Professor Tarzie If You’re Nasty

Sheesh, the people they publish in academic journals these days. Like yours truly, for instance!

Yes, it’s true. The high-faluters who run the American Journal of Economics and Sociology have included me in a special issue dedicated to the CIA and Hollywood. How appropriate, too, given that I am the world’s leading expert on the film career of Edward Snowden, the Adrienne Barbeau of cliche-riddled, CIA-anointed spy movies and real-time facsimiles.

Finally, someone has given Snowden his due and that someone is me! No mere whistleblower, he, I argue, but rather, a movie star in the tradition of Gene Hackman and Will Smith, if you put aside the amateurishness of his performance and his utter lack of a single interesting quality.

More specifically, I situate the Snowden Affair in relation to Enemy of the State, the 1998 Tony Scott NSA thriller, which, like Snowden, had a great deal of assistance from the CIA and which disclosed a strikingly similar message: There’s no place to hide.  You can’t do shit about it. Spying is nonetheless necessary and good. On the way there I say unkind but much deserved things about this over-exposed, dishonest mediocrity; his cheesy, vulgar publicists; his unutterably stupid fans; and the unbearably shitty films Laura Poitras and Oliver Stone have made on his and the security state’s behalf. I also go 11,000 words without saying fuck even once.

A sample:

In light of Greenwald’s candid placement of the Snowden Affair in the entertainment world, it’s fitting that the whistleblower anointed a filmmaker, Laura Poitras, to be among the few custodians of his leaks. In addition to practically assuring at least one feature film about him would be made, Poitras offered a brand built on her own run-ins with the security state. A year and two months before Greenwald met Snowden in Hong Kong, he wrote a lengthy article about Poitras’s allegedly numerous detainments at airports by Homeland Security officials, ostensibly because of films she had made about the War on Terror. Because of this harassment, Poitras is reportedly a “digital exile” in Berlin, returning to the United States only when the extremely necessary work of collecting Pulitzers and Oscars needs doing (Cadwalladr 2014).

As dissident artists hounded by state authorities go, Poitras seems unusually well-connected to the people and institutions that could make a crucial phone call on her behalf. Her parents are multimillionaires who, in 2007, donated $20 million to MIT (Jennings 2007). She is a recipient of MacArthur Foundation and Ford Foundation grants. Her patrons include Pierre Omidyar—who funds The Intercept, an online newsmagazine Poitras co-cofounded with Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill—and Jeffrey Skoll, whose Participant Media produced Citizenfour. Omidyar and Skoll seem particularly odd partners in fighting state power, given that they both have very close relationships with USAID (2012a, 2012b, 2014), which for decades has been linked to the CIA as a front for covert operations (Ames 2014a). The Omidyar Network has been linked to both the Maidan uprising in Ukraine and the ascent of ultra-nationalist Narendra Modi in India (Ames 2014b, 2014c). Skoll’s Participant Media produced Charlie Wilson’s War, a film that enjoyed official assistance from the CIA (Alford and Graham 2008). Spy Culture’s Tom Secker placed it among “the most overt and obvious propaganda efforts” he had ever studied (Redmond and Secker 2015).

If Poitras’s ultra-connected patrons wanted a film in which Snowden’s secrets and the agency he stole them from hardly feature at all, then they got their money’s worth…

I regret that reading me this time around isn’t free, but surely the resourcefully cheap among you can get around that. I’ve already been paid, so it ain’t shit to me. Many thanks to Porkins Policy Radio‘s Pearce Redmond and Spy Culture‘s Tom Secker, who invited me to contribute and who have also written excellent pieces for the issue.

The American Journal of Economics and Sociology, March 2017

 

 

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37 Responses to Professor Tarzie If You’re Nasty

  1. Bitman says:

    Not sure my last comment will make it up, but:

    That was a really great read – you threaded together the various strands of argument crafted here over the last few years extremely well. I’m very glad they allowed you to include the indispensable arguments you’ve made about Greenwald’s self-serving and highly disciplinary role in this affair. They’re vital.

    It was also very good to be reminded of the role Snowden played in crafting himself and all state whistleblowers as martyrs-in-waiting (I’d forgotten that part), and also to be reminded of Poitras’s background. The choices she made to downplay the content of the leaks and to focus instead on the “non-story” of Snowden himself fits snugly into your larger thesis.

    This deserves wide circulation and I hope it gets it. Very well done.

    For the security state, what’s not to like about this guy, who wields documented proof of its awesome technological power, recapitulates its own talking points about the dangerous world that makes it essential, narrowly focuses his critique on a subset of a single agency’s practices, masochistically exiles himself to an inhospitable country, outlines harm-minimizing rules for proper whistleblowing via campaigns against other dissidents, and, finally, declares “victory” when the people lose another round to state repression? Put another way, with enemies of the state like this, who needs friends?

    • Tarzie says:

      Thanks. I’m glad you liked it.

      Putting aside that I hate writing for other people, it was a good experience. Editor was super helpful. Not at all autocratic.

  2. Russ says:

    Sounds good. By now I almost never see anyone who looks like a real political person, as opposed to playing the role of one within the anti-political neoliberal framework. This Snowden/Greenwald/Omidyar complex is a particularly baroque example.

    • Tarzie says:

      Yeah, I completely agree. The claim to being “left” invariably resides on thin air. Real left politics are not permitted.
      “Anti-political neoliberal framework” is an excellent phrase.

      • Russ says:

        More and more often I use the binary, political vs. consumerist (which is implicitly non- and anti-political), subsuming most aspects of political speech and campaigning, and all of electoralism, to the latter. Pseudo-political ideas, attitudes, campaigns, are marketed exactly the same way as any other aspect of commodified culture, and those who consume these experience them and act them out in exactly the same way. That’s why it’s usually impossible to have anything recognizably like a political discussion, let alone an argument (in the proper sense of that term). It’s always like a very angry and childish version of arguing which sports team or movie is better, because that’s exactly how most of the “politically aware” conceive and experience politics these days. That’s why I think Politics is Dead in just the sense Nietzsche meant when he wrote God is Dead: People still superficially “believe in” it, but it really means nothing to them except as a superficial identification. They don’t LIVE it. Thus “identity politics” is, in the broad sense, redundant. In the West, at least, almost all politics is identity politics, no matter what its superficial ideology.

        (In all this I’m talking about the West, and any strata anywhere which apes the neoliberal cultural framework.)

        This, I think, is the complete, though temporary, victory of bourgeois ideology. Even those who identify as “radicals” see this as a hobby, while they see their “real life” as being their private imperatives: Their job, their family, etc. They don’t view political participation and true public citizenship responsibility even as being a co-equal value, let alone the paramount one.

        By now I think electoralism was always driving politics inexorably into this pit, and at the latest under neoliberalism has been deliberately designed that way. (Probably much earlier.) The focus on large-scale electoralism was an historical mistake for those who fought for freedom and equality. If these are attainable, it’s not via that path. God knows today’s alleged “alternatives” within electoralism do all they can to prove it.

      • Tarzie says:

        This is spot on. Among other things, explains why fascism has made a comfy home in all camps.

        Also puts me in mind of the insane flame wars that erupt around Apple products.

  3. davidly says:

    Great. BTW: this video features an Edwardian Snowjob of such phony affectation it’s worthy of the redundant phrasing. Fear not, his answer to the first question is all you need to see what I mean, but the following seven minutes pretty much comport with your interpretation of him: https://youtu.be/Flej-73VLW8

    • Tarzie says:

      Ee gads.

      Yeah, he just rings so false. The whole thing is so odd. How stupid do you have to be to think Katie Couric would really interview an Enemy of the State?

  4. Hummus says:

    Not an academic I would like to read this

  5. BlanchoRelaxo says:

    This is v exciting. Well done, Tarzie. Cant wait to read.

  6. gbelljnr says:

    this is the best thing that has ever happened

  7. Marc Smith says:

    Is there anyway to pay for access without just typing in a card number? Not a very secure payment screen.

    • Tarzie says:

      You’ll have to take that up with Wiley, the publisher. I have no knowledge or influence in that realm.

      If you ask around on tankie Twitter, someone might be able to help you out. I think someone over there screencapped the whole thing.

      I appreciate your interest and wish I could be more helpful.

  8. Michael says:

    > This, I think, is the complete, though temporary, victory of bourgeois ideology. Even those who identify as “radicals” see this as a hobby, while they see their “real life” as being their private imperatives: Their job, their family, etc. They don’t view political participation and true public citizenship responsibility even as being a co-equal value, let alone the paramount one.
    (out of the longer comment from above)
    This is exactly why the ugly imageboards are winning. They truly believe they are the basement dwelling (/pol-itical) nerds doing the last stance for change. Most of them are in some way marginalized, even if they earn six figures on their IT-job. Low energy memes are created when the producer does not believe them and thus any “radical” without new roots in anything can’t get traction. The fog isn’t that thick anymore.
    Now the answer mentioning the Apple fanbois hits home miles into its territory. Any discussion between consumers gets awkward really fast when someone states he is fed up with corporations excreting into their computer just to mess with them, so they use Linux (or something similar). “Can’t do that” “lacks useful programs” “is only for nerds (=identity politics)” and the subject changes to sports. Now I am spooked thinking about it.

  9. Pingback: Porkins in The American Journal of Economics and Sociology | Porkins Policy Review

  10. Flump says:

    Since, even by Stone’s own account, his film is a highly embellished chronology of Snowden’s journey from would-be soldier to whistleblower, it is impossible to know if this conversation actually took place. However, it certainly rings true, given that, even in the lionizing hands of Oliver Stone and portrayed by comely Zachary Quinto, Greenwald is customarily charmless.

    This is so badly written — not just the syntax, but the sheer brazen attitude. I am no fan of Greenwald, but a serious academic paper actually let you publish this ad hominem conjecture? Did anyone read this before publishing it?

    So, your point is that it’s likely that the conversation took place in this manner because Greenwald is charmless and, moreover, that an ACTOR, reading a SCRIPT, written by someone NOT IN THE ROOM, could not imbue Greenwald with charm — as if the person’s personal charm even matters? This is a serious leap. If everyone applied your methodology here, we could accuse all sorts of people of all sorts of things. Tony Blair had a lot of charm, Tarzie.

    • Tarzie says:

      This is some seriously belabored antfuckery and still your critique is elusive.

      My point, dumbass, is that Oliver Stone surely expects us to sympathize with the depicted Greenwald’s attempt to mandate credulity for his appropriately skeptical editor. Whether or not the exchange actually took place is entirely beside the point, though real life Greenwald also insists that everyone swallow everything he and Snowden claim uncritically, like the easily disproven lie that Snowden had read all the documents in his trove. The extremely obvious point of the whole section in which this passage appears is that Snowden is rarely questioned at all even though he clearly lies rather frequently. As spies do. People who disobey an unspoken “no hard questions” rule are weirdly subject to discipline. Try reading without centering Greenwald and live!

      And yes the piece was edited. The original draft called Greenwald “an asshole” instead of “customarily charmless.” Asshole was a no-go. By the way, a reader emailed me yesterday and said how much he liked that passage in particular. No lie.

      I try whenever possible to work in a potshot at Greenwald and/or Chomsky whenever I write, cause their fans are such supercilious boobs and so very prone to apoplexy. Thanks for being an automaton. It tickles me whenever this happens.

      Oh right, you’re “No fan of Greenwald” Sure, bub.

      What is going on in schools or homes these days that accounts for this winning combo of over-confidence and unbearable thick-headedness in so many? You think you’re dressing me down and you just look like a trifling nitwit with shitty reading skills. It’s positively Greenwaldian. How’s my syntax, now, professor?

      • Flump says:

        Ha. Jesus, you are a thin-skinned narcissist. Flying off the handle immediately (calling me a ‘dumbass’ from the get-go) and then pretending you’re merely ‘tickled’. You’re one step away from saying, ‘you mad, bro?’ Pathetic. I obviously hit a nerve. You’ve a serious ego, mate. All you seem to deal in is pedantic ideological purity. I can’t find one article of worth on your blog. Just petty callouts of other leftists for not being as proley as thou.

        >’I try whenever possible to work in a potshot at Greenwald and/or Chomsky whenever I write, cause their fans are such supercilious boobs and so very prone to apoplexy.’

        Wow, fighting the big fight. These are the two arch nemeses you have picked for yourself? Greenwald and the Intercept are low-hanging fruit. It’s kind of pathetic that calling Greenwald out is something you brag about, as if it’s a badge of honour. We all know he’s a joke — why else would he be lauded by The Guardian and NY Times? Is this your claim to fame? Do you think you’re blazing the trail here? Cutting-edge stuff, mate. With all that’s been going on in the world in the past few years, this is what you mainly concentrate on? Pull your head out of the spectacle, mate. You’re as bad a cultural critic who thinks they can change society from deconstructing the latest Marvel film as a Late Capitalistic artifact. You don’t seem at all interested in power or structures of power. Go read some Gramsci.

        In regards to Chomsky — it’s just pathetic that you think you can invalidate decades’ worth of solid academic work because of a few nitpicky details you’ve combed for. You seem to just want to confirm your biases — it’s the same type of arrogance and absolutism I saw in Chris Hitchens. Hitchens, too, picked easy fights — Kissinger and Mother Teresa. I mean, who — other than a few neocons and paleocons — would defend Kissinger? Chomsky has written a few very important works — none of which you seem to have read, as you don’t seem to talk about literature or theory on your blog. (It appears as if you read some anarchist pamphlet years ago and have been dining out on it since.) Chomsky has contributed immensely to discourse of the post-war period and your quibbles over some positions he has held does not invalidate his contributions. Žižek tried to do much the same thing — arguing Chomsky’s misgivings about the Khmer Rouge somehow invalidate him as a person. Chomsky freely admitted to an initial bad reading of the situation and Žižek has just carried this example around as he can find little else. You’re acting in much the same manner. Your logic is pure ideology — you’re like the Western propagandists who write off Marx and Ché Guevara for a few character flaws. Do I think Chomsky is flawless and never wrong? No, however I’m not arrogant enough to write-off a man’s entire works because of one or two disagreements.

        >their fans are such supercilious boobs

        This is a hilarious bit of projection. You’re the epitome of superciliousness — your blog and your attempts at browbeating me are testament to this.

        You seem to exhibit traits of NPD or BPD. You seem incapable of enjoying the work of — or deriving any worth from — someone not as ideologically pure as your proley self. That’s a sure sign of borderline personality disorder. Flying off the handle is another tell-tale sign.

        >’Oh right, you’re “No fan of Greenwald” Sure, bub.’

        Ah, yes. Resort to making up your own facts to win an argument. It’s very easy to argue against a strawman, mate. If you can’t take me at my word on that, then of course you’re going to win in your petty little way. All your victories are pyrrhic ones when you act like a child.

        >’My point, dumbass, is that Oliver Stone surely expects us to sympathize with the depicted Greenwald’s attempt to mandate credulity for his appropriately skeptical editor.’

        Your article is so dishonest. You try to establish how we should view the real life characters of Snowden and Greenwald by presenting to us a representation of them in work of fiction. How is this relevant to the facts of the matter in regards to Snowden? You can’t pull your head out of the spectacle for one minute. Your a commentator on the spectacle who doesn’t even know he can’t operate outside of it.

        >’What is going on in schools or homes these days that accounts for this winning combo of over-confidence and unbearable thick-headedness in so many?’

        Wow, the lack of self-awareness is striking here. Pure projection.

        >’You think you’re dressing me down and you just look like a trifling nitwit with shitty reading skills.’

        You’ve shown us all the kind of petty, thin-skinned person you are, mate.

        >’It’s positively Greenwaldian. How’s my syntax, now, professor?’
        Your ego knows no bounds. I get the feeling you’re desperately trying to prove to yourself that my points aren’t valid. A person confident in their abilities wouldn’t have reacted so strongly to these things.

        I was just reading your paper again. Honestly, I could go line by line and dissect it, but it would take forever. There are so many leaps, so much conjecture and confusions of correlations and causations. Weasel words everywhere and fallacies and biases out the arse. It reads like a Salon.com article. I’m actually weary of reading that journal any more after seeing what they will actually publish.

        It’s kind of fitting that the banner image on your website looks like Milo Yiannopoulos — you’re as smug and petty as him, and as politically vacuous. You’re the sad little troll of the left admonishing people for not being as proley as thou, while doing fuck-all about it. There’s no insight in your blogs. They read like a transcript of what would be a leftist version of a Paul Joseph Watson video.

      • Tarzie says:

        zzz

        you guys really need some new material. saw what a hackneyed snoozefest this was gonna be and didn’t even read past the first graf. In other words, it really hit home and I’m ascared of your giant brain and blistering insights.

        the sell by date on this dreck was late 2013 but you assholes never did know when to shut up. you’re all so very dull.

        “I hit a nerve” should be on every asshole’s tombstone.

        I have the opposite of a fetish for trifling, unoriginal dumbasses who think they’re brilliant. That’s the nerve you hit. By that I mean I am a seething collection of personality disorders that wishes he was exactly like marvelous you.

  11. Flump says:

    For some reason I can’t reply to your last comment.

    >’didn’t even read past the first graf.’
    Well that about sums you up. Intellectually lazy and arrogant. I read your tedious, banal, and badly-written paper, but you’re such a thin-skinned narcissist you can’t even bear to read personal criticism.

    You need to sort some stuff out, mate. You’re a know-it-all joke.

    • Tarzie says:

      For some reason I can’t reply to your last comment.

      I’ll get right on that, sir. I deeply regret the inconvenience.

      Intellectually lazy and arrogant.

      not lazy. I actually scanned it. it’s bad criticism I can’t stand. I actually really enjoy being shredded by genuinely intelligent people. Dude, your opening angle was that there was insufficient empirical evidence for Greenwald’s charmlessness. That’s moronic, and by that I mean it was devastating.

      you’re very boring. you don’t challenge me. feel free to extract any self-serving not-at-all narcissistic meaning you like from that, but I am not going to throw away time on you doing shit that isn’t fun.

      • Flump says:

        >not lazy. I actually scanned it.
        That’s paradoxical.

        >you’re very boring. you don’t challenge me.
        This reads like a Trump tweet. You’re a child making value judgements and no arguments. You’re running away and claiming victory. Ha. It’s so pathetic. You’ve thoroughly embarrassed yourself.

        As I said at the end of the post that you didn’t read:
        ‘[Your blog posts] read like a transcript of what would be a leftist version of a Paul Joseph Watson video.’

        Your comments are even more pathetic. How you’ve managed to amass a bit of a following is beyond me.

      • Tarzie says:

        How you’ve managed to amass a bit of a following is beyond me.

        i know, right? And now I’m in an academic journal!!! and then there you are, biting my ankles. what a world!

        will happily engage when you say a single smart thing about the piece I wrote. Hackneyed pathologizing is not a critique you fucking idiot.

  12. Flump says:

    >And now I’m in an academic journal!!! and then there you are, biting my ankles. what a world!

    And yet you still won’t publish your name as deep down you’re obviously insecure — hence the lashing out, the defensiveness, the offensiveness, and the pettiness. The fact that you have to brag about this speaks for itself — it’s like Trump bragging about his money or how he’s ‘smart’.

    You’re a total narcissist. Just sitting there gloating, as if you’re not a charlatan. You can’t resist bickering like a child, can you? It’s like Trump on twitter. Pathetic.

    I love how you say you don’t want to waste any more time on me, unless it’s petty bickering in short-format. It seems to be your mode of operation. It’s also funny that you wrote a very long reply to my comment and then suddenly don’t want to waste any more time on me after I respond, in detail, to you. Can’t handle it, obviously. You’ve no self-control.

    Sort out your insecurities, mate.

    • Tarzie says:

      Please doctor stop!!! It’s like you see into my very soul. It’s too much too soon!

      You’re almost entertaining at this point.

    • Tarzie says:

      where do you idiots learn that a series of unoriginal personal attacks befitting a precocious 12-year-old is a critique and that the target’s unwillingness to engage signifies laziness or cowardice.

      you’re not doing critique. that’s the problem. do critique and I’ll engage.

      • Flump says:

        Jesus, the irony of this.

        >where do you idiots learn that a series of unoriginal personal attacks befitting a precocious 12-year-old is a critique

        Remember calling me ‘dumbass’?

        >and that the target’s unwillingness to engage signifies laziness or cowardice.

        You didn’t even bother to read it and then you tell me you skimmed it, to save face, but didn’t respond to anything. It’s intellectually lazy and it smacks of insecurity. Tell yourself what you have to. The way you can’t stop replying obviously means you are perturbed. Your double-standards and hypocrisy are here for everyone to see — one minute you’re saying you won’t waste any more time with me and then you keep going, back-and-forth, as long as you don’t have to reply to my substantive critique of your comment.

        >you’re not doing critique. that’s the problem. do critique and I’ll engage.
        How would you know if you haven’t read it? If you’re so assured of yourself, critique my reply.

        You’re like a boxer claiming victory for not showing up to the fight. It’s so hilariously pathetic. No wonder you want to hide your identity and not become a public academic. You’d be destroyed in seconds in an actual, in-person debate with anyone with half a brain.

      • Tarzie says:

        Ok I’ve read all of your comments from tip to tail.

        I surrender.

  13. Flumpp says:

    I see you deleted the second half of our conversation. Embarrassed?

    I screen-captured it anyway. It’s quite sad how you censor things as a form of damage control.

    • Tarzie says:

      There is no disabusing you of the notion that you provoke in some way more meaningful than that you are a kind of egregious asshole that I particularly detest and have met 10000 times.

      I’m not in the least embarrassed. Do I seem like someone who gets embarrassed? I deleted the conversation because I felt it was of absolutely no interest to anyone. I take pride in having a comments section that people want to read, which is why I try to keep assholes like you out.

      Spoiler alert: no one gives a shit about your fucking screen caps, least of all me. Do your worst. I. Don’t. Care. You are obviously obsessed with me. It’s really rather sad.

      You’re an insipid middle class fuck who’s been told how stupid he is far too little. You’re a fucking idiot and what’s so sickening about it is you think you’re devastating me with some “critique” which consists of diagnosing my personality disorders and comparing me to disagreeable celebrities. Trust me. When I say you just disgust me because you’re such dime-a-dozen know nothing garbage, believe it. That’s really all there is. There is nothing I despise more than self-adoration tempered with stupidity. You’re also unmistakably middle class or higher which makes you particularly sickening to me. A prole as stupid as you would choose his battles and mostly keep his mouth shut. I should have stopped at “dumbass.” You don’t warrant anything else.

      Without apologies I will ban every IP you try you sad stalking nutjob.

  14. mickstep says:

    Hi, it’s been a while, but I would very much like to read the article you got published. Academic papers are not exactly easy to pirate

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