Author Topic: Go back to bed, your government is in control  (Read 17826 times)

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Offline gaijin

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Go back to bed, your government is in control
« on: December 12, 2010, 02:39:47 am »
I've translated a piece written by Robert, so that all you non-Swedish-speakers can take part in it. Also, I think I'll enjoy the discussions it'll lead to. If there are any obvious spelling errors, weirdly shaped grammar or something akin to it.. it belongs to me, not Robert. Also, gaz, if you feel I've missed something in my translation, feel free to correct it.

Here goes:

"Go back to bed, your government is in control.   

Imagine coming home from work or school, turning on your laptop. A forum you visit on a regular basis can't load. Page is not responding. According to a friend on World Of Warcraft who live in a neighboring country, the site is working fine. The problem seems to be yours.

You can't let it go. After further investigation you finally realize that the government in your country has decided to censor that particular site due to the content being politically sensitive.

What the hell is going on? Don't we live in a democracy?

That's how many reacted in Thailand in 2005. One year later tanks were rolling down the streets of the capitol; the puzzle suddenly started to make sense.

Few societies change entirely in a day. Change comes gradually and can therefor be hard to react to in time. But when should you react? If you were trapped in a airtight container that started to fill up with water, would you react at once or would you wait until the liquid enters your lungs?

The example is extreme, but to my mind it's not incorrect.

I think we collectively underestimate the seriousness in what happens when the barriers that protect the individuals freedom and integrity are deconstructed in the name of crime fighting. Most of the initiatives from governments around the world to catch terrorists during the last 10 years haven't caught a single one - and several of them have probably generated more than a few new ones. The reason being that those who have something to hide knows how to do that. The politicians who approve these countermeasures probably don't understand that, but those who suggest them most certainly do.

The only reason I can think of is that they have another purpose with them.

Those who have nothing to hide have nothing to worry about. Is this true? Yes, it is. In the short run. Problems do not really start to form for real until the surveillance is in place and the definition of what's OK starts to change. Imagine this: We ban Nazis from meeting in a public place, because their political views often lead to hate crimes. I don't think many ordinary people would object to that law passing. But what's the next step? Ban communists? And why not the left wing party youth groups? I mean, they do call each other "comrades" in their meetings.

The point being: Where do we draw the line? And who gets to decide?

If our access to information is limited we should see this as a serious warning. Why? Because it means that someone is trying to control how we think by controlling what we know. People who lack choices will blindly follow the road presented to them. Why do you think that fundamentalist Christians in the US  educate their children themselves in the sanctity of their own homes? They do not want them exposed to a world full of seductive ideas that chafe against their medieval view of the world.

PR is one thing. To try to influence media to your advantage is an eternal game for corporations and politicians alike, and you sort of understand why they have to do this. But when you start restricting physical access to information, you limit peoples ability to read up and make informed decisions. This cannot be seen as anything else than an attack against the democratic form of government.

That countries like China and Iran filter the Internet might not be too surprising. These countries have a long road ahead of them before their leaders stop fearing "ideas" being planted into their citizens through the culture of free information. And that gets proven by the Chinese who don't seem to care much about their oppressed situation now that the economy has turned to the right track. Being wealthy is obviously more important than being democratic. So be it.

But there are democratic countries who have started censoring the worldwide web under the cover of protecting people from information they "shouldn't have". England and Australia are two good examples. I get a queasy feeling in my stomach when I think about these countries who we in many ways compare and equate ourselves to are engaged in such drastic ways of information control.

We do it in Sweden and Denmark too, but according to ONI (OpenNet Initiative - an organization dedicated to investigate and debunk those who engage in things like filtration of the Internet) we are in line with what our governments claim the purpose is, i.e hindering the proliferation of child pornography and other doubtlessly illegal content.

So, we aren't there yet. But we are building a society of surveillance in Sweden too. Slowly but surely the infrastructure for gathering and storing of data about who we are and what we do is being built. People who worry about a faceless government reading their e-mails and listening to their conversations - even if they don't have anything to hide - can neither talk or think freely.

And if we can't speak or think freely, we aren't living in a democracy - no matter if we can vote or not.

// Robert Stjärnström"




.. there, go, run, talk, discuss!

Edit: Fixed grammar.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2010, 10:56:26 am by gaijin »
Oi, is this when I get a huge sig-image, start whining about "moar sid" and make nonsensical arguments to no good?

Offline dezo

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Re: Go back to bed, your government is in control
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2010, 03:54:00 am »
From a tech's PoV, and ofc I realize that my PoV is biased by the fact that Gaz is one of my best friends, the internet as it looks today is easily corruptible. TCP/IP with different may be routed around the web according to private, corporate interests as well as due to pressure from governments. The worst thing is that shit can change without you even knowing it. It's like you're standing in the box and you have a hunch that water may or may not enter your lungs but you can't be sure because it's out of your control.

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Re: Go back to bed, your government is in control
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2010, 10:52:45 am »
This was epic reading. Robert, I agree.

Offline Banshee

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Re: Go back to bed, your government is in control
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2010, 11:45:55 am »
(it's funny, that nazi's are banned almost everywhere, but  communists, who killed as much people (if not lot more) are okay... even in countries they were killing)

other than that... i pretty much agree, it made me pretty worried, when i found that some providers block pages here, along with letter of some german about child porn industry, which says, that this kind of fight is worthless

- though, i feel that the pamphlet is little manipulative - well, i feel that in every political thing out there :-D

Offline evilcandybag

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Re: Go back to bed, your government is in control
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2010, 01:26:26 pm »
Even though people may not agree with everything written here (though I certainly do), it is important to reflect on these things, since things ARE changing, and you need to know how these changes will affect you.

Even some conservatives in the US are reacting to these changes:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDp1izlMQT0 (thanks Harvey for that link).
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Offline Ziza

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Re: Go back to bed, your government is in control
« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2010, 01:30:54 pm »
"Go back to bed, your government is in control.   

Imagine coming home from work or school, turning on your laptop. A forum you visit on a regular basis can't load. Page is not responding. According to a friend on World Of Warcraft who live in a neighboring country, the site is working fine. The problem seems to be yours.

You can't let it go. After further investigation you finally realize that the government in your country has decided to censor that particular site due to the content being politically sensitive.

This is something that REALLY DOES piss off. Even if it (for now) doesn't concern me - because I know that it occurs, not only in "not-exactly-normal" countries like China or Korea, but also in "totally-normal-democratic" countries, like those mentioned by you.

What the hell is going on? Don't we live in a democracy?

That's how many reacted in Thailand in 2005. One year later tanks were rolling down the streets of the capitol; the puzzle suddenly started to make sense.

Few societies change entirely in a day. Change comes gradually and can therefor be hard to react to in time. But when should you react? If you were trapped in a airtight container that started to fill up with water, would you react at once or would you wait until the liquid enters your lungs?

The example is extreme, but to my mind it's not incorrect.

The question now is not only WHEN to react - but also HOW to react? How can we, little, ordinary people, react to something like this? Most people don't even see nor understand the problem. Others are aware - but the awareness alone won't do you any good. And even if those people who are aware of the problem gather up, even if there are many of them - what will it change? It's still close to nothing compared to the blind masses that do not care. Show them the truth? Make them aware? That would only make you a conspiracy theories supporter, which nowadays means you are nuts.
So, want to fight the government? Still... how? Right now, they are very close to the point at which they can do absolutely anything they like under the soft cover of "crime fighting" and "democracy". You won't make the mentioned masses take to the streets along with you as their reaction "treshold" will make them "aware" only once the line is crossed way too far. And yet, even with millions of people... can we still oppose the government? They will apologize and unblock some information to make everyone content, at best. At worst, we will be greeted with tanks.
So what can be done, except for raiding some sites together with 4chan and spreading the word? Usually I feel like there is not much we can do about how the discussed tendency is growing and therefore find myself aware, yet passive.

I think we collectively underestimate the seriousness in what happens when the barriers that protect the individuals freedom and integrity are deconstructed in the name of crime fighting. Most of the initiatives from governments around the world to catch terrorists during the last 10 years haven't caught a single one - and several of them have probably generated more than a few new ones. The reason being that those who have something to hide knows how to do that. The politicians who approve these countermeasures probably don't understand that, but those who suggest them most certainly do.

The only reason I can think of is that they have another purpose with them.

Most of us know it. What is more, most of the people I know, no matter who they are, see it. Still, no one ever does anything more than realizing the problem. It seems as though "being aware of being deceived" has become in vogue, but nothing more. After all, there is nothing dangerous about the ones in control plotting some long-term plans that would benefit them. Or at least that's how it would seem like. That's it - the second reason for passivity I can think of is a common belief that, no matter what happens "up there", it can't really seriously influence "my little individual life".

Those who have nothing to hide have nothing to worry about. Is this true? Yes, it is. In the short run. Problems do not really start to form for real until the surveillance is in place and the definition of what's OK starts to change. Imagine this: We ban Nazis from meeting in a public place, because their political views often lead to hate crimes. I don't think many ordinary people would object to that law passing. But what's the next step? Ban communists? And why not the left wing party youth groups? I mean, they do call each other "comrades" in their meetings.

The difference between nazism and communism is that the former is based on racism and pretty hardcore hatred in general, making it much more brutal and inacceptable than the latter, which, in fact, looks like a pretty good system... IN THEORY, that is.

The point being: Where do we draw the line? And who gets to decide?

I think such question (which is a REALLY good question, no doubts) could even make a separate thread.

If our access to information is limited we should see this as a serious warning. Why? Because it means that someone is trying to control how we think by controlling what we know. People who lack choices will blindly follow the road presented to them. Why do you think that fundamentalist Christians in the US  educate their children themselves in the sanctity of their own homes? They do not want them exposed to a world full of seductive ideas that chafe against their medieval view of the world.

PR is one thing. To try to influence media to your advantage is an eternal game for corporations and politicians alike, and you sort of understand why they have to do this. But when you start restricting physical access to information, you limit peoples ability to read up and make informed decisions. This cannot be seen as anything else than an attack against the democratic form of government.

The information nowadays is incredibly limited anyway, with mentioned media alone. Limiting other sources of information is another step that some time ago seemed absolutely impossible for me. But lookie here - they did it and made it look so justified, no one opposed.
It actually gives me creeps that someone is trying to limit information in order to control what we think. It gives me creeps that information alone is something that might prove dangerous for those in control when in possession of common people.
But it's always been like this - why is it that long ago even the Bible was on the List of Prohibited Books (many editions remained there till the end)? Was it too complicated for common people to understand or maybe someone was scared that too many people will see all the absurds?
If someone doesn't want us to think freely then there is DEFINITELY something very nasty about it.

On the other hand - consider the recent WikiLeaks incidents. They DID uncover some nasty things and incredible USA's lies (the Ballistic Missile Defense system in Poland case is outrageous -.- ) but on the other hand, those information alone were dangerous enough to tighten the current international situation even more. I DO think that publishing every possible information without any second thought may be dangerous - maybe even lead to war?

Staying on WikiLeaks topic... surprisingly, after all the documents had leaked out, it turned out Assange was sexually assaulting two women. Well, why haven't we heard about it earlier? Maybe leaking the recent info had turned him on so much he had to rape someone right away? And how comes that suddenly Postfinance suspends his bank account due to "false information regarding his place of residence during the account opening process"? Why didn't they discover it earlier?
This is the democracy we live in - the democracy in which you can freely destroy life of someone who uncovers inconvenient truth. "Enemy of the State"... now, live!
Getting back to "awareness and passivity" now... whole lot of people are protesting now and defending Assange. It shows a lot... but what does it change? Nothing. He will be found guilty and if he won't - he will probably have some "accident" soon :=]
And everyone who is shouting in his defence now... will soon forget.

(...)
And if we can't speak or think freely, we aren't living in a democracy - no matter if we can vote or not.

// Robert Stjärnström"

Actually... do you (everyone) really believe in the thing called "democracy"? Do you believe it to be a good, efficient system and most importantly - do you believe it to have ever existed and worked the way it was supposed to?

Offline Crimzen

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Re: Go back to bed, your government is in control
« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2010, 07:32:36 pm »
I want to like print this out and keep in on my bulletin board! So many great things in here. Of course not everyone might agree with it, but I can bet most people will. Robert FTW! I want to hear more thoughts from Robert!

Offline Crazywater

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We're open to such things, we've even talked many times about doing it with Inja, but in a way that's redundant because we can already get Erica
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Offline Valentine Revolution

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Re: Go back to bed, your government is in control
« Reply #8 on: December 16, 2010, 05:55:29 pm »
So what do we do? We've seen that the large peaceful anti-Iraq war protests were useless, and we've seen that democracy is useless when parties can lie to the electorate with no accountability. Over here in the UK, students are protesting over increased tuition fees after a party that quite frankly heavily relies on the student and young people vote gets into power and then shits all over them. The protests get violent out of anger and desperation, the press cannot be relied upon to report these events fairly and all that happens is the police are thinking about using water cannons and more than one politician has suggested a ban on protesting to save money in these "hard times". And look at the Twitter joke trial, where a man's life is ruined over a flippant remark and the justice system just can't understand this technology in order to look at it properly.

The system we have is broken, all we can do is vote people in or out based on false promises. How many young people will vote next election? How many people old and young alike feel that they don't even have a party to vote for anymore. Left/right, red/blue, this labels are dated and useless to us now. We protest, we campaign, we write to our MPs and put up posters and scream at anyone who would listen but they are as powerless as me, and even a million people are powerless.

"You have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide"? Maybe now, in this society my sexuality is more-or-less acceptable, but we don't know who will be in charge in the future. Laws like the violent pornography laws, copyright law and ideas like the sex offenders register criminalise ordinary people but it's not good media to stand up for the "freaks" and the "revolutionaries". Healthcare spending is driven by opinion instead of fact, people vote for right-wing parties because they fall for the nice front-faces and don't think that the same parties would segregate "undesirables" and people like me.

I apologise this hasn't really gone anywhere, still trying to figure things out.

Offline Crimzen

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Re: Go back to bed, your government is in control
« Reply #9 on: December 16, 2010, 09:49:21 pm »
I agree with you. I dont even feel like voting when my vote doesnt even matter or count and in the end whoever wins just gets subject to: 'Well he was better than the last one' Does that really matter because they still didnt fix anything and they pretty much f*cked up regardless of your vote or support. Welcome to a world of sh*t

Offline dezo

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Re: Go back to bed, your government is in control
« Reply #10 on: December 16, 2010, 11:26:58 pm »
load the ion cannon!

Offline The Bringer

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Re: Go back to bed, your government is in control
« Reply #11 on: December 17, 2010, 02:56:05 am »
I dont like Dictators,
as a German guy i cant understand racism, but still i dont like every neighbor.
Doesnt matter if he/she is Italian, Greek, Turkish or German.
Am i a racist then?
While playing Civilization II i couldnt stand people demonstrating and a council
giving technology freely to other nations just to safe us from war.
Thats why i played as a fundamentalist. (its just a game)
Does that make me a hater of democracy
I like a democratic way,
but as mentioned before, some feel its not democratic enough anymore.

I live nearby Stuttgart, so some eventually heard of Stuttgart21.
This huge Project was planned long time ago.
At this early stage most people thought positive about it.
Nobody told them that it will be really expensive to build it
and that not only the "Deutsche Bahn" pay for it.
The whole Country will pay Mrd. of Euros for it.
Nobody told the People, now they cant back out of it.
It will be build. If people like or not.

Personally i consider myself not the "save money first" Kind of Guy.
But since knowing that Germany has debts of 1.600.000.000.000 Euros
I dont like the idea to spend money we dont have.

But to top that we Germans stand there as the Leader
of the Europian Fund Saver and Euro Saver.

I dont like to be a Oracle but if it goes on like this
the next World War is near. If it is the People having nothing
attacking people that have too much and dont want to share.
Or Terrorist getting hold of Nuclear Weapons and destroying
their evil Enemies in the name of their god.
Or Africans and Indiens raiding their northern Nations
for their wealth, Food and Water.

We will see or hopefully not, until then i try
to teach my daughter (9) some mathematics and grammar
and my son (5) how to behave himself by not hitting everyone
who tells him he is not getting this or that if not asking properly.

Peace Piet

PS: Do i really care if other People know when, what and how long im visiting which Pornsite.
 ??? ::) :o :-[
Hope the new avatar is OK :-/
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Offline harvey danger

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Re: Go back to bed, your government is in control
« Reply #12 on: December 17, 2010, 07:32:14 am »
Okay.

I understand where Gaz is coming from, but it seems like he's preaching to the choir here, non?
That's the problem with heroes, really. Their only purpose in life is to thwart others. They make no plans, develop no strategies. They react instead of act. Without villains, heroes would stagnate. Without heroes, villains would be running the world. Heroes have morals. Villains have work ethic.

Offline Skell

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Re: Go back to bed, your government is in control
« Reply #13 on: December 17, 2010, 11:22:47 am »
I dunno about you, but in my opinion the best you can do is just be a good person. There is enough shit in this world without you adding some more to it, and if you actually clean some of it then hey, it's even better!
If you raise your children well, you might actually 'improve' the next generation. If they raise their children well then we have more good people. And the more good people we have the better chance is that there will be competent and caring people in the government at least. Oh, and cutting their pays wouldn't be that bad too...

Well, call me naive but I think that's the best normal person can do.

Offline Shalinar

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Re: Go back to bed, your government is in control
« Reply #14 on: December 25, 2010, 08:00:04 am »
Quote
People who worry about a faceless government reading their e-mails and listening to their conversations - even if they don't have anything to hide - can neither talk or think freely.

This is the only part I disagree with. No matter how much a government censors, controls, and bans, they can never EVER take away a person's ability to think freely. Although we may not be able to speak our minds, our freedom of thought is something that cannot be taken away. It is the only true freedom we can always have.

"You can take the one thing I have left, beat me to the ground and take my breath, but you can't take who I am."