SHEEP IN WOLVES’ CLOTHING: JUST SAY NO TO FACEBOOK AND ITS CIA-SPONSORED PHILOSOPHY

“Facebook boosters say social networking represents the future of online activity. Advertisers are attracted to these sites because they offer an opportunity to aim ads at particular users who are likely to be interested in their product or service.”
—Brad Stone, New York Times

“Clearly, Facebook is another uber-capitalist experiment: can you make money out of friendship? Can you create communities free of national boundaries—and then sell Coca-Cola to them? Facebook is profoundly uncreative. It makes nothing at all. It simply mediates in relationships that were happening anyway.”
—Tom Hodgkinson, the Guardian

I recently read that Facebook sold 1.6% of its shares to Microsoft for, I think, 240 million dollars (we all gasp, ‘Why didn’t I think of Facebook!’). This leaves Facebook’s total ‘value’ at something insane like $15 billion. One cannot quite comprehend how this could be, in a world of such disparity. Then again, what better place?

I never got Facebook at all. I clicked on to join from being asked quite a few times and barely knew how to write messages or anything else. And I have no illusions that my life is at all private in this day and age of uber-technology. Yet no matter how brutal or intrusive the world may be (and we allow it to be), I remind myself, there remains that beautiful symbiotic treasure known as the heart and mind.

Halelujah!

People try to change it, push it, hurt it, twist it, torture it and destroy it, but nobody else can own it (not even Facebook). It is yours.

FACE(RECOGNITION)BOOK

As for Facebook, my girlfriend read this article from Tom Hodgkinson in the Guardian called With friends like these… and decided she didn’t want to be on Facebook anymore (she had never really been on it anyway, except from the urging of friends).

Having a lot of that sheep-like nature the owners of Facebook are compelled to manipulate, I was more than happy to follow her lead and delete myself from the system, too (you can check out any time you like but can you ever leave?).

I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH INTELLIGENCE

Read the article for yourself, of course (notice the CIA stock involvement—and if you feel your heart can take it, read about the CIA a little more in The Shock Doctrine). The piece in the Guardian describes some objectives (and perhaps natures) of some of the principle shareholders of Facebook.

I have no real idea about the deep intentions of the founders and owners of Facebook, but some of their quotes in the article are alarming if predictable. I actually hope for them in the future great wisdom and joy (to go with their money), and a shift in their certainty of how things are.

An excerpt from the Hodgkinson article, with a take I do not agree with in its entirety—for instance I do not want to sit around with friends in a pub, virtual or otherwise—but the information is useful:

Although the project was initially conceived by media cover star Mark Zuckerberg, the real face behind Facebook is the 40-year-old Silicon Valley venture capitalist and futurist philosopher Peter Thiel…

But Thiel is more than just a clever and avaricious capitalist. He is a futurist philosopher and neocon activist [whether he calls himself a neo-con, I don't know]. A philosophy graduate from Stanford, in 1998 he co-wrote a book called The Diversity Myth, which is a detailed attack on liberalism and the multiculturalist ideology that dominated Stanford.

He claimed that the “multiculture” led to a lessening of individual freedoms [one can only ask, of course, freedoms for whom?]. While a student at Stanford, Thiel founded a rightwing journal, still up and running, called The Stanford Review—motto: Fiat Lux (“Let there be light”).

Please, yes, and may it be full of wisdom, compassion and understanding of both the beauty and difficulty (and potential) of being human—as opposed to a light that blinds the unready citizen into terrorised paralysis.

Thiel is a member of TheVanguard.Org, an internet-based neoconservative pressure group that was set up to attack MoveOn.org, a liberal pressure group that works on the web. Thiel calls himself “way libertarian”.

The term Vanguard was also well-used by Vladimir Lenin, for the record. Lenin believed utterly in the Vanguard of the proletariat—a few people who control the many, who are ‘free’ but need to be controlled due to their stupidity. Is there not a similarity here with the Facebook fellas’ viewpoint? Indeed, laissez-faire actually means laissez-faire for the respective vanguards.

Hardly original.

This little taster from [TheVanguard] website will give you an idea of their vision for the world:

“TheVanguard.Org is an online community of Americans who believe in conservative values, the free market and limited government as the best means to bring hope and ever-increasing opportunity to everyone, especially the poorest among us.”

Fair enough…but has anybody noticed the bipolar clash lately between the ideology of Conservatives in power over the last, say, forty years (yes, including Reagan), and conservative values based on anything close to the original meaning of the term?

Could these ‘Conservative’ US leaders of the last quarter of the 20th century up to today, with their vast subsidized-by-the-tax-payer spending, possibly have found any better way to make a bigger State?

The debt, the war, the trough of subsidies (handouts) to countless companies, from Agribusiness to Weapons to Securities, is a manipulative, Orwellian scam, and has nothing to do with a so-called free-market—nor has it ever, as far as I can tell.

Hodgkinson continues:

Their aim is to promote policies that will “reshape America and the globe”. TheVanguard describes its politics as “Reaganite/Thatcherite”.

The chairman’s message says: “Today we’ll teach MoveOn [the liberal website], Hillary and the leftwing media some lessons they never imagined…”

When Hillary—with her grand ties to all the massive multinational corporations that these guys adore, by definition—is seen as a problem, an outsider, by the Facebook neo-cons (as they are described), the word extreme comes to mind.

Exactly what massive ‘Conservative’ corporation would Hillary not have to be sold out to to be in line with the TheVanguard?

PARTY POLITICS

Further, does not the idea of teaching people “lessons they never imagined…” have a disconcerting Nazi ring to it?

Anybody wise knows that surely even within the so-called “leftwing media” there are some important ideas. To not see this is to be profoundly unoriginal and deeply predictable—which does not mean that one still can’t possess exorbitant amounts of power and influence.

By the way, if the “leftwing media”, as it is disparaged, was truly in control, there wouldn’t be a war—let alone a war that has enriched the multinational Vanguard and pushed several nations and their citizenry into inconceivable debt.

Individuality is profoundly complex, and to not recognize the strengths and beauty of those outside one’s own way of thinking is anything but libertarian or small ‘c’ conservative. Perhaps, though, it is Reaganite/Thatcherite, which suddenly, in spirit, resembles the Bolsheviks, Stalinists, Troskyites and Marxist-Leninists—to return to the Vanguard idea.

To confuse ‘the freedom to maximize profit regardless of human dignity’ with ‘freedom to be one’s self’—and consider the former libertarian—is to be, it seems to me, totalitarianly confused.

So, Thiel’s politics are not in doubt. What about his philosophy…?

Thiel’s philosophical mentor is one René Girard of Stanford University, proponent of a theory of human behaviour called mimetic desire. Girard reckons that people are essentially sheep-like and will copy one another without much reflection.

This, of course, has truth in it.

‘People do appear to follow trends,’ I said, aware of the understatement. And Girard’s ideas (which I do not know well), about the source of desire after our basic desires are met, are interesting, but far from definitive.

A THEORY ON A THEORY

I have no idea if what I am about to say is valid, but let me suggest that if we humans are essentially sheep-like with our desires, then there are, with great variation, of course, three possible options.

They are, one: to not realise this fact of our sheep-like nature.

Two: to realise this fact and exploit those who do not realise this fact.

Three: to realise this fact, and be in service of those who remain in ignorance. I use the word service in the most conscious sense of the term.

The first two options are so predictable as to be unoriginal. Could the third way, perhaps, offer some transcendence from our greedy and ignorant sheep-like natures?

The grandest ignorance of all, however, might be to believe that one can somehow be in control of his or her situation—all the more by controllng others. Death ultimately proves this fallacy.

Everybody alive today, wildly possessed by all of these problems, will be dead within a hundred and twenty years. Everybody. In the meantime, even birth for countless billions, into brutal, seemingly unchosen conditions, might also to some suggest how little control we have.

THE ORIGIN OF NATURES

In short, what Facebook strategists possibly don’t understand is that they, too, are followers—even with their immense power and wealth. They are following, like sheep (or maybe pack wolves), a philosophy that says ‘people are sheep, and the only thing left to do is maximize the exploitation of said sheep.’

If one chooses a Darwinist worldview (or it chooses them), perhaps exploitation is intelligent. But is social Darwinism the truth of our being here? And following its core value is many things, but original is not one of them.

THE COMPANY’S COMPANY

Hitler (and Lenin and others) and Burson Marstellar etc work on similar beliefs. Hitler said something to the effect, “It is fortunate for leaders that people do not think.”

Fair enough. I prefer to think that I would like as many people as possible around me, including myself, to learn to think more, for the sake of each other, for the planet, for everyone.

Instead of exploitation, why not, as the song says, try a little tenderness? Why not create, say, video games that actually increase a person’s knowledge, decrease sheep-like tendencies and increase deeper-thinking solidarity, instead of hand-eye coordination for mindlessly shooting people one has never met?

If you’re so brilliant, owners of Facebook, create that. Create beauty.

If Thiel and his co-sheep herders find a salvation (and perhaps they do) in their ability to manipulate sheep, I would suggest that says as much about Thiel and co. as the sheep.

Were a person with such desires able to transcend that desire, that nature, would not the result be stunning and expansive originality?

To quote Pindar, if one doesn’t transcend such disdain of people, they risk “becoming like that which they hate.” Of course, those disdaining will have money and be celebrated and have the freedom to sit around slapping each other’s backs and see the world as a chess game, but they still remain their own cynical race of sheep—and they don’t even know it.

Well, here’s to the sheep-like irony of human nature.

Because one can bash someone else’s brains in, it doesn’t make one better by therefore doing so. Perhaps one is ‘better’ by actually considering that another person’s life, their desire to live, to be free and so on, like their own desire, has meaning.

For those who believe in exploitation, manipulation is simple. Why? Well, most people, I think, tend to figure others are generally on the up-and-up—although that belief may be diminishing too. Hence, kids never go out in the city alone, gated communities etc.

The article continues:

The theory would also seem to be proved correct in the case of Thiel’s virtual worlds: the desired object is irrelevant; all you need to know is that human beings will tend to move in flocks. Hence financial bubbles. Hence the enormous popularity of Facebook.

Girard is a regular at Thiel’s intellectual soirees.

What you don’t hear about in Thiel’s philosophy, by the way, are old-fashioned real-world concepts such as art, beauty, love, pleasure and truth.

And you most likely never will. Humans are of different natures. We follow that nature. Disdain for the masses, cynicism, maximizing profit is not original, it is the sheep-like response to following one’s—some would suggest unfortunate—nature.

Exploitation is not original!—although it is clearly seductive and addictive. And to be fair, a given method of exploitation may be original. But exploitation itself is as old as hello.

The internet is immensely appealing to neocons such as Thiel because it promises a certain sort of freedom in human relations and in business, freedom from pesky national laws, national boundaries and suchlike. The internet opens up a world of free trade and laissez-faire expansion.

Thiel also seems to approve of offshore tax havens, and claims that 40% of the world’s wealth resides in places such as Vanuatu, the Cayman Islands, Monaco and Barbados.

Fair enough. No taxes? Great. But does it matter at all where that money comes from? It has been suggested that 8% of the world’s wealth is from narco-trafficking. Great. You’re rich. Congratulations. And the banking lobbies continue to do all they can to avoid laws or bills being passed that try to uncover the origins of this dirty money, let alone stopping it from going through their system.

As the Chinese leader recently said about Darfur: “Business is business.”

And on the news every night, the sheep-that-we-are listen to the travails of the War on Drugs—which is, in sum, kept alive by an endless repeated barrage of propaganda and lies because certain Vanguards here and there think it’s a good thing to maximize profit by exploiting and manipulating the sheep. Congratulations.

To finish:

I think it’s fair to say that Thiel…likes the globalisation of digital culture because it makes the banking overlords hard to attack: “You can’t have a workers’ revolution to take over a bank if the bank is in Vanuatu,” he says.

Lenin for all his rhetoric also hated the worker’s desire for standard rights—and from there came the Soviet Union. Very original? Not so much.

The full article is here.

Say No To Facebook, if only to celebrate your own non-sheep-like mysterious beauty, while the wolves circle. And anyway, wolves are beautiful too, they just don’t know it yet. Once in a while, armed with yoga, one has to stand and fight.

Love, freedom, creativity and true originality to you and yours,

Pete

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6 Responses to “SHEEP IN WOLVES’ CLOTHING: JUST SAY NO TO FACEBOOK AND ITS CIA-SPONSORED PHILOSOPHY”

  1. Erynn says:

    I joined Facebook for a short while but left for a variety of reasons. I was unaware of the CIA and neocon connections, but I do know that even if you leave Facebook, they will not delete your personal information. This lack profoundly disturbs me.

    Even as “social networking” I found Facebook entirely inadequate. Content was minimal and very difficult to find. The forums were of very low quality and the discourse there was barely above what you might find on LOLcats. Even after its sale to a Russian company, I much prefer LiveJournal as a way to socialize online. People actually write about their lives and their experiences there, at least among the folks whose journals I subscribe to.

    Have you heard any similar issues about MySpace? I’m a member there, but really only because that’s where my brother keeps his own blog. He lives in Italy, so it’s that, email, and the occasional IM session as our only contact until I can get over there with mom for a visit in September. We’ve been much more in contact this year than since I left home in 1979. It’s an interesting process, getting to know him again. I’m very much looking forward to spending time seeing him in person and getting to know Italy as he does.

    I always appreciate your words, Pete. Thank you for being such a shining presence in my online life.

  2. Ethan says:

    MySpace is owned by News Corporation (owners of Fox). I think that’s pretty much all you need to know about it.

  3. Karen says:

    Hi Pete,

    Not only are we willing to follow any lead we deem fashionable, but we are willing to give personal information to the most unlikely places.

    How quickly we forgot the internet started as a military project.

    Sites like Facebook, MySpace, etc. are strictly off limits in our house. I “lurked” around yours for a long time before I commented. (Worth the risk though.)

    Privacy is a thing of the past. I was on Google Maps and I could zoom in on my Mom’s house so close I knew who was home at the time the picture was taken by the cars that were there. My brother was out.

    Whoa, Mr. Thiel wants to destroy “nature” and replace it with a virtual world? Here’s a lad who logged a few too many hours on video games. He made it through Stanford so he must have something going on between his ears. How many devastating hurricanes, tornados, tidal waves, ice storms, Nor’easters, brush and forest fires, volcano eruptions, floods (need I continue?) will it take for him to realize his is a pipe dream? I have to laugh. We get cocky and nature smacks us right down and we still don’t get it. You and I both know we will never control nature. 2008 and we can’t even predict nature with any real accuracy, let’s be honest. My dog is more accurate at predicting severe thunder storms than the National Weather Service.

    We do fancy ourselves so self-important and forget we are supposed to be stewards. Without nature, we got us a bare rock. At least it will absorb radiant energy and keep us warm at night.

    I have to agree with Mr. Hodgkinson; I’ll take face-to-face conversation over—what did he call them—ungrammatical messages (these communications notwithstanding; wait, we’re grammatical!). Conversation is a dying art. All I’m saying is that in psychology the inability to recognize and decode facial expressions and body postures is considered pathological. It’s also something we learn from practice. Hummm. Talk face to face with the kids in your life, please. A lot. If you can’t get them to turn off the TV, then discuss what’s on the screen! Anything.

    Oh, and I hate DVD players in the car! That’s the one place the family is a captive audience and you can TALK.

    I need to go to my “happy place,” breathe, and calm down.

    Love to you and your great wordy posts.
    Karen

  4. Erynn says:

    Ethan — ow. Fox. That’s pretty much just as bad as the CIA.

    *sigh*

  5. Mirza says:

    If only those lunatics like Mr. Thiel would read what you’ve said here. But I doubt they have a humane bone in their body to change.

  6. George says:

    Hi,

    I just wanted to say that if you want to delete yourself from facebook, the system will not delete you (just deactivate you), but you can do something to prevent that, just as I did – delete all of your data & pictures manually, and THEN deactivate yourself. You can even change your name into something irrelevant. Well, I think that’s the most we can do from our side…

    Cheers

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