"Those who sacrifice liberty for
security deserve neither."
-- Benjamin Franklin 
| "All governments lie and nothing
say should be believed."
1. The Sky Darkens for
2. The Brief, Tragic Reign of Consumerism
3. Edward Snowden's not the
The Price of Hypocrisy
It still is the case
that sleeping remains quite
difficult for me. This also makes my life rather difficult, at
Sleeping did improve, some, lately, but I do not know whether it lasts.
pains of various kinds that keep me awake or wake me up: eyes, arms,
legs. It's not "nerves".)
Presently it is 24.5 degrees Celsius where I am, in my house in
Amsterdam, which is a bit better than last week, but still too hot for
The present file deals with what looks like the sad plight of American
real journalism; the reign of consumerism; Snowden's not being the real
story; and the price of hypocrisy.
Sky Darkens for American Journalism
This is a good
piece, written by a lawyer, Chase Madar. I found it on Common Dreams,
but the original seems to have appeared on Al-Jazeera:
It is mostly about the Bradley
Manning, and it is not optimistic. Here is the outline:
Note that the charge is going
to be decided by a military court, and that very few
journalists (or "journalists") will be in attendance.
The most serious of the
charges against Manning is the capital offense of "aiding the enemy.”
(Team Obama has made it clear it won’t seek the death penalty, but a
life sentence is possible.) The enemy that the prosecution has in mind
is not Wikileaks or the global public but Al Qaeda; because this group
had access to the internet, the logic goes, they could read Manning’s
disclosures just like everyone else.
The government does not
have to prove Manning’s conscious intent to help Al Qaeda, but must
only meet the squishier standard of proving the defendant had "specific
knowledge” that the terrorists might benefit from his cache of
If this charge sticks, it
will be a serious blow to American journalism, as it puts all kinds of
confidential informants at risk of being capital cases.
Note also that the charge is hardly sane: I might be convicted
on these grounds, like my father and grandfather were in 1941, by Dutch
judges, who never faced anything for collaborating with the enemy, for
this was during WW II, and my father and grandfather were in the Dutch
But it will probably pass, and that will probably effectively kill
American journalism - not straight away, of course, and also not
totally, and certainly not in its aspects of flattering their
consumers, and of distracting them from thinking about real items, but
partially and successively, and on the basis of arguments like the one
quoted: 'In our opinion, your opinions serve "terrorists", so since we
are the government, you should shut up if you do not want to disappear,
forever, without facing a public court -for we, the authorities of the
state, meanwhile have that authority.'
There is considerably more under the last dotted link.
2. The Brief, Tragic Reign of Consumerism
This is a somewhat good piece,
that suffers from a bad introduction and a bad ending, but has a decent
middle part. It is by Richard Heinberg, and I found it on Common
Dreams, but originally it is on the Post Carbon Institute Blog:
As I said, it does not start
You and I consume;
we are consumers. The global economy is set up to enable us to do what
we innately want to do—buy, use, discard, and buy some more. If we do
our job well, the economy thrives; if for some reason we fail at our
task, the economy falters. The model of economic existence just
described is reinforced in the business pages of every newspaper, and
in the daily reportage of nearly every broadcast and web-based
financial news service, and it has a familiar name: consumerism.
This is a confusion of terms:
A simple short visit to the Wikipedia would have shown "consumerism"
has several distinct meanings, and even supplies one that Heinberg
should have used:
the selfish and frivolous collecting of products, or economic materialism.
Likewise, the ending is no
good: We are supposed to look forward to the institutionalization of
the Gross National Happiness, instead of the Gross National Product,
which to me is just vague bullshit.
But the middle part is reasonably OK, and indeed concerned with how it
got to be as it is, and this part mentions several good books, by Stuart Ewen, Thorstein Veblen,
Brown, and E.F.
Schumacher, among others, and while I do not think anything like a
final analysis can be inferred from any or all of these, they do make
sense and help.
So overall this is a somewhat good piece.
Snowden's not the story. The fate of the internet is
same holds for the following paper, by John Naughton, in the Guardian:
This starts as follows:
Repeat after me: Edward
Snowden is not the story. The story is what he has revealed about
the hidden wiring of our networked world. This insight seems to have
escaped most of the world's mainstream media, for reasons that escape
It is true Naughton
gives some explanations, but he misses the best: That modern
journalists are "journalists" only, for the most part: They've sold out
their independence, and write to amuse and distract, rather than inform.
Then again, he does something useful, namely providing a list of what
Snowden has achieved:
These are Naughton's
assessments, but they are fair, it seems to me. Also, he priovides
another listing of the things people should be thinking about - and
here I only list the highlights as you can find the rest under the last
Without him, we would not
know how the National Security Agency (NSA) had been able to
access the emails, Facebook accounts and videos of citizens across the
world; or how it had secretly acquired the phone records of millions of
Americans; or how, through a secret court, it has been able to bend
nine US internet companies to
its demands for access to their users' data.
Snowden, we would not be debating whether the US government should have
turned surveillance into a huge, privatised business, offering
data-mining contracts to private contractors such as Booz Allen Hamilton and, in the process, high-level
security clearance to thousands of people who shouldn't have it. Nor
would there be – finally – a serious debate between Europe (excluding
the UK, which in these matters is just an overseas franchise of the US)
and the United States about where the proper balance between freedom
and security lies.
The first is that
the days of the internet as a truly global network are numbered. (..)
I agree, but I do not have
much of an idea about what should replace the internet - although I
pleaded quite a few years ago for a separation of the commercial and
the non-commercial net.
Second, the issue of
internet governance is about to become very contentious. (..)
Third, as Evgeny Morozov has pointed out, the Obama
administration's "internet freedom agenda" has been exposed as
But that idea - that was not answered, taken up or followed at all, to
my knowledge - as well is mostly worthless if it still allows that your
data are being snooped by secret services.
4. The Price of Hypocrisy
Finally, I arrive at a fairly
long article by Evgeny Morozov that's referenced above, and that
appeared in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung:
This has good and bad
sides, and among the bad sides is that I have to take quite a number of
judgments Morozov makes on faith, without knowing who he is. I will
But there are good bits as well, and the following is one of them:
This is today’s
America in full splendor: what cannot be accomplished through
controversial legislation will be accomplished through privatization,
only with far less oversight and public control. From privately-run
healthcare providers to privately-run prisons to privately-run militias
dispatched to war zones, this is the public-private partnership model
on which much of American infrastructure operates these days.
Communications is no exception. Decentralization is liberating only if
there’s no powerful actor that can rip off the benefits after the
network has been put in place. If such an actor exists – like NSA in
this case – decentralization is a mere shibboleth. Those in power get
more of what they want quicker – and pay less for the privilege.
I jump several bits, notions
and ideas, and arrive at:
Fifth, the once
powerful myth that there exists a separate, virtual space where one can
have more privacy and independence from social and political
institutions is dead.
I doubt it - people are stupid, on
average - but it is true this never was true and it did get hit by
Again I jump several bits and points, and arrive at something Morozov
derives from the fact that anything electrical can be put a sensor
into, which then can be tapped:
All these objects
are capable of generating a data trail. Collect information from
several such objects, put it together and – functionally at least– you
can generate the same inferences and predictions that NSA generates by
watching our email communications or phone records. In other words, NSA
can figure out where you are by monitoring your cellphone – or by
getting data from your smart shoes or your smart umbrella.
And so on - for as I
said: Anything electrical can be put a sensor into. A good part
further, Morozov (mostly) rightly observes:
think that laws can stop this commodificaton of information are
deluding themselves. Such commodification is not happening against the
wishes of ordinary citizens but because this is what
ordinary citizen-consumer want. Look no further than Google’s email and
Amazon’s Kindle to see that no one is forced to use them: people do it
It depends on the laws and the
punishments, but basically Morozov is right: One important reason this
happens and can happen is that most of the people want it, and "Against stupidity even the Gods battle in vain" (Schiller) - and indeed, stupid wants,
without regard for premisses or consequences, is just the great
strength of those
who exploit them cynically for their own benefits.
Then Morozov has a suggestion, sort of:
We can no longer
treat the “Internet” as just another domain – like, say, “the economy”
or the “environment” – and hope that we can develop a set of
competencies around it. Rather, we need more topical domains -
“privacy” or “subjectivity” to overtake the domain of the network.
Forget an ambiguous goal like “Internet freedom” – it’s an illusion and
it’s not worth pursuing. What we must focus on is creating environments
where actual freedom can still be nurtured and preserved.
As I said, I argued myself for
two internets: A commercial and a non-commercial, but I agree the
distinction is worth little if both can be searched by the NSA. Then
again, I do not see how to make this suggestion more specific, and
indeed how to legalize this, for that will be necessary - but
it is already too late for the internet as is.
And a further problem is that the internet can't be put on hold
anymore, for then most things quickly collapse, while it grew without
control and without laws, and is thoroughly international, whereas all effective
law is national, for only national law has a
police-force to maintain it.
So, in brief... I am not optimistic.
Finally, I mention that there is an earlier file today, that briefly deals
with the fact the Danish site has passed the 1,000,000-th visitor mark,
and that gives my latest mB12-protocol, that is less fargoing than
 Here it is necessary to insist, with
Aristotle, that the governors do not
rule, or at least, should not rule: The laws rule, and the
if good, is part of its executive power. Here I quote Aristotle from my
More on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn
It is more proper
that law should govern than any one of the
citizens: upon the same principle, if it is advantageous to place the
supreme power in some particular persons, they should be appointed to
be only guardians, and the servants of the laws.
(And I note the whole file I
from is quite pertinent.)
ME/CFS (that I prefer
to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search
is a disease I have since 1.1.1979: