A group exhibition with artists: SAM ASAERT, RICHARD BLOES, JORDAN EAGLES, DANIEL GREENFIELD-CAMPOVERDE, ALEXA HOYER, HRH P.R., JOSEPH KECKLER, STEPHEN LACK, AMELIA MARZEC, SLAVA MOGUTIN, RICARDO HORATIO NELSON, EDWARD QUIST, KAY ROSEN, ETHAN SHOSHAN, JAMES J. WILLIAMS III, and GRANT WORTH
As time goes on and the horrors pile up, the mind seems to secrete a sort of self-protecting ignorance which needs a harder and harder shock to pierce it, just as the body will become immunized to a drug and require bigger and bigger doses. — George Orwell
Since the early eighties, income inequality has been growing at a rapid pace. It has been driving an already unstable status quo closer to collapse. As proven by history, when the status quo collapses, the general population tends to embrace extreme right wing ideologies because it provides them with a base of support. Politicians seize on the moment to solidify their power and slowly start inserting rabid nationalism and fanning the flames of tribalism, to divide and conquer.
In such times, one political party will declare that they have the best interest of the population at heart and that the other party is out to take everything away from them. The other party might actually have the intent to try and improve matters, but unfortunately, neither party is independent of the rich and powerful.
Generally, quite a number of rich people and big business, fear influence by groups on the left, which is why, in unstable times, they tend to support the extreme right. Eventually, this will bring a totalitarian to power, who knows that human beings don't only want comfort, safety, short working-hours, hygiene, birth-control and, in general, common sense but also, at least intermittently, struggle and self-sacrifice, not to mention drums, flags and loyalty-parades.
In the 1930s in Europe, a totalitarian savior told people "I offer you struggle, danger and death," and a whole nation threw itself at his feet.
As Orwell already stated in the 1940s: "In our age there is no such thing as keeping out of politics. All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia." This is as true today as it was then.
(NO) FUN provides a platform for artists to comment on world politics and civil society matters, whether the issue is minority rights, opposition to religious extremism or freedom of expression.
Mostly it is loss which teaches us about the worth of things. — Schopenhauer
Surveillance is used by commercial companies, who process personal data for their owncorporate goals. Surveillance is used by the government and law enforcement to control people, under the guise of safety and security.
In 2015, Brazilian police arrested a protester for having thrown a Molotov cocktail at a police officer during a protest. Footage provided by law enforcement and big media, was used to prove the assault. Grassroots media Midia Ninja, collected images and footage , shot by bystanders, which showed that the actual offender was an undercover policeman. The use of infiltrators is a common tactic used by authorities, and very helpful to provoke and justify a forceful reaction from military or police, in order to quell protests. A day later, when confronted with the undeniable evidence, officials were forced to backpedal and release the protester. Having vilified him, the complicit news media had no choice but to clear the protestor's name and admit that law enforcement was the real culprit.
In Pakistan in 2015, Sabeen Mahmud, a human rights activist and social worker was murdered when gunmen attacked her car. The murder was a direct target killing and was allegedly done under instructions from the lSI (Inter-Services Intelligence). Mahmud was the founder and director of The Second Floor cafe in Karachi, which regularly hosted talks against religious extremism and state brutality. Mahmud wanted to challenge injustice and discrimination, and encouraged critical thinking. Her biggest dream was to "change the world for the better through the Internet." She founded PeaceNiche, an organization that provides a "social platform" for public good.
Also in Pakistan, prominent TV host Raza Rumi narrowly escaped a gun attack on his car in Lahore that killed his driver. Another anchor, Hamid Mir, survived a murder attempt after being shot in the stomach in Karachi, shortly after hosting a TV program about Balochistan. Mir's brother, who saw several parallels with the attack on Mahmud, pointed the finger at the country's lSI for the murder attempt on Mir's life.
Activists who write about the rights of Baloch people on social media, or condemn the killing of minorities, are often loudly berated and receive death threats that are never investigated, while on the other hand, the government blocks pages belonging to progressive groups on Facebook.
Governments do not take the initiative to remedy injustices, they only respond to social movements when they are too large to be ignored.
The work being done by grassroots media and human rights organizations is therefore of the utmost importance.
More and more, protection for civilians is not provided by the government, but by organizations such as The Citizen Lab in Toronto. They investigate digital espionage against civil society, document Internet filtering and other technologies and practices that impact freedom of expression online, analyze privacy, security, and information controls of popular applications, and examine transparency and accountability mechanisms relevant to the relationship between corporations and state agencies regarding personal data and other surveillance activities.
In a serious struggle there is no worse cruelty than to be magnanimous at an inopportune time. — Trotsky
Blind belief in authority is the greatest enemy of the truth. — Einstein
Politicians, corporate executives, and owners of press and television secure their power and wealth by controlling the world's narrative. Governments, in their battle for control of cyberspace, manipulate the internet to censor and monitor its citizens and challenge ideas of privacy, citizenship and democracy.
All over of the world, the rule of law is the darling of the leaders. The letter of the law however, is not as important as those who hold the power. This provides an opportunity for authorities to incriminate people by using the same means as cybercriminals. In such cases, the way the evidence is obtained will not be mentioned in a court of law, as the evidence could be dismissed from the case and ultimately lead to a lesser sentence or a mistrial.
On the receiving end of such practice was Ross Ulbricht, who was arrested in San Francisco, on 2 October 2013, for what prosecutors claim was his role in Silk Road.
Passionate about privacy and free markets, Ulbricht was 26 years old when he created the online marketplace on the dark web. Online users were able to browse Silk Road anonymously and exchange a variety of goods, both legal and illegal. However, anything done against someone's will, that created victims or used force, was prohibited.
In January 2015, Ulbricht's case, saddled with unsubstantiated details and questionable conclusions, was brought in front of a jury. Ulbricht had no prior record and no victims were named at trial.
During a trial, the way a judge charges the jury inevitably pushes them one way or the other, thereby limiting independent judgment. This was definitely the case in Mr. Ulbricht's trial. A guilty verdict was delivered on all non-violent counts. On 29 May 2015, Ulbricht was sentenced to two life sentences plus forty years, without the possibility of parole. To be clear, that is one life sentence plus what presumably would have to be, a reincarnation and then some.
In 2008, as a direct consequence of sheer greed, the economic downturn in the United States and Western Europe resulted in millions of people losing their life savings and their jobs. It created millions of victims who were forced out of their homes. None of those responsible ended up in prison and therefore they did not receive a life sentence plus one reincarnation and forty years.
Meanwhile, it continues to be perfectly legal for hedge funds to bet on food prices in financial markets, driving many tens of millions of people into extreme poverty as a result of rising food prices.
It also remains legal for the government to cut the population's welfare programs in order to funnel millions to the rich via specially created tax cut entitlement program and no need to pay taxes program.
Confused? Unbridled capitalism is not. Nor is Ross Ulbricht.