Check It Out:
Oliver Stone’s Movie: Snowden

October 10, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a reader:

There’s more than one story to tell about Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency (NSA) contractor and “whistleblower” who exposed to the world the U.S.’s thorough and systematic spying—on “friend,” foe and, well, everybody—and the use of much of this spying to carry out war crimes and crimes against humanity, including mass murder from drone strikes and helicopter gunships. What he brought to light was released in the news (the Guardian and elsewhere) and at least one documentary movie.

Oliver Stone’s new movie, Snowden, focuses on the story of the patriotic young man who is accepted by the CIA and then the NSA and plays a big part in developing the electronic surveillance capabilities of these institutions. It depicts what happens to him as he discovers the unbridled extent to which the U.S. spies on and gathers information on anyone and everyone, around the world and in the U.S., violating privacy and making free and critical thought in private conversation a dangerous activity—and the use of this spying and massive database archive against people at the whim of those with this power. And blatantly lying about it. All this by the country that, as Edward Snowden sees it, is supposed to be the champion of freedom and democracy.

When he confronts the choice of whether to compromise his sentiments and principles, he chooses not only to refuse to be part of the massive spying but to reveal this to the world. He chooses this knowing the great risk to himself and those around him. It’s a story of holding to principle, not compromising his humanity, believing that this matters (and in fact it does!). It’s a story of following his convictions where they took him, not turning away for a more “comfortable” choice. Stone’s movie is not a documentary—it is Stone telling the story, with actors. But Snowden did have some involvement in its making.

BAsics 5:11

Watching this movie also got me thinking about how this system really is not “all powerful.” This country poses as the “good guys” in the world, the great defenders of “freedom and democracy,” and claims that what’s good for them is good for humanity. But the brutal reality underneath that is that the capitalist-imperialist interests of this country—how this system functions, what it needs, what it depends on—are profoundly opposed to the actual interests of most of humanity, the seven billion. Think about it, this system depends on people to carry out its interests, people like Snowden. And his revelations opened a big gash in the system’s legitimacy that’s still open, in this country and internationally. No one was supposed to find out about this! And we don’t know how big the impact could be.

Snowden is now a major motion picture. It is very well done. The movie is also a challenge. Snowden sets a standard for what you should do with what you come to know, how you should view your life. The cost to him has been real, and he upholds what he’s done. For humanity, this matters.

With a deep appreciation for what Snowden has done, I would urge him and everyone to investigate even further. The crimes Snowden revealed are not, in fact, contrary to what America is about. This country that was founded on genocide and slavery, this system that is based on brutal exploitation and devastation of humanity around the world, this is a system that actually depends on the kinds of crimes Snowden discovered and revealed. And this point makes me think of something Bob Avakian said a while back:

An Invitation

By Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

Let’s go on a crucial journey together—full of unity against oppression and lively struggle about the source of the problem and the solution. Pursue your own convictions—that the outrages that move you are intolerable—to their logical conclusion, and be determined not to stop until those outrages have been eliminated. And if this, as well as learning about other outrages, and ideas about how this all fits together and flows from a common source—and how it could all be ended, and something much better brought into being—leads in the direction of seeing not only the need for bold and determined resistance, but also the need for revolution and ultimately communism, then don’t turn away from that because it moves you beyond your comfort zone, challenges what had been your cherished beliefs, or because of prejudices and slanders. Instead, actively seek to learn more about this revolution and its goal of communism and to determine whether it is in fact the necessary, and possible, solution. And then act accordingly.

This and much more is findable at, including in Bob Avakian’s new book THE NEW COMMUNISM.

Oliver Stone’s Snowden is definitely a movie worth seeing.


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