Your totalitarian future & how to avoid it

Too Right

A regular column by John Black.

China?s whopping population of 1.4 billion will be monitored 24/7 if the government?s bold plan to introduce ?Social Credit? by 2020 is successful. Picture: ABC’s Foreign Correspondent.Source: ABC

The term ‘social credit’, much in the political ether lately, may coax some dim recollections from older Whaleoilers. Something to do with a political party based on ‘funny money’ economic theory, briefly popular in the 70s and 80s, chiefly among bespectacled, toupee wearing, Morris minor driving men.

The new coinage is, I regret to inform you, even more sinister.

The crypto-communist/ crony capitalist state of China is in the middle of implementing a ‘social credit’ system to control its vast citizenry.

Through government ‘monitoring’ (spying on people) and a merit and demerit points system scarily similar to the one my standard one teacher used, blacklists are being created with real legal repercussions. Jaywalk, take your rubbish out too early or fart in a crowded elevator and one of the many paid government informants will add you to the list (one district of Beijing, Chaoyang, has 120,000 of the bastards). According to Chinese state media, the government has already used this blacklist to block 11.14 million people from flying and 4.25 million people from taking the train.

At present this is limited to transport networks and some local government authorities, but by 2021 a national lifelong ?social credit? rating system will be in place. When this happens, the government openly boasts, the ?untrustworthy? will ?not be able to move a single step?.

This is not so much ?big brother? as big brother, sister and mother-in-law with the bloody neighbours joining in too, all to keep you on the straight and narrow.

The almighty Chinese state grows ever stronger, adding all-pervasive snooping to its long list of high crimes which include mowing down its citizens with tanks and harvesting their organs.

But it could never happen here, right?

It could certainly be argued that the Chinese system is sui generis, based as it is on Confucian authoritarianism where the state defines personal virtue ? a tendency that has flourished under sixty odd years of Communism. In the West, personal conscience has developed often contra to the state, in particular through the competing claims of temporal and spiritual authority that has marked the development of Christianity.

With the power of the church ebbing and religious belief evaporating in the West, a vacuum is being created that the state will surely fill. The state?s intrusion into our lives is as inevitable as the technology that will make it possible. By 2020, China will have 400 million cameras trained on their citizens, with AI, just around the corner, able to coordinate this massive amount of data in real time. Don?t think our governments aren?t tempted by the possibilities for control that these innovations present.

Generation Y have already been primed for this transition from private to state-enforced morality. Their world of Facebook ?likes?, twitter shaming, reality TV ?celebrities? and political virtue signalling places public esteem above private moral choice.

So what can be done?

Political support for limited government, certainly, but more than this.

A cultural fightback that reinvigorates the proper boundaries around private life. ?Shaming? only of habitual ?over sharers?, a resistance to anything that smacks of intruding into others? affairs be it by the state, media or corporations.

Millennials are up for it. Frustrated by data mining and constant marketing, they are committing Facebook suicide in droves.

In short, we need an inversion of the Gloria Steinem attributed phrase ?the personal is political?.

Let?s make the personal as far removed from political and social power as possible.