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Belmont Club

The Information Dilemma

June 3rd, 2013 - 2:37 pm

What does the unrest in Turkey have to do with the mass firing of the photographic staff of the Chicago Sun-Times?  It illustrates the information dilemma. For those still unaware of it, the Sun-Times “laid off its entire 28-person photography staff — including Pulitzer prize winner John White  … The newspaper said it plans to use freelance reporters and photographers and blamed the move on a demand for ‘more video content’ from its audience.” In partial recompense it offered all of its remaining journalists free lessons in Iphone photography.

Click. Share. Click. Share.

Once upon a time the PJ’s were the best and most cost effective source of photographic imagery. And over time they became a guild. But the guild could not protect itself against technology. A  flood of new and cheaply available information from crowdsourced images became available. And then the newspaper was faced with the choice between economics or its Narrative.  And economics won.

In Turkey the unrest directed against the government of Recip Erdogan is being coordinated over the Internet. “Use of the social networking website has soared in Turkey as the protests have gathered pace, with at least 2 million tweets on the demonstrations being sent between 4pm and midnight on Friday alone, according to a study by New York University. Even after midnight more than 3000 tweets were published every minute.”

Them’s a lot of Tweets. Erdogan was not amused.

Mr. Erdogan on Sunday lashed out at Twitter in an interview. “Right now, of course, there is this curse called Twitter, all forms of lies are there,” said Mr. Erdogan, who tweets daily to more than 2.5 million followers. “This thing called social media is a curse on societies.”

Except of course when Erdogan uses Twitter to disseminate his will to the followers. But that’s the problem with technology. It goes everywhere. Well live by the Narrative, die by information.


The basic problem for the status quo is that it both needs and fears information. It wants to use Facebook and Twitter to keep the low information voters onside. But other people use it too. Scientific inquiry and technological cross-fertilization must continue unimpeded for economic growth to be maintained. Knowledge must be communicated to investors to raise capital; and the products derived thereby turned into mass consumer products.

And that creates dangers. Information is a two-edged sword.

The 3D printer is an example of this conflict of requirement and fear. 3D printing promises to revolutionize distributed manufacturing, engineering and prototyping. Yet at the same time it enables individuals to defy the state; to build proscribed things by simply printing the engineering designs into a physical form. Advancing technologies will pose similar dilemmas.

This fact is unappreciated by journalism professor Christopher Swindell, as quoted by the People’s Cube blog (I have replaced it with a better reference here) expresses his hatred for the National Rifle Association by fantasizing about its destruction by government armed forces. He believes 2nd Amendment firearms can’t resist the government boot.

Except it won’t be a boot. It’ll be an M1A Abrams tank, supported by an F22 Raptor squadron with Hellfire missiles. Try treason on for size. See how that suits. And their assault arsenal and RPGs won’t do them any good.

But quite apart from the fact that F22 Raptors don’t fire Hellfire missiles, Swindell makes the mistake of imagining that a country’s armed forces can be separated from the society which gives rise to it; that it is possible to conduct military operations against one’s own infrastructure without consequences. The US military – including Swindell’s beloved Hellfire armed F22s – derive their strength from  the productivity of American society.

Once the regular armed forces are employed in counterinsurgency operations against itself the nation becomes a worthless Third World country.  It blows its own tail up. There are many examples of countries which tried to crush its populations with military force. Nearly all of them have found they could not meet internal and external threats at the same time. Even the Soviet Union failed to solve the problem of simultaneously repressing Russians and growing the Russian economy. It eventually fell without ever being invaded.

Erdogan is now caught on the horns of the dilemma. Turkey’s recent economic progress has provided the cash for people to buy smartphones. Now can you sell them on an 8th century ideal?

You can have one of two things: a free information flow or repression. The way the establishment fudges the dilemma is by resort to the Narrative. The Narrative — an artificially constructed and commonly agreed fiction — keeps people from thinking about the truth of their condition by distracting them with and endless succession of squirrels. Talk about gay boy scouts, Global Warming, hatred for Israel, “reality” TV and you can postpone the choice for a time. But once the population begins to focus on the relevant facts, the Narrative must give way to more kinetic modes of control.

And kinetic repression works only up to a point. People like Swindell never realize that boots are really only good for walking. They never achieve anything by being shoved in the face of societies that can pay him a salary.  A culture that can develop “Hellfire armed F22s” is one that will grind to a stop if it is blown up by them. The only achievable repressive society is the 19th century Marxist ideal, where everyone has a bowlful of gruel, a plate of boiled cabbage and a coatful of lice.


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Top Rated Comments   
What seems like long ago, I came up with the formulation TWANLOC; Those Who Are No Longer Our Countrymen, to describe those we are dealing with now. I went into some detail as to what the differences were. The gulf between the two of us is unbridgable.

And provocations are coming faster and faster. The Federal government has declared war on both political opposition, and on the rule of law. And they are doing it openly and blatantly, daring anyone to constrain them. I hear people like Swindell more and more frequently. Here in Colorado, we have the right of recall and we are going for the Democrat members of the Legislature who declared war on the Second Amendment. It looks like we will have enough signatures to get recall elections for at least some of them. However, collecting the signatures is proving interesting. We have to have security for our petition carriers, because the Democrats are making open threats against the carriers and their families. Since these Democrat legislators come from areas with Democrat local governments; there is no point in calling the police.

The social contract is gone. When in power, TWANLOC are not bound by the law or the Constitution. If they should lose power, they insist on every protection of the law and Constitution, until they can return to power. As long as they know that they are immune from counteraction, they will continue pushing. It will require them receiving the same treatment that they dish out, before they might, [strong] might [/strong] decide that the rule of law is not a bad thing. Or it might mean triggering a final settlement of our differences.

But in any case, we are no longer one people; and we can no longer live peacefully together.

Subotai Bahadur
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Well you look back on history nobody was ever sure he would come out on the winning, or even the right side. All those guys who died on Omaha Beach, or Stalingrad and certainly at Midway to choose a few obvious examples, had no idea how the story was going to end. We know now. They didn't.

In general "your safety is not guaranteed" in life. There's a monument on the corner of Quezon Avenue and EDSA listing the names of about 20 leading individuals who died in the anti-Marcos years. I knew or met all of them personally.

None of them knew how it would turn out. Moreover many of them acted, for what would be in retrospect, completely the wrong reasons. This is what makes life so interesting is that we are often asked to make absolute choices in what some think is a fleeting world.

We routinely bet everything -- what someone quaintly called 'our lives, fortunes and sacred honor' -- because we are trapped in choice. Certainly the guys in the soldier business do without any guarantee it will pay back.

They say there are no miracles in this world. But if you are looking for a miracle it is this: we ask teenagers and 20 year old boys to risk their lives to defend us each day; to safeguard our rotten hides. And they do.

A lot of people pooh-pooh the concept of Pascal's wager, but in practice many of us have thrown our hat into that exact game, as if it were the most natural thing in the world.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
WHAT HATH JOHANNES WROUGHT?

Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1450, and says he has regretted it ever since. “Look what has come of it!” he cried. “Manuscripts put in print without a pfennig of royalty to the authors! Newspapers! Yellow journalism! My invention released a thirst for information that has resulted in a biblical flood of information, mis and otherwise, truth sacrificed to the narrative, everyone a consumer of and creator of information!” His voice rose, and shaking me by the shoulders, he shouted, “If I had it to do over again I’d strangle myself with my very own umbilical cord! Not only that, but I never made a florin out of the damned printing press!” As I left him he was carving tiny letters on tiny blocks of wood, and muttering fiercely.

“I did my best, God knows I tried,”
He muttered in his beard,
“The social contract up and died
Exactly as I feared
Most people need not know the truth
About their masters’ lives
And certainly it’s past uncouth
To photograph their wives
With iPhones here and Twitter there
One’s privacy is gone
A fishbowl life where all may stare!
My printing press’s spawn!”

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (77)
All Comments   (77)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
R Daneel,
"Mossberg, Winchester, Sig Arms, Colt, Smith & Wesson, ......"

Is that your law firm? How do they stack up against the old reliable "Dewey, Cheatham, & Howe?"

Now if we could only get "Subscribe to Comments" back I would tone down my bellyaching.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Security provider. Law enforcement. Heh. I live in Texas.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I just posted that and it says 59 minutes ago. Wow, is this place broke or what? I know script kiddies could do better.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
He also make the questionable assumption that the US armed forces would accept an order to attack their fellow citizens.

Might want to rethink that.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Well some of them did at Kent State, a short drive from my house, in 1970. Granted it was just a poorly managed situation and the student protesters acted stupidly. Just enough to put fear into the hearts of the guardsmen. It only took one gunshot, whomever fired it to release a volley lasting 13 seconds.

The difference is that it was enough to change everything. The horror and shock changed the way Americans on both sides of the protest movement for the most part. There would be no armed revolution or armed suppression. Law enforcement would deal with the rest.

Troops will fire given orders and fear of their own lives. We have laws to prevent that from happening. If that breaks down...

Turks are mindful of what happened in Syria and the impact of that. I think Erdogon and his government are already ratcheting down as best they can. The best we can hope for is a political shift as a result to a government more open to western influence and values.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
At the time of Kent State I was in Chu Lai, and when the news reached us, the entire company cheered, while our officers struggled manfully to conceal their approval. Our view at the time was not that the Ohio NG had shot students, but that they had shot dirty hippies and pro-Commie supporters who were trying to get us killed and defeated. At Waco, at least initially, the Davidians were successfully portrayed (at least initially, and rightly or wrongly) as dope-crazed freaks, habitually abusing children, only nominally Christian, and thorough trouble makers. Memory of the Jonestown Cult was still fresh in many peoples' minds. I am convinced that whether or not US troops will fire on US civilians will be very situation specific, depending on the appearance and tenor of the crowd and circumstances on site. I suspect that Occupers would be at much greater hazard from army/reserve troops than Teapartiers. With DHS paramilitaries the risk ratios might well be reversed. And that is why they are getting all those new armaments and ammunition.
And I guess that finishes me for this thread. TTFN.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
--It blows its own tail up.

Wonder if Christopher Swidell ever how thin a veneer civilization is. Wonder if pondered where tenured-protected professors of subjective disciplines will rank on the food chain when TSHTF.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
testing html here, too:

where tenured-protected professors of subjective disciplines will rank on the food chain when TSHTF.

My guess somewhere between an appetizer and an amuse-bouche. They don't have enough substance to even be a snack.

Subotai Bahadur
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
sigh

The "blockquote" formatting command does not work. Nor the "em" command for italics. If anyone has a list of commands that do work, could they post it?

Subotai Bahadur
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
AH!!!, the "i" command works for italics.

And that is 4 and out.

Subotai Bahadur
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Erdogan has lost it. The Turkish Police have gone overkill. If there was any question as to whether the Turkish Police would fire on the Turkish people - it has been answered. The Police are gasing anything that moves. A Rubicon of sorts has been crossed. Ain't no papering this over. This will either lead to much harsher repression or a revolution with Erdogan and his hooligan/Jihadi's gone.

Claire Berlinski on the Turkish Riots:
http://www.city-journal.org/2013/eon0603cb.html
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
There is a strong possibility that no one has brought up yet related to the Turkish uprising (yes I'm enjoying this after Erdogan lectured Mubarak and then backed a full scale jihadist insurgency across Syria for his globalist pals). That is to say, even if the army does not intervene now that it has been defanged with the roundups of the senior brass, the military and diplomatic apparat (what Turks have referred to in the past as the 'Deep State') might decide to leak details of Libya to Syria gun and MANPAD running to the Al-Nusra Brigades to sink Erdogan's popularity, and demonstrate that at least some of the Duck of Death's arsenal went into ordinance that exploded in southern Turkey. If that's the case all neocons like Sen. Graham who insisted Amb. Stevens was only in Benghazi to collect rather than ship weapons on to the Syria rebels better watch out. There are far more people that know the truth about Benghazi than can be intimidated into silence in D.C. Blowback's going to be a female dog when the truth comes out, and from a most ironic source.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The problem with what the Turk government says about their economy is that it is not all that close to reality. The stuff they export is dropping if you look at shipping figures like the Baltic Dry Index and outside Purchasing Managers Index estimates. They didn't sell all that much on the world market most of what they make goes to other low tech markets in Islamic countries. That market is shrinking because those economies are declining real fast because they to are running out of borrowed money. Turkey does not have a technicaly educated work force pool comparable to say Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan or China.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
sb said: The social contract is gone.

Yep. But cheer up, a sufficient disaster in the economy or foreign affairs is likely enough and may yet shake us up so much we somehow avoid the night of the long knives. Just call me a cockeyed optimist.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You're a cockeyed optimist. I'm convinced we're long past the point of no return regarding any Brookings Institution-type mass trauma event that would bring the country together. Y'all know it's just going to pop off all the pressure that is building to a dangerous level right below the surface.

What's left of the social contract is the "inertia" that's keeping this mechanism shambling onwards, but it's toast. There are only two paths in front of us; neither appealing. Either play "good Republicans" and continue to let the progressives viciously violate the social contract/spirit of the founding laws until we're a total banana republic (seems like we're damn close already...or have we already slipped past the event horizon and not even realized it yet?). Or fight fire with fire...with all that implies. To paraphrase others, there's no way we are voting our way out of this.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I believe "...any Brookings Institution-type mass trauma event that would [putatively] bring the country together" would now be viewed with suspicion from the other side. The conspiracy theories would abound. There is no such thing as a 'generally accepted' history of events anymore.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Dworkin and Stardog, another way of saying TWANLOC, and you are right.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The Czars army refused to fire on the Russian people and in the end the Soviet army refused to fire on the Russian people. The Turkish army may have been neutered by replacing the top generals but it will be interesting to see how deep Erdogan can dig to keep the children of Ataturk at bay.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Igude said:

"The Turkish army may have been neutered by replacing the top generals but it will be interesting to see how deep Erdogan can dig to keep the children of Ataturk at bay. "

The ultimate question is whether common sense gets trumped by old time religion.

At the end of the Ottoman Empire, Islam had effectively hammered Turkey into the ground. Through shear grit and tenacity, Ataturk transformed Turkey from a hopeless train wreck into a prosperous nation. For decades, Turkey was held up as the single example that an Islamic society could function as a modern state. Erdogan is doing a good job of demonstrating that Turkey was not a valid counter example and ultimately Islam destroys any nation where it has taken root.

Here's an interesting question: Was Ataturk the Turkish analog to Augusto Pinochet? If you answer "yes" then why does history generally regard Ataturk as a "good guy" but dismiss Pinochet as a "bad guy". Both men fished their homelands out of the toilet through brutal methods.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Ataturk was trying something new: trying to hammer Islam into the same separation of church and state position Christianity had developed over centuries. Since no one had ever done it before, he couldn't know that Islam is like cancer: if you don't root it out, down to the last cell, it will grow back. He thought it could adapt to this new, tamed role. I wonder, if he'd known, would he have given up the attempt? Or would he have exterminated Islam altogether?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I have been told by some Turks that Ataturk was an atheist. Supposedly Artaturk did not reveal his secular agenda until he was so well seated in political power that the Turkish Islamic authorities could not adequately respond. It's my understanding that Ataturk's military went through the various Turkish villages, rounded up the local mullahs and hanged any of them that they thought would be trouble makers. The old slogan "Allah Akbar" sounded rather hallow when all the village mullahs were hanging dead in the local trees. Ataturk's successors followed this same basic philosophy whenever a religious demagogue crawled out of the wood work, i.e. hanged him. Then Erdogan appeared and not only was he allowed to live but he forced out most of the old generals who were safe guarding the secular regime. Looks like Islam won in the end....
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
''kinetic repression only works up to a point."

That depends on what your goal is. If your goal is a safe prospering society able to grow and withstand pressure from subversion or aggression in the future then yes, kinetic repression does not work. If your goal is to increase your power in the here and now and hunt enemies real or imagined then KR works just fine. If KR is your goal, and end in itself, then someone arguing the costs in the future does not work. While Socialists are Utopians who justify their crimes by referencing the glorious future they are building the fact is that everything they do is focused on the present.

Totalitarians have no more real sense of time and future than a dog. The Totalitarians (Communists and Islamists) also carry fleas and shed but show considerably less charm or ability to learn something useful and play well with others.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
OMG, ITALICS!

blockquote
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
What seems like long ago, I came up with the formulation TWANLOC; Those Who Are No Longer Our Countrymen, to describe those we are dealing with now. I went into some detail as to what the differences were. The gulf between the two of us is unbridgable.

And provocations are coming faster and faster. The Federal government has declared war on both political opposition, and on the rule of law. And they are doing it openly and blatantly, daring anyone to constrain them. I hear people like Swindell more and more frequently. Here in Colorado, we have the right of recall and we are going for the Democrat members of the Legislature who declared war on the Second Amendment. It looks like we will have enough signatures to get recall elections for at least some of them. However, collecting the signatures is proving interesting. We have to have security for our petition carriers, because the Democrats are making open threats against the carriers and their families. Since these Democrat legislators come from areas with Democrat local governments; there is no point in calling the police.

The social contract is gone. When in power, TWANLOC are not bound by the law or the Constitution. If they should lose power, they insist on every protection of the law and Constitution, until they can return to power. As long as they know that they are immune from counteraction, they will continue pushing. It will require them receiving the same treatment that they dish out, before they might, [strong] might [/strong] decide that the rule of law is not a bad thing. Or it might mean triggering a final settlement of our differences.

But in any case, we are no longer one people; and we can no longer live peacefully together.

Subotai Bahadur
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Speaking of the narrative, the BBC is telling the Faithful tonight that the reason that the world isn't warming as quickly as settled science says it should is because inscrutable ocean currents are absorbing the heat and apparently hiding it somewhere.

At the same time John Kerry is saying that the United States is acting "late" but must act to keep Syria from a "total implosion."

My limited experience in debate with hostile opponents is that if he admits to your basic premise, his defeat is just a matter of time.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
John Kerry is... acting "late" "in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan"
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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