27 June 2014

What if there was an armed uprising in the US?

.@HJBentham .#USA.#WhatIf.#Futurism .#Dystopia.#Freedom.

This article follows by expanding on a response to an Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET) article by Franco Cortese. There has been a highly positive reaction to this article at Blacklisted News, with people lending their thoughts on this incredible and fascinating question. What if the US faced a modern civil war, the end result of repression and an increasingly totalitarian apparatus being forced on the population?

In response to a well-received Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET) article by Franco Cortese, I recently authored an analysis at ClubOfINFO on the Second Amendment’s possibilities against tyranny in the United States. Due to deepening totalitarian tendencies in the US government, such as mass surveillance and extrajudicial killings, I believe this discussion is very relevant and deserves greater attention.

Franco’s article made the case that the right to bear arms no longer offers hope against the technological might of any future tyranny that may emerge in the United States. Is resistance futile, because the US government will always outgun the people and possess the deadlier weapons? Is the future really so bleak for Americans? Are regimes destined to become impervious to opposition, and the people destined to be disarmed and disenfranchised everywhere as the state reaches unprecedented levels of power? Brzezinksi believed as much, when he stated, “today, it is infinitely easier to kill a million people than to control a million people.”

I disputed Franco’s assessment that modern states are too strong to overthrow by popular armed resistance. The United States of America is a unique country solely in that it was the first to be founded on popular armed resistance by a nation. And, up until the government’s gravitation towards the control and confiscation of firearms, the US regime continued to acknowledge popular armed resistance as a means of establishing sovereignty.

In the modern world, popular armed resistance is not less effective than it was in the past, but has in fact become the most overwhelmingly effective form of warfare because conventional wars between states are becoming increasingly obsolete. States worry so much about the threat of “terrorism” and ubiquitous popular technologies and instruments of activism (such as personal computers), because they acknowledge the reality that armed resistance by their own subjects is the greatest threat to their authority.

Since the development of atomic weapons, the specter of armed resistance by US citizenry against their own regime has been a far bigger and more enduring challenge than any foreign power or terrorist group that could conceivably threaten the United States homeland. The regime knows this, hence its obsession with wiretapping its own population, suppressing their ability to disclose the truth about the crimes of the regime, and ultimately confiscating their means of self-defense.

Analysts of many different schools of International Relations theory agree that internal conflict is becoming more widespread and more threatening than conventional war between states. Part of the reason for this is that, as already mentioned, states now have the capability to annihilate one another completely with nuclear bombs. This has been part of the international order since 1945. Direct encroachment on one another’s territory with armies is now considered too risky by most states even if they have fairly powerful armies (like the United States), and so the only alternative is to encourage internal violence inside the state being targeted (as the US and its allies encourage in Syria).

It was probably the collapse of the East Bloc and the Soviet Union in 1989-1990 that established internecine struggle and “spontaneous” revolution as the most viable models for imposing a new order in another country, instead of military occupation. Since that time, the number of countries facing a serious internal crisis of statehood has risen dramatically, to such an extent that the future of the nation-state model all over the world can now be called into question.

The nature of war has fundamentally changed, so that it is no longer mainly the business of states. Instead, war is now mainly the business of armed individuals and militias all over the world. War is still the continuation of politics by other means, as defined by Carl von Clausewitz, but when and how it breaks out is no longer decided or declared by government figures as it once was. Now, it can break out anywhere and without authorization from anyone, as long as passions are flying high, state legitimacy has been mocked, and police-order is deteriorating. This is possible, because World War 2 and the creation of nukes made states less confident in declaring conventional wars as a means of pursuing their interests.

Primary examples of “wars” in the world now, if they can be called that, take place between regimes and the people they have failed to adequately govern or assimilate into the “nation”. These wars are taking place in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Mali, Nigeria, Ukraine and many other countries as I write. Such violence happens because old-fashioned states are forged by bloodshed, so they have to create new bloodshed to burn their authority back into hearts and minds whenever their legitimacy is called into question. Like religious traditions, nation-states have always been created and maintained by bloody purges of nonbelievers and cultural aliens in order to establish the necessary homogeneity to make people believe in the nation.

Today, any significant national birth or rebirth remains difficult to execute by any regime without involving deaths, because these deaths (of the nation’s enemies, but more importantly "martyrdom" of the nation’s citizens themselves) are a bitter part of the narrative needed to legitimize a nation-state. In the case of national rebirth by revolution against an old regime, neighboring powers find it impractical to get involved by sending their national armies, as happened in the French and Russian revolutions. This gives them reason to invest more in terrorism, whether it is by their own proxies or those of other states, whenever they want to influence the political transition inside another state. Such a focus on terrorism rather than occupation by world powers has made terrorism the most popular and viable means of regime change by governments and rebels everywhere. Terrorism is now used by everyone, and seems destined to entirely replace war as we know it.

One of the main characteristics of internal warfare and civil unrest is that the state avoids calling such a situation a “war”. More importantly, the state cannot use too heavy weapons against the population because it would damage its own infrastructure and legitimacy. The destruction caused by this would only strengthen the claims of insurgents seeking the ouster of the regime. This makes it likely that powerful states would fight their revolting populations with small arms equal to the weapons of the hypothetical insurgents. By giving up their right to possess firearms and form armed militias, Americans would lose their option to defy the regime and execute a popular revolution similar to the one that brought their country into existence.

The key to a successful armed revolution is not superior military technology or training, but overwhelming popular support and commitment by the insurgents to fulfill the will of the people. Illegitimate terrorism fails not because it is an asymmetrical form of warfare and is weak in the face of advanced technology, but due to its inability to connect with the grievances of the common people. In those cases where the people are represented effectively by the militias they have pledged to support, the militias are not terrorists but freedom fighters for a bright future.

If the United States government chooses to continue to defy the people and force a totalitarian apparatus on them, as exposed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, it will not maintain power by attacking its own people with its advanced technology. The value of the Second Amendment as a counter to tyranny would become evident to the citizenry at such a time. If a “Revolution 2.0” became necessary in the United States, following the tradition of the first revolution against an unjust regime, the right to be part of a citizen militia would be instrumental in bringing down the regime effectively and with minimal harm to the people.

If a modern armed struggle was equivalent to the American Revolution, the entire nation would be represented by such a movement, and it is a fact that no nation can be isolated and destroyed by the state ruling over it. Illegitimate terrorism by isolated groups and individuals can be defeated with advanced technology, but popular armed resistance by a whole nation will always prevail over the regime.
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Call for Submissions - new system

.#content. #contentmarketing. #backlinks. #pagerank. #marketing. #publishing.

SUCCESS! ClubOfINFO's reach and influence has been exploding rapidly. We have blown our competitors right out of the water with our outstanding reach and backlinks. In four months, we have had success that took them four years. We are fully satisfied that this is becoming an effective information website, so we are happy to introduce our new submission form and allow everyone to join our widely appealing mission.

Please use our form to put your article or statement into circulation with the young ClubOfINFO Circulation website. It will be published within one week of being received, and will be circulated via our newsletter, associated media sites and social media to gather your readers.

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Above all, we must emphasize: please include any links you wish, and we will place them for you. We understand how helpful it can be for you to get traffic. Anything technology or society-related is part of our mission at ClubOfINFO, so we welcome you to spam us with your products and services.

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24 June 2014

'Tony Blair continues his murderous lying'

.@HJBentham .#UK .#Blair .#Iraq.#ISIS.

This is a response to an essay published on Tony Blair's website, titled "Iraq, Syria and Middle East".

British ex-PM Tony Blair’s words absolving himself of blame for Iraq’s instability are the self-centered ramblings of an irredeemable war criminal.

It takes a long time for the blood of hundreds of thousands of people to drip from any hand, but this has not subdued Tony Blair’s confidence that he knows what is best for Iraq. Blair even maintains enough murderous pride and insensitivity to argue that the US and UK not attacking Syria is the cause of Iraq’s instability.

I realize that this sounds like a sick joke, but it isn’t. Tony Blair actually argued this in a rambling essay posted on his own website. His most preposterous claim was that the US and UK avoidance of bombing Iraq’s neighbor Syria, like Iraq before it, must be blamed for the instability now seen in both countries. Refusing to apologize for the role of his own filthy hands in the heinous conspiracy and aggression of 2003, Blair expressed his confidence in aggression as the only method for ending the violence unleashed by an earlier act of aggression.

As aggrieved as we must be to republish the words of this mass murderer, let us read what Tony Blair had to say:

“In Iraq, we called for the regime to change, removed it and put in troops to try to rebuild the country. But intervention proved very tough and today the country is at risk again. In Libya, we called for the regime to change, we removed it by airpower, but refused to put in troops and now Libya is racked by instability, violence and has exported vast amounts of trouble and weapons across North Africa and down into sub- Saharan Africa. In Syria we called for the regime to change, took no action and it is in the worst state of all.”

The United States government does not agree with Blair’s claim that the West “Took no action” in Syria. According to the US government, the US has donated tens of millions of dollars to the armed opposition in Syria. It has even bragged about supplying weapons to the armed opposition. US military instructors have been training opposition fighters in neighboring Jordan. Further, the United States has honored its favorite opposition figures by letting them have a diplomatic mission in the United States, and has treated them as the sole “legitimate” representatives of the Syrian people – even though they are unelected and have no relation to the Syrian state.

According to the Syrian government, if Western actions in support of violent regime-change in Syria were cut, terrorism would subside within about week, and the violence and terror would subside. The Assad government might be exaggerating. However, if the US government’s own boasts are accurate, the West has already taken heavily disproportionate “action” in Syria, and carries most of the blame for the deaths in excess of 100,000 in the crisis. So, “took no action” is the most disingenuous way of describing Western policy towards Syria.

One of Blair’s silliest arguments in his essay is that the invasion of Iraq in 2003 did not contribute to the current crisis in Iraq, but he contradicts himself when making this case. Blair writes, “Thought the challenge of terrorism was and is very real, the sectarianism of the Maliki Government snuffed out what was a genuine opportunity to build a cohesive Iraq.”

Wait a minute! If there was not a “cohesive Iraq” when Western forces left Iraq, then why did Western governments claim that they had completed the regime change successfully, and why did they withdraw from the country after celebrating how they had supposedly set up a strong state? Don’t Blair’s own words tell us that the invasion and the regime change over those years was indeed a failure, and that Iraq was not adequately healed after the invasion in 2003? If so, isn’t Blair basically admitting to the failure of his Iraqi project in his own essay, but resorting to finger-pointing at the Iraqi people to explain his failure?

Blair writes of the “failure to use the oil money to re-build the country, and the inadequacy of the Iraqi army to repulse the attack on Mosul and the earlier loss of Fallujah.” Again, whose job was it to train the Iraqi army to defend themselves against al-Qaeda in Iraq, if not the British and Americans who invaded the country and dismantled the original regime? Again, all Blair is doing is highlighting his own failure and using finger-pointing at the incumbent democracy (the same sort of Western-imposed democracy that he would like to see in Syria?) to blame it for its own problems.

What Blair has done is a little is like burning someone’s house down, and then blaming the victims for their own suffering when they get injured under a falling beam. Bush and Blair promised Iraq a bright future, and unilaterally imposed this future on Iraq without considering the long-term challenges. They lied. For that, they must be prepared to admit that they were wrong and led Iraq into the abyss, just as they are trying to lead Syria. They should be prepared accept the blame for every ill decision or movement towards destabilization and disintegration that has followed, rather than telling fairy tales about what might have happened if things were not so complicated.

Astonishingly, Blair also tries to defend the War in Iraq as necessary. His first reason is that Saddam might have rebuilt his chemical weapons at a later date, and so he had to be destroyed to prevent what he might have later done. However, this is nothing but an appeal to the idea of pre-emptive war, which is an eminent threat to world peace. All aggression comes from the countries acting pre-emptively. In this regard, pre-emptive war is indistinguishable from the crimes of aggression and conspiracy to wage war, and can be recognized only as a threat to the peace. How could global peace be preserved by tearing up the UN Charter and declaring that conspiracy and aggression should be permitted?

The second excuse given by Blair to justify the Iraq War is that the “Arab uprisings” would have occurred in Iraq. That is most probably true, but Blair did not know this when he invaded the country, so this is a post hoc justification. He had no idea there would be any uprisings. In fact, he had no confidence whatsoever that the Iraqi people would rise up – hence the reliance on a foreign invasion to remove the regime. Also, wouldn’t Saddam’s fall have been less destructive and paralyzing for Iraq as a nation, if the Iraqi people had accomplished this for themselves in a dignified uprising, rather than witnessing their state being wiped out by foreign powers who entered the country while reciting outright lies and propaganda?

Takfiri militants in Iraq, such as al-Qaeda in Iraq, only emerged after the US-led invasion, precisely because of the instability caused by the invasion. Presenting themselves as fighting an occupation, the Takfiris were able to gain support. Today, the same resentment towards the US-led occupation and the perception of the Maliki government as a US ally drives the militants into a religious militant frenzy that would have been impossible if there had been no US-led invasion.

However, the biggest factor contributing to the surge of militancy in Iraq is not the US-led intervention in Iraq. It is the US-led intervention in Syria, which Tony Blair pretends to be non-existent. Right now, there is an unprecedented reckless and destructive policy that Blair has not mentioned. US allies have been channeling arms and funding to an array of terrorist outfits in Syria, led by their empty-headed assumption that this will somehow topple Bashar al-Assad.

Considering the ease with which Syria-bound weapons and funds from Western allies could be directed into neighboring Iraq by terrorists, the crisis in Iraq is not just a long-term aftershock of the 2003 invasion. It is being directly aggravated, at this very minute, by the continued interference and aid by the West to the hopeless and failing prop of “revolution” in Syria.

The arrogance of Tony Blair, a war criminal who ravaged a country and now continues to encourage the same violence in the region, is unbelievable. If Blair had any sense of decency, he would withdraw from public life, or at least put an end to his warmongering. Only an absolute lack of conscience could lead to such a disgraced person continuing to advocate violent military intervention.

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Dave Robinson's "Price of Imperium" +

.@StephenJSweeney@DCRWrites@HJBentham. @CaptainDucttape. #scifi. #Kindle. #ebook.

Check out the work of some of the best indie authors we can find. All of their work can be found at Amazon. Just click the links to see more. Indie authors don't get hyped like mainstream authors. They need browsing by folks like you to get their work seen and appreciated.

Stephen Sweeney's Project Starfighter: Chris is not willing to surrender, not willing to give up the fight just yet. He has a plan - to rebuild the Resistance, bring together others, and keep up the battle against the Corporation. And he will soon find himself teaming up with the most unlikely of allies - a sentient starfighter, known as Athena, formerly belonging to the very company he is trying to take down.

Dave Robinson's Price of Imperium: The Imperium is on the brink of annihilation, and only one person can save it. After centuries of peace, the Enemy has returned, and the only one who can unlock the Imperium's last line of defense is the rightful emperor. Unfortunately, the throne has been empty for a decade.

Harry J. Bentham's Wrong Century: Piracy in space, as a rogue warship is forced to adopt an ancient violent tactic to steal the vital technology it needs to survive. This book includes three complete stories.

Shawn Jones' Warrior's Blood (The Warrior Chronicles): As they prepare their own colony on Mars, new enemies stand against Cort and his family. The ensuing conflict liberates Mars from Earth oversight and leads to the founding of an empire. But before it’s over, the Ares Federation will lead humanity onto the galactic stage.

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20 June 2014

Saying transhumanism is impossible is a mockery of history itself

.@hetero_sapien .#transhumanism .#technoprogressivism .#technology .#science.


Part of ClubOfINFO's mission is to introduce transhumanism to the many who have not heard of it. A relatively simple and friendly idea to explain to anyone, transhumanism is the movement to overcome human physical limitations and mortality with technology. Transhumanists find it practical and moral to say that humanity's path since we harnessed fire has been defined by a growing ability to overcome all of our limits with technology. We believe that not even our own bodies should be excluded from this ancient and ongoing mission of transformation that has given meaning to our humanity.

One of the most common arguments made against Transhumanism, Technoprogressivism and the transformative potentials of emerging, converging, disruptive and transformative technologies may also be the weakest: technical infeasibility. While some thinkers attack the veracity of Transhumanist claims on moral grounds, arguing that we are committing a transgression against human dignity (in turn often based on ontological grounds of a static human nature that shan't be tampered with) or on grounds of safety, arguing that humanity isn't responsible enough to wield such technologies without unleashing their destructive capabilities, these categories of counter-argument (ethicacy and safety, respectively) are more often than not made by people somewhat more familiar with the community and its common points of rhetoric.

In other words these are the real salient and significant problems needing to be addressed by Transhumanist and Technoprogressive communities. The good news is that the ones makes the most progress in terms of deliberating the possible repercussions of emerging technologies are Transhumanist and Technoprogressive communities. The large majority of thinkers and theoreticians working on Existential Risk and Global Catastrophic Risk, like The Future of Humanity Institute and the Lifeboat Foundation, share Technoprogressive inclinations. Meanwhile, the largest proponents of the need to ensure wide availability of enhancement technologies, as well as the need for provision of personhood rights to non-biologically-substrated persons, are found amidst the ranks of Technoprogressive Think Tanks like the IEET.

A more frequent Anti-Transhumanist and Anti-Technoprogressive counter-argument, by contrast, and one most often launched by people approaching Transhumanist and Technoprogressive communities from the outside, with little familiarity of their common points-of-rhetoric, is the claim of technical infeasibility in turn based upon little more than sheer incredulity.

Sometimes a concept or notion simply seems too unprecedented to be possible. But it's just too easy for us to get stuck in a spacetime rut along the continuum of culture and feel that if something were possible, it would have either already happened or would be in the final stages of completion today. “If something is possible, when why hasn't anyone done it?

Shouldn't the fact that it has yet to be accomplished indicate that it isn't possible?” This conflates ought with is (which Hume showed us is a fallacy) and ought with can. Ought is not necessarily correlative with either. At the risk of saying the laughably-obvious, something must occur at some point in order for them to occur at all. The moon landing happened in 1969 because it happened in 1969, and to have argued in 1968 that it simply wasn’t possible solely because it had never been done before would not have been valid argument for its technical infeasibility.

If history has shown us anything, it has shown us that history is a fantastically poor indicator of what will and will not become feasible in the future. Statistically speaking, it seems as though the majority of things that were said to be impossible to implement via technology have nonetheless come into being. Likewise, it seems as though the majority of feats it was said to be possible to facilitate via technology have also come into being. The ability to possiblize the seemingly-impossible via technological and methodological in(ter)vention has been exemplified throughout the course of human history so prominently that we might as well consider it a statistical law.

We can feel the sheer fallibility of the infeasibility and incredulity argument intuitively when we consider how credible it would have seemed a mere 100 years ago to claim that we would soon be able to send sentences into the air, to be routed to a device in your pocket (and only your pocket, not the device in the pocket of the person sitting right beside you). How likely would it have seemed 200 years ago if you claimed that 200 years hence it would be possible to sit comfortably and quietly in a chair in the sky, inside a large tube of metal that fails to fall fatally to the ground?

Simply look around you. An idiosyncratic genus of great ape did this! Consider how remarkably absurd it would seem for the gorilla genus to have coordinated their efforts to build skyscrapers. To engineer devices that took them to the moon. To be able to send a warning or mating call to the other side of the earth in less time than such a call could actually be made via physical vocal cords. We live in a world of artificial wonder, and act as though it were the most mundane thing in the world. But considered in terms of geological time, the unprecedented feat of culture and artificial artifact just happened. We are still in the fledging infancy of the future, which only began when we began making it ourselves.

We have no reason whatsoever to doubt the eventual technological feasibility of anything, really, when we consider all the things that were said to be impossible yet happened, all the things that were said to be possible and did happen, and all the things that were unforeseen completely yet happened nonetheless. In light of history, it seems more likely than a given thing would eventually be possible via technology than that it wouldn’t ever be possible. I fully appreciate the grandeur of this claim – but I stand by it nonetheless. To claim that a given ability will probably not be eventually possible to implement via technology is to laugh in the face of history to some extent.

The main exceptions to this claim are abilities wherein you limit or specify the route of implementation. Thus it probably would not be eventually possible to, say, infer the states of all the atoms comprising the Eifel Tower from the state of a single atom in your fingernail. Categories of ability where you specify the implementation as the end-ability – as in the case above, the end ability was to infer the state of all the atoms in the Eifel Tower from the state of a single atom.

These exceptions also serve to illustrate the paramount feature allowing technology to possiblize the seemingly improbable. Novel means of implementation. Very often there is a bottleneck in the current system we use to accomplish something that limits the scope of tis abilities and prevents certain objectives from being facilitated by it. In such cases a whole new paradigm of approach is what moves progress forward to realizing that objective. If the goal is the reversal and indefinite remediation of the causes and sources of aging, the paradigms of medicine available at the turn of the 20th century would have seemed to be unable to accomplish such a feat.

The new paradigm of biotechnology and genetic engineering was needed to formulate a scientifically plausible route to the reversal of aging-correlated molecular damage – a paradigm somewhat non-inherent in the medical paradigms and practices common at the turn of the 20th Century. It is the notion of a new route to implementation, a wholly novel way of making the changes that could lead to a given desired objective, that constitutes the real ability-actualizing capacity of technology – and one that such cases of specified-implementation fail to take account of.

One might think that there are other clear exceptions to this as well: devices or abilities that contradict the laws of physics as we currently understand them, e.g. perpetual motion machines. Yet even here we see many historical antecedents exemplifying our short-sighted foresight in regard to “the laws of physics”. Our understanding of the physical “laws” of the universe undergo massive upheaval from generation to generation. Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions challenged the predominant view that scientific progress occurred by accumulated development and discovery when he argued that scientific progress is instead driven by the rise of new conceptual paradigms categorically dissimilar to those that preceded it (Kuhn, 1962), and which then define the new predominant directions in research, development and discovery in almost all areas of scientific discovery and conceptualization.

Kuhn’s insight can be seen to be paralleled by the recent rise in popularity of Singularitarianism, which today seems to have lost its strict association with a I.J. Good type intelligence explosion created via recursively self-modifying strong AI, and now seems to encompass any vision of a profound transformation of humanity or society through technological growth, and the introduction of truly disruptive emerging and converging (e.g. NBIC) technologies.

This epistemic paradigm holds that the future is less determined by the smooth progression of existing trends and more by the massive impact of specific technologies and occurrences – the revolution of innovation. Kurzweil’s own version of Singularitarianism (Kurzweil, 2005) uses the systemic progression of trends in order to predict a state of affairs created by the convergence of such trends, wherein predictable progression of trends points to their own destruction in a sense, as the trends culminate in our inability to predict past that point. We can predict that there are factors that will significantly impeded our predictive ability thereafter. Kurzweil and Kuhn’s thinking are also paralleled by Buckminster Fuller in his notion of ephemeralization (i.e. doing more with less), the post-industrial, information-economies and socioeconomic paradigms described by Alvin Toffler (Toffler, 1970), John Naisbitt (Naisbitt 1982) and Daniel Bell (Bell, 1973), among others.

It can also partly be seen to be inherent in almost all formulations of technological determinism, especially variants of what I call reciprocal technological determinism (not simply that technology determines or largely constitutes the determining factors of societal states-of-affairs, not simply than tech affects culture, but rather than culture affects technology which then affects culture which then affects technology) al a Marshal McLuhan (McLuhan, 1964) . This broad epistemic paradigm, wherein the state of progress is more determined by small but radically disruptive changes, innovations and deviations rather than the continuation or convergence of smooth and slow-changing trends, can be seen to be inherent in variants of technological determinism because technology is ipso facto (or by its very defining attributes) categorically new and paradigmically disruptive, and if culture is affected significantly by technology then it is also affected punctuated instances of unintended radical innovation untended by trends.

That being said, as Kurzweil has noted, a given technological paradigm “grows out of” the paradigm preceding it, and so the extents and conditions of a given paradigm will to some extent determine the conditions and allowances of the next paradigm. But that is not to say that they are predictable; they may be inherent while still remaining non-apparent. After all, the increasing trend of mechanical components’ increasing miniaturization could be seen hundreds of years ago (e.g. Babbage knew that the mechanical precision available via the manufacturing paradigms of his time would impede his ability in realizing his Baggage Engine, but that its implementation would one day be possible by the trend of increasingly precise manufacturing standards), but the fact that it could continue to culminate in the ephemeralization of Bucky Fuller (Fuller, 1976) or the mechanosynthesis of K. Eric Drexler. (Drexler, 1986).

Moreover, the types of occurrence allowed by a given scientific or methodological paradigm seem at least intuitively to expand, rather than contract, as we move forward through history. This can be seen lucidly in the rise of Quantum Physics in the early 20th Century, which delivered such conceptual affronts to our intuitive-notions-of-the-possible as non-locality (i.e. quantum entanglement – and with it quantum information teleportation and even quantum energy teleportation, or in other words faster-than-light causal correlation between spatially-separated physical entities), Einstein’s theory of relativity (which implied such counter-intuitive notions as measurement of quantities being relative to the velocity of the observer, e.g. the passing of time as measured by clocks will be different in space than on earth), and the hidden-variable-theory of David Bohm (which implied such notions as the velocity of any one particle being determined by the configuration of the entire universe). These notions belligerently contradict what we feel intuitively to be possible. Here we have claims that such strange abilities as informational and energetic teleportation, faster-than-light causality (or at least faster-than-light correlation of physical and/or informational states) and spacetime dilation are natural, non-technological properties and abilities of the physical universe.

Technology is Man’s foremost mediator of change; it is by and large through the use of technology that we expand the parameters of the possible. This is why the fact that these seemingly-fantastic feats were claimed to be possible “naturally”, without technological implementation or mediation, is so significant. The notion that they are possible without technology makes them all the more fantastical and intuitively-improbable.

We also sometimes forget the even more fantastic claims of what can be done through the use of technology, such as stellar engineering and mega-scale engineering, made by some of big names in science. There is the Dyson Sphere of Freeman Dyson, which details a technological method of harnessing potentially the entire energetic output of a star (Dyson 1960). One can also find speculation made by Dyson concerning the ability for “life and communication [to] continue for ever, using a finite store of energy” in an open-universe by utilizing smaller and smaller amounts of energy to power slower and slower computationally-emulated instances of thought (Dyson 1979).

There is the Tipler Cylinder (also called the Tipler Time Machine) of Frank J. Tipler, which described a dense cylinder of infinite length rotating about its longitudinal axis to create closed-timelike-curves (Tipler, 1974), and while he speculated that a cylinder of finite length could produce the same effect if rotated fast enough, he didn’t provide a mathematical solution for this second claim. There is also speculation by Tipler on the ability to utilize energy harnessed from gravitational shear created by the forced collapse of the universe at different rates and different directions, which he argues would allow the universe’s computational capacity to diverge to infinity, essentially providing computationally-emulated humans and civilizations the ability to run for an infinite duration of subjective time (Tipler, 1986, 1997).

We see such feats of technological grandeur paralleled by Kurt Gödel, who produced an exact solution to the Einstein field equations that describes a cosmological model of a rotating universe (Gödel, 1949). While cosmological evidence (e.g. suggesting that our universe is not a rotating one) indicates that his solution doesn’t describe the universe we live in, it nonetheless constitutes a hypothetically-possible cosmology in which time-travel (again, via closed-timelike-curve) is possible. And because closed-timelike-curves seem to require large amounts of acceleration, i.e. amounts not attainable without the use of technology, Gödel’s case constitutes a hypothetical cosmological model allowing for technological time-travel (which might be non-obvious since Gödel’s case doesn’t incur such technological feats as a rotating cylinder of infinite length, rather being a result derived from specific physical and cosmological, i.e. non-technological, constants and properties).

These are large claims made by large names in science (i.e. people who do not make claims frivolously, and in most cases require quantitative indication of their possibility, often in the form of mathematical solutions as in the cases mentioned above) and all of which are made possible solely through the use of technology. Such technological feats as the computational emulation of the human nervous system and the technological eradication of involuntary death pale in comparison to the sheer grandeur of the claims and conceptualizations outlined above.

We live in a very strange universe, which is easy to forget midst our feigned mundanity. We have no excuse to express incredulity at Transhumanist and Techoprogressive conceptualizations considering how stoically we accept such notions as the existence of sentient matter (i.e. biological intelligence) or the ability of a genus of great ape to stand on extraterrestrial land.

Thus, one of the most common counter-arguments launched at many Transhumanist and Technoprogressive claims and conceptualizations, namely technical infeasibility based upon nothing more than incredulity and/or the lack of a definitive historical precedent, is one of the most baseless counter-arguments as well. It would be far more credible to argue for the technical infeasibility of a given endeavor within a certain time-frame. Not only do we have little if any indication that a given ability or endeavor will fail to eventually become realizable via technology given enough development-time, but we even have historical indication of the very antithesis of this claim, in the form of the many, many instances in which a given endeavor or feat was said to be impossible, only to be realized via technological mediation thereafter.

It is high time we accepted the fallibility of base incredulity and the infeasibility of the technical-infeasibility-argument. I remain stoically incredulous at the audacity of fundamental incredulity, for nothing should be incredulous to man, who makes his own credibility in any case, and who is most at home in the necessary superfluous.

References


Bell, D. (1973). “The Coming of Post-Industrial Society: A Venture in Social Forecasting, Daniel Bell.” New York: Basic Books, ISBN 0-465-01281-7

Dyson, F. (1960) “Search for Artificial Stellar Sources of Infrared Radiation”. Science 131: 1667-1668.

Dyson, F. (1979). "Time without end: Physics and biology in an open universe," Reviews of Modern Physics 51 (3): 447-460.

Fuller, R.B. (1938). “Nine Chains to the Moon.” Anchor Books pp. 252–59

Gödel, K. (1949). "An example of a new type of cosmological solution of Einstein's field equations of gravitation". Rev. Mod. Phys. 21 (3): 447–450.

Kuhn, Thomas S. (1962). “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1st ed.).” University of Chicago Press. LCCN 62019621

Kurzweil, R. (2005). “The Singularity is Near.” Penguin Books.

Mcluhan, M. (1964). “Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man”. 1st Ed. McGraw Hill, NY

Niasbitt, J. (1982). “Megatrends.” Ten New Directions Transforming Our Lives. Warner Books.

Tipler, F. (1974) “Rotating Cylinders and Global Causality Violation". Physical Review D9, 2203-2206

Tipler, F. (1986). "Cosmological Limits on Computation", International Journal of Theoretical Physics 25 (6): 617-661.

Tipler, F. (1997). The Physics of Immortality: Modern Cosmology, God and the Resurrection of the Dead. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-46798-2.

Toffler, A. (1970). “Future shock.” New York: Random House.

By Franco Cortese - More articles by Franco Cortese

Originally published at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies on 12 June 2013

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Review: What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly (2010)

.@Kevin2Kelly .#Book .#Review .#Futurism .#SciFi.

From now on, ClubOfINFO will be sending its readers a mini book review every week. These will be focusing on important and current events and the crucial debates of the century, aiming to broaden our readers' understandings of the crossroads of politics and technology.

Wired cofounder Kevin Kelly's What Technology Wants (2010) is a revolutionary book presenting the theory of the technium - a term Kelly uses to describe the ever expanding sphere of advanced technology and all that could potentially emerge from it.

Kelly's book gives rise to an unprecedented radical vision of humanity's future with profound social, economic and political implications: the technium is not just what the engineers and scientists have made it to be, but a lot more. The technium has a will of its own - a powerful and enduring instinct to expand the bounds of the possible and liberate every human individual.

Like the natural environment before it, the technium is growing into a vast jungle of infinite resources and possibilities. Kelly sees the growing emergence of this complexity and glory as "extropy" - the progressive transformation away from a simple and barren universe towards a vastly sentient and populated universe exploding with intelligence.

The arms of the technium that are currently transforming the world, whether biotechnology or digital technology, lead endlessly towards liberation and the empowerment of the individual. No matter what the designs of the technology's owners were, all things that make the individual more powerful lead to the empowerment of the masses and the instruments of popular power and resistance.

In the promise of the technium, there is an ultimate solution to oppression and inequality in the world. As the technium leads humanity towards greater levels of freedom and individual empowerment, Kevin Kelly's work nods undeniably in the direction of the triumph of individuals over states. The future is not a bleak one of degeneration and extinction, but an unbelievably glorious one of enhancement, cultural enrichment and the supremacy of intelligence. This is what humanity has to work for.

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17 June 2014

Forcing the end of US Regime Surveillance

.#Snowden. #StopTheNSA. @HJBentham. @ClubOfINFO.

#ResetTheNet has sent a powerful message, but it takes more than a display of popular opposition to deter tyranny. Spying without legal justification on every citizen in a nation is an act of tyranny that must end, or the people will force it to end. That is why ClubOfINFO will continue to take an uncompromising position against this perilous totalitarian development at the heart of a regime that has turned its back on its people and is losing all legitimacy. For us, this means reprinting articles that send a resounding NO to state mass surveillance and say YES to all forms popular resistance to the regime.

Although encryption and lawmaking are often seen as the only options against US global surveillance, full-spectrum resistance is needed. A campaign of confusion and traps set by the victims of spying could punish the US National Security Agency, by wasting its funds and causing it to make devastating errors.

We know that the United States is attempting to assume the role of the global tyrant. Over 2000 years ago, Aristotle warned that tyrannies depend on war and spying for their very security:
“the people dare not speak with freedom for fear of such persons; and if any one does, there is the less chance of its being concealed… a tyrant is of all persons the man who can place no confidence in friends, as every one has it in his desire and these chiefly in their power to destroy him.”
The United States has no friends. The United States is at war. It is at war against you, your neighbor, and even its own NATO “allies”. It is at war against every man, woman and child on the face of the planet. Its goal is to stifle the rights and dignity of all people by subjecting them to constant surveillance, thus creating the climate of terror and obedience favored by tyrants.

Their arrogant attempt to supplant the All-knowing with man will surely fail. Already, the mere fact that their crime has been exposed has humiliated them more than anything else in decades. It has shaken the very foundations of US security by resulting in distrust between the US and its allies. It has failed them once, and it will fail them again.

Protecting people was never the goal of the US National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance. As the former Information Awareness Office (IAO), responsible for the doctrine of Total Information Awareness (TIA), stated in its logo, “scientia est potentia”, knowledge is power. The United States does not deserve power.

Exposure of US total surveillance means this surveillance can no longer be decisively abused for US power. World leaders are aware that they have been spied on by the United States, and some have reconsidered their so-called alliances with the US. As countries spied on by the US work to strengthen their encryption, the United States seeks to retain its advantage.

In most discussions, encryption and lawmaking are seen as the only two defenses against US global surveillance. Neither appears to be sufficient to utterly abolish the criminal spying practices of the US. The United States covertly violates its own laws and bypasses the remaining barriers with its technological superiority. The failure of the United States’ criminal activities depends on the world forcing them to surrender their practices by making them too costly to sustain.

An advantage in encryption will never be complete while the US retains its technological abilities. In the meantime, information can be laid out in such a way that it simply is not useful to prying eyes, or laid out to cause false alarms and waste funds. All those who have been targeted by the US surveillance regime are able to fight back, by actively deceiving the NSA. Only a relentless campaign of confusion and traps such as this could render US email interception so costly and unreliable that it would finally be scrapped.

Interception of the world’s email is pointless unless specific data can be obtained reliably through it. If enough noise and falsehoods are fed in, such spying is useless. Governments resisting the global spies could easily plague them by dedicating periods of time to misleading the United States, pressuring the arrogant regime to make mistakes and waste funds due to intercepting and wading through vast numbers of fraudulent emails.

Because we all live in a regime of total surveillance, any campaign of confusion and chaos directed against US communication interception deserves global attention. A culture that encourages the direction of confusion and chaos against the United States authorities is imperative.

The rights of nations and individuals must be preserved by any means, lest they succumb to the global tyranny. A campaign of confusion could be a form of global civil disobedience against the US, a form of non-cooperation designed to throw off the US yoke. Such a move would be capable of eliminating the regime’s belief that is has either knowledge or power.

As their knowledge is replaced with confusion and doubt, their power can be replaced with weakness and indecision. Thus, to render the surveillance regime incapable, communication that had been intercepted by the US can simply be replaced with false communication occasionally.

The tactics described in this article would be important to talk about in the public domain, because they are not only relevant to governments critical of the US or under pressure from the US. These possible tactics are also relevant to any entities that have been spied on.

In the end, the United States will be brought to justice for its crimes. In anticipation of this, it is the duty of all individuals and nations to be on the right side of history by subverting and discrediting the United States.

When information is the ally of the oppressor, confusion and chaos can be cohorts of the oppressed.

By Harry J. Bentham - More articles by Harry J. Bentham

Originally published at Press TV on January 7, 2014

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This week's radical book recommendations

.@ioerror .@HJBentham .#ebook .#politics .#science .#scifi.

From now on, ClubOfINFO will be making a weekly list of recommended radical books coming from both fiction and nonfiction genres. These books will be related to our mission to talk about offbeat science and politics, and our choices at the crossroads of politics and technology. Science fiction, which is a noble exploration of how science and technology might affect society for better or worse, will always be of great interest and will be loyally recommended here.

These are ClubOfINFO's top 5 recommended ebooks available from Amazon for this week. We find each of these titles to be powerfully written and relevant to current events.

#1 No Place to Hide by Glenn Greenwald gives an extensive overview of the National Security Agency (NSA) spying scandal from the unique vantage point of the Guardian journalist who covered the disclosures from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. No Place to Hide discusses, perhaps better than any other book book with the exception of Assange's Cypherpunks, the kind of safeguards and oversight required to salvage democracy from the abyss of state totalitarian mass surveillance.

#2 The Grand Chessboard by Zbigniew Brzezinski is a difficult read, by all accounts, but sales have risen since the development of the Ukraine Crisis. This book offers a detailed understanding of the self-indulgent and hawkish US policies that have given rise to the crisis in Ukraine. Most readers agree that no book gives a better account of the rationale for the US's violent obsession with distant countries and and its fixation on them as anchors for US power, favoring that power at all times over the safety or stability of other countries. This book exposes a kind of thinking among top US strategists that can only be compared with the Roman Empire or Nazi Germany. Nothing in this form of thinking is sympathetic to other nations, and everything in this form of thinking is about seizing or subordinating other nations to extend the lifespan of US military supremacy for as long as possible.

#3 Talks 2005-2013 (Free Speech) (Volume 1) by Jacob Appelbaum is a series of public talks. The author is a well-known hacker, cypherpunk, photographer and defender civil liberties. Also a co-author of Julian Assange's Cypherpunks, Appelbaum has established himself as one of the best-known defenders of internet freedom and this has culminated in repressive steps by regimes including the United States against him.

#4 Alien Fruit by Harris Tobias is the first book in a sci-fi series telling the story of a struggling colony on a hostile alien planet. Two brave teens fight against impossible odds to save their colony.

#5 Word of Other Worlds Possible by Harry J. Bentham is an fast-paced collection of short dissident essays authored by by the futurist anti-statist political commentator Harry J. Bentham. All previously published in the radical newsletter Dissident Voice, these essays explore such subjects as mass surveillance, the potential abuse of new technologies, and more importantly the period of social liberation promised by new technologies.

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13 June 2014

The Hubris of Neo-Luddism

@Hetero_Sapien - One of the most common anti-Transhumanist tropes one finds recurring throughout Transhumanist rhetoric is our supposedly rampant hubris. Hubris is an ancient Greek concept meaning excess of pride that carries connotations of reckless vanity and heedless self-absorbment, often to the point of carelessly endangering the welfare of others in the process. It paints us in a selfish and dangerous light, as though we were striving for the technological betterment of ourselves alone and the improvement of the human condition solely as it pertains to ourselves, so as to be enhanced relative to the majority of humanity.

In no way is this correct or even salient. I, and the majority of Transhumanists, Techno-Progressives and emerging-tech-enthusiasts I would claim, work toward promoting beneficial outcomes and deliberating the repercussions and most desirable embodiments of radically-transformative technologies for the betterment of all mankind first and foremost, and only secondly for ourselves if at all.

The ired irony of this situation is that the very group who most often hails the charge of Hubris against the Transhumanist community is, according to the logic of hubris, more hubristic than those they rail their charge against. Bio-Luddites, and more generally Neo-Luddites, can be clearly seen to be more self-absorbed and recklessly-selfish than the Transhumanists they are so quick to raise qualms against.

The logic of this conclusion is simple: Transhumanists seek merely to better determine the controlling circumstances and determining conditions of our own selves, whereas Neo-Luddites seek to determine such circumstances and conditions (even if using a negative definition, i.e., the absence of something) not only for everyone besides themselves alive at the moment, but even for the unquantable multitudes of minds and lives still fetal in the future.

We do not seek to radically transform Humanity against their will; indeed, this is so off the mark as to be antithetical to the true Transhumanist impetus - for we seek to liberate their wills, not leash or lash them. We seek to offer every human alive the possibility of transforming themselves more effectively according to their own subjective projected objectives; of actualizing and realizing themselves; ultimately of determining themselves for themselves. We seek to offer every member of Humanity the choice to better choose and the option for more optimal options: the self not as final-subject but as project-at-last.

Neo-Luddites, on the other hand, wish to deny the whole of humanity that choice. They actively seek the determent, relinquishment or prohibition of technological self-transformation, and believe in the heat of their idiot-certainty that they have either the intelligence or the right to force their own preference upon everyone else, present and future. Such lumbering, oafish paternalism patronizes the very essence of Man, whose only right is to write his own and whose only will is to will his own – or at least to vow that he will will his own one fateful yet fate-free day.

We seek solely to choose ourselves, and to give everyone alive and yet-to-live the same opportunity: of choice. Neo-Luddites seek not only to choose for themselves but to force this choice upon everyone else as well.

If any of the original Luddites were alive today, perhaps they would loom large to denounce the contemporary caricature of their own movement and rail their tightly-spooled rage against the modern Neo-Luddites that use Ludd’s name in so reckless a threadbare fashion. At the heart of it they were trying to free their working-class fellowship. There would not have been any predominant connotations of extending the distinguishing features of the Luddite revolt into the entire future, no hint of the possibility that they would set a precedent which would effectively forestall or encumber the continuing advancement of technology at the cost of the continuing betterment of humanity.

Who were they to intimate that continuing technological and methodological growth and progress would continually liberate humanity in fits and bounds of expanding freedom to open up the parameters of their possible actions - would free choice from chance and make the general conditions of being continually better and better? If this sentiment were predominant durint 1811-1817, perhaps they would have lain their hammers down. They was seeking the liberation of their people after all; if they knew that their own actions might spawn a future movement seeking to dampen and deter the continual technological liberation of Mankind, perhaps they would have remarked that such future Neo-Luddites missed their point completely.

Perhaps the salient heart of their efforts was not the relinquishment of technology but rather the liberation of their fellow man. Perhaps they would have remarked that while in this particular case technological relinquishment coincided with the liberation of their fellow man, that this shouldn’t be heralded as a hard rule. Perhaps the they would have been ashamed of the way in which their name was to be used as the nametag and figurehead for the contemporary fight against liberty and Man’s autonomy. Perhaps Ludd is spinning like a loom in his grave right now.

Does the original Luddites’ enthusiasm for choice and the liberation of his fellow man supersede his revolt against technology? I think it does. The historical continuum of which Transhumanism is but the contemporary leading-tip encompasses not only the technological betterment of self and society but the non-technological as well. Historical Utopian ventures and visions are valid antecedents of the Transhumanist impetus just as Techno-Utopian historical antecedents are. While the emphasis on technology predominant in Transhumanist rhetoric isn’t exactly misplaced (simply because technology is our best means of affecting and changing self and society, whorl and world, and thus our best means of improving it according to subjective projected objectives as well) it isn’t a necessary precondition, and its predominance does not preclude the inclusion of non-technological attempts to improve the human condition as well.

The dichotomy between knowledge and device, between technology and methodology, doesn’t have a stable ontological ground in the first place. What is technology but embodied methodology, and methodology but internalized technology? Language is just as unnatural as quantum computers in geological scales of time. To make technology a necessary prerequisite is to miss the end for the means and the mark for a lark. The point is that we are trying to consciously improve the state of self, society and world; technology has simply superseded methodology as the most optimal means of accomplishing that, and now constitutes our best means of effecting our affectation.

The original Luddite movement was less against advancing technology and more about the particular repercussions that specific advancements in technology (i.e. semi-automated looms) had on their lives and circumstances. To claim that Neo-Luddism has any real continuity-of-impetus with the original Luddite movement that occurred throughout 1811-1817 may actually be antithetical to the real motivation underlying the original Luddite movement – namely the liberation of the working class. Indeed, Neo-Luddism itself, as a movement, may be antithetical to the real impetus of the initial Luddite movement both for the fact that they are trying to impose their ideological beliefs upon others (i.e. prohibition is necessarily exclusive, whereas availability of the option to use a given technology is non-exclusive and forces a decision on no one) and because they are trying to prohibit the best mediator of Man’s ever-increasing self-liberation – namely technological growth.

Support for these claims can be found in the secondary literature. For instance, in Luddites and Luddism Kevin Binfield sees the Luddite movement as an expression of worker-class discontent during the Napoleonic Wars than having rather than as an expression of antipathy toward technology in general or toward advancing technology as general trend (Binfield, 2004).

And in terms of base-premises, it is not as though Luddites are categorically against technology in general; rather they are simply against either a specific technology, a specific embodiment of a general class of technology, or a specific degree of technological sophistication. After all, most every Luddite alive wears clothes, takes antibiotics, and uses telephones. Legendary Ludd himself still wanted the return of his manual looms, a technology, when he struck his first blow. I know many Transhumanists and Technoprogressives who still label themselves as such despite being weary of the increasing trend of automation.

This was the Luddites’ own concern: that automation would displace manual work in their industry and thereby severely limit their possible choices and freedoms, such as having enough discretionary income to purchase necessities. If their government were handing out guaranteed basic income garnered from taxes to corporations based on the degree with which they replace previously-manual labor with automated labor, I’m sure they would have happily lain their hammers down and laughed all the way home. Even the Amish only prohibit specific levels of technological sophistication, rather than all of technology in general.

In other words no one is against technology in general, only particular technological embodiments, particular classes of technology or particular gradations of technological sophistication. If you’d like to contest me on this, try communicating your rebuttal without using the advanced technology of cerebral semiotics (i.e. language).

References


Binfield, K. (2004). Luddites and Luddism. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

By Franco Cortese - More articles by Franco Cortese

Originally published at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies on 26 May 2013

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10 June 2014

RE: Does Advanced Technology Make the 2nd Amendment Redundant?

#Exclusive: @HJBentham responds to @Hetero_Sapien @IEET

After the reprint at the ClubOfINFO webzine of Franco Cortese’s excellent IEET (Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies) article about how advanced technology clashes with the Second Amendment of the US Constitution, I am interested enough that I have decided to put together this response. Changes in technology do eventually force changes in the law, and some laws ultimately have to be scrapped. However there is an argument to be made that the Second Amendment’s deterrent against tyranny should not be dismissed too easily.

Franco points out that the Second Amendment’s “most prominent justification” is that citizens require a form of self-defense against a potentially corrupt government. In such a case, they may need to take back the state by force through a “citizen militia”.

Technology and “stateness”


The argument given by Franco against the idea of citizens engaging their government in battle leads to a conclusion that “technological growth has made the Second Amendment redundant”. Arms in the Eighteenth Century were “roughly equal” for the citizenry and the military. According to Franco’s article, “in 1791, the only thing that distinguished the defensive or offensive capability of military from citizenry was quantity. Now it’s quality.”

I believe the above point about the state monopoly on force going from being based on quantity to quality can be disputed. The analysis from Franco seems to be that the norms of warfare and the internal effectiveness of state power are set by the level technology available to the state. Although there is of course a strong technological element involved in these manifestations of state power, it is more accurate to say “stateness” – which military power is only the international reflection of – is due to a combination of having more legitimacy, resources and organization. The effectiveness of this kind of “stateness”, including the ability of the most powerful states to overcome challenges of internecine warfare, has not changed very decisively since the Nineteenth Century.

In fact, stateness is said by many analysts to have declined worldwide since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Since that event and the subsequent dissolution of the USSR, the number of states facing internal crisis seems to have only risen, which suggests stateness is being weakened globally due to many complex pressures. Advanced technology is itself even credited with eroding stateness, as transport and the Internet only give citizens ever more abilities to get around, provoke, rebel and ultimately erode the strength and legitimacy of the state. In most arenas of social change, states face unprecedented challenges from their  own citizens because of the unexpected changes in advanced technology that have taken place over the last few decades. Concerning the future of this trend, Franco aptly anticipates in his article that “post-scarcity” technologies would make things even more uncomfortable for the state, pushing it to rely on secrecy and suppression of knowledge to avoid proliferation of devastating weapons.

Much of this commentary on the loss of stateness may seem irrelevant to the right to bear arms in the United States, but it is relevant for reasons that will become clear in this article. We cannot say that the US government has a true monopoly on force due to its technology, and that the potential of a citizen uprising is gone. We have seen too many other “modern” states such as Yugoslavia, Somalia, Lebanon, Libya, Syria and Mali quickly deteriorate into full scale civil war just because groups of determined citizens took up light weapons (many those rebels have far less skill and technology at their disposal than the average US gun owner).

Internecine warfare in the United States


From what we have seen of civil war in other countries, we cannot know that simple rifles and handguns really are a useless path of resistance against a modern state tyranny, just because the tyrants will have more lethal options such as cluster bombs and nerve gas. Even the most crudely armed insurrectionists are capable of overthrowing their governments, if they are determined and numerous enough. Having a lightly armed population from the outset, like the US population, only makes it more likely that such a war against tyranny would be ubiquitous and likely to succeed swiftly from the outset.

If we do take the unlikely position of supposing that the United States will degenerate into a true tyranny in the Aristotelian definition, then US citizens certainly need their right to bear arms. More than that, their path of armed resistance using those light weapons could still realistically win. If their cause was just, we can suppose that they would be battling in self-defense against a tyrannical regime that has plummeting legitimacy, or is buying time for contingents of the military to break off and join the rebellion. In such a situation, the sheer number of citizens taking up arms would do more than just demoralize government troops and lead to indecision among them.

The fact of a generally well-armed population would, if they took up arms against their regime, guarantee the existence of a widespread insurgency to such an extent that the rulers would face many years of internecine resistance and live under the constant specter of assassination. Add the internal economic devastation caused by citizens committing acts of sabotage and civil disobedience, foreign sanctions by other states, and even international aid to the insurgents by external actors, and the tyrants could be ousted even by the most lightly armed militia units.

Explaining the imbalance that has prevailed between the military might of states and the internal ability of citizens to resist their ruling regimes with arms, Franco notes that the “overwhelming majority of new technological advances are able to be leveraged by the military before they trickle down to the average citizen through industry.” This is certainly true. However, the summation that resistance is futile would not take into account the treacherous opportunities that exist in every internecine war.

When the state projects force internally, it prefers to call that “law enforcement” for as long as it remains in control of the situation. Even if the violence gets more widespread and becomes civil war, the state denies such a fact until the very last moment. Even then, it prefers to minimize the damage on its own territory, because the damage would ultimately have to be repaired and paid for by the state itself. Even in a civil war situation, the technology brought to bear against citizens by the government would never be as heavy or destructive as the kind of equipment brought to bear against foreign states or non-state actors. This is for the simple reason that the state, in a civil war, has to try to avoid obliterating its own constituents and infrastructure for political reasons. If it is caught committing such a desperate and disproportionate act, it will only undermine itself and give a propaganda coup to its lightly equipped opponents by committing a heavy-handed atrocity.

The imbalance of the superior technology of the United States government in contrast to the basic handguns and rifles of its citizenry is real, but it would have zero significance if a real internecine war took place in the United States. The deadliest weapons in the arsenal of the United States, such as nuclear or biological weapons, would never be used to confront internecine threats, so they are not relevant enough to enter the debate on the Second Amendment.

The concept of taking back government via a citizen militia is not about defeating a whole nation in the conventional sense through raw military strength, but rather about a multifaceted political struggle in which the nation is able to confront and defeat the ruling regime via some form of internecine combat. The US would tend to prefer handling militant and “terrorist” adversaries on its own territory with the bare minimum of heavy equipment and ordnance at all times. Given this, the real technological contest would only be between opposing marksmen and their rifles (any advanced firearms would soon be seized by guerrillas and used back against the state). No ridiculously unbalanced battle with tanks, nukes and generals on one side and “simple folks” with shotguns on the other side would take place. In most civil wars, the use of tanks and warplanes (never mind nukes) only tends to make matters worse for the ruling government by hitting bystanders and further alienating the people on the ground. The US military leadership should know this better than anyone else, having condemned regime after regime for making that same mistake of heavy-handed escalation.

Anti-tyranny insurgency using only light (and easily hidden) armaments is as viable in 2014 as it was in the Eighteenth Century, and has proven sufficient to delegitimize and ultimately remove brutal regimes from power. Any sufficiently unpopular regime can be delegitimized and removed from power by the armed resistance of lightly-equipped militia forces.

Franco’s conclusion that the US should neither extend the Second Amendment to cover giving everyone access to ridiculously devastating weapons, nor scrap the Second Amendment altogether, is wise and relevant to helping US society make some difficult decisions. Law (and by extension stateness) is “uncertain in the face of technologies’ upward growth.” States that want to remain popular should try to be as adaptive as possible to new (and old) technologies and ideas, and not be swayed by any single narrow-minded idea or program for society. If the American people distrust their system of government enough to keep their right to bear arms, for fear of tyranny, then the Second Amendment ought to remain.

By Harry J. Bentham - More articles by Harry J. Bentham

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