The Circular Logic of Fascism

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The U.S. Supreme Court rejects a lawsuit against the government’s secret spying program against Americans because its victims can’t prove they’re being spied upon…because it’s secret.

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9 thoughts on “The Circular Logic of Fascism

  1. >No, you can’t stop ACTUAL technology.

    So any technology which cannot withstand suppression, is not actual technology?
    That is probably the first novel idea I have heard from you. Please elaborate.

  2. But Ted, the US Supreme Court’s majority merely stated the obvious ; i e, a party cannot have locus standi in the event an offense committed against him or her is an official secret – how can one demostrate sufficient connexion to the case without violating secrecy, the greatest of all crimes (if you thought that the greatest of all crimes was the Crime against the Peace, as determined at Nürnberg, you’ve missed the last 6½ decades). «A republic, Madame ; if you can keep it» is said to have been Franklin’s reply to a query about the results of the Constitutional Convention in 1787 – alas, she, and her descendents could not….

    Henri

  3. @Alex

    Interesting. Am I to take it then that you do not subscribe to the “capitalism must be destroyed” philosophy that is otherwise so prevalent around here? You are clearly anti-internet, in the interests of preserving capitalism perhaps?

    As for myself, I believe capitalism needs to change and the internet provides the best vehicle for this while allowing us to bypass the utterly disastrous “failed revolution/crash-fasicist theocracy-sucessful revolution” idea that Ted is championing.

    @oleg.

    No, you can’t stop ACTUAL technology. If you could, we’d still be riding our horse and buggy to our neighbors houses to listen to wax cylinders on our Victrola. The rich have fought every technological advance from cars to television to computers to the VCR to p2p file sharing and eventually, they ALWAYS lose. Technology wins in the end. Always.

  4. Olegna,

    C) Protections from destabilizing potentials technologies are strictly rationed by wealth.

    Don’t forget “D.”

    D) The purpose of democracy (at least in theory) is to equalize people, so that a rich man or a poor man are both bound in the same way by the same law.

  5. Thanks for that clarification, Alex, though, I don’t think anyone here noticed/recognized whims’ characterization.

    Capitalism, formulated as a force which provides the stability necessary for democratic process, is an interesting concept. I might set up a more looping, feed-back model, with democratic structures and strenuously demonopolized markets exerting a stabilizing force on each other. But such a model is itself a mechanism comprised of multiple mechanisms. An innovation. A technology which must destabilize adjacent systems (eg. wealth and power concentrations).

    So, in the case of democracy and markets, we are talking about a technology which has picked the wrong fight, so to speak.

    It’s victims wield the power and wealth to modify the technology in legal and other venues. Will this modification be an improvement? How is this measured? In the case of democratic market systems (as formulated) we actually have some good metrics. Namely, the degree to which an implementation efficiently allocates power and wealth compared to another implementation. If this metric is valid, we would expect to see that in implementations where power and wealth concentrators are allowed to temper the destabilizing potential of democratic market systems (eg. US, Mexico, Russia, Italy) the performance is far below implementations which do not (eg. Nordic countries). And in fact, when we use numbers from the real world, this is what we indeed see.

    So

    If the internet is a system which is constantly improving and extending at a growing pace until all humans are linked by it, it is already being shut down in some important ways. It was decades of public sector investment which enabled its creation both physically and conceptually. Like in the case of most technological advancement in the past 100 years, the market never could have created it. No firm or collection of firms could have sustained the investment necessary to effect its creation. Yet, like democracy and markets, the internet is being tempered and repurposed by some of whom it would have destabilized, into something which profits them, and more sharply destabilizes others. And like in the case of democracy, we can use a similar metric to evaluate its performance as a mechanism which efficiently allocates some good. And we would undoubtedly find that its useful to consider that there are several internets, and that some perform better than others, and that the ones that are worse off are the ones that are more tempered by well-connected minorities.

    So, to use nietzschean terms, this whole “you can’t stop technology” idiocy is just something the weak tell themselves to convince themselves that there is this force out there that levels the playing field. The strong know that they can stop technology, and they do it every day. To be clear. There are very high-paid people working overtime right now to divert the destabilizing potentials of technologies onto others. Take, say, MpegLA. They are a patent pool comprised of powerful companies (eg. Apple) who’s mission it is to make sure there is no such thing as a video codec that anyone can use freely. So if you have video up on your website, you will be paying rent to them. There will be no way for anyone to watch your video unless you make your own codec, and if that codec becomes widely adopted, they will say it is too alike their client’s patented codecs, and game over. You will be out lawyered. And this is obviously not limited to video codecs.

    So, to sum it up:

    A) Democracy and markets are no more and no less a technology than the internet is.

    B) Technologies always have destabilizing potentials (eg. displaced livelihoods or displaced profits)

    And most importantly

    C) Protections from destabilizing potentials technologies are strictly rationed by wealth.

  6. The secret spying program? You mean Facebook?

    But on a slightly more serious note, I just want to clarify my Internet position, which Whimsical recently described as “Alex’s ‘Let’s turn off the internet’ cranky old man positions on technology.”

    Whim’s got a piece of it with his description of my attitude. But it’s not the whole thing.

    The Internet is antithetical to long-term capitalism. I realize it hasn’t been in fashion for well-on 30 years to talk about capitalism as a long-term, slow-growth engine, but that’s what it’s supposed to be. Capitalism is the mechanism that allows democracy to flow. People vote when they’re fed. People vote with their smash-and-grab hands when they’re starving. Society requires stability. That’s what capitalism is there for. The Internet destabilizes not just by rendering almost every job you can imagine vulnerable to obsolescence but by doing so to whole stretches at the same time. If the corporate ladder is missing the third rung, you can bypass by either going right from 2 to 4 or by moving laterally to another ladder and climbing pass the break before swinging back.

    The Internet doesn’t just take out a rung here or there. If cuts out rungs 2, 3, 4, and 5 from all the ladders except the one over there (surgeon) and the one there (actor) and the one there (forklift operator). But for the vast majority? There’s no way to bypass the destruction except through the wildest of luck.

    Look at Facebook and Amazon. Two massive Internet companies. Facebook has 2,000 employees. If Facebook goes from 1 billion users to 2 billion users, they might add another hundred or so people to the payrolls. A few more programmers. Amazon? If they doubled their sales (which is not possible), they might add more people, but all those people they add will mostly be in warehouses, picking items off shelves. Eventually, someone from Facebook will finish the software that allows robots to do all the picking, all the packing, all the shipping. Amazon will because a giant vending machine: one person opens up the coin box, takes all the money, keeps all the profits. People will continue shopping at home until, having lost their jobs as well, they find their credit cards no longer work.

    I understand that the Internet isn’t going anywhere. It’s just like global warming. And just like with global warming, people think “all the facts aren’t in” or that “you can’t make that determination.” But I think you can: the Internet will continue to destabilize.

    If the Internet was an employment-positive force, wouldn’t there be pretty much zero unemployment by now?

  7. >Thanks Obama.

    …and by extension the corporate interests which funded his election, and which continue to dictate his and congress’ every move.

    Wow ex. We are agreeing on much these days.

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