Continuing Fallout over Snowden’s Revelations

What Does It Show When...?

August 18, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


In a world marked by profound class divisions and social inequality, to talk about “democracy”—without talking about the class nature of that democracy and which class it serves—is meaningless, and worse. So long as society is divided into classes, there can be no “democracy for all”: one class or another will rule, and it will uphold and promote that kind of democracy which serves its interests and goals. The question is: which class will rule and whether its rule, and its system of democracy, will serve the continuation, or the eventual abolition, of class divisions and the corresponding relations of exploitation, oppression and inequality.

—BAsics 1:22

What does it show when this government hunts down Edward Snowden for the crime of courageously exposing its illegal and utterly illegitimate practice of secretly spying on literally billions of people? What does it show when it threatens every other government of the world to prevent them from offering asylum? What does it show when the top “justice” official of this government feels compelled to offer assurances that they will not torture or execute Snowden if he is turned over—an assurance that indicates something about the very deserved reputation of the U.S. around the world? And what good are such assurances when Bradley Manning—a soldier on trial for essentially revealing war crimes—was subject to relentless torture and, indeed, received charges (which he beat) that could have carried the death penalty?

What does it mean when each new day seems to bring a new revelation of the depth and breadth of this spying? What does it mean when, with each new revelation, a new government lie is revealed? When it turns out that any mention of “forbidden words” in an email between someone in the U.S. and someone overseas will prompt a computer program to analyze and log your email? And when, for all we know, this could be applied way more broadly than that? When two email providers feel forced to close down their businesses rather than cooperate with what would be illegal and illegitimate government intrusions into the privacy of their customers—but can’t even say exactly why they are doing it for fear of prosecution? When U.S. senators who oppose this spying regime are forced to resort to all kinds of circumlocution and hints to tell people that there is some really bad shit going on that still hasn’t come to the surface?

It shows and it means that on any serious issue, the democratic facade covers over the machinery of dictatorship. THIS is what dictatorship looks like—and this, indeed, is what democracy, including U.S. democracy, “looks like”—the exercise of repressive force and threat in the service of capitalism-imperialism, covered over with a thin democratic veneer. This must be recognized for what it is, and fought without illusions.


* Legal disclaimer: "Torture" here is defined as anything the United States does not do, and conversely anything the United States does, including waterboarding, forced feeding of hunger strikers through nasal tubes, long-term solitary confinement in U.S. prisons, and the barbaric atrocities at Abu Ghraib are, by definition, not torture, not withstanding any international laws or treaties the United States is party to or has refused to sign. Furthermore, "murder" here is also defined as anything the United States does not do, and again, anything the United States does, including the execution of innocent people, the killing of over 200 children in drone attacks, and the deaths of millions around the world through coups, repression and war, is not murder.



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