Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Totalitarianism to save income inequality

From the Snowden letter to Brazil:
"American Senators tell us that Brazil should not worry, because this is not "surveillance," it's "data collection." They say it is done to keep you safe. They’re wrong. There is a huge difference between legal programs, legitimate spying, legitimate law enforcement — where individuals are targeted based on a reasonable, individualized suspicion — and these programs of dragnet mass surveillance that put entire populations under an all-seeing eye and save copies forever. These programs were never about terrorism: they're about economic spying, social control, and diplomatic manipulation. They're about power."
Despite attempts at barefaced lying - the educated debate being not whether Feinstein is a traitor but what the punishment for her treason should be - and 'gibberish' - propaganda so bad and obvious some are suggesting that it represents the end of any credibility for '60 Minutes' - it remains a remarkable fact that billions and billions of dollars have been spent without even one 'terrorist' caught or terrorist attack thwarted.  Amazing.  You'd think that by accident they might have stumbled over one!  It is not bad luck.  It is in the nature of mass surveillance operations that the information is unusable, in fact counterproductive, as the analysts become snowed under by the sheer volume of data.  Of course, the government has no interest in stopping terrorism.  All the incentives lead the other way.

So why do they do it?  Part of it is institutional.  There are so many careers resting on mass surveillance, and so many private contractors making enormous profits, that there is no incentive to see how ridiculous it is.  More importantly, however, the real aim of the program is social control, creating a state of paranoia - there are no secrets from us! - which is supposed to scare people away from even considering 'subversion'.  The 1% are so terrified that the masses will rise up and end this incredible inequality gravy train that they will do anything to scare people into quiet complacency.  Totalitarianism to save income inequality.

There is a paradox in Greenwald's trickle leaking.  Step by step, people are being educated that Big Brother indeed knows everything.  This is not bad at all for the 1%, with the anti-subversive paranoia in place - the NSA mass surveillance doesn't work as an anti-subversive program unless everybody is aware of the extent of it - and no real reforms on the horizon in the United States.  In fact, it is only the BRICS who will do anything about this, handing them yet another competitive advantage over the failing economies of the West, for mass surveillance is a deterrent to not only subversion, but also innovation.
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