Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Confluence of Forces

There's an interesting connection between two recent news items. One was this fascinating description of the prison camps in North Korea, a place so horrific that it almost defies description.

The other was this story today, which describes Harry Reid's sponsorship of the latest attempt to regulate the internet under the guise of the need for "cybersecurity. Coming after the recently failed attempt to "craft" a bill (ever notice reporters always say "craft" when it's for legislation they back?) to stop internet piracy (SOPA / PIPA), or not-so-failed attempts to expand the oversight of the FCC via the imposition of "net neutrality" regulations (after Congress refused to authorize them by legislation), I'm struck that, even though one can find legitimate rationalizations for "cybersecurity" or control of online piracy, it's evidence of a deeper pattern -- which surely must be given scrutiny and consideration, given the connection I think exists to the first news item.

One can always find rationalizations for the necessity of these things, but this latest cybersecurity bill that the Democrats are trying to ram through (tell me again why is it more important than everything else right now??) is clearly evidence, as I said, of a pattern and a motive that's more evil and deliberate than simple incremental encroachment of government power -- a motive that even many of its supporters wouldn't dare admit to themselves, but which I think the Democratic leadership, and Obama in particular, does consciously have -- a motive which all the "flaws" in these pieces of legislation and new rules, hidden under the veneer of the "public interest", have been adding up to:

The power to impose full censorship of the internet, so they can muzzle critics.

This is what connects to that North Korean gulag, and not very metaphorically, given time.

You'll always find plenty of naive people who might actually believe these kinds of bills and regulations are only about legitimate purposes to prevent fraud, stop intellectual property theft or protect national security -- but I don't think that's the reason here. To quote the Goldfinger Principle, "once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action."

I think there's an organized motive behind the pattern of bills and regulations, evidenced by the way they keep surfacing over and over until passed. For instance, the net neutrality regulations were imposed unilaterally by the FCC, without any statutory or constitutional authority, when Congress refused to authorize them. Then SOPA / PIPA came along, and you can bet your bottom dollar they'll be revived in some new form, very soon, probably around 2AM on a Federal holiday -- or Obama will simply have the FCC or DHS unlaterally declare the authority.

The one thing you can count on in all these sorts of bills is a flawed content that one must notice always leaves the door wide open for full statutory control of the internet by means of some convoluted legal qualifier or interpretation.


If you buy into my premise, inquiring minds have to ask: why do they want full control to censor the internet?

One must also pay attention to the timing of these bills: the proponents appear determined to have them get passed before the election, despite much more urgent things the Congress could be doing -- like pass a budget, what a concept. As Ayn Rand noted in the early 1960's, the last time the Left attempted to authorize FCC censorship,
"...a federal commissioner may never utter a single word for or against any program. But what do you suppose will happen if and when, with or without his knowledge, a third-assistant or a second cousin or just a nameless friend from Washington whispers to a television executive that the commissioner does not like producer X or does not approve of writer Y or takes a great interest in the career of starlet Z or is anxious to advance the cause of the United Nations?"
Pick your radical Left-wing (or Right-wing) cause that needs the support and help of a muzzle. In the 1960s, they failed -- except in the sense that over time the brainwashing of the media was completed by their takeover of the school system -- so today, most print and TV suffers a self-imposed de facto censorship (with the exception, perhaps, of Fox and a few others). But most people now get their news from the internet -- and that threatens the agenda of the Left, which is once again trying to regain the upper hand to control the one medium they haven't muzzled.
"Censorship, in its old-fashioned meaning, is a government edict that forbids the discussion of some specific subjects or ideas—such, for instance, as sex, religion or criticism of government officials—an edict enforced by the government’s scrutiny of all forms of communication prior to their public release. But for stifling the freedom of men’s minds the modern method is much more potent; it rests on the power of nonobjective law; it neither forbids nor permits anything; it never defines or specifies; it merely delivers men’s lives, fortunes, careers, ambitions into the arbitrary power of a bureaucrat who can reward or punish at whim. It spares the bureaucrat the troublesome necessity of committing himself to rigid rules—and it places upon the victims the burden of discovering how to please him, with a fluid unknowable as their only guide."
Censorship plays an utterly crucial role in the decline of a country into full dictatorship, because once in place, anything goes -- totalitarian leaders find it much easier to "lock down" a nation when they are the gatekeepers of what can be said or heard -- and what can't. Censorship is not merely a defining characteristic of dictatorship, it's the essential means to impose and sustain a dictatorship -- much more so than simple brutality. To quote Ellsworth Toohey,
"...It's the soul, Peter, the soul. Not whips or swords or fire or guns. That's why the Caesars, the Attilas, the Napoleons were fools and did not last. We will. The soul, Peter, is that which can't be ruled. It must be broken. Drive a wedge in, get your fingers on it--and the man is yours. You won't need a whip--he'll bring it to you and ask to be whipped. Set him in reverse--and his own mechanism will do your work for you. Use him against himself."
The means to the soul are the ideas, opinions and voices that are heard. What people think and know and think they know. That is the object of censorship.

Once in place, it becomes almost impossible for a country to change course without revolution, and practically, in this day and age, constructive forms of revolution are effectively impossible, Hollywood to the contrary notwithstanding.

I invoke exhibit A: North Korea. Today, physical revolutions have become little more than exercises in substituting one dictator for another, and anyone who thinks otherwise simply hasn't a clue about the effectiveness of modern methods of warfare.

Putting aside the masterminds of this latest attempted putsch of the internet, the naive dupes who have been supporting these bills or regulations break down into two camps. The largest camp comprises the truly stupid, including either the well-intentioned pragmatists who are too-willing to accept anything they hear, or who are unable to grasp the deeply flawed nature of a legislation that grants government powers to trample individual rights unfettered.

Then there is the smaller sub-group (at least, outside of Congress) of grifters-of-the-moment receiving political payola to give some "friends" advantage over someone else. In Atlas Shrugged terms, this latter faction are the Orren Boyle / Jim Taggart types paying off the Wesley Mouch types.

I could slice and dice this endlessly, but without going down that path, let's break this down more fundamentally to include the masterminds themselves. Including even the human dross of naive fools who think they are "doing good", we can categorize everyone by means of two definitions provided by Ayn Rand: what she called (through the voice of John Galt) the mystics of spirit and the mystics of muscle.
"The mystics of both schools, who preach the creed of sacrifice, are germs that attack you through a single sore: your fear of relying on your mind. They tell you that they possess a means of knowledge higher than the mind, a mode of consciousness superior to reason—like a special pull with some bureaucrat of the universe who gives them secret tips withheld from others. The mystics of spirit declare that they possess an extra sense you lack: this special sixth sense consists of contradicting the whole of the knowledge of your five. The mystics of muscle do not bother to assert any claim to extrasensory perception: they merely declare that your senses are not valid, and that their wisdom consists of perceiving your blindness by some manner of unspecified means. Both kinds demand that you invalidate your own consciousness and surrender yourself into their power. They offer you, as proof of their superior knowledge, the fact that they assert the opposite of everything you know, and as proof of their superior ability to deal with existence, the fact that they lead you to misery, self-sacrifice, starvation, destruction."
You can see the connection to censorship. Whether your senses are not valid, or whether these mystics are really smarter than you, either way, they claim superior knowledge that must be imposed by them.

Aka, via censorship and state controlled organs for disseminating knowledge to the lowing herd. ("Lowing"; verb: (of a cow) Make a characteristic deep sound: "the lowing of cattle".)

Wherever the adherents of either school gravitate on the parasitic food chain, in a sense they always converge to the same level: a mystic of spirit will always gravitate to power to impose his ideas, and a mystic of muscle will always gravitate to manipulating the means of the spirit -- ideas -- to cement his power.

The two types are best summed up by two quotes. The first comes from villain Floyd Ferris in Atlas Shrugged:
Dr. Ferris smiled. "Don't you suppose we knew it?" he said, his tone suggesting that he was letting his patent-leather hair down to impress a fellow criminal by a display of superior cunning. 
"We've waited a long time to get something on you. You honest men are such a problem and such a headache. But we knew you'd slip sooner or later-and this is just what we wanted."
"You seem to be pleased about it." 
"Don't I have good reason to be?" 
"But, after all, I did break one of your laws." 
"Well, what do you think they're for?" 
Dr. Ferris did not notice the sudden look on Rearden's face, the look of a man hit by the first vision of that which he had sought to see. 
Dr. Ferris was past the stage of seeing; he was intent upon delivering the last blows to an animal caught in a trap. 
"Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed?" said Dr. Ferris. "We want them broken. You'd better get it straight that it's not a bunch of boy scouts you're up against--then you'll know that this is not the age for beautiful gestures. We're after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you'd better get wise to it. There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted-and you create a nation of law-breakers--and then you cash in on guilt. Now that's the system, Mr. Rearden, that's the game, and once you understand it, you'll be much easier to deal with."
The second quote comes again from villain Ellsworth Toohey in The Fountainhead. More than any other, he sums up the deepest motives of the perpetrators behind our own little drama (for instance, the motives of Barack Obama), as he explains what he's been trying to accomplish by orchestrating the destruction of the independent man represented by hero Howard Roark:
"I don't want to kill him. I want him in jail. You understand? In jail. In a cell. Behind bars. Locked, stopped, strapped--and alive. He'll get up when they tell him to. He'll eat what they give him. He'll move when he's told to move and stop when he's told. He'll walk to the jute mill, when he's told, and he'll work as he's told. They'll push him, if he doesn't move fast enough, and they'll slap his face when they feel like it, and they'll beat him with rubber hose if he doesn't obey. And he'll obey. He'll take orders. He'll take orders!"
Today that means: control of the internet. To quote Galt once again,
"Make no mistake about the character of mystics. To undercut your consciousness has always been their only purpose throughout the ages—and power, the power to rule you by force, has always been their only lust.
This is the essence of the flurry of bills and regulations promoted by the Obama administration.
"Did you wonder what is wrong with the world? ...All your gangs of mystics, of spirit or muscle, are fighting one another for power to rule you..."
If I may paraphrase his next sentence: "...snarling that suppression of malcontents is the solution for all the problems of your spirit and that hope and undefined change is the solution for all the problems of your body — you who have agreed to have no mind."

To continue the same quote:
"Granting man less dignity than they grant to cattle, ignoring what an animal trainer could tell them — that no animal can be trained by fear, that a tortured elephant will trample its torturer, but will not work for him or carry his burdens — they expect man to continue to produce electronic tubes, supersonic airplanes, atom-smashing engines and interstellar telescopes, with his ration of meat for reward and a lash on his back for incentive."
That is, with TARP and "stimulus" as his reward and the fear of a regulator as his incentive.
"A mystic is a man who surrendered his mind at its first encounter with the minds of others."
Everyone imagines everyone is just like themselves -- this is one reason that dishonest people imagine everyone else is dishonest -- and likewise, the person who surrenders his mind to the group rationalizes that everyone should surrender their minds to the group.

The means is censorship.
"Every dictator is a mystic, and every mystic is a potential dictator... His lust is to command, not to convince: conviction requires an act of independence and rests on the absolute of an objective reality. What he seeks is power over reality and over men's means of perceiving it, their mind, the power to interpose his will between existence and consciousness, as if, by agreeing to fake the reality he orders them to fake, men would, in fact, create it. ...No matter whose welfare he professes to serve, be it the welfare of God or of that disembodied gargoyle he describes as 'The People,'...in fact, in reality, on earth, his ideal is death, his craving is to kill, his only satisfaction is to torture. ...Death is the premise at the root of their theories, death is the goal of their actions in practice — and you are the last of their victims."
Before the last Presidential election, I predicted everything Obama was, is and would do (see Good Night, America, for instance) So on that note, I must say: if he isn't removed from office in the coming election, this last quote captures our fate in his hands--maybe not literally in his second term, but over time, by his successors.

To end on a more positive note, with regard to both Obama and the Senate's latest incarnation for regulating the internet,
"...there comes a point, in the defeat of any man of virtue, when his own consent is needed for evil to win."
Indeed. Don't ever give it.