CyberJustice Versus Monopoly Justice
By Staff News & Analysis - December 10, 2010

Wikileaks: Have hackers triggered a cyber war? … Mastercard acknowledged there had been 'a service disruption' After hackers temporarily shut down the websites of the one of world's biggest credit card companies, Mastercard, there is growing concern about the spreading cyber war of attacks and counter-attacks. – BBC

Dominant Social Theme: These hackers are simply irresponsible.

Free-Market Analysis: With Julian Assange in prison, a kind of non-shooting war has broken out. The mainstream media is always careful to distinguish between corporate America and federal America, but suddenly this is not being respected. Those who support Assange are not making any distinction between the public and private sector. They are now to be seen by these youthful destroyers, in America anyway, as one and the same. We can see the concern stated in the BBC article excerpted above.

In fact, we've been aware of the essential phoniness of this distinction for some time. In the 20th century, the truth was far less evident; but in the 21st century it gradually became increasingly impossible to avoid reading and seeing – if one paid attention – to reports of the increasing invasiveness of the federal government when it came to the corporate sector.

Google, in particular, was eventually to be seen as a virtual limb of American domestic intelligence agencies; AT&T was reportedly involved in a full reconstruction of its interior technology so that the wiretapping could be accomplished more efficiently. Companies were threatened if they did not participate in the Bush administration's idea of national security and the linkage between the federal government grew ever tighter.

In truth, this is not a new phenomenon. There have been reports for years that the United States was not what it seemed in terms of its political, legal or corporate structure. The Daily Bell explores the dominant social themes of the Anglo-American elite and there is increasing evidence (thanks to the Internet) that something momentous took place after the Civil War. It seems from what we can tell that a wholesale transference of justice took place and the US moved from common law to what is known as Admiralty Law.

Here at the Daily Bell, we have increasingly presented ourselves as proponents of common law – and not just Common Law as British common law is known, but real clan and tribal common law as it was practiced in places around the world for thousands of years. This sort of justice does not involve some sort of hypothetical debt to society but deals with real people sitting down in front of one another to resolve "crimes" and generate compensation.

Some of this sort of common law was informal and some might involve a third party as a non-partisan recommender or decider. It might, or more likely might not, involve a jury. It got the job done by satisfying both parties. The goad of course was incipient violence. Either an honor duel or clan warfare unto the seventh generation. These sorts of stakes encouraged settlements.

It has seemed to us that the current corrupt concepts of Western jurisprudence would be among the last of the Anglosphere's dominant social themes to come under attack from the Internet, which has done so much to upend power elite fear-based promotions. What now occurs in the West is what can be called "monopoly justice" in which the state itself creates the laws, pays for enforcement of those laws, pays prosecutors, pays judges and pays prison officials. Within this construct, almost anything goes. There are no checks and balances to speak of and every year brings an additional deluge or laws and regulations that can cost people their freedoms and even their lives.

All of a sudden, as a result of Julian Assange's imprisonment, a dominant theme that we never expected to be challenged so soon is front and center. The idea of state monopoly justice has suddenly come under fire by a group of young hackers that are questioning how the state defines criminality. Assange has been accused of rape in Sweden; instead of supporting Assange in some psychological or legal sense, this amorphous group of hackers has attacked the Swedish state prosecutor's website. It is a direct challenge to state monopoly justice. Of course, these attacks are not just taking place in Sweden. Here is how CNN describes what's going on:

If you think there's a group of nerdish hackers somewhere hunched over their computers launching cyberattacks 24-7 on companies that have refused service to WikiLeaks, you're wrong. Helping the hacking forum known as "Anonymous" and "Operation Payback" can be as simple as sending an e-mail to one of the many websites it uses — and letting the hackers take control of your computer. Anonymous claimed responsibility for disabling or disrupting the sites of MasterCard, Visa and PayPal this week. The attacks came on the heels of WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange's arrest.

"You don't have to be at your computer. All you've got to do is send Anonymous an e-mail that says, 'I consent to you using my computer, do whatever you like,' " and the people with Anonymous link to your computer, connect it with others who've consented, and use the collective force (among the machines) to launch these attacks," Gregg Housh, a 34-year-old internet activist based in Boston told CNN.

We are not sure of course where all of this is headed. We are not convinced that Assange is exactly what he presents himself as (see other article, this issue) and thus we are a bit uncomfortable with Operation Payback as well. We are well aware of how many websites and perhaps even hackers are controlled by Western (and especially US) government agents and agencies. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld famously declared war on the Internet earlier this decade and the Pentagon especially has mounted a high level disinformation campaign against sites and individuals that have been deemed dangerous to US security.

There are other hypotheses as well. It could be the elite has realized that fighting against the Internet at this point is futile and has precipitated the current WikiWar in order to better control it. Alternatively, what is going on is genuine and unbrookable. It is what it appears to be. But even within the most paranoid context, that the elite has launched the Assange Affair for purposes of continued control, one must grant that the Internet itself has forced a disastrous migration of the Hegelian dialectic. In order to encompass both sides of the conversation, the elite is being forced to move the goal posts so far down-field it risks setting up a controlled opposition that is similar to what it wishes to eradicate. An ironic conundrum.

No matter what the conclusion is – and we currently have come to no conclusion – we believe that we are witnessing, therefore, yet another important turning point in the evolution of Internet technology. A meme (state monopoly justice), one we did not imagine would be much questioned for years to come, is right in the middle of the current news cycle and larger news conversation. Whether the it is controlled or not is almost beside-the-point. Larger issues are now on the table.

We have focused on the US in this article, but Europe is not immune. The current austerity unrest sweeping Europe, including the recent, violent student-strikes are an expression of a larger sense of injustice. To try to treat the protests as reactions to specific situations is a mistake; we've written a good many articles dealing with the larger "class-warfare" ramifications of what is taking place. When it comes to Assange,the conversation is quite specific and includes the strange Swedish state interpretation of rape and even more importantly how much states should be able to claim is secret and keep from citizen journalists.

But let us return to mid-1800s in US jurisprudence. It seems like a theoretical issue, given the present day unrest, but it is not. What occurred in the mid-1800s after the Civil War is both opaque and troubling, and laid the foundation for what is occurring today. At the time, no doubt, it did not seem that any technology would be able to ferret out what had occurred at the very top of American politics and jurisprudence. But it has. The Internet is stripping bare what seems to be a conspiracy of a century or more in duration.

After Thoughts

We would anticipate over the next few years that the whole issue of Admiralty law will become a good deal more high-profile. It is not an issue that will be willingly addressed of course. But the Internet doesn't seem too responsive to the kind of the rectitude the state was able to assume during the 20th century.