snowden and the billionaire monkeys on our back

John Newman jnn at
Wed Dec 5 12:20:11 PST 2018

Long interview with guy who just wrote a book about faux-philanthropic
leaders of the new gilded age (or something ;)

Interesting part where he described Snowden talking to a bunch of
these people, this "clash of ideals"  - 

[... snip ...] 
I mean, you have an amazing scene where they’re listening to Edward
Snowden on some Transatlantic communication; he was also listened to at
the TED Talk and so forth. And at one point, they think hey, he’s one of
us. And he tries to set them correct, no, I’m not out to rip people off,
I’m out to help their freedom.

AG: I went on a cruise ship called Summit at Sea for 3,000 or so
entrepreneurs who believe they are changing the world. I was interested
in what happens when you have this kind of density of people who are
convinced that they’re making the world a better place, and that growing
their businesses is how you make the world better, and you make the
world better by growing their businesses. This total idea of the
win-win. And one of the events was the talk by Edward Snowden via
videoconference from Russia. Chris Sacca, a venture capitalist in
Silicon Valley who’s been very, very successful, was his interlocutor.
So Chris kind of stood on stage looking up at this big screen asking
Edward Snowden questions. And this hasn’t really been reported ever, so
it’s kind of new in the book. And the scene where Snowden is talking and
explaining this kind of powerful vision of why he did what he did–he
kind of gave an explanation of it that I hadn’t heard before, which is
that he is convinced that the opportunity to dissent, to call out
something untrue in a society, that that act requires a certain freedom
to think thoughts, exchange ideas with others that are not visible to
the government. If we live in a world in which every communication is
surveilled and interdicted, potentially interdicted by government, we’re
going to live in a world in which change becomes very hard to make.
Because as soon as someone has a truly heretical idea, they’ll be
neutered; if not in the United States, then certainly in many countries.
It was a very interesting vision, and as he started describing, well,
the way I’m going to do that is I’m going to build all these tools that
would allow dissidents to actually operate more freely. A communication
tool so you can message without getting caught, a Facebook “like” tool
so you can socially network without losing your privacy, some kind of
tokenized identity so you can make clear to different websites that
you’re the same person without revealing which person you are–various
things. Snowden was describing the creation of all these things because
he wanted to live in a world in which dissent of the kind that he made
is possible, in which it’s possible to go up against power and not be
interrupted in that quest; that’s his motivation, his goal. And what was
so fascinating to me, given the cultural collision between this man who
deeply believed, whether you like him or not, in sacrifice and in taking
a risk for what he felt to be the greater good, who believed in fighting
the power structure–he was standing there talking to these 3,000, or you
know, however many were in the room–kind of entrepreneur types, whose
biggest goal is to, like, make $1 billion in a way that serves humanity.
And it’s like they couldn’t process him; they couldn’t process his set
of motivations. And so Chris Sacca says, wow, you sound like you’re
designing a lot of tools that, they sound like apps, or startup–do you
want to build a startup? I mean, there’s a lot of people here who would
like to be your investor. Snowden just looked at him, puzzled, like–what
are you talking about? I’m talking about freedom and heresy and truth,
and being a dissident, and how a society corrects itself from manifest
injustices through allowing people who have an uncomfortable truth to
tell it. And you’re talking about startups? And it was just this
wonderful collision between someone who believes in real changes, and
these people who kind of believe in the pseudo-change that lines their
own pockets."

GPG fingerprint: 17FD 615A D20D AFE8 B3E4  C9D2 E324 20BE D47A 78C7
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