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I see with no surprise that Washington is stepping up its campaign to censor the internet. It had to come, and will succeed. It will put paid forever to America’s flirtation with freedom.

The country was never really a democracy, meaning a polity in which final power rested with the people. The voters have always been too remote from the levers of power to have much influence. Yet for a brief window of time there actually was freedom of a sort. With the censorship of the net—it will be called “regulation”—the last hope of retaining former liberty will expire.

Over the years freedom has declined in inverse proportion to the reach of the central government. (Robert E. Lee: “I consider the constitutional power of the General Government as the chief source of stability to our political system, whereas the consolidation of the states into one vast republic, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of that ruin which has overwhelmed all those that have preceded it.” Yep.)

Through most of the country’s history, Washington lacked the ability to meddle, control, micromanage, and punish. In 1850, it had precious little knowledge of events in lands such as Wyoming, Tennessee, or West Virginia, no capacity to do much about them, and not a great deal of interest. People on remote farms and in small towns governed themselves as they chose, not always well but without rule by distant bureaucracies and moneyed interests.

For a sunny few years, local freedom rested substantially on principle, a notion inconceivable now. The Thomas Jeffersons, George Washingtons, and Robert E. Lees genuinely believed in freedom, and worried about the coming of tyranny. Justices of the Supreme Court often upheld the tenets of the Bill of Rights. As human affairs go—poorly, as a rule—it was impressive.

As time went by, however, it became clear that incapacity, not principle, was the only reliable brake on the rise of dictatorship. In 1950, the government could put a mail cover on anyone, quite possibly illegally if the FBI were involved, but steaming envelopes open required time, effort, and manpower. Mass surveillance was impossible, and so didn’t happen. Without surveillance, there can be no control.

Fora long time it was due to principle that freedom of the press remained, no matter how much the government hated it. During the war in Vietnam, “underground” papers, which of course published openly, were virulently critical of the government. The mainstream media of the time published shocking photographs of the war, much to the fury of the Pentagon. The courts allowed it.

Today, that has changed. Washington has learned to avoid dissent from its wars by using a volunteer army of men about whom no one of influence cares. The use of “drones” further reduces public interest, and today the major media, owned by corporations aligned with arms manufacturers and manned by intimidated reporters, hide the results on the battlefield. For practical purposes, today’s press is an arm of government.

The old checks and balances, however modest in their effects, have withered. The Supreme Court is now a branch office of Madame Tussaud’s, Congress a two-headed corpse, the Constitution a scrap of moldering parchment remembered only by hopeless romantics, and Washington a sandbox of unaccountable hacks inbred to the point of hemophilia. Obama has discovered that he can do almost anything, calling it an executive order, and no one will dare challenge him.

In its rare waking moments, the Supreme Court has shown little inclination to protect the Bill of Rights, which Washington regards as quaint at best and, usually, an annoyance to be overcome by executive order and judicial somnolence. The obvious reality that having the government read every email, record every telephone conversation, monitor every financial transaction and so on is a gross violation of the Fourth Amendment bothers neither the Supremes nor, heaven knows, the President. It is clearly unconstitutional, but we do not live in constitutional times. Governments aggregate power. They do not relinquish it, short of revolution.

Today the internet is the only free press we have, all that stands against total control of information. Consider how relentlessly the media impose political correctness, how the slightest offense to the protected groups—we all know who they are—or to sacred policies leads to firing of reporters and groveling by politicians. The wars are buried and serious criticism of Washington suppressed. That leaves the net, only the net, without which we would know nothing.

Which is why it must be and will be censored, sooner if Washington can get away with it and later if not. The tactics are predictable. First, “hate speech” will be banned. The government will tell us whom we can hate and whom we cannot. “Hatred” will be vaguely defined so that one will never be sure when one is engaging in it and, since it will be prosecutable, one will have to be very careful. Disapproval of favored groups, or of their behavior, will be defined as hatred. National security will be invoked, silencing whistle-blowers or, eventually, anything that might make the public uneasy with Washington’s wars.

The next step probably will be to block links to foreign sites deemed to transgress. China is good at this. The most likely avenue will be executive orders of increasingly Draconian nature, about which Congress and the Dead—the Supreme Court, I meant to say—will do nothing.

At that point, coming soon to a theater near you, the United States as it was intended to be, and to an extent was, will be over. Our increasingly characterless young, raised to ignorance and Appropriate Thought by government schools, will question nothing. They will have no way of knowing that there is anything to question.

ORDER IT NOW

I suppose it can be debated whether the current enstupidation of the rising generations is deliberate or merely the consequence of a return to peasantry inescapable in a democracy. The petulance and immaturity running through so much of society may be inevitable in a spoiled people who have never had to do anything and have never been told “no.” Certainly things today resemble the end games of other once-dominant cultures.

Mental darkness facilitates authoritarianism, and darkness we have. Many college graduates can barely read. Their ignorance of history, politics, and geography (and practically everything else) is profound, and they see no reason why they should know anything. They seem not to suspect that there might be things worth knowing.

I am hard pressed to think of a society in such internal decline that has turned itself around, and I cannot imagine how ours might do so. One sure thing is that, once the internet is gelded, there will be no hope at all. And the assault has begun.

(Republished from Fred on Everything by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: American Media, Internet 
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  1. The essay would be strengthened by a discussion of what exactly the government is doing to censor the internet, or at least a supporting link.

    Also, West Virginia did not exist in 1850.

    • Replies: @SeanK
    , @Jim
  2. fnn says:

    I’d bet that at least half the population thinks that “hate speech” is already illegal.

    See the kind of people being nominated for the JFK Profiles in Courage Award- they’re basically white collar cops, enforcing the existing order:

    http://jfkfacts.org/assassination/news/jfk-library-seeks-profiles-in-courage-nominees/#more-18110

    “Our past honorees have included local officials like Paul Bridges, a former Mayor of Uvalda, Georgia, who was recognized last year for his courageous opposition to an anti-immigrant measure passed by the state legislature, and Elizabeth Redenbaugh, a former school board member in North Carolina, who stood alone in her party in fighting against a redistricting plan that appeared likely to result in increased segregation in the middle schools she represented,” writes Kenneth Feinberg in an email from the JFK Library.

  3. SeanK says:
    @Jean Cocteausten

    I don’t think Fred knows the specifics on this new policy. I doubt it will come to fruition.

  4. Priss Factor [AKA "K. Arujo"] says:

    When Jews were on the rise and challenging wasp elite power, they needed all the free speech protections they could find. It was a time ethnic balance of power when wasps, Jews, Catholics, Irish, etc were all powerful. Contentiousness and Jewish and boomer youth push for free speech made US a lively place.

    Now that Jews control all the elite institutions and industries, they have no more use for speech freedom. They are for speech control. They don’t want the young to rebel against them as they’d rebelled against the older generation.

  5. Jim says:
    @Jean Cocteausten

    West Virginia existed in 1850. It just wasn’t a state. I suspect the Federal Government in 1850 had very little idea what was going on in West Virginia.

  6. It might be that the self discipline necessary to maintain the finality of totalitarianism will be lacking, as the society increasingly takes leave of its senses. These kinds of developments, as terrible as they are, usually contain within themselves the seeds of their own failure. That doesn’t mean that the above insights are untrue. Fasten your seatbelts, we’re in for a bumpy night ride.

    • Replies: @Escher
    , @solontoCroesus
  7. Robert E. Lee: “I consider the constitutional power of the General Government as the chief source of stability to our political system, whereas the consolidation of the states into one vast republic, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of that ruin which has overwhelmed all those that have preceded it.” Yep.

    Um, they lost that one, didn’t they? Maybe you need to quote Barry Goldwater instead. Every time I think “progressives” are the biggest whiners in America, I’m reminded that they are amateurs compared to Greater Wingnuttia. No one whines like a wingnut whines!

    Our increasingly characterless young, raised to ignorance and Appropriate Thought by government schools, will question nothing.

    Kids these days! Worthless, every last one of them!

    • Replies: @rod1963
  8. Bob says:

    GREAT ARTICLE, FRED. LET US FIGHT BACK.

    I just hope the internet remains free. I hope the people will wake up sooner than later and vote for Republicans who can keep the internet free.

    I agree with you on everything else. The US Supreme Court is a joke.

    I believe technology will provide other avenues to access sites too, though that remains to be seen.

    • Replies: @Stan D Mute
  9. Escher says:
    @Fran Macadam

    The population will be kept under control through methods found in ‘Brave New World’ more than those of 1984. People addicted to reality television, Facebook, Twitter and the next shiny iToy are no threat to the establishment.

  10. People addicted to reality television, Facebook, Twitter and the next shiny iToy are no threat to the establishment.

    Not that Apple will quake in fear, but they lost me. There I was, all set to buy a laptop, a tablet, and an iPhone. I was (and still am) sick of Microsoft’s time-wasting bullshit and needless complexity, and the complications of the “Android.” I was ready to drop however many thousands it’d take to Make the Big Switch. I even held my nose and walked into Hipster Central, aka the Apple store, to check it out. It was kinda-sorta what I imagine a Scientology “audit” is like, but I endured it and survived, barely, telling myself that it’d be like putting up with a real estate agent.

    You do have to credit Apple with making everything work with everything else. This is what attracted me, the ease of it. To me, a computer is a refrigerator. I want to open that sucker and get my food, and not worry about how it works. This is something I despise about Microsoft and “Android.” They operate on the unspoken assumption that I actually give a shit about computers.

    What changed my mind, in the nick of time? The CEO of Apple gave an interview in which he said that he didn’t want the business of anyone who doesn’t believe that human activity is changing the world’s climate. Now, if that’s what he thinks, fine. But a political test for buying a god damned computer? No thanks. Never say never, or so my dear departed dad always said. So let’s just say that it’s unlikely that Apple will get any of my dollars.

    This is America. No one gets to tell anyone else what to think. Period.

    p.s.: If anyone reading this thinks they’re now going to sell me on Unix or “Ubuntu” or “Chrome,” please save your pixels for someone who gives a shit. Thanks.

    • Replies: @John Jeremiah Smith
  11. @New Reader

    LOL. Pseudo-rebellious hootings from a young chimp.

    bla-bla-bla Apple. bla-bla-bla Microsoft. bla-bla-bal Android.

    bla-bla-bla I will do nothing except hold my breath until an adult makes me lunch.

    Learn something, Little Lord Fauntleroy! You want it to work? Learn how it works!

    • Replies: @New Reader
  12. rod1963 says:
    @New Reader

    Hardly whining, more of a well informed assessment of what Obama and both parties are planning to do and have done with the help of internet giants like CISCO, Google, AT&T, etc. As to what these are, well if you kept abreast of events you’d know.

    Outside of the technical arena they’ve already tried to pass laws on the state level attempting to gut the 1st amendment and already have odious speech codes in place at colleges, government and private workplaces. We now have labels such as “hate facts” used by Democrats to denote facts they do not like and wish to banish. It’s a small step from there to say a nationwide crackdown on speech via executive order. Of course it will be done for the well being of the people as usual.

    As far young people goes, why yes most of them are duds and mouth breathers. Twelve years of government run indoctrination centers called public schools that designed for the lowest common denominator of students. Followed by 4-6 years at a college at great expense, listening to a bunch of Marxists rant about the evils of the white man and European civilization and then graduate with a worthless liberal arts degree with no ability to think or do much of anything except smoke pot. Oh yeah most are now slaves to the government because of their student loans.

    If they had any brains they’d burn down those unholy extortion rackets they call colleges for screwing them before they got started in life.

    • Replies: @D. K.
  13. David says:

    20% Hispanic population in the US makes it much easier to disregard the Constitution. They don’t give a shit about it. Can’t read it. Ask a Mexican about any constitutional principle. Now ask him if he has the right to live in America, the land of oportunidad. Fred, wise though he is, isn’t worried about this because he has gotten used to feeling like a dime among nickles.

  14. D. K. says:
    @rod1963

    Politically correct Democrats do not use the phrase “‘hate facts.’” That is a phrase used by politically incorrect folks– of whichever party, or none at all– to refer to demonstrable facts that are politically incorrect per se (i.e., not in conformity with Neobolshevik ideological presumptions and assertions). The phrase is only used ironically, to “out” onseself as politically incorrect. Leftist True Believers merely refer to any politically incorrect assertion, factual or otherwise, as “hate speech.”

  15. anon • Disclaimer says:

    I don’t think govt can restrict the flow of ideas on the internet, there are too many ways around any regulation.

    What “net neutrality” will do is increase the cost of access.

  16. Leftist True Believers merely refer to any politically incorrect assertion, factual or otherwise, as “hate speech.”

    Or, in the case of the Cult of Manmade Global Warming, “denialism.”

  17. What “net neutrality” will do is increase the cost of access.

    This is a topic about which I have specific knowledge as the result of a career in telecommunications network analysis. (Which is to say that, on this subject, it’s not simply my opinion.) The typical argument against net neutrality is that traffic must be prioritized to avoid congestion. This is bluntly unfactual. The carrying capacity of the telecom backbone is as close to unlimited as unlimited gets in our world.

    Without attempting too much of a boring tutorial on how fiberoptics work, I’ll say the following, and with sky-high confidence based on genuine experience: We have enough capacity in the telecom backbone to handle everything we throw into the pipes from now until the 28th Century. It would be pretty much impossible for me to exaggerate how much data the backbone can handle.

    The network is divided between the backbone, the metropolitan feeder, and the access (aka “last mile”) portions. The backbone is almost entirely fiberoptic, and so is the metropolitan feeder. The access network is relentlessly replacing copper with fiber. If the cost of access rises with net neutrality, it will not be a matter of capacity or technology, but of corporate monopolization (or oligopoly, which is barely distinguishable from monopoly in function terms).

    Be very careful before believing the propaganda you’ve been hearing from Big Telco. And don’t imagine that telco is, ever has been, or ever will be a “free market.” Government and telco are merged at the hip, and always have been. I could say a whole lot more about this set of issues, but will leave it at this for now, in the interest of not causing everyone’s eyes to glaze over.

    • Replies: @Stan D Mute
  18. Chrome

    Chrome is by far the best browser for Windows operating systems, both 7 and 8.1. Explorer or Firefox should not be used with Windows.

    Your’re going to have to learn a little bit about personal computers, if you want to avoid that girly, gay, politically corrected Hindoo Apple stuff.

  19. @John Jeremiah Smith

    You want it to work? Learn how it works!

    Come fix my refrigerator, bitch. I don’t know how it works. All I want is cold food.

    • Replies: @Stan D Mute
  20. SFG says:

    Has anyone actually shown the USA is going to follow Europe’s lead in prohibiting hate speech? Even the link above only seems to show they’re working with the Europeans against hate speech in Europe.

    An article on Alternet, a far-left site I frequent to check the other side, arguing for American hate-speech laws was full of angry comments, including some arguing the guy was a conservative plant. Many were convinced the laws would be turned against the left when the Republicans got into office (which I could see).

  21. @Bob

    I hope the people will wake up sooner than later and vote for Republicans who can keep the internet free.

    HaHa! I just love good sarcasm. Just like I love those good republicans who have upheld their voters’ demands to secure the border and rid our nation of alien invaders who refuse our language, customs, laws, and taxes.

  22. @New Reader

    We have enough capacity in the telecom backbone to handle everything we throw into the pipes from now until the 28th Century. It would be pretty much impossible for me to exaggerate how much data the backbone can handle.

    I too have a touch of knowledge here and no small part in building this reality. While we indeed have nearly unlimited bandwidth available on our WAN’s and MAN’s from the standpoint of installed fiber, we don’t have it in electronics. The routing and switching hardware has an obsolescence of around seven years after which new hardware must be purchased whether demand has increased or not. We have hundreds of thousands of miles of “dark” (ie unused) fiber in reserve, but as more and more consumers switch to packet switched entertainment (eg Netflix or Hulu) from OTA (eg NBC or CBS broadcast), the service providers have to purchase a lot of new and expensive electronic gear and, depending on who actually owns that fiber, lease new fiber. Additionally, some data is more time sensitive than other data. VOIP (ie telephone over Internet) requires instant transmission of data packets compared to Netflix where blocks of packets may be sent in sporadic bursts and buffered by the user’s device for playback. This is called QoS or “quality of service” and is a key argument against “net neutrality”. Is your call to the 911 operator higher priority than your neighbor’s latest episode of “I hate whitey” (ie television)? If providers cannot prioritize services, they must ensure 100% of the packets move quickly enough to support VOIP or other highly time sensitive packets.

    The overall increasing demand for capacity combined with a rule that says all traffic must be treated equally guarantees that a LOT of new electronic gear must be purchased, installed, and maintained for seven years then replaced ad infinitum. And, with “neutrality” it socializes the cost since we cannot make people pay more for their high QoS demands, thus we charge everyone more to cover that cost.

    Another way to think of “Net Neutrality” is the bundling done by Cable companies like Comcast. You subsidize the cost of ESPN whether you watch it or not when you buy that “premium package” to get HBO. With “Neutrality” you will pay for the high QoS demands of VOIP even if you only watch Netflix on the weekends. Everyone will have, whether they want it or not, faster service. Everyone will pay more.

  23. @New Reader

    Hah! It’s amazing to me that nobody else has figured out why Apple is the world’s most valuable company. They think it is because of pretty devices or chic stores or trendy marketing when it’s really about turning shit on and having it work without a degree in information management/tech. It’s the fundamental Aspie-ness of the tech world that makes it think everyone wants to know how to assign IP addresses or work from a command prompt. All they really want is to use Fakebook or Tinder and watch porn..

  24. @Stan, I know about QoS, etc. I could yammer with the best of ’em about switchrouters and MPLS and packet sniffing, but when it comes to sniffing it’s not packets that turn my crank, if you catch my drift. This brings up something I’ve already displayed in this thread, my mixed attitude toward tech discussions. They are simultaneously pathetic and interesting, mostly the former.

    Regardless of anyone’s particular angle, have you ever really seen anyone in that realm, male or female, who wasn’t a terminally boring, pasty-faced geek? Even when they actually know what they are talking about and aren’t just faking it, you want to hit ’em. In fact, especially what they know what they’re talking about. I’d rather spend an hour listening to a car mechanic or the furnace guy than five minutes with a computer geek. When I talk or even think about computers, I bore the living shit out of myself. Something about sucking all the oxygen out of the room.

    Being gay and well aware of my tribe’s ability to sexualize just about anything, I can report to everyone else that the volume of homophile fantasy involving techies rounds down to zero. No joke, I’ve seen more gay porn involving accountants than computer guys. And my occasional perusal of the late-night hetero CineMax channels tells me that my straight cousins would rather fantasize about everything other than the computer stud or the byte bitch. Yes, we use our devices to access porn, but the porn is roughly 10 million times more likely to be about the Naughty Librarian or a gang of horny cowboys with visible abs than, say, Bill Gates or Steve Jobs in their younger days.

    Anyway, back to boredom: Yep, you make a good point about a big source of Apple’s value. If I ever change my mind and join their cult in spite of the political entry fee, it’ll be because I don’t want to have to think about how the devices work. Many a time, I’ve sat there futzing around with my Microsoft or “Android” devices and thought to myself, “I’m not sure what pisses me off more, the fact that it’s not working or that these evil geeks seem to think that I’m actually interested in knowing why not.”

    I’m exaggerating to make the point, of course, because the flip side is that my hated Microsoft and “Androids” are far more customizable on those occasions where I’m interested in customizing. I just wish they wouldn’t force me to have to care.

  25. anon • Disclaimer says:

    Government regulation = costs more, worse product. Never fails. That’s the main reason businesses are fleeing blue states for red states and the unemployment rates are higher in blue states.
    I’m for some anti-trust action on the big telco’s if needed.
    That’s why I oppose “net neutrality”

  26. Calogero says:

    Any organization with a name like “The Council of Europe” shouldn’t exist.

  27. I’m for some anti-trust action on the big telco’s if needed. That’s why I oppose “net neutrality”

    The telecom network is mostly terrestrial, with the access (aka “last mile”) split between increasingly wireless for individuals and terrestrial for business. Most of the network is what the economists would call a natural monopoly, other examples being electric lines and roads.

    I’m a big believer in antitrust where it makes sense, but it has no application to so-called net neutrality. That issue, unfortunately for libertarians who want hands-off and others who desire effective regulation in an era where government is growing visibly more corrupt every decade, depends on regulation. Being in the second camp on this one by technical necessity, I think net neutrality is the way to go.

    There’d be details to work out and compromises to be struck, which of course these days means politicians to be bought. But the overall guiding principle of net neutrality is, I think, the best of the imperfect practical routes. As always, there’s a detailed discussion to be had, but there’s the oxygen-in-the-room issue with respect to launch further into it here.

  28. @Fran Macadam

    I’m looking forward to the devolution of the USA into fragmented city-states.

    Where would be the best place to land? Which new defederated state will most closely emulate the mythologized vision of Madison, Jefferson, Franklin?

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