It’s a Shame They Didn’t Give Snowden the Nobel Peace Prize

It’s a shame they didn’t give Snowden the Nobel Peace Prize. It seems impossible to understand the value of his actions today. As we approach a new era of totalitarian control, he is turning into an icon of resistance, but he has not reached that status yet. And now, instead of winning an award, Edward is worn down and ready to return to his world, even if it means time in prison.

When America’s intelligence agencies were unmasked, it became an enormous scandal in the U.S., but for Russians it wasn’t a big deal. The Russian government has had these kinds of intelligence agencies for a hundred years, and surveillance is hardly their worst crime. In Russia, everyone has a friend in uniform to give a little extra to; everybody has dirt on everyone else, and this is at the core of everything, from politics to business.

I know stories of serious businessmen who have long ago forbidden their colleagues from discussing work on the phone. The most popular topic for civil liberty seminars is safety. Having learned from criminal court documents how the government was spying on “Voina,”* Lyonya Nikolaev fled to the deepest part of the underground — and died there. Living under surveillance is deeply uncomfortable. There’s this constant feeling that you’re vulnerable, a captive.

This is why the present day figures who will become tomorrow’s heroes are the anonymous hackers Julian Assange, Aaron Schwartz and Edward Snowden. They’re all people who have exposed the criminal actions of the politicians of our age — the hypocrites who win prizes for solving problems they created themselves.

*Translator’s note: “Voina,” or “War,” is a Russian street art group well-known for their criticism of the government. Lyonya Nikolaev was a prominent member who died in September, reportedly in a lumber-cutting accident.

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