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:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

February 21, 2017
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Finance as Warfare: the IMF Lent to Greece Knowing It Could Never Pay Back Debt
CJ Hopkins
Goose-stepping Our Way Toward Pink Revolution
John Wight
Firestarter: the Unwelcome Return of Tony Blair
Roger Harris
Lenin Wins: Pink Tide Surges in Ecuador…For Now
Shepherd Bliss
Japanese American Internment Remembered, as Trump Rounds Up Immigrants
Boris Kagarlitsky
Trump and the Contradictions of Capitalism
Robert Fisk
The Perils of Trump Addiction
Deepak Tripathi
Theresa May: Walking the Kingdom Down a Dark Alley
Sarah Anderson
To Save Main Street, Tax Wall Street
Howard Lisnoff
Those Who Plan and Enjoy Murder
Franklin Lamb
The Life and Death Struggle of the Children of Syria
Binoy Kampmark
A Tale of Two Realities: Trump and Israel
Kim C. Domenico
Body and Soul: Becoming Men & Women in a Post-Gender Age
Mel Gurtov
Trump, Europe, and Chaos
Stephen Cooper
Steinbeck’s Road Map For Resisting Donald Trump
February 20, 2017
Bruce E. Levine
Humiliation Porn: Trump’s Gift to His Faithful…and Now the Blowback
Melvin Goodman
“Wag the Dog,” Revisited
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima: a Lurking Global Catastrophe?
David Smith-Ferri
Resistance and Resolve in Russia: Memorial HRC
Kenneth Surin
Global India?
Norman Pollack
Fascistization Crashing Down: Driving the Cleaver into Social Welfare
Patrick Cockburn
Trump v. the Media: a Fight to the Death
Susan Babbitt
Shooting Arrows at Heaven: Why is There Debate About Battle Imagery in Health?
Matt Peppe
New York Times Openly Promotes Formal Apartheid Regime By Israel
David Swanson
Understanding Robert E. Lee Supporters
Michael Brenner
The Narcissism of Donald Trump
Martin Billheimer
Capital of Pain
Thomas Knapp
Florida’s Shenanigans Make a Great Case for (Re-)Separation of Ballot and State
Jordan Flaherty
Best Films of 2016: Black Excellence Versus White Mediocrity
Weekend Edition
February 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
David Price
Rogue Elephant Rising: The CIA as Kingslayer
Matthew Stevenson
Is Trump the Worst President Ever?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Flynn?
John Wight
Brexit and Trump: Why Right is Not the New Left
Diana Johnstone
France: Another Ghastly Presidential Election Campaign; the Deep State Rises to the Surface
Neve Gordon
Trump’s One-State Option
Roger Harris
Emperor Trump Has No Clothes: Time to Organize!
Joan Roelofs
What Else is Wrong with Globalization
Andrew Levine
Why Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban?
Mike Whitney
Blood in the Water: the Trump Revolution Ends in a Whimper
Vijay Prashad
Trump, Turmoil and Resistance
Ron Jacobs
U.S. Imperial War Personified
David Swanson
Can the Climate Survive Adherence to War and Partisanship?
Andre Vltchek
Governor of Jakarta: Get Re-elected or Die!
Norman Pollack
Self-Devouring Reaction: Governmental Impasse
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Destruction of Mosul
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail