Edward Snowden and the American super-state

The two sides of Snowden. Protest photo by PM Cheung via creative commons

WASHINGTON, May 18, 2014 — The federal government has radically increased citizen surveillance and has assumed greater and greater control over every aspect of the lives of ordinary citizens. Incredible advances in electronic technology, giving the government the capacity to listen in and to follow almost all activities of our lives, have rendered earlier protective legislation ineffective. Actions that might have been considered treasonable 25 years ago when we faced the specter of international Communism, may not necessarily be so today.

Because of this reality, many Americans are torn between anger that Edward Snowden violated laws and revealed classified information and the clarity he provided that our increasingly managerial and therapeutic state no longer recognizes many rights guaranteed to us by the Constitution. Instead, it violates them with near impunity.

An important consideration is the current state of the American electorate. An informed and vigilant citizenry, the kind of citizenry envisaged by the Founding Fathers, would be up in arms at Snowden’s revelations. Sadly, it is fantasy to think that a majority of today’s citizens are the thoughtful, qualified voters that the Founders envisaged, uninfluenced by special interests, glittering financial inducements, or overpowering media persuasion.

Given the parlous state of American education from grammar school through college; given the over-washing indoctrination in just about all our entertainment, sports, and major news outlets; given the almost total breakdown in the family, in our communities, and of our traditions, given all these aspects of current American life and the assumption by our national government (and increasingly state governments)  of extraordinary powers never remotely imagined by the Founders, the basic idea of a republic of informed and involved voters is as current as the horse-drawn buggy.

The Obama administration is staffed almost totally by convinced, self-proclaimed neo-Marxist multiculturalists along the model of the managerial totalitarians who now dominate the European Union and are destroying it — its heritage, its traditions, its ethnic make-up, its culture —through state control and mass immigration.

While heightened national security, specifically against Islamic extremists, is necessary, our national hostility to such nations as post-Communist Russia is completely misplaced. We are no longer in the “cold war” gestalt; we face terrorism, some of which we may have stoked by our one-sided policies in the Middle East, some of which we have provoked through our overweening demand that every other country in the world accept unconditionally our corrupt form of “liberal democracy,” global egalitarianism — with the feminism and abortion mind-set that eventually come with that — and the worst forms of consumerism.

So perhaps we should be cheering on more Snowdens. Certainly, I am uneasy about such a prospect; but given the current nature of our American government and American society, perhaps that is just what we need to cause those Americans who still think, to think some more and a bit deeper.

Perhaps it is time for more radical change? Perhaps it is time for radical traditionalism.

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Boyd Cathey
Boyd D. Cathey holds a doctorate in European history from the Catholic University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain, where he was a Richard Weaver Fellow, and an MA in intellectual history from the University of Virginia (as a Jefferson Fellow). He was assistant to conservative author and philosopher the late Russell Kirk. In more recent years he served as State Registrar of the North Carolina Division of Archives and History. He has published in French, Spanish, and English, on historical subjects as well as classical music and opera. He is active in the Sons of Confederate Veterans and various historical, archival, and genealogical organizations.
  • Charles Aulds

    We can’t all do what Edward Snowden has done; but every one of us bears an equal responsibility; if not to expose the truth, to refuse to hide from it, run from it or to conceal it.