Does digital messianism really means « trouble in paradise »?
But why should I care? Why should we, the lowly proles, care about it?
Most of you have been following the poignant spectacle in the shape of a major clash of the titans taking « place » through the mainstream media. The new hacktivist elite, that gathered wind from the Edward Snowden affair, seems now to be into full recuperation mode, with « good cop » human rights activist-reporter Glenn Greenwald making a world tour with his secret stash of about 50 000 documents acquired from Edward Snowden. From this ongoing global intrigue of spies, hackers, cyber-activists, left-wing journalists and billionaire scum, it isn’t strange to feel somehow dispossessed, clueless, helpless about a battle that is raging high above in the clouds, among the lords the tech industry and the higher caste of the NSA. Or is it.
There’s now a build-up of evidence that this whole charade may be after all just a big stunt -at least from the Greenwald/Poitras side of things- as the thin layer of ice covering muddy waters that reek corporate collaboration with the NSA is starting to crack there and there.
Very recently, that hacker’s hack and Guardian of the Secrets Greenwald got hailed as the unlikely new pope of the digital era at the Chaos Communication Conference (30c3) in Hamburg during a historical keynote, and I really don’t know what is not going on in the minds of these techno-liberals, especially for celebrating such a vulgar display of authoritarianism. Some of the attendees are deeply involved in the i2p and Tor projects, in Wikileaks and the Chaos Computer Club, so this isn’t just some mundane meeting of leftists or geeks. So I thought it’s a good idea to get a bit of criticism to keep the entire digital anarchist from ending up into a big globalist cult run by fucking corporate Mor(m)ons.
Cryptome did its liberal yet very crucial reflexion on the aftermath of this groundbreaking 30c3 event, including a document from the European Parliament that reads like the smoking gun for the orwellian order taking place these days:
(prepare to shit in your pants or explode in rage depending on who you are)
I’ll deprive visitors from any further editorial on my part (even though it’s been a long while you dear ones haven’t enjoyed my flaming words), because a lot of good stuff has been written elsewhere by unembeded critiques and real damn anarchists, who are crazier than I am to look into this whole abyss of political intrigue that looks like a global coup happening in broad daylight between some very sketchy factions of the capitalist elite.
Among other exploits of critique here’s a pretty decent review by Tarzie of the Rancid Honeytrap blog:
Though one could write a book about the Snowden meta-narrative, pretty sure the anarchists carrying water for a microfinance billionaire right now are the last Snowden Effect I care to contemplate. A lot of people, perhaps most, will be glad to hear that I can’t look at this Leak Keeper shit anymore. I’m walking away from this car wreck.
I was going to write up a really exhaustive summary of why I have been at odds with this whole spectacle from the beginning. But most of what I would say can be gleaned from everything I’ve posted already, a really critical reading of this remarkably shitty article about surveillance of Muslim radicals, and a glance at Greenwald’s Twitter timeline, where, along with the usual scolding of those who do not find attendance to the leaks as personally rewarding as he does, he’s equating “You’re hoarding leaks to make deals” with “You got paid” to evade criticism of his reckless and vulgar monetizing. Glad to see that Mark Ames has taken this up two months after I first did, even if he might be pilfering me without credit.
If I were going to do a post-mortem, it would be an elaboration on this: only 550 heavily redacted pages have been made available to the public from a trove exceeding 50,000 documents; most of us still have no clue about the scale of the surveillance problem or what we can do about it; resistance is confined mostly to professional civil liberties advocates; there is little indication that anything will change soon if ever; there seems to have been little disruption to overall system functioning though certainly some people in the NSA are nervous; everyone has had a lengthy lesson in proper, system-friendly, whistleblowing; the more avid followers of this story and its meta-narrative seem dumber and weirder than they were before; and the Leak Keepers are richer and more influential.
These outcomes are not surprising considering that right from the start, the Snowden Affair repudiated defiance as much as it embodied it, with a whistleblower who exaggerates his own state-friendly meticulousness while repeatedly renouncing a mischaracterized Chelsea Manning; and a select group of journalists who capitulate entirely before state authority, pitching their tales of state crimes in anticipation of state remedies, while routinely seeking the counsel of state officials on what to publish.
Boss Leak Keeper Greenwald — for all his limelighted chestbeating — far exceeds his colleagues in his deference to power, by reiterating Snowden’s Manning/dumping slurs in particularly emphatic terms; touting the virtues of responsible, elite-tempered whistleblowing; ardently defending withheld documents, redactions and consultation with state officials; celebrating endorsements from the likes of Dianne Feinstein, Richard Cohen and James Clapper; and punching hard to his left (‘chicken pseudo-radicals’ ) when someone can’t discern the lines between the touted savvy, subservience and personal enrichment. This defiance/compliance alchemy has its corollary in the reading public, for whom outrage morphs into bored resignation under the slow drip of increasingly unsurprising, problem-minimizing news stories and their meager allotment of redacted, state-reviewed documents.
Of course, this kind of obedient, reformist handwringing is nothing new, but rarely has it been so widely and convincingly mythologized as heroic, disruptive journalism, a difference owing as much to media’s performed renewal via Greenwald’s tireless and clownish self-mythologizing as it does to the state’s sabre rattling. We’re now in phase two of the spectacle, with the topic of mass surveillance now entirely subordinate to embattled journalism and its impending rescue by self-enriching heroes. Greenwald and several associates have auctioned themselves off to corporate power, and publicly debase themselves on its behalf, while instructing us that this is disruptive too.
I don’t care to rehash anything beyond that. Instead, I’ll simply move on and attempt to predict where things will be a year from now:
1. We will all still be under surveillance and we still won’t quite comprehend to what extent. Indeed, the system of surveillance and discipline will likely be stronger, along with protections against more leaking. There will still be official debate, public handwringing and maybe even some policy changes, mostly directed at the NSA, to the exclusion of most of the 15 other agencies in the Intelligence Community, private sector involvement, and surveillance by states and municipalities.
2. In light of increasing Fourth Amendment concerns among elites, the Intelligence Community will continue to dedicate more resources to open source intelligence gathering and analysis as a successor to more superficially intrusive programs. The civil liberties establishment will mostly ignore this.
3. The PRISM partners will continue to reduce the appearance of complicity via product enhancements that afford limited privacy protection to their customers. Specialty products and services affording greater protection will be increasingly popular for people of means. Other tech companies, such as Palantir and Lexis Nexis, will continue to service unaltered demand by the private sector, the national security apparatus, states and municipalities for data mining and analysis.
4. Militant dissidents, Muslims, African Americans and other people of low status will, as ever, be surveilled and disciplined by more overt and violent means than intrusions on internet and phone privacy, in addition to intrusions on internet and phone privacy. The local surveillance and subjugation of low status individuals will continue to be regarded as a largely separate matter from the NSA surveillance problem and attended to far less by journalists and policy makers.
5. Ignorant, infantilized Manichaeans with no coherent politics or analysis beyond muddled liberalism in various costumes will continue to dominate what passes for a left in the American middle class, fetishizing information, resistance theatre and celebrity saviors/martyrs, in lieu of any influence or control over the people who actually run things. The possibility that this sector will ever contribute meaningfully to positive change will continue to diminish as it loses any memory of, or interest in, analysis, tactics or enduring outcomes.
6. Having packaged the leaks in a tale of resurgent journalism and his own heroism, while painstakingly restricting their impact to limits set by elites, Glenn Greenwald will be a vastly richer, more influential arbiter of dissidence. He will continue to write without posing any serious challenge to the system that created a global surveillance apparatus. By way of his quarter billion dollar news venture, he will lead the mainstream appropriation of superficially harder lefts. As ever, he will be fractionally more critical of power than the vast majority of his colleagues at the same level and will therefore be lavished with praise, as his utility as a template of permissible dissent increases. The publication of his book will likely have confirmed that, yes, he delayed interesting and important disclosures for commercial reasons. He will travel between the US and Brazil without government interference.
7. Snowden will be living in a more pleasant country than Russia.
8. I will have quit with the internecine conflict. I will be fighting the government with parody accounts, Twitter blowjobs for left celebrities, and yapping about shit I haven’t read. We will #Win!!!
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This entry was posted on 2014/01/05 at 01:07 and is filed under Réflexions, Reportages with tags 1984, 30c3, Big Brother, Boiling Frogs, Chelsea Manning, conspiracy, critique, cryptology, Democracy Now, digital enslavement, digital utopia, Edward Snowden, EU, Glenn Greenwald, Google, hacktivists, leaks, liberals, NSA, Omidyar, Sibel Edmonds, social control, suerveillance, technocratic, whistleblowers, Wikileaks. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.