Wednesday, May 2, 2012

SOPA, PIPA, and now CISPA? Oh my.

By Erik Garc├ęs

That the giant media corporations are conspiring with the government to create an information monopoly may sound like a tin foil hat conspiracy theory, however it is factual. The corporate media freely reports that conglomerates like CBS, Time-Warner and Microsoft have been very active in the political arena, spending hundreds of millions on lobbying efforts to pass restrictive laws intended to choke the internet. Google alone has spent over $6 million on lobbying to promote the online censoring CISPA bill. These businesses claim they’re losing untold fortunes to online piracy. The problem is they deliberately created the theft themselves.
           
            For the better part of the last decade, the music industry had been concerned with a decline in CD sales. At the dawn of the compact disc, most buyers were replacing their vinyl records, but after years of doing so, these consumers had pretty much completed the digital conversion. That's what accounted for early losses of CD revenue. But the corporations had grown used to their hefty profit figures and needed to find a way to boost them. With the advent of Apple's popular iTunes, it seemed the music industry had gotten its groove back. However, independent artists as well as long established ones could now release their music directly to the internet, bypassing the record companies. Some bands with an older fan base could no longer get their material on the air and consequently this was the only way to reach their audience. The ability to evade the gate keepers of the music industry, by both new artists and old, threatened the bottom line.

            The technological ability to obtain information and entertainment outside of historical channels has upset the hegemony of the six corporate giants that control nearly all major media. But it's not only entertainment: the rise of web journalism has caused revolutionary changes in the way Americans get their information. This has led to countless newspapers, magazines and even radio stations closing. Television networks have fared little better as they and the Hollywood movie industry impotently watch pirates redistribute their work.

            In the early days of the 21st century, and as the rise of web based journalism started to put a dent in print readership, alarm bells went off in news rooms across America. Costs rose as profits shrank along with circulation. Once successful papers were folding or merging with competitors. TV reporting was similarly seeing a drop in ratings. Something needed to be done.


            As news became less filtered by the corporate media, information which had traditionally been ignored or spun was starting to effectively reach wider audiences online. Some notorious examples:
·         The multitude of unanswered questions surrounding the events of September 11, 2001. No one really knows what happened, but one thing is sure - the official story is an easily proven lie.
·         The growing awareness that a privately (and substantially foreign) owned banking cartel, misleadingly calling itself a government agency, issues the public's currency as debt serviced by income taxation. The tax exempt profits derived from the 6% interest on every dollar in circulation generated $89.1 billion for the 'Federal' Reserve during 2010, the last year figures were available. G. Edward Griffin wrote a fantastic book in 1995 explaining all this, but until the internet, few knew.
·         The 2004 presidential election campaign of Democrat Senator John F. Kerry of Massachusetts had been derailed by questionable information which had originated and then spread online.
           
            Various and uncontrollable activist groups were now able to threaten established power systems with damaging information. Governments and political parties alike have watched in horror as carefully selected candidates and well laid schemes have been ignored or refuted by the voters. News that was once difficult to obtain is now blazed across the internet at the speed of light. A great awakening is occurring due to the web user's ability to instantaneously access astounding quantities of information. This new reality frightens politicians and presents a real challenge to their ability to manipulate societies. Sometimes they have the audacity to publicly state their frustrations with that. In London on November 17, 2008 while addressing a gathering of businessmen, former Carter Administration National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski said:
            “For the first time in human history, for the first time in all of human history, almost all of mankind is politically awake. And these new and old, major powers face still yet another novel reality, in some respects, unprecedented. And it is that while the lethality of their power is greater than ever, their capacity to impose control over the politically awakened masses of the world is at a historical low. I once put it rather bluntly and I was flattered that the British Home Secretary repeated this as follows. Namely, in earlier times it was easier to control a million people; literally, it was easier to control a million people than physically to kill a million people. Today it is infinitely easier to kill a million people than to control a million. It is easier to kill than control.”
           
            Throughout time, money and political power have always seemed to find their way together. Evidently the State and corporate run media (both news and entertainment) have a common cause: these powerful forces want a return to when information was under monopoly control. This circumstance existed during the 20th century had allowed the elite total control over the narrative. What the power hungry cannot control, they will destroy. Here's how.
           
            The playbook is old, but reliably tested. Georg Hegel was a German philosopher who lived during the period spanning the 18th and 19th Centuries. Hegel's major influence was Plato, whose vision was rule by an oligarchy of philosopher-kings. But Hegel also agreed with Rousseau, that humans are a blank slate, and that you are responsible for your own destiny. And that culture and history are products of human development driven by reason. Hegel admired the French, particularly the tyrant Napoleon Bonaparte, but also the bloody French Revolution. Interestingly, Karl Marx was an admirer of Hegel's and made use of the ideas. Though Hegel didn't plan a societal control system, his philosophies have been used that way for generations now.

            Hegel's concepts spawned a methodology based upon the science of human behavior. To understand this we must delve deeper; each stage of human growth is driven by conflict. An argument, as thesis, a counterargument as anti-thesis and then at last a synthesis of the two into a more perfect argument. Afterward, the entire process begins anew. For Hegel, his Dialectic explained everything he witnessed in the world, from nature, to art, and even war. When the concept is successfully employed, political engineers can shift an entire debate from a discussion of the free market vs. Marxism into: 'what degree of Marxism is tolerable?’
                                                                                                             
            Karl Rove, former advisor to President George W. Bush, arrogantly explains how government elites perceive the Dialectic in an October 24, 2004 NY Times Magazine interview with Ron Suskind:
            “We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality - judiciously, as you will - we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” (emphasis mine)

Mr. Rove’s candor is rare but highly illustrative. We can see it’s manifestation in the methodology of Problem/Reaction/Solution. Let's examine some recent easily documented examples.Epic fail’ is a colloquial expression and it aptly describes US Attorney General Eric Holder's poor attempts at executing his own Dialectical schemes.
·         The Christmas Day underwear bomber was clearly identified by an eyewitness (who also happened to be an attorney) testifying in court as having been helped to evade airport security by an American operative. The corporate news media consistently ignores this legal fact.
·         The plot by a Mexican national to assassinate the Saudi ambassador at the behest of Iran; so absurd it was quickly laughed out of the news cycle by commentators.
·         Mr. Holder's most epic fail: having federal law enforcement agents enable the smuggling of guns to Mexican drug cartels so the resultant crimes could be traced to US made/sold weapons, thus blaming our ‘lax gun laws’ for the problem.
            Now that we've examined the basic concepts behind these plans, let’s take a look at how it's been executed. As home computing capabilities grew enough to play audio and video, sharing that media for profit became the logical next step. It wasn't long then before someone figured out to steal it. The traditional methods of purchasing music, but in particular watching video, were too cumbersome and costly to compete once easy online access became widespread. Human nature being what it is, people like things for free and they like them convenient. At first on compact discs, then later via email and eventually over file transfer servers, technophiles and casual users alike began sharing media.

            In my own analysis, these activities are illegal and rightfully so; theft denies the artists and their production companies’ just compensation for their efforts. We'll never know who or how, but evidently someone at these corporate giants figured that this was a great way to plant a Trojan Horse while listening to the CEO's bemoan lost profits. The idea apparently was to make sharing media so easy that the problem would be so pervasive, so destructive, that the government would have enough justification to take action. The competition would be removed and thus their plan using the classic Problem/Reaction/Solution formula had been born.

            We know that companies like Viacom, CBS, Time, and others were directly responsible for the creation and distribution of peer to peer (P2P) software. That's the programing used to trade and search for media files. Programming that was meant to steal the property of the very companies which created it. CNET is a subsidiary of CBS and hosts a web site called download.com where for free anyone can obtain a copy of P2P media sharing software. Teens all around the world were downloading and using Kazza, Morpheus, LimeWire, Vuze and others to trade music and video files. Within a few years the phenomena was so rampant that almost no one actually purchased a CD anymore and legitimate online purchases of music were seriously falling.

            The corporations that had quietly created and distributed this software then complained loudly about its consequences! Eventually spending millions on lobbying efforts to convince Congress to restrict access to the internet and prevent ‘piracy’. Resentful of the power of the blogosphere, Congress was only too willing to comply. But worse, the supposed guardians of democracy, the press, have been complicit in this scheme. The establishment media, despite these connections being quite public and easily verified, has failed to cover almost any aspect of this story and provided absolutely no analysis. It isn't hard to see why when the very same corporations own both the establishment news outlets which should be covering this, and the offending software developers.

             The Stop Online Piracy Act or SOPA pushed for by these corporations and their lobbyists has been widely seen as a gateway to government control of the internet. After its withdrawal due to public opposition it has been resurrected as CISPA. The statists in Congress remain undaunted and in a surprise last minute vote, CISPA passed the House of Representatives with a vote count of 248-168 on April 26, 2012. Presidential candidate and vocal critic of big government, Dr. Ron Paul (R- TX) called it: “Big Brother writ large”. These incessant and sneaky attempts to pass unpopular and inevitably tyrannical legislation are common to both parties and reinforce the idea that when it comes to money, there is but one party.

            America has grown tolerant of the leviathan government which has metastasized into so many aspects of our lives. While we can't say when exactly it began, we can point to the events of September 11, 2001 and clearly see the acceleration. Author and psychologist Joel F. Wade, Ph.D. has written about our complacency, bordering on resignation, to the growing American police state:
“This tendency for people to do things just because it's accepted by others is a pervasive quality of human nature. [t]his ability to adapt and get used to things is what allows bad policies, dysfunctional ideas, abuse of power and, yes, outright evil to grow and become an acceptable part of life.”

            Our founding statesmen cautioned that for liberty to survive, we must have an educated, informed and most of all, engaged citizenry. If Americans are to salvage what's left of that ideal, of the freedoms that we all took for granted, then we'd better start paying attention to what's going on.


Sources

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A product of the NYC Public Schools, and a former union representative, Erik Garces has always been a free market thinker and advocate for liberty and limited government. When the world changed on September 11, 2001 he began to question the narrative presented and he found the rabbit hole far deeper than expected. Today he lives in Eastern Pennsylvania and devotes himself to propagating the mass awakening to just who owns the world and how its run. Look for him on Facebook and for his future video features or articles here.

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