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4.9.17

The Sorcerer's Apprentice

We live in an age when corporations, even more than governments, can literally "flip a switch" and create information, or make it disappear.

Organizations like Google, Farcebook and all their related and equivalent beasts - including all of China's homegrown copies - are the embodiment of fascist architecture.  No need to burn books when hitting the delete button neatly vanishes the past, and data entry clerks create the future, like hives of Winston Smiths.

There is really only one way to combat this creeping threat.  Buy all the hard-copy books you can find, especially those printed before the 1940s, and especially things like dictionaries, atlases, encyclopaedias, and similar reference books.  The day will certainly come when owning real, printed books will be illegal, a la Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, but until then, the only way to preserve unedited, unmolested knowledge is in a form that cannot be manipulated by the gargantuan media monsters.

An individual is only as powerful as the information he has.  This is why governments spent inordinate amounts of time and money on "intelligence."  Seeking the truth, while denying it to one's enemies is the oldest form of warfare Humankind has known.

When people lie to us, they are in fact committing a form of violence, because when we act on false information, the outcome is likely to be far less than what we were hoping to get.  When Google, Farcebook and others purposely deny us information, they are in fact committing violent acts on us for the express purpose of causing us pain.  Whether they alter the information or block it altogether makes no difference.  It is the denial of true and correct information that constitutes the act of violence.

For centuries, governments has done this.  We variously call it propaganda or false flag attacks, but over the centuries, we have come to expect it from such institutions.  For millennia, religions have done the same.  Governments only usurped and secularized the technique, but the results have been the same.

Now there are corporations who have the power to deceive both governments and religions.  In the digital age, it is not who controls the libraries, it is who controls the transmission.  After all, having powerful information is useless without the ability to transmit it to someone else.  As a corollary to Marshall McLuan's postulate that the "medium is the message," we can now add that the "medium controls the message," and "whoever controls the medium controls the world."

If I have the power to alter, block or manipulate any message sent to anyone on the planet, or worse, to generate messages based on your habits on- and off-line, then I have to the power to deprive you of necessary information, or to change the content of the message. or even worse, to change the information to cause you to act wrongly.

The most devious part of this kind of warfare is that it is now possible to manipulate the messages, disguise the manipulation, and to do it so fast as to make the manipulation seem almost impossible, even if it is suspected.

A couple of decades ago, the US broke up the Bell System, because a single company had full control of all telephonic communications.  Most of the worry then was simply non-competitive control of pricing for access, but I can imagine that if Bell could have manipulated real-time conversations at will and without detection, then the outcry would have been far more urgent.

Before that, the US broke up the Standard Oil Company (Rockefeller's monopoly) because it had complete control of petroleum from the wellhead to the fuel tank.  One entity having this amount of control over something as important as energy rang alarm bells in the minds of millions of people.  Rockefeller not only had the power to set prices, but to control quantity, quality and delivery.  He could force producers to sell lower and force consumers to buy higher, and there was nothing anyone could do.

That those former monopolies acquired so much power as to alarm most rational people and cause a wave of cabal-busting, it is even more alarming that no one seems to have the temerity to take the Googles and Farcebooks apart.  This is because, unlike Standard and Bell, the new monopolies own the government.  They can cut off government just as effectively as any individual.  And those the leviathans can't control with fear, they can simply buy with bottomless cash supplies.

This degree of fascism has never existed before in human history.  We have seen extreme cases on numerous occasions, including the current American and Chinese empires, but never have we seen such power coagulated in so few hands with so little opportunity to control it.  These corporations have endless power to advertise themselves, insert themselves into so many aspects of daily life, and absolute authority to boost or destroy whomever they please, and with the twitch of a finger, they can make any of us vanish - if not physically, then in any other way that matters.  They can control our ideas, thoughts and actions in ways we are hardly even aware of.

Imagine if/when these behemoths launch algorithms that can digest vast amounts of data almost instantly, then act and react faster than most of us can even glance at our watches.  A more serious question arises, though.

If we mere humans are able to break up these digital monopolies, would we find ourselves becoming the Sorcerer's Apprentice?  Would we hack the magic broom into a thousand pieces, only to see each piece become a new attack on our humanity?

These are serious problems and they raise even more serious questions.  We are blithely dancing into our own demise without question who or what we are following.  It is well past time to migrate away from Google and Farcebook and their ilk.  Choke them with the power of the purse.  They thrive on our eyeballs, so we must deprive them of their food.

In the meantime, start building private libraries of books - real, printed books with print dates long before the digital age.  Collect reference books - medical, electrical, engineering, and general knowledge.  They are powerless to block or modify that information, but we should be ready for full on physical attacks on books if they get desperate enough.  Threatened beasts are unpredictable.

Like master pickpockets, they dangle shiny baubles in front of our eyes while sliding their fingers into our minds to steal our humanity and reality.

When things seem too wonderful to be true, they often are.

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