The evolution of democracy

Transcript (more or less) from The evolution of democracy: Explaining Trump, Brexit and the Colombia peace deal, a keynote at Inteligencia Colectiva para la Democracia’ in Madrid, 2016.

My name is Heather Marsh. I am a writer and a programmer and I have been studying and experimenting with both local activism and methods of mass communication and collaboration for many years now. From 2010 to 2012 I was the administrator and editor in chief of the Wikileaks news site Wikileaks Central where I experimented with creating knowledge repositories, tying that information to things that were happening in the news and creating action based on that information. News without action is just voyeurism and action without information creates a very easily manipulated public, so I was trying to bring the two together in one place. In 2012 I concentrated more social media collaboration and I wrote a first book called Binding Chaos about all the problems I had seen while working with Wikileaks, Occupy, Anonymous, M15 and many other mass movements in recent years. We all seemed to be coming up against the same issues with hierarchy, direct democracy, consensus and collaboration. As I kept working on various projects it became apparent that we as societies had been butting heads for millenia on these same issues which really come down to trying to create a balance between autonomy, diversity and society, which is the title of my next book. And along the way I have been thinking of what tools we would require to help us achieve this balance, and the primary one I have been working on is a universal database and trust network called Getgee.

So today what I would like to talk about are some ideas from Binding Chaos and a little bit from Autonomy, Diversity, Society which will hopefully help when we are thinking about creating products for mass communication and mass collaboration. The focus is on creating a balance between personal autonomy of those doing the work, diversity of ideas and solutions and allowing the participation of the whole society.

slide1

How many people here have heard of a technological singularity? A technological singularity is something IT people and science fiction writers have liked to talk about for years. The idea is that we will reach a point, or have already reached a point, where technology is beyond the scope of human understanding and artificial intelligence will be programming itself, in a Skynet sort of world. It’s funny, people have been talking about this for years, but not many have noticed or acknowledged that we have instead reached a completely different type of singularity which is a societal singularity. We have reached a point where no one can understand every aspect of society which affects them. If you go back in history, crafts people could know everything there is to know about their jobs and people could know everything that went on in their villages but this is just not true any more. And even our villages and neighbourhoods are not autonomous, they are all connected now at some level with all the other communities in the whole world, even uncontacted tribes.

We need to collaborate with others not only to develop tools but even just to understand the news. We have to put our faith in other people and believe in what they tell us or trust in their skill to create their components if we are building a product. As programmers we have been used to working as an ecosystem like this for years, we always have to incorporate other people’s work and their bugs into our own, but this has spread to almost every aspect of public life. And this is one of the biggest challenges in creating tools for democracy. We can’t have real direct democracy or self governance any more because none of us can understand every aspect of everything. We need to rely on collaboration instead and this is going to require a completely different set of rules than we have used in the past. We need more than simple referendums and voting to govern ourselves this way. We need to somehow create nuanced and detailed information we can trust and we need to coordinate goals with people we will never speak to.

There are two main areas to talk about which are idea based collaboration and action based collaboration. The challenge in a societal singularity is how to allow all people to participate and communicate but still be able to filter signal from noise and how to allow people democratic choice but still retain worker autonomy.

First of all, let’s look at mass action based collaboration.

slide3
For action based tasks, the model that has become almost ubiquitous is the competitive hierarchical model. Most of us are all too familiar with this model. The typical response to a situation which requires an action is to create a noun, in the form of an organization, government body, or an official person and the focus is always on the organization and the personalities involved instead of the action. The hierarchy creates what I call personality based systems, as opposed to idea or action based systems. A new idea in a personality based system remains completely bound to the owner until it is legally transferred to another owner. All contributors work for the owner, not the idea, and you have to wait on one specific person for approval or direction at each level so there are bottle necks everywhere.

Most workers do not enjoy hierarchical systems as they lose autonomy, mastery and creative control over their own work, they just become an instrument under somebody else’s direction. The orders come from the top down and so there is very little diversity of ideas and we lose all the talent and ideas downstream. Because it is a closed system, collaboration between people does not happen unless they are hired by the same project. Competition is the opposite of mass collaboration. It’s really people working against each other, not together. So there is no autonomy, no diversity and no society.

slide4
The alternative to competition has traditionally been cooperation. Cooperative groups try to replace the top down hierarchy with a group consensus driven system which allows diversity of opinion at the top.

This is most effective only in groups of two to eight people. For groups larger than 25, cooperation is extremely slow. It is still a personality based system. An idea in a cooperative must be approved by the entire group, both on initiation and at each stage of development. The majority of energy and resources are spent on communication, persuasion, and personality management, and a power struggle can derail the whole project.

It can be dominated by extroverted personalities who make decisions to control the work of others and are very justly resented by those doing the actual work. Cooperatives frequently use consensus or votes to make decisions for the entire group. These methods may not produce the best results, particularly in large groups, as many people may not understand the work if they are not actually doing it and they may demand things they would never be willing to do themselves. The feeling of the workers at the bottom is no different whether there is a horizontal or a hierarchical structure making the decisions, the workers still have no personal autonomy.

Both competitive and cooperative projects will die if the group that runs the project leaves and both will attract or repel contributors based on the personalities of the existing group. Both are hierarchical systems where individuals need to seek permission to contribute. Both focus on the authority of personalities to approve a decision instead of focusing on the idea or action itself. So we have a society, at least within the group, but not without, but we still have no autonomy and because of the need to reach consensus there is also no diversity of product.

This isn’t in any way to say that cooperative and consensus driven systems are bad. They are actually the most comfortable way of working in small groups who know each other and have similar styles and share a goal, but they are very difficult to scale. As soon as you have a very large group of people with opposing viewpoints and personalities that don’t mesh, it is very difficult to get anything done.

slide5

I use stigmergy to describe a method of action based collaboration that is suitable for mass movements. I didn’t make up this awful word by the way, it is lifted from biology where it describes indirect communication and collaboration among ants and termites and various other creatures. In human movements, it allows diversity of methods and autonomy for workers while still putting the ultimate authority of choice with the whole society, to try to achieve that balance we talked of earlier. It is neither competitive nor cooperative. It is action based collaboration instead of personality based.

A system is stigmergic if

– it follows one goal

– it is completely transparent

– it is open to everyone to participate, at least within the user group

– the output is free for anyone to use and improve on

Stigmergy gives people autonomy over their own work. With stigmergy, an initial idea is freely given, and the project is driven by the idea, not by a personality or group of personalities. So no one needs permission, like they would in a competitive system, or consensus like they would in a cooperative, to initiate a project. There is no need to discuss or vote on the idea. If an idea is exciting or necessary it will attract interest and the interest attracted will be from people willing to contribute so those with more involvement in the idea will automatically have greater influence through their contributions.

There are no official authorities but the power of the user group still exists in the ability to accept or reject the work.

Workers are free to create regardless of acceptance or rejection. Drastically innovative ideas almost never receive instant mainstream acceptance so leaving control of work to group consensus only cripples innovation. When we allow anyone to contribute we also have a great diversity of talent and people can step up to further the goal in ways the originator never imagined.

So here we have full autonomy and diversity but the entire society still has the ultimate choice.

slide6

Where is stigmergy? We have always had stigmergy in our social lives and it has been behind most mass movements that have had any success. You can see it wherever groups of diverse people who do not belong to any formal organization or have any formal communication with each other are all working together to carry out a goal.

If you look at something like the civil rights movement in the United States, that is a multi-generational movement of so many people and so many different methods and everyone who has contributed, whether they are groups or individuals, has decided for themselves how they can be most effective. If this stigmergy chart was for that movement, that big group can be the Million Man March, the square is Malcolm X and his followers, the heart can be MLK, and between them all by themselves is Ruby Bridges or Rosa Parks, none of them had to communicate or come to consensus but they are all trying for the same goal and are more or less aware of each other’s activity. The US still hasn’t reached that goal so they go through periods of great upheaval followed by periods of more calm working, depending on whether an event sparks more action or something blocks progress for a while.

A stigmergic movement will continue as long as the goal is not reached and people still share it, even if it dies down or goes dormant for a bit. That is the advantage to an idea based system over a personality based one, you can’t kill an idea.

Or another stigmergic idea is freedom of information. This has everyone from the free software movement, creative commons and similar open copyright groups, Sci-Hub which liberates scientific papers, other filesharing sites, Wikipedia, even the Internet itself in its original inception might be considered a node in that stigmergic movement.

What keeps these movements from burning out, like so many do in the massive assemblies, is the fact that they are not spending all their energy communicating except in small groups and they are following one clear idea.

It is not often you find one organization or group that is purely stigmergic, but Anonymous is one. This is why they say they are not an organization or group. They usually say they are an idea, but they aren’t really one idea either, they are a method of mass collaboration and the method is stigmergy. That method allows everyone to follow whatever ideas they choose, in groups or individually with perfect autonomy. Anonymous never tries to reach consensus. Anonymous is not unanimous. And there is no organization you can order to do something, Anonymous is also not your personal army. You have to just put an idea out and see who follows it.

It may seem difficult to figure out how stigmergy can be used in a corporate setting where everything is set up around organizations and official people, but it helps if we remember that each of those organizations, no matter how they are organized internally, can be a node under a stigmergic idea. I am often asked if Wikipedia is a good example of stigmergy and no, it is not. Wikipedia is a cooperative. You may contribute work without asking anyone but your work can be thrown out and you can be locked out of contributing, or the topic locked, and there is a definite personality based hierarchy and a need to reach consensus around one final product. There is no diversity of product tolerated and there isn’t any real autonomy either.

But Wikipedia is still one of many nodes under the idea of Freedom of information because what they produce is completely free for anyone else to use or modify. I said earlier that Anonymous was stigmergic but Anonymous very frequently works with other people like news or human rights organizations or other hacking collectives such as Redhack who are themselves internally communist. It doesn’t matter what the internal organization of each node is as long as they are all following the same idea and their work is available for everyone else to use.

So the same methods can be used for corporate work. The key is for corporate style organizations to recognize what stigmergic ecosystem they are a part of and follow the guidelines to make their work contribute smoothly to that idea. One place where stigmergic development has really taken off is in the IT industry because free software has meant that the output is available for everyone to use and improve or modify. If we look at one stigmergic idea: We need better web development tools. If we had left this to Google, and Google had been acting like their competitive corporate selves, we would have just had the Angular framework, and progress would be Angular 2.0. And we do have Angular 2.0, but we also have Facebook’s React, Ember and many others. As long as the user group has not reached consensus over what tools we want for full stack development we have many contributors creating different frameworks for us.

When we start to reach wide consensus in some area, like yes, we don’t want any more black and purple websites with green sparkles and the vast majority of us are going to create websites that are very uniform, we start to see more and more conformity around standards like Twitter’s bootstrap styles but as soon as someone has a very divergent idea that people find interesting again, like Google’s material design, many people will start hacking on it and trying to create different solutions again. The same periodic upheavals of innovation and change are apparent here as in the social movements driven by stigmergy. In this case HTML5 and ES6 stimulated a rush in web development tools in general.

Of course this example of corporate stigmergy has some major issues., first in who is getting paid and who is not. Google employees are and free software programmers frequently are not. And even with free software, when you have players like Facebook and Google and Twitter it is going to be a bit hard for anyone without their development team budget and user groups to compete so it is not a level playing field for all to participate, but as long as the code is commons property we can have consensus without monopoly which is a huge improvement. It is starting to approach stigmergic organization, just from the addition of this one change, of software that is free for anyone to use or modify. You can see this especially as you move away from the big corporations to the later development add ons, in all the diverse people writing packages and tools for React and Angular and the other frameworks.

This is better than academia and science manage. They are supposed to be stigmergic as well, the idea in science and academia is that everyone is supposed to publish and build off each others findings, but because they do not have open source and permissive copyright or even access, their work is frequently corporate IP property, and they don’t allow or reward outside contributions, they are very far from stigmergic and their progress is not nearly what it could be. If we look back at the principles of stigmergic organization, the last three of four points do not apply to science and academia so they both need to change if they are going to truly act as epistemic communities for us all. Which brings us to my next point which is about idea based collaboration.

slide8

We have stigmergy for action based collaboration which follows an idea, but what if we want to collaborate on ideas themselves, to build knowledge and find some most reliable facts? If we look at the 2010-2011 movements, like M15 and later Occupy and all the rest, they were fine with action based collaboration, especially when they used stigmergy, but they really struggled when it came to idea based collaboration, like setting goals. This is kind of important since without the ideas, you don’t have the action. Stigmergy follows ideas and information, so management of the ideas and information here is as important as management of personalities is in competitive or cooperative systems. If you think of this in a governance context, we won’t be electing personalities, we will be electing ideas.

To see what happens when an idea loses its clarity, or its idea has been co-opted, look at feminism. The civil rights movement in the US retained its clarity because it has set specific goals in each cycle whether that is to end slavery, end segregation, or end police violence. When feminism meant fighting for the vote and legal personhood it had a clear goal and was a stigmergic mass movement but second wave feminism allowed itself to become a noun instead of an action, its goals became very loose and because there wasn’t a clear goal it was used to advertise corporate product and promote prominent personalities, primarily from the United States, who felt they could speak for every woman in the world on every topic. A noun is not a stigmergic goal, a noun is an organization, so when feminism became a noun it stopped being a stigmergic movement and became a competitive, personality driven, organization which became completely divided, as is typical, these types of organizations do not scale.

The single biggest factor I’ve found for whether or not someone will participate in a stigmergic action is whether they are sure of the idea behind it. Not whether it affects them, or if its simple to grasp or easy or even safe to do. I have created many actions where the audience was completely removed from the people affected or where the action was dangerous or very difficult to understand or even initially believe. None of this mattered. All that mattered in whether the action was a success was whether people could be sure the goal is sound. And the easiest way for someone to prevent action is to sow doubt in the goal. That initial kernel that makes up the idea looks simple but it is everything. But finding the information we need for conviction in our goals is not easy.

If we think of a large population creating a knowledge repository stigmergicly, we have a picture of a bunch of ants sifting and sorting information and putting the best in a pile. And that’s probably how we thought we were going too do things on Twitter. But that’s not how expert knowledge, like the kind we have in a singularity, works and it’s why a bunch of people in a horizontal group can’t just do that. Especially a personality dominated horizontal group like Occupy or any direct democracy that starts from the premise of all voices and opinions being equal. This goes back to the idea behind a societal singularity, we can’t all be experts at everything and we don’t want to be either. We don’t have the time and we may not have the interest. We can’t keep berating voters for not spending all of their time studying everything that affects them, it’s impossible and it’s not fun either. We need to find a better solution.

slide9

I love this chart because it illustrates exactly why we need concentric circles in a democracy. This space between innovation and acceptance is where demagogues and gate keepers lie in wait to control information before it reaches the public. Like little trolls under the bridge. This is why we need knowledge bridges to replace the gatekeepers because most ideas can’t make it across this chasm on their own.

If you think of recent examples of elite working groups whose ideas were rejected by the wider society, like Brexit in the UK or the peace deal in Colombia, it was because of a failure of the working group to establish effective knowledge bridges between them and the public. The public did not see their viewpoints being heard and responded to and they did not see or understand or trust the decision making process, which gave demagogues on the outside of the process the ability to derail the acceptance of their recommendations. The people had information that was too difficult to audit themselves, and they had no faith in the people offering solutions. People in the UK said repeatedly they were sick of being lied to by the media and experts.

When people lose faith in those who are supposed to be their experts, like politicians, or those who are supposed to be their knowledge bridges like the media, they lose faith in any stigmergic goal these people present and they will block it, as I said earlier. The information from the opposition in both cases was certainly no better, nobody was offering a fully developed and audited plan for an alternative peace deal or a detailed plan to exit the EU, but even very poorly supported information and hyperbole is sufficient to overturn an idea that the public doesn’t trust. We can see this also in most elections, there are just demagogues and hyperbole on both sides, there is no process of reconciling any issues with the public or providing information people can rely on. In fact, the goal seems to be to deliberately confuse and immobilize the public and then just give them a binary vote in the hope they vote against the establishment which has lost so much trust. This is why both sides seem to only be interested in painting the other as the most corrupt establishment.

[On May 8 2017, former US Director of National intelligence James Clapper suggested the solution to the misinformation of the US 2016 election was to further fund USAID and spread more misinformation against US enemies. Those are exactly the actions that caused people to lose faith in information emanating from the US in the first place.]

You may have seen a lot of people blaming this current state of low information on social media and they are partially right but corporate media certainly doesn’t get a free pass either. Most of the tools we have to communicate simulate direct democracy and look for popular ideas, the most retweets and the most readers, but not only is popular not innovative or expert, the two are mutually exclusive. Popular ideas are riding the peak of the wave of socially acceptable opinion. They already appeal to the widest audience. They are not new ideas, by definition, and they aren’t at a level of elite expertise that is difficult for all but a few to understand also by definition. This is why we now elect politicians on the basis of their tweets and this is the secret for politicians like Donald Trump who speaks at a grade 3 level. The more easily understood and the less challenging your message, the wider your appeal will be so an age that amplifies the most popular information, as we do now, will be an age of demagogues.

It is counter intuitive to think popular ideas are what we need to give us the best information. If we need some specialized level of knowledge to explain something like Brexit or a peace deal or the issues in an election, or if we want those making the decisions to hear the voices that are seldom heard, that may expand their Overton windows and give us some fresh perspective, or represent a rare case that will cause their solution to break, amplifying the most popular ideas or people is the exact opposite of what we ought to be doing. And really this is what direct democracy, representative and liquid democracy do, so of course it is also what the tools for democracy have been doing.

We have tools that are very useful to find out what a population thinks and tools that are great for discussing things and coming to consensus, but we need to also go to where their opinions are formed. Opinions are based on information. We need to be able to find expertise and accurate and diverse information that we can trust before we form our opinions and long before we measure them.

Ideas need to be audited and promoted by those users qualified to understand them to allow diversity of ideas and prevent the process from being dominated by celebrities without the expertise required. But if we have an elite discussion group with only elite experts or ideas in it, we are at great risk of having an elite oligarchy based on control of information. This is what we have now. We don’t maintain the necessary balance between autonomy, diversity and society unless this quiet place to talk remains a fully associated part of the wider group. So to avoid a hierarchy and leave control with the entire user group, I use a structure I call concentric circles.

slide10

Concentric circles relate to sound amplification. In a concentric circle, people or ideas promoted to the center by their peer group receive greatest amplification and their findings will be audited, amplified and explained to the general public by outer circles. They are not hierarchical as they have no direct control over the actions of anyone. An epistemic community is a knowledge resource only, authority remains with the entire user group which provides a good incentive for the epistemic community to ensure transparency and knowledge bridges so their ideas are accepted. As in stigmergy, votes in a concentric group are frequently replaced by actions. If this little drop receives no amplification, it is just an idea that goes nowhere.

With knowledge bridges, you don’t have to have personal expertise on every aspect of society. All you have to do is have a transparent concentric circle that you can look at, you can see the activity, you can get feedback if necessary, and you can say yes, there are a lot of people auditing, there is a lot of discussion, I trust some of the people in these circles, I trust that they know what they are doing. Everyone can review the work of the experts both directly and through the review by their peers. Experts can also be created by the system itself as users develop knowledge and reputation and move towards the centre and you will find this happens increasingly if users lose trust, they will realize they need to start auditing this circle.

Communication should not be the full responsibility of the experts in the centre, which is where government initiatives like Brexit and the Colombia peace deal have failed. Ideas should be carried over expertise bridges by full transparency and user participation. The epistemic community in the centre should not need to protect themselves from demands or attacks from completely uninformed users or demagogues. The circles of expertise which promoted them to the centre should also verify and explain their findings to the outer circles. And, concerns and arguments from the user group should be carried back to the epistemic community if the user group finds the points valid. So the epistemic community can work without noise but still receive ongoing feedback from the users and acceptance is a process, not just a binary vote after the fact.

If this all sounds familiar, it’s because this is exactly what happens in open source communities.

slide11
In open source software, the code for each project is available for all to see. Even if the end user cannot understand the code, they can go to discussion groups or listen to programmers who have read and audited the code, they can read the bug reports. Any urgent bugs will be broadcast to the general population and amplified by media as we have seen many times. The people with the greater knowledge of the system will provide knowledge bridges for people at a more novice level and increasingly, that’s how people are learning to code. Good ideas from forum discussions can be read, possibly implemented by the developers as well. Transparency goes both ways.

Open source software with forums open to all are a perfect working example of fully transparent and audited systems of elite knowledge. While the decisions are made by the developers, review and acceptance or rejection of the software is the right of the user group. If the developers refuse to listen to the user group and another development team is willing to work on the project, the original code can be forked and modified to meet the user requirements. Which means you can only be attacked by another fully developed, open and transparent epistemic community which also must be audited by knowledge bridges. You can’t be attacked just by a demagogue and rhetoric, you can only be opposed by another working solution so the user group has a choice between two or more working solutions instead of simply rejection or acceptance. Which means we need the final most important point for concentric circles – the information is free for anyone to use or modify.

Imagine if HTML and Javascript were corporate products that were not available to the public to use, like Bill Gates wanted programming languages to be back in the day. We would not be talking about web development frameworks as a stigmergic system. They would be just one proprietary product delivered by one corporation, probably Microsoft. The fact that we won this fight against Bill Gates and those like him is the single biggest reason that programming and IT have progressed so incredibly far and quickly and the reason IT is the best place to look for corporate examples of stigmergy. Just imagine if we had this same freedom to use the end products of other industries, like pharmaceuticals for instance which Bill Gates is currently pushing oppressive IP laws for.

Intellectual property in a stigmergic system is like an ant that finds food but doesn’t leave any pheromones to tell the other ants. Or worse, actually blocks the other ants and that idea is so ridiculous I can’t even think of a stigmergic example of it. Ownership of ideas is in complete opposition to stigmergy which is to say it is in complete opposition to rapid progress, finding the best solutions and democracy.

slide12

So what we have been looking for here are methods of collaboration that bring us a balance between autonomy, diversity and society. We want to allow the maximum amount of autonomy to those doing the work so we can include all of their ideas and abilities. We want to allow as many diverse solutions as people are inspired to try for each problem. And then we want to allow the entire user group to easily make an informed choice of which solution is best for them as is their right in a democracy. So our methods are stigmergy, which we use for mass action and concentric circles which we use to audit, teach and amplify information.

The best part of stigmergic work and transparent concentric circles for knowledge is our work doesn’t get wasted. When you come to an event like this with a specific project, it is easy to feel as though you are in a competition where you are only associated with one project and your success or failure is tied to that one project and the group around it. But even if you organize your own team in a completely different form, if you follow these principles you will still be contributing to progress as a node in a stigmergic idea. For this two weeks the idea is: Let’s develop better tools for democracy. If you follow these principles, if other people are free to contribute to your project and you to theirs, if you add what you learn to the epistemic community of ideas and act as a knowledge bridge to those learning and most of all if your code is open and free, you will still be part of the community around this idea contributing to the goal we are all working towards. You will be part of the ecosystem.

Q and A not translated.

More information: http://www.getgee.xyz/

Advertisements

Mastodon, Getgee and the decentralized data movement

From Diaspora and GNU Social to Cimba and Mastodon, increasingly sophisticated alternatives keep offering to move the public off of the data harvesting platforms that manipulate people and sell their personal data. No one should be gifting their innermost thoughts to states and corporations. Personal data is used to coerce public opinion and advance the interests of undemocratic entities who have only maximum profit for their shareholders as a guiding principle. No one should risk storing their personal data on a platform that sees their data as ‘the new oil’.

The problem is, the people aren’t moving. The reason they aren’t moving is the new alternatives aren’t offering what they need.

What do we need?

Our greatest need is for a collaborative information commons, for open journalism, for open science, and just for fun. We need a place where the data is not personal data but it is not corporate data either. We need a place where the application software is decoupled from the data but the data is all still linked.

While secure communication and ownership of personal data is important, mass communication and mass collaboration are required to change the world. People risk their lives to tweet because they want to be heard. More, they want their stories to be a part of the permanent record, not lost in a stream of transient white noise. If we have a data commons, we can have the participatory governance, research and global collaboration so many of us dreamed of, free of corporate ownership or interference.

With a universal data commons we can:

  • collaborate effectively and intelligently and solve the problems we are facing with far greater speed and accuracy.
  • all be much better informed and be able to easily see the original sources of our information.
  • easily see all related information on a subject from all perspectives.
  • replace transient and context-free news with continually growing and evolving knowledge repositories.
  • allow epistemic communities to work in peace within circles that match their own expertise and still maintain full transparency and participation by anyone interested.
  • bypass NGOs and funding platforms and provide aid to each other directly, and receive feedback directly, through our trust networks.
  • establish our own direct trade between communities.
  • use our own trust network to filter and fact check information for us instead of relying on third parties.
  • offer products and services to others and be easily found without centralized platforms.
  • rely on recommendations for products and services through our own trust networks.

With a universal data commons we can have far more understanding and well informed collaboration around the world. We need this.

Who is still on Twitter?

Reality Show Twitter, Instagram, etc

Twitter is a personality focused, broadcast platform for public data. Broadcast social media is largely a reality show, where microcelebrities vie with real celebrities for the next mainstream media article based on a tweet. No one on Reality Twitter wants to hide their light in personal online data storage (pods). Those not involved in the reality show are already on Slack, Gitter, sub-reddits, image boards, forums, irc, federated microblogging sites and secure group chats. The (sometimes paid) actors on social media reality shows will stay on the corporate broadcast platforms, along with their audiences and the media who report their tweets, until someone creates a decoupled, personality focused, broadcast platform.*

Research Twitter, reddit, etc

Yes, people are on social media to socialize, which is why the term was coined. But the term was also a demeaning dismissive, used by authoritative journalists and researchers who wanted to imply that all the public was interested in was socializing. Social media was meant to infer its users were not professional, even as all the professionals grudgingly moved onto it. The blue checks were meant to separate the real from the riff raff. In recent years, social media has become the unpaid backbone of research, journalism and governance. Social media alternatives are not addressing the unacknowledged part of social media, the collaborative media and research which the centralized platforms let us participate in and the open epistemic communities they let us listen to and learn from. Research Twitter will stay on Twitter until someone creates a decoupled, information focused, broadcast platform* that meets their needs. Like G.

What is wrong with what we have?

To quote Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, there are three primary problems facing web users today:

1)   We’ve lost control of our personal data
2)   It’s too easy for misinformation to spread on the web
3)   Political advertising online needs transparency and understanding

1) We have actually lost control of both personal and public data and in both cases we need to decouple application software from the data to regain control. In the case of private data we need to retain personal ownership and control of it and in the case of public data we need to create a universal data commons free from state or corporate control. We must have a clear distinction between public data and private data because the objectives are in complete opposition to each other. Since people don’t like using separate applications (based on the number of nude selfies posted in Twitter dm’s) we should make the transition from one environment to the other as seamless as possible for them.

The decentralized social media platforms on offer solve the problem of control over personal data in theory, but in reality most of them just create multiple little pods, each with their own tyrannical or benevolent admins, like subreddits or irc channels. They also make your data impossible to delete if they are linked to other pods.

2) and 3) are both problems facing the broadcast of public data which decentralized microblogging sites do not address in any way. Both of these issues require an application agnostic universal data commons like G. The hypernodes, constellations and galaxies in G allow all information in the data commons to be linked together and sourced, meeting item #3, transparency and understanding. G uses trust networks (which are not the same as social networks) to allow collaborative access and the optional filtering of information by the users themselves instead of by application software and search engines. These trust networks allow us to filter out astroturfing and set our own trust metrics (item #2, combating misinformation).

My own primary issues facing web users are:

1) Noise from celebrities and astroturfing drowns out the information we need the most.
2) Corporate and state control allow photoshopping of information they want suppressed and amplification of what they want heard.
3) Thought bubbles encourage consensus around one truth instead of allowing multiple viewpoints.

The answers to my issues are also provided by G:

1) We need an information focused platform instead of all the personality focused options we have.
2) We need to decouple application software from our public data and protect our data in a commons that is free from state or corporate influence.
3) We need a data commons which allows us to link multiple points of view at the data level.

Decentralized microblogging sites address none of these points either. For social peace, these pods of like-minded affinity groups may be a relief, but for information and research, they are a mistake. The only thing worse than a sealed well of information is a closed thought bubble of uniform opinion. A Wikipedia that was not all linked together would not be the resource we know and love. In fact it is frustrating that Wikipedia is separated by language, opposing opinions are lost to consensus and Wikipedia guidelines prevent gathering information by other guidelines.

* How can I tell if a new platform will take off? A checklist

What don’t we have yet?

People don’t move from the big microblogging platforms to the decentralized microblogging platforms because they are addressing technical issues and ignoring the personal ones. While a microblogging instance, a sub-reddit and an irc channel are all technically very different, they all feel very alike and will attract the same users. Their users do not have control of the data, but it isn’t really public either. They aren’t the right choice for private messaging, but neither are they the best choice for public broadcasting. They are personality focused and hopeless for information gathering but they are not a good celebrity vehicle either. They are decentralized by server (theoretically) but they are not decoupled from software.

The failure to replace the existing platforms is partly the failure to differentiate between public and personal data, between messaging and broadcast platforms, between personality and information focus and between decentralized platforms and decoupled data. Here is a little check list for the next time a ‘new social media’ is on offer. Is it adding something we need?

Public data: The goal is freedom from censorship or other deletion or modification. Most applications use p2p with or without blockchain, or censorship resilient platforms. We already have resilient publishing with p2p and blockchain (we could use more where appropriate but it isn’t a universal god like many believe).

Personal data: The goal is security against dissemination. Ideally, keep it off the Internet. If that is not possible, encrypt it and keep it under your control and easily deleted. Most people use secure chat apps (like those with otr). Secure data receives more funding and attention than any other technology and is fairly state of the art.

Personal messaging: The goal is to know who you are talking to. Most efforts for security already incorporate identity validation and most people currently use Facebook, Snapchat or other platforms that verify users and let you add and block them. This is the application that should be replaced by open source software alternatives using friend to friend architecture, like Retroshare, which have already existed for many years.

Broadcasting: The goal is wide dissemination. Most people use the platforms with the largest audience, like Twitter or public Facebook/Instagram pages or Youtube or mainstream media. Broadcasting is at the mercy of corporate and state control and needs solutions which decouple the data from application software. (See What Can G Be Used For?)

Personality focused: The goal is promotion of personalities (or brands). Most use large public platforms, like the above, which provide verification checks and audience/followers. Social media is almost universally personality focused, but there are opportunities for less central control and hierarchy.  (Again in What Can G Be Used For?)

Information focused: The goal is research and dissemination of information. This has very limited options available. At best we can use Wikipedia, media and specialized research platforms. There is a huge need for information centred solutions.

Decentralized platforms: The goal is to escape dependency on one server or platform. Data is spread across multiple servers or no servers (and so it is hard or impossible to delete). Use Diaspora, GNU-social, Mastodon, Retroshare, Secushare, Cimba …. Platform agnostic or decentralized options have been around for years.

Decoupled data: The goal is freedom from corporate ownership of data, freedom from software dependency, data reusability and versatility of use. Data is separated from application software and is agnostic to what applications are used to access it. Use a universal database like G. Application agnostic data is far more rare than platform agnostic applications.

We need an information focused, broadcasting platform with application agnostic data. This is what we don’t have. This is what G is.

 

More information:

http://www.getgee.xyz/

Getgee synopsis: https://georgiebc.wordpress.com/2015/12/24/getgee-tools-for-self-governance-part-1/

Getgee transcript of talk: https://georgiebc.wordpress.com/2016/04/25/transcript-from-talk-about-getgee/

Science, isolation and control

 

Shall we substitute for the opium of religion an opium of science.” – Joseph Needham, 1935i

With the rise of dissociation came a culture of individualism and survival of the fittest. Wealth centred in individuals and happiness was expected to come from individual achievement, in both life and afterlife. The philosophy, politics and religions of hierarchical societies were all teaching extreme individualism, free will and dissociation from nature and body. Instead of proving his existence by measuring his effect on surroundings, as a part of a whole, Descartes’ first principle proved his existence in his own head with I think therefore I am.ii The soul had little concern with bodily functions as the body was only a temporary residence. The farther removed a mind was from corporal matters the more evolved it was considered. Buddha was a deadbeat dadiii who reportedly named his son Rahul for the meaning fetteriv before abandoning him for seven years. As caregivers were pushed lower in status, those who cared for no one, who put a sociopathic philosophy they claimed as reason above human empathy, were ever more celebrated.

Most old religions had people living with their gods and their actions were believed to have immediate impact on the gods’ lives and tempers. The gods were frequently of the ecosystem, as in animism, and did not tolerate disrespect. The major religions of the trade empires, all of which began on or near the silk road and were spread by the trade routes from that region, put the worship of man ahead of everything else in the ecosystem. Earth in these religions was temporary and existed to be used in the service of man’s temporary time on earth (as did women and children usually). This was the trade economy encoded in theology. Anything that didn’t suit the idea of isolated personal autonomy, that reduced the amount of control of man over his environment or self, was rejected. The individualism in popular thought reached an obsessive plateau with the popularization of science in Europe. Science became the embodiment of these beliefs and a way to insist on the credibility of an omnipotent and autonomous man and discredit all other beliefs. Science is a method which achieved the status of an evangelizing religion.

Science became an attempt by powerful men of Europe to discover, catalogue and own all of the supposed secrets of the universe, including those previously widely collected, catalogued and distributed through the Islamic world, India and China and those newly discovered through European empires. European science was marked by two features: the isolation and control of each tiny element in the universe, and the obsession with credit to and ownership by European men of each supposed discovery. Science was a continuation of trade exploration, intended for ownership and profit, not for expansion of tribal knowledge. Access to knowledge was strictly controlled by those universities which admitted almost exclusively wealthy European men. Ownership of knowledge was strictly controlled by copyrights and patents, almost exclusively granted to wealthy European men. The so-called intellectual property that forms the basis of wealth for almost all of the world’s most wealthy today began with an aggressive global scramble to seize and control all of the world’s knowledge.

The fact that a great deal of the knowledge these men sought was already held by indigenous people, women and other empires around the world was not an issue for them as they decreed that nothing could be acknowledged in science unless it was scientifically proven and written in scientific papers. In other words, no knowledge was real knowledge until it came from the mouth or pen of a western man. This idea quickly extended to all knowledge as even on the ground news reports today are labeled not verified until someone has paid a western journalist to repeat them.

Patents which had previously been granted to the medieval hoarders of knowledge in the form of guilds became available to individuals and corporations. Patents and copyrights pretended that each little piece of knowledge was not dependent on all others and could be individually owned and sold. With their requirement that the secrets contained be published for all to see, the new patents broke the power of the guild class. The secrets which were previously hoarded by the craftsmen using them were isolated and dissociated. Patents freed knowledge in order to hoard it in a higher class. Those with the power to purchase secrets no longer required the old societal ties to do so.

Patents and copyrights also solved the problem of most knowledge being already held by others for centuries or millennia because it granted ownership not to the origin of knowledge but to the first to file patents, almost always western men. Patents and copyrights are exclusionary rights. They are not rights to do something but rights to stop others from doing it. They do not exist to directly empower the owner, they exist to empower him in relation to his colleagues by restricting them. University accreditation and licensing act in the same way. Institutionalization and professionalization allowed control of the sources of knowledge and its use by the men of the dominant social classes, a situation still true today. Ownership and controlled access to knowledge established the new floor the upper classes stood on, the ceiling for everyone else.

With science began the discrediting of thousands of years of knowledge and the establishment of professions such as medicine as the exclusive domain of the caucasian men who had access to the universities and literacy. The creation of officially sanctioned knowledge and reassigning of credit removed ownership of knowledge from women, indigenous societies, peasants, and all lower classes and placed it all under the rigid control of the scientific class. Practices which had been used and tested for centuries were not considered official or tested until men of science approved and claimed ownership of them. Most prior knowledge had been transmitted orally, at least off the main trade routes. Even knowledge that had been written down was later transferred to manuscripts copied, purchased, stored and taught by wealthy men. The credit deserved by many great scientists and historians for their work in preserving a small part of these oral traditions does not mitigate the fact that almost all knowledge was needlessly filtered through western male bias and misunderstanding before it was accepted into the halls of officially accredited knowledge.

This collection of knowledge allowed social independence or dissociation to those with access to universities. Self-congratulatory science produced generations of wealthy boys accustomed to the idea that their institutions already possessed all answers for all things and they no longer needed the listening skills and respect for their elders, colleagues and trade partners formerly necessary to acquire knowledge. Even in media and politics, young male pundits were depicted as having all of the answers to everything without needing to consult anyone actually involved in an event and, as in science, all stories were presented through the filter of the western men who held the microphones. The institutions which controlled the certification of knowledge then blocked the majority of the world from access to knowledge which was previously available to all as commons property. The face of a western man became the face associated with expertise. The face of an old woman became the face of old wives’ tales and the face of indigenous people became the face of superstition. Science is depicted as the source of all modern knowledge but it has, for centuries, stood in the way of the vast majority of people who may have contributed and has also ensured that all knowledge developed and disseminated was to the benefit of the powerful.

Science is not a source of knowledge; it is a gate. Knowledge was gathered from the global commons and then restricted by science, academia and licensing exactly like all other resources were gathered and then restricted by the trade economy. Knowledge was held to not exist until science discovered it, just like resources were claimed to be unowned until Europeans discovered them. Scientists and academia effectively burned the world’s oral libraries of tribal knowledge and went back to playing with alphabet blocks until they could rediscover what was already known and patent it. The amount of knowledge irrevocably lost to this scientific cleansing is a global tragedy and the restriction of all forms of study to wealthy western men has retarded human progress for centuries.

Science and the trade economy were depicted as the only conceivable path to progress. All prior beliefs were subject to the burden of proof but everything said by the great religion of science was held to be true until proven again and again to be untrue. No matter how many times they failed, the scientific class was always held to be infallible. Scientists could, like Thomas Aquinas, prove that god existedv or like René Descartes, declare knowledge of god innatevi, and be given credibility. Skepticism was reserved for the old beliefs which were always derided as old wives’ tales and superstitions. Scientific beliefs were proven wrong every day by scientists themselves. It was not scientific methods or ideas being presented as infallible, it was the scientific class. They reserved the right to point out errors to themselves alone. To the people being studied by anthropologists, having their homes explained by biologists and their news reported by journalists, the experts were invariably ignorantvii, but they had no voice to say so. It was rare that they even had access to read what was being said about them. The knowledge experts prided themselves on their detachment from the objects of their study and called their ignorance impartiality.

The isolated thought bubbles of science and academia developed schools of western masculinist theory in service to industrial progress that were almost unusable when applied to the needs of the real world. It is only after intensive critique from the rest of the world, large scale adoption of knowledge from international sources and the commons, and frequent disastrous failure that science has made the contributions they are credited with. Even with the body of academic and scientific knowledge that has finally been built, progress is stalled by funding, credibility and fame that is only available in the west. The vast majority of funding and research is spent on topics that interest neither the researcher nor anyone else but serve to fulfill employment, accreditation or funding requirements. Topics which could be of huge benefit to wider society are not studied if they are not within mandates or of interest to funders or if they are not in the interests of state and industry. Research is driven by power, not need. Like silicon valley’s endless parade of apps of use only to the frat boys creating them, science and academia study issues that affect wealthy old western men from the lens of wealthy old western menviii.

After years of ignoring the empires Europe has been trading with for millennia and pretending that Europe was unique in the development of complex societies and empires, archaeologists are finally studying the great kingdoms of the rest of the world. Nearly every one of the sites newly receiving attention is headed by a western academic. One of the world’s most important sites is the Caral-Supe site in Peru. The research at Caral has been headed by Peruvian Ruth Shady Solís since it began in 1994. She published her findings regularly and in 1999 was invited to the U.S. to give a talk, by two U.S. researchers who then visited the site for one weekend in 2000.ix They offered to use their well funded U.S. university to assist with carbon dating in exchange for their names appearing on her paper. They then used the appearance of their names on that paper to set up a parallel research group which receives far more funding and publicity than hers and to claim that they discovered the site she showed to them.x They also renamed her Caral-Supe civilization ‘Norte Chico’, a designation the English media and resources such as Wikipedia have used since.

This type of appropriation is not unique. It is structural in the way academia and science operate. A system of knowledge ownership, reciprocal citation and promotion, industrial funding and regional wealth is toxic and incompatible with a level or open system of study. Academia and science still parasite off of people worldwide with knowledge to contribute and no way to fund it or be heard without attributing their work to someone with more power. Travel bans, sanctions, intelligence sharing and trade alliances restrict the free global exchange of information. Ownership of ideas then continues to enable disparity of income and power and the cycle continues. The so-called scientific community is really a scientific class that hoards knowledge from the classes below and is in service to the classes above.

Science is not a synonym for verified knowledge. Science is a class structure in a hierarchical trade economy which regulates knowledge and controls access to it.

The average person has difficulty understanding a whole system at once (perhaps especially male people and even more especially those who are attracted to the study of the minutiae of science).[cite] In order to maintain control over a specimen for study they must break it into tiny pieces and view them in isolation where they will lose all context and relevance. The division of labour in factories helped efficiency by allowing people to build without understanding how to build the entire product. Science was supposed to allow study with the same compartmentalized efficiency, but in science no one understood the whole. Like humans, animals and nature do not respond well to isolation and torture. They must be considered as a whole of interrelated parts observed in their natural habitat for any understanding.

Scientific isolation has, for centuries, left us a legacy of medicine which seeks to kill disease instead of improve overall health, and agriculture which seeks to grow isolated crops by killing everything except the chosen plant. All of the old knowledge which looked at ecosystems and organisms holistically and sought to work with them were replaced by petri dishes and attacks on every aspect of nature. Empathic and intuitive knowledge, where women were perceived to be stronger, were derided as unscientific. Science centred on isolated, sterilized experiments that explain how with obsessive mania without ever inquiring why. After centuries, science has yet to answer or even ask a single why and prides itself on its myopic views as indicative of reason.

Science encouraged the dissociation of all of its products from their natural origins, of medicine from plants to pills, of food from gardens to plastic bags of products unrecognizable as food. Medicine was conquered and in service to man instead of the former herbs and rituals working with nature and the body. Medicine, cosmetics and food, once inseparable, became isolated to the point that cosmetics were poison and food caused sickness. The hunt for wild animals, where people were joined in contest with the animal and grateful if they won, was replaced by domestic animals raised in factories under complete domination, torture and slavery. Prayers to thank the souls of animals for feeding them were replaced by assertions that animals were machinery made up of nothing more than working parts. Occasionally this isolation and dissociation was necessary but far more often it was to enable copyrights and patents for industrial control. The legacy of this isolation is a knowledge class that is dangerously removed from the world it studies.

Science sought to remove spontaneity as other institutions removed society. Biodiversity was shunned and Monsanto became rich on a promise to kill all that was unapproved. Human efficiency was studied like that of battery hens and both are isolated in corporate factories to maximize production and eliminate any life not related to service of trade. Isolation of work has been transmitted even to homes where isolated people argue about chores rather than gathering as communities to share work. William Petty’s Political Arithmetickxi allowed the reduction of people to numbers and value and the importance of individual experience was lost. The seed of collateral damage was born. Every plant and animal, like every human, must prove its usefulness to the trade economy. We now have corporate valuations of both people and nature and both must prove their worth to industry to be permitted to survive. Corporations are omnipotent, like gods, and have no duty to provide any social good or obtain any social approval. Science funded by corporations is more interested in mining asteroids than in rediscovering who we are or preserving life on earth.

Our world is in crisis. Verified knowledge has never been more necessary. Study, experimentation, analysis, publication and critique are necessary. Epistemic communities are necessary. Sometimes solving problems in isolation is necessary. Even various scientific methods, empiricism and also rationalism are necessary. What is not necessary, and is blocking achievement of the collective knowledge we so urgently need, is a social class that sets themselves up as the closed arbiter and keepers of all knowledge and operates in service to the trade economy.

Excerpted from Autonomy, Diversity, Society. Citations will be transferred when I get a minute.

People are commodity

In every single part of the world, chattel slavery has been a part of human history. No region of any significant size has not had large populations of people sold as slaves and no region has not purchased slaves. There is no era in which slavery was not a significant part of societal relations. Even hunter-gatherer people abducted or claimed slaves as war or crime reparations or as spoils of war. Throughout history and continuing today, these human products were used as adopted family members, labour, sex slaves, human sacrifice and even more gruesome fates. Even when they weren’t traded, they were chattel in that they were considered the property of an owner, to dispose of as they wished.

Slavery increased wherever the trade economy flourished, as did the production of all products for sale. The trade empires of the middle east and Africa were in very large part built by the labour of slaves and the wealth brought by the slave trade. During the last two millennia and earlier, the Arab and African states made slavery for both labour and sex an integral part of their social structure. Although slavery is technically illegal in every part of the world now (in Saudi Arabia and Yemen not until 1965, In Oman not until 1970 and in Mauritania not until 2007) neither region has ever really eradicated it and both have recently seen greatly increased human trafficking of all kinds[cite]. In addition to the regular trade, disasters such as the wars in Syria, the Central African Republic, South Sudan and elsewhere bring the international vultures of human trafficking as well as politicians not averse to ridding themselves of annoying populations at a profit.

Europe’s use of slaves dropped after the fall of the Western Roman Empire with the increase in serfs and indentured servants and the decrease in trade. Europe was still frequently raided for slaves for all reasons, particularly the Slavs who were so often raided that the condition of slavery became synonymous with their name. Possibly three million[cite] Russians, Poles, Ukrainians, Moldovans, Circassians and Lithuanians were enslaved by Central Asian khanates between 1500-1774 or six and a half million between 1200 to 1760,[cite] in a trade several authors have dubbed the “harvesting of the steppe”. According to Mike Dash, “the great Russian historian Vasily Klyuchevsky … observed that “if you consider how much time and spiritual and material strength was wasted in the monotonous, brutal, toilsome and painful pursuit of [the Tatar] steppe predators, one need not ask what people in Eastern Europe were doing while those of Western Europe advanced in industry and commerce, in civil life and in the arts and sciences.”

The vast majority of this trade was destined for the Ottoman Empire and the Middle East. The Slavs had been the site of frequent slave raids earlier by Vikings, Italy, and others for sale to the Byzantine Empire, but by the time of the Ottoman Empire the trade was huge, there and elsewhere. Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Britain, Ireland and Iceland were also raided by pirates from the Barbary coast and some estimates claim between 1 million and 1.25 million[cite] Europeans were captured by pirates and sold as slaves in Tunis, Algiers and Tripoli between the 16th and the 19th centuries. Slaves made up three quarters of the population of the Crimean Khanate and one fifth of the population of Constantinople. As huge and devastating as this trade was, it was matched or dwarfed by numbers enslaved in parts of Africa and does not include the smaller or more exotic branches of the trade like slaves from Karelia (Finland).[cite] Like Africa and the Middle East, eastern Europe has never eradicated this trade. The still primarily female slave exodus is still ongoing[cite], still with the complicity of some source and destination governments.

China at many times preferred peasant, serf and bonded labour to slavery, but large populations of criminals and foreigners were still enslaved throughout Chinese history and as now,[cite] any laws against slavery frequently did not reflect the reality. Like Africa and Europe, India’s preexisting slavery was greatly expanded by the Islamic slave markets. Later Indians were also sold to the European overseas empires. The Dutch had the largest slave trade in the world in the late 1600s and, besides enslaving the indigenous populations, they imported around 6000 African slaves and an unknown quantity of Indian slaves a year into the Dutch West Indies.[cite] South East Asian slave populations were huge, particularly in Thailand and Burma where some estimate a quarter or third of the populations in some regions were enslaved between the 17th and 20th centuries. All the above regions still have large populations in labour slavery today[cite], as well as sex slavery and purchased brides, increasingly as the female shortage in both India and China has become more acute[cite]. Nepal and other areas are frequently raided by traffickers for the sex trade[cite] and Nepal also has traditional slavery still in existence among the kamlari[cite]. Displaced populations like Burma’s Rohingya people are either pushed off into boats to die or they fall victim to the human traffickers, frequently associated with officials like those in the Thai navy[cite]. China also has indentured labour that is difficult to distinguish from slavery and they have mass trials and execute prisoners and political dissidents horrifically and on demand for the organ trade in what can only be called a human farming industry[cite].

Slavery was widespread in America, as it was on the other continents, and Europeans who landed in America both enslaved indigenous people and were occasionally themselves enslaved. As soon as overseas trade expansion began in the 15th century, so did renewed trafficking in slaves by Europe. The trans-Atlantic slave trade from Africa to America was a massive industry from the mid 1500’s to the mid 1800s, enslaving around 85,000 people a year at its peak[cite]. While slave raids have always resulted in very low survival rates for the victims, from causes such as long marches, foreign diseases, castration and abuse, the trans-Atlantic voyages were particularly long and horrific with inestimable death and suffering. In addition to slaves from Africa, political dissidents and victims of attempted genocide in Ireland and other unwanted or poor throughout Europe were sent as indentured servants in conditions sometimes close to slavery. With the progressive abolition of slavery in the colonies, their numbers were replaced by more indentured servants from India and China, also sometimes kept in conditions difficult to distinguish from slavery. As well as traditional slavery, the United States in particular has continued to keep servants in a state near indentured servitude through legal threats based on their visa status.

In the era of abolition, slavery was depicted in American colonies as a problem of racial equality. This approach disregards the entire history of global slavery which took place before racism was invented and which hasn’t been slowed at all by attempts to eliminate racism. The international focus on one part of the historical trade, labour slaves from Africa to European colonies, in particular the United States, has allowed all other slavery to operate with varying levels of impunity. When slavery becomes so visible it can’t escape notice, it is now called human trafficking. While the new term focuses on the sale of people rather than the use of them, they are both incomplete terms and the only reason to swap one for the other is to pretend that there was a point in history where slavery was abolished and now it is a historical topic. While there may no longer be African slaves picking cotton in the United States, there is unprecedented slave labour in the United States from the rest of America and even more slaves from around the world in the United States sex industry[cite]. Despite the fact that there are far more books and papers discussing the end of slavery than the continuation of it, slavery has increased in almost every part of the world[cite].

Slavery has also been depicted as a problem integral to production and capitalism. Both today and throughout history, there were huge populations of slaves purchased for consumption instead of production, slaves for sex and other service to the wealthy. Slaves as product instead of means of production have been widely ignored in movements focused on workers defined as those involved in manufacturing product. This has led many historians to depict the Arab slave trade as not related to labour and to talk about slaves being freed by marriage and adoption because the service of women and children continues to be unvalued. Exodus 21:2 instructed “If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve for six years; but on the seventh he shall go out as a free man without payment.” but Exodus 21:7 qualifies “If a man sells his daughter as a female slave, she is not to go free as the male slaves do.” If marriage is involved there is no need to qualify. Then as now, we accept female slavery as a domestic cultural norm. If a boy is sold for labour, human rights groups call it slavery, but for a girl they use the term marriage in cases which are slavery by all definitions. Women and children’s bodies are also now a resource for the massive non-consensual porn industry, as product. Defining domestic and product slavery would require discussion of the roles of women and children in the wider society. The lack of autonomy of women and children in deeply patriarchal societies also makes it much more difficult to define the conditions which constitute slavery. If adult male standards were used, all women and children may be considered slaves in some communities.

Article 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was written in 1948 to abolish slavery. In 1966 it was modified to ensure it still allows slavery of the lowest class, in prisons. In the private prisons of the U.K., U.S. and Australia, people in prisons are chattel, actually owned by the corporate prisons, and their labour and their bodies can be sold through corporate contracts. With the scandals involving police and judiciary funneling people into these prisons for payment,[cite] it is evident the prisons are the new cotton fields in the United States and the judiciary and police in these cases are acting as slave traders.

Slavery, like genocide, is a problem that has been with us in every region and every era. To our credit, both are now almost universally recognized as something we need to overcome, but we are nowhere close to doing so. Both are largely ignored by both media and public, perhaps because those whose job it is to see that these crimes do not go on are helpless to stop them. Despite the attempts at creating peacekeeping forces by the United Nations and others, we have not developed a way for larger society to protect one group of people who another are intent on massacring. Neither do we have any way to stop a lucrative trade economy in any product, particularly when many of those profiting occupy powerful positions. It is easier to pretend these things no longer happen.

A 2014 study on population growth projections finds an 80% probability that the world population, now 7.2 billion, will increase to between 9.6 and 12.3 billion by 2100.[cite] Growth will occur primarily from nations which have suffered from trade pillaging, including indigenous populations in the Americas. In the wealthy states, as well as the rapidly growing economies such as China, Brazil and India, an epidemic of aging is projected instead.[cite] At the same time, income disparity has reached a point where “eight men own the same wealth as the poorest half of the world.”[cite] More than ever in history, there are far too many vulnerable people to meet the needs of the few who can afford to buy them. There is also a global gender imbalance[cite] which has been caused by the gynocidal[cite] actions of populations in China[cite] and India,[cite] the current and projected largest populations in the world, as well as other places. Since China and India are also two of the wealthiest economies, they can afford to spread their severe imbalance to other nations.[cite] More than ever in history, women are a global commodity.[cite]

The fact that population growth is stabilized or dropping in industrialized countries and increasing in developing countries and poor populations is used to justify both active and passive genocide by the people controlling the technology to wage war and stop disease. The number of displaced people reached 65.3 million in 2016 and is steadily climbing.[cite] It is no longer necessary to conduct raids into peaceful territories for the slave trade. Wars and famine are driving large populations of desperate and untraceable people into the arms of slave traders.

With the Australian government’s recent sale of refugees to Cambodia,[cite] human trafficking has become openly a government activity again, as it always has been secretly. The U.S. military and Canadian resource corporations have for years disdained justice systems in favour of monetary payouts for the lives of people they murder.[cite] The trade economy has normalized the valuation of people in monetary terms to the point that it is customary to reply with a dollar value when asked for a person’s worth. The underclass in earlier empires were valuable labour. In modern times the vast majority are expendable product. Replacing labour slavery with waged labour and automation has only expanded the uses people buy slaves for. People are bought and sold as products for militias, prostitution, marriage, organ trafficking and even ritual killings. People are tortured for ransom and charged for their passage as refugees.

There is no need for wise rulers to create community in a supranational empire. Trade can make problem populations disappear and bring profit too. Inconvenient populations were, and still are, packed on cargo ships and traded as slaves or indentured servants or settled in penal colonies far away from home. Bounties for neighbours helped fill Guantanamo as well as slave markets throughout history and today. One of the primary sources of income for stateless militias is still the ancient standby, kidnap and ransom. With the growth of criminal industry, human trafficking is far more versatile now than it has ever been. Stateless militias traffic people to sell for every criminal use, but use them as well as drug mules, for weapons running, as sexual bribes to militia members and as ‘suicide’ bombers. Both stateless and state militias use child soldiers. Boko Haram fighting against the Civilian Joint Task Force youth vigilantes endorsed and supported by the Nigerian military was a war of children against children, something none of Nigeria’s ally states objected to and something media seldom reported in their periodic hysteria about Boko Haram.

The trade economy creates a market for whatever product it has to sell. No one needs to buy trafficked humans. The demand is created by the seller who convinces the buyer. The vast increase in the paedosadism market, where children are raped, tortured or murdered for adult entertainment is a horrifying example of created demand.[cite] There is a new and growing market in West Africa created by those who have convinced politicians that amulets from ritual killings are necessary for their electoral success.[cite] China is farming prisoners and political dissidents and harvesting their organs on demand to market them to a self-indulgent and wealthy population who have been convinced they deserve immortality.[cite]

One of the most interesting economic loops of the last century is in the paedosadism market. A very large number of powerful officials in governments and international organizations have been implicated in paedosadism,[cite] leading to much debate in the press as to the causal link between paedosadism and high office. There is an obvious feedback loop between a criminal underground which is in charge of human trafficking and those in positions of power who are either lured to participate or were selected for high office because of their blackmail potential. The frequency with which spy agencies are involved in these cases also indicates that they may be encouraging the election of politicians and others who they can easily control with blackmail. Besides the incredibly high number of politicians implicated in the UK,[cite] thers are accusations that children from Kincora boys home were used by MI6 for blackmail of IRA and Sinn Fein members[cite] and accusations that Joris Demmink, the Dutch Minister of Security and Justice, was being blackmailed by Turkey[cite] and others. There have also been multiple cases of organizations such as United Nations peacekeepers involved in paedosadism, in Bosnia, in Somalia, in the Central African Republic and more. It is obvious that a criminal industry as huge as human trafficking cannot exist without borders and bank accounts being accessible to the trade and that access is ensured by a blackmail and bribery loop fed by the industry itself.

States also have multiple ways to profit from large populations now that large scale industrial labour is no longer needed. They are used for weapons advertising, as seen in the huge increase in arms dealer profits from the weapons trade shows being held over the slaughter of people in Syria, Gaza and elsewhere.[cite] They are used to fill prison corporations, a circular trade that has taxes pay corporations to imprison the citizens and then prisons sell the labour of prisoners to other corporations at a vast discount.[cite] People are made ill and their illness is used to profit the pharmaceutical and medical industries.[cite] Their food security is destroyed and the resulting famines are used to profit NGOs, a cycle well planned years in advance.[cite] Cartels in America sell drugs to the poor in the United States in exchange for the guns flowing down the Iron River from the United States to Central America.[cite] Weapons manufacturers in the United States profit on the lives of the poor in both Central America and the U.S. and then convince governments they need even more guns to stop the violence. Water everywhere is stolen and polluted by Coca Cola so that people are forced to buy Coca Cola.[cite]

Since the years during which IBM profited from cataloguing people for Hitler’s concentration camps,[cite] the tech industry has catalogued and spied on and murdered people for the powerful. Intelligence and military agencies have been accused of or admitted to conducting mass and individual experiments on foreign and local populations for decades and the findings are frequently used to profit industry.[cite] Food, environmental, worker and infrastructure safety are reduced by corruption, incompetence, and corporate greed, but even more so when the ruling strata would rather the population was reduced.

As people become more expendable, the popular uses for them are ever more genocidal. Drugs are as useful for immobilizing a large public and funding their tyrants as they were in the U.K. – China opium wars or Japan’s occupation of Manchuria. Today, China is more likely to be the supplier, as they are in providing fentanyl to the United States[cite] or heroin to Burma’s Kachin people.[cite] The three biggest criminal industries are all genocidal, a great help in removing populations standing in the way of resource corporations or threatening the wealthy. The weapons for populations to destroy each other with greater ease and the drugs to increase the violence and incapacitate effective resistance have been supplemented with the rapid growth of the human trafficking industry.

The trade economy and borders have made both genocide and slavery much more difficult to control. Both slavery and human trafficking are now illegal in every state in the world, but the states do not control the trade economy. Human trafficking is now the world’s largest criminal trade, ahead of weapons and drugs. Like the rest of the supranational merchant class, this economy operates above state jurisdiction. The United Nations has estimated there are now about thirty million slaves worldwide[cite] but it is impossible to know the real number. Traffickers are often supplied by organizations working with the most vulnerable people, from NGOs to military to child protection services. They haunt places where people may have gone missing for any number of reasons such as natural disasters and refugee migrations.

We have always had sectarianism. The difference now is we also have hierarchy. Those who treat the rest of us as an outgroup they have no empathy for are at the very top strata of society and have control over every aspect of our lives. We have always committed atrocities on people in our outgroups. The difference now is we can profit from those atrocities. Whether our actions have social approval or not, they can produce currency which will bring social approval. As long as we can buy social approval with currency we are no longer as susceptible to societal coercion. As long as our societies are non-existent, shunning and inclusion have no effect on us.

 

Excerpted from Autonomy, Diversity, Society. Citations will be transferred when I get a minute.

Sociopaths, Psychopaths and Death Eaters

It is now an undeniable fact that the UK establishment has, for decades, been run by people who tortured and killed children for entertainment, for political power, and just because they could.

The cognitive dissonance that statement produces in the majority of the population has provided the cloak of invisibility that has kept these people in power and their actions unpunished for all these years. When faced with an undeniable proof of any part of this, people’s shock was easily comforted by soothing assurances that the person was only one, that no one around him had been aware, that this would be taken care of. The idea of a society of torturing murderers, openly known to each other, controlling not just the UK but embedded in the upper echelons of many (if not all) countries was the stuff of conspiracy websites, those prolific disseminators of unbelievable truths well mixed with repellant bigotry and obvious falsehoods, presented as a whole to discredit all ingredients. Human trafficking is the largest criminal industry in the world. It is far less reasonable to believe it is conducted without the full knowledge and co-operation of those in power, but the power of deeply anti-social behaviour is how unwilling anyone is to believe another human is capable of it.

The propaganda arm of this international ring of torturers which attempted to normalize abuse of children and babies as ‘sex’ is still very apparent in the corporate media coverage of the CSA inquiry which depicts the torture and murder of children as “sex attacks on kids”, “child sex” or a “sex scandal”. Sex is not an attack. This is not sex. The fact that these people tortured and murdered children in their recreational hours does not make them simply pedosadists, or what corporate media still likes to call pedophiles in acquiescence to PIE’s demands that they be depicted as ‘child-lovers’. Their recreation may have revolved around torturing children, but their office hours as UK media and government establishment revolved around torture and mass murder of people from all demographics. It is not sufficient to call them psychopaths or sociopaths since very few of those seriously harm others and almost none to this extent. These people who want to be known as child lovers are death eaters. They feed on the agony of others. They torture and murder not because they have to, but because it feeds something in them. The only reason they are attracted to children is the increase in pain, horror, power, and taboo. They are no less attracted to mass slaughter than they are to the torture of children.

Sociopaths are attracted by what repels others. They seek filth, horror and destruction. Using the torture of children as bait to blackmail political opponents is a natural act for death eaters, as is destroying populations with ‘drug wars’ and ‘terrorism’ or using the slaughter of populations to advertise the weapons industry. People are products in the trade economy, and if death eaters are in control, people are their products to use as they wish. They are presiding over the destruction of the planet and beating back any who try to stop them because mass destruction is a compulsion for them.

The attempt to conflate torture and murder with sex is not unique to the UK establishment. “Our definition of sexy was something like Khadr.” said the man who decided to prosecute a tortured child. Militias in the DR Congo are promised magic power from raping women. Israel uses sexual imagery to promote the destruction of Palestine and rape is a constant in wars, torture, imprisonment, everywhere death eaters act. Death eaters gain power by manipulation of others. Hard coercion such as the control of military and police is theirs when they gain power, but until they have attained it they rely on seductive coercion. An insistence on hard coercion to control society is a denial of the power of seductive coercion. Conflation of torture and murder with sex is a perversion of that power. An attempt to depict deeply anti-social acts as sexual freedom is an attempt to normalize deeply anti-social behaviour.

Death eaters are not child lovers. Torture and murder are not a sex scandal. Sex is not an attack. Seductive coercion is used to create society. Its use in dissociated populations to incite acts of violence is a perversion of its power used against society.

Societal auto-immune disease

In industrialized states sociopathy is not only normal, it is normative. Industrialized society is the replacement of human relationships with corporations where people are products and human need is industry. To be dissociated from the approval economy is to be dissociated from society. A trade economy consists of sociopaths connected only by money. Antisocial personality is a natural trait of anyone who climbs to the top of a ponzi scheme built on systems of dissociation. Sociopaths cannot relate to others as human. They see them as products, the perfect outlook for success in the predatory trade economy.

Most definitions now define psychopaths as those born dissociated, and sociopaths as those created (and both categories are best used only for sweeping generalizations which this is). While psychopaths have always been with us, dissociated populations are producing sociopaths in unprecedented numbers. Huge populations of sociopaths and apathetics are necessary for death eaters to survive in power. ‘Shh, we need to torture children for your safety,’ say the death eaters and the sociopathic and apathetic public nods and turns away. Without the disinterested and complicit buffer, nothing would save the death eaters from the torches and pitchforks of those at the bottom.

Antisocial personality is a societal auto-immune disease. It manifests as the most obvious horrors in society. Self-identified narcissists, sociopaths and psychopaths generally would like theirs to be an accepted part of the spectrum of human behaviour, as PIE lobbied to have abusing babies an accepted ‘liberation’ in the 70s. Trying to divert focus from their anti-social behaviour to a discussion on sexual orientation is part of their continual efforts to normalize their behaviour or at least to divert attention to understanding for them instead of protection for their victims. Depicting action against them as a feminist attack on male normative sexuality is an appeal for both sympathy and broad acceptance and a dismissal of the existence of their victims.

If anti-social behaviour was widely accepted, society would not exist (as it largely does not today) and human and most other life on earth would not survive much longer. It is not logical to accept self-destruction as a normal part of society or evolution. We cannot kill sociopathy, it is part of us. Like cancer, it will probably always be a part of us in small amounts and it would be very unwise to attempt to eliminate it entirely. Humanity cannot divide neatly into these categories, and there are a variety of factors that cause dissociated behaviour, all ‘normal’ but all unacceptable in a society that wishes to continue existence.

The UK media depiction of the subjects of the so-called Child Sexual Abuse inquiry as paedophiles is a very deliberate propaganda exercise and attempt to manipulate public opinion. People who rape, torture and murder are not child lovers. The victims of these people were not only children. The phrase ‘paedophile’ brings the focus from the vicim to their assailant, and the pseudo-medical op-eds claim a right for understanding for death eaters, not the children. The use of the word paedophile individualizes the problem and is an attempt to pretend there are a ‘few bad apples’ instead of an entire ruling society complicit in the cover up and normalization of the torture and murder of others.

Societies do have the right to shun those who seek to destroy them. This fairly obvious principle has been perverted beyond all recognition by states who use it as an excuse to destroy others as they have perverted every other personal right to endorse corporate tyranny. States are highly militarized economic markets, not societies. Societies can shun harmful and anti-social behaviour in all forms, whether it is normal or not, as we do every day in all of our social norms. We do not need to build society according to an anti-social structure or create society that feeds anti-social behaviour at the top of the power structure. We do not need to accept death eaters as child lovers. We do not need to accept their hopeful norms in our coercive media propaganda.

Societies have the right to associate or to refuse to associate. 

This article has been stigmergicly translated into French and Spanish.

World War III: A state of mind

A continuation of thoughts from World War III: Pillage and plunder. Earlier: World War III: A status update (2014), World War III: A picture (2012), and A Stateless War (2010)

“WHENEVER those states which have been acquired as stated have been accustomed to live under their own laws and in freedom, there are three courses for those who wish to hold them: the first is to ruin them, the next is to reside there in person, the third is to permit them to live under their own laws, drawing a tribute, and establishing within it an oligarchy which will keep it friendly to you;

but when cities or countries are accustomed to live under a prince, and his family is exterminated, they, being on the one hand accustomed to obey and on the other hand not having the old prince, cannot agree in making one from amongst themselves, and they do not know how to govern themselves. For this reason they are very slow to take up arms, and a prince can gain them to himself and secure them much more easily.” – The Prince, Niccolò Machiavelli (1532)

The new global empire is possible because recent history and overwhelming media coercion have rendered the majority of the world incapable of self-governance. The populations described in the first paragraph have almost all transitioned through the three recommended coercive structures and they are now the second type which Machiavelli identified as easily controlled from a remote centre. Outside of a very few, very isolated nations, there is no longer anything close to freedom or self-governance anywhere on earth and memories and belief in its possibility have all but been erased.

In the power, wealth and celebrity ponzi schemes that dictate our relations today, conflict is always between the top and the bottom. The only points of conflict between power centres occur when one is absorbing another and these events are not particularly important. The majority of those at the top usually remain there and those at the bottom almost always do. Nationalist rhetoric notwithstanding, it matters not at all whether the headquarters is in Beijing, London, Rome or Cusco if there is no self-governance. The ponzi scheme of power which once upheld the Great Men of Machiavellian city states is now scaled to uphold the first truly global empire, but the principles and players remain the same. The Great Men of oligarchies have always been upheld by a cohesive block of commoners with common goals and fears which can be easily manipulated by those in power.

Thought reform

The crack in the monopoly on education and media has created a surge of independent thought which may finally dissolve the club of cohesive democratic power which has kept Great Men in power for centuries. With no middle class there will be no oligarchy. – Me, Commoners and how they are coerced

In the west, laws supporting freedom of thought, expression and debate once contrasted with the communist constitutions which put ideology ahead of individual thought. Western media and Hollywood were all powerful, allowing the five eyes to use censorship by noise instead of Chinese style censorship by blocking. Freedom of the western corporate press also aided the empire in controlling the governance of foreign states by seductive coercion. Insisting on ‘press freedom’ throughout their empire ensured their influence was impossible to counter. China’s recent investment in media in Africa acknowledges that this is still the case in parts of the world.

Social media has in a few years drastically changed the amount of ideas and the sources which people can be exposed to. All of the anti-US governments in South America were early and heavy users of social media and the US is just catching up with getting their propaganda on social media as dominant as it was in the South American corporate press. Governments around the world are finding that neither their propaganda efforts nor censorship are enough to counter real grass roots movements or to stop ideas which may spread virally on their own. In addition to legislation countering free speech when it appears on social media under the guise of countering ‘trolling’, new forms of blocking which go beyond technology and reach the individual sources of thought are being implemented.

The concept of ‘terrorism’ has been used to justify thought reform globally. While ‘terrorism’ still nebulously relates to an act, the designation of ‘terrorist’ does not and rights can be stripped with no trial or notice based on such a designation. The designation of terrorist can be based simply on group affiliation and terrorism acts now include expression of forbidden thought.

In Canada, terrorism is defined as an act or omission committed “in whole or in part for a political, religious or ideological purpose, objective or cause” with the intention of intimidating the public “…with regard to its security, including its economic security, or compelling a person, a government or a domestic or an international organization to do or to refrain from doing any act.”

In the UK, terrorism refers to the use and threat of action “designed to influence the government or to intimidate the public or a section of the public” and “made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause.”

In Australia terrorism is “an act or threat, intended to advance a political, ideological or religious cause by coercing or intimidating an Australian or foreign government or the public.”

Unlike the definitions in the US and EU, which include such qualifiers as ‘seriously intimidating’, ‘unduly compelling’ or ‘violation of the criminal laws’, both Canada and the UK have designated any attempt to influence the government, the public, or any section of the public for a political, religious or ideological purpose as terrorism. While you may not go to prison for attempting to persuade your neighbour to boycott Israeli products you can certainly be designated a terrorist, put on a watch list, lose your citizenship rights and possibly be arrested in any state which shares (or steals) intelligence from these governments. Neither do you have to be expressing ideas deemed dangerous to the corporate states, simply listening to them is enough. Criminalizing ideas allows states to declare war against segments of their own population and strip them of citizenship and rights of due process.

Since there is no terrorist act not also committed regularly by the governments of the world, the only thing separating the terrorists from the corporate states is the phrase “for a political, religious or ideological purpose”. State actors commit all the same acts in pursuit of power, celebrity and wealth. Actions taken for personal gain or as a result of following orders are not criminalized, the same acts motivated by social participation and expression of independent thought are.

Laws once focused on actions and a wealthy adult who stole a loaf of bread was to be judged in the exact same manner as a starving child. Recently, the focus has turned to judging the individual and their motivations for an act, allowing extenuating circumstances such as youth, insanity and other personal factors to influence judgements. Now we have progressed to judging motivations without any associated actions. We have attained a state where thoughts alone can be criminal.

Laws have been passed calling all citizens defending themselves or their environment terrorists. The Canadian Minister of Public Safety targets “domestic extremism based on grievances – real or perceived – revolving around the promotion of various causes such as animal rights … environmentalism and anti-capitalism.” Self defence is terrorism. Citizen armies have been replaced by corporate security worldwide and international trade agreements ensure there is no longer any regional authority over regional resources. Refugees whose homes have been destroyed are jailed for migration from places where they are dying. The mass refugee movement caused by corporate plunder is advertised as ‘asylum seeking’ or ‘illegal immigration’. The people corporate terrorism is driving to desperation are those who will help militias designated as terrorists expand, fed by the drugs, weapons and human traffickers.

Terrorists against corporations act for a political, religious or ideological cause. Terrorists against the people act for power, celebrity and wealth. Self-governance includes stewardship and use of the environment and its products by the user group. Any control or ownership outside the user group is enemy occupation, not self-governance.

The motivations designated by corporate states as terrorist are all those leading to resistance from corporate plunder. Wherever we see the corporate hold on seductive coercion weakening and being diluted by other players we also see them increasingly reverting to old methods of hard coercion. The designation of terrorism has been used to allow methods so extreme they were very recently only found in the deep shadows, now openly brought forward to combat those whose thoughts have slipped out from under corporate control. Not only the torture and abuse of individuals but the mass extermination of entire populations through disease, starvation, environmental destruction and war have renewed acceptance among the most powerful.

From the passive aggression of ignoring perfectly foreseeable crises like the Ebola epidemic and starvation in the Sahel to militia wars where corporate powers supply all sides, environmental destruction which crushes all resistance and ongoing genocides such as Myanmar’s persecution of the Rohingya and Kachin or corporate attacks on the indigenous of Brazil all illustrate what is waiting when seductive coercion fails.

Things are never so bad they can’t get worse.

“Men ought either to be well treated or crushed, because they can avenge themselves of lighter injuries, of more serious ones they cannot; therefore the injury that is to be done to a man ought to be of such a kind that one does not stand in fear of revenge.” – The Prince, Niccolò Machiavelli (1532)

A war on self-governance

This is a war where the populace is kept sickly, ignorant, desperate and above all fearful to keep them from rising up against the military industrial complex. The tools used are drugs (legal and illegal), poor nutrition, environmental hazards, misinformation, blocked access to good information, poverty, stress, crime and, above all, war. The weapons against them will be information, solidarity, good health, great optimism, and mass participation in every aspect of government. – Me, A Stateless War, 2010

Self-governance requires debate and free expression for epistemic communities and others without the risk of being labeled a terrorist and having a bomb dropped on your head. For the first time, we have the communication infrastructure to enable societal auto-coercion and self-governance which can scale globally. The battle for hearts and minds is the only battle that matters and the only war that matters is the one between the oligarchs globally and the people oppressed by them. The most important weapon is global communication and the most important freedom is freedom of thought.

Self-governance is not only possible, it is in all of our societal history. While new structures and methods must certainly be developed to allow society to scale globally when necessary, the basic structure and memory is still there in our history and will still work. The thought reform efforts of the last many years were attempts to erase that memory, to reduce even the basic societal unit of families to trade relationships, to make a trade economy and rule by mafia seem not only logical but inevitable. While corporate control has fought to narrow and hold the public’s Overton window, others of us have fought to move and widen it. The new definitions of terrorism as attempts to influence the government or the public is a war against freedom of thought and auto-coercion by a population, a war against self-governance.

The solid block of common thought necessary to uphold Great Men in seats of power has a natural tendency to disperse and regroup like a true swarm. Coercive power has become more desperate to force this block back into formation as the swarm becomes louder and the points of influence multiply daily. The intelligence agencies of the world are not working for your governance, they are your governance. Corporate power has expended huge energy on identifying those butterflies that may become hurricanes and discrediting and silencing them before they can build. In the end, they will fail and a new structure will emerge. Whether this new structure is built in favour of corporations or people depends on who wins the war of coercion and thought reform.

Related:

Glossary

Binding Chaos
Autonomy, Diversity, Society
Releasing Chaos

The average tyrant

Part of a series, Autonomy, Diversity, Society. Posts about our roles, relationships and governance. No article in this section is meant to stand alone, there will be a lot more coming soon that will clarify the current posts.

—-

For as to the strength of body, the weakest has strength enough to kill the strongest, either by secret machination or by confederacy with others that are in the same danger with himself… as to the faculties of the mind, I find yet a greater equality amongst men than that of strength. – Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal – United States Declaration of Independence

The obviously false statements above have been used to design a social structure that does not and will never meet the needs of a real society. The average is held up as not only an attainable goal but also an ideal and the very existence of anything above or below average is frequently denied, especially in the design of social structures. Anything more than two standard deviations from the mean is considered either substandard or elite and great societal energy is expended in trying to merge both of these back into the centre of the bell curve. Those that cannot be merged are ostracized or treated as parasites.

The majority of society has seen nothing amiss with tying success and happiness to academic excellence, in complete knowledge that this will ensure a life of misery and failure for those unable to attain a neurotypical standard. It has been a comedy to see the same middle class who complacently watched the subjection of generations of the bottom 1% roar with indignation when they find themselves slipping to that level. We are the 99%! is the neatest summation of the tyranny of the bell curve imaginable. Mass protests occurred in 2011 not because economic disparity affecting basic human rights is occurring but because it is now happening to average people, the chosen ones. The instant cry for direct democracy was meant not to ensure human rights for all but to ensure the majority will once again dominate.

The continuing mistreatment of the less able is today’s version of eugenics. Every politician appeals to the middle class. If they intend to favour the economic top 1% they must convince the middle class it will eventually benefit them. No politician campaigns on promises to the bottom 1% where human rights disappear first. The 99% are finally suffering some of what they allowed to happen to the bottom 1% all these years. The bottom 1% has always filled jails and been denied basic essentials and the opportunity to achieve their potential and pursue happiness. The majority are only horrified when they start going as well.

All people are equivalent. All people are not equal. This is our strength not a weakness. The lie that all people are equal has been used to deny people the right to be equivalent.

There is nothing in one level of ability that makes it inherently better than another. It is the artificial valuation of jobs and the pressure for all to match the peak of the bell curve and attain the same goals that makes average competence seem an unquestionable virtue. The myth of a straight line of competence is also false. A person lower in a general cognition spectrum can still be higher in one system than a specialist from another system. Interest can drive a person to a level of higher expertise than someone with greater ability. Success in many areas requires no extraordinary ability. Many abilities such as perceptiveness, ability to communicate and obsessive attention to detail can provide great value to projects as can insight from diverse backgrounds.

If society refuses to acknowledge that some people are more capable in some areas than average, children are raised with no alternative than to perceive others as either willfully ignorant or frauds. If everyone thinks there is a level playing field, they play flat out and some get hurt and angry. If they think everyone is equal, those who achieve more must have cheated in some way or are lying and those who achieve less must not be trying hard enough. Anger, frustration and division must result from forced equality and holding that which is natural for one to be the ultimate standard of achievement for all.

Bullying by the average is easy as communication and empathy beyond two standard deviations of cognitive ability is difficult, exhausting and slow. Those outside the majority cannot discuss the communication difficulties. Anyone below average is given advice on how to become average, anyone openly above is hated and shunned. Knowledge bridges are needed for communication in both cases and in both cases those bridging will be loved and celebrated while those trying to communicate will still be despised. Their voices will be controlled by others and their links to broader society will be at the whim of those providing communication bridges.

Cognitive ability

Being outside the normative range of physical ability or beauty will bring hostility but not to nearly the same degree as being outside the normative range of cognitive ability. This may be because even though all can be tied to economic success, the range in cognitive ability is far greater and more diverse. While a top athlete’s achievements may be unattainable by the majority of the population they are at least able to comprehend them.

Normal is equated with ideal, abnormal is in some way defective or in need of a cure. It was not until recently that those who deviated from the neurotypical by any great degree in either direction were even considered the same species as neurotypical humans. This attitude can still be seen today as failure is said to make a person more human and more deserving of human respect and empathy.

As recently as 1920 Leta Hollingworth had to ask Are the defective a separate species? … It Was Formerly Assumed as a Matter of Course that the Feeble-Minded Belonged to a Distinct Mental Species. Herbart’s theory advanced so long ago, that the feeble-minded form simply the opposite extreme from genius, and differ from the normal only in degree, made relatively little impression upon current thought. It was supposed generally that the feebleminded were divided from the normal by a sharp line of demarcation, on the one side of which stood all who were not feeble-minded, while on the other side stood all who were so afflicted, — the so-called idiots. According to this view, there was also another line of demarcation, separating the normal people from the geniuses, who like the feeble-minded formed a separate species.

It is obvious that those considered not even human were also left out of the Lockean notion of equality along with women, children, slaves, etc. The importance that we see attached to iq today, in particular in the endless debate over whether it can be tied to ethnicity, sex or gender, lies in the societal acceptance which inclusion in the normative range still brings. Inclusion programs focus on kindly teaching those at the ends of the bell curve how to be average. Utopias and futuristic societies nearly always show everyone equal as an ideal we have somehow attained, something only possible by eugenics.

The smug arrogance and condescending simper of most neurotypicals explaining something to a person with relative cognitive difficulties would be deemed a socialization problem if it were directed at a neurotypical. Usually neurotypicals don’t even attempt to communicate outside their comfort zone and it is left to those at the ends to have their attempts at communication judged and found wanting. The ease of communication awarded as a birthright to neurotypicals is promoted as a virtue, as being a good team player, communicator, socially adept or simply popular.

It is completely unacceptable to call a person relative terms such as ugly, fat or stupid. It is acceptable to point out that they are, relatively speaking, disfigured, obese or learning disabled. It is only within the average ranges that relative insults are verboten. The handicapped are called handicapped despite the obvious relative meaning to the term. Neurotypicals are also handicapped compared to some but they would not tolerate the term directed at them. Even calling them average or common is deemed insulting. Average must be presented as the ideal, a normal way of being.

The self-appointed normal in society once debated eugenics to dispose of those they labeled gradations of idiots, imbeciles and morons and condemned them to childhoods facing a corner with a dunce cap on. These days are not in the past as debates over whether those at one end should be allowed to vote or reproduce continue and people are classified as having a mental age of a number correlating to neurotypical development. Neurotypicals are comparatively mentally incompetent too but they are still allowed to vote on subjects far outside their comprehension. A society concerned about equal rights for all would consider that for everyone neurotypicals consider a relative imbecile there are equivalent numbers of people who feel the same about them.

Diversity and collaboration

Neurotypicals are raised with a deep belief in their right to participate in all aspects of society at every level. It is a very common neurotypical reaction when they feel excluded from a group or activity by lack of knowledge to assume there was some sort of invitation, initiation or training which they did not receive. They then demand to be appraised of all work and discussion, through meetings, minutes, memos etc. and to have everything explained to them. Their work methods are presented as superior as there is always plenty of evidence to show that the majority of workers prefer them. They are permitted to derail working environments on the basis of inclusiveness even while they are excluding those who work better at a faster or slower level. They are convinced they have an inherent right to be included as an equal in every working or decision making forum through the democratic principle of equal votes. The sneer that a person is always right implies some quota on the number of times it is socially acceptable to be right. Know-it-all is used as an insult, implying that knowing too much is an antisocial act.

If people wish to truly promote a fully egalitarian society then everyone must be made to converse at a level easily understood by the lowest level of cognitive ability. When parents are willing to allow their neurotypical children to be educated at a level two or four standard deviations below their own, the quest for equality will have some moral ground to stand on. Until then, collaborative environments must allow discussion at all levels to provide equivalent fulfillment. Not doing so simply drives epistemic communities into back rooms and secret groups where they are not obliged to communicate with the public and their work is not transparent for everyone’s benefit.

The conceit of individual genius is condemned by proponents of the far more unlikely conceit of originality from the hive mind. It is a physical impossibility for a group to have an original idea as it has no mind. The hive does have a shared memory bank and simultaneous thought can occur if an environmental stimulus triggers a shared memory but simultaneous thought is, by definition, not original. If an idea is new, not only must it come from one mind, it must be patiently taught and debated by the originator. If it is to be generally accepted it must also be presented as coming from the hive mind, the voice of the people or whatever the euphemism of the day is. If an idea must be explained to a broad section of the public it must come from a knowledge bridge in the form of a not too intelligent western man.

The economic elite, those holding the power in the world, play to this conceit by propping up folksy politicians such as the “little guy from Shawnigan” Jean Chretien or the definitely-not-smarter-than-you Sarah Palin, while the majority of the Davos Group have no public profiles. The economic elite are those who by luck and privilege find themselves in positions of power and influence. Elite intelligence and ability did not bring us the problems in the world today, it was greed and sociopathy across all levels of society. Neurotypical intolerance of others has prevented any transparency between epistemic communities and the general public and allowed sociopaths to stand between the two and control society.

The path from elite, specialized knowledge to broad acceptance is extremely difficult to traverse. Some people enjoy being knowledge bridges and appreciate the challenge, others find it frustrating and a waste of time. Right now everyone who is not at the top of the bell curve is expected to spend huge amounts of unacknowledged time and energy communicating with the neurotypical elite and their effort is never appreciated. It is usually punished. Ideas that are important for the public to understand and accept but are undesirable to those in power are easily intercepted and replaced with more convenient truths. The majority of ideas that could benefit the public simply never arrive as the source cannot find the way to communicate their idea or a way to receive the support needed to develop it.

Screen shot 2014-04-14 at 11.50.28 AM

All humans have the equal right to attain their full potential

We do not have human dignity when we are kept in a state below what we are capable of achieving or in a system which fails to recognize where we naturally excel. We do not have the right to associate or to refuse to associate when we are made to converse always at a level far below or above where we are comfortable. We do not have societal acceptance when we are given an impossible ideal to attain to be part of society. We do not have our basic rights when they are contingent on our meeting an ideal which is impossible for us. We are not accepted as part of society if our needs must be met by charity.

Anyone within two standard deviations of the mean cognitive ability is able to travel through life in full expectation of being able to have a conversation at precisely their level with everyone. Most people are capable of connecting with others on a topic such as the weather but societal acceptance implies occasionally being able to have connections on deeper topics. Feeling always guarded against ridicule and misunderstanding and never having a real conversation contributes to a life of extreme loneliness and frustration. This is true not just for extreme ends of cognitive ability but for atypical thinkers of all kinds, even extreme introverts.

“Hollingworth also noted the acute social problems of children with IQs over 160. Moderately gifted children, those whose IQs measure between 125 and 155, were ones she found to be emotionally well balanced. These children had what she called a ‘socially optimal’ IQ level and had no problem making friends. But those with IQs over 160 typically suffered from social isolation.” (Winner 226).

Terman studied a population of lower iq than Hollingworth (average 150) and also selected people whose ability was recognized by their family and school and who were already in a track to achieve their potential. This population cannot be compared with those who have no hope of ever achieving their potential and are surrounded by a social group hostile to what they see as an enemy elite.

And yet Even Terman admitted that children with very high IQs faced acute social problems. Terman’s subjects who scored 170 or higher on IQ tests were said to have “one of the most difficult problems of social adjustment that any human being is ever called upon to meet.”At age fourteen, 60 percent of the boys with such high IQs and 73 percent of the girls were described by their teachers as solitary and as poor mixers. (Winner 225)

Note that these talented children and adolescents seem to have problems not because of any inherent social and emotional difficulties but rather because they are so different from others. They are ‘out of synch.’ If they could find others like themselves, their social problems might well disappear.”… Academically gifted children often underperform, not only because they are underchallenged but also because they work below their level to win social acceptance. (Winner 230)

Without the ability to communicate directly with society it is impossible to achieve the recognition or approval needed to survive.

The Psychology of Subnormal Children. Contributors: Leta S. Hollingworth – Author. Publisher: Macmillan. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1920.

Gifted Children: Myths and Realities. Contributors: Ellen Winner
Publisher: BasicBooks Place of publication: New York Publication year: 1996