Thursday, December 27, 2018

The Gulags Were Less Harsh Than American Prisons Are

     Contrary to what we have been told, gulags are a humane alternative to the American criminal justice system, which is based on punishment instead of rehabilitation, restoration, reintegration into society, and learning skills.
     The term "Gulag" is an acronym for Glavnoe Upravlenie ispravitel'no-trudovykh LAGerei, which translates to Main Administration of (corrective) Labor camps. That was the name of the Soviet bureaucracy which operated the prison labor camps, and penal colonies, that existed under the Soviet system.
     As many as 1.5 or 2 million people were imprisoned in the gulags at any one given time. While the gulags were known for being forced-labor camps, I believe that some elements of the system were desirable, and thus, should be retained, while rejecting the element of forced labor.

     First off, what were the benefits of the gulag system? For one, it helps eliminate long sentences.
     While it may seem ridiculous, at first glance, to claim such a thing, since many prisoners toiled in the labor camps for years, prisoners did not serve any longer than 10 years. This is more than you can say for the American system (in which life sentences can be given), or even the Norwegian system (which can incarcerate an individual for no longer than 21 years).
     The idea of the gulag system having a ten-year limit, was that if a ten-year sentence was not going to rehabilitate a prisoner, then a longer sentence wouldn't be likely to achieve that goal either. Of course, killing prisoners after 10 years is cruel; however, it would arguably give the prisoners “incentive” to behave themselves (although, in truth, it is a threat, not a truly positive incentive).
     The fact that many prisoners served long sentences, should help account for the many deaths in the gulags. The fact that gulag prisoners were living in the cold of Siberia, and were exposed to the harsh elements of that climate – a situation which is difficult to survive whether you're a prisoner or not – ought to help explain why many of the deaths “from gulags” were really just deaths “in gulags”.
     Additionally, the numbers of people who died in the gulags have been routinely over-estimated by scholars. While author and security analysis consultant John Heidenrich puts that number at 12 million, various other reliable estimates put the number of gulag prisoners who died in the camps at only 2.3 million.

     Another benefit of the gulag system is that it was arguably less cruel to prisoners who have families than the American prison system is.
     Also, some gulag prisoners were even allowed to move their families to the places where they were being detained. Although this statement could be construed to excuse slave plantations, or the imprisonment of whole families, it could also be argued that allowing families to move to places of detention is more humane; at least as far as the prisoner is concerned.
     Also, in comparison to how American prisoners serving long sentences are treated, with their privileges to see their families limited. It could even be said that many American fathers, who have committed no crime other than to be divorcees, have less of a right of visitation than did those gulag prisoners whom were allowed to live with their families.

     Another advantage of the gulag system – or, for that matter, any prison, or system of prison labor camps – is that it accomplishes the bare minimum of how to deal with dangerous criminals: take away their freedom in some way, while secluding them far away from anyone they might hurt, until it can be shown that they are no longer a danger to others, and have been rehabilitated.
     Although spreading prisoners out arguably puts prisoners “right in my backyard”, the case can also be made that spreading prisoners out helps eliminate the problems associated with the overcrowding of prisons. Namely, the possibility of prisoners attacking or raping each other, and the risk of outbreaks of contagious disease.

     Yet another advantage of the gulag system is that the prisoners provide for themselves through working. While it is true that, in American prisons, prisoners acquire skills and education, but their labor is also exploited for surplus profit. Some states even have no minimum wage for prison labor, or a minimum wage of only several cents per hour.
     Prison labor should not be exploited for the profit of others. But a prisoner cannot be reintegrated into society until he has acquired the skills and education necessary to become independent and self-sustaining. That is what is necessary for prisoners to provide for themselves while in prison, so that taxpayers do not have to foot the bill to keep potentially violent criminals alive; and that is what is necessary for prisoners to provide for themselves when released from prison.

     The gulag system, as bad as its reputation was, served a purpose. It got criminals far away from people they might harm. The limited sentences, and the dispersed nature of the prisons, prevented overcrowding, and the problems associated with it.
     It is possible to have prisoners provide for themselves, without either working them to death, or giving them too much freedom. If prisoners must work, then they should be adequately compensated, and those who prefer to work outside in the fresh air should be given that opportunity.
     If you remove the forced labor from the equation, the gulags - rather than being a horror story and a warning about what our prison system could become – could serve as an example for how the American prison system could be improved.
     Although this may sound cruel, or indifferent to the horrors suffered by gulag prisoners, I maintain that if the U.S. were to adopt the positive aspects of the gulag system – by reducing a sentence to a mere factual deprivation of freedom – then it could make its own prison system less cruel.

     Additionally, if the U.S. did so, it would be better able to easily shift its focus from a punishment- and suppression- based model criminal justice - working prisoners like beasts, and treating them as if they are certain to offend again - to one based on restoring the status of the wronged person(s), and rehabilitating criminals.



Post-Script
     In 2013, the U.S. incarceration rate was 716 per 100,000, and it peaked in 2008 around 1,000 per 100,000. Despite the mass incarceration of some 110,000 Japanese-American citizens during World War II, the incarceration rate for the U.S. never exceeded 140 per 100,000 during the war.
     The Soviet Union, on the other hand - if we assume that no more than 1,500,000 were in gulags at any one time - can claim only a maximum 800 incarcerated per 100,000.

     The U.S.S.R. under Stalin cannot boast lower incarceration rates than the U.S.; these rates were similar, and comparable; not wildly dissimilar in a way that should show favor of either power. The similar incarceration rates should not reflect negatively on either government any more than the other.
     That being said, though, I think it would be fair to try to argue that, if two countries have similar incarceration rates, then if one treats its inmates more humanely, then that country would logically be the one with the less harsh prison system.




See the following link to learn more:
The Truth About the Soviet Gulag – Surprisingly Revealed by the CIA”

http://www.greanvillepost.com/2018/10/09/the-truth-about-the-soviet-gulag-surprisingly-revealed-by-the-cia/?fbclid=IwAR1THQZHyMaZQuXnYF5v9KdUeKqtuud_J9yeM3Bph8pM6aFekrERn1seoJg






Originally Written on December 27th, 2018
Originally Published on December 27th, 2018

Edited and Expanded on January 4th, 2019
Edited on January 6th and February 14th, 2019

Post-Script Written and Added on January 6th, 2019
Link Added on May 1st, 2019

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Non-Aggression Principle Poster, and Explanation



     I have written the following as both an explanation of the above poster regarding the Non-Aggression Principle (N.A.P.), and as a response to a question about contract enforcement in a so-called “Anarcho-Capitalist” (or market-anarchist) voluntary society.

     A Facebook user posted to a libertarian discussion group the following question:

     “Honest question here for libcaps. [that is, “libertarian capitalists”] Are you okay with authoritarian force, so long as it's committed by a private party?
     For example, let's say a private company loans an individual $1,000. The individual makes the payments on time for a while, but then begins to miss payments.
     Would you advocate the company hiring a private police force to show up to the individual's house, and physically extract the amount owed from the debtor, or seize the debtor's property?”


     Another Facebook user responded that anarcho-capitalist libertarians' favored alternative to state police forces, is to allow companies to hire private police forces to do just that; show up at people's houses to collect the debt in person, or else seize assets whose value would cover the amount owed.

     Before I post my response to the original question, I would like to ask something about the question. First off, what is meant by a “private” company or “private” party? If this is a purely libertarian, anarcho-capitalist, voluntary society, then, presumably, a private company or party would be totally unaffiliated with the state or the government. That means the company wouldn't be regulated by the government, nor taxed by it, nor would they have to abide by requirements to obtain licenses.
     Shouldn't this beg the question, “Why would a company choose to use government-issued money – one thousand U.S. Dollars – to account for what its debtors owe to it?” Isn't a voluntary, libertarian society supposed to have competing currencies and competing moneys? If we had the choice of any money or currency in the world, with no government on Earth banning any of them, why would anyone choose to use the U.S. Dollar over a more sound currency?
     The only practical way for the U.S. Dollar, much less any currency, to become a worldwide reserve currency, is through force, imperialism, and conquest. Sure, a voluntary currency could be adopted worldwide, but when the U.S. Dollar has asserted its dominance on the worldwide stage, especially in the guise of the Petrodollar, the dollar's dominance has not, for the most part, been adopted on voluntary terms.
     Wouldn't a voluntary, libertarian society – one of consistent anti-statism – consist of basically a total boycott of the state and all state-affiliated institutions? If it would, then where can I find an enterprise to work with, or work for, which does not accept U.S. dollars, does not pay taxes, is neither regulated nor licensed, nor receives any utilities nor privileges nor protections from the state, nor even registers its property ownership with the state!?
     What kind of stateless society do we have, if all properties are to be registered with the state? Registration does not confirm ownership; it reduces the owner to a mere occupant. That has nothing to do with real private property, and it sure as Hell has nothing to do with either real anarcho-”capitalism”, nor a market-anarchist society, nor a voluntary nor libertarian society, nor a stateless society.

     My response to the original question begins:

     “I'm not a former ancap [“Anarcho-Capitalist”], but rather someone who has given up talking about how AnCapistan [a generic term for a hypothetical anarcho-capitalist society] could succeed, out of frustration with fellow ancaps”

     I began my comment in this manner because around 2011 or 2012, I began to notice that many libertarians were more enthusiastic about the idea that capitalism would be the dominant economic system in a voluntary society, while I was more excited about the possibility of choosing from among many different economic systems.
     Many or most libertarians evidently feel that capitalism – or free markets (which they regard as the same thing) – is the only fully voluntary economic system. Anyone who has read my work from the last 6 or 7 years will know that I disagree.
     This disagreement has led to countless arguments between left-leaning and right-leaning libertarians about how “socialism is fascism”, “socialism leads to fascism”, “the Nazis were socialist”, “socialism killed hundreds of millions”, and “all non-individualist-capitalist ideologies are collectivist and therefore fascist”, against myself, who has been arguing that lumping all of these things together as if they were the same thing, will only make them harder to understand, and, if necessary, defeat.

     But it is not necessary to “defeat” collectively-managed, non-state-affiliated, not-for-profit – that is, fully private - contract enforcement agents, nor security guards. Not as long as the person whom is having “authoritarian force” (as the original question asked) applied against them - in order to exact the debt and recoup what's owed – freely volunteers to be physically restrained or arrested, or have force used against them if they resist, as a potential consequence of failing to live up to something he contractually promised.
     And, of course, there should be a contract spelling this out in the first place. Any contract of surety, contract of trust, financial contract, or contract wherein physical harm or death could result as a consequence, should detail the circumstances in which a person must surrender themselves into custody for non-payment. But that doesn't mean he'd surrender himself to the police, it means he'd surrender himself to a non-state-affiliated debt collection agency, with its own professional recovery team, trained in non-violent means of apprehension, and knowledge of de-escalation tactics, and the ability to explain clearly that the person agreed in their contract to submit to custody if he does not pay his debts.
     But this idea should not be taken to mean that each person must choose a debt collection agency. Nor does it mean that people could be pressured to choose one. At least not in any way that satisfies the Non-Aggression Principle, being that aggression includes coercion, which presumably includes veiled threats, intimidation, harassment, psychological torture, stalking, or even pressure.
     Hopefully this makes sense to the reader. Unfortunately, many self-described “anarcho-capitalists” do not see it this way. This is partially due to their incorrect assumption that when I say that the N.A.P. should be construed to prohibit those forms of covert aggression (really, passive-aggression) in addition to more overt, direct forms of aggression, that makes me a “statist” because I supposedly mean that the government should do something about covert aggression.
     I am not saying that in the least. I am simply saying that – in addition to people not hitting, murdering, stealing from, and defrauding people – we must also not pressure people into “volunteering” for things that they do not genuinely want to do, and feel comfortable doing, without another person nagging them, and taking away perfectly viable alternatives for no good reason.
     That is as clear as I can possibly make it. I hope that my response to the original question asked by the Facebook user, will help elucidate my vision of a stateless, market-anarchist, voluntary libertarian society further:

     “I would answer 'yes [that is, I would advocate the company hire a private police force to recover their debt from the debtor in person], but only:
     1) if the person getting arrested, agrees to be arrested, as part of the terms of his contract. He should not be pressured into accepting violent arrest in any way, he should actively and enthusiastically want that [arrest] to be one of the potential consequences of defaulting on the loan, and it should be specifically stipulated in the contract.”

     By “he should actively and enthusiastically want that [arrest] to be one of the potential consequences”, I do not mean to encourage people to choose to be arrested, nor do I mean that a person should be obligated to submit to the possibility of arrest; quite the opposite.
     I mean to say that if a person would not agree to be arrested as a consequence of not paying his debt, then he should not sign a contract agreeing to be arrested in such circumstances. Only if he really insists that he should be arrested; say, since he's a man of convictions, or very confident about his ability to pay his debt back, or both, or whatever reason.

     But my point is that a person should not sign an agreement to be physically subdued for failing to abide by a contract, unless they are in no way pressured, nor coerced, into assenting to arrest (for example, because there is social pressure to use police violence or violence in general as a response to all problems, or because there are supposedly no non-violent methods of debt exaction, etc.). Assent is not consent.

     I continued:

     “Also, 2) the 'private' agency must not be sponsored by, nor affiliated with, nor protected nor subsidized by, any government, in any way.
     And 3) the private collection or arresting agency must not be required to operate on a for-profit basis. And
     4) the agency, preferably, would not accept any currency issued by a government.

     Additionally, I would urge people not to borrow money in the first place. Also, I would urge people to join into communities and voluntary associations which voluntarily choose [i.e., unanimously] to oppose usury and pernicious lending.
     That way, people who want to make their living from manipulating money, and pressuring people to go into debt, could not be lumped-into any political association, nor economic trust with others without their express consent.
     I don't endorse any bordered, nor geographically bounded, political arrangements, though, except for bioregionalism.


     I hope that I have clearly explained what firms would be like in a totally stateless, voluntary, libertarian society: non-state-affiliated, untaxed, not regulated by the state, not required to get a license nor a permit in order to operate, not required to register its property to the government, not obligated to operate on a for-profit basis, and not required to use government-issued currency.
     It would be hard to justify banning something in a voluntary society, but really, how can you call a society fully anarchist and stateless, if large numbers of people are going around using currencies issued by governments that no longer exist?


     Maybe another post I wrote will explain it concisely. Here's something I wrote to explain how interpreting the Non-Aggression Principle as meaning to prohibit a broader range of coercive activities than previously thought, is not necessarily a call for larger government, nor for any government at all:


     When I say "Usury, exploitation, pressure, harassment, and manipulation are all examples of coercion - a soft form of aggression, and a veiled threat - and are therefore unacceptable",
     I'm not saying "The state should be large and powerful enough to ban these things (in addition to performing the essential functions of providing a military, a treasury and common currency, and designating roads)",
     Nor am I saying "The Non-Aggression Principle is too narrow to encompass these less obvious forms of coercion and soft aggression".

     I'm saying "These things are wrong, and the state - being based on the monopolistic hoarding of the legal right to commit acts of violence in order to do something about it - can only make things worse, and increase abuses, and increase violations of the N.A.P., and that's why the idea that the state could handle military, treasury, or roads, was flawed from the start".
     I'm not calling for more enforcement, nor am I calling for more state violence, nor for expanding the size and scope of the federal government, nor of any government. Non-for-profit, non-state-affiliated firms can enforce people's wishes to ban these practices, if people insist that they be physically stopped from doing things they agreed not to do. No state necessary.
     All I'm calling for is for people to notice when they're coercing or pressuring others, and to stop themselves. And to know that assent is not enough. Enthusiastic and informed consent - as well as mutual benefit - must be our standards for judging whether an interaction or transaction is voluntary.

     The previous sentence should help explain why I included prohibitions on “one-sided deals” in the poster. This is not to say that gifts should be prohibited – because one could argue that only the receiver benefits from a gift – gifts are not one-sided deals, as long as the gift is not given with the intent of manipulating nor shaming the recipient, nor with the intent of pressuring the recipient into reciprocating with another gift.
     But, of course, there's nothing wrong with reciprocation, either; in fact, mutual benefit and voluntary participation are equally valuable components of a transaction which is voluntary on the part of all people involved. It's just that people shouldn't pressure others into reciprocating, because that defeats the point, and the spirit, of giving gifts. A gift should be given out of the genuine kindness of one's heart; not to manipulate people.
     And manipulation is one of the kinds of coercive behaviors which I feel should be prohibited by the Non-Aggression Principle (because coercion is a soft form of aggression).

     I do not intend to imply that it would be possible, nor even that it should necessarily be our specific goal, to eliminate all pressure from the world. Indeed, it would, no doubt, require some degree of pressure to convince people that coercion is bad, when they refuse to believe in it.
     But I mention this argument only to disprove it. The above argument willfully blurs the distinction between peaceful, rhetorical argumentation, and coercive, veiled threats. Any student of Hans-Hermann Hoppe or Stefan Molyneux – and their anarcho-capitalist-beloved “argumentation ethics” and the “against me” argument – will know that the first person in a debate who resorts to issuing veiled threats against the other person, loses the debate.
     Molyneux explained that, the way he understands argumentation ethics, to call for any form of violence – even state action and state enforcement – is to lose the debate, and concede defeat, because it is to admit that you can't win the argument without calling on the state to force your debate opponent to submit to the idea that you're proposing or defending.
     I, for one, agree with Molyneux's assessment, that that idea is part of morality, and part of the Non-Aggression Principle. The lesson of this is that we must all refrain from issuing veiled threats when we try to convince others of our ideas. To do otherwise is to admit that the only argument in your arsenal is “because I said so”. I hope that that will help enlighten the reader as to why I included issuing ultimatums in the list of prohibited activities under the N.A.P..


Post-Script:
     For those interested in the details of how voluntary contract enforcement would work in a stateless society, I recommend reading any political theory written by Samuel E. Konkin III, Robert P. Murphy, or Roderick T. Long. I would especially recommend reading those articles which concern dispute-resolution organizations (D.R.O.s), how D.R.O.s would interact with one another, how people and companies would choose who defends them both physically and contractually, and how private law and private security could replace state law and state security.
     For those interested in topics related to the non-violent apprehension of criminals and debts, I recommend reading anarchist literature concerning the abolition of prisons, studying claims that the gulag system had humane aspects, watching the prison reform scenes in Michael Moore's 2015 film Where to Invade Next, studying non-violent resistance, and following the advice in the Lord's Prayer that we be forgiven our debts "as we forgive our debtors".



Image Created on December 20th, 2018
Image Originally Published on December 20th, 2018
Image Edited and Re-Published on January 11th, 2019

Explanation Written and Added on December 27th, 2018
Post-Script Added on December 27th, 2018
Post-Script Edited and Expanded on January 11th, 2019

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

On China and "The Beast": Class and Caste, Social Credit and Numbering People, and the Uyghur Muslims

     I have read that the Chinese government keeps it secret exactly how the social score is calculated. But I have also heard a rumor that it has five levels (from Alex Jones, I believe). I would expect that it would be much more complicated than that. In fact, it has recently come out that Chinese citizens start-out with 1,000 “points”, and then have points added or deducted, to reflect good and bad deeds they've been seen doing.
     Whether or not there's any truth to the idea that the Chinese social credit system is a five-tiered system in some respect for example, perhaps there are five ranges of numbers, and 1,000 is in the middle range it reminds me of the Hindu caste system, which has four levels and a fifth underclass.
     It seems bizarre to me that such systems are practiced as openly as they are. Most brazenly, China currently dispatches agents to collect information about good and bad deeds about several thousand people in a given neighborhood, and there is no attempt to keep this practice secret whatsoever. I would not be surprised if it turned out that many Chinese citizens thought it was a good idea.
     Below appear some images explaining caste systems throughout history. Some are socialist propaganda posters which criticize hierarchy and domination of workers, while others are images inspired by libertarian philosophy (including an illustration of mine, featuring two pyramids, from my 2012 article “Two Competing Class Theories”), which criticize hierarchy in their own unique way.











[All above images borrowed from other sites without permission.
Copywrong, all rights reversed :)

I claim creative commons and fair use of all images
not bearing authorship accreditation within the image itself.]


My own image, published in 2014







     Above appears an image of the U.S. Homeland Security system, which has five levels, like the Hindu caste system. Some people have noted how the terror threat level was changed by the government, numerous times, following incidents wherein negative news came out about the Bush administration, and have accused the administration of using the terror alert system to distract people from Bush's crimes.
     The terror alert levels system is not directly relevant to the social credit system, but I mention it because it is a propaganda tool used by the government to terrorize the populace. This is to say that it is an image which overtly and obviously displays a hierarchical symbol (depicting a hierarchy of risk levels), while it is covertly being used to further the aims of the people at the top of the political power structure (to keep people in fear). Additionally, it is worth mentioning that introducing a five-tiered system to the public, concerning any subject matter, could potentially result in a more widespread acceptance of numbering systems applied to any and all types of human activities, whether economic or security-related in nature or not.
     I think it's important to notice hierarchies, whether they are hidden or out in the open. In "conspiracy theorist" circles, there's something called "the open conspiracy": a conspiracy so obvious and “un-hidden” that it's impossible to deny. Maybe it's also seen as an everyday activity, or as a tolerable “necessary evil”. I would say, and many would agree, that belonging to a cult based on exalting and excusing personal greed, is one of such everyday activities. People are allowed to defraud others in the name of feeding their families, doing their job, and obeying the law, and that lowest common denominator becomes the new standard of moral leadership. That's how countries lose their moral authority, embracing the idea that morality is determined by legality. This everyday evil is what philosopher Hannah Arendt referred to as “the banality of evil”.
     Another open conspiracy is the idea that collaboration – and even collusion  is fine, as long as it's done openly. Many believe that conspiracy theorists are crazy, and that conspiracies don't happen (despite the facts that conspiracy to commit murder and other crimes happen all the time, and that police investigators get “conspiracy theories” all the time). Since many people who have no problem with open collusion, seem to also doubt conspiracy theories, they may have a sense of cognitive dissonance, until they resolve this conflict by pretending that collaboration and conspiracy are any different from one another.




     One thing I criticize Americans for is that they reject the idea that there's anything we ought to be able to do (even use our own property, or rather what we think is our own property) without paying and begging the government, and/or a private owner, in order to do so. And with that, too, comes filling out forms, working to earn government-printed money to pay fees to process the forms, paying taxes, following regulations, and participating in several government programs.
     All this bureaucratic nonsense is what is required nowadays to work, marry, hunt, defend oneself with a firearm, vote, drive, get a library card, and extend any tiny degree of real ownership over anything we think we own. Few Americans can identify these freedoms as something that the Ninth Amendment to the Constitution was supposed to uphold, and that is because we are never taught about that amendment. The average American student would be lucky to have recited it a single time, much less discussed its meaning in class.
     Our 4th Amendment right to be secure in our persons, papers, homes, etc., is somewhat taught about, but most people assume that if you need an I.D. in order to drive, and vote, then you need it for everything else. They never stop to ask why, or whether, we "need I.D." in order to drive and vote in the first place. Aside from needing to breathe, eat, drink, eliminate, sleep, and a few other things – what nature requires of us – governmentally-imposed “needs” can only take freedoms away from us. Aside from the necessities of life, we only “need” what we require the law to order us to “need”. (That is, only if we are really in control of what laws get implemented).
     The American and Chinese systems seem obsessed with establishing databases of people's identity, complete with biometric information about them (height, weight, eye and hair color, birth date, etc.). I believe that this is, plainly, a violation of our liberties. Only people who have committed crimes against people and justly acquired property, deserve to be tagged, tracked, and forced to identify themselves. The only people who should be arrested are those who are properly presented with real evidence they've committed a crime, and a claim from a real person of interest who can claim victimhood, and presented with a warrant from a judge specifically describing what is to be searched and for what type(s) of evidence they are searching.
     In my opinion, the very idea that a baby ought to be fingerprinted and footprinted, and given a number at birth, ought to frighten any rational person who is concerned about their family's safety. It ought to insult anyone who has just carefully chosen a child's name instead of a number. It ought to shock anyone who believes that a person should not be held to answer, nor have his right to security in his person or property violated, until after he's been convicted of committing a crime (or else it's proven that he must be detained because he's a clear and present danger to people around him). Show me a baby whom has committed murder, and I'll show you the only baby who deserves to be forcibly I.D.'d and fingerprinted on his way out of his mother's womb. How ridiculous!
     Unfortunately, since 9/11, and the Patriot Act, due process norms like those I mentioned, have been routinely violated. And, at that, more and more each year, with courts agreeing to destroy barriers which previously kept police out of our homes for various reasons. On and on it goes. Not to mention the cameras everywhere in the U.S., Western Europe, and China; cameras on government buildings, police vehicle cameras, red-light cameras at intersections, the phenomenon of people “consenting” to be spied on by privately owned cameras, and so on.
     America used to value privacy, and yet Americans are still obsessed with private property. That's why it's ironic and perplexing that many Americans believe that nobody has, or should have, an expectation of privacy. Even in “our own homes”, most of which, it turns out, are owned by landlords, homeowner's associations, banks, and government (which shows it's the true owner when it levies property taxes and requires us to register our land claims).
     Nor are we free to exert any degree of privacy in public. Some say Muslim women shouldn't be free to wear headscarves. Well, nuns wear frocks, so what are you going to do, take nuns' clothes off in the streets like an 18th century French revolutionary? Is an Islamic woman who is encouraged to wear a veil - as a compliment to her good looks, and in the interest of promoting her safety from men - necessarily more oppressed than a woman in a Western country whom is expected, or required as part of her job, to dress in a revealing fashion?
     You might say, “Taking a photo of someone who's wearing a head covering, defeats the purpose of photo identification.” But to that, I say “Taking a person's head covering off for a photo I.D. defeats the purpose of a head covering; to show what they usually look like.” To take a picture of someone's face when they don't consent to it, is to defeat the purpose of a human being: to live in dignity.




     On the topic of Islam, it pains me to hear stories about Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang (in the West of China) being arrested en masse, and possibly put into concentration camps, having their graves dug up to make room for government projects, Uyghur women forced to marry Han Chinese men, etc.. I'm not sure how many of these stories are true, but even if just a few of them are, the situation in Xinjiang is disturbing, and looks like a humanitarian catastrophe, whether in the making or already occurring.
     I recently discovered that what preceded World War II and the Holocaust – and, effectively, what was used to justify those horrific events – was a large refugee / migration crisis. Essentially, many nations decided to try to fix their economies by expelling foreigners in droves, and few countries would accept them. [Note: To better understand what the world's views on refugees and immigrants were at the time, you can read about the Evian Conference, the S.S. St. Louis, F.D.R.'s late "I hate war" speeches, and U.S. trade with the Nazis (including Prescott Bush's management of Nazi financier Fritz Thyssen's American accounts) until late in the war.]
     The situation with the Uyghurs, and the looming international refugee crisis, are why it worries me that continuing to pass-off responsibility to take-in refugees to other countries, and assuming other countries will take them in, will lead to the same situation that led to World War II. All the signals are here: a widespread and still growing embrace of ultra-nationalism; and adoption of a wartime economic system that favored high degrees of government intrusion in, and direction of, the economy.
     And all of this – just like WWII after the Great Depression – was preceded by overproduction of automobiles, and too high a degree of faith in America's government and its banking institutions (which effectively own the government). I believe that soon, America's reason for expelling foreigners - “we can't afford them anymore” - will change to “we don't need them anymore”. And that is what people said about the Jews before the Nazis began to destroy them.
     As an aside: Incidentally, the B.D.S. (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) movement must never grow into a boycott of all Jewish shops; the outcome would be a second Krystallnacht (I see this danger as yet another reason for B.D.S. to focus its boycott efforts solely upon firms located in occupied territories the Holy Land).
     I think about some of the stories I've heard coming out of China, like about organ trafficking, and children in classrooms hooked up to saline drips in order to be able to study for long periods of time. After studying ethnic cleansing, and the attempted "extermination" of Jews, knowing about black Americans being sprayed with hoses, knowing that both German Jews and Mexican immigrants to America were exposed to Zyklon-B in the 1930s, and more... It has become clear to me, from all this, that government promises of free health care, are part of a white racist scheme to push the ideology of racial purification through the need to purify our bodies with medicine.
     I think that the internationally accepted definition of ethnic cleansing needs to be expanded and changed in order to fully explain the ideology of people who use "beast", "virus", "parasite", "pig", and other words - and assume immigrants are diseased, and compare religions to diseases - in order to dehumanize individuals. Because once you can dehumanize someone, you can justify treating them as badly as you want, because in many people's eyes, they're no less than animals.
     I'd be interested in knowing whether anyone in China has heard others compare Muslims or law-breakers to animals, worms, dogs, pigs, parasites, or viruses, etc.. It is certainly becoming more popular and acceptable to talk that way about other human beings here in America.




     On the topic of the intersection of hierarchy with China's economy, above I have included a diagram I published in a post from 2014 (under the title “Privatization and Industrial Combinations”), concerning many different ways to structure firms. Certain types of businesses have bosses and hierarchy and high stratification, while others don't. I think that having more workers on the boards of companies, implementing Employee Stock Ownership Plans, and giving workers a realistic chance to buy enough of the company to create a new franchise and establish a new company built on a cooperative basis.
     I, of course, want to make it perfectly clear that I am, in no way, praising the Tiananmen Square Massacre, but Deng Xiaopeng's economic ideas did help China. I believe that the intentions of his economic program, which began in the late 1970s, would have worked, if the regime had actually achieved it, and (obviously) if they had not been so adverse to oppressing their people whom were pleased at the influx of Western culture that followed China's opening to trade in the early to mid- 1970s.
     I think that what Deng's system did right, or at least intended to do right, was have the state stop owning so many resources, and start transitioning into a situation in which ownership and control of resources and distribution are balanced; between the state, the communities, private businesses and corporations, and small family-owned shops. Deng's plan, in my opinion, showed an attempt to create an economic policy that's in the exact political and economic center.
     If you study the economic theory of Mutualism, or research various economic systems which have been termed “market socialism”, you'll discover that market systems can exist alongside socialism, and that they're not mutually exclusive. Market socialism is a scenario in which most distribution is done through markets (as opposed to economic planning and democratic decision-making), while most of the goods being bought, sold, and owned, are traded and owned by socialized actors; workers' cooperatives, community boards, councils, federations thereof, etc.
     If the United States' economy were to retain markets, while increasing the degree of social and worker ownership, it would lead to the same result, as if China were to open its markets back up, and open itself up to foreign investors, but also ensure that a high degree of social and worker control will continue. But the Chinese government would also have to diminish state influence and control, which it, by no means, seems prepared to do. Additionally, the Chinese government would have to constrain the influence of any wealthy businesses which it may aid and subsidize (which, if you think about it, is all the businesses). But that would defeat the purpose of aid and subsidy, so the more rational and likely solution would be to simply end the aid in the first place.
     But how can the government end aid to businesses, without neglecting the need to ensure a high degree of social and worker control and management? That might require deferring responsibilities to not labor bureaucracies, not unions, but the cooperatives themselves. If not that, then by outsourcing the responsibility to ensure adequate safety and health and compensation, to some non-governmental international organization that sets and adopts standards that are voluntarily obeyed (for which, hopefully, there would be some sort of enforcement mechanism to which everyone would agree).



     Going back to the topic of the social score: It disturbs me that, aside from all the information they're collecting about our physical bodies, we are being numbered. In the United States, the Social Security Act gives each of us a nine-digit number. Although we are not required to carry our Social Security card or our state-issued identification on us at all times, we are more or less expected to have our I.D. near us at all times, and we are expected to memorize our Social Security number.
     A brief aside on Social Security and illegal immigration: Undocumented immigrants to America sometimes obtain fraudulent Social Security numbers in order to work. So not even immigrants can work in America without using a form of identification; doesn't even matter if they're using the wrong identification, as long as they're working and paying into the system, the more money for Americans. Not that all undocumented immigrants deserve to be busted; the point is, why would the government do such a thing, even if it wanted to? It would mean less money in the S.S. system, and less irate citizens being able to accurately claim that illegal immigrants are stealing their money through the tax code.
     But back to the Social Security system itself. All citizens are required to participate, even though the government tells us that it's optional. They tell us that it's optional because they want us to ask them to explain, whereupon they can tell us the following sick joke: “It's optional because you always have the alternative of going to jail if you don't like it. You can stop participating, you'll just go to jail.” They say the same about taxes. Even some “taxation is theft” Libertarians are now enthusiastically supporting sales taxes (especially when nonsensically excused as part of a larger plan to transition state revenue sourcing to all fee-for-service and user-fee -based models).



     In my opinion, the idea that we have to be assigned a number, in order to work and participate in society, should disturb not only lovers of human liberty, but also those who find any grain of truth in the Christian religion.
     In the last book of the New Testament - the Book of Revelation, Chapter 13 - it is foretold that in the time of the Apocalypse, people would be marked on their forehead or their hand, and not allowed to purchase anything without showing that mark:


     “And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save that he had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath, understanding, count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six” [666].

- Revelation 13:16-18


     The phrase “or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” might imply that a number standing for a person's name, or the name of the beast, can be substituted for the mark on a person's hand or forehead. But it could also mean that these three things are one and the same; which would imply that the beast is a man, and a man whose “number” is equal to 666.
     It is certainly interesting to note that the German currency during the Nazi regime was the Deutsche Mark, and also that Jewish prisoners in Nazi death camps had six-digit numbers tattooed onto them (I say this not to question the validity of the claim that a seven-digit figure of Jewish people died at the hands of the Nazis, but to point out the coincidence of the number six; I know 666 and 6 aren't the same numbers, but 666 is 6 repeating). Additionally, it is disturbing to note that Sir Francis Galton, who coined the term eugenics, proposed a system of "marks" to denote the desirability of particular families.
     It's also interesting to note that currently, in Venezuela, you can't buy food without a United Socialist Workers' Party identification card. This fact should ring alarm bells to lovers of freedom, Christian or not. So should the widespread use of U.P.C. codes (Uniform Purchasing Codes), which have all but completely replaced price negotiation and haggling, once viewed as an indispensable characteristic of a system of voluntary exchange.
     I know someone who once tried to pay for a bag of Cheetos at a Wal-Mart in Florida with a credit card, and for some odd reason, they were expected to present their fingerprint for scanning in order to complete the transaction with sufficient identification. I went into a major bank in Portland, Oregon, to cash a check, and one of the bank's employees eagerly walked over to me with a fingerprinting pad, and presented it at chest level. All I wanted to do was cash a simple check, and I felt like I was being fingerprinted at a police station; I felt like I was being processed after being arrested.
     When I moved to Waukegan, Illinois, I had to give my fingerprint in order to get a library card. Most Americans simply do not care about these “ordinary, every-day” usurpations of human liberty (as Madison would say)!
     It goes on! Several years ago, a group of children at a Florida elementary school, in preparation for going on a field trip, had their retinas scanned in order to identify them, without their parents having been notified or asked permission. Some Native American and Aboriginal tribes believe that photographs steal your soul (even if taken with the subject's consent). What are we teaching our children if strangers can take pictures of them without even notifying their parents?
     I am now having second thoughts about providing my second-grade teacher with the “heritage” information for which she asked: information about my and my parents' eye colors, nose shapes, hairlines, and more. Knowing the people who taught at my school, I shudder to think of whose hands that information could have ended-up in. Knowing how lengthy and deceptive those consent forms can be, it is beyond me, how people can willingly surrender parts of their own bodies, and all the genetic information along with it.
     Perhaps most disturbingly of all, workplaces in Wisconsin and Sweden have implemented microchip inserts under the human skin, which allow employees access to their buildings. The employers and managers say it's not for tracking employees. Maybe it's not! They also say it's voluntary. Maybe it is! But as with the example of the photograph possibly stealing our soul, and subverting our human need of privacy, something can be demoralizing without necessarily being oppressive, restrictive, nor directly harmful.
     Think about the potential slippery-slope effect. How long will it be before employees use these microchips to buy things, like it predicts in the end-of-times book of the Bible? Many will likely say it makes things more “convenient”, and claim they are glad to volunteer because of that. But how long will it be until all employees at those companies are required to have them implanted? How long until all workers in Wisconsin, or Sweden, come to be expected to submit to the same types of systems? Undoubtedly, the vague differences between them will be expounded at length, until they finally admit that, “Yes, this is for tracking you, we are looking to make it mandatory, and you will not be able to work or buy anything without it.”
     It sounds inconceivable, but is that really different from the way things are now? Every major piece of property we own – our land, our homes, our car – we're expected to register those things to the government, which gives government authority to take them away from us if we don't use them the way they like. The mere existence of a website like WheresGeorge.Com confirms that many of the dollar bills we spend are being tracked after we spend them (after we get them from the bank tellers, who run them through a digital counting machine, God only knows why).
     I hate to sound like King of the Hill's Dale Gribble character, complaining about “The Beast” (a hypothetical system of interconnected computers and devices, monitored by the government in order to collect as much information as possible), but can't most of my suspicions be confirmed by the average article about “e-meters” and “the internet of things”? Look them up some time.



     I'm not saying that China is the beast of Revelation, nor am I saying that communism and socialism are. I'm also not saying that they aren't. What I'm saying is that many regimes, of whatever economic persuasion, find it in the interest of furthering their power, to collect as much information as possible on their people, and that collecting this information requires computers if efficiency is to be expected. Whether a country chooses to use that information to kill people – and in the name of whatever economic, political, or religious ideology – is purely on them.
     I'm also not saying that God or the Devil has to be real in order for our governments to be spying on us, and planning to take our stuff or maybe even kill us. Governments do that all the time, whether in the name of God, the Devil, the King, the People, or whatever else.

     Put it this way: Even if the Bible isn't true – and there's no God, and no Devil – that is no guarantee that there's nobody out there who might want to sacrifice us to (what he thinks is) the Devil. Even if all religions are made up, and so is the Book of Revelation, that doesn't mean there aren't people out there who are trying to make that prophecy come true. And, why not?: “Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean there's nobody out to get you.”
     Not only is China undertaking an effort to put its more than a billion people into a biometric identification system; India began to do so years ago. It has come out, in the last several years, that millions of cameras, all around China, are attempting to track people's every move as best as possible, through the use of facial recognition software.
     I believe that technology, information technology, and computers have done a lot of good things to improve people's lives and make them easier. But I also know that the American computing company I.B.M. manufactured computers that were used by the Nazis in order to efficiently catalog information they had collected about all the Jews and “undesirables” in Europe that they were thinking about murdering. Without I.B.M.'s assistance, it's possible that the Holocaust might have claimed many fewer lives.



     Knowing what I know now about the Nazis – that the Nazis persecuted the mentally ill, and that Jews and Judaism were treated like diseases, viruses, and infestations – it disturbs me to read that Chinese authorities are throwing around terms that, in English, translate to “ideological illness” and “ideologically diseased” to describe Uyghur Muslims in West China.
     The use of the word “ill” suggests that they are attempting to cast the religious spirituality of Islam as if it were a physical, material illness that can and should be treated. Not with medicine, of course, but if it's a physical ailment, then it requires a physical solution. And that's where government force comes in; the government ideology is to “cure” and replace the former ideology. It is to be viewed as a sort of “baptism by fire”, a purification through death.
     Human beings are not animals, nor insects, nor diseases, nor numbers. We are souls inhabiting bodies, and we deserve to be free unless and until we harm someone. We should not have to identify ourselves, and show some number every time we want to walk five feet, or use our own property, or vote, or do anything else that carries low risk of danger. I hate to add “especially not in the country of our own birth”, because I regard national borders as mostly meaningless, but my point is that a non-violent citizen in good standing does not need to be treated like they are trying to smuggle a bomb into every airplane flight, football game, and movie theater they enter.
     In Ayn Rand's book Anthem, all people are assigned numbers as part of their names. Given the popularity of dominionism, and the dominance of what Nietzsche called the “slave morality” of Christianity, it is a miracle that there are any Christians out there who reject this intrusion upon human freedom. Numbering a human being – whether it is part of his legal name or not – is an insult to his parents who named him (sometimes even named us after Biblical characters, and with priests and God as witnesses, the name recorded in the family Bible). Numbering a human being is also an insult to our ability to determine our own identity and our own destiny.
     If the state's spying on us, numbering us, and all of this, is any indication as to its intentions, then the state seems to exist solely in order to deprive us of the illusion that we might be able to defend ourselves, and provide for ourselves and our families without its help and its careful supervision. Strict though it may be (the state claims), it's tough love, and the punishment is for your own good.      The state takes away our means to provide for ourselves, and rent those means out to us at exorbitant prices (in a currency that it created and regulates) solely in order to humiliate us, and to make us think that we would be helpless without it. The opposite is true; we are helpless in its presence, and independent without it. A reading of the Tao te Ching will show that Chinese scholars have understood this for millennia.




     Above is an image about culture, which I previously published in 2014 in my blog post “Citizenship and Culture Pournelle Chart”. I think that, in countries like America (with its white, Christian majority) and China (with its Han majority), full multiculturalism can be difficult. Considering the situation in Xinjiang, it might be too late to do something about it. But if there's still time, an idea called civic pluralism could help China. Civic pluralism allows minorities to retain their cultural traditions and uniqueness, without being subsumed under the dominant culture (neither in the name of assimilation, nor multiculturalism).
     I feel that too many Americans cling to assimilationism. Whites do it to justify their exclusion of new immigrants, on the grounds that "they're not assimilating”. Even legal immigrants do it, on the grounds that "I came here legally, I obey the law, I assimilated, they won't, they broke the law, I was here first"). Many Democrats and liberals, too, have come to pay lip service to assimilationism, seemingly because they know it will help ingratiate themselves to their Republican masters (many of whom seem to want foreigners to check their language, their flag, and their culture at the door the moment they arrive here).
     I think that promoting civic pluralism instead of forced multiculturalism, and assimilationism, and cultural monism, and forcing very different cultures together into the same neighborhood or the same voter pool could make people more accepting of different people's cultures, and more accepting of their right to keep to themselves (should they choose to exercise it) when they come to a new country. Forcing-together disparate groups and cultures often forces conflicts, and I believe that such conflicts could be delayed or even avoided entirely, if people ceased viewing voluntary separation as if it were the same thing as forced segregation.



     Lastly, I would like to dispel the notion that all of China's problems, or the government's treatment of Uyghurs, are attributable to socialism.
     To me, and to those who accept the common definition of socialism, the word means worker control, or social or societal ownership, of the means of production. More worker control does not always, and does not necessarily, require large government, the growth of government, or the centralization of resources and/or decision-making power. In fact, libertarian socialists believe that Marx's call (in The Communist Manifesto) to centralize the means of production was antithetical to the goal of socialism; that being, to distribute the productive means into as many hands as possible.
     The idea that worker management or social ownership is the cause of China's problems seems silly to me, because those terms are what I think of when I hear the word “socialism”. Maybe it's my fault for not believing enough propaganda from the C.I.A., and from the American public school system (which would have you believe that America won World War II all by itself), but I believe that a country that still has billionaires, stock exchanges, and private property, is not fully socialist.
     Some might argue that there is no private property because it's all registered to the state, and that there is no free exchange in China because it's all regulated. But the fact that the state regulates and registers all the property, should not be taken as evidence of socialism (that is, social ownership, or worker management). Leaders who expropriated properties and resources in the name of the people, or in the name of the workers, are often only doing it for the sake of furthering the interests of the ruling party. What China does is no more than nationalism – nationalization of resources – with the appearance that such efforts are being undertaken for the benefit of the people (populism) or for the workers (socialism).
     I don't want to sound like a brainwashed apologist for socialism, who can only repeat “That wasn't real socialism”, but China is neither fully socialist nor fully capitalist. Dirigism, fascism, and command-and-control economics (which, for all intents and purposes, are roughly the same thing) are an economic system unto themselves, distinct from both socialism and capitalism. Now, socialist and capitalist regimes may emulate dirigist policies – that is, economic policies that invite the government to direct where resources go, and direct people's transactions and economic activities – but no regime which emulates them too much, can stay truly socialist or entrepreneurialist for long.
     Additionally, the key reasons for turning to these policies, usually involve some sort of economic crisis, or population crisis, energy or food crisis, etc.. Not that I'm excusing drastic measures like concentrating or relocating large numbers of people; in fact, I admit that these crises are sometimes manufactured when not enough people volunteer to make excuses for their government destroying their fellow citizens' lives. The Chinese do not have to build on top of Uyghur graves; the purpose of this is to humiliate Muslims (as China has one of the largest territories on the planet, and could build anywhere).
     China's treatment of Uyghurs is not due to its (supposed) embrace of socialism. The fact that Uyghurs are being forced to eat pork and drink alcohol in Chinese concentration camps (in violation of their religious ethics) ought to suggest the exact opposite; that China is trying to rid itself of foreign cultural influence. That, to me, suggests ultra-nationalism. And combined with China's ambitions concerning trade, it's possible that those ultra-nationalist sentiments could grow into a desire to conquer the world in the name of China.
     If conquest of the world by China is inevitable, then I certainly hope that China embraces socialism more than nationalism at that time. If it does, then that just might be one of the few scenarios in which subjugation to the Chinese government's will would be tolerable (at least, for anyone besides the best-connected, and highest-scoring, Chinese citizens).
     I hope that Chinese citizens see the state's call for a return to communism, for what I believe it is: a move to clamp-down on power, and grow the state, and secure the Xi regime's single-party rule, instead of empowering workers to exert control over the workplaces in which they spend more than half of their waking lives.



Post-Script
     I would like to add that I do not agree with the notion that the credit rating system in America is better, nor less authoritarian or invasive of our privacy, than the social credit rating system in place in China.
     In September 2017, it was reported that the personal information of 143 million Americans was breached, accessed by hackers who hacked into the computers of the consumer credit reporting agency EquiFax.
     Despite the fact that the credit system in America is in place "voluntarily" (that is, on the part of people who check their credit rating), Americans with any desire to make use of their credit score are, in effect, pressured into choosing from among one of the government-licensed, government-approved, overregulated, overtaxed agencies that are allowed to do so. And what a coincidence, they all require us to surrender a lot of personal information.
     Where can I go to check my credit score, or take out a loan, without revealing my legal name and my government-issued number that allows me to work? What if I don't even agree that the government's conception of the construction of my own name is misguided and presumptuous in the first place? If I can't trust the government to understand that families give names to people, not governments, then how can I trust the government to decide which agencies are allowed to gather the personal information of hundreds of millions of people (be it EquiFax, the offices of the Social Security system, the Secretary of States' offices, etc.).
     I do not believe that any mass storage of personal information is safe, either from hackers, or from legalized government invasion. I hope that what I have explained above, concerning I.B.M.'s collaboration with the Nazis, explains my suspicions. Additionally, I find it ridiculous that personal information - much of which anybody could easily find out about us - is used to protect our privacy, and serve as a voucher of our identity.
     Our identity is within us. It does not display itself to the outside world; at least, not in the same way that advocates of biometric systems assume it does.





To read more about the Chinese government's Islamophobic rhetoric, please visit the following link:

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/08/china-muslims-camps-uighur-communist-party-islam-mental-illness.html





Originally Written on December 13th, 14th, and 16th, 2018
Expanded on December 18th, 2018
Edited on December 20th, 2018
Post-Script Added between December 24nd and 26, 2018

Originally Published on December 18th, 2018
(with the exception of several images;
original images published in 2012, 2013, and 2014)