Glenn Greenwald: How America’s Surveillance State Breeds Conformity and Fear

Glenn Greenwald (CC)

Via Alternet:

Once the government is able to monitor everything we do and say, we will be unable to fight back.

Editor’s note: The following is a transcript of a speech delivered by Glenn Greenwald at this month’s Socialism 2012 conference, on the massive growth of government and corporate surveillance and their chilling effects on Americans’ rights.

Last year was my maiden trip to the Socialism 2012 world. I started off by standing up and saying — I was actually surprised by this, pleasantly surprised, because I didn’t know what to expect — how amazingly inspirational I actually found this conference to be. The energy of activism and the sophisticated level of the conversation and the commitment that people displayed and the diversity of the attendees, really is unlike any other conference. And so when I was asked back this year, I was super excited to come back and accept. Not only because of that, but also because the conference organizers asked if I could speak about challenging the Surveillance State.

The reason that I was so eager to come and do that is because I really think that this topic is central to all of the other activism that’s being discussed here this weekend.

The Surveillance State hovers over any attacks that meaningfully challenge state-appropriated power. It doesn’t just hover over it. It impedes it, it deters it and kills it. That’s its intent. It does that by design.

And so, understanding what the Surveillance State, how it operates — most importantly, figuring out how to challenge it and undermine it, and subvert it — really is, I think, an absolute prerequisite to any sort of meaningful activism, to developing strategies and tactics for how to challenge state and corporate power…


8 Comments on "Glenn Greenwald: How America’s Surveillance State Breeds Conformity and Fear"

  1. Calypso_1 | Jul 15, 2012 at 2:43 am |

    How many people that frequent this site are conformists?  As to fear mongers…well let’s see.

  2. I read the guy’s speech. I agreed with him.

    Then I read the comments, or tried to, but saw how quickly and completely they veered off topic.

    I’d suggest that people learn/re-learn as many non-digital, old school methods of communication as possible. Look into cryptography, codes, ciphers. Simple messaging systems such as: “When you see a pot of flowers on my balcony, stay away / go into hiding. If you see two pots of flowers, the coast is clear.”

    Pay cash, don’t have a smartphone, if you must have a cell phone keep it turned off unless you need to make a call or are expecting an important call.

    In short, start training for the time you’ll be considered an “enemy of the state.” Looks like that time is coming sooner, rather than later.

    • Anarchy Pony | Jul 15, 2012 at 8:36 pm | Dmitri Orlov on why the internet is not actually an activist’s friend.

      •  AP, thanks much for the interesting link.

        I followed the post’s comments to Reddit/r/collapse, a sub-reddit I didn’t know existed. (Said the man who uses a computer far too often, an example of his own churning sea of contradictory thoughts/behavior).

        Perhaps the big trick is to maintain an “always merry and bright” attitude (a la Henry Miller) while simultaneously keeping abreast of the craziness of the rest of the Monkey Tribe.

        You gotta try to be happy, despite the fact that somebody’s bound to fling some shit from their cage into yours.

        • Calypso_1 | Jul 16, 2012 at 7:58 am |

          I believe you are correct about the “merry and bright”  both for personal joy and sanity but also in crafting one’s ability to engage in the arts of war, as is well illustrated in these statements by Winston Churchill:
          “I like a man who grins when he fights.”
          “Wise men fight with grins and searching eyes.”

          ” War is a game that is played with a smile. If you can’t smile, grin. If you can’t grin, keep out of the way till you can. ”

  3. Fum Vroor | Jul 15, 2012 at 6:30 pm |

    Glen, you look rather conformist with your glabrous face, tie, button down. How about some glasses and a beard you rube.

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