snowden and the billionaire monkeys on our back

John Newman jnn at
Wed Dec 5 20:33:20 PST 2018

On December 5, 2018 6:47:55 PM CST, Steve Kinney <admin at> wrote:
>On 12/5/18 3:20 PM, John Newman wrote:
>> Long interview with guy who just wrote a book about
>> 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 ...] 
>> 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
>> would allow dissidents to actually operate more freely. A
>> tool so you can message without getting caught, a Facebook “like”
>> 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
>> he wanted to live in a world in which dissent of the kind that he
>> 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 it’s like they couldn’t process him; they couldn’t process his
>> 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
>> want to build a startup? I mean, there’s a lot of people here who
>> like to be your investor. Snowden just looked at him, puzzled,
>> are you talking about? I’m talking about freedom and heresy and
>> and being a dissident, and how a society corrects itself from
>> 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
>> own pockets."
>Um, that's not what it reads like to me.  I see Snowden saying he wants
>to accomplish all these wonderful things that enable political dissent
>and freedom via network technology.  Then he refuses to have anything
>do with implementing that vision, going so far as to pretend that he
>does not understand that building and distributing software and
>infrastructure is HOW to achieve goals like the ones he mentioned.  It
>sounds like he chose to literally "play dumb" when presented with a
>full of people who wanted a shot at implementing his ideas (vs.
>memorized talking points) in real life.

I think the discussion was trying to shoe-horn Snowden into some sort of heroic role that fits some ideas in the book, maybe. I've not read it, and as you say Snowden is a really bizarre case. Greenwald etc. cashed the fuck out, Snowden is living seemingly happily in Russia (the only person any "progressive" grants an immediate pass for happily working and living in Russia), and the whole affair more or less does look like a win for the US security services.

I did glance at the book's Amazon listing, and it has a hilarious little blurb from Bill Gates about being a must read, which seems hilariously ironic, based on how the book is touted.

>The more I look at Snowden, the less sense he makes:  Both in terms of
>what he says (see above), and in terms of a biography and current
>presentation that more or less defy explanation.
>To date, the only Snowden scenario that makes sense to me portrays him
>as a spokesmodel:  In effect a sock puppet passed from hand to hand.
>Did he have anything at all to do with "borrowing" certain documents
>handing them off to Glen Greenwald?  I have no opinion on that.  The
>documents Greenwald released triggered a massive controversy over a
>small set of political / legal issues that all ended with decisive wins
>for the U.S. intelligence community.  In my view whether that means
>Snowden failed or succeeded remains an open question.
>Pending additional information, I would more likely trust a guy named
>"Mendax" than him.

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