28, 2014
Crisis: Moglen, Lagarde, China, Eskow, Greenwald
   "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
   -- Benjamin Franklin [1]
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
   -- I.F. Stone.
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton

Prev- crisis -Next

1. Privacy under attack: the NSA files revealed new threats
     to democracy

2. IMF chief says banks haven't changed since financial

3. China demands halt to 'unscrupulous' US cyber-spying
4. Making The “New Populism” A Reality
5. Most Shocking for Last? Greenwald Teases NSA Spying

About ME/CFS


This is the Nederlog of May 28. It is again an ordinary crisis issue, although the first item is long, for a reason explained there.

Also, again there is today no continuation of the "On the crisis series", simply because there is enough text already.

1. Privacy under attack: the NSA files revealed new threats to democracy

The first item today is a long essay by Eben Moglen (<Wikipedia), a professor of law and legal history at Columbia University, on The Guardian:
I think it is very interesting, because it is about the first essay that I read in a year (!!) that is by a very well-informed academic who specializes on laws and programming, and who made what I think are the right choices: He is closely involved with the Free Software Foundation (<-Wikipedia); developed the GNU Public License (<-Wikipedia); and did more I approve (that far too few do, as well).

So what I did is pick the essay for some of its ideas, and present them in the order they are in the essay. I may comment on them, but not today, apart from my only and last comment, at the end (for I simply lack the time).

Also, you may read the whole essay under the link, and all the parts indicated by "---" stand for intervening text that I deleted.


Our military listeners have invaded the centre of an evolving net, where conscriptable digital superbrains gather intelligence on the human race for purposes of bagatelle and capitalism. In the US, the telecommunications companies have legal immunity for their complicity, thus easing the way further.

The invasion of our net was secret, and we did not know that we should resist. But resistance developed as a fifth column among the listeners themselves.

In Hong Kong, Edward Snowden said something straightforward and useful: analysts, he said, are not bad people, and they don't want to think of themselves that way. But they came to calculate that if a programme produced anything useful, it was justified.


But in the past 10 years, after the morality of freedom was withdrawn, the state has begun fastening the procedures of totalitarianism on the substance of democratic society.

There is no historical precedent for the proposition that the procedures of totalitarianism are compatible with the system of enlightened, individual and democratic self-governance. Such an argument would be doomed to failure. It is enough to say in opposition that omnipresent invasive listening creates fear. And that fear is the enemy of reasoned, ordered liberty.

It is utterly inconsistent with the American ideal to attempt to fasten procedures of totalitarianism on American constitutional self-governance. But there is an even deeper inconsistency between those ideals and the subjection of every other society on earth to mass surveillance.


In the United States, those who were "premature anti-fascists" suffered. It was right to be right only when all others were right. It was wrong to be right when only people we disagreed with held the views that we were later to adopt ourselves.


In considering the political meaning of Snowden's message and its consequences, we must begin by discarding for immediate purposes pretty much everything said by the presidents, the premiers, the chancellors and the senators. Public discussion by these "leaders" has provided a remarkable display of misdirection, misleading and outright lying. We need instead to focus on the thinking behind Snowden's activities. What matters most is how deeply the whole of the human race has been ensnared in this system of pervasive surveillance.


Our concept of "privacy" combines three things: first is secrecy, or our ability to keep the content of our messages known only to those we intend to receive them. Second is anonymity, or secrecy about who is sending and receiving messages, where the content of the messages may not be secret at all. It is very important that anonymity is an interest we can have both in our publishing and in our reading. Third is autonomy, or our ability to make our own life decisions free from any force that has violated our secrecy or our anonymity. These three – secrecy, anonymity and autonomy – are the principal components of a mixture we call "privacy".


In other words, privacy is a requirement of democratic self-government. The effort to fasten the procedures of pervasive surveillance on human society is the antithesis of liberty.


Nobody told the people of the world. By the end of the first decade of the 21st century, a gap opened between what the people of the world thought their rights were and what their governments had given away in return for intelligence useful only to the governments themselves. This gap was so wide, so fundamental to the meaning of democracy, that those who operated the system began to disbelieve in its legitimacy. As they should have done.

Snowden saw what happened to other whistleblowers, and behaved accordingly. His political theory has been quite exact and entirely consistent. He says the existence of these programmes, undisclosed to the American people, is a fundamental violation of American democratic values. Surely there can be no argument with that.


If we are not doing anything wrong, then we have a right to do everything we can to maintain the traditional balance between us and power that is listening. We have a right to be obscure. We have a right to mumble. We have a right to speak languages they do not get. We have a right to meet when and where and how we please.

We have an American constitutional tradition against general warrants. It was formed in the 18th century for good reason. We limit the state's ability to search and seize to specific places and things that a neutral magistrate believes it is reasonable to allow.


We should rather be fighting against the procedures of totalitarianism because slavery is wrong. Because fastening the surveillance of the master on the whole human race is wrong. Because providing the energy, the money, the technology, the system for subduing everybody's privacy around the world – for destroying sanctuary in American freedom of speech – is wrong. Snowden has provided the most valuable thing that democratic self-governing people can have, namely information about what is going on.


The government is projecting immensities of power into the destruction of privacy in the world's other societies. It is doing so without any democratic check or control, and its people must stop it. Americans' role as the beacon of liberty in the world requires no less of us.


Political leaders around the world have had much to say since Snowden began his revelations, but not one statement that consisted of "I regret subjecting my own people to these procedures".


What they have done is to build a state of permanent war into the net. Twelve years into a war that never seems to end, they are making the net a wartime place forever.


The difficulty is that we have not only our good and patriotic fellow citizens to deal with, for whom an election is a sufficient remedy, but we have also an immense structure of private surveillance that has come into existence. This structure has every right to exist in a free market, but is now creating ecological disaster from which governments alone have benefited.


Instead we are still at a puppet show in which the people who are the legitimate objects of international surveillance – namely politicians, heads of state, military officers, and diplomats – are screaming about how they should not be listened to. As though they were us and had a right to be left alone.

And that, of course, is what they want. They want to confuse us. They want us to think that they are us – that they're not the people who allowed this to happen, who cheered it on, who went into business with it.


The bad news for the people of the world is we were lied to thoroughly by everybody for nearly 20 years. The good news is that Snowden has told us the truth.


Edward Snowden has revealed problems for which we need solutions. The vast surveillance-industrial state that has grown up since 2001 could not have been constructed without government contractors and the data-mining industry. Both are part of a larger ecological crisis brought on by industrial overreaching. We have failed to grasp the nature of this crisis because we have misunderstood the nature of privacy. Businesses have sought to profit from our confusion, and governments have taken further advantage of it, threatening the survival of democracy itself.

In this context, we must remember that privacy is about our social environment, not about isolated transactions we individually make with others. When we decide to give away our personal information, we are also undermining the privacy of other people. Privacy is therefore always a relation among many people, rather than a transaction between two.


If you accept this supposedly bilateral offer, to provide email service to you for free as long as it can all be read, then everybody who corresponds with you is subjected to this bargain. If your family contains somebody who receives mail at Gmail, then Google gets a copy of all correspondence in your family. If another member of your family receives mail at Yahoo, then Yahoo receives a copy of all the correspondence in your family as well.


The same will be true if you decide to live your social life on a website where the creep who runs it monitors every social interaction, keeping a copy of everything said, and also watching everybody watch everybody else. If you bring new "friends" to the service, you are attracting them to the creepy inspection, forcing them to undergo it with you.


We do not, with respect to clean air and clean water, set the limits of tolerable pollution by consent. We have socially established standard of cleanliness, which everybody has to meet.

Environmental law is not law about consent. But with respect to privacy we have been allowed to fool ourselves.


In a free society people should be protected in their right to say as much or as little as they want.

The real problem is that we are losing the anonymity of reading, for which nobody has contracted at all.

We have lost the ability to read anonymously, but the loss is concealed from us because of the way we built the web.


If you have a Facebook account, Facebook is surveilling every single moment you spend there. Moreover, much more importantly, every web page you touch that has a Facebook "like" button on it which, whether you click the button or not, will report your reading of that page to Facebook.

If the newspaper you read every day has Facebook "like" buttons or similar services' buttons on those pages, then Facebook or the other service watches you read the newspaper: it knows which stories you read and how long you spent on them.

Every time you tweet a URL, Twitter is shortening the URL for you. But it is also arranging that anybody who clicks on that URL will be monitored by Twitter as they read. You are not only helping people know what's on the web, but also helping Twitter read over everybody's shoulder everything you recommend.


We allowed this system to grow up so quickly around us that we had no time to understand its implications. By the time the implications have been thought about, the people who understand are not interested in talking, because they have got an edge, and that edge is directed at you.

Commercial surveillance then attracts government attention, with two results that Snowden has documented for us: complicity and outright thievery.


Another characteristic of the great data-miners is that there is no union within or around them.

They are now public corporations, but the union of shareholders is ineffective in controlling their environmental misdoing. These companies are remarkably opaque with respect to all that they actually do, and they are so valuable that shareholders will not kill the goose that lays the golden egg by inquiring whether their business methods are ethical. A few powerful individuals control all the real votes in these companies. Their workforces do not have a collective voice.

Snowden has been clear all along that the remedy for this environmental destruction is democracy. But he has also repeatedly pointed out that, where workers cannot speak up and there is no collective voice, there is no protection for the public's right to know.


Without the anonymity of reading there is no democracy. I mean of course that there aren't fair and free elections, but much more deeply than that I mean there is no such thing as free self-governance.


Mail could be encrypted – using public keys in a web of trust – within users' own computers, in their browsers; email at rest at Gmail could be encrypted using algorithms to which the user, rather than Google, has the relevant keys.


The situation at Facebook is different. Facebook is strip-mining human society. Watching everyone share everything in their social lives and instrumenting the web to surveil everything they read outside the system is inherently unethical.


Facebook should lean in and tell its users what it does.

It should say: "We watch you every minute that you're here. We watch every detail of what you do. We have wired the web with 'like' buttons that inform on your reading automatically."

To every parent Facebook should say: "Your children spend hours every day with us. We spy upon them much more efficiently than you will ever be able to. And we won't tell you what we know about them."

Only that, just the truth. That will be enough. But the crowd that runs Facebook, that small bunch of rich and powerful people, will never lean in close enough to tell you the truth.


Governments, as I have said, must protect us against spying by other governments, and must subject their own domestic listening to the rule of law. Companies, to regain our trust, must be truthful about their practices and their relations with governments. We must know what they really do, so we can decide whether to give them our data.


A great deal of confusion has been created by the distinction between data and metadata, as though there were a difference and spying on metadata were less serious.

Illegal interception of the content of a message breaks your secrecy. Illegal interception of the metadata of a message breaks your anonymity. It isn't less, it's just different. Most of the time it isn't less, it's more.

In particular, the anonymity of reading is broken by the collection of metadata.


But the US president has the only vote that matters concerning the ending of the war. All the governmental destruction of privacy that has been placed atop the larger ecological disaster created by industry, all of this spying is wartime stuff. The president must end this war in the net, which deprives us of civil liberties under the guise of depriving foreign bad people of sanctuary.


We have seen that, with the relentlessness of military operation, the listeners in the US have embarked on a campaign against the privacy of the human race. They have compromised secrecy, destroyed anonymity, and adversely affected the autonomy of billions of people.


Snowden has shown us the immense complicity of all governments. He has shown, in other words, that everywhere the policies the people want have been deliberately frustrated by their governments. They want to be protected against the spying of outsiders. They want their own government's national security surveillance activities to be conducted under the independent scrutiny that characterises the rule of law.


The government of the UK must cease to vitiate the civil liberties of its people, it must cease to use its territory and its transport facilities as an auxiliary to American military misbehaviour. And it must cease to deny freedom of the press. It must stop pressuring publishers who seek to inform the world about threats to democracy, while it goes relatively easy on publishers who spy on the families of murdered girls.


The chancellor of Germany must stop talking about her mobile phone and start talking about whether it is OK to deliver all the telephone calls and text messages in Germany to the US. Governments that operate under constitutions protecting freedom of expression have to inquire, urgently, whether that freedom exists when everything is spied on, monitored, listened to.


Many companies manage our data; most of them have no enforceable legal responsibility to us. There is lawyers' work to do there too.


We must commoditise personal uses of the communication security and privacy technologies that businesses have already adopted. This has to be as simple as installing a smoke detector, hanging a fire extinguisher on the wall, talking to your kids about which door to use if the stairs are burning, or even putting a rope ladder in a second-floor window. None of this solves the problem of fire. But if a blaze breaks out, these simple measures will save your child's life.


Yes, to all of that. I have just two problems with this, which are both not Eben Moglen's fault: 1. This is the first essay of high quality and comprehension by an academic that I have read since June 10, 2013 (and I have kept track since then as well as I could, and indeed I also have found quite a few fine contributions by journalists or activists, but indeed not much by professors), while 2. one main problem is that on average people are neither intelligent nor well informed, and also tend to side with the strong or with their own kind (which to them seems The Moral Choice).

2. IMF chief says banks haven't changed since financial crisis

The next item is an article by Angela Monaghan on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

The head of the International Monetary Fund has warned that a persistent violation of ethics among bankers and rising inequality pose a major threat to growth and financial stability.

Christine Lagarde told an audience in London that six years on from the deep financial crisis that engulfed the global economy, banks were resisting reform and still too focused on excessive risk taking to secure their bonuses at the expense of public trust.

She said: "The behaviour of the financial sector has not changed fundamentally in a number of dimensions since the crisis. While some changes in behaviour are taking place, these are not deep or broad enough. The industry still prizes short-term profit over long-term prudence, today's bonus over tomorrow's relationship.

"Some prominent firms have even been mired in scandals that violate the most basic ethical norms - Libor and foreign exchange rigging, money laundering, illegal foreclosure."

At least it is good that Christine Lagarde said this, in public also. She further said this that I agree with:

Borrowing from Oxfam research, she noted that the world's richest 85 people, who could fit into a single London double-decker bus, control the same wealth as the poorest half of the global population of 3.5 billion people.

Options to address inequality include more progressive tax systems and greater use of property taxes, she said.

"We must recognise that reducing inequality is not easy. Redistributive policies always produce winners and losers. Yet if we want capitalism to do its job – enabling as many people as possible to participate and benefit from the economy – then it needs to be more inclusive. That means addressing extreme income disparity."

(I do hope the Financial Times agrees to this, although I don't see how they possibly can, since they claim inequalities are not on the rise, not in England, ar least.)

3. China demands halt to 'unscrupulous' US cyber-spying

The next item is an article by Associated Press on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

China has called for a halt to what it describes as unscrupulous US cyber-spying, saying that an investigation has concluded that China is a major target.

The complaint, in the form of a government agency report, comes a week after US prosecutors charged five Chinese military officers with hacking into American companies to steal trade secrets.

The report by China's Internet Media Research Centre mentioned media reports of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden's leaks and said a subsequent investigation by Chinese authorities "confirmed the existence of snooping activities directed against China", the official Xinhua news agency said.

"As a superpower, the United States takes advantage of its political, economic, military and technological hegemony to unscrupulously monitor other countries, including its allies," the report said.

"The United States' spying operations have gone far beyond the legal rationale of 'anti-terrorism' and have exposed its ugly face of pursuing self-interest in complete disregard of moral integrity."

It said the operations had "flagrantly breached international laws, seriously infringed upon the human rights and put global cyber-security under threat. They deserve to be rejected and condemned by the whole world."

I agree with the Chinese (though I do not agree with their social system), and the American government's reply "that the Chinese are spying as well" is only true for a small percentage, as far as I can see: The US has invested far more in spying, as they have also invested far more in the military. (This parallels an Orson Welles story, who was asked during the McCarthy years whether he was a communist, which he clearly was not although he was a progressive. He said: "For 86%" because that was the amount of taxes he had to pay on his income. Also, these days the rich pay a lot less taxes, that is, if they pay anything at all.)

4. Making The “New Populism” A Reality

The next item is an article by Richard Eskow on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

“Democratic movements are initiated by people who have individually managed to attain a high level of personal political self-respect,” historian Lawrence Goodwyn wrote nearly four decades ago. “They are not resigned; they are not intimidated.”

“The game is rigged,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren said at last week’s New Populism Conference, as if summoned forth from history by Goodwyn’s observation: “We can whine about it. We can whimper. Or we can fight back.

“Me? I’m fighting back.”

Actually, this is reported from a conference. Here is one more quotation:

Rev. Barber’s populist agenda was similar to that of Sen. Warren, who outlined hers in the day’s keynote address:

“We believe that Wall Street needs stronger rules and tougher enforcement, and we’re willing to fight for it.

“We believe no one should work full-time and live in poverty, and that means raising the minimum wage – and we’re willing to fight for it.

“We believe people should retire with dignity, and that means strengthening Social Security – and we’re willing to fight for it.

“We believe that a kid should have a chance to go to college without getting crushed by debt – and we’re willing to fight for it.

“We believe workers have a right to come together, to bargain together and to rebuild America’s middle class – and we’re willing to fight for it.

“We believe in equal pay for equal work – and we’re willing to fight for it.

“We believe equal means equal, and that’s true in the workplace and in marriage, true for all our families – and we’re winning that fight right now.”

I agree with it, and there is considerably more under the last dotted link, but I also am fairly skeptical about seeing a "New Populism" arise in the US, though I hasten to add I'd love to be mistaken, at least if it would and could organize millions who are in favor of the last list of points - on which I also miss an awareness that governmental spying on everyone must stop. (See item 1.)

5. Most Shocking for Last? Greenwald Teases NSA Spying "Finale"

The next item is an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Journalist Glenn Greenwald has repeatedly hinted that the largest—and potentially most shocking—revelations about NSA surveillance have yet to come.

And in an interview with The Sunday Times published over the weekend, the award-winning journalist spoke about a coming "finale" that would expose specific individuals who have been targeted by the powerful spy agency.

According to the Times' Toby Harnden, Greenwald explained that the ultimate legacy of his NSA reporting—and the decision to leak a trove of secret NSA documents by whistleblower Edward Snowden— would be “shaped in large part” by this “finishing piece” still to come.

Greenwald said:

One of the big questions when it comes to domestic spying is, ‘Who have been the NSA’s specific targets?’

Are they political critics and dissidents and activists? Are they genuinely people we’d regard as terrorists?

What are the metrics and calculations that go into choosing those targets and what is done with the surveillance that is conducted? Those are the kinds of questions that I want to still answer.

And they are very interesting questions.

P.S. May 29, 2014: I inserted two links at the end of the first item (that I forgot to insert yesterday).
[1] 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 government, if good, is part of its executive power. Here I quote Aristotle from my More on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn Greenwald:
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 quote from is quite pertinent.)

About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search machines) which is a disease I have since 1.1.1979:
1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)

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