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[liberationtech] [silk] Pre-emptive counter-revolution

Eugen Leitl eugen at
Wed Jul 31 06:44:28 PDT 2013

----- Forwarded message from Udhay Shankar N <udhay at> -----

Date: Wed, 31 Jul 2013 19:09:27 +0530
From: Udhay Shankar N <udhay at>
To: Silk List <Silklist at>
Subject: [silk] Pre-emptive counter-revolution
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Scary, prescient, thought-provoking - in line with the best of his
fictional output. Charles Stross' blog is essential reading for me.

Your thoughts on the current panopticon moves?

Udhay (who thinks that sousveilance is our only hope)

Charlie's Diary
Being the blog of Charles Stross, author, and occasional guests ...

[ Home ] [ FAQ ] [ Contact me ] [ Older stuff ]

Back to: Crib Sheet: The Apocalypse Codex
Who ordered *that*?
By Charlie Stross

"Your papers, please."

I'm not sure what's more enraging—the casual racial profiling or the
presumption of guilty-until-proven-innocent—but it's getting hard to
deny that the racists are in the driving seat of policy at the Home
Office these days.

The racism is utterly, dismally, predictable when times are
bad—frightened, stressed people with no economic security look around
for someone to blame, and they can be very easily manipulated into
blaming others. It's important also to remember that the 1930s were
populated by people coming to terms with rapid technological
change-induced future shock, and looking for certainty in the face of
the future. Today, we have similar levels of future shock, largely
social in nature: thanks to the internet we can't ignore other people
whose views we find repugnant.

But racism isn't the key issue here. The real question we should be
asking is not "what" but "why".

I have a new speculative hypothesis to stand alongside the Martian
invasion and the bad dream. It is this: the over-arching reason for the
clamp-down on dissent, migration, and freedom of expression, and the
concurrent emphasis on security in the developed world, constitutes the
visible expression of a pre-emptive counter-revolution.

The fuse for a revolution was lit by the global financial crisis of
2007/08, in a process that looked alarmingly close to triggering the
Crisis of Capitalism (a hypothesized event which is associated with an
ideology to which the current political elite of the USA and EU are for
the most part highly allergic, for anyone aged over 50 spent their
formative years under the bipolar tension of the Cold War). It sputtered
briefly in the west in the form of the Occupy and related movements, but
truly caught fire in 2009 with the failed Green revolution and in
2010-11 with the Arab spring—which were inflamed by the spike in global
food prices caused by capital fleeing into commodities in the wake of
the banking crisis. Meanwhile, the imposition of disaster capitalism in
the west (as a purported "solution" to the debt-based spending bubbles
various western governments embarked on during the boom years of the
1990s-2007) inflamed popular tensions in those countries, with results
like this (undirected rioting) that never adhered to any political
direction, but nevertheless terrified the ruling elite, leading to their
retaliation via draconian punishments.

The wave of revolutions has so far been contained within the Arab world
(a part of the globe which—I don't think this is any kind of coincidence
at all—is suddenly becoming much less important to the energy
geopolitics of the west, with the switch to fracking and renewables now
under way). The policy of pre-emptive counter-revolution, facilitated by
the imposition of the global internet panopticon, has clamped the lid
down tight.

So, in summary: I believe what we're seeing is a move towards the global
imposition of a police state in the developed world, leveraging the
xenophobia that naturally emerges during insecure times, by a ruling
elite who are themselves feeling threatened by a spectre. Controls on
movement, freedom of association, and speech are all key tools in the
classic police state's arsenal. What's new about this cycle is that the
police state machinery is imposed locally, within national boundaries,
but applies everywhere: the economic system it is intended to protect is
transnational and unconstrained. Which is why even places that were
largely exempt during the cold war are having a common police state
agenda quietly imposed. There is to be no refuge, other than
destabilized "failed states" where the conditions of life make a police
state look utopian in comparison.

This system has emerged organically, from the bottom up, and is not the
result of any conspiracy; it's just individuals and groups moving to
protect their shareholdings in the Martian invaders, by creating an
environment that is safe for the hive intelligences to operate in.

As to how I feel about this ...

I'm middle-aged and comfortable and have no great love for revolutions,
even though I'd say that the imposition of a global police state
deserves a place high on the list of complaints weighty enough to
legitimize one. But revolutions almost invariably go bad. A few, like
the Velvet revolution, turn out all right in the end; but many more
provide opportunities for the vilest dregs of humanity to run amok. Only
when the post-revolutionary society stabilizes and the convulsions
subside do we get to see whether or not we're better off: and even if we
are, that's scant comfort for the bereaved relatives of those who died
in the process. As I said, I'm middle-aged, fat, and have health issues:
don't look for me on the barricades. If it happens, I'll be over here
wringing my hands and writing communiques calling for less smashing of
skulls. Because? Fuck every cause that ends in murder and children crying.

Posted by Charlie Stross at 11:19 on July 31, 2013 | Comments (29)

((Udhay Shankar N)) ((udhay @ ((

----- End forwarded message -----
Eugen* Leitl <a href="">leitl</a>
ICBM: 48.07100, 11.36820
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