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Liberalism, Libertarianism, and the Illiberal Security State
January 21, 2014 6:25 AM   Subscribe

The defense of the illiberal activities of the actually-existing state cuts across superficial partisan lines, and the dominant political philosophy of both American parties is a venerable ideology of realpolitik imperial supremacy that deploys the rhetoric of liberalism as pacifying propaganda and recasts the completely mundane application of basic liberal-democratic principles–the kind at work in the activities of Wikileaks and Snowden–as irresponsibly adolescent, anarchical, and even libertarian (eww!) challenges to the very idea of the liberal state. “Liberal” apologists for the actually-existing criminal state spook actual liberals from the practice of actual liberalism by insinuating darkly that any doubts about the liberal legitimacy of the security state probably makes you a loathsome, possibly racist Paultard. Wil Wilkinson on why liberal critics of the "liberal" state seem "libertarian."

Responds to an essay by Henry Farrell responding to a TNR essay by Sean Wilentz.
posted by grobstein (49 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
also linked at Marginal Revolution, Wilkinson shows up in the comments.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:01 AM on January 21 [1 favorite]


The wikileaks twitter went on a tear after that TNR article was published. It was a lot of words for guilt by association, but it must have hurt.
posted by zabuni at 7:11 AM on January 21 [1 favorite]


Here's a pithy sentence that sums it up better:

But liberals ought to be able to stand their ground better than this.

Sean Wilentz is the New David Brooks for me, now that Brooks himself has become a comedian.
posted by spitbull at 7:12 AM on January 21 [3 favorites]


But liberals ought to be able to stand their ground better than this. It is a little puzzling to me how seldom one hears liberals argue that standard policies of state secrecy, as they are actually implemented, run afoul of standard democratic theories of legitimacy in a very straightforward way. Or maybe it’s not so puzzling.

Well, if that's your strawman then yes. I feel that I spend a lot of time around people who both believe that the state is a fundamentally good idea but that the security state is overpowered. Indeed, I'll go further and say that believing that the power of the state is a good idea means that one must believe in an open democracy to legitimise that.

That wouldn't be as good an article hook though.
posted by jaduncan at 7:21 AM on January 21 [26 favorites]


It would be helpful if, rather than attempting to painstakingly remove the taint of libertarianism from anti-surveillance discourse, we just pointed out that we disagree with the libertarian approach to inequality of opportunity, a topic that has almost nothing to do with the issue at hand, and leave it at that. (By 'we' I mean liberals who disagree with what Snowden and Wikileaks have exposed.)

That might mean sometimes talking to libertarians instead of at or about them; it might even mean not raising the demography of their political grouping as a negative, but it would at least avoid immediately failing as rational participators in political conversation.
posted by topynate at 7:24 AM on January 21 [19 favorites]


Liberals are the "Only Imperial stormtroopers are so precise." of American politics.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:31 AM on January 21 [5 favorites]


However, the fact is, mundane liberalism is flatly incompatible with the security state as we know it.

This made me laugh. What fact would that be? The most liberal administration in a generation and the modern security state - NSA spying, assassination by drone, holding prisoners without charge or trial, etc. etc. etc. - are completely compatible and can even be re-elected.

Wilksonson seems to be confusing theory with practice.
posted by three blind mice at 7:36 AM on January 21


topynate, very well put!

And jaduncan, perhaps it is because I hang out in a largely academic universe full of people like Sean Wilentz, who have read their Foucault not as a critique but as an instruction manual for propagating a particular form of secular, culturalist, moralizing authoritarianism under the protection of academic freedom they would deny their critics if they could, that I have a more cynical view. I too know plenty of liberals who agree that the security state has gotten out of hand but who have not begun to embrace darker or more totalizing explanations for what is going on here and earnestly embrace the compatibility of democracy and benevolent elitism. Good folks, those. I used to count myself among their number, mostly.
posted by spitbull at 7:38 AM on January 21 [7 favorites]


NSA spying, assassination by drone, holding prisoners without charge or trial, etc. etc. etc

All those things are actions sanctioned by american presidents, not liberals.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:50 AM on January 21 [4 favorites]


the taint of libertarianism

Wait, isn't Wilkinson ex-Cato? I thought he was a small l-libertarian of some stripe.
posted by immlass at 7:57 AM on January 21


He is, but he's not a loon, and imo leans more liberal than most libertarians/CATO peeps
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:00 AM on January 21


Wilksonson seems to be confusing theory with practice.

When it comes to ideology or political theory, it's the theory that matters.

People misapply, misinterpret or just outright misrepresent ideas all the time. That doesn't mean the ideas don't still mean what they originally meant before they were corrupted in practice, it means the people misapplying the ideas are doing it wrong. State surveillance and indefinite detention are by definition illiberal policies, both in the denotative and connotative senses of the word. If some politician with a reputation (deserved or not) for being "liberal" doesn't live up to liberal ideals in some way, that doesn't alter the meaning of the ideals themselves. It just means that politician failed or betrayed the ideals.

We can't just say, well, illiberal things are clearly compatible with liberalism because some "liberal" politicians (as if that were a qualifier of identity rather than a measure of commitment to certain ideas) have supported illiberal policies.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:03 AM on January 21 [10 favorites]


All those things are actions sanctioned by american presidents, not liberals.

"Liberal" in this context means liberal democracy, not "what the Democratic Party fancies itself".
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:12 AM on January 21 [2 favorites]


isn't Wilkinson ex-Cato?

Was. He's pursuing an MFA now. I'm looking forward to his first novel about a young man's search for meaning and love in the modern illiberal state. Anyway, I remember when Wilkinson was penning equivocations like this, so I have trouble taking this very seriously. How is liberalism compatible with the security state? Why, in the same way libertarianism is, I guess, Will.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:13 AM on January 21 [1 favorite]


When it comes to ideology or political theory, it's the theory that matters.

the wilkinson essay seems premised on the notion that "liberalism" is a political ideology rather than a label for a rather amorphous and now mostly moribund political movement in the US... not to mention that the word itself is now owned by Republican activists.

Does Farrell actually doubt that Snowden, Greenwald and Assange are "libertarian" activists?
posted by ennui.bz at 8:35 AM on January 21


the wilkinson essay seems premised on the notion that "liberalism" is a political ideology rather than a label for a rather amorphous and now mostly moribund political movement in the US

It's "liberal" in the way that the rest of the world outside the US (along with political science types inside the US) use it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:37 AM on January 21 [2 favorites]


It would be helpful if, rather than attempting to painstakingly remove the taint of libertarianism from anti-surveillance discourse, we just pointed out that we disagree with the libertarian approach to inequality of opportunity, a topic that has almost nothing to do with the issue at hand, and leave it at that.

I think the disagreement with the libertarian approach goes deeper than that, though. It seems to me it's pretty common for that approach to deny competing goods, and usually relies instead on prioritizing some value (usually property and a kind of personal autonomy that approaches sovereignty) over any other.

So assuming I could round up my single-digit number of libertarian identifying acquaintances and attempt to add them to a caucus focused around rolling back the national security complex/powers... judging by my conversations about, say, al-Awlaki, most of them are going to be somewhere between lukewarm and completely antagonistic towards any discussion of what kind of policy we *should* have when a US Citizen begins to operate outside direct jurisdiction as the kind of enemy al-Awlaki allegedly was, beyond not doing what we did in his case and arriving at the principle that US Citizens should never ever no exceptions no matter what ever be killed without trial because this value absolutely trumps any other consideration.

There's no question the value of civil protections for lives is very high and should be as near absolute as things get. The tension between goods comes when you start thinking about what to do with someone who chooses to become a threat to other lives, what powers you might grant the state in order to deal with that, and how to keep them from being abused.

But my experience is that once you have entertained the idea that there might be a legitimate need for state powers here to someone who believes the state is banditry -- however you would propose to curb those powers them via appropriate tension between branches of government -- you find it darkly insinuated that you are (at best) liberal-in-scare-quotes or (more likely) of being in league with totalitarians.

It's really hard to hammer out a common platform position with people who *don't* fundamentally think of the state (or most state powers) as illegitimate. It's that much harder with people who do. In fact, if what I've heard about libertarian party politics is representative, this is true for libertarians trying to work with other libertarians.

So while I wish there was a caucus for ending indefinite detention and electronic dragnets, for judicial review of more security decisions, for property seizure without a trial, and a dozen other important things, I have strong doubts that a helpful critical mass is going to come from the libertarian side of the spectrum.

"Liberal” apologists for the actually-existing criminal state spook actual liberals from the practice of actual liberalism by insinuating darkly that any doubts about the liberal legitimacy of the security state probably makes you a loathsome, possibly racist Paultard.

If the straw shoe you've woven fits, wear it.
posted by weston at 8:45 AM on January 21 [5 favorites]


That Crooked Timber piece is a classic.

Yet it’s also so obviously intellectually shoddy and incoherently argued that you’d have thought that any half-way competent editor would have decided that no amount of contrarianism was worth the damage to the magazine’s brand.

Frenemies are essential. The United States Navy is deploying in the Black Sea for the Sochi Olympics. I tried to google for the last time (if ever) the U. S. Navy was cruising around in the Black Sea and fetched nothing. I would love to be a fly on the wall in the Russian Admirals officers club after they have had a few vodkas.
posted by bukvich at 8:59 AM on January 21 [1 favorite]


This made me laugh. What fact would that be? The most liberal administration in a generation and the modern security state - NSA spying, assassination by drone, holding prisoners without charge or trial, etc. etc. etc. - are completely compatible and can even be re-elected.

Wilksonson seems to be confusing theory with practice.


Well, I think the point being made is that the political theory of liberal democracy, which is supposed (by Wilkinson at least) to supply background values to "liberal" American political movements, condemns practices that some "actually-existing" liberals are at pains to defend.

So he's not confusing theory with practice, but trying to bring in theory to make a point about practice.

The argument won't have any traction unless you think that "liberalism" as broad political movement (practice) has something to do with liberal-democratic thinking (theory). But I don't think that's a bad assumption. The intellectuals who provide public backing for actually-existing liberal political power tend to espouse liberal-democratic ideas, at least broadly. And the activist wing of actually-existing liberalism seems to be motivated in part by liberal-democratic ideas.

It's really hard to hammer out a common platform position with people who *don't* fundamentally think of the state (or most state powers) as illegitimate. It's that much harder with people who do. In fact, if what I've heard about libertarian party politics is representative, this is true for libertarians trying to work with other libertarians.

I think "libertarian party politics" are sort of a bad model for what actually cooperating with libertarian elements can be like. A lot of recent liberal activism in government has been driven by cooperation between left democrats like Ron Wyden and Kirsten Gillibrand and more-libertarian republicans like Rand Paul and Justin Amash -- hearings on NSA overreach, votes to defund NSA, moves to repeal the obsolete Authorization for the Use of Military Force for Iraq. This collaboration has not somehow been rendered impossible by the factors that make official Libertarian Party meetings chaotic. And right-libertarians have also often cooperated with civil libertarians like the ACLU. Libertarian organs like Cato and Reason magazine often frame their advocacy in single-issue terms, so that people who can get on board with curbing police violence (e.g.), but not the whole libertarian platform, can hang with them.

If LP organization is chaotic it is, I suspect, mostly for the reason many minority parties are chaotic (not just libertarians but socialists and the rest) -- because they disproportionately attract people who are put off by the compromise and discipline of mainstream party politics. But it would be a mistake to equate this sort of hardcore membership with everyone who has libertarian sympathies, as is evidenced over and over if you're paying attention to this kind of thing.
posted by grobstein at 9:14 AM on January 21 [2 favorites]


Addendum: one of my fave examples of the possibility of crossover --

Glenn Greenwald, at least a one-time self-identified libertarian, and someone who is tarred as a libertarian activist in attacks like Wilentz's, speaking at Socialism 2013.
posted by grobstein at 9:38 AM on January 21


Liberalism is Not the Security State
In other words, in the context of whisteblowing (as opposed to elections), opponents of the contemporary national security state are allies of liberalism even if they themselves aren’t liberals. Snowden may have all kinds of nutty and objectionable political views, but that doesn’t make him wrong about the NSA, and unlike Rand Paul he actually did something about it. As Henry says, until Snowden runs for Congress it’s those actions we should evaluate. Wilentz’s conflation of the national security state with the “liberal state,” conversely, does liberalism no favors.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:25 AM on January 21 [1 favorite]


It's "liberal" in the way that the rest of the world outside the US (along with political science types inside the US) use it.

The word seems to have ceased to have meaning. It's just one of the strings the GOP uses to move the marionettes that make up their base.

I will stick with "progressive", regardless of right-wing pundit's attempts to poison it with chalk drawings of swastikas and hammer-and-sickles.
posted by Foosnark at 11:00 AM on January 21


It's "liberal" in the way that the rest of the world outside the US (along with political science types inside the US) use it.

free trade and minimal government intervention in society?

i don't think being called a 'libertarian activist' is tarring someone, it's just identifying someone who is actively promoting a political agenda... which Snowden, Greenwald, and Assange are engaged in doing.

But I think the idea of a left/libertarian alliance with a group of whom half are employed by Koch industries (i.e. Cato) is ludicrous... Jacobin disagrees but you can see the problem in the whole surveillance issue. The problem at the NSA isn't really about constitutional rights, it's about a military industrial complex which has almost entirely consumed "the state." But the whole world of military contracting is some sort of libertarian wet dream when private companies run by big strong men with high tech toys are taking over functions previous controlled by the government. I mean Blackwater/Xi/[redacted] have certainly broken the state monopoly on violence.

If you think the Ron/Rand Paul critique of US militarism is compatible with the left critique you are foolling yourself.
posted by ennui.bz at 11:02 AM on January 21 [4 favorites]


I mean, just to clarify the problem.

If you look at the TSA and "homeland security," what the libertarians actually want is to have airport security run by private contractors employing Israeli racial profiling techniques... they don't want a well functioning state apparatus to make sure that terrorists aren't going to bring down planes by smuggling bombs on board. At what point do you pivot from "we all hate the TSA" to "lets not replace the police with private paramilitary organizations?"
posted by ennui.bz at 11:07 AM on January 21 [4 favorites]


Frenemies are essential. The United States Navy is deploying in the Black Sea for the Sochi Olympics. I tried to google for the last time (if ever) the U. S. Navy was cruising around in the Black Sea and fetched nothing. I would love to be a fly on the wall in the Russian Admirals officers club after they have had a few vodkas.
posted by bukvich


! ! ! ! !

To forestall and respond to any possible terrorist attacks on the US Olympic team?
posted by jamjam at 12:59 PM on January 21 [1 favorite]


I can't even parse the comments in most cases - it's pretty unclear in many cases what any specific commenter means when they say "liberal," "libertarian", "democratic" or "is".

The problem "is" -- to snow clone ennui.bz-- : in the US [liberalism | libertarianism | leftism] is a [misnomer] for a rather amorphous and now mostly moribund [political movement | sports team | social club] rather than an honest descriptor of a political ideology.
posted by illovich at 1:07 PM on January 21 [2 favorites]


Quite apart from all the juicy intellectual theory and the labelling process, I find quite compelling the experience that mass surveillance is fundamentally opposed to democracy.

I don't see any need to further obfuscate the question. Either you're happy with a supreme being and a nanny with a full metal jacket or you're not.
posted by Twang at 1:31 PM on January 21


Rep. Mike Rogers Keeps Insisting Snowden Is A Russian Spy, Even As NSA/FBI Officials Say No Such Evidence
posted by homunculus at 2:27 PM on January 21


I recommend the TNR essay above. I was open-minded to Assange when it happened, but after watching the FRONTLINE piece with reporters claiming he believed that informants on the American side "were collaborators" who "deserve to die" then it was obvious he was an anti-American activist, along with many of his apologists. It also doesn't take much genius to see that secretly gathering data for gossamer linking is a passive attempt at avoiding an irreversible political crisis, by preventing the next major terrorist strike from occurring. To argue that we don't need the information to prevent terrorism is at odds with the alternatives like facial recognition and video drones. But there is a question whether some libertarians would care to prevent a crisis at all. They tend to feel marginalized and vote very conservative, and many were home-schooled to hate liberalism and the government on principle (along with hating abortion and environmentalism). The other problem is that crazy people also think they are the targets of NSA efforts to spy on them, so it's a headache sorting out the welcome critics from the paranoid delusional.
posted by Brian B. at 4:26 PM on January 21


It's "liberal" in the way that the rest of the world outside the US (along with political science types inside the US) use it.

No, political science types in the US use "liberal" the same way that Americans do generally.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:11 PM on January 21


Frenemies are essential. The United States Navy is deploying in the Black Sea for the Sochi Olympics. I tried to google for the last time (if ever) the U. S. Navy was cruising around in the Black Sea and fetched nothing. I would love to be a fly on the wall in the Russian Admirals officers club after they have had a few vodkas.

Yeah, the biggest reason we have a "security state" is we don't think the world is very secure. Maybe the state and defense departments and "intelligence" agencies are just paranoid, but the last century hasn't exactly been peaceful, or the centuries before that. I mean national security isn't such a bad thing. I'm sure Syria would like to have some.

I think the solution to the "security state" is the major world powers moving towards diplomacy and trust such that we could have multilateral global demilitarization, but the opposite is happening. Iran just launched two submarines on a a visit to the US. Russia is designing new advanced subs. China wants to be the major global power. It doesn't look good.
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:34 PM on January 21


Just a quick response to the original article by Sean Wilentz :

All the interesting people I know changed their political views during Bush and Obama too. Sean Wilentz' world views are apparently stuck back under Clinton.

Snowden has not sought the "prestige and influence" Wilentz claims, ditto Manning. In fact, Wilentz' own article merely shows Snowden's evolution from a "good soldier" into a whistleblower.

Assange has sought influence and the man is a genius. Conspiracy as Governance is absolutely brilliant. And Assange has managed to implement it with the help of the "good soldiers" that Bush turned into whistleblowers. Aren't many people who took a philosophy from virtually unarticulated to world shaking.

In my eyes, Greenwald is largely 'channeling' Noam Chomsky. I'd wager Wilentz doesn't much like Chomsky either.

Anyways, Bush's excesses, and Obama's failure to reform them, have demonstrated that excessive "surveillance and secrecy" are actually "inimical to [democratic government]". That Wilentz' missed this makes me wonder.

In particular, you'll notice Wilentz never mentions the whistleblowers Thomas Drake, who legally revealed much about the NSA's spying, or John Kiriakou, currently serving 30 months for actually legally exposing torture. Aiding torturers by punishing the whistleblowers who expose them sounds pretty damn inimical.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:50 AM on January 22


Liberalism is totally compatible with various of the many forms of possible 'totalitarianism', oppression and various violences it is almost literally what Brave New World was about (mass surveillance, do any sorts of bodily pleasure things, free 'love' [where love means the physicality only] happiness [of one tiny, and to many eyes, nearly inhuman, definitional form] being a precondition to everything). But clearly a 'liberal' conception of society (conception being the key word). Another, real life example being the massive and only sometimes passive murder of Iraqi people during the "liberal" sanctions era (actions like the blockading of chlorine "killed or created the conditions for the killing of 4% [!] of the Iraqi population").

Libertarianism just doesn't solve any of the problems inherent in how liberalism may expresses dangerously, and only adds so many compounding follies (believing that corporations which one has no say in having the same panopticon is somehow ok, while the government that at least ostensibly we have a say in [and has historically shown itself to possess some malleability] is 'the problem' [the problem is with the outcomes, not with who is perpetrating them]).

But we would have to develop a shared language of morality and ethics that goes beyond good guys and bad guys to chip away at those problems. We are only ever as free and liberated as our language allows. The shaping of language and linguistics is a great power. When free love comes to mean a thing that is devoid of any feeling (BNW style), and happiness only means one thing alone, and value is praised over virtue, and virtue means nearly nothing. The key is to take back language, to climb Diotimas ladder as lovers, taking up love, one rung at a time, I suppose.

I just wish there weren't so many who were filled with such certainty and self-love (-isms and -ists), and could just jump on the first step of even 'seeing' others' beauty (value, virtue, existence, anything). Less Amour-propre, more Amour de soi. Mostly.
posted by infinite intimation at 4:16 AM on January 22


Paultard

It'd be great if folks didn't use this word, which is a combination of "Paul" and "Retard", implying that everyone who likes Ron Paul is a retard. It would be especially great because I think we're trying to move away from using terms about developmentally disabled people to imply "deliberately stupid about an idea"
posted by corb at 4:48 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


Unless there's been a deleted comment, the only use of "Paultard" in this thread was by Will Wilkinson, Libertarian in good standing, caricaturing (and I would say straw-manning) the theoretical use of the term by liberals. So if you have a beef with anyone, it's with Wilkinson.

I'm not saying the term is never used by people who dislike the Ron/Rand Paul flavor of libertarianism, but it's most definitely not a reflexive term that a lot of people on the left are using to criticize disaffection with the surveillance state as Wilkinson suggests. If anything, such pejorative would be used to describe hard-money goldbug types.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:04 AM on January 22


Another interesting read is Wilentz on Oliver Stone's revisionist pop history, and his exchange with the authors.
posted by grobstein at 7:33 AM on January 22


Snowden Calls Russian-Spy Story “Absurd” in Exclusive Interview
posted by homunculus at 1:55 PM on January 22


Liberalism is totally compatible with various of the many forms of possible 'totalitarianism'

Liberalism is the common struggle based on equal rights, freedom and justice. We can imagine liberals to be anything we want, but what sets them apart is that they don't use dogmatic overtones, probably because liberals are generally representing the interests of all others and tend towards exposing privilege or corruption and such agitation, with far less time for prescriptive fantasies.
posted by Brian B. at 8:06 PM on January 22


Aren't all modern political movement supposedly interested in equal rights, freedom, and justice, though? I suppose modern liberalism merely fuses the goals of the classical liberalisms that contributed to the downfall of hereditary privilege, state religion, absolute monarchy, etc. with extreme pragmatism, ala realpolitik.

In any case, liberals have tended towards favoring corporate interests, privilege, and corruption, especially after Thatcher. And presumably they did so before since voters replaced them with socialists throughout Europe after WWI.

Liberalism now always mean economic liberalism in Europe, which means libertarianism whenever rich corporations desire it and socialism whenever they do not in practice.

An economic liberalism that sought social justice would instead privatize the economic activities that corporations saw the least profit in and do so in a way more inimical to corporate interests, which accepting the state's role in economic activities where corporations saw the more opertunity for exploitation.

I suspect our world has grown either too complex for politicians to understand, or too comfortable for them to need to understand, so they've dressed up an enlightenment philosophy that involved pragmatism as merely modern pragmatism.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:14 AM on January 23


Aren't all modern political movement supposedly interested in equal rights, freedom, and justice, though?

Yes. Everyone just differs on how they believe it will be achieved, which freedoms people should have, and what, precisely, is justice. Saying a political party believes in these things is like saying its leaders breathe air.
posted by corb at 6:44 AM on January 23


An economic liberalism that sought social justice would instead privatize the economic activities that corporations saw the least profit in and do so in a way more inimical to corporate interests, which accepting the state's role in economic activities where corporations saw the more opertunity for exploitation.

This is the modern debate. Take schools and roads (and healthcare in some places), where political doctrines range from purely public, to purely private, with some sort of privatized public contract as an apparent hybrid. During the evolution of these, the public solution provided what the private did not pursue for lack of profits. Now, the public-private supply-side approach appears. It's actually the extreme case where the state is channeled through private means. To the liberal the solution has been undone, but to the privateer, the threat has been neutralized. One desired to transform society into pan-prosperity (historically, an unparalleled success thus far), while the latter preserves an ancient social order. Liberalism specialized in the demand-side approaches that favored a social distribution of private goods, at no marginal loss to the producer. The modern hybrid approach attempts to control the means of all production, which to the bottom line is economic control: limit the supply, raise the value artificially, maximize profit. The flavor of discourse from both sides is apparent when it touches on social responsibility. In the modern era, with environmental issues and over-population, the approaches are starkly at odds.
posted by Brian B. at 7:25 AM on January 23


more Wilkinson: Liberal Legitimacy and the Least Bad Hegemon
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:38 AM on January 23 [1 favorite]


I don't know, considering there are 20k nuclear warheads on the planet and history of massive violence, war, oppression and slavery, it seems a little unfair to characterize NSA spying on actual threats as an "actually-existing criminal state." I guess I am a "conservative apologist for the status quo political order." Until the U.S., Russia, and China demilitarize and eliminate nuclear weapons, there seems to be a need for extra-legal spying.

I guess Wilkinson is also an apologist for the status quo political order:
The modern (criminal) nation-state has been, on the whole, good for humanity. (See Steven Pinker’s new book.)

U.S. privacy board says NSA phone program illegal, should end
The U.S. National Security Agency's bulk collection of phone records provides only minimal benefits to countering terrorism, is illegal and should end, a federal privacy watchdog said in a report to be released on Thursday and reviewed by Reuters.

The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, which produced the new report, is an independent government agency within the executive branch that advises the President and Congress on how to ensure that counterterrorism operations also protect Americans' privacy.
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:25 AM on January 23


But Greenwald and The Guardian have not made those materials public, and when the defense writer Joshua Foust, who pointed out many of these criticisms, subsequently questioned them about the documents, Guardian editors replied that they had no intention of releasing them. The champions of “transparency” have been remarkably opaque when they choose to be. ^

A thousand times this. But this doesn't seem to bother people much.
posted by dabitch at 11:20 AM on January 23


A thousand times this. But this doesn't seem to bother people much.

The guy who is running Cryptome is pretty harsh on them for this on his twitter. Granted, he deletes his twitter posts after a day, so you can see the whole thing.
posted by zabuni at 10:10 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


Wallace Shawn on Artistic Solidarity: As Glenn Greenwald Can’t Return to U.S., I Took My Play To Him
posted by homunculus at 9:51 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


Canadian Gov't Responds To Spying Revelations By Saying It's All A Lie And Calling Glenn Greenwald A 'Porn Spy'
posted by homunculus at 12:09 PM on February 1


Ontario's privacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian says she is "blown away" by the revelations.

"It is really unbelievable that CSEC would engage in that kind of surveillance of Canadians. Of us."

"I mean that could have been me at the airport walking around… This resembles the activities of a totalitarian state, not a free and open society."
It is strange when the 'prescriptive fantasy' comes right out of the headlines. I don't care which party hat someone has on, I care what their actions are (and this is all the soft stuff, privacy stuff, liberalism has hard violence hats also), if it is 'dogmatic' to question that, and that knocks me out of the 'liberals club' of some people, so be it.
posted by infinite intimation at 3:39 AM on February 3


Despite escalating government intimidation, Greenwald will “force the issue” and visit U.S.
posted by homunculus at 5:25 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


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