Are You Ready for America’s Social Credit System?

It will destroy millions of lives in the name of “freedom”

It will destroy millions of lives in the name of “freedom”

Two women looking up at a brick wall of fifty CCTV cameras.
Photo by Burst

Nevermind cancel culture — there’s a looming threat to global freedom and democracy that far outshadows the sometimes-righteous indignation of a small but vocal minority of outraged Twitter users.

Imagine experiencing de-personhood by an elite-controlled algorithm.

Despite all our supposed technological “progress” in the twenty-first century, much of our top human talent has been wasted on creating dehumanizing forms of technology such as CCTV, facial recognition, voice recognition, digital fingerprinting, IoT surveillance, DNA banking, GPS tracking, credit scoring, non-anonymized consumer data harvesting, biometric under-the-skin information, heart rate and body heat monitoring, and digital surveillance currencies.

These dehumanizing technologies are now coming together to create the ultimate weapon for subduing humanity to the will of the powerful few.

Social Credit Systems

Here’s how to destroy humanity in one generation:

  1. Make it easy and convenient for your citizens to surrender over vast amounts of information about themselves.

  2. Create a panopticon surveillance state that “gathers data” (spies) on your citizens at all times.

  3. Eliminate everyone who doesn’t obey you to the letter.

Punishment and reward

In China, “good” citizens — let’s note the abuse of language and the manipulative use of morality — can boost their social credit scores by doing “good” things like listening to a speech by the CCP’s Xi Jinping, which further entrench the dehumanization machine.

What is the reward for such behavior? You get to live “free” a little longer. But once all the “baddies” have been removed from society, it’s only a matter of time before the purists up the ante. In the end, humans are perfect, and our lack of Pharisee-like purity will cause all to fall in time.

On the other hand, doing “bad” things like associating with free-thinkers, forgetting to sort your recycling, using a VPN, or speaking out against injustice can get you in all sorts of trouble:

  • You’ll be stuck with grindingly-slow Internet speeds.

  • Your kids won’t be admitted to great schools or be allowed to attend university.

  • You won’t be able to take flights or buy train tickets.

  • You won’t be allowed into certain restaurants.

  • You’re healthcare will be downgraded.

  • You won’t quality for a loan.

  • You won’t be able to qualify for a mortgage.

  • You won’t be allowed to own property.

  • You’ll be banned from renting in certain buildings.

  • You can be fired from your job.

  • You might not be able to find another job.

  • You will lose access to certain financial services.

  • You will lose total economic participation. (As Rod Dreher points out in his book Live Not By Lies, “In a cashless society, the state has the power to bankrupt dissidents instantly by cutting off access to the internet.”)

In other words, if you aren’t perfectly aligned with the elite powers, this new dehumanization machine will steal your time, your money, your freedom, and eventually, your life.

And let’s not pretend for a moment that these millions of people are genuine criminals who’ve performed civic atrocities and real crimes against humanity. People are losing points for being late to pay taxes or license fees. Even loitering (aka “the right to stand”) or not visiting your parents enough will lose you some points.

Or consider this story from James Hickman:

“As a journalist in China, Liu Hu was no stranger to punishment.

For reporting on corruption among government officials, Hu was arrested, accused of “fabricating and spreading rumours,” and fined.

But then one day in 2017 he suddenly found that he was unable to buy a plane ticket. The system just rejected him. He also found he couldn’t purchase certain train tickets.

Then he discovered that he was unable to acquire a loan from any bank, and even forbidden from buying property at all.

Eventually Liu Hu discovered his name on a government “List of Dishonest Persons Subject to Enforcement.” And there was no obvious way to appeal the designation, or have his name removed from the list.

Hu was one of the early victims of the Chinese social credit system which blacklists citizens who are found to be untrustworthy — in the sole discretion of the Chinese government.

Others on the list have been prevented from renting certain apartments and holding particular jobs. They’ve even had their bank accounts frozen. Sometimes, all it took to become blacklisted was an accusation from a disgruntled business partner, or a social media post critical of the government.”

Social credit systems aren’t a kindly and encouraging nudge towards communal cooperation — they’re criminal coercion, an authoritarian anti-human purge of free-thinkers in which only the good Nazis survive.

The enactment of a social credit system is a totalitarian war crime.

How far along is America’s social credit system?

Americans willingly hand over more information on themselves than anyone in history:

  • They freely give up their voice ID and allow all conversations to be surveilled by Alexa, Google Nest cameras, smart fridges.

  • They freely give up their location data via their cell phones, map apps, and smart cars.

  • They freely give up their biometric data via wearables and health apps.

  • They freely give up their facial ID and fingerprints to unlock their phones.

  • They freely give up their banking details and personal information via social media, free email, and a plethora of apps.

They also elect Democrats and Republicans, two corporate-corrupted parties that continue to increase surveillance by back-dooring phones, installing facial recognition CCTVs, and trade surveillance with other nations through deals like Five Eyes. Now, Covid-19 has ramped up Big Money’s move to a cashless society, sounding the veritable death knell for personal privacy and economic freedom as we know it.

With so much data readily available and growing by the day, pieces of the future Western social credit infrastructure have already fallen into place:

  • Credit scores dehumanize people by allowing algorithms to approve or deny people in need of a loan. (I hold the radical opinion that human bankers should have to actually work for their money and do real on-the-ground due diligence before making loans.)

  • Renter black lists dehumanize people by allowing extractive land-lorders to rank tenants and keep people out of their buildings.

  • Customer rating algorithms (like Uber’s) dehumanize people by reducing users to one stars if they’re having the worst day of their life, to five stars if they paste on a fake, dehumanizing smile and pretend to be friendly.

  • The Canadian government is denying university accreditation and defunding charities who don’t live up to their moral code.

  • Germany uses credit ratings, geolocations, and health records to determine access to health insurance.

  • The United Kingdom is taking steps toward rationing healthcare based on app data.

  • People are being fired from media companies and universities.

  • Social media companies are blacklisting people.

  • Banks are closing personal and corporate accounts.

None of these victims went on trial before a jury of their peers; none had the right of protest or defense. They were convicted by machines.

To be clear, there is a place for correction in civil society, but that task does not fall to private corporations, but to public courts of law. Instead of being found guilty of a bone fide democratically-agreed-upon crime in a court of law, people are being found guilty of monopolist-determined misbehaviors in the court of algorithmically-manipulated public opinion.

How bad could it get?

In the case of Europe’s Jews, deadly.

In the case of the Uighurs of Xinjiang, deadly.

First comes societal exclusion. 75% of Brits say they would cut contact with anyone who would lower their social credit score —and isn’t isolation the ultimate dehumanizing action? But nevermind not being able to attend concerts, sporting events, and other assemblies…

Next comes economic exclusion.

Automatically grinding once-productive people into poverty.

Once dehumanization takes hold and people become undesirables, it’s just a small step to the gulags and gas chambers.

What can we do to stop the social credit system?

First: We must reject and make illegal all dehumanizing forms of technology such as facial recognition, voice recognition, IoT surveillance, government DNA banking, non-anonymized consumer data, under-the-skin biometric information, GPS tracking, and especially the adoption of centralized digital identities for biological species (us.)

Second: We must reject individualism and rebuild real, embodied, offline communities. We must encourage civic debate. We must become friends with our enemies — not online, but face to face and arm and arm, over coffees and meals and feasts and festivals. Make no mistake: Gathering together in-person is an act of resistance against the consumerist state. Decommodifying is an act of mutiny against the corporate will.

Third: We must stop voting for corporate-captured candidates. People who are serious about democracy never vote for anyone who takes a cent of corporate funding, large individual contributions, or super PACs. Period. (Check out your “representatives” here — these corrupted individuals are incentivized to work against your best interests.)

Fourth: We must run for office ourselves, or vote only for candidates who pledge publicly, in writing, to oppose social credit systems and all other forms of dehumanizing technology, both here and internationally.

Fifth: We must rebuild our judiciary. There is a place for holding people to account for real criminal actions, and that place is a non-political courtroom. Unlike robots, computers, and algorithms, which are programmed to simply enforce private corporate law and not the spirit of justice and truth, human beings have the ability to understand context, project trajectory, consider fairness, and offer grace.

Sixth: We must decentralize society. Many of us will be branded “criminals” and “radicals” for no other reason than voicing our opposition to the powerful centralized institutions who control society. Only when we understand individual, familial, and communal sovereignty can we begin to dismantle the dehumanizing corporate state.

Seventh: When our friends, neighbors, and enemies are canceled, we must do as the 27,712 brave souls who sheltered, fed, and helped escape the persecuted Jews of the Holocaust. If their children’s education is taken away, we must educate. If transportation is denied, we must transport. If shelter is stolen, we must shelter. If livelihood and economic participation are stripped, we must provide at our own expense.

To be sure, retaining our humanity will prove costly. But is there anything worth more?

Of course, the ultimate solution to this growing tyranny is simple:

For the United Nations to enshrine into international law the illegality of social credit systems, and to declare the universal and unconditional human right of equal access to education, transportation, healthcare, rentership, ownership, and financial services.

I believe in the radical notion that everyone is innocent until proven guilty in an uncorrupted court of law. The CCP and other dictatorial governments will have a far harder time canceling millions of people if they have to spend vast amounts of time, money, and effort to prove their citizens are legitimate criminals deserving of lifelong economic slavery.

What should I do if/when the social credit system cancels me?

  1. Make noise. Get loud. Go to the press. Hit the streets. Expose the injustice. Do not go quietly. If you’re a hacker, start hacking.

  2. Find the others. Connect with friends and former enemies who have been canceled and start building new alternative communities and economies that are completely uncorrelated or controlled by the corporate state.

  3. Expose the system’s stupidity by dragging in as many other people as you can. While the knee-jerk reaction of others will be to distance themselves from you for the sake of self-preservation, the best thing you can do is publicize your connections to as many people as possible, especially your enemies and people of high rank, wealth, or status. Release all your meetings, texts, emails, letters, business dealings, everything. Show the world that you are a person with a massive diversity of connections, and that if you’re supposedly “infected,” then maybe the whole world is infected. If everyone’s a traitor, then no one is a traitor.

  4. Sue. Take it all the way to the Supreme Court and the World Court. Demand your rights as a human being and a member of our global family. Don’t try to prove your “innocence.” Hammer of the guiltiness of the system itself. Burn as much governmental time and money as possible. When enough freedom-fighters do this, governmental wins will amount to Pyrrhic victories at best.

  5. Flee. Once you’ve done everything to stand, make your exit like the Von Trapps and find your way to the places where community has managed to conquer the corporate state. If conformist cultures like China continue to crush everyone into their subservient mold, creativity will go elsewhere. When Louis XIV drove my ancestors and several hundred thousand other Huguenots from France, they settled abroad and contributed their skills and knowledge to places they were welcomed, while France sunk into a multi-decade depression because of the economic brain drain.

All these individual efforts will, of course, likely prove futile. The corporate algorithm’s die has been cast and you must be silenced. But it doesn’t mean you can’t try to get your story in the public record first, so that when these social credit systems eventually fall, you will go down in history as a human being of courage, fully embodied, and wonderfully brave. You will be remembered as one of the few who stood for the truth and refused to bow in the face of tyranny and injustice.

Do not go gentle into that good night.