FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Information Wars

by THOMAS KNAPP

Late last year, I called the first shots in Cyber World War One. I got the timing completely wrong. In fact, I was off by about 27 years.

The real first shot in that war — heard ’round the world and widely lauded, but its implications not really understood — was fired in 1984 by Stewart Brand: “Information wants to be free.”

Developments since then bring to mind the words of another great orator, words which I shall now hijack and mangle for my own purposes: Information cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. It will become all one thing or all the other.

The war for humanity’s future is primarily a war for control of the use and exchange of information.

Its three major fronts, in no particular order: The status of “intellectual property,” freedom to communicate, and transparency, or lack thereof, of institutions of governance.

Its combatants: On one side the state and its hangers-on. On the other side, the rest of us.

This war has actually raged for centuries, sometimes “hot” and sometimes “cold.”

Its “hottest” manifestations have been the totalitarian states characterized by opacity of governance, ruthless suppression of unauthorized communication, and tight control of literature, entertainment and technology. The Soviet Union, Baathist Iraq and the Kim dynasty’s North Korea are prime examples.

On the “cold” side we find the non-totalitarian, but increasingly authoritarian, Westphalian nation-states in which governance has crept rather than sprinted toward opacity, in which communications were left relatively free so long as they represented no substantial threat to the state’s monopoly on force, and in which control of literature, entertainment and technology were a matter of slow jockeying for position by corporate behemoths with the capital to engage in expensive production.

So why has the war recently gone “hot” in the “free world?” One word: Technology.

The personal computer drastically decreased the costs associated with producing and manipulating information.

The Internet drastically decreased the costs of communicating and disseminating that information.

The combination of those two things is even now bringing forth a renaissance in manufacturing machinery and method which promises to drastically reduce the costs of producing and distributing physical goods.

Our side — humanity’s side — went from throwing rocks to developing not just the longbow, but the machine gun and the suitcase nuke in a mere 30 years or so.

The other side has noticed, and they’re putting everything into an all-out offensive to crush freedom with finality while they still believe they can.

The “intellectual property” industries are working overtime to quarantine as much information as possible behind monopoly patent and copyright paywalls, while chivvying their toadies in the halls of state to reinforce those walls, string barbed wire atop them, and put machine gun towers on the corners.

Even absent the whisperings of the RIAA, MPAA and other “intellectual property” lobbies, politicians fully realize the mortal danger the Internet represents to their continued rule, and are moving with what passes for alacrity in a dinosaur-type institution to counter it.

Absent a super-weapon like Joe Lieberman’s proposed “kill switch,” they’ve so far contented themselves with seizing domain names on “intellectual property” grounds, arresting hackers who expose government’s inner workings, and attempting to co-opt cyberspace into their “national security” theatrics. But doubt this not: We’ll be seeing the equivalent of Hitler’s V2 rocket or Oppenheimer’s “Little Boy” and “Fat Man” just as soon as they can be developed and deployed.

Yes, it really is a war. If you don’t believe me, ask the US Department of Defense about its “comprehensive cybersecurity strategy.” Or Julian Assange, still under house arrest after months of fighting trumped-up charges filed specifically to keep Wikileaks from continuing to expose things your governments don’t want you to know. Or the alleged members of Anonymous abducted around the world for landing blows on the anti-humanity establishment.

Why do we fight? Because war for control of information is war for control of your mind — war to fully and finally enslave, or free, the human race. It’s the state or us, people. The stakes are too high NOT to fight. And it’s time to decide which side you’re on.

Thomas L. Knapp is Senior News Analyst at the Center for a Stateless Society.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
May 26, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Anthony DiMaggio
Swamp Politics, Trump Style: “Russiagate” Diverts From the Real White House Scandals
Paul Street
It’s Not Gonna Be Okay: the Nauseating Nothingness of Neoliberal Capitalist and Professional Class Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
The ICEmen Cometh
Ron Jacobs
The Deep State is the State
Pete Dolack
Why Pence Might be Even Worse Than Trump
Patrick Cockburn
We Know What Inspired the Manchester Attack, We Just Won’t Admit It
Thomas Powell
The Dirty Secret of the Korean War
Mark Ashwill
The Fat Lady Finally Sings: Bob Kerrey Quietly Resigns from Fulbright University Vietnam Leadership Position
John Davis
Beyond Hope
Uri Avnery
The Visitation: Trump in Israel
Ralph Nader
The Left/Right Challenge to the Failed “War on Drugs”
Traci Yoder
Free Speech on Campus: a Critical Analysis
Dave Lindorff
Beware the Supporter Scorned: Upstate New York Trump Voters Hit Hard in President’s Proposed 2018 Budget
Daniel Read
“Sickening Cowardice”: Now More Than Ever, Britain’s Theresa May Must be Held to Account on the Plight of Yemen’s Children
Ana Portnoy
Before the Gates: Puerto Rico’s First Bankruptcy Trial
M. Reza Behnam
Rethinking Iran’s Terrorism Designation
Brian Cloughley
Ukraine and the NATO Military Alliance
Josh Hoxie
Pain as a Policy Choice
David Macaray
Stephen Hawking Needs to Keep His Mouth Shut
Ramzy Baroud
Fear as an Obstacle to Peace: Why Are Israelis So Afraid?
Kathleen Wallace
The Bilious Incongruity of Trump’s Toilet
Seth Sandronsky
Temping Now
Alan Barber – Dean Baker
Blue Collar Blues: Manufacturing Falls in Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania in April
Jill Richardson
Saving America’s Great Places
Richard Lawless
Are Credit Rating Agencies America’s Secret Fifth Column?
Louis Proyect
Venezuela Reconsidered
Murray Dobbin
The NDP’s Singh and Ashton: Flash Versus Vision
Ron Leighton
Endarkenment: Postmodernism, Identity Politics, and the Attack on Free Speech
Anthony Papa
Drug War Victim: Oklahoma’s Larry Yarbrough to be Freed after 23 Years in Prison
Rev. John Dear
A Call to Mobilize the Nation Over the Next 18 Months
Yves Engler
Why Anti-Zionism and Anti-Jewish Prejudice Have to Do With Each Other
Ish Mishra
Political Underworld and Adventure Journalism
Binoy Kampmark
Roger Moore in Bondage
Rob Seimetz
Measuring Manhoods
Edward Curtin
Sorry, You’re Not Invited
Vern Loomis
Winning the Lottery is a State of Mind
Charles R. Larson
Review: Mary V. Dearborn’s “Ernest Hemingway”
David Yearsley
The Ethos of Mayfest
May 25, 2017
Jennifer Matsui
The Rise of the Alt-Center
Michael Hudson
Another Housing Bubble?
Robert Fisk
Trump Meets the New Leader of the Secular World, Pope Francis
John Laforge
Draft Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons Unveiled
Benjamin Dangl
Trump’s Budget Expands War on the Backs of America’s Poor
Alice Donovan
US-Led Air Strikes Killed Record Number of Civilians in Syria
Andrew Moss
The Meaning of Trump’s Wall
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail