The Facebook Issue

Mark Zuckerberg is a controversial figure for libertarians. He is an entrepreneur who rocked the Silicon Valley high-tech culture with a social network that revolutionised online interactions in many aspects, very quickly. Before Facebook, social networks were available but didn’t quite strike the cord across generations. Now, you need to be careful not to let that religious old auntie see your naughty Saturday night activities on her feed.

Facebook does have many positive aspects, which I am sure have been fairly discussed, although it doesn’t seem too popular with Libertarians. Most people I meet in Libertarian events have their reservations with online sharing and privacy, some of them detest Facebook. With its countless users and insane activity, the company has become a giant, with many parties influencing and demanding steps to “improve” the experience. Users want more entertainment, more features, more ease of access and so on. Advertisers want good algorithms to target their audience, better placement and of course, an audience. The government wants: all of the above (?).

We all surely know that Facebook, just like Twitter, YouTube and Google, are private companies offering services. We are all exposed to T&Cs and have to agree with them before signing up to any of these platforms. Are they intrusive? Yes. Will the government make it any better? Definitely no.

The whole show of having Zuckerberg in front of a bunch of Bureaucrats, answering questions and being told off like a school boy in front of a principal made the spectacle specially cringe-worthy. There it was, father state, taking care of the people’s interests and privacy, telling off a very naughty boy who tried to make money off the ripped off “customers”. They even sat Mr Facebook on a seat booster for added dramatization. Or shall I say, humiliation?

The show seen last week, for anyone with one half of a wit, was nothing else but a display of State overreaching. It is quite logical to know that if you are not being paid or paying for a service, you are the product, this has always been true about social media. It is common knowledge too, that the US government is the one to spend the most spying on people. The chance that the government uses Facebook and WhatsApp to acquire intel on citizens is probably very close to 100%. So what does this mean?

Well, Facebook had information on its spying habits leaked, rendering the platform untrustworthy and planting seeds of paranoia on previously unaware or non-believing users. This also exposes that such tools and techniques of surveillance are easily embedded and used by… anyone? Questions start being asked about the government using these, or maybe even using them through social media to spy on us. Is the government angry because Zuckerberg got caught selling data collected from tools that were placed to track civilians for the NSA or another agency(s)?

For now, all we know is that Zuckerberg seems to have gone rapidly from the praised prodigy entrepreneur to an example to be made. His fame and success being turned on him with a seemingly grudge from all sides. Let’s keep in mind Zuckerberg owns services that are not mandatory, but that will be officially and heavily regulated, probably even more scrutinised than currently, by the state. The ever reaching fingers of the government, running a Prime Time drama, to play the good guy, while institutionalising your privacy, or the lack of it.

 

 

Featured Image cc-by-sa. With thanks to Ian Kennedy

It’s a brave new kindergarten world

2018 has been a horrific year for freedom of speech. This statement does not come lightly or without backup, the Joint Committee on Human Rights reports the worrying dwindling of acceptance of unpopular ideas and controversial ideas in Universities in Britain. In the past few weeks, Antifa has stormed a panel in King’s College London, alt-right speakers have had their entrances barred from the UK, one for life, as in the case of Lauren Southern. Jacob Rees-Mogg was engulfed in a heated brawl with protesting students, upping the notch in Bristol.

The academic medium has rapidly increased its watch and control over ideas, with “ifs” and “buts” to free speech. With safe-spaces and violent riots to shut down speakers of “controversial ideas” such as Milo Yannopolous and Jordan Peterson. Hiding behind masked children shouting the ideals of safe-spaces, continuously dividing and polarising what should be a learning experience to individuals able to cope with opposing opinions. Universities, and indeed, any learning institution, are not places where your beliefs or feelings are reinforced, they are and should be challenged, mostly changed, and both require the shedding of old ideas. Learning is a painful process, it is the death of an old concept and the birth of a new one. This is not what is currently taking place in institutions trusted to do so.

These events combined with Facebook leaks and Russian diplomatic conflicts escalating, bring an enormous feeling of 1984’s Big Brother and “war is peace”. I am watching the landscape closely, trying to connect the dots. What are we playing at? Is politically correct the real-life Double Speak? Erm, yes. Is Russia the new war to keep us at peace? Possibly. But is this, also, a Brave new world? I surely hope not.

Growing up, I was constantly challenged, both by being a lot younger than my siblings and by my beloved father, who I consider the person responsible for planting the seed of philosophy in me. He would never allow me to simply take on ideas, to be engaged with things which I did not think thoroughly, but mostly he showed me the world was not my play room, it wasn’t safe, nor should it be. How do you become stronger if you are in a stable safe environment? How do you even try?

You raise your kids to face their own challenges and adapt, develop, evolve. This is how we conquered the planet as a species, we battled ruthless conditions to thrive, fighting with teeth and nails to survive, to grant a future, to make descendants better than us. Evolution took us from animal to responsible modern-day adults, and we are now trying to take a step back. Cowering into rooms where you are always right, and no difficult, challenging situations may be presented to confront your feelings. We could be entering the kindergarten era.
From strict societies where honour, bravery, responsibility, were taken so seriously that deviant individuals were ostracised, western civilisation took a dip into the teenager’s decades of tearing down its own constructs. The last century was marked by individuals challenging everything from religion to roles, as adolescents do. Causing outrage, offence to older generations, youth undressed the 20th Century into something new, but nothing of what was expected. We are now forcefully forsaking freedom for safety, as if we are toddlers, being left comfortably in a kindergarten, with a big nanny, the state.

The mass delusion of a safe-pace-world seems to be taking hold through the academic medium, where we form tomorrow’s thinkers and leaders. Rights to the left, rights to the right. Yet the more rights they give, the less freedom we have. The withering of free speech starts with an “if”.

Be grateful for capitalism, not apologetic

The 60’s and 70’s were years where Freedom, Equality and the Deconstruction of societal dogmas were fought for by the youth, with their hippie clothes and hobo hairs. An absolutely colourful birth to open hedonism and nihilism. The criticism and the pulling apart of old traditions and rules is not to be met with mere disdain, we do need to destroy the old before we can replace it with the new, like phoenixes, the old burns to give rise to the new. How much do we need to burn, though ? Have we not challenged most, if not all, of our society’s common grounds? Have we not “opened” our minds enough to understand that human beings are individuals with a plethora of good and bad features accompanying each of our characteristics? Do we need to destroy our world and burn it to the ground so much so that we need group identities to guide us? It seems to be the current trend.

A grudge against the world humanity has built and our way of existence has been growing and brewing in the back stage for many years now, mainly in the academic medium, where a loud desire for the obliteration of our ways of living has been driving young people into alienation and a screaming sense of guilt for alleged privileges granted to some but not others. Reading this might bring some to think I have been exaggerating the issue, as one does, to illustrate the case. Sadly I am not. This grudge grows louder every day.

Last week I woke up to this article by the New York Times shared on social media, where the call for Millennials to “destroy us” a.k.a. Western Civilization is the . My disbelief and disgust only grew as I scrolled through this call for youngsters to “Rid the world of all our outmoded opinions, vestigial prejudices and rotten institutions”.

The author comes down on how corrupt the system is, with lobbyists and senators being called “cheesy TV spokesmodels for murder weapons”, yet he wants civilians to give their self-defence up to this very same system. Through to the last paragraph, one might even see the article as a naïve, good-hearted person’s plea for change for the better, but upon reading the closing argument, one can clearly see the author’s agenda, the destruction of everything we have achieved as a society, the demonizing of achieved human progress and the begrudging of our existence and freedom of opinions. While positioning himself falsely as one of the ones to be destroyed by his ego-inflated, pep-talked Millennials, the author clearly distinguishes and distances himself from the “us” as often as possible. The agenda behind this article isn’t very camouflaged, as throughout the whole written piece, the writer shows many signs of despise, resentment, wishing for either his own doom with the generation he shows so much dislike for, or for the sparing of himself while destroying everything that enabled his existence and thriving so far.

A few minutes after the indigestion caused by the article, I came across a Jordan Peterson video, calling out this very issue of the destruction of Western Culture by the Neo-Marxist movement. The hatred portrayed for our current status as human beings and capitalism as well as social conservatism is latent and anything considered traditional and old, is immediately categorized as bad, evil, oppressing, “Post Modernism doesn’t have a shred of gratitude”. Dr Peterson makes a very strong point on how this ingratitude is present and pathological in our society, the growing resentment driven by propaganda dominating and steering minority groups.

We strive for the new and hope for youth to represent hope for emerging advancements to our world. Peterson also poses questions as to when we need to stop deconstructing everything just for the sake of doing it, and exposes facts showing that human life has never thrived so much as it does with capitalism, blamed for everything from world hunger to obesity and oppression.

Doctor Peterson, perhaps unknowingly, lays out the problems libertarians would need to overcome themselves before reaching the potential for a libertarian society. One very highlighted message is : stop apologising for your views. The bearing of one’s responsibilities before trying to save the world is a core libertarian principle, one that liberals like to point out as selfish and egotistical. This generation prides itself on Fair Trades, Social Justice, and yet fails to decide on useful careers, or get their own lives together. The dissonant cognition spreads through the hoards, turning heads to issues way above their capacities, making believe that being activists for major causes is way more noble than getting one’s own $%*# together. Freedom of speech has been compromised in order not to hurt feelings, facts are being demonized because of alleged oppression, logic is thrown out of the window, as it is now, a tool of the elite to spread propaganda. Peterson has been involved in unbelievable controversy, by pointing out rules that were considered very common knowledge to past generations. And for libertarians, this is great!

The good doctor has also been categorical in clearing capitalism from the shades thrown by the left, explaining how inequality is present in every society, following closely a Pareto distribution, as do uncountable other systems in our reality. Even though Dr Peterson tries to distance himself from political labels, he strongly condemns identity politics, post-modernism and neo-Marxism, as he would describe the world’s new left. By doing this, while being very open to dialogue and very consistent in his message, Dr Peterson is leaving a very clear path for future libertarians : be responsible, get yourself together before you point fingers at the world, try to thrive, live your life in a way to lessen your own suffering. Once you have yourself covered, if your peers do to, society will work. This is Libertarianism. This is how a libertarian society would work.

The generation of free love, ended up giving birth to a generation of soft, easily offended and self-forsaking youth. The lack of purpose, the deconstructed reality and hollow existence led to nihilism and profound sense of meaningless. Meaningless in one’s own life leaves behind a void to be filled with virtue signalling, useful idiots make for great authoritarian pawns. We are part of an evolving society, built on for millennia and assured by its advancement through the scaffolding of storytelling (religion) and tradition. Let’s hope for a generation that can develop and break through it, instead of breaking it.

The Maduro Regime is going very well, thanks!

It has been well over a year since I wrote a couple of articles for this blog talking about Venezuela, which you can find here and here. Today, I come back, to once again, cast our attention on our fellow men, perishing, being abused and starving to death under Nicolas Maduro.

It will never cease to infuriate me how blasé the world has been towards Venezuela’s struggle. Seems to me very counter intuitive that no other country in the world is considering action, taking into consideration the country’s oil reserves and  previous interference in the Middle East, allegedly for the very same reason.  Well, you see, I am a Libertarian at core and against intervention of other states in general. Venezuela however is making me actually wish for something to be done. Where are the humanitarian charities ? The level of suffering, clear revocation of rights to life, speech, movement are topped with actual infliction of torture and death, directly by the authoritarian Bolivarian state,  surely are to be compared with atrocities dignified with more assertive responses.

Recent reports only help raising more questions, and eyebrows, as a staggering 87% of Venezuelans are reportedly now under the poverty stats. When it comes to food, 6 out of 10 lost an average of 11 pounds of body mass in 2017, not for fitness purposes (don’t go getting any ideas, NHS, Corbyn) and 9 out of 10 are unable to afford daily food.

Venezuelans have been fleeing for refuge in bordering countries, with a reported 40,000 seeking refuge in Brazil alone in the last few months, triggering talks of declaring a “state of social emergency” in the latter country. The numbers are even more dramatic when it comes to immigration to Colombia, as over half a million Venezuelans have now migrated into the neighboring country. Colombia has passed tighter border control, which only spiked the number Venezuelan immigrants trying to beat the upcoming rules. The government creates “solutions”, humans go around it, or in this case, across it. Ian Bremmer, from the Eurasia Group, has labelled this, the world’s “least-talked-about” immigration crisis”.

With Inflation set to hit a 13,000% in 2018 according to the International Monetary Fund, despite Maduro’s attempt to enter the Cryptocurrency world with the Venezuelan Petro. The expected desperation of the affected population leads us to question again and again how can anyone ignore on the next Venezuelan’s Elections. In April, only one man will be running for the Presidency. Yes, you might have guessed it, and rightly so, Nicolas Maduro. No other person in the whole country will stand against the dictator’s candidacy, not even as a cover up.

It is in times like this, that I question our resolve to do anything for freedom, for life.

 

 

Featured image © Joka Madruga