The London Libertarian

The London Libertarian

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Commentary and debate on politics, economics and culture from a libertarian perspective. To Libertarian Alliance Website >


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Can Libertarians be zionists?

PoliticsPosted by Nico Metten Mon, July 14, 2014 17:35:04

Libertarianism is all about maximising interpersonal Liberty. In order to achieve this goal, Libertarians have identified the state as the main obstacle to a free society. Many Libertarians are anarchists for that reason. Some are minimal statists, who support a limited mandate for a monopolists power to secure the rule of law. But even the latter kind of Libertarians does realise that the state is a great danger to liberty. They usually argue that practically states cannot be completely abolished. If they were, a new state would emerge automatically. But this new state would then be at risk of being much more anti liberty then the previous one. Therefore, Libertarians should work towards making the existing state more minimal, rather then advocating to abolish them all together.

This is certainly a perfectly acceptable position to take within Libertarianism. I personally happen to be an anarchist and personally do not subscribe to the idea of minimising the state. I think this is a dangerous strategy with very little prospects of success. Nevertheless, I do see that minimal statists are libertarians, as their goal still is to maximise liberty. We just happen to disagree on the strategy.

In any case, this is of cause a very theoretical view of Libertarianism. Currently, Libertarianism is picking up steam. It is more and more developing into a real political movement. As this happens, more and more people are coming to the party that are not too concerned with details of what it means to be a libertarian. There are now people calling themselves libertarians, who try to introduce all kinds of positive liberty concepts into the Ideology. This ranges from people arguing in favour of certain welfare programs, to people arguing in favour of closed state borders. In principal this is a very good sign. It means that Libertarianism has become so strong that a lot of people, who are not really Libertarians in the purest sense, nevertheless feel that Libertarianism is the place to be. If Libertarianism wants to be successful, it will need to tolerate a number of these people despite the fact that they are not Libertarians in the most strict sense.

However, it is also clear that this tolerance needs to have some limits. Otherwise Libertarianism will become meaningless and will fail. The success of a political movements very much depends on how successfully this line between Libertarians and non-Libertarians can be drawn. That is why one needs to be a bit wary about people coming to this movement with all kinds of positive liberty concepts. If I was the Establishment, trying to get in control of a rising libertarian movement, I would almost certainly try to make the word meaningless, by defining libertarianism in my own way. This happened to the word liberalism, which today in the english speaking world describes someone who does believes the state needs to control capitalism. The classical liberals, which were of cause libertarians in the modern sense, made the mistake to integrate certain welfare ideas, like state education, into their agenda.

Luckily, most people who don't like liberty, so far don't want to call themselves Libertarians. But there are exceptions. One group of people that I am particularly wary about are 'Libertarians' who are also strong zionists. Zionism can mean all kinds of things, but here I am referring to supporters of a jewish state in the middle east. It seems very odd to me that Libertarians should support such a state.

There are two groups of arguments, why people may want liberty. There are moral reasons on the one hand and utilitarian reasons on the other. No matter which one you prefer, the Israeli project looks rather bad from both angles. Why was there a zionist movement? There were two main goals of zionism. At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, Jews were facing two problems. In eastern Europe, where the majority of european jews were living, and of course in Germany as well, Jews were facing an increasingly hostile population. That lead some of them to conclude that they will never we accepted. The other problem was, that there were places in the world in which they were to well accepted. That meant that jews increasingly stopped being jewish and simply adapted to the local culture. The solution for the zionists seemed to be clear. Jews needed their own homeland, a place in which they were the domineering culture and in which they could be safe. So far so good. From here on, the story could still end well from a Libertarian point of view. The problem with zionism is that they decided to create a jewish state on a territory largely owned by Palestinian Arabs.

First let us look to the decision to create a state. One of the problems of statism is that it surprising consistently tents to achieve the opposite of what it wants. If the state fights poverty, you will get more poverty. If it fights gun violence, you will get more gun violence. It it fights terrorism you will get more terrorism etc. This should be a basic inside to every Libertarian. So jews decided to use a state to make them more save and preserve their culture. What would you expect to happen? Exactly, less security and a destruction of the culture. And that is exactly what we are seeing. Does anyone believe that jews are now more save or jewish culture more prosperous since the state of Israel came into existence? So in principal, the strategy of using a state to achieve any goal should be highly suspicious to libertarians.

Unless we are talking about a minimal state, states are of course highly problematic if you want to maximise liberty anyway. States turn always out to be rent seeking organisations. They always produce a class of people that is able to exploit the rest of society. Israel was never intended and therefore never was anything close to a night watchman state. It was planned to be a racist jewish state. One of the earliest supporters of Israel was the Soviet Union. Although it likes to count itself as a western country, Israel till this day has a higher level of bureaucracy and regulations than other western countries. And that although pretty much all western countries at this point are closer to socialism than capitalism. It is a country with a long military draft, state censorship of the media and even legalised torture. Why, in principal would any Libertarian become exited about such a state?

And then of course there is the big problem, the problem that any supporter of Israel would rather not talk about. How come, jews are now in a majority in a territory that when zionism started only had a very small jewish population? The initial jewish population there got along with the local Arabs without any major problems. And yet supporters of Israel will tell you that all the opposition to Israel comes from a vicious irrational anti-semitism. At first zionist, indeed started to settle peacefully in the region. And if that was all they were planning to do, there could be no objections from Libertarians. Libertarians of course ought to support the movement of people, free from government intervention. The problem was that they had already decided and announced that they were planning a jewish state in the region. They had won over the British, who occupied the territory at the time as their ally in it. The British paid lip service to the rights of the Arabs in the region. But the Arab population, totally correctly started to sense that there was a conspiracy being planned to make them second class citizens in their own home. There were a number of Palestinian rebellions against the British in the 1920th and 30th. Being good imperialists, the British every time send over commissions to assess why the Palestinians were rebelling. Every time they concluded that it was obvious that they were rebelling against the prospect of a state in the region that would make them second class citizens. When the state of Israel was then announced, war broke out immediately. A lot of Palestinians got out of the territory of the newly announced state. It is still a bit of a dispute among historians, why they got out. Were they forced out or were they fleeing from a war zone? It was probably a mixture of both. But whatever it was, the fact remains that after the war they were not allowed back onto their rightfully owned property. Israel had to get them out in order to create a jewish majority state. None of this is in any form compatible with Libertarian principles. Zionism is an inherent collectivist and statist ideology. Individual liberty does not play any role in it.

And yet, in these days when the conflicts gets escalated again by Politicians, I see a lot of same proclaimed libertarians, waving enthusiastically Israeli flags to support the government fighting evil Palestinian terrorists. Not that there aren't any terrorists among Palestinians. But what is going on now has very little to do with fighting terrorism. The Israeli government lied the people into war operations. These war operations are pretty much the equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel. The Israeli government with its highly sophisticated military weaponry is bombing the homes of civilians in Gaza. The people there are largely unarmed and literally locked up, they cannot get out. Most of the casualties are women and children so far.

But all of that does not seem to bother zionist Libertarians, because you see, what is happening in gaza is self defence. And self defence is of course perfectly compatible with libertarianism. The Israeli, in their love for humanity are even calling a few minutes before they hit a house. Isn't that nice. No it isn't! Because they certainly do not check whether the people really got out. They sometimes hit the wrong target. And anyway, since when are such acts legal, without even a trial? Calling that self defence is like justifying a rape with the argument that it is her fault, since she was wearing a short skirt. But try to mention to a zionist Libertarian that the Israeli government might not always have the best intensions, yes it may even sometimes outright lie to the public, as it did to justify these airstrikes. You will be immediately accused of being anti-semitic, a crazy conspiracy nutter or both. According to zionist Libertarians, the state is bad, unless it is fighting terrorists or is called Israel.

No sorry, this is not a form a Libertarianism that I can accept. It basically rejects everything that libertarianism is about. The reason why I am finding this particularly annoying is, because our governments are all good allies of Israel. This state seems on a suicide mission with its crazy policies. And because our governments are supporting it, it is dragging us down with it. Every new enemy Israel makes will also be an enemy of the rest of the west. Zionist libertarians are supporting all these crazy policies of our governments, because it is perceived to help Israel. They are damaging the goals of Libertarianism and should therefore not be allowed to get away with it.







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A Defence of Political Correctness

PsychologyPosted by Nico Metten Wed, May 21, 2014 19:46:50

Libertarians seem to hate Political Correctness (PC). A lot of them see it as a statist ideology that needs to be fought. Certainly, PC has become a political tool for censorship. There are now laws in place that punish people for speaking out politically incorrect thought and for discriminating against the wrong people. This is without any doubt a very bad development and indeed needs to be fought.

However, does this mean that everything about PC is bad? Does it mean that a Libertarian has to be anti PC? First of all one has to say that the term is not very clear. Different people mean different things by it. It can range from 'taking care of your choice of words' to being synonymous to an egalitarian political agenda. The latter can certainly not be defended by Libertarians. However, I think there is an important idea in PC that I find attractive and that is compatible with Libertarianism. That is not to say that Libertarians have to be PC, but they certainly can be. Here is what I like about PC.

I would like to live in a society that is polite and peaceful. In principal we can of course think of a libertarian society in which people hate each other, but nevertheless leave each other alone. However, if people really hate each other, the peace within that society would certainly be fragile. Besides, I personally simply do not find such a society attractive. I would much rather live in a society in which tolerance and mutual respect is the norm.

How are we going to get there? In social situations, humans, like many other mammals are normally playing tit for tat strategies. That means that you always tend to reap what you sow. If you are nice to people, people will be nice to you. If you are hostile, you will get hostility back. Of course, I am not naïve enough to believe that this works with every single human being. There are certainly truly bad people, social predators that will hurt you no matter what you do. Those people need to be avoided under any circumstance and if possible, removed from society. But there are not many of these people and there usually is a brought coalition across cultures and races against them. They should not concern us too much here, as they are not a vital part of society. The vast majority of people, everywhere in the world is basically decent. They don't want to hurt you, even if they would get away with and profit from it. Ok, maybe if you make the incentive high enough, that changes. I would not necessarily trust every stranger with a suitcase full of my money, but for all practical circumstances this seems to be a good assumption.

However, if it is a good assumption, then how come people often end up in conflict with each other? One of the biggest sources of conflict is of course the fact that we live in a scarce world. One way of dealing with that situation is to start fighting over who is going to be allowed to use these resources. However, as David Friedman writes in his book 'The Machinery of Freedom” this is such a primitive solution that it is only being done by small children and great nations. A much Better way of dealing with it is of course capitalism. The division of labour and accumulation of capital has reduced the scarcity of all essential resources to a degree that no one needs to fight for it anymore. Or at least no one would need to fight for it anymore, if only politics was staying out of it.

Another big source of conflict seems to be intolerance. There are two countries in Europe that have developed real freedom in the past. One is Switzerland, the other is England. Both of course in very different ways. However, what I find interesting about it is that both countries have developed similar ideas about politeness. From a German point of view, the English rules of politeness are probably the most confusing thing to deal with, when coming to this country. German politeness is fundamentally different from the English one. Of course, different parts of Germany have different mentalities. The Rhineland around Cologne is much closer to the english mentality then say the one from Bavaria or Berlin. But none is really close to the english.

Before I came to this country I of course did some research on it. I asked people who had spend some time here, how they liked it. I got confusing answers. Half of them really loved it and could imagine living here. The other half however was the exact opposite. They really hated it and told me I could not trust the English. The picture that they draw was the picture of a country of liars and crooks. Very confusing. How could these two extremes be explained? When I came her to study a Masters degree, I got an idea where these differences in opinion came from. One half understood english politeness the other one did not.

Germans have a very direct mentality. Honesty rules. The concept of telling white lies only exists in extremes. If you ask a German for his opinion, he will most likely tell you exactly what he thinks. And if you don't ask him, chances are he will tell you anyway. In his criticism, he will most likely start by telling you what he does not like. I guess the idea is to prove that one is honest and trustworthy. “Look, I am not some slimy salesman trying to sell you a used car. You can trust me and to proof that to you, I am going to tell you the full nasty truth, because you deserve the truth”.

The English on the other hand seem to perceive direct criticism as a personal attack. Of course, the direct criticism of the Germans is an attempt to change things. Honesty might sound good at first, but what this is really all about is to put pressure on people to conform to a certain standard. Individualism and non-perfectionism is not welcome. The only way to escape this constant stream of brutal criticism is to do as everyone else does and to not make mistakes. A very humourless exercise.

Having been a free country, England on the other hand has developed a real sense of privacy. This might sound a bit ironic, giving that this country is by far the worst surveillance state in history. But on a personal level, people do respect privacy. That is why direct criticism is considered so rude. It is simply none of my business to criticise you, unless you explicitly ask me for it. Interestingly, although Switzerland is a lot closer to Germany, both geographically and culturally, it has developed independently a similar idea of politeness. In Switzerland privacy matters and German directness is unwelcome.

What does this all have to do with PC? It shows that tolerance is essential for a free society. In order to reduce conflict and make a peaceful society possible, people in England are willing to constantly outright lie to each other, whenever the truth becomes a bit inconvenient. They are not just willing to do this, but they are put under big pressure to do so. People who do not comply with these politeness rules are facing social sanctions. I have experienced this myself, by loosing some customers for being too direct with them. In my German mentality I thought, when someone hires me to fix the sound on a film, it would be best to start analysing what is wrong with the sound so that it can be fixed efficiently. Why waste time pointing out things that are already good. But starting out with negative criticism before saying anything nice was perceived as a slap in the face and they never came back. This, in my view is a good example of where politeness goes to far. It is just time and resource consuming. But that is the way it always is with social norms. They are usually simplistic and unable to differentiate between different situations.

Today we live in a very unequal world, with huge differences between poor and rich countries. These differences set in motion big streams of people of different cultures and races moving from unproductive to productive areas. That means inhomogeneous, multicultural societies will be the norm. In my view this is a very welcomed development. But even if you look at this with a bit of worry, it is clear that only states are powerful enough to reduce these streams in any meaningful way. Supporting these states is nothing Libertarians should have an interest in doing. We will need to find a peaceful solution to potential problems. The only way to make this work is by practicing some tolerance. You leave me alone and I leave you alone. We both don't antagonize each other.

PC in my view can be seen as an extension of politeness from protecting the privacy of individuals to protecting the dignity of cultures or races. If we make it acceptable for people to spread hostility towards other people for being different we will saw more hostility. Once started, these hostilities can escalate more and more and turn into and outright war. Some might say we already are in the mids of such a war. I would disagree, but even if this was true the answer would be tolerance. Everything else would escalate this war and that is certainly in no ones interest.

I see two big problems with PC as it is today. The most obvious one is that PC is more and more enforced by the state. If the state was to enforce politeness it would turn into a nightmare. Sometimes negative criticism is necessary. Only individuals can decide where the line between being honest and being polite is. The same is true for PC. Sometimes differences between groups matter and need to be addressed. When an employer does not have the right to pay his female employee less for the real risk of her becoming pregnant, then PC has gone too far. Only state laws can enforce this nonsense.

The second problem of modern PC is that it is unequally applied. Only certain groups are shielded from criticism while it is open season on others. A PC like that will lead to power imbalances and a force for bad. So in a way, we are not PC enough.

A voluntary PC that restrains unnecessary, open criticism of groups via social pressure is a good thing in my view. I don't think that this idea should be part of Libertarianism itself, but personally I find it very hard to imagine a free society without these forms of social rules. There is a reason, why similar ideas have emerged in both England and Switzerland. And I expect them to see in future free societies.







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My problem with objectivity and reason part 2

PhilosophyPosted by Nico Metten Sat, March 29, 2014 15:10:26

Last year I wrote a piece with the title ”My problem with objectivity and reason”. I had some critical feedback about this piece. The criticism could not convince me that I am wrong, but it showed that people read my thoughts with a very different understanding than I intended it to have. That is why I would like to clarify my main idea again here.

Contrary to some perception, I was not trying to prove that there cannot be an objective truth. I was only saying that this cannot be a priori assumed. The same goes for the use of logic. I cannot see how it can automatically be assumed that logic always leads to the identification of mistakes. The only answer I got to the question, why these things are supposed to be a priori true was something like “how could they not be true”, probably meaning that if I question these assumptions, I need to come up with an alternative.

This strikes me to be implausible. The question of “how can it not be” seems irrelevant even within a logical framework. For example, I can clearly assume that alien life is possible without knowing exactly how it looks like. Having a concrete idea about how and where alien life exists is logically irrelevant to the question of whether it is possible.

Simultaneously, the answer to the questions “does there have to be one truth for all that we can get closer to” and “does logic always has to reveal mistakes” clearly has to be “no”. The answer to the first question has to be logically “no” unless we are willing to except this “no” as a possibly universal truth. But clearly this truth is a different truth than the one we are asking about in the original question. It is like in the phrase “we agree to disagree”. The agreement is about something else than what we disagree on. Therefore there is no contradiction here.

But why does the answer to these questions has to be “no”? It has to be “no” because to exclude this possibility we need to make certain assumptions that do not have to be a priori true. The obvious assumption behind a “yes” answer is that humans are in principal capable of understanding everything and that our tools to think are flawless. The basic assumption behind “how can it not be” is that if I as a human being cannot imagine it, it cannot be true. I cannot think a truth that is only partly objective and I cannot think to find mistakes outside of logic. Well, the whole purpose of my last piece was to help people imagining it. But even if that fails, there is no reason to assume that something can only be true if we can imagine it. This should be clear from watching animals. A dog for example is not completely stupid. It has the intelligence to make enough sense of reality to survive. It can learn which things to do and which to avoid. But a dog cannot imagine living on a planet that is orbiting around a giant ball of fire called the sun that is part of a galaxy etc. A dog cannot even understand that it exists as an independent entity and that there are other sovereign entities just like him. All these things cannot be imagined by the dog no matter how you try to explain it to him. But does that mean they cannot possibly be true? No, it just means that the dog will forever we excluded from realising these aspects of reality.

Humans are clearly more intelligence than dogs. However, why should we assume that we are completely capable of understanding reality? Or why should we assume that the tools we have to understand it are completely flawless? Christianity I believe assumes that humans are created in the image of god, but most philosophers don't even seem to like Christianity. So why do they assume this? And this is essentially implied when allowing a question like “how can it not be” as a valid argument. That of course does not mean that it cannot be true. But it certainly does not have to be true. Personally I find it hard to believe that these assumptions are true, since they seem to be contradicted by the fact that we don't agree on things even after long debates. And there seem to be observations that can be interpreted as reality not being fully logical. But whether one believes these assumptions or not, it seems like an arbitrary guess either way. As such it is of course perfectly valid. We are all guessing, but we are only guessing. No one can be certain to get closer to the truth. The way I see it is that whenever we reach that point in which we think we have identified a mistake, one of two thing can be true.

a) we have identified a mistake

b) we have reached the limits of what we can comprehend as human beings.

But there is no way of knowing, which of the two is true. There is not even a way of knowing whether these two really are the only options or whether these are just the only options that we can think of. No one knows what the truth looks like and no one can even be sure to get closer to it. I know that makes some people uncomfortable, but I don't see a way out of this. We are all just believers in our own idea of the truth. And of course mostly we are true believers, denying the possibility that we just believe.



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A Libertarian look at what is going on in Crimea

Current AffairsPosted by Nico Metten Thu, March 27, 2014 15:11:45

Everywhere in the media, Russia is condemned for annexing Crimea. We are witnessing a huge propaganda war on both sides of this conflict in which the truth does not seem to play an important role. Like always in political situations, the world seems to become black and white. Everyone is expected to take clear sides. Once you have picked a side you are supposed to praise everything your own team does and to condemn every action of the other side.

But from a Libertarian point of view there are no clear sides to take here. There does not seem to be a libertarian option in this conflict. Personally my biggest concern is that western governments, under which I am unfortunate enough to have to live, will get very involved in this conflict and therefore drag me into it. Why on earth do western governments think that it is any of their business what is going on in Ukraine? The country is not even part of the EU. However, it seems to be a fact that these governments are deeply involved in the situation. Even worse, they seem to have had their fingers in this game from quite early on. While the conflict between the Russian and the Ukrainian part of the country seems to be quite old and not an invention of the west, western governments have systemically supported the Ukrainian part of the conflict. The picture that is presented in our 'independent' media is that of the west caring very much about freedom, democracy and human rights. However, it very much looks to me like the major reason why there is so much outrage about the Russians is that their move has caused a major defeat of the west. How dare those Russians disobey the western empire.

Everyone who believes for one minute that the major motivation for western governments is human rights, disqualifies for a serious political dialogue right there. It is these governments who are currently supporting Al Qaeda in the fight against Assad. They are a dear ally of the tyrannical Saud monarchy in Saudi Arabia selling tons of weapons to them. They turned their eyes away when Bahrain's governments brutally crushed a pro democracy movement, although they would have had the power to stop it. They found it very hard to condemn the brutal military coup in Egypt last summer, in which over 1000 peaceful protesters where shot by snipers from roof tops and so on and so on. Most importantly of course they are operating their own secret torture prison empire and an outside of every law concentration camp in Guantanamo. No, there is no fight for freedom here, just nasty geopolitics in which ordinary people have nothing to gain and much to loose.

But let us have a look at Ukraine itself. The conflict there is a typical statist conflict. Different groups of people with different ideas of how to live their lives and with some hostility towards each other are being put under one government monopoly that tries to create a 'one size fits all' solutions. Instead of letting everyone have their way of life, they are now trapped in a game in which they are essentially have to fight for all or nothing. And like all 'all or nothing' fights, they have a tendency to get rather messy very quickly. But in the heated debate about this conflict, everyone seems to agree on one thing. You must not question the 'all or nothing' game. We are told that getting rid of the monopoly, or at the very least create a few more so that more options exist, is the one outcome that is absolutely unacceptable.

It is therefore an unfortunate fact that any solution for this mess has to be within the idea of a power monopoly, even though it is clear that it is this idea that is the main problem. It should be clear from this that from a libertarian point of view, it is wrong to look at governments from a perspective of legitimacy. Unless of course we are talking about a night watchman state, which we cannot find anywhere in the world, governments are never legitimate. They are a fact that you have to deal with. Thinking of governments in terms of legitimacy is like thinking of cancer as being just or unjust. But cancer is never just or unjust, it is a fact that you unfortunately have to deal with sometimes. Not that I want to trivialise governments by comparing them with cancer. Governments are of cause causing a lot more harm than cancer, but legitimacy has nothing to do with it.

So having come to the conclusion that we need to look at the situation purely pragmatically, what choices do we have on offer. We have a totally corrupt and brutal government in Kiev on the one hand and a totally corrupt and brutal government in Moskau on the other. Given these choices, it is hard to see why libertarians should care about which of them is controlling Crimea. However, we do know that the majority of people in Crimea are more hostile to the government in Kiev than the one in Moskau and the people in west Ukraine are more hostile to the government in Moskau than the one in Kiev. It is clear that if nothing happens, the Russians and Ukrainians in Ukraine will likely get at each other violently to fight out who wins the 'all or nothing' game. This would definitely be the worst possible outcome for freedom. There is only ever a chance to improve freedom in peacetime. Given that we know this, Russia annexing Crimea looks to me like the better option. It comes a little bit closer to the 'everyone do as they please' option that libertarians would like to see. Russia is essentially putting a military wall between the two fighting parties so that they cannot get at each other. And this has so far been very peaceful. This does not seem like the worst outcome. Indeed given the choices that exist realistically, this is probably one of the best. That is why I am reluctant to join the Russia bashing crowd, even though I have little sympathy for the government in Moskau. In the meantime let us work to persuade people of the real solutions for these type of problems.







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Human Zoo Britain Continues

Current AffairsPosted by Nico Metten Fri, February 28, 2014 17:33:23

Last year I wrote an article entitled 'Human Zoo Britain' in which I criticised the total apathy of the British society concerning the horrific revaluations that came out of the leaks of Edward Snowdon. Unfortunately, the nightmare continues and gets a lot worse. Since I published my article, new revelations have shown that not only are these secret state agencies sucking up all communication's dater they can get their hands on. They also seem to operate without any form of even minimal moral standards.

According to reports by Glenn Greenwald, the GCHQ and its allies in the 'Five Eyes' alliance operates a unit called JTRIG (Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group). The purpose of this group is not to hunt terrors, no. The purpose is to crush political opposition. This is being done by using very dirty tricks like, DDoS attacks, Viruses, honey traps and spreading false stories to destroy someone's reputation. The latter is being done by sending out wrong emails, tweets, text messages etc. from the person's account. In other words these agencies are not operating to keep us save from terrorism. They are operating to keep the elite save from political opposition. Opposition like the Libertarian Alliance. Well, unfortunately we still seem to be too small to be taken seriously in this context. But we have seen some US libertarians coming under attack of these types of programs. Anti-war.com is a good example. These are the exact same tactics that also damaged Julian Assange and Wikileaks.

But if that is not enough, yesterday the Guardian reported about a leak that makes clear how morally busted this government scum is. The GCHQ has indiscriminately intercepted the private webcam images of million of yahoo users. A lot of these images contained sexual material. And of course if they could get pictures from yahoo, we can assume they also have access to other webcams. Here is the government literally looking into ordinary people's bedrooms. People that have done nothing wrong and are not suspected of anything.

I don't know how a state can become more total than this. Even Nazi Germany and Communist Russia had more privacy than we have today. And again, what is the reaction of the public? Move on, nothing to see here. Once again, if this apathy continues, there is no hope for the future of this society.



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Human Zoo Britain

Current AffairsPosted by Nico Metten Wed, August 21, 2013 19:48:19

Seriously, what am I complaining about? No one forces me to live in Britain. I came voluntarily 5 years ago. I came because I was deeply fed up with the political system in Germany. Germany is a country in which almost everyone is a more or less consistent statist. People love things to be very organised over there, and of course the wet dream of every organisation junky is a giant monopoly on organisation, in other words a state. Like every statist society, Germany is heading for a giant economic disaster. Today, over 50% of the population in this allegedly most productive economy in Europe gets their income out of taxpayer money. That means that the point of no return has long passed. The worst thing however is that Germany has a very bad debating culture. There are all kinds of taboos and words that must not be mentioned in any debate. Doing so anyway will result in the immediate and permanent exclusion from public debate. In many cases, it can even get you into jail. One of these taboos is that you cannot say publicly that you are in favour of free markets. There is a classical liberal party in Germany that is currently part of a coalition in Government. They are of course really social democrats, but the public perceives them to be hyper capitalists. Although there are some classical liberals in the party, you will never hear any representative in the party publicly saying that he is supporting free markets. It would be political suicide to do that. It is this debating culture that in my persuasion will prevent Germany to learn something from their mistakes. I guess the Germans are doomed to destroy the country every few decades. It is almost like a tradition now.

So I came to Britain. However, I came here not because I was under the illusion that this is a libertarian country. Far from it. It was always clear to me that the British welfare state is no better than the German one. This country is even far more advanced on their way to economic breakdown. While Germany still has a bit of time left before they have to stop dreaming and acknowledge that the welfare state is not working, Britain will face its economic breakdown most likely in the next few years. There are now increasing signs that all the printed money of the BOE is slowly finding its way into the economy. From here, it cannot be long until the game is over.

But there is one thing about the english speaking world that is very positive. It has a quite good debating culture. Although there are developments to outlaw certain opinions, the threshold for getting into jail is still relatively high. There is a deeply routed feeling for fairness in this culture. It seems unreasonable to not at least give people of other opinions the microphone. That is not to say that every opinion is treated equally, far from it. Everyone that is voicing an opinion outside the mainstream will be under heavy and often unfair attack. It is also not the case that everyone gets equal speaking time. But at least everyone can voice their opinion. I believe that this is a decisive advantage, because once things go bad and people naturally become open minded for alternative opinions, the right opinions can be found. In Germany however, if people were to question the status quo, the only alternative opinions they will find are even more statist, socialist opinions and that is what they are going to get. The english speaking world also has an advantage that at least the rhetoric is very much in favour of freedom and markets. So although things in the short run will almost certainly going to get much, much worst, I am quite optimistic in the long run. That is at least what I thought until now.

Since I live here, I increasingly realized that there are many issues that seem to be significantly worst in England. It immediately became clear that there is a massive health and safety tyranny going on. It started with the irritating observation that many people in Bournemouth, where I moved to study a one year MA were wearing security vests. Someone seemed to have talked a lot of proper adults into believing that if they do not wear these vest, there is a significant chance of getting hit by a car. Very weird I thought, but at least their own choice. However, I was about to find out that you often do not have a choice. Health and safety has become an essential part of everything you do in this country. You want normal electricity in your bathroom, sorry can't do that, health and safety. Build a second door in your vocal booth in order to make it more soundproof, sorry health and safety. Heck, I even had to do a two hour health and safety course to join the student Big Band as a drummer, an instrument that I am playing for over 20 years. The idea of safety, although in itself not necessarily a bad thing has in a political context always been the arch enemy of liberty. And in the name of safety the British state does not stop at a little harassment in going about your everyday life.

Something that is very obvious and that always really bothered me is the fact that the British public seems to like surveillance. I got a taste of that even before I arrived in the country. Universities tend to offer international students a guaranteed place in their own student accommodation. This is a tempting offer, given that you are moving to a foreign country. You don't know the local customs and you already have to organize a lot of other stuff. So this seemed to make life easier and I looked into it. The brochure praised that all accommodations had 24hr CCTV. I found that very irritating, because I could not figure out why you would want to be watched like that. In fact it was one of the major reasons why, in the end I did go through the extra hassle of finding private accommodation. However, the British public does not seem to think twice about CCTV. Not only in private hands, but astoundingly even in the hand of the government. London is almost under complete surveillance of CCTV. Not only do you have cameras on every corner watching the movements of people, you also have cameras automatically scanning the number plates of cars. One argument one might have against the idea that this is a threat is that all this collected information cannot possibly be analysed. But this argument is increasingly weak, since modern face recognition software is getting better and better. This allows the system to automatically trigger an alarm, when it spots a person that is on a watch list. In addition to CCTV the public transport system, which almost everyone in London uses has been switched to an electronic ticketing system called oyster. Oyster stores any movement of the oyster card holder. People who still want to enjoy the anonymity of cash are punished with an almost 100% higher fee compared to oyster. All this is happening in the name of security. However, one has to asked security of what? All this surveillance has been proven to be largely inefficient to prevent crime. What mostly prevents real crime is of cause the ability to defend yourself. Astonishingly this is almost illegal in this country. It is almost impossible to even posses, let alone carry any form of firearm. But not only that, even purely defensive weapons like pepper spray, an item that I have literally seen being sold in a toy store in Germany is illegal. The reason for these things being illegal is, you guessed it health and safety. That means there is now a situation in this country in which everyone is surveilled all the time on the one hand and is totally helpless on the other. A horrific combination, should the wrong people get into power. The worst thing of all is, the wrong people might already be in power.

This is what bothers me the most about this country. It does not seem to cross people's mind that this could ever happen. Tyranny only happens in other countries, but never at home. In this respect I more and more getting the impression that this is probably the most statist society on the planet. How right this impression seems to be shows the current reaction of the public to the truly horrific revelations by the US whistle-blower Edward Snowden. Surveilling public space is one thing and bad enough. However, the leaks reveal that the government is working on a complete surveillance of the society. The worst of all governments in this respect seems to be the British one. They are working on trying nothing less than “mastering the internet”. Every interaction online is being monitored and stored. This includes the automatic reading of all private emails. But of course the internet is not enough. All phone communication is also stored and if the government wants to, it can listen in on every communication. What is going on in this country at the moment is making Orwell look like an optimist and the Germany STASI as amateurs. Britain under these plans looks a lot like a human zoo in which people are constantly watched like caved animals. There is simply no privacy left. All you can hope for is to slip under the radar. Reality seems to have topped the worst case scenarios of surveillance critiques. People under surveillance start altering their behavior in favour of the wished behavior of the people behind the cameras. Critical journalism and true opposition becomes impossible.

And what is the reaction of the British public to all this horror? People more or less shrug their shoulders. Quite astounding actually in a country that otherwise seems to put a lot of value on privacy. People even rightfully oppose the in comparison far less harmful ID cards. When Murdock hacked into the phones of celebrities, hell broke lose. But when the government is doing it, the reaction seems to be “I am sure they have good reason to do so”. The Guardian is trying hard to push the story, but it is hardly picked up by any other newspaper. The opposition is absolute silent. The public in most other countries seems to really been worried about these things. Even the US public, normally very unpolitical seem to slowly wake up and have a real debate about surveillance. Just in Britain, the worst surveillance government of all, the public seems to be asleep. Even now that it comes out how the government bullied the guardian into submission and tried to intimidate the journalist Glenn Greenwald by targeting his family, the public outrage seems very limited.

I am quite shocked by this behavior. I really feel like leaving the country because of this. Maybe a country in which the government is weaker and the people do not trust it, like many countries in south america would be better. A society that is so passive, even in the face of a total loss of freedom has no bright future.





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