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[liberationtech] <nettime> dark days

Eugen Leitl eugen at
Wed Jun 12 11:35:51 PDT 2013

----- Forwarded message from Eric Beck <ersatzdog at> -----

Date: Wed, 12 Jun 2013 10:41:48 -0500
From: Eric Beck <ersatzdog at>
To: nettime-l at
Subject: Re: <nettime> dark days

On Wednesday, June 12, 2013, Keith Hart wrote:

> European governments are challenging the Obama administration,

If this is your bulwark against the dark days, I'd consider embracing
despair. The European states might talk a good game--like they did before
the second Iraq war--but both the demands of conjunctural geopolitics and
the dynamics of statecraft would seem to dictate that they are much more
likely to go along to get along, after registering their pro forma
dissents. This paragraph from a Der Spiegel article on US data retrieval
and storage indicates why:

"The NSA is a useful partner for German authorities. The director of the
NSA, four-star General Keith Alexander, regularly receives delegations from
Germany at his headquarters at Fort Meade. These meetings are generally
constructive, in part because the pecking order is clear: The NSA nearly
always knows much more, while the Germans act as assistants."

> the response within the US will be heavier.

So far, not really. The polls released indicate that USers are mostly okay
with what the NSA has done, or what's been revealed of it so far.  More
relevantly, the impulse among those who were potentially part of the heavy
response has been to protect the Democratic president and slander
Snowden/Greenwald. That in itself is bad enough, but that it's been carried
out in ways that hew closely to ideas about criminal subjectivity ("if you
have nothing to hide, you don't need to worry") and the sanctity of the
nation ("Snowden is a traitor!") suggests that the circle drawn around the
sovereign is pretty tight and fierce.

> Is it better not to know that to know the extent of the surveillance state?

Of course, with the provisos that the leaks don't reveal the extent and
that knowledge is not the same as escape. It's also possible that such
knowledge has a chilling effect. The Panopticon set up the technology for
complete surveillance, but part of its rationale was that prisoners never
really knew when they were being watched, creating a sort of
self-management and -regulation among them. Once in awhile, it's effective
for the spied-upon to be reminded they are being spied upon.

None of this is meant to predict the future (though I feel sure the first
two points I made here will continue to be true), but to question landing
on the side of either optimism or despair. It gives "them" too much credit
to declare ahead of time that change is dependent on crisis *or* plenitude.

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----- End forwarded message -----
Eugen* Leitl <a href="">leitl</a>
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