[Doctorow-L] Snowden's Little Brother intro

Cory Doctorow doctorow at craphound.com
Wed Jul 29 13:10:32 EDT 2020

Earlier this month, Tor Books reissued my novels Little Brother and
Homeland in a gorgeous new omnibus edition with a cover by Will Staehle
and a new introduction by Edward Snowden.


The Snowden intro was so important to me, first because of his
connection to the books. If you watched Laura Poitras's Academy Award
winning doc Citizenfour, you might have noticed Snowden packing a copy
of Homeland in his go-bag as he fled his Hong Kong hotel.

But far more important was the text of intro itself: a call to imagine
what a world after the age of mass surveillance, and how we might bring
that world into being. Today, Wired published that intro. It's amazing:


"Nearly everything you do, and nearly everyone you love, is being
monitored and recorded by a system whose reach is unlimited, but whose
safeguards are not."

"But while the system itself was not substantially changed—as a rule,
governments are less interested in reforming their own behavior than in
restricting the behavior and rights of their citizens—what did change
was the public consciousness."

"We are coming to see all too clearly that the construction of these
systems was less about connection than it was about control: the
proliferation of mass surveillance has tracked precisely with the
destruction of public power."

"There were times when empires were won by bronze and boats and powder.
None survive. What outlasts each forgotten flag is our greatest
technology, language: the empire of the mind."

"We've seen ingenuity give rise to systems that keep our secrets, and
perhaps our souls; systems created in a world where possessing the means
to a private life feels like a crime. We have seen lone individuals
create new tools—better tools—than even the greatest states."

"But no technology, and no individual, will ever be enough to curtail
for long the abuses of our weary giants, with their politics of
exclusion and protocols of violence. This is the part of the story that
matters: what begins with the individual persists in the communal."

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