It's difficult imagining that goal being completely achieved, but it is interesting how closely the Snowden story matched Assange's thoughts.
Note that Assange's writing is pretty.. umm.. dense. It is worth reading the commentary at  at the same time.
This analysis is excellent:
[Assange] decides, instead, that the most effective way to attack this kind of organization would be to make “leaks” a fundamental part of the conspiracy’s information environment.... the idea is that increasing the porousness of the conspiracy’s information system will impede its functioning, that the conspiracy will turn against itself in self-defense, clamping down on its own information flows in ways that will then impede its own cognitive function. You destroy the conspiracy, in other words, by making it so paranoid of itself that it can no longer conspire
I note that Assange, aged 42, is a Gen-Xer.
(I left him out of the essay because (a) mentioning his name would invite derailing discussion of other personality-related issues, and (b) his being an X-er would obscure the key message in the closing paragraphs.)
I'm struggling with why you don't open arms embrace the Gen-X / Gen Y's actual attitude towards a government that can grab any of them and shame them into compliance is the moral voting decision.
There is an actual synthesis available, the state collects all kinds of data, but it cannot be used against its citizens.
Using any that data to help solve ANY domestic crime becomes the greater crime - it is traitorous for any public employee to do so. We have a long legal history or fruit of the poisoned tree, Gen X / Gen Y can simply ensure PRISM and its ilk - we save and extend that, and harshly punish a few civil servants.
Its similar to the militarization of the police. Why not expect and cheer Gen Y / Gen X to say out loud, "we don't care if more cops die because they have only a vest"?
Why not expect and cheer, the total destruction of the bureaucracy your work pillories?
Why valorize the near criminal firm behavior the 40 year s and a watch created?
I'm Gen X and I'm totally comfy with the idea of a state that has to rebuild itself around 1M Snowdens ready to heroically crush state malfeasance for $, fame, or patriotism.
It dawns on me you aren't a fan of Nassim Taleb.
I prefer my sci-fi writers to be dedicated libertarians. So maybe, if you aren't, don't publicize it.
Then you prefer to get your ideology and news pre-digested, do you?
(I reckon it's always a mistake to restrict your reading so that it conforms to your own worldview.)
I'm not a libertarian. Libertarianism is a specifically American ideology that can be pigeon-holed best as right-anarchism. I'm not American: I'm a leftist with a strong attachment to social contracts, civil liberties, and freedom. If it causes you to stop buying my books because it doesn't gel with your preconception of what I ought to be, that's fine by me. But you don't get to tell me not to talk about it.
I think there is an oppurtunity for a coalition between the far left and the far right over civil liberties, if only we can "agree to disagree" on economic theories until the rule of law under the Constitution has been restored. (There's even a good brand hook built-in: the Green Tea Party.)
I'm not American
All this talk of "the Constitution" as though it is some kind of 100% correct holy document handed down from on high to our superior ancestors is pretty irrelevant in the rest of the world.
It's extremely frustrating.
Or, more succinctly, "Build bridges, not guard rails." It irritates me that American politics is often an exclusive-or choice between freedom and justice.
The meme of "Restore the Constitution" can either be seen as a first step towards that goal, and/or a realistic low bar for what can actually be achieved. (The Constitution has always been somewhat broken, given our history with slavery, suffrage, and wartime abuses, but it's a more comforting narrative for most conservatives.)
If we could somehow pass a new constitutional amendment, I think the most urgent matter is electoral reform: instant run-off, and publicly financed elections. Whether you believe in a big or small government, we deserve one that we genuinely believe reflects our values, rather than the blatant corruption and "lesser evils" we live with now. If you remove the left-right smokescreen, Americans agree on more issues than it would seem; restoring faith in the democratic process would catalyze new progress in other arenas from there.
But it's not a first step towards that goal. A significant number of people who chant "Restore the Constitution" mean "before the Fourteenth Amendment".
> If we could somehow pass a new constitutional amendment
That's not restoration.
> I think the most urgent matter is electoral reform: instant run-off, and publicly financed elections.
That's fine. You don't need to rally behind "Restore the Constitution" to advocate for that.
We can keep bickering over our disagreements, or we can unite over our common ground. The latter is bound to have much higher efficacy.
Once again, you talk about how the government is sinning against your Bible. Your term for this deviation is "overreach", and your response to it is to "pushback" and put forward a messiah. These are guard rails. You are envisioning a future defined by what is not true: by the dearth of government overreach, by a less indiscriminate usage of drones, and so on. These are not bridges. They are walls.
Forgive me if I don't tithe, but I am not a member of this church.
You can build your coalition, but near as I can tell, you are acting against my interests.
To be clear: are you referring to working within a conventional political system (over 50% consensus), or outside the political system, through NGOs/technology/etc? The former is more easily achieved by allying with those you disagree with. What would be your practical strategy to building bridges instead? Not with long-term "consciousness change", but right now, today?
This is a campaign promise. This is where the jackbooted thugs come from. We never imagine ourselves to be the ones who start the oppression; it's always such a small compromise. We ally ourselves with someone who is distasteful, but gets the job done.
And the bridges never even get a blueprint, because our only concern is the quality and placement of the guard rails. That's all we end up discussing. We talk about freedom as if we knew what it was, and our first step is to curtail it because the people we don't like have more freedoms than the people we do like. And suddenly we look like Mohamed Morsi.
> What would be your practical strategy to building bridges instead?
We do something uncanny: we think about what we're doing. We consider why we want to do what we want to do. We strengthen our own ethical framework and hold it up for others to take apart. We turn our actions into natural consequences of a tested ethical structure. We ask others to do the same. We teach them how to build one if they don't know how. We compare and contrast our results. We argue about them; we disagree about them; we compromise and find ways to build policies despite those merge conflicts. That's a bridge.
Yeah, it can be argued that that's less practical than getting all the pro-slavery people in power and then hoping they fix our surveillance issues. Or maybe they'll just surveil the brown people and the atheist commies? It's unclear. A good chunk of them are in power right now, and they didn't actually stop this from happening. What would you trade with them for due process? Should we scratch health care? Religious freedom? Infrastructure maintenance? Public education? What would you give them for their support? You should know, and you should know why: that's part of practicality.
Yeah, it will take more time, more effort, more sweat, more tears. It's a harder road, because it's less traveled. But if you're going to pursue due process, why isn't the process due here?
What is government supposed to look like? Surely not "the status quo, minus a panopticon". What does a government predicated on human rights principles that transcend nationality actually look like? Why? What are the necessary demands on a state and society that such principles require? List out the rights. Prioritize them, if you wish, and postpone some that you consider least important. What are the consequences of meeting such demands? What does the resultant society and state actually look like? Who holds what power, and how, and why?
What is the collateral damage of your actions? Justify its acceptability. And try to make it more legitimate than, "This is what I care about most, so it's the most important."
All of that. Because you're promising me to build the bridge eventually, but every time I put down a beam, someone says, "Oh, I need that for another guard rail. Sorry." And pretty soon all we have are prisons and an American dream you have to be asleep to believe in. That's "right now, today".
Show me how you're not just more of the same.
Unfortunately, I don't believe it's about the Constitution right now. I think the problem is that civic priorities have shifted.
I think after the 1830's decision to use the commerce clause in more encroach into a broader role that it was a pragmatic decision at the time... however, that expanded role continued into what we have today. We should emphatically NOT have domestic arms of the U.S. Government with the power that the DoJ, FBI, CIA, NSA, ATF, DEA, ICE and their ilk are holding.
And the truth is, after the Civil War we shifted from a Federation into a Nation, with a National government. It's a situation we either have to accept or attempt to change, but that's what exists.
While the existing Constitution should be upheld as a first step, I do believe that some or all of the human rights protections should extend to all persons, not just citizens, and that spying on allies during peacetime is unacceptable. On a practical level, international spying is just a run-around for domestic spying anyway: we snoop on the UK's servers, they snoop on ours, and whoops, data on our own citzens!
I also think there is an oppurtunity for transnational democratic organizations, as depicted in Neal Stephenson's concept of "phyles". With enough people banding together worldwide, we can protect human rights with force, yet without violence.
Yes. But now your are talking about a world government. Do you think the one you hate would not have a major role? If they didn't have a major role would that really be a world government? Your country could try to negotiate anti-spying treaties, but your government is likely complicit. Maybe there is a seed for world governance here, but more likely politicians will play both sides as they always do.
In actual fact, you can just expand a constitution to explicitly include privacy for all humans, regardless of citizenship/nationality. The US courts could hold the US government to that standard.
It also is not an solely American ideology as concepts such as the flat tax and equality before the law can be seen in the Leveller Movement of 17th Century Britain.
> I prefer my sci-fi writers to be dedicated libertarians. So maybe, if you aren't, don't publicize it.
This is astonishingly condescending of you.
It seems like you basically agree with my question of CSTROSS.
The last bit, was just me letting him know, putting his politics in front of his art means some won't make it to his art.
I like keanu reeves bc he doesn't let me know what he thinks. I'm weird that way.
Regardless, what you said was pretty rude.
They are, no matter what your politics. It's good stuff.
And a lot of artists are 100% ok with that. Mr Stross seems to be among them. Last time I heard that sentiment expressed was recently - a folk band who mentioned that they just weren't interested in playing a paying gig for a British National Party member.
To me it feels like personal integrity. But then I'm in broad agreement with Mr Stross' political views (and the folk band too) so it's not much of a challenge. I wouldn't want to be a fan of a far-right artist anyway.
Dick. You are a dick. Just letting you know.
And it's a somewhat problematic way of dealing with misconduct by the authorities. For one thing, it relies on them to correctly report where they're getting their information. Fast-forward to the recent NSA/DEA leaks, including memos offering agents explicit guidance in "parallel construction", a euphemism for constructing false case histories in which the existence of evidence from the NSA dragnet is concealed from the courts. Where this is happening, the exclusionary rule has failed as a constraint on the cops.
We had that. It is eviscerated by things like "Parallel Construction", "Exigent Circumstances", and really low standards for "Probable Cause". WRT domestic law enforcement (like drug cases), police may violate laws, peoples' rights in all manner of ways. Prosecutors usually get to keep the evidence if police can show "good faith".
Positions of power tend to be obtained by those that seek it out. Those that seek out power and achieve it are generally those that are both charismatic, and ambitious. This can be a dangerous combination. When you combine this with people who love raw technology, the opportunity to work with said technology will often outweigh the moral obligation someone should have with their larger community.
This is why things like PRISM can happen, and actually start being used before leaks happen. Many people I know would have not had the fortitude (I think myself included) to actually take the steps to speak out.
Consider this in that light: "NSA to cut system administrators by 90 percent to limit data access" http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/09/us-usa-security-ns...
In other words, Assange is conceiving an environment that asymmetrically favors transparent power over clandestine. Which probably also means good, or at least normative power. (Bad things can be normative eg: segregation, but most bad things are not.)
This asymmetry only exists as organisations scale. Keep your Clandestine organisations small and your transparent organisations big. But there are two problems with making Clandestine organisations small:
1. it is dangerous: smaller Clandestine organisations would by necessary concentrate more power in fewer hands, combined with secrecy that actually works and you have the perfect breeding ground for a coup,
2. it is politically sensitive: managers in organisations grow in status as they hire more people below them/lose status as they lose people below them, any budget or size cuts will be used as a way to past the blame after the next intelligence failure (consider how the NSA/CIA would've reacted to the post-9-11 review if Clinton had reduced their size to 0.1%).
I think that "by necessity" is not true here. A smaller organization can not do as much as a larger organization. Ok, a handful of people could stage a coup. Then what? They still need bodies for tax collecting, law enforcement, jailers for the secret prisons, whatever. Those people need information to do their jobs, which increases the circle size, etc, and we're back where we started.
Assange's insight into clandestine organizations as information networks that can be disrupted is profound. You get the choice between large, effective, and open; or small, ineffective, and clandestine.
See 'The Mythical Man Month', SpaceX vs other aerospace companies or the writings of R. V. Jones on the advantages of keeping intelligence agencies small.
>Ok, a handful of people could stage a coup. Then what?
I agree staging a coup is not the same as running a government. Not sure what you point here is.
>You get the choice between large, effective, and open; or small, ineffective, and clandestine.
The current choice is between: large, ineffective and semi-transparent or large, even more ineffective and semi-opaque. I agree with Assange on this.
The danger is that we could get small, effective and truly-opaque, but it is unlikely to happen due to political concerns.
Excellent resources. For a counterpoint on the specific organization type we're discussing, governments, see libertarianism.
> I agree staging a coup is not the same as running a government. Not sure what you point here is.
You brought up coup as a potential consequence of tightened lines of communication and increased secrecy & concentration of power in a few hands. My point was that even in that hypothetical, in order to transition from coup to government you have to widen the circle again, dilute the power, and we're back to the large-ineffective paradigm again. Short term: maybe maybe consequences; long term: same old story.
The recent news that they would be reducing their outside sysadmin workforce by 90% I think may be the most interesting example of shooting themselves in the foot.
Look at it this way: One sysadmin leaves with a lot of information and then leaks it to the press. In an effort to plug that hole, you announce that at some point in the future you are going to eliminate 90% of the people who did the job of that person. Now everyone who is currently doing this job looks around and thinks to themselves "Gee, I'm probably going to lose my job in a couple of months. I have two choices: try to apply for a direct employment role in the agency I was contracting for or I can choose not to utilize my top secret clearance and change jobs." Now I would bet that those 90% comprise thousands of people, some of which may have the same technical prowess as Snowden and who may also be as disillusioned with the corruption of the current system they are whoring themselves out to. I can only imagine that this reduction in force will lead to a lot of new juicy details of wrongdoing being leaked.
This was probably one of the big reasons USSR fell apart. The attempt to make everything secret made discussing real problems very difficult.
This may work.... Of course, the other serious question if nation states as we know can exist without conspiracies and if we would be better without them.
Such motivations, especially when entrenched early in life can be quite powerful. I think there is some truth to the fact that Gen X/Y members will be harder to keep buttoned up when given secret clearances but it won't be quite as hard as it would be without the patriotic angle.
What the probable response will be against these leaks is a change in hiring practices (less reliance on subcontractors) and more thorough vetting procedures.
Rather than, what we'd all like to see (huge assumption on my part there): a more transparent and surgical use of these capabilities with much better oversight in place.
Previous generations had the Nazis and then the Soviets as the 'enemy' and they were tangible opponents. Potential whistleblowers might have been able to convince themselves that they were acting for the greater good, and kept themselves quiet.
The new 'enemy' are the terrorists, and they are neither particularly tangible or visible. It is not so easy to convince yourself you are acting for the greater good in these circumstances.
In actuality, the reverse happens. Snowden's patriotism convinced him that the actions of the NSA could not be justified as 'greater goods', and so he became a whistleblower.
By rights the Marines should have been kicking the NSA's doors in.
But just think of the bright side, if we accept as true the claims of those using the Arab Spring erupting from Manning's diplomatic cable leaks, that it's all worth it if we get more democracies in the end, then I suppose all's well that ends well.
Mind, I don't personally agree with that but apparently I've been the idiot here the whole time. :)
Kicking the first stone of an avalanche downhill is easy but there is no way of knowing when the stones will stop rolling and if the new configuration is a favourable one and what the damage incurred along the way is.
And because no-one wants to win a war against a repressive political ideology and come home to find more of the same?
This statement seems ambiguous. In the context of Snowden, are you claiming he is motived by patriotism to go against the wishes of his employer or would be motivated to stay within the constraints of his employer both due to patriotism?
Whose reasons are better is subject of much discussion, I merely note that patriotism can be used to push people into a more conforming role than a mere employer employee relationship would. I can't imagine those that start out to be against their current form of government to either apply for or to be able to easily pass attitude screening, which I would assume to be sop for such positions.
Of course any screen is imperfect and I would think that right now a lot of people are trying to figure out how they missed Snowden. Which effectively increases internal paranoia in the various agencies.
Each successive post war generation has become increasingly complacent about government abuses of power.
When the Snowden scandal came out, it felt like only 1 in 5 Gen-X/Gen-Yers even seemed to care. Most of the people I talk to say things like the following:
"Well if you're not doing anything wrong, why do you care that they are monitoring us?"
"Of course they are monitoring everything, they have to do that since 9/11."
"Are you actually surprised they can read your Gmail and Facebook messages?"
I didn't want to believe it initially as the proof seemed questionable at first, but when it did become obvious that PRISM was real, I was less surprised and more saddened.
People in these position are selected for patriotism and devotion to their country. That cuts both ways. If they manage to convince them that government=country than whatever they are told they will listen and go to any lengths to execute orders. Some realize what is going on but saying anything would at best result in revocation of security clearance and loss of job, at worst imprisonment. BUT the other side is, some people don't think country=government. The see country=Constitution, country=citizens and so on. A different ideal. A very very tiny proportion of those people will have balls to come out and expose lies and shameful things hidden under the carpet at the cost of heavy possible repercussions.
I am waiting and hoping for more Snowdens to show up.
I've made the distinction between Gen Y and the Millennial as "people who remember a time before computers were so ubiquitous" vs "people who have always lived entrenched in technology".
The author is eager to blame deregulation for the rise in leaks. But last I checked, people still leaked documents before the 1970s.
Nice story. Simple, and reassuring. But complete BS.
As you mention it's not as if previous generations were less complacent about government. If anything generational angst was a far worse problem back then (e.g. late 1960s, or the Communist pushes in the late 40s, or the fascist sympathizers during the Great Depression).
We don't hear about that angst for the most part since it didn't succeed, but it certainly left its mark at each point in time.
(I ask, as a speaker of Chinese, because I like to reality-check statements about invariant social trends cross-culturally.)
It would be a great disservice to focus just on intelligence agencies, all agencies of the government with their access to vast amounts of data should be subject to extra scrutiny. Not only does the NSA and FBI combined with the FISA courts pose a threat to the privacy if not freedom of Americans and others, the IRS has elements within it that show a disregard for expression of free speech. Combined with a Congress looking for more avenues to circumvent the Bill of Rights and Administrations who selectively apply the law and everyone is threatened.
So perhaps with so much information at hand people will finally realize that big government may be too big to protect freedom.
'Feel my pain, going insane, I’m ashamed.
Cause I ain’t got shit but an EBT card from a fiend.
That owe me and it’s in her daughter name.
How the fuck is they pose to eat?
How the fuck am I pose to eat?
Got a nigga in the streets, no health care,
Tryna slang weed just to put shoes on his feet.
So fuck you, you don’t give a fuck about me.
Can’t get a job if they drug test me.
Got a nigga stressed depressed.
Got a feeling in his chest.
And the world’s stripped of happiness"
And maybe more interestingly enough, the song is entitled "Terrorist Threats"
Watch the imagery in the video and listen to the lyrics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_71q5lVEjc
Surprised hayden didn't mention them in his remarks…
I think most on this forum celebrate that change instead, as the alternative seems like slavery.
Even if the print media dies, and it's harder to do investigative journalism at the national level, and even more so at the local level, leaking by normal people will take its place.
There's one caveat, though. We also need a system where it's easy to do it anonymously, so you don't face the repercussions from the powerful, and/or we need stronger laws to protect leaking of wrong behavior (whether "legal" or not).
But despite depending on x/y for labeling the overall cultural change, covered in this article, away from jobs for life is very real.
Most likely starting with our grandparents and more recently accelerating along with increases in university educations (not needing to be dependent career wise).
Unfortunately, it is now riddled with spam. all the spam on the internet.
- insanely long response time/application error
- not on a secure server
- hidden registration, so no way to check who backs this (it could be a honeypot).
i applaud snowden for his courage, but the aftermath is completely the wrong thing to have happened. its a fantastic distraction from the /really/ important issues which otherwise might have gotten some more attention... :/
Indeed, here's a list of major whistleblowers in relatively recent history (20th century): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_whistleblowers
Keeping in mind the bias of any historical list toward the present, I don't see any evidence in this list which indicates "Generation Y" is somehow different in its ability or tendency toward whistleblowing.
> I'm not even going to bother reading this article.
Are a little silly in the same comment, since exactly that question is answered in the article at some length.