One of the hallmarks of totalitarian systems is the criminalization of dissent. Not just the stigmatization of dissent or the demonization of dissent, but the formal criminalization of dissent, and any other type of opposition to the official ideology of the totalitarian system. Global capitalism has been inching its way toward this step for quite some time, and now, apparently, it is ready to take it.

Germany has been leading the way. For over a year, anyone questioning or protesting the “Covid emergency measures” or the official Covid-19 narrative has been demonized by the government and the media, and, sadly, but not completely unexpectedly, the majority of the German public. And now such dissent is officially “extremism.”

Yes, that’s right, in “New Normal” Germany, if you dissent from the official state ideology, you are now officially a dangerous “extremist.” The German Intelligence agency (the “BfV”) has even invented a new category of “extremists” in order to allow themselves to legally monitor anyone suspected of being “anti-democratic and/or delegitimizing the state in a way that endangers security,” like … you know, non-violently protesting, or speaking out against, or criticizing, or satirizing, the so-called “New Normal.”

Naturally, I’m a little worried, as I have engaged in most of these “extremist” activities. My thoughtcrimes are just sitting there on the Internet waiting to be scrutinized by the BfV. They’re probably Google-translating this column right now, compiling a list of all the people reading it, and their Facebook friends and Twitter followers, and professional associates, and family members, and anyone any of the aforementioned people have potentially met with, or casually mentioned, who might have engaged in similar thoughtcrimes.

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American social media platforms have long sought to present themselves as venues for unfettered free expression. A decade ago, Twitter employees used to brand the startup as “the free speech wing of the free speech party.” In late 2019, Mark Zuckerberg gave an address defending Facebook’s allegiance to First Amendment principles—including his oft-stated belief that platforms should not be “the arbiters of truth.”

The pandemic made a mockery of that idea. In the context of a global public health emergency, companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google began removing posts containing misleading information about the coronavirus, which required them to make judgments about truth and falsity. The presidential election pulled them even deeper into the job of fact-checking. By spring 2020, Twitter was applying warning labels to Donald Trump’s account, and by the summer, all the platforms were touting their proactive efforts against election misinformation.

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No one should deny that corporations provide many valuable services to consumers; however, a dark side exists to some corporate services that are never admitted in their advertising campaigns. In this article, I will explain one of the dark directions that the giant corporations that dominate the Internet are taking to increase their profits, specifically their efforts to push as many consumers as possible into the cloud, whether this is in consumers’ best interests or not. I will then give some concrete methods that consumers can use to resist.

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A new documentary about former Executive Director Ira Glasser explains how the once-storied civil liberties organization came to embrace the ideology it was built to fight…

@StallmanWasRight shared their post

After a decade or so of the general sentiment being in favor of the internet and social media as a way to enable more speech and improve the marketplace of ideas, in the last few years the view has shifted dramatically—now it seems that almost no one is happy. Some feel that these platforms have become cesspools of trolling, bigotry, and hatred. Meanwhile, others feel that these platforms have become too aggressive in policing language and are systematically silencing or censoring certain viewpoints. And that’s not even touching on the question of privacy and what these platforms are doing (or not doing) with all of the data they collect.

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@StallmanWasRight shared their post
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We are in a generalized crisis in relation to all the environments of enclosure—prison, hospital, factory, school, family. The family is an “interior,” in crisis like all other interiors—scholarly, professional, etc. The administrations in charge never cease announcing supposedly necessary reforms: to reform schools, to reform industries, hospitals, the armed forces, prisons. But everyone knows that these institutions are finished, whatever the length of their expiration periods. It’s only a matter of administering their last rites and of keeping people employed until the installation of the new forces knocking at the door.

These are the societies of control, which are in the process of replacing the disciplinary societies. “Control” is the name Burroughs proposes as a term for the new monster, one that Foucault recognizes as our immediate future. Paul Virilio also is continually analyzing the ultra-rapid forms of free-floating control that replaced the old disciplines operating in the time frame of a closed system. There is no need here to invoke the extraordinary pharmaceutical productions, the molecular engineering, the genetic manipulations, although these are slated to enter into the new process. There is no need to ask which is the toughest or most tolerable regime, for it’s within each of them that liberating and enslaving forces confront one another. For example, in the crisis of the hospital as environment of enclosure, neighborhood clinics, hospices, and day care could at first express new freedom, but they could participate as well in mechanisms of control that are equal to the harshest of confinements. There is no need to fear or hope, but only to look for new weapons.

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Even despotism does not produce its worst effects, so long as Individuality exists under it; and whatever crushes individuality is despotism, by whatever name it may be called, and whether it professes to be enforcing the will of God or the injunctions of men.

John Stuart Mill

Dec 17, 2020

Apart from the peculiar tenets of individual thinkers, there is also in the world at large an increasing inclination to stretch unduly the powers of society over the individual, both by the force of opinion and even by that of legislation: and as the tendency of all the changes taking place in the world is to strengthen society, and diminish the power of the individual, this encroachment is not one of the evils which tend spontaneously to disappear, but, on the contrary, to grow more and more formidable. The disposition of mankind, whether as rulers or as fellow-citizens to impose their own opinions and inclinations as a rule of conduct on others, is so energetically supported by some of the best and by some of the worst feelings incident to human nature, that it is hardly ever kept under restraint by anything but want of power; and as the power is not declining, but growing, unless a strong barrier of moral conviction can be raised against the mischief, we must expect, in the present circumstances of the world, to see it increase.

John Stuart Mill

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The overwhelming majority of people do not care about privacy. They ask why they should care if they have “nothing to hide”. Yet this idea of hiding is fundementally flawed.

Every time you get a censor, you get a fool, and worse yet a knave, pretending to be a guardian of morality, while acting as a guardian of class greed.

Upton Beall Sinclair, Jr. (20 September 1878 – 25 November 1968)

That makes privacy a nuanced thing: you want to remain anonymous to an eavesdropper but make sure a retailer knows where you live.

Scientific advances from deep brain stimulation to wearable scanners are making manipulation of the human mind increasingly possible, creating a need for laws and protections to regulate use of the new tools, top neurologists said on Thursday.

A set of “neuro-rights” should be added to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations, said Rafael Yuste, a neuroscience professor at New York’s Columbia University and organizer of the Morningside Group of scientists and ethicists proposing such standards.

Five rights would guard the brain against abuse from new technologies - rights to identity, free will and mental privacy along with the right of equal access to brain augmentation advances and protection from algorithmic bias, the group says.

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We just don’t know what’s next, but we know it’s likely to be consequential, and that a big part will be played by the world’s biggest social network. On the evidence of Facebook’s actions so far, it’s impossible to face this prospect without unease.

Liberty

Give me liberty or give me death.

Created on Sep 17, 2020
By @gurlic