The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

1984 Was Not A Manual

But the people running England, or at least London, certainly think it is.  CCTV cameras are everywhere you go, in large numbers.  On one Underground  platform today I counted 13.  Of course, with that many CCTV cameras there is no way they can actually effectively be monitored in real time, so they prevent crime only by threat of being caught later, and thus have no preventative effect that I can see against anyone who doesn’t care (like, say, suicide bombers).

But, of course, if you have nothing to hide, I’m sure you don’t mind the government recording everything you do, eh?

Oh, and men with submachineguns at Parliament?  Don’t make me feel safer, quite the reverse.  But, of course, they aren’t meant to make me or any other ordinary person feel safe, just like Britain’s government policies aren’t intended to make ordinary people more prosperous.

Other than that, very much enjoying London.  Cool Britannia’s days may be numbered, but it ain’t quite dead yet.


No Free Lunch


When Medicare is destroyed is only a matter of when


  1. anon2525

    Oh, and men with submachineguns at Parliament?

    Prima facie evidence that your gov’t’s policies are evil.

  2. Ian Welsh

    In the 80s I used to laugh at 3rd world countries where soldiers walked around with SMGs, used to consider them bannana republics.

  3. anon2525

    …used to consider them bannana republics.

    Yves Smith’s most common tag might be “banana republic.” It’s like “class warfare” on this site. The zeitgeist.

    The right-wing governors have inspired a raft of popular uprisings against the banana republic’s class warfare. Will the right-wing president elected in 2012 do the same?

    At this point, who knows? The Big One is considered to be over 99% expected in California and could strike at any moment. Or, maybe the supervolcano that is Yellowstone Nat’l park will erupt again. After the past decade, nothing seems improbable anymore.

  4. Morocco Bama

    In regards to the guys with machine guns and the cameras…….there’s no free lunch.

    Sorry, couldn’t resist. Morocco runs for cover from the bevy of shoes rifling past him.

  5. Formerly T-Bear

    Ian goes away and see what the lads are up to back home:

    Enjoy while it lasts.

  6. NomadUK

    If you think the goons around Parliament are bad, you haven’t lived until you’ve been to the American Embassy.

    There really is no uglier building in London, as far as I know. And with that fucking huge eagle on the roof, swooping down over everyone below.

    I was there awhile back. It was raining, and people had to queue up outside, in the rain, to leave their backpacks and possessions in a shack before entering the Embassy proper. And the Met goon squad was there with their guns, watching everyone. And the fellow handling the queue was letting a few people in at a time, so they wouldn’t have to stand so long in the rain.

    So the goon yells at him for letting too many people in, and says, ‘You’ll be sorry when I have to shoot one of them to get to the terrorist!’

    Really, it’s time for torches and pitchforks. Fuck these people.

  7. Morocco Bama

    And with that fucking huge eagle on the roof, swooping down over everyone below.

    Kind of like this?

    You can kill the man…..but the spirit lives on, apparently.

  8. zot23

    I don’t love those cameras, but I also don’t automatically consider them a sign of oppression. Depends on the implementaton (isn’t that true of everything?) If the live feed is open for anyone to view on the net, it can be considered a public resource.

    For example, here in Denver two police officers were just fired after a lengthy investigation of misuse of force on two indivduals in the downtown area. Normally, this would have boiled down to he said / she said (or in Denver, cop said, Mex/American said), but the nearby HALO camera caught the whole thing. The individuals’ attourneys requestes the public feed, so did the media outlets, and from even a quick viewing it was fairly obvious the cops were out of line. Witout that cMera feed, I doubt these guys would have had a shot in hell of getting justice out of the system.

    The other devil’s advocate note I’ll throw in there is no, cameras (monitored or not) are not going to deter terrorism or crime. But it does allow police and CT groups to have a clearer idea of what happened after the fact to gather info for the next time. How many individuals were involved, how did they sneak XYZ on the plane, etc.

    I don’t really support these measures either, but my point is cameras are not automatically evil and oppressive.

  9. Ian Welsh

    They’re pretty close to the first thing that will have to go if there’s any attempt at serious repression and any attempt to stop that repression, shall we say.

  10. anon2525

    1984 Was Not A Manual
    Did you remember to leave your cellphone at home? Here’s an update on something you’ve commented on previously:

    (h/t yves smith)

    When will become https?

  11. Ian Welsh

    Yeah, I know. My cellphone sits at home 99% of the time, and right now it’s sitting on my hotel desk, which they could track through credit cards anyway. Not that, in CCTV land, it makes any real difference.

    I’d be rather surprised if they can’t be turned on remotely and used as bugs, too, as far as that goes.

    https? We’ll see. I haven’t been too thrilled with the implementation I’ve seen on other websites, leaving alone other issues.

  12. anon2525

    Do you have any first-hand knowledge of the protests that happened in London? Here is one report that says that 400,000 protesters participated:

  13. Formerly T-Bear

    BBC reports on the day: clearly distinguishing between vandals and the protesters. Note the use of CCTV mentioned in the story. Links to related stories are also available, giving wider scope to the reports. For elaboration also go to The Guardian:
    or to The Independent:
    or even The Sunday Times (behind access subscription charges, Rupert Murdock’s self enrichment initiative).
    Any US media is second hand reporting, with a dodgy veracity record. Why it continues to be used is beyond comprehension.

  14. Ian Welsh

    Yeah, I was there, more or less by accident. It was impressive. Many of them also seemed to be having fun.

  15. Welcome back, Ian. Glad you had a good time.

    As for CCTV cameras, yes, I realize they’re all on a continuum in the National Security State, but I mind them way less than other intrusions, for a couple of reasons: in public, I don’t have an expectation of privacy; and for the reason cited about re the Denver cops. The thing with all cameras all the time is that they’re just as powerful a tool in the hands of citizens as they are in the hands of our overlords.

    More troubling to me are the TSA’s stripsearches, gropefests, unwarranted searches, ability to detain innocent people without case, and entirely predictable movement of same into all other forms of transportation; continued unwarranted wiretapping and surveillance of citizens’ computers, email, cellphones, gadgets; increasing use of Tasers; increasing numbers of psychologically damaged and rage-filled soldiers from our wars abroad who return to the US and become cops; migration of battlefield equipment, tactics, procedures to home turf (again, predictable).

    I participated in an act of civil disobedience at the White House about 10 days ago and was arrested. Because the National Park Police are used to this kind of thing, they were, for the most part, very polite and respectful, as were we protesters. But the next day, near the Marine base in Quantico, Virginia, where Bradley Manning is being held, it was a different story. The Va police presence was total overkill: regular cops, mounted police, riot police, SWAT teams with huge machine guns, K9s, you name it. All for a ragtag group of about 400 peaceful, non-violent protesters, many of them aged. They even grabbed an old blind guy. Yes, blind. Took his cane, handcuffed him, and marched him off. (I avoided arrest there.)

    At both places were those new mobile surveillance units, about two stories high, that look like something out of War of the Worlds. They are also starting to appear in residential neighborhoods. Again, battlefield to home field . . . .

  16. Speaking of the Security State:

    A new “panic button” cellphone application is being promoted by the U.S. State Department for pro-democracy activists, especially those in the Arab world and China, that wipes out the phone’s contacts and alerts fellow activists.
    One may wonder how much the State Department will be promoting the technology within our own borders. —JCL

  17. Morocco Bama

    Makes one wonder about who’s really promulgating those “pro-democracy” movements, afterall, especially since, as Lisa points out, they don’t enable that function here in the states.

  18. JustPlainDave

    I think you’ll find that the gentlemen with submachineguns were actually armed with MP-5 carbines. Quite the opposite of the banana republic spray and pray ethos, actually.

  19. Ian Welsh

    If I’m by Westiminister before I leave, I’ll take a closer look at the guns. Or rather, a more careful look that still appears casual.

  20. Celsius 233

    Not sure your point; an MP-5 is full auto and is a sub-machine gun w/select fire. The MP actually stands for machine pistol. Cheers.

  21. Richard T

    Fair comment about the machine gun armed police by Westminster (something about the fear of our betters springs to mind) but remember that the rest of the police don’t carry guns routinely which with the Met’s record for its special squads killing innocent folk is probably no bad thing. I’m agnostic about the cameras which are designed for social control but when they have exposed police violence (once the lying blue bastards were forced into admitting they had the footage) which has been beneficial. Without the camera evidence they would have got away with killing John Tomlinson.

    On the demos, you do need a cool head and a cold eye when using the media reports. There’s little doubt that the anarchists used the main protest for their own ends but the tory media are using the anarchists to smear Actupuk for their exposure of the corrupt heart of the tax system and the cosy relationship between the Inland Revenue and the tax avoiders. So we’ll carry on – nothing to see here and let the police protect and guard us with Theresa May offering them more powers under the establishment’s eternal urge to repress because it fears the people.

  22. JustPlainDave

    Not all MP-5s are full select fire. There are at least two dedicated semi-automatic trigger groups. Everything I’ve ever seen out of the London Met has been fitted with semi-auto groups. Doesn’t mean they don’t have some lurking in a special purpose unit somewhere for a rainy day, but they’re not a common circulation item near as I can tell.

  23. Celsius 233

    In the U.S. they are all (in law enforcement) semi, 3 shot burst, and full auto. Civi versions are all semi of course. The K version is .380; but I digress:
    I’m not a happy camper seeing our police militarized. It foreshadows the very things now going on in the M.E.

  24. And today we have this little gem:

    Emails: Insiders worried over political ‘meddling’

  25. Formerly T-Bear

    Free at last! Free at last! What hung the other comment in the filters? Too many links?

    The Guardian is reporting on the consequences of CCTV surveillance. The cameras gave voice to a dead man who lost his life at the hands of police. CCTV are a double edged knife, cutting in more than one direction.

  26. Ian Welsh

    Probably the links. When I’m travelling I tend to keep my time on the internet down, if I was always on, well, it wouldn’t be a holiday for me, since I made my living for so long on-line.

    I’ve mostly been ignoring news while traveling, but may have some things to say when I get back, although I’m coming to believe, more and more, that what I need to say can’t be said at blog length. The left needs a coherent world-view+ideology, and doesn’t have one right now. Those who are trying to create one keep creating fragments of one, they never put things together into a whole.

    There is a coherent understanding of economics, politics and to a certain extent, social forces, which can be created, but it can’t be written at blog length, because even if it was, in pieces, people won’t (and don’t) fit the pieces together. Stirling and I (and Oldman, when he was alive) have created and written huge chunks of this, but they are scattered over multiple blogs, have embedded assumptions never properly explained, pieces missing and many of the original posts aren’t available online anymore, in some cases even with the wayback machine. Nor has almost anyone but us read them all. (To be clear, Stirling has a more sophisticated worldview than I do, and I don’t attach the same importance or even agree with everything he does. Nonetheless, when it comes to economics, I more or less belong to his school.)

    Still, I need to try out pieces, even if they aren’t fitted properly, and I’ll probably start using this blog to see how various pieces go across. (For example, “burning down the house” is one of these, a clumsy first attempt to get across an important point.)

    Watching people fumble around is becoming immensely frustrating. I doubt that a full length world-view will make much difference, but at least it will be out there and I will, in good conscience, be able to turn my attention to other affairs, while the fuse burns down to catastrophe.

  27. Ian Welsh

    Oh, and for those who keep whining that I diagnose, without giving solutions, these will include solutions. The problem with all the people who want solutions is that the real problem right now isn’t “economic” or “political”, it is social. If we can’t even fix healthcare, where the solutions are so brain dead obvious as to be embarassing, what makes us think our society is capable of fixing anything? We can’t, and we never will be able to as long as we value fake profits over real value–as long as we think capitalism is about cashing out, as long as we think money is what’s important when it comes to welfare, which it’s not (but neither is the “new happiness” school particularly useful, the fact that money doesn’t buy happiness beyond a certain point indicates something wrong with our societies, yes, but not what they think.)

  28. Formerly T-Bear

    May you have great success in your efforts to construct a coherent economic model; the absence has been what allows a wide variety of economic ideologies to prosper and usurp the value of economic understanding. The History of economics is built upon the “philosophy” of six, five British and one German from Trier. The first, Adam Smith, writing “The Wealth of Nations” first published in 1776, wrote what amounts to a comprehensive and coherent “geography” of economics, describing the “lay” of the economic factors and their terrain in the economic scheme of the time (at the dawn of the industrial revolution).

    When this reassessment of economics is undertaken, it may be of value to note that the fundamental economic process has been in effect since the first art was painted on the walls of caves, only the economic superstructures which have since been invented, developed and modified to increase and enhance the economic process (e.g. money, accounting, credit, etc. & etc.) that are economic tools but not the economic process itself.

    The serendipitous chaos of my education there appeared one, whose name is sadly lost to me, who lectured economics in the form of about twenty definitions arrived at by Aristotelian method (the process of argument that is a wonderful marvel to experience in the hands of a master of the art), the abstract of the definitions produced a functioning economic model that serves as a measure to this day. Sadly, neither logic nor abstract have a current market in the prevailing society. Note must be made of the nature and depth of intellectual investment that is expended in learning of pretensions to academic scholarship regarding no more than untested political doctrine. Such extent of investment forestalls any exploration of actual economic research which may invalidate the education.

    The world’s urgent need is that of a working economic model, a geography of economics, having terms that might be put to universal use as common specie in political discourse. Otherwise, the Babel will drown all cries for succor.

  29. scruff

    I’m coming to believe, more and more, that what I need to say can’t be said at blog length.

    Well I know I’m not rich enough to front you an advance on a book deal, but I know I’d buy it if you wrote it. Perhaps between the Ian Welsh audience, the Stirling Newberry audience and the Oldman rememberers there are enough people to justify a Kickstarter project?

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