Home » Posts tagged 'dystopia'

Tag Archives: dystopia

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai III: Catacylsm
Click on image to purchase

Post categories

“Scan Your Code!”: Dystopian Post-Lockdown ‘Normal’ In Wuhan Enforced By ‘Anti-Virus Patrols’

“Scan Your Code!”: Dystopian Post-Lockdown ‘Normal’ In Wuhan Enforced By ‘Anti-Virus Patrols’

The industrial hub of over eleven million people and ground zero for the global outbreak, Wuhan, has come roaring back to life but more in the way of a dystopian version of itself after the virus peaked there in February and now with almost no new infections occurring according to official numbers.

Under strict lockdown since late January as the virus ripped through the original ‘hot zone’ epicenter of Hubei province, the capital city provides a glimpse of what hard-hit urban centers in the West may look like in a new post-lockdown world.

“So far, Wuhan’s answer has been to create a version of normal that would appear utterly alien to people in London, Milan, or New York — at least for the moment,” Bloomberg writes. It’s a situation that appears ‘normal’ but with a totalitarian twist: “Bolstered by China’s powerful surveillance stateeven the simplest interactions are mediated by a vast infrastructure of public and private monitoring intended to ensure that no infection goes undetected for more than a few hours.”Police in some locations have begun to use AI-powered smart helmets to track citizens’ temperatures. Source: China News/Weibo via Daily Mail.

Just to get a major Lenovo tablet and phone factory on the outskirts of the city up and running again – previously closed for over two months – workers are first greeted by a series of four temperature checks. If flagged for even slightly higher than normal temperature (above 99.1F) they get referred to an in-house “anti-virus task force” to make determinations.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

A Letter to the Future

A Letter to the Future

“The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time.”
WWI conspirator Edward Grey

I do not write these words for my contemporaries. We are the damned. It is our lot now to watch as the lamp of liberty is extinguished, our burden to bear witness to the final flickering of the flame of freedom.

No, I don’t write these words for my peers; I write them for those yet to come. The inhabitants of that future dystopia whose birth pangs we are experiencing. The remnant of once-free humanity who might—through some miracle I can’t even imagine—come across this electronic message in a bottle.

I know that it’s almost hopeless. That the chance of these words surviving the coming internet purge are slim at best. That even if—against all odds—this message does wash up on your digital shores, that the chance of these words being understood by you is even slimmer. Not because you don’t understand English, but because you no longer use these words I’m writing: Freedom. Humanity. Individual.

Still, I am here to record the end of an era. So I will press on in the hope against hope that someone, somewhere in that future Digital Dark Age will have eyes to see and ears to hear.

The darkness is descending.

Let there be no mistake: We all know this.

We know what it means when 17 million Americans—a full 10% of the workforce—are added to the unemployment rolls in a mere three weeks. When they are joined by millions more newly unemployed ex-workers all around the globe. When modern-day bread lines stretch for miles in the heart of America’s once-proud cities. When the phony baloney fiat funny money debt rises over $24 trillion and the Fed’s Sovietization of the economy is complete.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Dystopian Horror of Life Under Quarantine in China

The Dystopian Horror of Life Under Quarantine in China

The coronavirus is rapidly spreading through China despite efforts to slow it down and the lengths that the Chinese government is going to appear to be nothing short of dystopian. Millions upon millions of people have been quarantined or isolated, but the spread of the virus appears not to have slowed down.

Of course, the problem is, China has been so secretive we’re left to rely on leaked videos and desperate messages from anonymous sources to find out what’s actually happening. So while I believe the stories in this article are probably true, it’s important to note that it is impossible to vet these sources thoroughly.

China’s leader, Xi Jinping, has ordered a crackdown on anyone who is caught undermining efforts to contain the virus.

He also said that officials would take aim at those who resist epidemic prevention and control efforts, including by spreading false rumors. (source)

It wouldn’t be a stretch of the imagination to think that someone sharing information that Mr. Xi doesn’t want out could be accused of “spreading false rumors.” Anyone leaking information from China could potentially face dire consequences – and if they aren’t punished their families might be. With this in mind, it’s no surprise those who are sharing videos with the rest of the world want to remain anonymous.

What it’s like in Wuhan

One citizen journalist, Chen Qiushi, is reporting from inside Wuhan. You can follow him on Twitter here. To see the translations, simply click on a Tweet and the option to have it translated to English is available.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Plans for a global Dystopia

Plans for a global Dystopia 

Global policy planners intend to deliver replacements for both dollar hegemony and fossil fuels. Plans may appear uncoordinated and in their early stages, but these issues are becoming increasingly linked.

A monetary reset incorporating state-sponsored cryptocurrencies will enable exchange controls to be introduced between nations by separating cross-border trade payments from domestic money circulation. The purpose will be to gain greater control over money and to direct its investment into green projects.

The OECD will build on current tax disclosures to make everyone’s income and capital known to governments and therefore readily taxable, money destined to kick-start economic growth. Under the guidance of supranational organisations, governments will redirect investment into green technology. The objective, particularly for Europeans, is to neutralise Russia’s increasing dominance of the global energy market by becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

But perhaps as Robert Burns put it, “the best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley”. They are based on Keynesian fallacies, but cannot be ignored.

Introduction

There appear to be policy areas being driven by statist responses to events, encouraging global institutions to take on a coordinating role. It means deeper levels of centralised planning by unaccountable bureaucrats. Assuming their plans continue to gain credence, we could end up with a dystopian world where supranational bodies direct individual governments to conform. We are already on this road to perdition. The OECD has coordinated attempts by governments to restrict the freedom of their citizens to avoid taxes by forcing over a hundred jurisdictions to automatically supply information on the financial affairs of every citizen, irrespective of nationality and where they reside. 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

George Orwell’s Dystopian Nightmare in China

George Orwell’s Dystopian Nightmare in China

Beijing’s tyranny over its people is fast becoming more terrifying than anything in Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Michael Hogue 

It has become fairly cliché to call China’s surveillance state—its artificial intelligence-driven facial recognition, the new “social credit system,” its cultural policing and re-education camps for Uyghur minorities—“something right out of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.”

But that doesn’t mean it’s not true.

Orwell’s dystopian vision, first published 70 years ago this June, was informed by the fascist and communist movements that triggered worldwide military conflict and the deaths of millions of people during the mid-20th century. But Orwell’s warning went well beyond the wars we knew. It cautioned, noted Erich Fromm in an afterword in the 1961 edition, against the loss of humanity and free thought, and the new, increasingly centralized “managerial industrialism, in which man builds machines which act like men and develops men who act like machines.” It showed how that could be used as a tool of totalitarian ambitions.

China convulsed in revolution during the 1940s; Mao Zedong established the one-party state of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949. But Orwell, according to Fromm, had his gaze on Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union when he wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four, which is set in fictional Oceania, one of three of the world’s superstates. Oceania is run by one party, Ingsoc (English Socialism), headquartered in what is left of post-war London. “Big Brother” is the god-like, mustachioed visage serving as the party’s fearsome symbol of absolute authority.

As rooted as Nineteen Eighty-Four is in Orwell’s own uncertain world, he could not have imagined how his predictions for humankind would morph and metastasize beyond the terrors of Mao’s Cultural Revolution and into the cyber-authoritarianism we are seeing in Xi Jinping’s China today (still run by the Chinese Communist Party). 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Orwellian Future: Facial Recognition & Mass Surveillance is Coming to U.S. Schools

ORWELLIAN FUTURE: FACIAL RECOGNITION & MASS SURVEILLANCE IS COMING TO U.S. SCHOOLS

We are staring our Orwellian future right in the face.  Beginning in New York, facial recognition is coming to schools in the United States and it’ll be switched on for testing next week.

The dystopian future George Orwell warned about in his accidental historical predictions book, 1984, has arrived. According to an article by Engadget, the Lockport City School District in New York will start testing a facial and object recognitionsystem called “Aegis” on June 3rd. According to BuzzFeed News, that will make it the first in the U.S. to pilot a facial recognition mass surveillance system on its students and faculty.

The district installed cameras and the software suite back in September, using $1.4 million of the $4.2 million funding it received through the New York Smart Schools Bond Act. Funding provided through the Bond Act is supposed to go towards instructional tech devices, such as iPads and laptops, but the district clearly had other plans. –Engadget

BuzzFeed News got its hands on a copy of a letter distributed to the students’ parents, and it describes Aegis as “an early warning system” that can notify officials of threats.  But that’s the propagandized version of what the system is in reality: it’s a mass surveillance tool being sold to the public as “safety” as with any human rights infringement. The system, created by Canadian company SN Technologies, can apparently keep track of certain individuals in school grounds.

Schools have long been indoctrination centers and it doesn’t look like that trend will be reversed anytime soon, in fact, it’s being amplified. The system can identify students and staff who’ve been suspended, but it’s unclear if Lockport will use it to monitor those who’ve been suspended over non-violent offenses.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Is China Really More “Dystopian” Than The UK?

Is China Really More “Dystopian” Than The UK?

RT reported that the UK’s so-called “National Data Analytics Solution” will see an algorithm process whichever of 30 separate data points have been recorded about a person in local and national police databases in order to predict which members of the population are most likely to commit a crime or be victimized by one, after which the state will dispatch local health and social workers to offer “counseling” to them in an attempt to prevent the computer’s envisioned scenario from transpiring. This program is being likened to the 2002 film “Minority Report” and carries with it a vibe of China’s controversial “social credit” system, albeit without any “rewards” being offered for law-abiding behavior. In fact, one can actually make the claim that instead of the UK copying China to a degree, it was actually China that learned from the UK seeing as how the island nation’s mass surveillance system used to be far ahead of the communist nation’s one.

The problem with “pre-crime” technology, however, is that it straddles the fine line between security and liberty in what is supposed to be a “democracy”, therefore making it uncomfortably out of place in the UK while being much more natural to implement in centrally controlled societies like China’s. While the European country insincerely pretends to be a “democracy” in the Western sense of how this system is commonly assumed to function, the East Asian one makes no such pretenses and is proud of having a different organizational model, which should be doubly disturbing for any British citizen because it means that their “democratically elected government” is actually less forthcoming about its nationwide surveillance strategy than comparatively more centralized China’s is. No value judgement is being made about either country’s governing system, but the purpose of this comparison is to point out the surprising similarities between the two that are usually lost on most observers.

National Data Analytics Solution

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Dystopian Future of Facebook

The Dystopian Future of Facebook

Photo Source thierry ehrmann | CC BY 2.0

This year Facebook filed two very interesting patents in the US. One was a patent for emotion recognition technology; which recognises human emotions through facial expressions and so can therefore assess what mood we are in at any given time-happy or anxious for example. This can be done either by a webcam or through a phone cam. The technology is relatively straight forward. Artificially intelligent driven algorithms analyses and then deciphers facial expressions, it then matches the duration and intensity of the expression with a corresponding emotion. Take contempt for example. Measured by a range of values from 0 to 100, an expression of contempt could be measured by a smirking smile, a furrowed brow and a wrinkled nose. An emotion can then be extrapolated from the data linking it to your dominant personality traits: openness, introverted, neurotic, say.

The accuracy of the match may not be perfect, its always good to be sceptical about what is being claimed, but as AI (Artificial Intelligence) learns exponentially and the technology gets much better; it is already much, much quicker than human intelligence.

Recently at Columbia University a competition was set up between human lawyers and their AI counterparts. Both read a series of non-disclosure agreements with loopholes in them. AI found 95% compared to 88% by humans. The human lawyers took 90 minutes to read them; AI took 22 seconds. More incredibly still, last year Google’s AlphaZero beat Stockfish 8 in chess. Stockfish 8 is an open-sourced chess engine with access to centuries of human chess experience. Yet AlphaZero taught itself using machine learning principles, free of human instruction, beating Stockfish 8 28 times and drawing 72 out of 100. It took AlphaZero four hours to independently teach itself chess. Four hours from blank slate to genius.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

What I Don’t Like About Life in Post-9/11 America

“A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.”―Edward Abbey, American author

Life in a post-9/11 America increasingly feels like an endless free fall down a rabbit hole into a terrifying, dystopian alternative reality in which the citizenry has no rights, the government is no friend to freedom, and everything we ever knew and loved about the values and principles that once made this country great has been turned on its head.

We’ve walked a strange and harrowing road since September 11, 2001, littered with the debris of our once-vaunted liberties.

We have gone from a nation that took great pride in being a model of a representative democracy to being a model of how to persuade the citizenry to march in lockstep with a police state.

Osama Bin Laden right warned that “freedom and human rights in America are doomed. The U.S. government will lead the American people in — and the West in general — into an unbearable hell and a choking life.”

These past 17 years have proven Bin Laden right in his prediction.

What began with the passage of the USA Patriot Act in October 2001 has snowballed into the eradication of every vital safeguard against government overreach, corruption and abuse.

The citizenry’s unquestioning acquiescence to anything the government wants to do in exchange for the phantom promise of safety and security has resulted in a society where the nation is being locked down into a militarized, mechanized, hypersensitive, legalistic, self-righteous, goose-stepping antithesis of every principle upon which this nation was founded.

This is not freedom.

This is a jail cell.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

To be or not to be the change

To be or not to be the change

Coming up on Small Farm Future – some posts on the hows and whys of social transformation towards more sustainable societies, which have been prefigured in recent posts like this one on ‘self-systemic’ agriculture and my previous one on utopias – perhaps particularly in relation to the ensuing discussion about individualism and collectivism. Here, I’ll look at the question of transformation via personal consumption choices in societies of mass consumption, which I touched on a while back. That discussion prompted Peter Kalmas, climate scientist and author of Being the Change: Live Well and Spark a Climate Revolution to get in touch and kindly send me his book.

Maybe first I should set out a brief position statement. As I see it, the world is beset with enormous inequities, creating a lot of human misery, and looming environmental crises, creating yet more human (and non-human) misery. The dominant paradigm for tackling these problems involves lifting people out of poverty through growing the capitalist global economy, and mitigating the environmental problems caused by this economic growth through technical innovation. I don’t think this will work on either count – it won’t lift many people out of poverty and it won’t succeed in mitigating environmental problems. If we continue down this path, it seems to me likely that there will be major breakdowns in human social systems and in the Earth’s biophysical systems. In fact, there already are. These may proliferate in all sorts of surprising and dystopian ways, but I don’t see much point in speculating about how such ‘collapse’ scenarios may unfold. I do see a point in speculating about alternative scenarios that may create better outcomes, and in particular about how such scenarios may emerge from present social processes, because that may give some kind of a handle on how to increase the probability of those better outcomes occurring. So that, generally speaking, is what I want to focus my writing around.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

A small farm utopia

A small farm utopia

When I made a case for a small farm future somewhere or other a while back, I got a tweeted reply “Your utopia is my dystopia”.

I found this slightly odd since the case I try to make for small-scale farming isn’t that it’s the best of all possible worlds – more like the best of a bad job given the circumstances we face. Though to be fair I do tend to emphasise some of the positives of small farm societies and some of the negatives of the big farm society we currently live in, if only to try to even up the score a little from our present tendencies towards urban romanticism. I’d acknowledge that the genre of back-to-the-land ruralism is shot through with utopian elements, and it doesn’t always work out for those who try it. But sometimes it does. Maybe one reason working a small farm retains its romantic appeal is because working outdoors on your own account to furnish for your material needs is quite a plausible way of becoming a fulfilled human being.

But in a wider sense, I think the whole language of ‘utopia’ is problematic. Every political philosophy with a vision for the future is utopian in the sense that it propounds some kind of idealised narrative of the better world it seeks. And there are surely few philosophies as utopian as contemporary capitalism, with its disingenuous belief in market exchange as the guarantor of prosperity, liberty and prudence. So there’s a case for claiming back ‘utopia’ from its pejorative connotations. In this post, however, I want to take a different tack and make the case that small-scale (or what I’ve called self-systemic) farming furnishes a kind of necessary material logic for a plausible utopia.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Defying Dystopia: Shaping the Climate Future We Want

Defying Dystopia: Shaping the Climate Future We Want

We live in an age of dystopias on demand. Whether it’s Black Mirror, The Hunger Games or The Handmaid’s Tale, there is no limit to satiating our desires for dark, apocalyptic visions of the future. Unfortunately the scariest experience does not involve the world of the imaginary; it just requires reading the latest climate science.

In one such piece in July 2017, New York Magazine managed to pull together all the possible worst-case climate scenarios in a longread called “The Uninhabitable Earth.” Through interviews with climate scientists, it painted a world of bacterial plagues escaping from melting ice, devastating droughts and floods so frequent they are just called “weather,” and biblical-like tableaus of entire nations on the move. The piece is bleaker than the darkest of sci-fi, because there is no way of dismissing it as fiction.

Facing our fears of climate crisis is one of the biggest challenges we face as activists. Not a week goes by without warnings of an “ice apocalypse” or a “point of no return.” We are bombarded with bleak visions of the future. And it’s a challenge that we continue to struggle with — one we have mainly filled with demands for action. For a long time, the answer was to provide easy actions that people could take so they could feel empowered. But it was soon evident that no amount of energy-saving lightbulbs was going to halt the capitalist juggernaut. Now the answer, from the left at least, is that we must confront capitalism to overcome climate change. Yet this can hardly be described as an easy win, or likely to allay our fears of a dangerous future.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Myth and dystopia in the Anthropocene

Myth and dystopia in the Anthropocene

The sleeping ice giants of Antarctica are stirring. Will we wake up before they devour us?

Calving front of the Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina. Credit: Flickr/Etienne Berthier, Université de Toulouse. CC-BY-2.0.

In the autumn of 1913, Karl Jung dreamt of a monstrous flood of yellow waves cascading down from the North Sea through north-west Europe and down onto the Alps. Later in his apocalyptic dream-vision the swirling yellow seas turned blood red amidst “the floating rubble of civilisation, and the drowned bodies of uncounted thousands.”

Nine months later Jung had a similarly dramatic dream, but this time with a different emphasis: “An Arctic cold wave descended and froze the land to ice…The whole of Lorraine and its canals frozen and the entire region totally deserted by human beings.”

I thought of Jung’s pre-World War One visions when I read of the stirring of the sleeping ice giants of East Antarctica earlier this year. According to recent research, one of those glaciers—the Totten (larger than the state of California)—is moving slowly towards the Southern Ocean as a result of global warming, with the potential  to raise sea levels by 3.5 metres in future decades.

This figure is a worst case scenario, but a sea level rise of even a fraction of that figure could lead to extraordinarily worrying outcomes. In the case of the Totten glacier, warm ocean water is seeping up from the bottom of the sea into the cavity beneath this vast ice giant, which could destabilise the surrounding ice sheet even further. That’s important because East Antarctica has long been regarded as more stable than West Antarctica in terms of its melting ice.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The American dystopia didn’t begin with Trump

Media narrative includes myths fostered by Obama

Hulu/courtesy Everett Collection
The dystopian classic, “The Handmaid’s Tale,” is streaming on Hulu, sparking lots of false comparisons between the misogynistic dictatorship in the miniseries and the presidency of Donald Trump.

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) – Dystopia is here. It’s not just the “imagined place” of the dictionary definition or a future state of dystopian novels. It is very real and right now, at least for those of us trying to follow national politics.

And it’s not just Donald Trump. It’s Barack Obama, it’s Ted Cruz, it’s the New York Times, it’s Breitbart News. It is an alternate universe detached from the world we live in but intruding into it in painful and dangerous ways.

It is a media narrative of political conspirators colluding with a dictatorial archenemy, of an intemperate and delusional leader overturning the institutions of democracy, of a “deep-state” resistance to constitutional authority.

It is a dystopia of rampant hypocrisy, where obstructing legislation, supporting a law-enforcement official who strays beyond the limits of his authority, or boycotting a president’s appointments is evil and undemocratic until it’s your party that wants to do it.

Two dystopian classics have shot back to the top of best-seller lists because the media suggest the authoritarian surveillance societies they portray have arrived. The 1948 novel “1984” and the 1985 novel “The Handmaid’s Tale” are touted as descriptions of where we are headed under Trump.

While the author of “Handmaid,” Margaret Atwood, and the cast of the Hulu miniseries based on it see a Trump administration as the realization of the misogyny depicted in the novel, it’s obvious the U.S. is not about to become a Puritanical theocracy like that in the book.

Critics on both the left and the right dispute the media meme that “Handmaid” is a depiction of the Trump era.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Dystopian Fiction of Yesterday is the NWO of Tomorrow: “The Shift is Toward Totalitarianism”

Dystopian Fiction of Yesterday is the NWO of Tomorrow: “The Shift is Toward Totalitarianism”

1984

Many of the things that are happening this very moment have direct parallels in literature of the past.  Whether it is an account such as the “Gulag Archipelago” by Solzhenitsyn or a work of “fiction” such as “1984” by George Orwell is irrelevant.  Elements of the history or the storyline (regarding the former and the latter works) are now becoming thoroughly inculcated into the fabric of modern reality.

All of the measures taken by the Soviet Union to crush and control its population are beginning to manifest themselves today in the United States.  The courts are “stacked” to reflect the decision of the regime and not to rule by law.  The Military Industrial Complex contracts are still being shuffled, along with government policies that just happen to substantiate those business interests with kickbacks for all.  Laws serve political and corporate interests, and the lawmakers themselves do not represent any of their constituents: they are self-serving thieves, selling out their country and its populace for money and power.

The police departments have (for all intents and purposes) been “federalized,” with budgets and marching orders becoming increasingly dependent upon federal and not local or state policies.  Sheriffs who follow their appointed roles as duly-elected law enforcement officials upholding Constitutional guidelines are being “phased out” of existence.  The changed demographics of “forced” insertions of illegal aliens and “refugees” into populations are rapidly negating the remainder of the two-party system to ensure that the Democratic party takes control ad infinitum.

Orwell envisioned it.  His work is labeled a work of fiction, although all of the measures Oceania pursued are either currently in place in the United States or they’re being developed.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase