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The overreach of Libertarianism may deliver a dystopian future that even those who lead us greatly fear

August 4, 2017 Leave a comment

Pendulum of LibertyMany have suspected that TV, Films and Games can influence real-life behaviors and there are certainly studies that have been carried out which suggest a link. As we watch programming like Coronation Street, Eastenders and now the ‘reality TV’ gems like The Only Way is Essex, Geordie Shore, Made in Chelsea and of course ‘Love Island’, the entertainment for some defiantly comes from the anticipation that anything deemed now acceptable on TV will soon find its way into ‘real life’.

As a rule, TV today has become prescient in a way which is surprisingly quick in its delivery and the mediums of social media running shotgun alongside, have only served to increase the speed with which ‘artistic license’ has become manifest as a reality from which none of us can hide.

Seldom however, does a programme like The Handmaid’s Tale come along, which has all the hallmarks of being exactly the same as a programme which creates real life out of thin air, but feels all the more possible, because it identifies the destination of a process in which our otherwise increasing ‘freedoms’ have been religiously denied.

That the story alludes to and carefully anchors itself in a picture and to experiences of life with which we can all already identify makes the whole possibility more terrifying as we realise within the surety of our own thoughts, how easily a way of life for us all which has been created from nothing more than fear and its bedfellow hate could eclipse the ‘never had it so good’ world that the establishment complacently equates with our own.

But how did we get here, and how could we really jump from a world so apparently full of freedoms into another where freedom could mean nothing at all?

Perhaps most surprisingly, it is the relationship between these ‘freedoms’ and rights that we now have; the way they have come into being, and the impact that they are quietly having on everyone, rather than just the few for whom they were genuinely, but nonetheless idealistically intended, where the real genesis of the problem may lie.

Uncomfortable to read as it may seem, this argument is not about attacking any form of equality, as equality should be the natural approach we intrinsically employ as individuals towards everyone else, one and all.

Regrettably, such levels of selflessness in our consideration have never been the default or conditioned form of all people, whether as individuals or as groups at any point in the history of the World.

This is the very reason that legislation and forms of positive discrimination have been employed in the coercive attempt to put this right and avoid the future wrongs that can and sadly sill continue to be committed.

What is being seriously overlooked and in many cases ignored, is that discrimination comes about not because of colour, gender, race, sexuality, disability, culture or indeed anything else which has now become the focus of rights.  Discrimination is present in almost every interaction in some way and at some level, because the self-interest and nucleus of fear which ultimately feeds it within every individual is and will continue to be present universally because it is delivered culturally and in conditioned form. It therefore becomes a default setting which can never be completely coerced into being under the control of others, unless it is given voluntarily, consciously and willingly so by each and every individual concerned.

Whilst the eradication of any form of prejudice is a laudable goal, human nature dictates that with the realities of what we call free will, freedom of thought will always prevail beyond the objectives of setting models of behaviour and can all too easily be manipulated by being overtly adhered to whilst the true intentions of those concerned are cleverly hidden, usually in plain sight.

It has been said that the more things change, the more they stay the same, and it is the reality of this statement which has driven the culture of transparency to a level where even Conservative Home Secretaries are now insisting on unworkable levels of bureaucracy for the Police to ensure that no rule or freedom for suspects, the convicted or prisoners has been denied. The imposition of rights, which in the minds of their architects should have precipitated an instant result simply did not do so. And so the culture of monitoring was created and continues to be unrealistically and impractically refined.

This whole process has played itself out in so many ways and in so many different directions, but the result has ultimately become the same.

The views of some individuals, their feelings, their opportunities, their ‘rights’ have now and are being openly paraded as being more important than those of the communities in which they live, work and in some cases even themselves would otherwise closely identify.

Somewhere in this process, a definitive line was crossed. A line where a genuine balance could have been established and set to evolve, where people really don’t see difference as a threat. A line where a genuine respect for every other individual and their place within the wider community could have thrived.

The obsession with rights has seen the point where balance could have been achieved, not only crossed, but to a point where the rights of minorities have been flipped and now supersede those of the majority, who have themselves by default and the process of positive discrimination, become those inadvertently discriminated against. Discrimination, however it is applied, always affects others with the opposite consequence.

Some would suggest that such a response or feeling of fear on the part of the majority, when any number of minorities have been repressed for such a long time would itself be fair. But this is certainly not so and whilst an understandable emotion on the part of those who have been victims of prejudice to the point that they might see things this way, to mirror an injustice in any way is to pick up and continue with the very same form of attack – just going in a different way.

Two wrongs don’t make a right. Particularly not when prejudice against others is typically born out of the fear of difference between people and aspects of others that they simply don’t understand, or has come about simply because certain actions and views are understood as the way that we are culturally expected to do so. Indeed, the dehumanization of relationships which is steadily evolving on a minute by minute basis by the impact and assimilation of internet, smart phones and by response-at-the-push-of-a-button technology, is almost certain to make things much worse.

Rights have for a long time been costing Government and the Economy a lot of money. Nobody should delude themselves into thinking that there isn’t a price to be paid by us all – financially or otherwise – when business and the public sector becomes less productive as a direct result of rights being enhanced or government officers effectively refusing to take and execute their full responsibilities – passing them on to others such as highly paid consultants – simply because they are living in fear of what will happen if they should be accused of wrongdoing on behalf of someone who as a result of this whole corrupting process believes that their rights have in some way been denied.

The inaction and professional ineptitude which is now common throughout the public sector has far more to do with the insidious nature of the rights culture than it does either because of lack of skilled people or lack of money through the Government’s Policy of Austerity, which has become a very useful and much less risky scapegoat for political activism on all sides.

What has been achieved by this giant overstep and attempt to achieve coercive control is the emergence of two populations within one. The majority which falls increasingly silent as it witnesses attempts by others to even have its thought processes denied. The other, a hybrid minority of over-empowered victims who aggressively and successfully interpret the actions of others within what we used to know as normal life, as being insulting, inconsiderate and unquestionably set against their own ‘human rights’.

Some suggest the fear that this insidious culture has created as Britain having become a Nation without an identity. It isn’t that. The majority of people are just too afraid to openly identify with our National Identity for fear of what injustice towards others they might then be ridiculously accused.

The real harm to our democracy, is the unspoken and dangerously complacent conclusion on the part of those who Govern to conclude that silence itself is equal to acquiescence.

People are much savvier than their actions might otherwise deny, and whilst Westminster continues to misunderstand and misread the electoral actions of the public, it is little wonder that the European Referendum result came as such a surprise because such little account if any is being made for the fact that within the confines of a voting booth, there is a distinct level of anonymity and unhindered choice which even within friendships and families can otherwise be at the very least emotionally denied.

What also appears to be complacently overlooked by the establishment and in particular the liberal elites, is that Government, law, order and social cohesion is on every level dependent fully on the voluntary consent and support of the British People, who continue to respect the idea of democracy and the voluntary surrender of decision making responsibility for affairs affecting us all communally to our so-called elected representatives of the people.

The real problem with the ascendency of the ‘self’ culture and the empowerment of this hybrid mentality where minorities now look upon the majority who they are led to believe have intentionally scorned them, in a way that suggests they can now impose their own values and morality unequivocally upon us all.

For example criminals and prisoners alike are now able to deflect attention away from whatever they have done, simply by complaining that their own rights have been infringed. They do so knowing that they have blithely and wantonly done exactly the same to innocent others. Innocents who more often than not remain out of the spotlight for fear of what reprisal they will experience as a result of the application of law now being toothless, simply because the rights of the individual are placed before the best interests of the community and therefore openly denied.

People will not go on indefinitely allowing an unjust system to exist. The civil order which is voluntarily maintained on the part of the wider community is as fragile as that of those and their supporters who feel themselves to be justified in taking to the streets and rioting because they now feel it safe to assume that when an opportunity for blame arises, it will always be the party which represents authority which has committed the true crime.

However, whilst we have cause to be genuinely concerned that the good will of the majority of the British People could and does have the potential to snap, we are culturally a very patient People, even beyond that which fear would deny.

As such, the break down of civil order and rioting on the streets simply over the issue of overstretched rights, may in isolation thankfully remain a long way off.

But that isn’t to say that the resentment and true feeling against rights culture and the belief that the silent majority are obliged to play-court to the emperors new clothes which liberalism has made could not itself be the straw that breaks the camels back, should any one of a number of other pressing issues such as a financial meltdown or a consistent run of terrorist attacks increase the feeling that the genuine will of the people is being denied in such a way which precipitates people taking to the streets.

Revolution is a word which means many things to different people and the misguided romanticism with this idea of instantaneous change leaves the true meaning and impact of this type of societal transition completely denied.

Yet the feelings of mistrust and resentment against what is now widely considered to be an entitled political class and the interests of big business which rightly or wrongly are generally perceived to be behind it, could easily lead to circumstances where social behaviour lead those in power to believe that its genesis is progressively and proactively implied.

Fear leads even the leaders of people to do silly things. In such circumstances, with anarchy considered likely, or even if it is by then present on the streets, it is the immediate denial of the rights which will have previously been seen to promote any idea of complete freedom that would be quickly denied.

Whilst a model of governance like that of the Sons of Jacob may not appear to be on the cards, the power vacuum created as any voluntary form of democracy falls would indeed create an opportunity for any group which can organise itself where its own ideals for living can be implemented and then refined.

The building blocks are already in place for a fully functioning dystopian order and the predictive connotations of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four are playing themselves out daily within the technology that we are inviting into our homes, supported by the attempts of Government to remove anything which could be considered a safety net for our individual independence by paying lip service the idea that in this one instance, they will be protecting the greater interests of society as they do.

We haven’t got there yet. We must all hope that we do not.

But if we do, it will be clear that the price to be paid for the results of a liberalised society  which delivers equality for one by taking it away from many others will have proven to have been inhumanly high.

What the US row over the regulation of broadband provision can tell us about the privatisation of public services and why we must maintain the basic right to the same level of ‘public’ services for all…

November 11, 2014 Leave a comment

images-10We have so much news available to us now that it has become very easy to miss the stories which may fail to catch the public eye.

Away from the headlines today, some of our news sources have been covering the growing row between US President Barrack Obama and the Industry Leaders controlling the supply of Broadband Services in the United States.

Obama appears to be pushing for a system of regulation which will ensure the same level of supply across the Net to all customers, whilst the Industry itself is apparently looking for its own kind of controls which will allow differing levels of supply – and ultimately a ‘fast lane’ or optimum service for those to be made available for those who will pay for it.

On the face of it, this could immediately sound like something and nothing. We do after all have a whole range of choices when we buy or arrange our own internet packages and right now, it now seems pretty normal to pay for every little thing that we have.

However, whilst the speed of the roll-out of superfast broadband leaves many of us knowing only too well that different levels of service currently exist and seem to leave us with little choice, this is in itself just an evolutionary or developmental stage of provision. It is much like the experience of the switch from analogue to digital has been for those of us who used the Web from the beginning, and can still remember the rattle and hum of the tones as we hogged the phone line and dialed-in.

We may not like it and in an age where we have been conditioned to expect everything at the touch of a button, slow internet is beyond frustrating. But right now, we are accepting of it, as we are culturally acclimatised to accept that there is a direction of travel at work, which will only see services improve. (Yes, 4G apparently will at some point exist, even if you have already been paying for it for many months…).

But what would it mean to you if the next generations of technology were simply kept from you, when you knew that they existed and other people or businesses had ready access to them?

Your immediate thought might be that you are pretty happy with your iphone 6, or perhaps a Galaxy Smartphone, and that will do you just fine. But technology is moving apace, and if you were to work on the basis of Moore’s Law, which indicates that the speed and capacity of technology doubles approximately every 18 months to 2 years – which affects functionality as well as speed, you can soon begin to imagine what you might be missing out on by the time you are thinking about the phone you will be able to buy AND operate fully in the year 2020. Apply this to the services you receive through broadband too, and there is perhaps no need to say anymore.

The speed of communication through information technology mediums has been and remains a game changer which has impacts upon us all, usually in ways that leave us feeling completely untouched.

However, it is this very speed, and the capacity to move significant amounts of data from one location to another – perhaps even across the world, in timescales that as humans we at present still remain cognizant of, which have for example equipped money markets and traders to create industries within industries which literally create money from nothing as stocks and shares change hands with the potential to do so again and again over the course of a minute, whilst speculators also ‘bet’ on the transactions and the way their vales will go over the same period of time.

Speed – and therefore time, is increasingly becoming worth money where communication is concerned.

Whilst this may not be a thought that drags many of us away from our phones and iplayer-streamed episodes of The Big Bang Theory today, it will surely stand to reason that those who supply much faster internet services will see the opportunity in being able to charge a considerable premium for the product they supply tomorrow; whilst those who have the most to gain from the almost guaranteed technological leaps that are coming, will already possess and indeed have the most to gain financially from paying what will to them be trivial sums.

Not a problem for many of us today. But if the supply of service did really become as diverse as it could, there is no reason to believe that like in many other areas of contemporary life, cost will not quickly price large numbers of people out of the latest technology marketplace, with repercussions that could easily lead to the imposition of a whole tier of barriers to entry to services, apps and anything else which has then become entwined with the internet age.

Look at the behavior of the Industry in the States, and it will suddenly become very clear why our own providers could be so resistant to Government led regulation, and the imposition of a level playing field which will never have the potential for the same levels of profitability as that of the alternative.

Regulation that ensures a basic level of service for all and which is not itself qualified by a premium is essential. It can only be offered by an impartial third-party organisation – ideally good government – which has no financial interest in the services provided.

Government is today painted as the bad guy for any industry that provides either a public-wide service, or one which can ultimately have that same effect on the population and is not currently regulated – or guided with a robust ethical code that prioritises access and consideration of the consequences of profit-making actions upon us all.

This applies to the inappropriately named utility companies; companies such as the telecom providers, and also to the companies within the financial and banking sectors, where perhaps the most clear example of what happens when the fee-earners are left to regulate themselves was demonstrated by the financial crash of 2008.

The relevance of the US example should not be lost on us, just as the importance and argument that now definitely exists for greater Government intervention to regulate what are and remain public services.

The core reasoning of keeping essential services in the public domain was lost to decision makers of that time, through prolonged periods of low productivity and the high cost of running industry sized monoliths which were inherently resistant to change.

Regrettably, the long-term gift of what are effectively now monopolies to the money markets was not considered in terms of the requirements of ethical or regulatory practice, and the escalating costs of heating and electricity are just a symptom of what happens when a service is provided to a captive market by companies that are allowed to focus on nothing but the bottom line.

Sooner or later, Government will have to address these issues which face and surround all of the public services which are now in public hands.

Ed Millliband has to date probably been the most outspoken of the Political leaders in acknowledging the need to tackle the impact of unbridled energy price rises. But as with almost everything else, inflicting price changes, freezes or any kind of formula without regard to the real implications of doing so is akin to madness – and certainly so if the Industries themselves are not given adequate opportunity to reform before doing so.

Existing problems will be very complex to address. But for services such as the NHS it is not too late for politicians to do the big thing and tackle the problems that exist with meaningful reform. With Internet Services, it is in no way too late to ensure that the market continues to serve the best interests of everyone, and not just the few who will otherwise stand to make the most money from manipulating its harnessed profitability to their best advantage.

There is much for Government to do. But before anything there must be a change of mindset to one that genuinely considers the impact of polices on other polices and ultimately upon the consequences for us all.

The Internet will only come close to achieving all that it can for good if access to it is essentially the same for all.

Government will need to address this, just as it will soon have to accept that the parallel world which the Net has created will require its very own set of rules.

The distance which the Internet has created between us is already removing the humanity from relationships. We now need to ensure that our ability to pay is not the system of qualification for improving our lives that we should now be able to take for more than granted.

image: thevoltreport.com

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