"They who can give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty
-- Benjamin Franklin 
| "All governments lie and nothing
say should be believed."
Saving the Net from the Surveillance State: Glenn
2. Apple, Google, Microsoft and
more demand sweeping
changes to US
3. Edward Snowden to give
evidence to EU parliament,
4. Chris Hedges: Shooting
Morgan Chase, the Foreign Corrupt
Practice Act, and
the Corruption of
Privacy? 'The Power of Mind Over Mind'
is another crisis item. It has seven sections and seven dotted links,
but the last item is not about the crisis but about an illusion.
Saving the Net from the Surveillance State: Glenn Greenwald Speaks Up
To start with, a fine interview with
Glenn Greenwald, by Edward Moyer. This originally appeared in CNET. I
found it on Common Dreams.
This starts as
Big Brother may be
watching you. But Glenn Greenwald is watching Big Brother.
That's not a bad take on
how the 46-year-old constitutional-law attorney turned crusading
journalist turned thorn in the side of the NSA might describe his
Through his efforts, he's looking not only to buttress the Bill of
Rights and protect the sanctity of privacy -- he also wants nothing
less than to stop the Internet from being warped into what he fears
would be "probably the most effective means of human control and
oppression ever known," a technology that allows "people's every
thought and word to be comprehensively chronicled" by the "surveillance
Actually, I think the
very beginning is the worst. My reasons are that it is (quite boringly)
metaphorical and that the differences are enormous: Greenwald
one man; the NSA consists of tenthousands or hundreds of thousands of
mostly very anonymous mostly very well paid and very well fundeed
individuals. Also, the NSA is breaking existing laws on an enormous
scale; Greenwald is not breaking any laws.
But OK: Beginnings
are difficult, and the rest is a lot better, as is the rest of the
Now what I will do is
select parts of answers
Greenwald gave, and quote and comment on these. I will not quote the
questions, and I will also quote a small part of the answers Greenwald
Also, as I think the
interview is quite good, you should read it all by yourself.
To start with, there
is this, that relates to the conformism that hampers most of the press:
OK - and indeed this
worked in the Guardian (that also has the advantages of being
independent and financially well of). I hope this will succeed, but so
far there isn't much in place, to my - not very well informed -
And one of the things we
tried to do in how we reported the NSA story was to kind of revitalize
the idea of an
adversarial relationship between government and journalists,
tonally but also behaviorally. And I think that one of the principle
objectives of our new organization is to not just tolerate but
encourage and foster journalists who think that way.
Next, as to the sources or causes of the conformism of much of the
One of the things that's
happened to media outlets in the United States is that because of the
financial struggles they've undergone, there is a fairly risk-averse, fear-driven
climate in which these institutions are eager to avoid protracted
[legal] battles with the government or with large corporations because
they simply can't sustain those kind of battles financially. So one of
the benefits of being a well-funded media organization is that you can
do the kind of journalism you want to do without being afraid of ending
up in those battles.
That is a decent
explanation. Then again, 250 million dollars may not be enough to fight
off all the prosecuting the US state can do. But we will see.
Next, there is this
on the corruption of the internet:
And I think the
surveillance state is not only threatening to undermine that promise
but to completely reverse it, so that as we do more and more on the
Internet, as we live more on the Internet, as we engage in more
activity on the Internet -- all of which we're doing -- states are
exercising more and more control over the Internet, and especially
monitoring over the Internet, and that means this instrument is being
degraded from what its promise was, which was an instrument of freedom,
into probably the worst means of -- the most effective means of --
human control and oppression ever known in human history, because there
never existed a technology before to allow people's every thought and
word and conversation and interest and reading and just interest level
and fears to be comprehensively chronicled in the way that the
surveillance state allows.
Yes, indeed. Here are
"my own main worries", described on February
24 of this year, which was before knowing of Snowden and his revelations, but after
writing and publishing Crisis:
Christmas sermon: Hypotheses about CF+SS
 - and
note I prefix "MM: " to
indicate these are quotations of myself:
MM: My own main worries
that governments come to control all one
does, says, writes, and says, either secretively, or by legal mandate
("from date X all citizens are required to have their personal
computers on line and open to electronic inspection from the Ministries
of Love and Information, to protect against the forces of evil and
terrorism"), that will be effectively state-terrorism of a kind and
degree that never has been known, and (2) that commercial companies may
poison most of the internet, by forced and unavoidable "personalized"
advertisement, tracking and tracing, and (3) that a type of human being
gets created that is effectively a tool of the tools they use, and a
slave of the organizations that control the tools they use, which will
mostly be governments and international corporations.
MM: Also, I do not know
how to prevent most of that, since its
happened and is progressing at a very fast pace, without any effective
control, legislation, or oversight ,
most probably happen with the - carefully manufactured - consent of the
vast democratic majority who do not understand the ways of the world,
nor were ever taught properly about the depravities of governments and
states, and who tend to believe most of the state and corporate propaganda
that reaches them, and who like to follow most of the fashions that
surround them, usually because they lack the wherewithal to do
otherwise , and can be abused at
will by those
who outsmart them and lack a conscience or have a (profit) motive to do
Note that I am 17
years older than is Greenwald, and more pessimistic. The last may be a
mistake, but it is much supported by much that happened in my life.
Back to Greenwald, who in fact formulates one of my reasons for
So, if you're somebody
who basically just wakes up every
day and accepts the government power and the prevailing order and kind
of goes about your business, doesn't really threaten anybody in power
-- it isn't just in the United States but in every society, including
the most extreme tyrannies -- you're basically not going to be bothered
by the state, and you're going to be able to tell yourself, "Well, I
don't see any state abuse of power."
True - but this is
really the majority of any electorate: Most are conformists,
and most do not really understand much about either the
technologies they use or the world they live in.
Then there is this by Greenwald on power and influence - and
the links are to my definitions:
And the more you can know
about other people -- what
they're saying, what they're doing, what they're thinking, what they're
reading, what they're pursuing -- the more power you have over them,
especially if they know less and less about what you're doing, as a
result of a wall of secrecy. So power operates in a lot of different
realms -- there's psychological power, there's financial power, there's
political power, there's an infinite array of other kinds of power --
but power itself is the ultimate causation.
I think Greenwald is
here a bit too vague, but the general tendency is quite accurate: The
more you know about someone, and the less that someone knows about you,
the more power (making the other do as you wish) or influence (making
the other believe as you wish) you may have, if you so desire, and
indeed the NSA is out for nearly infinite power and influence. Also, it
should be quite clear that effective tyrannies may be elected
by majorities - as indeed Hitler was democratically
elected, in a democratic state.
Next, Greenwald on
what he has achieved so far:
I don't know. Greenwald
has achieved a lot, and it would be strange if he had thought
otherwise. But I still think he is one man, and the powers he
opposes are enormous, well-funded, secretive, and consist of
many tenthousands of men and women.
The extent to which
people think differently about a whole
variety of topics, as a result of this NSA reporting -- not just
surveillance, but journalism, their relationship to the state, the role
of secrecy, the role that the United States plays in the world --
there's been radically different opinions around the world about all
these topics. I really do think the last six months have been
Here is another thing Greenwald intends to change with his new news
And another, crucial part
of press freedoms that's been
attacked is the way sources have been deterred from going to
journalists out of fear
that surveillance will immediately detect who they are and then they'll
be prosecuted very aggressively. And source protection, meaning
enabling sources to come to us with the confidence that they can do so
safely, is a crucial part of our strategy. That too will go a long way
to revitalizing press freedoms.
True - but I do not
know how this is going to happen.
Then there is this,
where my guess is that Greenwald is more optimistic than I am (and as I
said before: I am 17 years older, and have had a fairly difficult life,
with much discrimination, that in fact came mostly from politicians and
bureaucrats, and that could be done because I am ill since 35 years):
But if we know we're
being watched all the time, then
we're going to engage in behavior that is acceptable to other people,
meaning we're going to conform to orthodoxies and norms. And that's the
real menace of a ubiquitous surveillance state: It breeds conformity;
it breeds a kind of obedient citizenry, on both a societal and an
individual level. That's why tyrannies love surveillance, but it's also
why surveillance literally erodes a huge part of what it means to be a
Yes indeed - except
that I have learned in my life that most people are not much interested
in being free individuals: most people are much more interested in being conformists,
at which they are also quite good - and they are also proud of that. (And whoever is not
quite normal must be suspicious, strange, mad or bad. Indeed, that is another
reason why so many say that they see little problem in being spied
upon: They lie, and they have many things to hide, like everyone, but
they want to seem normal.)
about Greenwald's opinions about the blessings of the internet and
About the first
paragraph, I only observe this is very much related to one's
intelligence: Yes, if you are as smart as Greenwald is, but less so if
not - and most men are not very smart.
But I think what it does
even more than that is it just
expands your sense of possibility as a human being, so that you realize
just how many options you have in terms of the kind of person you want
to create yourself as, the kind of thought systems you think are valid
or to which you ultimately even subscribe. And this freedom that the
Internet affords is, I think, unprecedentedly valuable.
And a big part of it is anonymity,
because that kind of freedom is possible only if you're secure in
knowing that the conversations you're exploring, the kind of ideas
you're testing out, the identities you're assuming in order to gain
entrance to certain places or to see how people are reacting to you in
different circumstances is possible only if you're able to do that
About the second paragraph, I am aware of the advantages of anonymity,
but I am also quite certain it is mostly abused: Very many quite stupid
individuals go to lengths of "discussing" they would never dare
to use if those they scold and offend could know who they are.
And for me that is one of the reasons to avoid patients' lists: Nearly
everyone is anonymous, and nearly everyone pretends to be at least as
good as anyone else, and that is just baloney, that also creates
enormous amounts of crap and nonsense.
Google, Microsoft and more demand sweeping changes to US surveillance
an article by Dan Robins in the Guardian:
starts as follows, and is quite interesting:
The world's leading
technology companies have united to demand sweeping changes to US
surveillance laws, urging an international ban on bulk collection of
data to help preserve the public's “trust in the internet”.
In their most concerted
response yet to disclosures by the National Security Agency
whistleblower Edward Snowden, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook,
Yahoo, LinkedIn, Twitter and AOL have published an
open letter to Barack Obama and Congress on Monday, throwing
their weight behind radical reforms already proposed by Washington
“The balance in many
countries has tipped too far in favour of the state and away from the
rights of the individual – rights that are enshrined in our
constitution,” urges the letter signed by the eight US-based internet
giants. “This undermines the freedoms we all cherish. It’s time for
I repeat the last link:
There is a lot more in the
Snowden to give evidence to EU parliament, says MEP
Next, an article by Philip
This starts as
The European parliament
is lining up Edward Snowden to
give evidence by video link this month, in spite of resistance by
British Conservatives, a
Green MEP has announced.
Jan Philipp Albrecht, a
German Green MEP, said parliamentarians wanted Snowden to appear before
the assembly's committee on civil liberties, justice and home affairs
Albrecht said it would
represent a great success for the parliament's investigation into mass
surveillance of EU citizens.
He said: "Half a year
after the first publications from his collection of numerous NSA documents, the truth of
which has not so far been refuted, there are still consequences as far
as political responsibility is concerned.
The basic political will
is there. Now we will need to see if we can get a formal majority for a
hearing and hope Snowden can keep his promise to answer questions on
This seems good news,
and there is considerably more in the article.
Next, an article by
Chris Hedges on Truth Dig:
starts as follows:
There is a deeply
misguided attempt to sacrifice Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, Chelsea
Manning and Jeremy
Hammond on the altar of the security and surveillance state to
justify the leaks made by Edward Snowden. It is argued that Snowden, in
exposing the National Security Agency’s global spying operation,
judiciously and carefully leaked his information through the media,
whereas WikiLeaks, Assange, Manning and Hammond provided troves of raw
material to the public with no editing and little redaction and
assessment. Thus, Snowden is somehow legitimate while WikiLeaks,
Assange, Manning and Hammond are not.
think that is true. Then again, Hedges also says:
propaganda machine, working feverishly to discredit Snowden, as well as
Greenwald, the reporter who made public the Snowden documents,
considers all leakers and their allies to be traitors. It doesn’t make
distinctions among them. And we shouldn’t either.
that is an invalid argument: The fact that my opponents make no
distinctions doesn't mean that I should not make distinctions. But I
agree with Hedges that Snowden, Manning, Assange and Hammond all are
opponents of the US state.
Hedges has the following paragraph:
If the corporate
state were legitimate it would be worthy of more judicious and careful
consideration. If the corporate state truly cared about the common good
it would have to be treated with more deference. If the war on terror
was, in actuality, a war to protect us rather than an excuse to enslave
us we could take as serious our leaders’ warnings about loss of
secrecy. But our corporate overlords are gangsters in pinstriped suits.
They care nothing for the rule of law. They have put into place the
most sophisticated system of internal security in human history. They
have shredded our most basic constitutional rights and civil liberties.
They have turned the three branches of government into wholly owned
subsidiaries of the corporate state. They have seized control of the
systems of information to saturate the airwaves with lies. They distort
the law and government regulations to advance their own pillage and
exploitation of us, as well as the ecosystem, which now totters toward
global collapse. They have arrogated the right to assassinate U.S.
citizens and to rain terror and death from the skies across the planet
even though we have not declared war on any state that is being
attacked by drone aircraft. There is no internal mechanism left,
whether the courts, electoral politics, the executive branch of
government or the traditional press, by which these corporate elites
can be reigned in or held accountable. The corporate state, in
theological terms, is about unchecked exploitation and death. And if
the corporate state is not vanquished, and vanquished soon, the human
species will not survive.
it is well written, and I also agree more than not, but I doubt the
situation is as stark as that. Then again, I am not an American and I
am not a journalist.
But to explain one of my differences:
But our corporate
overlords are gangsters in pinstriped suits. They care nothing for the
rule of law.
say that they may be gangsters in pinstriped suits, but they care for
the law, as long as it is on their side.
JP Morgan Chase, the Foreign Corrupt Practice Act, and the Corruption
Next, an article by Robert
Reich on his blog:
This starts as follows:
The Justice Department
has just obtained documents
showing that JPMorgan
Chase, Wall Street’s biggest bank, has been hiring the children of
China’s ruling elite in order to secure “existing and potential
business opportunities” from Chinese government-run companies. “You all
know I have always been a big believer of the Sons and Daughters
program,” says one JP Morgan executive in an email, because “it almost
has a linear relationship” to winning assignments to advise Chinese
companies. The documents even include spreadsheets that list the bank’s
“track record” for converting hires into business deals.
It’s a serious offense. But let’s get real. How
different is bribing China’s “princelings,” as they’re called there,
from Wall Street’s ongoing program of hiring departing U.S. Treasury
officials, presumably in order to grease the wheels of official Washington?
And it ends thus:
The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act is
important, and JP Morgan should be nailed for bribing Chinese
officials. But, if you’ll pardon me for asking, why isn’t there a
Domestic Corrupt Practices Act?
Never before has so much U.S. corporate and
Wall-Street money poured into our nation’s capital, as well as into our
state capitals. Never before have so many Washington officials taken
jobs in corporations, lobbying firms, trade associations, and on the
Street immediately after leaving office. Our democracy is drowning in
Corruption is corruption, and bribery is
bribery, in whatever country or language it’s transacted in.
I agree - but I do not
see this being done, and I do see a "democracy [that - MM] is
drowning in big money".
Privacy? 'The Power of Mind Over Mind'
Next, an article by Digby
on Common Dreams, that in fact is about the first item
This starts as follows:
I've noticed over
the last few years that it's fairly common to pooh-pooh the concept of
privacy. "It's dead already", who needs it, if you've got nothing
to hide, etc. In this Facebook world in which people eagerly share
every thought that passes through their minds, it almost seems quaint.
But it isn't. Privacy is fundamental to being a human being.
She mostly quotes, and then
connects the quotes with quotes about the panopticon
(<-Wikipedia). I agree, but since I have quoted a lot already, I
just give the links.
interview with Glenn Greenwald is fascinating for any number of
reasons and you should read the whole thing, but I was especially taken
with his philosophical approach to this subject considering how
important his reporting and analysis on the NSA revelations have been.
Finally, there is this picture, that comes with the question: Which
square is lighter? 
The right answer is: Neither
(for the most part). And you can see this by keeping your finger across
the horizon, where both squares meet. (I should add that the white in
the lower square needs to be blocked.)
Anyway, this is a nice illusion.
 Here it is necessary to insist, with
Aristotle, thay the governors do not rule, or at least, should
not rule: The laws rule, and the government, 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 of the citizens: upon the same
principle, if it is advantageous to place supreme power in some
particular persons, they should be appointed to be only guardians, and
the servant of laws.
(And I note the whole file I
quote from is quite pertinent.)
 This was in many ways a very clear
article, in which I guessed many things that I found out later.
Apart from integrity, most politicians
simply do not understand the technical issues, and can be as easily
misled as most of the ordinary users of computers.
 In Holland there tends to be a sort of
choir that publicly bleats, like the sheep of Animal Farm might
do, "If you did nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear", that
implictly agrees that it are the supermen and superwomen who rule them
who are to decide what "wrong" means.
 This is taken from a psychological
article, in which it was presented as a new illusion, but I found the
accompanying text so uninteresting - as indeed I often do with
psychology - that I have left it out. But it is a new illusion for me,
and a very convincing one.
About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.:
The "/CFS" is added to
facilitate search machine) which is a disease that I have since 1.1.