One benefit of monopolizing state secrets is that if someone criticizes you because they believe you are acting in a way that is inimical to the interests of all the billions of people those state secrets affect, it is very easy for you and others to reduce their concerns down to some animus they have toward you that owes to everything BUT the disproportionate impact of all the shitty, dishonest and reckless things you do: Your detractors are clearly envious or attention-seeking trolls or, even better, government agents, out to sabotage the deft undermining of the surveillance state via your deceptively counterintuitive strategy of not disclosing secrets about it.
You could never do this in an environment where you had opted to matter just a little less, by distributing your secrets to other journalists, for instance. You make yourself the story and then complain when people focus on you. Very handy how that works, especially when you factor in the personality cult of belligerent dimwits your monopoly ships with.
Well fuck this bullshit, I say. I make no apologies for my continuing interest in Glenn Greenwald but I will explain it, because I think even some people who don’t particularly admire him at this point still don’t get why he matters, as if it’s not enough that he has made himself the toll booth through which all seekers of Snowden knowledge must pass.
As I wrote on this blog, long before the truly awe-inspiring courage and self-sacrifice of Glenn Greenwald made me hate myself:
my main interest as a blogger is in the self-subjugation of Americans to control by a predatory oligarchy, a capitulation which has practically no peer in the developed world. Within that realm, I am most interested in the intellectual policing and obstructionism at the margins by public liberals and lefts.
I am interested in the people guarding the margins of our politics because I think they’re vile and toxic and because they are practically immune to criticism from the cowardly likes of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting and from most other members of what can only with immense charity be called ‘the left.’ For reasons I make plain throughout this blog, I do not regard these people as part of any ‘us’ to which I belong, so spare me the bullshit about internecine conflict and ‘in-fighting’ and fuck you especially if you particularly dislike the ‘bullying,’, ‘uncivil’, ‘personalized’ tone I take toward people with vastly more influence, access and money than I have.
Long-time readers know that before I embarked on robustly disliking Greenwald for no reason but my own personal feelings of inadequacy, I robustly disliked Ari Melber for being a SOPA lobbyist; Chris Hayes for being a dishonest, partisan shill in unabashed-man-of-the-left drag; Amy Goodman for erasing Obama-sponsored violence from one more idiotic ‘Make [Him] Do It’ essay; and MSNBC host Karen Finney for moonlighting in bankster makeovers. During some of those discussions, I have used the term ‘heat vampire’ as a metaphor for a kind of public figure that stakes a position on the left-most edges of permissible opinion so as to neutralize harder, more authentic lefts in the same zone. As I wrote here, they are distinguished by
a clear eyed, even radical, assessment of all that’s wrong in the world coexisting with acquiescence in oligarch-approved methods for putting things right, no matter how often and resoundingly these methods fail. So constituted, heat vampire liberals act as role models for the rest of us, reconciling things that aren’t logically reconcilable, successfully wrestling themselves into compliance with status quo fundamentals while bemoaning the particulars.
Which brings us back round to Greenwald, who by virtue of having, in just four months, remade the following as credibly left tactics for contending with a massive surveillance apparatus, is some kind of Terminator 2 of heat vampirism, the likes of which I have never seen before:
- Intellectual property monopoly
- The concealment of vastly more state secrets than are disclosed
- The safeguarding of ‘national security’
- Control by US/UK media elites of state secrets affecting everyone in the world
- An overwhelming focus on policy change in the US
- A campaign against unmediated leaking that began with the disparagement of Chelsea Manning
- Authoritarian beatdowns of criticism from the left
As the midwife of what seems like some collective Hitchens moment for a large segment of the English-speaking left, he is, I think, the self-regulating propaganda system’s most remarkable ‘left’ achievement to date. I am still gobsmacked. That’s why I can’t shut up about it. Also, he pretty much writes my blog posts for me lately.
Now to the above list of credible left tactics, we must add, ‘the securing of lucrative movie and/or television deals’, even if such securing is to a certain extent the happy result of the rest, particularly where the rest increase Greenwald’s mainstream credibility and the monetary value of his secrets.
For more than a week, Hollywood has been exploring what could be one of the most difficult nonfiction projects it has ever tried: a proposed film based on the journalist Glenn Greenwald’s planned book about Edward J. Snowden…
As of late Friday, it was not clear that any studio had secured a deal. But 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures Entertainment and the cable television powerhouse HBO were among potential buyers that had considered the project…
Mr. Greenwald’s planned book, which is based on his close contact with Mr. Snowden and promises fresh revelations about government and corporate intelligence-gathering, is set for publication next March
I really liked this bit, further on:
At Sony, Barbara Broccoli, a producer known for her involvement with James Bond films, has been involved with the proposed project…
My working title for the film is Drip Another Day, and may I say I am really looking forward to the Twitter action sequences where Glenn fends off obots and shadowy glamarchists.
Now I can just hear the army of Glenn’s preening sycophants extolling all the surveillance state-undermining virtues of his impending movie contract, and, most importantly, his great entitlement to it, just as they did when I raised the issue of his book before. But the issue was never the money, morons. It’s the hoarding of secrets to leverage the deals.
But wait, there’s more to sell than just state secrets. Check this out, also from the Times piece:
Mr. Greenwald is selling the rights to his book and may include his own life rights. But his journalistic collaborator, Laura Poitras, and Mr. Snowden have not put their own life rights for sale. . .
That’s right, Glenn, sell it all, including your life, before the bubble bursts.
Wow, Glenn sure knows how to make a leak portfolio work. He’s made another deal.
The wonderful Arthur Silber has weighed in on Glenn and The Leak Keepers:
It thus appears that what is alarming, and even heinous, when committed by the State mysteriously becomes imbued with profound nobility of spirit and boundless courage when committed by self-selected individuals. The modes of behavior in both cases are identical…(much more)
Reader Steven Bloom wrote an excellent comment about how right-wing all the discourse from GG and his sycophants has been. Steven looks at the means by which Greenwald and his followers shape and stifle debate, noting how much of it borrows from the same ‘statist capitalist classist playbook’ right-wingers use. It’s as good as anything you will find on this blog. Read it.