Welcome to Orwell’s Hell

Travel is tiring. Often, it’s our laptop computer that shows the signs of fatigue first. Yesterday, it got fed up and refused to deliver the mail. We could neither send nor receive mail…neither from our laptop nor from our iPhone, which normally accesses our email account.

We should have been delighted. We were in Ireland. Now we had an excuse not to work. We could pay attention to our surroundings…and enjoy them.

But with no means to contact the outside world, we grew anxious. Who was trying to contact us? What important messages were we missing? And who was monkeying around with our email account?

The root of the problem was that our email provider had noticed some strange behaviour. We were apparently using our account from two places at once. It looked as though we were in Ireland and in the US at the same time. The provider suspected that our account had been hacked. It simply shut down the service.

We still walked and talked…we still took up space and breathed air…but on the internet, we had ceased to exist. We had disappeared.

No forwarding address had been left. We could not communicate with anyone. We could not go onto Amazon and buy anything. We could not make travel arrangements or reserve a table for dinner.

This, of course, raises deep and disturbing questions about the nature of existence. If you do not exist on the internet, do you really exist at all? Do you exist fully?

We pass over those questions and go on to more practical…but no less worrying…matters.
We thought, briefly, about putting in a call to the National Security Agency.

‘Hello, we’re hoping you can help us. Our email account stopped working. We’re afraid we may have missed something. And we know you fellas make a habit of recording every communication, whether it is any of your business or not. So would you mind sending our email from yesterday to another address?’

On further reflection, we decided not to make the call. They might have thought we were joking. They don’t appreciate jokes. At least, not jokes at their expense.

Twelve years ago — when the ‘homeland’ was first invented (a smooth adaptation of Hitler’s ‘fatherland’) and TSA agents began frisking grandmothers — the whole thing seemed like a joke.

It looked as though America’s leaders had gotten themselves into a hysterical panic. They thought al-Qaida really existed…that there were terrorist sleeper cells in every hamlet and burg…and that these infiltrators were about to wreak havoc on the nation.

It was a preposterous lie, but we figured they’d come to their senses soon.

Instead of coming to their senses, America’s leaders — Republican and Democrat — began to see the advantage of a war that could neither be won nor lost.

As long as the country was ‘at war’, the money flowed freely to zombie ‘defence’ industries and the good citizens submitted to indignities that would be intolerable in a more civilised nation.

Leaving the US, our 93-year-old mother was forced to go through the body scanner twice.
Wheelchair-bound, with severe osteoporosis, she was unable to put her hands above her head as ordered. So the TSA enforcer insisted that she do it again.

Why? Did anyone really think our mother posed a threat to air traffic safety?

Arriving in Ireland was entirely different. The agent barely looked at our passports.
Welcome to Ireland,’ he said.

In Henry Downes bar in Waterford, a group of Irishmen recounted their own experiences with America’s border guards.

‘It is unbelievable the way they treat you,’ said one man. ‘We got in line. Someone began shouting at us. The woman in front of me didn’t speak English well. She was French, I think. The guard asked her what she was in the US for. She explained that she had come to visit her daughter who had just had a baby. The guard acted like she was lying. He kept challenging her until she started crying. I don’t think she was used to being treated like that.’

‘I go to the US often,’ said another young man. ‘I know I have to have a story to tell them. I work for a US company. But if I say that, they think I am working in the US without a work permit and it gets very messy. So I have to come up with a plausible reason to go. But you have to be careful. They’ll try to catch you up. It’s very unpleasant. I only go when I have to.

‘It feels like you’re entering a police state,’ a young woman took up the conversation. ‘They have guns and dogs. And they yell at you. I’m afraid of being taken out of the line for closer inspection in a little room somewhere. I know it is not reasonable, but I feel like I’d never come out. That I’d just disappear.’

Unreasonable? Yes. But not unthinkable. People can now disappear — electronically.
The NSA has 14,000 smart people in its employ. They can know exactly what you are writing to friends and associates.

They can put down an electronic cone of silence around you. Your phone and your computer could stop working. You may never know why. Whom would you call? How?
They could also shut down your bank account and all your credit cards. Then how would you support yourself?

Suppose you were traveling when this happened? Again, you may never know why…and may never have any means of remedying the situation. You simply disappear.

As far as we know, the Federal Reserve, and their private-sector zombie contractors, are not disappearing American citizens…yet.

But the fruit hangs too low to resist. With a few keystrokes, they can silence their critics. They can muzzle their enemies. They can disappear anyone who cares about privacy or liberty.

And then, if you try to leave the country, you will find that your passport won’t work, either. You will arrive at the border (assuming you find a way get there without money) and the border guard will take you into custody. You have been traveling with a fraudulent passport, he will say.

Paranoia? We hope so.


Bill Bonner
for Markets and Money

This article originally appeared on Money Week

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Bill Bonner

Bill Bonner

Since founding Agora Inc. in 1979, Bill Bonner has found success and garnered camaraderie in numerous communities and industries. A man of many talents, his entrepreneurial savvy, unique writings, philanthropic undertakings, and preservationist activities have all been recognized and awarded by some of America's most respected authorities.

Along with Addison Wiggin, his friend and colleague, Bill has written two New York Times best-selling books, Financial Reckoning Day and Empire of Debt. Both works have been critically acclaimed internationally. With political journalist Lila Rajiva, he wrote his third New York Times best-selling book, Mobs, Messiahs and Markets, which offers concrete advice on how to avoid the public spectacle of modern finance. Since 1999, Bill has been a daily contributor and the driving force behind Markets and MoneyDice Have No Memory: Big Bets & Bad Economics from Paris to the Pampas, the newest book from Bill Bonner, is the definitive compendium of Bill's daily reckonings from more than a decade: 1999-2010. 

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4 Comments on "Welcome to Orwell’s Hell"

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slewie the pi-rat

Marshall McLuhan, what are you doin?
this old geezer (1911-1980) was “pop marketed” and we got hip to the idea that
The Media IS The Message, whatever that means.


machines that find you, ID you, and know your social and work networks. They have been doing it for a long time. But in the last decade they have launched programmes to process the digitised everything. when you pop up some little psycho sh%t who hated their mummy or daddy decides whether they will tolerate you, manage-contain you, or erase you. semantic text analysis and fractals. nowhere to hide even with anonymity and IP masking. voice is converted to text. BP and slewie understand this already right? Back to analogue big bear this is rubber duck time for you two!

Facial recognition in a millisecond, DNA swabs and identification, real time electronic surveillance – a dictator’s dream.


BB: “…but on the internet, we had ceased to exist…”

Yup, Bill didn’t like our comment!~ :D

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