FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Information Wars

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.

More articles by:

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.

December 18, 2018
Charles Pierson
Where No Corn Has Grown Before: Better Living Through Climate Change?
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Waters of American Democracy
Patrick Cockburn
Will Anger in Washington Over the Murder of Khashoggi End the War in Yemen?
George Ochenski
Trump is on the Ropes, But the Pillage of Natural Resources Continues
Farzana Versey
Tribals, Missionaries and Hindutva
Robert Hunziker
Is COP24 One More Big Bust?
David Macaray
The Truth About Nursing Homes
Nino Pagliccia
Have the Russian Military Aircrafts in Venezuela Breached the Door to “America’s Backyard”?
Paul Edwards
Make America Grate Again
David Rosnick
The Impact of OPEC on Climate Change
Binoy Kampmark
The Kosovo Blunder: Moving Towards a Standing Army
Andrew Stewart
Shine a Light for Immigration Rights in Providence
December 17, 2018
Susan Abulhawa
Marc Lamont Hill’s Detractors are the True Anti-Semites
Jake Palmer
Viktor Orban, Trump and the Populist Battle Over Public Space
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma Fights Proposal to Keep It From Looting Medicare
David Rosen
December 17th: International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers
Binoy Kampmark
The Case that Dare Not Speak Its Name: the Conviction of Cardinal Pell
Dave Lindorff
Making Trump and Other Climate Criminals Pay
Bill Martin
Seeing Yellow
Julian Vigo
The World Google Controls and Surveillance Capitalism
ANIS SHIVANI
What is Neoliberalism?
James Haught
Evangelicals Vote, “Nones” Falter
Vacy Vlanza
The Australian Prime Minister’s Rapture for Jerusalem
Martin Billheimer
Late Year’s Hits for the Hanging Sock
Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael F. Duggan
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail