September 2013

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Moments of Totalization

Essay on the political psychology of the Internet

Olaf Langmack, September 2013

On September 16, 2001 Karl-Heinz Stockhausen, world famous composer,
said with respect to the attacks on the WTC: »Well what happened there,
it obviously - and now you have to switch your mind-set - is the best
art work, the world has ever seen...« One day in July 2013, agents from
the British secret service smashed hard drives in the Guardian‘s
basement. They suspected these would carry information, Edward Snowden,
an US-American whistle-blower, had taken with him and was already
publishing step by step. The Guardian later reported this event too.
»You had your fun, now we want our stuff back« the newspaper quotes the
agents. The report of this bizarre event reminded of Stockhausen‘s
infamous remarks. What have these two images in common?

The Helplessness of Convenience

In his comment, composer Karl-Heinz Stockhausen separated the real
events of September 11, 2001 from the media event, both the director of
the terrorist attack and mass media staged. An artist who conceptualizes
performances obviously can see transferring from performance to reality
as transcending the limits of art. And he can imagine for his art to
gain more reach by this to happen. Stockhausen repelled the personal
nature of the attacks. He demonstrated what an exceptional challenge a
moment of totalization is for everyone, even a famed artist. This was
the challenge Edward Snowden was facing too, when he first realized,
what he was dealing with on a daily basis. Long before he made history

The men who destroyed hard drives in the Guardian‘s basement, so that
the newspaper later could report this, as directors did something
similar, as the terrorists who carried out the September 11 attacks.
They created an image everyone was supposed to see. The original event
was the abduction of some hard drives by Edward Snowden, and their
controlled and stepwise publication by Glenn Greenwald and the Guardian.
The original event was a malicious terrorist attack, with thousands of
victims. When the hard drive is hit, in the observers imagination Edward
Snowden is meant. Arresting and interrogating David Miranda means Glenn
Greenwald. The hit, the interrogation in our imagination shall create an
opposite image. An image against the disclosure of previously secret
information. This opposing image shall salvage as much as possible from
the power of those secrets. The falling WTC was meant to become the
image of a falling super power. In both case in reality those who were
meant could not be reached. The directors of both images suppose, images
can be used to exercise power. That power can be exercised by
stimulating fantasy. A fantasy like: »What would happen to me, if I
disclose secrets?« »What would happen to me, if I lived in NYC?«. Both
images are related factually too: The falling towers of the WTC and the
secret service agents smashing hard drives. After 911 the USA started
the war against terror. The digitization, Edward Snowden and Glenn
Greenwald enlighten us about, then seems to have taken a turn. The USA
also called for a digital state of emergency. As now seems apparent,
they started a data world war. A data world war, for which US-American
Internet enterprises were recruited. And it has ended with them
rendering the image of an US-American Internet oligarchy.

How these images work is easier to understand, if we refer to our
fantasy of what the Internet might be but is not yet, as »uber device«.
The moment Edward Snowden realized what he was dealing with at his
office day in day out, was a moment when for him alone the Internet and
the uber device became one. And he started to think, what this means for
him. Everyone can associate the uber device with every feature, of which
he assumes but does not know for sure the Internet may have it. We owe
Edward Snowden and journalists who publish his information a look at the
real Internet. It confirms what many have feared, and some did not want
to acknowledge. The secret service agents try to repair this idyllic
world. From their perspective the world is idyllic again, when there are
secrets. If the barrier between Internet and uber device is back up.
When there is an uber device again, one can only imagine. Of which one
does not know, if it exists already. The brutality of this image relates
to the brutality of images from the collapsing WTC. Both are brutal, so
that at all costs they influence our imagination. Both images are about
the uber device, not reality.

Why is it of such an enormous importance, that fantastic speculation
regarding the Internet continue? Because only in our fantasy we can
imagine a technical system, that has total information, and whose owner
has total power. In reality there is nothing like this. Reality is
banal. In reality the NSA violates the US constitution, and reads Emails
from US citizens, because it neither gets a grip on its software nor its
staff. (Or did someone just make this up, to correct a public image just
a notch to ugly?)

The Internet serves such fantasies, as it consists of computers.
Computers disembody their users. Their users right away start to swim
like fish in water in their artificial world. In a world where they can
be almighty: SNIP, SNAP, HOVER, CLICK. At the same time though, this is
a world of utter helplessness, a helplessness towards its manufacturers.
In this world, a user can get in touch with other users. But they meet
in the digital world only, not in reality. There it is a meet of
avatars. As it is easier to scream at a thing than a being, so in this
world disputes easily get rough. This adds to the experience of a
disembodied being. In this world, the uber device is just a thought
away. It does not even require bodily activity, to picture it.

Terminating fantasy as liberation

Exploring the uber device is a lonesome activity, one can only stop
oneself. But one can stop it any time. We can liberate ourselves from
it. How far we enters our fantasies is at our discretion alone. Not the
least as no one can intrude on our mind. The only real consequence is,
to stop using a computer. For whatever reason. Or less radical, to stop
playing one or the other game.

To explore the infinity of one‘s fantasy is exciting and draining at the
same time. Exciting it is, because one can think of the impossible.
Draining it is, because sooner or later the question comes up. If it
might be possible anyway. Or if one has to let go of a beautiful
fantasy. And beautiful a fantasy only is, as long as it is one. The
computer simulations hold surprises again and again. So it is not
surprising, if fantasies of almightiness spring from never-never land.
But these can address reality, be it as a threat or as a promise. It is
not surprising at all, that disembodied online debates lead to Nazi
analogies, which then derail those debates. This phenomenon is known as
Godwin‘s Law of Nazi Analogies. It says: »As an online discussion grows
longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler
approaches 1« But rhetorical attempts to deal with this are not
effective. They do not get at the root cause. Because they do not help
to navigate one‘s infinite fantasies regarding the uber device.

There is no one, who has not encountered the temptation of total power,
and may be even succumbed to it. The German fascism only provides the
decor. This from the perspective of information technology is his
credit. If one even can give any credit to this horrendous regime. A
real credit might be, that due to its unspeakable crimes give reason to
engage totalization intellectually. An online discussion which fails the
echo of a Nazi analogy does not fail, because someone brings a
misleading analogy. It fails at the emotional and intellectual challenge
to discuss the totalization, the computer brings with it. A multitude of
Nazi analogies may be unfitting, and may not provide substance for a
clinical analysis and civil discourse. They being brought up inevitably,
still is a symptom of the underlying challenge.

For similar reasons there is a similar Internet phenomenon. It is the
generalization of isolated observations for a make-shift law, or a
conspiracy theory. The game of »connect the dots«. It is easy, to put a
mingle-mangle of information on the Internet, which were simply made up.
But they may produce something in the imagination of a believer, and may
influence him.

This is why, when the Guardian published the story of those secret
service agents, the original event became part of a staging. In this
case a staging by the Guardian, who took a conscious decision when to
publish this information. One can only destroy those imaginations, by
naming and describing them. Then individual facts can be verified with
reality. Trustworthy people may be able to witness these facts. Then an
image can be corrected. But at this point in time it already has
exercised its power for a while. This cannot be avoided. But whoever
experiences the suggestive power of the Internet, and how it can fall
apart, learns to deal with it.

Publishing the information Edward Snowden has acquired, effectively
destroys a possible image. It is the image of a wise world government, a
government that takes care of all motifs and interests of all humans
alike. A regime that has it in its heart to liberate us all from our
earthly hardship. Quiet and in modesty. The Internet being suitable for
subjective interpretations of reality is another reason, why online
debates easily bring a high level of excitement. And why they tend to go
about topics, that allow such excitement.

Only a home knows treason and conspiracy

Everyone who cares for a shared cause, will be upset about treason. The
NSA affair owes itself to an environment, where real and imaginable
treason is an everyday and widespread phenomenon.

If Edward Snowden is a traitor or not, also depends on where he is a
citizen. As US-American citizen he is accused of treason, even though
president Obama did choose his words in that regard very careful, and
only questioned his patriotism. If Edward Snowden considers himself a
citizen of the global village, he would commit treason if he kept a
secret what he learned about his community‘s real regime. At the
beginning of his journey, he realized a conflict of interest. Similar to
how every user of the Internet, who has to chose between his perception
of the uber device, and the real Internet. Every Internet user can
regard himself a citizen of the global village, or as a citizen of his
country in reality. Who he is loyal to, what patriotism means for him is
a daily question for every Internet user. This challenge gets real, when
an individual user hands the administration to strangers, what in
reality is tied to his home country. Here it gets political, in a very
old-fashioned way.

Karl-Heinz Stockhausen on September 16, 2001 betrayed the west, by
evading a seemingly obvious answer to it. He also betrayed his home,
where he is being honored as one of the 20th centuries greatest
composer. He betrayed his home, when he tried to build a bridge into the
future. A future, where an assassination may be regarded a work of art.
A work of art that does not have to be executed. Like in a video game.
But the bridge he saw, at the time led into nothingness. This shows, how
difficult it is to be unemotional and still responsible when discussing
totalization. With an awareness for totalization, facing the uber device
treason all of a sudden hides everywhere. Therefore Internet journalist,
if they present themselves as evangelists quite obviously are traitors.
And they are charlatans! They promise a future, of which they know
nothing but only have a subjective vision. They just have a subjective
and may be even personal fantasy. A fantasy they may not even talk
about, may be because they do not find words for it. Of course, since
they cannot know the future for certain. No one can. And they know even
less about how to help those who follow them in reality, and who find
themselves in real trouble eventually. Whose data on hard drives in the
Guardian‘s basement have to be crashed by secret service agents.

Western governments betray their citizens too, even though in a less
severe case. The case is less severe, because their citizens are members
of an open society. As such they are free to do with the Internet
whatever they want to do. And western governments cannot help their
citizens on the Internet. They can only inquire in kind at its earthly
representation. They can then only hope to get an answer. And that at
court they will not be treated in a way that humiliates them at home. As
it unfortunately happened to the German Minister of the Interior. It
happened to him, as the earthly representation deemed him a hypocrite.
Who wants to pinch a bit from the secret data treasure. But who does not
want to know, where this treasure came from. That is why he was shown as
gollum. Which is what he appears considering his handling of the uber
device. That he had to take a trip to the USA has a simple reason. The
USA, as the earthly representation of the uber device, in this capacity
on earth do not accept another authority than their own. Their soldiers
cannot be hold accountable anywhere else. Even if there they would
commit crimes. If they do so, they will only be prosecuted by a US
military court. Therefore the earthy representation of the Internet can
only be located in the USA. Even if one does not know exactly where. Its
better, not to know. 

But the USA as well can be squashed like a bug by almighty uber device.
During a senate hearing about Abu Ghraib a four star general said:
»Discipline is: To do the right thing, if no one is watching.« He
continued, there was a massive loss of discipline at Abu Ghraib. The
mighty US military in that situation could not maintain its discipline,
despite its might. It succumbed to the total power, a digital camera
provides a soldier with. A thing he can use to document humiliations and
distribute them as a testimony of his personal power. This camera to him
can represent the uber device as well. At that moment it made the
soldier oblivious, and humiliate himself in severalways, also by showing
those images.

Neglected leadership is treason too

Lack of leadership betrays subordinates. An original task of journalists
is to report reality. Describing the historic events of digitization as
automatism, would mean to fail this task. Meeting it would require to
investigate its reality, and describing it. Considering this, Glenn
Greenwald simply is a contemporary journalist. Only surprising, how few
there seem to be like him. And how many seemingly indulge themselves in
fantasies. This almost seems a result of the uber device‘s totalizing
might, effectively destroying an individuals integrity? To stand one‘s
own wishes seems to be so exhausting, some have no energy left to report
on reality. Or to even see it.

A failure of journalism in dealing with digitization is imminent, if it
succumbs to it as an ideology. Mystifying its events as automatism that
are without alternative, that makes an ideology out of it. No single act
of digitization, no application happens all by itself. All these acts
depend on human decisions. Each of them requires time and material.
Considering them a social process, task of a journalist would be to
report on it without becoming a part of it. Otherwise he will loose his
credibility. And he will stop being a journalist, and become something
different. He then owes a role definition though, so that one knows how
to interpret what he says.

Digitization could be referred to as automation of what can be
automatized. If this for itself is an automatism, then it no longer has
a history. Then it is nothing, man decides and completes. That‘s a
short. It is a mix-up of what one can imagine and what actually happens.

Another fragment of this ideology is its trivialization, blurring
particulars and details. From the perspective of evangelists, someone
who refuses to take part in digital social media, becomes easily
ridiculed as being paranoid. As if not liking social media also implies,
one would not use computers at all. To ridicule someone with questions
and objections towards some aspect of digitization directly translates
to its propaganda. A motif of that person might be, not wanting to sign
a contract he does not understand. A motif might be, not taking part in
a game, whose rules are maintained by a regime he cannot vote for. Or he
may just not want to spend too much time thinking like this.

Acts that follow an ideological motif can easily be identified, when
other motif are being laughed at. With digitization the real motif often
is just personal monetary gains. As some juvenile enthusiasm this is
fine. But not as an attitude of leaders and executives. Journalist are
leaders of the democratic discourse. They have to meet the standards of

Abu Ghraib showed what happens, if soldiers that are used to follow
orders, are not being led. A follower in a swarm will be appreciated, if
he perceives the swarms next turn and plays along. He should not be the
first though, as this will only bring envy upon him from other lewd
swarmer‘s. In a swarm it is about following. To ridicule simple
objections is the attitude of unshepherded soldiers. They put away
objections by presuming they are irrational. Since digitization is all
about logic, being irrational in this world can spell the end of
respect. One may even end up being accused of an neurotic relationship
with technology. For an executive, in a matter of speaking this can be
deadly: Bringing up such an accusation, and becoming a victim of it.

An executive has to take the impossible into account. He would not be
needed anyway, if the venture will succeed in any case. An executive
will loose the trust of its subordinates, if he mentally rules out
failure as a possibility. If he cannot show how this will not happen. A
loss of control over the power a military unit has, will not have this
power disappear. The guns are still there. A lack of leadership in any
context has the very same consequences. Be it in the military, politics
and public debate, or within an enterprise. But credibility is not even
the motif of a certain breed of digital leaders. »Credibility (...) is
irrelevant, victory means justice.« The regime of the Internet is
survival of the fittest, as spelled out by this quote. Another regime
will only evolve, if leaders come up, who deserve this honorable

Do not fail, tag-along

If handing personal data voluntary to US-American Internet oligarchs
would have resulted in a violation of personal rights for millions, then
this would document a failure of German leaders, who are in charge of
Germany‘s participation on the Internet. First, it would be a failure of
journalists, who passed a nonchalant »tl;dr« but failed to enlighten
their readers about the terms and conditions, and the very nature of
this medium. Second, it would be a failure of office holders. They would
share less responsibility though, because they cannot be hold
accountable for a behavior of citizens. If those citizens were
enlightened proper. German hooligans secretly meeting Polish hooligans
in a forest, to provide each other a serious beating, cannot expect
first-aid boxes on the trees.

A young author from SPON, one of Germany‘s leading Internet news
outlets, wrote at the beginning of the public debate on Edward Snowden‘s
disclosures: »Now it cannot be about settling old scores. This would
disrespect Edward Snowden‘s personal effort.« The young man is wrong.
The totalization through information technology goes on for 60 years
already. The Internet is just a step, and even this takes 20 years
already. If this system, in an open society shall attract talent, if it
shall attract qualified people to contribute, then its milieu has to
have the courage and stand up for its mistakes. And mistakes then have
to have consequences. Otherwise it presents itself to a bystander as
nothing but a swarm, that keeps itself busy with itself. This young
colleague than also discredits his generation, as he seems to unveil why
ideologists would like to separate the young and the old: Because for a
lack of experience young people are easier to manipulate?

Executives that have failed need to stand up and admit their failure.
Otherwise they demonstrate, they are no executives. Because in failure
too, they do not show responsibility. Their organization will suffer the
same fate as the military unit that was in charge of the Abu Ghraib
prison. They will become a shame for those they represent.

Except, the organization with such a weak leadership cannot exercise
power on anything. OK. But then it does not matter how their leaders
behave. Then they are just bleak copies. Like avatars, creatures of an
artificial world. A demand for a review of German participation on the
Internet after Edward Snowden therefore is a political request. It
demands an answer, if the German participation is more than agitated
followerism. It demands to know, if there is a will for creation, and a
willingness to take responsibility.

Considering the uber device, its totality, the enormous pressure it can
exercise, the attitude of a modest tag-along is only human, it is quite

Solitude as measure of freedom

The Internet represents a part of totalization, as it was implemented by
information technology so far. Its social potential is new to man. If
this potential shall be utilized, this requires a corresponding freedom.
Otherwise it will not become a medium of liberation, but a medium of
control. It then does not appear as a medium of total liberation, but as
a medium of total control. US-American Internet oligarchs have
documented totalitarian fantasies. German Internet copy cats did so too.

»Without civil rights for cosmopolitans, which guarantee same rights and
freedoms to everyone, taking part of the Internet can never be
mandatory.« This is a political position. Similar the Internet
represents a factual political position. The Internet is subject of a
political conflict. For this reason too, taking part must be optional.
Legally this is the case already, everywhere. Not even in North Korea
using the Internet is mandatory. What stand against this freedom are
only business practices of Internet enterprises, and social pressure
against minorities. Social pressure exercised by customers and owners of
the enterprises. Pressure against minorities who just do not take part
in individual applications. Without their freedom the Internet can be
perceived, but no one could be held responsible for it. It cannot be a
medium of freedom, if it is not free itself. It can be a medium with a
different purpose, but this purpose needs to be made transparent.
Otherwise it would be a medium of manipulation?!

If the global village does not have an effective regime, then an
individual there is on its own. The Internet only provides him with
access. What happens there and then, depends which offerings are made,
and which he decides to use. An individual at least needs to be given
the freedom to engage or not. This freedom can be questioned by social
practices or fantasies of almightiness from Internet entrepreneurs. But
these are signs of an ideologization of the Internet. Because they
represent it as without alternative, and as unstoppable.

The propaganda of social networks trivializes the use of computers, when
it equals using or not using social networks with using or not using a
computer, or the Internet. At the same time this way it mystifies its
own relevance. The computer is a thing. It has different applications,
each of which can be used or not. Asking for a fundamental freedom of
use, just means to empower its user with rights he obviously has as an
owner of both the thing and the data he enters. If mandatory regulations
apply to these data, and the organization entrusted with them fails to
comply out of stupidity or out of greed, the user can terminate his
cooperation. He then deserves the very same respect as any other
defender of civil rights. He certainly does not deserve to be abused or
even outlawed.

Fragile lordliness of the individual

An individual user can envision the challenge to take part of the
Internet, for him and his business partners, with a gedankenexperiment:
He will maintain all data, he routinely leaves under the admission of
Internet enterprises, exclusively by himself. He will then realize, this
is the way to maintain the his authority over and the integrity of these
data. Without him leaving the Internet completely. He could allow the
valuation, analysis and use of these data to enterprises at a nominal fee.

Digital journalists who out-rule this option rhetorically, as a matter
of fact show a rather limited intellectual perspective. For them it
appears to be a problem, the NSA with XKEYSCORE has implemented a rather
remarkable add-on to digital mass media. And they did so at the expense
of the American tax payer! Someone who is on the Internet exclusively at
an individual address, can only welcome the existence of such a tool. It
would even allow him to verify his claim, to rank first in publishing a
particular idea. He would just need the right to use this program for
that purpose. What a fantastic technology that would be! Only proper
structures are missing. But originality is not a motif of swarm
creatures. Using the authoritarian style of some Internet entrepreneurs:
May them swarm creatures simply fail at the task, to be truthful and
authentic once and forever? Is this the reason, why they rather join the
swarm? Is this the reason, why they distribute their personal data on
various enterprises, on Facebook, Google Plus, Skype, instead of
maintaining it honestly at one spot only? The NSA has proved, it does
not fail at integrating all these various sources and allow their
comprehensive analysis. We owe it respect. It should be granted the
TURING AWARD for this achievement, the most important award of computer
science. And the USA deserve a great many thanks for using its tax
payers money for it.

Edward Snowden‘s disclosures are an attack on the ideology of
digitization. They uncover the rhetoric of its missionaries. They
uncover their ideological simplifications, willingly made to serve only
their personal interest. The world owes these unveiling‘s the
self-empowerment of a US citizen, who as a member also of the global
village saw himself obligated, to inform his fellow citizens of apparent
abuses of their data. But his fellow citizens can also defend
themselves. They can defend the freedom of use. Among others they could
use different applications for he same purpose, and leave it to the next
version of XKEYSCORE, to integrate those data back again. Last but not
least they can actually implement the previous gedankenexperiment
themselves. And still take part of the Internet without submitting to
obviously bogus terms of service, or to their autocratic evolution. They
can take part of the Internet without having to accept nontransparent
business practices and erosion of constitutional rights.

The Internet once appeared as a free offering to a free people. It will
not be easy, to turn it into something different. Despite different
perceptions, many in western democracies cherish their freedom, value
it. They know to protect it, even before contemplating using an Internet
application and toying with it. This may even be sort of the reason why
just one in seven humans actually is connected?!

The task of self-guidance one cannot avoid in a western capitalist
democracy. Everyone of its citizens is confronted with it. It is not a
skill the Internet brought upon us. It is part of living in such a
society. It challenges an individuals ability to take decisions. It does
not imply however, that his options meet his expectations. This is a
finding, reserved to experiencing reality in a capitalist democracy.
There, it is a fact of life as it is, not how one may dream it up. But
taking part on the Internet requires a new quality of self-guidance. The
Internet brings the vision of the uber device to each participant. It
has an emotional power, that can almost enforce an escape into
self-righteousness. This effect is the real challenge. Speaking about
totalization borne by information technology is a start. Not avoiding
the debate of a possible totalitarian turn. Not brushing aside complex
issues with a nonchalant »tl;dr«. All this would be a modest beginning.

The hyper-aggressive dealing of the USA and its ally with Edward Snowden
and his supporters is a wake-up call. It shows how important it is, to
defend freedom against those, who merely see it as a symbol.

The return of show trials

From the perspective of a citizen from a western democracy, the
constitution of the global village creates itself in actuality. He is
not presented the draft of a constitution, he then can vote for or
against. It is being created through offerings and business practices of
enterprises and individuals who decided to do so. And who will comply
with the laws of their home countries. Where they also pay taxes, and
have a registered business address. Those enterprises from the USA as a
matter of fact today have monopolies in their specific markets. These
enterprises claim might is right. As a nation, the USA have shown lack
of interest in aspects of globalization, which do not serve their
interest. Like an international criminal court that would be entitled to
judge on war crimes regardless of the country of origin. But it is not
conceivable, how a global village will develop from wise resolutions of
a single super power. If one participant of a mutual endeavor does not
respect views and interests of other participants, cooperation is
rendered superfluous. Therefore, US-American acting on the global
political stage are an essential aspect of the further development of
the Internet. Not the least because it sets the tone.

The »normative power of the factual« is an expression in law. It
describes facts are established by an individual due to his might in
that context, and these facts are then set as basis for legal practices.
In law this is considered unfair. It is an analogy of what happens when
survival of the fittest is the rule. If the Internet follows such a
regime, and if itself is an instrument for a globalization in that
sense, then globalization becomes a conquest. Globalization then has no
social or democratic legitimation. Each of its steps then appears as an
act of war. The so-called Arabellion then appears as an Internet fairy
tale, and as Mosaddegh-light. With that background, the pursuit,
imprisonment and prosecution of a whistle-blower, who has some reason to
consider himself a citizen of the global village, becomes a show trial.
It literally is a show trial, because all citizens of the global village
that are no citizens of the country where the prosecution takes place,
can do nothing but watch. That simply is unacceptable, except for a
tag-along. It does not even matter if in that show trial there are
proper proceedings or not, if an offense has happened, and if it then is
dealt with fairly. Because for citizens of other nations only one thing
is for certain: It is not the law of their home country, that will be

This is a renaissance of historical show trials by way of the Internet.
It is a tragic moment of totalization, like the images from the WTC
falling down, like the report of hard drives being smashed in the
basement of the GUARDIAN, by henchmen of the British secret service.

Who owns the Internet

If a nation forms, many questions need to be answered. One of it asks
for personal rights. Another asks for property laws. If the Internet is
an instrument of globalization, a question is: Who owns it? Some go as
far to say, it is owned by the USA. If one looks at the nature of this
system, and refers to a definition of property valid in most western
capitalist democracies, another image presents itself.

Everyone who actually owns bits and pieces of its material reality, can
rightly claim ownership at least for material parts of it. But does
anyone think, an unevenly distributed ownership of parts of the Internet
translate to a corresponding right to vote on it? There are various
concepts of democratic rule. Everyone of it assigns power by head count,
not by amount of property.

The economic value of market-listed Internet enterprises contains a
speculation on the global impact of the enterprise. The market value
depends, if it really has a global and totalizing impact. But since
using the Internet is optional, at the same time these enterprises
completely depend on their customers trust. Their investors bid on this
trust. They depend on the willingness of their customers to use their
services, and may be even pay for them some day.

The German democracy is constitutionally linked with social market
economy. Its basic idea is, to relate a free market with a duty for
social adjustment. Germany owes this model decades of prosperity. If
this would be a model for the global village, each participant of the
Internet could claim that enterprises he pays will pay taxes in his home
country. And that it will take care of a social adjustment from its
profits, also in his home country. And of course, he could claim they
comply with local law. As long as the global village does not have a
constitution, no regime and no jurisdiction, each of his citizens will
have to address his claims to enterprises, which are building this
village. And he has to address his claims to his home country. The
extent to which a citizen of the global village cannot trust either one,
he is not only entitled but also bound in honor to take matters into his

A nation taking part on the Internet cannot be indifferent towards the
positions of other countries doing the same. None of the participating
nations can be indifferent whether this system develops from mutual
understanding or as a conquest. Each nation owes its citizens and
enterprises operating from its territory to represent them proper. In
this respect all nations on earth are alike. A nation, that interprets
globalization as a development of mutual understanding, cannot prey
citizens of other countries their constitutional rights. The German
understanding of its constitutional rights is: No enterprise can
invalidate these rights, as these are rights of every citizen.

One of the legally protected interests affected by the Internet is the
copyright law. It deals with claims an author has regarding an economic
utilization of his works. Another legally protected interest are his
personal rights. Among others it regulates his claims on personal data.
Personal rights in the USA are different from those in Germany. They
especially differ since the Patriot Act, after 911. These differences to
an extent document, how the USA intend to acquire compensation for these
attacks and will prevent something like this to ever happen again. But
no one can expect from citizens from another country, on the Internet to
give up their constitutional rights. Rights they are guaranteed by their
home country. Or does one get a passport, upon entering the Internet? If
one faces a loss of rights on the Internet, one needs to be told before.
One then will continue at one‘s own risk. As if one travels to another
country, called the global village. But then one will consider, what to
take on this trip.

The global village cannot exercise pressure on its visitors, to change
their legal concept. But some prominent Internet executives seem to look
forward to: The Internet being mandatory, and its habits shaping the
home countries of their users. Such an obligation certainly would
require, that citizens in a country where they have duties, are also
entitled to vote. Or is the idea, the mandatory Internet has little in
common with a democracy? Such fantasies citizens, enterprises and
nations have to confront. Nations are bound to do so, if they want to
avoid an erosion of their community. If they respect themselves as a
nation. Enterprises on the Internet inevitably find themselves entrapped
in a political process. They are actors in this process, whether they
want it or not.

It would be a service to globalization by way of the Internet, if
nations would grant asylum to citizens of other nations. Citizens who
want to share knowledge they have, knowledge which by publishing it
would already contribute to a democratic constitution of this system.
Sooner or later building blocks of a constitution of the global village
will be negotiated and agreed upon. The building block that is imagined
right now, is civil liberty. The earlier and more just it will be
developed, the better for mankind. If mankind wants to understand itself
as a democratic community. And if it uses the Internet as a medium of

Not all humans have access to the Internet. The US foreign ministry has
developed an »Internet in a suitcase«. Its a thing the size of a
suitcase. It can be dropped in a desert, and will bring the Internet to
its natives. If the Internet would even represent the constitution of
the global village, the »Internet in a suitcase« could be regarded a
weapon in a forceful extension of its territory. Independent whether the
social norms and cultural habits it represents are better or worse than
those where the suitcase will be left physically. The Internet so would
become a Trojan horse. To expect, that public officers, businessmen or
citizens would accept and appreciate this, is remarkably self-righteous.
It contradicts any definition of democratic processes, and so it is
non-credible. If a citizen of a community cannot vote for its
administration, and can only watch what the judiciary does, the show
trial becomes the symbol of this community. A free man cannot be
expected, to voluntarily join such a community.

Politics of venturing

The global village is created according to a master plan, we either do
not know or it does not exist. In implementing it, Internet enterprises
have a special role. One could think, they as well as individuals from
participating countries face a conflict of interests. That they as well
have to decide who they are loyal too: Their old or their new home. If
they are loyal to the country where they are a registered business, or
to the country they are about to create.

As enterprises they have a power to shape their environment. It relates
to the reach of their products and services. Their business activity can
relate to legal norms, which may be different in different countries
where they operate. The evolution of their terms and conditions can be
democratic, it can be autocratic. Each of the decisions they take can be
seen in the light of a conflict of interest as sketched above. But this
conflict is only an epiphany of the uber device. This epiphany inspires
the impression, Internet enterprises differ fundamentally from ordinary
enterprises. But the only feature that differentiates them from ordinary
enterprises, is the aura of the uber device.

Ordinary enterprises have to comply with the legal norms of any country,
where they sell their products and services. This applies everywhere.
The uber device represents the fantasy, that Internet enterprises have
their own legal norms. That the Internet is a place, where new legal
norms are created by way of its business activity and policies.
Depending on how strong an enterprise would be in its particular market,
it would then have they ability to impose new legal norms onto the
entire world.

Before this can happen, an Internet enterprise first has to clarify its
position regarding the legal norms of its home country. Considering the
first impression from statements regarding the NSA affair, none of the
affected enterprises has left the slightest doubt regarding its loyalty
and respect for US-American legal norms. This discredits their potential
position as a moderator of world-wide developments, which are to
transcend national habits. Such a role would demand neutrality. It
demand to represent the interests of all participants fairly. This is
exactly where the vision ends, and is replaced by a rather sober
reality. It will be interesting to see, how this will impact the equity
price of the affected enterprises.

A modest contribution to a better reality would require customers from
Internet enterprises, to listen to their demands. Such demands will only
be effective, if these customers demonstrate their ability to enforce
their demands. To demonstrate power, one has to know and exercise one‘s
options. On the Internet, following does not make for a rally. On the
Internet, not following might be a more effective rally. The most banal
option one has in dealing with computers or one of their applications,
is to use or not use them.

To address demands in the realm of state politics at Internet enterprise
is naive. As if Internet enterprises could administer constitutional
rights of their customers. They can only do this, if inadvertently
constitutional rights of their customers are identical with the
constitution of their home country. Only, what‘s then left to demand?
From the perspective of their home country it might be worth
considering, to accept their business practices: As long as they pay
taxes, and so their operations are advantageous to the citizens of this
country. Even if they owe these payments to business practices, that do
not comply with their laws. Such a deal might go through with an island
in the southern pacific. But for a nation that spends 40% of the annual
world wide military budget, it probably is not worth a thought.

In an open community, one courts trust by transparency. If trust is a
prerequisite of leading this community. If it is a community of freed
members. Otherwise, trust is not required.

In Germany, enterprise who take on responsibilities of public
administration, need to comply with high demands regarding the
transparency of their operations. They are audited on a regular basis,
and fined if they fail those demands. Internet enterprises should
voluntarily - or forced by their customers - make public key aspects of
their operations. Participants on the Internet, who can use alternate
service could then make this a part of their decision. Users then could
decide for their business partner if his practices relate to their
understanding of democracy. If these informations remain a secret, as it
is common today, then this is not possible. Then there can be no trust.
Paradoxically, trust then will only come from an Edward Snowden, who
empowers himself to report on inconvenient truths.

With the following text, quoted from some historic executive, he
prepares his subordinates for an imminent conflict with one of their
competitors. The last sentence was quoted above already, without
providing the author. »Goal is the elimination and destruction of (the
competition). The fastest success (...) promises the best prospects to
limit the conflict. The conflict will be initiated with adequate
propaganda. Credibility is irrelevant, victory will imply justice.« The
leader was Adolf Hitler. He made these confidential statements shortly
before Germany‘s assault on Poland, which started World War 2. The
assault was publicly justified with an attack from Poland, which Germany
made up.

Each staff of an Internet enterprise should have a look, if language and
business practices of his employer show a totalitarian mind-set. Every
democratic community relies on whistle-blowers to speak up, if they
realize the imminence of a totalitarian turn within. Even if this may be
a rather remote possibility, for history‘s sake it can never be forgotten.

Information technology inevitably comes along with totalization. It
carries with it the potential of a totalitarian turn. To confront this,
should it happen, would require courage. A courage true leaders demonstrate.