The purpose of PRISM – stopping worldwide socialist revolution forever with Orwellian 1984-style society

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The revelations by whistleblower Edward Snowden of the (previously) top secret PRISM programme, run by the National Security Agency in the USA, gathering and analysing massive amounts of data gathered about everyone on the planet (except for US citizens) including the contents of phone calls, emails, Facebook activities, web searches (using all the major search engines including Google, Microsoft Bing and Yahoo!), and their collaboration with “national security” centres like GCHQ in Britain is unsurprisingly causing a huge storm amongst people concerned about civil liberties.

[And yes, the companies involved have denied knowledge of PRISM, saying they only cooperate with law enforcement/security services when there are court orders, so I perhaps should qualify the above with “allegedly”, but there has been a lot of circumstantial evidence in my life that a high level of surveillance (to model the world to a high degree of accuracy, predict what is likely to happen, and interfere in subtle and not so subtle ways to try to ensure events go their way) has been going on for over a decade, and that the PRISM software is far more sophisticated than checking for keywords but uses artificial intelligence (AI) techniques to understand our communications. And I’m an AI expert by profession, who has developed an AI/simulation language called SDML capable in a much more limited way of doing the same sort of modelling, so I should know roughly what’s possible.]

The usual excuse is that if you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve got nothing to fear. The capitalist ruling class tries to justify programmes like PRISM as the most effective way of stopping terrorism (but of course attacks on civil liberties like PRISM and Guantánamo Bay are a cause of anger amongst potential terrorists).

So what should we be worried about? Unfortunately, most commentators on civil liberties make general points without mentioning the fact that programmes like PRISM can be used to try to stop a genuine democratic socialist society (probably in one country at first, quickly spreading around the world, rather than simultaneously) from taking place. This is not wild speculation – PRISM (and possibly less sophisticated predecessors) has been used to try to thwart me in my revolutionary activities.

And, even if you think the idea of socialism is too farfetched, consider the fact that “liberal” capitalism could even be a casualty of PRISM, and that a fascist world like the one predicted by George Orwell in “Nineteen Eighty-Four” is on the cards. It’s no wonder there has been a massive upsurge in sales of that book. [By the way, Orwell was a socialist, but not a totalitarian socialist, hence his opposition to the Stalinist USSR in “Animal Farm”]

The following article discusses Orwell’s predictions for the future and its relationship to PRISM (and the comments are worth reading too): http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2013/jun/11/george-orwell-prism-big-brother-1984

6 thoughts on “The purpose of PRISM – stopping worldwide socialist revolution forever with Orwellian 1984-style society

  1. Edward Snowden chose the (UK) Guardian as the newspaper to reveal the details of PRISM for good reasons: it is left-wing, it believes strongly in civil liberties and many of the articles on its website allow readers to make comments (without them first going via a moderator, although moderators can remove posts after they have appeared). Quite a lot of right-wingers use this facility to push their arguments, but in situations like this it becomes clear from the comments that the overwhelming majority of readers are on Edward’s side!

    The main article in which Edward put forward his points of view, which includes a video (excerpts of which have appeared on the TV news) is at http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/09/edward-snowden-nsa-whistleblower-surveillance. This article is well worth reading, as shown by the fact that over 234,000 people have shared it to Facebook! And the Guardian has shown its commitment to free speech by allowing comments to be made on that page.

    There is a petition on the excellent AVAAZ site to stand with Edward and call for the ending of PRISM at https://secure.avaaz.org/en/stop_prism_global/?tfFntdb. It says to US President Barack Obama: “We call on you to ensure that whistleblower Edward Snowden is treated fairly, humanely and given due process. The PRISM program is one of the greatest violations of privacy ever committed by a government. We demand that you terminate it immediately, and that Edward Snowden be recognized as a whistleblower acting in the public interest — not as a dangerous criminal.”

  2. Edward Snowden’s new revelations that the British spy centre GCHQ spied on foreign delegates (including supposed allies) around the time of the G20 summit in 2009, according to the Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/jun/16/gchq-intercepted-communications-g20-summits) have caused a furore across the world (with the governments of South Africa, Turkey and Russia raising particularly strong objections) according to an article in today’s Guardian that doesn’t appear to be on-line.

    “Foreign politicians and officials who took part in two G20 summit meetings in London in 2009 had their computers monitored and their phone calls intercepted on the instructions of their British government hosts, according to documents seen by the Guardian. Some delegates were tricked into using internet cafes which had been set up by British intelligence agencies to read their email traffic.”

    An article from March 2011 that a Manchester Left Unity comrade of mine recently brought to my attention, about the US military’s “sock puppet” software of creating multiple social networking identities is very relevant in relationship to PRISM, since the US security services don’t want to just collect and analyse massive amounts of data but use it to interact with the world to achieve their desired outcomes (perhaps bring about Francis Fukuyama’s “end of history”, oops, that’s free market capitalism rather than fascist dictatorship). It is at http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/mar/17/us-spy-operation-social-networks

    You may like to read a blog entry (and comment) about the G8 summit, including tackling tax avoidance and a left-wing solution to “third world” poverty (as well as the above revelations), currently taking place in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland: https://thatcheroftheleft.wordpress.com/2013/05/12/protesting-against-the-g8-summit-in-n-ireland-in-enniskillen-plus-events-in-britain/

  3. The US propaganda in support of PRISM includes the claim that 50 terrorist plots were averted due (or partially due) to this programme. It is necessary to answer this by putting forward an alternative viewpoint of how to stop terrorism, and I don’t think that simply arguing that attacks on civil liberties “radicalise” many potential terrorists is enough.

    I have written a blog post arguing that a socialist revolution is the key to overcoming the problems of terrorism and racism, arguing for open borders, welcoming people from across the world into a wonderful, vibrant, joyful socialist country, arguing that many of them would go back to their own countries and spread the ideas of socialist revolution there. Somebody questioned the idea of open borders arguing that “hate preachers” should be kept out under socialism, but the current immigration controls aren’t doing a very good job of that and giving moderate religious people a real stake in society will make it much more likely that they will report such people enabling them to be prosecuted. Read it/comment, at https://thatcheroftheleft.wordpress.com/2013/06/06/immigration-terrorism-and-racism-a-revolutionary-socialist-solution/

    In an interesting comment article in yesterday’s Guardian by Anya Proops (a barrister specialising in information law and co-editor of panopticonblog.com), she lays out situations whereby a high level of state surveillance of British citizens is legal: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jun/18/how-can-this-state-surveillance-be-legal.

    Article 8 of the European convention on human rights, incorporated into domestic law through provisions in the Human Rights Act 1998, “recognises that all human beings enjoy a fundamental right to privacy.” However, it has exceptions where “national security, public safety or economic wellbeing” are concerned. If you are trying to bring about a socialist revolution, this can be argued to threaten the security of the nation state, public safety (if it is a violent revolution although I argue for non-violence where possible) and certainly economic wellbeing (of the rich!)

    Also, Data Protection Act “rules are effectively disapplied in any case where the government certifies that this is necessary for the purposes of safeguarding national security.”

    Anya Proops also points out “a fundamental difficulty with Ripa [the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000], as with the Data Protection Act, is that it is difficult to detect when abuses are taking place. The secret nature of the surveillance being undertaken means that the subjects of the surveillance are themselves not in a position to hold the relevant authorities to account.” In my view, there is the additional problem that somebody inquiring as to whether surveillance is being conducted on them would draw the security services’ attention towards them and make it more likely that they would be spied upon in the future!

  4. The well known left-wing Australian journalist John Pilger has also used the term “fascism” to describe the sort of society with mass surveillance where effective protest is impossible. See his article “Understanding the latest leaks is understanding the rise of a new fascism” at http://johnpilger.com/articles/understanding-the-latest-leaks-is-understanding-the-rise-of-a-new-fascism

    John points out “In 1971, whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg leaked US government files known as The Pentagon Papers, revealing that the invasion of Vietnam was based on systematic lying. Four years later, Frank Church conducted sensational hearings in the US Senate: one of the last flickers of American democracy. These laid bare the full extent of the invisible government: the domestic spying and subversion and warmongering by intelligence and ‘security’ agencies and the backing they received from big business and the media, both conservative and liberal.”

    John quotes Senator Church as saying, about the National Security Agency, in 1975: “I know that the capacity that there is to make tyranny in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law… so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.”

    On 11 June this year, Daniel Ellsberg wrote an editorial article in the Guardian entitled “Saving us from the United Stasi of America” with the sub-heading “Snowden’s whistleblowing gives us a chance to roll back what is tantamount to an ‘executive coup’ against the US constitution” at http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jun/10/edward-snowden-united-stasi-america

    In that article, Daniel said “If, for instance, there was now a war that led to a large-scale anti-war movement – like the one we had against the war in Vietnam – or, more likely, if we suffered one more attack on the scale of 9/11, I fear for our democracy … So we have fallen into Senator Church’s abyss. The questions now are whether he was right or wrong that there is no return from it, and whether that means that effective democracy will become impossible. A week ago, I would have found it hard to argue with pessimistic answers to those conclusions. But with Edward Snowden having put his life on the line to get this information out, quite possibly inspiring others with similar knowledge, conscience and patriotism to show comparable civil courage – in the public, in Congress, in the executive branch itself – I see the unexpected possibility of a way up and out of the abyss.”

    I would add to those comments that fascism in the USA does not mean there is no way back from the abyss. Mass struggles of ordinary people around the world can inspire “the 99%” in the USA to overthrow their ruling class! It is only world fascism which would make that impossible, which is why PRISM collects and analyses information around the world that passes through the servers of multinational companies based in the US.

    The breaking news that a similar programme to PRISM has been exposed in France (perhaps why the Bolivian president Evo Morales’ private plane was not allowed to travel over their airspace forcing it to land in Austria due to the suspicion that Edward Snowden was on board) and that three Latin American countries – Bolivia, Venezuela and Nicaragua – are offering him asylum improves the situation.

    It occurs to me that all this talk about having to pass over European and/or US airspace to reach Latin America is rubbish – surely he could go east across Russia (perhaps across China) and the Pacific ocean. Perhaps this would finally free him from limbo!

  5. My comments above about PRISM using artificial intelligence (AI) techniques to analyse the data collected (rather than just scanning for keywords) to build up a sophisticated model of the world so that it can intervene in subtle and not so subtle ways to achieve desired outcomes may have sounded farfetched to many (especially those who know little about AI and my language SDML in particular – see http://www.socialiststeve.me.uk/sdml.htm for information about it) but an article in a Guardian supplement by Leo Hickman at http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2013/jul/01/how-algorithms-rule-world-nsa makes similar points.

    An even more scary article at http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jun/29/edward-snowden-last-human-spies suggests that algorithms (pieces of code in a computer programming language) used with massive databases such as PRISM’s could completely automate such processes, removing the need for any human intervention at all and also the danger of whistleblowers like Edward Snowden.

    Edward has done those of us who want a better world a massive favour with his revelations (and there may be more to come). The more we are aware of such movements towards an Orwellian future, the more we can mobilise the masses against it to ensure it never happens. Ultimately, I think the choice will be between a (wholly or mainly) socialist world or the sort of nightmare that Edward has warned us about. My political activism in the real world and on the internet – and my activities with the band Fruity Frank and the Frisky Freaks (mainly, there’s one political love song and we may do more love songs in the future) – is directed towards achieving the former by a (preferably non-violent) socialist revolution.

  6. Moves towards a police state in the UK by clamping down on student protests are described in the blog entry https://thatcheroftheleft.wordpress.com/2013/12/11/copsoffcampus-demos-against-police-clampdown-on-student-protests-infiltration-prism-possible-uk-police-state/ – but demonstrations called by students on 11 December against this clampdown on the democratic right to protest seemed to worry the powers that be (the state, representatives of the 1%, the ruling class, or whatever term you want to use) so much that the police who had previously been so heavy-handed kept a low profile in London and stayed away completely in Manchester (where I handed out printed copies of that blog entry). I was interviewed by a Mancunian Matters journalist – see the article (and a comment by me below it) at http://mancunianmatters.co.uk/content/111213807-get-our-campuses-manchester-students-message-police-after-brutal-clampdown-peacefu.

    Many more revelations by Edward Snowden have been published since I last posted a comment to this post on 6 July. The best way to find out about them is probably to go to http://www.theguardian.com/world/edward-snowden.

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