Death of the Free Internet

Yesterday the EU essentially voted to kill the free internet, although there is one more step to make it valid. Let’s let Robert Tracinski of The Federalist tells us why.

This [Article 13] is ostensibly a measure to enforce copyright protections, but it is drawn so preposterously overbroad that it will catch everybody.

A proposed new European copyright law wants large websites to use ‘content recognition technologies’ to scan for copyrighted videos, music, photos, text, and code in a move that that could impact everyone from the open source software community to remixers, livestreamers, and teenage meme creators.

This law is calculated to destroy the free-wheeling Internet in five ways.

1) It restricts the flow of content on computer networks.

Article 13 reverses one of the key legal doctrines that allowed the Internet to thrive: the idea that computer networks are not “publishers” and are therefore not liable for the actions or statements of their users. This means that you can sue an individual user for libel or copyright infringement, but not the e-mail service or bulletin board or social media platform on which he did it. This immunity made it possible for computer networks to open a floodgate of content produced by independent individuals, without requiring service providers to serve as editors or moderators.

2) It creates an Internet surveillance state.

Article 13 would require big tech companies to establish the infrastructure to monitor and control all communications that go through their networks, which is precisely what they are already doing too much of.

3) It entrenches the big media giants.

The expense of setting up the electronic filters mandated in Article 13 is so great that tiny little startups can’t do it. Only the giants can do it.

But wait, it gets worse. Along with Article 13 is Article 11, dubbed the “link tax,” which requires websites to buy a license from established publications in order to quote, excerpt, or possibly even link to their material. Ostensibly, this is to protect publications from sites that “curate” content by stealing it, providing a link to the original source only after they have excerpted all of its key information and gathered all the Web traffic for themselves. But the egregious abuse of excerpts is already illegal. Article 11 replaces existing laws with something much broader and more vague, whose exact scope hasn’t even been defined yet.

4) It would outlaw legitimate uses of information.

As another opponent explains, “Automated systems just can’t distinguish between commentary, criticism, and parody, and mere copying, nor could the platforms employ a workforce big enough to adjudicate each case to see if a match to a copyrighted work falls within one of copyright’s limitations and exceptions.”

5) It would unleash false and malicious copyright claims.

Article 13 allows for mass uploading of copyright claims but imposes no penalty for making a false claim. This creates an incentive for bad actors to suppress information by targeting it with false copyright claims.

[S]tock-market manipulators could use bots to claim copyright over news about a company, suppressing its sharing on social media; political actors could suppress key articles during referendums or elections; corrupt governments could use arms-length trolls to falsely claim ownership of footage of human rights abuses…. It’s asymmetric warfare:…. Bots will be able to pollute the copyright databases much faster than humans could possibly clear it.

More, and more detail at The Federalist, linked above.

It is a blatant grab for censorship by the elites, for the elites. Not something we are unfamiliar with if you can’t compete with something outlaw it. In theory, it should not affect us here in the US. Yeah right, if you read that privacy notice on this and every article on this site, it is there because the EU mandates it.

Europe is a dying market, but it is a very self-important market, with a very entrenched ruling class, who would much rather you didn’t know what they were up to. Just like HMG with regard to Tommy Robinson, where we got the word on the internet and America and Australia have embarrassed the British government.

It’s doubtful that we would have ever heard about his arrest (or likely even him) if this had been in force. Nor would we have heard about the green revolt in Iran a few years ago.

It is a pernicious measure, which has the power to remove the truth from the public sphere, and ways around it must be found if we cannot kill it. Because this could kill freedom of speech, perhaps only on the internet, but…

What you don’t know, you can’t speak of.

 

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Mütti and the CSU

Have you been paying attention to Germany? You (and I) should be. It appears that Merkel’s immigrants are causing her problems with the Germans. About time, but perhaps better late than never. From Vijeta Uniyal writing on Legal Insurrection.

Just three months into her fourth term, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel faces the biggest crisis of her career. Her Catholic conservative Bavarian ally, the CSU, has threatened to abandon the coalition government over immigration policy.

Germany’s Interior Minister and long-time CSU leader, Horst Seehofer, wants to push for tougher immigration laws, which will include refusing entry to illegal immigrants at the border. According to German newspaper reports, if the country’s Interior Minister goes ahead with the new restrictions without Merkel’s consent, she will be forced to fire him, putting an end to her freshly-baked coalition government. Her political future hangs in the balance, as CSU leaders meet on Monday to decide the future course of action.

The standoff threatens to end the 60-year-old alliance between Merkel-led Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Bavaria-based CSU.

Catholic conservative CSU party’s new-found zeal to curb migration may have lot to do with the upcoming state elections in Bavaria, where the party faces stiff challenge from the right-wing Alternative for Germany, or AfD party. “I can’t work with this woman,” Seehofer said referring to Merkel, German newspaper Die Welt reported.

Frustrated with Merkel’s refusal to compromise on her policy of open doors for illegal immigrants, CSU’s Seehofer is seeking to create a European alliance against unregulated migration. As German business daily Handelblatt reported on Wednesday: “In a dangerous swipe at Chancellor Angela Merkel, her own interior minister is siding with the Austrian and Italian governments to forge a right-wing “axis of the willing” to curb immigration.”

“Is Merkel’s reign nearing a frustrated end?,” asked the left-wing UK newspaper The Guardian.

“Chancellor [Merkel] Needs to Turn Around,” demanded the editorial published in the German mass-circulation daily Bild‘s Sunday edition. Explaining the severity of the standoff, the newspaper wrote:

On Monday, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer will present measures to turn away asylum seekers to a safe third-country.

Chancellor, so far, has been strictly against such a move. If Seehofer goes ahead with it, Merkel will have to fire her Interior Minister. That will be the end of the government.

This is pure madness.

Angela Merkel is thereby risking the political stability of the country, the elected government, the unity of her proud party, and a new election with further rise of the radical forces. And all this for a policy that vast majority of people in Germany and her party don’t want anymore.

These are drastic words, coming from a newspaper that ran a #RefugeesWelcome campaign in the autumn of 2016, rising money and public support for Merkel’s open borders policy.

Do read it all. And yes, Merkel is a competent politician, who has been around the block a time of three but I think she let this one get out of control. I also think it is going to cost her (and her party dearly). It could blow up today, it could take a few months, or she might weather it, but I don’t think so.

The tide has turned, the migrants have been too obvious, and especially, too lawless, for an orderly country like Germany to accept.

I welcome Herr Seehofer’s initiative but would caution him that they need a different name, Germany, Austria, and Italy should not be involved with anything having Axis in its title. Just doesn’t have a good sound in these parts, however laudable.

What does this all mean? Maybe nothing, maybe anything. It could easily mark the beginning of the end for the EU, thus backhandedly solving the UK’s Brexit problem, it could easily mean the end of NATO, since a lot of British and American opinion thinks that overdue, anyway. Always remember that NATO is above all a pledge (by the victors, US and UK) to defend western Europe. And mind, NATO needs to not be quite as aggressive, Ukraine was a step too far likely.

It cannot but help but to encourage the Balts, Poland, the Visegrad countries, and yes, Italy, to further distance themselves from the Berlin-Brussels axis, which is hurting Europe in much the same ways as Obama’s presidency damaged the American heartland in favor of the coastal bubbles.

Not much for us to do here, really, except watch and see what happens, but it will affect us.

Through a Glass Darkly

One of the most reliably astute observers of the world is Victor Davis Hanson, one of those rare people known by their initials: VDH, nearly universally. But even he varies some in the quality of his observations, from excellent to outstanding. This may be as good as anything I’ve read from anyone, anywhere.

The Post-War Order Is Over

Empirically speaking, neo-Ottoman Turkey is a NATO ally in name only. By any standard of behavior — Ankara just withdrew its ambassador from the U.S. — Turkey is a de facto enemy of the United States. It supports radical Islamic movements, is increasingly hostile to U.S. allies such as Greece, the Kurds, and Israel, and opposes almost every foreign-policy initiative that Washington has adopted over the last decade. At some point, some child is going to scream that the emperor has no clothes: Just because Turkey says it is a NATO ally does not mean that it is, much less that it will be one in the future.

Instead, Turkey is analogous to Pakistan, a country whose occasional usefulness to the U.S. does not suggest that it is either an ally or even usually friendly.

And, perhaps, as a new sense of realism invades Washington, the actions of the US may begin to match that reality.

There is nothing much left of the old canard that only by appeasing China’s mercantilism can there be a new affluent Chinese middle class that will then inevitably adopt democracy and then will partner with the West and become a model global nation. China is by design a chronic international trade cheater. Trade violations have been its road to affluence. And it seeks to use its cash as leverage to re-create something like the old imperial Japanese Greater East Asia co-prosperity sphere. U.S. trade appeasement of Beijing over the last decades no more brought stability to Asia than did nodding to Tokyo in the 1930s.

There is also nothing sacred about the European Union. It certainly is not the blueprint for any continental-wide democratic civilization — any more than Bonaparte’s rigged “continental system” (to which the EU is on occasion strangely and favorably compared to by its proponents). The often-crude imposition of a democratic socialism, pacifism, and multiculturalism, under the auspices of anti-democratic elites, from the Atlantic to the Russian border, is spreading, not curbing, chaos. The EU utopian mindset has altered European demography, immigration policy, energy production, and defense. The result is that there are already four sorts of antithetical EUs: a renegade and departing United Kingdom, an estranged Eastern European bloc worried over open borders, an insolvent South bitter over front-line illegal immigration and fiscal austerity, and the old core of Western Europe (a euphemism now for German hegemony).

Interesting to watch the EU, isn’t it? The original conception was indeed a United States of Europe, consisting mostly of (The New) Germany and France, with England fully allied to the United States (not a vassal state by any means, a partner). If I understand what I read, that was Churchill’s conception. But!

As for Germany, it is no longer the “new” model West Germany of the post-war order, but a familiar old Germany that now pushes around its neighbors on matters of illegal immigration, financial bailouts, Brexit, Russian energy, and NATO contributions, much as it used to seek to expand Prussia and the Sudetenland. German unification now channels more the spirit of 1871 than of 1989. Call the new German attitude “Prussian postmodernism” — a sort of green and politically correct intimidation. Likewise, in terms of the treatment of German Jews, Germany seems more back in the pre-war than in the post-war world.

As far as the U.S., Germany has redefined its post-war relationship with the America on something like the following three assumptions: 1) Germany’ right to renege on its promise to spend 2 percent of its GDP on defense in order to meet its NATO promises is not negotiable; 2) its annual $65 billion surplus with the U.S. is not negotiable; 3) its world-record-busting account surplus of $280 billion is not negotiable. Corollaries to the above assumptions are Germany’s insistence that NATO in its traditional form is immutable and that the present “free” trade system is inviolable.

Soon, some naïf is going to reexamine German–American relations and exclaim “there is no there.”

I think some naif just did, and in his exclamation was the words, It is unfair for the United States to subsidize the welfare state of these Prussians, and so tariffs to export to the United States will increase until they are equitable.

And that’s important, the Germans need to export that steel, and be defended by the US (and British) Army far more than either country needs to import Mercedes. There is only one outcome for Europe, the only declining market in the world, in a trade war with the United States: They lose, probably badly.

The West Bank’s rich Arab patrons now fear Iran more than they do Israel. The next Middle East war will be between Israel and Iran, not the Palestinians and their Arab sponsors and Tel Aviv — and the Sunni Arab world will be rooting for Israel to defeat Islamic Iran.

And I notice that in the last week, Russia is starting to tell Iran to pull back from the Israeli border, before Russia gets engulfed as well. Iran’s economy is essentially as bad as Venezuela’s, and sanctions haven’t even been reapplied yet. The Iranian truckers, taxi drivers, teachers and probably others are on strikes, the nationwide protest continues, and calls for a revolution have started.

Finally, we’re seeing the end of the old truism that the U.S. was either psychologically or economically so strong that it could easily take on the burdens of global leadership — taking trade hits for newly ascendant capitalist nations that ignored trade rules, subsidizing the Continental defense of an affluent Europe, rubber-stamping international institutions on the premise that they adhered to Western liberalism and tolerance, and opening its borders either to assuage guilt or to recalibrate a supposedly culpable demography.

Historic forces have made post-war thinking obsolete and thereby left many reactionary “experts” wedded to the past and in denial about the often-dangerous reality before their eyes. Worse is the autopilot railing for the nth time that Donald Trump threatens the post-war order, undermines NATO, is clueless about the EU, or ignores the sophisticated institutions that hold the world together.

About the only metaphor that works is that Trump threw a pebble at a global glass house. But that is not a morality tale about the power of pebbles, but rather about the easy shattering of cracked glass.

There’s quite a lot more at the link above, you should read it.

That is pretty much what I see as well. All is in flux as it hasn’t been since 1940, where it ends is hard to see, maybe impossible. But you know, I’m inclined to think that the American people, in electing Trump, have found the leader who sees a way to lead his people into the next epoch, whatever it brings, successfully.

If I’m right, it’s a good time to be a friend of America, if I’m wrong, there is likely a new dark age approaching. Yeah, its a time for Churchillian terms.

Slouching Towards Gomorrah”

John Lennon is seen at a news conference on May 13, 1968, at the Americana Hotel in New York. (AP Photo)

Roger Kimball has a tour d’ force essay up at PJ Media. It is quite long, but if you wish to understand the currents flowing through our society today, I think you need to read it. A few highlights:

Even now it is difficult to gauge the extent of that transformation. Looking back over his long and distinguished career in an essay called “A Life of Learning,” the philosopher Paul Oskar Kristeller sounded a melancholy note. “We have witnessed,” he wrote, “what amounts to a cultural revolution, comparable to the one in China if not worse, and whereas the Chinese have to some extent overcome their cultural revolution, I see many signs that ours is getting worse all the time, and no indication that it will be overcome in the foreseeable future.”

In democratic societies, where free elections are guaranteed, political revolution is almost unthinkable in practical terms. Consequently, utopian efforts to transform society have been channeled into cultural and moral life. In America and Western Europe, scattered if much-publicized episodes of violence have wrought far less damage than the moral and intellectual assaults that do not destroy buildings but corrupt sensibilities and blight souls. Consequently, the success of the cultural revolution of the 1960s can be measured not in toppled governments but in shattered values. If we often forget what great changes this revolution brought in its wake, that, too, is a sign of its success: having changed ourselves, we no longer perceive the extent of our transformation.

In his reflections on the life of learning, Kristeller was concerned primarily with the degradation of intellectual standards that this cultural revolution brought about. “One sign of our situation,” he noted, “is the low level of our public and even of our academic discussion. The frequent disregard for facts or evidence, or rational discourse and arguments, and even of consistency, is appalling.” Who can disagree?

As Kristeller suggests, however, the intellectual wreckage visited upon our educational institutions and traditions of scholarship is only part of the story. There are also social, political, and moral dimensions to the cultural revolution of the Sixties — or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the spiritual deformations we have witnessed are global, and affect every aspect of life. Writing in The Totalitarian Temptation, Jean-François Revel noted that “a revolution is not simply a new political orientation. It works through the depths of society. It writes the play in which political leaders will act much later.”

The movement for sexual “liberation” (not to say outright debauchery) occupies a prominent place in the etiology of this revolution, as does the mainstreaming of the drug culture and its attendant pathologies. Indeed, the two are related. Both are expressions of the narcissistic hedonism that was an important ingredient of the counterculture from its development in the 1950s. The Marxist philosopher Herbert Marcuse was not joking when, in Eros and Civilization — one of many inspirational tracts for the movement — he extolled the salvational properties of “primary narcissism” as an effective protest against the “repressive order of procreative sexuality.”  “The images of Orpheus and Narcissus reconcile Eros and Thanatos,” Marcuse wrote. “They recall the experience of a world that is not to be mastered and controlled but to be liberated: … the redemption of pleasure, the halt of time, the absorption of death; silence, sleep, night, paradise — the Nirvana principle not as death but as life.”


It is both ironical and dispiriting to realize that the counterculture may have won its most insidious victories not among its natural sympathizers on the Left but, on the contrary, among those putatively conservative opponents who can no longer distinguish between material affluence and the moral good. In other words, it may be that what the Sixties have wrought above all is widespread spiritual anesthesia. To a degree frightening to contemplate, we have lost that sixth sense that allows us to discriminate firmly between civilization and its discontents. That this loss goes largely unlamented and even unnoticed is a measure of how successful the long march of the cultural revolution has been.

That’s from close to the beginning and the end. If you want to understand the forces shaping society today, both here and in Western Europe (perhaps even more strongly there), you really do need to read and understand what he has written.

The Long March: Reckoning With 1968’s ‘Cultural Revolution,’ 50  Years On

This Year, in Jerusalem

And so, the world changes a bit more. 70 years to the day, after the United States recognized the State of Israel, the first in the world to do so, when it declared its independence, the United States, opens its embassy in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel. It is also 51 years since Jerusalem was reunited after the Six Day War.

Long overdue, in fact, mandated when Clinton was president, finally, it is done. You can watch it here.

 

 

Should I also note, on time and under budget? Although 50 years late, really.

Cultural Workers, Unite!

Last Saturday was, if you missed it, the 200th anniversary of Karl Marx’s birthday. Yay! Still, the old idiot has had a lot of influence, and those that presumably believed his nonsense have caused the death (often intentionally) of over a hundred million people in the last 100 years. The American Spectator had something to say about it, him, and cultural Marxism.

It’s often charged among the political right that America is going communist, or at least socialist, or toward some form of Marxism. My concern is less classical Marxism than culturalMarxism, a strain of communist thought that even most of those engaging in it aren’t consciously aware of. If you Google “cultural Marxism,” the first thing that pops up is a Wikipedia definition dismissing it as a “conspiracy theory which sees the Frankfurt School as part of an ongoing movement to take over and destroy Western culture.”

Conspiracy Theory?

Well, that merely affirms the point. The vast majority of those advancing cultural Marxism aren’t even aware they’re doing so. Tell them and they’ll either blankly stare or mockingly laugh at you as a conspiracy monger.

In truth, cultural Marxism not only exists, but exists as the dominant form of Marxism in America and much of the West today.

A quite obvious point to clear-eyed thinkers, like you and me. But its one often overlooked, and sometimes, I think, both maliciously and intentionally.

The communist movement has always needed liberals as props to enlist at rallies. Rarely could CPUSA ever have filled Central Park with its own members. Bachtell’s buddies today might not fill a sandbox at a Manhattan playground.

The reason for that is good news: The original ambition of an economic/class-based revolution has failed. And so, instead, today’s Marxists — including those in CPUSA, once the home of classical Marxism — have gone cultural.

It’s a form of Marxism so radical in its redefinition of human nature that Marx himself would blush and find it bewildering. As I write, the lead article at CPUSA’s website is titled, “The Capitalist Culture of Male Supremacy and Misogyny” — a piece breathtaking in its cultural radicalism. And it personifies the communist movement’s thrust today.

These are not the communists our father’s dealt with!

So, what is this cultural Marxism, and how did it emerge?

It began not on May 5, 1818, with Marx’s birth, but over a hundred years later with the birth of what came to be known as the Frankfurt School.

These 1920s and 1930s German Marxists were Freudian-Marxists. For them, orthodox/classical Marxism was too limiting, too narrow, too controlled by the Soviet Comintern that strong-armed national communist parties. This rigidity prevented these more freewheeling neo-Marxists from initiating the cultural transformation they craved, including revolutionary changes in marriage, sexuality, and family. These Frankfurt-based theorists were left-wing intellectuals who looked to the universities as the home base from which their ideas could be launched. They spurned the church and looked to Marx and Freud as the gods who they believed would not fail. Rather than organize the workers and factories, the peasants and fields and farms, they would organize the students and the academy, the artists and the media and the film industry.

Sound familiar? Yeah, me too. Take almost every problem we have in the US, or Western Europe, and they will trace back to that paragraph. Not so much a conspiracy as a group thinking mind at work training our so-called elites, that have no real title to the claim, except that they were mal-educated at institutions that were formerly world-class, but had been subverted into indoctrination centers, and little else.

The threat of Hitler’s Germany drove the Frankfurt School out of Europe and into the welcoming arms of America’s left-wing colleges. Most to all of the leading practitioners were Jews who needed a safe haven. So, they and their Institute came to New York City, specifically to the campus of Columbia University, already a hotbed of communism.

Pleading the case for them at Columbia was John Dewey, founding father of American public education, progressive fool, and communist sympathizer. Thus, their primary area of operation would be the educational system — the schools, the universities, and particularly the teachers’ colleges. It was no coincidence that Columbia housed the nation’s top teachers’ college — a creation of John Dewey.

From there, the cultural Marxists spread their ideas to campuses nationwide. Their insane notions would sweep up the ’60s New Left, to which the likes of Herbert Marcuse became an ideological guru to the radicals who today are tenured at our universities.

Never as completely as they wished, but amazingly complete. Here is the root of all our social evils.

Not to be forgotten in all of this was a critical figure, a non-German. At the age of 35, in 1926, Antonio Gramsci was arrested in his native Italy by Mussolini (the only half-sensible thing Il Duce ever did), and spent the last 11 years of his life in prison. Samuel Gregg callsGramsci perhaps “the most dangerous socialist in history.”

Whereas Marx and his original followers were all about class economics, seeing wealth redistribution and the seizure of the means of production as the key to their vision, Gramsci looked to culture. If the Left truly wanted to win, it needed to first seize the “cultural means of production”: culture-forming institutions such as the media and universities and even churches.

Not until leftists came to dominate these institutions would they be able to convince enough people to support their Marxist revolution. “This part of his thesis was like manna from heaven for many left-wing Western intellectuals,” writes Sam Gregg. “Instead of joining a factory collective or making bombs in basements, a leftist professor could help free society from capitalist exploitation by penning essays in his office or teaching students.”

There’s lots more in Professor Kengor’s article at the link (above), which you should read. I’ve stuck mostly to the roots and left the growth alone, because if you don’t understand where it came from, well you won’t understand how it spread. It’s like knowing that Kudzu had no natural enemies in the southern United States, and thus turned from an effective means of stabilizing soil to a horribly invasive weed.

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