by John Ward
The pointless referendum that led to a pointed betrayal of Brexit has been, for most voters, a painful exercise in anger and tedium. But the learning experience mustn’t be wasted. In particular, it’s time to start seeing it as nothing more than one symptom along one dimension of a massive global trend: the multivariate attempts of positively anti-State groups to evade the attentions of (and build alternatives to) increasingly remote institutions and services that have been bought by the 3%. In this essay, The Slog examines the prospects for genuine Citizen Power.
In the swirling and incessantly noisy maelstrom of what one might call 21st century ‘News peak’ (join the words up and you get the Orwellian term for spin, Newspeak) quality in terms of accuracy and astute analysis has been abandoned in favour of 24/7 quantity. Never in the long history of the United Kingdom has this been more evident than during the Brexit saga that began after the Referendum of June 2016.
One of my favourite Buddhist truisms is “Good will eventually come from Bad”. Eric Idle parodied this in his Monty Python anthem ‘Always look on the bright side of life’, and it does often feel as if the eternal British optimism is ill-considered. But in truth, the “we’ll muddle through” belief is really smug over-confidence, not optimism: it is a myopic belief that, quite obviously, should’ve gone to Specsavers.
Nevertheless, Good has already come from the political irresponsibility, calumny and arrogance that have typified The Brexit Years: if nothing else, millions of ordinary Britons have woken up to the fact that they no longer live in a free-speech democracy….and that reality has also infected thinkers in other EU member States, who have finally had confirmed what they had long suspected: while the European Union was an excellent economic solution to regional wars as an idea, as a wannabe federal superstate in practice it has become yet another facet of human existence annexed by a ruthless and unaccountable corporacratic élite.
The EU is no longer a force for good. It is merely a club driven by the belief in force.
I want to move beyond the parochial issue of Brexit in this piece. Instead, I propose here to try and set it in the context of what I’m calling the Personal Destiny Control (PDC) movement. But before we leave the British fiasco, let me share with you Brendan O’Neill’s latest email OpEd pointing out the very clear need for PDC on every practical level:
The need for PDC media
Mr O’Neill is the founder and editor of Spiked – an online but unaligned news analysis site which is itself an attempt at PDC, in that it offers a genuine alternative to the MSM agendas by putting forward evidence, wide-ranging views and consequence scenarios to warn people about the dangers of ideological Groupthink. Off-Guardian is another one, formed by emigrés from a Guardian newspaper which, under the tutelage of Alan Rusbridger, lost not just its way in terms of real liberalism, but also its mind and then any semblance of tolerance.
There are thousands of online news organisation alternatives, but very few with a one-word agenda called balance. As the age of influential one-man-band blogging draws slowly to a close, we need such New Media in a sense that goes way beyond New in terms of digital: rather, thoughtful humans need to gather together in such places, and at best destroy the censorious narratives of the old MSM organs and social media sites…or at the very least create viable, business-model solid acces to truth rather than Pravda.
The need for a PDC internet option
‘Media’ in the round is a crucially important form of PDC, but both within and without that definition is the varietally threatened Internet, already controlled by ISPs working hand in hand with the data gatherers of Mammon and the pernicious voyeurism of the Surveillance State.
Use the term ‘Web3’ to most people today and they will look blank. Until three months ago, so did I. But it is in fact a largely undiscovered PDC alternative to everything from Facebook and Instagram to Google, Microsoft and yes, even the CIA.
You see, not only can these monsters not control Web3, they can’t get into it at all without being detected and neutralised. Web3 is a giant blockchain in which the risk of spin and manipulation by the various malign Establishments and élites has been reduced as near as is humanly possible to zero.
The sluggish growth in awareness of Web3 hasn’t been helped by first of all, a descriptor that suggests nothing, and secondly, the tendency of the pointyhead community to write descriptions that mean even less.
This is the current geek-speak definition of Web3 that exists on most search engines – the js suffix stands for Java Script:
‘web3.js is a collection of libraries which allow you to interact with a local or remote Ethereum node, using an HTTP, WebSocket or IPC connection’
Yes, you know what it is – but you’re none the wiser, in that you don’t know what an ethereum node is, you can’t see why this is anything different to the main internet, you never knew what Web2 was anyway….and above all, there is not the scintilla of a glimmer as to what the point of it is for PDC.
Get down to the ‘plain English’ search results, and you meet a guy called Gregory from Dapp University (where?) who promises he’ll ‘show you what Web3.js is, and how to use it to talk to the Ethereum that gets deployed to the blockchain with the Solidity programming language’. As good as his word, Gregory spills the beans: ‘Web3.js talks to The Ethereum Blockchain with JSON RPC, which stands for “Remote Procedure Call” protocol. Ethereum is a peer-to-peer network of nodes that stores a copy of all the data and code on the blockchain.’
Many of you, I imagine, won’t know what a blockchain is, or even why it exists. Last September I made reference to it as ‘a digital ledger in which reality can be recorded chronologically and publicly without perversion or manipulation of the original data’.
That’s still how I see it: a chain of empirical and transparent information with which no ideologue, sleazy finance minister or bent statistical office can tamper for financial, political or other equally nefarious ends. Part of what Web3 is consists of universal application of the blockchain principle.
But it is far more than this. Our gregarious friend Gregory has at least salted the gobbledygeek with one nugget which is central to the real significance of Web3: Peer to Peer (P2P). A posh term for me, you, us – The People – informing each other without any involvement from the likes of Andrew ‘I made it all up’ Campbell.
In my humble conclusion, Web 3 is The People’s Internet. Designed for mutualist communitarian knowledge-sharing like a sort of big intranet, it has the potential to evict spies from Washington, Moscow, London or Berlin or wherever.
Imagine a Web with no corporates, no fronts for propaganda, no top-down ISP drivel, no unaccountable censors, real Net Neutrality (ie, equality) and the search for learning and facts as its focus, rather than selling. Imagine a giant level playing field for The People where all the referees are incorruptible.
That’s what Web3 is designed to be. Unwittingly perhaps, it is the biggest PDC development on the Planet, and the biggest threat to the multivariate élites that make up the 3%.
But boy, does it need a new name. Boy, does it need some Real spiel interpreters. And boy oh boy does it need to stop describing and start demonstrating: not just what it can do for non-techies, but how and why it really can stop infiltration. Because for me thus far, these are where the doubts lie.
The need for PDC tactical voting
One specific thing software (especially via the ground level sharing element on Web3) can do, however, is focus on the development of another area badly in need of PDC reform: elective democracy generally, and tactical voting in particular.
The development of software capable of defining the “best” tactical use of a vote at local level (and making that information easy to share) – a process often referred to as Ground Gaming – feels to me like an excellent way to break political Establishments legally and peacefully. Already credited with having helped elect Trump (and reduce the DNC attempt at backlash via Congressional election) the need for it was amply demonstrated by the result of the UK’s Newport West by-election last Thursday.
All four candidates with crosses there were pro-Brexit. The light blue circle shows the winner Ruth Jones’s majority, the red circle what percentage eligible to vote turned up, and thus how many votes (black circle) were at stake.
This would be my summary:
- Huge numbers of Labour and Tory voters abstained. Almost certainly, this was a Brexit protest, but the important observation is that had even half of them voted for UKIP along with those who voted for pro-Brexit minnows, the Kipper candidate would have won with a landslide 19,130 votes….and neither type of normally tribal duopoly voter would’ve let ‘the other lot’ in.
- Although still a poor turd, sorry, third, UKIP’s Neil Hamilton actually doubled the Kipper vote compared to 2017. Given his awful reputation, this shows what potential there was for a Brexiteer (aka “PDC”) candidate to take the seat.
- The three other pro-Brexit candidates’ votes were wasted. They didn’t amount to much – 546 – but put behind one potential winning candidate, even these would have reduced Jones’s majority by 30%.
Put another way, easily accessible and viral awareness of where to cast the PDC vote most effectively would’ve sent a People’s candidate back to Westminster. Of course, no software program or Web3 intranet can legislate for Parties selecting appalling candidates, or the egos of their leaders in rebuffing electoral pacts. But what it most certainly can do is point out that, in the Brexit anger context for example, abstaining ain’t enough: rather than waste your vote, you can use it in concert with others to rattle the élite’s cage.
PDC in the financial system
Various PDC concepts are already in play in the fight by real people to wrest control from the banker cartels.
Bitcoin is a means of doing P2P business that cuts out the bank, and could in time render underhand central banks’ manipulation of their currencies ineffective.
‘No Borders’ Plastic cards being developed by electronic money transfer companies like Transferwise not only save small fortunes in bank charges, they also enable consumers to eject retail banks from their lives – given that such banks offer almost zero customer benefit for the privilege of holding and then misusing our money.
Celebrated radical US financial campaigner Ellen Brown recently related how such banks not only offer us a risible 0.1% interest, but can themselves park their money at the US Fed and earn 2.4% clear on it by performing no useful lending purpose to society whatsoever. Her observation – that there is a role for US post offices to take up the slack – is a real rather than digital world example of how traditional People’s Retailers like POs and mutuals could take business away from the leeches and give it to those serving the 97% rather then the 3%.
Crowd-funding in its various guises has been used very effectively as a weapon by social protest groups like Waspi and 2020Comms to raise cash needed to fight the fiscal embezzlement practised by various UK governments after 1995 in relation to non-payment of female State Pensions. Used more broadly and formally, it could in turn produce a new P2P mutual loans sector to replace the old Building Societies destroyed by the demutualisation robberies of the 1980s and 1990s.
During the 1945 General Election, the father of the British National Health Service Aneurin Bevan was being heckled by a Conservative activist.
“What exactly do you see as the purpose of all this power youre going to amass for yourself?” the heckler asked. Bevan replied:
“The purpose of power sonny is to give it back to the People”.
I have never been a Socialist, but Nye Bevan has always been a hero for me because he thought not just about the causes and treatment of social deprivation, but also about the consequences of State Power. Towards the end of his life, Bevan regretted how Unions and bureaucrats had “turned the NHS into something of a monster”.
In the end, in fact, we British never got our power back. As a result, the development of ethics and personal responsibilities from the ground up first of all atrophied, and then died. Into the regrettable vacum thus created stepped Thatcher, the bankers, the security services, Whitehall, the media barons and then the internet’s insidious social media.
In the US, a grisly alliance of the military, texan oil, Wall Street, CIA and big business lobbyists also took away the average American’s independence. In Europe, the EU has done the same….following in the equally concrete footsteps of the Soviet Union.
My message today is much the same as the one I gave out a month ago: Brexit is dead, long live the Personal Destiny Control movement. I have a sense that, in the increasingly divided populaces of the US, the UK and the EU, citizen controlled and mandated coalitions dedicated to the greatest fulfilment of the greatest number are likely sooner or later to replace the top-down neo-fascist indirect democracies produced by Party, corporacratic, financial and geopolitical interests.
But we’re not talking spontaneous combustion here. Benign, visionary minorities below the 3% psycho tendency are already creating the conditions by which the power of PDC can be returned to us. The techies among them, however, need to extricate head from anus; while the silent majority they hope to help need to become more gobby, and get out more – take some exercise and so forth. Like a walk to the polling booth where, armed with data suggesting the best use of a positive anti-Establishment vote, they can cast the thing – rather than shouting at the telly.
Do not assume that our rulers will just sit there and let the PDC process happen. They have the armies, the cops, the water cannon, the surveillance capabilities and cashless card monitoring powers to make contrarian resistance potentially futile. History is changed by those who turn up. It is the responsibility of every adult in the West to do just that.
Thanks for persevering with this long read.