NSA leaks as a demographic phenomena


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“Phenomena” is plural, so you want “phenomenon” here.


Definitely not. “Phenomena” refers to “leaks” which is plural. However, the article “a” shouldn’t be there. Most likely, Cory was writing quickly and was about to type the word “demographic”, which is often used as a noun so he popped in an “a”, but he finished strongly by nailing the leaks-phenomena pair, which a lot of people miss. Don’t feel bad - lazy pedants get tripped up trying to burn people on this one all the time.

How’s that reality distortion field working for you today?

I’m off to enjoy my ‘potato chips as a tasty snacks’ now. Is that a clear enough comparison for you?

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Three comments into this thread and still no breakthrough in the “a” versus “on” issue. Not surprising to see a “lazy pedant” right hook early on, but the old “reality distortion field” one-two shows that Vanderburg isn’t the pushover many pundits expected. It’s going to be a long day at the Boing Boing Arena…


You didn’t make the correction I offered. Drop the article “a” and all is well. The piece Cory is referring to analyzes ‘NSA leaks as demographic phenomena’. My point was that there was no need to imply that Cory, a professional writer, is such a moron he can’t catch a plural disagreement. He was merely tricked into dropping an article onto a slippery greek word, which could happen to any of us. Now you enjoy your ‘potato chips as tasty snacks,’ and I’ll enjoy my ‘potato chips as imperialist conspiracy’.

Crap in a sandwich you people. How about on topic?

The current generation has been taught that employer loyalty does not exist. The next generation - my kids - will know that and also know how to encrypt everything.

The NSA is either going to collapse into itself after all the revelations, or it is going to come out of the shadows and just explicitly spy on everyone. Overt oligarchy vs. Indirect.


I heard people mouthing off this week that DNA was all washed up after the “Less and Fewer” bout in Manila last year. But any commentator still hoping for an early knockout just got a wake up call. What a flurry. A you-didn’t-comprehend-me jab, a how-dare-you-insult-the-author right cross, and a take-your-example-and-shove-it jab-jab-cross.

It’s anybody’s guess what Vanderburg’s going to do about that “imply” haymaker or “slippery greek word”?

It ain’t over yet folks.


Shut up old man! Steve and me ‘s a-scrappin’!


Not just employer loyalty, but nationalism itself. The corollary of people not being able to expect anything from the government, is the government not being able to expect anything from its people. While anti-entitlement rhetoric has had limited effect on entitlements themselves, it’s dramatically changed the implicit contract young people expect with the nation.

I think it still remains to see how the next generations will solve the individualist vs globalist effects of living half time online. Historically, however, the most powerful anti-nationalist force was not the individualist libertarian, but the globalist socialist. I don’t think the “starve the beast” types thought out their long game, unless all they foresaw was the pendulum would not turn until after they were gone.


You are onto something there. Maybe Eastern Standard Tribe was onto something after all.

We all grew up in an environment of strong States and clear boundaries. With that came nationalism, borders, patriotism and all sorts of other social norms. It did also come with the expectation that the state would look out for the interests of its citizens. States don’t come that way out of the box, but some current states have been operating on a ‘by the people for the people’ notion.

Weakening the state at every point leaves little remaining but a military and other instruments of control (the state having a legal monopoly on violence). But all of that depends on a citizenry that supports the state, explicitly or implicitly through passivity. Treating entire generations as criminals is a good way to ensure that many citizens see no reason to respect the institution of the state.

States as we currently understand them have only been around for a couple of centuries. There is really nothing to say that they won’t be replaced by something else at some point.


When the government stops doing evil shit the leaks will stop. Considering the leaks as a demographic phenomena(on) is sort of like saying that leaks are just a type of espionage where an upset employee sells information for money. They are not. They are precisely the opposite. Leakers like Snowden and Manning released their information for no monetary gain. They released their information because the government was corrupt and violating the Constitution. It does not matter how much job security you provide a patriot, they will still do what is best for the country.

Wow. Deja vu. We covered the essence of these demographic loyalty issues in a Boing Boing discussion thread that occurred 8 to 12 July. In the middle of the discussion we wandered off and discussed how the NSA appears to have systematically eliminated all the traditional sources of loyalty.

The point about contractors having inherently less loyalty to the organization is a good one, and is one more reason to not use them so damn much in national security. Eliminating contractors might be a sufficient solution though as direct employees of the federal government have very good job security.

I’d also be careful about extrapolating too much about generational attitudes from just the cases of Snowden and Manning, both because of the small sample size and because their cases may not be generalizable. Snowden took the job at Booz Allen Hamilton with the specific intent of gathering info to leak, so it may not be safe to treat him as a typical employee in terms of institutional loyalty. In addition to her misgivings about the war Manning also was in the midst of a huge personal crisis because of her gender identity disorder, to the point that her superiors only sent her to Iraq because there was a severe shortage in her specialty. I suspect that was very alienating back under DADT. The idea is still interesting though.

What’s interesting to me, that these articles suggest, is that neo-liberalism, with its deliberate demolition of any source of stability for workers, has penetrated the most critical institutions of the state – and so now, even the guardians of the state are losing their sense of loyalty to it. That’s a political-economic system that’s on the verge of disintegration.

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Yup. And guess who’s writing a trilogy with that very point at it’s core right now?


In a world where employer loyalty doesn’t exist, employee loyalty quickly disappears as well.

There are all sorts of rules about contracting that are based on the fear that the loyalties of the contractors would be divided: that they might do things that are in the interests of their employers rather than the government. But the reality is that “beltway bandits” don’t treat their employees in a way that engenders much if any loyalty, so that fear is mostly misplaced.

I’ve shown a few people your FP piece Charlie; it’s upset several new-age types no end. I’m still at a loss as to why. One described it as ‘twaddle’ so you’re doing something right.

It probably doesn’t help that, even if you want to Be A Nationalist Hero, your options aren’t so hot, since the implicit logic of the ‘war on terror’ is that we have to pull out all the stops (and do what we’ve always done in proxy wars and colonies, and other out-of-sight-out-of-mind kinds of places) everywhere and forever, lest, um… something.

With the exception of the most loathsome power-worshipping authoritarians, that isn’t a terribly compelling nationalist narrative. Not the good, clean, sort where you can go over the hill, Do What Needs To Be Done, to the Other, and then come home and bask in being the best nation on earth. Just a mixture of overtly-contrary-to-the-national-mythology behavior at home and some farcical foreign policy adventures without victory conditions abroad.