What about other so-called first world countries? Any offers so far? How many non-offers? So, is it really the big American lie?
It would be easier for rest of the world if the US were more free, sure, and the US kinda has it in the mission statement. But it would also be easier for the US if the rest of the world was more free, and it's idiotic to just follow in the shadow of the "market leader in freedom", and then complain when that market leader has a bad day, or a bad decade, or several, and runs off into a ditch. Don't ask what freedom can do for you, but what you can do for freedom, right?
And hey, I'm sure Putin Polonium also tells the Russian people they're free, too. That just as a sanity check. Not that I want to belittle any of it, but realize that in the US you have freedoms of speech and organization others wouldn't even dream of. Use them! Don't fall into the trap of being like Germans, who tend to moan how bad it is, with being content others have it worse... do that other thing, that American thing, where you roll up your sleeves, kick ass and distribute chewing gum :P (those stereotypes are not meant seriously, but well)
Putin also said something interesting after that high profile US/Russia intel agent prisoner exchange happened. He was asked if he thought any of the Russian agents had cooperated with the US and leaked information to them, his response was basically they wouldn't be alive if they had.
That said I do enjoy the antics of Russia Today offering Assange a F/T show and Snowden drama in order to punch the US in the balls repeatedly and politically humiliate the current administration over their declining empire and worldwide influence. The US increasingly is becoming all bark and no bite. Countries can now openly defy their bullying and demands without much consequences whereas in 2001 that was a different story.
We're really good at that sort of thing.
Because we have an extradition treaty with the US?
Score one (more) for the government-media PR complex.
First of all the problem, as it often is, comes from centralization on the internet. If the web was decentralized, as it was meant to be from the beginning, there wouldn't be such outrage. Remember all the outcry of privacy on facebook, no government involved? I do. Or how about companies like Path sucking up your phone records from your phone and sending it to their servers?
At the end of the day, it is we who choose to have an account with a large company running web software so they can "take care of" our email. Giant data centers delivering our movies to our doorstep instead of P2P. It wasn't always like this. People used to run desktop software on their desktop.
It will be like this again, but it will take a long time. My favorite example is how git and mercurial have eclipsed svn a long time ago, and github / bitbucket are way more popular than, say, sourceforge. Bitcoin has gotten a lot of attention over currencies that can be controlled by a central authority. Adobe Cirrus and WebRTC are growing. The same kind of revolution is going to happen in multi user communication platforms. Once that happens, and everything is encrypted end-to-end and there is off-the-record messaging, those using it will take back control.
We can already do almost everything in a decentralized manner except good social networking. Privacy "nuts" can run their email, etc. on a VPN and store encrypted backups in other places. To make it more mainstream, however, we will need friendlier clients. And social networking!
Finally, the web itself was built to be client-server, which kind of indirectly encouraged this sort of centralization. Clients were easy to install -- netscape's business model even involved giving it away for free -- but not many people ran servers. And so it led to this. The long and short of it is, we need more user-friendly opensource servers, standardized protocols, and encryption. Those who care will then run their own servers.
No, the problem comes from the maliciousness of the US military.
Centralization on the internet got us Google and AWS and the iPad.
(The iPad wouldn't be the iPad if it wasn't locked down with a centralized App Store.)
We have to rely on Google to "not be evil". A lot of businesses depend on traffic from google, and if it decides to cut them off, well too bad. Many governments including the US government constantly look into google to prevent a monopoly. You want a monopoly in search? And how about the direction of where your hosted software will go ... when Larry Page took the reins, he decided that Google+ should feature prominently in every product. I agree with him but others may not. And what about killing off Google reader just like that? Do you think people come to rely on these things and then the centralized company can just kill the product?
And as for building stuff "in the cloud", what happens when your AWS availability zone goes down? Lots of big internet sites go down. Centralization on the internet also got us facebook, and when facebook goes down or shuts off a site, "Connect with Facebook" doesn't work on that site anymore until they fix it.
(responding to your edit) As for the iPad, etc. ... yes, the original platforms are usually proprietary walled gardens, but eventually the tech gets commoditized (sometimes after a protracted software patent fight). Rather than expound on it here, you can read my complete thoughts on multiple app stores and reputations: http://magarshak.com/blog/?p=114
NOW THE DISCLAIMERS:
I will admit, that Google is also full of extremely bright people and does awesome stuff with all the money it makes. Self-driving cars, google glasses, and much more. But you are still relying on Google to maintain its data liberation and open technologies, and to some extent their commitment has lessened.
Also, Amazon's impressive commitment to low margins is a net win for all of us consumers (including the developers). At the scale that Google and Amazon build, a lot of amazing research is possible. That is the upside of centralization. And I am not saying that we should "abolish" centralized services. Especially the ones which are open and have great tools.
What I AM saying is that the open source foundations need to step up their game and produce SERVERS that are user friendly and easy to install, maintain and run. This new generation of servers should automatically link together. I really do believe that at the end of the day, history has shown that open PLATFORMS lead to the greatest good for humanity, as everyone can build apps on top of them without favoritism. For example Apple's iOS favors twitter and facebook sharing over any other companies, because they made a deal with them. There needs to be competition between the "centralized sector" and the "open source sector", which will lead to the server software becoming commoditized and more user friendly, just as browsers are today.
Please don't set up a straw man. You seem to be claiming that I'm arguing in favor of complete centralization. I'm not.
Google and AWS both need competitors.
That also doesn't mean that we as a society haven't benefitted monumentally from Google and AWS existing.
Centralization has vast benefits. We should not discount those simply because it also makes a juicy target for evildoers. It's throwing the baby out with the bathwater to say "this is the fault of centralization".
Your approach works and benefits people even if we as an industry continue to primarily build centralized services (and we will, because it is tremendously more cost-effective). I encourage you to pursue it in parallel.
That is, even if we all ran our own email servers, etc., the government could work with the ISPs to protocol-sniff or otherwise hook into our communications if it had the will. At the end of the day, data must be put on the wire (or in the air). Outlaw encryption above NSA-crackable standards (as they did for exported browsers/software) and away they go. This is not to mention wireless carriers which must be centralized to some extent. At the end of the day, it is not a very practical matter for many of these services to be decentralized, especially for those who are not tech savvy.
And, yes, we could try to evolve technologies which decentralize more of these services for the masses. And, we can hope that endpoint encryption wouldn't be outlawed (in fact, as we now all know, the NSA now claims the right to hold on to encrypted communications indefinitely as it attempts to crack them), but this is not unlike the cat-and-mouse between virus writers and antivirus companies. Stronger encryption would be cracked, data would traverse some centralized conduit, and the government would get the information.
The problem here is not the topology of the network, but the government's intent and its frank violation of our privacy, period. We are a nation of laws, and the government should be constrained, not by the limits of technology, but to the law itself and to both the letter and spirit of our Constitution.
Which is a matter of government policy. When the internet was invented, hackers and cypherpunks said it should be decentralized. Lobbyists and Congressmen said it would be subsidized as something along the lines of television: few senders, many receivers. And then ISPs even said: we'll take public subsidies for infrastructure and not even build the infrastructure.
The result is that America and Canada in specific have crappy net access, and the world at large has a centralized internet rather than a decentralized one. Why? Because nobody ever required that we commoners receive publicly-visible IP addresses and symmetric bandwidth with which to run our own servers.
After all I don't care how the connection is opened as long as it's encrypted I have choice in how it's opened.
My observation of history is that third-party political movements in the United States have never won the Presidency or a majority in Congress since the fragmented election of 1860 that began the current "two party" system, but the two parties have changed everything about their positions on policy while keeping their names the same. The Democratic Party and Republican Party went through a complete role reversal with each other on many issues from the 1890s to the 1990s, and third-party movements in the United States continue to nudge the parties to respond to popular discontent. United States political parties are not ideological, and have no ideological test for membership. Political parties in the United States are coalitions to aid the efforts of individual candidates to win elections. My state has been governed by a third-party governor quite recently, and I have voted for candidates who are genuinely independent of any party, and candidates endorsed by SEVEN different political parties, in state and federal elections since the 1970s.
As for a broader question about where freedom is available to the common people, what do immigration patterns tell us? The United States is a rare example of a country that has consistent, sustained population growth irrespective of natural increase through immigration. Tens of millions of people around the world have responded to public opinion surveys to indicate that they desire to immigrate to the United States. The United States gains population on a net basis in comparison to almost any other country. If there is a freedom problem here in the United States, where is there not a freedom problem?
People that flee oppression go to Europe, if nothing else because they have a much higher chance of getting to stay there than in the US.
The fact that they might change eventually does not help those who want change now.
I would much prefer a party that has clear policy positions that doesn't necessarily hew to any particular belief system across said positions, so long as there is rational justification to believe a particular policy will be effective in achieving an end.
— George Carlin, “You Have No Rights"
There is no ruling class and ruled class.
The ruled class has freedom beyond control from the ruling class.
Oh sure... I mean, this country started out with slavery, no voting rights for women, use of child labor, gunning down union workers, etc, etc, etc. And today, things are even worse. (/sarcasm)
Please stop fantasizing about the perfect America of yesteryear. It never existed.
The reverse is the cost of complacence.
That's why action should not come as an open fight. History is full of examples when revolutions only lead to blood, after which other elites simply take over and keep exploiting everyone else. Or, alternatively, revolutions fail and after a bloody fight the same elites stay in power.
If you want real change and bloodless revolution, start using Bitcoin. Don't pay them a cut if you disagree with what your money are spent on. It's not democracy that keeps politicians in check. It's simply money. If they have none, they're powerless.
... destroy politicians' careers and make their techniques impossible to maintain.
I've written on this subject before, but I believe that destruction is the most effective means of change in politics today. The obvious way is to dig up as much dirt on politicians as possible and back them into a corner, but 1) that can easily backfire, and 2) it's hard to deal with the systematic problems.
A great example of how to deal with a serious technological hurdle: In Cory Doctorow's book "Little Brother" (absolutely worth a read -- my favorite of all time, FWIW) everyone in the bay area has RFID passes for traveling on BART and paying tolls by car. One of the characters comes up with plans for a device that will suck in IDs from these devices, then randomly swap them with others, preventing the DHS from tracking people based on their location. By distributing this far and wide, the system becomes completely and utterly useless.
I think that things like this are the way forward. Destroy, guide the rebuilding (using positive -- not negative -- means), destroy again if it doesn't fit the proper form. Semi-rapid iteration of government.
This is a really cool concept. You have just sold me to read this book man, I'd been putting it off for so long.
Or if you like
"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
The moment that you abolish government I will personally get a gang together to make you regret the action. The power vacuum will be filled, and given the opportunity I would much rather be the one wearing the boots than the one getting his face kicked in.
I like to think that most libertarians are mostly confused anarchists, and thus mostly imbeciles, but those that can deny the necessity of government altogether are beyond idiocy into an entirely separate plane of existence. It's beyond even opprobrium; we simply do not live in a world that would permit large groups of humanity to live without some form of government.
A government is a local monopoly on the use of force. We do not live in a world that can be made free of violence, therefore government is an unpleasant necessity. Solve the violence issue, and we can talk about abolishing government -- although you should also be aware of the concepts of "market failure" and "natural monopoly".
Violence is inherent, at least at this point of our development, in human species. Question is, what brings about more violence. I would argue, that it's the idea that we need some sort of government. This very idea creates the incentive for sociopaths and bandits to get into politics and allows the ruling class to continuously keep fucking the population.
It's not an idea at all. It's what OP referred to as a 'power vacuum'.
An anarchy sits at the top of a local maxima, where a little nudge in any direction is enough to set the whole political situation careening toward violence and the acquisition of power all over again.
An anarchy can only survive until the first person gets enough allies to put their boots on the throats of the rest.
So while it's true that an anarchy is such that you can effectively only cause people nearby you to be killed, it is an inherently unstable political situation. Witness the stateless tribal areas of Pakistan; despite the lack of the state there is assuredly a boss. The power vacuum has been filled by local tribal warlords.
An anarchy surrounded by Western democracies might even be safe (that is, from external conflict), but a world full of anarchies will not remain a set of anarchies for that long.
Not according to the authors of the Second Amendment.
But, you can be forgiven for forgetting that fact. It's really hard to remember these days.
Still, for the record, we should all be suspicious of anyone who seeks to disempower the government in a country wherein self-rule is supposed to be the law. There is a third option, and that is restoring the spirit of our government.
I wasn't proposing that my HN post (or complaint, as you say) would change the system. I was noting that people have forgotten what the system is even supposed to be. There's a binary false choice between abolishing the "evil government" altogether or just dealing with its egregious violations. In either case, the implicit supposition is that it's this third thing that we're dealing with, outside of the people.
But, there is another choice (put simply, reclaiming our government) and I (and others) actually have ideas around helping to facilitate those changes. Maybe you'll hear about these ideas some day and want to be a part of the change.
But, in any case, it starts with people remembering what our government is supposed to be. And, as of right now, we're nowhere close to even that.
Because it's the only way to take proper care of the elderly and the disabled. No anarcho-syndicalist pipe dream has ever convincingly sketched me a scenario where the elderly (without family) do not just waste away in isolation, and the schizophrenics are rotting in the streets.
Now, a government is not a guarantee to fix this (see for example the NYC homeless), but without a government, the weaker groups in society are just shit out of luck.
Block Island, RI, is a good example of a community thant functions to help each other without government aid.
And government has been similarly horrible at taking care of the poor. a large part of social equalization in the 1900-1950 era was the ascendancy of private community associations, mutual benefit societies, and so forth. The remnants of these are the Kiwanis, Lions, Rotary club, etc... But these have been squeezed out by government sponsored programs, and we have seen economic inequity rise. Part of this is probably also because the poor have been squeezed by money printing - but that's another issue altogether.
Especially the way that the government engages in charity. By spending money that is borrowed to bail out the poor (the anti-austerity argument) - the government transfers funds to the poor (which, let's assume is fine) by borrowing from the rich and politically connected. But it's a loan, so the rich are getting paid back, with interest. The net resource flow is to the rich, even though you have paid the poor.
Sure, the kids may clean their room if you tell them they can have cookies afterwards, but what's the plan when the anarchists have already achieved their goal and removed that external motivator?
And that is assuming people are completely irresponsible and don't save during their lifetime. Pensions is just that, but with a middleman.
Because I don't live in a spaceship with nuclear power, an FTL drive and a working replicator to run away from the rest of humanity.
See Sethrin's comment.
Edit: And to avoid might makes right?
That is of course assuming we do not end up with the same M&A activity that leaves only a handful of law market/arbitration agencies (similar to what has happened in many arenas, such as media).
I am going to have to think about that one for awhile...
Maybe it was a typo, but I think you should double check what inflation means.
Most assertions about the nature of those societies are based on ignorance. Most relevant to your comment, they tend(ed) to maintain rules, conventions, personal property, arbitrate disputes, take care of the weak, and do any number of other things considered impossible without government. Various types of egalitarian social order have existed, it isn't one monolithic concept, and it certainly doesn't necessarily result in chaos or might-makes-right.
If you want specific examples and actual information, take the time to read the pdf. It is written by an anthropologist, so it is his gig to footnote all this stuff.
But to do the other things discussed, other than organized warfare, they seem to work just as well as anything else.
I think this point is important when evaluating the need for government in a variety of other contexts, other than war.
Sure, but my intuition is that you cannot simultaneously stamp out all authoritarian/warlike organizations. And even if you could, you'd eventually get one more, which would screw the whole world up again.
The idea is one of those "would be nice in theory/won't work in the real world" types of things. I wish it weren't, I really do. But life is about dealing with the hand you're given, not the hand you'd wished you'd have been dealt.
Bitcoin offers a lot of freedom at a price of learning a little bit about the technology.
2 is a point, but I am not convinced it's hugely significant (though will be happy to delve deeper).
What does this mean? I do not understand.
I am skeptical about this being significant, because the amount of money raised by printing money has historically been radically lower than the amount of money raised by levying taxes.
I think that there's a clever missing step.
That said, Snow Crash was an even worse crapsack to live in.
If both left and right political wings are full of dubious people, then don't bring them both to power. Create an alternative political party of your own and then compete in the next elections. Vow to kill all the FUD such as mass surveillance, Gitmo, SOPA, PIPA, bring in transparency, bring youth to power etc.
I mean fight 'em with the system, and fight outside the system too as more and more people, I noted, have been suggesting the latter on HN here.
This is how India is currently planning for the 2014 elections. The ground reality is so intense that one cannot describe in words.
We have a legion of corrupt assholes both in our Government and its opposition that is called the congress and BJP duo. These guys have a history of carrying out some of the biggest scams on the planet. Shamelessly. They are known to have killed thousands of innocents, like Congress done away with Sikhs in 1984 , BJP done away with Gujrati muslims in Godhra in 2002  and so on ...
Not much of a choice w.r.t democracy, you know!
So people lately have built a third political party called the 'Aam Aadmi Party' AAP , meaning common man party, whose president is Mr. Arvind Kejriwal  (A young engineer from IIT and an ex-diplomat of Indian Government.) Ground is swelling with support to put the new face into power, give power back to youth of our country. And yet traditional and powerful media continues to sleep with the incumbents, so a similar situation of dimwit reporting too.
I don't know how the elections in the US work, heard it is complicated and messy, but this is one angle that perhaps you guys could look at: form a party of your own. Call it something else, like a pirate party, and then fight the elections.
The two party system, as alluded to in the article, really is a huge problem for getting momentum on any movement that has any kind of easy sound bite rebuttals. However I think a good place to start would be to proclaim strong support for congresspeople like Udall, and start going after the NSA shills like Kerry.
Yup! A truly open system would respect as many competing forces as possible. However, in India we've seen several competing parties forming a coalition after the voting is done with. And then they play different equations to their advantage, grab power bring in misery back again.
So it is not as easy as it seems.
To yourself, I meant.
I removed the term 'third front' because it does contain the political bullshit angle that is certainly suspicious. Thanks for pointing out.
Let's act: http://www.meetup.com/Hack-Government-Bay-Area
To the broader point, the two party system certainly pulls "to the center", but it's also somewhat random which middle. Those pushed to the fringes of the Democrats and those pushed to the fringes of the Republicans have some substantial points of disagreement, but have some significant overlap as well. We should see how we can work together to pull both parties to a better place.
Chat in a park? Good chance its private. Chat on line? Good chance its recorded. I could go on...
Your "reality check", I'm very sorry to say, is exactly the lie we are being sold.
This thing is a PR disaster of the greatest magnitude.
But the people are ignorant and all the statist politicians and government officials have to say is "security" and the majority of the sheeple fall right in line - "what do I have to worry about, I'm not doing anything wrong. I dont' care if they're spying, if it's protecting the country".
Your first statement I tend to agree with, though 'tyranny' is a strong word often implying rule by a single person.
It's weird that your offended by that.
Your first statement I tend to agree with, though 'tyranny' is a strong word often implying rule by a single person.
No, it doesn't imply rule by a single person.