Blowback against socio-psychobabble about how Edward Snowden’s generation is anti-government


Moderate-conservative columnist David Brooks of The New York Times took it upon himself today to EXPLAIN how NSA leaker Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old, is somewhat representative  of an alienated generation:

Though thoughtful, morally engaged and deeply committed to his beliefs, he appears to be a product of one of the more unfortunate trends of the age: the atomization of society, the loosening of social bonds, the apparently growing share of young men in their 20s who are living technological existences in the fuzzy land between their childhood institutions and adult family commitments.

If you live a life unshaped by the mediating institutions of civil society, perhaps it makes sense to see the world a certain way: Life is not embedded in a series of gently gradated authoritative structures: family, neighborhood, religious group, state, nation and world. Instead, it’s just the solitary naked individual and the gigantic and menacing state.

This lens makes you more likely to share the distinct strands of libertarianism that are blossoming in this fragmenting age….

Steve M. over at No More Mister Nice Blog DEFTLY REBUTS Brooks’ nonsense:

Snowden’s generation? As Pew noted in January, 18-to-29-year-olds are, by a significant margin, the most likely to say they “trust the government in Washington to do the right thing always or most of the time.”

There may be a subgroup of distrustful Millennial dudes, but the generation as a whole is not alienated from the institution of government. If anything, it’s the rest of us, the oldsters, who are alienated. (And remember, the young are the ones who’ve been most supportive of Barack Obama and other Democrats in recent years. Interest in libertarianism, at least among the young, could be explained in part by Obama’s failure to live up to his promise.)

And on the subject of this generation’s overall socialization, I’ll say that for the past twenty-plus years I’ve lived a couple of avenues over from a popular bar strip for twentysomethings, and I can assure you that young people generally still like interpersonal engagement — a lot. It’s true that now they spend much of their time checking their phones, but they do this in large groups. And, of course, their parents have pretty much the same phone habits. The young (and not-so-young) are still social, and are also digital-social.

Snowden is just who he is. He is not the representative man of our times.



  1. Steverino

    Can you imagine what the person at Booz Allen is thinking when he or she recommended this guy as a great fit for the company.

  2. Robert

    I know most of that most posters here don’t see this guy as I do. I think its because we see this NSA program differently. I think many here think its in place to thwart terrorist, I don’t. I think the main agenda is to collect data on all of us. As I’ve said, we all have files now. That was the whole reason why Snowden went public. It wasn’t because he felt we were treating the terrorist in an unfair way. Or collecting data on them in an illegal way. It was about collecting data on us for our not so anonymous behaviors.

    I’ve said it numerous times, if catching terrorist was its main intent, the Boston bombers would have lit that system up like that fertilizer plant in Texas. It didn’t. We need to know why it didn’t?

    I think Snowden saw this program as a serious threat to our right to privacy and to our democracy. Many here think they’re not doing anything wrong, and most if not all are not. But most here are very opinionated about our political system and its leadership. In other countries those opinions could get you executed or minimally incarcerated and hidden away.

    People need to look at this program for its long term value. We may not always have a presidency or an administration that looks kindly upon dissent. It’s one thing to say something on a board like this that catches the attention of the NSA. It’s another when all they have to do is create a search program for all people who fit this anti-whatever criteria. This could have a profound effect not only on our privacy rights, but our perceived right to freedom of speech.

    Signed, Robert the paranoid, conspiritorialist imbecile, weird and wacko one. You know you’ve hit home when they start destroying your credibility.

  3. Robert says:
    June 11, 2013 at 4:27 pm
    I know most of that most posters here don’t see this guy as I do. I think its because we see this NSA program differently. I think many here think its in place to thwart terrorist, I don’t. I think the main agenda is to collect data on all of us. As I’ve said, we all have files now.


    And you think “they” are destroying your credibility? Who could keep up?

  4. Robert

    I guess we differ in how we see things. I defended my position and how I believe it’s not working and gave an example. All you did was make a snotty comment you can’t back up with evidence it is. back at ya.

  5. Craig Knauss

    “…we all have files now.”

    Duh. Our files started with our birth certificate. Then our Social Security Number. School registration. Driver’s license. Tax forms. Marriage license. Diplomas. Security checks. Financial accounts. You name it. Yes, there are definitely files on all of us, unless you were born to some indigenous tribe in the Rain Forest somewhere. But that doesn’t mean it’s some insidious plot.

    I did work in China many years ago. Our phone lines were tapped. Our mail was read. We were followed by the Secret Police. It was mildly annoying, but more often than not it was laughable. We were not engaging in any illegal practices, so the paranoid Chinese government was just wasting their time and money. If we wanted to take a picture of something that might be sensitive, we just asked one of the police officers or soldiers that might be nearby. 9 times out of 10, they didn’t care. I never had a bit of trouble with the authorities, because I wasn’t doing anything I shouldn’t have been doing.

    Like I said in another post, NSA has been in existence since 1952.

  6. Robert

    Maybe I should clarify, we all have NSA files now.

    It thoroughly amazes me at the endorsement this invasion of privacy is getting from supposed left leaning contributors on this board. Maybe the right is more of a protector of the constitution than the left. Kind of looks that way.

    By the way, I live in a large city. I know back in the GW Bush days, we couldn’t take pictures or videos of any bldgs downtown. It was feared we might be using them to plan a bombing. Sounds like it was in China for you. I don’t like that kind of inhibition on what is a benign activity and to some, a form of art.

    I don’t want to be followed around. Have my every waking moment outside of my home recorded. I don’t want to be an actor in that world. That’s where we are heading. Pretty much like you experienced in China. Only in the future those guards on the corners may very well be robo cops.

    As far as the NSA being in existence since 1952. Im sure it was and then under another name before that. Except I think back then, most of us didn’t have files as part of that organization. Only the true radicals did. This program that is under so much controversy is nothing new either.

    I got slapped down for making a comment about how I see this program as more of a system to track every day peoples movements than the terrorist rooting out system its being sold as. TIA, Total Information Awareness was developed long before 911 and the whole terrorist this, terrorist that became the norm. The people behind this surveillance state mindset had this goal in mind long before the terrorist threat became the theme to get it in place, and without much backlash. I understand before that, the intelligence program for surveillance was Cointelpro. So, this was always the direction, but now they have a way to sell it better, and then people like me who say I see the existence of this program as having different roots than the terrorist finding system its being sold as, can be demonized for not following the herd of easily lead sheople.

    In keeping with my acquired reputation, today while I was swimming my laps, I was told about the competitions coming up for the Weird Peoples Swimming Contest at the Community Center for Weird People and other Misfits, I belong to. I signed up for the Underwater, Upside Down Dog Paddle Relays. Training begins next week. Wish me luck and that I don’t require too many resuscitation rescues.

    Signed, Robert the paranoid, conspiritorialist imbecile, weird and wacko one. You know you’ve hit home when they start destroying your credibility.

  7. Craig Knauss


    When I said “…take a picture of something that might be sensitive…” I meant things like Chinese naval vessels, not buildings in downtown or Buddhist temples. They didn’t care about pictures of common items or scenes. And even back then, almost every Chinese had a camera or camcorder. It was pretty much the same when I was in Russia. Most of the Kremlin in Moscow is a public area, with few restrictions. The same thing in St. Petersburg near the Admiralty. I had to be a bit more careful in Murmansk because the Northern Fleet headquarters was there, but there were no restrictions in the downtown area.

    Maybe you should move to an isolated shack in Montana like Ted Kaczynski, aka the Unabomber, did with no TV, no phone, no Internet, no electricity and no indoor plumbing. But they still found him.

    Or you could just deal with it like I do.

  8. Robert

    Craig, Really, Im dealing with it. Did I say I want to drop out? That’s so 60s. Doesn’t mean I have to like the direction things are going in. It’s beginning to feel kind of creepy. Like those sci-fi movies about the future.

  9. Robert

    To the Applesauce board, just so there’s no confusion, when I sign off on my comments with this,

    “Signed, Robert the paranoid, conspiritorialist imbecile, weird and wacko one. You know you’ve hit home when they start destroying your credibility.”

    It’s because these are the names that Pat Cunningham has labeled me. That’s just how Pat is. He’s just that way. He calls lots of people on this board lots of names. I’m actually honored to have incurred his wrath. Nothing I’ve said isn’t be said by 10s of millions of other people here in the USA and thought by 10s of millions of other people in our country. All being decent concerned citizens. I’m neither a republican or a democrat. I’m somewhere in the middle like most thoughtful people. Probably the most sought after voting block in the USA.

    “Signed, Robert the paranoid, conspiritorialist imbecile, weird and wacko one. You know you’ve hit home when they start destroying your credibility. Why? Because Pat Cunningham says so.”

  10. Brian Opsahl

    Nobody likes the idea of our Government in our homes and private lives…but you no what I hate more is somebody like Bin Ladin plotting and planning to fly our own aircraft into our own buildings while training in our Country…I don’t think your getting a visit from the NSA unless your engageing in plotting or planning against America….

    This has been going on a hell of a lot longer than most realize and they are doing way more than there telling us…but again freedom isn’t free just ask all those Veterans in all those grave yards …oh yea that’s right their dead aren’t they…

  11. Robert

    Liar, Liar pants on fire. What would happen if we lied to Congress? Do you think they’d go easy on one of us?

    Why wasn’t there the debate about how the banksters destroyed the economy and the pursuit of their treason against our country? Why is Snowden being called treasonous and the politicians even seeking his execution. What about the banksters?

    Why wasn’t what the fraud the banksters did to our country and world economy ever a big discussion in this country? I’ll tell you why, because the banksters can buy silence with their donations to the very people we elect to represent us. So yes, I changed the subject but its really about the same thing. The power big corporations have over the people. And all of you want to give them even more power by having just about everything there is to know about you/us at their fingertips. Information that can be abused as we’ve seen by the IRS scandal. Is that really the position you want to put yourselves in?

    We need balance between the security agencies and the rights to privacy, freedom of speech and liberty, that these NSA programs are encroaching on. I’d like to see Obama debate Snowden if he welcomes a debate. Have a nice day.


    Signed, Robert the paranoid, conspiritorialist imbecile, weird and wacko one. You know you’ve hit home when they start destroying your credibility. Why? Because Pat says so.

  12. Brian Opsahl

    If im not misstaken Snowden signed an agreement that prevents him from saying anything…which he broke…..correct

    where I work I have signed one of these agreements….if I talk.. I walk…to the un-employment lines…

  13. Robert

    Brian, nothing is cast in stone except stone. All agreements can be broken in a court of law if the trust behind them is violated.

  14. Steverino

    From what I understand these employment/security agreements/contracts can be very detailed. Also since he was employed by Booz Allen for only three months would he not have been placed on a probationary period perhaps with limited access? All very strange much like an episode out of Jack Bauer.

  15. Robert

    Steverino, Snowden had quite an impressive background. If I recall correctly he worked for the CIA and the NSA, which is where many of the private firms such as Booz Allen get their new hires.

    It’s part of that revolving door syndrome that is very prevalent in high level federal jobs. You get hired by the federal agencies, get your experience, then apply at the better paying private firms.

    Another agency known for such intermingling is the SEC where the investigator and regulators move back and forth between the banks they oversee and the better paying private firms. One hand washes the other.

    My gut feeling is we’re going to see more Snowden’s. It was the youth that rebelled in the 60s, it may well be the same this time. The times are changing. The new recruits got much different values than the old guard.

  16. Craig Knauss


    I am not a lawyer, but I have had some contract law. A secrecy agreement is a contract. It is valid until one side breaks it, and the breaker is liable for damages. It is also invalid if the contract covers unlawful activities. Otherwise, the contract remains in full force. So unless Snowden can prove that the contract required him to perform unlawful activities (committing murder would be a good example), he is in default of the contract and is liable.

    Snowden did have some options that he apparently failed to utilize.

    First, he could complain to higher authorities. Most government agencies have Inspector General or similar offices where complaints can be sent if one feels his immediate supervisors will not act. And most of these have “anonymous tip” hotlines to protect whistleblowers. This information is required by law to be made available to all employees. I personally was made aware of these hotlines for DOD, DOE, and the NRC.

    Second, he could always have quit his job. His employer cannot keep him there against his will. The only external requirement would be for him to maintain his secrecy agreement. Most of those agreements have a nominal silence period after which the agreement expires.

  17. Robert

    Craig, I’m sure your position will be argued. I’m not disagreeing with your perspective. I’m just saying there’s always extenuating circumstances and he will need some really really good lawyers and a whole lot of public support. Fortunately for him his situation is highly visible and will be tried in a public as opposed to military court like the Manning case was. I hope we set some new precedents.

    My sister worked for a place that had anonymous tip lines for employee’s to tell mgmt of perceived wrongdoing. It was an 800#. Since I used to manage customer service phone rooms, I knew a little bit about 800#s. There’s nothing anonymous about them. Every call made into the 800#s come with an ID of the phone # used to call into that 800#. So much for anonymous tip lines unless you call from a pay phone (not many left though).

    I’m not going to change my perspective until I hear something that changes my mind about Snowden. I’m on his side. I think he did the right thing and I hope he gets good attorneys to present his case. It’s just a matter of time before he is found and rendered. I’m sure he knows that. So far he’s done the right thing and been very visible.

    I’m anxious to hear more from the UK Guardian.

  18. Robert

    Snowden says, “I am not here to hide from justice; I am here to reveal criminality.”

    Do you think if he reported that to his superiors they’d change anything? Hell no… look at the military and the sexual abuse cases that went unreported. Those victims know who mgmt is there to protect.


  19. Brian Opsahl

    Robert, what he did was against the law big time…you might be on his side, but the law is NOT on his side. This is high treason if you ask me…Again if I sign my name that says I will follow there rules of secracy or be prosecuted for breaking them…you can’t have it both ways.

  20. Brian Opsahl

    Then he will go to jail for revealing criminality…Robert.

    What he did maybe noble…if thats what you mean…but some time in levingsworth will change that feeling real fast.

    We have been spying as long as our Country has excisted….if you were under the impression that we only whould only spy on others ….well i have a bridge for you for sale…Sir..!!

  21. Robert

    Now I think Snowden is crossing the line. When he was talking about huge grabs of personal info on the American people, I liked being informed about that but this is going to far. This is taking it to a much higher level that goes beyond the initial scope that started this story. This changes the ball game and is much more serious. Will be very interested to see where this leads. I;m not going to say the T word yet, but its not good.


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