chapter  8
World war infinity: Security through economy, economy through security
Pages 15

The world is at war. It is at war against you and me. Against us. This is not a classical “world war,” with bombs and bullets or national armies facing each other on fields of battle. It is not even the Global War on Terrorism, brought to life by George W. Bush in 2001 and buried by Barack Obama in 2009. Rather, this world war is a hybrid that merges economy and security and utilizes the data-or “pocket litter”—that individuals generate as they go about their daily activities. Increasingly, these data are being used to screen friend

from foe, to control and contain individuals and to disarm them. As such, it is a war with no foreseeable end, a world war infinity (WWInf). In WWInf (and notwithstanding the stealth occupation of Crimea by

Russia), it is not states that are threats to each other, it is their dangerous citizens and their citizens’ unruly bodies, those that threaten the existing order and the status quo. Most of these dangerous people are neither terrorists nor militants nor home-grown radicals nor lone wolves [sic]. Instead, they are ordinary individuals going about their ordinary lives. Edward Snowden’s data dump of the U.S. National Security Administration’s secrets only serves to confirm this, as well as suspicions that big data are the new “super weapon” in WWInf. Are these claims merely hyperbole? I think not. In WWInf, growing num-

bers of the world’s civilians are being enlisted-often unwittingly-in a total (izing) war in which everyone is a plausible enemy and everyone a potential target (Priest 2010; Mazzeti & Schmitt 2014). This war is waged not only through labor contributed to the war effort but also incorporation of the private sector into the statist project of “total information awareness” and “battlefield dominance.” If there ever were any purely civilian or privatepersonal sectors in the world’s capitalist societies, these have now have now been merged with the world’s military, police and intelligence systems.1

WWINF is a hybrid war, one that is going on everywhere, even between our ears (Jennings 2006) where, as we shall see below, valuable data reside. To be sure, state-instigated warfare has been hybridized for many centuries,

as citizens and capital were pressed into serving, defending and producing weapons for the Mother/Father/Home-land. But the impressment of the private sector industry into serving the nation’s defense in World War One and Two and the Cold War involved the sale of goods and services to the state, or perhaps nationalization until the end of hostilities. Present practice, by contrast, involves private parties participating directly in the prosecution of WWInf and even military action in place of armed forces (Thompson 1994; Owens 2008) and civil society revealing its innermost secrets in place of intelligence agencies. The goal of WWInf is the securing of a social order deeply embedded in the global economy and the process of capital accumulation. Mobilization in WWInf comes via what David Levi-Faur (2009) calls “regulatory capitalism” and through what I call the “bio-opticon.” These seek to enlist citizen-consumers in the “long twilight struggle” against social disorder and to guard against their own disloyalty and defection from the social order (Lipschutz 2008). As the second epigraph to this chapter, regarding the NSA’s new data-collecting installation in Utah, seems to indicate, this enlistment takes place through close reading of the pocket litter2 that individuals deposit in cyberspace. What we shall see, in this chapter, is how economy and security have been yoked together in the service of hybrid rule and WWInf. I begin with a discussion of “social securitization,” that is, how the wide-

spread accumulation of personal data via public and private channels serves to enmesh individuals in a reflexive bio-opticon that rests on self-discipline

and self-government. Can the thoughts and intentions of dangerous people be detected in the accumulated masses of personal information and pocket litter? How might they be discovered and neutralized, quietly and efficiently, before they can act against the public good? And who better to engage in such activities: government intelligence agencies or corporate data-mining offices, or both? The comments by the CEO of Google (first epigraph) seem to suggest that, by tracking and analyzing the behaviors and practices that give rise to such personal data, it also becomes possible to nudge, direct or even coerce subjects to behave in particular ways and desired directions and to pre-empt those who might be contemplating actions against the public welfare. In the second section, I scrutinize more closely this bio-opticon, the process of “data mining” and the role of intelligence collection in hybrid rule. How are personal data collected and by whom? What do they do with it? And does analysis of such data actually stop threats to society and social order before they materialize? I ask next: who owns such personal information? Is it the property of its originators or those who do the collecting, processing, analysis and judgment? This is not as simple a question as one might imagine: as Locke argued, the labor of his servant belonged to him, but what about personal data “pocket litter?” I argue, in the conclusion, that the struggle over the ownership of personal data lies at the core of both hybrid rule and WWInf.