The Chinese were pathbreakers.
If you don’t espouse the right attitudes, you might find yourself barred from public transportation, from work permits or travel visas, from preferred jobs and other social—which includes economic—perquisites.
Winston Smith, Orwell’s unhappy protagonist, had to contend with a tiny two-way television set in his apartment that he couldn’t turn off and that constantly eavesdropped on him.
Chinese citizens have to contend with having their texts, emails, and internet activity constantly scrutinized, which also means having every phone conversation docketed and financial transaction tracked.
Cameras, backed up with facial-recognition technology, are everywhere, watching, listening, building up a record that can always be marshaled as an indictment.
It’s a good thing, isn’t it, that we in the freedom-loving West eschew such totalitarian intrusiveness?
The U.S. Department of Justice showed how it’s done in the land of the formerly free when it employed all those techniques to track down, arrest, and incarcerate hundreds of people involved in the Jan. 6, 2021, protest at the Capitol.
Phone and social media accounts were hoovered up and dissected; facial recognition technology was deployed and weaponized; financial transactions and travel records were subpoenaed and combed through.
In many ways, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada went even further in dealing with the “Freedom Convoy” of truckers.
Xi Jinping must be proud of him.
So now we have Vladimir Putin invading Ukraine.
Media and financial companies of the West, having gotten used to shutting down people they don’t like, are in for the kill.
That’ll show that mean, nasty dictator!
But the net effect seems to have been to force Putin to look elsewhere for financial services.
I think that there are two lessons to be drawn from this.
One is that the net result of the West’s foot-stamping against Putin has been to push him into the arms of Xi and the Mullahs in Iran.
Sure, the sanctions are hurting the Russian economy, and, hence, the Russian people, but at the end of the day, I suspect that their chief effect will be to anger Putin, not dissuade him.
Second, by marrying the imperatives of cancel culture with the resources of high-tech, the campaign against Putin may prove to provide a blueprint for future totalitarian moves in so-called democracies in the West.
The irony is that, just a few years ago, all this high-tech was touted as a great instrument of freedom.
The internet would put ordinary citizens on the level with media giants.
Twitter would enable anyone to reach anyone.
Facebook and Instagram were supposed to open up the world.
Google would help us all to find what we wanted, almost instantly, and entities like PayPal and GoFundMe were instruments for citizens to support causes they believed in.
Except that it turned out the vast power and reach of these technologies could, in a nonce, be turned against the people they supposedly served, coopted in part by governments, but just as much by the progressive ideologies that ruled in their corporate offices.
Noting the alignment of entities such as NATO, the EU, and Klaus Schwab’s World Economic Forum with its plans for a “Great Reset,” Sundance warns that “the global future being outlined in this NATO/EU/WEF strategy to use private industry as a weapon, is like the government attack on Canadian truckers/supporters taken to an exponential scale.
“Now, overlay your pending requirement to walk around with a digital identity, and you can see exactly how easy it will be to de-person, which is one layer higher than de-bank.”
Get ready. Cancel culture, armed with the high-tech weapons that were supposed to emancipate us, is coming to a democracy near you.