Sunday, July 11, 2010

Absolute power corrupts absolutely

I would venture to guess that the majority of people agree with this statement.  (Or maybe I'm wrong; if someone disagrees, please leave a comment -- this topic might need a separate thread!)  While I do not believe that anyone is innately evil, nor do I believe that man is ultimately depraved at heart, I do believe that extreme concentration of wealth and power affects people in negative ways.

On a smaller scale, I'd be willing to bet that most people reading this have personally known someone who either came upon a large sum of money, or who was promoted to a position of power and who, as a result, had a big change of personality.  And the MSM certainly loves to bombard us with stories of people who gain fame and/or a large fortune and either burn-out, go crazy or die from it.  Then, of course, on the world scale there are the numerous situations in history whereby a small group of people (i.e. government, oligarchy, monarchy, religious group, etc...) has endeavored to control another group of peoples.

So assuming most would agree that absolute power corrupts absolutely (yes, I'm building a house of cards -- sue me!) then why do many of these same people scoff at the idea of a coming police state, a New World Order, or a concerted effort by the Powers That Be to control the world's population?

Okay, so let's argue that governments in the Western World are truly only giving themselves the freedom to do such things as perform warrantless searches and wiretaps on its citizens, unlawfully detain people who the government arbitrarily deems to be a "threat to national security", capture all of its citizens' movements using CCTV and IDs with embedded RFID chips, all simply because they are concerned about threats of "terrorism".  Let's also argue that the government has (or should I say, had) absolutely no intention whatsoever of making use of these new "freedoms" against regular citizens who have nothing to do with "terrorism" (whatever that is).  If you believe these things, then please explain to me: What stops governmental,  military and law enforcement groups from abusing those powers going forward? And not only the current government, but future governments for which you may not have even voted?  For example: Self described right-wingers in the US might have been okay with it when Bush's administration started the "Patriot" Act, but how are they feeling knowing that the "socialist" Obama now has those same powers and has even extended them?  And even though self-described left-wingers might console themselves with the thought that Obama will not abuse such powers, what if the GOP gets back into office in 2012? 

Let's be honest: Everyone works in an office where there is at least one Machiavellian, sociopathic douchebag (if not several), so why would we expect those in positions of power within governments, armies or police forces to be any different?  And I would even argue that people who run for political office or who decide to take on some sort of security or law enforcement position will tend to have a higher percentage of douchebaggerie among their ranks -- after all, the very nature of said positions is to wield power over, to make decisions for and to enforce rules and regulations upon other fellow humans.

So, to get back to my point:  Even if we believe that the intent of "Patriot" Acts and the like are being implemented for our protection, therefore the loss of some civil liberties are okay, who is to say that some powerful douchebag, or group of powerful douchebags, isn't going to eventually abuse these powers?  Even if all the world's wars were to come to an end and all "terrorists" were wiped off the face of the Earth, what governing body do you think would ever give those powers back?  Do you really think your government would say "Phew!  Glad that's over!  I guess we can take this security act off of the books now..."

I mean, come on.  I've worked in the telecom industry for over a decade and I know of employees who have checked their boyfriends'/girlfriends'/coworkers' text messages and call lists; I been told of people checking in on coworkers who have called in sick by pulling their cell tower location to see if they were actually at home; I've caught dealers activating fraudulent accounts for friends using their dead grandfather's ID, and that's just stuff that I have personally been aware of and I don't think the company I work for is any different from most corporations.

So again, I ask you:  If we accept IDs containing RFID chips, if we accept subjecting ourselves to dangers of scanners such as these when exercising our common law right to travel,  if we allow ourselves to be under the constant watchful eye of CCTV, then are you really going to be surprised if someone or some group of individuals decides to use this data against us even though we don't consider ourselves to be in anyway close to a "terrorist"?  Are you really going to be surprised if they use this data and these new "freedoms" in a way that they claimed they never would -- like this, or this, or this, or this, or this, or this or these ways?  Do you really trust politicians, banksters, corporate oligarchs and their military/security personnel any more than the people you work with?

I also find it interesting how (at least in the Western world) there seems to be a common sentiment that if there were no government or no laws and regulations telling us how to live then our lives would descend into bedlam and violence causing us to live out some dystopian nightmare reminiscent of Mad Max.  I have two questions for people who believe this:  #1)  Are you telling me that the only reason you that you don't steal, rape and pillage is because there are laws preventing you from doing it?  #2) If you truly believe that Man is ultimately an evil sinner that cannot control itself and that, if left unchecked and unconstrained by outside laws and regulations, Man would descend into chaos and turmoil, then how does it follow that the solution to this problem would be to allow a some small minority of humans to make decisions for and to enforce rules upon the much larger majority?  Do proponents of this opinion think that there actually is an elite group of people out there who are better than most humans and who really know what's best for the rest of us?  A group of people who, by some stroke of luck, have none of the evil and inevitable propensities to rape, steal, and pillage that the rest of us do?  And doesn't that sound an awful lot like how the masses were "saved from ourselves" by the various monarchies/religious oligarchies of history -- saved by blue bloods who knew what was best for us, the slovenly masses, because somehow they were "blessed by the divine" to be better than us?  I mean, who is really wearing the tinfoil hat in this debate?

I've also had people tell me that they have a hard time believing that there are people out there so evil and cruel as to want to create such an oppressive state.  Really?!  Do I really have to give the plethora of examples in human history where a small group of individuals has abused and subjugated its populace?  I get the impression that when people tell me "I just can't see that happening" what they are really saying is "I don't want to believe that can happen".  It's like closing your eyes, putting your hands over your ears and saying "La la la, I can't hear you..." I don't want to believe something so horrible either, but the fact that I don't want to believe it has nothing to do with whether or not it is an actual possibility.

If you think the idea of an attempt by the PTB to create some sort of oppressive, fascistic world government is impossible, just because you have a hard time believing that there are people out there who would be so evil and cruel, and yet you acknowledge that there are "paranoid conspiracy theorist losers living in grandma's basement" who are imagining this stuff, then why is it so hard to believe that rich and powerful paranoid losers could be imagining the same stuff from their meeting rooms?

And if you think the idea of an elite group of industrialists and bankers conspiring together to create a global fascist state is just some tinfoil hat-wearing craziness, consider this:  It was already attempted in the US during the Great Depression -- Check out this radio broadcast from the BBC.  (Or if you don't have the RealPlayer installed you can listen to it here on YouTube in 3 parts.)  And here is another article on this plot which originally appeared in 1995 in the magazine History Today.  And given the power that the banksters have been abusing around the world long after WWII, do you really think they've given up on this idea since then?

Large government is wrong for the same reason that large corporations like Walmart are wrong: The extreme concentration of power and ultimate detachment that those in power have from the people.  Cutting a couple hundred thousand jobs in nothing to them.  We are no longer flesh and blood beings, we are numbers on a computer screen.  To them we are nothing more than voters, tax payers, money makers and resource wasters.  Plus it could easily be argued, especially in the States, that large corporations are the government since not only do they wield massive lobbying power, but the last few administrations, from both the so-called right-wing and left-wing, have been riddled with banksters and other corporate agents.

And as much as we in the Western World like to tout how great our "freedoms" are, when it comes down to it, what is more important to us, our freedoms or our security?  I'm hoping it is the former, but the way things are going these days, particularly in the US, Australia, the UK and in Canada (see my post on the G20) I'm beginning to think that the majority of the populace finds security to be more important.  Which is sad, because once we lose our freedoms we no longer have any security.


  1. "#1) Are you telling me that the only reason you that you don't steal, rape and pillage is because there are laws preventing you from doing it? "

    Well, it's not the only reason I don't, personally, but it is the only reason a lot of people don't. I'll never forget an informal survey of my high school automotive class (containing about 25 dudes and one girl) wherin the students were asked how many of them would steal a television if they knew they wouldn't get caught. 23/25 said they would. Proving apparently that I have more in common with girls than with guys (the girl and I were the only ones who said no chance).

    so yeah, we need lawgivers and consequences to our actions. Otherwise it'll be rape kill steal all over...and I'm not strong enough or a good enough shot to deal with that bullshit...

    sadly, of course any high powered organization is corrupt...recently watched two documentaries, "Zeitgeist" and "Deliver Us From Evil" which both pretty clearly pointed that out...

  2. To be fair though, studying only 29 students is not nearly a large enough pool of people on which to do a statistically accurate study. We also must ask ourselves a few questions, like: How was the study conducted? If they just asked the question of a bunch of kids openly in the same room at the same time, chances are most are going to go with the group whether or not they believe their answer to be true; this was famously demonstrated in the Asch Conformity Experiment which was done with adults and I have no doubt that this is especially true when it comes to teens who are often struggling with group acceptance. It would also be helpful to know what the question was exactly: For ex, if you asked "would you steal a TV from your next door neighbour if you knew you wouldn't get caught" versus "would you steal a TV from Walmart if you knew you wouldn't get caught" might illicit different responses -- and I wouldn't feel so bad if people said "yes" to the latter ;-)