I agree, but I still maintain that the historical circumstances, what the people have experienced and come to expect, matters greatly. The furor and noise over Snowden’s revelations would barely receive mention in Russia. Its just assumed that Putin surveills the Russian citizenry. The one seriously embarrassing moment for Snowden was when he asked Putin if he spies on the Russian people as if he would receive an honest answer. There is no 4th amendment to break in Russia. Cultural norms matter.
And while its true, as far as it goes, that dissidents facilitated the revolution in Russia, the fact that they set up gulags and essentially a police state was possible because that’s basically what existed before the revolution. If a government set up gulags and started mass arresting dissidents in the US there would be armed insurrectionists in the streets, and you’d find a lot of the military going awol against the government. There’s only so much they can get away with at any given time, and that is based on cultural historical norms. You could argue that’s what they did to Occupy Wall Street and you’d be partially right. But first of all it wasn’t a mass movement. And instead of throwing the protesters in prison for decades, disappearing the leaders, etc., those arrested are all walking free at this point. Different nation, different history, different norms.
Of course those norms can change. Just look at what Obama has gotten away with coming after Bush/Cheney. Bush/Cheney was a coup that stood much of the political norms of the US on their head, and there were massive protests and a lot of unrest during that period. That’s what was so pernicious about what Obama did in '08. Instead of reforming and returning us to our historical norms as he promised he instead continued and expanded on the post-constitutional era Bush ushered in, while simultaneously deflating the unrest that propelled him into office. History will not look kindly on him. In fact its arguable that Obama has broken more of the constitution that Bush/Cheney did. When Bush’s cronies got into financial trouble they went to jail (Enron). Obama not only let them off with no prosecutions but rewarded them with unlimited Fed money. Bush claimed the right to indefinitely detain American citizens. Obama claims the right to assassinate us (not on American soil). Why not on American soil? They are ratcheting us towards the same place the Russians are in relation to their government, and the only thing that might stop them is our outrage at what’s being taken away from us.