In Google We Trust

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gillbilly's picture
gillbilly
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In Google We Trust

I just ran across this article by Rebecca Solnit... "How to Act Like a Billionaire." It's nice to read something like this from a woman's perspective. The criticism of Silicon Valley is long overdue. I would be interested in other opinions, especially those who have lived in SV.

http://www.opednews.com/articles/Rebecca-Solnit-How-to-Act-by-Tom-Engelh...

Thank you for any replies.

 

gillbilly's picture
gillbilly
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Clarification

The introduction to Solnit's article is titled "How to Act Like a Billionaire" and is by Tom Englehart. Solnit's article is titled "Welcome to the (Don't Be) Evil Empire Google Eats the World."

darbikrash's picture
darbikrash
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The clarity given by

The clarity given by Snowden’s revelations of ubiquitous surveillance apparatus brings into stark relief the ever changing relationship between private sector technology firms, such as Google, Booz Allen, as well as hundreds of others, and the State.

 

This newly evident symbiosis between technology companies as the superstructure of capitalism, and the State is instructive as it underlines the blurring of distinction between the two entities, but more importantly, it illustrates from a new perspective the existential need that capitalism has for the State, and the State for capitalism.

 

After more than 200 years of morphing and dialectical change the two are now so finely interwoven as to be virtually indistinguishable from the other.

 

Is it the State, or Booz Allen doing the spying? Is it Google, or the NSA that is capturing your search history?

 

The abridged answer is that they are nearly the same entity.

 

The more detailed answer however is as fascinating as it is chilling. As related in excruciating detail in arguably one of the more important books of late “The Making of Global Capitalism- The Political Economy of American Empire” authors Panitch and Gindin layout the profound dependency of Capital on the State, and vice versa.

 

Their perspective implodes the conventional reasoning that the sensibilities of Left vs. Right are the debate of our times, they are not. The Right is convinced that rolling back government and allowing free market forces to prevail is the cure for disappearing liberties and increasingly intrusive State intervention, the Left certain that the neoliberal agenda is fostering an imperialist expansionism to compensate for classical capitalist over-accumulation, both have grains of truth but neither can connect the dots in any convincing manner.

 

The notion that the State is an absolute requirement for the existence of global capitalism is the shocking conclusion, and of course without capitalism itself, imperialist State expansion could never occur in any sustainable fashion. (See Great Britain for details)

 

This means that Pollyannaish belief systems like small government and gold money standards replacing fiat currency are akin to arguing that the colored crayons given with a child’s restaurant menu are meaningful attributes in how the food gets to your plate- it’s the global supply chain that brings your plate ‘o pasta, not which color the crayon is. Any attempt to decouple the State support structure from Capitalism would uniformly destroy both. The emerging details of the State/Private sector security and surveillance apparatus unshrouds the truth of this deeply embedded symbiosis. Does Clapper work for the NSA this week or is it Booz Allen?

 

Does it matter?

gillbilly's picture
gillbilly
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Cybergnosticism.

Darbikrash, Thank you for your post. I agree, the link between technology, the state, and capitalism is one of mutual dependence. To me this article only begins to scratch the surface of the shadow side of technology and it's pivotal role in the superstructure of global capitalism. I see this being played out in education as well. BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) to school is the newest trend that academic administrators are embracing. The benefits being touted are lower textbook costs for students, environment - all the trees it will save (no more hard copies), the peripheral apps that will enhance student's learning, 24 hour access to their classes (not sure that's a benefit), etc. What's not discussed is that these devices are directing students even more to these tracking devices and for that matter, any digital device. These federeal dossiers are being compiled at an early age. But BYOD is inevitable we are told: http://smallbiztrends.com/2013/07/byod-bring-your-own-device-remote-work... therefore we "must" go along.

The consumer/commercialization intrusion into the classroom seems obvious to some of us, but these curriculum decisions are being enforced from the top-down. Teachers are being asked/required to come up with a set of apps that will accompany their classes. This requirement becomes a non sequitur that only reinforces the validity of the admin's decision.

Some researchers of AI and VR environments, especially video-gaming, are describing their findings in regard to the lure/addiction of these environments as equivalent to "electronic LSD."  The virtual environment is much more stimulating to our younger generations, often making their real lives meaningless and boring. All this technology is BIG business, so enticing children into these addictive environments reaps huge profits. As usual, the negative costs on society are externalized. Ask the parents of teens that are addicted to computer/video gaming what they think of the computer and the answer is one of extreme regret.

Those that love the internet and all it has to offer need to understand that the negative side to all of this is the sacrifice of privacy, and the spying. For every pro/benefit there's a con/cost.

 

 

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darbikrash
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Posts: 573
Microsoft gets into the act

 

WASHINGTON — Microsoft has collaborated with the National Security Agency more extensively than it previously acknowledged, providing the spy agency with up-to-date access to its customer data whenever the company changes its encryption and related software technology, according to a new report based on disclosures by the former N.S.A. contractor Edward J. Snowden.

Quoting classified internal N.S.A. newsletters obtained from Mr. Snowden, The Guardian newspaper reported that Microsoft had helped the security agency find ways to circumvent its encryption on itsOutlook.com portal’s encrypted Web chat function, and that the agency was given what The Guardian described as “pre-encryption stage” access to e-mail on Outlook, including Hotmail e-mail.

The Guardian, which did not release the N.S.A. documents that it quoted, said that Microsoft had also provided the F.B.I. with access to its SkyDrive service, a cloud storage service with millions of users.

Microsoft, according to The Guardian, also worked with the F.B.I. to study how Outlook allowed users to create e-mail aliases, while Skype, now owned by Microsoft, worked with the government to help it collect both the video and audio of conversations. It also reported that information collected through the N.S.A. program code-named Prism was shared with both the F.B.I. and the C.I.A

 

 

You don’t have to look far these days, as the quote from today’s NY Times shows, to see yet more evidence of technology firms piling on the NSA bandwagon. Indeed, the Internet and technology companies are the eyes and ears, quite literally, of the widespread surveillance State unfolding before our very eyes.

 

So our “free market” narrative has been upended and shown to be yet another farce in the centuries long advancement of Capital though the halls of We the People.

 

The current dust up over Snowden has the corporate types shaking in their boots as they worry that the young, libertarian leaning customer base may well take umbrage to having all their data and emails captured. As so the crocodiles tears begin to flow:

 

 

Fearing a negative public response to their cooperation, some Silicon Valley companies are beginning to openly push back against the security agency. Yahoo, for example, is now asking the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the secret court that rules on data collection requests by the government, to allow it to make public the record of its 2008 challenge to the constitutionality of the law requiring it to provide its customer data to the agency.

A Yahoo spokeswoman said Thursday that the company was “seeking permission from the FISA court to unseal the arguments and orders from the 2008 case.”

Yahoo said in a public filing with the FISA court this week that releasing documents about the 2008 case would allow it “ to demonstrate that it objected strenuously to the directives that are now the subject of debate, and objected at every stage of the proceeding, but that these objections were overruled and its request for a stay was denied.”

 

They couldn’t help themselves, really!

In the final analysis, it is not rocket science, those that achieve success in social relations by accumulating money power convert this to social power, and seek access to high office through proxy or by direct engagement. Once so ensconced, they bias the system to accommodate the needs of their business entities, and in so doing, the dialectic process changes the business to reflect the presence and influence of the State, and the State changes to reflect the influences of the corporate architects and benefactors.

But we begin to see that this intertwining is more than just superficial- it is structural.

The modern day narrative of Capital is persuasive and hard to shake, the sepia toned images of school girls selling lemonade at roadside stands, the bucolic picture of boot-strapped businesses succeeding by determined entrepreneurs against all odds, square jawed and resolute that hard work and a good product is all that is required to earn the great American Dream.

 

So why then are they spying on us? Spying on everything, all emails, all Skype broadcasts, all cell calls, all of it. Does this fit the narrative?

 

No, it doesn’t and for good reason.

 

It has become a necessary annexation of the State to superintend the interests of Capital. The State’s charter is to keep the machine oiled and running- no matter what. To keep “full employment”, to keep the expansion ever growing, to keep the wheels turning at all costs, as any breakdown or interruption in the “system” will jeopardize the Capitalist mode of production. This is the function of the State.

 

It’s for your freedom you know.

 

This holds true not just in matters domestic, but in foreign affairs as well.

 

Imperialism has been redefined- it no longer refers to military projection to secure territorial purview. The 700+ foreign US military bases are not there as “outposts to freedom”. They are not there as stepping stones for military safe zones.

 

Our foreign policy dictates have a higher power that calls, and that call is the siren song of global capitalism. Imperialism is the structured (and forcible) expansion not of territorial rights, but of the assembly components of global capitalism. The “rule of law” (our laws), the notion and defense of intellectual property rights, a transnational court system of enforcement, and of course, a currency system. All to be imposed, by force if necessary, on global actors. The multi-nationals depend on these factors to lubricate the skids for global expansionism, not just larger markets, but low cost goods as inputs for US labor (variable capital) as well as cost-reduced constant capital.

 

In support of Capital, the State manages these needs through military projection and foreign policy, but this is only the beginning, the State is also responsible for managing the inevitable crises of capitalism that occur with ever increasing frequency.

 

Without this day to day, and sometimes quite heavy handed State provided crisis management, Capital cannot survive.

 

Back home, the narrative is constructed to illustrate a democratic two party system, a system that is now indistinguishable from one to the other. The citizenry buy tickets to a prize fight pitting the best of the best in a ringside bout, heavy promoted and held to a sellout crowd. The vitriol flies back and forth between the “opponents”, and supporters of each are visibly engaged in rooting for their “candidate”, paying top dollar for ringside seats and lavishing their hero with cash payments and shouts of support.

 

But it’s really Freddie Blassie and Rowdy Ronny Piper up there, fakes, pro wrestling shills whipping up the crowd in a frenzy to justify the fleecing that is the real purpose of this charade.

 

The best part? While everyone is regaling in the pageantry, paying extra to get front row seats (so they may get spatters of blood on their shirts) the promoters are breaking into your house while you’re not home, copying your hard drives, stealing your email and tapping your phone.

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