How The Seeds Of Revolution Take Root

What motivates a populace to rebel against a regime?
Friday, February 26, 2016, 11:48 AM

That the dramatic upheavals of war, pestilence and environmental collapse can trigger social disorder and revolution is well-established. Indeed, this dynamic can be viewed as the standard model of social disorder/revolution: a large-scale crisis—often a bolt-from-the-blue externality—upends the status quo.

Another model identifies warring elites and imperial meddling as a source of revolution: a new elite forcibly replaces the current elite (known colloquially as meet the new boss, same as the old boss) or a dominant nation-state/empire arranges a political coup to replace the current leadership with a more compliant elite.

A third model was described by David Hackett Fischer in The Great Wave: Price Revolutions and the Rhythm of History. By assembling price and wage data stretching back hundreds of years, Fischer found that cycles of economic growth spawn population growth, resulting in more workers entering the market economy. Their earnings trigger a demand-driven expansion of essential commodities such as grain and energy (wood, coal, oil, etc.).

In the initial phase, wages rise and commodity prices remain stable as supplies of essential goods expand and the demand for labor pushes up wages.

But this virtuous cycle reverses when the supply of essentials no longer keeps pace with rising population and demand: the price of essentials begin an inexorable rise even as an oversupply of labor drives down wages.

Fisher found that this wage/price cycle often ends in transformational social upheaval.

While proponents of these models have a wealth of historical examples to draw upon, these models miss a key factor:  the vulnerability or resilience of the nation-state facing crises.

Some nations survive invasions, environmental catastrophes, epidemics and inflation without disintegrating into disorder. Something about these nation’s social/ economic /political order makes them more resilient than other nations.

So rather than accept the proximate causes of disorder as the sole factors, we should look deeper into the social order for the factors behind a nation’s relative fragility or resilience.

The Decline Of Shared Purpose

Historian Peter Turchin defined a key factor in the resilience of the social order as "the degree of solidarity felt between the commons and aristocracy," that is, the sense of purpose and identity shared by the aristocracy and commoners alike.

As Turchin explains in War and Peace and War: The Rise and Fall of Empires:

"Unlike the selfish elites of the later periods, the aristocracy of the early Republic did not spare its blood or treasure in the service of the common interest. When 50,000 Romans, a staggering one fifth of Rome’s total manpower, perished in the battle of Cannae, the senate lost almost one third of its membership. This suggests that the senatorial aristocracy was more likely to be killed in wars than the average citizen….

The wealthy classes were also the first to volunteer extra taxes when they were needed… A graduated scale was used in which the senators paid the most, followed by the knights, and then other citizens. In addition, officers and centurions (but not common soldiers!) served without pay, saving the state 20 percent of the legion’s payroll….

The richest 1 percent of the Romans during the early Republic was only 10 to 20 times as wealthy as an average Roman citizen.

Roman historians of the later age stressed the modest way of life, even poverty of the leading citizens. For example, when Cincinnatus was summoned to be dictator, while working at the plow, he reportedly exclaimed, 'My land will not be sown this year and so we shall run the risk of not having enough to eat!'"

Once the aristocracy’s ethic of public unity and service was replaced by personal greed and pursuit of self-interest, the empire lost its social resilience.

Turchin also identified rising wealth inequality as a factor in weakening social solidarity. By the end-days of the Western Roman Empire, elites held not 10 times as much wealth commoners but 10,000 times as much as average citizens.

Wealth inequality is both a cause and a symptom: it is a cause of weakening social resilience, but it also symptomatic of a system that enables the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few at the expense of the many.

Diminishing Returns On Complexity & Expansion

Thomas Homer-Dixon’s excellent book The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilization  outlines two systemic sources of increasing fragility: diminishing returns on complexity and the rising costs of continuing strategies that worked well in the past but no longer yield positive results.

Successful economies generate surpluses that are skimmed by various elites to support new layers of complexity: temple priests, state bureaucracies, standing armies, etc.

All this complexity adds cost but beyond the initial positive impact of rationalizing production, it reduces productivity by draining potentially productive investments from the economy.

Building temple complexes and vast palaces for the aristocracy appears affordable in the initial surge of productivity, but as investment in productivity declines and the population of state dependents expands, surpluses shrink while costs rise.

Meanwhile, strategies that boosted yields in the beginning also suffer diminishing returns. Conquering nearby lands and extracting their wealth paid off handsomely at first, but as the distance to newly conquered territories lengthen, the payoff declines: supplying distant armies to maintain control over distant lands costs more, while the yield on marginal new conquests drops.

Expanding land under production was easy in the river valley, but once water has to be carried up hillsides, the net yield plummets.

What worked well at first no longer works well, but those in charge are wedded to the existing system; why change what has worked so brilliantly?

As the costs of complexity and state dependents rise, productive people grow tired of supporting an economy suffering from terminal diminishing returns.

Empires do not just suddenly collapse; they are abandoned by the productive citizenry as the burdens become unbearable. The independent class of tradespeople (a.k.a. the middle class), driven into serfdom by taxes, lose their shared identity with the aristocracy. Beneath the surface, social cohesion frays. Once the benefits of the status quo no longer outweigh its costs, the system is vulnerable to an external disruption that would have been easily handled in previous eras.

The Suppression Of Social Mobility

There is another key factor in the resilience or fragility of social order: the permeability of the barrier between the ruling class and everyone below. We call this permeability social mobility: how easy is it for a working class family to rise up to the middle class, and how easy is it for a middle class family to enter the political and financial aristocracy?

I recently read Venice: A New History, a fascinating account of Venice's rise to regional empire and its decline to tourist destination.

What struck me most powerfully was Venice's long success as a republic: it was the world's only republic for roughly 1,000 years.

How did the Venetians manage this?  Their system of participatory democracy accreted over time, and was by no means perfect; only men of substance had much of a say. But strikingly, key political turning points were often triggered by mass gatherings of craftsmen and laborers.

Most importantly, the system was carefully designed to enable new blood to enter the higher levels of power. Commoners could rise to power (and take their families with them if their wealth outlasted the founding generation) via commercial success or military service.

The Republic also developed a culture that frowned on personal glorification and cults of personality: the nobility and commoners alike deferred to the Republic rather than any one leader.

In Venice, the political leadership (the doge and the Council) were elected via a convoluted series of steps that made it essentially impossible for one clique to control the entire process.

The doge was elected for a term, not for life, and he had to be acceptable not just to the elites but to the much larger class of movers and shakers--roughly 1,000 people in a city of at most 150,000.

Venice's crises emerged when the upwelling of social and financial mobility was capped by elites who were over-zealous in their pursuit of hegemony: all those blocked from rising to power/influence became the source of political revolt.

If you cap the volcano, eventually the pressure beneath rises to the point that the cap gets blown off in spectacular fashion.

The suppression of social mobility and the monopolization of power by the few at the expense of the many are universal dynamics in social orders.

Broadly speaking, Venice's 1,000-year Republican government, with its complex rules to limit concentrations of power and insure the boundaries between elites and commoners were porous enough to diffuse revolution and social disorder, speak to what is once again in play around the world: social unrest due to the concentration of power and the suppression of social mobility.

I don't think it's a stretch to say that the greater the concentration of power, the lower the social mobility, the greater the odds that the system will collapse when faced with crisis.

When the entire economy is expanding faster than population, and this tide is raising all ships, the majority of people feel their chances of getting ahead are positive.

But when the economy is stagnating, and those in power are amassing most of the gains, the majority realizes their chances of securing a better life are declining. This is the pressure that is being capped by the status quo that first and foremost protects the privileged.

How porous are the barriers to social mobility in our society? That a few people become billionaires from technological innovations that scale globally is not a real measure of social mobility for the masses.

In Part 2 we identify the wellspring of revolution, and reach a conclusion that may surprise many.

Click here to read Part 2 of this report (free executive summary, enrollment required for full access)

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thc0655's picture
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Strict gun control bearing fruit in Venezuela too

Strict gun control combined with full-bore socialism are coming to their natural conclusion in Venezuela, yet the world looks away and yawns.

Venezuela is in complete chaos as a result of their economic collapse.

And as a result, state-rationed food and groceries have run out, prices are hyper-inflated and millions of people are waiting in huge lines for any goods that are available. Black markets have gone boom, with neighbors making necessities available to other neighbors, but they must avoid crackdown from a jealous State that is desperate to hang onto power.

The free-fall of oil prices on the global stage has snapped the South American socialist nation into sudden and harsh disaster. Venezuela has slightly more oil than Saudi Arabia, and trades the second largest volume, after OPEC, and was even more vulnerable than Russia to the economic warfare that has taken place in the last few years.

Things are very bad now, and they were already falling apart. Nicolas Maduro took over after Hugo Chavez’ death in 2013, but without the force of Chavez’ cult of personality, he has been unable to hold an already unrealistic economy together any longer – and the people are on the verge of complete revolt.

A politically weak Maduro has apparently now taken to using an iron-fist, with reports and video claim that Maduro has been backing paramilitary death squads to take out dissenters, and these execution gangs have been more or less randomly mowing down anyone they think might be sympathetic to anti-Maduro protests. This was true in the Chavez days, but this form of repression is now much more naked.

With state control of the media in Venezuela, and an unwillingness to report on the part of the international press, it is difficult to know all the facts. Indeed these developments have gone virtually unreported, but some of it has surfaced on YouTube.

The Caracas Chronicles is one of the rare sources to report what is really happening:

What we saw were not “street clashes”, what we saw is a state-hatched offensive to suppress and terrorize its opponents.


Throughout last night, panicked people told their stories of state-sponsored paramilitaries on motorcycles roaming middle class neighborhoods, shooting at people and  storming into apartment buildings, shooting at anyone who seemed like he might be protesting.

People continue to be arrested merely for protesting, and a long established local Human Rights NGO makes an urgent plea for an investigation into widespread reports of torture of detainees. There are now dozens of serious human right abuses: National Guardsmen shooting tear gas canisters directly into residential buildings. We have videos of soldiers shooting civilians on the street.

And that’s just what came out in real time, over Twitter and YouTube, before any real investigation is carried out. Online media is next, a city of 645,000 inhabitants has been taken off the internet amid mounting repression, and this blog itself has been the object of a Facebook “block” campaign.

The crack down on the population of Venezuela is truly massive and very chaotic, as much of the footage shows. Indeed, a coup against Maduro may be underway, but he is not going down without a despicable attack on the people who oppose him.

Go to the site and watch the amateur videos of what's going on.  

Is this how things will go down in the United States in the aftermath of the planned collapse of the economy and the destruction of the American standards of living?

Though Venezuela seems world’s apart from the events in the United States, this same level of unrest can grow quickly along the lines of division that have been sharpening under President Obama’s two terms and the false “recovery” imposed by bankers intent on bringing everyone to their knees.

For now, the biggest difference is that Americans still have their guns, and the militia are still of, by and for the people.

Stay prepared, and stay vigilant!

"Welcome to the Hunger Games. And may the odds be ever in your favor."

charleshughsmith's picture
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alternative media is only media on the ground

This appears to be a case where the alternative media is the only media on the ground, doing actual reporting.Global MSM is worthless. One of my correspondents in Venezuela reports his monthly paycheck is $14 USD at street exchange rates.

cmartenson's picture
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Nothing new under the sun

Excellent article Charles.

I cannot seem to take off my energy spectacles.  These passages stands out:

Meanwhile, strategies that boosted yields in the beginning also suffer diminishing returns. Conquering nearby lands and extracting their wealth paid off handsomely at first, but as the distance to newly conquered territories lengthen, the payoff declines: supplying distant armies to maintain control over distant lands costs more, while the yield on marginal new conquests drops.

Expanding land under production was easy in the river valley, but once water has to be carried up hillsides, the net yield plummets.

What worked well at first no longer works well, but those in charge are wedded to the existing system; why change what has worked so brilliantly?

How are these practices and outcomes any different that what will result from drilling a 3 mile bore hole to extract a few hundred thousand barrels of oil?

Or pressure washing tarry sand for whatever dregs of bitumen can be released?

The payoffs are declining and yet those in power see nothing wrong with just doing more of the same even if it happens to be harder.

This week we saw the usual cheering from the "we're exceptional" crowd because the US is now exporting natural gas from the Sabine terminal in LA.  Yay.

No thought given to the loss of energy involved in creating a liquid fro a gas, a uniquely wasteful practice.  Or to the fact that several of the top shale gas field are already in decline indicating to all but the most blinkered that even that last resource has its limits.

So we conquer on oblivious to the embedded instability in the model, wonderfully blind to the lessons of history.

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Social Movements and Control of Information Flow

A while back Tom posted a metaphor for when revolutions are ready to happen.  (Paraphrasing)

When you are really mad, grab your pitchfork and go out on the front porch.  Stop and look up and down the street.  If others are on the porch with pitchforks then the time is right.  If not, go back inside.  You are too early.

So there is both personal readiness and group readiness.

Information Flow

Much has been written about the consolidation of media ownership in the hands of a few oligopolies.  For example, Project Censored outlines their take on the grip that the Global Dominance Group has on the media in Truth Emergency:  Inside the Military Industrial Media Empire.

If we cannot even know whether Russian did or did not invade the Ukraine or whether the US did or did not use Sarin gas in Laos, how are we to form coherent social movements?

This Frugal Dad graphic is several years out of date and some specifics have changed.  The trend is clear.

When a single group controls information flow there is the potential for that group to coordinate to herd the populous into desired beliefs.

This is particularly acute when people believe that only the MSM is "reliable."

2 years ago at Rowe, Chris mentioned the "perplexing" emergence across MULTIPLE MEDIA PLATFORMS of the myth of "US energy independence."   How does this work?

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media, shale, and Trump

When a single group controls information flow there is the potential for that group to coordinate to herd the populous into desired beliefs.

We saw this same studied, deliberate, organized media ignorance in the shale space.  Some simple math showed Chris, and then me, that shale simply wasn't profitable, yet all the while Wall Street was earning fees selling shale drilling company bonds and equity to their patsy customers.  At the same time, Bloomberg (among others) was ignoring the facts and instead proclaiming a shale miracle.

If the media was filled with truth-tellers like Matt Taibbi, this ridiculous shale story would have come out years ago.  There would be no place for Peak Prosperity or any of us.  We'd just be members of the choir, cheering on our hard-working journalists who were intrepidly looking for the Deep Throat interviews that would expose the sordid truth.

But that's not where we are, is it?  Our last, remaining hope is "Obi Wan" over at Rolling Stone and (the now retired Jon Stewart at) Comedy Central, and some huge percentage of the nation wants to vote for Donald Trump (!) because his sole selling point is that he is not bought and paid for.

We are so tired of the web of lies being spun that some large chunk of America is willing to vote for Donald Trump because he manages to accidentally embody a few, random crumbs of truth and authenticity, and in so doing reveals the incredible tool-like similarity of every other candidate in the field.  Hillary Clinton getting $600k from Goldman Sachs makes me so angry I could just spit ... and the rest of the Republican tools are just wind-up toys programmed to spout well-rehearsed trigger lines while taking money from the gang in charge.

We know in our hearts they are all weasels.  And now, a feckless, self-important, narcissistic non-bought-and-paid-for weasel appears, he is suddenly interesting just by contrast.  The thirst for authenticity - even a sociopathic authenticity - among people is just that strong.

Its just a marker, a waypoint along our journey.  To where, I dunno.  Walls along the Mexican border.  TRUMP in capital letters above the white house, I suppose.  Who will take over for him once the Deep State has him shot?  That's my question.

This particular cycle is taking its sweet time to shift.  All I can do is set my intent for what I want to happen, and enjoy my life in the meantime.

Here is a question, a dark question that occurs to me as I write:

As the traders are wont to say, "gun to your head, would you vote for Trump or Total Tool Hillary?"  You have to pick one or the other.  Me?  I really don't want to answer, even with figurative a gun to my head.  I'd feel like I was advocating a vote for Hitler.  I'd pick Trump.  God help me.  A vote for Hillary is a vote for Goldman Sachs.  And I'll go to my grave before voting for Goldman Sachs one more time.

How would you vote?  Rhetorical question.  No need to answer.  And sorry to turn this into politics.

Perhaps that's how it happened in Germany in 1933.  People were just so tired of voting for the German equivalent of Goldman Sachs.

I wonder if Trump has written about His Struggle yet.

I really hope we can change this arc of history somehow and obtain a better outcome.

Gosh, that got more negative than usual.  I guess it was just me thinking about President Trump.

thc0655's picture
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Two thoughts

I reserve my greatest wrath and disappointment for "we the people" for not paying more attention and causing the change we need than all the sock puppets you mentioned Dave.  Maybe if Ron Paul were 15 years younger and running AGAIN this time he would be leading the race.  He has as pure and consistent a record as you could hope for in an actual human being, but he never had the teevee presence "we the people" seem to demand before anything else.  But I sense "we the people's" mood has changed massively since 2008 and 2012. Whatever. We're being carried downstream toward our nasty fate whether we see it coming or not, whether we like it or not, whether we're ready or not.

We can all see that the mainstream media is dying a well-deserved, agonizing death. Just for fun I've been trying to imagine it's ideal replacement. If I were a media mogul, I'd eliminate nearly all my full time reporters but keep a bevy of editors and fact-checkers. Then I'd announce to the world that I'll be buying material from freelancers around the world, fact checking it, editing it for style and publishing it in two electronic formats. I would give away for free what might otherwise be called "executive summaries."  These short, free pieces would contain the basic content of the stories but without a lot of detail. Then I would offer for sale (by the piece or a full subscription for all articles) the much more in depth articles that the executive summary was based on.  So somebody writes a 10,000 word piece on the "shale miracle" which I asked her for and I have my employees check the facts and edit it.  Then I divide it up into a 500-1,000 word summary offered free and the whole 10,000 word original that I charge for.  The writer is paid a percentage of the fees that come in.  In the next few days other writers, one of whom is Chris Martenson, who read the complete article submit equally detailed articles debunking the whole thing. My people fact check and edit, and I print one or more of them.  These writer's are also paid a percentage.  I have the world's writers and researchers at my fingertips and need only pick the best and most relevant for publication. And whenever I stumble upon hot debates on certain topics I can focus on those and not feel constrained to only print the official viewpoint.  Eventually me and my readers will learn which of my freelancers reliably have the best stuff and I'll give preference to them (as will the readers). Of course when I buy something I copyright it so it can't be used elsewhere. Eventually I'd have some favorites and would give them cash advances to cover a story I think is important but no one has submitted articles on.  For instance I might give a $20,000 advance to an up and coming writer with Venezuelan citizenship to go back down there and find out what the heck is going on (and then pay for the article if it met my standards). Shoot, I might send two people there with polar opposite views on socialism and the Venezuelan government and see what they come up with independently of each other (and print BOTH articles). I think of it as a merger of The New York Times and The Drudge Report. Oh well. I can dream, can't I?

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re coordinating the herd

Hi Sand_puppy! Good post. With regard to this sentence:

When a single group controls information flow there is the potential for that group to coordinate to herd the populous into desired beliefs.

If you have not already done so I suggest reading the article I submitted in today's daily digest titled "The New Mind Control". This was something a friend forwarded to me and I thought it worthy of wider exposure.

It would seem that the MSM is just one small part of the overall effort to subvert us in order to to coordinate the herd. The article is truly scary when one considers the deep and far reaching implications. We as a society have made grave errors in our rush to create advanced technologies, neglecting to put in place checks and balances as we move along to avoid the kind of scenario the article describes. The fact that the majority of the herd is oblivious to the manipulations, regularly displaying a lack of care, concern or curiosity to even question what is going on gives me little hope for the future. Most are mallable consumerist zombies who the manipulators see as easy prey. They have been wildly successful given that the herd really needed to be on the porch with pitchforks eons ago.

If helicopter money is dropped, and I think it will be, the pitchforks will likely stay in the closet for awhile yet. The manipulators have become extremely adept at pacifying the herd, directing behaviours through unseen magic wands. Legalities and ethics are not worthy of consideration - if they ever were. And this article underscores the fact that technological applications are far outpacing our ability to govern their use. The pace of change has become ungovernable, putting the herd at its mercy.

Free money will be another manipulation that will only serve to kick the can a little further down the road. I am confident the herd will respond accordingly and do their techno-masters proud, delaying the inevitable day of reckoning while continuing on the path to mindless instant gratification and living vicariously through reality TV. The only revolution we will ever see is if these things get cut off. Now that will truly be the mother of all revolutions!


pinecarr's picture
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Well said, Jan!

And thanks for the pointer to the article you submitted in the DD.

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Just a comment, boots on the ground.

I notice that the IRS is shaking down a record percentage of the general laborers around me, for a few thousand dollars at a time.

Anyone else notice that?

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Machine learning algorithms

Michael, it's probably related to stronger models in identifying tax return fraud if I were to take a guess. Turbo tax is nice because they give you relative probability score as to how your tax return will be interpreted by the IRS. 

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"The New Mind Control" article in today's digest - read it!

Yup, Jan, this is an excellent article.  I sure needed to know about it!  I don't use Google anymore but that doesn't change the situation much.  Yet another hazard to account for....



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Trump, Really ?


First off, thanks for all you contribute to this site, I really appreciate the effort you put forth and the insights you share!

My wife and I had this very same conversation today about Trump vs. Hilary. I told her I refuse to vote for Hilary because we know we would get a hosin' from her based on her "complete sellout" record. But as much as I would have to hold my nose to vote for Trump, (gun to my head scenario) he has TPTB sweating bullets, the MSM fit to tied and he just might shake up the status quo enough to make some difference, if they don't shoot him first. As Chris says "May You Live in Interesting Times".      

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Wildlife tracker, thanks for your reply

In my own case, it is a reinterpretation of religious freedom to be not important. Specifically, I will not get my kids SSNs for religious reasons. There were some things they would honor (exemptions), some they wouldn't (EIC).

That changed: they are now trying to extract maximum tax possible. Their justification is "because we can". It is no longer about paying a just amount of tax, or a fair amount of tax (though that is still named in the Taxpayer Bill of Rights).

In other cases, it also seems not to be a case of fraud, but just a case of "we're forcing this because we can".

So that's why I ask: do others see this happening, the lower working classes getting squeezed hard, hard enough that in some cases they lose their apartments, their jobs?

You see how this might apply to the topic at hand, I expect.

charleshughsmith's picture
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alt. media models

This is why it's important to support alt. media sites like Peak Prosperity.  There's a site that enables free-lancers to solicit support from individuals for a specific journalistic project. Via Beacon, I gave Mason Inman $50 towards his efforts to sort thru the mind-numbing details of actual shale production. (Hmm, might be time for me to re-up my support...)

We have the power to encourage and grow a vibrant alt. media. Sadly, most people can't be bothered to fund an alt. media, even for a few bucks...

I am thinking that dysfunction always looks safer than change until the well runs dry.

As the old Chinese saying has it: "when you're thirsty, it's too late to dig a well."

I guess we're not thirsty yet.

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The ultimate insult to our Democracy


You have accurately captured the dilemma most thinking people are struggling with regarding the upcoming election.  Do I vote for the corporate whore or the looney tune bully who happens to espouse a few correct positions?  What an incredible position we find ourselves in.  It gives me goosebumps every time I hear, "Make America Great Again".  For some reason my brain processes that statement as, "Make Deutcheland Great Again".

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Information Control

Twitter’s "Trust and Safety Council": Orwellian, or just a really bad idea? (Hot Air)

There is an Orwellian thing going on over at Twitter. Oh, it's censorship, but only of one view point.

I first became aware of this when I was shown that a controversial conservative on Twitter--where I rarely venture--openly gay Breirbart Tech journalist Milo Yiannopoulos lost his "Verified" blue check mark, something Twitter hands out to avoid copycat or spoof sites: a mark that this is really  "that " person. The verify checkmark was withdrawn without a specific problem being stated. This was followed by "shadow banning" - a tool used on internet trolls to let them think they are being read, but they really are not. People who followed  Milo were suddenly not seeing his tweets. His handle and name no longer auto-complete in Twitter's search bar. Now I understand random tweets from his timeline are disappearing altogether. I am not one of his followers, by the way, but he's @nero on Twitter.

The article on Hot Air, linked above, does not mention this but mentions conservatives Stacy McCain and Adam Baldwin. It concludes:

As I told Adam this morning, I have enjoyed Twitter in the past, but enjoy it less and less these days. That’s not because of the trolls; it’s because of the very real sense that Twitter doesn’t value free speech or the participation of my friends and colleagues, and that we’re only tolerated for as long as we don’t cross their orthodoxy in any significant manner. What makes this so absurd is that Twitter is about the least substantial communication platform in popular use, thanks to its 140-character limit. Dorsey and the TSC treat it as a medium of such importance that competing views outside their comfort zone must be somehow suppressed, while ignoring the fact that Twitter only really matters as a fun and quick way to engage people without the very barriers they are erecting.

The best solution for bad speech is more speech, not the Speech Police or a “Trust and Safety Council.” Free speech isn’t supposed to be “safe” — it’s supposed to be free, a marketplace of ideas in which consumers can judge the speech and the speakers for themselves. Twitter is a private enterprise that can set its own rules, but that doesn’t make them good ideas. Time to toss the “Trust and Safety Council” and its Orwellian undertones for a level playing field.

Free speech is especially about controversial, even outrageous speech.

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Charles, I had never heard of before and it certainly looks like a great resource! Thank you for sharing. I looked up some of Mason Inman's work trying to see what he has been working on, and he has some interesting charts and ideas. The charts from his first article showing US natural gas production were great to see.

I personally find myself always looking for new data research projects for fun, so if you have any ideas, please let me know. 

sand_puppy's picture
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Google's ranking algorithms

Wow, Jan.  That was quite a story about the power of the search engine algorithm writers to influence thinking simply by ranking stories.

Eli Pariser has a TED talk describing the effects of personalizing the ranking of web data to individuals.

A couple of highlights:

So Facebook isn't the only place that's doing this kind of invisible, algorithmic editing of the Web. Google's doing it too. If I search for something, and you search for something, even right now at the very same time, we may get very different search results. ... there are 57 signals that Google looks at -- everything from what kind of computer you're on to what kind of browser you're using to where you're located -- that it uses to personally tailor your query results.... 

He describes 2 friends Googling "Egypt."  One, known (to to Google) be interested in politics, gets hits on the political protests going on there, while the other, a world traveler, gets hits for sightseeing destinations in Egypt with no mention of the political upheaval.

cmartenson's picture
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I'm Short

I'm short.  Not shorter...I haven't begun age-related height shrinkage yet.

But for the first time since 2009 I now have exposure to the equity market with a 25% short position on the accounts I hold at New Harbor Financial placed on Friday.

The time has finally come to reengage with the ""markets,"" such as they are.  I will add to those positions if conditions warrant increasing that exposure.

Those accounts represent roughly 7% of my total net worth (which includes gold. silver, real estate, etc) but about 60% of my fully liquid holdings (cash and cash equivalents).  So you can either view my newly established short position as representing ~2% of my net worth, or 15% of my liquid position or 25% of my trading position.

All I'm trying to convey is that this was not a "all in" move.  

I'll write up more about this later, I just wanted to park this in a current thread for now...

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Historical Perspective and Future Thoughts

This might be sorta "out there", but oh well.

As the world chugs along, in my every day life, I am a high school history teacher.  I have the benefit of teaching seniors, and therefore have the opportunity to mix a lot of local history material in my government classes.  I don't go against the curriculum, just use the local historical societies to jump into what we "have to teach" and manipulate those things toward what I want to teach.  A recent project that has taken up a good amount of my personal research time have been the back to the land movement in the late 60s and early 70s.

When I see articles like this, then read comments about change, the future, frustration with the current political climate...I can't help to connect the dots from the past and see a likely outcome as part of the cliff society is heading toward.  In the 60s it was the Vietnam War, the deaths of the Kennedy's and MLK, the Civil Rights movement, a generation brought up after WWII and the Holocaust....coming of age during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

One of my research veins has been the spread of the communes....growth of an idea that people would leave the cities and embrace a much more simple life style.  Live more honestly, away from the rat race.  Tending garden, doing work that revolved around self reliance rather than the web of perhaps waisted social/interactions of a less than active/real life.  I found there was actually a commune in the town next door to where I grew up, there were several dozen spotting the very countryside.

My purpose in writing about this is not to promote or romanticize the hippie life style that ultimately even the participants pretty much gave up on, it is to make a connection to a likely outcome in the future. 

I'm wondering things collapse, as people start to become more frustrated, dissatisfied with everything around them, if people will seek a more hands on life style.  I don't mean to speak for anyone else, but just to suggest that "back to the land" communities seem to come up in many of the conversations that involve our uncertain future.   People will be forced to grab onto the things they can control and lead a better life in the process.

I write this kinda as a reaction to Dave, and his anguish about admitting that he would probably vote for Trump over Hillary.  I'd write in Mickey Mouse first, but sadly recognize that somehow Disney would profit from such an action.

But seriously, when we are all aware of a certain future, when our probable options are Trump or Clinton at this juncture in history.....doesn't taking care of your friends and family away from it all sound SO attractive?

Just my two cents. 


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back to the land

As a participant, I appreciate your overview of the back to the land movement, jbarney. It was a very idealistic and occasionally well-grounded movement. What I discovered is 1) you still need money, and making money is difficult in rural settings, and 2) spouses didn't agree, got divorced, people had to cash out their part of the land, nobody else had the capital to buy them out, etc. In a word--horribly under-capitalized. This is why my system outlined in "A Radically Beneficial World" generates its own currency and thus its own wages and capital. There is no other way to create a new institution that is sustainable IMO.

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going short


Ok I know I'm jumping the gun, you said you were going to write about it - but what did you see that made you go short?

And under what conditions will you cover and wait to fight another day?

I found the timing of your post interesting.  Just recently a trader I respect entered short for the first time in a while, but then covered on Thursday's move above 1950.  He's probably a lot more tactical than you are, but the sense of looking for a short opportunity is definitely in the air right now.

I went short too about that same time, but I covered a bit sooner than he did.

CleanEnergyFan's picture
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Google backing Clinton in the election?

Thanks for pointing out the article in the daily digest titled "The New Mind Control".   The part I found most interesting and had never heard before was "Looking ahead to the November 2016 US presidential election, I see clear signs that Google is backing Hillary Clinton. In April 2015, Clinton hired Stephanie Hannon away from Google to be her chief technology officer and, a few months ago, Eric Schmidt, chairman of the holding company that controls Google, set up a semi-secret company – The Groundwork – for the specific purpose of putting Clinton in office. The formation of The Groundwork prompted Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, to dub Google Clinton’s ‘secret weapon’ in her quest for the US presidency."

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Modern Back to the Land....

Thanks for the response Charles....

In thinking about this, I agree with you that buying the land is one of the primary obstacles to such a movement kinda getting off the ground.  Part of my research about the Vermont Hippie Communes from the 60/70s time period is that some of them actually had wealthy out of state folks go ahead and buy the land for them.  How this was arranged is beyond me, but I suppose if I had all that sorta extra cash hanging around, and I was too old to participate in working the land, I might try to arrange circumstances for those who could.   In their own way, many of the participants back then believed they were at the cusp of the revolution...that certain movements were only treading water and not really making progress by the late 1960s.  That dropping out of society and only being responsible for your own actions, work ethic, friends and family was the thing to do.  Part of that was the classic hippie perspective, as evidence that there were plenty of college kids who bought into the back to the land movement until they had to do some physical labor....then it didn't seem so romantic.  On the flip side of it, many embraced it for a time and were successful.

I guess I am thinking along the lines of Chris's writings maybe a year or so ago, where he was talking about the need for a movement....I think he deliberately stopped short of putting out specifics, but I think we are at that point now.  In the 60s it was all of those things I mentioned in my original post and more....people felt like a revolution was brewing.  The effectiveness of the politics of that dynamic were beat down pretty hard at Chicago in 68....and so those people that could made a point of trying to embrace the back to the land life style.  On a side note, I hope I am able to do my students justice with the coming units I have to prepare....

Anyway, this has me thinking about not setting up a prepping commune, (let your imagination go wild with that one) but just trying to find a way of expanding my relationships with like minded people here in the communities around me.  One of the benefits of the people who came to Vermotn in the 60s (and who stayed) was the idea of taking more control over the food we eat.  Not everyone is in line, but in Vermont there is a pretty vibrant local farm/food market.  So I think one stage of this coming "revolution" should be all of us organizing our preps in a way where we do a better job reaching out to the like minded who live around us.  Doesn't have to be the typical historical commune idea, but a better, more honest extension of the local communities. 

Food for thought, anyway.


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Super Tuesday The Revolution Continues

Hello All,

Wow, I'd almost think this was a MSM controlled web-site if I didn't know any better.  I know it is supposed to be a non-partisian web-site but this is ridiculous.  Not the article by Mr. Smith.  That was great.  The comments are what gets me.  
Can revolution be talked about without ultimately talking politics?  "Revolution" is in the subject line of this article.  It's just the seeds of "revolution" but still, once the seeds are planted, what's going to grow???
Have you all given up?  The comments reflect a lack of...dare I say, names.  Bernie Sanders in particular.  The comments seem to me to represent the MSM's candidates, the two that the MSM wants to only talk about.  Why even say their names?  I was just baffled that no one has mentioned his name in these comments until now.  Haven't you heard?  Bernie Sanders is all about REVOLUTION.
So it is all around you,  The seeds had already been sown.  What is growing is a movement that has got the Establishment running scarred.  And they should be.  Here's what the MSM is not telling you.  
Iowa was a virtual tie, and it would have went to Bernie except for 6 coin tosses that went Clinton's way.  Go figure.  Wow, 6 for 6 on coin tosses.  Anyone want to bet on those odds happening again?  Ha ha. 
Sanders won every demographic in NH, most notably the youth vote (1st and 2nd timers), except for the older, affluent voter.  After NV Sanders was behind by only one delegate in the delegate count.  In SC he was trounced.  Yet he won segments of that electorate too, again younger voters. 
In February Sanders has raised almost $43,000,000 as of this writing, from over 1.4 million real persons.  That's simply incredible.  But will the MSM be reporting that?
Congressperson Alan Grayson, who is running for Marco Rubio's Senate seat and is a Super-delagate held a vote on whom he should support.  He appealed to Democrats across the nation to tell him for whom he should vote, as a Super-delegate at the Democratic National Convention. The response has was absolutely overwhelming.  Almost 400,000 Democrats voted at More than the number who voted in the South Carolina primary. More than the number who voted in the New Hampshire primary and the Nevada caucus combined.  The results: Sanders 86%, Clinton 14%. More than just a landslide. An earthquake.
When other candidates from previous elections challenged the establishment's preferred candidate the amount of money that they raised was always a talking point as to why they weren't viable candidates because they didn't have the money.  So Sanders has proved that he can raise enormous amounts of money from just ordinary folks, millions of us.  And the 400,000 that voted on Grayson's web-site, who are they?  Sure they are from all over the nation but that tells you something too that MSM won't be telling you.
So, today is Super Tuesday.  Eleven states and a territory will be voting today when most of you will be reading this.  If you are voting today or in the days and weeks to come, be bold, be brave, be real...VOTE FOR BERNIE!
Most of all don't be afraid.
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robie robinson
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pyranablade's picture
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Broadspectrum and Robbie Rob

Yes, this is a nonpartisan site and maybe that is why people for the most part aren't pushing for candidates - I mean we don't want to aggravate people from the "other" party. Nevertheless, since the subject has been broached, I will say this: ***a vote for Bernie IS a vote against Goldman Sachs***.

Broadspectrum, you seem surprised that the MSM isn't adequately covering all the candidates. But it is nothing new. Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader each faced similar challenges. The MSM has failed the democratic process for many years now. But you know what? Your vote still counts.

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kaimu's picture
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Aloha! Well, its been 28 years since Ross Perot warned of the "sucking sound" and now we have finally progressed to a point where we've now been Trump-ed! So many similarities between Trump and Perot, but mainly they are both businessmen representing the "industrial capitalists". Injecting back into the bank controlled means of production those who actually take risk for a living on a day-to-day basis.If you must have capitalism even Marx preferred "industrial capitalists" over "banker-lawyer capitalists".

After 100+ years of central banks and their financed bought and paid for career politicians making a change is not going to be perfect! I am always reminded of the infamous AA-Alcoholics Anonymous saying to new comers - ALL YOUR BEST THINKING GOT YOU HERE! To translate that to US politics and the typical American voter it means that after decades and decades of two party politics the best we have to offer our children is a totally corrupt and bankrupt system based on unending debt. To the two party American voter in the words of Trump himself ... YOU'RE FIRED!

Is Trump the Messiah? NO WAY!! Is he different than Hillary! IN EVERY WAY! Change is always a very messy affair. Ask any addict! Trump is "change" and I foresee this will be the beginning of the industrialist trend to replace the "banker-lawyer" class!

Chris speaks of risk and even talks about taking a short position. That is "real risk"! The Hillarys and the Blankfeins and the Cockrans of the world operate risk free. They get paid whether they win or lose. With that mentality it is no wonder such careers are very much sought after. There is no level playing field so long as the "banker-lawyer" class rules the American Dream. There is no real capitalism or free markets so long as central banks tilt the game and continually get "free balls" and then trump the legal system with "get out of jail free cards"!

It's way past time or the working class to ...


kelvinator's picture
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A Heroine Dies While Republicans Take Measure of their Members

And, of course, while Republicans and other politicians take the Measure of their Members, actual heroes battle around the world every day against the greed and idiocy they too often represent.  The revolution rolls on, and it's a brutal fight.

Berta Cáceres, a Honduran community activist was murdered in her home on Thursday morning.  We heard her speak last year when she accepted the Goldman Environmental Prize in San Francisco.  Here’s a little of what she said:

“The Lenca people are ancestral guardians of the rivers, in turn protected by the spirits of young girls, who teach us that giving our lives in various ways for the protection of the rivers is giving our lives for the well-being of humanity and of this planet…

Let’s wake up!  Let’s wake up, humankind!  We’re out of time.  We must shake our conscience free of the rapacious capitalism, racism and patriarchy that will only assure our own self-destruction.    The Gualarque River has called upon us, as have other gravely threatened rivers.  We must answer their call.  Our Mother Earth – militarized, fenced in, poisoned, a place where basic rights are systematically violated, demands that we take action.”

The video describes her community’s bloody fight against big money’s “progress”:

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