guard the wealth

Harald Hardrada was king of Norway. He learned his trade as captain of the Byzantine Emperor’s Varangian Guard. There, Hardrada amassed huge wealth and a reputation for violence. He returned home to Scandanavia, captured and consolidated the Norwegian kingdom, and pursued a claim against Denmark. He also invaded northern England in 1066 with a fleet of around 300 ships! Harald Hardrada beat the Anglo-Saxon forces of Mercia and Northumbria, but died in battle against King Harold of England (a battle the Norwegian invaders lost). King Harold’s tired forces were force-marched to fight a second invasion and lost the Battle of Hastings to William the Conqueror. So Harald Hardrada was responsible for England being conquered by the Normans! Sort of.

Ali (RA) said to Kamil

O Kamil, knowledge is better than wealth.

Knowledge guards you but you are guarding wealth

Knowledge provides justice while wealth seeks justice

Knowledge increases at expense while wealth decreases at expense.”

vimeo

Webstock ‘15: Cory Doctorow - Light a candle, curse the darkness and win the war on general purpose computers to save the world

If we’re going to solve the serious, existential risks to the human race – things like environmental apocalypse – we’re going to need social and technical infrastructure that can support evidence-driven, public-spirited institutions that can help steer us to a better place.

Alas, we’re in trouble there, too. We’re living in a nearly airtight bubble of corruption and coercion. The only policies that states can reliably be expected to enact are those with business models – laws and actions that make someone incredibly rich, producing the private wealth necessary to lobby state to continue the policy and keep the money flowing.

There’s always been practical limits to how wide the gap between the rich and poor can get – at a certain point, elites end up spending more money guarding their wealth from the ever-enlarging, ever-more-desperate cohort of poor than they’re getting from corrupt policies and self-dealing relationships with the state.

But technology changes all that. The automation of surveillance and coercion makes the business of maintaining social order vastly cheaper, and therefore increases the amount of wealth the very richest can keep to themselves rather than doling out dribs and drabs to the rest of us.

Thus the miseries of a technologically supported system of feudalism dwarf those of the darkest days of kings and lords. And the ever-dwindling accountability of ruling elites means that evidence-driven policy is harder and harder to enact, and when it is, that policy needn’t be in the common interest.

We need to crack the airtight bubble. We need to find a way to begin unravelling the knotwork of decades of neoliberal corruption.

The first step to this is to seize the means of information. We need computers that we do what we tell them to do, and networks that we can trust, in order to carry out a program of popular reform for good governance, fairness, and equity.

We can do this, and we will do this. Because this is a policy with a business-model, and policies with business-models are the only policies the modern state can be relied upon to enact.

Read the rest…

The man of reason must be on his guard against the intoxication of wealth, of power, of knowledge, of praise and of youth, for all of these have offensive vapors about them that strip away one’s reason and carry away one’s dignity.
—  Amirul Mo’minin Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (ع) Mizan al-Hikmah h. 3047