by Robert C. Koehler
America, America . . .
That's the nature of his "treason." The secret he gave away was pretty much the same one the little boy blurted out in
For instance, the government of
In other words, sorry, Naked Empire. We're not going to do what you ask, and by the way, we have some issues with your behavior we'd like to discuss.
This is not the sort of insolence the world's only superpower wants to hear, and it's Snowden's fault, along with other whistleblowers who preceded him, some of whom, such as
Incredibly, so much of the
The privileged social position of the media is based on the idea that it's beholden first and foremost to principle and speaks truth to power, not that it's a glib collaborator with power, but that old saw has been on the wane for decades. It's just one of many principles that consumer culture seems to have given up on. (Nobody, for instance, seems to worry that "Christmas has gotten too commercial" anymore, either.)
Outside the mainstream, there has, of course, been excellent critical analysis both of Snowden's revelations and the mainstream media's snarky dismissal of same, but one assumption strikes me as largely unexamined: that the U.S. government essentially has the power to do whatever it wants, independent of the citizenry living under its auspices, and that our choices are either to go along with it or rail angrily against it. But maybe we have other options as well.
"Basically, there appear to be two views of the nature of power. One can see people as dependent upon the good will, the decisions and the support of their government or any other hierarchical system to which they belong. Or, conversely, one can see that government or system dependent on the people's good will, decisions and support.
"One can see the power of a government as emitted from the few who stand at the pinnacle of command. Or one can see that power, in all governments, as continually rising from many parts of the society. One can also see power as self-perpetuating, durable, not easily or quickly controlled or destroyed. Or political power can be viewed as fragile, always dependent for its strength and existence upon replenishment of its sources, by the cooperation of a multitude of institutions and people -- cooperation which may or may not continue."
Indeed, Snowden, Manning and other whistleblowers have demonstrated the fragility of governmental power with their very actions. Hence the government's kneejerk response: They're traitors! They disobeyed and must be punished, because any unofficial leakage of government policy is, by definition, bad for security. Of course the security in question is the security of those in power. The belief that their security is our security is the link that must be broken. As Sharp points out, we don't automatically owe those in power our good will.
From a genocidal war against the continent's original inhabitants to the institution of slavery to