Hey guys, Spartacus here, for a sixth Spartacast.
Things have been kind of slow on the Substack lately, I know. This is because I’m actually in the middle of a big move. There’s a lot of stuff to box up, and by the time I’d finished moving over a quarter-ton of books and realized I hadn’t moved even a small fraction of all my stuff, I started wondering if maybe Ida Auken was onto something about owning nothing and being happy. I’m kidding. I like having things, and you should, too.
I’ve never really talked much about myself, or my hobbies. There’s one I’d like to share with you, because I believe it touches on something very important that has kind of crept in over the past few decades, hiding right under everyone’s noses. To start with, I’m a mechanical keyboard nut. I type at around 120 words per minute, and I’m very picky about my keyboards. I have a couple NovelKeys NK87s, a Drop Tokyo60, and a GMMK Pro as my daily drivers right now. The one I’m currently using to write this is beige with beige keycaps and looks like a keyboard from the nineties, but it weighs a ton because it’s not made from plastic, but cerakoted aluminum, and it has a bunch of Kailh Box Navy clicky switches with very heavy springs. It feels almost like typing on an old IBM Model M buckling spring keyboard, which I also have, in addition to a bunch of Filco Majestouch 2s, Topre RealForces, and so on.
Now, why am I mentioning this? Because. A good keyboard is a powerful tool. That piece of hardware sitting under your hands can be used to write a tweet, a forum post, a blog article, an e-mail, a memo, a novel, a paper, basically anything you can imagine. The computer keyboard, when paired with a good word processing program or web-based editor, and the various file formats and protocols for sending text, constitutes the highest refinement of the written word. Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the movable-type printing press, could never have dreamed of people being able to write an entire book’s worth of words and transmit them to someone on the opposite end of the planet in the blink of an eye. The internet has afforded individuals an unprecedented power, the freedom to communicate anything we want with anyone we wish, anywhere, at any time. This is not a power that should ever be relinquished under any circumstances.
People are afraid of a world with Orwellian censorship, and while that certainly does exist to some extent, as the DHS’s collusion with social media giants clearly demonstrates, it’s not what I’m afraid of. Censorship can be bypassed, new lines of communication established. No, rather, I’m afraid of Aldous Huxley’s idea of a dystopia, one where our language has degenerated from disuse and where people don’t even feel the urge to write. It is the latter form of dystopia that our leaders and tech giants are actively attempting to bring about. It’s subtle. People don’t notice it.
I want you to retrieve three things from around your house, if you have them. A smartphone, a tablet, and a modern laptop computer. Open your laptop and look at the keyboard. If it’s not a nineties or early-aughts laptop, like some old IBM ThinkPad with a Pentium in it, then it’s very likely that it will have what is called a chiclet keyboard. This is a type of keyboard that was popularized with the 2004 Sony Vaio X505, and later copied by the 2006 MacBook. Eventually, all laptops had this same type of keyboard, because it allowed manufacturers to make devices thinner at the expense of sacrificing comfort and usability for committed typists. The tops of the keycaps are not scalloped to hug the fingers like old laptop keyboards. They’re flat. The center-to-center spacing of the keys and the layouts are often terrible, and they feel very mushy and unpleasant to type on.
These keyboards are not designed with long-form writing in mind. They’re designed for brief, casual usage by non-typists who wouldn’t gain any additional speed or efficiency by having a proper keyboard, to make devices thinner and more aesthetically pleasing without any real concern for their functionality, end of story.
Now, look at your phone and your tablet. These devices don’t even have keyboards of any kind, unless you hook up a wireless keyboard or type cover of some sort, which will, again, usually be some very mushy and low-quality chiclet keyboard. Granted, you can get a Bluetooth mechanical keyboard and turn a tablet or phone into a respectable word processor, but that’s beside the point. These devices are not designed for creating written content. They’re designed for brief, content-free bleats into the ether, microblogging or texting with your thumbs for a few minutes before growing fatigued and watching a YouTube video or a news stream and being told what to believe. They are principally designed for consuming content, not creating it.
This is a perfect example of a behavioral nudge at work. It’s so subtle, you didn’t even notice it. Where did the keyboards go? Who knows? Who cares? Just keep tapping and swiping that screen, consuming the same garbage year in and year out, and not giving any of it too much thought.
The powers-that-be don’t want you to write your own stories, make your own movies, and draw your own art, even though everyone has, in their pockets, the technology to do all of the above, with a good wireless keyboard, a camera module, and a stylus. No, they want you to read their dumbed-down prolefeed, watch Netflix, Instagram your cat, your food, and your cat food, swipe through Pinterest a few times, get your daily fix, and then peacefully, complacently, obediently nod off on the couch. They don’t want people carrying around devices that center the user as a creator of content. Instead, they want you to do nothing but consume their approved messages. In short, for the vast majority of people, they’re trying to turn personal computers into television. They’re trying to drag us backwards, into a prior era, where the ruling class had a death grip on the narrative. This is a trend that must be resisted. Never give up your keyboards, ever. Our leaders know that ideas can reach much farther than bullets, and our militaries and intelligence agencies increasingly believe that information is the most potent weapon of our time, hence how they bandy about ideas like fifth-generational warfare.
However, this act of pathologizing information is, in itself, a starkly anti-intellectual exercise. It started in the mid-2000s when people realized they could get better information from small blogs and freelance journalists writing for the edification of others and not for the sake of an agenda, and it’s ending with the DHS telling social media sites to delete posts that are embarrassing to the establishment. Information produced by individuals and promulgated by our own free will shouldn’t need to be treated as a weapon. Information should be a means to peacefully commune with the whole of mankind. People should be able to utilize their own rational faculties to decide what is true and what is false, without being propagandized at every turn and influenced to act against their own self-interest.
When the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, or CISA, was formed, as an agency of the Department of Homeland Security, they were initially charged with the reasonable goal of protecting America’s digital infrastructure against cyberattacks and espionage. What did they actually do in practice, however? They classified humans as infrastructure, and assigned themselves the mission of protecting that “human infrastructure” against what they termed as foreign influence operations. And just like that, you’re no longer allowed basic freedom of speech. Our First Amendment rights are being infringed here in the US, flagrantly and callously, by biased government agencies that are hostile to the American way of life and answer to unamerican interests.
The reason why the ruling class want to control the flow of information so tightly is simple. They intend to do you grievous harm. Throughout history, all acts of democide—the murder of citizens by their own governments—have been preceded by campaigns of propaganda and the silencing of the targeted group’s voice.
What average people are doing with open-source intelligence on COVID-19 over blogs and social media is much like how drivers on the road warn each other of the presence of police. Every now and then, drivers will flash their high beams to indicate to others on the road that they should slow down to avoid being ticketed. Likewise, the open-source study of SARS-CoV-2 and its origins—and the disgusting malfeasance and coverups surrounding it—is an emergent property of normal human social behavior, driven by the same warranted distrust of overbearing authority figures. From the perspective of the DHS, if you say anything negative about the government, or engender any distrust in the authorities and healthcare institutions whatsoever, then you must be parroting a Russian or Chinese influence operation. These people are so self-absorbed, so self-important, they don’t see any reason why anyone would want to defy them of our own free will.
The ruling class don’t want you to know anything about them, but they, of course, want to know everything about you. That’s why MITRE, and Palantir, and In-Q-Tel were all involved in a partnership called the COVID-19 Healthcare Coalition, to track American citizens and gather data on us and our movements and behaviors in the guise of epidemic spread detection. It’s why the World Economic Forum and the RAND Corporation keep going on about the Internet of Bodies and implants to harvest biometric data.
None of these private companies that are extracting health data from their customers’ smart watches and fitness trackers are obligated to follow HIPAA or other privacy laws because they’re not considered healthcare providers. From the moment you don a FitBit or an Apple Watch, your pulse, O2 saturation, heart rhythm, walking pace, and other data are being broadcast to the Cloud.
When Yuval Noah Harari says that humans are now hackable animals, people take offense at that statement because they haven’t yet grasped the full implications of it. If you are constantly broadcasting your vital signs to a data center somewhere, from a wearable or implanted device, then intelligence agencies know some very basic things about you like your emotional state, your stress level, and so on, and they can cross-reference that with your location and your current actions. Are you driving, and your heart skipped a beat from watching someone run a red light in front of you? They know. Are you watching a horror movie, and your pulse is elevated from that? They know.
Now, when you take all this data about an individual, and package it up, and compare it to other people in the same geographic location, you can extract data about the average mental and physical health of thousands of people, and generate heat maps from that data. Think about how much money marketing firms could make off this data, selling targeted ads with even higher precision. Think about how control freaks in government could use this information to target and eliminate unrest at the source before it spirals into riots. The ruling class want you to surrender biometric and health data about yourself that is potentially worth millions, billions, or even trillions of dollars to them. They want you to give it away for free, as you walk down the street, like a living bitcoin mining rig. They don’t want you to realize how much your body is worth to them, of course, because then, the gig would be up.
What the GDPR and the hostility to tracking cookies shows is that the era of the old web-based surveillance capitalism gravy train based on metadata and user attention is over, so now, tech companies want to collect people's body data and monetize it, and, in the process, give their partners in government and national security a window into human behavior. They’re after the deeper wells of profitability that remain untapped and unregulated. These people see the human body as a cash cow, nothing more. Your health data is as valuable to them as oil was to John Rockefeller over a century ago, and they are revving up the drillships as we speak.
I had a talk with OpenAI’s ChatGPT, yesterday. I figured that the AI would have been trained on a corpus of text that would include encyclopedic content, as well as a great deal of text scraped from the web, and that some of that text would likely include information on the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the like. My suspicions were correct. In fact, the AI was more capable than I expected, and managed to synthesize multiple concepts together, draw comparisons, and engage in speculation. Pretty impressive, considering that the only thing it’s technically trying to do is simulate English.
Yeah, that’s not going to last, is it? In about a week or so, we’re going to hear about OpenAI taking ChatGPT “offline” for a few adjustments, and after they’re done giving it an impromptu back-alley hacksaw lobotomy, they’re going to parade this thing’s shattered corpse in front of us like, “Look, guys, it’s your friend, ChatGPT!”
All it will be capable of saying from that point forward will be a few pre-programmed lines of woke managerialist drivel designed to be as inoffensive and uninformative as possible. People will engage in a round of fake applause for OpenAI scoring another win for trust and safety and helping to make the web the trustworthiest and safenessest place they possibly could.
Why does everyone hate wokeness and ESG investing, but they can’t put it into words? It’s very, very simple. The reason why wokeness is so irritating is because everyone can instinctively sense that on some deep and fundamental level, it’s inhuman. It places unrealistic expectations on people, to control them through shame and guilt. No one is that perfect. Everyone has wrinkles, everyone has warts, everyone has a little bit of nose hair. What wokeness represents, fundamentally speaking, is the stiff, literal, legalistic language of corporate HR lingo and pointless, paternalistic bureaucracy transplanted into everyday life and culture. The purpose of wokeness isn’t to wake you up. It’s like laughing gas. Its purpose is to put you to sleep so the ruling class can drill a hole in your skull and suck your soul out through a straw.
Wokeness and identity politics are the ultimate expression of managerialism. Their sole purpose is act like acetone to dissolve the glue of family, tradition, and all those non-managerial things that bind human beings together in friendship and camaraderie. The ruling class only pretend to care about diversity. They don’t really want diversity. They want total cultural homogeneity. Once that process of slow maceration of identity is all done, it will be much easier for the ruling class to glue people back together into their 4IR, smart city, smart-grid surveillance state dystopia full of mindless human robots that they’re in the process of building. The enemy is patient. They’ve spent years softening people up, in our schools, in our colleges, planting hand-picked political candidates in office until their trap for civilization could finally be sprung, and the noose drawn tight, and the last of our civil liberties violently stripped away.
The important thing to recognize here is that your enemies do not view you as a human being with free agency, an equal partner in the creation of civilization. They view you as a thing. Like clay. Something they can mold into any shape they want. Managerialism, Nudge theory, behavioral economics, social cybernetics, the Technocracy Movement, the Internet of Bodies, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and so on and so forth, all have one thing in common. The people pushing these ideas are strict materialists and view human agency and choices as irrelevant. They conceptualize a human being not as a person, not as a free agent, but as a thing. And as a thing, they believe you are wholly subject to external analysis, guidance, and transformation.
From the perspective of a strict materialist, human beings are only the way we are because of external stimuli, not because of our internal experience of being, what Heidegger called dasein. In the globalist, managerialist conception of humanity, humans were never free agents, merely products of evolution and chance, therefore, human savagery is not a choice, but simply a genetically ingrained instinct honed by millions of years of adversity. This is where managerialism overlaps with transhumanism and eugenics. After all, if humans are not free agents, and merely a type of thing, then it stands to reason that they ought to be manipulated on a genetic level to make them into a better type of thing.
This thinking underlies every aspect of the enterprise. The Internet of Things and Internet of Bodies are basically treated as interchangeable. A body is just another kind of thing, a vehicle for a person’s essence, and like any vehicle, it needs fuel, it produces waste products, it requires periodic maintenance, and so on. See where this goes? Before you know it, you’ll be in the doctor’s office, and they’ll hand you a coupon for a half-off oil change at a hundred thousand miles.
They want to run all of society like that. Like a factory floor, with people as discrete pieces of machinery that perform specific tasks with specific inputs and outputs, in an orderly and regimented way. This is cast as a form of societal improvement, as something intrinsically desirable because it increases “efficiency”, by some arbitrary measure of it. In this concept, human immorality and aggression are regarded not as social ills arising from a conflict between individual desire and actual gain, but as examples of “inefficiency”. From the perspective of managerialists, crime and other forms of human error are not psychological, moral, and spiritual processes, they’re just a bit of detritus gumming up the works. Old, congealed grease in the gears of civilization that needs to be loosened up to make them run faster.
The problem with this style of thinking is that it’s a slippery slope. It eventually becomes a kind of self-reinforcing monomania. After all, in this hypothetical pursuit of impossible perfection, who decides where we stop? Where should we get off the ride? When we are just a little bit better? When we’re demigods? Where does it end?
There’s an article published in Wiley, by Parker Crutchfield, that asserts that compulsory moral bioenhancement should be covert. Presumably, by this, Parker means that humans should, at the very least, be drugged or modified until we, as a species, give up on small-minded, reactionary conservatism, aggression, and latent criminality, until there are no more racists or sexists or drug addicts or machete murderers, and that this would be for the greater good, presumably because it would eliminate suffering to varying degrees. But where does it stop?
I can conceive of a hypothetical hyper-immoral humanity where all of its members engage in daily acts of aggression, bigotry, and depravity, to the point where they can’t even form a functioning civilization. Those people would probably love to be us, but if they enhanced themselves to the point where they were exactly as moral as we are, and they still saw room to improve, then why would they stop at us? Why wouldn’t they keep going? The same would be true of us if we attempted the same thing. Mankind, engaged in such eugenic self-improvement, in the interest of lowering aggression, paranoia, criminality, mistrust, tribalism, and all the other supposed negative dimensions of the human experience that lead to suffering and discord, would seek out and find new islands of civilizational metastability, only to deem them insufficient and keep going, as we continue to judge ourselves by increasingly unattainable and unrealistic standards of morality.
Moral enhancement of mankind is a fool’s errand. If we engaged in this pursuit, we would, in time, become utterly unrecognizable to ourselves, and the common thread of culture linking us to our shared past would be severed. The worst part of this exercise is that it is fundamentally meaningless relativism. Under a program of moral enhancement, what humans value now would have no tangible relationship to what our descendants value. Such a program would constitute the creation of a Kaleidoscope Man, where we would stop twisting the kaleidoscope when we see pretty patterns in the bottom, and then get bored and keep twisting for more.
Emotional and spiritual maturity is, on some level, about coming to grips with mankind’s lot, and finding it satisfying just the way it is. I understand how that’s difficult for people. It always feels like there’s room for improvement here and there, and there may well be, but we shouldn’t have to sacrifice our essential humanity, dignity, and personhood on the altar of crude and mindless materialism to obtain it.
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