FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Edward Snowden and the Great Removal

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden continues to loom large in the world’s daily news. Revelations from the trove of data he disclosed to journalists roll out on a near-weekly basis, followed by denials and excuses from politicians and bureaucrats he exposes as responsible for rights violations around the world. Citizenfour, a documentary covering his heroic actions on behalf of the public, just grabbed the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

It’s easy to get lost in the minutiae of Snowden’s individual disclosures. And that’s OK. Each disclosure tells us something important about those who rule us. But there’s more to it than the details. There’s a bigger picture.

In a February 23 “Ask Me Anything” discussion on Reddit, Snowden encapsulated that bigger picture. “[W]e the people,” he wrote, “will implement systems that provide for a means of not just enforcing our rights, but removing from governments the ability to interfere with those rights” (emphasis Snowden’s).

That’s the whole ballgame right there, folks. The purpose of political government has never been, as the US Declaration of Independence claims, “to secure these rights [life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness] … deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” The purpose of political government has always been to monopolize violations of rights and to use those violations to redistribute power, control and wealth from you to the political class.

Many — perhaps most — of us don’t get it. Sometimes Snowden himself doesn’t seem quite sure of it. But the politicians know it deep down in their guts.

When the world’s panicked potentates and powermongers squeal that people like Snowden make it more difficult for them to “protect” us, what they really mean is that people like Snowden unlock and open the doors of the cages we’re kept in.

The politicians aren’t afraid of bad actors getting in. They’re afraid of us getting out. Worse, they’re afraid that while we’re out, we’ll realize we never needed them. They fear that the final shred of the emperor’s clothes — the notion that the state is a “necessary evil” — will fall away, revealing them to us in all their nakedness as the unnecessary evil they’ve always been. And that fear is fully justified.

Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden (among others; Barrett Brown and Ross Ulbricht also come immediately to mind) have earned their places as central figures in the pantheon of human liberty. They will one day be revered (indeed, they already are among many) as modern-day Thomas Paines.

Paine’s work brought down the British Empire in one small corner of Earth; it also inspired and informed the revolution in France. The effects reverberate across more than two centuries of human history down to this very day. Snowden and those others are in the process of completing Paine’s mission by bringing down the global political class’s preferred governance model of the last 400 years, the Westphalian nation-state.

Snowden’s Great Removal is in progress and unstoppable. It deserves our enthusiastic embrace.

Thomas L. Knapp is senior news analyst at the Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org).

More articles by:

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

January 22, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
On the Brink of Brexit: the Only Thing Most People Outside Westminster Know About Brexit is That It’s a Mess
Raouf Halaby
The Little Brett Kavanaughs from Covington Catholic High
Dean Baker
The Trump Tax Cut is Even Worse Than They Say
Stanley L. Cohen
The Brazen Detention of Marzieh Hashemi, America’s Newest Political Prisoner
Karl Grossman
Darth Trump: From Space Force to Star Wars
Glenn Sacks
Teachers Strike Dispatch #8: New Independent Study Confirms LAUSD Has the Money to Meet UTLA’s Demands
Haydar Khan
The Double Bind of Human Senescence
Alvaro Huerta
Mr. President, We Don’t Need Your Stinking Wall
Howard Lisnoff
Another Slugger from Louisville: Muhammad Ali
Nicole Patrice Hill – Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
The Scarlet “I”: Climate Change, “Invasive” Plants and Our Culture of Domination
Jonah Raskin
Disposable Man Gets His Balls Back
Thomas Knapp
Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go
January 21, 2019
W. T. Whitney
New US Economic Attack Against Cuba, Long Threatened, May Hit Soon
Jérôme Duval
Macronist Repression Against the People in Yellow Vests
Dean Baker
The Next Recession: What It Could Look Like
Eric Mann
All Hail the Revolutionary King: Martin Luther King and the Black Revolutionary Tradition
Binoy Kampmark
Spy Theories and the White House: Donald Trump as Russian Agent
Edward Curtin
We Need a Martin Luther King Day of Truth
Bill Fried
Jeff Sessions and the Federalists
Ed Corcoran
Central America Needs a Marshall Plan
Colin Todhunter
Complaint Lodged with European Ombudsman: Regulatory Authorities Colluding with Agrochemicals Industry
Manuel E. Yepe
The US War Against the Weak
Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail