I have had a pretty tough time following recent narratives in the NSA/Snowden/Wikileaks/Manning clusterfuck recently. I follow plenty of people on twitter with dogs in the fight on both sides.
Emoprogs vs Statists, it’s a debate where nihilism and fear run wild and are rebutted by claims that secrecy is necessary (I’ve never disputed this, I don’t take anyone who does seriously.) NSA wrongdoing is miniscule & oversight can be strengthened.
I’ve mentioned before that we’re headed into a bit of a tight spot, so my general outlook is usually hewn with pessimism, any new bad news is made worse by my factoring in already accepted grim premonitions, no matter on how solid a foundation they sit or factors mitigating their scale or scope; peak oil and climate change aren’t likely to completely devolve our country into some sort of nationalistic tyrannical surveillance state, but, they aren’t going to help the trend relieve itself either.
I hold little confidence that we won’t one day learn of abuses of the capabilities that the NSA has that are a symptom of the classic “every problem is a nail” addage. As we’re squeezed and stressed into a new normal which I anticipate will be a further catalyst for activism on a range of issues, civil rights will suffer and instances of terrorist labeling will increase domestically. The whole citizen/foreign distinction will likely dissolve if it hasn’t already.
I can’t help but think, after digesting the latest slew of NSA leaks and then the counter-leaks and admissions, that we’re not going to get the full story, from either side. That’s where I sit, in the middle, scared and attempting to make sense, this exacerbates my cynicism.
I feel it in my bones, we’re not headed for a society which understands it has breached the biosphere’s carrying capacity, every year we exacerbate our problems this way, we push ourselves towards a world were attempts at total information awareness are necessary, a world where every system is stressed and equality diminishing, with greater numbers of impoverished and frequently angry people.
We need to stop accepting even the perceived loss of liberty for security and be honest with ourselves. A world where we need to keep track of increasing numbers of hostiles and mount continual campaigns to protect vast economy supporting infrastructure and quell uprisings and food riots globally, this world is where our power does eventually diminish and we have nowhere to look but inwards. We need to be honest.
Sustaining empire for our own security is justifiable to many, but while we do it, we potentially accelerate climate change & resource conflicts, bringing nearer the times when all we exist for is security, all we exist for is the point at which we are the last ones standing. Like I’ve said previously empire does us little good in relation to these issues in the long term.
In the short term the job we do of protecting our interests around the globe keeps me safe and cozy in my bubble, no disagreement there, but history teaches us empires fall.
Is it in fact though our job to help them fall ? Some could accuse folks like Manning and Snowden of applying grease to the wheels of collapse or decline of influence and power, our neighbors could end up hating us more and terrorists may understand how to avoid surveillance.
These leaks taken in the long view though are not enough to topple a society which has spent the better part of its existence pissing off neighbors and spying on people while the populace at large makes little attempt to understand how or why.