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Thursday, July 4, 2013

“Libertarian Millennial”

Snowden, who spent his 30th birthday on the run, is one of a new breed I call the “Libertarian Millennial”. Apolitical, perhaps even post-political, they do what they do because they have come to their own conclusions in their own time and in their own way. “I don’t want to live in a society that does these [surveillance] sort of things… I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded,” Snowden declares. There you have it: “I don’t”, “I do not” and “everything I do and say” are the key phrases here.

Snowden is not like the main whistleblower of my youth, Daniel Ellsberg, who in 1971 leaked what became known as the Pentagon Papers, a defence department history of American involvement in Vietnam. Ellsberg was steeped in the security mechanisms of the United States; he knew what the consequences of his leak were. He was a professional who saw what he did as part of what we, the young, were doing in the streets. He pondered long and hard over his actions and, in doing what he did, saw himself as part of something bigger, something collective.