Surveillance, paranoia, disinformation and restrictions on speech endanger freedoms: Mont Order advisers

posted by Harry J. Bentham

L’information ne se comporte pas du tout comme la matière : contrairement à un caillou, elle n’a pas de position spatiale ni temporelle et on peut à loisir la dupliquer, la partager, la résumer, la supprimer…

The information does not behave at all like the matter: unlike a stone, it has no temporal or spatial position and you can freely duplicate it, share it, summarize it, delete it …

Hervé Poirier

The full Mont Order conference is available for the public to view, after it took place today.

I realize that this video is long – the discussion between our advisers on a number of controversial hot topics was so effective that it turned out to be around half an hour longer than we had originally decided it should be.  I’ll be creating shorter clips encapsulating some of the most important points, and uploading them to YouTube separately to deliver some of the most provocative and effective statements recorded there.

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I would like to go through some of the best points that I heard at the conference, and I hope to publish a full transcript of the discussion at ClubOfINFO that you will be able to pick up in the coming days.

Here’s something I wanted to express, taken directly from the transcript, and only within the first twenty minutes of the discussion:

HARRY: Yes, I know, I watched something recently – I saw something recently on a YouTube video that struck a chord with me, which was claiming that the surveillance that we have reduces freedom. Because – even though we go on about how the Arab Spring and things like that were an example of people standing up to their government, and so on – if the state can see everything that’s going on, over the Internet – it can thwart people’s attempts to organize through the Internet anyway. Because it can see everything, so the states that have that surveillance advantage aren’t as vulnerable to people mobilizing through the Internet as a country like, say Qaddafi’s Libya was. Because he didn’t control Facebook or Twitter, whereas the American government, you could argue, does control Facebook or Twitter because those websites are based in the US, and if anything the US can switch them off if it wants to.

The video I mentioned in this part of the video came from a specific YouTube user whose account name I can’t remember or rediscover on my history, which is unfortunate. If this information comes back to me again, I will remember to post it. I feel that it made a good point by indicating that mass surveillance not only stifles and thwarts terrorist attacks, it also stifles and thwarts any form of dissent or attempts to stand against the autocracy of the nation-state. What can be used to bust a terrorist plot can equally be abused to bust a journalist with information the government isn’t comfortable with, or to bust a protest action, or some other politically healthy and normal democratic activity. Surveillance fundamentally makes society less free.

Dirk Bruere, representing the Zero State autonomous transnational community, also made the following commentary on the same topic of restrictions to freedom of speech that plague our diminishing nation-states:

DIRK: Or, in Britain, for those of you who don’t know, trolling on Facebook pages and tweeting is becoming – has become a criminal offense, you know – offending somebody is now a criminal offense. So you have a kind of soft tyranny where, if somebody’s offended, potentially they could take you to court or the police could arrest you. It depends, you know, whether police are feeling busy on a particular day or whether they take the complaint seriously.

DIRK: That does tend to, sort of, damp down discussions, especially more heated discussions, which is, you know, it has its good and its bad points but it’s certainly not free speech.

The other much more insidious form of lack of free speech – well, it’s not even lack of free speech – it’s the fact that nobody knows what’s happening. You know, there’s so much free speech, so many claims that you just can’t sort out the truth. I mean, a perfect example is, between me and you.

This exchange of ideas about the negative effects of the so-called war on terror and the way that the confusion and diffusion of public sentiment on the Internet serves a government that wants to hide its abuses was very useful. As I continue to produce the transcript, I will be tweeting further comments and video clips from the Mont Order advisers’ conference that will affirm our positions on these kinds of issues.

Follow my Twitter account @hjbentham for further defining comments from the Mont Order as I publish them.

By Harry J. Bentham

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Questions to the Mont Order

posted by Harry J. Bentham

Le scélérat a ses vertus, comme l’honnête homme a ses faiblesses.

The villain has his virtues, like the honest man has his weaknesses.

Pierre Choderlos de Laclos

The first ever online conference among available Mont Order participants has been organized, and is likely to be broadcast by live stream Saturday.

Ahead of this potential meeting, the live stream video is embedded below for all to watch as it occurs.

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On this occasion, the conference will be hosted by me over Google Hangouts as a live hangout. For the record, I will say that I’m not under any illusions about this little electronic meeting. Although I have found that our participants have a lot of influence, we only have a handful of attendees and we are based all around the world. Due to inhospitably different time zones, getting everyone to tune in to a global conference from all across the globe can be challenging.

Nevertheless, I feel that if just a few of us can speak together, it should still be invaluable to the club and to any observers wanting to know more about the Order. I intend to report in more depth on the content later, when there is material to work with. However, for now I will say that the best use of the conference will be to make requests for deeper collaboration and to ask the other attendees about their work, as well as to raise some controversial topics for discussion. This, I am sure, can be achieved within the allocated 90 minutes on Saturday. I don’t want to rule the conference, because such a practice would only make it boring, so I will give as much time and space as possible for others to express themselves and promote their causes. The topics I’m going to raise in the 90 minutes or so of the conference will be as follows:

  • Transhumanism
  • Antistatism
  • World events
  • Movements
  • Collaboration, and possible greater collaboration in future, between Mont Order associates
  • Alternative media
  • The Zero State
  • The Venus Project
  • The Mont Order club

I hope for you to tune in to this conference as it goes live at 14:00 GMT (that’s 09:00 EST). I will be taking notes for the duration of the conference and hope to produce a report and transcript of the conference when possible. I hope for it to be the beginning of long future discussions among the Order in the future and I hope this will be the beginning of a bright period of collaboration between us.

I feel that our job as a group should be to ridicule nation-states and inspire alternative communities. I don’t feel that we live in free societies, and this presents a lot to talk about. One idea I had is that we should criticize not our own governments but one another’s governments, which makes an international group of dissidents much more effective than a single individual criticizing his own government. In such instances where one might have been afraid to say or do something that would criticize his own government, I feel that such a person should instead appoint another person in another country to make the statements as their own. In this practical regard, the Mont Order could prove very useful as a dissident group, if only it were larger in scope.

In the long term, I would prefer to see the Mont Order bringing hundreds of people from the blogosphere together with digital movements, activists and media entities to make a significant impact on world opinion and geopolitics, all under the same subculture of global resistance and rebirth of civilization.

By Harry J. Bentham

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The American Sniper is lower than a criminal thug

posted by Harry J. Bentham

La grandeur du crime est la seule différence qu’il y ait entre un conquérant et un brigand.

The magnitude of the crime is the only difference there is between a conqueror and a robber.

Jean-Paul Marat

Governments and their hit-men aren’t morally higher than lone gunmen, and they certainly aren’t more morally justified to kill or steal.

Above: Sheldon Richman, who attracted criticism after he compared the American Sniper “hero” Chris Kyle to the infamous Sandy Hook school shooter

In fact, our present governments should be less entitled to get away with either of these atrocities than any random individual from the crowd. Unfortunately, the reality is that our governments have an arrogance born out of their idea that they are legitimate representatives. It is the reason they condemn Edward Snowden’s alleged “arrogance”, for compromising the secrecy of the espionage techniques used against terrorists and thereby supposedly putting our lives at risk. Even if Snowden did cause said threats to our security, and was arrogant, the government argument presupposes the government’s moral right to put our lives at risk where a whistleblower is not. I am pleased for whistleblowers to put all our lives at risk. It is a cost worth paying for the digital liberation and decentralization that our civilization is making in era of drastic individual empowerment by the technium. What I’m not pleased with is that our archaic national governments still presume to risk our lives on their delusional foreign and domestic policy adventures in order to save their dwindling legitimacy and power.

Merely because we voted for them, government figures think they’re allowed to cut our throats and claim it must have been what we wanted. Based on their logic, you would think that voting for someone pre-ordains all the decisions the official later makes, making those decisions “democratic” even if the public was trampled all over to get them done.

Democracy has been cheapened to a idol. It is waved around by our leaders to justify their bad decisions, assume the aforementioned moral arrogance and superiority compared with other regimes, and blame the public itself for the government’s errors. Our shallow form of democracy supplies nothing more than some tactics for our leaders to shirk responsibility for their mistakes in the press, and run away.

The form of democracy that presently exists doesn’t create enough accountability for our rulers, but they pretend it does. They hide behind the reminder “but you voted for us, we’re legitimate”, and the scam that we have the capability to stop future bad policies simply by voting in a different band of liars and business cheats to public office.

I mention the fact that governments aren’t morally higher than lone gunmen because it is an argument made by Sheldon Richman at a controversial post for The Future of Freedom Foundation. He argued that US sharpshooter Chris Kyle, the protagonist of the recent Iraq War movie American Sniper, is no better than the Sandy Hook shooter: a psychopath who helped to invade and slaughter another country based on George W. Bush’s and Dick Cheney’s lies.

I fully support Sheldon’s argument, and I am not surprised by the way that conservatives have hit back, using the old “we fought for your right to say that” argument. I am not so sure US soldiers ever fought a battle for people like Sheldon Richman to criticize the US military and its crimes, and the battle they’re waging by trying to disparage Sheldon or other critics of the US military is exactly the opposite. The reality is that America doesn’t provide any special freedom for people to criticize its military. Sheldon could have been sitting in Cuba or Iran, and no-one would have prevented him from writing his article (it might even have had millions of thumbs-up). In fact, the conservative media establishment and fanatics of US “patriotism” are not fond at all of the freedom of writers like Sheldon Richman to criticize the US military. So this argument is just pure and utter nonsense, and only makes sense to people incapable of critical thought.

“They fought for you to have the freedom to say that!”: this claim is simply empty and false. They died for lies.

US soldiers who lost their lives in Vietnam and Iraq didn’t die for freedom, but for lies.

No matter how hard we close our eyes and try to believe that dead US Army personnel died for our “freedoms”, such a silly fantasy will never be true. They died for nothing. None of them needed to die. They could have still been alive, and here to enjoy their freedoms too. No-one needed to die in Iraq.

As for the reactionary arguments that society is becoming detached from the military and unappreciative of its work, this shows a profound misunderstanding of how politics function. It has never been the civilians’ job to pay homage to the armed forces or adjust their values to match the military. If there is a “disconnect” between the military and the society, the military’s backwardness is to blame. The civilian population are under no obligation to protect the armed forces or make them feel politically comfortable: it’s supposed to be the other way round. Trying to impose military values on the civilian life, reverting life back to the 1950s in order to try and restore glory and reverence to the US military, would be a completely repressive and illegitimate campaign at best and a military coup d’etat at worst.

To believe that soldiers needed to die for the empty idols of US democracy and freedom amounts to preaching nonsense, barbarism and depravity that will destroy civilization. It is at the same level as the fanatics who argue about strapping a bomb to their bodies to blow themselves up for their god. There is no sense at all in claiming that a cultural idol such as our alleged democracy or freedom, both of which are actually nonsense and widely disputed, is worthy of spilling millions of people’s blood for in other countries. If you can get people to believe absurdities, you can get them to commit atrocities. Therefore, the people who make the idiotic argument about soldiers fighting for “our freedoms”, are the ones most responsible for atrocities like the My Lai Massacre and Collateral Murder.

By Harry J. Bentham

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Sending weapons for Ukraine to kill its own people helps “free people to defend themselves”, and other drivel

posted by Harry J. Bentham

Dans un état bien ordonné, la liberté de la presse doit être illimitée pour les écrivains qui surveillent les fonctionnaires publics.

In a well-ordered state, freedom of the press must be unlimited for writers who monitor public officials.

Jean-Paul Marat

Good news. One of my books, priced at Amazon, is available for free as a paper on Academia.edu. You can view it here, presenting a full compilation of my most significant reviews and essays responding to the theses on the political and social effects of decisive emerging technologies.

I would like to address the calls among some US political elements to increase US support to the government in Ukraine, specifically something Senator John McCain said.

First, how does sending armaments to any government amount to helping “free people to defend themselves”? Does McCain not realize that the separatists are the rebel faction on the ground in Ukraine? The ones who “defend themselves” are not government troopers and tanks deployed to Donetsk and Luhansk, but the general population who took up arms against the government. It seems that McCain defines self-defense as dropping bombs on anyone he dislikes without provocation, including unarmed civilians. This might help explain why his vision of a democratic uprising in Syria consisted of US bombs falling from the sky on undefended Syrian cities. Another criticism I have of McCain’s arguments is that sending US weapons to Ukraine is clearly not enough to actually change the balance. It didn’t make any difference in Iraq. As a military man and someone who argues for greater US involvement in Iraq rather than mere training and ammunition, McCain already knows just sending US weapons to Ukraine isn’t going to work. All sending US weapons to Ukraine will do is allow McCain to argue that this option has been exhausted and, therefore, US troops should be sent to the country to quell the uprising.

McCain isn’t a war hero, but a coward with no faith in the US military. Perhaps out his self-loathing after he surrendered in Vietnam, or because he was guilty of killing his fellow servicemen in the USS Forrestal Fire, McCain tries to belie his madness and hatred of other US veterans behind a curtain of false patriotism. He would like to mislead as many US soldiers to their deaths, to get them to share in his twisted misery, as he can. Having irrationally and obsessively advocated keeping US troops in Iraq forever, and consistently advocating the US should invade at least one country a year (including Iraq again), McCain seems determined to witness as many better men than him getting their limbs blown off as possible (as he did on the USS Forrestal). If he had been given the chance to be President, there can be little doubt that the US would have invaded country after country and have been fending off numerous Vietnam-type insurgencies all over the world.

It is curious to observe that McCain’s political and military biography curiously resembles Hitler’s: celebrated by his fellow soldiers, both men were taken away from their comrades for a long period during their military service despite their protests, and both later become obsessives spending the rest of their lives trying start the war over again, as if trying to compensate for their earlier incapacity and the sense of powerlessness it brought them.

Soon, I will have a new viewpoint article published as part of my column at Press TV. I won’t quote from the article right now, but my criticism in the article is aimed at media sources for their untenable and dangerous “what to do” suggestions about the Conflict in Ukraine. The most disturbing of such suggestions that I have encountered is that Crimea should be restored to Ukraine’s control. Because Russia considers Crimea to be part of its territory, I find it very troubling that anyone could lobby for Crimea to be blockaded, but that is what is happening. I was even disturbed to find one suggestion at the private intelligence firm Stratfor that Russia’s ferries and planned bridge to Crimea could be cut off by military attack in order to isolate and starve peninsula into submission.

In view of the above, I feel that tensions over Ukraine, and Crimea in particular, could produce armed conflict between the US and its allies and Russia. The refusal to acknowledge Russia’s interpretation of its borders puts the entire world on the edge of nuclear war. If this were a contest with a weaker country such as Iraq, the US could afford to dismiss Iraq’s territorial claims, acting in a condescending manner and announcing sanctions. Unfortunately, in this case, what the US has is a clumsy and unavailing policy that can only hope to provoke heavy retaliation by Russia. Sanctions and media condemnation may work to undermine Russian economic and diplomatic standing, but no Russian government will relinquish control of Crimea and any attempt to force that outcome will only be met with a crushing Russian military response, using nuclear weapons if necessary to protect a peninsula that the Russians consider to be the heart of their “motherland” while US leaders continue to believe it is part of Ukraine and a potential NATO naval port.

I have no intention to die, or encourage others to die, for what Ukraine’s crazy leaders see as their national honor. National honor isn’t worth blood. The lesson of World War One and Two wasn’t that vulnerable states like Ukraine should be defended in the name of zealous nationalistic feelings. It was that they shouldn’t be defended, and that their integrity is worth nothing. When people visit war graves, they should think not of how those men died for our “freedoms” or “nations” but how they died for politicians long dead and backward concepts of loyalty that are no longer shared by society or compatible with modern humanitarian doctrine.

Wars are pointless and cowardly, nations are fictitious constructs, and the belief that heroes emerge from armed conflicts between so-called nations is a fraudulent one.

By Harry J. Bentham

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Previous Posts

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Autocracy versus autocracy: our democratic states are superior to nothing
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posted 11:00:46pm Feb. 27, 2015 | read full post »

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posted 11:00:50pm Feb. 21, 2015 | read full post »

The case for Assad: democracy is ideal, but the situation in Syria is far from ideal
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posted 11:00:23pm Feb. 20, 2015 | read full post »

Surveillance, paranoia, disinformation and restrictions on speech endanger freedoms: Mont Order advisers
L'information ne se comporte pas du tout comme la matière : contrairement à un caillou, elle n'a pas de position spatiale ni temporelle et on peut à loisir la dupliquer, la partager, la résumer, la supprimer... The information does not behave at all like the matter: unlike a stone, it has no te

posted 11:00:14pm Feb. 14, 2015 | read full post »

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