Transcript of a Speech Given at "Freedom Fest" in Memphis this Week
Look, I'm not saying that the smartphone was designed as the perfect spying device, but if I were going to make the perfect spying device, it would look an awful lot like a smartphone.
"when you get to the “there’s no one left to interview but the gorilla” moment, you move on"
I cracked up so much that I had to comment before reading further. That made my day!
"First they became addicted to the Internet as a tool of convenience. Then it became a cheap substitute for real-life interaction."
Go into any bar these days. People are all around looking at their phones instead of enjoying the impromptu company. You don't sit down next to some old sot on on side telling you why man never went to the moon while on the other side you have a couple stopping for a snort before they have to go to the opera. Now it is just everyone looking down at their glowing brick trying to find something better. Somewhere where they are just a number, another face in the crowd.
Used to be you lived in the world you were in, not in the digitaverse.
We are going to hell in a bucket of bits and bytes.
I had my own bananas and gorillas story.
When I was going through unlawful foreclosure through no fault of my own in 2010, I kept thinking that if more people knew what the bankers were doing, they'd rise up! So, I proceeded to tell everyone who would lend an ear. Most of my friends said, "Just pay your mortgage!" Some said, "Bummer." But when I told them it was happening to their mortgage too, they said, "Can't be bothered." So, none of the people I told did anything. They just went along with the crooked behavior.
When I heard Michael Shellenberger say that it was a weird phenom to lose all your friends at 40 years old......I knew that at least I was not alone. I lost almost all my friends at the age of 50. And frankly, the reason I was in foreclosure is because the construction job market collapsed. So, it wasn't that I "took out more loan that I qualified for" or "wanted a free house" or "bought too much house." Or any of the bank propaganda that was spewed by the media. It was that the banks crashed the global market and that meant there were no construction jobs!
So, do I think Americans are stupid, foolish, unlearned? Nope. I think Americans are "if the crooked behavior doesn't personally affect me, fuck it." And also, "anyone who makes me face that my government is fucked up, fuck them too." Which is a sad revelation of our society.
I think we're witnessing the end of the control system. Just twenty-five years ago, I would have instinctually accepted the vast majority of pronouncements from the authorities (government, universities, media) as probably true. Now it's none, zero, zilch, nada... and I'm certainly not alone.
As a result of this failure of confidence, the system is freaking out and clamping down. It's true that some do not want to be extricated from control and never will be. Look at how many Russians still yearn for the Soviet Union and bemoan its end. These were usually the nomenklatura and we have our own in the United States in the form of the aforementioned authorities.
But there are more and more who don't believe a word any more. They will never trust the system again. With each passing day, that number grows and it does not shrink. The damage that the system has done to itself will take generations to reverse, if ever. The transitional period, however, is going to suck as those who are in the system, believe in the system, profit from the system, are going to hang on by their teeth and nails, but that cannot last forever.
“...the worst part is, we often do not distinguish between thinking that is ours, and thinking that is someone else’s.”
That is one of the most disheartening things I’ve seen in the community I once felt a part of.
Our entire intellectual/cultural class have been turned en masse into the intellectual equivalent of the Manson Family by a simple yet ugly process of Skinner Box cultural conditioning.
First the device/rat trap is the delivery method: Smartphones, constant internet access, and social media have turned out to be the greatest tools of social conditioning and mass-opinion control and formation ever invented, they have created a digital panopticon of docile anxious conformists constantly monitoring each other for social miscues or deviations from orthodoxy, all happy to report each other to the authorities for social credit and virtual virtue points.
Next is the delicious hate pellet they ingest when rewarded by His Majesty, the Algorithm: the Maoist Maniachean moralism of Social Justice, which tricks its user into believing by vomiting out new jargon about "Oppression" and "marginalization" etc they become part of a moral priesthood, which allows them to denounce and destroy every opponent without tarnishing their virtual halos, because (as all the Good People know): nothing exists but Power and Silence is Violence.
It's hard for liberals with 20th-century brains still intact to accept and acknowledge what's happened: an entire generation and all the institutions it controls have been lost to an apocalyptic death cult that have the same morals and ruling strategy as Lady Macbeth.
They will not be coming to their senses anytime soon, if ever, so will have to be opposed and defeated if free thought, speech, and expression are to survive.
the irony that i am reading this on the internet is not lost on me.
I believe part of the issue of why liberals seem perfectly fine with this censorship apparatus is because the Democratic Party has changed to encompass the “managerial class” as it adopted neoliberal economic policies over the past 35+ years.
Instead of the working class and poor that used to be the Democrat’s constituency, it’s socially liberal managers in tech companies, banks, and other corporations that make up many of its supporters. Having worked my whole adult life in large corporations, some of the things you learn to survive and excel is to “story tell”, “control the narrative”, and self-censor. If you don’t, you won’t make it far in the corporate world.
In many ways it’s not that different from the deference given to kings and princes that Matt mentions; if you apply the same logic to dealing with directors, VPs, etc., you start to understand that self-censorship is key to avoiding scrutiny and exuding power. You also can’t rely on the scientific method or evidence; at the end of the day, if the boss says it’s not true, it’s only detrimental to your career if you disagree.
As corporations have merged and gotten bigger, and thus more people work in large corporations, I believe more people are trained in surviving in self-censoring situations, and thus tolerant of them. And this would explain why corporate leaders and Democratic politicians are tolerant of it - it’s a survival instinct they learned in an ever more corporatized society where we’re not citizens, we’re human capital.
This is good analysis Matt.
A few more issues which tend to be forgotten in the miasma of US corporate/military propaganda involve a reliance upon a form paternalism - a veneer of credibility whereby Doctors are sold cigarettes (1940s) and minimize their harm until it's too late (1970's). Chemical companies dump remnants upon unsuspecting populations until illness, and long term damage take root downstream. Pharma bros, drug companies, and cartels corner the market on all kinds of substances that foster addiction, permanent market share and daily mis-dosage of death. By the time we figure it out, the death pattern and the death of trust waft over all us all.
When we consider the Patriot Act, how our data is being used against us, and what has happened to voices who dissent in this culture, we see that the normal is abnormal or as Dr West says - propaganda helping us adjust to the new normal. We haven't reached death yet on the media front, even with Russiagate, Ukraine/Syria intelligence proxy wars and CoVid - but the patient is terminal. The last gasps from corpse of American media are being belched out - careerism, concision, repetition, and self-censorship.
Somehow, many of us Americans sense that this empire is over, has been over for a decade, but the corporate zombie-foreign policy-insider keeps pumping up dead like its the Federal Reserve after the Financial Crisis. The wonks are back-dating the documents, the press are ignoring the crimes and the people are splintered into atomized units that are to be ignored at the same rates to how their SES grows.
These networks (relations) inside the Empire have been corroded for the last 75 years - we just did not know how much. The first rule of any type of reader or citizen awareness is to know who to trust. The fact that this is so difficult now speaks to how far gone we are as a cultural and a hegemon. Trust should be incremental and reciprocal binding the parties together in self-interest and allowing for cessation. This is the exact opposite of the US media - being told what to think, trying to create a permanent revenue generating stickiness that causes all of the parties to die, to become ill, or dependent.
There is no better concept than that of 'anti-racism' to sum up the sentiment in this article.
When you have to prove you are not something, there is the assumption of guilt. Before there was an implicit acknowledgment that we live in a world where there were laws against discrimination and this protected people.
Now we live in a world where we have to prove our thoughts are not racist and the assumption is we are guilty unless we prove otherwise.
That is how you create a Stasi-style climate of fear. Where anyone, anywhere can be accused of wrongthink. And this is how we learn that the safest position is to agree with the crowd lest you be the next one lynched.
Mr. Taibbi,, kudos on a very American speech, in the very best sense. You do well to quite Learned Hand. Well done, and thank you for all you do for us.
I came across a simple solution several years ago. I turn my phone off and leave it off for extended periods - numerous hours at a time. Then I'll turn it on for a moment, see to who's called/messaged and turn it right back off. Sometimes my phone is only on an hour total a day. By way of example, I'll turn the phone on and then leave it in my car when I go into restaurants. Check my calls or messages when I return to the car and then promptly turn it off. Why would I leave it on to bother me?
The first thing I noticed was that I started long form reading again. Great novels, classic books and hand held magazines. Then the 1990's reappeared in my life and my three automobiles (around town beater, nice family car, and van life van ) each started harbouring separate libraries again including maps. We only use Google maps for finding our way around cities now. Anywhere else and it's a map atlas. I reintroduced myself to vinyl records in the house and cds in the car.
Most importantly my mind became peaceful again. No more blue check dopamine shots or opinions from "friends" on Facebook who really weren't. Best of all with my phone turned off I've become semi-invisible again. I can travel without being tracked. There's more but you get the gist... As Richie Havens sang at Woodstock, 🎶Freedom, freedom...🎶
I had a conversation about the Missouri vs. Biden case the other day with friends (or at least people I know).
Half of them think that the Twitter Files is bullshit, and if you even say "Twitter Files" in any tone other than disgust, then anything you say afterwards is automatically invalidated.
The other half think that the government has only ever tried to censor vaccine misinformation. In other words, the only censorship that has occurred has been in the name of public health, and they wholeheartedly agree with it.
Personally, I would appreciate some kind of list of all the different sorts of things the government has tried to censor. Something I can point to during these sorts of discussions. I know it's a lot more than vaccine stuff, but everybody looks at me like a crazy person when I start saying "uhhhhhh... Hunter Biden laptop... uhhhhhhhhhhh"
I’m wont to leave the phone behind and take long drives in a car without a satellite receiver.
Reminds me a little of my youth spent wandering the country.
You youngsters should try it.
I hear Obama got a puppy!
Aww, everybody! Don't you like puppies?