Surveillance Capitalism Wins

Yep. Surveillance capitalism is about to achieve its greatest victory with extreme ease. All that it needed to do was get the Bezos-owned newspaper to publish daily articles about “a scary virus,” and people lined up to get surveilled, controlled, traded, and modified.

It’s profoundly gratifying that there are two actual leftists – Wolf and Greenwald – who don’t eagerly fellate the big tech.

30 thoughts on “Surveillance Capitalism Wins”

  1. Implementing a kind of social credit system in the west may well be the long-term goal of global capital and their wokester Red Guards but achieving this goal will never rest on the slender reed of issuing vaccine or regular travel passports. Vaccines are not the motor of history.

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    1. And, may I add, that a form of vaccine passport has been around for many decades. I still have my yellow covered “International Certificate of Vaccination” issued by the Canadian federal government and stamped full of the many shots I received in the early 1970s when I worked in Central Africa. For international travel, I had to carry this certificate with me and present it at along with my travel passport in order to gain entry to various countries – without it I would have undoubtedly been turned back at the border. Of course, such vaccination records were filed somewhere at the time but would for at least the last decade or more be have been digitally recorded in a government server somewhere. So all the breathless “no escape once this platform unrolls” is just over-the-top Henny-Pennyism as far as I can make out.

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      1. “over-the-top Henny-Pennyism as far as I can make out.”

        I agree, much ado over nothing by the always hysterical Naomi Wolf. Everybody on active duty in the U. S. military has been issued a yellow “International Certificate of Vaccination” that they need to keep handy for overseas travel. Not a big deal at all.

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        1. I got my first one when I was 7, in the 60s, to go to Western Europe. I got my most recent one here, when I was going to Peru and to get in, needed yellow fever vaccine because I had a Brazilian visa in my passport, and Peru will not let you in without yellow fever vaccine if you have been to Brazil.

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      2. “still have my yellow covered “International Certificate of Vaccination””

        They’re not talking about a piece of paper, but an app tied to a central data collection service. And sure as milk left out of the fridge too long will go bad before you know it this app will (for the sake of ‘convenience’) linked to your bank account(s) and it will be accessed dozens of times a day…

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        1. “They’re not talking about a piece of paper, but an app…”

          Sure. But to repeat, vaccination info has been digitized for at least a decade, probably two, on government servers. So what? Capacity, yes – but then intent and implementation are required to weaponize this or any other information against citizens.

          It’s about power and a “vaccine passport” system isn’t needed to assert power when national elections can be fixed right out in the open in front of everybody and a major capital city has tens of thousands of troops installed with no other purpose than intimidating potential political opponents. Have at it – ignore the elephant in the room and climb aboard the anti-vaxxer clown cars!

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          1. This is a lot more serious than troops in DC or the election. The troops and the elections are outdated, irrelevant categories. We need to let them go and concentrate on what matters today.

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            1. “The troops and the elections are outdated, irrelevant categories.”

              If you say so… (look away, look away!)

              Me, I’m sticking with the whole outdated and irrelevant “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun” thing – what did that Mao understand about running a revolution anyway?

              Tough to teach old dogs like me new tricks and get them to “concentrate on what matters today” (like vaccine passports, I suppose.)

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              1. The barrels of guns have squarely lost to the power of apps. The president of the US didn’t manage to prevent a couple of techie wimps from deplatforming him. He couldn’t stop months of violent riots. He couldn’t stop the destruction of a great economy that was going to win him the election. He couldn’t stop the destruction of the election itself. He couldn’t even prevent the army itself from brainwashing the soldiers with CRT.

                The real power is in the hands of those who can shut us all up and lock us in our houses because it’s convenient to them. And none of it is achieved with guns.

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              2. @Clarissa: “The real power is in the hands of those who can shut us all up and lock us in our houses because it’s convenient to them. And none of it is achieved with guns.”

                The power of the gun is still the most important, since it is the gun in the hand of a police officer who upholds whatever law is in place that the information from the app is using.

                To illustrate, look at how police dealt with protestors in Portland vs protestors at the Capitol. In Portland, guns stayed in holsters, and laws went unenforced. At the Capitol, guns came out and even some people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time were arrested.

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              3. “The real power is in the hands of those who can shut us all up and lock us in our houses because it’s convenient to them. And none of it is achieved with guns.”

                Okay, challenge accepted.

                I’ll match you 5 battalions of public health bureaucrats (of your choosing) against 5% of the 4000-5000 National Guard troops (chosen randomly) currently occupying Washington on behalf of the Cultural Revolutionary wokesters. (Pro tip – it won’t even be close.)

                Chairman Mao: “Every Communist must grasp the truth, ‘Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.’ Our principle is that the Party commands the gun, and the gun must never be allowed to command the Party. Yet, having guns, we can create Party organizations, as witness the powerful Party organizations which the Eighth Route Army has created in northern China. We can also create cadres, create schools, create culture, create mass movements. Everything in Yenan has been created by having guns. All things grow out of the barrel of a gun. According to the Marxist theory of the state, the army is the chief component of state power. Whoever wants to seize and retain state power must have a strong army.”

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              4. “Okay, challenge accepted.

                I’ll match you 5 battalions of public health bureaucrats (of your choosing) against 5% of the 4000-5000 National Guard troops (chosen randomly) currently occupying Washington on behalf of the Cultural Revolutionary wokesters. (Pro tip – it won’t even be close.)”

                I have personally witnessed police officers charged with murders everyone knew they did not commit for the sake of putting on a show trial for political purposes, while their police commissioner, minister, police union, and fellow officers did nothing.

                The reason that they did nothing is because the bureaucrats coaching the politicians of the jurisdiction also control hiring policy and salaries within the police force, while also knowing about various indiscretions and crimes of essential staff within police administration, which stops any of the necessary checks and balances from checking or balancing anything.

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  2. Hasn’t this blog said before that Greenwald and Wolfe were part of the oversimplifying left?

    Or the general rebels, or the group of lazy slackers, I don’t know. The other day I walked into class carrying, but not wearing my mask. I forgot to put it on and started talking and the students did not have their masks on either, so I really forgot. Then I realized and said my God! We’ve got to put on these masks, y’all! So we put them on.

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  3. I live in a place where politicians, public servants, and even judges act in bad faith very commonly. In my opinion, the woman is early, not wrong.

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  4. Have you seen Minna Sundberg’s little webcomic on the subject? It is brilliantly done, and just tells the story of where this goes, without making the point-by-point rational arguments about it. As art does.

    Behold: the story of fluffy bunnies dealing with the rollout of their new social credit system:
    https://www.hummingfluff.com/lovelypeoplecomic.html

    Also, have been contemplating what it means that Spain is rolling out a 4-day workweek. What does this mean in Spain? In America it would mean that regular hourly-wage people would all be working 2 jobs to make ends meet (exactly what happened when we declared that “full-time” must include benefits, and everybody got their hours cut). But I don’t know what it means in Spain. Is it related to Spain being the most hardcore about lockdowns and economic reset?

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    1. Spain has a weird labor system. They introduced fantastic benefits for full-time jobs a few decades ago. As a result, nobody wants to hire full-time. Even at best times, the unemployment in Spain stands at 20%. That’s considered great numbers and a booming economy. A tiny number of people have cushy full-time jobs with amazing benefits. They guard those jobs through a system of corruption and clientelism.

      The rest exist on a patchwork of temp gigs interspersed with unemployment benefits. This, in turn, forces the government to borrow like crazy to pay the benefits to a population that’s, in the best of times, 20% unemployed. The young are constantly at 45-50% unemployed. This means they are forced to live with parents and can’t start families. Spanish fertility rates are in the toilet as a result.

      And it all started so well with the idea to give generous benefits to everybody. But as always, the idealistic plans didn’t take into account economic reality. This new plan for a shorter week it’s a joke in a country where most of the population is already doomed to never having a full-time contract. Spain offers a big lesson on how the best intentions in labor law turn out to be neoliberal torture for people.

      Sorry for a rant. I feel deeply on this issue because I know people whose lives have been thwarted by this insanity.

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      1. “But as always, the idealistic plans didn’t take into account economic reality.”

        In my experience, politicians and public servants have absolutely no problem making a so-called “mistake” that benefits them personally while destroying the lives, livelihoods, or futures of young people.

        Afterwards, jobs and contracts are given as a gift to any new politician, public servant etc to make sure that whatever unfair situation was created by the “mistake” isn’t fixed.

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        1. So true. When the minimum wage increase was announced in Illinois, our student workers were overjoyed. Then we had to fire them all because we don’t have money to pay the new $15 wage. Now we have 1 person doing the work of 4 and the other 3 are out of a job.

          The funniest thing is that the only person who knew this was going to happen was me. Everybody else was saying, “oh, how great for the student workers.”

          I don’t want always to be negative but what can I do?

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      2. It is a similar problem to that of maternal leave. I am familiar with how things work in some of the countries with a very generous maternal leave. The endpoint of that policy is that it is very difficult for women in their 20ies and 30ies to find a good job, because what if they will need to take maternal leave soon? The laws require the employer to hire temporary replacements for women on maternal leave, which can be up to a period of 2-3 years per child. Of course, officially, no one tells these women that this is the reason for not getting the job (that would be discrimination), but everyone understands what is going on.

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        1. I feel like something similar is now happening to minority job candidates in engineering/technology fields with all these diversity and inclusion efforts. Five years ago, people would interview the good candidates, many of whom did land jobs. Now, I feel like people are so scared of minority candidates with a history of “minority outreach efforts” that they don’t even make it to the interview stage. It’s sad.

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  5. It’s alarming that now Naomi Wolf has become a Nazi right wing tin foil hat white supremicist racist misogynist (/s).

    Well. That sarcastic part isn’t the alarm. It’s that someone like her, TYPICALLY associated with the left, can be sounding the alarm so loudly. Props to her for being balanced.

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    1. God, I thought you were serious at first. But yes, this is what one immediately becomes after expressing even the mildest disagreement with any of these fashionable policies.

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  6. I don’t see this stuff becoming very common place or successful. By the time it’s properly implemented, the pandemic will be over.

    I am happy to see strong push back against this. It’s really a terrible idea and a terrible use of blockchain technology.

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    1. “I don’t see this stuff becoming very common place or successful. By the time it’s properly implemented, the pandemic will be over.”

      The virus is likely endemic at this point in time. Even if it weren’t, the virus has proved that it can shut down entire economies, which means that it will be viewed by governments as being a potential weapon that might be released at any time, hence warranting a vaccine.

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    2. “By the time it’s properly implemented, the pandemic will be over.”

      Right. It’s not about the pandemic. It’s about control. And once this pandemic is over, the mechanisms of control will remain in place, to be used for whatever purpose our overlords see fit.

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      1. That’s precisely why this is a disturbing development. We have already heard it repeated ad nauseam that “structural racism is a public health issue.” Now anybody accused of racism – which can be absolutely anybody – can be tracked and excluded from public life as a public health menace. And it’s one of a million examples.

        Once we normalize that it’s OK to prevent people from accessing banking, schooling, travel, etc, to protect “public health”, then all you need to do is expand the definition of public health. This has mostly been done already.

        It’s already been argued that opposing puberty blockers is a menace to public health. How hard is it to link this “public health passport” to a social media report that calculates how many times you expressed support for banning puberty blockers? And then deny you access on that basis? The technology already exists.

        The people who compare this with proof of childhood vaccination are either faking it or, I’m sorry, irredeemably stupid. This is not about vaccines. This is about political and social control within surveillance capitalism.

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  7. A lot of what’s happening is that we’ve always, more or less, lived in somewhat of a “default” society (and world, for that matter)—and that a lot of discrimination and tyranny normally only committed against those society determined “don’t matter” has now finally spilled over onto a lot of the “normal” sectors: the working class, the middle class, and the low end of the upper echelons statuses.
    A lot of these “newcomers” are simply experiencing the culture shock that accompanies having been “respectable” to now being “disposable”.

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    1. “experiencing the culture shock that accompanies having been “respectable” to now being “disposable””

      I’m wondering if that’s where some of the embrace of horrible online “learning” comes from… they feel if they appease those behind it enough they can scratch their way back to respectable.

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