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Some folks say the NSA has a SUPER-MAGIC MOJO VACUUM that can suck all the data outta all the software of the world, suck the rhythm from our loins, suck the oldest, dampest long-forgottenest, memories of Mommy from our numb cerebrums.
All together now, in unison: PISS OFF, NSA!
What are we supposed to do? Beg, plead, humiliate ourselves yet further?
“Kiss the flag, kiss it, tastes good that REDWHITEandBLUE, don’t it?”
“Yessir, Sir/Ma’am/Sir, sir. Oh, yessir!”
“Well, it better. If you know what’s good for ya. It damn well better…”
Are WE really as whipped and cowardly as they think we are, or as they think we think we are? Are THEY as super almighty powerful (and benevolent, as long a we behaves ourselves) as they tell us they are? When is enough finally enough?
Check this out:
Tried to start a discussion group with a couple of like-minded radical trouble-makers: i.e. fellow pissed off, outraged, citizens, K. and P. (names compacted to initials to protect the guilty). I ‘bcc’d’ a whole lotta folks, just about everyone on my mailing list.
Wrote something like, “Yo, we’re starting a living debate on the web we’re just gonna talk about stuff talk till we’re blue in the face or red in the face or white in the face about how sick and fucking tired we are about being REDWHITEandBLUE in the face and no more bullshit about the Democratic Party come down from Heaven and save our souls. No moderator, no group identity, name or philosophy other than, ‘Say yer thing but be prepared to back it up.’ Welcome Greens, Reds, Pinks, libertarians fascists anarchists leftists rightists and everything in-between-ists (even Democrats and Republicans, or their lobbyists, a pox upon their proxy Houses!) for debate. I mean, say whatever you want, who’s gonna stop you?”
We thought maybe the thing might grow, you know, like the commercial says, “And they told two friends and they told two friends and so on and so on.” A networking phenomenon. A “free roving argument” that would metastasize and engulf the planet in ideas. A “virus” if you will, albeit a benevolent one (or maybe not so benevolent).
Of course, my prematurely (and immaturely) imagined Borgesian labyrinth of networks and inquiry fell flat on its face and ended up being just me and a couple of other guys talking about a paper one of us wrote about anarchism and jawing about French neo-Marxist post modern philosophers like Virilio and Massumi and Foucault – you know, the kind of stuff that makes Powell and Rumsfeld sweat. With each new insight by Derrida, George Bush Jr. is quaking in his boots.
Only two people of the four dozen I bcc’d wrote back. The first person asked to be removed from the list immediately. And I thought, “Rightfully so.” I mean, people are bothered and harassed enough by evil Mainstream Media rays, why do they want to hear a bunch of radical yahoos yammering about god knows what. I realized I was perhaps overzealous and intrusive by bcc’ing everyone in my address book, so I wrote to my two compatriots, bcc’ing the rest, a sort of apology:
“In my growing conviction that the State is forcing us to either submit, or resort to extreme measures, I jumped the gun and tried to “jump start” this “living debate,” “language virus” or whatever it is by drafting dozens of people into it, rather than explaining the nature of what we’re doing – that is, nothing much, yet, just talking – and waiting for them to voluntarily jump on the bandwagon was precipitous, naive and somewhat arrogant.
“By bcc’ing everyone whose email I had in my address book, I may have slipped from anarchism to totalitarianism in one great leap of the ‘Send’ command. People are already overloaded with information, and in general don’t like to be bothered. I think the three of us have some interesting things to say from varying points of view. That’s a start. Maybe if we keep up the dialogue among ourselves, gradually inviting friends – flesh and blood or “virtual” – into the discussion and encourage them to invite others etc. this “spontaneous network” will actually be spontaneous and grow organically. So, “talk” to you guys tomorrow. As for the rest of you kind folks out there – colleagues, friends, virtual and otherwise, fellow travelers on the information super turnpike to the stars or whatever it’s supposed to be – I apologize for drafting you into this ‘open’ dialogue or intruding on your privacy in any way. If you would like to be part of this discussion of course, feel free to respond to this final or any of the previous ‘bcc’s.’”
But it occurred to me that the guy who asked to be taken off the list was one of those “work-with-the-system-and-Media- that-we-have-to-prevent-it-f rom-doing-even-m ore-damage” types. I have no interest in the Mainstream Media and their hokum; surely there must be other alternatives for genuine discourse and action.
Now I respect this guy very much for his gradualist approach (if we dig the pit slow enough, maybe they’ll reconsider shooting us today, cause they’ll never get our mass grave covered up before sundown, not at this rate) , but the problem with working within the Mainstream media is that the Mainstream Media has been working WITHIN ME for over 30 years, and man did it do a job on my poor little noggin!
I hate the Media, the Corporations that own it and the pushers who peddle it. They tried to kill me; they drove me insane!!
They turned me into a goddamn consumer goods buyin,’ slogan-spoutin,’ prescription-pill popping zombie! Fuck them, man. They’re the one’s that drove me to try to debate real stuff outside of their prepared script in the first place. I mean, I was a good boy once. I was ready, willing and able to devote myself to working in the service of society. But it turned out that there was no society to serve. It was all a hoax, a mirage, a fig of my imagination – that tiny oasis where one can actually eat the coconuts and drink the milk. I’m tryin’ to get away from them “Mainstream” freaks. I’m trying to LEARN me some stuff!
But then I got another, more instructive email, warning me, with good reason, that the NSA/NSC has been monitoring phone calls and faxes for years; hence, how easy it must be for them to use their SUPER MONSTER MOJO DATA VACUUM to suck up everything on every network – the backbone of which was DARPA’s invention in the first place – and run a search and find everything they might ever want or need, whenever the hell they might need or want it.
Well, as the paranoid pot-smoker in Naked Lunch said, “I GOT THE FEAR!”
Here I thought I was doing something positive and constructive and enjoyable – reading books and articles and discussing them – and now I’d intimidated the entire U.S. Government Military Intelligence Complex. Damn!
Surely they were out to get me and my compeers. Maybe that’s why nobody emailed us back. It wasn’t that they didn’t give a fuck about our stupid debate, like I at first erroneously believed; in fact, they yearned to get online and chew the fat about Proudhon and Bakunin and what not, it’s just that…they were afraid! And rightfully so. It made me think. What did they know that I didn’t (besides what the hell Derrida might possibly be talking about)? Could it be that even K. and P., the only people who were actually willing to join my little debating club were…SPOOKS?
I never felt so… POWERFUL in my irrelevant, sorry-assed, pimple of a life!
Imagine that! The NSA/NSC would take the trouble to monitor and perhaps, who knows, the sky’s the limit (literally), prosecute an erstwhile insignificant toe-nail clipping of a man like ME. I mean, nobody but friends and family has ever paid any attention to ME before, and here the entire NSA (or some pathetic cubicle jockey on a PC – I can’t picture the Feds using Macs for some reason; I don’t know why) is going through all the trouble to open up Windows Office XXX or whatever and create a file and take up space on one of their giga-mega-terra-bit-byte drives just to keep track of ME for – what did I do again? – oh yeah, for sending out an email to various extreme-right-extreme-left-extreme-burger whacko hot-mailin’ yahoo-searchin’ cable modem-usin’ netizens, calling for – gasp! – some kind of debate and maybe plan something radical, like steal the patina panties off the Statue Of Liberty or unleashing Hegel’s dialectic at a crowded intersection! Goddamn Me I’m bad-ass! Wonder what mischief I’ll be up to next?
Then I thought of all the kind, innocent folks that the likes of ME were, well, corrupting.
Poor Counter Punch! Poor well-intentioned but hopelessly naive Cockburn and St. Claire! They had a nice, safe, mainstream zine going until I came along and fired up Lucille (my laptop) and, what with my international reputation as a radical dissident who can and will profoundly influence the course of American politics with everything I say, put them and all the innocents they publish (Chomsky, Said, Nader, Bill Blum etc.) at unspeakable risk!
Surely, now the word’s out, all America’s gonna be creating free and open discussion groups and maybe linking them like small communities, and the NSA’s gonna have to shut down the whole operation, all these cells, “discussion groups”, so called, inspired by ME.
Well, I feel bad about all that, but really, the ALL POWERFUL GOVERNMENT will take care of ME soon enough, so no more editors or writers or anyone else will have to worry.
That is, except YOU. Why are you reading this? Why are your eyes here, where they surely don’t belong – why, in fact, do you have Counter Punch book-marked? Shouldn’t you be clicking your mouse elsewhere, like the USA Today site maybe, or Christmas shopping on
Ha. Ha. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha — watch yourself! Carefully. We are, and we don’t like what we see. Or rather, don’t see. Why aren’t you smiling? Why the HELL aren’t you smiling?
ADAM ENGEL, aka ADAM ENGEL, occasionally writes under the pseudonym of ADAM ENGEL. Maybe you can reach him at email@example.com. And maybe not. Careful. Remember the Turing Test: you never know who’s really at the other end of that line…