The Nation: When was the last time civil disobedience brought about change?
Edward Snowden: Occupy Wall Street.
The Nation: One of us might disagree with you. Arguably, Occupy was a very important initiative, but it was soon vaporized.
Edward Snowden: I believe strongly that Occupy Wall Street had such limits because the local authorities were able to enforce, basically in our imaginations, an image of what proper civil disobedience is--one that is simply ineffective. All those people who went out missed work, didn't get paid. Those were individuals who were already feeling the effects of inequality, so they didn't have a lot to lose. And then the individuals who were louder, more disruptive and, in many ways, more effective at drawing attention to their concerns were immediately castigated by authorities. They were cordoned off, pepper-sprayed, thrown in jail.
<p>"authorities were able to enforce, in our imaginations, an image of what proper civil disobedience is--one that is ineffective" says Snowden</p>— Occupy Wall Street (@OccupyWallSt) October 27, 2014</blockquote>
The Nation: But you think Occupy nonetheless had an impact?
Snowden: It had an impact on consciousness. It was not effective in realizing change. But too often we forget that social and political movements don't happen overnight. They don't bring change immediately--you have to build a critical mass of understanding of the issues. But getting inequality out there into the consciousness was important. All these political pundits now talking about the 2014 and 2016 elections are talking about inequality.