of any institution, there is really nothing worse than having mitt romney show up and say, what you really ought to do right now is vote for marco rubio. this probably represents a really tough uphill path for hillary clinton, who is someone who has built her career through the institutions of the senate, the institutions of the state department, working her way up to a position of incredible prominence and experience, but at a moment where we seem extremely mistrustful of the very institutions that brought her to the fore. but i'm not actually concerned about their program -- their problems. i'm actually really concerned about our problems. here is the problem i'm really concerned about. if you have deep, abiding mistrust of institution, almost everything we know how to do is -- do as civic actors doesn't work anymore. the main two things we know how
to do in conventional civics are to elect good and wise leaders to pass laws that -- laws, to carry them out, and to enforce them. or, when we feel like those people aren't listening to us, to show up, to march, to make our presence known in physical space, to demand change in one fashion or another. so, here is the problem. when you have a 9% approval rating in congress, when you have a branch of government essentially saying we are not planning on doing our job for the next year until we have an election, what you have -- when you have six successive -- when you have successive congresses setting a record for being the least productive of all time, it's very challenging to present -- to convince people they will be able to make change in the world by passing laws and having them carried out. and if you don't believe that washington right now is capable of making major change in the world, it takes out this other route of protest, which has been so powerful over the years.
this is an image from the march on washington. but the challenge, when you end up at a level of very high mistrust, is that it is a march on washington. it is designed to persuade washington to do something and behave differently than it currently is. and if you are at a point where it is very, very difficult for washington to act at all, both of these conventional paths for specific change end up failing you. i've got good news. there are other ways people are finding ways to do civic. i want to talk about two of them. they are not the only two, but they are the two that i feel like i understand the best at this point. i'm doing a lot of research on it. we are doing a lot of interviews and a lot of reading. these are to where i feel like i can give you a little bit of a glimpse of what people are doing going forward. so, this guy on the screen