The Immune System of Society: Reflections in 2016

Marianne Steenken & Jochen Gruber

"The people behind these [NSA] programs are most interested in the stability of government, in the perpetuation of the status quo. ... You have to recognize that this is their mission, this is their priority. We do know, we have clear evidence that mass surveillance is not solving our terrorism problem. There is convincing evidence that they are not even helping in a material way, and there is some evidence that they are actually harming. Which, of course, is inevitably raising the question: "Ok, so why are we doing this?" These organizations aren't stupid. They've got many experts, they have huge, enormous budgets. So, why are they doing this? And the answer is actually quite obvious: May be it's not effective for preventing terrorism, but clearly it must be effective for something else. That is the reality behind the surveillance. These programs were never about terrorism. They are about economic espionage, diplomatic manipulation and social control. Ultimately, they are about power, about gaining influence relative to other groups within our society and around the world. "

Edward Snowden in the Volksbčhne Berlin on 22. September 2016


ThinThread: Recognition of structures in society

Source: "A Good American", a film by Friedrich Moser

Isn't it revealing, how our societies are about to develop an IT-based immune system with two opposing structures? This, at least, is how we (Marianne and I) interpret the discussions that have been triggered by the NSA whistleblowers. In our interpretation we are guided by research as is done in the Brussells Global Brain Institute.

  1. On the one hand we have the executive and legislative branches that are about to develop the political and societal mechanisms for autoimmunity (destruction of the democratic fabric of our societies). Germany had that in the 1920s and 30s, and an unsuspecting population accepted it. Contrary to the US in those decades, and particularly in the 1930s under the Roosevelt administration, Germany eventually destroyed major parts of itself and the world: Autoimmunity.

  2. On the other hand there are the whistleblowers and professionals (lawyers, computer scientists, NGOs like the ones members of which give talks at the Chaos Communication Congresses) who are warning us and building democratic defense mechanisms: Our democratic immune system is learning.

These immune processes occur in every living system, be it biological or societal. New in societies today is the speed, reach and volume of information exchange, thanks to IT. Neurosciences have formulated a set of tenets for the generation of consciousness in living organisms. All of these are in place also in our societies thanks to the internet.

I can strongly feel the difference between today and the 1960s! Today, neurobiology helps us understand and act in a much more targeted manner in our society. This is new.

In this framework I mean to see

More details in (the rest of) our tentative paper (deutsche Version).

Version: 29.12.2016

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Jochen Gruber & Marianne Steenken