Psychiatry – Social Hygiene and Mind Control

This article is written with its practical use value in mind. It is about Psychiatry, and that means about psychiatric institutions and how people get there and are kept there, the ideology of ‘health’ and the class of its administrators, the doctors; it is also about economic interests: a repair institution for defective labour power, and the advantages of drug dependency for the pharmaceutical companies; but given the available space, it is not pretending to be comprehensive, its purpose is to give some (hopefully) valuable help in dealing practically with situations where a friend or comrade, or yourself are confronted with psychiatric treatment or confinement, it is attempting to give some background information about the system, and helping to break the silence about the topic, a silence that is astonishing given the fact that every year millions of people are exposed to breakdowns, diagnosis, medication and confinement… Added is a short list of links and bibliography for further reading and research, even though some of the books are unfortunately out of print, having been released at a time (from the mid 60’s to the late 70’s) when many facets of capitalist society and the mangement of power in it were under scrutiny, and the public eye was turned on psychiatry and exposed its often shocking face. Most people are under the assumption that in the wake of ‘Anti-Psychiatry’ the system has been reformed sufficiently to meet the needs of the ‘patient’. Sadly this is hardly the case, and the interest of the labour market and meeting the demands of ‘normality’ and ‘health’ is prioritised over the solutions of the patients problems. Illness is a result of the conflict of interest of the patient exactly with these concepts (health, normalcy), and in its present manifestations a product of Capitalism, but illness, and understanding it, can be used as a weapon, as the SPK put it. So this is not about denying madness or romanticising it – it’s about politicising it, i.e. making clear that it is a social and collective phenomenon, without robbing each patient of their individual dimension and dignity. [Read more →]

Control and Freedom in Geographic Information Systems

Like the Internet, the Global Positioning System (GPS) was developed first with military applications in mind.  GPS enabled a precise, autonomous, and facile location of any point on the globe.  The development of this technology was critical to the broad merger of cartography with database technology and statistical analysis in the second half of the 20th century.  This new science, termed Geographic Information Systems (GIS), has profoundly changed our views and interactions with physical reality at both continental and minute scales.  The potential for highly detailed monitoring is exhilarating for scientists, but often terrifying for divergent or contestational voices.  At the same time access to these technologies is not highly controlled, which has thrown open the door for popular participation in map creation and publishing.  Through GIS and GPS, cartography has become a crucial new media for expression and critique.  How we choose to map reality is a cornerstone of our consensus on what exists, has existed, or will be created in a place.
The science of cartography has always had deep implications for increased control.  Creation of useable world maps in the colonial period was essential to developing global shipping routes.  Better maps facilitated the massive transport of resources from less technologically developed regions to those holding the most accurate picture of the world.  Among the most famous are the transfer of precious metals from Central and South America to Europe, and the middle passage of African slaves to North America.  Maps have historically empowered control on much smaller scales as well.  Violently enforced consensus on terrestrial boundaries is the defining ingredient enabling land ownership and regulatory extents.  On the other hand, iterative improvement of maps has hugely augmented our concepts of physical reality.  Without a  ‘birds eye view’ our notions of Earth extend only so far as we have seen, perhaps a small area only reaching the borders of town.  Without a map, all the rest is unknown, the other.  Early maps highlight precisely this erroneous notion, placing a given civilization at the center of the world and filling the unknown space with nothing [Figure 1].  In modern times we can view the entire globe, explore its topology, civic organization, and boundaries without leaving the house.  This constitutes a major widening of perception for the human race.
Still, greatly enhanced apprehension of geographic space has been a hotly contested arena.  [Read more →]

Datacide 12 – News Pt.1 – Surveillance, Control and Repression

Surveillance, Control and Repression
The UK based surveillance technology manufacturing company, Gamma Group, was uncovered in July 2012 to have created spyware called FinSpy Moblie that monitors and retains all mobile phone data of a particular target. (They also produced FinSpy for other e-devices.) Gamma Group sells the surveillance spyware to governments, including repressive regimes from Turkmenistan to Bahrain, which in turn monitor activists.  The spyware is a Trojan, which thus requires the target to unknowingly download the program, disguised as some innocuous file, onto a phone. The spyware has many capabilities including documenting an address book, intercepting, recording and storing all voice calls, phone call logs, SMS and GPS locations. There are many stories of anti-government activists in Bahrain, UAE, and elsewhere having been violently attacked and detained after the governments uncovered information about the individuals through FinSpy, Remote Control System developed by Milan Based HackingTeam, and other spyware programs.
Security and privacy researcher Christopher Soghoian and others have gathered more information demonstrating that Skype misleads its customers by not countering the general erroneous public perception that the platform is impenetrable to government, police, and judicial spying and monitoring.  Skype is proven to have given upon request by government agencies online chats, user information (billing, IP address, email address, account info), private encryption keys, and phone call numbers of individuals. Skype’s management of passwords and encryption keys demonstrates that Skype or government agencies have the ability to impersonate customers or individuals through man in the middle attacks (also with assistance from telecom companies), thus demonstrating that the service is an unsafe and insecure method of communication. [Read more →]

Datacide 11 – Political news compiled by Nemeton

Social Media Surveillance and Repression
Previously undisclosed government documents obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation through Freedom of Information Act (FIOA) lawsuits give hard evidence to previous reports that various spy agencies including the FBI, CIA, and others under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are using social media sites like facebook, myspace, twitter, youtube, etc. to gather “evidence” of criminality against suspects. One FIOA obtained internal document from the Justice Department trains FBI agents how to snoop for pictures, postings, videos, etc on social media sites. Investigators sometimes create false identity accounts on the social media sites in order to “friend” the suspect, or “friend” any number of individuals who the suspect is “friends” with in order to gain information that can be used for evidence and conviction. For example, Maxi Sopo, wanted by the feds for bank fraud, was discovered to be in Mexico and then later extradited to the US, after agents read such evidence on the public and private facebook pages of his friends. Information gathered from social media sites are shared with other law enforcement agencies in local, state or federal areas and databases. [Read more →]

Teknival and the emancipatory potential of technology

This text is based on a talk given at the One-shot Art Festival in Berlin, October 2007 as part of an evening organised by Datacide that explored the theme: noise, politics, autonomy and recuperation.

The purpose of this text is to historify the Teknival/Free-Party scene as belonging to a history which views technology as having emancipatory potential. This history extends back to the 1930s when Walter Benjamin along with Bertolt Brecht produced a penetrating analysis of the potential offered by, the then emerging, technics to provide the tools to change the conditions of cultural production and eventually offer a renewed social configuration. Their legacy has been developed beyond the Teknival scene in various directions and is currently being discussed in Open Source Culture with some parallels to Teknival. There are different layers to this history and it is clear that the Teknival scene did not by any means offer the most advanced analysis of the emancipatory potential offered by technology. Looking at the theories of technology that have emerged, both positive and negative, and placing Teknival among such histories we are able to see some of its shortcomings and begin to discuss future strategies. As in the 90s Capital is consistently recuperating any ruptures that appear to open enough space to begin to redefine the social and technical landscape. Unlike Heidegger’s pathetic suggestion that only a God can save us now, it seems much more likely that a critical theory of technology is going to be of more use if we are to agree that ‘what human beings are and will become is decided in the shape of our tools’ (Feenberg: 2002:3).
[Read more →]

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