Underwhelming lack of interest greeted Katy Gallagher’s recent launch of draft legislation for a federally backed biometric or digital ID system. Although it indicates a range of significant changes to be made to Australia, the event earned few headlines and quickly sank from public view. A humble arrival for what was recently hypothesis -or conspiracy if you prefer.
In fact, the proposed digital ID system is part of a socio-economic transformation currently played out at a global, national and institutional level that incorporates new economic models and paradigms and new and not so new technology. It is part of a complicated web of technology companies, global financial corporations, public and private global institutions, think tanks, foundations and a Gordion mess of NGOs that not even the most talented forensic accountant could untangle.
And at the black heart of this transformation is the full integration into society of digital/biometric ID. Without it, central bank digital currencies won’t work and without it, full AI integration of government services and banking services, as well as government administration, will not be possible.
You could be forgiven for believing until now that the convenience of a digital wallet is a good thing and that hysteria about it is overblown- that is after all, the government’s message. However, the issue here is not just the escalating lack of privacy, but our subjugation to tech companies and the ownership of public infrastructure.
What jobs will there be in the new economy? Who will benefit in the new economy? Do we get a say in whether we all agree to this new economy? As this is a global paradigm shift, where does Australia sit in the new order?
Robert Silverman’s recent article for Umbrella on de-banking scandals across the world makes some elements very clear: these changes to your rights in one sector mean that you are now subject to punitive intervention in all sectors at a government or private company’s discretion and their assessment of your worth to society.
Generations struggled for rights that are now being disassembled, outsourced and monetised, then placed in the hands of private companies and often in the hands of capricious individuals. What manner of political philosophy supports this? Is this liberal democracy?
A digitalised way of life imposed from the top is accompanied by numerous other examples of government overreach. One is the apparent attempt by the Victorian government to privatise what is left of public housing, following the sale of almost all significant public asset and the sale or outsourcing of utilities (how’s that Andrew’s SEC re-boot looking, suckers?) and services.
No one voted for this but a bloated drone bureaucracy and media under-reporting or indifference ensures that the government is well equipped to do what it wants.
The published number of people directly employed by the Victorian government is more than one in ten in the work force. Employment by the public sector is 350,000 (as of 2021, and surely has increased since then) within a total number of jobs in Victoria of 3,163,746. Once you factor in indirect employment- contractors and industries solely employed due to revenue from the government, that number must surely be higher than 20 % of all employment.
Government employees received privileged treatment during the state’s six lockdowns. They were paid on time and even given salary increases while small businesses were being run into the ground and tens of thousands of people thrown out of work. Essential workers among them were immune from the sanctions imposed on the rest of us. They were able to pay their mortgages and order lunch by delivery from local restaurant owners who were slowly going mad and/or broke while politicians had the brazen cheek to give themselves a pay rise.
A class of controllers is more firmly embedded in Australia than ever before. Small in number it has the capacity to pull all the strings. There are exceptions but generally the media is its propaganda arm. It decides what we should know, highlighting what it wants to know and suppressing or distorting the rest. This class presents itself well. It is onside with all the right causes. It virtue signals its concerns using flags or masks on social media and the right pronouns and acknowledgement to country in emails. It seems to feel that five rainbow masks on a twitter feed bestow saintliness.
There is much hypocrisy behind the facade. This same class cries out in support of sustainable development but drives electric cars and uses iPhones made using cobalt and lithium, produced from some of the most exploitative mining operations that exist (while draining coal fired power grids) and flies away on holiday while preaching against the use of fossil fuels. Sustainability is the magic invocation that transforms any questionable government, corporate or individual act within this governing class into one of benevolence. It radiates the confidence that it will escape the consequences of what it is deciding for the rest of us.
New codes of behaviour and even language have emerged to match the magnitude of the changes being imposed on us. There is a superficially new morality as well although in its virtue signalling and cancellation of heretics it is as old as the hills. The old morality has been covered up by a thin veneer of the new, relayed to us through the media by governments, corporations and social media stars and influencers. They know what is true and what is not, what is good and what is bad, how we should speak and how we should think. The rest of us – the 99 per cent – have to be told. So strong is their grip that to speak out is to be denounced.
The released encrypted messages Mike Pezzullo, the head of the Home Affairs department, sent to influential businessman Scott Briggs were exceptional only because Pezzullo was caught out and had to step down. In these secret messages, he was peddling political influence with someone very close to Malcolm Turnbull. This might not be how a democratic system is supposed to work but it is how it does work, not just amongst politicians but their allies and servants in the non-elected managerial class, for which the only golden rule is not to get caught.
As the well-protected managerial class move further away from direct experiences of the lives the rest of us have to live, its solutions to problems big and small show the same kind of drift. Control and profit are its imperatives. The trade-off that privatisation was supposed to bring – lower costs, higher competition and greater efficiency – has been redirected into profit-seeking monopolies that compare badly with the efficiency of utilities when they were public property.
However, it’s not just wealth that is being transferred upwards. Fundamental rights established long ago, including the freedom of speech, are being sucked into increasingly absolute control by the top as well. The repressive new age agenda being set by politicians managerial technocrats is dystopian, a broadening authoritarian shadow over our lives of how fascist regimes of the past sought to rule. Parasitic in nature, it burrows deeply into our very existence to mine it for data and thus power, believing in the necessity of its ‘right’ to subjugate, control and reset the way we want to live. Noblesse oblige for the 21st century.
Biometric or digital identity is the thin end of the wedge being driven into the old order to make way for the new.
‘Social Impact Investing’ is another new concepts that demands proper public discussion. To give a quick overview, it is the ‘philosophy’ of financing government services such as health, education, unemployment, and disability via bonds. Funding providers and investors get a financial return in a system that will eventually be linked through digital ID, blockchain and AI.
Values based capitalism is- like so much of the horseshit we are subjected to from the mouths of true believers- a turd of epic proportions. Compliance with automated metrics for the benefit of the funding body and investors is a revolting perversion of what social services are supposed to be.
The real or invented emergencies of recent years have set the stage for compliance with whatever the managers dictate. COVID, the war in Ukraine, identity politics and the Voice continue to distract and divide while your hip pocket is being emptied and your political voice is diminished.
On social media there’s a recent trend of asking people how often they think about the Roman Empire. Two thousand or so years ago Romans on campaign would march into a village, taking what they needed of the grain planted, harvested, and stored by the peasants. Occasionally they would offer coin, occasionally leave them to starve, or just as frequently murdering, rape and pillage the entire population if the mood took them. Exploitation and theft then as now. Molon Labe.