In the discussion thread: Why the Ruling Class is So Upset About Edward Snowden [View all]
Response to polly7 (Original post)
Tue Jul 2, 2013, 02:12 PM
JDPriestly (57,936 posts)
28. We have heard a lot about cyber-terrorism.
That's not Snowden's thing. He is a cyber-revolutionary. I'm not at all saying that I think that is a good thing or a bad thing. I'm just saying how I see this situation realistically.
While I am happy that Snowden has let us know that our electronic communications are not at all private and that we have no right or means to know whether we are among the surveilled or not, I don't know enough about the cyber-revolution, the cyber-war in which he seems to have taken a command for himself to know what it means for the rest of us non-computer-geeks.
I have no idea how computers work other than that I can turn one on and enter stuff and stuff comes out. I don't understand the internet well enough to post successfully on any website other than DU, but I do send e-mails and do Google searches.
Seriously. I have joined other websites, but I can never seem to get back on if I don't go back for a while. I haven't learned to text yet. So you can see. I am not a soldier in the cyber-wars. Not even a likely enlistee.
But I do now understand what General MacArthur said to Theodore White two days after Hiroshima.
"White, he said, White, do you know what this (the atomic bomb on Hiroshima) means?" "What sir?" I (Theodore White) asked. It meant, he said, that all wars were over; wars were no longer matters of valor or judgment, but lay in the hands of scholars and scientists. "Men like me are obsolete," he said, pacing back and forth. "There will be no more wars, White, no more wars."
Theodore White, In Search of History, A Personal Adventure (Warner Books 1978) page 224
Snowden was born in 1983. Although it was already an inevitable reality, Congress argued about opening up our markets to international free trade on a pretty unlimited basis in 1985 (maybe earlier, but 1985 is when I learned about it). Snowden's generation of Americans does not have the same concept of "nation" that his parents and ours did.
Snowden believes in a cyber-world in which everybody puts in their two cents, and the best ideas win. Information is conveyed on line. People shop online, get medical advice online, socialize online, see the world online. The people even vote (recommend, like) online.
Snowden does not believe in nation-states. He buys a computer made in China out of parts made from about five other countries. His pants are made in Sri Lanka. His shirt in El Salvador. (Not really. Just examples.) His tomatoes come from Mexico, his grapes from Chile, his wine from France. He joined the US military and was sent on a cyber-mission, to spy on people around the world of all nationalities, colors, races, including the US.
And now he has taken an open field in the cyber-war. The cyber-war that puzzles the world's governments but is only understood by the computer geeks themselves. We, including our "leaders" are the peasants. Our cyber-fields will be left in ruins by this. Just wait and see. We will be much more cautious in our electronic communications once we begin to comprehend what this means.
And now Feinstein says to him: you took an oath.
Well, Feinstein took an oath too: to uphold the Constitution. But she and the rest of Congress and the Supreme Court construe the Constitution according to their interests - liberally when it comes to the powers of government, when it comes to approving secretive laws and secret cabals within the executive branch and to giving big chunks of tax money to private contractors and military junk production companies.
But when it comes to the First, Second, Fourth and maybe the Fifth and 14th Amendments (at the very least), the Executive, the Congress and worst of all, the Supreme Court believe in free authority for government and restrained rights for people.
That interpretation of the Constitution does not work well in a world of international trade and international electronic communications. Our trade agreements conflict with the concept of local, democratic government. That does not bother members of Congress like Feinstein, Pelosi and Shumer because they know how to profit from those agreements.
But the internet and electronic communications open up the world to ordinary people who clamor for international rights and international freedom. And that scares the same people who have foisted international trade on us in exchange for what used to be our jobs.
Snowden is not revolting against the US. He is beyond that. He is revolting against the constraints of traditional nation-states. He wants freedom for the internet.
He seems to have chosen to be a soldier in the government of scholars and scientists that MacArthur predicted would fight future wars. So here we are. The cyber-war is on.
I sit here, approaching my dotage. I am still part of the library generation, except that more and more, I realize that my generation would better be called the library-book-sale generation. Because that is where I am finding all these precious old books written by people who were not trying to squeeze communication into three one-syllable words expressed in symbols and smiley faces.
I look at what Snowden is doing and I am as baffled as Obama sounds, as Putin looks. I hear the skies are full of planes roaring from the capitols of countries on the out list among American diplomats. What a strange war we are in.
Personally, I'm on the side of the books -- the old books I find in used book shops and library sales -- the casualties, the orphans of this cyber-war. Unless I announce it on the internet, only I know whether I am reading Voltaire or Locke or Goethe or Haiku or Theodore White. That's privacy.
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We have heard a lot about cyber-terrorism.
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