Archive for the ‘1984 was a Warning not a Blueprint’ tag
Fascists have been trying to make inroads into libertarian circles. That has lead a lot of libertarians to state that libertarianism is anti-fascist. I’m beginning to think that fascism isn’t the real problem for libertarianism, pragmatism is.
As I touched on yesterday, pragmatism has been leading some libertarians to side with fascists because they’re offering a “lighter” alternative to communists “full” socialism. I’ve also seen a few libertarians passing around this article, which is basically saying that libertarians should support universal basic income because it’s better than the current system of welfare. And, of course, I’ve seen some libertarians passing around this article, which argues that supporting universal healthcare is fiscally responsible.
These are just a few cases where I’ve seen libertarians argue for pragmatism. And they make me understand how Ludwig von Mises felt when he was attending a meeting of classical liberals and called them all a bunch of socialists as he stormed after they started talking about pragmatism:
When I hear libertarians siding with fascists, supporting universal basic income, and supporting universal healthcare I can’t help but call them a bunch of socialists because they are expressing pragmatism, which is a socialist ideology.
The problem with pragmatism is that it always requires compromising principles. While some libertarians might think that compromising their principles, at least if it’s only a little bit, is fine so long as it moves some libertarian ideas ahead, doing so actually forwards the goals of socialists in two ways. First, the compromise means at least some of their agenda was also moved ahead. Second, the compromise means that they were able to get some libertarians to bend on one thing, which gives them the knowledge to get them to bend on other things. The first is obvious, the second is sinister.
Getting people to compromise on their principles requires finding the right button to push. Usually the button is fear. If you can find something that somebody is so afraid of that they’re willing to set aside their principles to make themselves feel safer, you’ve won. In fact, that was the whole point of the Room 101 scene in Nineteen Eighty-Four. If, for example, somebody fears communism so greatly that they’re willing to side with fascists, the communists know that they can manipulate the actions of that person by exploiting that fear.
If you’re willing to compromise your principles then you’re susceptible to manipulation. If you’re susceptible to manipulation then your opponents manipulate you.
Who will protect the people from murderers without a government, is a common question asked by statists. Who will protect the people from the State, is a common question asked by anarchists.
Of the two dangers, individual murders or the State, which is more concerning? The State because it is capable of mass murder:
Government use of force against ethnic groups is far more effective than private use of force against these same groups. I remember that when I first heard about Hitler at about age eight, and asked my mother who he was, I was told that 15 years earlier he had used tanks and other weapons to try to take over the world. I pictured a nut with some tanks he had bought coming down our highway and invading our small town in rural Canada. I didn’t understand at the time why Hitler was such a threat; I had been raised to believe that the police would protect us. Imagine the shock and sudden surge of overwhelming fear I had when, years later, I learned that Hitler employed the police and, indeed, ran a whole government. That was scary. Even as a child I knew that the government, any government, had more power than anyone who was not in the government, and that when the government passed and enforced a law, you couldn’t legally fight back. That’s when the true terror of Hitler dawned on me.
In the 20th century alone Democide, the act of a government murdering its own people, killed more people than war. A lot more people. But combat deaths should be included as well for the purpose of this post since almost every war in the 20th and 21st centuries has been started and fought by governments.
Nongovernmental murderers aren’t even a blip on the radar when compared to governments. If protection is something you’re truly concerned about then the elimination of government should be your primary mission.
Denying people listed on government terrorist watch lists the ability to own firearms has been a pursuit of gun control zealots in recent years. They’re not fans of due process and foolishly believe that the government had good cause to add people to those lists. But we keep finding examples of people being added to those lists who have no business appearing on them. Take this three-month old baby for example:
A three-month old baby was summoned to the US embassy in London for an interview after his grandfather mistakenly identified him as a terrorist.
Harvey Kenyon-Cairns had been due to fly to Orlando in Florida for his first overseas holiday, until his grandfather Paul Kenyon made the error on a visa waiver form.
On the part of the Esta form which reads “Do you seek to engage in or have you ever engaged in terrorist activities, espionage, sabotage, or genocide?” Kenyon ticked yes instead of no.
He only learned of his error when his grandson’s travel was refused. “I couldn’t believe that they couldn’t see it was a genuine mistake and that a three-month-old baby would be no harm to anyone,” said the 62-year-old.
I’m not expert but I can’t imagine a three-month old child having the ability to engage in terrorist activities, espionage, sabotage, or genocide. A quick look at the applicant’s date of birth would have lead any sensible person to realize that the checkbox was obviously checked in error. But governments don’t care about common sense, it’s all about the process to them.
Furthermore, having that question is just plain stupid. Anybody with intent of engaging in those activities isn’t going to alert authorities to their intentions on a government form. After all, people who are willing to break more serious laws probably won’t be dissuaded by charges of lying on a government form. The only purpose such a question on a visa application serves is to add a field where an innocent person can make a stupid mistake.
Government lists are horribly unreliable because there are so many ways to get on them and almost no oversight when it comes to adding names to them. That’s why relying on government lists for any form of punishment is stupid. Something as simple as checking the wrong box on a form might get you added to some watch list.
One form of propaganda I’m getting tired of is character assassination. Whenever somebody runs afoul with police officers the tough on crime folks and the media begin performing a thorough background check. Their goal is to find something, anything, that can be used to justify the actions of the police officers.
David Dao, who was roughed up by airport police on behest of United Airlines, is now in the media’s crosshairs and, not surprisingly, they found some dirt on him:
Dao was trying to regain his medical license when he worked at the practice from August 2015 to August 2016, Nadeau said. Dao had surrendered his medical license in February 2005 after being convicted of drug-related offenses, according to documents filed with the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure last June. Broadcast and print coverage of Dao’s arrest, conviction and sentencing made his name familiar to some Kentuckians.
What?! Mr. Dao was convicted of a drug-related offense 12 years ago? Well that changes everything! He totally had that beating on United coming!
The absurdity of this practice is difficult to overstate. What does something that happened 12 years ago have to do with the beating Mr. Dao received last weekend? Nothing. But it gives the tough on crime people and propagandists something to latch onto to justify their view of officer infallibility.
And this practice becomes more absurd every year. At one point stories might be run if a victim of police brutality had a history of violence. Then stories might be run if a victim had a history of drug use. Now stories are run when somebody was convicted of a crime over a decade ago. At this rate it’s only a matter of time until the media starts playing Degrees of Separation from Hitler.
“Up next, on CNN, we present a chilling story. Our researchers have discovered that the unarmed man who was gunned down by police after he was handcuffed and placed in the back of a squad car only had 37 degrees of separation from Adolf Hitler!” Mark my words, we’re going to start seeing stories like this (although, perhaps, not exactly this) run when people have been brutalized by police officers.
The United States spent tens of millions of dollars on Tomahawk missiles so it could totally fail at destroying a Syrian airport. Supposedly the operation was done in retaliation for the Syrian government using chemical weapons on rebel fighters. You see, under no circumstance will the United States tolerate human rights violations and war crimes! The might of the United States military will be brought to bear against anybody who crosses such a line!
Unless, of course, the human rights violations and war crimes are occurring in a country the United States has no vested interest in:
More than 100 gay men have been detained in concentration camp-style prisons in the Russian region of Chechnya, according to reports by local newspapers and human rights organisations.
The arrests are being made as part of a widespread anti-LGBT purge in the area. The prison camps are the first to be established for LGBT people since the Second World War.
It’s difficult to claim the moral high ground when it’s obvious your morality is based entirely on your interests. People start to think you’re not sincere when you selectively invoke your morality as justification for your actions.
But morality to a government is nothing more than propaganda. It’s pulled out and cited when it’s convenient to forward one of the government’s causes but then buried again once it has served that purpose. When you see a government cite moral grounds for actions know that you’re being propagandized. The actions aren’t being done for moral reasons, the actions were being done for entirely selfish reasons and morality just happened to be a convenient excuse that sounded far better than greed.
In case you sleeping when it happened, last night the United States decided to dump tens of millions of dollars of Tomahawk missiles into a Syrian airbase:
The US has carried out a missile strike against a Syrian air base in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack on a rebel-held town.
Fifty-nine Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired from two US Navy ships in the Mediterranean. At least six people are reported to have been killed.
According to Wikipedia, the cost of a Tomahawk missile is $1.59 millions. The United States launched 59 of them, which comes to a total costs of $93.8 million. So far at least six people were killed, which brings the cost to kill ratio to $15.635 million per kill. At this rate Syria just needs to wait for the United States to bankrupt itself.
More importantly though, I’d like to welcome back the anti-war left! After eight years of mysterious absence I saw them popping back in last night. They were too busy decrying the actions of Mr. Trump to answer my question about where they were for the last eight years but I’m guessing they were on vacation or something and they’ll get around to posting pictures of their trip soon.
Most governments make some attempt to appear to have the people’s best interests in mind. These attempts usually take the form of giving the people the illusion of having power over the government by granting them permission to petition, vote, and publicly criticize the government. But when a government feels that its power is being challenged it reveals its true nature. Venezuela is in the midsts of economic collapse. Even basic necessities like food and toilet paper are hard to come by. This has made the people unhappy with the government and that has caused the government to feel threatened. In response it has taken its gloves off:
On Thursday the Venezuelan Supreme Court seized power from the opposition-led legislature, a move that could essentially allow it to write laws itself.
The court justified the move by saying the National Assembly’s lawmakers were “in a situation of contempt” after allegations of electoral irregularities by three opposition lawmakers during the 2015 elections.
The move is the latest example of the socialist President Maduro tightening his grip on power, which critics say he has been doing for months, amid a deepening economic crisis in the country.
The socialist government has finally had enough of its troublesome opposition. With a court ruling the illusion of power, the National Assembly, has been rendered irrelevant. As you can imagine, this isn’t setting well with the people but if they don’t quiet down the next step the government will likely take is unleashing its police and military forces on anybody who dares question it.
This is the true nature of every government.
A lot of people here in the United States are flipping out because the rulers are voting to allow Internet Service Providers (ISP) to sell customer usage data:
A US House committee is set to vote today on whether to kill privacy rules that would prevent internet service providers (ISPs) from selling users’ web browsing histories and app usage histories to advertisers. Planned protections, proposed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that would have forced ISPs to get people’s consent before hawking their data – are now at risk. Here’s why it matters.
It amazes me that more people seem to be upset about private companies selling their usage information for profit than providing their usage data to law enforcers so the wrath of the State’s judicial system can be brought upon them. Personally, I’m far more concerned about the latter than the former. But I digress.
This vote demonstrates the futility of political solutions. At one point the privacy laws were put into place by the State. The process of getting those laws put into place probably involved a lot of begging and kowtowing from the serfs. But Congress and the presidency have been shuffled around and the new masters disagree with what the former masters did so all of that begging and kowtowing was for nothing.
The problem with political solutions is that they’re temporary. Even if you can get the current Congress and president to pass laws that will solve your particular problems, it’s only a matter of time until Congress and the presidency changes hands and undoes the laws you begged so hard to have passed.
If you want a problem solved you have to solve it yourself. In the case of Internet privacy, the best defense against snoopy ISPs is to utilize a foreign Virtual Private Network (VPN) provider that respects your privacy and is in a country that is difficult for domestic law enforcement to coerce. Using a VPN will deprive your ISP, and by extent domestic law enforcement, of your usage data.
If there’s one thing the State won’t tolerate, it’s disobedience:
Authorities are opening a federal criminal investigation into WikiLeaks’s publication of troves of documents detailing purported CIA hacking programs, CNN reported Wednesday.
The FBI and CIA will collaborate on the probe, according to CNN, which reported that it is focused on determining how the anti-secrecy organization obtained the documents and whether they were leaked by an employee or contractor.
Notice how the criminal investigation is being performed against WikiLeaks and not the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)? That shows you where the State’s priorities are. Much like when it went after Snowden instead of the National Security Agency (NSA), when the State is given a choice to go after criminals within its agencies or the people who blew the whistle on those criminals, it always chooses the latter.
Once again I must reiterate the point that the State doesn’t exist to protect the people, it exists to exploit the people and will go to any extent to do it.
There has been a lot of bad stories and comments about Vault 7, the trove of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) documents WikiLeaks recently posted. Claims that the CIA has broken Signal, can use any Samsung smart television to spy on people, and a whole bunch of other unsubstantiated or outright false claims have been circulating. Basically, idiots who speak before they think have been claiming that Vault 7 is proof that privacy is dead. But that’s not the case. The tools described in the Vault 7 leak appear to be aimed at targeted surveillance:
Perhaps a future cache of documents from this CIA division will change things on this front, but an admittedly cursory examination of these documents indicates that the CIA’s methods for weakening the privacy of these tools all seem to require attackers to first succeed in deeply subverting the security of the mobile device — either through a remote-access vulnerability in the underlying operating system or via physical access to the target’s phone.
As Bloomberg’s tech op-ed writer Leonid Bershidsky notes, the documentation released here shows that these attacks are “not about mass surveillance — something that should bother the vast majority of internet users — but about monitoring specific targets.”
The threats of mass surveillance and targeted government surveillance are very different. Let’s consider Signal. If the CIA had broken Signal it would be able to covertly collect Signal packets as they traveled from source to destination, decrypt the packets, and read the messages. This would enable mass surveillance like the National Security Agency (NSA) has been doing. But the CIA didn’t break Signal, it found a way to attack Android (most likely a specific version of Android). This type of attack doesn’t lend itself well to mass surveillance because it requires targeting specific devices. However, if the CIA wants to surveil a specific target then this attack works well.
Avoiding mass surveillance is much easier to deal with than defending yourself against an organization with effectively limitless funds and a massive military to back it up that specifically wants your head on a platter. But unlike mass surveillance, very few people have to actually deal with the latter. And so far the data released as part of Vault 7 indicates the surveillance tools the CIA has developed are aimed at targeted surveillance so you most likely won’t have to deal with them.
Privacy isn’t dead, at least so long as you’re not being specifically targeted by a three letter agency.