Blog Archives

The Implicit Desperation of China’s “Social Credit” System

I’ve been pondering the excellent 1964 history of the Southern Song Dynasty’s capital of HangzhouDaily Life in China on the Eve of the Mongol Invasion, 1250-1276 by Jacques Gernet, in light of the Chinese government’s unprecedented “Social Credit Score” system, which I addressed in Kafka’s Nightmare Emerges: China’s “Social Credit Score”.

The scope of this surveillance is so broad and pervasive that it borders on science fiction: a recent Western visitor noted that train passengers hear an automated warning on certain lines, in Mandarin and English, that their compliance with regulations will be observed and may be punished via a poor social score.

Taking the train in China is like stepping into an episode of ‘Black Mirror’ (via GFB)

Inside China’s Dystopian Dreams (NYT)

China has turned Xinjiang into a police state like no other (The Economist)

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The Ghosts of 1968

1968 was a tumultuous year globally and domestically. The Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia–a very mild form of political and cultural liberalization within the Soviet bloc–was brutally crushed by the military forces of the Soviet Union.

The general strikes and student protests of May 1968 brought France to a standstill as demands for social and political change called the entire status quo into question.

On the other side of the planet, the Cultural Revolution was remaking China’s still-youthful revolution, to the detriment of the political status quo, the intelligentsia and the common people.

The U.S.was convulsed with assassinations, civil unrest and mass demonstrations against the war in Vietnam and the political status quo (the Democratic Party convention in Chicago).

Ironically, much of the world was benefiting from two decades of rising prosperity and the demise of colonialism. When expectations exceed actual opportunities, discontent is the result. When the power structure is deaf to the discontent, a cycle of repression and disorder feed on each other.

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When We Can No Longer Tell the Truth…

When we can no longer tell the truth because the truth will bring the whole rotten, fragile status quo down in a heap of broken promises and lies, we’ve reached the perfection of dysfunction.

You know the one essential guideline to “leadership” in a doomed dysfunctional system: when it gets serious, you have to lie. In other words, the status quo’s secular goddess is TINA–there is no alternative to lying, because the truth will bring the whole corrupt structure tumbling down.

This core dynamic of dysfunction is scale-invariant, meaning that hiding the truth is the core dynamic in dysfunctional relationships, households, communities, enterprises, cities, corporations, states, alliances, nations and empires: when the truth cannot be told because it threatens the power structure of the status quo, that status quo is doomed.

Lies, half-truths and cover-ups are all manifestations of fatal weakness.

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Marx, Orwell and State-Cartel Socialism

OK, so our collective eyes start glazing over when we see Marx and Orwell in the subject line, but refill your beverage and stay with me on this. We’re going to explore the premise that what’s called “socialism”–yes, Scandinavian-style socialism and its variants–is really nothing more than finance-capital state-cartel elitism that has done a better job of co-opting its debt-serfs than its state-cartel “capitalist” cronies.

We have to start with the question “what is socialism”? The standard definition is: a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.

In practice, the community as a whole is the state. Either the state owns a controlling interest in the enterprise, or it controls the surplus (profits), labor rules, etc. via taxation and regulation.

The problem with equating the community with the state is the community is a completely different order from the centralized state, which is operated and controlled by a self-serving clerisy class that institutionalizes benefiting the few at the expense of the many.

The more accurate definition of socialism is: the means of production are owned and controlled by those who produce the goods and services.

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Wait a Minute–Who’s Fascist?

The core belief of the Establishment is the central state should run everything.

If you’re an Establishment insider, the mainstream media will give you plenty of column inches and airtime to label Donald Trump a “dangerous” fascist: for example, Democratic insider Robert Reich’s fear-mongering frenzy Donald Trump is a 21st century American fascist, in which Reich conveniently overlooks constitutional limits on any president, “fascist” or not.

In effect, Reich is announcing the Constitution is dead and powerless to limit the President. Well, if that’s the problem, then why not attack the real problem, which is the Imperial Presidency? Why not? Reich served an Imperial President as a loyal lackey, that’s why–and he remains an energetic supporter of the central state and its bread-and-circuses institutionalized serfdom.

If you’re an Establishment insider, you’ll get ample opportunities in the corporate media to label Bernie Sanders a “dangerous” socialist. You don’t even have to be a member of the “vast right-wing conspiracy” (a staple of the Clintons’ attack strategy)–any insider can get airtime to label Sanders as “dangerous”–either because he’s socialist, or because he’s not radical enough. Any attack will do, and you’ll get plenty of opportunity to flesh out any attack, no matter how biased or nonsensical.

It is of course classic Orwellian Doublespeak to label any threat to one’s power “fascist,” and to laud one’s corrupt and venal allies as “freedom fighters,” but the Establishment’s panicked reliance on accusations of fascism is new and yes, dangerous. So let’s step back and ask–precisely who’s the fascist here?

It turns out that the definition of fascism widely attributed to Mussolini– “Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power”–has no provenance: researchers cannot find this quote in any original source material.

Here is an excellent exploration of the topic: Benito Mussolini on Fascism and Corporatism

Via the research cited in Mussolini on the Corporate State, we have a verified Mussolini statement on the fascist conception of the state’s role in the economy and society:

The Fascist State lays claim to rule in the economic field no less than in others; it makes its action felt throughout the length and breadth of the country by means of its corporate, social, and educational institutions, and all the political, economic, and spiritual forces of the nation, organised in their respective associations, circulate within the State. (p. 41).

In other words, the all-powerful central state worshipped by Reich and all the other Establishment insiders, Democrat and Republican alike, is the true culmination of fascism. So if we strip away the Orwellian Doublespeak, we find that it’s actually Reich and his fellow believers in the goodness and rightness of the all-powerful central state and central bank who are the real fascists.

The core belief of the Establishment is the central state should run everything:the state should run the mortgage industry (hey, it does–95% of all mortgages are government-backed or guaranteed); it should run the financial system via setting interest rates, buying bonds and other assets and bailing out/protecting private banks (hey, it does–thank you, Federal Reserve); it should control higher education (the central state not only funds the higher education cartel, it also owns most of the $1.4 trillion in student loan debt); it should control the economy via protecting and enforcing favored monopolies and cartels, and of course the state needs to track any domestic “threats” via surveillance and suppress any resistance to its power by force, media attacks, lawsuits, IRS investigations, social-media smear campaigns, etc.–which is precisely what the U.S. central state’s toadies, lackeys, apparatchiks, thugs, bought-off media hacks, et al. do.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is fascism, and that’s the Establishment’s America.No wonder central-state lackeys like Reich have unleashed frantic attacks against Trump and Sanders–they fear their fascist paradise of central-state-cartel-capitalism might somehow be threatened.

And like all fascists and fascist states, they over-react to any threats to their power. This over-reaction eventually backfires, for it reveals the true nature of their loyalties and their project: that there is an endless need for more state regulations, controls, programs, guarantees and promises that all will be better as long as you cede control of everything that matters to the state. You are of course still “free” to choose your breakfast cereal and which outpost of the Ministry of Propaganda you wish to view/read/listen to.

The carrot dangled by the fascist state is always the same: there is a free lunch for everyone who cedes control over their lives to the state. For corporations, the free lunch is a quasi-monopoly; for debt-serfs, new programs that erase their debts (i.e. transfer them to others), and for everyone, more entitlements, up to the Nirvana of the fascist state, Guaranteed Minimum Income for all.

The tragic irony is, as we all know, there is no free lunch. The central state generates the illusion there is a free lunch to institutionalize the dominance of the wealthy and powerful and institutionalize serfdom for everyone else.

Global Crisis: the Convergence of Marx, Orwell and Kafka (July 25, 2012)

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