The Bigger Picture #31: NSA, Capitalism, Polarization, Climate, Etc.

Clearly, we need to have another meeting on the surveillance state.


3 responses

  1. Personally, I think the future of capitalism is the most important issue of our time. Focus on the GOP’s future is more political party battle, which (as was pointed out in the part about the future of capitalism) clearly is not the most important driving factor in the change in the welfare of the working class.

    The issue I see in capitalism is whether increasing divergence of the wealthy few at the expense of the many can lead to a stable system. Historians typically claim that this does not lead to stability, claiming things like reason that Rome was victorious over the other states such as Carthage was that they treated the citizens, even those of the conquered cites fairly. But I am not so sure that the evidence is all that conclusive. It seems to me that the combination of power and physical and emotional isolation between the insiders and the majority of the people could lead to a repressive system that could easily for generations.

    Moreover, improvements in technology and in psychological manipulation can exacerbate the problem far more than what has been seen in the past. Killing people who disagree with you using drones from a good safe distance is very different from shooting someone standing right in front of you. And understanding of personal psychology has improved to the point where getting a person to do what you want can be (and is) individually tailored to that person’s way of thinking. I think this has become the standard approach in getting individual politicians (and other public policy decision-makers) to do what the wealthy capitalists want.

  2. James H. Zimmerman | Reply

    I think the lesson of history is clear, that repressive regimes will eventually be overthrown by revolution. In my view, that is what the Republican rightists are inviting. But it can take a long time. It is quite amazing how much abuse the repressed classes will take before they revolt.

    In a famous essay, “What is the Third Estate?” the Abbe Sieyes pointed out that the Third Estate is, in fact 98% of the people. And in 1789 they took power. But look at the many years of repression they endured before that!

    Republicans, wake up! Do you really want to prepare a revolution?

  3. A friend of mine who works in IT internationally noted that since PRISM and U. S. surveillance schemes topped headlines abroad, there’s has been a surge of subscribers to anonymous VPN providers. For about $30 a year, a security conscious internet user can use the “Darknet” to protect their privacy. There are also other ways to not share (so much) of your personal data. Here’s a good link, for example:

    If users start to shift from centralized social networks to decentralized open source alternatives, not only will the NSA have a harder time acquiring reliable metadata to mine, Facebook, Google, Apple, and their ilk will quickly lose subscribers to their social networks. Corporate social network providers are already in damage control over their supposed collusion in PRISM.

    I doubt will see such an exodus from the corporate social networks in this country anytime soon. The rest of the world seems less trusting of the U. S. security apparatus and corporate Big Data. PRISM may add to our growing isolation from the rest of the planet. There’s renewed talk whether the United States can be trusted anymore to even manage the internet.

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