allan siegel on Sun, 27 Oct 2013 00:17:58 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> public indifference

Excuse me but is public indifference considered to be a new phenomenon is that really what it is? Remember Daniel Ellsberg, the Pentagon Papers? 
Levels of domestic and international surveillance have intensified logarithmically in the post-war period; just imagine what J. Edgar would have done if he could Hoover up data the way the NSA does. The highest echelons of this behemoth of a security apparatus have taken on a life of its own independent of the governmental controls that are supposed to monitor its activities. Quite presciently Norman Mailer wrote about this ages ago in reference to the CIA; he described how the various entities and fronts that it created began to take on their own economic realities far removed from any governmental controls and now, far beyond what Mailer might have imagined, the government officially and openly sub-contracts security and policing to companies effectively working outside the law. All this just increases daily despite shut-downs and economic crises (after all its sucking up tax dollars just like all the data its accumulating). Indifference is an inaccurate description of what the public is feeling right now. What might be more accurate is a profound sense of cynicism, confusion and fear because the world most of us live in is littered with enormous uncertainties and where survival is high on the daily agenda; and because politicians and government leaders are baffling in terms of their levels of incoherence; and because the omnipresent cloud of some kind of terrorist act lingers in the not far distance (and never mind the kind of atrocities that occur daily enabled by the same systems that govern the surveillance apparatus). So, indifference is not quite appropriate when you start thinking about the future and how it appears or manifests itself stitched into people’s daily routines. This is not to belittle or diminish the importance of what Snowden has done; the impact of his act is hard to quantify as its ramifications will be still felt years from now; the Pentagon Papers had a shock value when they came out also and the NY Times eagerly published them (and the Times then still had journalistic stature). But, indeed now the times they are a’changing. The real indifference lies not with the public but rather with the shamble of what we politely call the Fifth Estate and the obscene level of public discourse… 

bye for now

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