What the CIA director forgot to say about millennials /img/hayden-vs-millennials.png

Former CIA director Michael Hayden recently said that millennials may leak secrets because they are “culturally different”. OK but.. please let me point out some of the culprits for such a difference, and the fact that those same culprits had been clearly named and described more than three years ago.

Mr. Hayden said that millennials have different instincts than the people who hired them and this cultural difference may be the reason why “millennials leak secrets”:

“I don’t mean to judge them at all, but this group of millennials and related groups simply have different understandings of the words loyalty, secrecy and transparency than certainly my generation did”

If this is correct, let me suggest a possible (partial) explanation by simply copying and pasting some quotes from late 2013/early 2014 (emphasis and comments in italic are mine):

The Solitary Leaker, by David Brooks, June 2013

“[Snowden] appears to be a product of one of the more unfortunate trends of the age: the atomization of society… If you live a life unshaped by the mediating institutions of civil society,[it] makes you more likely to share the distinct strands of libertarianism that are blossoming in this fragmenting age: the deep suspicion of authority, the strong belief that hierarchies and organizations are suspect, the fervent devotion to transparency, the assumption that individual preference should be supreme.”

Where “nothing to hide” fails as logic, by Danah Boyd, June 2013:

“As a society, we generate suspicion of others who aren’t like us, particularly when we believe that we’re always under threat from some outside force… This creates societal ruptures and undermines any ability to create a meaningful republic.”

“In many ways, the NSA situation that’s unfolding in front of our eyes is raising a question that is critical to the construction of our society. These issues cannot be washed away by declaring personal innocence. A surveillance state will produce more suspect individuals.”

I saved the best part for last…:

Here’s the missing part from Mr. Hayden’s statements, straight from the article that most impressed me when the Snowden case exploded: Spy Kids, by Charlie Stross, August 2013:

  • “In the 21st century, the U.S. National Security Agency (and other espionage agencies) face a storm of system-wide [sociological problems that] threaten to undermine the way the Western security state operates.”
  • “[Organizations like NSA, CIA..] are products of the 20th-century industrial state, used to running their internal security processes as if they’re still living in the days of the “job for life” culture.”
  • But… “A major consequence of the 1970s resurgence of neoliberal economics was the deregulation of labor markets and the deliberate destruction of the job-for-life culture.”
  • “[Today] around 70 percent of the U.S. intelligence budget is spent on outside… organizations that increasingly rely on contractors rather than permanent labor to retain flexibility.”
  • “Here’s the problem: The organizations are now (that is, in 2013) running into outside contractors who grew up in a globalized, liquid labor world.”
  • “The problem is, you can’t run a national security organization if you can’t rely on the loyalty of the majority of your workers — both to the organization and to the state it serves.”
  • “Generation Z will arrive brutalized and atomized by three generations of diminished expectations and dog-eat-dog economic liberalism.”
  • “But if you turn the Internet into a panopticon prison and put everyone inside it, where else are you going to be able to recruit the jailers? And how do you ensure their loyalty?”
  • “If I were in charge of long-term planning for human resources in any government department, I’d be panicking. Even though it’s already too late.”

In other words…

First, what Mr. Hayden recently pointed out is nothing new, and may be at least in part the very fault of his own employer, that is the U.S. Government. Or, to be fair, the fault of the whole global socioeconomic system that that and many other governments have implemented and still support.

Second… please read the full articles quoted above, while thinking how even more “interesting” they are in 2017, that is under (at least) Trump, Brexit and widespread criticism of the European Union.

Third… there is one solution to the “government panic” mentioned above that is as simple and logic as much as it is completely naive and utopistic: if the kind of citizens that states need to be surveillance states is vanishing, all those states need is to stop being surveillance states, that is to become really open, democratic, participated, inclusive societies. Time will tell if that solution will be the last one left standing.