Thoughts on Activism Under Surveillance

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On October 26th, I attended a rally sponsored by the Stop Watching Us coalition to protest against the huge spying apparatus that the United States Government has created since 9/11. It was a great rally, filled with intelligent and well-informed people of many different political persuasions. But did it really do anything?

The answer to that is yes and no. Yes, in terms of showing that we can be organized in our resistance but rallies are mainly a show for the media and little more. Still, with Glenn Greenwald and others strategically releasing these news stories and keeping things current, its very likely that real reform is possible but it won’t be easy. In fact, I feel as if change is something that will have to ultimately be coerced. As any student of history knows, when huge power is acquired it is very difficult to get that power back by any means other then force. This is not to suggest that there will be a revolt based on Edward Snowden’s revelations, however I do see this as a destabilizing factor not only for the world community, but for the United States Government itself, which has remained insulated from public opinion do to media control.

But how can people effectively organize resistance when the powers-that-be are watching your every communication? Obviously it presents major difficulties for anybody who is willing and able to use peaceful civil disobedience as a tactic. It brings to mind Occupy Wall Street and the difficulties that it had with the NYPD. If there is any hope, it lies in these kinds of protests combined with effective political diplomacy.

I don’t really have the answers has to how it will all turn out but I think that, if anything, Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden have proven that information can be used as a political weapon and that even while all our communications can be spied on, we are watching our government just as much as they are watching us.

I would like to hear from my readers. Do you have a response to this post? Let me know through the comments.

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