Why we won’t have digital slavery

In the English-speaking world, the classical political spectrum is still represented in the alternative media, from neo-Marxism (The Grayzone, New Left Review), through bourgeois liberalism (UK Column) to radical right-wing and racist ultra-conservatives (Unz Review), even if not always at the highest cultural level. Here we find, at least since the pseudo-pandemic, dissidents in every camp who all share a similar view of the status of the West:

We live in an oligarchy, natural law is being called into question, democratic participation exists only in appearance, the rule of law is severely damaged, the normative systems for limiting the state monopoly on violence have eroded, the market economy has given way to oligopolies in substantial areas, and migration is being used as an instrument to destroy nation states.

Large corporations in the financial and digital sectors, but also in other industries, are forming corporate structures with the state that are reminiscent of classic fascist states, a process that Sheldon Wolin was already calling "inverted totalitarianism" in 2010. For all to see, as in the classical age of totalitarianism, a mental-attitude régime (Gesinnungsstaat) is establishing itself that enacts novel standards for citizenship such as wokeness, zero-Covid or zero-carbon, and demands their observance with extreme severity.

The number of dissidents—and their devoted readers—of all traditional political camps, which are in dissolution, has increased exponentially since 2020 because a need has arisen to describe and comprehend the new reality. Since then, something unimaginable to anyone born in the West after 1945 has happened, because the state has introduced a new quality of repression. Particularly alert dissidents fear that this was just the start, and that the introduction of what they call digital slavery is now imminent. What is it, and what is the basis of this fear?


The vision of digital slavery

According to dissidents such as Iain Davis and Simon Elmer, we are about to become digital slaves. The slavery will be introduced and operated by the oligarchic rulers of our society in order to gain total power. These UK Column writers and other dissidents envision such digital slavery roughly as follows:

  1. Introduction of a central bank digital currency (CBDC) with a ban on cash. Many countries are indeed planning to introduce CBDCs of various forms. The Bank for International Settlements, which is the bank of central banks, recommends it.
  2. Making internet access conditional on personal identification, in order to be able to prosecute violations of the novel ethical norms.
  3. Surveillance and total censorship of social media "by AI" to enforce the novel norms (which is technically impossible; see below).
  4. Surveillance of public space by cameras, microphones and "AI" to enforce the new behavioural and attitudinal criteria (technically impossible; see below).
  5. Payment and access to certain places based on biometric features (retina, fingerprint, palm, hand vein structure).
  6. Introduction of identity cards and passports on which medical data and interventions are recorded, such as genetic identifiers (SNP) and vaccination status. The possibility of making freedom of movement conditional on data and medical status.
  7. Full electrification of building heating and individual mobility, introduction of "15-minute cities" and rural "20-minute neighbourhoods" with drastic reduction of automotive mobility—already under implementation.

Given the structure of debt and assets in today's financial system, a central bank digital currency (CBDC) would likely be set up as a kind of full-reserve currency, which is supplied, issued and distributed by the state, as it was in the Soviet Union. Like today's currency, it woud be fiat money. Such currency has no link to a material value such as gold; it is merely backed by present and future tax revenues, which have been persistently falling short of public spending since the 1960s in the US (and most other OECD countries). In its complete realisation, CBDC (or an interchange of national CBDCs effecting a global CBDC system) would be a full-reserve currency, which means that today's partial-reserve lending would likely be abolished. This would remove the central cause of instability from the financial system, as described in F.A. von Hayek’s Nobel Prize-winning theory of financial cycles.

Initial steps towards this end are becoming visible in the BRICS agenda. The new scheme, backed by a rapidly increasing number of maturing economies, would end the banks' lending business, which today functions as a state guarantee for the bank owners' wealth production. The commercial banks would then no longer be able to create money out of nothing, as they do today, and would have to limit themselves to the functions of savings-keeping, payment transactions and asset management. Their lending business would shrink to a fee-based service in which they would merely pass on central bank money. The central bank would determine the money supply and the allocation to the commercial banks, and would also be in a position to give them rules and specifications for lending to firms and individuals; in the case of large loans, it could also exercise direct control. This aspect of CBDC is economically important because it would allow the stabilisation of current ownership structures, which would be threatened by a chaotic collapse of the financial system.

But from the dissident point of view, another feature of CBDC is threatening: every single unit of currency in a CBDC can be tagged with metadata so that it is possible to trace who gets which units and spends them, and where, when, on what and how. After a ban on cash, payment could only be made with a CBDC, and it would be possible to block payments for groups based on rules or on an individual basis. The validity of this new legal tender, which would no longer qualify as money but merely as currency, could be restricted in space or time.

Linking internet access with personal identification would lead to the complete storage and traceability of all activities, with the removal of privacy on the internet. It would enable perfect surveillance. Together with point 5 above (biometric payments and access), the surveillance of public space and social media by "AI" would be seamless, as machines never sleep or take a break and are not functionally limited by emotions—however, this is technically impossible, as we will see below.

We have already witnessed the attempt to introduce a biometric passport with medical data and vaccination status as part of the pseudo-pandemic. Travel and access to shops were indeed linked to "vaccination status" during that period. This was not enforceable in the long run, but permanent control of freedom of movement via the obligation to be injected with toxins with no effect on infections would amount to a chronic, unthinkable totalitarian state crime.

Full electrification, combined with smart meters in every property, would allow centralised control of individual electricity consumption, and the state could, for example, prevent individual mobility or heating by withdrawing electricity.

If all measures were fully implemented (even without the technically impossible points 3 and 4), all people would indeed live in a Benthamite panopticon with perfect control of movement, content of experience, activities, and body. Deviation from the state's novel norms would be impossible. There would be no more freedom; all of life would be played out in an open prison, as any detected delinquent could be immediately deprived of his means of payment and freedom of movement. The only difference from classical slavery would be that people would not be the property of another person—but they would have as little freedom as individually-owned slaves, and not many more rights than them. One could probably best speak of digital mind-body control, but not serfdom, which does not quite describe the system described above. Indeed, feudal societies have managed to keep to 90 per cent of the population as serfs for centuries. Would such a quota also be possible with digital body control?

We are already seeing precursors of this kind of totalitarian grip on the individual—as in the blocking of accounts of truck drivers protesting against the Corona tyranny in Canada, or the refusal of banks to give bank accounts to prominent dissidents like Nigel Farage.

Limits of digital slavery

Yet is it possible to set up and operate such a system? Two important sets of reasons argue against it: technical and social.

Technically, it is theoretically highly challenging to build a comprehensive digital currency system with complete control of metadata. It is conceivable, since the system is theoretically deterministic, but given the very high complexity of credit allocation and managing payment traffic, it is hardly feasible in practice. Since every person, every company and every institution would be connected to the system, it would have to manage close to two billion entities in the West alone (OECD countries), carrying out transactions on the order of half a trillion to one trillion (10^12) per day.

Due to the diversity of interactions, it would hardly be possible to control all of them with the help of rules, especially since this would require integration with the surveillance systems. The system could be expected to degenerate rapidly into a morass that could no longer be fully controlled, like many IT systems in large companies. Moreover, because of its size and complexity, it would be highly vulnerable to attacks, which would certainly be carried out against it.

Furthermore, there is no such thing as artificial intelligence; we only have mathematical models that model regular relationships or use such relationships for automation purposes. Human language is only regular in its syntax (its structure, not its content) and can therefore only be partially modelled mathematically, namely as a probabilistic sequence of symbols. Translation machines such as Google Translate, DeepL or ChatGPT function according to this principle. But automata do not understand what the words and other communications signs (such as gestures) mean in their context. Nor do they understand the contexts to actions in film recordings.

Therefore, monitoring humans using AI is not possible. Only an improved keyword search or rough categorisation of texts can be undertaken by surveillants, but an adequate evaluation of texts, audio files of conversations or videos is impossible. Therefore, it is not conceivable that machines will seamlessly monitor us and then enforce payment or movement restrictions based on the calculated behaviours or attitudes, without human intervention, which is far too scarce a commodity for the purpose.

Slavery is a condition in which people lose ownership of themselves and become the property of another, like chattels. Slaves are completely unfree, devoid of rights. They can be forced to do any type of work, even sexual or reproductive work, and can be draconically punished if they refuse. They are tradable and, in some slaveholding societies, can also be killed with impunity, like objects that are discarded when no longer needed. They are usually denied family formation and their own reproduction, although there are slaveholders in history who have used slave families, such as in the antebellum USA. Historically, there has never been a society in which more than a maximum of 20 to 25 per cent of the people were slaves (as opposed to serfs), since it takes a strong majority of freemen to maintain this terrible form of injustice. The condition described above is therefore not slavery, but digital mind-body control, a form of bondage and disenfranchisement that still allows ownership of one's own person.

Attempts to implement digital mind-body control would lead to people circumventing the system. Very quickly, a black market using unsanctioned currencies would establish itself in order to continue to carry out illegal transactions. Such illegal transactions are already very widespread in the present day for the purposes of off-the-books jobs, drug purchases or payment of bribes outside state control—but these transactions would also be used to meet those desires (such as consorting with prostitutes or purchasing writings that are still legal today) which the totalitarian state would prohibit in the scenario described above.

Since almost everyone would like to buy or sell something behind the state's back, so many would be involved in the illicit system that the state could not effectively stop it. Roman law calls this state of collective refusal to obey the law when it violates fundamental social norms desuetudo. A well-known example of this is the circumvention of Prohibition in Canada and the USA between the world wars. Even if all homes were riddled with bugging devices but there were enough violations of the novel behavioural and attitudinal norms being enforced, it would be impossible to punish these violations. A totalitarian state system, like any system, requires voluntary consent by a large proportion of citizens.

Online, a market for the indulgence of 'sinful' beliefs would also be established, allowing buyers to pretend to be of the politically correct mindset and at the same time subvert the system by using the official means of payment. People would pay to make a good impression on the state, and then break the rules on the black market under the protection of such transactions.


Where do we go from here?

The novel speech and conduct codes to which we are already subjected, such as wokeness with transgender education for toddlers and suppression of elementary common sense, or the zero-carbon and zero-virus follies, may appeal to a completely deluded, decadent academic minority disconnected from reality; and will remain appealing only as long as these people do not understand that in order to "fight" a regular cold pathogen, they were given injections that were completely ineffective against that pathogen and highly toxic.

The attempt to build a global system of oppression on these narratives is therefore absurd and doomed to failure. Stalin was only successful in the long run because he was able to mobilise the population against the onslaught of Nazi Germany and because he stopped his policy of purges and instead reverted to the Tsarist Empire's established methods of statecraft. The ideological and cultural basis of the globalist plans for domination is simply too tenuous for successful rule. The attempt to establish digital mind-body control will fail, but it will no doubt claim many victims along the way.


Main article image: Sebastian Mark | Unsplash licence