Friday, October 25, 2019

Permanent Record (Book Review)

You could call it an autobiography of Edward Snowden or you could call it a manifesto for democratic citizenship. You would be right either way. This book is a how-to guide for becoming a hacker (in the realest sense of the word), a good parent, and a good lover.
A fair bit of caution advised though. The book will leave you paranoid. Once you realize the perverse amount of surveillance that you are subjected to without your knowledge, it becomes surveillance with your knowledge, and I don't know which is better.

I had once written a blog post titled "When Doing Good is Bad For You" from my own experience. In that I talk about how social revolutionists will perpetually face the dilemma of not doing anything versus fighting the system and putting themselves at risk in the hope of being able to improve the system. I have seen many others face the same dilemma. Edward Snowden also faces the same dilemma and we know what path he chose.

But till I read this book, I could not make that connection. That Ed Snowden is a human just like you and me. That he went through situations just like you and me. That the choices he had to make are the choices that confront us all similarly. That we are all perfectly capable human beings who can do great things.

It also gave me another realization. That the democracies we live in are very far away from ideal democracies. And that forgetting this can have real life consequences. And that despite all that it is necessary to continue the fight.

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