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the binary arms race between citizen and state
competing visions for a digital future.
consider the possibility that one of the defining features of the modern political, technological, and technocratic landscape is what fundamentally amounts to an arms race between governments and we the people.
it’s a race across the finish line between technocratic systems of social credit and technological systems of societal emancipation.
on the one side, you have an ever more encroaching technocratic leviathan seeking to control lives and livelihoods by developing inescapable nets of surveillance and social credit. your every move, transaction, and utterance will be monitored, measured, and manipulated. good kids get treats. bad children get excluded from everything.
on the other you have the people fighting to evolve systems of communication, organization, commerce, and money into something personal and private, peer to peer, and owned by each and all as stakeholders. liberty and agency shall be guaranteed by systems that place our lives outside of scrutiny and suppression. no grand vision shall be forced on you from above, rather, society shall be emergent from the desires and preferences of they who constitute it.
the choice here is likely a fairly binary one.
only one vision can prevail.
who wins this race will determine the nature of the coming age: a self organizing galt’s gulch or governmental gattaca.
as a strategy game it’s quite interesting: we the people are many and innovative, but the state plays dirty and begins with many of the commanding heights and the control of money.
those who do as leviathan demands get the carrot.
those who do not get the stick and that stick will, at least in the early stages, be wielded for the state by private actors subsumed, co-opted, and coerced into fascist style totalitarian systems.
government will use media, social media, and internet to censor speech and the oligarchs of googlemetabookinstatwittube will fall all over themselves to do it for self- preservation and for self-promotion.
they will do this same thing to payment systems from banking to equity markets, from paypal to credit cards and gofund me to going cashless.
and the pretexts will be just as greasy and the ability of many to see 3-5 moves deep into how these pieces are being arrayed on the board will be limited.
until october, the turkeys always think the farmer is a swell fellah.
they will push systems to track all purchasing and to supplant cash or private payment with central bank digital currencies (CBDC) ostensibly for convenience but in reality for control. these currencies are the wheel of social credit systems upon which all else can be broken.
we look at china and recoil as they impose full blown surveillance statism where you need to check out of your own home as you leave using biometrics and health passes and check into stores and where your every move and action and social media post is applied to a social credit score that determines everything from whether you can get a job, a loan, go to school, or even get on a bus. stray too far, and “reeducation camps” await.
when they had bank runs, the state just turned everyone’s health passports red and made it criminal for them to be outside their home and subject to being sent to covid gulag if they did not scurry home immediately. and it worked. china is gearing up for mass social conflict. and this should worry you, especially given their both propensity and ability to export awful social ideas (like lockdown) of late.
we can tell ourselves pleasing lies about “that could not happen here” but how many things that you swore could never happen in the west have transpired lately? we saw america succumb to senseless mass lockdowns and business closure. in canada we saw trudeau froze the bank accounts of protesters. austrialia literally forced people into camps and used drones and technological tracking to limit people to tiny circles of travel around there homes.
was this dire panic or dress rehearsal?
and make no mistake, all this and more CAN happen here.
under the patriot act, all the US government need do is mutter “terrorist” and rights to property, process, and privacy vaporize, and that is certainly a word they seem to like to lob around these days.
these are the edges of a net beginning to tighten and left unchecked, it will just keep coming. and pretty soon, you land here:
and, of course, the denizens of davos LOVE this stuff. it is no accident that they continually harp upon “in the future you will have no privacy.” surveillance is the necessary underpinning of the technocratic nudge state they wish to shove into being. big brother will always be watching.
then you just need to decide what to criminalize, a path california seems to be trailblazing with dystopian zeal. steal from a store? no problem. but if a physician warns a patient about vaccine side effects? lose your license.
the desire to spread this sort of tactic and penalty to universal application where any “anti social” or “misinformation spreading” (especially about politics) is obviously rampant. only the right words may be spoken and penalties for wrongspeak must be swift and sure. (arbitrary and unknowable is also a big help as it causes people to self-censor because they do not know where the lines are)
this is the nature of totalitarian systems. everything is political. nothing may exist outside the state or against the state. we’ve all been taught to moue in horror at “fascism” from the 30’s, but both it and totalitarian ideas like “using the state to perfect its people” were very much in vogue back then. they were popular. they were not seen as oppressive but forward thinking. they were cast as modern forms of government for modern people to tackle modern problems and to render the state the prime mover for morals and commerce alike.
does this remind you of anything?
mussolini described it thus:
The Fascist State, the highest and most powerful form of personality, is a force, but a spiritual force, which takes over all the forms of the moral and intellectual life of man. . . . It is the form, the inner standard and the discipline of the whole person; it saturates the will as well as the intelligence.
replace “the fascist state” with “build back better” and you basically would not need to change another word, just post it on the WEF website. just like last time, the fascisti are not hiding, they are in plain sight taking up positions of power and control and selling it as the way to a glorious future. it’s the same systems and aspirations with a new ideological payload.
and if this base of power crosses a certain event horizon, you are not getting back out again without actual war. they’ll have you and you’ll get 1930’s italy or a mao or a stalin or whatever we’re going to call what’s going in in china just now.
each new square captured on this gameboard brings such an outcome closer and makes it more difficult to fight.
and this is why we need to overturn the board.
most western states are already so powerful and so open in their desire to keep dominating society from the top down “for its own good” that this totalitarian impulse cannot be extinguished and elections are unlikely to help much in the long run because so much of the locus of this movement resides in bureaucracy and technocratic deep state that exists outside the elected realm. it’s agencies and institutions, departments and devolved systems and the remain eternal like some sort of fascist herpes, sometimes in remission, always waiting for a chance to flare if societal immune systems get weak.
it will help to remove these agencies entirely: gut them, eliminate them, disassemble their power and establish strongly enumerated limits. this will buy breathing room, but i’m not sure it will not simply start again once some more of klaus’s cohorts get elected again. we thought we were done with club of rome malthusian mischief back in the 80’s and 90’s. but here it is again.
and this is why we must develop systems that are resistant to it.
societal rather than governmental control of information and money shall comprise our immure system.
the project of our time is to place ourselves outside the vision and the reach of the state. centralization is not our friend.
this technology is the most double edged of blades. it can be held to our throats or used to cut our way to true and lasting freedom.
which way it goes is up to us.
this is why i speak of establishing a fully end to end encrypted peer to peer internet with swarm sourced content and routing and name servers that are decentralized. this is going to have to occur all the way to layer 1 physical transport (fiber, wireless, etc) to be fully secure, but this can happen in time.
we need to move the whole idea away from companies and toward open source standards and codecs.
this will render the internet a vast mesh of traffic that cannot be deciphered by any but its desired recipients and this vast sea of traffic will form the perfect steganographic backdrop to go for the real goal: to make money peer to peer and take it away from the state.
governments are not only disastrous stewards of fiat currency, but they are increasingly weaponizing banking and transactional systems. it is the ultimate lever of control. the tax farmers control everything about this ecosystem from field to table. they see it all. they may grab what is yours any time.
but what if they couldn’t?
what if money existed outside them, invisible to them, impervious to their desires to take or even know what you made, bought, or sold? what if they could not see savings or markets or investment?
pause to imagine the freedom of such a world.
one cannot tax what one cannot see.
the current system, especially in the US, is essentially one of serfdom. you are born here and so, through no choice or option of your own, you owe tax on all you produce and it will, come hell or high water, be collected. even if you leave the US, you still owe. america taxes global income. you are, quite literally, tied to the land with chains of excise and held in place by an ability to seize assets globally. if the demos says pay, you’re on the hook. end of story.
what chance have “we the people” of attaining just government through the consent of the governed in such a system?
you are not a customer, you’re a captive.
(and giving up US citizenship is surprisingly difficult and expensive. and even if you manage it, you’ll be taxed on all your assets as if they had been sold on the way out. freedom ain’t free.)
but what if we the people owned the money? what if only we could see it? this is the great failing of current cryptocurrencies. they are not anonymous, nor secret, nor secure, nor scalable.
i am a HUGE believer in crypto. i think it’s one of the most important ideas of our time. but BTC, ETH, monero, etc, these are 1.0 products. they seem ill suited to scaling to actually providing large scale, affordable, defensible transactions that can be kept private and invisible. there is a great deal in the structure of the systems and the need to solve certain problems that makes this so but a great deal of that could be mitigated if we had a vast peer to peer network of communication that was already secure and already private. this moves part of the functionality to a different layer of the system and this opens up all manner of avenues especially around trusted counterparties.
banks used to each offer their own currencies and many were in use even in one city. contrary to the “we need the fed to oversee the system and ensure stability” claims, this was actually an extremely robust and sound system. it has less, not more bank failure and fewer crises because the banks self-regulated and all watched one another.
you’re bank of reader, i’m bank of gato. we each accept and clear one another’s scrip and even 150 years ago we were “settling up” several times a day at market exchange rates. the trust in the system was key: for you to take gatobucks you need to know what they are worth, so you demand to see the gatobooks. i do the same. and so do 10 other banks. so everyone is demanding access and granting it as well because this is how you join a settlement system. so everyone is watching everyone, problem banks are rapidly firewalled, and everyone needs to behave sensibly or get bounced. and unlike regulators, other banks have the competence and self-interest to actually monitor counterparties. they do not get captured. they need to get it right because their own buttocks are on the line.
there are 100 useful ways to structure such a clearing system for multiple scrips once you break the comms system free from observation, censorship, or suppression and can place the banks in swarm sourced locations that fail to conform to any defined geography. they basically reside nowhere because they are possibly anywhere but their location cannot be proven or is constantly shifting. (or, they can just move to an accommodating location with near instant immediacy and then engage in untraceable communication with customers and counterparties)
making money opaque to governments is what sets humanity free. oh, you want tax dollars? OK. provide me with a valid reason to opt in willingly. i’m a customer, not compelled tax livestock. the choice shifts to me.
what am i invested in? nunya. nunya business. take a hike.
we’ll shop for governments and economic jurisdictions and trading systems and they will compete to serve us best rather than endlessly conspiring to forcibly fleece us. they don’t get to tell you what to do, you get to tell them what you’ll pay for if they provide it. government will become worlds better because the competition for members will breed and demand competence and quality.
what a time to be alive that would be.
the flourishing it would set off would be astonishing. we could finally and truly realize the dream of government by the consent of the governed and truly tap the engines of human (and feline) ingenuity for the first time.
so these seem to be our choices.
become endlessly governed or intrinsically ungovernable.
and you always know which side of that one i’m coming down on…