Some take-aways from Supernova so far – first the obvious – decentralized networks are simply superior to any other form of network architecture, in terms of redundancy and resiliency. The question is will this technical decentralization actually result in political decentralization? Participatory democracy is possible, but will it ever flourish? Already the Feds consider wifi a terrorist threat. And now the big-boys are creating Cosmeta with the potential of co-opting this technology before it ever gets out of the gate.
The pro-democracy Six/Four project from Hacktivismo is a potentially valuable step to protect political dissidents and other people who have the quaint idea that their access to information shouldn’t be thwarted by government-run firewalls in places like China and Saudi Arabia.The basic idea is to use the Internet’s decentralized nature in a way that lets people create anonymous, secure data tunnels from here to there and everywhere. If this works, governments will be harder-pressed to prevent their people from communicating freely and seeing online material that, for whatever reason, is considered objectionable.
As we sit here deep in an economic recession, with a looming war with Iraq, amidst growing global unrest, it can be hard to imagine how anyone might be optimistic about the next few years. But despite these gloomy prospects, there are larger forces at work, and they point to the prospect of a brighter future for everyone.
We are seeing battle lines drawn with capital on one side, and ideology, criminality, war and political power on the other. Arguably capital has won hands down up to this point. Without capital, ideologues cannot finance their causes, criminals have nothing to steal, wars cannot be financed, and politicians cannot gain or keep their power. Ideology doesn’t buy you guns, money does, and if the machinations of a group is centered around money, they have a greater chance of making more money, and buying more guns, than those whose machinations center around ideology. Ideologues can get money too, but ultimately they depend on the machinations of capital to finance their causes. In the Darwinian sense, those who focus more of their energies on acquiring and keeping capital than fulfilling their ideology have the survival advantage. That’s why the United States, the most capitalist society in history, is the most powerful by far. The US military budget is greater than the next nine largest militaries put together. Yet the power to destroy increases in capability for the individual (bio/chem/nuclear), and this in turn complexifies the game. Now, even the under-financed ideologues can exact great damage with limited resources. 9-11 is a perfect example. Likewise, a single malevolent and resourceful individual could get their hands on a very leathal and virulent strain of biotoxin and kill a huge portion of the population.
With a growing amount of power falling into the hands of individuals through internet resources, strong crypto, bioweapons, etc., the response of the capitalist has been to erode privacy and increase the level of intelligence and surveillance to find these potential threats. Already we have seen some grave erosions of civil liberties by the government embowered by the US Patriot Act. In addition we are seeing a massive increase in public cameras, dataveillance, biometrics, GPS tracking, and profiling. What’s more troubling is these increases in transparency have occurred almost exclusively one-way. Part of the problem is that corruption and criminality reach the highest levels of society and for the moment those unaccountable are using this “war on terrorism” as an excuse to shield themselves while increasing their power over others.
I don’t think its too extreme that we are for all intents and purposes living in a de-facto fascist-criminal regime. Lets be clear, I’m not accusing anyone in the current administration of wrong doing, only that the machinations of how everything is being run as being questionable to say the least. These are trends that have been going on for a very long time, well before the current administration took power. Rather than be shocked and upset by this continuous coup, see it as a weakness that has been exploited while the rest of us weren’t watching and even unable to watch, by the most sophisticated group in history. While they distracted us, they “acquired” large sums of capital and power sufficient for near total domination of the political arena. Now they have grabbed the reigns of government, gained control of the media propaganda machine, brought the economy to its knees (a mistake that will be their undoing) and control the largest military on earth. The only problem is they have already exploited the world to such an alarming degree that they are quickly running out of resources left to take. Having already reached the maximum threshold of taxation of the American people, they created a fake war on non-corporate drugs to increase their financial spoils even further. Now that they have exhausted that avenue, they’ve now created a “war on terrorism” as a cover to justify full-scale preemptive invasion of entire regions of the globe. This a dangerous move on their part, and they know it, but it doesn’t matter now because they are desperate. They are loosing their ability to hide their behaviors behind business as usual, because business as usual is on the verge of collapse (Enron, Worlcom, etc). Now the gloves are coming off and the rest of the world is seeing them for exactly what they are, and it has people scared. Lots of damage could be done by this gang in its desperation to continue its questionable cabal at all costs. But it cannot last, because ultimately it is not based on the free flow of capital but on the stealing of it from others.
If this “war on terrorism” continues it will devastate markets around the world and increasingly anger the true capitalists, the ones who have everything to loose if the economy collapses. These savvy rich people will line up against this cabal in all sorts of ways, least of which is to finance an opposition party to the current regime. And if the that is not possible, finance a way of undermining it from within, through bribery, blackmail and other dirty tricks. Regardless of what you’ve been told, war is not good for business. We are now a global economy and plundering one part of it to boost the coffers of another part is no longer sustainable. Its a short-term gambit at best. The whole damn thing is too interconnected and ecological. When you harm one part of it and you harm the whole. War, fascism, criminality , they are all unsustainable in the global ecological economy that now exists. It will fail, because the free-flow of capital demands it. Already the U.S. military machine is supported by vast subsidies by an economy that is buckling at the seems. And yet. the current administration is proposing an increase in the military budget by another $100 billion per year by 2007. Where is this money going to come from? We have already reached a critical mass of taxation. Any more and it will break the backs of the consumer, who without their spending power renders the economy helpless. If they don’t spend, companies don’t earn, if companies don’t earn, they lay off more people who in turn cannot spend. So if there is less capital, there is less tax to support a war machine or a government – it is that simple.
This so-called war on terrorism, this imperialist and desperate move to invade Iraq could very easily tip the economy right over the edge into a full-scale world-wide deflationary depression. Already it is on the verge of collapse because of massive swindling on every level by the most sophisticated white collar criminals in history. Enron and WorldCom are just the tip of the iceberg. The savings and loan scandal was peanuts compared to the vast robbery and theft that has brought us to our present predicament. It is no coincidence that we are banging the drums of war to divert our attention away from an economy that is on it last legs. Some say the cabal is power-mad and greedy for oil and money. Perhaps. The truth is they need this war if they are going to save an economy based on faulty principles and criminality. However, the only way this economy can possibly recover in a healthy and sustainable way is to have sufficient checks and balances that prevent such criminality and massive swindling from ever occurring in the first place. Corporations and governments will have to become more accountable and transparent. Surveillance will have to go both ways. If we are to see ourselves out of this unsustainable spiral we must now ask the question, “who is going to watch the watchers?’ This is an important question to ask, because as is been pointed out, if nobody is watching the watchers then we have a huge hole of accountability and in turn vulnerability to abuse. And such abuse is ultimately bad for capital. Capital requires liquidity. Liquidity requires liberty. Short-term capital can be made that breaks all the rules, such as corruption, theft,etc. But it cannot be sustained long-term. Long-term, capital favors liberty over tyranny and that is something we should be optimistic about.