Monday, 24 October 2016

The Panopticon - Total Surveillance Society

by Ian R Thorpe, reposted 24 October 2016

Ever had that feeling you are being watched, unseen eyes are monitoring your every move, recording your every action, even knowing what you think. We live in a surveillance society but few really understand how intrusive the activiries of the watchers are. Welcome to the Panopticon. Enlightenment philosopher Jeremy Bentham's ideal prison has become a metaphor for the world we have created. We are told electronic surveillance and tracking are necessary for our security but we all know that's bollocks, don't we?

We live in a surveillance society. We are watched every day by cameras in our towns and along main roads, details of our financial transactions and social interactions via the internet are saved to databases and analyzed by software to build a picture of our lifestyle, habits, preferences and peccadillos which will be available to those willing to pay. The government through its obsession with form filling and a matrix of cross indexed references knows everything about our health, career progress, what car we drives, whether we have ever been late paying out taxes.

The Panopticon can be reinterpreted as a world envisaged by many writers, George Orwell in his novel 1984, written in 1948 predicted not only a totalitarian government obsessed with power and control but an agency called The Thought Police whose function was to identify people whose minds might be straying "off - message", by Aldous Huxley in Brave New World and by the post-modern philosopher Michel Foucault in his book “Discipline and Punish” which introduced to fiction the idea of The Watchers, borrowed perhaps from a middle eastern text of the early Biblical era, The Book of Enoch. (Enoch : The Watchers). Enoch, though thought to be the earliest text of the people we now call Hebrews, is not part of The Old Testament. Although not included in the modern Bible, Enoch is referred to in Ezekiel, Jude and several other Biblical books and very obviously had a great influence on The Apocalypse of St. John the Divine (aka Revelations). Clearly however, the worlds envisioned by those books is made possible by modern technology.

Foucault’s image of the Panopticon reflected his belief that our modern social order is based on our love of technical rationality. The Panopticon embodies the modern love of surveillance and control. The Panopticon is a system (not necessarily a tower as is often imagined, think of it as a metaphorical tower although it may well be a subterranean computer centre. Its purpose was to keep the subject under continual observation and thus through the unarticulated threat of sanction would pressure subject into a regime of strict self discipline.

The Panopticon, was first conceived and designed by the English philosopher and social reformer Jeremy Bentham in 1791. Bentham was founder of the Utilitarian movement in philosophy, his ideas being built around the goal of achieving "the greatest good of the greatest number." He described his idea of The Panopticon as the “ideal” prison for modern times. It consisted of a central observation tower with an encircling building containing prison cells. The observers in the tower could see everybody in the cells all of the time, but the people in the cells could not see the observers, who were hidden from sight in the tower, which was darkened.

"Morals reformed - health preserved - industry invigorated, instruction diffused - public burthens lightened - Economy seated, as it were, upon a rock - the gordian knot of the Poor-Laws are not cut, but untied - all by a simple idea in Architecture!" the thinker proclaimed. "A building circular... The prisoners in their cells, occupying the circumference—The officers in the centre. By blinds and other contrivances, the Inspectors concealed... from the observation of the prisoners: hence the sentiment of a sort of omnipresence—The whole circuit reviewable with little, or... without any, change of place. One station in the inspection part affording the most perfect view of every cell." (from: Proposal for a New and Less Expensive mode of Employing and Reforming Convicts (Jeremy Bentham, London, 1798)

Jeremy Bentham's ideas on how the greatest greatest good of the greatest number principle might be achieved were not always thoroughly thought through. In common with many moral and social philosophers, his ideas looked great on paper but in practical terms were unworkable. Bentham spent much of his time and fortune on designs for the Panopticon. The Panopticon ("all-seeing") was a prison (but might be thought of in terms of a dystopian society like those depicted in Orwell's 1984, Franz Kafka's The Trial, Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, Terry Gilliam's film Brazil or Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange. The idea was to allow constant and total surveillance of the inmates by their supervisors. Bentham's intention was humanitarian; but the penal system was perhaps not the best place to start putting his utilitarian philosophies into practice.

The greatest happiness principle, if we take Bentham's ideas to their conclusion, dictates the construction, not of prisons, but the secular equivalent of Heaven-on-Earth. When harnassed to biotechnology, this utopian-sounding vision is feasible - albeit implausible. Yet the ideological obstacles to global happiness may prove greater than the practical challenges: the contemporary utilitarian project needs more visually compelling symbols than an image of discipline and punishment. On utilitarian grounds, the Panopticon is perhaps best forgotten.

Foucault felt Bentham's Panopticon captured not the highest ideal of the Utilitarian movement but the essence of the modern age: the powerless are exposed to the relentless gaze of the powerful. The powerless are coerced to internalize and act in accordance with the standards and expectations of the powerful, without the powerful actually have to touch or come in contact with the powerless (forget all the high minded windbaggery of lefties, the elite might talk of fairness and equality but truly despise the masses). Furthermore, at any given moment the powerless people do not actually know whether or not they are being actively watched and so can never let down their guard. They must must always act in accordance with the expectations of the powerful. In other words, vigilance supplants torture. The powerful don’t have to touch you nor be seen by you in order to exert their power over you.

In government propaganda, in education, news media, most mainstream literature, films, television we are taught to admire and trust this particular small group of elite people, since only they are noble enough, selfless enough, intelligent enough to “save” us from our ignorance and stupidity. It is the blueprint for domination followed by every fascistic regime since ancient Egypt, Babylon and Sumeria. Understanding of how it works throws light on much of the apparent insanity going on today. Ironically the Utilitarians, along with romantics, Chartists, existentialists and other social and philosophical movements of the era known as "The Enlightenment" fought for and won for the masses the right to education.

Suddenly, about half way through the twentieth century, the elites found that the educated proletariat were asking a lot of difficult questions and no longer placed a childlike trust in elitists to ensure that "all is for the best in this, the best of all possible worlds." (More on that in a later article) The outcome of allowing the masses to escape from the darkness threatened the superiority of the elites. Their response was dumbing down in education, the promotion of a shallow, materialistic cultures and the development of huge industries dedicated to manipulating the minds of ordinary people.

(Copyright © Ian R Thorpe, 2012 (Creative Commons terms apply - Attrib, Non - comm, no derivs)


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Sunday, 23 October 2016

The Pursuit Of Mediocrity

Education? It's overrated in our opinion. Former teacher fatsally who quit the profession to run a pub tells us why she gave up on education.

The Sats results for pupils at KS2 and KS3 were finally published yesterday, amidst continuing grumblings about the marking process. This follwed hot on the heels of news that secondary schools regularly re-test the children when they enter Y7 as they have found that the grades they receive at KS2 are not compatible with the childs performance generally. A further concern is that the number of children attaining Level 5, the highest level available to a child sitting a KS2 paper, has dropped. This has led to concerns that brighter children are being neglected. Too damn right they are. When Labour came to power in 1997 Tony Blair said his priorities were,"Education, education education." The first attempt to get over 75% of pupils achieving level 4 in each of the core subjects was quite simply to lower the pass mark on the papers and make the questions easier. When SATS were first introduced in 1993 it was impossible to get a Level 4 on the English reading paper without answering what are termed 'higher order questions' where to answer correctly a child would have to form an opinion, or read between the lines and give reasons for their answers. All this changed after 1997, it became possible to achieve the pass mark, which was lower anyway, just by answering multiple choice questions, or simple comprehension type questions. The same applies to Maths and Science where children were expected to be able to explain how they worked out an answer, how they would solve a problem, design an experiment or draw conclusions from a set of data. However having instigated this change it was still not enough to achieve the target the government had set itself. So then they brought in booster classes. Teachers were asked to identify those children who were at a predicted level 3A or 3B, and these children were given extra tuition, funded by the government, in an effort to boost them up to level 4. In many cases thase children would be removed from the ordinary class to be taught separately, in small groups, whereas the other kids, now the ones from both ends of the ability range, were left in the classroom. But the trouble with cramming is that it just doesn't stick. It's OK if you've got the knowledge there, but if you are trying to get the knowledge in in the first place that is a different kettle of fish, so even though some of the children improved enough to get that coveted level 4 more often than not it wasn't a genuine improvement, as the secondary teachers soon noted. Now, 11 years down the line education is once again in turmoil, this year's SATS ara a fiasco and standards do not seem to improve, only 61% of children who took SATS this year achieved Level 4 in all three subjects. Meanwhile the brighter kids get bored and are turned off education, cruising along without ever being challenged, because despite Mr. Blair's belief that sleight of hand, smoke and mirrors could convince the public that things were changing it should now be obvious to anyone who cares to look that the only change has been the pursuit of mediocrity at the expense of excellence. RELATED POSTS: Academics Warn Politically Correct Universities ‘Are Killing Free Speech’
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Friday, 21 October 2016

Don't Call Me A Conspiracy Theorist.

by Ian R Thorpe reposted 21 October 2016 It has become the habit of the self styled 'progressive left' to shout conspiracy theorist whenever anybody very reasonably suggests they are being duped by the dark forces of globalism, that their favoured brand of collectivism is not in any way liberal but in fact will lead to an oligarchic tyranny similar to the big brother regime depicted in George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty Four and that far from being theoretical, conspiracies are very real and exercising much more influence on our lives than the unimaginative lefties would ever believe. Previously posted at

Don't Call Me A Conspiracy Theorist

"If the Party could thrust its hand into the past and say this or that even, it never happened—that, surely, was more terrifying than mere torture and death. And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became truth. 'Who controls the past' ran the Party slogan, 'controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.'" - George Orwell, 1984, Book 1, Chapter 3
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“We control life, Winston, at all its levels. You are imagining that there is something called human nature which will be outraged by what we do and will turn against us. But we create human nature. Men are infinitely malleable...”
George Orwell, “1984

***
“The (American) press, which is mostly controlled by vested interests, has an excessive influence on public opinion.”… Albert Einstein

***

It has become very fashionable among those who love to proclaim very stridently that they are "scientists" and as such rely on hard facts and evidence to dismiss anybody who dares to suggest that individuals or groups who share common interests may from time to time collaborate to further those interests as a "Conspiracy Theorist" or even a "Tin Foil Hat wearer." The 'Tin Foil Hat' insult shows the poor quality of the 'rationalist' thinking. The insult originates from a TV documentary which featured among other things a man who wears a tin foil hat to protect himself from the microwave radio signals being beamed into our heads by covert government agencies to control our thoughts and actions. Surely the writer must agree that is nutty, you might well be thinking. Well yes, I would but nuttiness, or paranoia to be accurate, does not constitute a conspiracy theory. People, rich, powerful people, who engage in conspiracies to further certain mutual interests may well be paranoid but they are not nutty. And they are not likely to leave a trail of evidence leading to their crimes. I've often thought evidence is very overrated. The "hard facts" brigade are often not good communicators because although they hate being accused of trying to turn science into a religion they share with the most zealous followers of religions a tendency to read everything absolutely literally. They are blind to nuance, deaf to metaphor and absolutely insensate when asked to extract contextual meanings from language. Here's an example that comes up from time to time. A claim often made is that during the European witch hunts sponsored by the Holy Inquisition between the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries approximately five million women were killed as witches. Now the hard facts brigade will always pipe up, "That is an absolute fallacy, there is absolutely no evidence that five million women were executed having been convicted as witches. Documented evidence suggests only about twenty thousand executions of women found guilty of witchcraft were carried out. (from QI (quite interesting) - a book of fallacies and facts. What's wrong with that? Two things, first there being no documented evidence from that chaotic era proves nothing. Secondly the "hard facts" gang are nothing if not ambivalent; note how they pull a neat little switch from killed to executed. The point here is though very few women were executed having been found guilty of being witches most of those arrested on suspicion of being witches were killed for being innocent. A witch trial was quite a spectacle, the accused could not be tried by a jury of her peers because the Devil would surely influence the jurors to ignore such smoking guns of evidence as: she's ugly; she has a big nose; she has a wart on her chin; she talks to herself; she has a third nipple; she owns a cat and base their judgement on (Monthy Python and the Holy Grail - Witch Trial) emotive irrelevancies like the accused being Dickin the Cidermakers' Dear Old Granny. (You should try Dickin Cider, it produces a warm glow of satisfaction.) No, trial by jury would not do for a witch trial. What they had to do was trick the Devil into revealing himself. To achieve this the inquisitors had several infallible techniques. In some areas inquisitors would bind heavy stones around the woman's body and throw her in a pond or river. If she was a true witch the Devil would make the stone weightless and the woman would float on the surface of the water. Once her guilt was thus proved she was pronounced guilty and executed. Witches were often executed even though they were dead. You can never be too careful when dealing with the devil. Another favoured method of determining guilt was trial by fire. The accused would be tied to a stake, a big pile of kindling placed round her, soaked with pitch and lit. If she was guilty she would be protected from the flames by diabolical magic. If she was not guilty however she would be burned to death but pronounced innocent of all charges. There were many other ways of trying witches, all equally infallible in establishing guilt or innocence. Medieval justice may have been harsh but they were at least fair about it, the same rules applied to everybody. Even a gentlewoman or a Noble accused of witchcraft would be tried by ordeal. My favourite ordeal is trial by Church Tower. The accused woman would be taken to the top of the church tower and thrown off. If she floated gently to the ground, borne down in the arms of the devil, she was guilty and could be executed. If she smacked into the hard paving stones at the church entrance she died without a stain on her character and the one on the paving would soon fade. Evidence then is not always what it seems to be which is why we must always examine what it presented as evidence both objectively and forensically. And when that is done very little is left standing and we are left with perceptions, beliefs, prejudices and gut feelings. There are several long running controversies that occasionally make headline news at present. One is the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre. Many people ask how could it have happened, were all the security services sleeping on the job? Others go further and conclude the attacks could not have happened without the collusion of people in government. Others dismiss these allegations as malicious gossip - mongering. Questions remain of course, why did the Towers fall so neatly, what brought down the third tower and why did nobody act on the alleged warnings from British security services of an imminent attack. The answers to those questions are: we don't know, we don't know and the warning given was that an attack was imminent, it was not specific about when or where or even what form the attack would take. OK, that's one unanswered question dealt with at least. Another long running conspiracy theory concerns the lack of detail in public records about President Obama's past, his birth details, educational records and even evidence of past friendships with people who attended the same colleges at the same time as he. Fair questions, all of them. In Britain we knew almost everything about Prime Minister David Cameron's personal history and those of his predecessors in the job, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. We know where and when they were born, what hospital (or private address in Mr. Brown's case) the names of the doctors attending, in which Churches they were baptized, we know of their junior and senior school records, how Gordon Brown lost an eye playing rugby, Tony Blair's not very successful rock band career, David Cameron's youthful misdemeanours involving herbal cigarettes and some disgraceful behaviour as a member of Oxford University's Bullingdon Club. We know that Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrat leader and Cameron's coalition partner slept around before he was married. These details are important for establishing trust, we want to know our politicians are human, not cardboard cutouts or worse, creations of the mass media or even worse still, creations of their own solipsistic, narcissistic imaginations. We can forgive our politicians for behaving badly before they held high office but not, it seems for shrouding their past in mystery. Obama's supporters however, among them many Twin Towers 'truthers' do not see any wrong in Obama having spent considerable amounts of American taxpayers' money on blocking attempts to investigate his past. The main plank of their argument is that all criticism of him has its roots in racism. The argument is then taken further by asking could a conspiracy so great and necessarily involving so many people as would be needed to propel an inelegible person to the Presidency of the world's most powerful nation ever be perpetrated. The people who like to think of themselves as realists, rational, convinced only by hard evidence sneer at the suggestion that a nation could have foisted on a leader whose legitimacy to lead that question was in doubt. Poor deluded fools, we should pity them for their irrational belief in reason order and logic. England has not had a legitimate King for over five hundred years. I'm talking about the Blaybourne conspiracy of course (even now, 600 years after the event, mainstream academics are inclined to dismiss the suggestion that King Edward IV of England was possibly the product of a wild fling Cecily Neville, Duchess of York had with an archer while her hubby was away fighting. Here's the story. While Richard Duke of York was engaged in a dispute with the French over where England's territories on mainland Europe should end his young wife Cecily Neville became bored with life in the military compound. (Kings and Lords took their wives along with them to battle in those days) To help pass the time she amused herself with this lusty young archer called Edward Blaybourne (cunning that, if your lover has the same name as your hubby it does not matter whose name you shout out at the critical moment.) Alhough when the young Prince Edward (later King Edward IV was born he was accepted by the Duke, rumours of his illegitimacy persisted even after he had assumed the throne. When Edward died his surviving younger brother became King Richard III but he died childless Britain's real monarch and the throne was claimed by Henry Tudor (King Henry VII) who had a tenuous claim via Cecily Neville but could muster the best army to back up his claim. Various people came forward claiming to be the rightful monarch, most notably Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck but they were easily dealt with according to the custom of the day and their supporters executed for treason. In more recent times when people have tried to dispute the legitimacy of the monarchy they have been blocked by the courts simply preventing the case being heard by ruling that the complainants did not have standing to bring such a case. Does any of that sound familiar? So could the same be done today? Why not? In this age of electronics, of networked computers, it is easy for 'the party' to, as Orwell put it, reach into the past and alter history. In many ways to carry off such a deception in the medieval era would have been much more difficult as news was based on eye witness reports, not on what could be found in easily edited computer files. There have been many much bigger conspiracies throughout history. The biggest and most controversial even after 2000 years is Christianity. We do not have a shred of reliable evidence that Jesus existed as a real person yet many millions will not even consider the possibility he did not. "Ah but you're wrong," supporters of the Jesus conspiracy will say, "the archives of the Roman Empire show Jesus was a real person in history." Do they? The only contemporary reference to anyone who might have been the model for this 'real historical character' is a short reference in the imperial annals to the effect that in the province of Judea a preacher and rabble rouser proclaimed by his followers as the messiah who it was prophesied would lead his people to form a great empire had been executed for the crime of sedition. For the rest we have to rely on the testimony of of St. Paul as written by Luke and a Jewish scribe Josephus. Both were written decades after the events. If we remember there were any number of seditionists running round the middle east claiming to be messiahs and urging people to rise up against Roman rule, promising they could overthrow the empire because God was on their side. Yet many people still believe in the veracity of the gospels and will argue that much of the concrete evidence of the life of Jesus has been destroyed by anti Christian conspirators who were now in a position to create whatever history they believed would best serve their interests. Even if we accept that Jesus was real there are still controversies. A lot of people have been dismissed as conspiracy theorists because they think novels like The Da Vinci code are onto something when they suggest Jesus did not die on the cross. It is doubtful that Gildas Britannicus, an English monk had read The Da Vinci Code or the speculative works of Baigent and Lee when in the fifth century AD he wrote, "We know beyond doubt that Jesus visited England in 38AD." Now Gildas was a Christian and an educated man, a monk, so why is he writing such heresies? And how can we explain the existence in Britain of the Minster Churches, Westminster, Canterbury Minster York Minster and many others. A Minster Church has a very specific distinction, they were churches (the sites not the current buildings which are a mere 900 to 1000 years old) that had been visited by one of the apostles. This is a legend maybe, but why would somebody invent such a story? The great Minster Churches, Cathedrals and Abbeys were symbols of wealth, power and control so perhaps the stories served a similar purpose, adding awe and wonder to the secular weight of the great buildings, wealth and power. What we do know is the Church of Rome reinvented a lot of history in ways that helped shape nations. There is no way of knowing whether things would have been better or worse had that not happened.
•"Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct; nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record. All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary." - George Orwell, 1984,

The important thing to remember about Jesus, I must point out because I am not trying here to reignite that insoluble argument, is that 2000 years ago they had a very different way of transmitting history to ours in the modern world. Most documented evidence that does not deal with the lives of Kings, generals, noblemen and traitors is simple records of crime and punishment and tax records. Stories were old in a stylized way to impart the essential meanings rather than the dry, dusty facts. A good example of rewritten history is the belief that the Druids, the North European priestly sect practiced human sacrifice. Almost everybody knows this is fact and yet there is virtually no evidence to support it. We even have 'factual accounts' of how the Druids would take their intended victims to "sacred groves" to be sacrificed to their nature Gods. We cannot know the Druids side of the story because these ignorant, superstitious heathens had not developed any written language according to the early Christian scribes who chronicled the conquests of Britain and the Germanic tribes several hundred years after the actual events. The Druids did actually have a written language, The Oghams (this is the name of the characters they used) which consisted of sets of lines something like this: \\\ III ///. It is surprising how many characters can be made with combinations of those strokes arranged above and below a central line (learn more about Oghams.) There was another Druidic alphabet too, think back to the sacred groves for a moment. Trees, beth, luis, nion (birch, rowan and ash), the tree alphabet. Known only to initiates though now you can follow the link and discover the full 22 letter alphabet, it was used to convey information between learned members of the three ranks of Druidry. People have been conspiring since pre - Roman times. So why did we lose the Druidic Oghams script? Easy, "The party, Big Brother, The New World Order?" wanted people to think that before Christianity people had been ignorant savages. There was no evidence of human sacrifice until in the 1980s a well preserved body was discovered in a Lyndow Moss just to the south of Manchester and Liverpool. The corpse had been mummified by the highly acidic peat soil in which it was entombed. Pete Marsh (in Elgland a moss, aka marsh, is a swamp, geddit?) as the 2000 year old man was named yielded many clues about life in Britain in the Roman era. And he was cited as proof or Druidic barbarism, a sacrificial victim. The basis for this, the scientific evidence was that he had died as a result of a blow on the head and strangulation after having enjoyed a good meal which contained sacred (medicinal) herbs. Think about that 'evidence.' He was hit on the head and simultaneously garrotted. That could indicate ritual murder but we have always been told Druids sacrificed their victims by slicing them open with a golden sickle and disembowelling them. Old Pete was in possession of his bowels two millennia later in fact they were sufficiently well preserved to reveal what he had eaten in his last meal. His death could equally be execution for a crime or maybe he was a prosperous man who had been set on by robbers. The medicinal herbs? Could be they were to purge his soul so he could enter Caer Sidhe though that would not be consistent with Druid belief. Or maybe he had simply not been very well. Evidence should always be treated with scepticism unless there are eye witness accounts. Another great conspiracy involving governments, the Church and the academic community is the one that insists the Romans were the great early civilising influence in Europe. The Romans in fact were so civilised they referred to non - Romans as 'barbarians.' Does that make them civilised? Erm, no ... Oh sure, they had maginifcent buildings but that was because they hired Greek and Egyptian architects and engineers. The underfloor heating systems they imported from the middle east, the great civil engineering techniques that delivered clean water to the cities again owed much to Greek and Egyptian societies and also to Babylonian and Assyrian. Roman baths owed a lot to the middle eastern civilisations too. In some technologies the Romans were no match for the north European savages they loved to deride. Smiths among the Celtic tribes of Spain, France and Britain had, like the Assyrians and Indians learned that iron was made stronger if it was heated to almost white hot and then cooled suddenly by being plunged into cold water. Thus Celtic warriors had long bladed, well balanced swords while the Roman legionaires had the short, heavy Gladius. The barbarian smiths also knew that the quality of wrought iron could be greatly improved by adding to the molten ore small quantities of other materials. Another archaeologial find in Britain in the 1980s was a 1700 year old sword that after seventeen centuries buried in peat (wonderful stuff peat) was rusty but still solid and so well preserved that after cleaning the ornamental markings on the blade were clearly visible. In Chariot technology too the Celts had the advantage. While the Romans could only build wheels with an easily damaged wooden rim the Celtic smiths had learned how to put a metal rim onto a wooden wheel and shrink it into place. I don't know how they did that 2000 years ago but well preserved war chariots discovered at burial sites prove they did. The other thing that elevated the pagans above Rome was the political sophistication, pagans lived in democratic communities rather than oligarchies. Nobody starved, everybody was fed from the common store, a child was principally the responsibility of the parents but should anything happen to them the whole community became uncles, aunts, grandparents, cousins, guardians. The old and the sick wre cared for too. it was a humanitarian society. The middle east was even more advanced. At around the time Rome was just starting to build its power base the Persians had electricity. It is well know that the technical specification for the Biblical Ark of the Covenant describes how to build a huge and very effective capacitor that would attract static electricity from the atmosphere, store it until a certain level of charge was reached and then discharge. What is less well know is references to electrical gadgets are not confined to The Bible. It is not know for certain that the artefacts known as The Baghdad Batteries were in fact used to produce an electrical charge but at the link shows it is hard to imagine what else they might have been for. The ancients certainly did not have electric light or power and when filled with grapefruit or lime juice (acid) would not have produced enough electricity to kill anyone as The Ark is reputed to have, but they could have been used in a process similar to electroplating. Or perhaps they were part of a technology completely lost to us. The Romans were superstitious and defensive. They did not like conquered peoples to have mastery of things the Empire's bureaucracy did not understand. If these other societies, the Greeks, Egyptians, Persians, Celts, Dacians (Heard of them? No? Thought not, the erasure of the Dacian civilisation from history is another Roman conspiracy subscribed to by the Empire's successors,) were so far ahead of Rome how did the Romans defeat them? Easy, the rivals of Rome were technological, scholastic, seafaring and agrarian societies, Rome was militaristic - the first Fascist tyranny except for Sparta maybe. In fact the fasces was the symbol of Roman authority. It an axe with a bundle of sticks bound around it depicting the unbreakable power of the central state. When Julius Caesar set out to conquer Gaul he was actually struggling against the Gauls led by their overking Vercingetorix. The legions were slow and clumsy, huge groups of foot soldiers that had to be moved around as a unit. Vercingetorix (if you are wondering where that name is familiar from, he was first cousin to Asterix the Gaul from the cartoon strip,) could command his supporters from various tribes to rendezvous at a certain place of his choosing where the Gauls could mount a surprise attack before melting away into the countryside. What saved Caesar's campaign and enabled him to finally defeat the Gauls at the battle of Alesia was that the Celts were part time warriors, they made their living as farmers and herdsmen or craftsmen. When Vercingetorix and his troops took refuge in the fortified town they assumed the Romans would give up and go away. The Celts had no concept of what it meant to have a standing army, professional soldiers who did not have to think about tending the livestock, getting the harvest in or taking care of the family. Vercingetorix had assumed Caesar would launch a series of suicidal attacks to try to penetrate the fortification but Caesar knew he had only to stay in the field. His men were being paid and with Vercingeorix trapped in the fortress Roman supply lines were reasonably secure. And when the Gauls let the women and children out of the beseiged citadel thinking the Romans would do the honourable thing and allw them to leave, the Legions simply slaughtered the non combatants. It's a good story so why don't we hear much about it in school. Well to tell the truth would undermine the idea that Rome was the great civilising empire of the ancient world. And the conspirators would not want that. For the evidence fans then there is ample evidence that the whole of western history is a vast conspiracy theory.

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” - Dr. Josef Goebbels.
There are such conspiracies going on all around us now. They are harder to see than the conspiracies of history because of course we do not have the broad view of the present that time gives us of history. Consider the current financial mess and how it was created. Through collusion between governments and the global financial community very necessary banking regulations and accounting were gradually eroded. Arbitrage (short selling) became an acceptable way of trading, creative accounting enabled liabilities to be presented as assets and asset values to be inflated to ridiculous levels to mask poor trading performance. Bankers embarked on irrational lending sprees, the newly created markets in debt enabled high risk loans to be bundled with other debts and sold on. People with no money and no jobs, people living on state handouts, were given huge mortgages that they could never hope to service because the banks reasoned that property values would rise infinitum and even if the borrower defaulted the bank would profit. Take a look at this extract from an article in Rolling Stone if you still feel inclined towards the view of Dr. Pangloss, the philosopher in Voltaire's novel Candide; "All's for the best in this the best of all possible worlds."
"... the great American mortgage bubble of the 2000s, perhaps the most complex Ponzi scheme in human history — an epic mountain range of corporate fraud in which Wall Street megabanks conspired first to collect huge numbers of subprime mortgages, then to unload them on unsuspecting third parties like pensions, trade unions and ..." (read full article
A few voices complained of the insanity in the world, a few people in finance and politics warned that the bubble would burst, the boom was unsustainable, there was too little substance in the global economy but the bankers and governments kept pumping the bellows and inflating the bubble and the media kept chanting the mantra that the good times could last forever, the new economics could create perpetual growth out of thin air. It was the economics of the emperors new clothes. Most people believed what they were told to believe because they did not want to be the one who was different, the outsider who said, "But the emperor is not wearing any clothes and so they joined in the general hubbub in praise of the Emperor's wonderful clothes. Others suspected it would end with much wailing and gnashing of teeth but didn't see why they should miss their turn on the merry - go - round. History will look back in amazement and wonder how we could have been so stupid, how almost the whole populations of great nations could have been taken in by what was obviously an act of collusion between various interest groups, some wanting to control the wealth, others more interested in controlling minds.
Winston picked up a children's history book and looked at the portrait of Big Brother which formed its frontispiece. The hypnotic eyes gazed into his own. It was as though some huge force were pressing down on you - something that penetrated inside your skull, battering against your brain, frightening you out of your beliefs, persuading you, almost, to deny the evidence of your senses. In the end the party would announce that two and two made five and you would have to believe it. - George Orwell, 1984.
Look at how the supporters of climate science who post their propaganda online chant impressive sets of statistics, mostly obtained from satellite surveys or mathematical models in a way very similar to Hindu monks chanting mantras. They repeat over and over again the same statistics until it is hard to distinguish what is fact and what is speculation, mere mathematical modelling, linear models of a non linear system. Very often the people on the ground observing, taking readings and analysing samples report that different things are happening to what the statistics suggest. But the statistics are supreme we are told, the computers are infallible, two and two makes five.
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, global warming, global warming Hockey stick graph, Hare Krishna, Hockey Stick graph, Hare Krishna Carbon Trading, Loadsa Moolah, Loadsa moolah, Carbon trading, Global warming, global warming, Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna
Should we believe these statistics? Look at the use that is made of percentages. Whenever you see a percentage quoted always ask "percent of what?" Let's look to Orwell again for advice on how we should treat statistics and bear in mind 1984 was written in 1948.
Day and night the telescreens bruised your ears with statistics proving that people today had more food, more clothes, better houses, better recreations - that they lived longer, worked shorter hours, were bigger, healthier, stronger, happier, more intelligent, better educated, than the people of fifty years ago. Not a word of it could ever be proved or disproved. The Party claimed, for example, that today 40 per cent of adult proles were literate: before the Revolution, it was said, the number had only been 15 per cent. The Party claimed that the infant mortality rate was now only 160 per thousand, whereas before the Revolution it had been 300 - and so it went on. It was like a single equation with two unknowns. It might very well be that literally every word in the history books, even the things that one accepted without question, was pure fantasy. For all he knew there might never have been any such law as the jus primae noctis, or any such creature as a capitalist, or any such garment as a top hat. Everything faded into mist. The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became truth. Just once in his life he had possessed - after the event: that was what counted - concrete, unmistakable evidence of an act of falsification. He had held it between his fingers for as long as thirty seconds. In 1973, it must have been - at any rate, it was at about the time when he and Katharine had parted. But the really relevant date was seven or eight years earlier. (full text of Nineteen Eighty Four Chapter 7
See how conspiracies work now? Do you see how the climate science scam could be carried off as easily as the sub prime scam was carried off. In reality we are no better able to determine the truth of what we are told than were medieval peasants whose life experience extended only to events that occurred within a few miles of their home of affected them directly. The climate change research community is a small, incesteous group. If a clique of data analysts (lets not dignify these glorified clerks with the appellation scientists) decide it is in their interests to apply certain filters to their data analysis, because maybe they have been promised the support of large, financially and politically powerful organisations if they will promote a case that would increase the influence or the profits of those organisations, and if by using the well established techniques of populist authoritarianism (Dr. Goebbels did not use that phrase but he was familiar with the idea) and suppressed their critics by saying "think of the suffering in poor countries, think of the hungry children," knowing that the media loves sensation and sob stories in equal measure, how easy it would be to spread fear and panic and through that trick people into giving up certain rather inconvenient liberties or accepting draconian taxes as the penalty for buying into the system and doing what they were told to do by the very people now punishing them for doing it. Yes, your head is probably spinning now. And so the easy option would be to go along with the conspirators and dismiss me as just another conspiracy theorist. That of course is what the vested interests behind the conspiracy want you to do. Want to hear from the other side?
Always think for yourself. It is better to think [for yourself] and be wrong than not to think : Hypatia of Alexandria.

"Believe nothing. No matter where you read it, or who said it, even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." Gautama Siddartha, The Buddha.

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Conspiracy Theorist me? OK Smartarse, So You Don't Believe Conspiracy Theories? Read This .....
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Shock, Horror! Conspiracy Theorists Are SaneA new study carried out by Michael J Wood and Karen M Douglas and a team of sociologists and psychologists in both Britain and the U S A and the UK is set to shake the establishment to its foundations. The researchers concluded that people branded as ‘Conspiracy theories’ are actually ‘more sane’ than those who unquestioningly accept the ...
The Extended Europe: A European Union - with Africa and Arabia in itHow far do you think Europe Stretches? From the British Isles to the Bosphorus? From Knivskjelodden (Norway) to Cadiz? Not according to the Globalist Nazis who run the EU. Under the cover of the Euro zone debt crisis they are advancing their plan to extend Europe beyond its geographical and cuiltural boundaries to take in Turkey and the Caucasus, Middle Eastern nations, and the nations of North Africa from Egypt to Morocco as one nation under a single government. Do you still think the E U is a god idea? ...
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Electricity bills set to rise to pay for wind farm subsidiesWhile sensible people agree that the climate is causing serious problems few people still think this is due solely to CO2 emissions from human activity. Even the author of Gaia theory has said the problem is more complex. Unfortunately climate scientists with their snouts in the tax money trough are still pushing the discredited idea that wind turbines and solar panels can meet our energy needs. Well if that is the case why are domestic fuel bills rising to pay for subsidies paid to the operators of these failed technologies. [ also Daily Stirrer 21 May 2012
News Used To Be Important - Now It's Just EntertainmentPeople talk about technology, mainly television, cellular telephones and the internet having given us an unprecedented ability to communicate. But have they? OK, we can trade meaningless messages with strangers on the other side of the world, we can join the cacophony of social netwoks where everybody yells at once and nobody listens, or we can sit in isolation, shouting inmto the void. But none of those are communicating. Technology has actually inhibited communication. ...
Liberal BigotsProgressive liberals, or the progressive left, or Trotskyites as the politically correct core of the Labour, Geen and Lib Dem parties would call themselves are quick to accuse their critics of being intolerant bigots. But take a closer look at the state of politics in Britain and you see it is not conservative, old Labour or classical liberals who are bigots but the neo facsists who want to impose their warped views on us by law. ...
We Just Got Fooled AgainClimate Change and causes relating to saving the planet are becoming an industry, a gravy train. International bureaucrats fly around the world from meeting to meeting (and they're all in exotic location) to take party in another feat of windbaggery that will solve neither global warming, food or water shortage, wildlife species extinction or the growing population.
Getting Naked In The Financial Markets
If you've heard of hedge funds and toxic debt you might well think these are the most evil manifestations of the financial markets that plunged our economy into the abyss. Unfortunately there are far more fearsome demons, arbitrage, short selling and naked short selling. Anyine wanting to know how insane pertsonal gred has made the people who are supposed to prudently invest our savings and pension fund money in currency, bond, commodities, stocks or any other financial market this is a must read.

Dumbing Down
Food Crisis Control Freeakery
Cheap Food Is Costing Us The Earth
Futility Of Wind Farms
Green Scaremongering
Government By Fear And Panic
The Patriotism Conspiracy
Populist Authoritarianism
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Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Shakespeare's Proud Loner and The Wisdom Of Crowds

by Ian R Thorpe

Coriolanus is not my favourite Shakespeare play, nor is the main character a natural politician or even a sympathetic character. From the moment he walks onto the stage, the the Roman elitist flaunts his contempt for the lower orders of society:

What's the matter, you dissentious rogues, That, rubbing the poor itch of your opinion, Make yourselves scabs?

His refusal to schmooze the electorate leads not only to his forfeiting their support but to his exile and ultimately his death. The lesson for modern politicians and opinion makers in this is to beware the "wisdom of the crowd." Coriolanus seems to be a vehicle for Shakespeare's own view of the 'many-headed multitude' and I have to say, The Bard's opinion of the sheeple is not far removed from mine.

Though the plays tell us little of Shakespeare's politics (wise of him as, in the Elizabethan and Stuart era having an opinion could result in losing one's head) he certainly held the mob in contempt. We might claim him as a radical or a conservative, a nationalist or an internationalist, a Catholic, Christian - protestant or closet Catholic, even an atheist. All these cases have been argued persuasively. And yet we still know little of the man.

As GK Chesterton put it, the most anyone can hope for is to be wrong about Shakespeare in a new way. One thing is certain however. Shakespeare loathed the rabble. His crowds are almost invariably crass, bellicose, fickle, greedy and gullible. Think of those episodes in The Simpsons where the townspeople form themselves into a drooling mob and you have a shadow of the ignorance, stupidity and unthinking irrationality of a Shakespearean
mob. The witch hunt scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail captures the atmosphere well.

Despising the mob is not quite the same as despising the electorate in the way politicians like Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and lately Barack Obama have shown is their attitude A mob can take on a collective identity, in which individual qualities of those who join it are temporarily lost. It becomes a rampaging beast, all logic and reason, empathy and values discarded. No wonder the greatest creative mind the British nations have ever spawned had the attitude of a tyrant or worse an international bureaucrat to "the wisdom of crowds".

Shakespeare was not a politician, for him to portray the mob as slack jawed idiots in an adrenaline fuelled frenzy of anger, fear and panic was fine. Nobody in the audience would recognize themselves as a member of such a rabble, most people who are sucked up in the madness think they are behaving perfectly reasonably. It is different for politicians however. When Blair, Brown and Obama talked of voters being too stupid to understand their policies it was not in reference to a gang of rioters or a protest that ran out of control. They spoke of a majority of the electorate. Barack Obama and British Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown all described people sceptical of the Anthopogenic Global Warming scare as being insane and said they were prepared to consider making "climate change denial" a crime similar to holocaust denial.

Now denying the Nazi holocaust, the slaughter of European Jews in World War 2 is stupid but since when was stupidity a crime? If it was we would have to bang up anyone who voted for a left wing candidate. Climate Change sceptics however were right to be sceptical.(very few people ever denied the climate was changing - some said any changes were the will of God and we ought not to meddle but that is quite different to what the "deniers" were accued of) The mathematical models on which climate scientists warnings of impending doom turned out to be at best designed by incompetents, at worst fraudulent. According to latest reports from NASA and NOAA, the two leading climate monitoring agencies, the earth's atmosphere his warmed very slightly in the last hundred years and in the most recent two decades has actually shown signs of cooling.

Still the politicians and their advisers have a different agenda to drive forward. They are working towards a global government controlled by a bureaucratic, academic and financial elite, an unelected oligarchy. Which brings us back to Coriolanus. In both pre and post imperial Rome there were two classes, the Patricians and Plebians (aka Plebs), the masses. The patricians (oligarchs) ruled as paternalistically as the collective name they gave themselves suggests.

British actor / director Ralph Fiennes' recently released film adaptation placed in a modern setting, a world trouble spot, the Balkans or the Middle East for example, plays out the intrigues and power plays of the ruling elite against a background of street demonstrations, rolling news and political debates, we get a remarkably fresh view of the 'too absolute' Coriolanus. He represents a rare, possibly endangered species in the technological age, the politician who can honestly say 'I am exactly what it says on the box'.

Of all Shakespeare's plays, Coriolanus is one that most easily and effectively transposes to a modern setting in one of the developed nations. A seventeenth-century theatre-goer, seeing the curtain go up on a Roman scene, would immediately grasp that the ethical context had been changed. 'These ancients don't have the same values as us,' he would think, 'because they are living without Christ's truth'.

Very few modern theatre-goers relate to togas and sandals this way, so producers must get the idea of a society across based on pride and honour across in a way that is instantly understood. Coriolanus is more a politician of our times than Shakespeare's, a man who relies on trust and therefore be seen to be honourable but must at the same time be adept at deception and and manipulation, the skills required to sway the voters.

The scene where Coriolanus is exiled by his ingrate countrymen is played as a television debate, with the angry plebeians as the studio audience. How apt. The general's response to the sentence is as fine a quip as any modern Prime Minister or President departing an office which he (or she, recalling Mrs. Thatcher's bitter farewell speech) while still believing they are the only person capable of doing the job, the only person who truly understands what has to be done could ever hope to direct at the rabid, unthinking rabble:

You common cry of curs! whose breath I hate
As reek o' the rotten fens, whose loves I prize
As the dead carcasses of unburied men
That do corrupt my air – I banish
When people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and others who have grown rich on the internet speak of "The Wisdom Of Crowds" they know there is no such thing. (Dirty Little Secret About The Wisdom Of Crowds) The internet crowd they refer to are a Shakespearean rabble rather than a carefully selected cross section of society. And the mob has no wisdom.

It's true that the individuals who make up the rabble all have their individual intellects but the interesting thing about such crowds is the more people are involved the less intelligent the beast becomes. It's a case of the whole being less than the sum of the parts. Successful internet ventures rely on this and of course on the knowledge that rabble are inflamed by a few powerful voices. Once a movement starts to gather momentum a lot of people will want to be part of it and just go along with what the rest are doing. All the manipulators of the mob need to do is make sure they, through their advertising campaigns, are orchestrating the powerful voices that lead the crowd.ass hysteria follows close behind.

It really is a case not so much of The Wisdom Of The Crowd as The Emperor's New Clothes. In the children's story everyone can see The Emperor is naked but because they have been told the new clothes are magic any only wise people can see them nobody is wiling to put up their hand and say, "There are no new clothes". While everybody else is praising the clothes each individual is afraid to risk looking foolish. Hans Christian Andersen taught us a valuable lesson there. Modern public relations techniques it seems have persuaded us to forget it.

An often cited example of the wisdom of the crowd producing a better result than could be achieved by a small group of skilled and experienced people is Wikipedia. But the idea that Wikipedia is generated by "the crowd" is just not true. For one thing, Wikipedia isn't written and edited by the "crowd" at all. In fact, 1% of Wikipedia users are responsible for half of the site's edits. Even Wikipedia's founder, Jimmy Wales, has been quoted as saying that the site is really written by a community, "a dedicated group of a few hundred volunteers."

The same happened with the IBM PC when better and cheaper machines with better operating systems were available, it happened with Google when more discriminating search engines were available but the web chatterati were impressed by the fact that google would find them a million results though nobody was ever likely to look further than the top 50, it happened with Apple gadgets although Steve Jobs only talent, if it could be called that, was for the syllogistic rebranding of pre - existing products.

And in other areas it happened with the climate change scare, with both Tony Blair's and Barack Obama's election campaigns both of which mixed a lack of policies with hyperbolic advertizing techniques.

To refer to another fiction set in the Roman era, Monty Python's Life of Brian, a lot of people need Brian to remind them "You are all individuals." Think for yourselves, don't be part of the crowd. (Warning, nudity in the linked clip)


RELATED POSTS: Climate Controled Communities - Science Leading The Rush To Fascism

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BBC Uses Shakespeare Event To Push Politically Correct Agenda
The Gods Of Copybook Headings
Eurocrats Are The New Bond Villains
Dr. Pangloss Said All Is For The Best
So You Think You're An Anarchist (Anarchy for Beginners - part 2
Principled Agnosticism
Anarchy In The UK - and elsewhere.
Getting Started With Existentialism
The War Between Science and Religion
The Flight From Freedom
Liberal? What Does That Mean?
Populist Authoritarianism
The Wisdom Of Crowds - poem
Pavlov's Cat (poem)
Elsewhere: [ The Original Boggart Blog] ... [ Daily Stirre.shtml ]...[Little Nicky Machiavelli]... [ Ian's Authorsden Pages ]... [ It's Bollocks My Dears, All Bollocks ] [Scribd]...[Wikinut] ... [ Boggart Abroad] ... [ Grenteeth Bites ] ... [ Latest Posts ] [Ian Thorpe at Flickr ] ... [Latest Posts] ... [ Tumblr ] ... [Ian at Minds ] ... [ Authorsden blog ] ... [Daily Stirrer News Aggregator]