China is allowing the growth of its surveillance and sensorship system. It spans every communcation channel normal chinese people have. If you irk those managing the system you are visited, your bank account can be blocked and your freedom to move can be restricted because you can not board trains or airplanes. Not only chinese citizen are victimized by this system, also foreigners living in china. In the video below a chinese blogger explains.
Now the reasons to do this are clear, its to maintain stability of China which as a big country with many ethnic groups is fragile. US analysis stated that China ran a risk of falling apart if growth slowed down too much. But there is a risk in trying to be too stabile or uniform, just like there is a risk in trying to stand without moving.
The system in China now includes street surveillance, whatsapp monitoring for keywords, and no doubt use of AI in profiling people and analyzing conversations and chatter. This is done by many different individuals and groups who each have relatively well defined tasks to complete, for instance group one installs cameras, group two monitors the video feed or runs the AI to recognize and track people, group three recieves reports in each city or region. Group four dispatches police to check on a blogger or someone conversing with someone else. These groups form an organization that performs the task. It is easy to imagine a playbook of how to set up a society with such surveillance, and of course this is nothing new in the world.
But as you see in the video above in China people are not allowed to use the names or discuss certain topics related to government. People stop talking about certain things and try futile ways to avoid being caught by the algorithms. It causes a chilling effect on public discourse, and this will continue and increase as groups that are tasked with detecting these thoughts do their simple job. It is easy to see that after a while people will only talk about their work, food, family as if there is no government. It is also easy to see that the absence of thought about society and where it leads cause it to petrify and freeze and halt its adaption to reality.
The more data is gathered on indivuduals, the stiffer a society will be, behaviour will be more coerced, less voluntary less appropriate.
This petrification effect will be even stronger if the groups that run the system are themselves subject to the same scrutiny. If the worker installing the camera or the police officer arresting the blogger can not express any moral judgement or opinion about the proces the proces becomes frozen in time. The question then becomes : Who changes it. Who shows compassion if a situation changes, It is completely clear from history that if a leader or anyone who CAN change things does not suffer to much from whatever is wrong, change won’t come.
As was shown in the soviet system all kinds of information that people have ties into their human desires. It leads to abuse. The disabling of moral judgement attracts individuals with weak moral judgement, who can do the job with ease and enthousiasm, and so any repressive surveillance system will harden and become more vigilant to justify its existence. Self monitoring will only increase this. The fact that some profit from selling surveillance material or developing more sophisticated AI also works to consolidate its reach.
China is thus moving towards being a rigid, harsh, incorrigable monolith that stifles its intellectual development and is inert to challenges to its dominating elite. That elite itself may find itself forced to either stay the course even if it hurts billions or lose its position. It turns itself into a pressure cooker just like the Soviet Union or North Korea. It becomes easier and easier to stoke unrest especially when people grow hungry or are stuck in some place.
Chinese rural life isn’t all suffering
The answer to this trend will probably fall on deaf ears. But it is simple : Realign the population with the carrying capacity of the land, return people to rural areas to do what they need to grow what they eat. Disband large cities and the illusion of economic modernity. It is much easier to manage dispersed groups who basically feed themselves than bunched up concrete jungles where repressed groups try to find a way out. This doesn’t mean that any of the modern conveniences need to be missed or people have to return to a primitive state. It just means the abandonement of cities. Two tools necessary are default land ownership and default income.
The big question is : Will anyone in China be allowed to come up with and discuss this thought.