May 08, 2013

Politics Is the Shit End of Life

Aw, what a bunch of grumpy sourpusses you are. (I see you, my friends. You are.) You think about the martial law experiment in Boston and what a stupendous success it was, and you're all sad and stuff. Or you contemplate the wider phenomenon -- how the ruling class is making broad-based preparations for violently stamping out civil unrest (almost certain to happen, and perhaps very soon, as "austerity" gobbles up the lives of more and more "ordinary" Americans, so that the insatiable appetite of the ruling class for more money! and more power! is momentarily satisfied) -- and you succumb to black depression. No need to worry about that! Once the State installs a comprehensive net for identifying those individuals suffering from mental health "issues" -- by which the State will mean anyone who fails to regard the all-powerful State as your greatest imaginable benefactor, and anyone who dares to question the idea that the State should have limitless powers while you have none -- the State will make sure you're treated for your problem. Look, you may get some good drugs, maybe some ECT thrown in to be certain you're "normal" -- and once you do, you won't care about any of this crap any longer.

I say, laugh at the fuckers. They must hate being laughed at. They work so hard at being serious and earnest, and well-meaning. They desperately want you to believe they're good people, and that they think very, very carefully about those measures the times call for. I just look at them and listen to what they say, and I think: What a colossal crock of shit. Politics is only and always about power, which only and always means power over other human beings. Anyone who devotes a substantial amount of time -- or his entire life, God forbid -- to achieving power is a shit-eating buffoon. The desire for power over others is the most profoundly deforming desire of all: it corrupts everything it touches. To put it very briefly: politics is the shit end of life.

On this point, I strongly recommend the Robert Higgs article excerpted here. A brief taste of Higgs:
Although I admit that the outcome in a stateless society will be bad, because not only are people not angels, but many of them are irredeemably vicious in the extreme, I conjecture that the outcome in a society under a state will be worse, indeed much worse, because, first, the most vicious people in society will tend to gain control of the state ... and, second, by virtue of this control over the state’s powerful engines of death and destruction, they will wreak vastly more harm than they ever could have caused outside the state. ... It is unfortunate that some individuals commit crimes, but it is stunningly worse when such criminally inclined individuals wield state powers. ...

With regard to large-scale death and destruction, no person, group, or private organization can even begin to compare to the state, which is easily the greatest instrument of destruction known to man. All nonstate threats to life, liberty, and property appear to be relatively petty, and therefore can be dealt with. Only states can pose truly massive threats, and sooner or later the horrors with which they menace mankind invariably come to pass.

The lesson of the precautionary principle is plain: because people are vile and corruptible, the state, which holds by far the greatest potential for harm and tends to be captured by the worst of the worst, is much too risky for anyone to justify its continuation. To tolerate it is not simply to play with fire, but to chance the total destruction of the human race.
Plainly, this is deadly serious business. Yet if we shift our perspective somewhat, we can also see that it is comedy gold.

I was reminded of the laugh potential when I stumbled across this NYT story this morning: "U.S. Is Weighing Wide Overhaul of Wiretap Laws." Here's the opening paragraph:
The Obama administration, resolving years of internal debate, is on the verge of backing a Federal Bureau of Investigation plan for a sweeping overhaul of surveillance laws that would make it easier to wiretap people who communicate using the Internet rather than by traditional phone services, according to officials familiar with the deliberations.
Think how much Dick Cheney must love this shit. I betcha he laughs All. Day. Long. Christ, here's Obama -- the great liberal, progressive, antiwar, civil liberties champion, what-the-fuck-ever Obama -- doing crap Cheney could only dream about. Again! For the 2,493 gabillionth time!

Okay, here's the second paragraph of the story:
The F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III, has argued that the bureau’s ability to carry out court-approved eavesdropping on suspects is “going dark” as communications technology evolves, and since 2010 has pushed for a legal mandate requiring companies like Facebook and Google to build into their instant-messaging and other such systems a capacity to comply with wiretap orders. That proposal, however, bogged down amid concerns by other agencies, like the Commerce Department, about quashing Silicon Valley innovation.
That is goddamned sweet. Don't you think it's sweet that "other agencies" are "concerned" about "quashing Silicon Valley innovation"? The State -- this State, which claims it has the "right" to murder anyone and everyone it chooses, whenever it wants, for any reason it dreams up -- wants y'all to keep inventing stuff. Before it kills you! Triple Grade A comedy, man.

But that was just the warmup. Now we get to the good stuff:
While the F.B.I.’s original proposal would have required Internet communications services to each build in a wiretapping capacity, the revised one, which must now be reviewed by the White House, focuses on fining companies that do not comply with wiretap orders. The difference, officials say, means that start-ups with a small number of users would have fewer worries about wiretapping issues unless the companies became popular enough to come to the Justice Department’s attention.
They are so thoughtful and kind. And sweet. They're looking out for the little guy. The only problem is that the little guy has to stay little. Get too successful, and whammo!

Then the Times gives us the serious message:
Still, the plan is likely to set off a debate over the future of the Internet if the White House submits it to Congress, according to lawyers for technology companies and advocates of Internet privacy and freedom.
I like that "Still..." The "Still" means that the State is being reasonable. It isn't asking for much at all -- just the power to threaten companies with nonexistence if they fail to comply with the State's orders. But the State is going to do it nicely. It's kinda like the State ordering you to kill yourself. But the State realizes you might find it difficult to hold the gun and fire it into your head yourself -- so they'll send someone to do it for you! The State is only looking out for you and your safety. That's what the State does!

And we're going to have "a debate over the future of the Internet"! Again! Don't people ever get tired of this shit? (I've written about this for fucking ages; see "The Internet As You Know It Will Cease to Exist," from 2009.)

And here's my favorite funny part, which involves, of course, one of the spokesasses for the F.B.I.:
Andrew Weissmann, the general counsel of the F.B.I., said in a statement that the proposal was aimed only at preserving law enforcement officials’ longstanding ability to investigate suspected criminals, spies and terrorists subject to a court’s permission.

“This doesn’t create any new legal surveillance authority,” he said. “This always requires a court order. None of the ‘going dark’ solutions would do anything except update the law given means of modern communications.”
"This always requires a court order." Because the Obama administration would never, ever do anything at all without observing all applicable legal requirements.

I'll wait a few minutes until you stop laughing. Comedy fucking gold, dude.

Are you okay now? All righty, then. See, one of the funniest parts of this routine is that it's entirely true in one sense. That's because "The Law Is a Lie." Or, as I regularly phrase it, I shit on the Law. The Law is not the protector of individual rights and freedom, and it never was. The Law is a weapon devised by the ruling class to protect and increase their own power and wealth. The Law is one of the means by which the State controls you, as it strengthens the grip of the ruling class. Dictatorships and even totalitarian governments have laws. When you appeal to the "sanctity of the law" and the goddamned miracle of "the rule of law," you play directly into the hands of those who rule you.

When we understand this, we also understand, for example, the idiocy of all the earnest demands for the "legal memos" that purportedly "justify" the Obama administration's Murder Program. Suppose we had all those legal memos. What difference would it make? It seems doubtful that those who so seriously demand to see them expect to discover legal reasoning previously unknown to them, which would suddenly cause them to say: "Oh, yeah! Never thought of it that way! Sure, murder whomever you wish! I see now that it's perfectly legal!" Nor would such disclosure cause the State to give up the Murder Program, especially now that Congress has approved it. Give it up? Are you fucking kidding me? (And we have seen the legal memos "justifying" the Bush administration's use of torture. Did that make any difference? Not a jot. And the Obama administration never stopped torturing, although most commentators have enthusiastically, and very stupidly, convinced themselves otherwise.)

The continuing charade, as exemplified by this latest NYT article, is remarkably idiotic for another reason. The simple fact is that, because of all the powers already granted to the State and buried in statutes, regulations, administrative rulings and all kinds of other pronouncements that no one can possibly keep track of, "the U.S. Government already possesses the power to do whatever it wants, whenever it wants, to whomever it wants." I've been over this argument in detail; you can start here and here.

The State already has comprehensive surveillance powers that enable it to wiretap and spy on anyone it wishes, anytime, anywhere, in any medium. And since the State claims absolute power -- that is, the power to murder anyone it wants, anywhere in the world -- "debates" of this kind are a notably ridiculous sideshow.

But carry on, by all means. Let's have another debate about "the future of the Internet." Perhaps the State will grant a few concessions to its critics, who will then congratulate themselves on having fought another battle with some measurable degree of success. Of course, the concessions won't matter a damn to the ruling class, which will still be able to do whatever the hell it wants. And the ruling class will laugh and laugh and laugh.

But I'll be laughing too, motherfuckers. If we're going to be dragged into hell, and the ruling class now appears more determined than ever to do precisely that, I intend to laugh all the way.

Fuck 'em. Make my laughter a crime, shitheads! Oh, you did? Aren't you clever motherfuckers.