It has been over ten years since I read Fahrenheit 451, but I remember towards the end, when the few survivors of the cultural apocalypse sit around, trading a few verses of poetry with each other, because they have to hold on to every scrap of culture and literature they have. Even in a science fiction setting, even after hundreds of years of cultural oppression, I don't think information or stories will ever be that rare. I am a incorrigible walker, and I've seen dozens and scores and hundreds of books, tossed by the side of the road. True, some were soaked through and had slugs crawling around in their margins, but it is not like the knowledge isn't always going to be out there, hidden behind the butterscotch bushes down by the railroad tracks.
It is not that there is somehow a shortage of knowledge or information out there. Again, with our weapon analogy, when you have knowledge, but it isn't organized and discipline, you have a mob, not a militia, and certainly not an army. It is not a member of being part of a clique that knows secrets: it is being able to somehow execute a plan in regards to that. It is not about cooking up some shit in the basement, it is about making a recipe that everyone can follow.
To return to one of our most pressing examples of where knowledge seems to be lacking, we have seen almost five years of perhaps the most ignorant president in American history, with perhaps the only contender being his cousin. And the information, and knowledge of his mistakes, and the mistakes surrounding Iraq for the past twenty years, are hardly a secret to everyone. It is not like we don't have a picture of Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam Hussein. But for some reason, these things aren't dealt with. To use another example (that ties into this same issue), Americans have had documentary proof, for 110 years now, that Turkey massacred Armenians. And for 110 years, various people have tried to get the United States government to publicly acknolwedge this, with no final result.
In Mencius, Book V, Chapter III, it is written: "Tyrants and Corrupt Officials always avoid settled boundaries". That is why Bush has failed and will continue to fail. For all his bluster about spreading democracy, he has not put his word that he will refuse to prop up undemocratic nations. Its not the knowledge, it is settling on it, and sticking to it, that it is the important thing. That is why it is also written in Mencius, Book IV, Chapter IX, that "the mistakes of the ancient rulers were like eclipses of the sun and moon, there for everyone to see", but that "these days, the the rulers just persevere to the bitter end, and just invent excuses". It is not just having knowledge, it is making that knowledge public, and something that people must acknowledge and act on, that is the vital thing.
As you all know, of course, fixing knowledge can be difficult: there are simple discrepancies in facts, and then there is the myriad readings of people's intentions, and plans, and meanings, and there is the neverending stream of new paradigms and cultural shifts to consider. That is why we shouldn't, even if we could, state that someone is just wrong and censor all their further actions and speech. But we also can't just let the cloud of knowledge randomly drift around, with no way to draw conclusions or executions from it.
We have, here, actually solved the problem to a great extent. We have a way to judge people's opinions, and their readings of the facts. But this doesn't stop further discussion, and except in the most trying of circumstances, people don't get censored for having unpopular opinions. Mistakes are made here, and corrected. What e2 lacks, of course, since it is a virtual community, is executive power. But if you look at the way facts, knowledge, opinions, and personalities are evaluated on e2, it is actually a good template for other communities.