Today is October 10th, 2012 and I am ready to go to prison.

Thus spake Leah Lynn Plante just over a year ago.

The Empire obviously broke her spirit because they let her out again a few days later, while the other two refuseniks who were kidnapped by the State at the same time, were only released five months later, when the judge admitted that the State bullying had failed to break their spirits and that he could see no further point in detaining them.

Leah, it is rumoured, co-operated with the grand jury and has thus, apparently, since been shunned by her erstwhile anarchist companions. I, for one, salute her bravery. Not many of us would dare to confront the Bully State to the extent she did and the fact that their bullying and intimidation appears to have frightened her into compliance is certainly no basis for condemnation or even disdain.

But I’d be fascinated to know what she revealed. I’m betting it was buggerall because she obviously isn’t any kind of terrorist – unlike the state employed thugs who broke into her home, kidnapped her and locked her up in the name of the scandalous “War on Terror”

So…read the statement, watch the video, then ask yourself, “who, exactly, are the terrorists in this story?”

here’s a more detailed discussion of the implications of what the modern McCarthyites are up to:

now consider the irony of the source of that video. And in case you distrust the message because you might distrust the messenger, remember that the story is on the public record because at least one “proper” newspaper did report the facts and even the negative and seditious comments by Neil Fox, president of the National Lawyer’s guild. It’s also quite well summarised, with references,here as usual. So we know it really happened. Yet hardly any of us DO know…

I was, initially, concerned that this was old news. A year old to be almost precise. Then I thought, well I didn’t know about it before I “stumbled” it tonight and it’s right in my target zone. Then I looked around for other coverage of what ought to have been fairly major police state outrage and found almost nothing. Fewer than 150 people have watched that video before now, so you’re an early adopter. I couldn’t find any evidence of more than a few thousand views of other versions of the same thing and, as for the mainstream, as usual, nada… Indeed just google “leah-lynn plante” “grand-jury” which terms ought to appear in any serious reporting of the story. It returned a little under 37,000 results, none of which included, in the first five pages, any recognisable commercial or state media. Bizarrely not even that Seattle Times piece appears in the early pages and it definitely contains those search terms!

Somehow they’ve managed to hide the story in plain sight. Which is why it’s probably as much news to you as it was to me.

I find this particular disturbing. One of the observations I made, back in 2005, in the first comment I wrote for my original “Police State of America” collection was that one feature that gave us “hope” for the American condition was that – at least – all its problems were being reported by other Americans, revealing a considerable level of resistance and dissent.

Will we now have to start relying on the Russians to host discussion of the continuing American descent into State brutality against its own citizens?

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Ad Blocking Software – Strongly Recommended

Check out this pleading inanity from one of my (otherwise) favourite sites

Dearie me, am I to understand that it’s a problem for Physorg that I choose not to conform?

Idiots like this just don’t get it. Some of us are not just immune to advertising, we actively and passionately object to it as a manipulative abuse of bandwidth.

This antipathy is more prevalent, perhaps, in UK citizens than most because we have the Beeb, producing consistently high standards of broadcasting without commercial breaks. Before we had our hard-drive backed digital TV services we often had to wait two hours before getting to pee.

Nowadays, we can just pause the program, which neatly eliminates the one advantage that commercial breaks could boast. And boy does it make for a massive culture shock when we are exposed to American TV. That culture must be behind the sentiments expressed by this drivel.

They clearly believe it is their god given right to advertise to me. As my regular reader will know, I obviously don’t believe in god given rights. And, as it happens, I don’t believe in human rights either. I believe in Liberty – which is merely the absence of constraint – and Reciprocity – treat others as you would wish to be treated in return. That combination covers every conceivable ethical question you’ll ever confront; including whether or not to tolerate intrusive commercials on a web page.

And I see absolutely nothing which justifies any constraint whatsoever on my ability to install Adblock and not just ignore your adverts but remain blissfully unaware of their existence. Adblock is a free Firefox add-on – strongly recommended if you’re as allergic to ads as I am. And those who might be inclined to follow my recommendation will not confuse the previous sentence with “advertising” because they will know I have absolutely nothing to gain by that recommendation other than the knowledge I am spreading a little more contentment. My motives, are, therefore, entirely honorable. As I’m sure is true even of some commercials. But not many…

What Physorg and those who think like that obviously don’t understand is that if I was forced to suffer their sites with ads, I would simply exercise my liberty to avoid visiting those sites. How would that improve the human condition?

Dorks.

Heather Brooke’s Successful battle to expose political corruption

I concur…

Heather Brooke’s Homepage

The History Of Digital Telepathy

I know this won’t be the first time you’ve heard it, but on this day, of all days, we are entitled to remind ourselves, with a certain amount of mutual back slapping, that we are living in the first period in recorded history in which there has been no verifiable armed conflict between nation states anywhere on planet Earth, for more than a decade. In some quarters there are even nervous whispers that it might, at last, be safe to come out from under the bed. John Lennon’s dream may have come true. War – as “diplomacy by other means” – may finally be consigned to human history.

It is easily the most far-reaching and widely accepted benefit of the digital telepathy we now take for granted so perhaps it’s worth briefly reviewing the history of how we got where we are today.

Step 1 – The Smart-Phone
Scholars argue that the demand-driver for DT were the antique smart-phones we see proudly displayed in p-resin as antiques in many modern homes today. They were the first platform which made ubiquitous conversation possible. The ease with which they integrated into the emerging online infrastructure of social networking and video sharing made it trivial, in turn, for the ubiquitous conversation to become the universal conversation, where we could all, for the first time in our history, begin to share in real-time, events happening to ordinary citizens around the world. The appetite for this connectivity had never been anticipated, not even by the world’s most imaginative science fiction writers. Smart-phones and the early web not only generated that appetite but, given the limits of early 21st Century technology, made a pretty good stab at satisfying it. But what those prototypes really did was to illustrate the desire for something much more complete.

Historically we recognise that the transition from a global economy based on profit, to one based on utility was well under way by the early 21st century. As Sarah Klein puts it in her award-winning “From Money to Merit”:

“While we can clearly see that commercial organisations continued to dominate innovation in (capital-intensive) hardware, the clear majority of important innovations in software, even before the inception of the Web, came from the Open Source movement, which made most of their product available at no cost to the consumer. The most important, of course, being the effective cryptography, on which modern society depends” (GooLit, 2053)

Credit must be given, however grudgingly, to the late capitalist compulsion to pursue profits, if necessary even by generating new markets – with their knack for “creating the solution to no known problem”. Selfish though such motivation usually was, there can be no denying the effect it had on technological innovation. Although we now recognise software to be the more important component of our socio-economic infrastructure, that software needed the hardware to run on. Like it or not, the greedy capitalists did far more than socially focussed collectivists to make that happen. Without the combination, however, today’s prosperous, healthy, peaceful and money-free society simply wouldn’t have been possible. So despite their overall brutality, we have a lot to thank the Capitalists for. They got things done. And when their time was over, unlike the Authoritarians who depended on their support, they had the good grace to sink relatively peaceably back into society with no hard feelings between us.

Some argue that the vital step towards DT was the first smart-phone implant (remember the “Mind-Phone”? – you won’t find many of those hanging on living room walls!) and there is no denying that it had enormous consequences. On the road to DT, it was, for a start, the first time you could make contact with someone just by thinking their tag. But it was the effect it had on social control which scores much higher in my analysis.

Step 2 – Citizen Surveillance v Privacy
To begin with, even though it was now simpler than ever to communicate, privately or publicly, with any other similarly connected individual, that first generation of mind-phone users were no more likely to communicate with their fellow early adopters, than they had been as smart-phone users. What had much more dramatic impact was the routine and effortless ability to record, privately and securely, anything and everything they did or witnessed. Being able just to think “store that” rather than dig a phone out of a pocket, unlock it and press a few buttons, made recording so easy that it became the default. Combined with pre-capture and growing memory capacity, it became easier to record virtually every waking moment – and perhaps discard the mundane or unwanted – than try to anticipate what might be worth recording and run the risk of missing it. With trusted time-stamps and hash-indexing against secure auditing databases it became trivial to retrieve forensic quality evidence of any arbitrary event from your own past with verifiable accuracy – provided only that you’d bothered to store it. And it being so effortless, why wouldn’t you?

Initially no one perceived its significance. It merely expanded the opportunities for egocentric adolescents to make fools or heroes of themselves and publicise their antics on the early attempts at digital sharing (remember “Facebook” and “YouTube”? Those were the days!) Scandalous headlines arose fairly quickly, when one or two (thousand) “minders” abused the technology to record and then playback intimate sexual encounters or other sensitive private moments without the informed consent of the other parties. That kind of abuse encouraged the widespread adoption of privacy locks, so that any such recording could only be shared if it was unlocked with keys belonging to all parties present at the original recording. Indeed, until the invention of the mindlock, locked data couldn’t even be replayed internally by the record holder unless the relevant parties pooled their keys.

Then came the question of how to deal with either tragic or sinister situations. Democratic random key distribution and trusted key escrow systems took care of those issues. In the tragic scenario, the individual’s own nominated trusted key holders could recreate the missing keys if death or serious incapacity was medically certified and at least 75% of them agreed that key assembly was necessary and appropriate. In the sinister scenario, like suspected rape or murder, where a suspect perpetrator chose to with-hold their keys and their trusted key-holders also refused to co-operate, the keys were constructed so that any 750, out of a thousand randomly selected citizens could – if persuaded that there was a strong enough case – reassemble the missing keys from their own copies of the distributed key store. Today, of course, we require 900, but, for its day, that degree of democratic control was almost revolutionary.

On its own, though, it was not enough to produce the legal and social revolution which knocked away a major pillar of the Authoritarianism that still ruled humankind in the 3rd decade of this century.

Step 3 – The Legal Victories
The first few successful prosecutions of corrupt or bullying police officers and politicians – made possible by evidence gathered beyond their control and beyond reasonable dispute – didn’t have as much impact as you might have expected. Again, it seemed like only a small step from the same kind of exposures produced by the already widespread digital sharing that had kicked off “citizen journalism” at the tail-end of the previous century. But as the numbers of such incidents began to grow in the typical “successful market” exponential manner, the consciousness began to rise – simultaneously within the citizenry and the authoritarians – that, largely due to the massively improved verifiability of the stored content, it was becoming increasingly difficult for the bullies to hold sway.

What the authorities hadn’t anticipated was that the same cryptographic protections which were essential to protecting individuals from illicit access to their thoughts (which were, of course, accessible by the implants) would prove so valuable in validating any claims made by those individuals in respect of evidence gathered in the routine recording of their daily lives. The crypto protocols didn’t just protect, they forensically validated every transaction and recording that they protected. Their audit trail was bullet proof and beyond reasonable challenge.

By the time some of the more extreme authoritarians woke up to the threat and tried to outlaw the technology in a belated attempt to hold back the tide, it was already becoming almost impossible to detect that an individual even had an implant; particularly after the introduction of the first generation of biological implants genetically configured to operate within the brainstem. And it became increasingly implausible, in the light of all the obvious crime it was detecting – and thus deterring – to argue that citizens shouldn’t avail themselves of this growing benefit. Many authorities pointlessly tried shielding their own contacts with the citizens, which only affected the ability to stream data in real-time – which nobody with their head screwed on ever attempted because it immediately made the implant eminently detectable. It had no impact, however, on our ability to record, with trusted timestamps and hash-chains, at either end of a shielded session, and thus to verify our account of the session, to the rest of the world on demand.

If they knew you had an implant, the more corrupt authorities even tried to use the privacy locks to their own advantage. In the guise of offering the victim their own trusted record, they insisted that all mutual sessions be recorded but privacy locked. If the victim subsequently complained, the authority would routinely try to hide behind its own absolute right to privacy. They would, occasionally, even attempt denial that any contact had taken place. It took them a while to understand that although they do not reveal content, time-stamped and shared privacy locks can easily be used to prove that contact had taken place between the sharers, and the routine authoritarian refusal to unlock audit trails covering disputed events made it increasingly obvious they were lying or abusing their authority. Of course, once the victim was arrested and able to prove the privacy lock times and locations, such authorities then found themselves bound by the rules of disclosure and though they often managed to persuade a judge that executive privilege was justified, they also often failed. And the more often they failed, the more likely it became that some other judge or jury would see through their naive pretences. Eventually it became abnormal for their pleas to succeed.

It was very entertaining to witness the Authoritarians’ own long time mantra coming back to bite them: “If you’ve nothing to hide, you’ve nothing to fear” had been their excuse for the authoritarian surveillance they had increasingly imposed, without consent, on a pliant society. How could they possibly argue against our recording what went on when they dealt with us? And how could they defend not revealing the content of those recordings?

Step 4 – The State Found Guilty of Murder
But what really mobilised the masses was when it became widely understood that citizens with implants could not just win any “your word against mine” argument over trivial disputes with friends, colleagues and family, but could fairly easily prove themselves innocent against even the most the malicious charges of a corrupt authority, however much tax-funded effort they put in to framing their victim.

The infamous case of Wilson v the United States is the pivotal case every student learns about and which exposed the levels of corruption endemic in the so-called Justice system. The police, under the direct instructions of a political aide (Adrian White) to the then Vice President (Joanne Schwarzewild), and with the explicit knowledge of the Attorney General (Carlos Martinez), were shown conclusively to have planted evidence and commissioned witness testimony with the corrupt and direct intent to convict an innocent student – David Wilson – in order to conceal the part played by the FBI in the assassination of the wife (Carole) of a Republican Senator (Alan Liebowitz) who had inconveniently caught said Senator cheating on her in an election year. Unfortunate timing on both sides.

Not only was the student able to prove his own alibi by giving a comprehensive and indisputable record of his movements and location during a critical 14 hour period, but, following his arrest, he endured the routine “legal” blackmail session known as “plea bargaining”. They didn’t know he was implanted and he captured virtual admissions by the police interrogators and prosecutors that he was being set up as a Patsy, that he had “no chance of beating the State machine that you’re up against and your own best interests would be served by admitting guilt even though we all know you didn’t do it”.

The political clincher was the testimony provided by a White House secretary, Marion Downey, present during a conversation in which the Vice President casually made it clear to the Chief of Staff (Sydney Walden) that the suitable target had been found. The VP informed the Chief of Staff that David Wilson regularly earned a bit of extra cash tending the extensive gardens of the Senator’s New England Mansion on Saturday mornings. He could be put in the right place at the right time.

Downey didn’t take much notice at the time because she misunderstood it as a trivial domestic arrangement for the Senator’s gardening requirements. It was only when the Senator’s murdered wife popped up on all the News feeds a couple of weeks later, followed by a startled looking David Wilson being arrested for the murder that she realised she was in possession of incriminating evidence. And for reasons which have been replayed since in a dozen dramatisations of the story, she didn’t much like the VP at the time.

Downey swore testimony and offered to reveal her data to the court but both the Vice President and Chief of Staff pleaded the Fifth and refused to share their privacy-locking keys, citing grounds of “National Security” and “Executive Privilege”; which, for the first time, the entire planet understood to be an inescapable admission of guilt.

The judge (Justice Steven Warren) – clearly part of the conspiracy – tried to rule her testimony invalid and even tried to block the expert testimony of the mathematicians and forensic software consultants who could explain how and why Wilson’s alibi was incontrovertible. Famously the Jury went on strike – together with elements of the local police – who had caught the mood of the masses and refused to make any arrests. The media storm and widespread public protests eventually forced the Government to concede a retrial under the famously incorruptible Justice Mary Elizabeth Sterning.

The technical evidence demonstrated to the court how Wilson’s evidence could not have been spoofed.

The assassin hired by the FBI had killed the Senator’s wife 15 minutes before Wilson was due to report for duty on Saturday morning, expecting him to show up just before the Police snatch squad sent to arrest him with the smoking gun. But he had consumed rather too much alcohol at a Frat party the previous evening and didn’t make it to the Mansion. His ability to prove his movements sunk the prosecution case and under the judge’s direction, the jury gladly, and unanimously, found him not guilty and made their now famous declaration finding “Agents and Agencies of the Government guilty of murder in the first degree, conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and perjury to a degree amounting to Treason against the people of the United States”.

As well as the huge and inevitable political storm this provoked, overnight the American “successful prosecution” rate, always considered as infeasibly high, plummeted as it quickly became clear that a significant percentage of prosecutions were without verifiable foundation and resulted from virtual blackmail in the form of the corrupt plea bargaining system. Outside America the corruption of its judicial system was widely recognised, not least as a result of the direct inverse correlation between the wealth of the defendant and their probability of conviction. But getting Americans to see it with their own eyes was absolutely crucial. Once their authoritarian domino began to wobble, all the others realised the peril that was upon them.

Step 5 – Changing the Game and the Players
Once the chances of successful prosecution against provably innocent victims fell to near zero, the entire plea bargaining system crashed and burned. One after another, juries refused to follow the edicts of obviously corrupt judges and made it impossible to convict the innocent. Honest judges, who fortunately still formed a majority within the judicial system, began rejecting Police evidence routinely unless it was digitally recorded, with trusted time-stamps, on a protected audit trail. The crunch came when the still largely Authoritarian Congress tried to pass new laws, dramatically reducing opportunities for – and the powers reserved for – Trial By Jury. Simultaneously, they tried to mandate trust in Police evidence even when not digitally preserved. Nearly one and a quarter million American Citizens surrounded the Capitol and refused to move until the vote was taken. The Sacking of Congress, which followed the infamous vote is, of course, the day we now all celebrate as the birthdate of our real democracy.

In the famous words (*) of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Pilliakov – the only sitting Supreme to try to fight the State’s attempt at resisting the revolution (and one of the first into the Capitol on that famous Tuesday):

“Yes, it is still necessary, in some circumstances, for society to delegate Authority to public employees but on this historical day we have finally come to terms with Lord Acton’s axiom: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” And at last we have found the solution…

From this day forth, the rule of Law shall be modified thus:

Citizen: Innocent until proved Guilty

Authority: Guilty until proved innocent.”

Beyond the criminals in Authority, it became effectively impossible for criminals in the wider world to know – in advance of their attack – whether or not someone was capable of recording their attacks, so once the adoption rate passed the critical mass of about 25%, it rapidly became too dangerous for most attackers to take the risk. Of course, if you actually intended to kill the target, it was still relatively simple to arrange a murder before the victim’s sensors could identify the attacker, for example using a sniper rifle at distance, but almost all other attacks became too costly to the attacker. And once the technology adoption rate achieved the 95% level, the ability to track down attackers purely by a process of elimination became feasible and crime fell to the levels it still sits at today where Murder and Rape are now so rare that each one becomes a sensation for a few weeks after it is uncovered.

Step 6 – Making Public Lies Impossible
The next major enhancement was AAI – Augmented Artificial Intelligence. Some of us are old enough to remember its humble beginnings as a simple audio-visual prompt which would remind users of the name of that acquaintance you’d bumped into in the street. You’d only met them once, and that was a few months back. It was so damn useful to have that name and bio prompt and be able to greet each other, convincingly, like old friends!

But then AAI’s language and context recognition skills began to be turned in another direction. RTFM – Real Time Fact Monitoring – was the killer app that did for Authoritarianism what that prehistoric asteroid collision did for the Dinosaurs. Their use of covert and overt violence to control the population had already been made untenable by the citizen surveillance arraigned against them. Now it became increasingly impossible for them to control any part of the political messaging system unless it genuinely fitted the facts.

At first it was a tool for the satirists. They’d replay a political speech but with the AAI analysis showing up as subtitles. We all smirked as politician after politician was shown to be misinformed, prejudiced, selective, manipulative, superstitious or lying. Bigoted journalists, exaggerating CEOs, Evangelist millionaire ministers and a host of other routine social parasites were all publicly exposed in the same way.

It quickly became obvious that the game was up. No public statement, nor even a private one – if if was based on facts in the public domain – could be made without the increasingly infallible RTFM flagging up all attempts at deceit and manipulation. Dishonest politicians, in particular, found it impossible to continue their centuries old tactics and quickly became unelectable. And although it took a full fifteen more years for the effects of RTFM to sweep the planet, and one or two regimes fought to the literal bitter death, Authoritarianism died, not so peacefully, on January 5 2058, with the public hanging of Iran’s “Guardian Council”.

And as we all know, we’ve seen massive drops in crime against the person, mirrored around the world, and despite the on-going genuine conflicts which continue to exist between citizen and citizen, between State and citizen and between State and State, since that date there hasn’t been a single day of armed conflict between any two or more member States of the United Nations. It seems that once it became impossible to lie to each other about anything which could be instantly fact-checked or, if necessary, remotely or citizen surveilled, wars become essentially impossible to create.

This year, as multiple celebrations are regularly reminding us, is the centenary of the recognised starting point of the digital age – January 1 1970. And today is specifically the 50th anniversary of that first smart-phone implant on April 1 2020 – the birthdate of Digital Telepathy.

I give you “Happy D Day”


*Pilliakov’s speech in Context:

“Yes, it is still necessary, in some circumstances, for society to delegate Authority to public employees but on this historical day we have finally come to terms with Lord Acton’s axiom: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” And at last we have found the solution.

From this day forward, let it be known to anyone aspiring to the exercise of Authority in this land: if ever you are delegated powers to act on our behalf, you shall be assumed fully accountable for every second of your life while you remain in office and, if appropriate, for a number of years before and after you leave office.

What this means in practice is very simple. Should you be accused of any crime or misdemeanour, in contrast to the Citizen, whose innocence will continue to be assumed until a Jury can be persuaded otherwise, the starting point for anyone in Authority is the exact opposite. Your guilt shall be assumed unless a Jury can be persuaded otherwise.

For some years, a growing number of ordinary citizens, now constituting a large majority of the population, have, for a wide variety of their own purposes, voluntarily and routinely captured comprehensive detail about own their lives; so comprehensive, that some innocent citizens have famously defeated the infamous attempts by a corrupt State and corrupt judicial system to continue their embedded practice of widespread judicial blackmail and tens of thousands of false imprisonments.

That same technology shall, in future, be deployed to further protect the Citizen from rogue Authority. Unlike ordinary citizens, for whom the adoption and precise use of such technology will always remain optional, if you are appointed to a position of Authority, it is, hereafter, a condition of your employment in such a post, not only that you be monitored by the technology, but for that monitoring to be provably continuous.

You shall record your every move, your every conversation, your every heartbeat. They shall remain just as private and secure as the data stored voluntarily by private citizens. But unlike the private citizen, about whom there can never be certainty about what data they have captured and chosen to archive, the world will know that you are legally obliged to possess your own digital record of any disputed event.

The world will thus know that, if you are innocent, you will be able prove it, just as thousands of innocent citizens have managed to do themselves, even under direct attack by the Authorities and Rules which were supposed to exist to protect them. Under these circumstances, it is, of course, reasonable, should you be accused of anything untoward, that you are given the opportunity to prove yourself innocent. But should you choose not to present such evidence, even if you claim that the evidence has been destroyed, or that a system failure prevented storage, your guilt shall be formally confirmed.

From this day forth, the rule of Law shall be modified thus:

Citizen: Innocent until proved Guilty

Authority: Guilty until proved innocent.

Congratulations! You’re This Week’s Lucky Winner…

The first major breach in the Police State?

The American Judicial System might be about to demonstrate that it isn’t completely broken. A Federal Judge has just had the balls to speak Truth to Power. A major plank of the USA PATRIOT Act has just been struck down and ruled unconstitutional. Which bit? The totalitarian rule they made to protect themselves from public scrutiny; the bit which gives the FBI and other security related organs of the State, the right to issue “National Security Letters” (NSLs). Yeah, that bit.

(In passing, why did I spot this first on The Register? This is historic news the mainstream media should be bleating from the rooftops. Just did a google for [“national security letters” unconstitutional] and the only “mainstream” entity on the first result page was this Fox News coverage! Who said the Americans don’t do irony?)

You tend to get one or more of these letters if you run any decent sized organisation in the United States. They are unethical, illicit and intrusive demands for information about a citizen; ostensibly on the grounds that there is good reason to believe that the citizen may be pursuing some kind of activity of which We disapprove. Oh, and if you ever get one of these letters, you’re not allowed to tell the “target” citizen, or anyone else, ever.

“We”, they would like us to believe, being “We The People”.

And if the relevant activities being enquired about were exclusively those which aided or abetted military attacks (from any source) on civilians (in any location) there is no doubt that We The People would approve of such well targeted surveillance and would expect to see evidence for this focussed diligence on our behalf in the form of steadily diminishing military attack on civilians. At the risk of stating the bleedin’ obvious, we do not see any such evidence.

What we see are increasingly widespread brutal paranoia among governments. You can create your own league table but China and the USA are both Premier League teams, converging on the same level of pseudo-liberty. We are all gradually being pulled back towards Roman Law.

Wot that?

Roman Law is the historical precedent and basis of so-called “Civil Law” under which it is held that Laws don’t exist unless explicitly created by the Civil Authority. In contrast, UKUSA law is based on the “Common Law” tradition where we make it up as we go along. Neither is perfect, obviously. But the notion that Law doesn’t exist until a properly constituted authority creates it might look eminently sensible. But its real meaning, or at least interpretation by the relevant Civil Authorities, has always been sinisterly nuanced.

Rule One was that, as a citizen, you are obliged to act, at all times, within the law. The absence of a law did not, as you might naively expect, confer liberty. By definition, if you were acting in some way not already described by the law, you could not possibly be acting within it and were, therefore, in breach of Rule One.

This elegant totalitarian concept – that ALL action is forbidden unless I Caesar permit it – is beautifully efficient as a control mechanism. It means you can arrest and prosecute citizens on a whim. Virtually every second of the day you are bound to be doing something I Caesar have not explicitly permitted. For example, I didn’t give you permission to think what you just thought.

Roman Law hasn’t died out. It’s been kind of absorbed and blended with the less authoritarian, but often equally arbitrary, Common Law tradition that we “enjoy” in UKUSA. That’s supposed to mean that unless behaviour is explicitly forbidden by the Civil Authority, then it’s permitted.

Problem with that – if you’re a Civil Authoritarian with Totalitarian tendencies – is that too many damn citizens want to do too many things that I Caesar (elect) disapprove. They want to enjoy themselves, for example, in all sorts of ways that we can’t possibly permit. Buggers want sex all the time. Not to mention Drugs and Rock And Roll. Some of them even want to undermine our right to rule! Which is why we’ve been obliged to create this massive list of prohibited behaviours.

How they get away with it is the interesting bit. Chances are you wouldn’t be reading this if you weren’t already familiar with much of the explanation for that so I’m not going to teach you to suck eggs. But on the off-chance that these thoughts are new to you, you could do worse that starting with the Manufacturing of Consent.
No, I’m afraid it’s not an exciting video, just informative.

We The People will, of course, endorse a certain number of Prohibitions. Who doesn’t agree with the prohibition of Murder? Rape? Violence against the Person? Theft? Fraud? and a few other obviously antisocial activities we all wish to abolish. Deliberate or negligent harm to a third-party, without their informed and freely given consent, is universally recognised as criminal.

All other prohibitions are steps towards Roman Law. The more they can get away with forbidding, the greater their chances of arresting you on a whim. The greater the chance that you will have been doing something explicitly illegal sometime in the immediate past or present.

This will become especially relevant when they start including Thought Crime – which they are increasingly nudging towards both here in the UK and, of course, over there in the USA. It is, of course, long-established tradition in China and a few other places.

After all, what human has never contemplated an illegal act? Most admit to having at least wanted to murder at least one other person at least once in their lives. Reckon I’m up to a couple of hundred myself. Including a large number of senior American and one or two senior British Politicians.

I guarantee there are people employed to look out for sentences like the two previous; and to make some kind of judgement as to whether such sentiments constitute a “Terrorist Threat”. And I guarantee some of them will conclude that it does. They’re the sort of people who send out NSL letters. (or spend four weeks looking for the author of a Facebook quip about wanting to “Egg Cameron” [added 25/3/2013])

They, at least, will see this legal judgement as marking a very sad day for their cause.

For the rest of us, it’s high fives all round…

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…