[Please excuse any errors or poor writing in this post, as well as the tone. I don’t have time to do much re-reading of basic thoughts I want to get out there these days, but I still would like them out of my brain while I have them so I can concentrate on passing the bar (not bloody likely…) Thanks…]
I am thankful for incompetence of the political and social elites at control. But it might not always be this way, and we are seeing invasions of privacy and even our dignity as the state grows. Some equate it with the warfare state, others with the centrally-planned economic state. It doesn’t matter. The point is that very few of us seem to care about it or want to do anything about it. Technology has linked the world in incredible ways. To me, the internet is an amoral force that can be used for good or bad, one that all of us should be wary to use it in the right way. Unfortunately, the internet and technology in general can also be used to usher in new ethical dilemmas. How exposed are each of us who have a Facebook profile? Google logs all of our searches while having secret relationships with government entities whose existences are geared at ferreting out anti-state apparatus. Should we stop using Google or is this a part of the new frontier? Maybe having a blog is opening me up to more occupational, relational, or even legal criticism than I want. The internet has left us exposed in ways never contemplated. But where some of us absent-mindedly put ourselves out there on the internet, there are those who would use the connectedness of the shrinking world to control and invade our lives. Corporatism (the teaming up of government and private companies) has always been a practice that endangers all of our freedoms and lifestyles. We saw it in the economic collapse, and will continue to see more of it as the economy unwinds from its artificial manipulations. But another type of corporatism is brewing, one whose intentions are far less noble than one trying to stimulate the economy to make money or “help the poor.” The police-industrial complex, if you will, is getting downright scary. Not because it is dangerous (yet), but simply because it exists. A few examples might help to clarify where I derive this increasing threat to freedom, privacy, and rule of law…
- The government can use GPS technology to track your movements in your car, and the SCOTUS has ruled that you have no reasonable expectation of privacy, essentially because anyone could follow you around. Further, private companies are aiding in this quest – phone companies in particular. Mine submitted over 8 million points of GPS data to the state recently.
- Comments on popular forums that point a cynical eye at the War on Terror can lead to FBI agents putting a tracker on your car (and logging your internet’s every move, for all we know).
- Any jokes about violence are taken to the extreme, to the point that a single Twitter post led to a man being banned for life from flying.
- The FBI has lobbied for (and probably succeeded in obtaining) the ability to track your internet use and tap your phone calls almost whenever it pleases.
- The FBI uses fake accounts on Facebook and other social media sites to plug for the government (luckily it sounds like they suck at it, but REALLY? propaganda like this sounds like something from Nazi Germany) and ferret out suspects of crimes and terrorism.
- The FBI can use the mic on your cell phone, even when it is off(!) to monitor what you are saying or doing.
- Rumors abound that the government is ready to ban Skype unless the designers give them a backdoor to listen in on your conversations more easily.
- The U.S. and other world governments seek further control over the internet, the most democratic entity ever to exist on the planet, one that gives the average man an incredible amount of power. Dissent and accountability is increasingly very carefully monitored, and good luck trying to keep a secret that the government doesn’t want you to have. You are randomly subject to searches on the government, but remember, it is “for your own protection.”
- The government has sought the most powerful private companies’ aid in recording the entire internet. Why do they need to do so, one might wonder…
- The government tracks your credit card information without warrant or a warrant.
- Some people think everything is being tracked, and claim there is proof that your phone calls from the past 5 years are all in a database in some government facility.
[Think about all of the information that is on computers that have access to the internet these days. Your bills, your prescriptions, your bank records (about which the SCOTUS has ruled that you have no reasonable expectation of privacy), your emails, your thoughts, evidence of what you have been doing and who you love, and it goes on and on. Can you guess if there is any agenda behind all of this governmental pushing of Net Neutrality and the P.R.O.T.E.C.T. I.P. Act after seeing all of this?] Pretty much all of the above information had to be wrested from the hands of the government via lawsuit or legislation aimed at protection of rights. And to think that I found it all with only a few clicks of a mouse… Meaning that there is so much we don’t know about what goes on concerning how closely we are being watched. Even so, the inefficiency of government means the administration of justice is a joke. You may someday find yourself in trouble for something you had no idea was a crime, or you may commit something heinous and never be addressed by the authorities. It’s a cruel joke of incompetence that can still put you in prison though, or ensure that even if you are Nelson Mandela, you aren’t removed from the terror list until 2008. The inefficiency and incompetence in the government is the only thing keeping your rights and freedoms safe, as far as I can tell. Lord knows it is not for lack of trying to seize things they should not have their hands on that the government has failed to make us all its drones by now. And to think that the FBI is getting MORE power (LOTS more; read it and tell me the level of disregard and disrespect for the rights and wishes of the average man are not thoroughly trampled underfoot, if you can…), and internal memos that essentially say “don’t worry about that silly old document the Constitution.”
And so it will continue, and I don’t know if any of us can do anything to stop it until it is too late. Poorly-crafted legislation attempts are made with increasing frequency that gives us less and less power, power over our lives that should accompany residing in a free and democratic state. Just three days ago, Tennessee tried to ban the posting of all offensive images online. How many times has each of us violated that with a religious image, personal picture, or visual political joke over email? But it is never enough. “Give us more power!” the political elite demand:
Bill Clinton – the examplar of truth in modern America – has proposed the establishment of a government “ministry of truth” – to be run by either the United States government or the United Nations – that would supervise the content of the Internet, requiring individuals and websites to conform to agency factual standards. Such a proposal is consistent with Hillary Clinton’s long-standing interest in establishing a government “gatekeeper” for the Internet; one that would prevent just anyone from putting their opinions out into the world.
Apart from the obvious 1st Amendment/fascist/1984 Orwellian/marketplace of ideas implications of such an offering – a discussion which, I trust, needs no explication on this website – I am partially encouraged by Clinton’s suggestion. It demonstrates just how desperately and feverishly the political Establishment must go in futilely trying to resist its own demise. Like the erstwhile USSR, the American Empire is in a terminal condition; some of its constituents actively considering secession and/or nullification alternatives to national (and even international) hegemony. It is not surprising, therefore, that Bill would propose a similar state-run system of mind-control with which Soviet officials sought refuge from the irresistible forces of change.
. . .
At all times, and in all places, those who desire to control the lives and property of their neighbors have been beset by the destabilizing character of open communication. Information – which Gregory Bateson defined as “differences that matter” – has long had a liberating influence. This is why the framers of the Constitution began the “Bill of Rights” with the 1st Amendment, embracing all then-known forms of communication. But the corporate-state owners of America cannot abide instability. They are firmly entrenched in maintaining the status quo, a condition synonymous with the nature of institutions. When an organization has become an end-in-itself (i.e., an institution) liberty becomes a form of entropy to be repressed. This is why no tyrannical regime has ever tolerated the liberty of individuals to speak and act as they choose. Individual liberty – facilitated by the openness of the Internet and other technologies – is what the owners most fear, because it vitalizes human energies to pursue an ever-changing multiplicity of ends. Younger generations can distinguish the cornucopia of options available on the Internet from the suffocating atmosphere of the institutional order and, in so doing, are attracted to less-structured social systems that weaken state power.
If Bill Clinton was truly desirous of enhancing the pursuit of truth, he might propose dismantling the agencies and practices of the nation-state that not only help to perpetuate the lies upon which the established order is dependent, but restrain those who would speak the truth. The Internet draws its energies from an awareness, by so many millions of people, that the corporate-state power structure is underlain by a labyrinth of lies, deceit, contradictions, and the generation of self-serving conflicts among people. Those who frequent the Internet for news, policy analyses, and opinions not to be found in the Establishment-owned and run mainstream media, do so out of the same skeptical sense expressed by the late George Carlin who declared: “I never believe anything the government tells me.
Bill could begin his campaign not by attacking the most fruitful system presently in operation for the pursuit of truth and understanding, but by going after his master’s mechanisms of control. Wouldn’t truth be enhanced by the state ceasing the practice of classifying the record of its deeds as “secrets” to be kept from the American people? Wouldn’t his attack on such practices allow him to regain some semblance of the credibility he lost when he looked straight into the eyes of the TV camera and assured us that he “did not have sex with that woman”? Why doesn’t this man rise to the defense of Private Bradley Manning – who sits in a prison awaiting a trial he will probably never have – for allegedly helping to make public documents that Clinton’s cronies preferred to keep from the rest of us? He might also undertake a “Fair Play for Julian Assange Committee” – “leftists” love hiding behind the word “fair” – for using the Internet to help the world develop a more “truthful” base for understanding the lies that inhere in the machinations of realpolitik. After all, isn’t Wikileaks but one of the many Internet users who are doing what Bill says he would like to see done, namely, pursuing truth through countervailing systems of inquiry?
Perhaps Bill could turn his attentions to such agencies as the FCC, by proposing its termination. Hillary was correct: the Internet does allow anyone to put his or her ideas out into world, but the FCC was created – and has been maintained – for the purpose of keeping broadcast technology safely within the hands of those who do the Establishment’s bidding. Again, so much of the energy enjoyed by the Internet arises from a growing popular insistence that the “Newspeak” regularly presented by the mainstream media be challenged. As Noam Chomsky reminds us, it is not the purpose of the mainstream media to question the corporate-state arrangement. That task has fallen to the Internet, a system the Clintons – and their masters – want so much to destroy.
Bill might also be inclined to go after the mainstream newspapers, by fostering legislation requiring them to provide alternative factual reporting and editorials. Nor would he be expected to keep the churches free of the reaches of his “Ministry of Truth.” What about a requirement that pulpits be opened to those of differing religious/anti-religious persuasions? Such a “ministry” would take on a whole new meaning, would it not? And can we count on Bill to support Ron Paul’s efforts to open up, to audit, the secrets of the Federal Reserve and, in the process, inject “truth” into our understanding of the nature of this agency?
I can imagine the parrots of the mainstream media chirping their support for Clinton’s efforts to destroy the autonomous and spontaneous nature of the Internet. After all, with viewers and subscribers to the established media in sharp decline, they would find it in their self-interest to eliminate a competition they have neither the talent nor the disposition to emulate. I can imagine the cable channels’ assortment of on-camera David Dullards and Amelia Airheads endorsing Bill’s proposal with the plea “how else are we going to maintain a free society?”
Bill might even go so far as to offer up a motto for his Ministry of Truth. Borrowed from Mark Twain, these words might be inscribed on its seal: “Truth is the most valuable thing we have. Let us economize it.”
This isn’t to scare you. But you need to be informed. Keep your eye on Ars Technica. Vote for candidates that value your freedom, not this state of fear and tyranny. This is not something the average person can afford to just brush off…