Monday, April 22, 2013

Welcome to the 21st Century Panopticon

Originally Published in bad faith...

The telescreen received and transmitted simultaneously. Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it, moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard. There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live — did live, from habit that became instinct — in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized. – George Orwell, 1984

Good ole George saw the future the social engineers of the Fabian Society had planned for us all, and his seminal book, 1984, has proven to be entirely too prescient for the freedom-minded individualist opposed to the current system of behavioral control. The only real inaccuracy was that he predicted it’s society wide implementation would be complete 20 years earlier than it has actually been realized.

Better late than never?*

The idea of a population’s behavior being controlled by the uncertainty of whether or not the authorities are watching at any given moment was not originated by the Fabian Socialists. That credit belongs to an Englishmen by the name of Jeremy Bentham, who came up with a design for a penitentiary system he called the Panopticon.

The Panopticon (“all-seeing”) functioned as a round-the-clock surveillance machine. Its design ensured that no prisoner could ever see the ‘inspector’ who conducted surveillance from the privileged central location within the radial configuration. The prisoner could never know when he was being surveilled — mental uncertainty that in itself would prove to be a crucial instrument of discipline.

Bentham’s concept was groundbreaking in penitentiary design for controlling prisoners behavior. Greater control of the inmates with less manpower spent surveying them. In short, the design worked because it utilized uncertainty within the inmates own mind.

The social engineers who have shaped our Brave New World Order have taken this principle and extrapolated it worldwide to create a surveillance state that now encompasses our entire society.
Unlike 1984, in which Big Brother’s authoritarian regime instituted it from the top down, the 21st century Panopticon of today was gradually built up through a combination of efforts in both the private and public sectors. This was done by the creation of data “fusion centers.”

From The 21st Century Panopticon?:

Fusion centers are an amalgamation of commercial and public sector data for the purpose of optimizing the collection, analysis, and sharing of personal information. The Department of Homeland Security’s $380 million in funding has created over 40 information fusion centers in the United States.

These fusion centers combine all the public sector data of we the sheeple – like our SSN, medical record numbers, library cards, driver’s license numbers, taxpayer numbers – and aggregate them with private sector data. With this fusion, is enough to create a detailed profile of nearly every aspect of our lives.
Where does this private sector data come from?

Blogger Mac Slavo points it out in his article, Americans, Everything You Do Is Monitored:

Everything you have ever bought with a credit card or membership club card is sent off for processing and aggregation to centralized data centers. While you may use a Visa card at one store, a Mastercard at another, and pay cash with a grocery membership card somewhere else, it’s as easy as finding your name and cross referencing that on your cards – and your entire shopping profile can be created. The purpose, we’re told, is to better improve our shopping experience and provide market data to companies so that they can improve their advertising. We can only guess at who else has access to this information, which happens to be very easily accessible and widely available for a small fee.

Than again, I don’t know why the Government has spent so much time, money and resources to create these fusion centers to keep an eye on us all….most sheeple upload their profiles voluntarily to social media networks.

Slavo alludes that US intelligence agencies recently invested 5 billion dollars into social media companies:

For many, it’s fun to spend every waking hour updating the rest of the world on what we’re doing. We publish our thoughts. We upload our pictures. We even click a like button at the end of articles like this one to let people know what we’re into and what they should be reading. As social networking becomes bigger, connecting hundreds of millions of people across the world, so to does the profiling of members of these networks. Have you agreed with what a certain person has said in a recent post? If they’re a person-of-interest for whatever reason, then guess what? You’ve just become one too. Did your friend recently take a picture of you at a party getting rowdy? Once that hits the social network, facial recognition technology will identify you and publish your name for all the world to see, including current or future employers. It’s a social network, and its purpose is to learn everything about you. Perhaps this is why key U.S. intelligence agencies made no effort to hide their $5 billion investment in the largest network in the world recently. Social networking is a critical tool in the struggle to categorize every person on earth.

Are you comfortable with this state of affairs?

It’s really difficult to resist. After all, instead of forcing us to accept a surveillance society, the conglomerate of government, and big business corporations have made the tools and means of the 21st century Panopticon by giving us goods and services that appeal to us and offer some very useful functions.

It’s great to have a cell phone that can tell you where the nearest liquor store is when you’re on a beer run while visiting a city you’ve never been to before…or to take pictures and video clips of your kids to upload to your social media page so grandma and grandpa who live on the other side of the country can stay connected…or having a membership card that gives you a good discount on your groceries. It is becoming increasingly difficult to work and live in today’s Brave New World Order without being plugged in to the worldwide network of personal information.

Is it worth it? Is the convenience, utility and benefits we enjoy worth empowering the very real manifestation of Orwell’s Big Brother surveillance state?

At this time, it may not feel like we live in the society-wide paranoia that Winston lived with in the Panopticon of 1984′s “fictional” dystopia…but based on the raft of Executive Orders and Homeland Security measures that have been enacted in the last several decades, it is simply a matter of the Government obtaining the right excuse or event to trigger martial law.

During the subjugation of Europe by the Nazi’s, they used gun registration information quite effectively to identify, suppress, arrest and execute any and all potential resisters.

That was one single data source they were able to use to identify and control the masses.

Today’s Governments have an almost infinite number of sources of information about each and every one of us to use as they see fit. If they wanted to, they could identify and round up every person who smokes Marlboro Reds and downloads Jenna Jameson porn clips to their smart phones while they drive through rush hour traffic in cities under the watchful eyes of the traffic cameras.

Or consider this: let’s say Obama pulls the trigger and declares martial law, and decides that any one associated with teh MAndrosphere should be rounded up...anyone blogging from their "smart" phones with GPS Apps enabled will be easily tracked down and sent on an all expenses paid camping trip.



* When this piece was written for In Mala Fide a couple of years ago, I did not know why Orwell named it "1984" and assumed that he was predicting the date when the dystopian society he describes would have come to fruition. I've since read some interesting theories behind the naming of the novel.


Anonymous said...

I'll have to read the essay you linked.

1984 was supposedly just 1948 rearranged.

Post WWII Britain was a bleak place in many ways. Unlike the US, wartime rationing was still in effect, not completely lifted till the late 1950 's. Food was crappy, so was housing. Fuel, both for vehicles and home heating, was in short supply.

The newly socialist Britain was not exactly a dictatorship, but people were controlled and watched much more closely than before, without the excuse of a war going on. This worried Orwell a lot even hough he was a socialist himself.

The bleak life Winston Smith experienced was a daily reality for millions, even if they didn't have telescreens.

SarahsDaughter said...

I was checking my stat counter one morning and saw a visitor was from DHS...lovely.

Aurini said...

Great post, as always, just a comment on historical accuracy:

The Nazis never banned their citizens from owning guns, only populations in occupied territories. I'm certainly not going to apologize for how batshit things went towards the end of WWII, but prior to that they were a heck of a lot more Libertarian than our modern day Socialists.

A lot of people on the right make the mistake of saying "Hitler banned guns!" while making a rhetorical point; the statement isn't factually true.

Keoni Galt said...

Hey Aurini, the point was not that Nazi's "banned guns" but rather that he required gun registration. With the registration lists, they were able to identify and disarm those they had targeted for future relocation.

Anonymous said...

Another historical about the Nazis: people are under the belief that the Gestapo was a large organization. In fact, they only had a few thousand agents, but they employed Panopticon Principle to great effect.

The Gestapo's main strength was in that it relied on a network of informants---highly punctuated by aggressive propaganda and dramatic, highly-publicized raids (not unlike our own 'reality' TV police shows)---which gave them, in the public mind, the illusion of being everywhere at once.

Incidentally, many Gestapo agents escaped justice at the end of the war and immigrated here under Operation Paperclip. They trained our own 'law enforcement' in many of their techniques; and as we now see, our police have been very apt pupils!

MarkyMark said...


A few months ago, I ran a red light. What was REALLY creepy about the whole thing was that it was caught on video. They ran my plate, looked up my name, and sent me the ticket by mail. In the citation paperwork, they had a URL with the video on it. Damn if it wasn't me! I slo-moed the tape, and I DID run the light-by 0.3 seconds. Still, it was creepy being nailed like that...