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« Obama Wimps Out and Caves to Putin on G20 Meeting | Main | The Strange Story of Conspiracy Literature Found at the Tsarnaevs' Home »

August 09, 2013

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David McDuff

Thanks for this interesting and detailed analysis. Don't you think, though, that ultimately the entire Snowden affair is likely to turn out to be no more than some kind of large-scale media wind-up of the U.S. government by Russian state authorities and "Duma representatives"? You mention the Fyodorov interview: Gattarov's remarks - especially in Russian - sound as if they are offered in a similar vein. Snowden never appears in person to give his own thoughts: that's also an element in the psychological game.

While it's true that the prospect of Google becoming friendly with Russia's techno-elite with the collaboration of Snowden is not an encouraging one (though Google already has many links with that elite, as you point out), there's a distinct sense that the raising of such a scenario is another part of a propaganda campaign by Russian officials. For them, propaganda is more important than reality, and this is something that we as Westerners don't always understand.

There's a particularly dramatic disconnect, I would argue, between the carefully worked-out aims of Western Internet "warriors" like Assange, Greenwald, Appelbaum and others and the fantasy-bound aspirations of the Kremlin hacks and hangers-on. The former have practical plans, while the latter merely want to create elaborate mind-pictures and influence Western public opinion through media interviews and organs like RT.

Catherine Fitzpatrick

No, I don't think propaganda is just the routine deflection of the Unipolar Power that is merely about keeping the masses anti-American.

I think it goes much further. It's about winning over the intelligentsia that has been pro-Western.

Perhaps you've noticed that there isn't a single Soviet-era dissident or Russian human rights activist or opposition member raising the kinds of questions we do about Snowden or WikiLeaks. From talking to some friends about this, I realize part of it is that they have no idea about the people behind WikiLeaks and hackers like Appelbaum -- RT has a barrage of positive propaganda on these people and they don't read it in reverse, or don't read it at all.

Putin has been able to tap into the kind of distrust of the addictive social media services that Americans have about Facebook or Google, and also convert it into a matter of national pride. That Putin demands that these US companies put their servers on Russian territory so he can protect users privacy is all fake of course -- that merely enables him to get at it better, because he can't now. The intellectuals moved to Facebook from Live Journal, which was originally an American company sold to Russians, and despite having a good chunk of the ownership, the Russian oligarch companies in bed with Zuckerburg apparently haven't been given users' private messages (or at least as far as we know).

I have a larger concept about all this about the simulation of civil society which I have to write up.

Catherine Fitzpatrick

That is, I really think this whole WikiLeaks thing is really more about a war on the Internet for the sovereign Internet, not mere political propaganda.

David McDuff

>> there isn't a single Soviet-era dissident or Russian human rights activist or opposition member raising the kinds of questions we do about Snowden or WikiLeaks.http://rusrep.ru/article/2010/12/06/latynina/ There are also books like Nadezhda Gorbatyuk's Разоблачения, изменившие мир, which do at least analyse the structure and operation of WikiLeaks, even if they don't take a particularly critical stand.

In Russia the WikiLeaks debate seems to be more thoroughly enmeshed in state propaganda than it is in the West, but that is hardly surprising, I suppose. I'm prepared to agree that it probably does go beyond propaganda issues, though, and your assessment of the basis of WikiLeaks being a push for the "sovereign Internet" is an interesting one. I look forward to reading more about this subject on your blog.

David McDuff

Sorry, that comment got garbled. Here it is again:

"there isn't a single Soviet-era dissident or Russian human rights activist or opposition member raising the kinds of questions we do about Snowden or WikiLeaks."

Yet the opposition journalist Yulia Latynina has fairly frequently commented on the structure and operation of WikiLeaks in her Код доступа show on Radio Ekho Moskvy. She has been attacked for her views by Shamir and other Russian WikiLeaks members: see, for example, http://rusrep.ru/article/2010/12/06/latynina/

There are also books like Nadezhda Gorbatyuk's Разоблачения, изменившие мир, which do at least analyse the structure and operation of WikiLeaks, even if they don't take a particularly critical stand.

In Russia the WikiLeaks debate seems to be more thoroughly enmeshed in state propaganda than it is in the West, but that is hardly surprising, I suppose. I'm prepared to agree that it probably does go beyond propaganda issues, though, and your assessment of the basis of WikiLeaks being a push for the "sovereign Internet" is an interesting one. I look forward to reading more about this subject on your blog.

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