Re: Surveilance was: Transhuman fascists?

From: Dan Fabulich (
Date: Thu Mar 30 2000 - 00:33:34 MST

'What is your name?' 'Zero Powers.' 'Do you deny having written the

> >This is false. Transparency is not enough. You need transparency, the
> >capacity to recognize wrongdoing, and the capacity to do something about
> >it.
> None of these requirements seems like much of a hurdle in a transparent
> society.

If a despot is in power and you know it, getting the capacity to do
something about it is quite a hurdle indeed.

> >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.

Look, my whole argument is that you can't guarantee yourself access to the
server, even if you can assure yourself access to the cameras. Remember,
these servers are government owned and government run. The government can
take away the servers, and THEN where would you be?

> >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.

In a democracy, you might run it differently. Instead of seizing control
of "territories," as such, you start picking off minorities. This is
legal in a democracy, and while it might be looked at askance, no one is
going to run over and attack you simply because your state has done
something offensive to a minority. The most vivid example we have of a
despot rising to power where there was once a democracy was Hitler. If
you wanted to be a despot in America, you'd do it the way he did it.

> >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.

Not if the despot manages to get a mandate from the people first. Hitler,
you'll recall, had the popular vote. How would a transparent society have
prevented Hitler from rising to power?


      -unless you love someone-
    -nothing else makes any sense-
           e.e. cummings

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