Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Monday, June 24, 2013

Generation Y

Wow, I could maybe hate these guys as much as the Boomers!

Here, I think, is the nut graphs from this letter arguing that the take on Snowden differs by generation.

Edward Snowdon and I are the same age; our adolescence sits squarely between the fall of the Soviet Union (8 years old) and the events of 9/11 (18 years old). During that time, without the bipolar rivalry that overshadowed much of the twentieth century, American culture shifted toward a greater emphasis on issues that assumed global cooperation, such as environmentalism and humanitarianism, and placed significant value on cross-cultural exchange. (I’m thinking of shows like Captain Planet, in which an international, multi-ethnic team of kids thwart rapacious corporate villains). Furthermore, it was always assumed that the United States, secure in its position as the world’s sole superpower, would be leading such efforts, and doing what it could to bring about a more unified, less contentious world community.
Contrast that with the tenets of realism, which assume that competition between states is an immutable fact of life, and that individual nation-states are, in some sense, perpetually at each other’s throats for the upper hand on the world stage. In such an environment, the less savory aspects of spycraft (like spying on your allies, or hacking into the servers of private companies) make perfect sense. But in the world Edward Snowdon and a lot of other Gen Y kids thought they were growing up in, it’s a gross violation of basic decency. Worse, it’s a vestige of a bygone era, a worldview that has no appeal to children of the Information Age, who have seen the power of unbounded, collaborative spaces like the Internet and are increasingly disgusted with the human toll wreaked by self-serving foreign policy.
I've also noted a fair number of Boomers are also more upset by the Snowden revelations than I am.  Most of them are aging liberals who came of age suspicious of governmental and corporate power because of Vietnam.

But there's a reason it's called "Realism".  Hopefully there are certain areas where countries came come together and solve problems.  Take smallpox for instance.  Tougher for something like global warming, where a country may prize its economic development more than concerted effort on greenhouse gas emissions.  Tougher still where real conflicts of sovereignty are at play.

States are sovereign in a way citizens are not.  Citizens - by definition - are bound by a social contract.  States are not.  There are some efforts to constrain state sovereignty - say the Geneva Convention.  But look how easily the Bush Administration ignored the Geneva Convention and started torturing prisoners.

If you believe in this techno-libertarian magical world where it's totally cool to steal secrets and post them on Wikileaks, because all states are the same... Well, Snowden is a hero.

If you believe that states are different and have competing interests that are bound basically by what you can get away with, then Snowden is a thief.

UPDATE:  Hooboy... Looks like Snowden just dove into the hot water:

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