If you have "no place to go," come here!

Nonlinear politics

The Economist, of all places (I guess the US political class is too busy clutching their pearls):

But Mr Snowden's most elegant fake-out of all is the one that has left the entire American political class dizzy: we don't know our right from our left anymore.

In Congress, Mr Snowden's chief defender is the libertarian Republican Senator Rand Paul. The most vociferous voices denouncing him as a traitor have also been Republicans, including senator Saxby Chambliss and John Boehner, majority leader of the House. Democratic senators Dianne Feinstein and Bill Nelson have called Mr Snowden a traitor as well, and have defended the NSA surveillance programmes he made public. On the other hand, that Democratic eminence grise Al Gore thinks the programmes are unconstitutional, and Democratic senators Mark Udall and Ron Wyden have introduced legislation to restrict the NSA's ability to gather information.

In the media, Mr Snowden's revelations have divided both conservatives and liberals. At National Review Online, Andrew McCarthy is denouncing Mr Snowden's "traitorous sharing of US classified intelligence". Kevin Williamson is "no admirer of Mr Snowden" but says that's largely because he isn't living up to the demands of civil disobedience: unlike Henry David Thoreau or Martin Luther King, he hasn't volunteered to serve jail time for the crime he's committing. Mr Williamson appears to agree with the thrust of Mr Snowden's argument that the NSA cannot be trusted, though he won't quite come out and say it. And some libertarian and conservative reformist voices are unapologetically supporting the leak, if not the leaker. *

Liberals are in just as much of a tizzy. At the New Yorker, Amy Davidson is clearly sympathetic to Mr Snowden's case if not to the man himself, John Cassidy thinks he's a hero, and Jeffrey Toobin thinks he is "a grandiose narcissist who deserves to be in prison." I could go on listing examples of left-wing commentators on either side of the issue, but frankly I think you get the point.

There's a reason why they, and we, are confused about this. Our ideological sympathies are not good predictors at this point of how we feel about issues of digital privacy and electronic freedom. The fact that these issues don't have a clear ideological colouration yet is important because they are among the most crucial issues of the 21st century. They are crucial because our identities and social selves, in this century, increasingly reside online. They are crucial because money, in this century, increasingly accrues to holders of intellectual property, particularly to those who control the ways we engage in online commerce—the very same companies (Google, Yahoo, Apple, Verizon) that hold the databases which the NSA accesses via PRISM. In this century, digital knowledge is the key to both property and power. Good algorithms and massive amounts of data are what you need to have in order to succeed in retail, to defend your country from attack, or to run a successful presidential campaign.

Anxiety over digital rights and freedoms is a driving issue for people under 40, and it cuts across partisan and ideological lines.

Good algorithms, massive amounts of data, and control of the network. In other words, and as usual, it's all about the rents for network access.

No votes yet


par4's picture
Submitted by par4 on

..."left-wing commentators" et tu Lambert? I didn't see one citation from a Socialist or Communist in that list of hot air blatherers.

Submitted by MontanaMaven on

Can someone walk me through how to embed tweets because Vast Left's tweets on Greenwald are priceless.