FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Tipping Point

by KEVIN CARSON

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said that when a garment gets so old, attempting to patch it with new cloth will just tear it up worse. The authoritarian state seems to be reaching that point, beyond which any attempt to patch it up or prolong its life just inflict new damage and hasten its demise.

The interesting thing about the federal prosecutions of Aaron Swartz and Chelsea Manning is that the vindictive approach to piling up charges and seeking maximum sentences were calculated attempts to send a message to anyone else contemplating sabotage against the information control regime. But those attempts have done more to inspire sympathy among the uncommitted and galvanize the information freedom movement than to terrify would-be leakers. The only effect the state’s terror tactics against Swartz and Manning had on Edward Snowden was to spur him to get out of the U.S. government’s reach and seek overseas protection, and to make sure his data was dispersed to multiple secure locations, before showing his hand.

Among the general public, the prominence of the NSA and Snowden in the media has sparked increased interest in encryption. Leak websites are putting increased effort into adopting more distributed p2p architectures and better anonymization, making leaking anonymously from within the system increasingly safe. And we’re probably seeing the beginning of a mass wave of cloud-related businesses migrating to servers outside of U.S. jurisdiction.

Thanks to an endless series of leaks about the U.S. spying on its supposedly allied countries and international agencies like the IAEA and UN Secretary General’s office, the affection of erstwhile allies is cooling considerably toward the U.S. and some regional trade deals are in jeopardy. The U.S. expended enormous political capital to have Evo Morales’s plane forced down in Europe — all for nothing — and in the process lost whatever South American public affection not already permanently alienated by Yanqui arrogance.

Most recently, public outrage in the UK over harassment of Greenwald’s partner, David Miranda, and the destruction of the Guardian‘s hard drives, in the ongoing NSA saga, probably had a lot to do with Parliament’s unprecedented decision not to carry water for an American attack on Syria. And security analyst Bruce Schneier believes (“Detaining David Miranda,” Schneier on Security, August 27) the public backlash in Britain over Miranda’s detention will make that government a lot more hesitant to do Washington’s bidding in the future.

In the meantime,the U.S. intelligence community’s morale is devastated. NSA campus recruiters have already been blindsided by hostile student questioning that fell short only of driving the recruiters away with actual pitchforks and torches. And now, with the continuing negative exposure in the press, NSA employees around the water cooler reportedly (“If NSA Workers Feel Unloved, Why Don’t They Quit?” Reason, August 26) sound like a cross between Rodney Dangerfield and the Maytag Repairman.

This public cynicism and internal demoralization are further heightened by the death of a thousand cuts Glenn Greenwald and Snowden have inflicted on the NSA and Obama administration. Greenwald’s strategy seems to be to wait until Obama or Alexander make another claim in defense of the NSA, then release another damning document proving it to be a lie.

This, boys and girls, is what we call a tipping point: Everything the state does to suppress leakers and whistleblowers further undermines its moral authority with the public and its own internal morale, leads to disaffection and defection by allies and inspires leaking and whistleblowing on an even bigger scale.

Kevin Carson is a senior fellow of the Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org) and holds the Center’s Karl Hess Chair in Social Theory.

Kevin Carson is a senior fellow of the Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org) and holds the Center’s Karl Hess Chair in Social Theory. He is a mutualist and individualist anarchist whose written work includes Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, Organization Theory: A Libertarian Perspective, and The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low-Overhead Manifesto, all of which are freely available online. 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
Stavros Mavroudeas
Blatant Hypocrisy: the Latest Late-Night Bailout of Greece
Arun Gupta
A War of All Against All
Dan Kovalik
NPR, Yemen & the Downplaying of U.S. War Crimes
Randy Blazak
Thugs, Bullies, and Donald J. Trump: The Perils of Wounded Masculinity
Murray Dobbin
Are We Witnessing the Beginning of the End of Globalization?
Daniel Falcone
Urban Injustice: How Ghettos Happen, an Interview with David Hilfiker
Gloria Jimenez
In Honduras, USAID Was in Bed with Berta Cáceres’ Accused Killers
Kent Paterson
The Old Braceros Fight On
Lawrence Reichard
The Seemingly Endless Indignities of Air Travel: Report from the Losing Side of Class Warfare
Peter Berllios
Bernie and Utopia
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
Indonesia’s Unnatural Mud Disaster Turns Ten
Linda Pentz Gunter
Obama in Hiroshima: Time to Say “Sorry” and “Ban the Bomb”
George Souvlis
How the West Came to Rule: an Interview with Alexander Anievas
Julian Vigo
The Government and Your i-Phone: the Latest Threat to Privacy
Stratos Ramoglou
Why the Greek Economic Crisis Won’t be Ending Anytime Soon
David Price
The 2016 Tour of California: Notes on a Big Pharma Bike Race
Dmitry Mickiewicz
Barbarous Deforestation in Western Ukraine
Rev. William Alberts
The United Methodist Church Up to Its Old Trick: Kicking the Can of Real Inclusion Down the Road
Patrick Bond
Imperialism’s Junior Partners
Mark Hand
The Trouble with Fracking Fiction
Priti Gulati Cox
Broken Green: Two Years of Modi
Marc Levy
Sitrep: Hometown Unwelcomes Vietnam Vets
Lorenzo Raymond
Why Nonviolent Civil Resistance Doesn’t Work (Unless You Have Lots of Bombs)
Ed Kemmick
New Book Full of Amazing Montana Women
Michael Dickinson
Bye Bye Legal High in Backwards Britain
Missy Comley Beattie
Wanted: Daddy or Mommy in Chief
Ed Meek
The Republic of Fear
Charles R. Larson
Russian Women, Then and Now
David Yearsley
Elgar’s Hegemony: the Pomp of Empire
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail