American political activity for the past 4 years has been a psycho screaming chaos of enormously important questions for which all possible answers are just totally fucking off the wall horrible no matter what is your preferred political tribe, nor how deep you care to delve (or not). Did I say America ? I meant to say the world..
Neither WW2 nor the American Civil War compares usefully to the current level of confusion and anxiety. At least back then the issues were fairly clear-cut : For the Civil War the issues were States’ Rights , Secession and Slavery. For WW2 the issues were : Quasi-Semi-Democracy vs Officially Legal Tyranny , and the issue of inalienability of human rights vs humans as rulers’ chattel .
Oh, to have our problems be so simple once again. But wait ! They still are that simple . In fact the issues are not just as simple, they are literally the same issues as they were back then : human rights, sovereignty, self defense, slavery, and the rights of rulers vs the rights of the ruled.
So what changed ? Why do our modern problems feel so much more complicated now as compared to then ?
That’s easy : Sheer fucking numbers of people, and the unexpected emergence of totally unforeseen technology.
In 1860 the world’s population hovered around a billion and today it’s SEVEN TIMES that many. Back then espionage was sketchy , slow, very hard to staff, and constrained by the sheer laboriousness of the tasks. Today people carry cell phone spies in their pockets by the billions, and digest the information with super-computers and psychology driven AI software. A billion dollars can be sent half way around the world in less time than it would take an old time banker to start loading it onto a horse drawn wagon.
We have no systems provenly tested to deal with that, and you gotta know that humans have tried them all. So it’s not the issues that are new. It is the parameters and logistics and capabilities that are new.
For example, governments have always spied on their people and always will. And people try to evade that spying, as they always have. Neither of those things are new, nor will either of them ever go away (because human beings shall compete. Period !) What has changed is ultra high technology that enables a far smaller number of spies to dig far far more deeply into far far far more people’s business.
The reason Assange and Snowden are prisoners (thankfully they avoided execution or assassinations) is that they enabled the populace to counteract . . . to some small degree . . . the exorbitant advantage that technology was providing to government. The reason that government is working so ferociously to censor and control the Internet is that the Net has been giving a pretty darned big advantage to the populace. Rulers view Freedom of Speech and Communication as a clear and present danger . As well they should, because it is. So there ya are. Plain and simple. Just not easy.
It’s pretty obvious that the way to fight back is to use the technology itself to circumvent the obstacles and vulnerabilities which government is now using technology to exploit. In other words : use tech to not be spied on (like Snowden did). Use tech to bypass their attempt to censor free speech (like Assange did). Use tech to let everybody else know about it (like both of them did).
Ironically , but not at all surprisingly, it’s the bad guys themselves who ensure that the bad guys will be defeated. They accelerated a fight which had previously been fairly stably balanced. That was dumb, because the fight can never go away nor be excessively won nor excessively lost. The fight is baked into the structure of the frigging Universe itself for crying out loud ! Individuals (and groups of individuals, too) must compete in order to survive. Period . Thinking that they could tip the scales enough to significantly change the balance for very long was just plain stupid.
If you build a machine that can rule the world then the individuals (and groups) of the world will compete to see who gets to run the machine. Duh !
By taking away our freedom of speech , assembly , self defense and free movement the bad guys are inadvertently creating increased demand for those very same things. And in that manner the bad guy’s are being the proactive agents of their own undoing. Had they not threatened to take the things that I cherish, then I would not now be demanding more of those very things. Nor would I be calling for the thieves to be rolled up and stored somewhere unpleasant for a while.