Wednesday, 25 September 2013

War Against Consciousness

There’s a war against consciousness and human freedom taking place in the world, and it’s after taking a new twist.
The UK government has recently announced plans to introduce measures forcing British Internet Providers to filter out content the government deems unacceptable, all in an apparent attempt to protect society’s youth.
Publicly the government has announced that the filters will be targeting pornography, and this is what has taken all of the media’s attention, however a recent investigation by the Open Rights Group has discovered that there’s much more that’s secretly intended to be banned than the government has discussed, including:
    Esoteric Material    Web Forums    Websites related to mental health issues such as eating disorders or suicidal feelings.
This poses a huge threat to even the basics of human rights, and more worryingly shows the UK government taking an active role in policing what its citizens can and can’t know about, which it is doing by outlawing material that isn’t actually illegal.
'Esoteric Material' is the most out of place entry on the ban list, but its inclusion is also one of the most understandable. It's not the first time government powers have tried to purge it out of society, however interestingly enough the last ones to do so were the Nazi, Soviet and Chinese regimes.
The word ‘esoteric' is a term used to describe an individual's pursuit of knowing the things that are hidden - knowledge of higher realities, consciousness, life after death,  the process of creation and the meaning of life can all be defined as esoteric knowledge.
It’s a term that’s so broad though that it can apply to almost anything, everything from the writings of Christian philosophers to the works of Buddhist mystics. It’s much more likely however to target non-mainstream and unorganised spiritual communities and religions, ones who don’t promote dogma but rather urge an individual to go beyond culture, traditions, beliefs or ideas and look instead for actual spiritual experience.
The techniques that provide esoteric knowledge are powerful and this is known in some areas of society. Rather than being meant for only a select few it’s meant for everyone - life is built for understanding why you’re here. It involves exploring the nature of reality and looking into the depths of yourself, and most importantly it’s about awakening the human condition into a state of light and peace.
It makes it impossible to be manipulated, as once a person begins to free themselves from hatred, anger, fear, sadness and greed, those who crave power and control have nothing to exploit in others so they can use them as they wish. A person getting rid of their own darkness sees someone’s deceptive motives more clearly and fights for truth instead.
Thousands of books burn beneath the Nazi salute. The Nazi’s were the last Western power to try and stamp out esotericism.

Thousands of books burn beneath the Nazi salute.
 The Nazi’s were the last Western power
 to try and stamp out esotericism.
No wonder then that ‘Esoteric Material’ is a threat to the power hungry. It empowers society against deceit and manipulation which doesn’t allow selfish interest to control the world. This is well known amongst many of society’s elite, and there are groups that are working in secret in the world to try and stop you and the rest of the world from finding out why your here or what the real potential of your life is.
With the UK specifically, the banning of the ‘Esoteric Material’ is a violation of the Declaration of Human Rights which states that:
    “Everyone has the right to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance…to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
This is the first firing shot of state-sponsored bigotry towards spiritual minorities, and that’s a worrying sign for any democratic country. It raises questions the public needs answers to. Who is it in the UK government that decided esoteric material needed to be banned? What are their religious affiliations?
Their are wider implications to this proposal by the UK government that take in society as a whole.
Banning content related to mental health issues on the web is more detrimental than good in my own view. Although it will be argued that it’s only sites that promote eating disorders or suicide ideation, evaluating the content of every webpage on the internet is too big a task for any ISP to undertake and it’s incredibly likely that webpages will be targeted by keywords rather than their material. This means that websites and groups offering support over an easily accessible medium to people feeling low or looking into recovery are likely to be banned as well, however unintentionally.
This is particularly bad considering the rise in mental health issues amongst young people in the UK (the very people this censorship campaign is apparently trying to protect). Currently the official figures of the Mental Health Foundation say that 10% of UK children suffer from some form of mental health problem, and the UK has one of the highest rates for self-harm out of all of Europe.
Examples of ‘extended blocking’ are actually becoming increasingly common as ISP’s begin to roll out court ordered blocks on individual websites, but are taking in sites that have done nothing wrong as well, with virtually no human oversight in the process.
Web forums are also to be banned, but this is an assault on the infrastructure for freely sharing and discussing ideas over the internet and that presents a censorship of creativity and criticism that’s not healthy for society. Also included on the list are any websites that offer users anonymity on the web. These are completely legal, but they offer freedom from the likes of the NSA or the UK’s GCHQ monitoring programs. Recent revelations about these programs have shocked the world about the little regard being given to people’s basic right to privacy and banning anonymizing websites consolidates the power of these agencies into something near totalitarian.
All of these benign things I’ve mentioned are to be included on a list that also mentions the very worst of human activities- things like terrorism, violence and extremist content. This creates a smear by association, and I don’t think non-dogmatic spirituality, mental health or the promotion of privacy and the free exchange of ideas should be tarred with the same brush as these categories.

Image courtesy of deviant user Z_Grimv
Do you have a Tumblr blog based on spirituality, recovery, politics, activism, alternative news or mental health issues? You’re soon going to find your blog blocked to the almost 64 million people who live in the UK and have difficulty accessing it yourself if you’re a UK resident. This has already happened in countries such as China - Check your blog url or even tumblr itself here and see in realtime if it’s banned.
If you think the UK can’t go in the same way as China, the British Prime Minister David Cameron recently praised Huawei, a company labelled a ‘security threat’ by US officials over its close ties with the Chinese government - for its effectiveness with ‘Homesafe’, its existing filter  done through TalkTalk, a UK ISP. Filtering has already begun over Orange Pay As You Go mobile phones and private companies have already started implementing it over their wifi services.
By default the filters will come into place in almost all British homes by the end of the year. Although there is an opt-out option available, this is what’s known as Nudge Theory in its finest. Nudge Theory is a method known in behavioral science as a means of influencing people into making the choices you want them to while giving the appearance of free choice. It’s proven to be a more effective form of control than blatant oppression. It operates by giving a false choice (the ability to opt-out of filters) but makes use of psychological research which shows that humans favour choices which are the status quo (the fact that nobody has a choice about opting in). It also goes along with the fact that to opt out, a person needs to ring their ISP’s and ask about not being part of a filter system heavily associated with pornography (In Britain the filters have been labelled ‘Pornwall’ by the media). Being so strongly linked with a taboo subject acts as a further deterrent.
This current government actually founded the Behavioral Insights Unit in 2010 to use psychological tactics as a way to most effectively implement government policy. Their nickname within the government is the ‘Nudge Squad’.
This is the true Chinese model in action, where people are not only censored from information but are trained to self-censor themselves and fall in line with the social architecture of the government by not discussing state taboos out of fear of being judged for their interest in ‘undesirable subjects’.
If you feel affected by this issue or if you have an interest in defending civil rights then take action! Together we can be a huge force for social change.
The media isn’t covering this story over here - it’s virtually unknown that anything other than pornography is going to be banned. Help the message go viral that a Western government is trying to strip people of their rights.
This is an issue that affects all of us, not only in Britain but soon around the whole world. Recently the Canadian Minister Joy Smith announced that “regardless of public opinion” she would try and implement the UK proposals in Canada, while Peru and Australia have also echoed similar comments and set the wheels in motion for the same things in their own countries.
Here’s some great steps you can take to help us:
    Sign the petitions and add your name to the voice of protest against these government abuses.
    Let everyone know about this!  Spread the word as far as you can so everyone knows what’s happening. Help stop a country from sleepwalking into censorship.
    We’re bloggers - we love to write! This is a great way the international community can help us out. Write articles, posts, letters, etc. however long or short as you wish and send them everywhere - your own website, magazines, newspapers, activist and civil rights groups. Let your writing galvanise the opposition to these proposals.
    Write to your MP’s demanding they take action too. This is particularly important for British based bloggers but the international community can write to their politicians demanding they speak out against what’s happening abroad and to promise they won’t try and implement the same measures in their countries.
    For people in countries like Britain where these proposals have been announced, contact your ISP’s and ask them if they’re planning to impose the state filters on their customers. If they are, ask them why are they not following the example of Andrews & Arnold - the only UK ISP to refuse to censor its customers.
    If the ISP’s feel their customers will turn against them and will lose them revenue, you can be sure they’ll fight against the government proposals too.
    Get creative! Orgainsie something on your own or with friends and let your ingenuity drive social change. Let the world know about what you do and help spread your efforts further.
I’m currently working with others to organise a campaign to stop these proposals censoring knowledge from the internet. If you’d like to help out in as little or as much as you’d like then please contact me.
One of the first things to do is to organise blogs likely to be affected by this to write to Tumblr and petition them to make a public statement against this issue. They’re one of the world’s largest social networks and have shown in interest in providing a platform for everyone. Having major websites speak up is one of the main things that stopped the SOPA and PIPA campaigns. The founder of Wikipedia has already called the UK proposals “absolutely ridiculous”. Having one more strong voice can do a lot to protect Internet freedom in countries around the world.
This is a time for putting aside differences and standing together for the rights of human expression. A strong group united by truth and justice becomes an army for the light.
Take a stand against wrongdoing, abuse and deception. This is the change the darkness of the world fears the most.