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Re: <nettime> When repression is cheaper than redistribution
Keith Hart on Mon, 4 Sep 2017 11:11:12 +0200 (CEST)


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Re: <nettime> When repression is cheaper than redistribution


Excellent point, Felix and nice riposte, Patrice.

Tocqueville, in The Old Regime and the Revolution published just before he died, explained the latter's causes as follows:

1. The spread of Enlightenment ideas of freedom and equality to the masses (birth of the mass media)

2. The rigid system of social stratification (in England any soldier or merchant can become a lord).

3. Economic expansion pushing several classes up against No. 2

4. Repression rather raising the lid of the pressure cooker a bit.

One could say that the digital revolution has promoted No. 1 on a global scale, but also their negation. Neoliberalism definitely ended 20th century class mobility (the 1% are increasingly like the 18th century French nobility). Ah, No. 3, sorry folks it's moving in the opposite direction, especially in the West. Not so sure which way No. 4 goes for us: my attitude to surveillance is that I can beat it. I'm faster than they are.

The main point, however, to which nettime seems to be immune, is that we (the insular white critics) are not going to be where the action is and don't have a clue about how to hook up with the majority who are already there.

Keith

On Mon, Sep 4, 2017 at 10:56 AM, Patrice Riemens <patrice {AT} xs4all.nl> wrote:

Well, there is an absurdly simple way to achieve this change of calculus, though a costly one - for us: leave the screens, go down in the street and start getting killed by the riot police, preferably in numbers. No modern 'democratic' dispensation survives that, as Jacques Chirac knew all too well. His successors everywhere might be less smart, but they shall discover soon enough that lethal repression is very costly indeed, as it upsets the cart of the consumption-based economy real bad. Of course when Xi-JinPing marches in, what will happen sooner rather than later, the whole rule-book will change, but in the meanwhile we do have some opportunity to 'change that calculus' ...




On 2017-09-04 10:44, Felix Stalder wrote:
Recently, the German political scientist Ulrike Guérot argued that
digital technologies changed the political calculus of the ruling
elites: repression is now seen as cheaper than redistribution to
maintain the system.

This research, by the Center for Political Studies (CPS), University of
Michigan, puts numbers to this claim.  Advanced democracies spent just
shy of $9 billion to surveil 74% of their population, at a cost of
$10/person. Now, this of course are not the entire costs of the
apparatus of repression, but just indicates how incredibly cheap
surveillance blanket surveillance has become.

To gain any traction for political change, we need to change this
calculus, by making surveillance and repression expensive again.

Felix




http://cpsblog.isr.umich.edu/?p=2129

<...>

While nations worldwide have spent at least $27.1 billion USD (or $7 per
individual) to surveil 4.138 billion individuals (i.e., 73 percent of
the world population), stable autocracies are the highest per-capita
spenders on mass surveillance. In total, authoritarian regimes have
spent $10.967 billion USD to surveil 81 percent of their populations
(0.1 billion individuals), even though this sub-set of states tends to
have the lowest levels of high-technology capabilities. Stable
autocracies have also invested 11-fold more than any other regime-type,
by spending $110 USD per individual surveilled, followed second-highest
by advanced democracies who have invested $8.909 billion USD in total
($11 USD per individual) covering 0.812 billion individuals (74 percent
of their population). In contrast to high-spending dictatorships and
democracies, developing and emerging democracies have invested $4.784
billion USD (or $1-2 per individual) for tracking 2.875 billion people
(72 percent of their population).

It is possible that in a hyper-globalizing environment increasingly
characterized by non-state economic (e.g., multi-national corporations)
and political (e.g., transnational terror organizations) activity,
nation-states have both learned from and mimicked each other’s
investments in mass surveillance as an increasingly central activity in
exercising power over their polities and jurisdictions. It is also
likely that the technological revolution in digitally-enabled big data
and cloud computing capabilities as well as the ubiquitous digital
wiring of global populations (through mobile telephony and digital
communication) have technically enabled states to access and organize
population-wide data on their citizens in ways not possible in previous
eras.


<....>

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--
Prof. Keith Hart
www.thememorybank.co.uk
135 rue du Faubourg Poissonniere
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Cell: +33684797365
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