Edward Snowden continues to deliver gifts to the U.S.: the gift of self-awareness. Who can possibly argue that the information he released is not vital to our democracy? Or, as Snowden said, what gave him the right as a security analyst to know about our wiretapping Angela Merkel without his fellow citizens knowing it too? Here is Dirk Kurbjuweit in Spiegel writing about paranoid democracies, Israel, the U.S. and the former South Africa, which depend on freedom myths, ideas of themselves as paradise, and paranoia:
To understand the United States, it’s worth taking a look at other paranoid democracies. In southern Africa, Boer settlers battled the local population for land. To this day, the Boers still have a glorified view of their history, as suggested by Boer expressions like “Eie land, vrye volk,” or “One land, free people.” A strict apartheid system was implemented in South Africa starting in 1948. The system enabled the Boers to isolate themselves from the black majority and create a democracy, but only for whites, making it entirely undemocratic. Fear was the basis of that state. It built nuclear bombs, even though it had no enemies….
In Israel, too, politics are shaped by fear — and a justified one. The country is surrounded by enemies, some of which have made the renewed extermination of the Jews their objective. But does that mean that the Israelis have to have their presumed enemies murdered abroad? One of today’s symbols of political paranoia is the giant wall that seals off Palestinian areas from Israeli territory. “Homeland” is actually based on an Israeli TV series.
The United States differs in many respects from South Africa during apartheid and Israel today. But the three countries are similar in terms of the triad of freedom myth, paradise and fear. This has led to the development of a tremendous ability to put up a fight, but also a heightened sensitivity.
Political paranoia requires an enemy, or at least the concept of an enemy…
Unfortunately, however, a paranoid democracy tends to use tools that are beneath a democracy, the tools of a dictatorship, and they include as much surveillance as possible.
Information is the most valuable thing in a paranoid world.