An eagle eye on us……
……distracted eyes on them
I’ve often heard it alleged by politicians of the 1980s that it was Margaret Thatcher who first said – in private, of course – that the key reason for pushing people into home ownership was the ability of that property millstone to rapidly dilute revolutionary leftist ideas. As with so many things she thought but kept quiet about, she was sadly dead right: it remains my view that a lot of contemporary braindead materialism in the UK began with raging house-value obsession from 1983 onwards. But above all, properties and the things one buys for them – plus the maintenance thereof – mean most people are far too busy to give serious thought to philosophical concepts like freedom, democracy, and equality before the Law.
More recently, Conservative administrations have endeavoured to pile distraction on distraction in an effort to entirely depoliticise the electorate. The deregulation of employment has led directly to two things: working longer hours for less money, and running around frantically from one zero-hours morsel of slave labour to another….in a vain effort to keep mouth and nose above water. Further, the so-called ‘reform’ of the welfare system has made it both more time-consuming for the beneficiary, and open to various frustrating interpretations. And last but not least, the tireless efforts of HMRC to hound every taxpayer to Hell and back mean yet more time lost trying to fight them.
Other factors beyond (but helpful to) Governments act as a catalyst for the undermining of constitutional rights and liberties.
Falling wages mean fewer and fewer of the bottom 25% having cars, and so facing longer journeys (via diluted and privatised municipal transport) to attend everything from DWP attendance and Court proceedings to job interviews.
To defend oneself against wrongful arrest and insane judicial decisions requires the committed assistance of highly skilled lawyers motivated by a calling above and beyond the pursuit of ambulances. Since the disgraceful cuts in legal aid, that is beyond the reach of ordinary citizens. When the ability to defend oneself depends on means, it is surely obvious to even the Homo not quite erectus Sun reader that equality before the Law is a vicious oxymoron.
And importantly, the Schüss into the mendacious sewer of accusatory smear and celebrity love-rat sex-monster sicko-paedo nation-grooming drivel led by Rupert Turdcock and his Red-topped tarts has turned attention away from life and death issues to botox and dentistry speculation.
But there is one hitech/IT dimension that does two things at once sans pareil – and that is the digitalisation and visualisation of information via the World Wide Web, linked to satellite observation from outer space. For this axis of surveillance keeps everyone busy dealing with manic software, while at the same time carrying a simple message: ‘We know your every move, we have your DNA, and everything you write and say is on the record forever: There Is No Escape’.
Looking back now to the late 1980’s to 2000, I cannot believe we were – myself included – so naive as to applaud the arrival of the Web. And yet casting into what is now history, it seems unimaginable that anyone would even have dreamt of the Space Race being turning round in order to spy on us. Although Sputnik, Telstar, Apollo and other projects were dominated by the military – and thus obviously bound for a role as weaponry in the end – linking that with an Orwellian nightmare seemed genuinely paranoid. For me and most of my generation, the ‘Space Race’ was a new and infinitely exciting chapter in the saga of inexhaustible human curiosity.
In fact, I didn’t fully wake up until, twelve years ago, I was walking past a newsstand here and saw a headline about a Bill that had been proposed in the French Assembly. This was the intention to make it a legal requirement for all new cars in France to be fitted with two-way GPS, ‘continually taking input data from satellites and then storing the latitude and longitude values in a microcontrol buffer’.
Thankfully, the Bill was killed off at some point in the process; but I was staggered first by the disinterest of most people I knew in the obvious antilibertarian danger of this idea, and second by the French considering the concept in the first place. But when I mentioned it at a comité meeting in my local commune, the other members (all farmers) nodded in agreement at my concern.
“In Paris,” said one bloke I always called Bluto, “they are all mad. Look at the spy planes keeping an eye on our use of land”. It turned out that French food ministers had passed a law allowing small aircraft to be used by local prefectures to spy on farmers thought to be cheating on fallow subsidies. The planes are still there. But now, they spy on me and millions of others too….checking to see if we obey garden-hose bans during summer.
Several miles above them, an entire chain of commercial satellites have been hijacked and part-funded by the NSA, CIA, GCHQ, MI5, Europol and all the spooks for all the main powers in all the sizes and all the colours. Political Parties of every hue have consistently lied about first their existence, then their budgets, and then their intentions. For three years, Labour Home Secretary Jacqui Smith lied repeatedly to the UK Parliament about the budget for GCHQ, while both before and since then, one Home Office minister after another has denied the cooperation between ISPs and the security services in terms of data relating to what we write in emails, read at news sites, buy from online marketers and opine on Twitter. Somewhere in an unremarked grave, DDR leader Erich Honecker is masturbating vigorously to the thought of what he could have done with such facilities.
As to the further distraction of the questioning mind using IT channels, there are the vague, infuriating messages of software producers (“something isn’t right”), the constant pestering to accept updates, the reconfigurations required once those updates have been performed, the half-witted desire to get everyone onto mobile internet via Apps – a medium that is so much easier to monitor, and has the added advantage of tracking all of us 24/7 outside our homes – and the cleverly hidden boxes already ticked for our convenience every time we download a new piece of software kit. It all adds up. But chiefly, in the end, it all adds up to greater and greater time starvation, plus increasingly continuous data on what we’re about.
Perhaps an illustration from my own life of “retirement” might put this into a real context for those not entirely sure WTF I’m on about. Over the last two years, the greatest demands on my time have been associated with French tax, English tax, welfare cover, banking restrictions, IT software failures, pc hardware failures, drainage regulations, planning regulations, driving licences, and the sourcing of ‘anti’ software: gizmos that do their feeble best to hide who and where I am. As to the last of these, I go through the motions of it but the reality is like pissing into a Tsunami. The damage has been done: these days I go on Facebook and to Hell with it.
The nearest I’ve come to a term for what’s going on in terms of time-starvation is deformulation – that is, the concerted and often deliberate attempt to leave people with no time to think about the ramifications of, and opposition to, government railroading on all issues of citizen protection. The same trick was applied to Syriza by Schauble, Draghi and Dijesslbloem once Tsipras came to power in Greece: a constant stream of invented issues, meetings, deadlines, targets, problems, and dissatisfactions….alongside moles and security agencies providing a supply of espionage that informed ways to destabilise the Athens regime. The Party’s policy developers spent 100% of the time meeting Troika data demands, and 0% of the time either critiquing EC/ECB policy, or formulating alternatives to it.
Now as Bogart might have said, “None o’ this adds up to so much as a hill o’ beans” – until, that is, one examines the multivariate nature of first, the serious issues we face on this our only planet; and second, the way all the surveillance media are used for quadraphonic propaganda about each and every one of them.
Here is a list of most things I’ve been either writing about or researching in recent months:
Abolishing money, Turkey, Syria, the new Euroarmy, selling off Greece, Clubmed destruction, Shadow banking, derivatives, market manipulation, the Global economy, neoliberal monopolism, energy, Sovereign debt, NATO, US foreign policy ambitions, Abenomics, Chinese markets, Climate change hypocrisy and hype, the reawakening of Russia, aeroplane shootings-down, Vladimir Putin, the split UK Opposition, Ideological inflexibility, deflation of debt, interest rates, the coming US Presidential election, the Paris attestats, 3D printing, distractive paedomania, commodity value destruction, fracking, and the eclectic criminal career of Newscorp.
Compared to 95+% of the population, I have untold advantages in thinking about this stuff: I understand use of media, I can write quickly and fluently, I’m retired, I have a good albeit shrinking network of informants, I have the eyes of 6,000 Sloggers to help me, and my degree was in History & Politics. But I’m here to tell you that on most days, if I let the urgent get in the way of the important, I’d never post anything. For instance, this Saturday Essay is going out at 19:00 hrs CET when it should really have been filed before lunch.
This is the bottom line: Governments are today in the business of keeping an eye on us, while averting our eyes such that they divide, confuse, dissuade, mislead, distract, smear, and blind us all to the Truth.