One Degree of Dissident

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I’m sure you’ve played the game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. In a post-Snowden world, we are playing a game similar to that – only it’s much more dangerous. In these dark times, simply by virtue of being associated with somebody that is thought to be an agitator of the hushed and hallowed grounds of “matters of national security,” you can be detained without due process.

If you are a truth-seeker under the sprawling shadow of the American empire, you are now playing the game One Degree of Dissident.

This isn’t just some innocuous game that’s played to pass the time. As Glenn Greenwald’s partner, David Miranda, can testify, this is serious. As Barret Brown can testify, who is facing over a century in jail for simply copying-pasting a hyperlink which contained data that had previously been hacked and thus already made public, this is serious.

Apparently you no longer need to be complicit in the crime itself in order to be charged; only a sympathizer of it.

You know, that oh-so tired cultural meme regurgitated by bubbling, aspiring “entrepreneurs” – you just gotta get out there and network. Networking is the buzzword of our gloriously fast, hyper-real times. But aside from thinking up the next million dollar app, which will probably only serve to warp us into something resembling a vegetable as we waste away our precious time with an amazing apparatus of technology that could otherwise be used for purposes of uniting human beings via exponentially raising awareness and consciousness… aside from that.. networking with those whom are not aligned with the official narrative or which *gasp* go against the official narrative may very well get yourself on a list in some random shadowy database, waiting to be analyzed and processed. Or worse, as in Brown’s case.

Dear citizen, if you play One Degree of Dissident, you most likely are or will be on a list, with all your shit being combed through and analyzed by some poindexter dweeb that’s probably wearing the same out-dated, thin metal-frame glasses that he had in the nineties during those oh-so troubled high-school years where anti-conformity was a thorn in his un-hipster side. And in between his usual creepy forays into 3D Hentai porn, you can find him doubled over a state-of-the-art laptop, downing energy drinks and watching your Skype sessions whilst rummaging through Facebook IM threads, looking for that nebulous smoking gun of sedition – a threat to “national security.” You can’t see him seeing you, as he exists inside a building engulfed in one-way glass and which systematically goes unchecked by Congressional oversight (aside from the likes of Mike Rogers, that pinky swears all is well). Nope, there’s no seeing him. But he can sure as shit see you.

Nobody is watching the watchers because peaking into what’s happening behind the one-way glass of intelligence firms – like Barret Brown did – gets you raided and detained, and the Constitutional right to petition your own government per the First Amendment is conveniently put aside and treated like an old, antiquated dog-eared document nostalgically preserved inside museum glass, no longer relevant in a digital age. Indeed, rather than exposing the cyber-industrial complex and its state-corporate fascism, you’re better off being the Pillowcase Rapist, who did a cool thirty and may now actually be released, a free man. Meanwhile Brown is facing life in a blaze orange jumpsuit — and then some.  This game is dangerous – it’s for keeps.

Sound paranoid? Well, it is. But guess what? In a post-Snowden era, paranoia is now a reality. In fact, if you aren’t paranoid, if you aren’t having those random “irrational” mindfucks which entertain off-the-wall conspiracies, then you’re taking the blue pill of bliss. You. Are. Not. Awake.

Despite the specter of state surveillance and despite “your shows” waiting to be watched on your DVR, it is time for change – real change – not that fake rhetoric that telegenic red-n-blue ties hide behind.  I mean the kind of change that is dangerous because it disrupts the rigged system enjoyed by elites. You, dear citizen, must have the audacity to cope, to see the big bad world for what it is and overcome the desire to simply exist comfortably in this world constructed by the elites. You must link up with other dissidents in order to shake off the chill of authoritarianism, one counteracted only through honest, articulate expressions of discourse and debate.

Yes, like Brown, you may be indefinitely detained. Sure, you may lose your Constitutional right of due process. But Barret Brown’s loss ought to be your gain, your inspiration to take up the slack and fill those hard-to-fill shoes of questioning authority no matter their threats in order to regain true accountability from that fascist Hill which incessantly wraps itself in stars and stripes, concealing the corporate logos tattooed across its solicitous, ungoverned body.

Written by Michael D. Micklow

2 thoughts on “One Degree of Dissident

  1. Good question. One option is VPN’s (virtual privacy networks). Although even that isn’t safe now. The critique I’ve heard is that it doesn’t prevent live-streaming hacks. I mean, a company can say till they’re blue in the face “we delete browsing and data history and cookies,” but that doesn’t prevent a source from the outside that is trained in cryptography to hack in and see live streaming data (nor does one know if they truly aren’t storing user info). Furthermore, as Snowden has shown, even the IETF, an open organization that develops and promotes Internet standards, has been infiltrated by NSA; which has in turn watered down what could be tougher crypto standards.

    What’s important right now though, I think, is informing an otherwise disinformed public. I don’t think many citizens see this as being much of a threat because their media diet consists of either MSNBC or FOX, which both propagate agendas. And without voices that question and criticize the govt, you have a situation where corruption prevails.

    What troubles me more than anything isn’t so much that my shit is being hacked but that we can’t see what our own public representatives are doing behind the scenes with our taxpayer money (whether it’s the drone program or warrantless wiretaps). The inverse ought to be true, if we lived in a real republic.

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