There was something quite odd about the very welcome news that some Google employees were objecting to a military contract, namely all the other Google military contracts. My sense of the oddness of this was heightened by reading Yasha Levine’s new book, Surveillance Valley: The Secret Military History of the Internet.
I invited Levine on my radio show (it will air in the coming weeks) and asked him what he thought was motivating the revolt over at Google. Were they objecting to a particular kind of weapon, in the manner that some people rather bizarrely object to drones only if they are automated but not if a human pushes the murder button? Were they actually clueless about their own company?
Levine’s answer requires investigation but certainly makes an interesting hypothesis. He said that all during the Obama years, the tech press and community aired no concerns whatsoever about militarism, whereas since the arrival of Trump such talk is to be heard and read. Levine maintains that Google employees do not object to militarism, they object to Trumpian militarism.
I had hoped for and wrongly predicted this phenomenon in the general public the moment Trump gained the throne. Is it possible that it’s finally begun, but begun in Silicon Valley?
Levine’s book describes Google and other internet corporations as major military and spy contractors from the beginning. Google partnered with Lockheed Martin on parts of the war on Iraq and is a major partner of the military, the CIA, the NSA, etc. Surveillance Valley goes back to the post-WWII origins of today’s military madness. Military experiments as preparation for war, “field tested” in Vietnam, and supported by President Kennedy as appropriately hi-tech and modern, were actually war and developed into one of the worst wars ever seen. Vietnam was mass-surveilled — or the attempt was made and foiled with bags of urine and other low-tech tricks.
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