If you had everything else you wanted but your life lacked meaning, would it still be worth living? For the rich Russian count Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910), the towering author of such classics as War and Peace and Anna Karenina, this was not a merely theoretical question. This was a matter of life and death: “Why should I live?… What real indestructible essence will come from my phantasmal, destructible life?” was the question he asked himself. In his autobiography, My Confession (1882), he wrote that as long as he was unable to find a satisfactory answer to the question of meaning, “the best that I could do was to hang myself.” What makes ‘What’s the meaning of life?’ such a powerful question that inability to deliver a satisfactory answer can push a person to the brink of a suicide?
Facebook has said it will take aggressive and exceptional measures to “restrict the circulation of content” on its platform if November’s presidential election descends into chaos or violent civic unrest.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Nick Clegg, the company’s head of global affairs, said it had drawn up plans for how to handle a range of outcomes, including widespread civic unrest or “the political dilemmas” of having in-person votes counted more rapidly than mail-in ballots, which will play a larger role in this election due to the coronavirus pandemic.
This is what our “antifascists” need to be focused on, not the shenanigans of some carnival barker like Trump.
Wrench in the Gears
I asked this question on social media today and got quite a few very thoughtful replies.
One person asked me what led me to ask the question, and this was my response:
I believe we’re teetering on the brink of worldwide techo-fascism.
Well, it’s pretty much blowing out in certain quarters already.
The program has been wrapped in progressive language.
As a result, many have unknowingly been led to embrace the creation of a global digital jail.
We’ll soon see the roll out of Internet of Things social credit scoring and human capital bonds.
The rules of the game will be the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
We are hostages to the clerics of an intolerant faith.
As our nation finds itself wracked by violence and threatened with regime failure, questions of authority become ever more urgent. We believe authority in a free society rests with the people and their representatives, and we abhor the theft of that authority by “experts” from our bureaucratic ruling classes. We present this essay to help expose and articulate one important way in which authority has been stolen from the people and given over to unelected dictators in the name of “Science.”—Eds.
Paul Feyerabend (1924-1994) was the enfant terrible of late 20th-century philosophy of science. He delighted in mischief, juxtaposing vast knowledge of science and its history with antics like egging on creationists, playing devil’s advocate for astrology, and calling for the “separation of science and state.”
He has nevertheless secured a place in the canon, because he is brilliant, extremely well-read, and funny—and his views, when correctly understood, are important and challenging. No doubt it helps that he is a man of the Left, despite saying things that were often criticized for giving aid and comfort to the religious Right.
The modern ruling class doesn’t bother with state-imposed censorship and instead farms it out to corporations, social media companies, and universities, which is why the First Amendment needs to be expanded to include all of these institutions.
It’s the same as when they don’t bother setting up a formal dictatorship. Instead, they just maintain a system of rule by organized bribery and oligarchic supremacy while maintaining formal democracy as a means of self-legitimization.
“No cool people allowed on Facebook. Only dweebs, nerds, and losers need apply,” said the Zuck.
San Francisco CBS Local
OAKLAND (AP) — Facebook said it will restrict the right-wing conspiracy movement QAnon and will no longer recommend that users join groups supporting it, although the company isn’t banning it outright.
Facebook said Wednesday it is banning groups and accounts associated with QAnon as well as a variety of U.S.-based militia and anarchist groups that support violence. But the company will continue to allow people to post material that supports these groups, so long as they don’t violate policies against hate speech, abuse and other provocations.
QAnon groups have flourished on Facebook in recent months, and experts say social media has aided the rise of the fringe movement. Twitter announced a similar crackdown recently and TikTok has banned QAnon altogether from its searches, along with related terms such as “WWG1WGA,” shorthand for the group’s motto “Where We Go One, We Go All.”
I feel honored to have already been banned from Facebook. I was ahead of my time, apparently.
Social media giant Facebook today banned dozens of anarchist, anti-fascist and anti-capitalist pages after announcing a new crackdown against “anarchist groups that support violent acts”.
This crackdown against anarchists comes in the context of the largest uprising against police violence in the United States in a generation. United States President Donald Trump has blamed the African-American mass movement against police violence on “anarchists”, and has made repeated calls for anti-fascist activism to be designated a “terrorist organisation”. The US President, conservative politicians and right-wing media have been howling about the level of opposition to their politics expressed on popular social media platforms.
Facebook is responding to this political pressure.
Facebook has taken down multiple Facebook pages they believe to be connected with crimethinc.com and itsgoingdown.org, among other anarchist and anti-fascist publishing projects,1officially on the pretext that they “support violence.” This has nothing to do with stopping violence and everything to do with suppressing social movements and the publishers that cover them.
For months, Donald Trump has demanded this crackdown in a series of social media posts explicitly blaming anarchists and anti-fascists for the countrywide wave of protests precipitated by persistent police violence in the United States. A decade ago, Facebook representatives proudly touted their role in the Egyptian uprising. Today, their decision to ban publishers who discuss social movement activity shows that they are eager to play a role in ensuring that the only forms of activism that can emerge are the ones that are beneficial to the current authorities.
The defining of violence is not neutral. The way Facebook currently defines violence, it is legitimate for police to kill a thousand people per year while evicting, kidnapping, and imprisoning millions—it is legitimate to drop bombs on civilians, so long as the aggressor represents an official government—but it is “violence” to prevent a white supremacist from assaulting a crowd or return a smoking tear gas canister to the police who shot it. Suppressing the voices of those who seek to protect their communities from institutional and white supremacist violence is an intentional decision to normalize violence as long as the ones employing it hold institutional power.
Big Tech is part of the government. Big Tech was made possible only through technological development carried out by the government and with taxpayer money. The First Amendment should apply to Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon every bit as much as it applies to Michigan, Illinois, Atlanta, and Salt Lake City.
The availability of surveillance technology increases the urgency of the decentralist project. Death to the Empire.
By Kim Zetter
Since May, as protesters around the country have marched against police brutality and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, activists have spotted a recurring presence in the skies: mysterious planes and helicopters hovering overhead, apparently conducting surveillance on protesters. A press release from the Justice Department at the end of May revealed that the Drug Enforcement Agency and U.S. Marshals Service were asked by the Justice Department to provide unspecified support to law enforcement during protests. A few days later, a memo obtained by BuzzFeed News offered a little more insight on the matter; it revealed that shortly after protests began in various cities, the DEA had sought special authority from the Justice Department to covertly spy on Black Lives Matter protesters on behalf of law enforcement.
Although the press release and memo didn’t say what form the support and surveillance would take, it’s likely that the two agencies were being asked to assist police for a particular reason. Both the DEA and the Marshals possess airplanes outfitted with so-called stingrays or dirtboxes: powerful technologies capable of tracking mobile phones or, depending on how they’re configured, collecting data and communications from mobile phones in bulk.
Stingrays have been used on the ground and in the air by law enforcement for years but are highly controversial because they don’t just collect data from targeted phones; they collect data from any phone in the vicinity of a device. That data can be used to identify people — protesters, for example — and track their movements during and after demonstrations, as well as to identify others who associate with them. They also can inject spying software onto specific phones or direct the browser of a phone to a website where malware can be loaded onto it, though it’s not clear if any U.S. law enforcement agencies have used them for this purpose.
James Lindsay on the theology of the new theocracy. The two most important things that are happening in the developed world at the present time are the re-feudalization of class relations and the growth of totalitarian humanism as the self-legitimating ideology of the rising ruling class. Just as neo-feudalism is reinstating the kinds of class societies that existed in the premodern world, totalitarian humanism is resurrecting premodern caste systems based on ascribed status, but within the technocratic framework of modern totalitarianism. The principal differences between totalitarian humanism and the 20th-century models of totalitarianism are two things: 1) the commercial values of capitalism require a certain degree of cultural openness that is not possible in a Stalinist type of system (hence, “soft totalitarianism” rather than “hard totalitarianism”) and 2) contemporary methods of propaganda and ideological control are far more sophisticated than those of 20th-century totalitarians, more Edward Bernays than Joseph Goebbels.
While doctors and politicians still struggle to convince Americans to take the barest of precautions against Covid-19 by wearing a mask, the Department of Homeland Security has an opposite concern, according to an “intelligence note” found among the BlueLeaks trove of law enforcement documents: Masks are breaking police facial recognition.
The current global health emergency provoked by COVID-19 is accelerating deep changes that will have far reaching implications not only for the way international relations are conducted but in every aspect of social life and economic activity.
The influence of powerful non-state actors in the international stage was already becoming more relevant than the classic power struggles among states at the height of globalization. States have been progressively losing their exclusive role in the construction of the multilateral international system.
Now, their diminished sovereignty has to do with the increased power and influence of transnational corporations — of which Big Tech is the ultimate example — the privatization of military force, and the international role of private armies and militias, transnational terrorist organizations, and drug cartels and other criminal groups.