Why do ancient likenesses of King Tut portray him holding a rod and a staff? Perhaps he and his people saw him as a shepherd leading an empire of sheep -- a common description applied to monarchs throughout history. Indeed, this imagery was used in the Bible when describing the Lord as a shepherd guiding his flock with a rod and a staff. It also serves as the basis for the term "sheeple," used by some to describe those whose minds are so lost to modern day distractions that the global elite finds it easier to sheer them.
It's a metaphor that can't be dismissed when considering society's latest push to track and trace every aspect of human life, and which makes a short report from the Farmer's Weekly Interactive this week quite symbolic.
The story covered how a company named Claas, through its IT daughter Agrocom, will be selling RFID chip earmarks to farmers in the E.U. to manage their flocks of sheep. Claas boasts that the chips are capable of storing a great deal of information, including a sheep's ID number, lambing record, tupping batch and veterinary history.
Months ago I wrote a report,"Video Game CEO Cheers Digital Tyranny and Technological Enslavement," which analyzed a lecture given by a video game company CEO describing a coming future in which RFID chips are placed on every item and monitor what we do -- restructuring society's reward system of currency exchange into one of receiving points for "good behavior," such as walking to work, brushing our teeth, etc.
The fact is, we already live in surveillance society. Some of it is enforced by the state, with intelligence run computer programs that read our emails, cameras mounted in the streets of cities watching us, body scanners at airports that see through our clothes, and now x-ray vans that can see into our vehicles. Meanwhile, one public school has been caught spying on students at home through their laptops, and another school in Connecticut is considering using RFID to track its students and teachers in the name of "protecting their safety."
But it's not just the state propping up the culture of surveillance. It is also being accepted willingly by most people through clever games and advertising campaigns playing upon their vanity and natural desire for convenience.
One example is digital money. With debit cards there's no need to carry all that cumbersome cash and no chance of losing your money unless a thief has your pin number. Though it sounds safe, it also allows the government and your bank to track every purchase you make. As debit cards and direct deposits become more widely used, paper money will eventually go the way of the doctor who makes house calls, and private barter will become the only means of trade that can't be monitored. (Although I imagine the IRS will somehow try).
Recently, the U.K. has begun talking about restructuring its government's tax collection procedures so that employers send their workers' wages directly to the government first (to make sure that it gets what it decides is its proper cut) before sending the rest back to the people who earned them. Such a move in a nation like the U.K. would open the door for other countries like ours to do the same, establishing the precedent that the government has primary ownership over the labor of its citizens.
Years before his death from cancer, famed entertainment manager and activist Aaron Russo said he had inside information that the world's ruling elite planned to subversively implement a world government and a worldwide society in which everyone would have a microchip inserted under their skin, and that they wouldn't be able to buy and sell without it. According to Russo, who learned this information directly from Nick Rockefeller, in this society if anyone were to step out of line the state would be able to simply turn off that person's chip.
Today, the notion of "chipping" human beings is no longer just a subject of speculation, but the focus of news stories in the mainstream media selling it as the next step in societal evolution, and an efficient tool with which humans can better interact. Giving lip service to privacy concerns, and making passing jokes about "Big Brother', pundits and so-called "experts" talk about the possibility of an RFID chipped world of sheeple with childish excitement, stressing the meager advantages of such a world so that they seem bigger than the obvious common sense disadvantages that tower over them.
Like with any new product, RFID tracking is being marketed as trendy and cool.
Facebook, as most people know, is a popular social networking site in which people voluntarily profile themselves, create picture albums in which they and their friends can be "tagged" (face-scanned to track real world associations) and post their random thoughts on personal message boards. In Israel, Facebook -- working together with Coca Cola -- put on an event in which teenagers wore RFID bracelets to the Coca Cola village, scanning them when doing anything there. With each scan a notice was posted to the teens' individual Facebook profiles, announcing what they were doing. The video of the event showed students happily holding up their tagged wrists with big smiles on their faces -- selling the message that surveillance not only makes life more convenient, but fun too.
As this continues, RFID surveillance and inevitable human chipping will further the existence of shepherds and sheeple, placing most of humanity in the second category and allowing a privileged few to oversee the lives of those beneath them. The reality of an entire world controlled by technological masters is here. Those who cheer it on fail to recognize a basic truth about power--that it will attract those who want it most, and will do whatever it takes to get it. When power -- in this case over the privacy and livelihoods of so many -- is concentrated, it becomes not a question of if it will be abused, but when? Human nature having been consistent throughout history, it will only be a matter of time before the society of convenience being sold to us transforms into a society of subjugation.
But then again, if you listen to the warnings of the late Aaron Russo and countless others like him, you'll realize -- that's the point.