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USA: mature or overripe?


Among the casualties of the Snowden stories are an embarrassed and chastened White House, an American technology sector which has seen its own government tarnish its business model of a global, open internet and the strong US relationships with allies such as Germany. Financial Times

In English we make a clear difference between “mature” and “ripe”.

We also distinguish between ripe and too ripe with the word, “overripe”, which is common enough a concept to have one whole, unhyphenated word all to itself.


ma·ture adjective \m?-?tu?r, -?tyu?r also -?chu?r\
: having or showing the mental and emotional qualities of an adult
: having a fully grown or developed body : grown to full size
: having reached a final or desired state Merriam Webster

over·ripe adjective \??-v?(r)-?r?p\ :
: grown or aged past the point of ripeness and beginning to decay
: too ripe : not new or young
: not fresh or original Merriam Webster

We don’t have a word for “over-mature”, as being mature is thought to be good and it is hard to see how you can have too much of it, but ripe, which in itself is good, past a certain point can become bad.

I would maintain that history’s most advanced and developed version of capitalism, the American version, instead of being mature is overripe.

The snippet from the Financial Times that tops this post reveals “the worm in the apple”, the conflict or “contradiction” in the system, simple to identify, but whose resolution or synthesis is very difficult to predict.

The most creative and innovative sector of the American economy, the sector that most represents a future prosperity for American business, is symbolized by Google, a huge organization, whose business model is based on the free flow of information and especially on obtaining the personal data of everyone on an interconnected, frontier-less planet, in order to anticipate and satisfy their every want and desire by knowing even their unconscious needs and motivations. This obviously requires enormous quantities of trust on anyone who uses Google… as users confide to Google, knowingly or unknowingly, things that they would never confide even to their dearest friend or most loved and trusted family member. Trust, friendliness, goodwill then, are the central, essential qualities of Google’s business proposition.

Google’s antithesis is the NSA, who also wants access to the personal data of everyone and to know (and especially anticipate) their needs and desires, conscious and unconscious in order to dominate and control them. This organization’s philosophy is not to trust anyone, not even ones closest friends. And whose process of knowledge to action might be symbolized by the drone strike. Certainly trust, friendliness, goodwill then, are NOT the central, essential qualities of NSA’s “business proposition”.

However the two “business propositions” are deeply entwined. It is hard to imagine a “Swiss” Google or anything as all-encompassing as Google in any country that did not physically control the Internet and set and enforce the world’s rules of commerce and supply the world with its reserve currency, while physically controlling the seas and air all over the world with the greatest accumulation of military power in the history of our planet. And conversely it is hard to imagine an intelligence agency as “penetrant” as the NSA without access to the resources of Google, Yahoo and Facebook.

The same as mixing Clorox with gasoline will cause an explosion and it is vital to keep the two apart, so it is vital for America’s new economy to keep the idea of the NSA as far away from the idea of Google as possible… I should say “was” because Snowden has let the cat out of the bag and like putting toothpaste back in the tube, all the king’s horses and all the King’s men will never put Humpty Dumpty back together again. With the wisdom of hindsight this Achilles’s heel of American power was obvious, but Edward Snowden, or whoever (if anyone) runs him has fired a deadly torpedo directly under America’s waterline.All that was needed was to find the right person at the right time and get him and his information where the United States could not prevent its dissemination.

Like taking candy from a baby.

Returning to the original metaphor, the connection NSA/new economy was (over) ripe for the plucking. Some would say that when our economic system reached it’s full worldwide potential and maturity such a conflict was bound to arise, others have been hoping and praying for such an event since the 19th century… we are “fortunate” enough to be here to witness how it plays out.

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David Seaton

David Seaton