Лёня Посицельский (posic) wrote,
Лёня Посицельский

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[So the moral of the story for you referencing these experiences is that people should be free to express their viewpoints without fear of reprisal? I agree if thats the case. Thought policing seems easier to do nowadays with the chilling effect of mass surveillance on technological usage by everyday people.]


It is more complicated than that. I would formulate the moral as follows: the main problem with the present-day world is that it has lost the fundamental knowledge of certain virtues and certain vices. A famous saying has it that "hypocrisy is the tribute that the vice pays to the virtue". More often than not, it is the virtue that is paying the tribute of hypocrisy to the vice nowadays. People are being shamed for, and feel ashamed of, being virtuous in certain ways. Other people take pride in succumbing to the related vices; they boast about it.

The virtues and vices that I have in mind are, first of all, the virtue of courage, and the vice of cowardice. Returning to the questions in your comment, I would say that expressing certain viewpoints, or more generally, saying or writing certain things is inherently dangerous. Investigating and/or disclosing an abuse of power is dangerous. Standing as an obstacle in the way of a mafia is dangerous. Violating taboos is dangerous. Breaking unjust, oppressive laws is dangerous. Proclaiming unpopular truths is dangerous.

What Aaron Swartz did was dangerous, and indeed it resulted in his death. What Alexandra Elbakyan is now doing is dangerous.

Mass surveillance is a harmless thing, largely even a good thing. People do not understand this because they do not generally understand what is dangerous and what is not, any why, and how. And the reason why they do not understand those things is because they've never tasted the real dangers, never seen the real action, so to speak. Never had the courage to endanger their own well-being, health, careers, lives etc. in pursuit of something larger and more important than the life of one individual.


Forgive me if I am wrong -- but my feeling is that by referring to the above materials as "experiences" you may be taking the point of view on these behaviors of mine as caused by inner troubles complicated by other people refusing to accept me for what I am. My own view of myself is very different. I view my life as a complicated strategic game involving a kind of intuitive long-term planning and aimed at changing the world in the directions that I find desirable.

As weeks and months go by, more and more people will, hopefully, read these materials -- and understand almost nothing. Perhaps I will survive my present-day career problems, and stay alive and active for another decade, or two, or more. These events from my biography will be sometimes discussed. I will explain my vision of them again and again, finding better, clearer and more convincing words. Eventually people will start to realize that there is a method to my madness.


At the moment, let me tell you the following two strange ideas:

1. I tend to view myself as a strange kind of spy, an intelligence agent serving the humanity as a whole -- a person whose calling is to teach the FBI, CIA, NSA etc. to do their job properly.

1a. In particular, concerning the NSA: mass surveillance is largely a good thing. Backdoor key cryptography is a very bad and dangerous thing.

That much I learned from reading Shakespeare's play "Richard III" (which is generally a kind of encyclopedia of worldly evil, which I would have all these security/intelligence/counter-intelligence/etc. people learn and study as a basic element of their professional training). In particular, the story of the murder of two young princes in Shakespeare -- the technical details of how Richard does it -- tells you all you want to know about backdoor key cryptography.

That's what I wrote as a patient in McLean Hospital in 1998, in the form of a long letter to my nurse, or something. I hope that the relevant people in NSA etc. have read it by now. In fact, I'd hope that they read it soon after I wrote it (that's what was supposed to happen in a world that was not entirely stupid).

2. My Israeli "teudat zeut" (internal ID) is dated September 11, 2014. That's the 13th anniversary of the famous terrorist attacks. I tend to think of this as being not just a random accident.

What was the September 11 terrorist attack? I've written quite a number of blog entries discussing various points of view on it recently in my blogs (in Russian). All of them tend to praise the event in various terms and emphasize its vague connection, specifically, to my activities.

About the most nontechnical way to put it is this (I've written it in my blogs in Russian several weeks ago). The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks were... an incredibly beautiful fireworks, marking the beginning of a new era. These fireworks were also given in honor of somebody, to congratulate a particular man on his important achievements in the area of security of the human civilization. I am this man.


So, to sum it up: the moral of me publishing these materials is that I want to remoralize people, which -- due to whatever historical or ideological circumstances of our epoch -- presently live in the state of permanent demoralization. Whatever the dangers facing us may happen to be -- be they coming from NSA's surveillance, thought police of the colleagues at work, arbitrary taboos or unjust laws -- it is probably impossible to remove these dangers immediately. Some of them, in one form or another, will be always with us, as far as I can tell.

I want to encourage people to stand up to these dangers. When someone says: "OK, this is dangerous to my career, perhaps even to my life -- but it has to be done, so I will do it," -- I want to teach people to respect that person, to admire the fact that he is doing it for them. To think of this as an act of heroism, rather that a sign of inability to take proper care of oneself.

My stories, like the story of me resisting arrest in New Hampshire -- or the subsequent story of me threatening to commit suicide upon my release from McLean Hospital in case of me being forcibly treated for my "mental illness" there (the hospital filed an involuntary commitment petition against me, and I went to the court hearing with this position of the threat of suicide, expressed in writing, not quite in such words but still in a very clear way, and I won that court hearing and was released without any "treatment", as I insisted) -- I want these stories of mine to be taken not as an indication of inner troubles, but of something quite opposite.

What these stories actually show is a combination of courage and wisdom -- a kind of deep understanding of how the world works and what can and should be done to resolve its problems. A very special kind of wisdom and understanding that comes from tasting dangers and knowing them from immediate experience. A kind of knowledge of the ways of evil and the ways of countering evil which only opens itself to people who would much rather endanger their lives than put up with injustices. Who are happier seeing themselves physically destroyed than foreseeing the world going in the direction of general moral destruction.

That's the moral.
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