NFTs, Governments and the Surveillance State

Pictured: Border guard standing in parallel with endless barbed wire fences.

I meant to write this article ages ago. But I have had things to do. I have been working on a literacy programme for the poor, and curating and writing a bunch of educational resources. I have been learning more about how to create algorithms and use conditionalised bit processing in data configurations. I got bitten by a scorpion, and I am also doing things which I cannot have anyone know about.

Remember my last one on NFTs? I discussed it a bit, and someone asked me to write a follow up on what exactly this technology could be used for if the economy wasn’t being managed by a class of wealthy idiots.

So forget about the monkey drawings, forget about the crypto bro jargon, forget about the ridiculous imaginary yachts… I’m an engineer, not some trust fund kid. And the NFT gets a bad rap in this sense. It is actually an interesting technology, and there is useful applications especially in civic infrastructure.

There is however one problem. The technology can only be implemented in such a way as to help the poor. And that’s a bit of a paradox, since if we lived in a universe where the poor got help, then we wouldn’t have any poor people.

So for starters, let’s break down what an NFT can do in a simple and functional sense. An NFT can create a unique token of data that can store various kinds of information in a way that makes them very difficult to forge or falsify.

And do you know what this could be great for? Government documents. Medical records, prescriptions, migration papers, passports, personal ID, you name it. It could be a very handy way of making digitally notarised government documents.

Imagine if a doctor, anywhere in the world, could access a global UN medical database, and inside is all your medical history, your prescriptions, allergies, medication, you name it. All you have to do is give them your passport number. No more “Fill out this form please.” instead it’s all there when you’re at the emergency room.

That could help poor people. Rich people have private healthcare and sadly rarely get into situations that put them into the emergency room, but poor people could really use this advantage.

Moreover, imagine the same UN database, except it also has your passport info. So now all they need is your name, and then they can verify since it would work just like a photo ID. Only difference is that if you’re an immigrant or a refugee, then nobody can physically take your passport from you and hold you captive, either as coerced labour or as a political prisoner. If someone takes your passport, big deal, you have a digital backup at the UN that can be accessed by pretty much any government worker in the world.

Some might say “Oh but what about privacy?”

What about it? They already have this information, it’s just painstakingly difficult to access during the select few moments that you need it the most. The people who issue your passport do in fact have your passport information, that’s why they don’t just give you a blank passport and a little bic pen and tell you to fill in the blanks like some kind of passport madlib.

Others might say “Oh but what about foreign officials?”

Who do you think you’re supposed to give your passport to? This is ridiculous.

Moreover, a lot of the time when people worry about foreign officials, they’ve watched too many movies. Saudi Arabia doesn’t care about what bloodtype you have, they got better things to do.

In fact, people are often taught to fear the government too much when it comes to privacy. The government takes a very passive attitude towards information compared to most bad actors. Unless you are a wanted criminal or some kind of fugitive, then they don’t really need all that much from you. You already pay them taxes, and go to work, and follow the law presumably.

When you live your life normally as a citizen, then you’re basically serving their interests, they got what they want from you, so they’re not going to one day pull the imaginary liberal “George Orwell Switch” as all the big klaxon lights start spinning around and the big army men begin to randomly tug at some pregnant woman’s shoulder.

I don’t know why they do that in films. Whenever there’s an establishing shot of some government tyranny, there’s always that one soldier or goon in the background who is tugging at a woman’s shoulder whilst the camera pans over the area. What is that? What are they trying to convey here? I have never in my life seen any type of goon, whether army or police, do anything like that in situations where things get sort of tense.

I don’t know where Hollywood got the shoulder pulling routine from, but it’s weird.

I would love to see one of those establishing shots except they hold the camera there for a really long time, as the soldier keeps pulling at her shoulder, and she keeps saying “Let go!” and it just gets weirder and weirder as it becomes obvious that there is no rhyme or reason to randomly pull people’s shoulders like that.

I’ve been going on about this for a while, haven’t I?

Point I am making is that a lot of the time when new technology is placed into the state sector, we get liberal journalists warning about the upcoming 1984. About how we’re one step closer. As though Victorian England didn’t have a police informant in every pub. As though imperial Germany didn’t have spymasters and inquisitors. In fact, 1984 was based on Orwell’s experiences working for the British government.

Winston was a self-insert. The proles were the cockneys he used to visit in the East End, Ministry of Truth was his workplace known in real life as the Ministry of Information, it’s all based on stuff he experienced in his life. He just made it a bit weird for dramatic effect and said “Yep, this is what a researched analysis of the Soviet Union looks like.”

And when you think about it, it makes sense that the book would be full of cold war fearmongering and lies, seeing as how he worked at the Ministry of Information, an institute invented to produce military propaganda about foreign enemies.

It’s a brilliant scam is all I’m saying.

But, my point is, where is this concerntrolling when it comes to the private sector? The most powerful surveillance mechanisms today isn’t China or the US Government, but rather Google. Google is the one who knows everything you’re doing, and have zero democratic oversight. In both China and the US you can talk to your local representative. China has delegates, US has senators, and so on. But good luck trying to get past Google’s proprietary policy. Good luck getting past Google’s army of lawyers. Good luck trying to access your own information if google says you can’t.

Meanwhile, governments are pretty happy to give you copies of just about anything that involves your errands… or well, maybe not happy, in fact you’ll have to deal with a lot of bureaucracy which is miserable. Although maybe that wouldn’t be such an issue if it wasn’t for how everything is subcontracted to private firms that directly profit from only doing the bare minimum.

Point is: There is no 1984, and there never was. The reason you’re putting up with all those dysfunctional bureaucrats and government officials is because of the liberal propaganda and fearmongering about how having a functional and competent government is somehow the next step towards Nazi Germany.

It’s not. You having to wait for 3 days instead of 3 weeks to get your fishing license posted is not what keeps Mussolini from marching on Rome.

It is true that modern governments uses a lot of technology to spy on people, and even commit terrible atrocities like torture, extrajudicial killings, radiochemical warfare, biological warfare and even human experimentation. It’s more common than you’d think. In Latin America for instance, USAID agents would teach local police how to torture people using car batteries by abducting homeless people and sticking wires into their gums.

But they got plenty of car batteries, and plenty of wire, and when it comes to defense spending, liberals become surprisingly quiet. They will happily spend a few trillions on some microwave beam that can be fired from space and cook people alive until their skin starts boiling. They love that sort of stuff, they call it “foreign relations.”

And don’t even get me started on what blacksites are for. If you think the Epstein affair was bad, then you don’t want to know what your taxes are paying for.

Also be sure to ask what branch someone served in before saying “Thank you for your service.” There’s some things you shouldn’t be thanking people for.

It’s only when the civil government could benefit from technology that we see the hysteria and fearmongering. And a lot of it doesn’t even make sense. Like when some idiot activist says “Do you know that the government can see what kind of medications you’re taking?”

YES, that’s the point of controlled substances. Because we don’t want to buy fentanyl out of a damn gumball machine, that’s going to kill people. The government is supposed to keep tabs on what medications people take, because a lot of those medications are, when administered poorly, deadly poisons.

That’s why, back during the good old days of the great binge, you had giant skulls on the bottles.

Pictured: Bottled Laudanum, a common opium based medication sold over the counter back in the olden times. (It’s got a big skull on the label and large letters reading “Poison”)

So don’t fall for the fearmongering is my point. It’s just the private sector wanting to build technological monopolies. So that when Google spies on you, it’s okay, but when the government spies on Google and keep them accountable, then suddenly it’s tyranny.

Same thing with “Government backdoors” being such a big scare. Of course you want government backdoors in private sector technology. The private sector has zero democratic input, and plays host to any number of dangerous people. Drug cartels, mercenaries, dictatorships, terrorists, there’s all kinds of people involved in corporations.

Ever heard of the Nigerian civil war? Or the Congo crisis? Or any number of the other weird mercenary wars of Africa? The term “Banana republic” comes from how private corporations will frequently raise mercenary armies, overthrow elected leaders and then run entire countries like their own personal fiefdoms.

Pictured: AUC death squads

This is the AUC, the armed wing of Columbia’s labour politics. They kill trade unionists at the behest of western corporations. But god forbid the government keeps an eye on what large industrial conglomerates are doing with your phone.

And the AUC is not some rare exception either, there’s lots more.

Pictured: Nicaraguan contras

These are the Nicaraguan contras, their job was to overthrow the government as to bring back gambling, brothels and slave labour at the behest of western corporations. Their widespread rampages resulted in numerous atrocities, including mass rapes, torture and massacres of civilians.

Pictured: Rhodesian mercenaries

Then you have the Rhodesian mercenaries, who are often treated by liberal historians as victims or “clean” mercenaries. Reality begs to differ. They were little more than employed death squads, and operated in the same way as the Wehrmacht did in occupied Italy during the Partisan purges, killing thousands and thousands of suspected “guerillas.” To this day, the full death toll has not been established due to the often very brutal methods of killing natives.

The Rhodesian mercenaries represented private sector war at its finest, fighting purely for the rights of foreign companies to exploit Africa’s natural resources using indentured natives as labour.

My point is: At least you get to vote for your leaders in a government. Corporations and the private sector is not this safe area where technology is used in fair and reasonable ways. In fact, back when businesses controlled absolutely everything, and there was zero distinction between government and commerce, we used to call that the middle ages.

That’s what monarchism is. A monarch was like a proto-capitalist, who ran countries like corporations. Which had a very disturbing transition when King Leopold of Belgium, often known as the sire of the “African holocaust” ran his own corporation that we today refer to as Congo.

Similarly, Saudi Arabia used to be known as Arabia. The Al-Saud family bought it from the British, and now run it as their own business. If it happened in Europe or USA, it would be as if a corporation bought an entire country and renamed it Pepsi France.

So if you think Zimbabwe, Columbia, Saudi Arabia and the Congo Free State are these great big antipodes to 1984 then by all means, that’s what you think. Maybe you should employ some sort of treatment for your thoughts, but that’s what you think.

I could go further and talk about Christopher Columbus, the OG libertarian, but I think I’ve made my point without going over the ins and outs of the Spanish viceroy system.

When they tell you that government technologies is bad, then they mean it’s bad for them. When your taxes are spent on programmes that benefit the general public, that’s less juicy contracts for weapons, war and private police. For every institution that benefits the public, the private sector misses out on a product to sell you. Each revocation of a human right is to them a product which may be sold. From public defenders and the right to fair trials, to health and safety standards in air and water supply. When you’re guilty until proven innocent, and drinking boiled sewage, then you’re living the big libertarian dream.

And that’s why, as the refugee crisis is taking thousands upon thousands of lives, growing worse each year due to endless petrochemical war, and climate disaster, we see more and more calls for private security, for cuts to civil administration, as the wolves of wall street are looking over millions of vulnerable people with zero human rights, and no legal status.

This is a big business opportunity for the tech industry. Telemetric, identification systems, border security and similar things will permit them to set up a new slave market disguised as private prisons, just like they’ve done in the US.

These people have no legal protections, and if they lose their passports and personal identification, then it’s the mercenary’s word against theirs, and we all know who the media that, incidentally, is also controlled by the private sector, will listen to. It is the ripe conditions for a disaster.

Now more than ever do we need governments that represent the people and confront these dangerous military-industrial conglomerates who are building monopolies on top of wars of aggression, compadore dictators and mass privatisation of human welfare.

And it is currently presented to you by snakes and pundits who say “Watch out for 1984.”

We live in 2021. When Elon Musk, an apartheid baron, says that his future Mars colony is going to be “independent from the law”, then you got worse things to worry about than 1984. 1984 is a work of fiction. The Musk family’s colonial activities when “independent from the law” is written history.

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