node created 2019/09/29
Where could we be now if we hadn’t repressed half of our society throughout our entire history?
People must be trained to desire, to want new things, even before the old have been entirely consumed. We must shape a new mentality in America, man's desires must overshadow his needs.
The complexity of the so-called individual that’s been praised for decades in America somehow has narrowed itself to the ‘me’. When I was a young girl we were called citizens – American citizens. We were second-class citizens, but that was the word. In the 50s and 60s they started calling us consumers. So we did – consume. Now they don’t use those words any more – it’s the American taxpayer and those are different attitudes.
It is the quality rather than the quantity that matters.
There is, simply, no way, to ignore privacy. Because a citizenry’s freedoms are interdependent, to surrender your own privacy is really to surrender everyone’s. You might choose to give it up out of convenience, or under the popular pretext that privacy is only required by those who have something to hide. But saying that you don’t need or want privacy because you have nothing to hide is to assume that no one should have, or could have to hide anything – including their immigration status, unemployment history, financial history, and health records. You’re assuming that no one, including yourself, might object to revealing to anyone information about their religious beliefs, political affiliations and sexual activities, as casually as some choose to reveal their movie and music tastes and reading preferences.

Ultimately, saying that you don’t care about privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different from saying you don’t care about freedom of speech because you have nothing to say. Or that you don’t care about freedom of the press because you don’t like to read. Or that you don’t care about freedom of religion because you don’t believe in God. Or that you don’t care about the freedom to peaceably assemble because you’re a lazy, antisocial agoraphobe. Just because this or that freedom might not have meaning to you today doesn’t mean that that it doesn’t or won’t have meaning tomorrow, to you, or to your neighbor – or to the crowds of principled dissidents I was following on my phone who were protesting halfway across the planet, hoping to gain just a fraction of the freedom that my country was busily dismantling.
"Permanent Record"
The relatively new trouble with mass society is perhaps even more serious, but not because of the masses themselves, but because this society is essentially a consumers’ society where leisure time is used no longer for self-perfection or acquisition of more social status, but for more and more consumption and more and more entertainment… To believe that such a society will become more “cultured” as time goes on and education has done its work, is, I think, a fatal mistake. The point is that a consumers’ society cannot possibly know how to take care of a world and the things which belong exclusively to the space of worldly appearances, because its central attitude toward all objects, the attitude of consumption, spells ruin to everything it touches.
"Between Past and Future"
Man wants to achieve greatness overnight, and he wants to sleep well that night too.
The eighteenth-century polymath Thomas Young was the last person to have read all the books published in his lifetime. That means that he would've read all the Shakespeare and all the Greek and Roman classics and all the theology and all the philosophy and all the science. But the same man today, a man who had read all the books published today, would've had to've read all Dan Brown's novels, two volumes of Chris Moyles' autobiography, The World According to Clarkson by Jeremy Clarkson, The World according to Clarkson II by Jeremy Clarkson, The World according to Clarkson III by Jeremy Clarkson... his mind would be awash with bad metaphors and unsustainable, reactionary opinion; one long anecdote about the time that Comedy Dave put a pound coin in the urinal. In short, the man who had read everything published today would be more stupid than a man who had read nothing. That's not a good state of affairs.
You are not the darkness you endured. You are the light that refused to surrender.
At first, they'll tell us of all the beneficial things this could give us, and phase it in gradually. They might tell us of how it could help medicine, and we agree to let them start monitoring our food and drink consumption, along with our exercise habits. And when something good, such as a cure for some difficult to vanquish disease, comes as a result, people will see that it provided them some tangible benefit this time. And from there it will slowly bleed out into other areas of life. This slow, creeping invasion of privacy strikes me as a much more likely route to such a future than such a government having a revolution and things changing overnight.

Personal analytics on large populations will ultimately suffer from the same problem so many schemes involving information and power do. If it happens, we'll probably have welcomed it for the perceived benefits to society we can get from it on a small scale, naively believing individuals in positions of power will be benevolent rulers. Most people will act shocked when this power is abused and steadily has its limits expanded. The rest of us will sit down and say, "When we were talking about this happening 20 years ago, we were the conspiracy nutjobs, eh? I'd say I told you so and leave you to deal with it, but instead I'll thank you for screwing me over too."
Modern Western culture seemingly has entered a failure-mode unprecedented in history, where we have nobody willing to go first, to stand out, to do what needs to be done, to enact the changes everyone else wants. We've run out of empathetic iconoclasts—people who see the suffering of distant/distributed others, and for whom that aggregate suffering outweighs the risk that might come to the comfortable-life-in-obscurity of all their closer companions. The people with hearts that bleed for their fellow citizens, but then don't shrivel back at the thought of their companions being the ones who end up bleeding.
Ideology may set rough attractors and no-go areas, but it's naive to think that our current battle lines have been drawn by individuals independently pondering their own positions.

At a deep level, our experience of reality has become wholly moderated by mass media. Reds and Blues are watching different channels, and thereby experiencing different realities. It's as simple as that.

Nonconformance to a media narrative is punished by all, in a distributed fashion. If you express an independent point in a Blue flavor, you will be attacked by both the ever-present Reds as well fellow Blues for breaking rank (and vice-versa, obviously).
The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.
There are two kinds of light - the glow that illuminates, and the glare that obscures.
Yes, we have had disarmament conferences and limitations of arms conferences. They don't mean a thing. One has just failed; the results of another have been nullified. We send our professional soldiers and our sailors and our politicians and our diplomats to these conferences. And what happens?

The professional soldiers and sailors don't want to disarm. No admiral wants to be without a ship. No general wants to be without a command. Both mean men without jobs. They are not for disarmament. They cannot be for limitations of arms. And at all these conferences, lurking in the background but all-powerful, just the same, are the sinister agents of those who profit by war. They see to it that these conferences do not disarm or seriously limit armaments.
"War Is A Racket" (1935)
A person can become free through acts of disobedience by learning to say no to power. But not only is the capacity for disobedience the condition for freedom; freedom is also the condition for disobedience. If I am afraid of freedom, I cannot dare to say "no," I cannot have the courage to be disobedient. Indeed, freedom and the capacity for disobedience are inseparable; hence any social, political, and religious system which proclaims freedom, yet stamps out disobedience, cannot speak the truth.
With cities, it is as with dreams: everything imaginable can be dreamed, but even the most unexpected dream is a rebus that conceals a desire or, its reverse, a fear. Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else.
Your silence and self-censorship won't matter in the end. The Soviets often just targeted random people because it chilled dissent overall.

Silent or not, party member or not, you will be dragged from your home in the night and never seen again. This is the reality of what it was like.

So you might as well be brave and speak out against it because that's the only actual defense you have.
There are many people who are not entirely themselves because as children they were not given time to think about themselves. And because they don’t know everything about themselves they can’t know everything about everything. But no one likes to admit that she doesn’t know everything about everything. And so these people try to make up for not knowing everything about everything by doing things.

[..]

People who for some reason find it impossible to think about themselves, and so really be themselves, try to make up for not thinking with doing. They try to pretend that doing is thinking.
They make it illegal to bring respiratory masks or saline solution to protests, then they flood them with tear gas; they launch military-grade grenades (GLI-F4) into crowds, harming and maiming indiscriminately, and prosecute those who kick them back. And when people stop going to protests they can claim that they won the battle of ideas.
FROMM: Like for instance, that we are confronted with the possibility of a war of such destruction that the whole existence of our nation and of the whole world is at stake. And yet, people know it - people read it in the newspapers, people read that at the first attack, a hundred million Americans might be killed.And yet, they talk about it as if they were talking about something being wrong with the carburetor of their car, perhaps.

FROMM: Actually, they have paid more attention to the danger of a flu epidemic than to the danger of the atomic bomb, because...

WALLACE: Don't you think that's a little overstatement, Dr. Fromm?

FROMM: Well, I wish it were, because what I see is relatively few people who experience, who feel, the danger, which we are threatened with, and who feel the responsibility of doing something about it.

WALLACE: Or maybe, when you talk about the responsibility of doing something, maybe it simply is this: that we find it very difficult to make ourselves felt in this amorphous society in which we live. Each individual would want to do something but would find it difficult to make himself felt.

FROMM: Well, I think here you point out to one, really, of the basic defects of our system: that the individual citizen has very little possibility of having any influence - of making his opinion felt in the decision-making. And I think that, in itself, leads to a good deal of political lethargy and stupidity. It is true that one has to think first and then to act -but it's also true that if one has no possibility of acting, one's thinking kind of becomes empty and stupid.
"The Mike Wallace Interview", 25th of May 1958
If only we try to live sincerely, it will go well with us, even though we are certain to experience real sorrow, and great disappointments, and also will probably commit great faults and do wrong things, but it certainly is true, that it is better to be high-spirited, even though one makes more mistakes, than to be narrow-minded and all too prudent. It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love, is well done.
What really hurts me sometimes is that there’s not a lot of consciousness in their music. There could be a whole lot more. Rapping is communicating-it should be an instrument for our liberation. We don’t have time to talk about being players and hustlers and gangsters. We didn’t come off of the slave ships that way. We need to become proud Africans again and stop running around in Shirley Temple curls talkin’ ‘bout how we’re pimps and players. A lot of the symbols that are in rap records and videos are indications of decadent consumerism and in a very real sense, those gold chains, hundred-dollar sneakers and T-shirts with a designer’s name on it underline how much they’ve become enslaved by the consumer mentality in the United States-consumer slaves.
If my experience serves any purpose, it is to illustrate what most already know: our courts must not be allowed to consider matters of great importance in secret, lest we find ourselves summarily deprived of meaningful due process. If we allow our government to continue operating in secret, it is only a matter of time before you or a loved one find yourself in a position like I was – standing in a secret courtroom, alone, and without any of the unalienable rights that are supposed to protect us from an abuse of the state’s authority.
The sad irony is that the pattern of

  • knowing the science enough to know they're contributing to others suffering
  • knowing what might happen with reasonable certainty
  • but compartmentalizing that awareness internally to avoid acting
  • hiding it externally
  • and keeping doing what they were doing

describes the reactions of most individuals about climate change.
If so few female geniuses are found in history, it is because society denies them any means of expression.
"The Second Sex"
If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to be a horrible warning.
Violence can always destroy power; out of the barrel of a gun grows the most effective command, resulting in the most instant and perfect obedience. What never can grow out of it is power.
"Crises of the Republic: Lying in Politics; Civil Disobedience; On Violence; Thoughts on Politics and Revolution"
I would never call the existence of bloated software a consequence of progress, but rather a sign of decadence.
[..] the world today is not the world of yesterday. A capitalist oligarchy runs the world and forces us to consume in order to keep the gears of this rotten society on track. As such, the biggest market for video game consumption today is the mobile one. It is a market of poor souls forced to compulsively consume digital content in order to forget the misery of their everyday life, commute, or just any other brief free moment they have that they are not using to produce goods or services for the ruling class. These individuals need to keep focusing on their video games (because not doing so will fill them with tremendous existential angst), so they go as far as spending money on them to extend their experience, and their preferred way of doing so is through in-app purchases and virtual currency.

But what if someone were to find a way to edit the saved games and assign the items and currency without effort? That would be terrible, because it would help players consume the content much faster, and therefore run out of it sooner than expected. If that happens, they will have nothing that prevents them from thinking, and the tremendous agony of realizing their own irrelevance would again take over their life.

No, we definitely do not want that to happen, so let's see how to encrypt savegames and protect the world order.