node created 2019/09/29
State is the name of the coldest of all cold monsters. Coldly it lies; and this lie slips from its mouth: "I, the state, am the people."
"Thus Spoke Zarathustra"
It is the quality rather than the quantity that matters.
We will never have a perfect world, but it's not romantic or naïve to work toward a better one.
People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.
Give them a chance. Give them money. Don't dole them out poetry-books and railway-tickets like babies. Give them the wherewithal to buy these things. When your Socialism comes it may be different, and we may think in terms of commodities instead of cash. Till it comes give people cash, for it is the warp of civilisation, whatever the woof may be. The imagination ought to play upon money and realise it vividly, for it's the - the second most important thing in the world. It is so slurred over and hushed up, there is so little clear thinking - oh, political economy, of course, but so few of us think clearly about our own private incomes, and admit that independent thoughts are in nine cases out of ten the result of independent means. Money: give Mr. Bast money, and don't bother about his ideals. He'll pick up those for himself.
The ordinary man with extraordinary power is the chief danger for mankind - not the fiend or the sadist.
Political or military commentators, like astrologers, can survive almost any mistake, because their more devoted followers do not look to them for an appraisal of the facts but for the stimulation of nationalistic loyalties.
"Notes on Nationalism"
Anyone who doesn't want to belong to the masses need only cease to go easy on themselves; let them follow their conscience, which cries out to them "Be yourself! You are none of those things that you now do, think, and desire." Every young soul hears this call night and day and trembles, for when it thinks of its true liberation, it has an inkling of the measure of happiness for which it is destined from eternity. As long as it is shackled by the chains of opinion and fear, nothing can help it attain this happiness. And how bleak and senseless this life can become without this liberation!
So what I’m proposing is that finance, and indeed consumer Internet companies and all kinds of other people using giant computers, are trying to become Maxwell’s demons in an information network. The easiest way to understand it is to think about an insurance company. So an American health insurance company, before big computing came along, would hire actuaries to set rates. But the idea of, on a person-by-person basis, attempting to decide who should be in the plan so that you could only insure the people who need it the least on an individual basis, that wasn’t really viable. But with big computing and the ability to compute huge correlations with big data, it becomes irresistible. And so what you do is you start to say, "I’m going to..." — you’re like Maxwell’s demon with the little door — "I’m going to let the people who are cheap to insure through the door, and the people who are expensive to insure have to go the other way until I’ve created this perfect system that’s statistically guaranteed to be highly profitable.”

And so what’s wrong with that is that you can’t ever really get ahead. What you’re really doing then is you’re radiating waste heat. I mean, for yourself you’ve created this perfect little business, but you’ve radiated all the risk, basically, to the society at large. And if the society was infinitely large and could absorb it, it would work. There’s nothing intrinsically faulty about your scheme except for the assumption that the society can absorb the risk. And so what we’ve seen with big computing in finance is a repeated occurrence of people using a big computer to radiate risk away from themselves until the society can’t absorb it. And then there’s some giant bailout and some huge breakage. And so it happened with Long-Term Capital [Management] in the ’90s. It happened with Enron, and we saw a repeat of it in the events leading to the Great Recession in the late aughts. And we’ll just see it happening again and again until it’s recognized that this pattern is just not sustainable.
The political policies that are called conservative these days would appal any genuine conservative, if there were one around to be appalled. For example, the central policy of the Reagan Administration - which was supposed to be conservative - was to build up a powerful state. The state grew in power more under Reagan than in any peacetime period, even if you just measure it by state expenditures. The state intervention in the economy vastly increased. That's what the Pentagon system is, in fact; it's the creation of a state-guaranteed market and subsidy system for high-technology production. There was a commitment under the Reagan Administration to protect this more powerful state from the public, which is regarded as the domestic enemy. Take the resort to clandestine operations in foreign policy: that means the creation of a powerful central state immune from public inspection. Or take the increased efforts at censorship and other forms of control. All of these are called "conservatism," but they're the very opposite of conservatism. Whatever the term means, it involves a concern for Enlightenment values of individual rights and freedoms against powerful external authorities such as the state, a dominant Church, and so on. That kind of conservatism no one even remembers anymore.
I fortunately come from generations past that learnt to think using paper. If I have to cut off my right arm to escape computer addiction, I can do that. Generations now and especially in the future will quite literaly be unable to think straight without an electronic device in their hand. To them, life will be brutually stressful with no inner peace to be found because they will be assaulted non-stop by disingenuous companies who have every kind of life-sapping wares to peddle.
All too often, we say what we hear others say. We see what we are permitted to see. Much worse, we see what we're told that we see. Repetition and pride are the keys to this. To hear or to see even an obvious lie again and again and again, is to say it, almost by reflex, and then to defend it because we have said it, and to embrace what we've defended. Thus without thought or intent, we make mere echoes of ourselves and we say what we hear others say.
These huge TOS agreements are akin to governmental authoritarian control. Everyone has broken something in them, we are all a criminal. Knowing this, we all live in fear knowing that it's not a matter of 'if' but 'when' the government/corporate overlord can cancel everything we've been working on or living for because of an obscure clause that no one has ever read, which was created for this very purpose.
He watched on. Now that he had changed sides to the SS, he admired the strength of Fritz and the police man even more. He finally had left the camp of those who were wretched enough to let themselves be bludgeoned like that. He was glad to have made his choice. He did no longer have to fear the suspicion of the masters. He was on the side of good. The beatings the men received hardened his consciousness to embody good. One cannot receive beatings and be right, one cannot be dirty, eat garbage and be right.
"The human race"
Order is not pressure which is imposed on society from without, but an equilibrium which is set up from within.
Millions of people have been longing for years for a chance to let certain perpetrators of jazz and alleged humor, and likewise a crooner or two know how 'rotten' their stuff is. And multitudes of fingers long have been itching to get at certain raucous-voiced ballyhooists, if not in one way then in another. Handy buttons as a part of the standard equipment of receiving sets should put many a counterfeit statesmen and professional hot air artist in his place; and, of course, they should be equally valuable as registers of sober, thoughtful public opinion. Will the public care for that sort of thing? Will they bother to use Dr. Hopkins' device if they get a chance, do you ask? Don't you like to tell 'em where to head in and get off?
A tiny electrical gadget, called the Radiovoter, may speed the time when a president of the United States may step before a microphone, ask a question of his radio listeners concerning some question of public policy and receive an immediate reply from millions. The question may be: "Do you want war?" or: "Shall we build more battleships?" Or: "Do you favor a larger appropriation for relief?" Whatever the question, every listener by means of the Radiovoter on the receiving set could flash an answer back.
Look, I’m stupid, all right? I’m not some brilliant person. I’m a little child. You know the emperor’s new clothes? I can see the naked emperor, just because I’m a little child-minded person. I’m not smart. I mean, good scientists are like that. They have the minds of children, to see through all this façade of all this other stuff that they know is stupid nonsense. They just don’t see it the way other people see it.
interview by Shirley K. Cohen (1995)
Meanwhile geeks, who do understand how computers work, instead of developing technologies supporting encryption and pricacy by default, have instead hopped into bed with big data and the NSA. There are more geeks helping the NSA builds a Stasi apparatus than there are geeks working on building a truely anonymous and untappable internet.
Our swollen budgets constantly have been misrepresented to the public. Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear — kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor — with the cry of grave national emergency. Always there has been some terrible evil at home or some monstrous foreign power that was going to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it by furnishing the exorbitant funds demanded. Yet, in retrospect, these disasters seem never to have happened, seem never to have been quite real.
Address to the Annual Stockholders Sperry Rand Corporation (30 July 1957)
You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.