Daily Bell: Death to Public Open Source

#OSE Open Source Everything, Collective Intelligence, Cultural Intelligence

Phi Beta Iota: It's probably a great honor to be slammed by the staff of The Daily Bell, but it would be even more constructive if they got in touch. Steele's comments are inserted.

SHORT URL: http://tinyurl.com/Steele-Rings-Bell

No, We Are Not Fans of ‘Open Source' Public Solutions

By Staff Report

The Daily Bell – June 26, 2014

The open source revolution is coming and it will conquer the 1% – ex CIA spy …The man who trained more than 66 countries in open source methods calls for re-invention of intelligence to re-engineer Earth. Robert David Steele, former Marine, CIA case officer, and US co-founder of the US Marine Corps intelligence activity, is a man on a mission. But it's a mission that frightens the US intelligence establishment to its core … “Sharing, not secrecy, is the means by which we realise … infinite wealth. The wealth of networks, the wealth of knowledge, revolutionary wealth – all can create a nonzero win-win Earth that works for one hundred percent of humanity. – Guardian UK

Dominant Social Theme: The Internet Reformation will lead to a utopian sharing of information controlled from the top down … oops! … Sorry, the bottom up …

ROBERT STEELE: Not even close. The dominant social theme is open everything — all humans, all minds, all information, within an ecology of open source everything. The Internet is largely shit in its present configuation. If and when dark fiber is a public good and open source everything (half human, half technical, nothing at all to do with the Internet per se), we will achieve panarchy.

Free-Market Analysis: Former spymaster Robert David Steele seems like a sincere and passionate fellow. We're sorry to report, then, that it is difficult for us to fully accept his analysis.

We'd like to, as it in many ways matches our own. We, too, have maintained that the Era of the Internet is a transformative one that will create additional freedom over time.

ROBERT STEELE: Perhaps there is room for dialog. There is no evidence of any “counter-analysis” by the staff of The Daily Bell, this is more a series of social farts.

We tend to believe that it is simply the exposure of “directed history” that is going to make such a change possible. As people increasingly see that their behavior is subject to the powerful influences of elite dominant social themes, they will want to break away to construct their own realities.

ROBERT STEELE: Exposing directed history is good — presumably that includes 9/11, Sandy Hook, the Boston Bombing, and the other 33 “conspiracies” now known to be true and generally including government betrayal of the public trust. That is not, however, enough. The public be “own” education, intelligence (the word means decision-support), and research. The entire interview by Nafeez Ahmed, who worked very hard on it over weeks, including actually reading the references, not something the staff of The Daily Bell appears to have done, is about restoring public agency. It has nothing at all to do with the Internet per se. I am not a “conspiracy theorist,” a term evidently invented by the CIA. I focus on the truth at any cost lowering all other costs.

Mr. Steele has a more forceful and complex prediction, however:

With 18 years experience working across the US intelligence community, followed by 20 more years in commercial intelligence and training, Steele's exemplary career has spanned almost all areas of both the clandestine world. Steele started off as a Marine Corps infantry and intelligence officer. After four years on active duty, he joined the CIA for about a decade before co-founding the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity, where he was deputy director.

Widely recognised as the leader of the Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) paradigm, Steele went on to write the handbooks on OSINT for NATO, the US Defense Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Special Operations Forces. In passing, he personally trained 7,500 officers from over 66 countries.

In 1992, despite opposition from the CIA, he obtained Marine Corps permission to organise a landmark international conference on open source intelligence – the paradigm of deriving information to support policy decisions not through secret activities, but from open public sources available to all.

The conference was such a success it brought in over 620 attendees from the intelligence world. But the CIA wasn't happy, and ensured that Steele was prohibited from running a second conference. The clash prompted him to resign from his position as second-ranking civilian in Marine Corps intelligence, and pursue the open source paradigm elsewhere. He went on to found and head up the Open Source Solutions Network Inc. and later the non-profit Earth Intelligence Network which runs the Public Intelligence Blog.

I first came across Steele when I discovered his Amazon review of my third book, The War on Truth: 9/11, Disinformation and the Anatomy of Terrorism. A voracious reader, Steele is the number 1 Amazon reviewer for non-fiction across 98 categories. He also reviewed my latest book, A User's Guide to the Crisis of Civilization, but told me I'd overlooked an important early work – ‘A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility, Report of the UN High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change.'

Last month, Steele presented a startling paper at the Libtech conference in New York, sponsored by the Internet Society and Reclaim. Drawing on principles set out in his latest book, The Open-Source Everything Manifesto: Transparency, Truth and Trust, he told the audience that all the major preconditions for revolution – set out in his 1976 graduate thesis – were now present in the United States and Britain.

… But he also offers a comprehensive vision of hope that activist networks like Reclaim are implementing today. “We are at the end of a five-thousand-year-plus historical process during which human society grew in scale while it abandoned the early indigenous wisdom councils and communal decision-making,” he writes in The Open Source Everything Manifesto.

“Power was centralised in the hands of increasingly specialised ‘elites' and ‘experts' who not only failed to achieve all they promised but used secrecy and the control of information to deceive the public into allowing them to retain power over community resources that they ultimately looted.” Today's capitalism, he argues, is inherently predatory and destructive:

“Over the course of the last centuries, the commons was fenced, and everything from agriculture to water was commoditised without regard to the true cost in non-renewable resources. Human beings, who had spent centuries evolving away from slavery, were re-commoditised by the Industrial Era.”

Open source everything, in this context, offers us the chance to build on what we've learned through industrialisation, to learn from our mistakes, and catalyse the re-opening of the commons, in the process breaking the grip of defunct power structures and enabling the possibility of prosperity for all.

“Sharing, not secrecy, is the means by which we realise such a lofty destiny as well as create infinite wealth. The wealth of networks, the wealth of knowledge, revolutionary wealth – all can create a nonzero win-win Earth that works for one hundred percent of humanity.

This is the ‘utopia' that Buckminster Fuller foresaw, now within our reach.” The goal, he concludes, is to reject: “… concentrated illicitly aggregated and largely phantom wealth in favor of community wealth defined by community knowledge, community sharing of information, and community definition of truth derived in transparency and authenticity, the latter being the ultimate arbiter of shared wealth.”

ROBERT STEELE: Two thirds of the above is biographic information. There are better quotes. Indeed, apart from reading the entire original interview, readers can also go directly to the Open Source Everything Manifesto: Home Page with tons of extracts and links. A major shortcoming in the “critique” is that is avoids trying to understand the graphics.  Here is one of the more important ones — this is not all the opens but it represents to larger mind-set and culture of Open Source Everything.

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The article is long; the above quote constitutes only a relatively small part of it. However, it does give a flavor of Steele's vision. It is a compelling one but nonetheless, leaves us with a number of questions.

We have nothing against open systems, of course, nor against “utopias.” But for a man so interested in a freer and happier society, Mr. Steel comes across in some ways as a kind of … well, control freak.

ROBERT STEELE:  “Control freak” is the most unwarranted in the whole critique.

For instance, the article goes on to reveal that open systems will probably depend in part on “open government.” And to this end, Mr. Steele sent a letter to US Vice President Joe Biden, “requesting him to consider establishing an Open Source Agency that would transform the operation of the intelligence community, dramatically reduce costs, increasing oversight and accountability, while increasing access to the best possible information to support holistic policy-making.”

Hmm … Apparently, the same government that has pioneered the modern world's monstrous intelligence apparatus is now going to be charged with developing its inoculation.

ROBERT STEELE: For the first time, the “critique” offers a foundation for dialog. As should be clear to most readers, the Open Source Agency is not an intelligence agency, it is a proponent for Open Source Everything (OSE), including Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) of which I am the leading global proponent — but which I have also subordinated to the larger vision of enabling Multinational, Multiagency, Multidisciplinary, Multidomain Information-Sharing and Sense-Making (M4IS2) — the human solution — along with OSE — the technical solution. There is so much to the Open Source Agency (OSA) that the critique glosses over — Whole of Government decision-support (all Cabinet agencies as well as legislative oversight committees, the public, and the media get the same decision-support, all transparent) — along with an end to most secrecy and most secret intelligence — join the empowerment of the public and the restoration of public agency as foundations for restoring the Constitution and the Republic … and much more.  Sometimes you really do have to spend time thinking.

This doesn't make a great deal of sense, but then again, there are other oddities in Mr. Steele's platform. For instance, despite scathing criticisms of government spying, Steele, as a former spy, still believes “we need spies and secrecy … [to provide] utterly ruthless counterintelligence against corruption, or horrendous evils like paedophilia.”

ROBERT STEELE: The public is being screwed by financial, religious, and ideological traitors that the Federa Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is unable to  bring to justice. Elite pedophelia, which abuses tens of thousands of children each year, is given a free ride by Western law enforcement. In this context, the ONE justification for a secret capability within a democracy is the need to clean our own house. IMHO.

Maybe Steele, despite his disgust with authoritarianism, really isn't anti-government at all. “The whole point of Open Source Everything is to restore public agency,” he says. In fact, Open Source is the hope to escape the “curse of overhead that proprietary corporations impose.”

ROBERT STEELE: It is frustrating dealing with social farts.  There is no substance to them. Among the things that the OSA would sponsor are a Multinational Decision Support Centre, a School of Future-Oriented Hybrid Governance, and a World Brain Institute. Below is the second important graphic (there are others) from the original interview, followed by some substantive references for those who want to do some serious thinking — I eagerly solicit intellectual and moral challenges and contributions to this work in progress.

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And then there is this: “His most intriguing premise is that the 1% are simply not as powerful as they, and we, assume them to be.”

Ah, Steele is actually a proponent of the reportedly Soros-sponsored Occupy Wall Street movement. He, too, is fixated on the public as an antidote to the “private.” He claims that “Public agency is emergent, and the ability of the public to literally put any bank or corporation out of business overnight is looming.”

ROBERT STEELE: Those social farts are really stinking up the place. I was much taken with the possibilities of Occupy, and my 6 minute lecture to them on Electoral Reform went viral, but in the end Occupy was a flop. I do not recall Occupy — or Soros (who I agree is part of the 1%, most of what he funds is the wrong thing done more expensively, not the right thing) being mentioned in the interview.  Left field, anyone? And I take issue with The Daily Bell staff's predeliction to equate “public” with communist. There was a time when I considered myself a Libertarian, but once I properly understood both the fragility of the commons and the vital role that public (not communist) dialog among equals plays in reaching balanced sustainable decisions, I grew up. Individualism should triumph right up to the point where it begins to harm the community and the environment of which we are stewards for future generations.

And yet, he also comes up with the following: “Those such as my colleague Parag Khanna that speak to a new era of city-states are correct in my view. Top down power has failed in a most spectacular manner, and bottom-up consensus power is emergent. ‘Not in my neighborhood' is beginning to trump ‘Because I say so.' ”

Very good! We're all in favor of competing power centers. Unfortunately, he follows that up with this: “The opportunity to take back the commons for the benefit of humanity as a whole is open – here and now.” This is discouraging. Apparently, Steele has never heard of the “tragedy of the commons.”

ROBERT STEELE: Quite by accident I am the #1 Amazon reviewer for non-fiction, reading in 98 categories, and I now see that I am dealing with staff intellects that mean well, but do not read a great deal.  Here are two books they can start with, I have provided the Cliff Notes in my Amazon book reviews that are summary in nature. The tragedy of the commons is grade school. Read more. Please. And yes, I am available to address the Libertarian Convention.

Review: Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action (Political Economy of Institutions and Decisions)

Review: STOP, THIEF! The Commons, Enclosures, and Resistance

“We are at the end of an era in which lies can be used to steal from the public and the commons,” he proclaims. “We are at the beginning of an era in which truth in public service can restore us all to a state of grace.”

So there you are. Steele's vision is an admixture of concepts that would include what we call the Internet Reformation along with a veneration of “public service” and the public commons. This is logical if one wanted to promote a vision that harnessed Open Source to a “public” mechanism. It is all too reminiscent of the anti-usury movement we've written so much about.

The anti-usury movement in our view is mostly a false flag designed to anticipate public disgust with monopoly central banking by creating a new meme – public versus private. If only the monopoly was administered by the “people” in a governmental setting then all would be well.

The idea is to preserve monopoly central banking in some form so its control can eventually be regained by elites. This Open Source argument is similar.

ROBERT STEELE: There is nothing about the Internet Reformation in the interview. I do feel that public service should be honorable (and incompatible with any kind of revolving door). I do believe the public commons warrants preservation. I also have the strong feeling that the staff have not really understood any of the details. Anti-usury? Right field now? To equate the Open Source argument with central banking is idiocy. This is about peer-to-peer, whole earth, creating a prosperous world at peace with applied collective intelligence.

One can argue for a private-market approach to Open Source, but Steele doesn't seem to want to do that. He claims that Open Source will provide power to the people, but those same people apparently ought to harness Open Source through government activism and public service.

ROBERT STEELE: Never said this. At this point I conclude that the “critique” is severely lacking in both intelligence and integrity. If The Daily Bell would like to interview me, as harshly as they wish, but publish my answers without sabotaging them, I am available and interested.

Yes, same strategy: Get ahead of the curve; try to anticipate the devolution of the command-and-control facilities by preaching the wonders of “public participation” and the recapture of the “commons.”


Wrong track.  We believe for the most part in individual human action and spontaneous order that action generates. We are not fans of elaborately organized public facilities. We agree with some of Steele's analysis, but not his solutions.

ROBERT STEELE: It is now clear that the staff lost its mind when the interview linked to a letter to Vice President Biden. From that point forward they lost sight of all substance and went into ideological pavlovian mode. The OSA is a proposed $2 billion a year public service that nurtures an open source ecology across all eight information networks in order to restore the legitimacy of such limited government as we do accept, and put the power back into the hands of the public (not to be confused with a communist mob). 95% of the informatand and the power will be outside government.

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Always glad to have a conversation. St.

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