Archive for the ‘OUR Freedom’ Category

via Bill Gates vs. freedom

Bill Gates Versus Freedom-You DO NOT Want To Skip Reading This…You NEED To Know What It Is Warning You About
By Jon Rappoport 03/06/18: https://jonrappoport.wordpress.com/2018/03/06/bill-gates-vs-freedom/ OR: https://wordpress.com/post/randrewohge.wordpress.com/3571

“Under the surface of this global civilization, a great and secret war is taking place.

The two opponents hold different conceptions of Reality.

On one side, those who claim that humans operate purely on the basis of stimulus-response, like machines; on the other side, those who believe there is a gigantic thing called freedom.

Phase One of the war is already over.

The stimulus-response people have won.

In Phase Two, people are waking up to the far-reaching and devastating consequences of the Pavlovian program.” (The Underground, Jon Rappoport)

“From the moment the first leader of the first clan in human history took charge, he busied himself with this question:

‘What can I say and do that will make my people react the way I want them to.’

He was the first Pavlov.

He was the first psychologist, the first propagandist, the first mind-control boss.

His was the first little empire.

Since then, only the means and methods have changed.” (The Underground, Jon Rappoport)

A thought-form is a picture-plus concept in the mind that tends to guide behavior.

A dominant thought-form in Earth civilization today is: universal rule through gigantic, highly organized structures; e.g., mega-corporations that owe no allegiance to any nation.

Imagine a few thousand such corporations with interlocking boards and directorates; colluding with super-regional governments and their honeycombed bureaucracies; combined with regional armies, intelligence agencies and technological elites; hooked to a global surveillance operation; in control of media; cooperating with the largest organized religions on Earth.

Imagine all this as essentially one organization—and you see the thought-form in its wide-screen version.

Top-down as top-down has never been before.

Functions and compartments defined and specialized at every level, and coordinated in order to carry out policy decisions.

As to why such a thought-form should come to dominate human affairs, the simplest explanation is: because it works.

But beneath that answer, for those who can see, there is much, much more.

Individuals come to think that “effective” and “instrumental” and “efficient” are more important than any other issues.

Keep building, keep expanding, keep consolidating gains—and above all else, keep organizing.

Such notions and thought-forms replace life itself.

The Machine has come to the fore.

All questions are now about how the individual sees himself fitting into the structure and function of The Machine.

Are human beings becoming social constructs?

Populations are undergoing a quiet revolution.

We can cite some of the reasons: television; education; job training and employment requirements; the Surveillance State; government organizations who follow a “zero tolerance” policy; inundation with advertising.

Yes, it’s all geared to produce people who are artificial constructs.

And this is just the beginning.

There are a number of companies (see, for example, affectiva.com) who are dedicated to measuring “audience response” to ads and other public messages.

I’m talking about electronic measuring.

The use of bracelets, for instance, that record students’ emotional responses to teachers in classrooms, in real time. (Bill Gates shoveled grant money into several of these studies.)

Then there is facial recognition geared to the task of revealing how people are reacting when they sit at their computers.

Push-pull, ring the bell, watch the dog drool for his food.

Stimulus-response.

It’s not much of a stretch to envision, up the road a few years, whole populations more than willing to volunteer for this kind of mass experimentation.

But further than that, we could see society itself embrace, culturally, the ongoing measurement of stimuli and responses.

“Yes, I want to live like this. I want to be inside the system.

I want to be analyzed.

I want to be evaluated.

I want to accept the results.

I want to be part of the new culture.

Put bracelets on me.

Measure my eye movements, my throat twitches that indicate what I’m thinking, and my brain waves.

Going to a movie should include the experience of wearing electrodes that record my second-to-second reactions to what’s happening on the screen.

I like that.

I look forward to it…”

In such a culture, “Surveillance State” would take on a whole new dimension.

“Sir, I want to report a malfunction in my television set.

I notice the monitoring equipment that tracks my responses to programs has gone on the blink.

I want it reattached as soon as possible.

Can you fix it remotely, or do you need to send a repair person out to the house?

I’ll be here all day…”

People will take pride in their ongoing role as social constructs, just as they now take pride in owning a quality brand of car.

The thought process behind this, in so far as any thought at all takes place, goes something like:

“If I’m really a bundle of responses to stimuli and nothing more, then I want to be inside a system that champions that fact and records it…I don’t want to be left out in the cold.”

Here is a sample school situation of the near future: for six months, Mr. Jones, the teacher, has been videotaped, moment by moment, as he instructs his class in English.

All the students have been wearing electronic bracelets, and their real time emotional responses (interest, boredom, aversion) have also been recorded.

A team of specialists has analyzed the six months of video, matching it up, second by second, to the students’ responses.

The teacher is called in for a conference.

“Mr. Jones, we now know what you’re doing that works and what you’re doing that doesn’t work.

We know exactly what students are positively reacting to, and what bores them.

Therefore, we’re going to put you into a re-ed seminar, where you’ll learn precisely how to teach your classes from now on, to maximize your effectiveness.

We’ll show you how to move your hands, what tone of voice to use, how to stand, when to make eye contact, and so on…”

Mr. Jones is now a quacking duck.

He will be trained how to quack “for the greater good.”

He is now a machine toy.

Whatever is left of his passion, his intelligence, his free will, his spontaneous insights, his drive to make students actually understand what they’re learning…all subordinated for the sake of supposed efficiency.

Think this is an extreme fantasy?

See the Chicago Tribune, June 12, 2012, “Biosensors to monitor students’ attentiveness”:

“The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has poured more than $4 billion into efforts to transform public education in the U.S., is pushing to develop an ‘engagement pedometer.’

Biometric devices wrapped around the wrists of students would identify which classroom moments excite and interest them — and which fall flat.”

“The foundation has given $1.4 million in grants to several university researchers to begin testing the devices in middle-school classrooms this fall [2012].”

“The biometric bracelets, produced by a Massachusetts startup company, Affectiva Inc, send a small current across the skin and then measure subtle changes in electrical charges as the sympathetic nervous system responds to stimuli.

The wireless devices have been used in pilot tests to gauge consumers’ emotional response to advertising.”

“Gates officials hope the devices, known as Q Sensors, can become a common classroom tool, enabling teachers to see, in real time, which kids are tuned in and which are zoned out.”

“Existing measures of student engagement, such as videotaping classes for expert review or simply asking kids what they liked in a lesson, ‘only get us so far,’ said Debbie Robinson, a spokeswoman for the Gates Foundation.

To truly improve teaching and learning, she said, ‘we need universal, valid, reliable and practical instruments’ such as the biosensors.”

“The Gates Foundation has spent two years videotaping 20,000 classroom lessons and breaking them down, minute by minute, to analyze how each teacher presents material and how those techniques affect student test scores.”

“Clemson received about $500,000 in Gates funding.

Another $620,000 will support an MIT scientist, John Gabrieli, who aims to develop a scale to measure degrees of student engagement by comparing biosensor data to functional MRI brain scans [!] (using college students as subjects).”

When you boil it down, the world-view represented here has nothing to do with “caring about students.”

It has everything to do with the Pavlovian view of humans as biological machines.

What input yields what response?

How can people be shaped into predictable constructs?

As far as Gates is concerned, the underlying theme, as always, is: control.

In this new world, the process of thinking and comparing and independently judging, and the freedom to make individual choices…well, for whatever that was worth, we can’t encourage it for a whole society.

It’s too unpredictable.

We don’t have time for that sort of thing.

No, we have to achieve reduction.

We have to seek out lowest common denominators.

This is what universal surveillance is all about; the observation of those denominators and the variances from them—the outlying and therefore dangerous departures from the norm.

“Well, we’ve tracked Mr. Jones’ classroom for a year now, and we’ve collated all the measurements of reactions from the students.

It was a wonderful study.

But we did notice one thing.

All the students showed similar patterns of reactions over time…except two students.

We couldn’t fit them into the algorithms.

They seemed to be responding oppositely.

It was almost as if they were intentionally defecting from the group.

This signals some kind of disorder.

We need a name for it.

Is it Oppositional Defiance Disorder, or is it new?

We recommend attaching electrodes to those two students’ skulls, so we can get a better readout of their brain activity in real time.”

You see, everything must be analyzed on the basis of stimulus response.

Those two students are suffering from a brain problem.

They must be.

Because if they aren’t, if they have the ability to choose and decide how to respond, then they have free will, and that can’t be measured.

Much deeper, that also suggests an X-factor in humans, wherein the flow of chemicals and atoms and quarks and mesons and photons don’t tell the whole story.

The rest of the story would imply the existence of something that is…non-material…above and beyond push-pull cause and effect.

The gatekeepers of this world are obsessed with ruling that out.

They guard Reality itself, which is to say, their conception of Reality.

They are willing to spend untold amounts of money to make that Pavlovian conception universally accepted and universally loved.

Because they own that conception.

They are the self-appointed title holders.

They are the kings of that domain.

I feel obligated to inform them that their domain is much, much smaller than they think it is.

And in the fullness of time, which is very long, the domain is going to fall and crack and collapse and disintegrate.

And all their horses and all their men won’t be able to put it back together.

Eventually, a man like Bill Gates will be forgotten.

He’ll be a small footnote on a dusty page in a crumbling book in a dark room on a remote island.

A morbid venal fool who chased, for a brief moment, fool’s gold.

There is an irreducible thing.

It’s called freedom.

It is native to every individual.

Sometimes it rears its head in the middle of the night, and the dreamer awakes.

And he asks himself: what is my freedom for?

And then he begins a voyage that no device can record, measure, or analyze.

If he pursues it long enough, it takes him out of the labyrinth.

Pavlov wrote:

“Mankind will possess incalculable advantages and extraordinary control over human behavior when the scientific investigator will be able to subject his fellow men to the same external analysis he would employ for any natural object…”

Basically, Pavlov was promoting the idea that whatever an individual perceives and feels about his own experience is a confused mess and an obstruction.

Rather, the individual should ignore all that tripe, and instead, allow himself to be a “natural object,” see himself as a clean and simple response mechanism, as planned inputs cause him to behave in various ways.

In other words, then he will have no life.

Bill Gates and other elite planners are working toward this end.

When Ray Kurzweil talks about hooking brains up to super-computers, he is envisioning a process of downloading that goes beyond choice.

Somehow, automatically, the brain and the individual (he apparently believes they are the same thing) will receive inputs that translate into knowledge and even talent.

This is another fatuous version of Pavlov.

In Brave New World, Huxley wrote:

“Hot tunnels alternated with cool tunnels.

Coolness was wedded to discomfort in the form of hard X-rays.

By the time they were decanted the embryos had a horror of cold.

They were predestined to emigrate to the tropics, to be miner[s] and acetate silk spinners and steel workers.

Later on their minds would be made to endorse the judgment of their bodies.

‘We condition them to thrive on heat’, concluded Mr. Foster.

‘Our colleagues upstairs will teach them to love it’.”

Stimulus-response.

If researchers developed this technology, who could doubt that elite planners would push it forward?

It would be the culmination of their dream.

The freedom of the individual, his innate capacity to make wide-ranging choices, is the monkey wrench in the program.

It is anti-stimulus-response.

This is why you would have to search far and wide to find, in one school, anywhere, on any level, a course that examines and promotes individual freedom.

It is anathema to the plan.

It is the silver bullet for the vampire.

Freedom comes from Within the individual, not from Without.

On the level of political control, freedom emerged and broke through during centuries of struggle.

Now, and in the future, every individual carries that torch.

So it is incumbent on the individual to understand the scope and meaning and power of his own freedom, and to decide for himself what his freedom is FOR.

What will he choose to launch from that great space?

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via Philip K. Dick and the Fake Humans

Philip K. Dick and the Fake Humans
Posted By Luther Blissett-By Henry Farrell: Boston Review 03/02/18: https://desultoryheroics.com/2018/03/02/philip-k-dick-and-the-fake-humans/ Or https://wordpress.com/post/randrewohge.wordpress.com/3564

(Editor’s note: on this 36th anniversary of the passing of Philip K. Dick, it seems an appropriate time to note the relevance of his work to our current dystopia as Henry Farrell does in the following essay. Unfortunately the author is less astute regarding the ways in which the dystopias of Orwell and Huxley are equally relevant to our current milieu.)

This is not the dystopia we were promised.

We are not learning to love Big Brother, who lives, if he lives at all, on a cluster of server farms, cooled by environmentally friendly technologies.

Nor have we been lulled by Soma and subliminal brain programming into a hazy acquiescence to pervasive social hierarchies.

Dystopias tend toward fantasies of absolute control, in which the system sees all, knows all, and controls all. And our world is indeed one of ubiquitous surveillance.

Phones and household devices produce trails of data, like particles in a cloud chamber, indicating our wants and behaviors to companies such as Facebook, Amazon, and Google.

Yet the information thus produced is imperfect and classified by machine-learning algorithms that themselves make mistakes.

The efforts of these businesses to manipulate our wants leads to further complexity.

It is becoming ever harder for companies to distinguish the behavior which they want to analyze from their own and others’ manipulations.

This does not look like totalitarianism unless you squint very hard indeed.

As the sociologist Kieran Healy has suggested, sweeping political critiques of new technology often bear a strong family resemblance to the arguments of Silicon Valley boosters.

Both assume that the technology works as advertised, which is not necessarily true at all.

Standard utopias and standard dystopias are each perfect after their own particular fashion.

We live somewhere queasier—a world in which technology is developing in ways that make it increasingly hard to distinguish human beings from artificial things.

The world that the Internet and social media have created is less a system than an ecology, a proliferation of unexpected niches, and entities created and adapted to exploit them in deceptive ways.

Vast commercial architectures are being colonized by quasi-autonomous parasites.

Scammers have built algorithms to write fake books from scratch to sell on Amazon, compiling and modifying text from other books and online sources such as Wikipedia, to fool buyers or to take advantage of loopholes in Amazon’s compensation structure.

Much of the world’s financial system is made out of bots-automated systems designed to continually probe markets for fleeting arbitrage opportunities.

Less sophisticated programs plague online commerce systems such as eBay and Amazon, occasionally with extraordinary consequences, as when two warring bots bid the price of a biology book up to $23,698,655.93 (plus $3.99 shipping).

In other words, we live in Philip K. Dick’s future, not George Orwell’s or Aldous Huxley’s.

Dick was no better a prophet of technology than any science fiction writer, and was arguably worse than most.

His imagined worlds jam together odd bits of fifties’ and sixties’ California with rocket ships, drugs, and social speculation.

Dick usually wrote in a hurry and for money, and sometimes under the influence of drugs or a recent and urgent personal religious revelation.

Still, what he captured with genius was the ontological unease of a world in which the human and the abhuman, the real and the fake, blur together.

As Dick described his work (in the opening essay to his 1985 collection, I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon):

The two basic topics which fascinate me are “What is reality?” and “What constitutes the authentic human being?”

Over the twenty-seven years in which I have published novels and stories I have investigated these two interrelated topics over and over again.

These obsessions had some of their roots in Dick’s complex and ever-evolving personal mythology (in which it was perfectly plausible that the “real” world was a fake, and that we were all living in Palestine sometime in the first century AD).

Yet they were also based on a keen interest in the processes through which reality is socially constructed.

Dick believed that we all live in a world where “spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups—and the electronic hardware exists by which to deliver these pseudo-worlds right into heads of the reader.” He argued:

“The bombardment of pseudo-realities begins to produce inauthentic humans very quickly, spurious humans—as fake as the data pressing at them from all sides.

My two topics are really one topic; they unite at this point.

Fake realities will create fake humans.

Or, fake humans will generate fake realities and then sell them to other humans, turning them, eventually, into forgeries of themselves.

So we wind up with fake humans inventing fake realities and then peddling them to other fake humans.”

In Dick’s books, the real and the unreal infect each other, so that it becomes increasingly impossible to tell the difference between them.

The worlds of the dead and the living merge in Ubik (1969), the experiences of a disturbed child infect the world around him in Martian Time-Slip (1964), and consensual drug-based hallucinations become the vector for an invasive alien intelligence in The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (1965).

Humans are impersonated by malign androids in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968) and “Second Variety” (1953); by aliens in “The Hanging Stranger” (1953) and “The Father-Thing” (1954); and by mutants in “The Golden Man” (1954).

This concern with unreal worlds and unreal people led to a consequent worry about an increasing difficulty of distinguishing between them.

Factories pump out fake Americana in The Man in the High Castle (1962), mirroring the problem of living in a world that is not, in fact, the real one.

Entrepreneurs build increasingly human-like androids in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, reasoning that if they do not, then their competitors will.

Figuring out what is real and what is not is not easy.

Scientific tools such as the famous Voight-Kampff test in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (and Blade Runner, Ridley Scott’s 1982 movie based loosely on it) do not work very well, leaving us with little more than hope in some mystical force—the I Ching, God in a spray can, a Martian water-witch—to guide us back toward the real.

We live in Dick’s world—but with little hope of divine intervention or invasion.

The world where we communicate and interact at a distance is increasingly filled with algorithms that appear human, but are not—fake people generated by fake realities.

When Ashley Madison, a dating site for people who want to cheat on their spouses, was hacked, it turned out that tens of thousands of the women on the site were fake “fembots” programmed to send millions of chatty messages to male customers, so as to delude them into thinking that they were surrounded by vast numbers of potential sexual partners.

These problems are only likely to get worse as the physical world and the world of information become increasingly interpenetrated in an Internet of (badly functioning) Things.

Many of the aspects of Joe Chip’s future world in Ubik look horrendously dated to modern eyes: the archaic role of women, the assumption that nearly everyone smokes.

Yet the door to Joe’s apartment—which argues with him and refuses to open because he has not paid it the obligatory tip—sounds ominously plausible.

Someone, somewhere, is pitching this as a viable business plan to Y Combinator or the venture capitalists in Menlo Park.

This invasion of the real by the unreal has had consequences for politics.

The hallucinatory realities in Dick’s worlds—the empathetic religion of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the drug-produced worlds of The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, the quasi–Tibetan Buddhist death realm of Ubik—are usually experienced by many people, like the television shows of Dick’s America.

But as network television has given way to the Internet, it has become easy for people to create their own idiosyncratic mix of sources.

The imposed media consensus that Dick detested has shattered into a myriad of different realities, each with its own partially shared assumptions and facts. Sometimes this creates tragedy or near-tragedy.

The deluded gunman who stormed into Washington, D.C.’s Comet Ping Pong pizzeria had been convinced by online conspiracy sites that it was the coordinating center for Hillary Clinton’s child–sex trafficking ring [likewise, the masses may have been convinced by mainstream media that a real child-sex trafficking ring never existed].

Such fractured worlds are more vulnerable to invasion by the non-human.

Many Twitter accounts are bots, often with the names and stolen photographs of implausibly beautiful young women, looking to pitch this or that product (one recent academic study found that between 9 and 15 percent of all Twitter accounts are likely fake).

Twitterbots vary in sophistication from automated accounts that do no more than retweet what other bots have said, to sophisticated algorithms deploying so-called “Sybil attacks,” creating fake identities in peer-to-peer networks to invade specific organizations or degrade particular kinds of conversation.

Twitter has failed to become a true mass medium, but remains extraordinarily important to politics, since it is where many politicians, journalists, and other elites turn to get their news.

One research project suggests that around 20 percent of the measurable political discussion around the last presidential election came from bots.

Humans appear to be no better at detecting bots than we are, in Dick’s novel, at detecting replicant androids: people are about as likely to retweet a bot’s message as the message of another human being.

Most notoriously, the current U.S. president recently retweeted a flattering message that appears to have come from a bot densely connected to a network of other bots, which some believe to be controlled by the Russian government and used for propaganda purposes.

In his novels Dick was interested in seeing how people react when their reality starts to break down.

A world in which the real commingles with the fake, so that no one can tell where the one ends and the other begins, is ripe for paranoia.

The most toxic consequence of social media manipulation, whether by the Russian government or others, may have nothing to do with its success as propaganda.

Instead, it is that it sows an existential distrust.

People simply do not know what or who to believe anymore.

Rumors that are spread by Twitterbots merge into other rumors about the ubiquity of Twitterbots, and whether this or that trend is being driven by malign algorithms rather than real human beings.

Such widespread falsehood is especially explosive when combined with our fragmented politics.

Liberals’ favorite term for the right-wing propaganda machine, “fake news,” has been turned back on them by conservatives, who treat conventional news as propaganda, and hence ignore it.

On the obverse, it may be easier for many people on the liberal left to blame Russian propaganda for the last presidential election than to accept that many voters had a very different understanding of America than they do.

Dick had other obsessions—most notably the politics of Richard Nixon and the Cold War.

It is not hard to imagine him writing a novel combining an immature and predatory tycoon (half Arnie Kott, half Jory Miller) who becomes the president of the United States, secret Russian political manipulation, an invasion of empathy-free robotic intelligences masquerading as human beings, and a breakdown in our shared understanding of what is real and what is fake.

These different elements probably would not cohere particularly well, but as in Dick’s best novels, the whole might still work, somehow.

Indeed, it is in the incongruities of Dick’s novels that salvation is to be found (even at his battiest, he retains a sense of humor).

Obviously, it is less easy to see the joke when one is living through it. Dystopias may sometimes be grimly funny—but rarely from the inside.

via Freedom Is a Myth: We Are All Prisoners of the Police State’s Panopticon Village

Freedom Is a Myth: We Are All Prisoners of the Police State’s Panopticon Village [https://desultoryheroics.com/2018/02/16/freedom-is-a-myth-we-are-all-prisoners-of-the-police-states-panopticon-village/]
Posted By Luther Blissett By John W. Whitehead: The Rutherford Institute 02/16/18

“We’re run by the Pentagon, we’re run by Madison Avenue, we’re run by television, and as long as we accept those things and don’t revolt we’ll have to go along with the stream to the eventual avalanche…. As long as we go out and buy stuff, we’re at their mercy… We all live in a little Village. Your Village may be different from other people’s Villages, but we are all prisoners.”— Patrick McGoohan

First broadcast in Great Britain 50 years ago, The Prisoner—a dystopian television series described as “James Bond meets George Orwell filtered through Franz Kafka”—confronted societal themes that are still relevant today: the rise of a police state, the freedom of the individual, round-the-clock surveillance, the corruption of government, totalitarianism, weaponization, group think, mass marketing, and the tendency of humankind to meekly accept their lot in life as a prisoner in a prison of their own making.

Perhaps the best visual debate ever on individuality and freedom, The Prisoner (17 episodes in all) centers around a British secret agent who abruptly resigns only to find himself imprisoned, monitored by militarized drones, and interrogated in a mysterious, self-contained, cosmopolitan, seemingly tranquil retirement community known only as the Village.

The Village is an idyllic setting with parks and green fields, recreational activities and even a butler.

While luxurious and resort-like, the Village is a virtual prison disguised as a seaside paradise: its inhabitants have no true freedom, they cannot leave the Village, they are under constant surveillance, their movements are tracked by surveillance drones, and they are stripped of their individuality and identified only by numbers.

The series’ protagonist, played by Patrick McGoohan, is Number Six.

Number Two, the Village administrator, acts as an agent for the unseen and all-powerful Number One, whose identity is not revealed until the final episode.

“I am not a number. I am a free man,” was the mantra chanted on each episode of The Prisoner, which was largely written and directed by McGoohan.

In the opening episode (“The Arrival”), Number Six meets Number Two, who explains to him that he is in The Village because information stored “inside” his head has made him too valuable to be allowed to roam free “outside.”

Throughout the series, Number Six is subjected to interrogation tactics, torture, hallucinogenic drugs, identity theft, mind control, dream manipulation, and various forms of social indoctrination and physical coercion in order to “persuade” him to comply, give up, give in and subjugate himself to the will of the powers-that-be.

Number Six refuses to comply.

In every episode, Number Six resists the Village’s indoctrination methods, struggles to maintain his own identity, and attempts to escape his captors. “I will not make any deals with you,” he pointedly remarks to Number Two.

“I’ve resigned. I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own.”

Yet no matter how far Number Six manages to get in his efforts to escape, it’s never far enough.

Watched by surveillance cameras and other devices, Number Six’s getaways are continuously thwarted by ominous white balloon-like spheres known as “rovers.”

Still, he refuses to give up.

“Unlike me,” he says to his fellow prisoners, “many of you have accepted the situation of your imprisonment, and will die here like rotten cabbages.”

Number Six’s escapes become a surreal exercise in futility, each episode an unfunny, unsettling Groundhog’s Day that builds to the same frustrating denouement: there is no escape.

As journalist Scott Thill concludes for Wired, “Rebellion always comes at a price. During the acclaimed run of The Prisoner, Number Six is tortured, battered and even body-snatched: In the episode ‘Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling,’ his mind is transplanted to another man’s body.

Number Six repeatedly escapes The Village only to be returned to it in the end, trapped like an animal, overcome by a restless energy he cannot expend, and betrayed by nearly everyone around him.”

The series is a chilling lesson about how difficult it is to gain one’s freedom in a society in which prison walls are disguised within the trappings of technological and scientific progress, national security and so-called democracy.

As Thill noted when McGoohan died in 2009, “The Prisoner was an allegory of the individual, aiming to find peace and freedom in a dystopia masquerading as a utopia.”

The Prisoner’s Village is also an apt allegory for the American Police State: it gives the illusion of freedom while functioning all the while like a prison: controlled, watchful, inflexible, punitive, deadly and inescapable.

The American Police State, much like The Prisoner’s Village, is a metaphorical panopticon, a circular prison in which the inmates are monitored by a single watchman situated in a central tower.

Because the inmates cannot see the watchman, they are unable to tell whether or not they are being watched at any given time and must proceed under the assumption that they are always being watched.

Eighteenth century social theorist Jeremy Bentham envisioned the panopticon prison to be a cheaper and more effective means of “obtaining power of mind over mind, in a quantity hitherto without example.”

Bentham’s panopticon, in which the prisoners are used as a source of cheap, menial labor, has become a model for the modern surveillance state in which the populace is constantly being watched, controlled and managed by the powers-that-be and funding its existence.

Nowhere to run and nowhere to hide: this is the new mantra of the architects of the police state and their corporate collaborators (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google, Instagram, etc.).

Government eyes are watching you.

They see your every move: what you read, how much you spend, where you go, with whom you interact, when you wake up in the morning, what you’re watching on television and reading on the internet.

Every move you make is being monitored, mined for data, crunched, and tabulated in order to form a picture of who you are, what makes you tick, and how best to control you when and if it becomes necessary to bring you in line.

When the government sees all and knows all and has an abundance of laws to render even the most seemingly upstanding citizen a criminal and lawbreaker, then the old adage that you’ve got nothing to worry about if you’ve got nothing to hide no longer applies.

Apart from the obvious dangers posed by a government that feels justified and empowered to spy on its people and use its ever-expanding arsenal of weapons and technology to monitor and control them, we’re approaching a time in which we will be forced to choose between obeying the dictates of the government—i.e., the law, or whatever a government official deems the law to be—and maintaining our individuality, integrity and independence.

When people talk about privacy, they mistakenly assume it protects only that which is hidden behind a wall or under one’s clothing.

The courts have fostered this misunderstanding with their constantly shifting delineation of what constitutes an “expectation of privacy.”

And technology has furthered muddied the waters.

However, privacy is so much more than what you do or say behind locked doors.

It is a way of living one’s life firm in the belief that you are the master of your life, and barring any immediate danger to another person (which is far different from the carefully crafted threats to national security the government uses to justify its actions), it’s no one’s business what you read, what you say, where you go, whom you spend your time with, and how you spend your money.

Unfortunately, George Orwell’s 1984—where “you had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized”—has now become our reality.

We now find ourselves in the unenviable position of being monitored, managed and controlled by our technology, which answers not to us but to our government and corporate rulers.

Consider that on any given day, the average American going about his daily business will be monitored, surveilled, spied on and tracked in more than 20 different ways, by both government and corporate eyes and ears.

A byproduct of this new age in which we live, whether you’re walking through a store, driving your car, checking email, or talking to friends and family on the phone, you can be sure that some government agency, whether the NSA or some other entity, is listening in and tracking your behavior.

This doesn’t even begin to touch on the corporate trackers that monitor your purchases, web browsing, Facebook posts and other activities taking place in the cyber sphere.

Stingray devices mounted on police cars to warrantlessly track cell phones, Doppler radar devices that can detect human breathing and movement within in a home, license plate readers that can record up to 1800 license plates per minute, sidewalk and “public space” cameras coupled with facial recognition and behavior-sensing technology that lay the groundwork for police “pre-crime” programs, police body cameras that turn police officers into roving surveillance cameras, the internet of things: all of these technologies add up to a society in which there’s little room for indiscretions, imperfections, or acts of independence—especially not when the government can listen in on your phone calls, monitor your driving habits, track your movements, scrutinize your purchases and peer through the walls of your home.

As French philosopher Michel Foucault concluded in his 1975 book Discipline and Punish, “Visibility is a trap.”

This is the electronic concentration camp—the panopticon prison—the Village—in which we are now caged.

It is a prison from which there will be no escape if the government gets it way.

As Glenn Greenwald notes:

“The way things are supposed to work is that we’re supposed to know virtually everything about what [government officials] do: that’s why they’re called public servants.

They’re supposed to know virtually nothing about what we do: that’s why we’re called private individuals.

This dynamic – the hallmark of a healthy and free society – has been radically reversed.

Now, they know everything about what we do, and are constantly building systems to know more.

Meanwhile, we know less and less about what they do, as they build walls of secrecy behind which they function.

That’s the imbalance that needs to come to an end.

No democracy can be healthy and functional if the most consequential acts of those who wield political power are completely unknown to those to whom they are supposed to be accountable.”

Even now, the Trump Administration is working to make some of the National Security Agency’s vast spying powers permanent.

In fact, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is pushing for Congress to permanently renew Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allows government snoops to warrantlessly comb through and harvest vast quantities of our communications.

And just like that, we’re back in the Village, our escape plans foiled, our future bleak.

Except this is no surprise ending: for those who haven’t been taking the escapist blue pill, who haven’t fallen for the Deep State’s phony rhetoric, who haven’t been lured in by the promise of a political savior, we never stopped being prisoners.

So how do we break out?

For starters, wake up.

Resist the urge to comply.

The struggle to remain “oneself in a society increasingly obsessed with conformity to mass consumerism,” writes Steven Paul Davies, means that superficiality and image trump truth and the individual.

The result is the group mind and the tyranny of mob-think.

Think for yourself.

Be an individual.

As McGoohan commented in 1968:

“At this moment individuals are being drained of their personalities and being brainwashed into slaves… As long as people feel something, that’s the great thing. It’s when they are walking around not thinking and not feeling, that’s tough. When you get a mob like that, you can turn them into the sort of gang that Hitler had.”

In a media-dominated age in which the lines between entertainment, politics and news reporting are blurred, it is extremely difficult to distinguish fact from fiction.

We are so bombarded with images, dictates, rules and punishments and stamped with numbers from the day we are born that it is a wonder we ever ponder a concept such as freedom.

As McGoohan declared, “Freedom is a myth.”

In the end, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we are all prisoners of our own mind.

In fact, it is in the mind that prisons are created for us.

And in the lockdown of political correctness, it becomes extremely difficult to speak or act individually without being ostracized.

Thus, so often we are forced to retreat inwardly into our minds, a prison without bars from which we cannot escape, and into the world of video games and television and the Internet.

We have come full circle from Bentham’s Panopticon to McGoohan’s Village to Huxley’s Brave New World.

As cultural theorist Neil Postman observed:

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books.

What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one.

Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information.

Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism.

Orwell feared we would become a captive audience.

Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.

Orwell feared that we would become a captive culture.

Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumble-puppy.

As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.”

In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure.

In short, Orwell feared that what we hate would ruin us.

Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.

You want to be free?

Break out of the circle.

via Corporate giant Unilever demands crackdown on oppositional Internet content

Corporate Giant Unilever Demands Crackdown On Oppositional Internet Content
Posted 02/15/18 By Luther Blissett By Will Morrow: WSWS.org [https://desultoryheroics.com/2018/02/15/corporate-giant-unilever-demands-crackdown-on-oppositional-internet-content/; https://wordpress.com/post/randrewohge.wordpress.com/3541%5D

The drive to censor the Internet took another step this week with a public statement by Keith Weed, the chief marketing officer for the London-based multinational Unilever, threatening to withdraw advertising from social media platforms if they fail to suppress “toxic content.”

Weed reportedly told an annual leadership meeting of the Interactive Advertising Bureau in Palm Desert, California that the company “will not invest in platforms or environments” that “create divisions in society, and promote anger or hate.”

He added, “We will prioritize investing only in responsible platforms that are committed to creating a positive impact in society.”

Excerpts of Weed’s remarks—the most explicit of their kind from a major corporate executive—were leaked to several media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal and the Guardian.

They were immediately featured on NBC News and other major American news outlets on Sunday.

The Journal’s report was accompanied by an interview with Weed.

The coordinated release was designed to escalate the propaganda offensive by the Democratic Party and US intelligence agencies, together with the corporate media, for Internet censorship.

The fraudulent premise for this assault on freedom of speech, both in the US and across Europe, is the claim that political opposition and social tensions are the product not of poverty, inequality and policies of austerity and militarism, but of “fake news” spread by Russia through social media.

Weed’s statements preceded yesterday’s US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing, which witnessed a series of hysterical denunciations of Russia by politicians and intelligence agents.

The Democratic vice-chairman of the committee, Mark Warner of Virginia, declared that Russia “utilized our social media platforms to push and spread misinformation at an unprecedented scale.”

Facebook responded to Weed’s threats by declaring, “We fully support Unilever’s commitments and are working closely with them.”

The Journal stated that Unilever “has already held discussions” with Facebook, Google, Twitter, Snap and Amazon “to share ideas about what each can do to improve.”

Weed absurdly framed his demand for censorship, made on behalf of a multibillion-dollar global corporation, as the expression of popular anger over the supposed spread of “fake news.”

He referred to research showing a decline in trust in social media and a “perceived lack of focus” in the form of “illegal, unethical and extremist behavior and material on” social media platforms.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, he claimed to be articulating the concerns of consumers over “fake news” and “Russians influencing the US election.”

In reality, the intervention by Unilever—a consumer products behemoth with a market capitalization of $157 billion and annual revenues of $65 billion, more than the gross domestic product of many countries—only highlights the economic and political forces driving the censorship campaign: an alliance of the military/intelligence apparatus, giant technology firms and the corporate-financial oligarchy.

Unilever’s annual marketing outlays of nearly $9 billion place it in the top five companies in that category globally.

It owns dozens of brands used by some 2.5 billion people around the world, including Dove soap, Rexona deodorant and food products Cornetto, Magnum and Lipton.

Weed’s statements amount to a declaration that Unilever will use this economic power to filter what the world’s population can and cannot read online.

This is in line with a long and reactionary tradition.

Large advertisers played a significant role in enforcing the McCarthyite witch hunt of socialist and left-wing figures in the US during the late 1940s and 1950s. General Motors, DuPont, Reynolds Tobacco and other major companies were backers of the notorious anticommunist periodical Counterattack, which published names of suspected communist sympathizers and forced the removal of targeted performers and critical content from programs they sponsored.

In one of many such cases, the blacklisted Jean Muir was dropped from the television show “The Aldrich Family” after General Foods, the program’s sponsor, told NBC it would not sponsor programs featuring “controversial persons.”

In another development, Susan Wojcicki, the CEO of YouTube (owned by Google’s parent company, Alphabet), told a Code Media conference in Los Angeles that Facebook “should get back to baby pictures and sharing.”

The statement is a reference to Facebook’s announcement last month that it is deprioritizing news content on its News Feed in favor of “personal moments.”

The change is one of a number of recent measures to prevent Facebook users from accessing news and analysis outside of officially sanctioned corporate outlets.

UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd on Tuesday released a government-developed application that uses machine-learning algorithms to automatically detect ISIS-related content in videos so that it can be censored.

The BBC wrote that the tool was seen by the government as a way to demonstrate that its “demand for a clampdown on extremist activity was not unreasonable.”

Rudd stated, “The technology is there. There are tools out there that can do exactly what we’re asking for,” i.e., identifying and censoring video content. The new application will be provided free of charge to smaller video hosting companies, and the government will consider making its use legally mandatory.

The Washington Post, which along with the New York Times has been at the forefront of the censorship campaign, linked the UK government’s announcement to the intervention of Unilever, writing that it came “amid mounting pressure on social media companies to do more to remove extremist content from their platforms.”

via Trilateral conspirators out in the open—and Donald Trump

Trilateral Conspirators Out In The Open-And Donald Trump-An Interview That Will Live In Infamy: https://jonrappoport.wordpress.com/2018/02/13/trilateral-conspirators-out-in-the-open-and-donald-trump/ And: https://wordpress.com/post/randrewohge.wordpress.com/3538
By Jon Rappoport 02/13/18

Note: I wrote this article long before Donald Trump appeared on the scene.

Love him, hate him, trust him, don’t trust him, he has spoken against Globalism and for Nationalism.

Those sentiments have taken hold and reverberated across the planet, crossing swords with Elites who are bent on destroying separate nations and ruling one collectivist world from above.

Therefore, whether or not Trump means what he says, he must be taken down.

The genie must be put back in the bottle.

Who is in charge of destroying economies?

One group has been virtually forgotten.

Its influence is enormous.

It has existed since 1973.

It’s called the Trilateral Commission (TC).

Keep in mind that the original stated goal of the TC was to create “a new international economic order.”

In the run-up to his inauguration after the 2008 presidential election, Obama was tutored by the co-founder of the Trilateral Commission, Zbigniew Brzezinski.

In 1969, four years before birthing the TC with David Rockefeller, Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote:

“[The] nation state as a fundamental unit of man’s organized life has ceased to be the principal creative force. International banks and multinational corporations are acting and planning in terms that are far in advance of the political concepts of the nation state.”

Goodbye, separate nations.

Any doubt on the question of TC goals is answered by David Rockefeller himself, the founder of the TC, in his Memoirs (2003):

“Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as ‘internationalists’ and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure—one world, if you will. If that is the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.”

Patrick Wood, author of Trilaterals Over Washington, points out there are only 87 members of the Trilateral Commission who live in America.

Obama appointed eleven of them to posts in his administration.

For example:
* Tim Geithner, Treasury Secretary;
* James Jones, National Security Advisor;
* Paul Volker, Chairman, Economic Recovery Committee;
* Dennis Blair, Director of National Intelligence.

Here is a stunning piece of forgotten history, a 1978 conversation between a US reporter and two members of the Trilateral Commission. (Source: Trilateralism: The Trilateral Commission and Elite Planning for World Management; ed. by Holly Sklar, 1980, South End Press, Pages 192-3).

The conversation was public knowledge at the time.

Anyone who was anyone in Washington politics, in media, in think-tanks, had access to it.

Understood its meaning.

But no one shouted from the rooftops.

No one used the conversation to force a scandal.

No one protested loudly.

The conversation revealed that the entire basis of the US Constitution had been torpedoed, that the people who were running US national policy (which includes trade treaties) were agents of an elite shadow group.

No question about it.

And yet: official silence.

Media silence.

The Dept. of Justice made no moves, Congress undertook no serious inquiries, and the President, Jimmy Carter, issued no statements.

Carter was himself an agent of the Trilateral Commission in the White House.

He had been plucked from obscurity by David Rockefeller, and through elite TC press connections, vaulted into the spotlight as a pre-eminent choice for the Presidency.

The following 1978 conversation featured reporter, Jeremiah Novak, and two Trilateral Commission members, Karl Kaiser and Richard Cooper.

The interview took up the issue of who exactly, during President Carter’s administration, was formulating US economic and political policy.

The careless and off-hand attitude of Trilateralists Kaiser and Cooper is astonishing. It’s as if they’re saying, “What we’re revealing is already out in the open, it’s too late to do anything about it, why are you so worked up, we’ve already won…”

NOVAK (the reporter): Is it true that a private [Trilateral committee] led by Henry Owen of the US and made up of [Trilateral] representatives of the US, UK, West Germany, Japan, France and the EEC is coordinating the economic and political policies of the Trilateral countries [which would include the US]?

COOPER: Yes, they have met three times.

NOVAK: Yet, in your recent paper you state that this committee should remain informal because to formalize ‘this function might well prove offensive to some of the Trilateral and other countries which do not take part.’ Who are you afraid of?

KAISER: Many countries in Europe would resent the dominant role that West Germany plays at these [Trilateral] meetings.

COOPER: Many people still live in a world of separate nations, and they would resent such coordination [of policy].

NOVAK: But this [Trilateral] committee is essential to your whole policy. How can you keep it a secret or fail to try to get popular support [for its decisions on how Trilateral member nations will conduct their economic and political policies]?

COOPER: Well, I guess it’s the press’ job to publicize it.

NOVAK: Yes, but why doesn’t President Carter come out with it and tell the American people that [US] economic and political power is being coordinated by a [Trilateral] committee made up of Henry Owen and six others? After all, if [US] policy is being made on a multinational level, the people should know.

COOPER: President Carter and Secretary of State Vance have constantly alluded to this in their speeches. [a lie]

KAISER: It just hasn’t become an issue.

This interview slipped under the mainstream media radar, which is to say, it was buried.

US economic and political policy run by a committee of the Trilateral Commission—the Commission had been created in 1973 by David Rockefeller and his sidekick, Zbigniew Brzezinski.

When Carter won the presidential election (1976), his aide, Hamilton Jordan, said that if after the inauguration, Cy Vance and Brzezinski came on board as secretary of state and national security adviser, “We’ve lost. And I’ll quit.”

Lost—because both men were powerful members of the Trilateral Commission and their appointment to key positions would signal a surrender of White House control to the Commission.

Vance and Brzezinski were appointed secretary of state and national security adviser, as Jordan feared.

But he didn’t quit.

He became Carter’s chief of staff.

Now consider the vast propaganda efforts of the past 40 years, on so many levels, to install the idea that all nations and peoples of the world are a single Collective.

From a very high level of political and economic power, this propaganda op has had the objective of grooming the population for a planet that is one coagulated mass, run and managed by one force.

A central engine of that force is the Trilateral Commission.

How does a shadowy group like the TC accomplish its goal?

One basic strategy is: destabilize nations; ruin their economies; send millions and millions of manufacturing jobs off to places where virtual slave labor does the work; adding insult to injury, export the cheap products of those slave-factories back to the nations who lost the jobs and further undercut domestic manufacturers, forcing them to close their doors and fire still more employees.

And then solve that economic chaos by bringing order.

What kind of order?

Eventually, one planet, with national borders erased, under one management system, with a planned global economy, “to restore stability,” “for the good of all, for lasting harmony.”

The top Trilateral players, in 2008, had their man in the White House, another formerly obscure individual like Jimmy Carter: Barack Obama.

They had new trade treaties on the planning table.

After Obama was inaugurated for his first term, he shocked and astonished his own advisors, who expected him, as the first order of business, to address the unemployment issue in America.

He shocked them by ignoring the number-one concern of Americans, and instead decided to opt for his disastrous national health insurance policy—Obamacare.

Obama never had any intention of trying to dig America out of the crash of 2008.

That wasn’t why he was put in the Oval Office.

He could, and would, pretend to bring back the economy, with fudged numbers and distorted standards.

But really and truly, create good-paying jobs for many, many Americans? Not on the TC agenda.

Not in the cards.

It was counter-productive to the TC plan: torpedo the economy further.

Eight years later, along came Trump.

Judge him in any way you want to.

At the very least, he became a symbol for dismantling Globalism.

And that was enough to trigger alarm bells in Elite circles and centers.

And the word went out: destroy Trump by any means necessary.

Put the Trilateral Plan back on track—make the whole world One Nation, and erase the memory of America…

So that, one day, a student will ask his teacher, “What happened to the United States?”

And the teacher will say, “It was a criminal enterprise based on individual freedom. Fortunately, our leaders rescued the people and taught them the superior nature of HARMONY.”

via A new reality is here

Jon Rappoport – 02/05/18: https://jonrappoport.wordpress.com/2018/02/05/a-new-reality-is-here/ Also: https://wordpress.com/post/randrewohge.wordpress.com/3524

“The One Great Reality for Everyone has been fading away. The One has become the Many. What did you expect? This is what you get when you get freedom. Multi-dimensional Reality.” (The Magician Awakes, Jon Rappoport)

The new reality is Decentralized Power.

It’s not a distant hope.

It’s happening.

For one thing, I’m talking about major media and their crumbling power.

Shaping minds was once easy.

It’s not anymore.

These days, if you don’t like one alt-news site, there are 100,000 more.

Yes, we’re in the middle of a bumpy ride.

It’s not Santa Claus coming down the chimney with gifts for all.

Major media and social media are fighting back.

Their desperation is signaled in their efforts to use the label Fake News, and in open moves to censor news that’s “different.”

Don’t expect this battle to be easy.

The transition is a long one.

But take heart.

Be aware that things are changing around us.

Right now.

This decentralization will ultimately affect every individual, not just groups.

The Big Split will filter down to every human on the planet.

Don’t be timid about assessing this paradigm shift.

It’s gigantic.

The point is: WE’RE NOT ALL HEADING TOWARD ONE UNIFIED BETTER REALITY.

That’s the con.

That’s the Globalist wet dream.

That would be replacing one form of mind control for another.

That would be a puerile version of New Age nonsense.

No, what is happening cuts much deeper.

People will say this shift is dangerous, because it supports the atomization and isolation of every individual.

Where are the ties that bind, they will say.

We must all agree on a program for a better future.

We must all come together.

These notions are merely the rear-guard action of minds trying to preserve the old way.

As individuals re-fit their own sense of reality, they find ways to reach across the divide and communicate with each other.

This is not an insoluble problem.

THIS IS PEOPLE DISCOVERING HOW TO MEET A CHALLENGE.

Yes, there are those who will see this new state of affairs as hopeless.

But keep in mind—such people are always interpreting life as hopeless.

They will grab every new development as “proof of failure.”

So be it.

The present and future are multiple realities.

Which is the actual definition of an open society.

Individuals, re-fitting and recreating and discovering their own perception of reality, is not a one-time one-stop shop.

It’s an ongoing process.

Fleeing the process to go back into the arms of centralized consensus is only a temporary diversion.

It will not hold.

The history of Western philosophy is one thinker after another trying to describe ultimate reality for everyone.

It’s this.

No, it’s that.

In every case, the power of the individual is basically ignored.

That farce has come to an end.

The decentralization of the media-apparatus is a sign of a much deeper trend.

THE INDIVIDUAL is front and center.

Trying to put that genie back in the bottle will not work.

It’s too late.

Now, every person will feel the need to develop his own reality.

It may start as a nagging minor impulse, but soon enough the impulse will light up.

It will come through as the Great Adventure.

Untold numbers of people are already at the starting gate, whining and moaning and complaining and commiserating.

And stalling.

But the dictum is loud and clear: FIND AND INVENT YOUR OWN REALITY.

And then: MAKE IT FACT IN THE WORLD.

“Well, I didn’t bargain for that. I was just defending freedom of the individual.”

But think it through.

Where does that freedom lead?

What does it point to?

The freedom to come to some new consensus that every soul will sign up for?

A way to toss that freedom on the junk heap?

A Disneyesque dream we can all swim in together?

What is freedom for?

It comes from and by the individual.

Toning it down to a set of convenient “new” shallow understandings “we can all share” will only be a temporary way-station.

I don’t write for people who are dedicated to The Ordinary.

I don’t write for defenders of a consensus.

I don’t write for people whose version of perspective extends three feet in front of their noses.

All along, for the past 17 years, on this site, I’ve been writing for people who are adventurous about their own futures.

The next 20, 50, 100, 1000 years are going to be very interesting.

Every possible effort will be made to shape the individual from an external point of control.

These efforts will seem to succeed—but they will be superseded by breakouts, which will move according to no system.

And the proposition that all these breakouts will be nothing more than bursts of primitive violence is shortsighted.

Something much deeper and higher is happening.

At the core, individuals are MAKING realities.

They’re inventing them.

This process is simultaneously grounded and soaring.

As Dostoevsky once advised, “Head in the clouds, feet in the mud.”

Technocrats like to imagine a future world where society is fitted together as a machine, an all-embracing mechanism powered at the flip of a switch.

But the more profound world, which is emerging, is decentralized.

Not one dream, but many, side by side.

Not dreams from the top of the food chain, but from independent individuals.

On top of that, the technology exists to help make every one of those individuals self-sufficient.

Education, in spite of programs drilling a small set of fatuous values into many heads, is also decentralizing.

Why?

Because more and more students are realizing they have to educate themselves, independently, on their own.

Hive consciousness will keep resurfacing to tempt the timid.

“Please, please, let me belong!”

But the innate psyche of the individual is more powerful than collective fantasies, in the long, long run.

The new reality of many realities is here.

via Financial Tyranny: ‘We the People’ Are the New Permanent Underclass in America

Posted By Luther Blissett 01/22/18 [https://desultoryheroics.com/2018/01/22/financial-tyranny-we-the-people-are-the-new-permanent-underclass-in-america/]

By John W. Whitehead-The Rutherford Institute

“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.” ― Frédéric Bastiat, French Economist

Americans can no longer afford to get sick and there’s a reason why.

That’s because a growing number of Americans are struggling to stretch their dollars far enough to pay their bills, get out of debt and ensure that if and when an illness arises, it doesn’t bankrupt them. [https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/06/medical-bills/530679/]

This is a reality that no amount of partisan political bickering can deny.

Many Americans can no longer afford health insurance, drug costs or hospital bills.

They can’t afford to pay rising healthcare premiums, out-of-pocket deductibles and prescription drug bills.

They can’t afford to live, and now they can’t afford to get sick or die, either.
[https://www.thenation.com/article/the-devastating-process-of-dying-in-america-without-insurance/]

To be clear, my definition of “affordable healthcare” is different from the government’s.

To the government, you can “afford” to pay for healthcare if your income falls above the poverty line.
That takes no account of rising taxes, the cost of living, the cost to clothe and feed a household, the cost of transportation and communication and education, or any of the other line items that add up to a life worth living.

As Helaine Olen points out in The Atlantic [https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/06/medical-bills/530679/]:

“Just because a person is insured, it doesn’t mean he or she can actually afford their doctor, hospital, pharmaceutical, and other medical bills. The point of insurance is to protect patients’ finances from the costs of everything from hospitalizations to prescription drugs, but out-of-pocket spending for people even with employer-provided health insurance has increased by more than 50 percent since 2010.”

For too many Americans, achieving any kind of quality of life has become a choice between putting food on the table and paying one’s bills or health care coverage.
It’s a gamble any way you look at it, and the medical community is not helping.

Healthcare costs are rising, driven by a medical, insurance and pharmaceutical industry that are getting rich off the sick and dying.
[https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/10/us/health-insurance-affordable-care-act.html]

Indeed, Americans currently pay $3.4 trillion a year for medical care.
[https://www.cnbc.com/2017/06/23/heres-how-much-the-average-american-spends-on-health-care.html]

We spent more than $10,000 per person on health care in 2016.
[https://www.cnbc.com/2017/06/23/heres-how-much-the-average-american-spends-on-health-care.html]

Those attempting to shop for health insurance coverage right now are understandably experiencing sticker shock with premiums set to rise 34% in 2018.
[https://www.cnbc.com/2017/10/25/most-popular-obamacare-plans-cost-average-of-34-percent-more-for-2018.html]

It’s estimated that costs may rise as high as $15,000 by 2023.

As Bloomberg reports [https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-19/rising-health-insurance-costs-blunt-employees-paycheck-gains]:

“Rising health-care costs are eating up the wage gains won by American workers, who are being asked by their employers to pick up more of the heftier tab… The cost of buying health coverage at work has increased faster than wages and inflation for years, pressuring household budgets.”

Appallingly, Americans spend more than any developed country on healthcare and have less to show for it.
[https://www.cnbc.com/2015/10/08/us-health-care-spending-is-high-results-arenot-so-good.html]

We don’t live as long, we have higher infant mortality rates, we have fewer hospital and physician visits, and the quality of our healthcare is generally worse.

We also pay astronomical amounts for prescription drugs, compared to other countries.

Whether or not you’re insured through an employer, the healthcare marketplace, a government-subsidized program such as Medicare or Medicaid, or have no health coverage whatsoever, it’s still “we the consumers” who have to pay to subsidize the bill whenever anyone gets sick in this country.

And that bill is a whopper.

While Obamacare (a.k.a. the Affordable Care Act) may have made health insurance more accessible to greater numbers of individuals, it has failed to make healthcare any more affordable.

Why?

As journalist Laurie Meisler concludes: “One big reason U.S. health care costs are so high: pharmaceutical spending. The U.S. spends more per capita on prescription medicines and over-the-counter products than any other country.” [https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2017-health-care-spending/]

One investigative journalist spent seven months analyzing hundreds of bills from hospitals, doctors, drug companies, and medical equipment manufacturers.

His findings confirmed what we’ve known all along: health care in America is just another way of making corporations rich at consumer expense. [https://www.rd.com/health/wellness/wildly-overinflated-hospital-costs/]

An examination of an itemized hospital bill (only available upon request) revealed an amazing amount of price gouging. [https://www.rd.com/health/wellness/wildly-overinflated-hospital-costs/]

Tylenol, which you can buy for less than $10 for a bottle, was charged to the patient at a rate of $15 per pill, for a total of $345 for a hospital stay.

$8 for a plastic bag to hold the patient’s personal items and another $8 for a box of Kleenex.

$23 for a single alcohol swab.

$53 per pair for non-sterile gloves (adding up to $5,141 for the entire hospital stay).

$10 for plastic cup in which to take one’s medicine.

$93 for the use of an overhead light during a surgical procedure.

$39 each time you want to hold your newborn baby.
[http://mbamedical.com/10-rediculously-overpriced-hospital-charges/]

And $800 for a sterile water IV bag that costs about a dollar to make.

This is clearly not a problem that can be remedied by partisan politics.

The so-called Affordable Care Act pushed through by the Obama administration is proving to be anything but affordable for anyone over the poverty line. [https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/11/09/feds-obamacare-site-does-biggest-business-yet-while-half-people-can-pay-0/847903001/]

And the Trump administration’s “fixes” promise to be no better.

Indeed, for too many Americans who live paycheck to paycheck and struggle just to get by, the tax penalty for not having health insurance will actually be cheaper than trying to find affordable coverage that actually pays for care. [https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/27/us/obamacare-affordable-care-act-tax-penalties.html]

This is how the middle classes, who fuel the nation’s economy and fund the government’s programs, get screwed repeatedly.

When almost 60% of Americans are so financially strapped that they don’t have even $500 in savings [http://money.cnn.com/2017/01/12/pf/americans-lack-of-savings/index.html] and nothing whatsoever put away for retirement, and yet they are being forced to pay for government programs that do little to enhance their lives, we’re not living the American dream. [https://www.cnbc.com/2017/06/13/heres-how-many-americans-have-nothing-at-all-saved-for-retirement.html]

We’re living a financial nightmare.

We have no real say in how the government runs, or how our taxpayer funds are used, but that doesn’t prevent the government from fleecing us at every turn and forcing us to pay for endless wars that do more to fund the military industrial complex than protect us, pork barrel projects that produce little to nothing, and a police state that serves only to imprison us within its walls.

We have no real say, but we’re being forced to pay through the nose, anyhow.

George Harrison, who died 16 years ago this month, summed up this outrageous state of affairs in his song Taxman:

If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street,
If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat.
If you get too cold I’ll tax the heat,
If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet.

Don’t ask me what I want it for
If you don’t want to pay some more
‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman

Now my advice for those who die
Declare the pennies on your eyes
‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman
And you’re working for no one but me.

In other words, in the eyes of the government, “we the people, the voters, the consumers, and the taxpayers” are little more than indentured servants and sources of revenue.

If you have no choice, no voice, and no real options when it comes to the government’s claims on your property and your money, you’re not free.

Consider:

The government can seize your home and your car (which you’ve bought and paid for) over nonpayment of taxes.

Government agents can freeze and seize your bank accounts and other valuables if they merely “suspect” wrongdoing.

And the IRS insists on getting the first cut of your salary to pay for government programs over which you have no say.

It wasn’t always this way, of course.

Early Americans went to war over the inalienable rights described by philosopher John Locke as the natural rights of life, liberty and property. [https://fee.org/articles/john-locke-natural-rights-to-life-liberty-and-property/]

It didn’t take long, however—a hundred years, in fact—before the American government was laying claim to the citizenry’s property by levying taxes to pay for the Civil War.

As the New York Times reports, “Widespread resistance led to its repeal in 1872.” [https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/20/business/yourtaxes/irwin-schiff-fervent-opponent-of-federal-income-taxes-dies-at-87.html]

Determined to claim some of the citizenry’s wealth for its own uses, the government reinstituted the income tax in 1894.

Charles Pollock challenged the tax as unconstitutional, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in his favor.

Pollock’s victory was relatively short-lived.

Members of Congress—united in their determination to tax the American people’s income—worked together to adopt a constitutional amendment to overrule the Pollock decision.

On the eve of World War I, in 1913, Congress instituted a permanent income tax by way of the 16th Amendment to the Constitution and the Revenue Act of 1913. [https://www.npr.org/2010/12/08/131913228/A-History-Of-Income-Tax]

Under the Revenue Act, individuals with income exceeding $3,000 could be taxed starting at 1% up to 7% for incomes exceeding $500,000.

It’s all gone downhill from there.

Unsurprisingly, the government has used its tax powers to advance its own imperialistic agendas and the courts have repeatedly upheld the government’s power to penalize or jail those who refused to pay their taxes.
[http://www.nytimes.com/1991/01/09/business/supreme-court-ruling-supports-tax-protester.html]

Irwin A. Schiff was one of the nation’s most vocal tax protesters.

He spent a good portion of his life arguing that the income tax was unconstitutional.

He paid the price for his resistance, too:

Schiff served three separate prison terms (more than 10 years in all) over his refusal to pay taxes.

He died at the age of 87 serving a 14-year prison term.

As constitutional activist Robert L. Schulz noted in Schiff’s obituary [https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/20/business/yourtaxes/irwin-schiff-fervent-opponent-of-federal-income-taxes-dies-at-87.html]:

“In a society where there is so much fear of government, and in particular of the I.R.S., [Schiff] was probably the most influential educator regarding the illegal and unconstitutional operation and enforcement of the Internal Revenue Code. It’s very hard to speak to power, but he did, and he paid a very heavy price.”

It’s still hard to speak to power, and those who do are still paying a very heavy price.

All the while the government continues to do whatever it likes—levy taxes, rack up debt, spend outrageously and irresponsibly—with little thought for the plight of its citizens.

The national debt is $20 trillion and growing.
[http://www.usdebtclock.org/]

The amount this country owes is now greater than its gross national product (all the products and services produced in one year by labor and property supplied by the citizens). [http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/08/17/5-facts-about-the-national-debt-what-you-should-know/]

We’re paying more than $270 billion just in interest on that debt annually. [http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/08/17/5-facts-about-the-national-debt-what-you-should-know/]

And the top two foreign countries who “own” our debt are China and Japan.

To top it all off, all of those wars the U.S. is so eager to fight abroad are being waged with borrowed funds.

As The Atlantic reports: [https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2016/09/cost-wars-iraq-afghanistan/499007/]:

“For 15 years now, the United States has been putting these wars on a credit card… U.S. leaders are essentially bankrolling the wars with debt, in the form of purchases of U.S. Treasury bonds by U.S.-based entities like pension funds and state and local governments, and by countries like China and Japan.”

If Americans managed their personal finances the way the government mismanages the nation’s finances, we’d all be in debtors’ prison by now.

Still, the government remains unrepentant, unfazed and undeterred in its money grabs.

While we’re struggling to get by, and making tough decisions about how to spend what little money actually makes it into our pockets after the federal, state and local governments take their share (this doesn’t include the stealth taxes imposed through tolls, fines and other fiscal penalties), the police state is spending our hard-earned tax dollars to further entrench its powers and entrap its citizens.

For instance, American taxpayers have been forced to shell out $5.6 trillion since 9/11 for the military industrial complex’s costly, endless so-called “war on terrorism.” [http://www.newsweek.com/how-many-trillions-war-has-cost-us-taxpayer-911-attacks-705041]

That translates to roughly $23,000 per taxpayer to wage wars abroad, occupy foreign countries, provide financial aid to foreign allies, and fill the pockets of defense contractors and grease the hands of corrupt foreign dignitaries.

Mind you, that staggering $6 trillion is only a portion of what the Pentagon spends on America’s military empire.

That price tag keeps growing, too. [http://www.futurity.org/post-911-costs-of-war-1602682/]

The 16-year war in Afghanistan, which now stands as the longest [http://money.cnn.com/2017/08/21/news/economy/war-costs-afghanistan/index.html]and one of the most expensive [https://theconversation.com/iraq-and-afghanistan-the-us-6-trillion-bill-for-americas-longest-war-is-unpaid-78241]wars in U.S. history, is about to get even longer and more costly, thanks to President Trump’s promise to send more troops over. [https://www.vox.com/world/2017/9/19/16227730/trump-afghanistan-3000-troops-mattis]

In this way, the military industrial complex will get even richer, and the American taxpayer will be forced to shell out even more funds for programs that do little to enhance our lives, ensure our happiness and well-being, or secure our freedoms.

As Dwight D. Eisenhower warned in a 1953 speech:
[http://www.edchange.org/multicultural/speeches/ike_chance_for_peace.html]:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

This world in arms is not spending money alone.
It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.

It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population.

It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals.

It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement.

We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat.

We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.

This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking.

This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense.
[http://www.edchange.org/multicultural/speeches/ike_chance_for_peace.html]

Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. […] Is there no other way the world may live?

This is still no way of life.

Yet it’s not just the government’s endless wars that are bleeding us dry.

We’re also being forced to shell out money for surveillance systems to track our movements, money to further militarize our already militarized police, money to allow the government to raid our homes and bank accounts, money to fund schools where our kids learn nothing about freedom and everything about how to comply, and on and on.

Are you getting the picture yet?

The government isn’t taking our money to make our lives better.

Just take a look at the nation’s failing infrastructure, and you’ll see how little is being spent on programs that advance the common good.

We’re being robbed blind so the governmental elite can get richer.

This is nothing less than financial tyranny.

“We the people” have become the new, permanent underclass in America.

It’s tempting to say that there’s little we can do about it, except that’s not quite accurate.

There are a few things we can do (demand transparency, reject cronyism and graft, insist on fair pricing and honest accounting methods, call a halt to incentive-driven government programs that prioritize profits over people), but it will require that “we the people” stop playing politics and stand united against the politicians and corporate interests who have turned our government and economy into a pay-to-play exercise in fascism.

We’ve become so invested in identity politics that label us based on our political leanings that we’ve lost sight of the one label that unites us: we’re all Americans.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the powers-that-be want to pit us against one another. [https://www.amazon.com/Battlefield-America-War-American-People/dp/1590793099]

They want us to adopt an “us versus them” mindset that keeps us powerless and divided.

Trust me, the only “us versus them” that matters anymore is “we the people” against the police state.
We’re all in the same boat, folks, and there’s only one real life preserver: that’s the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

The Constitution starts with those three powerful words:

“We the people.”
The message is this: there is power in our numbers.

That remains our greatest strength in the face of a governmental elite that continues to ride roughshod over the populace.

It remains our greatest defense against a government that has claimed for itself unlimited power over the purse (taxpayer funds) and the sword (military might).

As Patrick Henry declared in the last speech before his death:

“United we stand, divided we fall. Let us not split into factions … or … exhaust [our strength] in civil commotions and intestine wars.”

This holds true whether you’re talking about health care, war spending, or the American police state.