Tyranny Is Unrecognized by Some of its Victims

Posted: 21st December 2020 by AUDIOMIND

How does tyranny arrive and survive?

A juvenile answer is that devilish persons somehow seize the levers of power while the nation’s people are innocently going about their business. Wearing sinister smiles and twirling the tips of their moustaches in dastardly fashion, the tyrants unilaterally impose their criminal wills upon the populace.

The People soon realize that their dictators are venal and vile, but there’s little they can do other than silently submit. The People are enslaved. Their only hope for emancipation is the intervention of a superhero – a courageous peasant, perhaps, to lead a revolution, or a noble foreign government deploying its military worldwide to protect humanity from evildoers.

I describe this answer as “juvenile,” and it is certainly so. But this answer nevertheless captures the greater part of the attitude of many adults. According to this attitude, tyranny is blatant, pure, and obvious to everyone – almost cartoonishly so – and therefore it is never accepted voluntarily. Tyranny is unalloyed evil that is pressed down mercilessly upon the unfortunate masses.

In the minds of us enlightened denizens of 21st-century democracies, tyranny is the Reign of Terror in revolutionary France. It’s the Nazis and Fascists of 80 years ago. It’s Stalin and Mao and Saddam Hussein. It’s Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Kim Jong-un, and the Taliban today.

To those of us who conduct real and regular elections, tyranny seems to be confined to such regimes – regimes distant in time or place and, hence, culturally remote from us.

Tyrants Are Always Believed

These past and distant regimes are indeed tyrannical. Yet the popular attitude toward them is dangerously immature. Every tyrant convinces large numbers of the people under his rule that he uses force exclusively for the greater good. Tyrant wannabes who fail to convince The People of these wannabes’ noble purposes never grab the power they crave. Too few of The People submit.

Each actual tyrant points to some problem – perhaps real or perhaps fabricated yet unfailingly exaggerated – the persistence of which will inflict on his beloved People unprecedented harm. He persuades The People to obey him in his pose as a courageous and caring visionary unafraid to use whatever powers he must in order to save his People from the terrible perils that otherwise await them. And he insists that his exercise of power must be broad and bold, unchecked by legal or ethical niceties which would only prevent him from saving his flock.

Quaking in fear of these terrible perils and hopeful for the promised salvation, The People submit. Sheep.

Many people, of course, recognize and even chafe under the dictator’s arbitrariness and the harshness of his diktats. But believing these diktats to be necessary for the greater good, most of even these people meekly comply. “The end result tomorrow will be worth the pain, suffering, and indignity today. We have no good choice but to obey our leader” – so goes the thinking.

Thus does actual tyranny arrive and survive. It arrives and survives always with the acceptance – and often also with the enthusiastic approval – of large numbers of its victims. These victims thus do not sense that they are living under tyranny. Tyranny is what happens to other people – to people less enlightened or much less fortunate than us – to people whose oppressors, unlike our own familiar leaders, rant crazily in foreign tongues, often while dressed in military costumes.

Tyranny, it is believed, does not happen to us, for it’s not really tyranny if its stated goal is our salvation – if it promises to protect us from dangers that we are assured are real, large, and looming. And those few ideological freaks who recklessly insist on calling our saviors “tyrants” do not appreciate the need for quick and decisive action from the top. These freaks should be ignored, and perhaps even forcibly silenced.

Tyranny, again, doesn’t happen to us. We, after all, are complying voluntarily with our leaders’ commands, knowing that these are for our own good. If we were suffering the oppression of tyrants, we’d resist. We are, don’t forget, a proud people. We are enlightened, democratic, and free. And so because the vast majority of us are not resisting our leaders’ current rule, this rule cannot possibly be tyrannical.

Our leaders, in short, aren’t tyrants. They’re public servants who we must trust if we are to be saved.

Or, so all who are tyrannized conclude.

Hygiene Socialism Is Tyranny

Because tyranny always enjoys its victims’ widespread support, most people living under it are unaware of their ghastly fate. And so it is with today’s tyranny of hygiene socialism. Believing that Covid-19 lockdown orders, mask mandates, and school closings are necessary to prevent unspeakable loss of life, people obey. This is no time to allow nitpicking about the rule of law, or about concerns with matters other than Covid, to obstruct our leaders’ valiant efforts to save us!

Yet as with all tyranny, the truth will eventually emerge. In the future, people’s eyes will open to the exaggerations, half-truths, distortions, and outright lies used to excuse today’s tyrannical restrictions. Someday people will look back on 2020 and see it as a year in which tyranny darkened the globe.

Our children and grandchildren will shake their heads in amazement that the adults – the “adults” – of 2020 were so credulous as to fall for the hysterical overstatements and the deceits and duplicity used to justify this tyranny. They will be aghast that in 2020 so many reporters, pundits, and politicians swallowed whole and without question the over-the-top predictions of mad scientists such as Neil Ferguson and his Imperial College colleagues. The jaws of our progeny will drop from puzzlement when they ponder the news media’s atrociously poor and biased “reporting” on Covid-19. And our descendants will simply resign themselves to being unable to understand fully how and why we allowed ourselves to be engulfed by such tyranny.

And then our children and grandchildren will pat each other on the back, confidently relieved by their knowing that they will never be so gullible as were those of us in 2020.

Political Victories Are Short Lived

Posted: 23rd December 2015 by AUDIOMIND
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Any political victory is only a temporary victory. At some future point the victory you achieved will be undone. The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) is just the latest example of this. If you go through the history of the bill you will see it was introduced and shutdown several times:

The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act was introduced on July 10, 2014 during the 113th Congress, and was able to pass the Senate Intelligence Committee by a vote of 12-3. The bill did not reach a full senate vote before the end of the congressional session.

The bill was reintroduced for the 114th Congress on March 12, 2015, and the bill passed the Senate Intelligence Committee by a vote of 14-1. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, (R-Ky) attempted to attach the bill as an amendment to the annual National Defense Authorization Act, but was blocked 56-40, not reaching the necessary 60 votes to include the amendment. Mitch McConnell hoped to bring the bill to senate-wide vote during the week of August 3–7, but was unable to take up the bill before the summer recess. The Senate tentatively agreed to limit debate to 21 particular amendments and a manager’s amendment, but did not set time limits on debate. In October 2015, the US Senate took the bill back up following legislation concerning sanctuary cities.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. This time the politicians attached CISA to the budget, which as we all know is a must pass bill:

Congress on Friday adopted a $1.15 trillion spending package that included a controversial cybersecurity measure that only passed because it was slipped into the US government’s budget legislation.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican of Wisconsin, inserted the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) into the Omnibus Appropriations Bill—which includes some $620 billion in tax breaks for business and low-income wage earners. Ryan’s move was a bid to prevent lawmakers from putting a procedural hold on the CISA bill and block it from a vote. Because CISA was tucked into the government’s overall spending package on Wednesday, it had to pass or the government likely would have had to cease operating next week.

Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat of Oregon, said the CISA measure, which backers say is designed to help prevent cyber threats, got even worse after it was slipped into the 2,000-page budget deal(PDF, page 1,728). He voted against the spending plan.

All those hours invested in the political process to fight CISA were instantly rendered meaningless with the passage of this bill. However, the bill can be rendered toothless. CISA removes any potential liability from private companies that share customer data with federal agencies. So long as private companies don’t have actionable information to share the provisions outlined in CISA are inconsequential. As with most privacy related issues, effective cryptography is the biggest key. Tools like Off-the-Record (OTR) messaging, OTR’s successor Multi-End Message and Object Encryption (OMEMO), Pretty Good Privacy (PGP), Transport Layer Security (TLS), Tor, and other cryptographic tools designed to keep data private and/or anonymous can go a long ways towards preventing private companies from having any usable data to give to federal agencies.

In addition to effective cryptography it’s also important to encourage businesses not to cooperate with federal agencies. The best way to do this is to buy products and services from companies that have fought attempts by federal agencies to acquire customer information and utilize cryptographic tools that prevent themselves from viewing customer data. As consumers we must make it clear that quislings will not be rewarded while those who stand with us will be.

Effective cryptography, unlike politics, offers a permanent solution to the surveillance problem. It’s wiser, in my opinion, to invest the time you’d otherwise waste with politics in learning how to properly utilize tools that protect your privacy. While your political victories may be undone nobody can take your knowledge from you.

What cryptographic tools are you utilizing in your daily travels?

The Populist Revolt Against the Political Duopoly

Posted: 3rd September 2015 by AUDIOMIND
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How did a populist uprising create such enthusiasm and support for two polar opposite insurgent candidates — Donald Trump, the glitzy billionaire, and Bernie Sanders, the self-effacing Socialist Senator?

There’s a bipartisan revolt going on. The rank and file of both parties have said a resounding no to the dynastic dinosaurs, Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush — the quintessential Washington insiders who promote the status quo. The polls for Clinton and Bush are trending straight down because the voters are sick and tired of the insiders who play by their own rules and benefit from them.

Voters are desperate. Right now, only Trump and Sanders give them hope that this country can be turned around. There’s a consensus among activists in both parties that the unique and cherished character of America is rapidly changing and that the election of 2016 may be the last chance to rescue it.

While Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump would likely disagree about almost everything, they are each tapping into the same font of populist anger, swelling in both parties.

Underscoring their rapid gains is the massive popular discontent with the two dynastic choices that were in the process of being crowned for the 2016 election. The Houses of Clinton and Bush were locked, in the words of Time Magazine, in a “game of thrones.”

As America sank into misery with a seemingly endless economic malaise, huge deficits, major job loss, glaring and rising income inequality, and a federal government whose growth knows no bounds, the dynastic remedies fell short and we looked elsewhere.

Clinton’s email scandal and the growing consensus that she cannot be trusted erodes her Democratic support. Bush’s weaknesses, his failure to stand out in the field and his reliance on money and mechanics to win fails to inspire Republican voters.

Besides, Sanders and Trump have a lot in common. They each (mostly) tell the truth — a contrast with Clinton. And they each take strong positions on issues — a contrast with Bush.

Even as Sanders closes in on Clinton and Trump lengthens his lead over Bush, the professionals discount their gains. They wait for Trump to self-destruct and for Sanders to marginalize himself.

But Trump is as sure-footed in public as any political candidate has ever been. He’s a bit like Ronald Reagan, whose experience speaking for General Electric equipped him to advocate the unconventional and make it stick.

For his part, Sanders is more than the un-Clinton. He is creating a populist-liberalism constituency for his candidacy. Sanders will not go away because his constituency won’t. They are in the process now to stay.

Anyone who thinks Trump and Sanders are going away is in for a surprise.