Motes, Beams, Rape n stuff…

This may be the first time I’ve quoted something from the bible in support of one of my own arguments but it is particularly apt:

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? (Matthew 7:3)

The author of this strange Alternet piece tries to argue that the current Indian “rage against women” – as evidenced by the sudden rash of rape stories – is a result of their social evolution gradually changing the gender roles and balance of power, to the benefit of women, which, consequently represents a threat to the male ego and their sense of god given authority.

Their argument would be somewhat more plausible if the actual rate of rape in India was spectacularly above the global norm. In fact, as anyone can find out for themselves just by googling “rape rates statistics” , the Indian rape rate (1.8 per 10,000 population) is considerably lower (one fourteenth ish) of the USA or UK rape rates (27.3 and 28.8 respectively)

The statistic I found most surprising, however, was the rate for that bastion of gender equality, Sweden, where, apparently women are raped at more that twice the rate of either the UK or USA, which means something over 30 (three zero) times as often as their oppressed sisters in India.

Of course, the Swedish statistics might be somewhat skewed by the fact that they treat failure to use a condom as rape, even if the sex was consensual (hence Julian Assange’s present difficulties). Clearly the rape story is somewhat more complex than the author’s kneejerk analysis. But the real scandal is that the vastly greater prevalence of rape in our “civilised” countries attracts far less attention than we are seeing over a couple of gory stories and politically incorrect comments from India…

The not so hidden Agenda of American Libertarianism

The Von Mises institute represents what we might patronisingly call the intelligent side of American Libertarianism; in contrast to that (larger) faction who have grown up believing that Ayn Rand was a significant philosopher.

I have been trying to find ways to unite anarchists of the right and left for some years, as we all share the same views on individual liberty and the authoritarian evil and dangers of government. And I don’t have any difficulty agreeing with much of the analysis of the institute and its founders. This 2008 critique of the American Constitution, for example, is very much in line with my own:

In effect, what the American Constitution did was only this: Instead of a king who regarded colonial America as his private property and the colonists as his tenants, the Constitution put temporary and interchangeable caretakers in charge of the country’s monopoly of justice and protection.

which, of course, mirrors my own description of (all) so-called democratic governments as nothing more than limited-term elected dictatorships.

And who can argue with:

These caretakers did not own the country, but as long as they were in office, they could make use of it and its residents to their own and their protégés’ advantage. However, as elementary economic theory predicts, this institutional setup will not eliminate the self-interest-driven tendency of a monopolist of law and order toward increased exploitation. To the contrary, it only tends to make his exploitation less calculating, more shortsighted, and wasteful. As Rothbard explained, while a private owner, secure in his property and owning its capital value, plans the use of his resource over a long period of time, the government official must milk the property as quickly as he can, since he has no security of ownership.

Government officials own the use of resources but not their capital value except in the case of the “private property” of a hereditary monarch. When only the current use can be owned, but not the resource itself, there will quickly ensue uneconomic exhaustion of the resources, since it will be to no one’s benefit to conserve it over a period of time and to every owner’s advantage to use it up as quickly as possible.

But what is clearly going to remain a stumbling block between us, however, is their elevation of “Property Rights” above even “Liberty” and the article unconsciously illustrates the problem.

As Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence, government was instituted to protect life, property, and the pursuit of happiness.

which would be news to Jefferson, who didn’t mention the word “Property” once in the actual Declaration of Independence. I initially thought it was a mistake but it is repeated further down the article, so it is clearly intentional. This meme manipulation is as unethical as any religious or mainstream political propaganda; and it doesn’t increase the prospects for unification of the wings of Liberty…

“Anonymous” Takes Aim At The Wrong Target

I’ve only just stumbled across it but a few months back, Anonymous issued some bizarre guidance on avoiding face recognition technology:

For a bunch of skilled hackers, they’re being oddly naive. Every single countermeasure they suggest will be defeated by the authoritarians within a few months or, at most, a few years. Tilting your head more than fifteen degrees is one of the more ludicrous examples. First off, although the software might currently have a little difficulty spotting a face at that angle, to a human observer, such behaviour would stick out like a sore thumb and prompt much more detailed attention. But, in any case, it’s not going to take them a huge amount of time to improve the software to the point where it’ll easily recognise a face even if it’s carried under your arm and upside down!

And “so what?” if they have difficulty spotting your face? They’re already working on things like gait recognition (even from satellites ferchissake!) and earlobe recognition not to mention the FBI’s well advanced research into the use of voice recognition for both surveillance and forensic purposes, which, given their already illegal but ongoing (and ignored by congress) practice of warrantless wiretapping, and the medieval law they’ve passed which allows them to detain citizens indefinitely without trial (habeas corpus? habeas bollocks!). Or the recent acknowledgement of the growing use of Drones to watch their own citizens. Or the (previously) secret Trapwire program itself – which raised the face recognition issue in the first place but goes much deeper and wider than that – and so on and so on…

Are we smelling the coffee yet? Do you really think that pulling a few ridiculous stunts to make face recognition a little more awkward is any part of the solution? If so, I fear you don’t yet understand the true scale of the problem.

What we’re up against here is the most powerfully equipped authoritarian menace in human history. These people make the STASI look like well-meaning amateurs. They are enthusiastically creating the infrastructure required to police a Totalitarian State in which your every movement, contact and, ultimately every belief and even thought can be logged, analysed and risk assessed with a view to “mitigation”.

One of the few things we’ve still got going for us is that they haven’t yet figured out a way to hide the consequences of (some of) their actions or their involvement. As a result they still feel a trifle constrained to operate within some kind of limitations which would pass, at least, the rigorous investigative probing of the “Journalists” at Fox News. That gives them a fair amount of leeway but god help us if they ever turn nasty.

The solution to this problem is not to confront the enemy in the battlefield of their own choosing. This war requires the classic strategy of the martial artist. We need to use the enemy’s energy against them. For example, at least 1% of those in sensitive posts will be as horrified as we are about the increasing tyrannical nature and potential of the activities they are engaged in. We need to ensure they have secure channels through which to leak the crucial evidence. And if and when we ever win this war, we need to reward and honour those who had the courage to blow the whistles when it most mattered.

I’ve been blathering on for some years now about the (increasing) need for a Trusted Surveillance program which will wrest control from the Authoritarians by making them genuinely and unavoidably accountable. Here, for example, is part 1 (all 8 parts are on youtube) of my 2007 attempt to explain how it might work in the context of the prescient movie “Enemy Of The State” (the movie was made back in 1998 – so this isn’t just a post 9-11 problem)

Implementing Trusted Surveillance will be partly technical and partly political. It requires the abolition of many existing laws and the implementation of new ones. Some of the new laws are genuinely revolutionary and we can expect major resistance from all parts of all establishments as they fight to maintain their hold on power. But, as I hint in various places, the battle we are now engaged in is the final battle for the human soul. It will determine whether, in the coming centuries, our species consists of largely free individuals or regimented hordes required to conform to and service the demands of their rulers.

A battle on this scale requires much more than brute force (which, in any case, the enemy has a near monopoly on, despite the relaxed gun laws in the USA). It requires creative intelligence, in which weapons such as subversion, satire and sedition will play a much greater role than bombs and bullets. We need to make the enemy a laughing-stock. We need to get to the point where even the most ignorant sheep-like citizens are too embarrassed to support their patronizing shepherds. In this regard, the likes of Jon Stuart and Stephen Colbert are every bit as important as, say, Wikileaks and whistleblowing.

I may, of course, be wrong in every detail of my proposals but I am utterly certain that I am at least focussed on the right target and that the problem is every bit as far-reaching as I describe in my various rantings. So if you don’t agree with my solution, fine, but you’d better start coming up with an alternative while we’ve still got the freedom and scope to implement it. Meanwhile remember:

Citizen – Innocent Until Proved Guilty
Authority – Guilty Until Proved Innocent

Recording Police is a Dangerous but Necessary Thing to Do – Viral Video

The commentary in the video includes a demand for police to be obliged to video all their interactions. I first tried to promote that idea back in 2007 and it’s taken this long for me to find someone else arguing for it. Unlike my feeble effort, however, this one has already gone viral. Oh, and apologies for the pointless noise pollution of uninvited background music. I think they must have intended to do a rap commentary but Cam’ron was double booked or something…

Oh yeah; Happy New Year to all my readers. May you both live long and prosper.

Citizen – Innocent Until Proved Guilty
Authority – Guilty Until Proved Innocent