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a republic, if you can keep it
the greatest threat to liberty is not elected government, it's the permanent state that has increasingly come to dominate it and shade our perceptions of reality
ben franklin was famously asked what manner of government the american constitutional convention had produced. his response was the epitome of prescience and brevity:
"a republic, if you can keep it."
the foundation of a system of just government rooted in the inalienable rights of the individual does not and cannot rest upon the state.
it rests upon the people.
we must be our own ultimate guarantors of liberty.
and this takes courage.
and anyone who claims otherwise is stealing something.
but there is a codicil here people seem to forget: liberty is no defense against being misled. if you’re getting garbage facts into your decision matrix, guess what comes out the other end?
and this is why we may need to extend our ideas about the emerging reputation economy a bit further.
i was having a conversation with gatopal™ gerodoc the other day. he said this:
“I feel like it’s hard to analyze why our system fails us so badly without analyzing the effects of the intel community & how they are pushing & nudging things just under the surface.”
he then posted a tinfoil meme as though he was expecting to get roasted.
instead i was like:
i think there's real truth to his intuition. the intelligence community have become incredibly powerful and it’s not exactly a stretch to imagine that folks literally trained in espionage, disinformation, manipulation, kompromat, extortion, and asset grooming might, if left unchecked, morph into the worst kind of surreptitious svengalis pulling strings from the shadows. after all, who better to do so than those who determine “facts” and what presidents and congresscritters and even other bureaucrats “know”?
decide what people see and you control what they do.
it’s quite a dangerous setup.
and we really blew it post 9/11.
"homeland security" was the beginning of the end because it pulled together huge piles of federal agencies into one structure and sought to “improve coordination and information sharing and mission and risk assessment.” such ideas often sound good, but they also carry real risks and monolithic intelligence views are both dangerous and prone to groupthink.
before, these agencies were checks on one another and wrestled for power and the ears of leaders. now it's increasingly one over-structure dictating down and they have realized that they do not need to be accurate so long as they are consistent. and that's a very different world. no truth but “the truth™” emerges from the monolith. it has metastasized into conspicuously unified talking points and oppressive instinct. the patriot act was one of the worst things to happen to america in 100 years.
the terrorists won. nothing they could ever have done would have inflicted the damage we inflicted upon ourselves, day in, day out, year after year.
it broke everything.
it dismantled and deranged our way of life and our core values.
the “patriot act” inverted the idea of patriotism into submission to nasty, authoritarian edict.
it wiped out rights, due process, and muscularized and militarized the agencies that would run roughshod over you.
massive panics are the times to grab liberty. and you never let a crisis go to waste.
this is the stock in trade of the fear monger.
note that, like covid, this was not a thing that team donkey or team elephant did to us. this sort of truly epic damage is reserved for the times when the two parties agree. that’s when they are at their most dangerous. and this is what makes the illusion that you need to vote for one party to save you from the other so precarious. because when the chips are really down, they don’t. and they won’t.
you’re just waiting until the next political syzygy when the bodies all align and the pull grows too forceful for any liberty not firmly in your grasp not to be torn away.
and then you lose.
because they are not coming to save you. they are coming to rob you.
they will rob you of your property, your rights, your liberty, your privacy, your agency, and even your dignity. it’s a ruthless one way ratchet to serfdom.
and these are not “rogue comets” tearing away your atmosphere. they are smash and grabs orchestrated by feeding “leaders” a bunch of bunk to get them to commit absurdities and atrocities.
the parties are not the prime movers here. they are the patsies, the puppet-show. they are the magician’s assistant in her spangles to draw the eye away from where the trick is being done, from the place where the permanent state resides, the place where real power lies.
it comes together in terrible confluences of intelligence, regulatory, law enforcement, and bureaucratic state that command vast budgets and have near zero supervision. they have become thieves’ forests of grifters and power grabbers that stretch from EPA to FBI, DOJ to NIH, and CDC to CIA. they swirl around this idea of “homeland security uber alles” and the new fashions in fear to drive greater surrenders of agency in the fruitless societal fracture of desperately trying to trade a little liberty for a little safety.
and they penetrate everything. they determine what leaders “see” and what they “know.” they use this to set deep agendas and manipulate the course of events. when did covid get out of control in the US? right when the national security advisor sent in debbie birx to run the show. and how did she run roughshod over so many purportedly powerful people? because she had the real power behind her, the deep influence of the “deep state.”
“deep state.” it’s fun the way that term has been gaslit into some sort of “Q anon triple-tinfoil raving nutter conspiracy,” but ask yourself: who might have benefitted from such a perception? who might have put such a gambit into play? surely not the disinformation specialists who suppressed the lab leak hypothesis that they knew full well to be the odds on explanation. no, surely not…
you can see what happens when the wrong questions get asked about the wrong people. omerta. discrediting operations. false flags. tinsel. reputational destruction. deplatforming. censorship, suppression, threats to livelihoods, threats to lives. then show trials and outright intimidation.
if indeed the path to knowing who rules you lies in discovering those whom you may not criticize, the deep state sure seems to keep winding up in the middle of the graph with alarming consistency. they do not even like having their name spoken aloud.
their embedding in media, social media, and culture has become extreme. their agendas increasingly reach into universities and to schools where federal funds and federal grants have come to dominate so much of budgets and the output cum ideology of scientists and thereby students. it actually takes very little to nudge these systems into valences that lose correspondence with reality.
the need to grub for grants turns academia into a crisis factory.
words you'll never hear:
"we the experts empaneled to study the crisis have determined that it is not, in fact, a crisis. please accept the return of the remainder of our budget."
everything must be crisis (and the right sort of crisis) or the increasingly monolithic gold givers will not fund you.
fear and division have become the primary product of these wholly owned subsidiaries of “big state inc.” and students are mistaking it for “the science” and for social knowledge.
carefully tailored position points and manipulation have been mistaken for the eyes and ears of the state.
and they are using it to ruthless effect.
how did we wind up in iraqi forever-war and with wild usurpations of american rights to save us from innumerable conjured bugbears with zero efficacy security theater?
“faulty” intel from the national security apparatus. but remember how it was “settled”? how “everyone knew” about WMD’s and all manner of associated claims? and how once this failed to materialize how the policy went on and on anyway?
how did we wind up in the most absurd and ineffective public health fiasco in human history?
the national security advisor took over public health (using many powers granted under the patriot act) and told everyone black was white, up was down, and 100 years of real evidence was “a conspiracy” and a bunch of made up nonsense was “the science” and set of a campaign of mis, dis, and mal-information, censorship, and gaslighting unseen since the alien and sedition acts.
and at the federal level, both times we had (apart from a few dissidents) a widespread bipartisan surrender to this blitzkreig of panic and as it occurred americans lost more rights in a week than they had in decades prior.
anyone else starting to maybe see a pattern here?
like maybe this all keeps starting in the same place and going the same way?
this system is not fixable because this system is not broken.
it’s functioning as it is intended.
it’s just not the system everyone is looking at. it’s something that has grown irrepressibly upon our society and state like some sort of unelected herpes.
it cannot be moderated. it cannot be reasoned with. it cannot be brought to account or into alignment with we the people. it’s simply a level of power that can never be trusted, an unaccountable morass of agencies that was and always will become their own chief constituencies.
they have agendas, but those agendas are not your agendas.
and everyone elected must dance to their tune because the game theory forces it as the dominant choice.
how can any president stand up to the intelligence community?
“this is a threat. you must act.”
if you don’t and nothing happens, you win nothing.
if you don’t and something goes wrong, you’re cooked.
if you do and it works, high fives all around.
if you do and it’s a calamity, oh well, we did the best we could with the info we had. honest mistake. oopsie.
no one can win that. turn on the IC and they turn on you. you don’t get intel. you get bad intel. they leak on you to your opponents or enemies or even to your friends.
they gaslight and stymie you. you get arrested by “justice.” so do your pals.
(note that this works just as well on the CDC, NIH, FDA or whomever else needs to be dragged onside.)
either these IC folks are just clownishly bad at their jobs or they are playing against us.
which one makes you want to fund them?
i have a very real sense that we are badly mistaking the accelerator for the brake here. everyone “knows” as some article of faith how “dangerous the world is” and how we “need more intelligence” to save us from it. but just who told us that?
more intercepts, less privacy, rendition, lack of due process, black sites, torture, intrusion: americans have been scared into cheer leading for all of it. neither party dares roll it back.
we are not holding onto our rights and they are being pried from us by the very people who are promising to “keep us safe” if we trust them with unaccountable and unchecked power and allow that which ought be inalienable to be hammered flat upon the anvil of the fear forge.
inventing hobgoblins then claiming to be the only ones keeping them at bay and using their very failure to appear as a pretext to demand more power is quite the business model.
it’s as insidious as it is effective.
the simple fact is that all the free speech and right to self-defense in the world cannot save a society from derangement if it is being fed a steady diet of false facts.
this is how you wind up inhabiting a hallucination and making choices that bear no resemblance to reality.
it’s how you get sold a bill of goods and led astray.
and so deciding who to trust becomes a very important matter.
and so we should ask some pointed questions:
what if all this is not making us safer?
what if all this is just shoring up and extending the power base of people seeking to manipulate and dominate us?
what if “a huge american intelligence community” is not medicine?
what if it’s societal strychnine?
what if all these spies and statists are not on our side but one of their own?
what if maybe we we’d be safer without them?