> "I think it is this new atmosphere of fear and that it won't change until we, as a public, learn to perform a new kind of alchemy and recognize fear when it is being presented. We need to learn to eat fear, to convert it into an energy that can be used to better a society rather than to terrorize and weaken it."
A huge percentage of the modern news media is fear-based. In the last U.S. presidential election, both candidates were running on largely fear-based platforms (fear of Mexicans on one end, fear of Trump on the other.) Even most political movements emphasize the terrible thing they're afraid of or angry about instead of actual changes that could be made to fix things. This can't be how things keep working.
I'm optimistic that we'll learn this "alchemy," though, for the simple reason that the onslaught of media-terror has become so absurdly intense that people can't help but become jaded. The first time you hear about a murder in your area, it's terrifying; the second time, a bit more expected; what about the tenth? The hundreth? We're being asked to believe in so many terrible things at once that the human mind is just going to give up at some point.
As long as we can lose fear without also losing concern, we'll be alright.
It's a perfect technique in the age of too much information. Authoritarian regimes of the 20th century were about restricting information - those of the 21st are about creating so much noise that finding truth begins to feel meaningless.
The Russian "firehouse of falsehood" propaganda model:
Also relevant and always worth it: The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear, 3 part BBC documentary by Alan Curtis.
Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTg4qnyUGxg
Having said that, I'm only 30, so don't know if the local pattern of rising fear is part of a larger story of less fear (compared to cold war days, for example).
There has definitely been a spike in fear-culture post 9/11.
It's fearing something that causes far fewer deaths than asthma so much you'll throw away the rights that underpin democracy, that's what's crazy; not fear. We won't even ban artificial fragrances, re asthma, much less toss away all privacy.
> As long as we can lose fear without also losing concern, we'll be alright.
I read this as fear being the emotional reaction to a threat, and concern being the rational reaction. You can say "this is a problem, what can I/we/government do to fix it?" without also having to say "OH MY GOD WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE", but it needs to be learned. (Which reminds me that the Enchiridion of Epictetus is still on my reading list.)
We like to think others are acting from fear whereas we are merely concerned, other married couples argue but we "discuss", etc. The old joke about this comes from Bertrand Russell and went something like this:
"I love children, you are a scout leader, they are a pederast."
I'm interested that he called out the idea of "deep state." He defines it as political forces that outlast a presidency (by that definition of course it exists i.e. any political party), but perhaps the implied element is a secretive nature and power over a president.
I wonder if there's an objective way to answer this.
FBI director J. Edgar Hoover was example of single man holding some amount of 'deep state' power.
There justified is fear that increased secrecy in security apparatus in US has started acting in more autonomous way. In the current government the power over WH likely comes mostly from competence difference.
Instead of seeing this as some sort of covert manipulation, maybe this phenomenon is a reflection of just how much people prefer the status quo. IIRC a lot of jurisprudence is based on deferring to status quo. It seems natural that a new president's administration should remind them "hey, listen, we've thought about item Q on your agenda a lot and we can't do it because of X, Y, and Z."
On the other hand, I've shown up on software teams before and asked, "Hey can we try Best Practice X?" -- only to learn that "Yes, we have all thought long and hard about Best Practice X but it Just Couldn't Possibly Apply Here. Also, Dave doesn't care for it." ;)
Annie Hacker: No of course not, silly of me. They're just called the opposition.
James Hacker: They're only the opposition in exile. The Civil Service is the opposition in residence."
Curiously, this dialogue appears in an episode called Big Brother, in which the Minister is trying to add safeguards to a national citizens database.
Very well said. In many ways, Snowden keeps the bar high for what we should aspire to be, and what we can be.
I'm glad he's doing okay though.
I believe he did the world a great favour and history will look back on what he did with kindness, even if so many do not look on it that way now.
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As they move past from their earthly feelings of shame, whenst they stuck their heads in the sand, now they revel in their vice.
What am I missing? If he had intended to end in Russia, you can be damn sure the USG would have publicly refuted the notion that they'd pulled his passport.
On April 4th, the head of the Russian FSB in Cuba traveled to Ecuador and met with Ecuadoran intelligence agents to "address issues of bilateral cooperation". Notes from this meeting and the credentials of the Russian team ended up in a file marked "Assange" at the Ecuadoran embassy in London.
On April 5th, Snowden sent his only email about his concerns to the NSA. Through the rest of the month, he starts downloading all of the documents.
In Mid-May, he flees to Hong Kong with the documents he's exfiltrated. In June, he flies to Moscow using an Ecuadorean travel document, where he plans to connect on a flight to Cuba.
After US pressure, Cuba and Ecuador both agreed not to grant him asylum, but it's suspicious that a note detailing Cuban FSB agents meeting with Ecuadorean reps ends up in Julian Assange's file on the day before Snowden starts his exfil op.
 - https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C61t121WgAA9IFQ.jpg
> And what's the implication from that evidence? That Snowden is a spy?
Some people think that, I don't think you can draw that conclusion at all from just one meeting. It merely hints that the Russians had advanced knowledge that Snowden would be traveling through Moscow en route to Cuba, likely due to Assange. It also hints that they knew Snowden would be stealing troves of documents from the NSA before he actually stole the documents.
From there you have to guess their motivation to assist him. Were they doing so as part of a quid pro quo? Were they doing so to 'poke' America and annoy our intelligence agencies? Did they plan to take all of Snowden's intel when he was in the Russian airport? Motivation is hard to assess but it changes the story fairly significantly if Snowden's travel plans involved two hostile superpowers and were arranged with their consent before he had taken a single document or even filed his complaint about the NSA's process.
In history there have been many instances were horrible actions were not defined as crime.
The NSA is spying on American citizens (and doing so without telling them) is likely illegal, and that's the big revelation that Snowden released. But he also released lots of secret/confidential information on legitimate foreign intelligence operations, and even if you're ok with that it's not like that's something that should/can just get a free pass. There's a difference between leaking things because you believe they are illegal, and leaking things because you don't like them. One is protected, the other is not. Snowden essentially did both.
Exactly that's what I meant: You shouldn't just leak illegal things (because the state itself defines most often that whatever it does is legal).
So we only have a moral compass left and it's understandable that those are different for each person. If Snowden thinks that "secret/confidential information on legitimate foreign intelligence operations" is not ok if the target is an ally, then that's his moral judgment and he can leak it.
If you disagree, you imply that now that most of the spying on citizens is legalized (post-facto), it's cool.
Or - Godwin's law to the rescue - now that the Reichtstag decided that secretly killing jews is fine, leaking is a moral offense ;)
It's the public's place to decide, which they cannot do without information about these programs.