Are you confused about who's on first?
Do you find it hard to understand what left and right, liberal and conservative, progressive and libertarian mean any more?
Is Glenn Greenwald on the left or right? Libertarian (he used to consult for Cato) or communist (he has spoken before the Socialist Workers' Party annual meeting)?
How can it be that if Greenwald debates Ruth Marcus, a liberal Democrat and columnist in the liberal Washington Post, denounced by conservatives, he and his Twitter sock-puppets/cronies can accuse her of supporting the Bush Administration's torture? But wait, she agrees that James Clapper "lied" and "he should be ashamed of it" and "it's totally intolerable" -- so what's the difference between her anti-NSA statement and Greenwald's?! (well, he will settle for nothing less than a trial and punishment of this "lying" official, and Marcus points out to this lawfaring lawyer that perjury law is complicated and getting a judge to actually do this against an official merely doing his job as he saw fit would be quite hard to do).
Do you wonder how it is that Paul Carr, Mark Ames formerly of the Exile and Yasha Levine, all funded by Silicon Valley (they were bought out by Pando Daily) and technolibertarians of sorts (or are they?) can print trash about Snowden, and suddenly decide to bash Glenn Greenwald and Jay Rosen, the NYU professor, for joining on to the new media enterprise First Look -- funded by the ebay millionaire Pierre Omidyar, who himself loves Greenwald...who speaks to the socialists? They're all about Big IT and Silicon Valley and technocommunism in the end -- why don't they get along?
How is it that Jacob Appelbaum, who still apparently gets Department of Defense funding and never really seems to scream about Obama the way Glenn Greenwald does, can be doing even more radical work revealing documents that aren't even from Snowden, but could even be -- who knows! -- from some GRU mole in the NSA merely using the Snowden flurries as a cover?
Well, if you look at this handy-dandy infographic chart I've made (sorry, I suck at Photoshopping), you will start to see how it all comes together -- or falls apart (and this chart helps explain why Omidyar and Greenwald will not last.)
Think of the four corners of our Metaverse as the extremes of thinking 1) Obama is a devil; 2) Obama is an angel; 3) Snowden is a traitor, or 4) Snowden is a hero. That's one level (think of the first horizontal X-axis in Second Life).
Then, think of people's attitudes towards capitalism and communism which really infuse everything (that's the Y-axis then, or a second horizontal layer). Everyone likes to pretend these categories and these ideologies don't exist anymore, but of course they do. Look, do you like Occupy Wall Street and want to shut down the stock market and jail the banksters? Then you're a communist. Do you think it's okay for Goldman Sachs and wealthy law firms to fund Obama's campaign along with Google, even though you're for that crazy unworkable socialist ObamaCare of his? Then you're a capitalist. Understood. Don't pretend these categories don't exist.
But there's more -- there's your attitude toward government -- think of this as yet another axis (like the vertical Z in Second Life if this were a 3D object which of course we could make in Second Life but I can't draw here).
There you might be an anarchist (no government), or a minarchist (for minimal government, but at least some); you might be for democracy, which means elected officials and separation of powers and the rule of law, or corporatocracy, which might be rule-by-law and emphasis on both private corporations and governments agencies.
Above the "democracy" line you will find those who like Obama -- he's president, after all -- and tend to think Snowden has done something wrong -- he's broken the law and gone against the democratc consensus that yes, we do need state secrets and agencies to keep them -- and find intelligence to keep us safe.
Or below the "democracy" line, you still might be in the Obama tank and loving Snowden, but you might be for oligarchy, which is where there is a state nominally affirming capitalism, or engaging in "state capitalism" as the Trotskyists called it -- but just as likely embracing many aspects of communism. This state still accords power to certain wealthy boyars -- as long as they support the state. You may even want to transform this state so that it is better for your business.
If you're under the anarchy line, you're for destroying government and running everything from the Internet and the IRC channel with your friends, maybe with a Drupal site and some Liquid Democracy Pirate Party "voting" scheme -- but fuck America, militaries, even roads.
Well, you get the idea. It's a grid -- and you can slide in any direction up or down or across or diagonally.
Naturally, I've put myself in the most perfect, centrist, democratic and good position, as any author would : )
But note what else is going on -- the attitiudes towards technology and how it will be used to pursue one's other values of anarchy or statism, communism or corporativism or statism.
Technocommunist as readers of this blog know is a belief that you can collectivize people online and use technology to redistribute wealth; the state withers away, as it is supposed to under communism and "every cook can rule the state". Of course, there's an avant-garde of the workers who know best (coders).
Technolibertarian can amount to "communism for thee but not for me" or a belief in social Darwinism, Randianism, meritocracy on steroids -- and no illusions that you will teach the homeless to code or even most kids in high school to do anything. Fuck 'em, you are going to have California secede from the United States.
Technoliberal means that you embrace technological innovation but you expect democratic government to maintain oversight over technology so that it does not harm liberal democracy itself.
Technoprogressive means that you believe in the transformative power of technology to change human nature and "make a better world" and you will make money in order to spend it on establishing socialism -- which will work better because of technology and distributive...stuff.
Technosocialist means that you would establish more limits on corporations in establishing your equitable society, except for the Big IT ones and those that provide you a paycheck. Distribution will be coerced. You're welcome.
Technostalinist means that you are for using technology to settle scores with your political enemies, and establishing some kind of state that can crush evil greedy oligarchs and capitalists.
And that's how we get the different boxes in this grid.
You could find Snowden a hero and think Obama is a devil -- and be a technolibertarian like Rand Paul for minimal government.
Or you could find Snowden a hero and not think much of Obama but not really pay attention to him, and be for anarchism and communism -- which you think you and your friends will implement just fine.
OR you could find Obama an angel and Snowden a traitor -- that would put you on the top of the box, with the majority of Americans, quite frankly.
Somebody like me who did not vote for Obama a second time is still in that box because Obama is,after all, the president, the result of a democratic election and therefore a figure of legitimate authority. Looking at this box, you could additionally pin little pictures of Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton, Paul Ryan or Ted Cruz into the boxes fairly easily -- I'd be on the Hillary side of the line.
Supportive readers of this blog will likely have no trouble finding MarkAmesExiled in the Technostalinist box. That's because he hates capitalism -- he loathes Obama as a sell-out to Wall Street -- and he is for hanging capitalists he hates from the lamp posts. He admires Eduard Limonov, the National Bolshevik, and he finds Snowden a traitor - but a traitor to...what, exactly? A powerful state that he imagines can be made a utopian state by ridding it of evil, corrupt capitalists? He's no anarchist, in fact, and he's no libertarian, because he imagines some mighty force that will be capable of punishing these big, evil oligarchs. There isn't any such force except Stalin.
Paul Carr, on the other hand, might slide more toward the technolibertarian box because he's more of a softy, but at the end of the day, his paycheck is still signed by the titans of Silicon Valley and he appreciates that.
Up in the love-Obama box is of course Jeff Gauvin, 18,000 followers, unfollower of me because I said something he didn't like once, hater of Greenwald, lover of Obama (his Twitter name is Jefferson Obama). Jeff is actually Canadian, for all his American hero handles, and therefore tends toward the socialist as a national trait -- Canada is a country where a large percentage of the working population has jobs with the government or funded by the government.
Jeff is typical of a lot of tweeters who loathe Greenwald because he threatens their Obama and their progressivism with his...libertarian/communism or whatever it is. Note that I have Greenwald straddle the two categories because I think Greenwald just does what's best for Greenwald in the end, a powerful force that perhaps someday, may lead to contrition or at least turncoating.
John Schindler is more liberal than I am -- he's for reforming the NSA and I'm for leaving it absolutely untouched until other more profound issues are solved (more on that later) and until Obama is out of office, since I believe as a stealth-socialist, Obama is merely trying to destroy the capitalist state.
We may or may not get lucky and get Hillary back, in which case I will vote for her and so will John Schindler. If we get only Elizabeth Warren as a candidate because of powerful hate-Hillary forces gathering in quite a few of those boxes, I will definitely vote for her; Schindler, I don't know.
Poor General Alexander I've put in the corporatocracy box merely as a kind of symbol. I have no idea what his personal views are. He may be a closet libertarian, for all I know. He may be a liberal Democrat struggling to reform this monster -- who knows. I'm assuming that he's mad as hell at Snowden and I'm putting him very close to the "Snowden=traitor" box. I'm putting him in the same column with the "Obama as devil" because I have to figure Gen. Alexander feels like Obama threw him under the bus. I put him in the corporate box merely because the symbiosis between the military and the private corporate contractors makes up a state-within-a-state in some ways, although I am not a conspiracy monger and actually don't think there is something inherently wrong with military contracting in a free and capitalist society. It's just a tendency you want to watch and regulate and I'm for doing less contracting and having more paid, benefitted staff -- Manning and Snowden were contractors.
I actually think the most important thing Gen. Alexander could do is to form a think tank to fight for national security after he retires, responding to all the outrageous things that people are likely to do to the NSA.
Why don't I put myself up smack against the traitor box?
Well, I don't think that's a useful category to discuss Snowden, really; usually I'll call him "that little felon." To be a traitor, you would have had to show loyalty to you country first, and then betray it; I think for Snowden, the Internet is his country, he has absolutely no loyalty to anything like "homeland" or "government" and leans toward technocommunism or technolibertarianism if not technostalinism -- after all, he ran to first China, then Russia to help him in his struggle to smash the American state.
I think the issue is this: there are warring factions in government, and Snowden represents in fact a faction within the state -- the Wired State in the making, if you will, which is part old state, part oligarchs, part anarchists or Stalinists.
That's why I worry. Cory Ondreija, formerly of the Navy and the NSA, represents just such a faction, too (more on him soon). While I'm generally supportive of the NSA as an institution, and I find it legitimate and necessary; I'm not supportive of some of the geek factions in government, including in the NSA, which I view as the enemy of liberal democracy (and they exist out of government, too, and are in a revolving door between government and Silicon Valley).
It used to be that people in government in the civil service and foreign service had their little factions, but they kept them to themselves, engaging only in minor skirmishes and minor sabotage; they more or less served the elected president.
They don't do that any more, since the wikification of government and social media gave them a lever and a voice to destroy government they don't like.
So now people who are for friending Iran, despite the will of the Congress or the pragmatism of a compromising president, will deliberately leak, sabotage, undermine and present people with fait accomplis.
People who think the smart, hip thing to do is to dump on Israel as the problem for why America doesn't have good street cred in the world also leak, sabotage, undermine and create facts on the ground (like the botching of Syria and capitulation in Iran negotiations).
Well, you get the idea! See what you think and suggest ideas and changes. If anybody is better at Photoshop than I am, you're welcome to make this look better, just credit me for the idea!