Books Protect History, Cash Protects Privacy

But to judge everyone from the past based on the values of today – there truly is no end to how much of history would need to be erased.
Simon Black

History is punctuated by wars, and it’s the winners whose explanations become the records that following generations assume to be as reliable as if carved in stone. The recent 100th anniversary of the First World War prompted many a rearward exploration for facts about what might have led to the “war to end all wars”. A deep search reveals that many of what had become assumed truths over the years are flat-out wrong.The “good guys” weren’t always good.

Following WWI, the War Guilt Clause of the Treaty of Versailles forced Germany to accept total responsibility for the war, and the reparations demanded of that country, already in ruins, were so crushing as to generate a complex of conditions leading to WWII a generation later. And how might one look back to determine exactly what those conditions were? This is not an invitation to debate historical details, but only to show that physical records, however buried and nearly forgotten, are the only concrete means by which historians can piece together webs of events for any given era. Even when solid records exist, disagreements in interpretation can lead to serious academic battles. A classic example is the experience of historian David Irving, whose accounts of details of WWII have been at such odds with prevailing narratives that it brought him to near ruin. Paul Craig Roberts reviews this succinctly.

Prior to the Internet, histories, news and commentary invariably came in physical form, so that researchers could verify. That’s no longer necessarily the case. Online commentators and bloggers, rather than appending a bibliography, typically use hyperlinks instead, and sites often disappear. Liberal Slant, a major site for progressive writers 20 years ago, abruptly vanished — archives and all — leaving no trace for future analysts. Today, readers inclined to pursue hyperlinks often are led to some variant of “This page does not exist”. New books are listing web addresses in bibliographies in addition to concrete sources. And just two decades into the 21st Century, online censorship is on the mad increase, often under the banner of sensitivity to arbitrary “community standards”. As increasing volumes of information are confined to an electronic record that can be manipulated or deleted, what are the implications for future historians and for humanity’s understanding of the past? Powerful interests able to rewrite history to support a given agenda do so without hesitation, and in a purely digital world, the possibility revise expands.

As long as there are books and records of paper and print, history is safe from permanent erasure and manipulation. To insure that records not be confined to the whims and agendas of digital engineers able to erase or edit or create electronic information at will, physical archives must be maintained, so that future analysts can go back to original sources for comparison against whatever the prevailing claims and opinions of their particular slice of time might have become.

Forcing the plebs onto a system of digital fiat currency transactions offers total control via a seamless tracking of all transactions in the economy, and the ability to block payments if an uppity citizen dares get out of line.

Michael Krieger

Despite countless warnings that accepting electronic money as the sole means of exchange would be cultural suicide, the trend in that direction continues. The great majority of world trade is now with digital money. At the personal level, the credit card becomes a de facto Orwellian “chip” in a cashless world, allowing authorities power to shut one out of the economy. It happens. William Binney, the NSA’s retired IT expert, has revealed that since 2001 every shred of information is being collected on everyone — everything! everyone! — and stored in immense electronic facilities. This May, 2020 interview of Binney is disturbing and, at least for the time being, on YouTube. 

Concern for privacy is driving many toward cryptocurrency, the perception being that it can’t be regulated by government or anyone else. Financial data kept in one’s “digital wallets” is stored on a network of computer “nodes”, so that — and this is a big selling point —  there is no single controlling authority. “Blocks” of data form a linear chain, or “blockchain”, where transfers of value are made, allegedly while maintaining anonymity of the individual. But Investopedia reports that cryptocurrencies are “…. theoretically immune to government interference or manipulation”. The key word is “theoretically”. Data mining techniques advance so rapidly it’s difficult to keep up, and governmental/intelligence technology is always way ahead of the public’s.

But even as cryptocurrency is being promoted for its privacy factor, Microsoft has applied for a patent on a “Cryptocurrency System Using Body Activity Data“.  “Body activity” is so broad a concept that it could indicate anything from gross gesture to any of many metabolic processes. The concept, as expressed in Microsoft’s application abstract, is for a “device”, placed on or in a person’s body, to collect data through “a mining process of a cryptocurrency system”. If the system judges the data satisfactory, the “user” gets a cryptocurrency “award”. The exact nature of the device is not made clear in the patent application.

However, in a separate project at MIT, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, nanotechnology is used in the creation of a quantum-dot dye that can be introduced into the body along with vaccine via a microneedle patch applied to the skin. The dye is intended to contain a record of one’s vaccination history. But as the MIT report adds, “It’s possible someday that this ‘invisible’ approach could create new possibilities for data storage, biosensing, and vaccine applications….. “. Indeed, as the technology advances, the volume of  personal information that can be stored will certainly increase significantly. And how that might link to Microsoft’s to-be-patented cryptocurrency system using body activity data as a means of determining “awards”, is worthy of society’s attention.

Here is the bottom line: In 2018, Christine LaGarde, then director of the International Monetary Fund, while creating a case for digital currency, made it abundantly clear that the global power structure has no intention of allowing humanity the privacy that only physical money can provide, when she declared: “Would central banks jump to the rescue and offer a fully anonymous digital currency? Certainly not. Doing so would be a bonanza for criminals.” That’s the ultimate in-your-face word about “elite” intention for the future of personal privacy, from someone with the authority state it. Confounding crooks and tax evaders is their standard argument against cash, but if society buys into it, the price tag is the end not only of individual privacy but also of control over personal finances. With any authoritarian decision that your accounts need a “haircut”, whether as tax or fine or “negative interest”, funds can be, and most certainly would be, docked automatically.

Never let cash be disappeared. If the government stops producing it, let your community, small or large, create its own form for local and regional exchange. As long as physical money is available, whether coin or paper or seashells or clay tablets, off-the-record private exchange is possible. If trade is ever made wholly digital, whether by legislative decree or simply through government’s gradual withdrawal of cash from the public marketplace, the inevitable result will be that the privacy necessary for people to be truly free will have been snuffed.

Bill Willers is an emeritus professor of biology, University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh. He is founder of the Superior Wilderness Action Network and editor of Learning to Listen to the Land, and Unmanaged Landscapes, both from Island Press. He can be contacted at Read other articles by Bill.