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"the boomers and their institutions look like parasitic aliens"
August 29, 2013 5:36 AM   Subscribe

"Generation Z will arrive brutalized and atomized by three generations of diminished expectations and dog-eat-dog economic liberalism. Most of them will be so deracinated that they identify with their peers and the global Internet culture more than their great-grandparents' post-Westphalian nation-state. The machineries of the security state may well find them unemployable, their values too alien to assimilate into a model still rooted in the early 20th century. But if you turn the Internet into a panopticon prison and put everyone inside it, where else are you going to be able to recruit the jailers? And how do you ensure their loyalty?" Charlie Stross on the future demographic peril faced by spy agencies.
posted by Pope Guilty (86 comments total) 64 users marked this as a favorite

 
"And how do you ensure their loyalty?"

Crushingly long prison sentences for betrayal?

In any case, you don't need generational buy-in for this agencies to keep running, you just need a small fraction of technocrats who want a stable life-long job with great benefits. In this economy, that's a veritable brass ring.

I love love love cstross' work, but this article isn't super compelling for me. It has echoes of the early internet "governments are dinosaurs, information wants to be free!" essays.
posted by leotrotsky at 5:53 AM on August 29, 2013 [8 favorites]


You don't need everybody to be enforcers, you only need enough of them. No generation has ever been uniform in its beliefs. There were millions of baby boomers who believed the Vietnam War was a justifiable action, for example.
posted by ardgedee at 6:04 AM on August 29, 2013 [10 favorites]


To Generation Z's eyes, the boomers and their institutions look like parasitic aliens with incomprehensible values who make irrational demands for absolute loyalty without reciprocity. Worse, the foundational mythology and ideals of the United States will look like a bitter joke, a fun house mirror's distorted reflection of the reality they live with from day to day.

It's odd to me throughout the article, but especially in the above linked section, that he didn't talk at all about the potential for religion to step in and take over the power of the nation-state. Almost every one of his "worries" in the article can be cured by having the elite power-wielders come from a religious group that focuses on secrecy, hierarchy, and sobriety. If you know anyone who works for the CIA, ask them sometime what percentage of their recruits come from Mormonism.
posted by Greg Nog at 6:05 AM on August 29, 2013 [22 favorites]


To extend on my previous thought and more directly address cstross's argument -- I don't think government will have any qualms about removing essential services from the hands of private contractors at the point it sees its own agenda being endangered by the practice.

If its agenda -- exclusivity, secrecy, and omniscience -- looks endangered to us, then maybe its agenda is not what we think it is.
posted by ardgedee at 6:08 AM on August 29, 2013


Worse, the foundational mythology and ideals of the United States will look like a bitter joke, a fun house mirror's distorted reflection of the reality they live with from day to day.

This. The mythos already appears to be intellectually bankrupt and irrelevant to many of us, I hope the author is correct about alienation increasing as time passes.
posted by banal evil at 6:11 AM on August 29, 2013 [7 favorites]


This is why I think the Justice party has a chance with millenials and gen z. It appears to advocate for leaner government in many areas while avoiding a lot of the nasty pitfalls of tea-partyists and the libertarians. Smaller surveillance / military apparatus with greater transparency and citizen oversight while advocating for traditional social welfare safety nets.

In my neighborhood, all the homes were built in the 50s by the major local employer and provided at next-to-nothing cost to new hires. A stable home-life was baked into the lifelong employment model. That's gone the way of the dinosaur and doesn't seem to be returning any time soon - if we want some form of domestic welfare we've got to wrestle it out of the state. Otherwise we've got no protection from the indentured serfdom that appears to be the default setting in the current financial environment.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 6:12 AM on August 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


If you know anyone who works for the CIA, ask them sometime what percentage of their recruits come from Mormonism.

Do you know the answer to this? I don't know anyone who works for the CIA, but I am still interested.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 6:12 AM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


... the foundational mythology and ideals of the United States will look like a bitter joke, a fun house mirror's distorted reflection of the reality they live with from day to day.

Not a new experience. In fact, that's exactly how it's looked to me since that day in 1967 when I was rounded up for Basic Training.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:15 AM on August 29, 2013 [19 favorites]


"And how do you ensure their loyalty?"

Crushingly long prison sentences for betrayal?


Withhold food, shelter and medical care until they comply with your economic demands? Basically, the same way it works now.
posted by DU at 6:15 AM on August 29, 2013 [10 favorites]


Do you know the answer to this? I don't know anyone who works for the CIA, but I am still interested.

The relevant agencies don't publish employment statistics, I don't think, but very anecdotally, I work with a Mormon former spook who says many of his coworkers were coreligionists, and also says that Mormon infrastructure in Northern Virginia (home of many national security organizations) is expanding rapidly.

And it makes sense that they might be overrepresented - devout Mormons tend to speak multiple languages thanks to time spent on missions, are generally conservative, patriotic, and are best able to pass security clearances thanks to prohibitions against alcohol and drugs, tend to have an affinity for hierarchy - sorry for the stereotypes.
posted by downing street memo at 6:22 AM on August 29, 2013 [10 favorites]


I don't know the exact percentage, but I know a lapsed Mormon whose whole family pretty much works for the CIA; he's mentioned that it's a hugely effective demographic for the government to recruit from.

Ah, a quick googling:

The CIA and the FBI have Mormon recruitment programs.
The apparent incorruptibility of Mormons' moral righteousness make them ideal candidates for the nation's law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
Mormons are disproportionately represented in the CIA. A recruiter told the Salt Lake Tribune that returned Mormon missionaries are valued for their foreign language skills, abstinence from drugs and alcohol, and respect for authority.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, if you dig that sort of thing), further Google results start falling pretty hard into Conspiracy Theory territory.
posted by Greg Nog at 6:22 AM on August 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Doesn't Mormonism also place a really high value on the US as an entity?
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:24 AM on August 29, 2013


I think the weird thing here is that Stross assumes that large-scale surveillance will continue to require significant numbers of people. I'm not entirely sure that's true.
posted by downing street memo at 6:26 AM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not CIA but I know a lot of Mormons in Military Intelligence. As someone mentioned above, the foreign language thing is a vector into the field.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 6:28 AM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


What I'm really left wondering about is the form(s) of subversion or transgression that will (or should) arise. Hominids are pretty good about working puzzles. If the puzzle is 'how do I get left alone', I'll be very interested to see what sorts of responses show up. Maybe it's overly optimistic, but I'm not sure that the lifelogged cohort described in the article for Gen Z is necessarily a foregone conclusion. Folks may start opting out here and there, and how would anyone ever know or notice? Not being plugged in would have all the thrill of complete rebellion.
posted by jquinby at 6:32 AM on August 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Love this article. It puts in one place research, insight, and discussions that I have been looking at for years. A few salient points/responses below...

Many of them will be sibling-less only children

This is a subtle, but tremendous demographic shift. Whereas the nuclear family was the primary centre of education and socialisation – with only children often being exceptions – as fertility rates decrease, we're starting to see the time where only-children are becoming a norm. This is similar to divorce's shift from something socially abnormal, to something socially acceptable, to something socially standard.

As only-children rise, they will be dependent far more on institutions for education than a family. If you look at familial patterns, the oldest child often starts socialising the other children as the oldest is socialised. Without that dynamic, we lose a key educational channel for many children. Further, with divorce and single-parent families becoming commonplace, institutions become more important. Paradoxically, the same institutions the older generations have been fighting to deconstruct for quite a long time now, with the constant attacks on school funding and taxation.

There is a definite demographic angle to that, in the sense that when the lifespan was 60 years, and families stayed together and had a lot of children, there was a higher degree of resource efficiency, at a time when resources were more plentiful. Now, we have the situation where lifespan is extended, and number of children is decreasing. Hence, why older people fight against education and for later-life benefits. Further, with fewer children to take care of the parents, there is more of a concern about needing to buy that care, all at a time where resources are under stress and rising in price.

Basically, the point being that the shift of the family – whilst often posited as a moral problem – is actually a huge economic problem, in terms of resource distribution. As mentioned in the article, with a vacuum in socialisation from either nuclear families or institutions, these children are being socialised by the Internet.

This is one reason that open Internet policies are so important. If the Internet is going to be a primary driver of socialisation, it behoves society to ensure internet content operates in a Darwinian model (many suppliers, many mutations, constant adaptation) rather than a controlled and gate-kept model. If our children are going to be socialised and educated by the Internet, we at least need to ensure them access to as broad an information base as possible. Given the power of the Internet to push single-source content to millions/billions of people, the result is that children are technically easier to programme to certain viewpoints.

Most of them will be so deracinated that they identify with their peers and the global Internet culture more than their great-grandparents' post-Westphalian nation-state.

This was the fundamental discovery of my time working in youth market research. Whilst older generations identify with America, China, India, France, younger generations started defining themselves in terms of brands. Lakers, Nike, Apple, MTV. Most of modern society is built on identification with country first, and this is a phenomenal change to that, the implications of which I only slightly understand.

When speaking to youth about the concept of America (in mid 2000s), they didn't have a firm answer. It represented freedom, but sometimes. The special protest zones were brought up, as was the Patriot Act. Opportunity was brought up, but so was homelessness. I saw the same thing in Europe and China. The time of allegiance because of allegiance was quickly ending. And it was being replaced by brands.

That was fascinating, for I started to see the global youth movement, where a teenager in America and China had the same identities. Lakers, Nike, Apple, Adidas. They wore the same clothes. They watched the same media. They played the same computer games. Their passion for brands was easily much greater than their passion for country. In fact, in many cases, they didn't identify with countries, but cities. Which is another interesting trend, but outside the scope of this discussion.

Regardless, it did at that time bring into question future nationalism. If many of the actions governments take are on behalf of "The American People" or "China" or " The UK", what does it mean when children no longer see the world that way? This is something that large multinationals are struggling with, but it's going to be more relevant when it comes to national securities.

If war for example is based on the ideology that our people must attack their people, what happens when the identity of our people fragments? What happens when people in the United States hold fast to New York or San Francisco identities in place of American identities. When Chinese children say they are from Shanghai or Hong Kong, but not China?

When teenagers care much more about brands and their immediate social identity, rather than an overarching national identity? With the trends of urbanisation and increasingly cheap connections to other geographies, we can only expect this to continue. And the implications are dire when it comes to national security.

One of these rules, essential for a tribal organism, is bilaterality: Loyalty is a two-way street.

This is understated in most discussions of this topic, but absolutely essential. In America, for example, the deal was that people had the ability to pursue free enterprise and self-determination, and in return, they would abide by a set of democratically decided laws.

The most recent breakdown of this is when it comes to the financial crisis, especially with regards to the banking sector. When I saw occupy wall street, I thought that it was the beginning of a movement, not a discreet blip. It is the beginning of people saying that the contract has been broken. The banks made bad investments, yet did not suffer the loss. When a student takes out loans, there is no assurance of a job. It's a risk. It may not work out. If it doesn't work out, they are stuck with the debt for the rest of their lives. When a bank took a risk and failed, they are bailed out. If banks are too big to fail, then shouldn't students be too educated to be unemployed? Either the rules are applied to everyone and we have the rule of law, or there are always exceptions and we have the rule of man.

This is perhaps the greatest threat to American identities, and many other countries, but it's also the most self-imposed threat. The financial crisis told the next generation that there are no hard and fast rules, it's all about what you can get away with. That works in two ways. If you are on top, you can do what you like, and there are few consequences. If you are on bottom, the people on the top can do what they like, and you have few opportunities.

What's died is the country as a referee for promoting the best ideas and most successful people, and the rise of the country as a perpetuator of arbitrary institutions. Compared to the real-world, the internet is relatively free and unencumbered, hence a convenient place to create one's own identity. Things are more fair on the Internet, at least that is the perception that I have heard.

Real-life is fucked. If you are college student today, you live in a time of diminishing job opportunities, rising prices, a broken political system, and an America that uses drones to kill people without trials. You live in a country that spies on its own people, lies about the spying, and you see a whistle-blower sitting in Russia. You live in a world where sex is constantly pushed at you from all channels, yet sex crimes are on the rise. You live in a world where gun violence is commonplace, yet there is no discussion of getting rid of guns.

Basically, the next generation is in a place where they see not only do their parents and societies not have the capability to fix the problems of society, but they are actively endorsing the perpetuating those problems.

And meanwhile, the establishment sits wondering where all these problems came from? These kids today... no respect... they're shooting each other... they're not paying their debts... they don't want to be part of society... they don't want jobs...

What society have we given them to be a part of?

As mentioned, I love this article, for finally the critiques are making it to the mainstream press. For the highest form of patriotism is not blind allegiance, but criticism.
posted by nickrussell at 6:37 AM on August 29, 2013 [109 favorites]


I think the weird thing here is that Stross assumes that large-scale surveillance will continue to require significant numbers of people. I'm not entirely sure that's true.

Discussed here before, but the NSA appears to agree.
posted by ryanshepard at 6:39 AM on August 29, 2013


A lot of these assumptions about the future fall flat when you stop only thinking about white people.
posted by cellphone at 6:48 AM on August 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


You don't need everybody to be enforcers, you only need enough of them. No generation has ever been uniform in its beliefs.

I think the issue isn't really that the NSA will have trouble recruiting. Pay enough and people will sign up. It's that they will have trouble ensuring that 100% of their workers are willing to keep quiet and turn the other way when they witness actions that they perceive to be in violation of the social contract. One Snowden or Manning every few years would create an enormous headache for the surveillance state. (Which is one of the few things that gives me hope that the US might not become a completely locked down security state.)

The article did impress on me the need to be sure my children realize that this is not the way things are supposed to be. We are supposed to be able to call each other without someone knowing that we've done it. We are supposed to be able to check out books from the library without the FBI seeing it. The Fourth Amendment really ought to apply to documents on my computer, and it if doesn't, then it's pointless. Unless someone remembers this stuff, there's a possibility of accepting increasingly loss of civil liberty as the norm. I had hoped Obama would help turn things around. Obviously, I was wrong.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:50 AM on August 29, 2013 [9 favorites]


I always thought of Agent Smith and the other Matrix agents as Mormon missionaries. And vice versa.

And, of course, the church was founded by a Smith.

Hmm...
posted by pracowity at 6:52 AM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


The machineries of the security state may well find them unemployable, their values too alien to assimilate into a model still rooted in the early 20th century.

Isn't there a chance, though, that their values simply usurp those of the state? I'm thinking of things like divorce, tattoos and homosexuality. Those were once things that were off the table for "good, upstanding citizens," but now are almost not worthy of comment upon. If everyone is being watched all the time, it becomes harder to pretend that anyone is perfect, and maybe that means we as a society become more forgiving and understanding of difference? I dunno, maybe I'm looking too hard for a silver lining.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:56 AM on August 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


One Snowden or Manning every few years would create an enormous headache for the surveillance state.

The thing that freaks me out though is there is only Snowden and Manning. Two people. All that talk about how you couldn't possibly have a large conspiracy because someone would surely blow the whistle? Clearly wrong. These conspiracies ran for years without the whistle getting blown. Thousands of people saw war crimes and did nothing at all. Thousands of people in a multitude of government branches and allied corporations participated in secret surveillance.

These value problems the NSA supposedly has? Not so much actually.
posted by srboisvert at 6:57 AM on August 29, 2013 [21 favorites]


For me, the hatchet in the back was when Rahm Emanuel thew the promise of socializing medicine onto the fire as an offering to the insurance companies. It was the one last chance for pushing though the socialized medicine everyone wanted, and got used as a bribe instead.

There is no loyalty to the people any more, how can they expect it from us in return?

Our country is in collapse, nothing will save it. The founding fathers would have been amazed it lasted so long, though... we had a good run.
posted by MikeWarot at 6:57 AM on August 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Almost every one of his "worries" in the article can be cured by having the elite power-wielders come from a religious group that focuses on secrecy, hierarchy, and sobrietyScientologists?

The CIA and the FBI have Mormon recruitment programs.

Brilliant idea considering they were swearing oaths of vengeance against the federal government back when Mitt Romney's father was alive.

Just when I thought the panopticon couldn't scare me more than it does, along comes of the thought of religious nutbags at the helm.
posted by entropicamericana at 6:58 AM on August 29, 2013


Stross assumes that large-scale surveillance will continue to require significant numbers of people. I'm not entirely sure that's true.

I think his point is more nuanced than that. The actual surveillance might not really require that many people, but an intelligence agency is more than a surveillance program, it's first and foremost a bureaucratic organization run by people who live to run a bureaucratic organization. Their personal standing is diminished if the size of the organization decreases.

Even if the actual surveillance requires fewer people to conduct, there is a huge internal pressure to maintain the organization and find new "missions" for all the employees. (Which incidentally, in the context of a creepy secret agency, is a Bad Thing.) Someone from the outside might step in and cut an agency down to size, if/when it becomes clear that they're overstaffed for their purpose, but only if the managers within that agency fail at expanding their mission in order to keep everyone occupied and thus justify their funding and headcount.

The number of people beneath you is a huge status marker in hierarchical organizations. It has been since time immemorial, probably since before humans came down out of the trees, and no amount of technology is going to change it in the short run. If the spy agencies reduce headcount it will be a painful process for them, and they'll do so kicking and screaming.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:03 AM on August 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


Whilst older generations identify with America, China, India, France, younger generations started defining themselves in terms of brands. Lakers, Nike, Apple, MTV.

Why would you identify with a nation when the nation-state compact has been abandoned? They are not going to take care of you, so you owe them nothing at all. You are quite right about the arbitrary exercise of power at the top and its utterly corrosive effects on civic fervor. Of course, it's equally if not more troubling that this loyalty is being transferred to consumer brands, of all things. Christ.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 7:04 AM on August 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


One Snowden or Manning every few years would create an enormous headache for the surveillance state.

I looked up the religious affiliations. Neither one is a Mormon. The mission for the next Snowden clearly is to leak out a comprehensive network graph for the religious affiliation within the high echelon of the CIA & NSA.
posted by bukvich at 7:05 AM on August 29, 2013


The thing that freaks me out though is there is only Snowden and Manning. Two people. All that talk about how you couldn't possibly have a large conspiracy because someone would surely blow the whistle?

William Binney

J. Kirk Wiebe and Ed Loomis

Thomas Drake
posted by ryanshepard at 7:05 AM on August 29, 2013 [7 favorites]


The thing that freaks me out though is there is only Snowden and Manning. Two people.

They give you a very comfortable living if you keep quiet and they charge you with treason and chase you to the ends of the earth if you open your mouth. I'm not surprised there are so few Snowdens and Mannings.

If you want more whistleblowers, I suppose you need to offer these people a simple and confidential way to inform sympathetic Members of Congress without just revealing government secrets to the world, breaking the law, and bringing the whole secret police machine down on them and their families.
posted by pracowity at 7:09 AM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


One big IRL trend for millennials (and probably for subsequent generations, too) that the Stross article ignores is the "psycho-medicalization" of the young that has been occurring since the mid-90s or so, with the advent of ADD and ADHD diagnosis, and the common prescription of Ritalin and other drugs to a large percentage of kids, from an early age, sometimes for decades. 3 out of 4 of my nieces/nephews were Ritalin kids, as were/are 1/2 my grand children, at least for short periods, on the recommendations of teachers, even though their academic performance didn't materially improve on the drugs.

Once a society has established that children should be medicated to conform to societal behavioral standards, on a large scale, and has universal education and healthcare systems in place to do the diagnosis and drug delivery aspects of such programs, we're well on our way to functional mechanisms of large scale behavior control. With continuing research into medications that can be targeted down to the individual level by biometric markers, we can, at least potentially (and for the present, theoretically) even step the value chain up and down, to get increasingly fine grained control of individuals at higher responsibility/managerial levels.

Personally, I already see this happening in a significant fraction of the dozen or so retail cash transactions I have each week, where a clerk or cashier probably making minimum wage with no health plan in place makes an error in a core task of their job, like making change, and has to call in a manager (who probably does have some kind of health plan, and may just be getting his/her meds regularly) to straighten out the problem. That I use cash, which is "inconvenient" for young workers to handle marks me, in yet another way, as an "old," to young workers who would happily have their tips come in through their employer's pay systems from credit cards I might otherwise use, than have actual money in their hands immediately, if they just didn't have to do the math, and be responsible for "real" money to their employers and customers.
posted by paulsc at 7:21 AM on August 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


The inability of cashiers to make proper change predates the rise of prescription meds by decades.
posted by IndigoJones at 7:29 AM on August 29, 2013 [13 favorites]


What a hopelessly naive article. He even mentions the key problem with his argument.

But a human lifetime seldom spans more than three generations, and the sliding window of one's generation screens out that which came before and that which comes after; they lie outside our personal experience.

Which is why stuff that would have had our grandparents grabbing their pitchforks and torches is commonplace now. And stuff that outrages us now will be commonplace in the future. The trick is to get to them young and get them used to the (let's be honest) creeping fascism. Do I really need to give examples?

And when has an authoritarian thug ever run into a shortage of good dogs willing to lick his boots?
posted by entropicamericana at 7:35 AM on August 29, 2013 [7 favorites]


All that talk about how you couldn't possibly have a large conspiracy because someone would surely blow the whistle?

The same exact argument is used in China to 'prove' that those orphanage horror stories or Tienanmen Square massacre stories cannot be true. Even if someone wants to blow the whistle, there has to be another someone willing to hear the whistle and able to do something about it. In China, the government controls all the media. In the US, corporations do. For now, the Internet in the US is mostly uncontrolled, but they're working on it.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:35 AM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


"The inability of cashiers to make proper change predates the rise of prescription meds by decades."
posted by IndigoJones at 10:29 AM on August 29

Granted. But I'm not sure it has ever happened on as broad and common a scale as it seems to be happening today. And it's not just making change, it's basic cash handling techniques, all around.

Last night, I was inline at a (mumble)mart, when the cashiers changed for shifts. The one going off took her cash drawer and total tape, and went off shift. The new one pulled the plastic wrap off her new change drawer, swiped her employee badge, and was ready to start totaling up my order.

"Aren't you going to count in your drawer?" I asked. "How do you know it isn't short, when you open, and how would you prove otherwise if you came up short at the end of your shift, to management?"

"I don't know. We don't have to do that." she replied sweetly. And then she just gobsmacked me, effortlessly. "I guess I just trust (mumble)mart, because they trust me."
posted by paulsc at 7:41 AM on August 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


"And how do you ensure their loyalty?"

This is a good question, but it is also worth dialing back a few years. But firstly, the NSA and the CIA are not fishing in the same pool.

Traditionally, the CIA fished in quite a limited pool - it especially likes and still likes ex-military types because they generally subscribe to the kind of culture intelligence agencies need and have a lower security risk profile. Below that, there is a large pool of people from a diplomatic and/or military background for similar reasons. There are still lots of those people.

However, going back twenty years or so, the recruitment pool changed quite dramatically because the role of intelligence agencies changed - whereas in the 1950s through to 1980s a huge proportion of activity was devoted to fighting the Cold War the remit of the CIA broadened in scope - China became more important, the US's trade and military interests in the Middle East became more important and the War on Drugs changed some of the focus of activity. At the same time, the agency itself got bigger. As a result, the CIA had to go out more formally to candidates where before it could rely on retained recruiters within select universities and its contacts in the military. In particular, the requirement for a whole new suite of language and cultural expertise became apparent. It also had to find a way to manage its costs, so outsourcing to contract employees and engaging third parties to manage some part of its operations also became more of a feature.

Don't forget also that the CIA has always had problems with leaks and moles. We focus on idealist whistleblowers now, but previously there was Aldrich Ames, William Kampiles, David Barnett - men motivated by money, idealism or both. MI6 had it worse - a whole ring of high ranking officers who were ideologically motivated and who set back the agency for decades. There are several more Americans not in the CIA who also spied for the Soviet Union. In short, I don't think the US is necessarily suffering a particular rash of ideological whistleblowers.

For the NSA the profile of the person is different, but again I don't think finding the pool of the right kind of people is especially problematic. These people don't typically go into work and want to fight The Man. They have undergone substantial psych profiling. There are considerable incentives to keep them straight and considerable disincentives to stop them leaking. These are good jobs, with more job security and often more perks than you find in civilian life.

In addition, the threat of terrorism post 9/11 is real. One can argue about the scale of the problem and the nature of the response, but it is less ideologically complex than the Cold War, where the enemy was a distant bogeyman and exactly what and why so much time and effort was devoted to defeating them was at least as questionable as it is now.

The current issue, I think, is less where to find the people who can do the job and more structural, boring issues about how to manage the behemoth that is the US intelligence community. It is massive - and with far more agencies and fiefdoms across than one can count on all digits of one's hands and feet. Post 9/11, the move was to break down those barriers between the agencies to prevent information being siloed in one place. This directly enabled Bradley Manning to have access to so much information. So from a boring knowledge management perspective there is a constant dilemma around how and where to limit or open up access to intel. We also know that the digital revolution has made it a lot easier to download and distribute intelligence. So another boring question about where information security gets in the way of operational efficiency. What has really bitten the intelligence community is how it manages its information. Particularly for the NSA, it has an order of magnitude more inbound information which needs to be assessed and possible shared.

Digital technology has created more points of weakness technologically (hacking, downloading and distribution). With that come technical challenges, organisational challenges and fundamental operational challenges around how to organise the intelligence community so as to be operationally effective but compartmentalised. On the one hand I suspect the intelligence community veers more strongly towards secrecy at the expense of possible operational efficiency. Their political masters have more of a dilemma - nobody wants to see their laundry aired in public but they also don't want to be the guy who didn't stop the next 9/11 because the intelligence agencies couldn't interoperate effectively.
posted by MuffinMan at 7:44 AM on August 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


mock moral panic about 'Generation foo'? I guess if it gets you out of the ghetto and into FP... Soon, cstross coming to a dentist office waiting room magazine stack near you.

The biggest problem is that there is the "security state" and then there is the U.S. The size and power of the national security apparatus in the US has no comparison in the current world and represents the only state power with historical continuity to ancient times (pre-WWI). The NSA et al are creatures of the Cold WarTM as a specific and cataclysmic era born out the after-math of the collapse of 19th century colonialism and two major wars: you can't just lump them into generic "features of statism."
posted by ennui.bz at 8:07 AM on August 29, 2013


I would never underestimate the power of an entrenched Security State to come up with and enact wacky ideas to create a secure stable of drones with the ability to keep their mouths shut. All they would have to do is run them through a boot camp like the Marines. That alone is enough to break down the individual and rebuild him into a Group Member with Esprit de Corps
posted by capnmarrrrk at 8:13 AM on August 29, 2013


Whilst older generations identify with America, China, India, France, younger generations started defining themselves in terms of brands. Lakers, Nike, Apple, MTV.

Just like how farmers, factory workers, and so on, were supposed to identify more with farmers, factory workers, and so on, in other nations than with fellow citizens or their own nation?

This article sounds like an old person fretting over the changing future.
posted by Atreides at 8:13 AM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I liked this article. It was my first taste of Stross's writing.

I am intrigued by the loyalty aspect of it - especially the part about people putting loyalty to brands and/or cities instead of wide-view patriotism. Congressional politics are a joke; you might actually get a better deal if Verizon was in charge of our government for a 2-year minimum contract with the possibility of discounts on healthcare upgrades if you continue to vote for the 4G LTE Party.

Because I know all of my crew in New New England Metro NE love Samsung products and we don't like folks from San Franangeles talking smack.

And that part about the social contract breaking down for Gen Z - that's been in effect my entire life and I'm 45. Anyone who seriously believes any employer in 2013 gives a damn about loyalty to their services should sprout fairy wings and apply as an extra for the next Disney film.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 8:17 AM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just finished reading Hugh Howey's Silo Trilogy, an excellent sci-fi series about a future where humanity is down to a few thousand people living in an underground silo. It strikes me as having a very similar theme to Stross' essay, the question about how you instill a culture of authority and uniformity in a civil society. Also it's great reading and quite disturbing, highly recommended.

I like this essay and I like that it's in Foreign Policy. I have limited patience for this kind of intense right angle writing, but it's very effective in reaching a certain type of hide-bound reader. Perfect for the magazine. You've gotta Future Shock people out of the way they think sometimes, you know?

Big words are hard. deracinated: uprooted or displaced from one’s geographical or social environment.
posted by Nelson at 8:18 AM on August 29, 2013


Needs a hugo-award-winning editor to keep him focused on his topic and omit the distracting boomer-scapegoating.

'Generation x' (if there was such a thing)'s parents are not 'the boomers' (if there was such a thing) and 'generation y' (if there was such a thing)'s parents are not 'generation x'.

People are born every year. Every year. It is a continuum, not a string of boxes with arrows between, boxes you can label, put people inside, and generalize about.

Wealth is being transferred to the wealthy -- not to 'boomers'.

Big words are hard. deracinated: uprooted or displaced from one’s geographical or social environment.

While you're in that dictionary, you might want to look up 'sinecure', too.
 
posted by Herodios at 8:27 AM on August 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


In addition, the threat of terrorism post 9/11 is real. One can argue about the scale of the problem and the nature of the response, but it is less ideologically complex than the Cold War, where the enemy was a distant bogeyman and exactly what and why so much time and effort was devoted to defeating them was at least as questionable as it is now

This is a bunch of crap. The threat of terrorism post-9/11 is approximately equal to the threat of terrorism pre-9/11 modulo 9/11 reactions (ie: airline hijacking doesn't work anymore, GWOT-created-additional-extremists)

If you want to talk about "distant bogeyman and exactly what and why so much time and effort was devoted to defeating them", one doesn't have to look much further than the GWOT.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 8:44 AM on August 29, 2013 [7 favorites]


The linked article is an expansion of this earlier one.

Fascinating how the naysayers seem to be bereft of any coherent counter-argument (or even argument of any description) settling instead for shooting the messenger. Which bunch of zealots has this article offended?
posted by epo at 8:47 AM on August 29, 2013


"I don't know. We don't have to do that." she replied sweetly. And then she just gobsmacked me, effortlessly. "I guess I just trust (mumble)mart, because they trust me."

In all fairness, I recommend running a Level 2 diagnostic on your Sarcasm Detector and doing a full update of it's Ironic Speech Patterns before passing any judgment.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 8:52 AM on August 29, 2013


"I don't know. We don't have to do that." she replied sweetly. And then she just gobsmacked me, effortlessly. "I guess I just trust (mumble)mart, because they trust me."

If the drawer was sealed, I have a sneaking suspicion that it was pre-counted earlier in the and logged by a supervisor. Not every register scheme requires a cashier to verify their drawer at the beginning of a shift. This reduces downtime and apparently inspires Kids These Days (tm)-brand paranoia.
posted by lumensimus at 8:58 AM on August 29, 2013 [10 favorites]


I recommend anyone who is thinking that it's ridiculous that cashiers can't effortlessly make change to play the indie game Cart Life for a while.
posted by winna at 9:10 AM on August 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


And with all of its bugs, Cart Life manages to be just as frustrating and arbitrary as real life.

Good game, though.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:28 AM on August 29, 2013


If everyone is being watched all the time, it becomes harder to pretend that anyone is perfect, and maybe that means we as a society become more forgiving and understanding of difference?

I think this only works if the gathered information is made public, though. Otherwise it's still analogous to that old chestnut of the cynical detective waxing grimly "if you only knew what the average person was really like..." because the truth about society's real face is still locked away in a box that only a select few can open.

Also, even publicly-available statistics on what the world's really like - how drug use is pretty much the same across racial and economical boundaries but drug arrests are not, how conservative, religious leaning states tend to consume more pornography, how we spend more tax money per person on healthcare in the US than any nation with nationalized healthcare does - don't even really register to the public. We're very, very good at just straight ignoring facts we don't want to believe.

But yeah, if nobody had privacy from anyone else, society would absolutely have to adapt to the reality that nobody's perfect. Or else everyone would adopt a really impressive state of denial.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:31 AM on August 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


About the only child thing -- I will point out that the mean is not the mode. My experience is that of my friends that have children at all, they have two. Occasionally three, slightly less often one. It's just that a number of couples choose not to have children at all. We aren't China -- the fact that couples no longer feel required to have children doesn't mean that "only-children are becoming a norm".

Sadly, all the datasets I can find go by average and don't have families broken out by sizes, so I can't calculate the median and mode rather than mean.
posted by tavella at 9:33 AM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I recommend anyone who is thinking that it's ridiculous that cashiers can't effortlessly make change to play the indie game Cart Life for a while."
posted by winna at 12:10 PM on August 29

As a boomer who isn't a "gamer," I'll probably never get why "playing" a "game" in the character of an entry level retail worker, which IRL would be a job somebody would have to pay me at least minimum wage to do, is somehow "fun," any more than my grandmothers never got dead baby jokes. But also, as a boomer, I gotta love the catchphrase "Work harder, hard worker." Perfect for flair buttons, too!
posted by paulsc at 9:37 AM on August 29, 2013


I think the best police state ever would be a world where you always knew what someone else thought about you. You could take a convicted criminal, lock him in a room in a comfortable chair, and force-feed him the actual thoughts of everyone that knew him for more than a year.

You survive that; you're exonerated of any crime and given a hammock and a big bag of Fritos.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 9:40 AM on August 29, 2013


If the spy agencies reduce headcount it will be a painful process for them

This may actually be impossible for them. Better to have a redundant employee counting paperclips than a disgruntled former employee with a head full of unmentionables.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 9:43 AM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


ennui your comment confuses me
The size and power of the national security apparatus in the US has no comparison in the current world and represents the only state power with historical continuity to ancient times (pre-WWI).

I don't understand this sentence, plenty of other state security agencies have continuity to pre-WWI, including most European powers. If you mean specific agency names then the CIA/NSA/FBI don't pre-date WWI (well the FBI barely kinda does). If you're more talking about global surveillance capabilities then yes the US is the best but the Russians, Chinese, and various other powerful states are no slouches either. I think they could be considered comparable, certainly when it comes to domestic surveillance.
posted by Wretch729 at 9:50 AM on August 29, 2013


If you're more talking about global surveillance capabilities then yes the US is the best but the Russians, Chinese, and various other powerful states are no slouches either. I think they could be considered comparable, certainly when it comes to domestic surveillance.

The US is a piker compared to them on that score. We read communications from people outside the US better. Internally, China bugs a whole lot of places.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:55 AM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


When it comes to fealty or any interest that could pigeonhole you, I've come to think that many people who identify as sports fans wear it like a privacy shield. It's perhaps the most unrevealing public face you can wear, dissuasive of further inquiry and, in an age of franchised sports teams, betrays no affiliation other than geography and even that is both impermanent and may involve several degrees of separation such as birthplace, where you went to college or even the friend or relative who first introduced you to the game.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:56 AM on August 29, 2013


Which is why stuff that would have had our grandparents grabbing their pitchforks and torches is commonplace now. And stuff that outrages us now will be commonplace in the future. The trick is to get to them young and get them used to the (let's be honest) creeping fascism. Do I really need to give examples?

I will!

Some things that our grandparents grabbed their pitchforks about that are now commonplace:

(1) Black people in school
(2) Black people in restaurants
(3) Black people in swimming pools
(4) Black people in white people (or vice versa)
(5) Black people marrying white people
(6) Black people voting
(7) Homosexuality
(8) Law enforcement that can't just beat the shit out of you until you confess and convict you with that confession
(9) Reduced censorship
(10) Divorce
(11) Public schools that don't force their students to pray a specific prayer approved by the state
(12) Law enforcement that can't just take whatever they feel like without any sort of warrant, call it evidence, and make it stick in court
(13) Obvious scumbag (trans: "black") criminals getting free lawyers

...and so on. I'm sure you mean things like wiretaps, net scanning, and so on, but you are absofuckinglutely on crack if you think that your grandparents' generation weren't a-fucking-okay with the equivalent programs back in the day. You have to remember that most of what we think of as important civil liberties received almost no effective protection until the 1950s or 1960s, and the introduction of those protections (like the exclusionary rule, or a positive right to an attorney) provoked howls of outrage from the public.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:11 AM on August 29, 2013 [11 favorites]


I'm not even sure how to respond to that other than we'll have to agree to disagree.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:26 AM on August 29, 2013


What is it you're disagreeing with?
posted by rtha at 10:44 AM on August 29, 2013


Some things that our grandparents grabbed their pitchforks about that are now commonplace:

Your grandparents may vary.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:52 AM on August 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm not really sure what his point is and I really can't think of a way that I can respond without being accused of being a conservative racist homophobe. Besides, it seems like a derail.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:55 AM on August 29, 2013


Point: there is no past in which the mass of American people would have grabbed their pitchforks in response to violations of civil liberties, and I wish people wouldn't pretend like there was.

If anything, our grandparents' generation grew up surrounded by, and accepting and supporting, violations of civil liberties that would probably horrify most younger people. If you want to object to the surveillance state, fine and dandy. I don't like it either. But don't pretend that widespread acquiescence to broad violations of civil liberties is something new.

Just one of those memes/rhetorical strategies that really chaps my ass, I guess.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:47 AM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


As a boomer who isn't a "gamer," I'll probably never get why "playing" a "game" in the character of an entry level retail worker, which IRL would be a job somebody would have to pay me at least minimum wage to do, is somehow "fun,"

(1) Would you watch a movie or read a book whose protagonist was an entry-level retail worker?

(2) There's a lot more experiences available via video games than just "having fun."
posted by straight at 11:48 AM on August 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's a decent article, with some flaws. I don't think he's engaging in moral panic (as some people have claimed) about this generation, but rather saying that the material circumstances of people who will come of age within the next 10 years are going to be markedly different and greatly reduced from those who came of age 10, and before that 20 years ago.

My own addition to this, is that these kids will likely have grown up (both boys and girls) engaging in highly realistic fantasy simulations which glorify (even if it's glorification with a gritty "realistic" edge to it) the sort of real politic, anything's justified approach that the NSA seems to be taking. The modern military shooter is definitely propaganda of its own sort, and its predominance as a means of entertainment is probably going to play into this somehow. In fact, I would imagine that games as a means of power fantasy, wish fulfillment, and escape are going to become even more prominent as immersive technology improves and material conditions decline.
posted by codacorolla at 11:59 AM on August 29, 2013


But don't pretend that widespread acquiescence to broad violations of civil liberties is something new.

I think that one of the reasons this isn't more apparent is that we tend to whitewash history pretty thoroughly. People who were on the wrong side of a particular issue tend not to bring it up very often, while people who were on the right like to do so all the time, and it frequently creates the perception that there was consensus on a particular issue long before there actually was.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:59 AM on August 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


Lipstick Thespian: "I think the best police state ever would be a world where you always knew what someone else thought about you. You could take a convicted criminal, lock him in a room in a comfortable chair, and force-feed him the actual thoughts of everyone that knew him for more than a year."

So, pretty much a Total Perspective Vortex?
posted by Chrysostom at 12:01 PM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


tavella: "About the only child thing -- I will point out that the mean is not the mode. My experience is that of my friends that have children at all, they have two. Occasionally three, slightly less often one. It's just that a number of couples choose not to have children at all. We aren't China -- the fact that couples no longer feel required to have children doesn't mean that "only-children are becoming a norm". "

I'd like to see some statistics backing this up, but anecdotally, this is absolutely so. People I know have either zero or two kids, the couples with one or three+ are very few.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:11 PM on August 29, 2013


This US census table (PDF) seems to say otherwise. In it, two-person households outnumber three-person ones, 37% to 18%, while four-person households are at 16%. After that, the percentages drop steeply.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:22 PM on August 29, 2013


Chrysostom: "I'd like to see some statistics backing this up, but anecdotally, this is absolutely so. People I know have either zero or two kids, the couples with one or three+ are very few."

I'd also be curious about this. A quick hit of Google turned up census statistics (on preview, same data Kirth Gerson found) that showed households sort of getting larger (or at least no longer shrinking), but that the number of kids has declined. One theory was that this was the effect of "boomerang kids" coming back home during the economic downturn.

Confirmation biases aside (all of the families we know and socialize with are also larger-than-average in terms of kids), my anectdata is close to Chrysostom's. Zero or two seems to be most common, even among Catholics.
posted by jquinby at 12:25 PM on August 29, 2013


codacorolla: My own addition to this, is that these kids will likely have grown up (both boys and girls) engaging in highly realistic fantasy simulations which glorify (even if it's glorification with a gritty "realistic" edge to it) the sort of real politic, anything's justified approach that the NSA seems to be taking.

For instance, The Last of Us, one of the most acclaimed video games of the year, is getting a new multiplayer mode in which teams compete to capture and torture members of the enemy team in order to gather enough information to win the match:

New game mode — Interrogation

Interrogation is a 4v4, two-part objective game mode where rival factions vie to find and open the other faction’s lockbox, stealing the supplies inside. Each team must first achieve five interrogations of players on the other team.

Players can get interrogations by shivving an enemy, or getting an enemy into the down state, then pressing triangle while next to them. Once your team collects five interrogations the location of the enemy’s lockbox will be revealed. Your team must attempt to open the lockbox before the other team can collect five interrogations and open your lockbox first. Whichever team opens the opposing team’s lockbox first wins.

posted by straight at 12:26 PM on August 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is one reason that open Internet policies are so important. If the Internet is going to be a primary driver of socialisation, it behoves society to ensure internet content operates in a Darwinian model (many suppliers, many mutations, constant adaptation) rather than a controlled and gate-kept model. If our children are going to be socialised and educated by the Internet, we at least need to ensure them access to as broad an information base as possible.

Reddit is mother, 4chan is father.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 12:48 PM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


"(1) Would you watch a movie or read a book whose protagonist was an entry-level retail worker?"

I did watch 5 minutes of 2 Broke Girls once. Didn't seem at all entertaining or instructive, and I kind of wish I had those 5 minutes of my life back, ever since.

"(2) There's a lot more experiences available via video games than just "having fun."
posted by straight at 2:48 PM on August 29

My nephew has tried to convince me of this, too. We've reached a functional standoff, I think, in that I do most of my shooting with real firearms, at the range, and he does all his virtually, on TV. He doesn't play canasta or pinochle, and I don't Wii, whatever that is. I like fishing in cool Florida mornings, and he likes watching NASCAR in air conditioning.

It's workin' good for both of us, and I never get achy thumbs.
posted by paulsc at 1:25 PM on August 29, 2013


Bruce Schneier: How Many Leakers Came Before Snowden?
posted by homunculus at 1:27 PM on August 29, 2013


The Definitive NSA Parody Site Is Actually Informative
posted by homunculus at 1:29 PM on August 29, 2013


"paulsc" is just a parody account where a writer's circle of mefites thought to themselves, "What would it be like if the bastard love child of Jimmy Buffett and Andy Rooney joined MeFi" and then set out to share writing duties amongst each other...right?
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 1:39 PM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


"paulsc" is just a parody account where a writer's circle of mefites thought to themselves, "What would it be like if the bastard love child of Jimmy Buffett and Andy Rooney joined MeFi" and then set out to share writing duties amongst each other...right?
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 4:39 PM on August 29

There's really not that much thought put into it.
posted by paulsc at 1:43 PM on August 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


> This was the fundamental discovery of my time working in youth market research. Whilst older generations identify with
> America, China, India, France, younger generations started defining themselves in terms of brands. Lakers, Nike, Apple,
> MTV. Most of modern society is built on identification with country first, and this is a phenomenal change to that,
> the implications of which I only slightly understand.

YMMV. I can totally understand identifying first and foremost with a brand due to having lived my entire life in a part of the US where that has always been the state of things: the most important fact most people want to know about you is not where you live or what you do for a living but which brand of football team you cheer for. Bulldogs? Tide? Gators? Tigers? Longhorns? Razorbacks? Vols? C'mon, stand up and be counted! Do you bleed Big Orange or what?

P.s. I really, really do hope we manage to hold the line for "rootless" as against "deracinated."
posted by jfuller at 4:08 PM on August 29, 2013


The idea that "the nation-state is irrelevant" is ignorant bullshit at best, ideologically motivated undermining at worst.

Sovereign nation-states still issue currency, and they still have enforcement powers via the security services, and that gives physical control over the nodes of the internet and the communication cables in their territory. Control the nodes and you can turn the internet off, save for wireless uplinks, but you can jam those too if you control the territory. No matter what any nice people believe, the ability to put bullets into people's heads is still meaningful. So is the ability to put a cruise missile through someone's front door.

Control the currency, and you control who gets the resources. Understand that the current policies of the US government with respect to the currency are a giant subsidy to the finance, insurance and real estate sector. Understand that the European Central Bank (ECB) is essentially allowing the German banks, among others, to bleed Southern Europe dry of resources. Alternative currencies are great as far as that goes, but they do not represent the same level of power as a currency that forms a relatively contiguous physical area. As to all of you Bitcoin worshippers, who think it's going to usher in your perfect market, all I can say is: read Adi Shamir's paper.

Julian Assange and his generation represent the zenith of "fuck the governments, we have the internet." They have and continue to do some good work; but they were naive about the powers of governments to scoop up their servers, and them. Assange isn't hiding in a branch of Mr. Lee's Greater Hong Kong; he's in the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

That covers the ignorant part. The ideological undermining is relatively simple. Post Civil-Rights movement, large sections of the white American electorate simply decided that they didn't want to live side by side with black people; they didn't want to have to share anything with them. Instead, the white nationalist core of the GOP decided that they would destroy public institutions like swimming pools, libraries and transit, rather than share with black people. Hence the rise of the libertarian right and their love for the ''market state." They are enabled, also, by the shitty Democratic party, which loves Wall Street (campaign finance contributions!), and has never met a public-private partnership that it doesn't like. The public gets the bills, private firms get the profits.

They want you to believe the nation-state is irrelevant, and they want people to focus on "local issues" and small-scale anarchist experiments, as well as internet market triumphalism. This is because when you do that, you let the rent seeking elite suck up all the money in the economy.

They are going to do that as long as we let them. So let's stop them.
posted by wuwei at 4:37 PM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


> They want you to believe the nation-state is irrelevant

That sounds like a rant that's been percolating in your bosom for quite some time seeking release, because it's certainly not a response to any claim made either in cstross's essey or in this thread. The word "irrelevant" doesn't appear in the linked FP article (machine-search the pages yourself.) In this thread, one instance found, up at the top where user banal evil says the foundational mythology and ideals of the United States appear "intellectually bankrupt and irrelevant to many of us," which is a far cry from believing the power of state actors with cruise missiles to fuck people up big time is irrelevant to the fuckees.

So, these "they" who are foisting the soothing fairy tale of the nation-state's irrelevance off on the sheeple... you got linkies?
posted by jfuller at 7:17 PM on August 29, 2013


The Making of Global Capitalism by Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin has a lot to say about the necessity of state actors in the globalization of capitalization that you might find interesting.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:03 PM on August 29, 2013


@jfuller LOL. Market State-- you can look at Philip Bobbit's work for one thing. http://www.utexas.edu/law/news/2006/052506_spectator.html

Uh oh, I didn't machine search for the word "irrelevant," I merely paraphrased an argument. I guess I owe you a long exegesis, and now we can jam up the thread with hair splitting and goal post moving. Fun times!
posted by wuwei at 9:46 PM on August 29, 2013


When it comes to jumping all over the territory making wild-ass assertions while sounding high-falutin, Stross ain't no Bruce Sterling.

For one thing, in the US at least, the people described by "work in the same job for life ... seldom traveled internationally ... cultural environment ... defined by their nationality" were certainly not the baby boomers (born 46-64) but their parents.

And then MeFi falls down and has nothing to say about Stross' apparent intention to say something about Gen Z, which he never really does ... just peters out after mostly stating the obvious. Notcher finest hour Charles.

His Z's, for whom the boomers and their institutions look like parasitic aliens with incomprehensible values sound like the future people -long ago- described in works by Gibson and Brunner and Dick. That ain't news any more, that's the given. And the idea that they will identify with their peers and the global Internet culture? That already happened to me, Charles, and I ain't no spring chicken.

Anyway, nice set-up. I hope the part of the article with the meat in it won't be far behind.
posted by Twang at 12:10 AM on August 30, 2013


you can look at Philip Bobbit's work for one thing.

I thought the Shield of Achilles was quite good, and I also think the transition he describes is real, though I of course do not think it is at all a good thing. I am not entirely sure he does (or did, didn't read your link), either. Every so often some ambivalence came through in the book. Who can deny that the wholesale removal of public services has been a theme, lately?
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 4:49 AM on August 30, 2013


Steely-eyed Missile Man: Bobbit ignores that we find ourself in the "market state" by policy choices. Change those policy choices and the market state disappears, unless one believes in inevitable historical forces that are driving all things.
posted by wuwei at 5:51 PM on August 30, 2013


What the fuck does "dog-eat-dog economic liberalism" mean??
posted by e40 at 10:23 AM on September 1, 2013


e40, I'm going to guess that you're thinking of "liberalism" in the American sense of "capitalism plus regulations plus social safety nets". In the rest of the world (they also think our use of "libertarian" to mean, er, what they mean by "liberal" is highly odd) "liberal" is used as in "liberal democracy".
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:27 PM on September 1, 2013


Necessary and Proportionate: In Which Civil Society is Caught Between a Cop and a Spy
posted by homunculus at 7:33 PM on September 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


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