"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."
1. Snowden: 'Surveillance of
the Public Must Be Debated by
2. The Great American Class
War - Plutocracy Versus
3. European Parliament:
Snowden Will Make Video
is another crisis item, but there wasn't much crisis in the news. So
there are today just three crisis items. plus a very brief personal one.
Snowden: 'Surveillance of the Public Must Be Debated by
start with, an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
In a new statement
available to the public, Edward Snowden says that one of the clearest
lessons to be taken from what the world has come to know about the
reach of the national security state is that "surveillance of the
public must be debated by the public."
Though snubbed for TIME
magazine 'person-of-the-year' honors this week, the NSA whistleblower
remains the single individual who many regard as the hands-down most
important individual when it comes to disrupting the national security
state since it converged with the digital revolution in the aftermath
of 9/11 and the onset of the so-called 'global war on terror.'
At a Wednesday evening
reception in Washington, DC, the thirty-year-old former surveillance
contractor was honored by Foreign Policy magazine by being
placed at the #1 spot on its annual list of 100
Leading Global Thinkers (interactive).
I say. I agree with the
first paragraph and also with the second, but I am rather doubtful
about the third one. Then again, I have very little idea of what a
"Leading Global Thinker" must be like, or how such lists, with at least
a hundred names, are composed, and the link in the text did not give
the information either.
However, there is a
paragraph in Jon Queally's text that explains some:
According to Foreign
Policy, Snowden was
chosen for special note not just because he has become "the public
face of an international debate over surveillance," but because his
actions have had enormous and verifiable international impact,
including compelling "foreign governments targeted by U.S. spying to
seek a U.N. resolution about the rights of individuals to retain their
privacy on the Internet."
Again I consulted the link,
that doesn't give any further information, but I suppose what is quoted
is mostly correct. There also is a statement by Snowden, of which I
quote two paragraphs.
It's an honor to address
you tonight. I apologize for being unable to attend in person, but I’ve
been having a bit of passport trouble. Glenn Greenwald and Laura
Poitras also regrettably could not accept their invitations. As it
turns out, revealing matters of "legitimate concern" nowadays puts you
on the list for more than "Global Thinker" awards.
Yes, indeed. And although
it is presented somewhat mock-seriously, it is a real and serious
problem that journalists who behave as real journalists cannot travel
safely anymore, precisely because they are journalists who behave as real journalists.
There's also this paragraph:
Today we stand at the
crossroads of policy, where parliaments and presidents on every
continent are grappling with how to bring meaningful oversight to the
darkest corners of our national security bureaucracies. The stakes are
high. James Madison warned that our freedoms are most likely to be
abridged by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power. I bet
my life on the idea that together, in the light of day, we can find a
I agree that the
stakes are high and that Madison's warning is correct, but I have my
doubts about "parliaments
and presidents", although
that is not Snowden's fault, who indeed "bet [his] life", quite literally, so as to be able to live in a
better world than he found himself in.
You'll find more in
the article, including all of Snowden's text.
2. The Great American Class War - Plutocracy
Next, an article by Bill Moyers (<-
Wikipedia) on Common Dreams:
This is an
interesting piece that contains this bit
The historian Plutarch
warned us long ago of what happens when there is no brake on the power
of great wealth to subvert the electorate. “The abuse of buying
and selling votes,” he wrote of Rome, “crept in and money began to play
an important part in determining elections. Later on, this
process of corruption spread in the law courts and to the army, and
finally, when even the sword became enslaved by the power of gold, the
republic was subjected to the rule of emperors.”
We don’t have emperors
yet, but we do have the Roberts Court that consistently privileges the
This is followed by
three further paragraphs that all start with "We don’t have emperors yet" (note the "yet"); quotes Monbiot as I did, a month ago, indeed the very
same passage; and then arrives at this passage:
Why are record numbers of
Americans on food stamps? Because record numbers of Americans are in
poverty. Why are people falling through the cracks? Because there are
cracks to fall through. It is simply astonishing that in this rich
nation more than 21 million Americans are still in need of full-time
work, many of them running out of jobless benefits, while our financial
class pockets record profits, spends lavishly on campaigns to secure a
political order that serves its own interests, and demands that our
political class push for further austerity. Meanwhile, roughly 46
million Americans live at or below the poverty line and, with the
exception of Romania, no developed country has a higher percent of kids
in poverty than we do. Yet a study by scholars at Northwestern
University and Vanderbilt finds little support among the wealthiest
Americans for policy reforms to reduce income inequality.
Yes, indeed. In fact,
here is a bit from the article on Moyers on Wikipedia, that makes the
same point (quoted minus a note number):
In a 2003 interview with
Moyers said, "The corporate right and the political right declared
class warfare on working people a quarter of a century ago and they've
won." He noted, "The rich are getting richer, which arguably wouldn't
matter if the rising tide lifted all boats." Instead, however, "[t]he
inequality gap is the widest it's been since 1929; the middle class is
besieged and the working poor are barely keeping their heads above
water." He added that as "the corporate and governing elites are
helping themselves to the spoils of victory," access to political power
has become "who gets what and who pays for it."
Meanwhile, the public has
failed to react because it is, in his words, "distracted by the media
circus and news has been neutered or politicized for partisan purposes."
And that is from ten
years ago, and from before the crisis. But I think he was right then,
and is right now, at least on the greed of the rich, and on the major
dangers this greed has for democracy, freedom and an open society, and
also on the manipulation of the public, and the fact that the present
situation was started in the 1970ies (see Lewis F.
Powell Jr., though this Wikipedia item is not very informative).