Kafka’s nightmare emerges: China’s “social credit score”

China is creating Kafka’s nightmare world as the perfection of centralized control of its citizenry.

China is rapidly building out a Total Surveillance State on a scale that far surpasses any government surveillance program in the West. The scope of this surveillance is so broad and pervasive that it borders on science fiction:

It’s well known that the intelligence agencies in America seek what’s known as Total Information Awareness, the goal being to identify and disrupt terrorists before they can strike.

This level of surveillance has run partly aground on civil liberties concerns, which still have a fragile hold on the American psyche and culture.

The implicit goal of China’s Total Surveillance State is to control the citizenry and root out any dissent before it threatens The Communist Party’s hold on power, but the explicit goal is a behavioral psychologist’s dream: to reward “positive social behaviors” and punish “negative social behaviors” via a “Social Credit Score.”

There is something breathtakingly appealing to anyone in a position of power about this goal: imagine being able to catch miscreants who smoke in no-smoking zones, who jaywalk, who cheat people online, and of course, who say something negative about those in power.

But let’s ask a simple question of China’s vast surveillance system: what happens when it’s wrong? What if one of those thousands of cameras mis-identifies a citizen breaking some minor social code, and over time, does so enough times to trigger negative consequences for the innocent citizen?

What recourse does the citizen have? It appears the answer is none, as the process is not strictly speaking judicial; the system appears to be largely automated.

Here’s a second question: is the scoring system truly transparent, or can insiders place their thumbs on the scale, so to speak, to exact revenge on personal enemies?

Question #3: Who have the power to change the weightings within the automated software? Will criticizing the government online generate 1 negative point this month but 10 points next month? How can citizens with a handful of negative points, some perhaps incorrect mis-identifications, avoid crossing the dreaded threshold if they don’t know how the system is truly ranking various violations?

This aligns perfectly with the world envisioned by Kafka in his novels The Trial and The Castle.

Kafka’s fictional accounts of power manifesting through an impenetrable bureaucracy describe a world with two primary features:

  1. The rules guiding the system are opaque to those enmeshed in the system
  2. There is no recourse for those unjustly persecuted or convicted by the system

What is it like to inhabit such a world? I’ve assembled some insightful comments on Kafka’s works from online resources.

Critic Michiko Kakutani: “(his novels share)…the same paranoid awareness of shifting balances of power; the same atmosphere of emotional suffocation.”

The Trial is “the story of a man arrested and prosecuted by a remote, inaccessible authority, with the nature of his crime revealed neither to him nor to the reader.”

“The law in Kafka’s works, rather than being representative of any particular legal or political entity, is usually interpreted to represent a collection of anonymous, incomprehensible forces. These are hidden from the individual but control the lives of the people, who are innocent victims of systems beyond their control.”

“For Kafka, law ‘has no meaning outside its fact of being a pure force of domination and determination.'”

Kafka’s novel The Castle explores “the motif of an oppressive and intangible system” and “the seemingly endless frustrations of man’s attempts to stand against the system.”

China is creating Kafka’s nightmare world as the perfection of centralized control of its citizenry. The question is: will the Chinese people tolerate this as long as the current artificial financialized “prosperity” reigns? What will happen to their perception and tolerance when the debt-fueled “prosperity” blows away like the sands of the Taklimakan Desert?

Gordon Long and I discuss the conceptual framework and implementation of Social Control in a two-part video series:

Part 1:

Part 2:

For full references please use source link below.

Video can be accessed at source link below.


By Charles Hugh Smith

I was raised in southern California as a rootless cosmopolitan: born in Santa Monica, and then towed by an upwardly mobile family to Van Nuys, Tarzana, Los Feliz and San Marino, where the penultimate conclusion of upward mobility, divorce and a shattered family, sent us to Big Bear Lake in the San Bernadino mountains.

The next iteration of family took us to the island of Lanai in Hawaii, where I was honored to join the outstanding basketball team (as benchwarmer), and where we rode the only Matchless 350 cc motorcycle on the island, and most likely in the state, through the red-dirt pineapple fields to the splendidly isolated rocky coastline. In 1969-70, this was the old planation Hawaii, where we picked pine in summer beneath a sweltering sun.

We next moved to Honolulu, where I graduated from Punahou School and earned a degree in Comparative Philosophy (i.e. East and West) at the University of Hawaii-Manoa. The family moved back to California and I stayed on, working my way through college apprenticing in the building/remodeling trades.

I was quite active in the American Friends Service Committee (Quakers) and the People's Party of Hawaii in this era (1970s).


I next moved to the Big Island of Hawaii, where my partner and I built over fifty custom homes and a 43-unit subdivision, as well as several commercial projects.

Nearly going broke was all well and good, but I was driven to pursue my dream-career as a writer, so we moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1987 where I worked in non-profit education while writing free-lance journalism articles on housing, design and urban planning.

Within a few years I returned to self-employment, a genteel poverty interrupted by an 18-month gig re-organizing the back office of a quantitative stock market analyst. I learned how to lose money in the market with efficiency and aplomb, lessons I continue to practice when the temptation to battle the Monster Id strikes.

Somewhere in here my first novel was published by The Permanent Press, but alas it fell still-born from the press--a now monotonous result of writing fiction. (Seven novels and I still can't stop myself.)

I started the Of Two Minds blog in May 2005 as a side project of self-expression, and in an unpredictable twist of evolutionary incaution, that project has ballooned into a website with about 3,500 pages that has drawn almost 20 million page views.

The site's primary asset may well be the extensive global network of friends and correspondents I draw upon for intelligence and analysis.

The blog is #7 in CNBC's top alternative financial sites, and is republished on numerous popular sites such as Zero Hedge, Financial Sense, and David Stockman’s Contra Corner. I am frequently interviewed by alternative media personalities such as Max Keiser, and am a contributing writer on peakprosperity.com.

More here.

(Source: activistpost.com; May 8, 2018; https://tinyurl.com/ycf22fyk)
Back to INF

Loading please wait...