Methods of controlling empires has remained the same for millennia. Machiavelli’s The Prince enumerates time-tested elite tactics that seem to transcend every possible leadership scenario. Is it possible that technology has changed the rules? I think so, but you may disagree.
Many have debated the impact of technology on human behavior and governance. I want to point out two clear and present factors directly resulting from the information age. I believe they may have already changed the rules for engagement between the elites and the masses. I see almost nobody discussing them.
First, elites have vast power while most people – the masses – have almost no power at all. This has been constant throughout history and may even remain to be the case well into the future. However, how power is asserted may have already been permanently altered. It may have happened in ways even experts do not yet understand. It may involve scenarios that have yet to happen, but are possible right now.
I believe Sapiocracy would solve these problems effortlessly, so this article is something of a peripheral thought exercise. Read on as these could be two factors that underscore the urgency for Sapiocracy.
1: The Internet
Many have opined the effects of the internet, although I don’t see many describing these theories. I have held this theory for years, but I’ve also recently seen others offering this explanation in the wild (specifically in the comments on ZeroHedge.com), so I now know I am not the only one who thinks this way.
I believe the commercialization of the internet was at least partially driven by the covert desire to be in control of global government and businesses communications. Without going into too much technical detail, this does make sense, especially in light of recent disclosures (leaks) about surveillance overreach. Rafts of conspiracy theories are now proven true on an almost daily basis. If you’re not aware of this, you would do well to do some digging about what’s going on in the world today. Hint: Don’t trust the mainstream media. At all.
Those in power likely wanted to make sure that they had kill switches, loopholes, preferential back-doors and exploits they could covertly use to their own benefit. This worked well until certain leaks caused their global opponents to understand enough of what was going on to realize how the games are rigged. Worse, the masses have started to become aware of it and they’re not happy with it.
Extremely likely is that those in power did not anticipate all of the primitive human behavior that would result from the commercialization of the internet. They were focused on making sure they had certain technical controls and spent vast resources enticing businesses and governments world-wide to depend on internet communication. Free porn was a great catalyst, using primal male behavior to force the technologies into the back rooms of the elite, guaranteeing a quick understanding from decision-makers world wide.
The elites failed to anticipate a very important set of scenarios and ended up painting themselves in a corner. I’ll explain.
Social media quickly emerged as a welcome new trend. Those in power put a lot of money into controlling this new marketing space – the business and government implications were quite obvious. What a great new way for people to use this new technology! It was seen as a win-win-win. Whoever dominated this space also got everyone’s private information for free. It was a boon for the surveillance industry. Any competitors had to be crushed or they would gobble up this valuable intelligence asset. That could not be tolerated. Social media was forced down everyone’s throats as the latest greatest thing that everyone was doing. Everyone was invited – for free.
To make social business models work, they allowed open communication between everyone and anyone; groups and individuals; including business. And I’m not talking just some. The goal was and still is to give every person on the planet access to a smart phone, tablet or desktop computer and an account on Facebook, Instagram and whatever other sites are the current rage.
This worked on paper. However…those darn details…
In doing so, many businesses started doing business and depending on this very individualized communication structure to conduct business. I remember in the late 90’s, there was a lot of talk about how long any business could be viable without a presence on the internet. Business changed and incorporated the internet so much that they immediately depended on it. This continued for years and is now deeply embedded as part of business in general. If the internet stops working, huge parts of all western economies crash. Those in power cannot survive very long in this situation because they derive their power from the global business structure. Oops.
Many online marketeers have shown that with the right meme, one can get a lot of exposure when things go viral. Within 3 days, 10’s of millions of people can be reached if you hit the right nerve. If people find something entertaining, they share it with friends. When the nerve is hit, the information spreads so quickly as to be unstoppable with any organized response. This was all in good fun.
Western governments have vast abilities to monitor and analyze communications. They have practically unlimited storage capabilities, but this is unrelated to analysis, which is much more limited. Some estimates put the NSA’s analyst counts at around 100,000 highly skilled people. Surely with unlimited funding, any number of people at large can be tracked, censored and kept in control. After all, if some classified information is leaked about CIA agents, for example, the NSA can (and does) tactically shut down websites and block users so quickly that information cannot spread fast enough to cause too much damage.
Internet suppression only works when it is censored fast enough AND the masses agree that the information should be blocked. What happens when blocking something infuriates those who are aware of it? Just the fact that the information is blocked in the first place can almost instantly evoke the Streisand Effect – the process whereby people replicate and upload many copies of the censored content simply to make it more difficult to suppress. Examples of the Streisand Effect have shown repeatedly that one of the most dangerous things one can do to hide information is to try to censor it. If you hit that nerve, it’ll go viral.
Darn details. It turns out that things go viral because people think they’re important – not because they’re entertaining. Oops.
Sadly, millions of people think dancing baby videos are important enough to waste their friends’ time with. (See Three Layers of Hell for a more thorough explanation of what I think of idiots here.) But I digress…
Those in power never fully understood the situation we find ourselves in today (and may still not.) I did not understand it until after it was too late to change it. What happens if 10’s of millions of people suddenly start questioning government propaganda? In the United States, that’s 0.3% of the population or less than 1 in 300 people. If even a small part of the masses don’t agree with something the government is doing, just an attempt to censor the proof can validate it with a vengeance. Those in power are now playing with fire and they no longer have a choice. They can’t just pull the plug.
But even stranger, I suspect that the number of people talking about tenuous subjects is increasing. Those in power with their analyst army have a finite capacity to determine what is a real threat vs. what is harmless conversation. At some point, the ability to identify credible threats will have (or already has) broken down. Legitimate threats will be buried in noise. Or they already are.
Those in power hold technological tools close and are usually satisfied if they have the ability to turn it off or not use it. The ultimate way to not have a bad side effect from the use of a tool is to not use it. But this time they integrated the tool with the very fabric of their power – international and domestic business. They cannot just unplug the internet without rapid large scale public unrest. To do would kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. Even a 20% reduction in the efficiency of global business would be a fatal blow for any country and I believe the impact of a general internet shutdown would be much larger. It would be devastating.
Those in power have no choice but to be surgical about any attempts to suppress information. The masses are increasingly figuring out what those in power are up to. And they don’t like it. Awkward.
Those in power have created the ultimate tool for unifying the masses – unlimited communication free from time delay, geography and material cost. I feel congratulations are in order. They can’t turn it off and they can’t leave it on. The clock is ticking. I seriously wonder if they have considered whether they prefer pitchforks or guillotines.
2: Information Work
As if the above wasn’t enough, the second factor for today is the somewhat new career category of information work. Information work covers a whole spectrum of professions that share one thing in common: the acute understanding of hard reality (facts and logic) as it relates to success. Feelings do not have anything to do with whether or not an individual understands or can implement a successful solution. The valuable commodities necessary for software development, for example, is logic and information necessary to make that logic work. This means software developers simply must become very good at critical thinking to be successful. This is also true for lawyers, engineers and a host of other professions that weren’t common in earlier times.
One hundred years ago, the percentage of people whose income depended upon this kind of cold, hard logic was minuscule. People like Nicola Tesla and other luminaries did indeed possess this kind of mental acuity, but they were very rare. Most were farmers or general laborers who never needed to think critically in order to be effective at their jobs. Since the 1980’s, however, an enormous percentage of the western population has pivoted toward work that requires deep critical thinking.
Propaganda works because people tend to accept new information without thinking critically about it. But those who have been trained to think critically are more likely to not trust propaganda. Oops.
Is it possible that the historical methods of propagandizing populations no longer works as well as it once did? I believe it does matter, although I don’t know how much of an impact this can have or is having. I suspect it is a major factor that has mostly not yet been been fully quantified. Combined with the internet, there are some possible scenarios in the wings that would have been unthinkable 15 years ago. These could be totally impossible to contain.
What Do You Think?
These two factors are multiplicative – the strength of each multiplies the effect of the other. I believe both together are significant and perhaps game changing in tandem.
Unfortunately, I think those in power have ample supplies of hubris. They are sure they’re the smartest guys in the room, invincible and will be embarrassingly proven wrong repeatedly. We’ve already been seeing this play out for quite some time now. How ugly things get before they get better is an open question.
As I said above, I think Sapiocracy solves all of these problems effortlessly. Ask me in the forum if you would like to discuss scenarios.
But I want to know what you think. Leave a comment here and/or join the forum to talk about it.