Journal: Plain Speaking About Washington Scams

Ethics, Government, Media, Military

Dark Visions? Cyberspace In Words And Warfare

by AuthorTim StevensThe facts of cyberterrorism, or state-sponsored cyberattacks, are heavily-guarded by national security protocols, but the case has yet to be made that these are really significant risks, despite what you hear senior officials say.  And this is the point: you cannot use the darkest imaginings of those with high-level security clearances to promote ends with little consideration of the ethical and practical implications of the means of achieving them. Crime and espionage are not necessarily acts of war, and the fact that they are being subsumed under the rubric of “war” should worry those who care about international relations, diplomacy, the role of security agencies, the relationship between state and industry, and about the constitutional contracts between the individual and the state.

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Critical analysts like James Der Derian have long noted the existence of a military-industrial-media-entertainment network (MIME-NET), a thesis it is more and more difficult to write off as paranoid post-structuralism.
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In a recent issue of Race & Class, journalist and writer Matt Carr tackles this phenomenon head-on, in a readable and non-academic article, Slouching Towards Dystopia: the New Military Futurism.  Carr claims that “a new genre of military futurology has emerged which owes as much to apocalyptic Hollywood movies as it does to the cold war tradition of ‘scenario planning’.”

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Carr interprets this as a sign that institutions like the US military perceive themselves as “the last bastion of civilisation against encroaching chaos and disorder.  The worse the future is perceived to be, the more these dark visions of chaos and disorder serve to justify limitless military ‘interventions’, techno-warfare, techno-surveillance and weapons procurement programmes, and the predictions of the military futurists are often very grim indeed.” I’ve sat in enough horizon-scanning workshops to have some sympathy for this view―little positive emerges from these discussions, and the outcome is almost always appeals for more regulation, bigger budgets, and better tools for the projection of power.

See Also:  America’s CyberScam, Homeland Security Today, 9 February 2010