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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

If Snowden had gotten things his own way, he’d be writing earnest op-ed editorials in Hong Kong now, in English, while dining on Kung Pao Chicken. It’s some darkly modern act of crooked fate that has directed Edward Snowden to Moscow, arriving there as the NSA’s Solzhenitsyn, the up-tempo, digital version of a conscience-driven dissident defector.

But Snowden sure is a dissident defector, and boy is he ever. Americans don’t even know how to think about characters like Snowden — the American Great and the Good are blundering around on the public stage like blacked-out drunks, blithering self-contradictory rubbish. It’s all “gosh he’s such a liar” and “give us back our sinister felon,” all while trying to swat down the jets of South American presidents.

These thumb-fingered acts of totalitarian comedy are entirely familiar to anybody who has read Russian literature. The pigs in Orwell’s “Animal Farm” have more suavity than the US government is demonstrating now. Their credibility is below zero.

The Russians, by contrast, know all about dissidents like Snowden. The Russians have always had lots of Snowdens, heaps. They know that Snowden is one of these high-minded, conscience-stricken, act-on-principle characters who is a total pain in the ass.

- Bruce Sterling, who I think has his own head up his arse half the time (my god he is still clinging to the Climate Change shtick and is thus as credulous as many of the people he is inclined to mock)… but Sterling is nevertheless always a fun read because in addition to being half wrong, it is also (generally) half right.

19 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • jdgalt

    I predict that Snowden gets a job as commentator on the “Russia Today” TV show.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    I’ll give Snowden ‘high minded’, but I think he could have thought out some of the material he released a little more. Some of those Obama e-mails he said he could access, for instance, and less actual intelligence information.

    Still, the effect is gaucherie, not treason.

  • ragingnick. Never has a person been more useful than Edward Snowdon at revealing who can be assigned to the ‘enemies of liberty’ camp. It does not matter who supports him, what matters is who opposes him, because the objective truth of what he had revealed, not who gains from its revelation, is what matters.

    This is why I regard Ron Radosh as, at best, a ‘useful idiot’.

  • Laird

    Frankly, I don’t see anything “useful” about Radosh, but the “idiot” part he certainly has down pat. What a stupid piece. No one disputes that Snowden broke the law, but that doesn’t mean that he was wrong to do so, let alone that he is a traitor. So what if he’s seeking asylum from leftist dictators; what choice does he have? He knows what will happen to him if he ever falls subject to US jurisdiction, and the non-leftist governments are all kowtowing to Washington. It’s only the likes of Putin who has the courage to stick his finger in the US’s eye. And I don’t think Danny Glover and his Hollywood ilk are Snowden’s “friends”, but merely his supporters. Snowden can’t pick and choose those.

    “The pigs in Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ have more suavity than the US government is demonstrating now.” So true.

  • Pardone

    Snowden has exposed GCHQ as clearly committing treason against the British people (taking coin from foreign nations to spy on British taxpayers WHO PAY THEIR WAGES. MI5 and MI6 have been shown to be parasitic self-serving scum whose contempt for the British people knows no limits. While you and I pay their fat wages and enormous pensions, they greedily stuff themselves with foreign coin.

    They are mercenary scum. They work for foreigners. It is MI6/MI5, who should be prosecuted, not Snowden. These smelly pigs need to be put down.

    Snowden is a hero for exposing their whorish treachery, and revealing to us the fat pigs at MI5, CIA, and the Spentagon, with their fat pensions and revolving door contracts, living off the taxpayer and serving only themselves.

    GCHQ are traitors.

  • ragingnick

    By their friends you shall know them, and Snowdon was and is either a willing conspirator, or useful idiot, of the far left; http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Journalism/2013/06/26/2013-Snowden-Story-Is-Rehash-Of-2012-Anti-Bush-Story-That-Failed-To-Get-Traction

    It does not matter who supports him, what matters is who opposes him, because the objective truth of what he had revealed, not who gains from its revelation, is what matters.

    You think that the soviet union would have been defeated if every ‘objective truth’ about the American military and state had been revealed? The defence of America (and western civilisation) relies upon secret intelligence gathering, particularly in an age where the enemy hides in the shadows of anonymity that the digital of communication provides. you cannot have an effective military defence against the west’s myriad enemies while at the same time having a 100% transparency – to suggest you can is utopian nonsense.

    If John Kerry had a son he would look just like Snowden.

  • You think that the soviet union would have been defeated if every ‘objective truth’ about the American military and state had been revealed?

    That is a bit like the “think of the Children” defence. Sorry, no sale. If we were facing the Soviet Union and the ideological threat of global communism in 2013 the way were were in 1983, you would at least be half right as opposed to entirely wrong… but we are not. The Cold War is over and we won and there isn’t going to be a rematch.

    So who exactly are these “myriad of enemies”?

    Russia is a banana republic with nuclear weapons, a few of which might actually work, who barely had the logistics needed to bully that military powerhouse Georgia. Moreover their economy is about to be wiped out by fracking and demographics that make Western Europe look like a stud farm.

    China is an ideology-free *regional* power, which sucks if you are in Tibet or have some aspirations regarding islands in the South China Sea, but who pose no threat to “Western Civilisation” (and indeed are struggling kack handedly to join it with varying degrees of success). The ‘threat’ they pose is they are making vast amounts of stuff we are very happy to buy from them. Oh noez!

    … and Al Quada is a dangerous nuisance, nothing more, that has killed less people than Mexican Drug Cartels.

    The NSA and America’s global panopticon poses a bigger threat to “Western Civilisation” than anything it purports to defend against in 2013 (not to mention almost half the world’s military spending and the world’s highest per capita prison population… yeah, what a wonderful state to have panoptic surveillance powers).

    It isn’t 1983 any more but it is getting close to being 1984 and if you want to find Western Civilisations true and effective enemies, you will find more of them in Harvard, Oxford, Paris, Brussels, London and Washington DC than you will in Karachi, Moscow or Beijing.

  • ragingnick

    So who exactly are these “myriad of enemies”?

    I notice you omitted the principal threat to the West; Iran. If Iran gets the bomb it will make the cold war look like a sunday picnic.

    and Al Quada is a dangerous nuisance, nothing more, that has killed less people than Mexican Drug Cartels

    9/11 was not a ‘nuisance’ and neither would Al Quada with a suitcase bomb be.

    Now of course its regrettable that we need widespread surveillance, but compared to the alternative it is a small price to pay. I re-iterate; Islamists with nuclear bombs would create a catastrophe greater than anything experienced in the 20th century. And the terrorists operate in the shadows; in the globally interconnected world of 21st century digital communication.
    Individuals such as Assange and Snowdon are not ‘whistle blowers’, they are traitors who actively endanger America and the West’s survival.

  • I notice you omitted the principal threat to the West; Iran. If Iran gets the bomb it will make the cold war look like a sunday picnic.

    LOL. So sucking up global communications is because of… Iran? Really? And of course the stalwart US of A’s selfless and incorruptible public servants would never pose any threat to anyone else other than Bad People naturally.

    Oi vey.

  • Oh FFS, we have a fucking commie in the White House, and people are talking about enemies from without…

  • Hmm. Iran gets a couple of nukes. Who are they then going to fire them at? Saudi Arabia? That would be bad, but not so bad for America, honestly. Some other Arab country? They make lots of noises about Israel, but if one Iranian nuke were to be successfully delivered to an Israeli target, this would be a catastrophe for Israel but would not do much to reduce Israel’s capacity to deliver about 200 accurately targeted nuclear strikes on Iran in retaliation, so ending the Iranian threat to the world. (The Iranians know this, which is why this scenario is unlikely. Their weapons are for squabbles with Arabs, honestly).

  • The Wobbly Guy

    Never underestimate human stupidity. Iran might just be stupid enough to do something we will all regret.

    The best solution is to wipe Iran and the Muzzies out, of course. Then we don’t have to worry about either fascist surveillance states and the trade-offs between security and freedom. But it also means killing a significant number of people.

    What’s a libertarian to do?

  • Pardone

    The more paranoia about external threats is generated, the more taxpayer’s money is given to the CIA, Spentagon
    Given that the Pentagon spends extravagant sums of money on officers toilets, “boy parties”, and ludicrously generous contracts with defense contractors (negotiated by Pentagon staff who worked for those same contractors). Yes, the threat to the US is so great that the Spentagon can waste trillions of taxpayer dollars and accidentally “lose” money (i.e given to contractors via corrupt officials).

    I think GCHQ’s open declaration of whoring (“we will service anyone who pays us lots of money”), as revealed by Snowden, reveals to us alot about the corrupt, sleazy entitlement culture that exists in intelligence agencies, and the fact that the taxpayer who pays their wages and funds them is treated with such obvious contempt. Its quite telling that HSBC was able to launder money for Al Qaeda and drug lords while MI5/6 sat on their asses and did nothing.

    These people are not “protecting” us, they are self-serving prostitutes sucking on the public teat. The more “threats” there are, the more of your money they get, so guess what? There’s lots of threats, how wonderfully convenient for their bank accounts that is.

    As for Iran. If I were an Iranian, of whatever political persuasion, I would want nukes, because history has shown the Iranian people that foreigners are out to screw them at every opportunity. This is historical fact. Given how often Iran has been attacked, infiltrated, sabotaged by foreign entities, they would be crazy not to want nukes. Iran has not invaded another country in 270 years, making it one of the least aggressive nations on Earth.

  • Greg

    Wow, where to start? I know: how about a semi-random rant and Q&A!?

    Suitcase nukes: small probability of anyone getting one, but big impact if they do, so what’s the risk? Math 101 answer: Risk = Probability x Impact? My answer: nutjobs or smart, evil people getting them! And Iran isn’t going to “fire” their nukes at anyone…they’re going to keep most for the usual geopolitical reasons and also give some away for free! To whoever will target the US or our closest allies (would they really consider anyone besides our friends in England? Canada maybe) and use them in a way that supplies Iran with maximum deniability. Probably. But without knowing that probability, how do we calculate the risk?

    Perry: I’m somewhere in between you and “Ragingnick”, probably closer to “nick”, when it comes to secrecy vs suicide. Where do you draw the line on keeping secrets concerning security? Do you have a number in mind for the number of people who must (regrettably!) die as a result of un-fettered “freedom of information”? Sorry if that’s a bit flip–I really would like to hear your thoughts on the trade-offs in secret collection and use of information on threats vs bans on such secrecy.

    Alisa: “commie in the WH” comment, spot on!

    Human stupidity comment (Wobbly Guy), spot on: Ackmandinawhackjob or whatever his name is…should have no responsibility or impact beyond the borders of Iran. Iran with Nukes is contrary to this. Sorry for revealing my lack of knowledge of Middle East history or current affairs in my “no influence” comment (I’m nowhere near as well-read as you all–and I mean that sincerely and with compliments–makes me reluctant to comment here!), I just want those countries’ influence limited to economic power and that reduced to nil by Western expansion!

    Fight them like Bill Casey (any fans of his here? I thought not!) fought them, like real men fight, playing for keeps: quietly, with tactics that work and never see the light of day.

    Reduce the USG funding and responsibilities to about 10% of present and much of this goes away (libertarian wet dream).

    ps, and I’m all for women fighting like “real men” fight!

  • the other rob

    @ The Wobbly Guy: “What’s a libertarian to do?” Probably not genocide, for starters.

    @ Greg: “Do you have a number in mind for the number of people who must (regrettably!) die as a result of un-fettered “freedom of information”?”

    I’m not Perry, but I will chime in to say that you have matters backwards. The question should be “Do you have a number in mind for the number of people who must (regrettably!) die before the state spends one penny of other people’s money ‘combating’ the supposed threat?”

    I would respectfully suggest that such a number exists and most of us agree on it. It’s the annual number of deaths on the roads, which we accept rather than crippling our ability to travel and engage in commerce.

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  • ragingnick

    And of course the stalwart US of A’s selfless and incorruptible public servants would never pose any threat to anyone else other than Bad People naturally.

    Oi vey.

    oi vey indeed, I suppose all the intelligence gatherers and spy’s fighting the enemy in ww2 and the cold war were just big bad government snoopers out to oppress everyone. of course not every public servant is pure as the snow but maybe, just maybe, some of them actually want to protect lives and preserve what is left of Western civilisation from the barbarians.

    If john Kerry had a son he would look like Edward Snowdon

  • By your logic, nick, there is, quite literally no limit to what the state can do to “protect” us. Iran. A backward third world shithole developing some 1940′s technology, justifies global mass surveillance. The argument you have made is that because in the past we had the context of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, even though the threats we face *NOW* pale into near insignificance by comparison, we must have global panoptic surveillance on a scale that Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia could only have dreamed about.

    You assume the US state circa 2013 are The Good Guys. I don’t assume that at all. Not at all. They are, at best, the less-bad-guys compared to some. But any nation spending half the world’s military spending is not defending Western Civilisation, it is becoming an Empire. Moreover it is an Empire that locks up more of its population per capita than any other nation, including by quite a large margin that ‘bastion of civil liberties’, China. If you think an institution like that can be trusted not to misuse such an infrastructure of surveillance, then you are… unwise… to put it as politely as I can.