US Citizens: Wake Up

Posted by Anti Citizen One on December 22nd, 2011

If people were paying attention, they would already know things have gotten pretty crazy in the world regarding civil liberties. This is just a really blatant example… how clear does it have to get before people notice? (Presumably, when they are shipped to a secret prison…)

Your Money or Your Rights

Posted by Anti Citizen One on December 17th, 2011

There seems to be a steady erosion of civil and personal rights: surveillance without warrants, erosion of free expression, removal of habeas corpus, extra-judicial killings, police brutality, privatization of intellectual, and cultural material and so on. There is also a stagnation or worsening of living standards and social mobility. When I debate these issues, people often mention that we cannot afford civil rights, given the turbulent economic situation. The time for civil rights is apparently when “the economy has recovered”. However, when we return to a stable (or bubble) economic conditions, people don’t have as much need of civil rights, since everything seems peachy, and they are moved off the political agenda. So when is the time for civil rights?

We are presented with a false dichotomy: go along with pro-monopoly, pro-totalitarian laws (under the guise of being pro-business) or face economic ruin. In other words, surrender your civil rights or starve. Given the prevalence of consumerism, people choose “bread and circuses” over seemingly abstract speech and political rights. However, much that we agree is worth protecting is based on those very principles of the rule of law, checks and balances, habeas corpus, free exchange of ideas, and various other enlightenment ideas (although many of the ideas originated well before then). Once you kick out the foundation and hand power over to a police, theocratic or fascist state, there is nothing stopping some authority figure taking whatever you wanted to protect in the first place and you won’t have any recourse.

Arguably, we already have lost our connection to these foundations and handed over political power to banking technocrats. Oh well. I take comfort in the sentiments expressed in the US declaration of independence.

Anti Citizen One

PS Looking back at this, I notice a certain similarity with Klein’s The Shock Docrine.
PPS Despotism Circa 1945

God is Finite

Posted by Anti Citizen One on December 4th, 2011

Imagine I had a length of string that was infinitely long. What evidence or argument could I present that would convince you that it was infinitely long? Of course, I could show you vast warehouses in which some of it was stored, but we cannot inspect an infinite length in a finite time. On the other hand, if it were of finite length, it is usually easy to demonstrate that.

An easier demonstration of infinite properties might be an object traveling at infinite speed. However we might only interpret this as something being in two spatially separated locations at the same time. We still have the difficulty, given the imprecision of measurements, to be able to distinguish between a very fast particle and an infinitely fast object. If the object has finite speed, it is certainly feasible to determine its speed as finite.

Properties that may be infinite cannot be practically distinguished from similar, very large but finite possibilities. I came to this conclusion when I was asked what evidence it would take for me personally to believe in God. The traditional conception of God includes various infinite qualities. I think it is conceivable that I could be persuaded that were was a powerful, creating entity. But can we distinguish between a powerful finite God and an infinitely powerful God? By analogy, we can argue that God is not infinitely powerful, since in our experience of reality there are only finite things (finite size, finite knowledge, finite precision, finite mass, finite duration). The only other defensible position seems to be a skeptical one, in which we claim God may be finite or infinite but we could not come to a determination either way.

Anti Citizen One

(PS Of course, I don’t fully accept the last paragraph because it has the same limitations as the design argument.)