Lord Acton wrote that power tends to corrupt, but I’m going to say flat out that it does corrupt. I’ll go further and say that it’s an addiction (probably every bit as bad as cocaine), and that the lust for control is one of its primary drivers.
Right now, with big governments – governments with gigantic intelligence operations – trying to grab ever-more surveillance powers, I want everyone to be clear on this. And so I’m going to give you reasons to believe it. Yes, we all feel in our guts that this is true, but I’m going to give you further reasons, because we’ve also been conditioned to conform to power.
With the world on fire and with power freaks at the helm, we no longer have the luxury of doing it the easy way and imagining that power will be kind to us in the end. It’s clear enough that power isn’t our friend, and in truth it never really was.
So, let’s get directly to it. Here’s a passage from a 2014 interview with Thomas Drake, formerly a top executive at the NSA, likening the control of surveillance to mainlining heroin:
In the digital space, you’re “data drug” habit goes exponential, because there’s just so much. You can mainline this all day long. To me, there’s a psychology that’s not often written about: What happens when you have this much reach and power, and constraints of law and even policy simply fade into the woodwork… Which is made worse by the fact that you can’t get enough, there’s never enough, and there’s more coming… You’re high all the time. Because you’re plugged in. It’s now 24/7. There’s no relief from the addiction.
Heroine… addiction… mainlining. The images are all too clear. And it’s this way through the entire operation… through the many, many operations.
Please understand that once surveillance gets going, it turns into a merciless war for ever-more data. This has overwhelmed not only governments, but Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and the rest. Here’s an industry expert named Jennifer Sims, writing in The Future of Counter-Intelligence:
If information is power, then those who master this digital chaos first, and derive meaning from it, will likely gain critical advantages. Intelligence professionals, whether in business or in service to the state, are therefore in a silent race to develop tools for mining and analyzing growing volumes of swiftly moving information and then to use it…
And here’s Craig Mundie, Senior Adviser to the CEO of Microsoft, writing in Foreign Affairs March/April 2014:
“Big data” has rendered obsolete the current approach to protecting privacy and civil liberties.
If you’re still minded to believe that it isn’t that bad and that it’s still easiest to be quiet and go along with them, you can get the study I did on this with Jonathan Logan. It’s called The New Age of Intelligence, and it’s a fast, cheap read on Kindle.
More reading, however, isn’t what will turn the tide on this. What will is simply calling things by their real names, over and over and over. You can start with “control is slavery” and figure out what to add on your own. Oh… and Do Not Comply.
Understand, this addiction has no end, and every time people get scared they just ramp it up… because they can, and because they’re addicts! Humans will agree to all sorts of horrific things if you can first get them afraid… and modern media is little more than a fear delivery system.
But we can’t fall for it any longer. This addiction has no end point, and what dies in the end isn’t the addict, but our souls. And if we don’t start taking this seriously, the control addicts of the world get a clear shot at proving Julian Assange right one final time:
If you want a vision of the future, imagine Washington-backed Google Glasses strapped onto a vacant human face—forever.