[S]cience has progressed thanks in great part to the work of men astoundingly
mediocre, and even less than mediocre. That is to say, modern
science, the root and symbol of our actual civilization, finds a place
for the intellectually commonplace man and allows him to work
therein with success. The reason of this lies in what is at the same
time the great advantage and the gravest peril of the new science,
and of the civilization directed and represented by it, namely
mechanization ... For the purpose of innumerable
investigations it is possible to divide science into small sections,
to enclose oneself in one of these, and leave out of consideration all
the rest. The solidity and exactitude of the methods allow of this
temporary but quite real disarticulation of knowledge. The work is
done under one of these methods as with a machine, and in order
to obtain quite abundant results it is not even necessary to have
rigorous notions of their meaning and foundations.
In this way the majority of scientists help the general advance of
science while shut up in the narrow cell of their
laboratory, like the bee in the cell of its hive ...
But this creates an extraordinarily strange type of man. The
investigator who has discovered a new fact of Nature must
necessarily experience a feeling of power and self-assurance. With
a certain apparent justice he will look upon himself as "a man who
knows. " And in fact there is in him a portion of something which,
added to other portions not existing in him, does really
constitute knowledge. This is the true inner nature of the specialist,
who in the first years of this century has reached the wildest stage of
exaggeration. The specialist "knows" very well his own tiny
corner of the universe; he is radically ignorant of all the rest.
Here we have a precise example of this strange new man, whom I
I have attempted to define, from both of his two opposite aspects.
I have said he was a human product unparallaled in history ... For,
previously, men could be divided simply into the learned and the
ignorant ... But your specialist cannot be brought in under either of these
two categories. He is not learned, for he is formally ignorant of all that
does not enter into his specialty; but neither is he ignorant,
because he is a “scientist” and "knows" very well his own tiny
portion of the universe. We shall have to say he is a learned
ignoramus, which is a very serious matter, as it implies that he is a
person who is ignorant, not in the fashion of the ignorant man, but
with the petulance of one who is learned in his own special line.
And such in fact is the behavior of the specialist. In politics, in art,
in social usages, in the other sciences, he will adopt the attitude of a
primitive, ignorant man; but he will adopt them forcefully and
with self-sufficiency, and [that he ] will not admit of this is the paradox specialists
have in these matters.. .By specializing him, civilization has
made him hermetic and self-satisfied within his limitations; but
this very inner feeling of dominance and worth will induce him to
wish to dominate outside his specialty. The result is that even
in this case, representing a maximum of qualification in man-specialization
and therefore the thing most opposed to mass-man,
the result is that he will behave in almost all spheres of life as does
the unqualified, the mass-man.
- Jose Ortega y Gasset, The Revolt of The Masses, p. 79 –
I deliberately left the above quote long because I wanted to discourage a certain type of visitor from reading this post. His short attention span will screen him out.
Written in 1930, Ortega y Gasset´s learned ignoramus definition brings to light the indelible watermark of our times. The brave new world offered up by Microsoft, Wi-Fi, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google, Prism, Silicon Valley, Apple and Smartphones, is only more of the cowardly old one.
* * *
I just watched the Hong Kong testimony of Edward Snowden for the third time. I am convinced that he had a crisis of conscience. When you are on the inside of a government, as I was, you see many practices you disagree with morally and professionally. Should you quit? If you walk out, especially after only a few weeks on the job as I almost did, you not only will never see what it is "really" like, but also you forfeit any possibility to make things better. On the other hand, if you stay, ipso facto -- and regardless of what you think or feel -- you become part of the problem. The more numerous and horrific the practices are, the more you are caught up in a high drama that each individual must resolve by himself.
Hold on, though. How conscious is Snowden's conscious?
Watch the interview again. You will see behind him a mirror with a reversed image. A shadow.
A few of its contents were revealed in an early New York Times report:
"From Mr. Snowden´s friends and his own voluminous Web postings emerges a portrait of a talented young man who did not finish high school but bragged online that employers ´fight over me.´ ´Great minds do not need a university to make them any more credible: they get what they need and quietly blaze their trails into history,´ he wrote online at age 20. Mr. Snowden, who has taken refuge in Hong Kong, has studied Mandarin, was deeply interested in martial arts, claimed Buddhism as his religion and once mused that ´China is definitely a good option career wise.´"
Quo Vadis? -- "Where are you going" -- was the question St. Peter put to the risen Christ on a road. Christ, who was carrying a cross, answered, "I'm on my way to Rome to be crucified again."
Mandarin, martial arts, Buddhism, career choice: Snowden was packed and ready to go. Great minds made a crucifix out of four computers and an idée fixe out of China, went there, but got neither the credibility they wanted nor the asylum they needed. Snowden stalled out in Moscow. His crucifiers are down the road, lying in wait.
Quo Vadis, Edward Snowden? After two weeks in airport limbo, we still do not know. Bolivia? Nicaragua? Venezuela? They offered him asylum; Snowden´s challenge is to travel there and avoid the crucifiers. As for Russia, President Putin announced he would grant Snowden asylum but that Snowden would "have to stop doing work that is aimed at harming our American partners." No more leaks and political pronunciamientos, then. That is a classic quid pro quo. Snowden initially rejected it; however, Putin set the precedent for other nations. It has obviously entered their thinking; dozens of them rejected his asylum requests.
And so, Snowden will stay in Russia for a while. Temporary asylum -- assuming there is such a thing.
What is President Putin, a former KGB agent, up to?
* * *
Russia has more world chess masters per square inch than any other country. Putin´s quid pro quo was a classic strategic move; it gave him instant control of one of the four squares in the center of the board. Control of the center is the beginning and (usually) end of a chess match.*
Stated differently, with his quid pro quo Putin hung a jacket on Snowden: Shut Up!
But can Snowden shut up?
Not if he is one of Ortega y Gasset´s modern idiots. Time will tell if Snowden is a precise example of this strange new man. Mediocre ... even less than mediocre. Primitive and ignorant of everything outside his tiny corner of the universe, his supreme knowledge of the corner creates a petulance that will induce him to wish to predominate outside his specialty.
Does that explanation sound like somebody you know -- or heard of?
Great minds quietly blaze their trails into history. The specialist´s inner feeling of dominance identified by Ortega y Gasset runs deeper than deep. It is bigger than the scientist/specialist because it is unconscious, which is why discussing it with him -- in a blog, for example -- is a waste of time. His felt need to predominate dominates him, not vice versa.
Is Snowden a good guy? A bad guy? "Hero"? (Oliver Stone) "Traitor"? (Secretary of State John Kerry). You are seeing in the media lots of mirrors reminiscent of Snowden's. In the end, these questions are not worth answering because, in addition to the modern idiot dilemma, the Snowden Affair brings to the surface something that the media and Washingtonian politicos are minimizing, if not avoiding -- something far more important and critical that then personal attributes of any individual. I call it The Big Surprise... I think Putin picked up on it
To understand it, let´s do something new: start with what is obvious:
Is Snowden a middle class rebel? Of course. Readers of The Source of Terrorism: Middle Class Rebellion will see in him all the archetypal characteristics; I won´t dwell on them here. In case you are wondering if Snowden is socio-economically middle class, Bloomberg reports that his mother is an administrative clerk for Maryland´s federal court and his father retired in 2009 from the Coast Guard.
Second question: is Snowden a terrorist or neo-terrorist, i.e., a terrorist facilitator? U.S. reporters, D.C. establishment politicos and national security chiefs are hurriedly pointing in that direction. However, The Source of Terrorism has a rigorous definition of terrorism.** Snowden does not come close to meeting its requirements.
Rebel, yes; terrorist, no. I suspect that, unlike the American spy agencies who once fought over Snowden and now are hunting him, the Chinese and the Russian authorities immediately spotted the middle class rebel who landed on your doorstep. Lenin's pamphlet, "´Left Wing´ Communism: An Infantile Disorder,”*** no doubt came to mind; so did Marx´s essay, “Heroes of The Exile.”
Response? The Chinese shrugged -- "I really think he´s a kid," said Snowden´s Hong Kong lawyer, Albert Ho -- then did what an idée fixe always does wiith such a person: it pumped him and dumped him.
As for the Russians ...
* * *
As I write these words, Snowden is still in the transit zone at Sheremetyevo airport. The Russians´ actions and statements indicate they detected the key to him.
The middle class rebel seeks an absolute truth in order to quiet -- shut up -- the unconscious ambivalent emotions tearing him asunder. In Snowden´s case, that absolute truth takes the form of an ideal: he wants to shake up the world, make it a better place. "I asked the world for justice," he stated yesterday: "individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring."
The rebel´s ambivalent emotions are a product of his middle class upbringing, i.e., intermediate, transitional, marginal.
Now, there is no place in the world more intermediate, transitional and marginal than a nation´s point of entry. By holding Snowden in transit, the Russians grabbed square 2 in the center of the chessboard. They are ratcheting up Snowden´s anxiety; he will do anything -- anything -- to end the tortuous ambiguous situation he is caught in. And so, he talks, talks, talks. And agrees. We are looking at manipulation at its maximum.
By one and the same move, Putin took control of the third square in the center. Keeping Snowden in an intermediate/transitional/marginal zone stirred up unconscious wasp nests worldwide. Middle class rebels everywhere are protesting not against Putin, who, after all, offered Snowden asylum (sort of), but against the U.S.
We come to the fourth and final square in the center. It, too, is held by Putin. The U.S. now owes him a huge favor for his quid pro quo, viz., for not granting Snowden permanent asylum outright. In plain English: the U.S. is now indebted to the Kremlin for, well, what, exactly?
All four squares: gone. They were acquired with the economy of moves that is the hallmark of Russian political strategy. Obama will continue to play -- such is his right -- but the pros know the game is over.
Sidebar: They say that there are no absolute truths, but it is absolutely true that former KGB agents throw fantastic parties. I speak from experience (see below). Right now, they are toasting, laughing in their Crystal vodka. For such a special occasion, no doubt the Kremlin broke out the top of the line bottles with engraved birds. You can also be sure they got their supply directly from the factory. If you buy Crystal vodka at a kiosk in the street, you risk imbibing something the Tar Baby tossed together.
Officially, of course, none of the above exists. President Putin´s spokesman declared that Snowden was "not our problem," that the only thing his government is doing is listening to different points of view being expressed. All I can say is, I'm glad to see that the Russian authorities have retained the wry, spicy sense of humor I remember so well ...
In 1994, I studied Russian at the Moscow State Linguistic University and lived with a Russian family in Aviamotornaya. A tougher, more generous people does not exist. I saw tremendous beauty, heard great music, and saw incredible violence.****
The university was loaded with former KGB agents and communist party leaders; one of my professors was Raul Castro´s translator. To give you an idea of how things worked, my visa was valid for two months; I wanted to stay for six. I met with the university president -- no appointment necessary. He listened politely, picked up the phone, muttered something, nodded, hung up.
"Tom, we just extended your visa. Pick it up tomorrow."
And so, a university has the power to extend visas for foreigners. Go figure.
Another thing unheard of in the U.S.: action in 10 seconds. Problem solved. An invisible informal security apparatus was in place. It enables Russians to move chess pieces quickly -- and, as we will show, each move serves many purposes.
Speaking of pieces, anyone who thinks the Russians will hold an employee of the CIA / NSA captive and not ream and clean him of information, needs to redo the seventh grade. The evidence was all over the place, on television. An Ecuadorian embassy car was waiting at the Moscow airport, but left without Snowden. If the Russians really, truly, wanted nothing to do with him, they would have escorted him to the car. Bon Voyage.
* * *
A man who knows. Great minds, with their feeling of power and self-assurance, deserve a closer look.
(1) Snowden says he went to Hong Kong to seek asylum because it has a history of dissent. Huh? Tell it to the mainland China military commander standing fire-poker rigid in an open jeep, who showed up early for the celebration in which Britain relinquished control of Hong Kong in 1997. I will never forget the astonished eyes of the British Empire. The mainland Chinese could not wait 15 minutes to take control -- and they didn´t.
Information is a perishable good. Like fruit, when it is consumed, it disappears; when it is no longer good, it is thrown out without looking back. I'll go ahead and say the obvious: Snowden is not a strategic thinker. He should have secured asylum in Hong Kong -- his first choice -- BEFORE he released his information. For insurance, he should have stashed at least one computer in a secret location. You get the contents, gentlemen, when I get the asylum.
I suspect that The Guardian reporter, Glen Greenwald, pressured him. URGENT!! RIGHT NOW -- DAMN IT!!! DEADLINE!!! Being radically ignorant of media machinations, Snowden caved in. P.S. The next time you're at the supermarket, watch mothers with kids. HURRY UP!!! FASTER!!! NOW!!! U.S. filmmakers, television producers and publishers hopelessly mistake urgency for drama; it is part of their toilet training. The result is a population easily manipulated by a single word. Foreigners know this, and act accordingly. How do you say "Get lost -- NOW!" in Chinese?
(2) No one is asking great minds an obvious question. Why did Snowden give his information to The Guardian and not to WikiLeaks? Is WikiLeaks no longer the go-to-guy for whistleblowers? Is that why WikiLeaks is now playing hurry-up offense, falling all over himself, noisly trumpeting Snowden´s cause to the point of embarrassing Ecuador, host nation of Julian Assange?
Snowden knows the Internet. I think there is a serious question here.
(3) Finally, we come to the biggest question of all.
Snowden is now one of the most famous people on earth. Did he not blaze his way into history?
I have a two word response:
What? -- no bells rang?
In his day, Ed Howard was every bit as famous as Snowden is today. The fact that you, Dear Reader -- and I include the boys and girls of the CIA and the NSA among you -- never heard of Ed Howard shows that history -- certain pages of it, in any case -- is like information or fruit: perishable. Quickly, imminently, irredeemably perishable.
The title of David Wise´s book, The Spy Who Got Away: The Inside Story of Edward Lee Howard, The CIA Agent Who Betrayed The Secrets of His Country and Escaped to Moscow, is a good synopsis. Snowden´s flights to Hong Kong and Moscow instantly reminded me of Ed Howard, except that Howard outsmarted hundreds of FIB and CIA agents chasing him around the globe. He reached his destination, Moscow, where asylum was a done deal.
It appears that Snowden has reconsidered and decideded to accept Putin´s quid pro quo-laden offer of temporary asylum. If he stays in Russia, thanks to Ed Howard, we know exactly what awaits Snowden: a KGB town with cold cuts and cold slaw in a brick dacha of five rooms. (For more, click here.) Great minds will not fail to take note of the steep staircase where Ed Howard died mysteriously of a broken neck in 2002.
Accident? Besides the dacha, Ed Howard showed something else. Exposed spies are like fish and distant relatives who come to visit: after a while, they start to stink. Snowden had better figure out a way -- fast -- to ensure that his temporary asylum in Russia is only temporary.
To be truthful, the reason I remember Ed Howard is that for years he and I sat across from each other.
In the early 1980s, after being fired by the CIA, Ed Howard worked for the same state government that employed me. There the similarity ends. He was an analyst for the Legislative Finance Committee, a highly professional group that analyzed the taxation and revenue impacts of laws and legislation. LFC analysts were experienced, highly educated, objective, apolitical.
I, in turn, was the chief of staff of the Majority Floor Leader of the House of Representatives. Formally, I supervised eight bill analysts. Informally, my duty was to bust the coalition of Republicans and right-wing Democrats that took control of the House by one vote, putting the GOP in the driver's seat for the first time in half a century. (For how we broke the coalition, see the post of June 1, 2012: "Lobbyists (5)").
Politics, then, was my most important product. That fact was an open secret in the Capitol building, which meant LFC analysts, Ed Howard included, visibly froze when I entered the room. They sensed that one of their objective, rigorously researched, impartial, highly credible and quantified analyses was about to be caught up in some obscure but brazen political movida.***** (They were usually right, but not always). Most certainly, afterhours cavorting was forbidden, it could result in an analysis being plastered all over the nightly news in a manner detrimental to the House leadership. Some hapless LFC analyst would be out the door in the morning.
In the end, personal interactions were strictly limited to behind closed doors, where Ed Howard´s boss, Maralyn B., and I freely exchanged analyses (to which all legislative employees were entitled). I read a lot of work by Ed Howard; I remember he was heavily into the economics of oil. No modern idiot.
Now, something new: an anti-climax without a climax preceding it.
In 1994, I thought I saw Ed Howard in Moscow's Gorky Park, headed toward the Ferris wheel. I hesitated, veered. Two steer-shaped men with no necks stepped out from behind him. I looked away, kept walking. My Moscow lady companion noticed the split-second exchange. "What's going on?" she asked.
"Oh, nothing. Nothing at all."
Ed Snowden, if somehow you made it past Ortega y Gasset´s lengthy screen and are reading these words, the next time you see yourself on CNN, keep in mind that as many people see you as forget you. Broken neck included.
* * *
In his Hong Kong interview, Snowden said he made public his secret information in order to inform the American people that their government was spying on them. He then left it up to them to decide what to do about it.
What the man who knows will learn:
Scarcely a single Facebook, Google or Twitter account will be canceled by the very people whom those companies sold down the river. The reality is that the American people cannot decide what will be done. A basic premise of this blog is that in 2008-2009 the system the American Founding Fathers created was replaced by a full-fledged oligarchy with democratic trappings. No cancellations of Internet companies, then; no true changes for and by the people. Brave new world, indeed.
We alluded earlier in this post to something the Snowden Affair brought to the surface, which is larger and more basic than any individual. And, we mentioned that Putin already picked up on it.
The New York Times article, which introduced us to great minds, off-handedly referred to it:
"Mr. Snowden ... spent his formative years in the rebellious technogeek counterculture ...
His disclosures have renewed a longstanding concern: that young Internet aficionados whose skills the agencies need for counterterrorism and cyberdefense sometimes bring an anti-authority spirit that does not fit the security bureaucracy.
´There was lots of discussion at N.S.A. and in the intelligence community in general about the acculturation process,´ said Joel F. Brenner, a former inspector general of the agency. ´They were aware that they were bringing in young people who had to adjust to the culture -- and who would change the culture.´
Mr. Brenner said that with such a buildup after the Sept. 11 attacks ´you´re going to have some sloppiness and some mistakes. It is remarkable, he said, that ´disloyalty´ of Mr. Snowden´s variety is so rare.”
And so, there is a buildup of middle class rebels within the NSA. There it is -- The Big Surprise.
When Mr. Inspector General referred to the "culture" of middle class rebels, he evinced the standard U.S. ignorance of a basic reality. Middle class rebellion is not a culture. It is an ideology in the fullest, truest sense of the word, i.e., a logic of ideas that lacks serious questioning of its premises and values. Not to understand that fact is to miss the fundamental truth: technogeeks are programmers who have been programmed, prepackaged, by an ideology.
Because the NSA, CIA, Secret Service, and FBI do not understand the ideology of middle class rebellion, they do not have the foggiest idea whom they are recruiting, who is laboring away in their bee hive of cubicles.
What is even more disturbing, however, is that with each new hire the understanding of middle class rebellion needed to combat terrorism retreats further into the distance. By not admitting that he cannot admit, the middle class rebel guards his secret even from himself.
In the future, then, look for more Snowdens -- or worse. At least Snowden did not murder anybody.
* * *
It's time to come down hard -- with both feet.
The Boston Marathon Massacre conclusively showed that hiring hackers doesn´t hack it. Snowdens at $200,000 a clip are not needed any more than are the outer space whizz-bang vehicles they comisserate with. No need, either, to tap everybody´s emails and telephones.
What is needed: common sense and a knowledge of middle-class rebellion, terrorism and their interrelationships. When these requirements are met, as our post of April 29, 2013 "The Boston Marathon terrorists" pointed out, all it normally takes to identify terrorists is (1) a telephone book, and (2) a telephone.
I must emphasize two points:
(1) The buildup of middle class rebels in the NSA does not mean we are looking at a clear and present case of the fox guarding the henhouse -- not yet, at any rate. Very few middle class rebels become terrorists; on the contrary, most terrorists are middle class rebels.
(2) Middle class rebellion is not all bad. In truth, it has something powerful and constructive, particularly its energy, to contribute -- potentially. That development, however, requires rebellion to become what it is not today: aware, conscious, self-questioning. The transformation will start when a middle class rebel somewhere fully and publicly acknowledges what he is. To my knowledge, that acknowledgement has never been made.
What difference, in practical terms, will that acknowledgement make? The Source of Terrorism (pp. 394-5) identified it in terms of the key to rebellion already mentioned in this post: unconscious ambivalence in an ambiguous middle class world.
By holding situational ambiguity and the ambivalent emotions generated by it in consciousness -- by not repressing, denying, explaining away, or otherwise minimizing them --
"unconsciousness [is stripped] of its autonomy over rebellion. Involved therein is not the destruction of rebellion, a destruction that currently is neither possible nor desirable. Rather, the effect would render rebellion more aware, i.e., less ideological. The immediate consequence of that awareness would be that, for the first time in history, we could start to stop rebellion´s control over us. That unconscious control accounts for how rebellion can hit with the devastating fury of a natural catastrophe."
Instead of the middle class rebellion we know, then, there is potentially something else, the new, which has no name. The vocabulary for analyzing it does not exist. We are not there yet.
Tragically, the acknowledgement by the middle class rebel of who he is requires a predisposition which Ortega y Gasset´s hermetic and self-satisfied modern idiot lacks. That requirement excludes 95% of the middle class rebels whom U.S. security agencies are pointlessly scrambling to bring on board.
To find whom you are hunting, NSA, start by looking down the hall or, for that matter, in the mirror. Ed Snowden´s mirror.
41 years ago, Walt Kelly's Pogo graphically expressed the same idea. Faced with a swamp overrun with litter, he acknowledged the self-evident truth. Pogo got the picture.
UPDATE: July 17, 2013. The Russian masterplan for Ed Snowden?
Item 1: On July 2, France, Portugal, Spain and Italy denied fly-over and/or landing rights to the presidential aircraft of Evo Morales, leader of Bolivia. They had been told by "someone" that Ed Snowden was aboard. The denial of air space was issued after President Morales´ aircraft took off from Moscow, where he met with President Putin, forcing an emergency landing in Austria where Morales was stuck for 14 hours.
Item 2: Venezuela publicly offered asylum to Snowden -- but did Snowden accept it? There are conflicting reports.
I stressed in the above post that the Russians are masters of strategy. Against them, the CIA, NSA, FBI, Secret Service, State Department and White House regularly come off as minibantamweight fighters in a sport that has no minibantamweight class.
I attribute the Russians´ exceptional ability to two sources:
(1) Being conquered and ruled for centuries by Mongols. Countless murders, rapes, tortures, burned homes, thefts: Russians learned not only how to survive but to defeat "The Golden Horde."
(2) The Russian language. It has six cases (nominative, accusative, genitive, dative, instrumental, and prepositional), which means all nouns and their qualifiers must be "run" through a complex grid of different case endings. The cases give foreign students monumental and lingering headaches, but they come automatically and instantly to Russians because, if you are under 14 years old when you learn a language, you also learn the logic that goes with it. (The only thing that saved me in Moscow was I had two years of Latin in junior high school).
I noted in the above blog post that an economy of moves is the signature of Russian strategic thinking.
What, then, do they have up their sleeve for Snowden?
Let´s review items 1 and 2. I think they go together to form the launching pad for three techniques by which Snowden can be safely moved out of Russia to his final destination. I will present only one of them here.
Item 1: The Evo Morales Affair.
Fact: Edward Snowden lands in Moscow bearing espionage gifts.
Question: how do the Russians know they are real? Answer: the Russians randomly pick a supposedly compromised telephone/email connection. They test it by running a rumor through it that is so outlandish that it can only come from one source, yet not so preposterous as to be unbelievable. The rumor: Ed Snowden will leave Russia aboard Evo Morales´ presidential aircraft.
The rumor is overheard; four nations deny access to the aircraft. By placing a single phone call or email, then, the Russians not only established that (1) Snowden´s information is reliable, they also (2) confirmed that the line in question is bugged. In addition, the Russians (3) learned the reaction of Western Europe to any perceived international travel by Snowden.
In the Evo Morales Affair, the West did a lot more than tip its hand, as we shall see.
Hold on, though. The Russian movida doesn´t end there.
(4) All Latin America is now outraged and enraged at the four Western nations for their shocking treatment of President Morales. Not so suppressed memories of colonialism are surging to the surface; Latin American leaders have demanded apologies, recalled ambassadors.
(5) The citizens of France, Italy, Portugal, and Spain now know who the puppet master is -- and who are the puppets. Is a European Spring a la Arab Spring in the offing? Greece and Spain are simmering.
All five outcomes favorable to Russia were obtained for the price of a phone call/email. If that isn´t an economy of moves, what is? It should come as no surprise that Putin, whenever he discusses the Snowden affair, now and then flashes a cat-that-swallowed-the-canary smile. All of which calls for a second blowout Kremlin party, replete with Crystal vodka in the beautiful engraved bottles. Plenty of caviar, too, surved the traditional, simple way -- on bread and butter.
The Russian movida may not be over. If its last phase kicks in, it will secure travel for Snowden into permanent asylum in another country.
Here is one of three possible travel techniques I referred to, which I think former KGB agents have in mind:
(6) As mentioned, it is unclear if Snowden accepted the Venezuelan asylum request. Did he or didn´t he? Not even his hairdresser knows for sure. As a result, the heat from Washington, for the time being, is not on Venezuela.
In November 2008, the Russian navy visited Venezuela. Whenever Snowden slides off the front pages, Venezuela can routinely announce it will reciprocate the 2008 visit by sending its navy on a courtesy call to Russia. What´s that? -- you don´t think Venezuela has an armada of war ships? Click here.
Ed Snowden is then smuggled aboard a Venezuelan ship. I think the exKGB style would be to dress him up in a sailor´s uniform. Anchors away.
The former KGB agents may fill out the picture by showing pre-recorded footage of Snowden and transmitting pre-recorded telephone conversations, to give the impression he has not left Russia.
When Snowden arrives in Venezuela, I expect a third Kremlin blow-out party. I also expect the festivities will be filled with the usual play-on-words/pun-filled humor characterizing former KGB agents. Put "Chips Ahoy!" at the top of the list.
Even if Obama learns of the final act of the Russian movida, there is nothing he can do. If he pounds on the desk, foams at the mouth, and declares to god and the world that Snowden is aboard a Venezuelan ship, who will believe it? You? Remember Evo Morales?
Other nations won´t hear of it. Which is why, in the Evo Morales Affair, Washington didn´t just tip its hand; it burned its cards. All of them.
*Note to the State Department, NSA, CIA, FBI, White House and other non-chess players:
“Control the center when you play chess ... the person who controls the four squares at the center of the board will have the best game. There are simple reasons for this.
First, a piece in the center controls more of the board than one that is somewhere elsewhere. As an example, place one Knight on a center square and another in one of the corners of the board. The Knight in the center can move to eight different places, while the "cornered" one has only two possible moves!
Second, control of the center provides an avenue for your pieces to travel from one side of the board to the other. To move a piece across the board, you will often have to take it through the center. If your pieces can get to the other side faster than your opponent's pieces, you will often be able to mount a successful attack there before he can bring over enough pieces to defend." Chesscentral.com
**"A terrorist is most often a middle class rebel (1) experiencing magnified marginal or transitional conditions, who (2) voluntarily (3) goes through certain rites of passage, among which are (4) clique membership and (5) a deliberate decision to commit a criminal act that is almost always (6) violent and usually (7) murder, in (8) the name of the higher intentions or convictions without (9) retaining consciously the ambiguity of his criminal act and his higher intentions/convictions. He expresses powerful, unconscious, ambivalent emotions in two ways: (10) converting his intentions/convictions into idées fixes or absolute truths, the opposite extreme from ambiguity, and (11) wielding uncertainty as a weapon. That uncertainty is total, as shown by the fact that (12) everyone -- allies, noncombatants, even himself -- is a potential victim. A concluding note: it is the syndrome, the running together of components, which counts -- not specific components taken in isolation.
By not admitting what he cannot admit, the terrorist guards his secret, even from himself.
By not admitting what he is, the terrorist shows the gravity that admission holds for him. To my knowledge, no terrorist or other middle class rebel ever said what he is.
What he is, is the secret he keeps: he is a middle class rebel."
***If you are from a Western nation, Dear Reader, I can assure you that your perspective on Snowden is not at all that of the Chinese and the Russian authorities. As for what the latter is, Lenin wrote: "The petty bourgeois ´gone mad´ from the horrors of capitalism, is a social phenomenon which, like anarchism, is characteristic of all capitalist countries. The weakness of such revolutionarism, its futility, its liability to swiftly transform itself into obedience, apathy, fantasy, and even falling in ´mad´ infatuation with bourgeois ´fashionable´ tendency -- all this is a matter of common knowledge. " ("Infantile Disorder," pp.26 -7)
Cementing the gone-mad perspective are Lenin´s frequent and fervent denunciations -- eerie indeed -- of the Snowdens. Pp. 84-5, sic passim.
****For Muscovites who will reflexively jump to deny the violence, here is an insider code you know and will not dispute:
"Paratrooper Day," August 17 (?). All stores locked up, boarded -- hurricane-proofed. Police vanished. I put on a blue and white-striped sailor´s shirt and, undetected, saw a gang of drunken thugs trash Park Cultury subway station.
*****Movida definition: 1. A clever bit of mischief. 2. Someone else´s attractive girlfriend. Synonyms: Maneuver. Trick. Stunt. Fake out. Ploy.