The Phaserl


Nowhere to Run To; Nowhere to Thrive

from The Burning Platform:

It’s something of a truism in physics that closed systems tend toward entropy. In other words, building walls around a process will make it degrade faster than it normally would. And this principle clearly applies beyond physics.

An academic named John B. Calhoun famously documented this effect in rat populations. He gave his animals everything they could possibly need but enclosed them in a limited space. Inside their closed system, some males became aggressive, others withdrew psychologically, mothers stopped caring for their young, and eventually their population plummeted, even though there was plenty of food.

Humans are not rats, of course; we are self-referential, thinking beings. Subjected to fully closed systems, we’d break down mentally long before we starved ourselves.

The Human Experiments
The human analog of the rat experiment wouldn’t be constrained physical space, but constrained mental space. And that’s precisely what we’re getting now with mass surveillance. In other words:

Surveillance locks our minds into a closed system.

We know we’re being watched. Every time we look around to see who might be listening, every time we avoid expressing ourselves freely (speaking, writing, whatever), every time we lower our voices so the punishers won’t hear, we are conscious of the fact that we’re living in a closed system. Fear of shame and punishment are the walls around that enclose us.

And we do have empirical evidence on the effects of such closed systems. In a paper entitled The Legacy of Surveillance, Marcus Jacob and Marcel Tyrell wrote this about East German surveillance:

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