Lets put Ed Snowden on trial — in the court of my mind for a minute and see what happens
Ed Snowden claims we live in a de-facto police state more akin to Orwells 1984 dystopia — What is a police state?
Why is this? How can intelligent people (and I do beleive intelligent people on both sides of the debate) come to such wildy different views.
Heres my take — its presented in my other piece entitled ones mans freedom fighter is another mans terrorist and this is, if you like an afterthought.
First lets establish what Orwell police state looks like, the qualifying characteristics are:
- a superstate, with omnipresent government surveillance and public manipulation
- A world allegedly in a perpetual state of war (allegedly because with control of the media this is how its presented)
- a ruling party which is interested solely in power. Power used entirely for its own sake.
Have you ever been in that situation where one of your friends has upset another group of friends and you are forced to pick a side? Its confusing right? This is where we get into trouble. At this point our primary guiding force is not wanting to be ostracized ourselves.
So you see alot of people when we take sides and positions in cases like Snowdens are really pleading ‘don’t throw me out of the tribe’.
Of course there are other times in our lives — say when our spouse is ostracized where its much simpler to take sides — we take sides when its in our favour to do so. We side with our spouse because they are VALUABLE to us.
To stand up for what you believe in even in the the face of being rejected, ridiculed and cast aside is the choice.
A good question then is what are those things that we can all agree on and which are worth defending. Which are worth even risking being thrown out of the tribe for.
Well I believe that the pilgrims when they set foot in the New World discovered these. They had in fact travelled both figuratively and literally from a land WITH law and order but without FREEDOM (lets say the Great Britain or Ireland under British Rule) to a land with the realised potential for law, order and FREEDOM. They called their discovery ‘inalienable rights’ — these were sacred, inherent, self evident. They were absolutes like:
- Your freedom as an individual to be self governing is all your affairs is primary and non reducible (provided your exercise of your freedoms does not threaten your fellow humans)
- don’t harm each other EVER
- dont’t even threaten to harm each other EVER
So lets go back and see now that if we take our fear of being thrown under the bus out of the equation — is Ed Snowden the monster that some would paint him as — a traitor of the highest order. It looks alot like when you look at that FIRST inalienable right — the one about freedom to be self governing- that he does indeed have a point — surely if sovereignty of the individual is primary then the US would not have but 5% of the worlds population and 25% of the worlds prisoners. And with 1 in 33 american somewhere in the penal system at any one time (about 3% of the population) that means that probably another 20% are wondering if they are next.
So is it time to re-evaluate our relationship and see if Snowden was right or wrong — Snowden claims that our first most fundamental right of sovereignty was transgressed, that we are in fact subjects in a ‘Police State’ akin to Orwells dystopia of 1984— surely if such a big transgression has taken place surely we’d have felt it , right? Umm, not always. You’ve probably heard of the ‘boiling a frog’ phenomenon right. What if we are BORN into a dystopia. Surveillance, fear, war, incarceration are the NORM. What if the ‘matrix’ is niot such a stretch from reality.
We’re not living in the late 1700’s in a New World in which no one has yet launched an attack on our inalienable rights.
Right now what I do know is that we do have extreme levels of:
- conflict and ‘war’
- media manipulation
- social inequality
- disenfranchisement from the levers of power
- a new Ruling Elite who are extremely powerful and extremely wealthy
In Orwells quote above — you’ll see that we have in our current age seemingly reverted to a ‘war is peace’ logic. And also a ‘freedom is slavery logic’. And to a degree ‘ignorance is strength’ in an age of political ‘mind terror’ then it does not serve you to question too deeply. Questioning too deply is the equivalent of risking being thrown out of the tribe.
So in summary is Snowden a traitor — I’d say he’s definitely betrayed the state. If by the state you mean those vested interests and bodies that remind us daily they work in our favour and for our benefit- but which in the case of america (land of the free) there is no coverage for health, for education or for protecting your pension — but theres endless money for war, endless ways to incarcerate you for long amounts of time and for propaganda and for destroying the planet.
A friend of mine once said to me — I don’t listen to what people say I look at what they do. So lets look at what he’s done, rather than whats said if we are to be so bold as to deprive Ed Snowden of his liberty.
So Snowden to the best of my knowledge came across over a period of years (he alleges) a huge machine designed, he would have us believe to control and enslave us at worst and at best to ‘protect us secretly from realised and unrealised threat’ but at the cost of our privacy.
I think Snowdens biggest mistake is that his argument was too weak — its not about privacy its about sovereignty. Snowdens main argument is that our sovereignty was eroded — what is soverignty:
Sovereignty as defined in the Dec. Of Independence. Its one one of those ‘inalienables’ that these days seem so fictional — suspend disbelief for a minute though and go back to the late 1700’s — you’ve arrived in this ‘New World’. You have travelled thousands of miles across oceans from a Police State (lets imagine Britain & Ireland under British Rule) and are now breathing the sweet air in a free land. You put pen to paper to put done your thoughts as to what you have found to be ‘sacred’ and ‘inalienable’. You write that ….
We are in perpetuity:
- equal to every other person, institution and NEVER at any time to be subjugated FOR ANY REASON EVER — we are independent and self governing in ALL matters at all times and in ALL places FOREVER
Lets recap what Snowden says he was defending, the Declaration of Independence from 1776:
We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable; that all men are created equal & independent, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent & inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness; …
Lets see what he was saying here —
- ‘equal and independent’ = so equal to every other person, institution and NEVER at any time to be subjugated FOR ANY REASON EVER — independent would translate to self governing in ALL matters at all times and in ALL places FOREVER
- the right to the ‘preservation of life’ = the right not to be harmed or threatened in any way EVER
- the right to ‘preservation… (of) liberty’ = you have a right to have your personal choices respected, your ‘liberties’ given the HIGHEST priority at ALL times and in ALL places (provided your execution of those ‘liberties does not harm or even threaten to harm others)
- the right to the ‘pursuit of happiness’ = you have the right to spend your life engaged in what is meaningful to you at ALL time and in ALL places (PROVIDED that your choices NEVER harm or threaten to harm others)
So lets summarise the declaration (absolutes) — don’t harm, don’t threaten to harm and you are free to live as you best see fit. If you ever wonder what you can or can’t do just ask your self — will this harm or threaten another — if not then go ahead — fill your boots — its your life — you were created ‘equal and independent’.
Larger structures in society are useful to the extent that they support or maximise:
- personal liberty (you are FREE to live as you best see fit ALWAYS and for ALL TIME) +++++++THIS ONE ++++THIS ONE++++++
- harm reduction (don’t harm EVER)
- threat reduction (don’t even threaten to harm EVER)
In a Police State you have each of these inalienables turned on it head — a ‘freedom is slavery logic’ if you will that would read something like:
- We are here ensure that people are harmed — INCARCERATION, SURVEILLANCE, INCOME INEQUALITY, POOR ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE/ EDUCATION, LACK OF JOB SECURITY
- We are here to ensure that people are threatened (AS ABOVE)
- We are here to ensure that people do what we say (aka cannot can live as they best see fit) SURVEILLANCE, DRACONIAN ‘LAWS’, MEDIA CENSORSHIP + MANIPULATION
So in order to judge Snowdens assertion that we are in fact living smack bang in dystopia land run through that list of three and ask yourselves — if I look at whats DONE rather than what is SAID what conclusions do I come to.