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Friday, June 14, 2013

Orwell cackles

Whether you admire or despise Ed Snowden, you must admit one thing: The guy gave up a lot to blow the whistle on shit like this. He said goodbye to a cushy job, a lovely girlfriend, and any chance of spending the holidays with his family again. And yet, as noted in an earlier post, Jeffrey Toobin called Snowden "a grandiose narcissist."

This has become an official media meme. Marc Davis of the Dallas Morning News calls Snowden "a self-absorbed traitor." Ralph Peters of the New York Post declares him vain -- "a spoiled brat" and "Kim Kardashian with stubble" who gave an "I-love-me interview." In HuffPo, former MI6 officer Matthew Dunn -- in a hilariously failed attempt at ESP -- posits that Snowden developed a "self-centered grievance" because life at the NSA didn't provide Jason Bourne-style thrills.

A week ago, Matt Taibbi wrote a fine piece about the Bradley Manning trial. In it, he quotes this hideous article in The Telegraph by Dr. Tim Stanley, who refers to Manning as an "egotist" and "a self-absorbed geek." Yes, Stanley actually dared to apply those words to a man who gave up his freedom and his life to expose atrocious acts committed by the American military.

Listen closely and you can hear the ghost of George Orwell cackling. Big Brother has changed the language on us again:

First "War is Peace" (the rationale for the Iraq invasion)...

...then "Freedom is Slavery" (the rationale for the NSA's assault on privacy)...

...and now...

Altruism is Narcissism.

Next time you see Matthias Grünewald's Crucifixion, you can snicker and say: "What an egomaniacal jerk!"

Why stop at Matthias Grünewald? Its not like you can be only 1/2 pregnant, right? Anyone who gives oneself up for the greater good of the many is a narcissistic, selfish punk. Spock, Christ, the guy who throws himself on the grenade saving his buddies - all now exposed for what they really are.
This entire PRISM affair reminds me of the scene in V for Vendetta where the Chancellor is receiving a briefing from his cabinet and one of the guys says something to the effect of '...mentions of V are up 12%, and we're seeing an increase in sympathy for his actions...'

That's not a direct quote, but hopefully you get the point. This youtube clip is the closest I could find and it's basically the Chancellor's reaction to the information he's been given by his cabinet:
Reminiscent of Lee Harvey Oswald, or the idea that he was an "angry loner" who did it so people would know who he was. "Everyong will know who I am now." How many times have you been told people don't believe the official story on JFK because they don't think one loser could take out the most powerful man in the world? Or that socialists and other subversives are just envious because they are incapable of the success their capitalist betters have achieved?
The whole strategy seems to be to get the public to focus on the messenger instead of the message. If they can turn it into another exercise in celebrity status, then perhaps the regular shlubs won't notice that their government is controlled by psychopaths and criminal p.o.s. who are their mortal enemies.
Yes, Snowden did life a privileged life. But isn't that the pattern found among radical extremists? For example, many of the 9/11 terrorists had a lot of money and good educations, but like Snowden, they could not enjoy it because they were in the grips of a radical/extremist ideology and wanted to punish hundreds of millions of people for not sharing the purity of their vision.

Snowden seems to be extremely self-absorbed and terribly impressed with his own sensitivity and depth, a regular Randian Great Man. Whether this borders of sociopathy or is full blown sociopathy, I don't know, but he obviously cared more for (a) his own glory and (b) his zealous Paulbot-driven ideology, and (c) couldn't care shit how many people suffer as a consequence of his criminal behavior.
This, of course, is the official Randian party line on altruism in general: St. Francis, Albert Schweitzer, martyrs, saints, or anyone who has ever given to the sick or hungry - they're all just approval-seeking narcissists.

When you lack any sense of personal morality it's very hard to understand that somebody, somewhere might do something for reasons that have nothing to do with self-aggrandizement.

I have absolutely no idea what sort of person Snowden is (or indeed if he's the only leaker). I don't know if what we're really seeing is some sort of sectarian battle between factions within the TLAs. All I know is that, whatever his motivations, he has performed a public service.
Excellent article. We've now learned that narcissists
who complain are just being narcissistic. Put in mathematical terms, Catch-22 squared.

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