Social Credit in the West: The Privatization of the Authoritarian Impulse
A social credit system, like the one implemented by China, is an infrastructure that assigns ratings to citizens of the country it’s established in. If you are thinking of Black Mirror, then you are not too far off as a social credit system can be used to treat individual citizens better or worse on the basis of their assigned social credit score. Although the West has not quite established a formal social credit system, it is well on its way but doing so by waging cultural battles and applying political pressure on corporations to act as the private sector enforcers of the ruling class doctrine. One of the most powerful weapons of the new social credit system is the steadily increasing power to control the monetary assets of private citizens. The Boiling Frog allegory is relevant here:
"The boiling frog is an apologue describing a frog being slowly boiled alive. The premise is that if a frog is put suddenly into boiling water, it will jump out, but if the frog is put in tepid water which is then brought to a boil slowly, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. The story is often used as a metaphor for the inability or unwillingness of people to react to or be aware of sinister threats that arise gradually rather than suddenly." - Wikipedia
We can start with GoFundMe, a crowdfunding platform where individuals can donate money to their preferred causes. The platform has faced criticism over the past several years over what some consider to be inconsistent moderation policies. GoFundMe allowed Antifa and Black Lives Matter to crowdfund through the platform to bail out protestors and even promoted fundraisers for CHAZ/CHOP (a part of Seattle that was annexed as an independent autonomous zone during the 2020 Protests).
Despite allowing the aforementioned fundraisers, GoFundMe not only suspended the fundraisers for the Canadian trucker Freedom Convoy, they initially attempted to donate the collected money to their preferred causes before public outcry pressured GoFundMe into simply refunding the donations to the original donors.
Even if one wants to make the argument that GoFundMe does not allow violent causes (which is to also assume the Freedom Convoy was overtly violent with its tactics) to fundraise on its platform, that is simply not consistent with the company’s history as GoFundMe not only allowed BLM/Antifa (the groups that contributed to over 500 violent occurrences over the summer of 2020) fundraisers but openly promoted them. Although GiveSendGo stepped in as an alternate platform to GoFundMe to allow people to continue fundraising for the Freedom Convoy, crowdfunding was the least of the truckers’ worries at this point.
The Canadian government announced a freezing of the bank accounts belonging to any truckers who would continue to protest. Now, it does not matter here if you agree with what the Freedom Convoy’s reasons for protesting were or not; imagine a cause you do agree with - whether it’s BLM or Climate Change or Animal Rights - having its protests throttled by governments seizing private assets; that is what happened to hundreds of Canadian truckers. Although Canada would go on to unfreeze the bank accounts of the truckers, the act in and of itself was a warning sign of the lengths Western governments were willing to go to against their own citizens who stepped out of line. Pornstars and other professions viewed as ‘indecent’ have already had trouble working with banking institutions as indicated in this transcript from an interview Eric Weinstein conducted with Ashley Mathews (aka Riley Reid):
“Yeah, there's a lot of adult actresses and doctors and whatnot, people who have had their accounts shut down in banking institutions and things like that.” - Ashley Matthews
More recently, we have seen PayPal deplatform Colin Wright
When Wright inquired for more information, PayPal informed him that he would need to hire a lawyer and issue a legal subpoena; this is unacceptable as free speech should not be a pay-to-win game. Although we can only speculate what the exact reasoning was that led PayPal to ban Wright, it came on the back of his Etsy account being banned as well with the implied reasoning being his stance on gender issues. Once again, even if you disagree with the person being de-platformed in this case, imagine if someone you did agree with was going through the same thing as Wright. If the West implements a social credit system, de-platformings like this will become regular occurrences and increasingly happen to average citizens. Everyone should be against this and what Colin Wright is going through with PayPal. The strategy has always been divide and conquer. Punishments can be handed out for any reason under a social credit system and advancing technologies in the fields of Machine Learning and Computer Vision can tell the enforcers anything they want to know about you including something as vague as your sexual orientation.
We are entering a world where money is becoming less and less represented through physical means. Every year, the number of people who carry physical money on them such as dollars and coins decreases.
A study commissioned by Capital One found that “one in six of those studied said they don’t buy anything using cash in a typical week and just 21 percent say cash is their most common method of payment.” Digital monetary tenders like Bitcoin are the future and even physical currencies like the dollar are more often exchanged digitally through credit cards, online transaction ledgers like PayPal, and even through cell phone tools like Apple Pay. As long as centralized institutions control the flow of money they hold the power to determine who can and can not be a functioning member of society; losing access to money keeps one (or at least puts up major obstacles) from performing basic things like buying groceries, paying bills, or having access to entertainment. Western governments recognize that if they directly enforced a social credit system it would not be accepted since Western populations are overly wary of tyrannical tendencies coming from the government and are more likely to succeed by offloading some responsibilities of a social credit system onto entities in the private sector such as corporations; an easy example to illustrate this tendency of Western citizens to trust private entities more then the government with their rights is how many of us would say no if the government asked to collect our data but gladly hand it over when signing the Terms of Service for many social media websites.
Between the Canadian truckers having their bank accounts frozen and people like Mathews and Wright losing access to crucial services, the West has the means to enforce a social credit system both directly and by using the private corporate sector as its enforcer. As we transition to a future where more and more transactions are conducted indirectly through digital mediums, it is important to ensure these digital currency options are impartial and accessible to all. One of the best ways to ensure this is for citizens to adopt decentralized currencies, like Bitcoin, that exist outside the realm of control of large institutions. Whether or not a Western social credit system goes to the same length as the Chinese Communist Party can only be left to speculation; what Westerners should figure out is if we are okay with our fellow citizens facing systemic discrimination on the basis of beliefs and being socially profiled. It is still possible to stop social credit from becoming the “new normal” but citizens of the West need to notice the temperature is being raised, heed the warning signs, and remember the message of the Boiling Frog to avoid a similar fate.