Beyond Orwell: The Electronic Police State, 2010

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A truism perhaps,
but before resorting to brute force and open repression to halt
the "barbarians at the gates," that would be us, the masters
of declining empires (and the chattering classes who polish their
boots) regale us with tales of "democracy on the march,"
"hope" and other banalities before the mailed fist comes
crashing down.

Putting it
another way, as the late, great Situationist malcontent, Guy Debord
did decades ago in his relentless call for revolt, The
Society of the Spectacle
:

"The reigning
economic system is a vicious circle of isolation. Its technologies
are based on isolation, and they contribute to that same isolation.
From automobiles to television, the goods that the spectacular system
chooses to produce also serve it as weapons for constantly
reinforcing the conditions that engender ‘lonely crowds.’ With ever-increasing
concreteness the spectacle recreates its own presuppositions."

And when those
"presuppositions" reproduce ever-more wretched clichés
promulgated by true believers or rank opportunists, take your pick,
market "democracy," the "freedom to choose"
(the length of one’s chains), or even quaint notions of national
"sovereignty" (a sure fire way to get, and keep, the masses
at each others’ throats!) we’re left with a fraud, a gigantic swindle,
a "postmodern" refinement of tried and true methods that
would do Orwell proud!

Ponder Debord’s
rigorous theorem and substitute "cell phone" and "GPS"
for "automobile," and "Internet" for "television"
and you’re soon left with the nauseating sense that the old "infobahn"
isn’t all its cracked up to be. As a seamless means for effecting
control on the other hand, of our thoughts, our actions,
even our whereabouts; well, that’s another story entirely!

In this light,
a new report published by Cryptohippie,
The Electronic Police State: 2010 National Rankings
, delivers
the goods and rips away the veil from the smirking visage of well-heeled
corporate crooks and media apologists of America’s burgeoning police
state.

"When
we produced our first Electronic Police State report" Cryptohippie’s
analysts write, "the top ten nations were of two types:

  1. Those that
    had the will to spy on every citizen, but lacked ability.
  2. Those who
    had the ability, but were restrained in will.

But as they
reveal in new national rankings, "This is changing: The able
have become willing and their traditional restraints have failed."
The key developments driving the global panopticon forward are the
following:

  • The USA
    has negated their Constitution’s fourth amendment in the name
    of protection and in the name of "wars" against terror,
    drugs and cyber attacks.
  • The UK is
    aggressively building the world of 1984 in the name of stopping
    "anti-social" activities. Their populace seems unable
    or unwilling to restrain the government.
  • France and
    the EU have given themselves over to central bureaucratic control.

In France,
the German newsmagazine Spiegel
reported that a new law passed by the lower house of Parliament
in February "conjures up the specter of Big Brother and the
surveillance state."

Similar to
legislation signed into law by German president Horst Köhler
last month, police and security forces in France would be granted
authority to surreptitiously install malware known as a "Trojan
horse" to spy on private computers. Remote access to a user’s
personal data would be made possible under a judge’s supervision.

While French
parliamentarians aligned with right-wing President Nicolas Sarkozy
insist the measure is intended to filter and block web sites with
criminal content or to halt allegedly "illegal" file sharing,
civil libertarians have denounced the legislation.

Sandrine Béllier,
a member of the European Parliament for the Green Party, said that
"when it comes to restrictions, this text is preparing us for
hell."

Additionally,
the new law will include measures that will further integrate police
files and private data kept by banks and other financial institutions.
French securocrats cynically insist this is a wholly innocent move
to "maintain the level and quality of service provided by domestic
security forces," Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux told Spiegel.

Generalized
political measures such as these that hinder free speech
and expression, whilst enhancing the surveillance capabilities of
the state, also indicate that so-called "Western democracies"
are not far behind beacons of freedom such as China, North Korea,
Belarus and Russia when it comes to repressive police measures.
Indeed, Cryptohippie’s rankings place the United States a mere 2/100ths
of a point behind Russia when it comes to Internet and other forms
of electronic spying.

The top ten
scofflaws in 2010 are: 1. North Korea; 2. China; 3. Belarus; 4.
Russia; 5. United States; 6. United Kingdom; 7. France; 8. Israel;
9. Singapore and, 10. Germany.

A Profit-Driven
Panopticon

In a capitalist
"democracy" such as ours where the business of government
is always business and individual liberties be damned, grifting
North American and European telecommunications and security firms,
with much encouragement and great fanfare from their national security
establishments and a lap-dog media blaze the path for Western versions
of the sinister "Golden Shield."

In Cryptome’s
case, administrator John Young had his site shuttered for a day
when the giant software firm, Microsoft, demanded that its so-called
"lawful spying guide" be removed by Young. All five files
are currently back on-line as Zipped files at Cryptome and make
for a very enlightening read.

But the harassment
didn’t stop there. When Young published PayPal’s "lawful spying
guide," the firm froze Cryptome’s account, in all likelihood
at the behest of America’s spy agencies, allegedly for "illegal
activities," i.e., offering Cryptome’s entire archive for sale
on two DVDs!

Why would the
secret state’s corporate partners target Young? Perhaps because
since 1996, "Cryptome welcomes documents for publication that
are prohibited by governments worldwide, in particular material
on freedom of expression, privacy, cryptology, dual-use technologies,
national security, intelligence, and secret governance – open,
secret and classified documents – but not limited to those.
Documents are removed from this site only by order served directly
by a US court having jurisdiction. No court order has ever been
served; any order served will be published here – or elsewhere
if gagged by order. Bluffs will be published if comical but otherwise
ignored."

In previous
reports,
Cryptohippie characterized an electronic police state thusly:

  1. It is criminal
    evidence, ready for use in a trial.
  2. It is gathered
    universally ("preventively") and only later organized
    for use in prosecutions.

Silent and
seamless, our political minders have every intention of deploying
such formidable technological resources as a preeminent – and
preemptive – means for effecting social control. Indeed, what
has been characterized by corporate and media elites as an "acceptable,"
i.e. managed political discourse, respect neither national
boundaries, the laws and customs of nations, nor a population’s
right to abolish institutions, indeed entire social systems when
the governed are reduced to the level of a pauperized herd ripe
for plunder.

Read
the rest of the article

March
18, 2010

Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San
Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action
Quarterly and Global Research,
an independent research and media group of writers, scholars, journalists
and activists based in Montreal, his articles can be read on
Dissident Voice,
The Intelligence Daily,
Pacific Free Press
and the whistleblowing website Wikileaks.
He is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military “Civil
Disturbance” Planning, distributed by AK
Press
.

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