Re: Surveilance was: Transhuman fascists?

From: Zero Powers (
Date: Wed Mar 29 2000 - 22:12:53 MST

>From: Dan Fabulich <>

> > I addressed this earlier too. You know, (1) it doesn't matter who's
> > the system as long as its sufficiently and verifiably transparent
>This is false. Transparency is not enough. You need transparency, the
>capacity to recognize wrongdoing, and the capacity to do something about

None of these requirements seems like much of a hurdle in a transparent

> > (2) the web analogy ("tons of data, hardly any data crunching")
>LOTS of data-crunching, you just forget it's going on. Can you imagine a
>system like this if it depended on human agents to type in what the
>cameras were seeing?

The point is that its not going on by *my* machine. The crunching is being
done on the server. My box just reads the results to me, no big deal. As a
result I don't need to invest in a big powerful server to benefit from the
data on the web. Government, with all its fancy shmancy hardware can't do
anything on the web I can't do. This undercuts your "the big guys will make
better use of it so they can crush you" argument.

> > (3) government-civilian oversight committees, etc., etc.
>Which become decreasingly likely as it gets easier and easier to be a

*If* it gets easier to be a despot. You have not said anything to make
believe that this is the case.

> > Sure I might be worried about that if I lived someplace other than the
>US or
> > sometime other than 2000 a.d. But the fact of the matter is that if you
> > plan to take over the US and overturn our democratic republic you will
> > to (1) control the military and (2) somehow convince the military to (a)
> > attack their friends and families and (b) do away with the civil
> > that we as a society have fought and died to preserve for over 200
> > all for the privilege of being able to call you King.
> >
> > How would you *possibly* do that? How could you possibly form the
> > economic and strategic alliances necessary to accomplish that ludicrous
> > in a transparent society without somebody getting wind of what you're up
> > and ruining your party?
>You start small and work outwards. Despotism is a tiring, thankless job,
>but at the end of the day, you've got a personal realm of terror that you
>can call your own.
>For the curious, you do it like this: You seize control of a small area,
>and lie, claiming that you intend to seize no more. (Whoops! Those
>cameras aren't lie detectors, are they?) You seize control of some more
>territory, and lie, claiming that you intend to seize no more. Repeat.
>Granted, I left out the hard part, which is actually seizing the
>territory, but the principle is tried and true. And unfortunately, your
>cameras can't detect intentions any better than the modern press.

Except that the act of "seizing" *any* territory in the US makes you a
criminal and the feds will swiftly give you an extra large helping of the
Montana Freeman - Branch Davidian treatment.

> > >Despotism doesn't, at any step of the picture, rely on secrecy in any
> > >whatsoever. On the contrary, perfect transparency is in the despot's
> > >interests.
> >
> > What?!? Are you kidding?? How long do you think Saddam Hussein would
> > in power in a transparent society? I'll tell you, approximately 2
>This is an empirical point of which I may not be able to convince you.
>However, suffice it to say that I'm confident enough that right thinking
>people will see that you're wrong that I may not want to devote much more
>time to arguing the point.

OK, can't force you to prove your point. Especially since you have all the
"right thinking" people on your side.

> > The despot keeps the populace in constant fear because they never know
> > to trust because your neighbor might be one of the despot's secret
> > henchmen.
>No need to fear THAT, per se: any action whatsoever which the despotic
>government finds unacceptable can and will be punished accordingly.
> > Why do you think every oppressive, despotic government *always*
> > *ALWAYS* has a secret police. Why do you think that establishing the
> > police is one of the *first* things a totalitarian government does? Why
> > you think they call secret police "secret?" How would you set up a
> > police force in a *transparent* society?
>Golly. I have no idea. What DO they keep a secret? What good does that
>do them, exactly? What would they lose by having an openly well-armed
>thug police? Oh, right. It's the difference b/w totalitarianism, the
>moral theory, and despotism, the fact of the matter. Well, the point is
>subtle. The fact that the government can no longer plausibly claim that
>they are acting in the best interests of the citizens isn't much of a loss
>so long as the ruler remains threatening.
> > >That way you can be quite confident that when the despot
> > >claims that he'll squash you like a bug, he *really will* squash you
> > >a bug. Knowing that someone is a despot does not help you get rid of
> > >despot in any way whatsoever.
> >
> > Sure, but knowing who his sympathizers are and who the opposition is,
> > the fact that the opposition outnumbers the despot and his henchmen will
> > give you a hint as to what to do to regain your freedom, don't ya think?
>As if all you needed were numbers. You need weapons, too. And you need
>to organize. But if you try to get a weapon, the henchmen will know
>instantly, and shoot you. And if you try to organize, before you get the
>chance, the government will know instantly, and shoot you. THAT'S how the
>picture looks when transparency goes both ways but only one side has the
>physical force and the computing power on its side.

OK now look at it this way, for all the reasons you just said it would be
difficult to overthrow a despot if he had access to ubiquitous surveillance.
  For all those same reasons, it would be just as hard (if not harder) for
the despot to take over in the first place.


"I like dreams of the future better than the history of the past"
--Thomas Jefferson

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