Aryan Origin

By Ron McVan

In man’s analysis of understanding of himself, it is as well to know whence he came as whither he is going.” ~ Edgar Cayce

The dawn of man’s history follows on the twilight of a preceding history of man. The birth and death of a complete history of mankind is not unlike civilizations themselves, or, the cycle of man’s own physical body. It is said that a man’s life consists of twelve seven-year cycles, which in the final state of decline is extinguished by the inevitable process of physical death. A history of mankind is extinguished by a cyclic death as well, which comes in the form of a natural, or in some cases unnatural, catastrophe. This is a period upon which all previous knowledge is extinguished and scrubbed clean with perchance a few mysterious remaining vestiges left behind. When man is born he at first has very little, if any, remembrance of his past lives, due primarily to the fact that he has a new brain. There are fortunate few who retain the ability to accurately remember their past life through flashes of blood memory or psychic ability.

All men and women living today, whether they care to admit it or not, possess an anxious feeling within themselves, a feeling of impending doom concerning mankind and the planet upon which we chart our daily lives. We feel this way because we have been through it all before in a previous life, perhaps in a far distant prehistoric civilization. Our short memories can insulate us from the immediate potential dangers beneath our feet, as long as we choose to ignore the hot, bubbling reality below the earth’s crust, or the hurling random matter, ever moving precariously through space. The fact that we are alive and conscious in our world at this very moment is not just phenomenal, it is an absolute miracle! The entire Planet Earth has the potential to blow apart at any given time; whole continents can at any moment sink beneath the ocean, or rip in half from a violent axis shift caused by sliding polar ice. A leading scientist in underground nuclear testing stated that we are just a few more underground nuclear explosions away from splitting the entire planet apart. Even the slightest rise in the ocean level or temperature change, could extinguish all human life. We blot these many variable looming potential catastrophes out of our mind, but we shall never erase the reality that such dreadful occurrences have happened before and they ‘will’ happen again.

The short ten thousand years of our recorded history are barely enough time for a significant upgrading of mankind, yet it would be laughable to say that we are now living in a pinnacle Golden Age of human development. Our great forefathers who built the magnificent civilizations and wonders of our historical past would recoil in disgust at what we have become after such glorious and noble beginnings. We have not devolved spiritually and academically as well and abuse and violate Nature and this planet with utter impunity! Many geneticists believe that civilization itself causes the human stock to slowly degenerate, not only from its obvious artificial, unnatural and unhealthy habitat but also by enabling persons with unfavorable mutations to live and breed—when in a wild natural state, they would quickly perish. Not only do many Aryans today not consider themselves Aryan, most do not even have a clue that the very word itself signifies their unique biological species among the races of mankind. All books throughout history have always referred to the White Race as Aryans up until about the mid 1970’s when all the craftily fabricated anti-White Race shame stigma really kicked into gear. Aryan families have progressively been producing less and less children, falling victim to government forced integration and immigration and increasing non-Aryan adoptions highly encouraged by the media and Christian churches, while the silent genocide, abortion and birth control pills totally devastate any chance of restoring a balance in the numbers of our people worldwide which only hastens the Aryan race towards total extinction in the very near future.

One of the most poignant scientific discoveries of the 19th century was that which officially traced descent of all Indo-European peoples from that of the Aryans while today the enemies of Aryan-kind work overtime to brainwash our children that Aryans are not a race at all but only a language. The major Aryan tribal branches are roughly five in number: the Greeks, the Latins, the Celts, the Teutons, and the Slavs. To understand the origin and evolution of the Aryan Tribes, one must know something about the reasons for their major emigrations. To do this we must return to the last great cataclysmic events that changed the geography of the world. This was the time of the great migration of the races, a time when whole continents sank, and once temperate living areas in the world became lost and all but forgotten under the sea or lost beneath polar icecaps. Let us begin with one of the great civilizations of the former historical era, which was the mystical and never to be forgotten continent of Atlantis, for it was from the survivors of that great cataclysmic catastrophe (circa) 11,600 years ago that our current Western World received the light of highest knowledge and wisdom that would produce the new Golden Era and the Seven Wonders of the World.

One can only imagine the awesome horror of witnessing the sinking of an entire continent. It is, also, only natural that the few who did survive would be inclined to migrate as far away from such a nightmarish geological havoc as fast as their legs or boats could carry them. These Aryan Tribes would later become referred to as Indo-Europeans, traveling and settling to the far reaches of the East and South. Traveling to the West Americas was impossible at that time as today what we know as the Atlantic Ocean was a literal ocean of mud and not navigable for centuries thereafter. A more in-depth study of Atlantis and its most recent scientific facts and findings can be found in the book, “Atlantis The Eighth Continent” by Charles Berlitz, or, “The Secret of Atlantis” by Otto Muck.

At the beginning of our new historical era, Atlantis was gone, but not forgotten. It survived in memory of the Aryan Tribes by many assorted names. Along the north coast of Africa it was referred to by ancient writers as Atlantes, Atarantes and Atlantioi. Carthaginian seafarers knew it as Antilla. The Welsh and English named this lost paradise Avalon. The Basques, who still believe themselves to be direct descendants of Atlantis, called it Atlantika, the Portuguese, Atlántida, the Spanish Atalaya. The Babylonians called the Western paradise Arallu. Found upon Egyptian hieroglyphs are exhibited major sea battles with the Atlanteans, whom they referred to as “the Amenti, from the paradise of the West abode of the dead and part of the divine sun boat.” The ancient Arabians referred to Atlantis as the Land of Ad. It may well be that the name of the new man in the Christian bible, Ad-am, was a derivative of the two. Notice in the word Amenti the name Amen, which seems more than coincidence that the first Egyptian Aryan god would be named Amen Ra. Christians today still end their prayers with the word Amen, most all of whom are unaware that they are still paying their respects to Amen Ra and likely to Atlantis as well. This is the way in which many names are originated. For instance, the Jews call their nation Israel, which is the combined name of three gods: Isis, Ra, and El.

Throughout Mexico and Central America we continue to find remnants of Atlantean memory in names such as Tlapallan, Tollan, Azatlan and Aztlan. Further down in South America, Conquistadores in Venezuela found a settlement called Atlan, peopled by what they referred to as “White Indians”. Early explorers in Wisconsin USA, found a fortified village near Lake Michigan which its inhabitants called Azatlan.

The Vikings believed that Atili was a wondrous land in the West, and it was there that the Teutonic races placed Valhalla, a mystic land of self-renewing, battle, drinking and feasting. The Aryans who went eastward after Atlantis submerged settled in Bactria, which is today Central Asia. There was situated, according to the accounts of ancients, a nation called Arii, and a country known as Aria. Here the Aryan god Wotan (pronounced Vo-tahn) is supposed to have come with the Asen from the region of what is today part of Asia. Recent diggings in China have unearthed many tombs containing tall, fair haired Aryans, which adds credence to that mystery in history. The ancient Aryan city of Troy, now a part of Asia Minor, was also said to have distant links with the patriarchal Allfather Wotan.

After the fall of Atlantis the name Wotan surfaced in diverse areas, even as distant as South America. Pedro Corzo, a pilot who sailed up and down the Peruvian coast for years, reported that everywhere in the temples he found wooden or stone statues of a god called Guaton. The name means ‘whirlwind’, an equivalent to the Teutonic name Wotan, also known as a god of ‘storm’, and the Maya called him Votan, or Quetzalcoatal and Kukulcan, all were known as fair haired, blue eyed, and of White complexion, bearing striking similarities and impact throughout the leading centers of civilization at the time. It is the belief of some scholars that historically, Hermes and Wotan are both one and the same entity, perhaps all three in one, if we add Quetzalcoatal. It seems apparent that some singular individual or perhaps several highly intelligent beings were spreading the high science and technology of Atlantis around and construction of pyramids after the deluge and setting up the beginnings of the new great civilizations to come.

Aryan spiritualism has been primarily solar based. This idea of never dying fire is surely the oldest form of the religions of the Aryan Race. The early tribes who settled in Italy introduced the vesta fire cults there, further exampled in the mythos of Prometheus. The winged solar disk was a trademark symbol of the early Aryan civilizations. Aryans were always warlike, just as the gods they worshiped, as well as agricultural; above all they possessed the divine gifts of artistic creativity, high intellect and ingenuity.

The name Aryan is derived from the Indo-European Sanskrit language and means noble. “Aryan” is the correct actual name that defines the biological origins of what most people mistakenly refer to as the White Race. White is a color, not a name that defines a species, European is simply a name of a place, not a species. The name European in its origin started with the goddess Europa. Most are familiar with the mythological story of Europa and the Bull. Caucasian, likewise does not define a species, it is derived from the word Caucus which is the name of a place or region in the Caucus mountains. It is much like calling ourselves “Americans” as a race and just as ludicrous, neither name defines a species, they are merely the names of a geographical place. The word “Gentile” is of Jewish biblical origin and is used to signify those who are non-Jews. Again not the race defining name of a specific genetic human species.

The Aryan Race has always had a tendency to divide itself up into nations and make the quite common mistake in proclaiming that such nations are who and what we are as a race. It is no different than an Aryan in California stating that he is a different people than the Aryans who live in New York. Ask any Aryan today what race they are and they will name off some of the nations in Europe or worse, say that they are “Heinz 57”, which is to say, a little bit of everything. Someone says that they are German, French and Scandinavian. What does that mean genetically? All are Teutonic tribal branch names but they are all Aryan as a species.

There are only two primary root tribes of Aryans in Europe, the Celts and the Teutons, all other tribes of Aryans are a derivative of those two. It is certainly not the place called Europe which has made the Aryans what they have become over the many centuries of our history. We were Aryans before we settled there and this we owe simply too far distant root origins and the far-reaching influence of the migratory period after the fall of Atlantis, which hardened our people and developed the hearty and viril character of our ancestors. It is not to say that all Aryans were bottled up in the area of Atlantis alone before the great cataclysm, Hyperborea and ancient Aryan Egypt co-existed with Atlantis and likewise there were many tribes of our people spread far and wide in between. There remains Egyptian hieroglyphs that depict great naval battles between the Atlanteans and the Egyptians. In fact both were in the midst of a fierce battle with one another the day that Atlantis was submerged which we have now learned was the result of an asteroid striking the earth in the region of the Sargasso sea. What serves as a testament to the distant age of Egypt is that it survived the last great flood and axis shift. There still exists salt water tide marks on the interior of the pyramid of Giza which is not even the oldest pyramid. The Sphinx itself is far older than the pyramids in Egypt. Look at the globe of the world and you will see that the Nile river is the only river which has its delta pointing towards the north, That it survived the last axis shift is also evident in that upper Egypt is still called lower Egypt and lower Egypt is still called upper Egypt.

How was the Indo-European evolved from the Aryan? He certainly left his home a different man from what he had become when he set foot on European soil—at the time when he first made his appearance in history. Nor is he invariably the same. The Greek differs from the Roman, the Roman from the Celt, the Celt from the Teuton, the Teuton from the Slav. Yet, one bonding genetic element runs through all Aryan Tribes, which defines them back to the original source. It is genetic physiognomy which defines the Aryan species, not the language or temporary political boundaries, or language which many are taught to believe from today’s Aryan culture distorters. A race is not to be determined by skin color alone, it is genetic, it is the defining DNA of a specific race of humankind. There are Aryans of light, medium and dark skin complexions. There are Chinese of skin color ranging from yellowish skin to pure white skin. Negroes can range from darkest black skin to brown, tan and in some cases pure white albino Negroes. Indians skin color can vary from reddish complexion to tan, white or to darkest black as in East Indian species from India. The Indians from the America’s it has been found co-existed with the Aryans during the age of Atlantis. The name “Indian” was not the original name used to define their race, they were all known in those days of Atlantis as Toltec’s.

Above all, a man’s conduct is clearly the result of his character and the circumstances that surround his action. His character is the product of his past environment (back to his conception) and his heredity. ‘We are the tail-end of a tape-worm of ancestry.’ We originate nothing and we decide nothing; we are moved, directed, and compelled by forces ultimately external to us, and over which, in the last analysis, we have no control. Choice is a delusion; it is only a composition of determining forces. ‘Men think themselves free because they are conscious of their volitions and desires, but are ignorant of the causes by which they are led to wish and desire. In truth our behavior is as rigidly determined by the forces that produce and encompass us, as the fall of a stone is fixed in time and space by its mass, its velocity, and its direction. It is in this sense that man is a machine.” ~ Will Durant

The entire condition of present day Aryan culture is seriously ill and degenerating in an alarming manner. Having come under the custody of men who are inwardly indifferent, self hating and even hostile to it, and whose mental and moral attitude differs drastically from our noble race-conscious forebears. At this juncture in history Aryan man is fighting for the battle of his life, with the ever-present specter of impending extinction of his entire species hanging in the balance before him. In a report by the United States Immigration Commission dated 1911, it states that: “The Aryan ‘races’ comprise nearly half the population of the Earth, say 700,000,000 out of a total of 1,500,000,000.” In less than one century, the Aryan Race has dwindled to a most shocking 8% of the World population and still rapidly declining, while the world population has more than quadrupled, now in excess of 6 billion. A front page article in a national periodical back in 1960 stated, “It is one of the riddles of our time why the White man, lord of the earth from pole to pole, should, in the short space of a single human generation, renounce his rule, draw back wearily from a position of world-wide power, so that today he is in a panic-stricken flight, where yesterday he still governed inviolably.”

If the Aryan Race does not regain control of its survival instincts, then certain extinction from the face of the Earth within a space of one century but perhaps more likely 50 years is inevitable. The battle that must be faced is not from any enemy without, but from the enemy within our own self and our people. That special something which made our ancestors the literal sovereigns of the earth, developed from an indigenous inborn yearning in our DNA. It is this yearning that builds uncommon valor, makes men take chances and risk their lives and limbs for the greater glory of their people. Such a yearning has always been a genetic characteristic of Aryan man, matched with an indomitable will and biological determination. This yearning is perhaps more accurately defined as “The Vital Spark”.

The Aryan Race certainly has never been submissive in the past, which is why it has reigned supreme in might and creative genius since the dawn of history. Should it fully adopt the submissive, turn-the-other-cheek, resist-not-evil, all-men-are-created-equal pabulum of alien Semitic Christian dogma, (which the Semites themselves would never follow) or the universalist and self-hating ‘anything goes’ concept, then we shall perish from the face of the earth, surely as the sun sets in the west! Jewish religion and history works fine for the Jews, but it is not our religion, nor is it our history or Aryan heroes. We shall never find the path to our race ethnic soul and indigenous spirituality by following a Jewish road-map or any path or system which is not our own. Only the dare to be strong and great as a people, dare to be vigilant against all odds for the right and honor of your family, culture and race will be capable of finding their own true inner essence. The inner strength of our roots and identity as a proud and glorious race is what filled our ancestors with the Vital Spark to produce the Wonders of the World! The Alfa Aryan must ever remain thick-skinned to bear his or her steadfast non-conformity to the maddening and unconscious world which is always ready to pull us down into the mire at the first opportunity. Always remember that from the grinding, grating friction within the oyster comes the pearl. There is no growth without adversity, and there is no life worth the living without your ethnic roots, heritage, and indigenous mythology which bears your identity and the treasure of your Vital Spark, your Will to Be, which is your God given Quest and Holy Grail by divine right!

Our culture is superficial today, and our knowledge dangerous, because we are rich in mechanisms and poor in purposes. The balance of mind which once came of a warm religious faith is gone; science has taken from us the supernatural bases of our mortality, and all the world seems consumed in a disorderly individualism that reflects the chaotic fragmentation of our character.” ~ Will Durant

A Model of Enlightenment

“Enlightenment,” like “humanism” or “romanticism,” is a big general term through which we try to build up a mental construct out of a very great number of facts. No such construct can possibly include, without exception, all the facts of eighteenth-century culture. We might attempt to take a single real individual, and build from his life and work a man “typical” of the Enlightenment. Were we to do so, we could do much worse than to pick Thomas Jefferson. Even more representative would be a combination of Jefferson, Franklin, and Thomas Paine; in fact, the construction of a nonexistent but “typical” enlightened man is by no means a bad approach to this classical problem. (It should be noted that colonial and early national America was very much a part of the Enlightenment.) Here, however, we shall deal directly with ideas in order to construct a kind of “model” of the world view of the Enlightenment, fully aware that in fact we are not constructing a model even in the sense now fashionable in such social sciences as economics, but are using an old and well-tried literary device–that is, empirical, even commonsensical, generalization. Three key clusters of ideas form our model of the world view of the Enlightenment; Reason, Nature, Progress.

REASON:

Reason was to the enlightened man a kind of common sense sharpened and made subtler by training in logic and “natural philosophy” (science). Like any other physiological function, reason was held to work always and in substantially the same way in all human beings as Nature designed them. But–and this is important–in enlightened eyes, environmental conditions (institutional and cultural environment, rather than physical environment–in temperate climates at any rate), had in the West in the eighteenth century corrupted the normal physiological working of Reason in most human beings. For this corruption the eighteenth century held especially responsible the wider cultural environment. Church, state, social, and economic class, superstition, ignorance, prejudice, poverty, and vice all seemed to work together to impede the proper functioning of Reason.

The philosophes, could they have been polled in the modern way, would probably have ranked the Roman Catholic church—indeed, all Christian churches—as the greatest single corrupting influence. Priests were selfish, cruel, intolerant. Voltaire’s “crush the infamous thing” rang through the century. But at bottom the greatest evil of the church, for the enlightened, was its transcendental and supernatural base, which put faith and revelation above reason.

In the great French Encyclopedia, under the article on philosophe, appears the revealing sentence, “Reason is to the philosophe what grace is to the Christian.” And just as grace is available to the true Christian, so Reason, for the philosophe, is available to the truly enlightened, once the proper environmental conditions are achieved. The philosophes and their followers certainly held that the necessary environmental changes would take some time and effort, though Condorcet in his Sketch for a Historical Picture of the Human Mind (1794) held that Western man was on the threshold of the final push into a wholly reasonable world. Moreover, in this reasonable world, if there might persist some inequalities in reasoning power among men, these would not be considerable. Helvetius, in his Concerning the Mind (1758), is convinced that potentially all men have roughly equal powers of understanding.

Locke, in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690), provided the philosophical and psychological foundation on which the philosophes constructed their faith in Reason. For Locke denied all “innate ideas,” among which were the Christian truths of revelation, and held the mind to be a tabula rasa on which experience (that is, environment) inscribed a content. Obviously, if you can control this experience you can control the formation of the mind, the character—all that counts in a man. That sturdy faith in “cultural engineering,” new, as a widespread one, in its assertion of the possibility of changing all human beings for the good by changing their environment, and in particular their education, from infancy on, has survived in diminished forms to this day.

NATURE:

Nature, the second great cluster of ideas in our model of Enlightenment, is closely meshed with that of Reason. In perhaps over-simple terms, reason, properly working, enabled human beings to discover, or rediscover, Nature beneath the concealing corruptions of religion, social structure, convention, and indeed, beneath the often misleading impressions of sense experience not properly organized by Reason. Though the average enlightened man would not have admitted it, this Nature was in part a hypostatized conception of the beautiful and the good. It must be understood against two antitheses. First, there is the “super-” or “supernatural” —the miracle, the revealed truths of religion. For the enlightened, all these are simply figments of the imagination, nonexistent, indeed at bottom priestly inventions designed to keep men ignorant of the ways of Reason and Nature. Second, there is the “unnatural.” Unlike the supernatural, the unnatural does indeed exist. The unnatural, the artificial, the burdens of irrational customs and traditions accumulated through historic time, are for the enlightened the form of evil takes in this world. It must be noted that in simple naive logic the enlightened had as much trouble over the problem of the origin of evil as did the Christian. How the natural got to be unnatural was a question as difficult to answer as how an all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good God allowed Adam to bite into the apple. Rousseau, for example, in the Essay on the Origin of Inequality (1754), blames the lapse from the state of Nature on the first man to fence in a piece of land and say, “This is mine.” He does not explain why this natural man acted so unnaturally.

Nature, then, is quite simply the “good” —a set of ethical and aesthetic goals or standards. In specific content these standards were not in fact greatly different from those of the Judaeo-Christian tradition. There was no doubt a strong touch of Hellenism in the eighteenth, as in the sixteenth, century. The Enlightened was this-worldly enough, and by no means ascetic. Its characteristic ethics (Helvetius again, or Jeremy Bentham, will do as examples) was hedonist and instrumentalist. Yet only among a few circles of court and nobility was the eighteenth century a time of moral looseness, cynicism, and corruption, and even in such circles, there often cropped up what we should call the strain of social consciousness. The enlightened despot (Joseph II of Austria), the enlightened nobleman (Lafayette), were hardly self-indulgent sensualists. There was, in fact, a touch of puritanism in the enlightened, as in almost all who really hope to make men over completely.

Some writers, especially in the second half of the the century, were “primitivists.” They held that there had once been on earth a state of Nature in which men lived free from evil. Some placed this state of Nature in a distant, semi-classical past, the Golden Age of Hellenistic tradition. Others found this state of Nature in their own time, though Chinese who believed in decency, not in a theistic God, and among those noble savages, the Red Indians of America. But for the most part, eighteenth century writers seem to have had at most no more than a half belief in the historical reality of an idyllic state of Nature; even Rousseau seemed aware that the state of Nature is what we would now call a myth, a useful form of what we would now call propaganda for the new order. So too was that very popular political concept, the “social contract”; this device brought “natural” ethics into practical politics as the natural rights of man.

PROGRESS:

The third cluster of ideas is summed up in the word “progress”” Americans especially are so accustomed to accepting the notion of Progress as something self-evident that they find it hard to realize how new this doctrine really is. The central doctrine of development in the Judaeo-Christian tradition is that of a lapse from an original perfect state, that of the Garden of Eden; and in so representative a Christian view of world history as Augustine’s City of God, a better state, though seen to be ahead as well as behind, is not one attained by the steady improvement of man’s lot on this earth in the civitas terrena, but by a promise of a Second Coming of Christ. The Hellenistic tradition favored a variety of cyclical theories, with a Golden Age degenerating to a Silver Age and thence to an Iron Age before the process started all over again. The humanists of the Renaissance, as well as the leaders of the Protestant Reformation were trying to recapture a past they both believed much superior to their present.

The clearest beginnings of a belief that the present is better than the past came in the late seventeenth century in what in France was called the “quarrel of the ancients and the moderns” and in England the “battle of the books.” The issue was a literary one: can a writer in the late seventeenth century achieve work equal to, perhaps better than, that of the great writers of Greece and Rome? At the moment the battle was no more than a draw, but in the early eighteenth century the moderns began to win out in public opinion. The French reformer and philosopher Turgot, in a speech at the Sorbonne “On the Successive Advances of the Human Mind” (1750), outlined a complete doctrine of progress, which at the hands of his friend and disciple Condorcet in the above-mentioned Sketch for a Historical Picture of the Human Mind becomes an extraordinarily optimistic utopia of indefinite progress toward what has been called a doctrine of “natural salvation” —the attainment by everyone of immortality in this flesh on this earth.

The average man, even though enlightened, could hardly fly as high as did Condorcet. Moreover, the eighteenth century lacked what Darwin in the nineteenth century was to provide, a systematic theoretical explanation of the biological workings of an evolutionary process from “lower” to “higher,” interpreted as Progress. The enlightened man tended toward a simple view that the agent of progress is the increasingly effective application of Reason to the control of the physical and cultural environment. Education became one of the major ways in which Reason was to do its work of reform. From Locke to Rousseau and Pestalozzi, the Enlightenment produced a series of very important writings on educational theory, and saw the beginnings of serious experimentation in the field.

This is hardly the place to attack the knotty problem of the relation between the key ideas of the Enlightenment and the complex currents of the full historical record of the period. There is clearly no single one-way “cause” involved, but many among them the example of natural science, clearly cumulative and “progressive”; the beginnings of the extraordinary technological advances of our Western civilization; a very considerable and widespread economic growth—of course not evenly distributed as to class and geographical location, but still much greater, in France above all, than historians once believed; and reinforcing all, a “climate of opinion” favorable to enterprise. These factors, and many others which are by no means well understood, helped make the Enlightenment the take-off point of modern Western civilization, so unique in its concrete material achievements.


From the “Encyclopedia of Philosophy” by Collier-Macmillan limited, 1967

Life Inside China’s Social Credit Laboratory – Coming west sooner than you think!

China’s Social Credit system: Coming west sooner than you think!

 

The party’s massive experiment in ranking and monitoring Chinese citizens has already started.

 

RONGCHENG, CHINA — Rongcheng was built for the future. Its broad streets and suburban communities were constructed with an eye to future expansion, as the city sprawls on the eastern tip of China’s Shandong province overlooking the Yellow Sea. Colorful billboards depicting swans bank on the birds — one of the city’s tourist attractions — returning there every winter to escape the Siberian cold.

In an attempt to ease bureaucracy, the city hall, a glass building that resembles a flying saucer, has been fashioned as a one-stop shop for most permits. Instead of driving from one office to another to get their paperwork in order, residents simply cross the gleaming corridors to talk to officials seated at desks in the open-space area.

At one of these stations, Rongcheng residents can pick up their social credit score.

In what it calls an attempt to promote “trustworthiness” in its economy and society, China is experimenting with a social credit system that mixes familiar Western-style credit scores with more expansive — and intrusive — measures. It includes everything from rankings calculated by online payment providers to scores doled out by neighborhoods or companies. High-flyers receive perks such as discounts on heating bills and favorable bank loans, while bad debtors cannot buy high-speed train or plane tickets.

By 2020, the government has promised to roll out a national social credit system. According to the system’s founding document, released by the State Council in 2014, the scheme should “allow the trustworthy to roam everywhere under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step.” But at a time when the Chinese Communist Party is aggressively advancing its presence across town hall offices and company boardrooms, this move has sparked fears that it is another step in the tightening of China’s already scant freedoms.

But it has been hard to distinguish future promises — or threats — from the realities of how social credit is being implemented. Rongcheng is one place where that future is visible. Three dozen pilot systems have been rolled out in cities across the country, and Rongcheng is one of them. According to Chinese officials and researchers, it’s the best example of the system working as intended. But it also illustrates those intentions may not be as straightforward as they like to claim.

Top and above: Roncheng’s “civilized families” are displayed on public noticeboards like these. (Simina Mistreanu)

The system is the brainchild of city hall staff, says He Junning, the deputy director of the Rongcheng Social Credit Management Office.

The bureaucrat, wearing square glasses and a black checkered sweater, shares the social credit department with seven other employees on the second floor of the city hall. The system they have devised assigns 1,000 points at the beginning to each of Rongcheng’s 740,000 adult residents. From there, the math begins.

Get a traffic ticket; you lose five points. Earn a city-level award, such as for committing a heroic act, doing exemplary business, or helping your family in unusual tough circumstances, and your score gets boosted by 30 points. For a department-level award, you earn five points. You can also earn credit by donating to charity or volunteering in the city’s program.

He stresses that “anything that influences your points needs to be backed by official facts with official documents.” That reduces subjectivity and limits penalties to mainly breaking laws and regulations.

Depending on their score bracket, residents hold a grade ranging from A+++ to D. Some offenses can hurt the score pretty badly. For drunk driving, for example, one’s score plummets straight to a C. On the other hand, triple As are rewarded with perks such as being able to rent public bikes without paying a deposit (and riding them for free for an hour and a half), receiving a $50 heating discount every winter, and obtaining more advantageous terms on bank loans.

Companies are also included in the gauntlet of social credit. They can remain in good standing if they pay taxes on time and avoid fines for things such as substandard or unsanitary products — a sore point for Chinese people, who tend to mistrust firms and service providers due to frequent scams and food safety scandals. High-scoring businesses pass through fewer hoops in public tenders and get better loan conditions.

But even though the system, established in late 2013, theoretically extends to every part of people’s lives, many of the city’s residents don’t even know it exists yet. Sometimes people only realize it when their big life plans — buying a home, applying for a government position or an academic title — take them to the bright hallways of the city hall.

Yu Guanqing sports black Nike sneakers as he rushes from one counter to another, his wife by his side. The 30-year-old company employee needs his social credit score among other documents to apply for a house loan.

“This is making me do extra work! It’s too troublesome,” Yu says while walking, his documents in hand. He hasn’t given the social credit too much thought but says it might help improve people’s behavior. When asked, he checks his score. “I’m an A,” he says — just like 90 percent of Rongcheng’s population.

Oversized pictures depicting the heroes of this brave new world are displayed outside the city hall. They include Bi Haoran, a 24-year-old policeman, who saved some students one evening by pushing them out of the way of a car that crashed into the crowd. Yuan Suoping, a 55-year-old villager, is also there. After her husband’s death, she took care of her bedbound mother-in-law, and when she remarried years later, her only condition for her new husband was that the old woman come live with them.

High-scoring residents are shown outside the public library and in residential communities and villages, which are already operating their own trial social credit systems. Boards explaining how you can win or lose points and showing pictures of the best scorers are a common sight in Rongcheng; passersby talk about them with pride.

But the most startling thing is that cars yield to pedestrians at the crosswalk — a sight I’ve never seen in another Chinese city.

“I feel like in the past six months, people’s behavior has gotten better and better,” says Chen, a 32-year-old entrepreneur who only wanted to give his last name. “For example, when we drive, now we always stop in front of crosswalks. If you don’t stop, you will lose your points. At first, we just worried about losing points, but now we got used to it.”

Inside the Citizens’ Office in Rongcheng, China, in Nov. 2017. (Aurelien Foucault/Picture-Alliance/DPA/AP)

Rongcheng is a microcosm of what is to come. The national credit system planned for 2020 will be an “ecosystem” made up of schemes of various sizes and reaches, run by cities, government ministries, online payment providers, down to neighborhoods, libraries, and businesses, say Chinese researchers who are designing the national scheme. It will all be interconnected by an invisible web of information.

But contrary to some Western press accounts, which often confuse existing private credit systems with the future schemes, it will not be a unified platform where one can type in his or her ID and get a single three-digit score that will decide their lives. This caricature of a system that doles out unique scores to 1.4 billion people could not work technically nor politically, says Rogier Creemers, a scholar of Chinese law at the Leiden University Institute for Area Studies in the Netherlands. The system would instead expand and automatize existing forms of bureaucratic control, formalizing the existing controls and monitoring of Chinese citizens.

“The social credit system is just really adding technology and adding a formality to the way the party already operates,” says Samantha Hoffman, a consultant at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) who researches Chinese social management.

The Communist Party has experimented with forms of social control ever since it came to power in 1949, though China’s self-policing tradition stretches back to the Song dynasty. An 11th-century emperor instituted a grid system where groups of five to 25 households kept tabs on each other and were empowered to arrest delinquents.

But previous efforts largely focused on groups, not individuals. As early as the 1950s, during Mao Zedong’s rule, rural Chinese were forced into communes that farmed collectively — to disastrous effect — and had their status measured as a group. Similarly, danwei were work units whose members were apportioned public goods and were ranked based on their “good” or “bad” political standing. Such groups were supposed to police their own members — efforts inevitably tied to the violent political struggles of the Maoist era.

Post-1980s, the state relied on hukou, or housing registration, to keep tabs on where people lived, worked, and sent their children to school. But the hukou system often broke down when confronted with China’s mass urbanization in recent decades, which saw hundreds of millions of migrant workers move into metropolises despite poor access to housing and social services.

Along with society at large, the Communist Party has always monitored its own members for both ideological and personal loyalties. E-government projects that started in the 1990s, such as the Golden Shield, which connected public security bureaus across the country through an online network, have been aimed at both efficiency and control.

Former President Jiang Zemin in 1995 called for “the informatization, automation, and intelligentization of economic and social management.” In the early 2000s, his successor, Hu Jintao, attempted to automate social surveillance through modern grid policing projects in cities such as Shanghai. Hu, with his minister of public security, Zhou Yongkang, dreamed up a monitoring system capable of functioning automatically, with the end goal being to keep the Communist Party in power.

The result of decades of control, however, is that Chinese society suffers from a lack of trust, says veteran sociologist Zhang Lifan. People often expect to be cheated or to get in trouble without having done anything. This anxiety, Zhang says, stems from the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), when friends and family members were pitted against one another and millions of Chinese were killed in political struggles.

“It’s a problem the ruling party itself has created,” Zhang says, “and now it wants to solve it.”

But around Rongcheng, nobody wants to talk to foreign journalists about the difficult times. “Life in our village has always been good,” says Mu Linming, a 62-year-old resident of Daxunjiangjia Village. “After introducing the system, it’s gotten even better.”

The retiree and his wife treat visitors the way people used to in the old days: They invite us into their home, insist that we have some noodles, and practically force bags of apples and nuts into our hands before we depart. The orderly village, where some rooftops are covered with seaweed, has its own social credit system that’s separate from Rongcheng’s. Here, the criteria boil down to whether you take care of your parents and treat your neighbors nicely.

Most people’s scores are middle of the road, Mu says, though the top rankers are displayed on a board near the village center.

“We are all good, and we can all encourage bad people to be good,” he says.

Pictures of Rongcheng’s ‘civic heroes’ are displayed around city hall. (Simina Mistreanu)

In Beijing, Zhang Lili is one of the researchers designing the national social credit system. She works at Peking University’s China Credit Research Center, which was established more than 15 years ago for this purpose.

Zhang, wearing her hair in a ponytail, talks about how the idea for the system originated in China’s rapid economic expansion. It’s a narrative commonly put forward in China: Because the Chinese market economy didn’t take centuries to expand like in the West, people need the government to keep companies and businesspeople in check, as well as to ensure a smooth urbanization.

The Peking University credit center started in the early 2000s with social credit projects for tourism agencies, the Ministry of Commerce, and academic researchers. The rankings were based on criteria such as permits and professional qualifications.

“But now with the inclusion of personal information, because there’s more debate about it, [the government] is more cautious,” Zhang says.

The experience of an early citywide experiment might explain why. In 2010, authorities in Suining, a county in Jiangsu province near Shanghai, launched a pilot project that included criteria such as residents’ education level, online behavior, and compliance with traffic laws. Locals would earn points for looking after elderly family members or helping the poor and lose them for minor traffic offenses or if they illegally petitioned higher authorities for help. High scorers were fast-tracked for job promotions and gained access to top schools, while those at the bottom were restricted from some permits and social services.

The scheme was a disaster. Both residents and state media blasted it for its seemingly unfair and arbitrary criteria, with one state-run newspaper comparing the system to the “good citizen” certificates issued by Japan during its wartime occupation of China. The Suining pilot was canceled but not before teaching the government some lessons about what is palatable to the public.

The reason why Rongcheng has the most successful social credit system so far is that the community has embraced it, Zhang says. And that has happened because the scheme basically only deducts points for breaking the law. It is precise in its punishment and generous in its rewards.

As a result, schools, hospitals, and neighborhoods are independently running versions of it. “It’s not because the government has asked them to do it,” Zhang says. “It’s because they feel it’s better for their own administration.”

One such microsystem has been built by residents of First Morning Light, a neighborhood of 5,100 families a stone’s throw from Rongcheng city hall. The spacious, modern-looking community has been divided into grids of 300 families, each grid overseen by a management team. Residents have even taken the official Rongcheng credit system a few steps further by adding penalties for illegally spreading religion — echoing recent countrywide crackdowns on religious practice — abusing or abandoning family members, and defaming others online.

The effects have been positive, says Yang Lihong, a resident in her 30s who uses a pseudonym. Quality of life in First Morning Light has shot up — along with property prices. Yang, who asked that her real name not be used, says she sees no downsides to the social credit system and has no privacy-related concerns.

“I trust the government,” she says. “Who else can you trust if not them?”

China needs a “very delicate” type of administration, Zhang adds.

He Junning, deputy director of the Rongcheng Social Credit Management Office, explains how citizens get rewarded for responsible behavior and penalized for breaking the rules in Nov. 2017. (Aurelien Foucault/Picture-Alliance/DPA/AP)

As Rongcheng shows, enforcing the law is a priority of the social credit system. Chinese courts struggle to enforce their judgments, especially civil ones. They’re hampered by their relatively low status in the political system, the country’s sheer size and scale, and the varied and often contentious levels of law enforcement.

On the one hand, the scheme wants to address real problems that Chinese society is confronting, such as financial scams, counterfeit products, and unsanitary restaurants, which amount to a “lack of trust in the market,” says Creemers of the Leiden Institute.

“Yes, the social credit system is connected with maintaining the integrity and stability of the political regime,” he says. “It is also the case that it tries to do so by addressing legitimate concerns. And that complicates the criticism.”

Perhaps the most controversial initiative so far is a supreme court blacklist of 170,000 defaulters who are barred from buying high-speed train or airplane tickets or staying at luxury hotels as a means to pressure them to repay their debt.

The public blacklist has been incorporated by another incarnation of the social credit system — Zhima Credit, a service of the mobile payment provider Alipay. China has a huge mobile payment market, with transactions totaling $5.5 trillion in 2016, compared with $112 billion in the United States. Alipay, owned by Ant Financial, and WeChat Pay dominate the still-growing Chinese market.

Zhima Credit is an optional service embedded in Alipay that calculates users’ personal credit based on data such as spending history, friends on Alipay’s social network, and other types of consumer behavior. Zhima Credit’s technology director controversially told the Chinese magazine Caixin in 2015 that buying diapers, for example, would be considered “responsible” behavior, while playing video games for hours could be counted against you.

Hu Tao, Zhima Credit’s general manager, paints a different picture now. She says the app doesn’t monitor social media posts “nor does it attempt to measure qualitative characteristics like character, honesty, or moral value.” Zhima Credit is not a pilot for the social credit system and doesn’t share data with the government without users’ consent, she says.

However, the company is blending into the invisible web of China’s upcoming social credit system. Ant Financial has already signed a memorandum of understanding with Rongcheng, whose residents will be able to pay their utility bills using Alipay and show their Zhima Credit score — if high enough — to obtain better health insurance and borrow library books and rent public bikes without a deposit.

There’s no single institution in command of the social credit system. Instead, the web made of various schemes stretches and blends, inching from the more popular restrictions for breaking laws to new, grayer areas. The National Development and Reform Commission, a powerful central body, said in March that it would extend train and flight travel restrictions for actions such as spreading false information about terrorism and using expired tickets.

The government will in the end have inordinate amounts of data at its disposal to control and intervene in society, politics, and the economy. This strategy is deliberate and well thought out, argues Sebastian Heilmann of the Mercator Institute for China Studies in Berlin. “With the help of Big Data, China’s leadership strives to eliminate the flaws of Communist systems,” he wrote in a Financial Times op-ed. China’s troves of data will help the government allocate resources, solve problems, and squelch dissent — or so, at least, the government hopes.

Lu Qunying, a hospital employee, checks in at the counter of the social credit system at the Citizens’ Office in Rongcheng in Nov. 2017. (Aurelien Foucault/Picture-Alliance/DPA/AP)

Some people already feel trapped in China’s social credit web. Investigative reporter Liu Hu in 2013 published an article alleging someone was an extortionist. The man sued Liu for defamation and won. The court ordered the journalist to pay a fine, which he says he did. However, when Liu next tried to book a plane ticket using a travel app, he was notified that the transaction couldn’t go through because he had been included on the supreme court’s blacklist.

He contacted the local court and learned he had transferred the money to the wrong account. He hurried to repay the fine and sent the judge a picture of his transfer. He didn’t hear back. Later, through connections, he managed to meet the judge and plead with him to be removed from the blacklist, but so far nothing has happened. Through a loophole, Liu can buy plane tickets using his passport, but he feels like there’s nothing he can do to get himself off the blacklist. “It’s helpless,” he says.

The unified social credit system will rally all sectors of society against those deemed untrustworthy, says author Murong Xuecun, who has had run-ins with the Chinese government because of his writings. Murong believes dissidents will experience a “multifaceted punishment,” and more and more people will become cautious about their remarks.

“The Chinese government is increasingly inclined to use high tech to monitor ordinary people, turning China into a police state, a big prison,” says Zhang Lifan, the sociologist.

Zhang and Murong’s voices, however, are so far exceptions. If people have doubts, they’re not voicing them. In Rongcheng, at least, the social credit system has been embraced. If that continues elsewhere, the system will be a success. And the government will see to it that it does.

In the larger picture, the Communist Party is trying to stay in power “by making China a pleasant and acceptable place for people to live in order to not get angry,” Creemers says. “It doesn’t mean it’s benevolent. Keeping people happy is a much more effective means than employing force.”

The party is using both coercion and cooperation to integrate the scheme into people’s lives and have it bring benefits to them. “To me, that’s what makes it Orwellian,” says Hoffman of IISS. The social credit system provides incentives for people to not want to be on a blacklist. “It’s a preemptive way of shaping the way people think and shaping the way people act,” she says. And to the extent that people believe they can benefit socially and economically from the Communist Party staying in power, the system is working.

Cai Yinan and Wu Xiaoxi contributed reporting.

Simina Mistreanu is a Beijing-based journalist. (@SiminaMistreanu)

Chinese government continues to mould citizen behaviour with a Social Credit System

Chinese authorities are expanding the use of an unprecedented technological strategy that gives the government almost complete control over society.

Surveillance, citizen profiling and a Social Credit System combine for a cocktail that is as fascinating as it is terrifying.

The nationwide credit system is scheduled to be launched in 2020, but several pilot systems have already been trialled in smaller cities throughout the country. The idea is to give each citizen a “social score” that will rise and fall depending on the person’s behaviour.

Around 1.4 billion Chinese nationals will be incorporated in a point system that rewards the “trustworthy” and punishes the “disobedient”.

Low scores can significantly impact the life of a person, with penalties including bans from flights with national carriers, ineligibility for public universities and even frozen assets.

Things like dodging transport fares, jaywalking and cheating in video games are considered transgressions that can impact your social score. On the other hand, donating blood or doing volunteer work boosts your points.

The National Development and Reform Commission claims the initiative has already allowed the government to ban more than 7 million people from boarding flights and close to 3 million others from riding on high-speed trains. That’s almost the whole population of Sydney and Melbourne combined.

Authorities in Shenzhen recently implemented facial recognition tech and online shaming to counter petty crime.

In Xiamen, where the Social Credit System has been working since 2004, local authorities play a voice message whenever you call someone with a low score.

“The person you’re calling is dishonest,” the caller hears before their call is connected.

Private companies have also noticed the potential for such technology and have run their own trial programs to profile their customers. Alibaba-affiliated company Ant Financial has developed “Sesame Credit”, a private credit system that rates people according to their consumption behaviour and preferences.

“Someone who plays video games for 10 hours a day, for example, would be considered an idle person,” Li Yingyun, Sesame Credit’s technology director, told local press.

“Someone who frequently buys diapers would be considered as probably a parent, who on balance is more likely to have a sense of responsibility,” he said.

Not creeped out yet? In some areas, China is using something called Integrated Joint Operations Platform (IJOP), an Orwellian mass surveillance system that pools information on anyone from legal databases, internet presence and bank records.

Combine that with these Terminator-like smart glasses and things are getting pretty grim.

China to bar people with bad ‘social credit’ from planes, trains

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China said it will begin applying its so-called social credit system to flights and trains and stop people who have committed misdeeds from taking such transport for up to a year.

Passengers wait to board trains ahead of the Chinese Lunar New Year, at Nanjing Railway Station in Jiangsu province, China January 31, 2018. China Daily via REUTERS

People who would be put on the restricted lists included those found to have committed acts like spreading false information about terrorism and causing trouble on flights, as well as those who used expired tickets or smoked on trains, according to two statements issued on the National Development and Reform Commission’s website on Friday.

Those found to have committed financial wrongdoings, such as employers who failed to pay social insurance or people who have failed to pay fines, would also face these restrictions, said the statements which were dated March 2.

It added that the rules would come into effect on May 1.

 

The move is in line with President’s Xi Jinping’s plan to construct a social credit system based on the principle of “once untrustworthy, always restricted”, said one of the notices which was signed by eight ministries, including the country’s aviation regulator and the Supreme People’s Court.

China has flagged plans to roll out a system that will allow government bodies to share information on its citizens’ trustworthiness and issue penalties based on a so-called social credit score.

However, there are signs that the use of social credit scoring on domestic transport could have started years ago. In early 2017, the country’s Supreme People’s Court said during a press conference that 6.15 million Chinese citizens had been banned from taking flights for social misdeeds.

Reporting by SHANGHAI Newsroom and Brenda Goh; Editing by Kim Coghill

Big data meets Big Brother as China moves to rate its citizens

The Chinese government plans to launch its Social Credit System in 2020. The aim? To judge the trustworthiness – or otherwise – of its 1.3 billion residents

On June 14, 2014, the State Council of China published an ominous-sounding document called “Planning Outline for the Construction of a Social Credit System”. In the way of Chinese policy documents, it was a lengthy and rather dry affair, but it contained a radical idea. What if there was a national trust score that rated the kind of citizen you were?

Imagine a world where many of your daily activities were constantly monitored and evaluated: what you buy at the shops and online; where you are at any given time; who your friends are and how you interact with them; how many hours you spend watching content or playing video games; and what bills and taxes you pay (or not). It’s not hard to picture, because most of that already happens, thanks to all those data-collecting behemoths like Google, Facebook and Instagram or health-tracking apps such as Fitbit. But now imagine a system where all these behaviours are rated as either positive or negative and distilled into a single number, according to rules set by the government. That would create your Citizen Score and it would tell everyone whether or not you were trustworthy. Plus, your rating would be publicly ranked against that of the entire population and used to determine your eligibility for a mortgage or a job, where your children can go to school – or even just your chances of getting a date.

A futuristic vision of Big Brother out of control? No, it’s already getting underway in China, where the government is developing the Social Credit System (SCS) to rate the trustworthiness of its 1.3 billion citizens. The Chinese government is pitching the system as a desirable way to measure and enhance “trust” nationwide and to build a culture of “sincerity”. As the policy states, “It will forge a public opinion environment where keeping trust is glorious. It will strengthen sincerity in government affairs, commercial sincerity, social sincerity and the construction of judicial credibility.”

Others are less sanguine about its wider purpose. “It is very ambitious in both depth and scope, including scrutinising individual behaviour and what books people are reading. It’s Amazon’s consumer tracking with an Orwellian political twist,” is how Johan Lagerkvist, a Chinese internet specialist at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs, described the social credit system. Rogier Creemers, a post-doctoral scholar specialising in Chinese law and governance at the Van Vollenhoven Institute at Leiden University, who published a comprehensive translation of the plan, compared it to “Yelp reviews with the nanny state watching over your shoulder”.

For now, technically, participating in China’s Citizen Scores is voluntary. But by 2020 it will be mandatory. The behaviour of every single citizen and legal person (which includes every company or other entity)in China will be rated and ranked, whether they like it or not.

Kevin Hong

Prior to its national roll-out in 2020, the Chinese government is taking a watch-and-learn approach. In this marriage between communist oversight and capitalist can-do, the government has given a licence to eight private companies to come up with systems and algorithms for social credit scores. Predictably, data giants currently run two of the best-known projects.

The first is with China Rapid Finance, a partner of the social-network behemoth Tencent and developer of the messaging app WeChat with more than 850 million active users. The other, Sesame Credit, is run by the Ant Financial Services Group (AFSG), an affiliate company of Alibaba. Ant Financial sells insurance products and provides loans to small- to medium-sized businesses. However, the real star of Ant is AliPay, its payments arm that people use not only to buy things online, but also for restaurants, taxis, school fees, cinema tickets and even to transfer money to each other.

Sesame Credit has also teamed up with other data-generating platforms, such as Didi Chuxing, the ride-hailing company that was Uber’s main competitor in China before it acquired the American company’s Chinese operations in 2016, and Baihe, the country’s largest online matchmaking service. It’s not hard to see how that all adds up to gargantuan amounts of big data that Sesame Credit can tap into to assess how people behave and rate them accordingly.

So just how are people rated? Individuals on Sesame Credit are measured by a score ranging between 350 and 950 points. Alibaba does not divulge the “complex algorithm” it uses to calculate the number but they do reveal the five factors taken into account. The first is credit history. For example, does the citizen pay their electricity or phone bill on time? Next is fulfilment capacity, which it defines in its guidelines as “a user’s ability to fulfil his/her contract obligations”. The third factor is personal characteristics, verifying personal information such as someone’s mobile phone number and address. But the fourth category, behaviour and preference, is where it gets interesting.

Under this system, something as innocuous as a person’s shopping habits become a measure of character. Alibaba admits it judges people by the types of products they buy. “Someone who plays video games for ten hours a day, for example, would be considered an idle person,” says Li Yingyun, Sesame’s Technology Director. “Someone who frequently buys diapers would be considered as probably a parent, who on balance is more likely to have a sense of responsibility.” So the system not only investigates behaviour – it shapes it. It “nudges” citizens away from purchases and behaviours the government does not like.

Friends matter, too. The fifth category is interpersonal relationships. What does their choice of online friends and their interactions say about the person being assessed? Sharing what Sesame Credit refers to as “positive energy” online, nice messages about the government or how well the country’s economy is doing, will make your score go up.

Alibaba is adamant that, currently, anything negative posted on social media does not affect scores (we don’t know if this is true or not because the algorithm is secret). But you can see how this might play out when the government’s own citizen score system officially launches in 2020. Even though there is no suggestion yet that any of the eight private companies involved in the ongoing pilot scheme will be ultimately responsible for running the government’s own system, it’s hard to believe that the government will not want to extract the maximum amount of data for its SCS, from the pilots. If that happens, and continues as the new normal under the government’s own SCS it will result in private platforms acting essentially as spy agencies for the government. They may have no choice.

Posting dissenting political opinions or links mentioning Tiananmen Square has never been wise in China, but now it could directly hurt a citizen’s rating. But here’s the real kicker: a person’s own score will also be affected by what their online friends say and do, beyond their own contact with them. If someone they are connected to online posts a negative comment, their own score will also be dragged down.

So why have millions of people already signed up to what amounts to a trial run for a publicly endorsed government surveillance system? There may be darker, unstated reasons – fear of reprisals, for instance, for those who don’t put their hand up – but there is also a lure, in the form of rewards and “special privileges” for those citizens who prove themselves to be “trustworthy” on Sesame Credit.

If their score reaches 600, they can take out a Just Spend loan of up to 5,000 yuan (around £565) to use to shop online, as long as it’s on an Alibaba site. Reach 650 points, they may rent a car without leaving a deposit. They are also entitled to faster check-in at hotels and use of the VIP check-in at Beijing Capital International Airport. Those with more than 666 points can get a cash loan of up to 50,000 yuan (£5,700), obviously from Ant Financial Services. Get above 700 and they can apply for Singapore travel without supporting documents such as an employee letter. And at 750, they get fast-tracked application to a coveted pan-European Schengen visa. “I think the best way to understand the system is as a sort of bastard love child of a loyalty scheme,” says Creemers.

Higher scores have already become a status symbol, with almost 100,000 people bragging about their scores on Weibo (the Chinese equivalent of Twitter) within months of launch. A citizen’s score can even affect their odds of getting a date, or a marriage partner, because the higher their Sesame rating, the more prominent their dating profile is on Baihe.

Sesame Credit already offers tips to help individuals improve their ranking, including warning about the downsides of friending someone who has a low score. This might lead to the rise of score advisers, who will share tips on how to gain points, or reputation consultants willing to offer expert advice on how to strategically improve a ranking or get off the trust-breaking blacklist.

Indeed, the government’s Social Credit System is basically a big data gamified version of the Communist Party’s surveillance methods; the disquieting dang’an. The regime kept a dossier on every individual that tracked political and personal transgressions. A citizen’s dang’an followed them for life, from schools to jobs. People started reporting on friends and even family members, raising suspicion and lowering social trust in China. The same thing will happen with digital dossiers. People will have an incentive to say to their friends and family, “Don’t post that. I don’t want you to hurt your score but I also don’t want you to hurt mine.”

We’re also bound to see the birth of reputation black markets selling under-the-counter ways to boost trustworthiness. In the same way that Facebook Likes and Twitter followers can be bought, individuals will pay to manipulate their score. What about keeping the system secure? Hackers (some even state-backed) could change or steal the digitally stored information.

The new system reflects a cunning paradigm shift. As we’ve noted, instead of trying to enforce stability or conformity with a big stick and a good dose of top-down fear, the government is attempting to make obedience feel like gaming. It is a method of social control dressed up in some points-reward system. It’s gamified obedience.

In a trendy neighbourhood in downtown Beijing, the BBC news services hit the streets in October 2015 to ask people about their Sesame Credit ratings. Most spoke about the upsides. But then, who would publicly criticise the system? Ding, your score might go down. Alarmingly, few people understood that a bad score could hurt them in the future. Even more concerning was how many people had no idea that they were being rated.

Currently, Sesame Credit does not directly penalise people for being “untrustworthy” – it’s more effective to lock people in with treats for good behaviour. But Hu Tao, Sesame Credit’s chief manager, warns people that the system is designed so that “untrustworthy people can’t rent a car, can’t borrow money or even can’t find a job”. She has even disclosed that Sesame Credit has approached China’s Education Bureau about sharing a list of its students who cheated on national examinations, in order to make them pay into the future for their dishonesty.

Penalties are set to change dramatically when the government system becomes mandatory in 2020. Indeed, on September 25, 2016, the State Council General Office updated its policy entitled “Warning and Punishment Mechanisms for Persons Subject to Enforcement for Trust-Breaking”. The overriding principle is simple: “If trust is broken in one place, restrictions are imposed everywhere,” the policy document states.

For instance, people with low ratings will have slower internet speeds; restricted access to restaurants, nightclubs or golf courses; and the removal of the right to travel freely abroad with, I quote, “restrictive control on consumption within holiday areas or travel businesses”. Scores will influence a person’s rental applications, their ability to get insurance or a loan and even social-security benefits. Citizens with low scores will not be hired by certain employers and will be forbidden from obtaining some jobs, including in the civil service, journalism and legal fields, where of course you must be deemed trustworthy. Low-rating citizens will also be restricted when it comes to enrolling themselves or their children in high-paying private schools. I am not fabricating this list of punishments. It’s the reality Chinese citizens will face. As the government document states, the social credit system will “allow the trustworthy to roam everywhere under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step”.

According to Luciano Floridi, a professor of philosophy and ethics of information at the University of Oxford and the director of research at the Oxford Internet Institute, there have been three critical “de-centering shifts” that have altered our view in self-understanding: Copernicus’s model of the Earth orbiting the Sun; Darwin’s theory of natural selection; and ((((((Freud))))))’s claim that our daily actions are controlled by the unconscious mind.

Floridi believes we are now entering the fourth shift, as what we do online and offline merge into an onlife. He asserts that, as our society increasingly becomes an infosphere, a mixture of physical and virtual experiences, we are acquiring an onlife personality – different from who we innately are in the “real world” alone. We see this writ large on Facebook, where people present an edited or idealised portrait of their lives. Think about your Uber experiences. Are you just a little bit nicer to the driver because you know you will be rated? But Uber ratings are nothing compared to Peeple, an app launched in March 2016, which is like a Yelp for humans. It allows you to assign ratings and reviews to everyone you know – your spouse, neighbour, boss and even your ex. A profile displays a “Peeple Number”, a score based on all the feedback and recommendations you receive. Worryingly, once your name is in the Peeple system, it’s there for good. You can’t opt out.

Peeple has forbidden certain bad behaviours including mentioning private health conditions, making profanities or being sexist (however you objectively assess that). But there are few rules on how people are graded or standards about transparency.

China’s trust system might be voluntary as yet, but it’s already having consequences. In February 2017, the country’s Supreme People’s Court announced that 6.15 million of its citizens had been banned from taking flights over the past four years for social misdeeds. The ban is being pointed to as a step toward blacklisting in the SCS. “We have signed a memorandum… [with over] 44 government departments in order to limit ‘discredited’ people on multiple levels,” says Meng Xiang, head of the executive department of the Supreme Court. Another 1.65 million blacklisted people cannot take trains.

Where these systems really descend into nightmarish territory is that the trust algorithms used are unfairly reductive. They don’t take into account context. For instance, one person might miss paying a bill or a fine because they were in hospital; another may simply be a freeloader. And therein lies the challenge facing all of us in the digital world, and not just the Chinese. If life-determining algorithms are here to stay, we need to figure out how they can embrace the nuances, inconsistencies and contradictions inherent in human beings and how they can reflect real life.

Kevin Hong

You could see China’s so-called trust plan as Orwell’s 1984 meets Pavlov’s dogs. Act like a good citizen, be rewarded and be made to think you’re having fun. It’s worth remembering, however, that personal scoring systems have been present in the west for decades.

More than 70 years ago, two men called Bill Fair and Earl Isaac invented credit scores. Today, companies use FICO scores to determine many financial decisions, including the interest rate on our mortgage or whether we should be given a loan.

For the majority of Chinese people, they have never had credit scores and so they can’t get credit. “Many people don’t own houses, cars or credit cards in China, so that kind of information isn’t available to measure,” explains Wen Quan, an influential blogger who writes about technology and finance. “The central bank has the financial data from 800 million people, but only 320 million have a traditional credit history.” According to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, the annual economic loss caused by lack of credit information is more than 600 billion yuan (£68bn).

China’s lack of a national credit system is why the government is adamant that Citizen Scores are long overdue and badly needed to fix what they refer to as a “trust deficit”. In a poorly regulated market, the sale of counterfeit and substandard products is a massive problem. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), 63 per cent of all fake goods, from watches to handbags to baby food, originate from China. “The level of micro corruption is enormous,” Creemers says. “So if this particular scheme results in more effective oversight and accountability, it will likely be warmly welcomed.”

The government also argues that the system is a way to bring in those people left out of traditional credit systems, such as students and low-income households. Professor Wang Shuqin from the Office of Philosophy and Social Science at Capital Normal University in China recently won the bid to help the government develop the system that she refers to as “China’s Social Faithful System”. Without such a mechanism, doing business in China is risky, she stresses, as about half of the signed contracts are not kept. “Given the speed of the digital economy it’s crucial that people can quickly verify each other’s credit worthiness,” she says. “The behaviour of the majority is determined by their world of thoughts. A person who believes in socialist core values is behaving more decently.” She regards the “moral standards” the system assesses, as well as financial data, as a bonus.

Indeed, the State Council’s aim is to raise the “honest mentality and credit levels of the entire society” in order to improve “the overall competitiveness of the country”. Is it possible that the SCS is in fact a more desirably transparent approach to surveillance in a country that has a long history of watching its citizens? “As a Chinese person, knowing that everything I do online is being tracked, would I rather be aware of the details of what is being monitored and use this information to teach myself how to abide by the rules?” says Rasul Majid, a Chinese blogger based in Shanghai who writes about behavioural design and gaming psychology. “Or would I rather live in ignorance and hope/wish/dream that personal privacy still exists and that our ruling bodies respect us enough not to take advantage?” Put simply, Majid thinks the system gives him a tiny bit more control over his data.

Kevin Hong

When I tell westerners about the Social Credit System in China, their responses are fervent and visceral. Yet we already rate restaurants, movies, books and even doctors. Facebook, meanwhile, is now capable of identifying you in pictures without seeing your face; it only needs your clothes, hair and body type to tag you in an image with 83 per cent accuracy.

In 2015, the OECD published a study revealing that in the US there are at least 24.9 connected devices per 100 inhabitants. All kinds of companies scrutinise the “big data” emitted from these devices to understand our lives and desires, and to predict our actions in ways that we couldn’t even predict ourselves.

Governments around the world are already in the business of monitoring and rating. In the US, the National Security Agency (NSA) is not the only official digital eye following the movements of its citizens. In 2015, the US Transportation Security Administration proposed the idea of expanding the PreCheck background checks to include social-media records, location data and purchase history. The idea was scrapped after heavy criticism, but that doesn’t mean it’s dead. We already live in a world of predictive algorithms that determine if we are a threat, a risk, a good citizen and even if we are trustworthy. We’re getting closer to the Chinese system – the expansion of credit scoring into life scoring – even if we don’t know we are.

So are we heading for a future where we will all be branded online and data-mined? It’s certainly trending that way. Barring some kind of mass citizen revolt to wrench back privacy, we are entering an age where an individual’s actions will be judged by standards they can’t control and where that judgement can’t be erased. The consequences are not only troubling; they’re permanent. Forget the right to delete or to be forgotten, to be young and foolish.

While it might be too late to stop this new era, we do have choices and rights we can exert now. For one thing, we need to be able rate the raters. In his book The Inevitable, Kevin Kelly describes a future where the watchers and the watched will transparently track each other. “Our central choice now is whether this surveillance is a secret, one-way panopticon – or a mutual, transparent kind of ‘coveillance’ that involves watching the watchers,” he writes.

Our trust should start with individuals within government (or whoever is controlling the system). We need trustworthy mechanisms to make sure ratings and data are used responsibly and with our permission. To trust the system, we need to reduce the unknowns. That means taking steps to reduce the opacity of the algorithms. The argument against mandatory disclosures is that if you know what happens under the hood, the system could become rigged or hacked. But if humans are being reduced to a rating that could significantly impact their lives, there must be transparency in how the scoring works.

In China, certain citizens, such as government officials, will likely be deemed above the system. What will be the public reaction when their unfavourable actions don’t affect their score? We could see a Panama Papers 3.0 for reputation fraud.

It is still too early to know how a culture of constant monitoring plus rating will turn out. What will happen when these systems, charting the social, moral and financial history of an entire population, come into full force? How much further will privacy and freedom of speech (long under siege in China) be eroded? Who will decide which way the system goes? These are questions we all need to consider, and soon. Today China, tomorrow a place near you. The real questions about the future of trust are not technological or economic; they are ethical.

If we are not vigilant, distributed trust could become networked shame. Life will become an endless popularity contest, with us all vying for the highest rating that only a few can attain.

This is an extract from Who Can You Trust? How Technology Brought Us Together and Why It Might Drive Us Apart (Penguin Portfolio) by Rachel Botsman, published on October 4. Since this piece was written, The People’s Bank of China delayed the licences to the eight companies conducting social credit pilots. The government’s plans to launch the Social Credit System in 2020 remain unchanged

Updated 28.11.17: An amendment has been made to clarify a comparison between the Chinese government’s Social Credit System and Communist Party surveillance methods.

American Unrest Proves China Got the Internet Right

Beijing has been criticized for its Great Firewall and online censorship. Now it’s looking prescient.

BERKELEY, CA - FEBRUARY 1: People protesting controversial Breitbart writer Milo Yiannopoulos take to the streets on February 1, 2017 in Berkeley, California. A scheduled speech by Yiannopoulos was cancelled after protesters and police engaged in violent skirmishes. (Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)

BERKELEY, CA – FEBRUARY 1: People protesting controversial Breitbart writer ((((((Milo Yiannopoulos)))))) take to the streets on February 1, 2017 in Berkeley, California. A scheduled speech by Yiannopoulos was cancelled after protesters and police engaged in violent skirmishes. (Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)

In 2016, social media dominated the internet and the world. On November 8, Republican Donald Trump was elected the 45th President of the United States, in some ways because of his social media support. At the same time, the internet in which Americans take such pride has been beset with social crises. It has become ever more extreme, filled with an endless stream of fake news. By contrast, the Chinese internet, long mocked by the Western world, has entered a period of peace and calm. China’s system of internet management, it’s now clear, has worked; and the West’s model of free speech is showing cracks in a new media era.

The internet has generally been a global good, rapidly and profoundly changing modern life, with massive effects on thought, ideology, and even industry. But the seemingly omnipotent web has also bred new problems in world governance. Private citizens have shown themselves poor stewards of the internet; their collective sense of rules and laws is rather weak. Instead, the web is based on the expression of moods and the airing of grievances, and is characterized by unreasonableness and a lack of order. Recently, the internet has also become a place where America’s ever-more-extreme social conflicts find a voice. The web has become polarized and social rifts have grown deeper, posing a huge challenge to modern American society.

What should the United States do? One view of the web, which the United States often seems to support, is that the internet is sui generis, both part of yet removed from the real world, and requires an entirely new and bespoke system to govern it. Another view holds that some lessons learned from the past, and from the physical world, can be adapted and deployed to govern online behavior. That’s China’s view. 

Although China’s internet is often accused of being highly regulated, that honor actually belongs to the U.S. web. Partly because of its long head start, the United States has the more numerous and comprehensive set of laws governing internet safety. Starting in 1977, the United States began to lay down one law after another aimed at strengthening online information security and network security, which ultimately shaped the rules of the game for everyone. The Privacy Act promulgated in 1974 and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act in 1998 are but two of many examples.

Just as with traditional governance, the U.S. internet was restrained by two main principles: the rule of law and the market. In these spaces, nations, corporations, and society each exercised some measure of control over the other. Big telecom companies worked with government to create a Pax-Americana internet. Internet uses saw their informational freedoms expand in step with the development of U.S. telecommunications.

That was before the shock of “PRISM-gate,” which suggested the expansion of internet freedom was coming, or had already come, to an end. In an age of sharp social conflicts, American officials learned, it was not enough to depend on industry self-regulation or individual discipline.

In an age of sharp social conflicts, American officials learned, it was not enough to depend on industry self-regulation or individual discipline.

Where the information industry is regarded as an economic actor, and not a public servant, social media extremism and the spread of falsehoods is an inevitable symptom.Contrast the U.S. system with the development of Chinese internet governance. Whereas the United States has a system focusing on freedom to produce and share content, China has taken an opposite, more authoritarian approach. The government in particular takes the lead, which is in keeping with China’s social contract, which prioritizes stability and economic growth. Nurtured by its traditional political heritage, the Chinese government seeks to reduce the likelihood of marginal dissatisfaction escalating to public crisis. China has so far been very successful in regulating online space by encouraging public discussions, providing outlets for public grievances, but restricting ill-meant rumors and information that might impact negatively social stability or incur social panic. This approach is suitable and wise for China in an era of massive social transformation.

China now has a bevy of laws regulating its web, but its most potent governance tools are the Great Firewall, which filters out some foreign content seen as hazardous to China’s information security, and an internal system that screens out keywords determined to be disadvantageous to social stability. The concepts behind them reflect two broad judgments: First, the collapse of the Soviet Union happened partly because in its final stages, the Soviet Republic lost sovereignty over information within its borders, allowing false U.S. propaganda to flood in, defeating the USSR on the ideological front; and second, information on the internet comes from complex sources, and so false and manipulated information is rampant.

China has always regulated information from the top down, but from 2003 to 2008, with the Beijing Olympics approaching, Chinese internet regulation was comparatively laissez-faire, part of an effort to spur sector growth and the development of big Chinese internet companies. Starting in the second half of 2008, which saw violent terrorist attacks in the western region of Xinjiang that left multiple deaths and the beginning of global unrest powered by the internet, the Chinese government became more aware of the serious repercussions resulting from internet rumors and the web’s huge power to mobilize people, and tightened its regulation accordingly. Maintaining social stability became even more important, and the government gradually became more conservative on this score.

One enduring problem is the lack of media literacy among Chinese netizens. They aren’t familiar with the basic operating mode in Western speech, where all ideas contend; when faced with unfiltered information, average Chinese web users often have no way to discern truth from falsehoods. China’s response is pragmatic: it does not block VPNs wholesale (which allow users to “hop” the Great Firewall), nor does China block all outside information. Some sites, such as Cankao Xiaoxi, even sometimes translate Western criticisms of China, and can be freely shared. But if China set aside all information barriers, it would be the equivalent of handing over its information sovereignty.

Because it draws upon lessons from information management in the pre-internet age, China treats cyberspace much as it does physical space. Just as Beijing regulates speech deemed as jeopardizing social stability and monitors large gatherings in order to promote social harmony and cohesion in the real world, so does it regulate speech and “gatherings” in the virtual world.

Just as Beijing regulates speech deemed as jeopardizing social stability and monitors large gatherings in order to promote social harmony and cohesion in the real world, so does it regulate speech and “gatherings” in the virtual world.

It’s okay to complain about Chinese politics over dinner, just not at an organized street rally; similarly, China’s regulatory bodies tolerate social criticisms from average netizens, even those directed at political leaders, and generally only target some opinion leaders who, in the government’s view, instigate social turmoil. Meanwhile, both offline and online, Chinese official media continue to act as the mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party, aiming primarily to promote social consensus.

The United States has a different history, one in which different opinions compete for public attention. For generations, this model has worked. But the social contract underpinning free speech in the United States appears to be fraying.

China’s government is well aware that the internet is a powerful agent for social change. The question is how much of this change is positive. Beijing has hedged its bets, showing itself rather tolerant of grassroots criticism on social networks while regulating opinion-makers, state media, and outside information. The social stability China has enjoyed so far in this new age suggests the approach is working. But the state will remain vigilant against potential risks that may crop up. The internet teems with opportunities, but also challenges to governance and social cohesion. China is no exception — and neither is America.

Image: Elijah Nouvelage/Stringer/Getty

Remember that Bridge Collapse at Florida International University – Women Built It

MCM is a company owned by male cucks and manginas who employ predominantly females because it’s just so cool to do. If you don’t agree, you are a misogynist. MCM’s Facebook page is virtue signalling full of pictures of women.

MCM built the bridge at the Florida International University that recently collapsed. The reports talk about six people dead. Guess which gender will be cleaning the mess up?

An article in the FIU paper says a female engineer was on the project and she feels we need more female engineers because they add an artistic touch.

Relevant:

No words…….

Apple Publicly Admits The iPhone Is Designed Not To Last

By Arjun Walia

Not long ago, a study was published suggesting that Apple deliberately sabotages its old products. The study was performed by student Laura Trucco at Harvard University. By reviewing worldwide searches for “iPhone slow,” she found that this phrase was searched more, by a significant amount, whenever a new iPhone was about to be launched.

Trucco then compared her results to the findings of other searchers for Apple’s competitors’ phones,  such as “Samsung Galaxy slow,” and found that the phrase was not searched for more around the time that a new Samsung phone model was released.

The number of Google searches for “iPhone slow” spiked every time a new phone model was launched and made available to the public.

This isn’t uncommon, as most likely you’ve heard people complain about how their iPhones or Mac laptops continue to get slower over time. The point is, it’s fishy how it always coincides with the launch of Apple’s new products.

Over the past few years, this type of sentiment has been common across social media.

It’s also a common business practice. Goods are made to break, if they weren’t, corporations like Apple wouldn’t really experience much profit. Sure, new applications and features may be added, but a lot of money is probably going to be lost if people’s old iPhones are just as fast, and work just as well as the new ones.

Now, Apple has admitted to the correlation, but provided an explanation. Because older iPhones have aged batteries, the device slows down and doesn’t perform as well because it’s compensating for the poor battery and it spends more energy on trying to avoid forced and unexpected shutdowns, not because they want people to upgrade.

That being said, it’s quite clear that they do want people to upgrade, it’s the only way to sustain the company. They must keep releasing new products every single year, and the truth is, they probably already have a few years worth of products lined up so they can keep ahead of themselves.

In a statement to Buzzfeed, Apple said:

Our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers, which includes overall performance and prolonging the life of their devices. Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, have a low battery charge or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components.

Last year we released a feature for iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone SE to smooth out the instantaneous peaks only when needed to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down during these conditions. We’ve now extended that feature to iPhone 7 with iOS 11.2, and plan to add support for other products in the future.”

So what’s the solution to your slow iPhone? Get a new battery. That being said, they are purposefully designing their phones and providing you updates in accordance with planned obsolescence.


This article originally appeared on Collective Evolution.

Differences Between Abrahamism and Heathenism

1. The Judeo-Christian/ Islamic (Abrahamic) god teaches you: if you don’t believe and serve him, you will end up in a place forever separate from him. You will burn forever in a lake of fire after judgement (Revelations 20:4-15), and you are judged by him. In the Heathen view, the afterlife is action based. You are judged by your honour and the legacy you leave in life. You are not judged by some deity, but by your kinsmen and the generations after you. Instead of eternal bliss or damnation, you stand with your ancestors, and become part of their legacy.

2. The Abrahamic god teaches you need salvation. As soon as you are born, you are a “sinner”. And salvation through sin is only through him, the god who made you a sinner. Heathenism teaches that you are great. Your ancestors, family and folk are great. Heathenism brings you upwards and encourages you to be stronger and greater.

3. The Abrahamic god demands that you serve and submit to him. Your life means nothing without him. Heathen gods do not demand such a thing. To you they are like kinsmen.

4. The Abrahamic god commands you to hate the world, your family, and your folk, especially if they do not serve and submit to him (Matthew 10:31-42 and 1 John 2:15-17). There is a list of over 600 laws you must follow (first five books of the bible, or the Torah), and forgiveness for breaking any of these laws is only through him (Matthew 5:17). You are separate from nature, and he is separate from you.

Heathenism teaches you to love nature, your family, folk and the world. Because you are part of it. And the greatest “sin” is to hate and dishonour them. The only “law” is to honour the legacy of your forefathers and pass it to your descedants. No meaningless laws on what kind of clothes you wear, or when and how you eat, etc. The gods live within you, your folk, family, and nature. You are not separate from them, but they are a part of you.

5. Heathenry is nature based. Whereas Judeo-Christianity /Islam is “supreme deity” based. The Heathen gods are your people’s gods, while the Abrahamic god is a foreign, a non-European god.