SATURDAY ESSAY: Why their eyes are focused, and ours are blurred

eagleye

An eagle eye on us……

distracteyes

……distracted eyes on them

I’ve often heard it alleged by politicians of the 1980s that it was Margaret Thatcher who first said – in private, of course – that the key reason for pushing people into home ownership was the ability of that property millstone to rapidly dilute revolutionary leftist ideas. As with so many things she thought but kept quiet about, she was sadly dead right: it remains my view that a lot of contemporary braindead materialism in the UK began with raging house-value obsession from 1983 onwards. But above all, properties and the things one buys for them – plus the maintenance thereof – mean most people are far too busy to give serious thought to philosophical concepts like freedom, democracy, and equality before the Law.

 

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More recently, Conservative administrations have endeavoured to pile distraction on distraction in an effort to entirely depoliticise the electorate. The deregulation of employment has led directly to two things: working longer hours for less money, and running around frantically from one zero-hours morsel of slave labour to another….in a vain effort to keep mouth and nose above water. Further, the so-called ‘reform’ of the welfare system has made it both more time-consuming for the beneficiary, and open to various frustrating interpretations. And last but not least, the tireless efforts of HMRC to hound every taxpayer to Hell and back mean yet more time lost trying to fight them.

Other factors beyond (but helpful to) Governments act as a catalyst for the undermining of constitutional rights and liberties.

Falling wages mean fewer and fewer of the bottom 25% having cars, and so facing longer journeys (via diluted and privatised municipal transport) to attend everything from DWP attendance and Court proceedings to job interviews.

To defend oneself against wrongful arrest and insane judicial decisions requires the committed assistance of highly skilled lawyers motivated by a calling above and beyond the pursuit of ambulances. Since the disgraceful cuts in legal aid, that is beyond the reach of ordinary citizens. When the ability to defend oneself depends on means, it is surely obvious to even the Homo not quite erectus Sun reader that equality before the Law is a vicious oxymoron.

And importantly, the Schüss into the mendacious sewer of accusatory smear and celebrity love-rat sex-monster sicko-paedo nation-grooming drivel led by Rupert Turdcock and his Red-topped tarts has turned attention away from life and death issues to botox and dentistry speculation.

But there is one hitech/IT dimension that does two things at once sans pareil – and that is the digitalisation and visualisation of information via the World Wide Web, linked to satellite observation from outer space. For this axis of surveillance keeps everyone busy dealing with manic software, while at the same time carrying a simple message: ‘We know your every move, we have your DNA, and everything you write and say is on the record forever: There Is No Escape’.

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Looking back now to the late 1980’s to 2000, I cannot believe we were – myself included – so naive as to applaud the arrival of the Web. And yet casting into what is now history, it seems unimaginable that anyone would even have dreamt of the Space Race being turning round in order to spy on us. Although Sputnik, Telstar, Apollo and other projects were dominated by the military – and thus obviously bound for a role as weaponry in the end – linking that with an Orwellian nightmare seemed genuinely paranoid. For me and most of my generation, the ‘Space Race’ was a new and infinitely exciting chapter in the saga of inexhaustible human curiosity.

In fact, I didn’t fully wake up until, twelve years ago, I was walking past a newsstand here and saw a headline about a Bill that had been proposed in the French Assembly. This was the intention to make it a legal requirement for all new cars in France to be fitted with two-way GPS, ‘continually taking input data from satellites and then storing the latitude and longitude values in a microcontrol buffer’.

Thankfully, the Bill was killed off at some point in the process; but I was staggered first by the disinterest of most people I knew in the obvious antilibertarian danger of this idea, and second by the French considering the concept in the first place. But when I mentioned it at a comité meeting in my local commune, the other members (all farmers) nodded in agreement at my concern.

“In Paris,” said one bloke I always called Bluto, “they are all mad. Look at the spy planes keeping an eye on our use of land”. It turned out that French food ministers had passed a law allowing small aircraft to be used by local prefectures to spy on farmers thought to be cheating on fallow subsidies. The planes are still there. But now, they spy on me and millions of others too….checking to see if we obey garden-hose bans during summer.

Several miles above them, an entire chain of commercial satellites have been hijacked and part-funded by the NSA, CIA, GCHQ, MI5, Europol and all the spooks for all the main powers in all the sizes and all the colours. Political Parties of every hue have consistently lied about first their existence, then their budgets, and then their intentions. For three years, Labour Home Secretary Jacqui Smith lied repeatedly to the UK Parliament about the budget for GCHQ, while both before and since then, one Home Office minister after another has denied the cooperation between ISPs and the security services in terms of data relating to what we write in emails, read at news sites, buy from online marketers and opine on Twitter. Somewhere in an unremarked grave, DDR leader Erich Honecker is masturbating vigorously to the thought of what he could have done with such facilities.

 

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As to the further distraction of the questioning mind using IT channels, there are the vague, infuriating messages of software producers (“something isn’t right”), the constant pestering to accept updates, the reconfigurations required once those updates have been performed, the half-witted desire to get everyone onto mobile internet via Apps – a medium that is so much easier to monitor, and has the added advantage of tracking all of us 24/7 outside our homes – and the cleverly hidden boxes already ticked for our convenience every time we download a new piece of software kit. It all adds up. But chiefly, in the end, it all adds up to greater and greater time starvation, plus increasingly continuous data on what we’re about.

 

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Perhaps an illustration from my own life of “retirement” might put this into a real context for those not entirely sure WTF I’m on about. Over the last two years, the greatest demands on my time have been associated with French tax, English tax, welfare cover, banking restrictions, IT software failures, pc hardware failures, drainage regulations, planning regulations, driving licences, and the sourcing of ‘anti’ software: gizmos that do their feeble best to hide who and where I am. As to the last of these, I go through the motions of it but the reality is like pissing into a Tsunami. The damage has been done: these days I go on Facebook and to Hell with it.

 

The nearest I’ve come to a term for what’s going on in terms of time-starvation is deformulation – that is, the concerted and often deliberate attempt to leave people with no time to think about the ramifications of, and opposition to, government railroading on all issues of citizen protection. The same trick was applied to Syriza by Schauble, Draghi and Dijesslbloem once Tsipras came to power in Greece: a constant stream of invented issues, meetings, deadlines, targets, problems, and dissatisfactions….alongside moles and security agencies providing a supply of espionage that informed ways to destabilise the Athens regime. The Party’s policy developers spent 100% of the time meeting Troika data demands, and 0% of the time either critiquing EC/ECB policy, or formulating alternatives to it.

 

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Now as Bogart might have said, “None o’ this adds up to so much as a hill o’ beans” – until, that is, one examines the multivariate nature of first, the serious issues we face on this our only planet; and second, the way all the surveillance media are used for quadraphonic propaganda about each and every one of them.

Here is a list of most things I’ve been either writing about or researching in recent months:

Abolishing money, Turkey, Syria, the new Euroarmy, selling off Greece, Clubmed destruction, Shadow banking, derivatives, market manipulation, the Global economy, neoliberal monopolism, energy, Sovereign debt, NATO, US foreign policy ambitions, Abenomics, Chinese markets, Climate change hypocrisy and hype, the reawakening of Russia, aeroplane shootings-down, Vladimir Putin, the split UK Opposition, Ideological inflexibility, deflation of debt, interest rates, the coming US Presidential election, the Paris attestats, 3D printing, distractive paedomania, commodity value destruction, fracking, and the eclectic criminal career of Newscorp.

Compared to 95+% of the population, I have untold advantages in thinking about this stuff: I understand use of media, I can write quickly and fluently, I’m retired, I have a good albeit shrinking network of informants, I have the eyes of 6,000 Sloggers to help me, and my degree was in History & Politics. But I’m here to tell you that on most days, if I let the urgent get in the way of the important, I’d never post anything. For instance, this Saturday Essay is going out at 19:00 hrs CET when it should really have been filed before lunch.

 This is the bottom line: Governments are today in the business of keeping an eye on us, while averting our eyes such that they divide, confuse, dissuade, mislead, distract, smear, and blind us all to the Truth.

Recently at The Slog: Smears, Smugs, Rubbish & Rachman

28 thoughts on “SATURDAY ESSAY: Why their eyes are focused, and ours are blurred

  1. Janner’s finally shuffled off from the ‘mortal coil’ ….. and I’m crying a river ….. and just before Christmas.

    I’m sure he fits into one or more of the categories which cried out for ‘lessons to be learnt’ !!

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  2. I think you can add a few more things:

    1. If you store any value-adding data on your computer and it is connected to the internet, there is a 0.0% chances that major corporations will not have stolen it for their own purposes in a very short space of time. So either you have to store things on computers which never see the internet (and I’m still trying to find out if every computer is filled with secret transmitters which will send all stored data to spooks even if a computer never sees a router, an internet cable or a wireless-based connection) or you have to do things the old-fashioned way: by hand or even, in your head.
    2. There is no coincidence in my mind that the highest paid things nowadays (sport, derivatives trading etc etc) are all things where data storage is at a minimum in terms of determining outcomes. That is changing, and Sky et al want to put all kinds of gizmos on players to collect in-match data as well. In 20 years players may well in effect be robots sent instructions in-game from computer servers. Will that then still be football?!
    3. Making money nowadays is all about finding a way to collect data on lots of people and then sell that data quietly to others.

    There are positives to the networked revolution however. In healthcare, it’s now possible to collect real-time data on millions of human beings using devices. You can monitor cardiovascular parameters alongside exercise profiles. You can monitor breath profiles. You can monitor people taking exercise (all these modern watches now measure how far you’ve run, how long it took you and much, much more).

    You can monitor all kinds of other things too.

    Thing is, a lot of things traditionally done by humans are going to be done by machines and analysis of data will all happen automatically. The biggest issue to my mind is who is controlling the debate on this one: ‘what will human beings actually do in the 22nd century?’

    My take is that a small ‘elite’ (who are actually brutal, avaricious horrible people who would in many cases be better dead themselves) actually want to eliminate 80% of the human population and replace them with robots. I simply think that saying that ‘economics will decide’ is unacceptable. That’s like saying that democracy decided on the death penalty (when the majority were slavering ‘hang ’em all and hang ’em all NOW’ proponents) – it didn’t and it didn’t for good reasons in my opinion.

    There comes a time when you have to decide the limits of economics and the limits of societal values. The two always come face to face at the boundaries and it should be human beings, not robots nor nerdy electronic geeks who decides on those issues.

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  3. Who’s keeping an eye on us ?, No,- while averting our eyes such that they divide, confuse, dissuade, mislead, distract, smear, and blind us all to the Truth?? Please – not accurate. You write from backwaters .
    There are options. they are under review.

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  4. While agreeing with everything you have written here, I would mention, tentatively, that it is possible to disengage to a greater or lesser extent, depending on the degree of one’s contrariness. But the basic point remains, and you are absolutely right, the cynical theft of people’s time and energy is deliberate … and quite successful, it would seem. There are ways to reduce this level of theft, however, even if we cannot get rid of it altogether. What ‘They’ don’t expect is for people to choose not to accept their depredations. To quote Robert Heinlein,“I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.” Say No occasionally, and, if necessary, be rude about it too … it can be fun.

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  5. Re your first para the ” renters” are in the same or a worse boat than the soi disant upwardly mobike ” mortgage slaves” Sure the mortgage and repairs present deadlines and the wife s aspirations vis a vis the neighbours are albatrosses. But whilst tennants in theory have basic repairs ( sometimes) carried out by the landlord they tend to do their cosmetic imorovements themselves ; plus they ” pay” a disproportionately higher rent to reflect frequency of said major repairs ( think car / house insurance premium/claims ratio) Plus rents are ” dead” money as opposed to mortgages which sometimes can be sonewhat reclaimed if selling t into ( sufficiently) positive equity if disaster strikes . Plus the wife and kids and their aspiration also figure in the tennant scenario. So the difference between both cadres is minimal if at all and probably in favour of the mortgagees.

    Apart from that I agree with everything . Except that Humphrey tells me ” … he s blown the akshent schweethaaaaart…”

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  6. 1st paragraph is very important. If you look at Osborne’s recent policy shifts this strategy seems to be very overt. By offering incentives to home ownership – help to buy and the other schemes whilst simultaneously undermining the social housing sector (right to buy housing association homes) Osborne manages to strap more and more people into the hamster wheel of home ownership whilst at the other end of the lifespan people are being stripped of their property and wealth when they are in their final and most frail years.

    Pretty vile really.

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  7. The article above has to be one of your best JW.

    The ability to keep the majority of the population distracted, both with insane working hours and mind-numbing telly has been the principal weapon wielded by the elites as they destroyed the social fabric around us. It is a full-time job trying to keep up with and deconstruct the non-stop stream of bollocks poured out by those with nefarious agendas.

    As to the beyond-Orwellian level of surveillance, I would maintain that a large part of it is about control through blackmail. If you know the secrets of those that ostensibly have power in a society, and you have no qualms about using that information, power is yours to abuse at your leisure.
    For those wishing to keep a modicum of privacy, at least from corporate, (if not the Five), eyes, Tor. or better still TAILS, offer some protection.

    https://www.torproject.org/projects/torbrowser.html.en

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  8. Same with Christmas too. The government gets a month or more every year when most people are too busy planning the festivities or indulging themselves to feel able to complain. They’ll all start moaning in January but then it will be their summer holidays to book.

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  9. Very good article … this sentence really hits though …

    “We know your every move, we have your DNA, and everything you write and say is on the record forever: There Is No Escape”

    At that point you could fall into the category of NVE, to bcome a terrorist at some future date then, thus a suicide bomber would be the final solution. This continual clampdown, monitoring, their way is the only way, only they have this power with all those intentions just serve to create more and more terrorists AND THEY HAVE NO INTENTION OF STOPPING.

    The self fulfilling prophecy then and through Einstein’s concept of relativity, cause and effect, is the NVE but nothing more than the effect of the intentions of those that rule us?

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  10. Yes, they do look over us but, sooner or later they won’t see what happening under their very noses because they will have been overtaken by their arrogance. Complacency breeds all sorts of contempt. Mistakes will be made that will be irreversible.

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  11. At the same time, unless they throw in a bio weapon or similar, there are just too many of us…to arrest, gaol, murder, whatever. We should remember this :)) Because at the moment they get away with things only because we are still law abiding societies. Our being law abiding is the precondition for their power. Push us too hard and …..

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  12. I suspect there is a great deal of kidology coming from government in an attempt to rule us by fear and it is all part of cost cutting. Two examples from my own experience. First HMRC, I have been involved in tax enquiries for over 30 years, the first 15 in what was Inland Revenue and then defending there targets. There are fewer tax men now and they are much poorer trained and far less effective. They are easy to deal with if you know what you are doing. It amazes me how people insist on perpetuating the fear of the tax man myth based on limited experience. They need you to be scared as it helps George pull in more tax. Then the state security apparatus. I live in a rural county where policemen are an endangered species. The home office need you to believe they have all pervasive powers to keep you in line in the absence of any real enforcement. The terrorist bollocks is a prime example. I firmly believe the government cooperate with the oligarchs who control the media and part of the mutual backscratching is the cheap control of the population which the media can facilitate.

    We can be me much freer if we turn off the TV and ignore the press.

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  13. If Advertsing andMarketing cos and Depts were subject to the software requirement of being 100% correct down to the last comma

    I believe IT would not take all this flak

    I fully realise as the popularity and utilisation of software has grown (especially since the intro of IBM’s PC CIRCA 1981) not unnaturally the average quality of software professionals has gone down as the growth of the profession grew exponentionally furthermore remember once software has been fully tested (maybe this is where the fatal flaw starts) to meet the specifications it set out to meet on the hardware and operating system pre specified it will never degrade or become obsolete.

    However if the specifications, hardware and or operating systems change as Lorenz shwed in his early 1960’s weather research altering the value of any variable even slightly can cause chaos– the famous butterly flapping syndrome.

    The internet was never meant for secure transactions, sloppy programming allows most hacking to occur.

    use the the Internet for what it was designed for,namely distributing information and ideas.

    Rant from old codger who has had over 50 years experience professionally and privately with computer software.

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  14. another great read JW. threats and blackmail usually come together and mostly from govs. to capture everything and control everything has always been a ‘mad mans desire’…. and its often declared to be for your own good. stay sane everybody..

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  15. @ carroccio1958 and Impoverished Psychologist

    Both too true. Plus with help to buy comes shared ownership.
    You pay 25% of the inflated price and get a mortgage for this amount. Then you rent the remainder [75%] at 5% pa of the house price [inflated] plus all the maintenance is at your expense.
    TPTB are laughing all the way to the bank.
    @JW
    “But above all, properties and the things one buys for them – plus the maintenance thereof – mean most people are far too busy to give serious thought to philosophical concepts like freedom, democracy, and equality before the Law.”

    I note that you was a University Graduate. {History and Politics] plus has a full time student you would have had time to think. But at that time only about 10% went to Universities. The rest of us got a job.

    I left school at 15 working a five and half day week [Saturday mornings 46 hour weeks was the norm] luckily I changed careers and did a OU degree in Electrical and Mechanical Engineering. Those days people could change careers, and most paid decent money and a pension at the end.

    I used to think it was a bad move on the Government to raise retirement to 67+ Then allowing the under 30’s unemployment to rise [idle hands devil finds work for] Now after speaking to nephews and nieces they don’t seem to care about retirement, zero hours or indeed steady employment. They appear to know that they are getting shafted by TPTB, but can’t change it so why bother.

    It appears TPTB have more of an understanding of the general population then we give them credit for. They are quite happy for us boomers to die off over the next 10-20 years [probably a lot less I am 70 design life is 70+/-10%] so the decline starts about now.

    Still an interesting article JW. I note that you were in advertising so you [or your fellows] probably marketed most of the propaganda, hence you are fully aware of the situation and the impossibility of any change.

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  16. John,

    One thing you do appear to lack is the experience of living in a totalitarian society. If you had, you would know that the first line of defence for the dictatorship is not the secret police. It is the ability to deprive any dissenter of the means of earning a living and of his or her accommodation. The secret police only arrive if these warnings haven’t worked. There is nothing wrong with an obsession about owning your own home. It may represent no more than the desire of a man or a woman to be free of a tyrannical state. The problems arrive with the obsession over rising house prices and the subsequent view of housing as a speculative investment rather than a human necessity. Thatcher’s sale of council homes was aimed at dissolving Labour’s block vote. She probably never anticipated that rising house prices and the removal of capital controls were the basis of an economic model of permanent boom and bust.

    If you had lived in a socialist country, you would also know that the dictatorship does not need technology to keep tabs on its subjects. All it needs is cheap labour and low standards of living. The cheap labour means that police and informers are everywhere and low standards of living make the possible dissidents immobile. The state only needs compulsory GPS systems in every car if the dissidents have cars. The internet may well offer new means of surveillance. However, it is surveillance of information and views being exchanged in a way that was unthinkable 20 years ago. Without the internet, the likes of Janner would be dying with no stain on their name. Should TPTB ever succeed in preventing the transfer of views and information on the net, then all we would have to do is switch off our mobile phones and internet and we would be no worse off than where we were 20 year ago.

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  17. Some hopefully on topic observations. Mrs T was good at focussing on, & playing our baser beliefs & instincts. If you take the “But not me though” assertion from studying personal motives, we are all fundamentally selfish. It’s served us well, & in the biological sense it’s why we are here. It’s the root of relationship, family & Nationhood. Our inner psychopathy & at the foundation of civilisation. So when people talk of family values, think on… I’m sure Mrs T couldn’t analyse it this way, it was ego that stopped her, leaving her the thoughts that “We could almost have the life she had”. Well the socio-paths within society don’t tend to see anything much beyond themselves.

    I’m sure the latest arrogant bunch see it little differently. but you have to throw in a rigorous Jesuit style indoctrination to entitlement too. As to why it continues, how many generations of dysfunctional cold elitist family’s bunging their young kids into a “lord of the flies” like learning environment, does it take to alter the gene pool, bearing in mind the subtle difference between thoroughbred & interbred? Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying “Conservative = Socio-path”, you only have to look at Puttin, & others, to know that is not the whole story. I’m sure there are steps to grow out of this & also the big business mentality… I suspect it lies in the concept of “Kindness”?

    I wouldn’t blame, as other might, Douglas Adams > HGttG > “Deep thought”… Computers are over glorified IMHO. It’s a Tool. Yes a powerful & some would say complex one, but just a grown-up version of a hammer. The hammer would still win in a one on one “Tool-off”.

    As with all things a little mysterious, it has acquired its own hierarchical priesthood. “Auto Anthropic deceit” warning again! They make it do things the ordinary mortal could never nightmare of, so I don’t… Yes I know it can push your productivity through the roof, but on the other hand it can also do the same with your blood pressure.

    Assuming it’s working a trawl round the web is a delight. You get to see the panoply of the psychosis of all around you, & have the opportunity to share your own. This volume & preponderance of reassuring banality has the added advantage of giving the snooping security sub-psychopaths, such a shed load of information, one can hope they struggle to create any predictive knowledge from it… They still seem to be very after the fact at the moment.

    On a similar tack to above Bureaucrats, as we all do, love themselves. They see there job as facilitating & guiding, there is no conceptual structure that is not enhanced by the touch of their mind. I wasn’t really listening to him, just nodding a bit. I got my Incapacity benefit & left.

    You might be, by now, thinking I have the views of a simplistic fool.

    Your probably right, I had a bit of a Copernican moment a wile ago & as it were shifted my primary focus for the axis of rotation. I’m generally content. I see life more simply, but I also see a lot of overly complex people, creating overly complex structures, then trying to understand them simplisticly.

    No criticism of you inferred John, great article as usual.

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  18. John, I completely agree with you ref. the home-ownership debt millstone. But you left out one important cunning wheeze i.e. student debt. Get’em into debt early in life, thus ensuring they do as they’re told, and are owned ’til the grave.

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  19. A great article as ever JW, the curious aspect for my naive soul is how to accumulate and process the vast data streams and then apply this identifier to specific people, the processing power would surely be immense, economically it would make more sense to use group processing, thus individual identifiers are less invasive, or am i underestimating the power and capability of what is used to parse the online world?

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