June 2015 Links

National Security State

Edward J. Snowden, “The World Says No to Surveillance.”

The Guardian, “View on Surveillance after Snowden: An Outlaw Rewrites the Law.”

David Cole, “Reining in the NSA.”

Dan Froomkin, “USA Freedom Act: Small Step for Post-Snowden Reform, Giant Leap for Congress.”

Don Franzen interviews Erwin Chemerinsky, “The Legal Legacy of Citizen Four.”

Anne Richardson, “That Fine Line Between Hero and Traitor: What Can We Learn from the Snowden Disclosures?” review of After Snowden: Privacy, Secrecy and Security in the Information Age, edited by Ronald Goldfarb.

Glenn Greenwald, “Did Max Boot and Commentary Magazine Lie About Edward Snowden? You Decide.”

David Dayen, “The Scariest Trade Deal Nobody’s Talking About Just Suffered a Big Leak.”

Bryan Magers, “The War in Africa the US Military Won’t Admit It’s Fighting.”

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Accumulating Ruin and a Pleasant Apocalypse

Adam Rothstein has a pretty interesting little essay for The State, titled “The Accumulation of Ruin-Space.” In it he asks,

But the question for these ruin-spaces is, how long will the[y] exist? We seem to have an attraction to ruins—we want them and seek them out, though never with the same functional desire with which we seek out current structures. What will we do in the future as these ruin-spaces pile up, unable to be destroyed because of their enforced temporality as preserved agedness? The earth is becoming a solid mass of scar tissue, as the tracks of human endeavor scour crosshatching into its surface.

Is the earth becoming a hyperarchive of ruins?

And also at The State, Asher Kohn writes about Central Asia as a post-apocalyptic space in “A Pleasant Post-Apocalypse.” He suggests that “[t]he history of Central Asia is in many ways a history of eschatologies; not a graveyard of empires but perhaps a graveyard of belief systems.” While “eschatological” might be a bit extreme to describe the history he traces, nonetheless, his description of the landscape of post-Soviet Russia bears considering:

It is truly very difficult to explain how Soviet geoforming was such a disaster. Whole seas were turned into steppe. Whole steppes were turned into blast zones. Whole blast zones were restructured to focus on an alien frontier. There is no real way to overestimate the effect this must have on the people who live in the region. Pastoralism is an artifact, not an economy. Islam was tortured by Soviet hubris. Language changes made it impossible for a grandson to communicate with his grandmother. And the land, the very essence of life itself, the only connection a person might have with the folkways of the parents, grandparents, and ancestors of their society, is turned to factory farms and dust and ash. In the 21st century, Central Asia is a post-apocalyptic world.

The article also has some wonderful pictures.