Why Political Liberty Depends on Software Freedom More Than Ever

When Dwight Eisenhower was leaving the presidency in 1961 he made a famous farewell speech to the American people in which he warned them against the power of the military-industrial complex, a phrase that became so commonplace in discussion that people stopped thinking seriously about what it meant.

The general who had run the largest military activity of the 20th century, the invasion of Europe, the general who had become the President of America at the height of the cold war, was warning Americans about the permanent changes to their society that would result from the interaction of industrial capitalism with American military might. And since the time of that speech, as you all know, the United States has spent on defense more than the rest of the world combined.

Now, in the 21st century, which we can define as after the latter part of September 2001, the United States began to build a new thing, a surveillance-industrial-military complex.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.

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