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Question Everything, Believe Nothing – Chapter One – Suspending Disbelief | Two Ice Floes

Question Everything, Believe Nothing – Chapter One – Suspending Disbelief | Two Ice Floes.

Where are the outer boundaries of our mental box, that comforting space where we ‘believe’ the uniquely individual ‘me’ can be found? What is the limit of our ability to think and perceive beyond our current ‘belief’ system, to think outside the lines of our own perceptional box? Can we ever locate a clearly defined line of demarcation where we cross over from all that ‘we’ believe is ‘me’ and where the herding ‘we’ bulls ‘us’ over?

Is ‘our’ belief system entirely ‘yours’ or is it for the most part indoctrinated into you by ‘our’ culture and those who directly or indirectly influence our culture, thus by extension ‘you’? Who, or more accurately, what are ‘you’ if very little of substance differentiates ‘you’ from ‘us’? In many ways this is a chicken or egg question and it appears that a decent method by which we may answer it is to work backwards and examine what is ‘belief’ and what it means for us to ‘believe’.

One of the ways we have been mentally, emotionally and spiritually hijacked is through our language, a concept brilliantly described in Orwell’s classic work ‘1984’. For many, the words ‘believe’ or ‘belief’ are seen as strictly religious or fantastical thinking, and certainly not for the logical or scientific mind. In the worldview of most, which neatly encompasses their ‘belief’ system, there are ‘facts, science and math’, and then there is ‘belief’ and ‘faith’.

Sadly this is the Achilles heel of the average person (we are all more or less average when it comes to self awareness, though we love to ‘believe’ we are well above that mark) because by thinking this way, by believing in this manner, we create our own blind spots and exclude ourselves from what in many aspects we actually practice, essentially complete and total blind faith and belief in nearly all facets of daily thought and living.

How much of our thought, of our daily thinking, is original or organic and how much is slightly modified, then enthusiastically regurgitated, cultural beliefs indoctrinated into us from an early age. Reinforced by the echo chamber of news, advertising and TV programming as well as movies, books, social media, science, economics and politics, can any of us ever really tell which thoughts are ‘ours’ and which were created to be ours via cultural conditioning. Unless we force ourselves to first obtain, and then maintain perspective, it all becomes a blur of flashing lights and background noise to be willingly, even eagerly, accepted as just the way things are.

Our society is obsessed with the holy grail of facts, absolutes, and conclusive answers. We are taught as soon as we can comprehend that this is the way things are and we know these things to be true. We view our recent ancestors as backwards and uninformed, cavemen for all practical purposes, yet we never seriously consider that we are just as uninformed and will be considered so by the future ‘us’ in twenty, fifty, a hundred years from now.

There is no respect given (because none is seriously offered by ‘us’) to the inquiring mind willing to step outside the boundaries of conventional thinking, only empty vessels that wish to be fully indoctrinated into the present day belief system. The herd demands we believe what the herd believes and increasingly that belief is divorced from reality.

I suspect there are several reasons for this phenomenon. As I discussed in “The Science Delusion” the spectacular success of materials science (the mass production of ten million things) has contributed to the delusion that we know it all, that we have arrived, that there is certainty in many if not all things, and that we ‘know’ this ‘certainty’ with near absolute precision. All it needs is a few small tweaks here and there.

But I suspect something else is going on here and I don’t recall it being discussed much in the virtual circles I frequent. Until the advent of mass media, ‘modern’ man lived an existence surrounded almost entirely by physical reality, up close and very personal. In fact, until sometime after World War Two most homes did not even have central heat, indoor plumbing or a house wired for electricity. Life, to put it simply, was very raw.

There was once a mostly solitary and desperate immediacy to daily living (the present day homeless are quite familiar with this condition) and a mind that dwelled in fantasy and not focused on the needs of the here and now was often severely punished by Mother Nature. Dawdle too long in the petunias and you might die of exposure later because you did not put up enough firewood and salt away enough food.

 

Question Everything, Believe Nothing – Chapter One – Suspending Disbelief | Two Ice Floes

Question Everything, Believe Nothing – Chapter One – Suspending Disbelief | Two Ice Floes.

Where are the outer boundaries of our mental box, that comforting space where we ‘believe’ the uniquely individual ‘me’ can be found? What is the limit of our ability to think and perceive beyond our current ‘belief’ system, to think outside the lines of our own perceptional box? Can we ever locate a clearly defined line of demarcation where we cross over from all that ‘we’ believe is ‘me’ and where the herding ‘we’ bulls ‘us’ over?

Is ‘our’ belief system entirely ‘yours’ or is it for the most part indoctrinated into you by ‘our’ culture and those who directly or indirectly influence our culture, thus by extension ‘you’? Who, or more accurately, what are ‘you’ if very little of substance differentiates ‘you’ from ‘us’? In many ways this is a chicken or egg question and it appears that a decent method by which we may answer it is to work backwards and examine what is ‘belief’ and what it means for us to ‘believe’.

One of the ways we have been mentally, emotionally and spiritually hijacked is through our language, a concept brilliantly described in Orwell’s classic work ‘1984’. For many, the words ‘believe’ or ‘belief’ are seen as strictly religious or fantastical thinking, and certainly not for the logical or scientific mind. In the worldview of most, which neatly encompasses their ‘belief’ system, there are ‘facts, science and math’, and then there is ‘belief’ and ‘faith’.

Sadly this is the Achilles heel of the average person (we are all more or less average when it comes to self awareness, though we love to ‘believe’ we are well above that mark) because by thinking this way, by believing in this manner, we create our own blind spots and exclude ourselves from what in many aspects we actually practice, essentially complete and total blind faith and belief in nearly all facets of daily thought and living.

How much of our thought, of our daily thinking, is original or organic and how much is slightly modified, then enthusiastically regurgitated, cultural beliefs indoctrinated into us from an early age. Reinforced by the echo chamber of news, advertising and TV programming as well as movies, books, social media, science, economics and politics, can any of us ever really tell which thoughts are ‘ours’ and which were created to be ours via cultural conditioning. Unless we force ourselves to first obtain, and then maintain perspective, it all becomes a blur of flashing lights and background noise to be willingly, even eagerly, accepted as just the way things are.

Our society is obsessed with the holy grail of facts, absolutes, and conclusive answers. We are taught as soon as we can comprehend that this is the way things are and we know these things to be true. We view our recent ancestors as backwards and uninformed, cavemen for all practical purposes, yet we never seriously consider that we are just as uninformed and will be considered so by the future ‘us’ in twenty, fifty, a hundred years from now.

There is no respect given (because none is seriously offered by ‘us’) to the inquiring mind willing to step outside the boundaries of conventional thinking, only empty vessels that wish to be fully indoctrinated into the present day belief system. The herd demands we believe what the herd believes and increasingly that belief is divorced from reality.

I suspect there are several reasons for this phenomenon. As I discussed in “The Science Delusion” the spectacular success of materials science (the mass production of ten million things) has contributed to the delusion that we know it all, that we have arrived, that there is certainty in many if not all things, and that we ‘know’ this ‘certainty’ with near absolute precision. All it needs is a few small tweaks here and there.

But I suspect something else is going on here and I don’t recall it being discussed much in the virtual circles I frequent. Until the advent of mass media, ‘modern’ man lived an existence surrounded almost entirely by physical reality, up close and very personal. In fact, until sometime after World War Two most homes did not even have central heat, indoor plumbing or a house wired for electricity. Life, to put it simply, was very raw.

There was once a mostly solitary and desperate immediacy to daily living (the present day homeless are quite familiar with this condition) and a mind that dwelled in fantasy and not focused on the needs of the here and now was often severely punished by Mother Nature. Dawdle too long in the petunias and you might die of exposure later because you did not put up enough firewood and salt away enough food.

 

Brave New World Revisited…Key Excerpts and My Summary | A Lightning War for Liberty

Brave New World Revisited…Key Excerpts and My Summary | A Lightning War for Liberty.

Under the relentless thrust of accelerating over-population and increasing over-organization, and by means of ever more effective methods of mind-manipulation, the democracies will change their nature; the quaint old formselections, parliaments, Supreme Courts and all the restwill remain. The underlying substance will be a new kind of non-violent totalitarianism. All the traditional names, all the hallowed slogans will remain exactly what they were in the good old days. Democracy and freedom will be the theme of every broadcast and editorialbut Democracy and freedom in a strictly Pickwickian sense. Meanwhile the ruling oligarchy and its highly trained elite of soldiers, policemen, thought-manufacturers and mind-manipulators will quietly run the show as they see fit. 

– Aldous Huxley, Brave New World Revisited, published 1958

It’s always felt a bit bizarre and, indeed slightly embarrassing, that of all the books I have read in my days, Aldous Huxley’s 1932 classic Brave New World was not amongst them. Not only is the book frequently mentioned to make political and social statements about contemporary times, the novel’s concept always caught my interest. I just never got around reading it. Until late last year.

I loved this book and was very pleasantly surprised. I was prepared for a more fearful and overwhelmingly dark and twisted experience. While there were obvious elements of that, it was a much more enjoyable read than I anticipated. Indeed, it was a very human book, as ironic as that might sound. As much as the “Controllers” in Brave New World were indeed in control, the human spirit still managed to bubble to the surface. To the point that the controllers had to designate certain islands for the iconoclasts which inevitably emerged from within the “Alpha” class. All of the drugs, brainwashing and conditioning couldn’t totally break the human spirit. As such, it was a much more hopeful and nuanced novel than I expected it to be. If you haven’t read it, I suggest making it your next book. If you have read it, read it again.

However, this post isn’t about Brave New World. While that book is indeed a creative warning, it is still fiction and a work of art more than anything else. Twenty six years after its publication, Huxley wrote Brave New World Revisited, in which he takes stock of the post World War II period. His analysis is grave. He saw the world progressing toward his nightmare much faster than he anticipated. Brave New World Revisited is a brilliant work of non-fiction and filled with almost incomprehensibly prescient musings. It also provides a great deal of advice to future generations. Advice which we must immediately heed.

Of all the solutions Huxley focuses on in Brave New World Revisited, from proper education, to a simple acknowledgment of humanity as a moderately gregarious animal not prone to over-organization; the most profound, and I think useful recommendation, is for us to decentralize. This has been a theme of mine and many other writers for some time now. Fortunately, through things like 3D-Printing, Bitcoin and other decentralized crypto-currencies, open source software, crowd funding, social media, etc, the world is moving from centralization to radical decentralization. People will be more connected than ever, but power will be more decentralized. We need to continue to push rapidly in this direction and a whole new incredible world will emerge. Indeed, it is being born as I write this.

Several years ago after reading Hayek’s Road to Serfdom I wrote a lengthy post highlighting key excerpts for those who were interested, but didn’t have the time or inclination to read the whole thing. Due to that post’s popularity and effectiveness, I have attempted to do the same with Brave New World Revisited. I hope this inspires you all to read the entire thing. Enjoy.

From Chapter 2: Quantity, Quality, Morality

And now let us consider the case of the rich, industrialized and democratic society, in which, owing to the random but effective practice of dysgenics, IQ’s and physical vigor are on the decline. For how long can such a society maintain its traditions of individual liberty and democratic government? Fifty or a hundred years from now our children will learn the answer to this question.

My Thoughts: Yes, indeed we are learning the answer to this right now. Just look around you.

From Chapter 3: Over-Organization

Under a dictatorship the Big Business, made possible by advancing technology and the consequent ruin of Little Business, is controlled by the State-that is to say, by a small group of party leaders and the soldiers, policemen and civil servants who carry out their orders. In a capitalist democracy such as the United States, it is controlled by what Professor C. Wright Mills has called the Power Elite. This Power Elite directly employs several millions of the country’s working force in its factories, offices and stores, controls many millions more by lending them the money to but its products, and, through its ownership of the media of mass communications, influences the thoughts, the feelings and the actions of virtually everybody.

My Thoughts: If you talk as Huxley writes above in “polite society” you will be labeled a conspiracy theorist or kook.

From Chapter 3: Over-Organization

It is in the social sphere, in the realm of politics and economics, that the Will to Order becomes really dangerous. Here the theoretical reduction of unmanageable multiplicity to comprehensible unity becomes the practical reduction of human diversity to subhuman uniformity, of freedom to servitude. In politics the equivalent of a fully developed scientific theory or philosophical system is a totalitarian dictatorship. In economics, the equivalent of a beautifully composed work of art is the smoothly running factory in which the workers are perfectly adjusted to the machines. The Will to Order can make tyrants out of those who merely aspire to clear up a mess. The beauty of tidiness is used as a justification for despotism.

Organization is indispensable; for liberty arises and has meaning only within a self-regulating community of freely cooperating individuals. But, though indispensable, organization can also be fatal. Too much organization transforms men and women into automata, suffocates the creative spirit and abolishes the very possibility of freedom. As usual, the only safe course is in the middle, between the extremes of laissez-faire at the one end of the scale and of total control at the other.

My Thoughts: Huxley accurately notes that the “will to order” is a natural part of the human psyche. There are disciplines where the “will to order” is actually useful and necessary to human progress; however, he warns that in the social sphere it is deadly and usually ends with totalitarianism.

From Chapter 3: Over-Organization

City life is anonymous and, as it were, abstract. People are related to one another, not as total personalities, but as the embodiment of economic functions or, when they are not at work, as irresponsible seekers of entertainment. Subjected to this kind of life, individuals tend to feel lonely and insignificant. Their existence ceases to have any point or meaning.

My Thoughts: Huxley clearly sees the sprawling metropolis as incongruent with human nature and freedom. It is a theme he consistently returns to throughout the book.

From Chapter 3: Over-Organization

Biologically speaking, man is a moderately gregarious, not a completely social animal—a creature more like a wolf, let us say, or an elephant, than like a bee or an ant. In their original form human societies bore no resemblance to the hive or the ant heap; they were merely packs. Civilization is, among other things, the process by which primitive packs are transformed into an analogue, crude and mechanical, of the social insects’ organic communities. At the present time the pressures of over-population and technological change are accelerating this process. The termitary has come to seem a realizable and even, in some eyes, a desirable ideal. Needless to say, the ideal will never in fact be realized. A great gulf separates the social insect from the not too gregarious, big-brained mammal; and even though the mammal should do his best to imitate the insect, the gulf would remain. However hard they try, men cannot create a social organism, they can only create an organization. In the process of trying to create an organism they will merely create a totalitarian despotism.

My Thoughts: A simply brilliant and incredibly important warning.

From Chapter 3: Over-Organization

The impersonal forces of overpopulation and over-oragnization, and the social engineers who are trying to direct these forces, are pushing us in the direction of a new medieval system. This revival will be made more acceptable than the original by such Brave-New—Worldian amenities as infant conditioning, sleep-teachings and drug-induced euphoria; but, for the majority of men and women, it will still be a kind of servitude.

My Thoughts: Yep, he predicted our current neo-feudalistic state in 1958.

From Chapter 4: Propaganda in a Democratic Society

Given a fair chance, human beings can govern themselves, and govern themselves better, though perhaps with less mechanical efficiency, than they can be governed by “authorities independent of their will.” Given a fair chance, I repeat; for the fair chance is an indispensable prerequisite. No people that passes abruptly from a state of subservience under the rule of a despot to the completely unfamiliar state of political independence can be said to have a fair chance of making democratic institutions work.

My Thoughts: Would’ve been nice if we thought about that before we invaded Iraq (of course, the problem is our goal was never to bring Democracy to Iraq in the first place).

From Chapter 4: Propaganda in a Democratic Society

In regard to propaganda the early advocates of universal literacy and a free press envisaged only two possibilities: the propaganda might be true, or it might be false.They did not foresee what in fact has happened, above all in our Western capitalist democraciesthe development of a vast mass communications industry concerned in the main neither with the true nor the false, but with the unreal, the more or less totally irrelevant. In a word, they failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.

For conditions even remotely comparable to those now prevailing we must return to imperial Rome, where the populace was kept in good humor by frequent, gratuitous doses of many kinds of entertainmentfrom poetical dramas to gladiatorial fights, from recitations of Virgil to all-out boxing, from concepts to military reviews and public executions. But even in Rome there was nothing like the non-stop distractions now provided by newspapers and magazines, by radio television and the cinema.

My Thoughts: This brings me to a short story I’d like to share. I was on a plane as I read this and I put down my book for a second to look around me. I had an aisle seat, and so was at a good vantage point from which to take stock of the plane. I was actually stunned to notice that there was not a single other person reading a book anywhere around me. I actually enjoy the lack of Wifi on flights as it forces me to engage in some old school book reading. To my surprise no one else seemed to see it that way. Horrifyingly, the only people that weren’t dozing off or watching television were still on their smart phones. Even worse, at least five of them seemed to be playing the same game! It looked like some sort of Tetris game with jewels. So despite the lack of Wifi, humanity’s ability for mindless entertainment and distraction prevailed. Wifi or no Wifi, these folks were going to be on their “smart”phones one way or the other.

From Chapter 5: Propaganda Under a Dictatorship

Assembled in a crowd, people lose their powers of reasoning and their capacity for moral choice. Their suggestibility is increased to the point where they cease to have any judgement or will of their own. They become very excitable, they lose all sense of individual or collective responsibility, they are subject to sudden accesses of rage, enthusiasm and panic. In a word, man in a crowd behaves as though he had swallowed a large dose of what I have called “herd-poisoning.”

Reading is a private, not a collective activity. The writer speaks only to individuals, sitting by themselves in a state of normal sobriety. The orator speaks to masses of individuals, already well primed with herd poison. They are at his mercy and, if he knows his business, he can do what he likes with them.

My Thoughts: This is something to always be aware of. Oration to crowds is the most effective form of propaganda distribution and brainwashing.

From Chapter 5: Propaganda Under a Dictatorship

In Hitler’s words, the propagandist should adopt “a systematically one-sided attitude towards every problem that has to be dealt with.” He must never admit that he might be wrong or that people with a different point of view might be even partially right. Opponents should not be argued with; they should be attacked, shouted down, or, if they become too much of a nuisance, liquidated. The morally squeamish intellectual may be shocked by this kind of thing. But the masses are always convinced that “right in on the side of the active aggressor.”

My Thoughts: This is why Obama just lies non-stop with zero shame. His strategy is to just stick to the propaganda and go with it at all costs, no matter how irrational and obviously deceptive.

From Chapter 6: The Arts of Selling

People may start out with an initial prejudice against tyrants; but when tyrants or would-be tyrants treat them to adrenalinreleasing propaganda about the wickedness of their enemies- particularly of enemies weak enough to be persecuted-they are ready to follow him with enthusiasm.

Almost all of us long for peace and freedom; but very few of us have much enthusiasm for the thoughts, feelings and actions that make for peace and freedom. Conversely almost nobody wants war or try nanny; but a great many people find an intense pleasure in the thoughts, feelings and actions that make for war and tyranny.

My Thoughts: That’s probably the scariest and most depressing thing I read.

Chapter 6: The Arts of Selling

“Both parties,” we were told in 1956 by the editor of a leading business journal, “will merchandize their candidates and issues by the same methods that business had developed to sell goods. These include scientific selection of appeals and planned repetition…The political merchandisers appeal only to the weakness of voters, never to their potential strength. They make no attempt to educate the masses into becoming fit for self-government, they are content merely to manipulate and exploit them.

In one way or another, as vigorous he-man or kindly father, the candidate must be glamorous. He must also be an entertainer who never bores his audience. Inured to television and radio, that audience is accustomed to being distracted and does not like to be asked to concentrate or make a prolonged intellectual effort. All speeches by the entertainer-candidate must therefor be short and snappy. The great issues of the day must be dealt with in five minutes at the most-and preferably (since the audience will be eager to pass on to something a little livelier than inflation or the H-bomb) in sixty seconds flat. The nature of oratory is such that there has always been a tendency among politicians and clergymen to over-simplify complex issues. From a pulpit or a platform even the most conscientious of speakers finds it very difficult to tell the whole truth. The methods now being used to merchandise the political candidate as though he were a deodorant positively guarantee the electorate against ever hearing the truth about anything.

My Thoughts: It’s simply incredible how clearly he saw all of this more than fifty years ago.

From Chapter 7: Brainwashing

The effectiveness of political and religious propaganda depends upon the methods employed, not upon the doctrines taught. These doctrines may be true or false, wholesome or perniciousit makes little or no difference. If the indoctrination is given in the right way at the proper stage of nervous exhaustion, it will work. Under favorable conditions, practically everybody can be converted to practically anything.

From Chapter 8: Chemical Persuasion

That a dictator could, if he so desired, make use os these drugs for political purposes is obvious. He could ensure himself against political unrest by changing the chemistry of his subjects’ brains and so making them content with their servile condition…But how, it may be asked, will the dictator get his subjects to take the pills that will make them think, feel and behave in the ways he finds desirable? In all probability it will be enough merely to make the pill available…But the demand of the American public for something that will make life in an urban-industrial environment a little more tolerable is so great that doctors are now writing prescriptions for the various tranquilizers at the rate of forty-eight millions a year.

My Thoughts: Yep, it is definitely a huge problem that such a huge percentage of the population is drugged up pretty much 24/7.

From Chapter 8: Chemical Persuasion

Too much tension is a disease; but so is too little. There are certain occasions when we ought to be tense, when an excess of tranquillity (and especially of tranquility imposed from the outside, by a chemical) is entirely inappropriate.

My Thoughts: This is very similar to what Martin Luther King wrote in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” in which he states:

“Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.”

From Chapter 9: Subconscious Persuasion

In the light of what has been said about persuasion-by-assocation and the enhancement of emotions by subliminal suggestion, let us try to imagine what the political meeting of tomorrow will be like. The candidate (if there is still a question of candidates), or the appointed representative of the ruling oligarchy, will make his speech for all to hear. Meanwhile the tachistoscopes, the whispering and squeaking machines, the projectors of images so dim that only the subconscious mind can respond to them, will be reinforcing what he says by systematically associating the man and his cause with positively charged words and hallowed images, and by strobonically injecting negatively charged words and odious symbols whenever he mentions the enemies of the State or the Party…Because all of this is still safely in the future, we can afford to smile. Ten or twenty years from now, it will probably seem a good deal less amusing. For what is now merely science fiction will have become everyday political fact.

My Thoughts: We are living it and there’s certainly nothing amusing about it.

From Chapter 10: Hypnopaedia

A person in deep sleep is unsuggestible. But when the subjects in light sleep are given suggestions, they will respond to them. Mr. Barber found, the the same way that they respond to suggestions when in the hypnotic trance.

From the heightened suggestibility associated with light sleep and hypnosis let us pass to the normal suggestibility of those who are awakeor at least who think they are awake. (In fact, as the Buddhists insist, most of us are half asleep all the time and go through life as somnambulists obeying somebody else’s suggestions. Enlightenment is total awakens. The word “Buddha” can be translated as “The Wake.”)

From Chapter 11: Education for Freedom

Freedom is therefore a great good, tolerance a great virtue and regimentation a great misfortune.

The genetic standardization of individuals is still impossible; but Big Government and Big Business already posses, or will very soon possess, all the techniques for mind-manipulation described in Brave New World, along with others of which I was too unimaginative to dream. Lacking the ability to impose genetic uniformity upon embryos, the rulers of tomorrow’s over-populated and over-organized world will try to impose social and cultural uniformity upon adults and their children. To achieve this end, the will (unless prevented) make use of all the mind-manipualting techniques at their disposal and will not hesitate to reinforce these methods of non-rational persuasion by economic coercion and threats of physical violence. If this kind of tyranny is to be avoided, we must begin without delay to educate ourselves and of children for freedom and self-government.

From Chapter 11: Education for Freedom

But unfortunately correct knowledge and sound principles are not enough. An unexciting truth may be eclipsed by a thrilling falsehood. A skillful appeal to passion is often too strong for the best of good resolutions. The effects of false and pernicious propaganda cannot be neutralized except by a thorough training in the art of analyzing its techniques and seeing through its sophistries.

In cases where the selecting and abstracting have been dictated by a system that is not too erroneous as a view of the nature of things, and where the verbal labels have been intelligently chosen and their symbolic nature clearly understood, our behavior is apt to be realistic and tolerably decent. But under the influence of badly chosen words, applied, without any understanding of their merely symbolic character, to experiences that have been selected and abstracted in the light of a system of erroneous ideas, we are apt to behave with a fiendishness and an organized stupidity, of which dumb animals (precisely because they are dumb and cannot speak) are blessedly incapable.

My Thoughts: Essentially, the reason humanity is able to create such gigantic instances of suffering relates to our higher intelligence combined with our ability to be easily brainwashed and manipulated by the nastiest of humans on the bell curve. 

From Chapter 12: What Can Be Done?

Under the relentless thrust of accelerating over-population and increasing over-organization, and by means of ever more effective methods of mind-manipulation, the democracies will change their nature; the quaint old formselections, parliaments, Supreme Courts and all the restwill remain. The underlying substance will be a new kind of non-violent totalitarianism. All the traditional names, all the hallowed slogans will remain exactly what they were in the good old days. Democracy and freedom will be the theme of every broadcast and editorialbut Democracy and freedom in a strictly Pickwickian sense. Meanwhile the ruling oligarchy and its highly trained elite of soldiers, policemen, thought-manufacturers and mind-manipulators will quietly run the show as they see fit.

Or take the right to vote. In principle, it is a great privilege. In practice, as recent history has repeatedly shown, the right to vote, by itself, is no guarantee of liberty.Therefore, if you wish to avoid dictatorship by referendum, break up modern society’s merely functional collectives into self-governing, voluntarily co-operating groups, capable of functioning outside the bureaucratic systems of Big Business and Big Government.

Over-population and over-organization have produced the modern metropolis, in which a fully human life of multiple personal relationships has become almost impossible. Therefore, if you wish to avoid the spiritual impoverishment of individuals and whole societies, leave the metropolis and revive the small country community, or alternatively humanize the metropolis by creating within its network of mechanical organization the urban equivalents of small country communities, in which individuals can meet and cooperate as complete persons, not as the mere embodiments of specialized functions.

My Thoughts: His ultimate conclusion, and one with which I agree, is that we need to decentralize to remain free.

The older dictators fell because they could never supply their subjects with enough bread, enough circuses, enough miracles and mysteries.

If you still haven’t had enough Huxley, I strongly suggest watching the following video. I hope you found this helpful, and as always…

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

 

When Net Neutrality Becomes Programmed Censorship Washington’s Blog

When Net Neutrality Becomes Programmed Censorship Washington’s Blog.

Guest Post By Sartre, BATR.

The worst fears of all free speech proponents are upon us. The Verizon suit against the Federal Communications Commission, appellate decision sets the stage for a Supreme Court review. The Wall Street Journal portrays the ruling in financial terms: “A federal court has tossed out the FCC’s “open internet” rules, and now internet service providers are free to charge companies like Google and Netflixhigher fees to deliver content faster.”

In essence, this is the corporate spin that the decision is about the future cost for being connected.

“The ruling was a blow to the Obama administration, which has pushed the idea of “net neutrality.” And it sharpened the struggle by the nation’s big entertainment and telecommunications companies to shape the regulation of broadband, now a vital pipeline for tens of millions of Americans to view video and other media.

For consumers, the ruling could usher in an era of tiered Internet service, in which they get some content at full speed while other websites appear slower because their owners chose not to pay up.

“It takes the Internet into completely uncharted territory,” said Tim Wu, a Columbia University law professor who coined the term net neutrality.”

What the Journal is not telling you is that this “uncharted territory” is easy to project. If ISP’s will be able to charge varied rates or decide to vary internet speed, it is a very short step towards selectively discriminate against sites based upon content. Do not get lulled into thinking that constitutional protective political speech is guaranteed.

Once again, the world according to the communication giants paint a very different interpretation as the article, Verizon called hypocritical for equating net neutrality to censorship illustrates.

“Verizon’s argument that network neutrality regulations violated the firm’s First Amendment rights. In Verizon’s view, slowing or blocking packets on a broadband network is little different from a newspaper editor choosing which articles to publish, and should enjoy the same constitutional protection.”

The response from advocates of the Net Neutrality standard, that is about to vanish, sums up correctly.

“The First Amendment does not apply, however, when Verizon is merely transmitting the content of third parties. Moreover, these groups point out, Verizon itself has disclaimed responsibility for its users’ content when it was convenient to do so, making its free speech arguments ring hollow.”

Prepare for the worst. The video, Prepare To Be Robbed. Net Neutrality Is Dead!, which includes frank language and expletives, provides details that place the use of internet access into question coming out of this appellate decision.

Analyze the implications logically. It is one thing to charge a for profit service like Netflix a higher fee to transverse the electronic bandwidth of a communication network. Selling a membership to an end user is the source of their cash flow. However, most activist political sites usually provide internet users free access to their particular viewpoint and source links.

Your internet service provider controls the pipeline that feeds your devices and data connection. No matter which company you pay for this service, you are dependent upon this union. A free WiFi link may well become a memory. Beaming a satellite signal, mostly is an alternative, when DSL, cable or other broadband is not available.

No matter what method is used to surf the net, this decision clearly implies that internet access is now a privilege, at the effective discretion, if not mercy; of a provider that allow an account for service.

Next, consider the implication that search engines will use this decision to re-work their algorithms lowering their spider bots selection of sites that challenge the “PC” culture. Restrictive categorization used for years by Google, Yahoo and Bing can use this decision as cover to purge dissenting sites even more from their result rankings.

It is common knowledge that YouTube censors and targets certain uploads. One particular subject that experiences technical glitches is Fukushima. The video You Tube Censoring Truther Channels explains the drill. Add to the frustration are the ads, especially the ones with no skip option and imagine future requirements for uploading approval. What is next, a paid subscription to use and upload to the service?

Yes, the Ending Net Neutrality Signals A Digital Paradigm Shift. It also means that they could unfairly push sites like (add the name of your favorite sites) out of the way of users if they (the “PC” protectors) didn’t like them, acting as effective censors.

Stephen Lendman writes in Digital Democracy vs. Corporate Dominance: R.I.P. Internet Neutrality?

“Without Net Neutrality, ISPs will be able to devise new schemes to charge users more for access and services, making it harder for us to communicate online – and easier for companies to censor our speech.”

Corporate gatekeepers will control “where you go and what you see.”

Verizon, AT&T, Comcast and Time Warner Cable “will be able to block content and speech they don’t like, reject apps that compete with their own offerings, and prioritize Web traffic…”

They’ll be able to “reserve the fastest loading speeds for the highest bidders (while) sticking everyone else with the slowest.”

Doing so prohibits free and open communications. Censorship will become policy. Net Neutrality is too important to lose.”

Ready yourself for the inevitable results! According to Michael Hiltzik, Net neutrality is dead. Bow to Comcast and Verizon, your overlords.

“In the U.S., there’s no practical competition. The vast majority of households essentially have a single broadband option, their local cable provider. Verizon and AT&T provide Internet service, too, but for most customers they’re slower than the cable service. Some neighborhoods get telephone fiber services, but Verizon and AT&T have ceased the rollout of their FiOs and U-verse services–if you don’t have it now, you’re not getting it.

Who deserves the blame for this wretched combination of monopolization and profiteering by ever-larger cable and phone companies? The FCC, that’s who. The agency’s dereliction dates back to 2002, when under Chairman Michael Powell it reclassified cable modem services as “information services” rather than “telecommunications services,” eliminating its own authority to regulate them broadly. Powell, by the way, is now the chief lobbyist in Washington for the cable TV industry, so the payoff wasn’t long in coming.”

In a digital environment, access to an internet that provides uncensored content at the lowest costs is a direct threat to the corporate economy. Innovation and creative cutting-edge services are clearly marked as competing challenges to the Amazon jungle of merchandising. The big will just get bigger.

Then the unavoidable effects from the “all the news fit to report” mass medium, intensifies their suppression of honest investigative journalism. Filtering out the alternative and truth media is the prime objective of this ruling. Eliminating political dissent from the internet is the ultimate implication. What would the net be like without access to the Drudge Report?

When the cable or satellite services bundle their programming into a “take it or leave it” format, the choices for the consumer becomes a major financial burden just to watch the few channels that have interest. Applying this pattern to the internet will cause even greater resentment.

Just look at the disaster from the Yahoo retooling. That Ms. “wicked witch” MM have pushed up the stock price, but ask any yahoo group member what they think of the new format. This is a classic example of how to turn off users and ruin your product.

Subscription services are playing with fire. With the collapse of the main street economy, the added fees to access content that is mediocre at best, is the actual fallout. Like the dinosaur TV networks, the corporatist sites risk total rejection from internet visitors.

Totalitarian culturalists are rejoicing with this latest damper on free speech. News by way of government press releases is pure propaganda. How did this happen?

For a short explanation history, Nilay Patel writes in The Wrong Words: How The FCC Lost Neutrality And Could Kill The Internet.

“The FCC tried to appease the out-of-control corporate egos of behemoths like Verizon and Comcast by pretending internet providers were special and classifying them as “information service providers” and not “telecommunications carriers.” The wrong words. Then, once everyone was wearing the nametag they wanted, the FCC tried to impose common carrier-style telecommunications regulations on them anyway.”

Credo Action believes that “FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler can undo the Bush-era decision to deregulate broadband Internet providers and allow them to operate outside of the legal framework that has traditionally applied to companies that offer two-way communication services.”

Such optimism seems naive in light of the real controllers of policy, much the same, for the Supreme Court coming to the rescue. Mark this court decision as the strategic destruction of the internet as a beacon of unfeigned free expression of information and open political speech. The programmers will be working overtime to set up layers of tasks, restrictions and huddlers to jump over. If you think Facebook censorship is bad, get ready for a purely governmental approved net along the Chinese model.

Obama To Announce Overhaul Of NSA Surveillance Program

Obama To Announce Overhaul Of NSA Surveillance Program.

President Barack Obama will announce on Friday a major overhaul of a controversial National Security Agency program that collects vast amounts of basic telephone call data on foreigners and Americans, a senior Obama administration official said.

In an 11 a.m. (1600 GMT) speech at the Justice Department, Obama will say he is ordering a transition that will significantly change the handling of what is known as the telephone “metadata” program from the way the NSA currently handles it.

Obama’s move is aimed at restoring Americans’ confidence in U.S. intelligence practices and caps months of reviews by the White House in the wake of damaging disclosures about U.S. surveillance tactics from former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden.

In a nod to privacy advocates, Obama will say he has decided that the government should not hold the bulk telephone metadata, a decision that could frustrate some intelligence officials.

In addition, he will order that effectively immediately, “we will take steps to modify the program so that a judicial finding is required before we query the database,” said the senior official, who revealed details of the speech on condition of anonymity.

While a presidential advisory panel had recommended that the bulk data be controlled by a third party such as the telephone companies, Obama will not offer a specific proposal for who should store the data in the future.

Obama has asked Attorney General Eric Holder and the intelligence community to report back to him before the program comes up for reauthorization on March 28 on how to preserve the necessary capabilities of the program, without the government holding the metadata.

“At the same time, he will consult with the relevant committees in Congress to seek their views,” the official said.

Obama is balancing public anger at the disclosure of intrusion into Americans’ privacy with his commitment to retain policies he considers critical to protecting the United States.

The official said Obama believes the bulk data program is important to countering terrorist threats but that “we can and should be able to preserve those capabilities while addressing the privacy and civil liberties concerns that are raised by the government holding this meta-data.”

People familiar with the administration’s deliberations say Obama also is expected to agree to other reforms, such as greatly scaling back spying on foreign leaders and putting a public advocate on the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

TELEPHONE DATA

But the revelation that the NSA had been collecting vast amounts of telephone metadata on both foreigners and Americans, which had been done in secret for years, became the Snowden disclosure that generated the most heated domestic U.S. political controversy and led to the introduction of conflicting bills in Congress.

The Intelligence committees of both the Senate and House had signaled that they believed current telephone metadata arrangements, under which the data is collected and held by the NSA for five years, should remain in place.

But both the Senate and House Judiciary committees had approved bills that would eliminate domestic metadata collection entirely.

The presidential advisory panel that submitted its recommendations to Obama late last year said collecting telephone metadata, which shows which numbers call which other numbers, and the time and length of calls, should be taken out of NSA control and handed to a third party, such as the phone companies themselves.

Intelligence officials for some time had been circulating secret proposals for having the data stored by phone companies or a non-profit group, and some officials had signaled publicly that NSA might have to accept changes.

Other officials have privately argued that if the system were changed, the NSA should still have instant, direct, online access to the data.

Citing recent breaches of credit card and personal data suffered by Target stores, government officials opposed to changes in the current arrangements for metadata collection argue that the review panel’s proposals would make Americans’ phone data less, rather than more secure.

Members of the review panel met with top administration officials on Wednesday to discuss the president’s speech.

COMBATING TERRORISM

Obama has been under pressure from the intelligence community and key lawmakers to avoid tampering with programs they see as vital to thwarting terrorism plots.

“We believe the program is legal. I am hopeful it’s sustained by the president, maybe in slightly different form,” said Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee and an important voice in the NSA debate.

Snowden leaked secrets about mass collection of telephone data and other secret eavesdropping programs to newspapers before fleeing to Hong Kong and then to Moscow. Journalists with access to Snowden’s materials say there are many more disclosures to come.

When the Snowden disclosures first appeared last June, Obama said, “We’ve struck the right balance” between the desire for information and the need to respect Americans’ privacy.

But after a disclosure of U.S. eavesdropping on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone, he called for “additional constraints” on American surveillance practices.

Privacy advocates have been appealing for greater protections for Americans’ constitutional right to privacy. Some privacy advocates will doubtless be pleased by Obama’s plan but other NSA critics may say the president did not go far enough.

“While we welcome the president’s acknowledgement that reforms must be made, we warn the president not to expect thunderous applause for cosmetic reforms. We demand more than the illusion of reform,” said David Segal, executive director of Demand Progress, a civil liberties advocacy organization.

As well as the tension with Germany, the eavesdropping has disrupted relations with some other nations. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff postponed a state visit to the United States to express her anger over U.S. intrusions in her country.

(Additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle and Richard Cowan, and Noah Barkin in Berlin; Editing by David Storey and Eric Walsh)

Alan Rusbridger: Westminster is hoping Snowden revelations go away | Media | theguardian.com

Alan Rusbridger: Westminster is hoping Snowden revelations go away | Media | theguardian.com.

Alan Rusbridger

Alan Rusbridger told the BBC both the main political parties felt compromised by the surveillance revelations. Photograph: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images

Britain’s political class has been closing its eyes and hoping the revelations from Edward Snowden go away rather than tackle important issues over mass surveillance that have provoked such heated debate in America, the editor in chief of the Guardian has said.

Alan Rusbridger accused Westminster of “complacency” about the revelations from Snowden, which have been published in the Guardianover the past six months.

Speaking to the BBC hours before the US president, Barack Obama, was due to give details about reforms to the US spy headquarters, the National Security Agency (NSA), Rusbridger said: “I think one of the problems is that both of the main political parties feel compromised about this. Labour is not keen to get involved because a lot of this stuff was done on their watch.”

He added: “I think there is a degree of complacency here. There has been barely a whisper from Westminster. I think they are closing their eyes and hoping that it goes away. But it won’t go away because it’s impossible to reform the NSA without having a deep knock-on effect on what our own intelligence services do.”

Interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Rusbridger said the oversight mechanisms that were supposed to review the work of Britain’s intelligence agencies had proved to be “laughable”. He said the parliamentary intelligence and security committee, even with the extra money it had received recently, was not up to the job. “I just don’t think they have the technical expertise or the resources,” he said.

Rusbridger added: “What is unprecedented in the last 15 years is the advance of technology. It is completely different from anything that has existed in humankind before.”

Earlier in the programme, William Hague, the foreign secretary, reaffirmed his belief that Britain’s eavesdropping headquarters, GCHQ, had acted within the law when it looked at the content of intercepted messages.

He refused to comment on the Guardian’s latest story from the Snowden files – which shows GCHQ has access to “unwarranted” text messagescollected by the NSA in a programme codenamed Dishfire.

“I am not going to comment on allegations or leaks. I can’t possibly do that,” said Hague.

“But I can say [we have] a very strong system of checks and balances of warrants being required from me or the home secretary to intercept the content of the communications.

“That system is not breached. I have not seen anything to suggest that system has been breached. We have probably the strongest system in the world. Not only do I and the home secretary oversee these things, but we have commissioners who oversee our work and report to the prime minister. No country has a stronger system than that.”

But Rusbridger said Hague had sidestepped the main issue.

Dishfire collects so-called “metadata”, which can be analysed with fewer legal restraints. Yet expert after expert had admitted metadata was as valuable as content to intelligence analysts, said Rusbridger, because it allows analysts to build up a picture of your whereabouts and your relationships.

“There is not much distinction between metadata and content,” he said.

“[Hague] talked about being within the law on content. This isn’t content. This is metadata, which politicians make out as very harmless. This is not just billing data. The world has moved on. What people can tell through metadata is almost everything about you.

“Contrary to what William Hague said the documents say, the NSA likes working here because of the light legal regime here.”

Rusbridger also questioned the claims of Britain’s security chiefs that the Guardian’s revelations had undermined national security and – in the words of the head of MI6, Sir John Sawers – left al-Qaida rubbing its hands in glee.

Rusbridger said the claim was “theatrical … but there was no evidence attached”.

Senator Bernie Sanders Asks NSA If It Spies On Congress | Zero Hedge

Senator Bernie Sanders Asks NSA If It Spies On Congress | Zero Hedge.

The real life magic-mushroom, banana dictatorship envisioned by George Orwell just went full retard.

From VT Senator Bernie Sanders:

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today asked the National Security Agency director whether the agency has monitored the phone calls, emails and Internet traffic of members of Congress and other elected officials.

 

Has the NSA spied, or is the NSA currently spying, on members of Congress or other American elected officials?” Sanders asked in a letter to Gen. Keith Alexander, the NSA director. “Spying” would include gathering metadata on calls made from official or personal phones, content from websites visited or emails sent, or collecting any other data from a third party not made available to the general public in the regular course of business?”

 

Sanders said he was “deeply concerned” by revelations that American intelligence agencies harvested records of phone calls, emails and web activity by millions of innocent Americans without any reason to even suspect involvement in illegal activities. He also cited reports that the United States eavesdropped on the leaders of Germany, Mexico, Brazil and other allies.

 

Sanders emphasized that the United States “must be vigilant and aggressive in protecting the American people from the very real danger of terrorist attacks,” but he cited U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon’s recent ruling that indiscriminate dragnets by the NSA were probably unconstitutional and “almost Orwellian.”

 

Sanders has introduced legislation to put strict limits on sweeping powers used by the National Security Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation to secretly track telephone calls by millions of innocent Americans who are not suspected of any wrongdoing.

 

The measure would put limits on records that may be searched. Authorities would be required to establish a reasonable suspicion, based on specific information, in order to secure court approval to monitor business records related to a specific terrorism suspect. Sanders’ bill also would put an end to open-ended court orders that have resulted in wholesale data mining by the NSA and FBI. Instead, the government would be required to provide reasonable suspicion to justify searches for each record or document that it wants to examine.

Uhm… yes?

 

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