Friday, June 23, 2006

Article on leaderless resistance

OK, it's been some time since I've posted any new content here. Been mucho busy these past few months. But here's an interesting analysis of the concept of leaderless resistance, which as the name implies means a decentralized resistance. Such movements can be quite difficult to counter; since there are no leaders, the movement can not be disabled by their removal. They are also resistant to informers and other information leaks. On the other hand, without a leader they may not be as effective as they could be, and the movement could be more susceptible to downswings in motivation and/or morale. With little to no communication between members or cells, they also run the risk of different elements acting at cross-purposes. The above article looks at the use of leaderless resistance in various, mostly violent, movements.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Torture and the decay of gov't

While there are, sadly, quite a number of apologists for torture in this country (most of whom appear to be conservatives who argue its necessity for the all-encompassing "national security"), the good majority of Americans are still repulsed by the notion, and sickened that our gov't should engage in it, or even appear to engage in it.

Torture, secret prisons, and imprisonment without charge or trial were, pre-9/11, things that only dictatorships engaged in. (One could very well argue that that is still the case....) They are, in and of themselves, terrible acts of pain, suffering, and gross injustice for their victims. There are, however, reasons why even those not involved in it should oppose it. The damage done by such practices are not confined to their victims, but also infect the offending gov't with the seeds of its own eventual downfall: secrecy & unaccountability, destruction of vital checks & balances, a dampening of citizen engagement, undue presumption & practice of power, and the inevitable abuses and corruption that follows from any and all of these.

The dynamic between citizenry and gov't can be a fragile one. If the citizenry gets free reign over gov't, you get tyrannies of the majority, and gov't run by desires rather than reason. France would seem to be a good example of this, with its whiny citizens calling national strikes for any little thing they don't like, and the gov't usually caving in. At the other end of the spectrum, with gov't having free reign over the citizenry, you have dictatorship, kleptocracy, and brutal rule. The examples of this are all too numerous.

It is probably much better to err on the side of a too-powerful citizenry, though the results can be the same: a tyranny of the majority can be every bit as harsh as a dictatorship of one. Oddly, though, the two also have a similar root cause. In both cases, the gov't has too much power. Who wields that power, a leader or the masses, is less important than the fact that too much power in the first place always leads to bad results.

The ideals that America was founded on recognize this key fact, and our Constitution is one of the few ever to place explicit limits on the power of gov't, as well as to set up checks and balances against the accumulation and abuse of power. The Founders knew that the way to maximize both liberty and prosperity was to minimize the power of gov't. Checks & balances, accountability, and transparency were all designed to keep gov't from growing into the monster that so many previous regimes had.

Torture. Secret prisons. Imprisonment without charge or trial. Widespread, secret surveillance of citizens. These are acts that no just, healthy gov't should ever engage in, for any reason. They are a sickness, an infectious agent that can turn a healthy gov't into a deranged one, a responsible one into an unaccountable one, and a gov't for the benefit of the people into a gov't that exists only for its own benefit. For several years now America has been sliding down the path of gov't decay. It's time we stopped it.

Friday, February 17, 2006

In Houston, it's 1984 again

Police cameras in private residences? That's what Houston police chief Harold Hurtt wants. This article details his stated desire to require police surveillance in all new malls and apartment complexes, regardless of pre-existing crime levels (in fact some of the places are in safe neighborhoods), as well as in some private residences of known troublemakers. I wonder if such private-residence cameras would be removed if the person moves, or is found not guilty. My guess is, no friggin' way....

Chief Hurtt's idea to put video surveillance in private residences is not new. As far back as 1948, at least one guy also raised the idea in a novel of his, though most people not in law enforcement generally recognize it as not exactly a good thing. Hurtt must have had an urban public school education, where if such concepts and literature are presented at all, they are often not done so in the negative light they deserve to be in. (Many public schools, especially but not limited to urban ones, seem to be evolving into small models of what an Orwellian police state should look like.)

Addendum: this Yahoo poster pointed out another 1984 parallel, and in hindsight it should have been an obvious one: the use of manufactured wars by gov't to stir up support for itself, both patriotic and financial.