Corporate data surveillance and government collusion fills in for prism that turns the aff and widens the panoptic gaze of the surveillance state



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[Foucault Kritik] [khirn]

Michigan Debate 2015-2016 Page


foucault kritik



1nc foucault (prism aff)

Corporate data surveillance and government collusion fills in for PRISM -- that turns the aff and widens the panoptic gaze of the surveillance state


--cloud computing advantage magnifies this link

Sullivan 13 [John L., Associate Professor of Media and Communication at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA, “Uncovering the data panopticon: The urgent need for critical scholarship in an era of corporate and government surveillance,” Political Economy of Communication Vol 1, No 2 (2013), http://polecom.org/index.php/polecom/article/view/23/192]

Big data and the panoptic sort In Philip K. Dick’s 1956 science fiction short story, The Minority Report, crime in a futuristic United States has been all but extinguished because the police have discovered the ability to predict future events. In this peaceful dystopia, suspects are arrested and charged before their crimes are even committed. While real-world law enforcement agencies cannot (yet) predict future events, the recent revelations about the scope and nature of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) domestic digital spying program suggest they have developed some formidable tools to locate would-be terrorists. Privacy advocates were outraged by whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelation that the NSA, in cooperation with technology companies, routinely stored, processed and analyzed millions of private emails, video chats, online phone calls, and internet file transfers under the auspices of a program called PRISM. Recent news reports based upon Snowden’s documents have revealed that even encrypted emails, documents, and online banking transactions are being regularly accessed by the NSA (Larson and Shane, 2013). While these revelations about domestic digital wiretapping without court orders have caused a stir in the American and global press, the privacy dangers associated with this type of data surveillance are not new to the scholarly community. Exactly 20 years ago, communication scholar Oscar H Gandy Jr (1993) meticulously outlined the growing threat to individual privacy posed by the cooperation between corporate and government data gathering in a book called The Panoptic Sort. At a time when the internet was in its infancy, when desktop computer processing was a fraction of what it is today, and five years before the founding of Google, Gandy warned that organizations like Equifax, TRW, and the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) were amassing huge repositories of consumer data that were gathered passively whenever individuals made purchases via credit cards. When these data are combined with sophisticated matching algorithms and sorted against huge government databases like the census, he argued, they enabled precise tracking of individuals’ behaviors, political views, and other sensitive private information. The precision of such discrimination transforms the routine sorting of personal data into a powerful form of institutional power. Building upon Foucault’s (1995) seminal analysis of disciplinary systems in society, Gandy argued that the scale of the data collection and analysis performed by government and corporate institutions created a panopticon wherein citizen actions would eventually become circumscribed within an ever-widening net of personal data surveillance. The end result, he observed, is “an antidemocratic system of control that cannot be transformed because it can serve no purpose other than that for which it was designedthe rationalization and control of human existence”(Gandy, 1993: 227). We’ve come a long way since 1993. Who could have imagined services like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr that not only encourage, but actively incentivize the voluntary dissemination of personal information online? Over the past 20 years, the centrality of the internet to the global communications infrastructure has made it a target for the type of panoptic sorting that Gandy described. Now that the world knows about PRISM, it is tempting to imagine that enhanced public scrutiny will effectively limit these programs. I don’t think that is likely. In fact, there are four specific trends that foretell a greater expansion of the data panopticon: convergence and the central place of software in social, commercial and political systems; the growing importance of metadata for routing, storage and sorting of information; the global business of data storage and retrieval; the blurring of lines between corporate and government data mining. The convergence of digital technologies and the importance of software In the previous era of analog technologies, such as wired telephones and reel-to-reel tapes, each specific technology had a limited range of capabilities alongside a specific set of legal standards to accompany their use. The Wiretap Act of 1968, for example, prohibits law enforcement from wiretapping telephones without a court order because doing so would violate the 4th Amendment protections of both the suspect and anyone that communicates with them. Today, there are few discrete technologies anymore. Thanks to technological convergence, almost all forms of communication today utilize some form of digital communication, and many do this via the Internet. Software has now replaced specific forms of communication hardware as the nexus for new types of digital communication, from Skype and FaceTime to emails and tweets. Creating legal precedents for protecting individual privacy throughout this myriad of new options has been difficult. Indeed, new options are emerging all the time, and software is extremely fungible in functionality as it adapts quickly to new situations and uses. We lack a coherent legal regime to counteract the interception of these communications. For example, Skype phone calls can be protected under the existing federal wiretap laws, but emails and text messages cannot. The rise of metadata The expansion of online communications has generated an explosion of metadata. Metadata are the transaction records that are generated whenever you send an email or text message. It identifies the location from which the message was sent, when it was sent, the subject of the message, the recipient(s) of the message, the web address of the recipient(s), and more. The Obama Administration has argued that its domestic intelligence program complied with the law because it simply scanned the metadata of email transactions to search for anomalies rather than accessing the content of those emails. As a recent article in The Economist (2013) pointed out, however, while the usefulness of metadata in an analog era was limited (hence the lower evidentiary standards required in courts to obtain that information), today, thanks to the internet, “metadata can now provide a detailed portrait of who people know, where they go, and their daily routines.” (para. 8) Therefore, the argument that random metadata searches do not violate users’ privacy becomes difficult to sustain. The business of data storage and retrieval The cost of storing digital data has fallen dramatically in the past 20 years, making the retention of vast quantities of individual data routine and cheap. This incentivizes the retention of digital information in ‘the cloud’ for longer periods of time. This creates a valuable resource for commercial data miners and law enforcement officials alike. As Wired Magazine (Copeland, 2013) outlined in its 20th anniversary edition, in 1993 a gigabyte of computer hard drive space cost almost $1,900.00; today the same amount of digital storage space is worth four cents. This dramatic drop in the cost of storage naturally encourages the retention of digital information by companies and the government. This raises important privacy concerns. Mobile telephone providers, such as Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, regularly store customer metadata (the records of all their telephone communications, including location information) for 18–24 months depending on the carrier. Companies like Google and Dropbox offer generous amounts of online data storage (‘cloud computing’) to users in exchange for the ability to target those consumers with advertising and marketing messages. Companies like Facebook and Twitter profit handsomely by mining their massive storehouses of user data for the purposes of target marketing to specific users. The blurred line between corporate and government data mining Lastly, the Snowden leaks have revealed that the wall between corporate and government data mining is paper thin. Since the revelations about the NSA became public, technology companies like Apple and Google have publicized the fact that they have received thousands of NSA requests for individual user data over the past 12 months. While some companies have resisted handing over user data without a specific warrant from the government, other technology companies have complied without challenge, worried about the implication of refusing the federal government. Additionally, as a headline article in The New York Times (Sengupta, 2013)outlined, the NSA and FBI have, increasingly, routinely analyzed huge databases of online communications. They have signed lucrative contracts with Silicon Valley technology companies to perform these analyses. The New York Times also uncovered the existence of a revolving door between technology companies and the government. For example, former Facebook Chief Security Officer Max Kelly was hired by the NSA in 2010 (Risen and Wingfield, 2013). Such arrangements create a clear conflict of interest for the companies to whom we have entrusted our data. For the first time, these companies may have both a legal and financial interest in handing over sensitive personal information to government agencies. Of all of the recent revelations about the mining of individual data, this one is perhaps the most troubling. What’s the harm? Given these threats to individual privacy online, what’s the harm if programs like PRISM have been effective in thwarting potential terrorist attacks? Snowden answered this question himself in his infamous interview with The Guardian newspaper (Greenwald, 2013) by saying: Because even if you’re not doing anything wrong you’re being watched and recorded. And the storage capability of these systems increases every year consistently by orders of magnitude to where it’s getting to the point where you don’t have to have done anything wrong. You simply have to eventually fall under suspicion from somebody even by a wrong call. (7:14–7:33) Snowden is alluding here to the problem of ‘collateral damage’ arising from the search of online personal data. Innocent citizens may be caught up in data searches that are meant to locate illegal activities. This problem was most recently demonstrated in 2012 when a warrant to search the email account of Paula Broadwell for a harassment charge unwittingly uncovered an extramarital affair between her and David Petraeus, the then CIA Director and former General. These targeted searches also reverse the burden of proof. Once someone is targeted for government scrutiny because of an email they may have sent, it becomes difficult for them to clear their name. Additionally, we may have started down a path that will be difficult to alter. Once companies and governments begin collecting and storing citizens’ private data, those institutions will continue to imagine new uses for such data, if only to justify the expense of gathering and storing it. History and human nature tell us that the storage and sorting of online personal data will increasingly become the solution to problems we haven’t even yet encountered, alongside existing problems (tracking terrorists, criminals, tax evaders, copyright violators, etc.) The public and the role of critical scholarship Given that we still live in a liberal democracy, what is the public’s role in this process? Shouldn’t citizens help to shape a proper balance between privacy and security? In The Panoptic Sort, Gandy traced the social origins of privacy and considered the available cognitive strategies for a public trying to grapple with this amorphous concept within a changing techno-cultural environment. In focus group interviews, Gandy explored the types of information consumers had about the technologies that could be used to observe and profile them. Respondents were asked whether they thought these practices were legitimate, and whether they had reflected upon the sharing of private information among interested parties (including sharing between private corporations and government agencies). These 1992 focus group participants were quite sophisticated in their responses, observing that the gathering of personal information may be justified or even beneficial in some cases, but that no information “should ever be used to restrict or limit one’s pursuits, happiness, or joy of life” (Gandy, 1993: 135). Gandy also cited nationwide polling conducted in 1990 by Equifax, which found that 46 percent of respondents were “very concerned” about “threats to... their personal privacy” (Gandy, 1993: 140). Today, in a post-September 11 society, the surreptitious gathering of personal information has reached new heights, yet public opinion on the appropriate boundaries of private information retrieval has shifted markedly. A recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center, for example, found that 56 percent of Americans approve of the NSA’s tracking of phone records as an acceptable method of combatting terrorism (Pew Research Center, 2013). In that same poll, respondents were almost equally divided about the NSA’s policy of scanning all emails to prevent terrorism; 52 percent disapproved while 45 percent approved. We see a somewhat disturbing trend here. While the tools available to gather, store and process personal information have dramatically expanded in the past 20 years, the public’s privacy concerns seem to have abated, albeit only slightly. Increased terrorism fears are no doubt one of the prime catalysts for this, but we should not discount the prospect that popularization of email, search engines like Google and social media have lessened our inhibitions regarding the sharing and monitoring of personal information. As Mark Andrejevic (2005, 2007, 2009) has noted in his impressive corpus of research, citizens are not only being continually monitored by corporations and law enforcement, they are essentially monitoring each other. This is what he calls ‘lateral surveillance’. At a time when we are encouraged to continually monitor our friends, relatives, neighbors and acquaintances via social networking, the legitimate boundaries surrounding our private information have been blurred. As Snowden’s startling NSA revelations demonstrate, shifts in the nature of digital privacy require a vigorous response from critical scholars. Following Gandy’s 1993 book, there needs to be more research on the political economy of personal data gathering, storage and analysis. Rather than accept these new technological systems as a starting point for analysis, we should question the philosophical and institutional foundations of the modern surveillance state. As Gandy noted in his conclusion, we should not jump on the metaphorical train to the future without first addressing its path and destination. He wrote: It is the work of critical scholarship to raise doubts in the minds of the other passengers, to give voice to their unspoken concerns about the competence of the engineers, to validate their mistrust of the digitized voices that announce the next station or the final destination. It is the work of critical scholarship to speak to the engineers, to wonder aloud with them about whether the tracks will carry a train this long, this fast, that far. (Gandy, 1993: 230)

The 1ac’s attempt to trick the world into thinking we’re trustworthy normalizes a biopolitical surveillance apparatus, which devalues life and cedes politics to the state-corporate complex


Giroux 14 [Henry A., Global TV Network Chair Professor at McMaster University in the English and Cultural Studies Department and a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Ryerson University, “Totalitarian Paranoia in the Post-Orwellian Surveillance State,” Truthout, 10 February 2014, http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/21656-totalitarian-paranoia-in-the-post-orwellian-surveillance-state]

In his videotaped Christmas message, Snowden references Orwell's warning of "the dangers of microphones, video cameras and TVs that watch us,"2 allowing the state to regulate subjects within the most intimate spaces of private life. But these older modes of surveillance, Snowden elaborates, however, are nothing compared to what is used to infringe on our personal privacy today. For Snowden, the threat posed by the new surveillance state can be measured by its reach and use of technologies that far outdate anything Orwell envisioned and pose a much greater threat to the privacy rights of citizens and the reach of sovereign powers. He reiterates this point by reminding his viewers that "a child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all - they will never know what it means to have a private moment to themselves, an unrecorded, unanalyzed thought."3 Snowden is right about the danger to privacy rights but his analysis fails to go far enough in linking together the question of surveillance with the rise of "networked societies," global flows of power and the emergence of the totalitarian state.4



The democratic ideal rooted in the right to privacy under the modernist state in which Orwell lived out his political imagination has been transformed and mutilated, almost beyond recognition. Just as Orwell's fable has morphed over time into a combination of "realistic novel," real-life documentary and a form of reality TV, privacy has been altered radically in an age of permanent, 'nonstop' global exchange and circulation. So, too, and in the current period of historical amnesia, privacy has been redefined through the material and ideological registers of a neoliberal order in which the right to privacy has succumbed to the seductions of a narcissistic culture and casino capitalism's unending necessity to turn every relationship into an act of commerce and to make all aspects of daily life visible and subject to data manipulation.5 In a world devoid of care, compassion and protection, privacy is no longer connected and resuscitated through its connection to public life, the common good or a vulnerability born of the recognition of the frailty of human life. In a world in which the worst excesses of capitalism are unchecked, privacy is nurtured in a zone of historical amnesia, indifferent to its transformation and demise under a "broad set of panoptic practices."6 Consequently, culture loses its power as the bearer of public memory in a social order where a consumerist-driven ethic "makes impossible any shared recognition of common interests or goals" and furthers the collective indifference to the growth of the surveillance state.7

Surveillance has become a growing feature of daily life. In fact, it is more appropriate to analyze the culture of surveillance, rather than address exclusively the violations committed by the corporate-surveillance state. In this instance, the surveillance and security state is one that not only listens, watches and gathers massive amounts of information through data mining necessary for identifying consumer populations but also acculturates the public into accepting the intrusion of surveillance technologies and privatized commodified values into all aspects of their lives. Personal information is willingly given over to social media and other corporate-based websites and gathered daily as people move from one targeted web site to the next across multiple screens and digital apparatuses. As Ariel Dorfman points out, “social media users gladly give up their liberty and privacy, invariably for the most benevolent of platitudes and reasons,” all the while endlessly shopping online and texting.7A This collecting of information might be most evident in the video cameras that inhabit every public space from the streets, commercial establishments and workplaces to the schools our children attend as well as in the myriad scanners placed at the entry points of airports, stores, sporting events and the like.

Yet the most important transgression may not only be happening through the unwarranted watching, listening and collecting of information but also in a culture that normalizes surveillance by upping the pleasure quotient and enticements for consumers who use the new digital technologies and social networks to simulate false notions of community and to socialize young people into a culture of security and commodification in which their identities, values and desires are inextricably tied to a culture of private addictions, self-help and commodification.



Surveillance feeds on the related notions of fear and delusion. Authoritarianism in its contemporary manifestations, as evidenced so grippingly in Orwell's text, no longer depends on the raw displays of power but instead has become omniscient in a culture of control in which the most cherished notions of agency collapse into unabashed narcissistic exhibitions and confessions of the self, serving as willing fodder for the spying state. The self has become not simply the subject of surveillance but a willing participant and object. Operating off the assumption that some individuals will not willingly turn their private lives over to the spying state and corporations, the NSA and other intelligence agencies work hard to create a turnkey authoritarian state in which the "electronic self" becomes public property. Every space is now enclosed within the purview of an authoritarian society that attempts to govern the entirety of social life. As Jonathan Schell points out:

Thanks to Snowden, we also know that unknown volumes of like information are being extracted from Internet and computer companies, including Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple. The first thing to note about these data is that a mere generation ago, they did not exist. They are a new power in our midst, flowing from new technology, waiting to be picked up; and power, as always, creates temptation, especially for the already powerful. Our cellphones track our whereabouts. Our communications pass through centralized servers and are saved and kept for a potential eternity in storage banks, from which they can be recovered and examined. Our purchases and contacts and illnesses and entertainments are tracked and agglomerated. If we are arrested, even our DNA can be taken and stored by the state. Today, alongside each one of us, there exists a second, electronic self, created in part by us, in part by others. This other self has become de facto public property, owned chiefly by immense data-crunching corporations, which use it for commercial purposes. Now government is reaching its hand into those corporations for its own purposes, creating a brand-new domain of the state-corporate complex.8



Social cynicism and societal indifference accelerate a broken culture in which reason has been replaced by consumer-fed hallucinatory hopes.9 Surveillance and its accompanying culture of fear now produce subjects that revel in being watched, turning the practice if not the threat posed by surveillance into just another condition for performing the self. Every human act and behavior is now potential fodder for YouTube, Facebook or some other social network. Privacy has become a curse, an impediment that subverts the endless public display of the self. Zygmunt Bauman echoes this sentiment in arguing that: These days, it is not so much the possibility of a betrayal or violation of privacy that frightens us, but the opposite: shutting down the exits. The area of privacy turns into a site of incarceration, the owner of private space being condemned and doomed to stew in his or her own juice; forced into a condition marked by an absence of avid listeners eager to wring out and tear away the secrets from behind the ramparts of privacy, to put them on public display and make them everybody's shared property and a property everybody wishes to share.10

That facilitates the violent imposition of liberalism, a continuous recourse to conflict that perpetuates structural violence, racism, and global civil war


Evans 10 [Brad Evans, Lecturer in the School of Politics and International Studies at the University of Leeds and Programme Director for International Relations, “Foucault’s Legacy: Security, War, and Violence in the 21st Century,” Security Dialogue vol.41, no. 4, August 2010, pg. 422-424, sage]

Imposing liberalism has often come at a price. That price has tended to be a continuous recourse to war. While the militarism associated with liberal internationalization has already received scholarly attention (Howard, 2008), Foucault was concerned more with the continuation of war once peace has been declared.4 Denouncing the illusion that ‘we are living in a world in which order and peace have been restored’ (Foucault, 2003: 53), he set out to disrupt the neat distinctions between times of war/military exceptionalism and times of peace/civic normality. War accordingly now appears to condition the type of peace that follows. None have been more ambitious in map-­ ping out this war–peace continuum than Michael Dillon & Julian Reid (2009). Their ‘liberal war’ thesis provides a provocative insight into the lethality of making live. Liberalism today, they argue, is underwritten by the unreserved righteousness of its mission. Hence, while there may still be populations that exist beyond the liberal pale, it is now taken that they should be included. With ‘liberal peace’ therefore predicated on the pacification/elimination of all forms of political difference in order that liberalism might meet its own moral and political objectives, the more peace is commanded, the more war is declared in order to achieve it: ‘In proclaiming peace . . . liberals are nonetheless committed also to making war.’ This is the ‘martial face of liberal power’ that, contrary to the familiar narrative, is ‘directly fuelled by the universal and pacific ambitions for which liberalism is to be admired’ (Dillon & Reid, 2009: 2). Liberalism thus stands accused here of universalizing war in its pursuit of peace: However much liberalism abjures war, indeed finds the instrumental use of war, especially, a scandal, war has always been as instrumental to liberal as to geopolitical thinkers. In that very attempt to instrumentalize, indeed universalize, war in the pursuit of its own global project of emancipation, the practice of liberal rule itself becomes profoundly shaped by war. However much it may proclaim liberal peace and freedom, its own allied commitment to war subverts the very peace and freedoms it proclaims (Dillon & Reid, 2009: 7). While Dillon & Reid’s thesis only makes veiled reference to the onto-­ theological dimension, they are fully aware that its rule depends upon a certain religiosity in the sense that war has now been turned into a veritable human crusade with only two possible outcomes: ‘endless war or the transformation of other societies and cultures into liberal societies and cul-­ tures’ (Dillon & Reid, 2009: 5). Endless war is underwritten here by a new set of problems. Unlike Clausewitzean confrontations, which at least provided the strategic comforts of clear demarcations (them/us, war/peace, citizen/soldier, and so on), these wars no longer benefit from the possibility of scoring outright victory, retreating, or achieving a lasting negotiated peace by means of political compromise. Indeed, deprived of the prospect of defining enmity in advance, war itself becomes just as complex, dynamic, adaptive and radically interconnected as the world of which it is part. That is why ‘any such war to end war becomes a war without end. . . . The project of removing war from the life of the species becomes a lethal and, in principle, continuous and unending process’ (Dillon & Reid, 2009: 32). Duffield, building on from these concerns, takes this unending scenario a stage further to suggest that since wars for humanity are inextricably bound to the global life-­chance divide, it is now possible to write of a ‘Global Civil War’ into which all life is openly recruited: Each crisis of global circulation . . . marks out a terrain of global civil war, or rather a tableau of wars, which is fought on and between the modalities of life itself. . . . What is at stake in this war is the West’s ability to contain and manage international poverty while maintaining the ability of mass society to live and consume beyond its means (Duffield, 2008: 162). Setting out civil war in these terms inevitably marks an important depar-­ ture. Not only does it illustrate how liberalism gains its mastery by posing fundamental questions of life and death – that is, who is to live and who can be killed – disrupting the narrative that ordinarily takes sovereignty to be the point of theoretical departure, civil war now appears to be driven by a globally ambitious biopolitical imperative (see below). Liberals have continuously made reference to humanity in order to justify their use of military force (Ignatieff, 2003). War, if there is to be one, must be for the unification of the species. This humanitarian caveat is by no means out of favour. More recently it underwrites the strategic rethink in contemporary zones of occupation, which has become biopolitical (‘hearts and minds’) in everything but name (Kilcullen, 2009; Smith, 2006). While criticisms of these strategies have tended to focus on the naive dangers associated with liberal idealism (see Gray, 2008), insufficient attention has been paid to the contested nature of all the tactics deployed in the will to govern illiberal populations. Foucault returns here with renewed vigour. He understood that forms of war have always been aligned with forms of life. Liberal wars are no exception. Fought in the name of endangered humanity, humanity itself finds its most meaningful expression through the battles waged in its name: At this point we can invert Clausewitz’s proposition and say that politics is the continuation of war by other means. . . . While it is true that political power puts an end to war and establishes or attempts to establish the reign of peace in civil society, it certainly does not do so in order to suspend the effects of power or to neutralize the disequilibrium revealed in the last battle of war (Foucault, 2003: 15). What in other words occurs beneath the semblance of peace is far from politically settled: political struggles, these clashes over and with power, these modifications of relations of force – the shifting balances, the reversals – in a political system, all these things must be interpreted as a continuation of war. And they are interpreted as so many episodes, fragmentations, and displacements of the war itself. We are always writing the history of the same war, even when we are writing the history of peace and its institutions (Foucault, 2003: 15). David Miliband (2009), without perhaps knowing the full political and philo-­ sophical implications, appears to subscribe to the value of this approach, albeit for an altogether more committed deployment: NATO was born in the shadow of the Cold War, but we have all had to change our thinking as our troops confront insurgents rather than military machines like our own. The mental models of 20th century mass warfare are not fit for 21st century counterinsurgency. That is why my argument today has been about the centrality of politics. People like quoting Clausewitz that warfare is the continuation of politics by other means. . . . We need politics to become the continuation of warfare by other means. Miliband’s ‘Foucauldian moment’ should not escape us. Inverting Clausewitz on a planetary scale – hence promoting the collapse of all meaningful distinctions that once held together the fixed terms of Newtonian space (i.e. inside/outside, friend/enemy, citizen/soldier, war/peace, and so forth), he firmly locates the conflict among the world of peoples. With global war there-­ fore appearing to be an internal state of affairs, vanquishing enemies can no longer be sanctioned for the mere defence of things. A new moment has arrived, in which the destiny of humanity as a whole is being wagered on the success of humanity’s own political strategies. No coincidence, then, that authors like David Kilcullen – a key architect in the formulation of counterinsurgency strategies in Iraq and Afghanistan, argue for a global insurgency paradigm without too much controversy. Viewed from the perspective of power, global insurgency is after all nothing more than the advent of a global civil war fought for the biopolitical spoils of life. Giving primacy to counter-­ insurgency, it foregrounds the problem of populations so that questions of security governance (i.e. population regulation) become central to the war effort (RAND, 2008). Placing the managed recovery of maladjusted life into the heart of military strategies, it insists upon a joined-­up response in which sovereign/militaristic forms of ordering are matched by biopolitical/devel-­ opmental forms of progress (Bell & Evans, forthcoming). Demanding in other words a planetary outlook, it collapses the local into the global so that life’s radical interconnectivity implies that absolutely nothing can be left to chance. While liberals have therefore been at pains to offer a more humane recovery to the overt failures of military excess in current theatres of operation, warfare has not in any way been removed from the species. Instead, humanized in the name of local sensitivities, doing what is necessary out of global species necessity now implies that war effectively takes place by every means. Our understanding of civil war is invariably recast. Sovereignty has been the traditional starting point for any discussion of civil war. While this is a well-established Eurocentric narrative, colonized peoples have never fully accepted the inevitability of the transfixed utopian prolificacy upon which sovereign power increasingly became dependent. Neither have they been completely passive when confronted by colonialism’s own brand of warfare by other means. Foucault was well aware of this his-­ tory. While Foucauldian scholars can therefore rightly argue that alternative histories of the subjugated alone permit us to challenge the monopolization of political terms – not least ‘civil war’ – for Foucault in particular there was something altogether more important at stake: there is no obligation whatsoever to ensure that reality matches some canonical theory. Despite what some scholars may insist, politically speaking there is nothing that is necessarily proper to the sovereign method. It holds no distinct privilege. Our task is to use theory to help make sense of reality, not vice versa. While there is not the space here to engage fully with the implications of our global civil war paradigm, it should be pointed out that since its biopolitical imperative removes the inevitability of epiphenomenal tensions, nothing and nobody is necessarily dangerous simply because location dictates. With enmity instead depending upon the complex, adaptive, dynamic account of life itself, what becomes dangerous emerges from within the liberal imaginary of threat. Violence accordingly can only be sanctioned against those newly appointed enemies of humanitya phrase that, immeasurably greater than any juridical category, necessarily affords enmity an internal quality inherent to the species complete, for the sake of planetary survival. Vital in other words to all human existence, doing what is necessary out of global species necessity requires a new moral assay of life that, pitting the universal against the particular, willingly commits violence against any ontological commitment to political difference, even though universality itself is a shallow disguise for the practice of destroying political adversaries through the contingency of particular encounters. Necessary Violence Having established that the principal task set for biopolitical practitioners is to sort and adjudicate between the species, modern societies reveal a distinct biopolitical aporia (an irresolvable political dilemma) in the sense that making life live – selecting out those ways of life that are fittest by design – inevitably writes into that very script those lives that are retarded, backward, degenerate, wasteful and ultimately dangerous to the social order (Bauman, 1991). Racism thus appears here to be a thoroughly modern phenomenon (Deleuze & Guattari, 2002). This takes us to the heart of our concern with biopolitical rationalities. When ‘life itself’ becomes the principal referent for political struggles, power necessarily concerns itself with those biological threats to human existence (Palladino, 2008). That is to say, since life becomes the author of its own (un)making, the biopolitical assay of life necessarily portrays a commitment to the supremacy of certain species types: ‘a race that is portrayed as the one true race, the race that holds power and is entitled to define the norm, and against those who deviate from that norm, against those who pose a threat to the biological heritage’ (Foucault, 2003: 61). Evidently, what is at stake here is no mere sovereign affair. Epiphenomenal tensions aside, racial problems occupy a ‘permanent presence’ within the political order (Foucault, 2003: 62). Biopolitically speaking, then, since it is precisely through the internalization of threat – the constitution of the threat that is now from the dangerous ‘Others’ that exist within – that societies reproduce at the level of life the ontological commitment to secure the subject, since everybody is now possibly dangerous and nobody can be exempt, for political modernity to function one always has to be capable of killing in order to go on living: Wars are no longer waged in the name of a sovereign who must be defended; they are waged on behalf of the existence of everyone; entire populations are mobilized for the purpose of wholesale slaughter in the name of life necessity; massacres have become vital. . . . The principle underlying the tactics of battle – that one has to become capable of killing in order to go on living – has become the principle that defines the strategy of states (Foucault, 1990: 137). When Foucault refers to ‘killing’, he is not simply referring to the vicious act of taking another life: ‘When I say “killing”, I obviously do not mean simply murder as such, but also every form of indirect murder: the fact of exposing someone to death, increasing the risk of death for some people, or, quite simply, political death, expulsion, rejection and so on’ (Foucault, 2003: 256). Racism makes this process of elimination possible, for it is only through the discourse and practice of racial (dis)qualification that one is capable of introducing ‘a break in the domain of life that is under power’s control: the break between what must live and what must die’ (Foucault, 2003: 255). While kill- ing does not need to be physically murderous, that is not to suggest that we should lose sight of the very real forms of political violence that do take place in the name of species improvement. As Deleuze (1999: 76) duly noted, when notions of security are invoked in order to preserve the destiny of a species, when the defence of society gives sanction to very real acts of violence that are justified in terms of species necessity, that is when the capacity to legitimate murderous political actions in all our names and for all our sakes becomes altogether more rational, calculated, utilitarian, hence altogether more frightening: When a diagram of power abandons the model of sovereignty in favour of a disciplinary model, when it becomes the ‘bio-­power’ or ‘bio-­politics’ of populations, controlling and administering life, it is indeed life that emerges as the new object of power. At that point law increasingly renounces that symbol of sovereign privilege, the right to put someone to death, but allows itself to produce all the more hecatombs and genocides: not by returning to the old law of killing, but on the contrary in the name of race, precious space, conditions of life and the survival of a population that believes itself to be better than its enemy, which it now treats not as the juridical enemy of the old sovereign but as a toxic or infectious agent, a sort of ‘biological danger’. Auschwitz arguably represents the most grotesque, shameful and hence meaningful example of necessary killing – the violence that is sanctioned in the name of species necessity (see Agamben, 1995, 2005). Indeed, for Agamben, since one of the most ‘essential characteristics’ of modern biopolitics is to constantly ‘redefine the threshold in life that distinguishes and separates what is inside from what is outside’, it is within those sites that ‘eliminate radically the people that are excluded’ that the biopolitical racial imperative is exposed in its most brutal form (Agamben, 1995: 171). The camp can therefore be seen to be the defining paradigm of the modern insomuch as it is a ‘space in which power confronts nothing other than pure biological life without any media-­ tion’ (Agamben, 1995: 179). While lacking Agamben’s intellectual sophistry, such a Schmittean-­inspired approach to violence – that is, sovereignty as the ability to declare a state of juridical exception – has certainly gained wide-­ spread academic currency in recent times. The field of international relations, for instance, has been awash with works that have tried to theorize the ‘exceptional times’ in which we live (see, in particular, Devetak, 2007; Kaldor, 2007). While some of the tactics deployed in the ‘Global War on Terror’ have undoubtedly lent credibility to these approaches, in terms of understanding violence they are limited. Violence is only rendered problematic here when it is associated with some act of unmitigated geopolitical excess (e.g. the invasion of Iraq, Guantánamo Bay, use of torture, and so forth). This is unfortunate. Precluding any critical evaluation of the contemporary forms of violence that take place within the remit of humanitarian discourses and practices, there is a categorical failure to address how necessary violence continues to be an essential feature of the liberal encounter. Hence, with post-interventionary forms of violence no longer appearing to be any cause for concern, the nature of the racial imperative that underwrites the violence of contemporary liberal occupations is removed from the analytical arena.

The alternative’s politics of dissent channels progressive politics towards massive collective struggle --- try or die for an alt to corporate technocracy


Giroux 14 [Henry A., Global TV Network Chair Professor at McMaster University in the English and Cultural Studies Department and a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Ryerson University, “Totalitarian Paranoia in the Post-Orwellian Surveillance State,” Truthout, 10 February 2014, http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/21656-totalitarian-paranoia-in-the-post-orwellian-surveillance-state]

Under the rubric of battling terrorism, the US government has waged a war on civil liberties, privacy and democracy while turning a blind eye to the ways in which the police and intelligence agencies infiltrate and harass groups engaged in peaceful protests, particularly treating those groups denouncing banking and corporate institutions as criminal activities.73 They also have done nothing to restrict those corporate interests that turn a profit by selling arms, promoting war and investing surveillance apparatuses addicted to the mad violence of the war industries. Unfortunately, such legal illegalities and death-oriented policies are not an Orwellian fiction but an advancement of the world Orwell prematurely described regarding surveillance and its integration with totalitarian regimes. The existence of the post-Orwellian state, where subjects participate willingly and surveillance connects to global state and corporate sovereignty, should muster collective outrage among the American public and generate massive individual resistance and collective struggles aimed at the development of social movements designed to take back democracy from the corporate-political-military extremists that now control all the commanding institutions of American society. Putting trust in a government that makes a mockery of civil liberties is comparable to throwing away the most basic principles of our constitutional and democratic order. As Johnathan Schell argues:

Government officials, it is true, assure us that they will never pull the edges of the net tight. They tell us that although they could know everything about us, they won't decide to. They'll let the information sit unexamined in the electronic vaults. But history, whether of our country or others, teaches that only a fool would place faith in such assurances. What one president refrains from doing the next will do; what is left undone in peacetime is done when a crisis comes.74

History offers alternative narratives to those supported by the new authoritarians. Dangerous counter-memories have a way of surfacing unexpectedly at times and, in doing so, can challenge to the normalization of various forms of tyranny, including the mechanisms of a surveillance state defined by a history of illegal and criminal behavior. As the mainstream press recently noted, the dark shadow of Orwell's dystopian fable was so frightening in the early 1970s that a group of young people broke into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, stole as many records as possible, and leaked them to the press. None of the group was ever caught.75 Their actions were not only deeply rooted in an era when dissent against the Vietnam war, racism and corporate corruption was running high but also was suggestive of an era in which the politics of fear was not a general condition of society and large groups of people were mobilizing in numerous sites to make power accountable on a number of fronts, extending from college campuses to the shaping of foreign policy. The 1971 burglary made clear that the FBI was engaging in illegal and criminal acts aimed primarily against anti-war dissenters and the African-American community, which was giving voice in some cities to the Black Power movement.

What the American people learned as a result of the leaked FBI documents was that many people were being illegally tapped, bugged, and that anti-war groups were being infiltrated. Moreover, the leaked files revealed that the FBI was spying on Martin Luther King Jr. and a number of other prominent politicians and activists. A couple of years later Carl Stern, an NBC reporter, followed up on the information that had been leaked and revealed a program called COINTELPRO, which stands for Counterintelligence Program, that documented how the FBI and CIA not only were secretly harassing, disrupting, infiltrating and neutralizing leftist organizations but also were attempting to assassinate those considered domestic and foreign enemies.76 COINTELPRO was about more than spying, it was an illegally sanctioned machinery of violence and assassination.77 In one of the most notorious cases, the FBI worked with the Chicago Police to set up the conditions for the assassination of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, two members of the Black Panther Party. Noam Chomsky has called COINTELPRO, which went on from the 1950s to the '70s, when it was stopped, "the worst systematic and extended violation of basic civil rights by the federal government," and "compares with Wilson's Red Scare."78 As a result of these revelations, Sen. Frank Church conducted Senate hearings that exposed the illegalities the FBI was engaged in and helped to put in place polices that provided oversight to prevent such illegalities from happening again. Needless to say, over time these oversights and restrictions were dismantled, especially after the tragic events of 9/11.



What these young people were doing in 1971 is not unlike what Snowden and other whistle-blowers are doing today by making sure that dissent is not suppressed by governments who believe that power should reside only in the hands of government and financial elites and that all attempts to make authoritarian power accountable should be repressed at almost any cost. Many of these young protesters were influenced by the ongoing struggles of the civil rights movement and one of them, John Raines, was heavily influenced by the theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was killed by the Nazis. What is crucial about this incident is that it not only revealed the long historical reach of government surveillance and criminal activity designed to squash dissent, it also provides a model of civic courage by young people who acted on their principles in a nonviolent way to stop what they considered to be machineries of civil and social death. As Greenwald argues, COINTELPRO makes clear that governments have no qualms about "targeting citizens for their disfavored political views and trying to turn them into criminals through infiltration, entrapment and the like" and that such actions are "alive and well today in the United States."79 Governments that elevate lawlessness to one of the highest principles of social order reproduce and legitimate violence as an acceptable mode of action throughout a society. Violence in American society has become its heartbeat and nervous system, paralyzing ideology, policy and governance, if not the very idea of politics. Under such circumstances, the corporate and surveillance state become symptomatic of a form of tyranny and authoritarianism that has corrupted and disavowed the ideals and reality of a substantive democracy.

Dissent is crucial to any viable notion of democracy and provides a powerful counterforce to the dystopian imagination that has descended like a plague on American society; but dissent is not enough. In a time of surging authoritarianism, it is crucial for everyone to find the courage to translate critique into the building of popular movements dedicated to making education central to any viable notion of politics. This is a politics that does the difficult work of assembling critical formative cultures by developing alternative media, educational organizations, cultural apparatuses, infrastructures and new sites through which to address the range of injustices plaguing the United States and the forces that reproduce them. The rise of cultures of surveillance along with the defunding of public and higher education, the attack on the welfare state and the militarization of everyday life can be addressed in ways that not only allow people to see how such issues are interrelated to casino capitalism and the racial-security state but also what it might mean to make such issues meaningful to make them critical and transformative. As Charlie Derber has written, "How to express possibilities and convey them authentically and persuasively seems crucially important" if any viable notion of resistance is to take place.80

Nothing will change unless the left and progressives take seriously the subjective underpinnings of oppression in the United States. The power of the imagination, dissent, and the willingness to hold power accountable constitute a major threat to authoritarian regimes. Snowden's disclosures made clear that the authoritarian state is deeply fearful of those intellectuals, critics, journalists and others who dare to question authority, expose the crimes of corrupt politicians and question the carcinogenic nature of a corporate state that has hijacked democracy: This is most evident in the insults and patriotic gore heaped on Manning and Snowden.
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