how was i not paying any attention to this? meanwhile on the world stage we have never stopped congratulating ourselves for our freedom, contrasting the us in this respect to whomever we are ragging on at the moment. thanks, adam.
how was i not paying any attention to this? meanwhile on the world stage we have never stopped congratulating ourselves for our freedom, contrasting the us in this respect to whomever we are ragging on at the moment. thanks, adam.
ah, the common core. the thing richly justifies violent revolution, which i would definitely recommend if it cannot be blown up through electoral politics. now i realize that there's an emerging demographic progressivism, and that women, black people, latinos, and gay folk unanimously want to be personally subordinated by idiots. only white het guys don't want a personal overseer following them around and telling them what to do all day: a symptom of our privilege. on the other hand, slavishness is one possible result of being oppressed. who, they ask, will duct-tape my child to a chair and force her little hand to move, in unison with all the other little hands, as some numskull prescribes? you've got to think about the collective, not just the individual. if there was someone who could tell us all what to do all day, and with the guns, money, and internment facilities to make it stick, we would be as one. but perhaps somewhere there are non-masochists even in these groups and we can cobble together an anti-sadist alliance.
so apparently rand is going to remark this evening that it is not clear who is running the government of the united states. it is a united states senator, hinting at the awful truth: intelligence coup. the brennan-feinstein conflagration is where this pinches immediately on the senate. got a little prediction for you, though. in the next few weeks, some sort of scandal will bloom around rand paul. if it does, here is the likeliest etiology: leaked by intelligence sources through several insulating layers to rachel maddow or chris hayes. they're going to want msnbc doing to him what it did to christie: day after day of relentless coverage. or honestly, fox is almost as hostile, and that's where you'd want to destroy him for the republican nomination. they will want him to understand who did it, so they will convey their own responsibility one way or another.
evil idiots are peering at you through your webcam. meanwhile, everyone from secretaries of state to eminent professors are still yapping about democracy, as though that had anything to do with anything. really political theory devoted to democracy is just a form of fantasy fiction, and the continued verbal assertion by barack or kerry that the united states is a democracy or supports democracy is just the ridiculous ideological yipyap of slave-drivers. this here is precisely where american democracy ended up; until you show me differently i will assume this is what you always meant: a secret regime of total surveillance: an allday everyday home invasion of everyone, paid for by themselves under coercion. here would be my policy directive to the leaders and employees of the nsa, sort of a minimum baseline: do not act so as to richly deserve death by torture. you fail utterly by this standard. so i'm going to ask again: what are we going to do about it? who are we, really? we are grovellers, snivellers; we are servile, broken. as persons, we no longer exist. quoting nathaniel peabody rogers: The earth had better go unpeopled than inhabited by vassals.
venezuela, ukraine: there they have pride. there they want freedom. here, we face one of the most effective exercises of totalitarian power ever created: a universal system of continual surveillance. why aren't we out in the streets, filling molotov cocktails and erecting barriers against storm troopers? because americans of our time hate and fear liberty, and love and respond sexually to their own subordination. all we want is to be raped by repulsive idiots such as james ("fucking") clapper.
russia is capable of producing pussy riots. we are capable only of producing squads of hillary clintons: currently focus-grouping her positions and indeed her entire personality.
obama and many other rationalizers of oppression take this approach, among a hundred other distractions, red herrings, etc, to the nsa: hey google and facebook do it, so hahaha! first of all, no they don't, in many dimensions. really do you think facebook is putting backdoor code into google, etc? but here's the thing: i'll be as worried about google or verizon having my info as i am about the us government when google has 'the greatest military the world has ever known', sprawling systems of incarceration, the power of coercive taxation, thousands of heavily armed thugs in suits, predator drones, high-end torturers, and so on. until then, take this argument and stick it.
on aca and nsa: i was always opposed to the individual mandate on fundamental 'what the gov could legitimately do' grounds. but on the other hand i took a strategy that i've taken to lately: well, if i were screaming, this isn't the first thing i'd scream about, because actually it sucks that people don't have access to healthcare. but reading the healthcare law through the nsa: we are dealing with a government that really has no respect for the autonomy, privacy, or liberty of anyone. so, for one thing, all info you provide to these exchanges is available to corporations, is available to the nsa, is available to homeland security, immigration, irs etc. the aca crystallizes as a very serious dimension of authoritarian control and insufferable, indefensible, and extremely threatening surveillance. the latter is what really has put paid to the american political tradition. obviously, the whole thing is cheneyesque, and if you think i didn't or don't blame the bush admin, you're wrong. but for the dems, it fits in really with a vision of state dominance of every aspect of human life: the economy, education, health, information, etc. it fits with the idea that individual rights is bourgeois ideology (which of course is a remark that has only ever been made by members of the bourgeoisie). they really believe that actual human beings have no rights their government is bound to respect, on the hilarious grounds - the obviously false and entirely disingenuous grounds - that after all the government is all of us working together: it is our collective identity, and there's no such thing as individual identity. that's why we're coercing and surveiling you in every possible aspect: because that's actually who you are even though you may be confused about that. the ridiculousness of that doctrine is matched only by its disastrous consequences: it is a premonition of genocide.
at any rate, you might think about a situation in which you are dependent for your most basic needs, for your life itself, on someone who is all the while abusing you. say you are gendergapy leftish woman. you could perhaps reflect on the fact that this is what you want, or at least what you vote for. otherwise i'll be blaming the victims, at least such victims as are enthusiastic endorsers of and collaborators in their own abuse. look, she wanted it all along: every blow was justified by her own desire. yes i monitored her every move; that's why i couldn't let her out of the basement: because i love her, really. and of course i was feeding her the whole time, so why is she whining now over there at the shelter? try not to be a people of whom that is actually true (as reflected in polling or voting, e.g.), is my advice to us.
In which Crusader AXE discusses totally unrelated yet congruent articles in the NY Times, discovers a new philosopher and links J.J. Cale with The Seventh Seal and Costicas Bradantan with Grace Potter and the Nocturnals...what else do you want for a Monday?
on the anniversary of the gettysburg address, i want to point out the completely obvious fact that government of the people, by the people, and for the people has perished from the earth. that concept is from an entirely different set of political commitments than, say, an effective government program of universal surveillance. but it is obviously, breathtakingly incompatible with the idea that such a program is a state secret. this is the thread that connects obama with lincoln: the first black president has participated enthusiastically in everything lincoln fought the civil war, by his own account, to destroy. were lincoln around now he would, unlike daniel day-lewis, be raising a rebel army, possibly in the south and west, to resist the enslavement of everyone directly by the government of the united states. thoreau and douglass got a little pissy about the fugitive slave law: they thought this meant that, for example, the government of massachussetts was implicated in slavery, and hence that they were themselves implicated as citizens and taxpayers. the dred scott decision is being enforced, now, on us all: we have no rights that the government of the united states is bound to respect. we're all niggers, baby.
universal surveillance, again, is not every aspect of totalitarianism. but it entails, if you also have overwhelming police or military force, every other aspect of totalitarisnism. obviously, the government is inside the internet and the companies that run it etc to the tune of being able to control media and communications much more thoroughly if they want. indeed, we have no idea to what extent they actually do; they are certainly already monitoring such things in every respect. they know where you are if they need to grab you, and it is extremely unlikely that you could evade them for long if they wanted to catch you. they have enough on you to throw you in jail, i predict, if they are in the mood, or blackmail you into doing what they say, including saying what they tell you to say. put it this way: much active totalitarianism is actually in place, and every possible aspect of it is implied by the powers these people claim and the means they have to exercise those powers. plus resistance is futile. it is. perished from the earth, y'all.
in terms of a comparison to american slavery itself, the current situation does not feature very common officially-sanctioned rape, for example, or routinely break up families or literally work people to death, usually. but first off, american slavery depended absolutely fundamentally on surveillance: ponder well the word 'overseer.' it depended on a system of surveillance that basically included as agents all the white people of america who wouldn't go to heroic lengths to violate the law. every white community in the south was mobilized to watch the slaves, and they were twisted to monitor each other. but the degree of surveillance operated by the united states government today would give a plantation-owner an orgasm: if he knows what they're doing at all times, he can take steps to control them completely. no escape.
one thing to focus on in the text of the address is the relative roles of liberty and equality. on the anniversary and for the last x decades, the equality part has been relentlessly emphasized. and equality is certainly one good reason to try to emancipate slaves. but i think that any purported opposition or tension between these concepts forces you into extremely unfortunate political orientations. so, first of all, lincoln's and founder's basic vision of equality is equality precisely of liberty, and any plausible vision of human equality has to include that. where many or most people are subordinated politically, and even if that subordination is used to try to level incomes, for example, you have a profoundly unequal society. (also, in such a situation, incomes overall are extremely unlikely to move toward equality, because the subordinating power is actually a bunch of people, operating this subordinating power at least in part for their own benefit, and inevitably constituting a frozen economic as well as political hierarchy.) and i do want to suggest that people read that address again and see the extent to which it really does crystallize on liberty, or consider that as the central message of america.
why were abolitionists, including, very eventually, lincoln, opposed to slavery? because they were advocates equal basic rights, because they were committed to human liberty. they were individualists, even. but surely you can see that this is itself an egalitarian position. it is not every aspect of egalitarianism; it is an imprtant aspect, and the rest is nonsense without it.
somehow, anonymous keeps rocking. in my view, anyone who has the ability to disrupt, sabotage, or destroy the u.s. government's information infrastructure is morally obligated to do so. it is at the center of world oppression, and will be the basis of a new surveillance-based totalitarianism from which no one, anywhere in the world, is safe.
Although a pedantic and math-oriented analytic philosopher and bore, Bertrand Russell got a few things very right...
And, most interstingly according to the Economist, Work. Russell wasn't afraid of hard work, he just didn't like it very much. Thought there were other better uses of time for all of manking. And, the numbers seem to indicate that he was right...
A Barely-Detectable Sideways Smile
By Crispin Sartwell
Knowledge, as educators like to intone, is power. If it is, then a universal system of surveillance is power indeed. So much so, I believe, that we have no idea - or at least, we did not until Edward Snowden's revelations - what our actual form of government is. We have no idea who's in charge and what policies they are in fact pursuing; we have no idea how the powers and institutions of the government are really arranged and coordinated.
Whoever runs a secret system of total surveillance - I mean whoever has day-to-day management of the thing - is the person in charge of the country. Perhaps this is actually Barack Obama. Perhaps it is NSA head Keith Alexander. Perhaps it is someone we have never heard of.
Consider, for example, the congressional defenders of the NSA programs. Now, a Congressman - Mike Rogers, say - might be tempted to oppose the thing on the grotesquely obvious grounds that it is entirely incompatible with the basic liberties America was founded to preserve, the form of government prescribed by the Constitution, human decency, and so forth. However, Alexander or whoever it may be has a very simple technique for turning such a person around on a dime: he just gives you a flicker of eyebrow or a barely-detectable sideways smile. That's when you start trying to remember every communication you've had over the last decade. After that, you do what he wants you to do.
If all that sounds hyperbolic, consider this: last year, someone was pawing through the email of David Petraeus, the director of the CIA. Now David Petraeus was one of the most powerful people in the world, a fellow who could rain death on you from the sky wherever you were huddled. The person or people who had access to his communications ended Petraeus's career. Someone who can control or destroy the CIA Director can control or destroy anyone who is not a saint, if he has similar access to their communications. And people who rise to positions of power, it seems to me, are considerably less likely to be saints than members of he population as a whole.
Putting it mildly, a situation in which a population cannot know how their government actually operates - for example, the period during which Egyptians were under the delusion that they had elected their head of state - cannot be a democracy. Imagine what the government of the United States would have been if J. Edgar Hoover had achieved omniscience.
A person who controls a universal system of surveillance can control the president. He can appoint or delete members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He can work over the Supreme Court like Whitey Bulger working over a snitch. He can flick away attempts by other agencies or powers to rein him in. This replacement of democracy with blackmail conceived as a national security imperative was the essence of Hoover's approach, only he didn't have perfect information. When you create a universal system of surveillance, you create a shadow government that runs the country.
For such reasons, I wouldn't merely assume that the advocates of the programs, from Obama on down, are sincere. (Snowden asserted, recall, that he could access Obama's communications if he had his email address; everything else Snowden has revealed has been borne out, I believe.) Indeed, to assume that the defenders of the program believe what they're saying is also to assume that they are profoundly evil. It's far more charitable to figure that they're being worked like marionettes.
If Keith Alexander indeed controls the various NSA surveillance programs revealed by Snowden, then he is either the de facto Dear Leader for Life of America, or he is engaged in an act of sheer charity: he's permitting people to keep whatever power they retain and America to keep whatever shreds or symbols of its political traditions we hold on to.
You might go to DC to see the Capitol, the Supreme Court, the Archives, the White House, and so forth. What you'll need to realize on your jaunt is that the whole thing is a kind of historical re-enactment; DC might as well be Colonial Williamsburg. They're still miming the legislative process, judicial review, Commander in Chiefdom, and so on, which will have some historical interest for any tourist. But you might want to stick to Williamsburg. It 's more realistic.
Crispin Sartwell teaches political science and philosophy at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA.
like keith alexander, i too have a request for the world's hackers: bring the nsa to its knees; destroy it entirely, leaving nothing but a smoking fucking hole where the information used to be; make keith alexander whine like a little bitch and beg for mercy.
"We stand for freedom,” Alexander told the crowd in a vast ballroom at Caesars Palace.
if you really stand for freedom, keith, then slit your wrists, turn on the gas and stick your head in the oven, and shoot yourself. that would be a heroic blow for liberty. he made the ultimate sacrifice for his country. i won't forget the men who died who gave that right to me.
whatever they do to bradley manning, i want to hear his voice. i like assange's statement: revealing important information to the public cannot be espionage. indeed, it is the opposite of espionage. by the way, of course, if espionage is illegal then the us government has a variety of huge bureaucracies entirely devoted to felonious activity. well, that's the very essence of state power, its precise center, its central reality: we exempt ourselves from the rules we impose on you. there are huge sprawling ministries of killing people, taking people's stuff without their permission, and so on and on. try to remember this the next time someone is going all 'rule of law,' etc. it seems impossible, but maybe they believe that they believe it. but they show they don't all day every day on a monumental gigantical scale. this is a very good way to define the state = those exempted from the rules they impose on others, or, institutionalized hypocrisy. literally it's a caste system in every case. people funny boy.
that baby crying is a lot of people's candidate for the first sample. probably not, but in this case you can draw a direct line to dub, dj, and hip hop, so it makes sense.
National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden possesses enough information to cause more damage to the United States government than “anyone else has ever had in the history” of the country, according to the journalist who first reported the former contractor’s leaked documents.
i said from the outset that i hope snowden has a doomsday device. however, i think i would have hesitated to give these sorts of quotes if i were greenwald. it does suggest that the only solution from the us gov's point of view is extreme: extreme search and raid procedures, covert murder ops, and so on. it might get really bad; it might already be getting bad.
once again: the zimmerman trial, which is not even a particularly good racial emblem, is just nowhere near as important as the nsa story. this is true, i believe, even if you are raising a young black man, etc.: this is about a total system of surveillance affecting such people no less than everyone else. this is about a future of totalitarianism over the whole earth. i guess we can have another national conversation about race; i'm already bored; i can rehearse the whole thing in terms of the series of slogans or cliches of our leaders on both sides in my head. let's have a national conversation about the way all of us are being subordinated together, shall we?
i'm happy to talk about race; i do it all the time. i'll talk to you about it. i actually want to reflect on my own racial attitudes; i've tried. but the national conversation just consists of politicians and thought leaders and race leaders saying the same careful crap over and over and over. one problem is the familiar one: none of these people feels obliged to speak as or for themselves; they're representing demographics, bureaucracies, and so on. the sincerity of what they're saying is a question that does not even arise.
i'll express directly what i expressed sarcastically on the 4th: whomever, when they fought america's wars, believed they were fighting for freedom, has been betrayed by the persons who now run the government of the united states.
believe me when i tell you i understand that i continue to say such things at the sufferance of those people. so i guess this isn't totalitarianism after all.
also, if you have any tendency to be satisfied with obama etc's reassurances about all the limits and warrants that are supposedly in place, you have really lost your mind. how many times do people have to lie, evade, distort, before you stop believing them? it's their job to lie: it's their sworn oath to lie by their own account; by their own definitions, it is treason not to lie. they're currently lying about the fact that they were lying to you before. and yet you take them seriously.
i think one thing everyone in our society needs to reflect on: you're going to take james clapper or barack obama seriously because they're wearing suits and have positions of great authority. it doesn't matter, for example, that they have excruciatingly obvious motivations to lie. then you have snowden, and people just hammer: 29! all alone! high school dropout! but no one has seriously doubted the truth of what he's revealing. he has some sort of principles or commitment to freedom; they have no commitment to anything but power. snowden's commitment is incredibly obvious: he is saying the things he's saying at tremendous cost to himself. obama etc are lying to an ever-self-aggrandizing effect, to preserve and conceal their own power. barack obama - this is completely obvious to anyone with a shred of rationality - has no credibility whatever on anything when speaking qua pres; the only things the words of someone like that are intended to do is manipulate you; seriously, obviously, sentence by sentence. in your heart, you know this to be true. obama's access to truth is corrupted entirely by power. snowden has as much credibility as a human being can reasonably have.
officials from the dmv to the pres do not even really purport to be speaking as or for themselves; they are spokesmen for organizations. so severe is the situation that the question of sincerity does not even arise; you're simply representing what you take to be the position of a bureaucracy; you would even excuse yourself for lying or for saying things that are deeply opposed to your own beliefs. indeed, you might take it to be your duty to express whatever it is you're expressing as fake-sincerely as possible, all the while believing it to be false. well, that's your job. but what is truly shocking is that people believe you anyway; people think you have more credibility than a person who speaks passionately for himself.
29 and all alone actually does confer some credibility; eminent head of a bureaucracy: no credibility whatever: every sentence a mere strategy.
this is an example of an extreme problem: most people think power confers credibility. this is a mindless capitulation and extreme expression of irrationality. it sort of hints at the direction our species will take to extinction. milllions upon millions of people have already died because we tend to give epistemic authority to people who operate coercive power, because they operate coercive power. it's a straight-up epistemic illness.
one thing about the snowden nsa material: it's as nice a confirmation as could possibly be imagined of the concept of squishy totalitarianism. here is a nice slide, revealed today in the continuing dripdrip. understand that anyone arguing that what snowden did was wrong is arguing that it is legitimate for the government and gigantic corporations to spy on everyone continually. and then they are arguing that that should be a secret from yourself and the rest of us. they are evil. now, if you want to just create fog all around this thing by attacking snowden personally and so on, even while pretending to be disturbed or wanting to have a conversation about this, you are evil and self-deluded. it's not that surprising that you're deluding yourself because you want to be deluded; that's your whole argument.
squishy totalitarianism: the political/economic/aesthetic/psychological system or syndrome shared in common, for instance, by contemporary China, the European Union, Iran, and the United States. It is characterized by a complex so-called 'technocratic' merger of state and capital; large-scale mechanisms of subject-formation such as compulsory state education and regulation/monopoly ownership of the media; welfare-state or 'safety-net' programs that enhance consumption and give large parts of the population a sense of dependency and security; a relative tolerance for some forms of diffuse dissent and scope for individual choice, particularly in consumption, combined with pervasive state and corporate surveillance; overwhelming police and military force and sprawling systems of incarceration; entrenched extreme hierarchies of wealth and expertise; regulation of the economy by monetary policy and central banks in cooperation with banking concerns; an international regime of national sovereignty combined with international state/corporate mechanisms for the circulation of wealth.
one direction of the snowden debate is the question of whether or not he is a conscientious objector or doing a king etc. well, i did compare him to rosa parks, but only sort of. it's wacky how things can get hijacked by words like this. is this civil disobedience? well, we could work on that. i'm willing to. but it doesn't have to be rosa parks to be right, you know? this is not a symbolic or expressive action designed to indpire a mass movement. this is a direct act of resistance to oppression, sufficient as an act unto itself.
so melissa harris-perry on msnbc today etc: a real conscientious objector stays and faces tthe music. he doesn't run. i have respect for that, but not for snowden. look that is not this situation. he has to remain at large and develop and publish the information, you see? it's a project: he wants to get through as much of it as possible before he 'faces the music'. look these people will silence you by whatever means necessary. have we heard the voice of bradley manning? have we? martin luther king was dealing with the public fact of racial apartheid. snowden is trying to deal with a secret world into which you simply disappear and all your beliefs and info along with you. where they'd take him, you write no open letters.
i want to ask melissa etc: is it legitimate that you are yourself being spied upon and searched by the government? ok i can see you're into that. is it right for that fact itself to be a secret? if not, then ed snowden did the right thing. you see how easy it is to slip into totalitarian thinking, melissa; you're doing it right now.
the deen thing shows how extreme this has all gotten. one thing i like is that next week, spurred on by something or other, we'll be talking again about how we need to have an open discussion about race. (as i say 'we need to have a real national discussion' etc is just a shuffling evasion.) but the informal sanctions for merely emitting the wrong sounds have reached insanity; really i try not to be careful, you know? i don't really see what good it does; let's try to throw down and see what we can learn. but academia, not to mention the food network, might condemn you to siberia for life etc. do we really want to spend our lives speaking in fear? i don't think paula's necessarily helping the situation with her series of sobbing apologies, etc. just straightforwardly as possible reflect and express regret. if you are able to, in a couple of months share some reflections about race, southern identity, southern food. that's good. but this is taking the form of just taping people's mouths shut or redacting their every conversation.
this is what worries me about the 'bullying' stuff, for example; sometimes it doesn't go much further then 'here is a list of prohibited words'. one problem is that words are extraordinary volatile and multivalent things. it depends who's speaking where and when and how. the whole thing should be available for every sort of use.
if you ever considered yourself a journalist, and your position is that the sheer fact that everyone is under surveillance all the time is a legitimate state secret in the american system of government and that revealing it to the people against whom it is conducted is an act of treason or espionage, you should tie an extension cord to a beam and dangle yourself by the neck. do it right now. any official who believes that that is constitutional or compatible with even a vague commitment to government by the people has no business anywhere in this country and has no place in our tradition. we'll re-admit you to citizenship, though not to office, if you crawl from the capital to the jefferson memorial on your hands and knees and beg forgiveness, stopping at the archives to read the constitution and the declaration and sob uncontrollably.
this has been extremely clarifying as to who's who.
obviously, the u.s. is in hyper disinformation mode.
Two Western intelligence experts, who worked for major government spy agencies, said they believed that the Chinese government had managed to drain the contents of the four laptops that Mr. Snowden said he brought to Hong Kong, and that he said were with him during his stay at a Hong Kong hotel.
now, maybe the chinese got everything he has. maybe the russians too, and i supose this could be one approach: just give it up to everyone. but if you believe that this is true on the basis that 'western intelligence officials' say it is true, you're a chump. obviously, no 'intelligence official' has any credibility on anything like this. their commitment isn't to speaking the truth; it's to obscuring the truth. they have infinitely less credibility than snowden himself.