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ARTICLES

A Bleak View?

Do you have complete trust in the government, the State, their agencies and their motives? Quite soon, if your answer is “no”, you may find life rather depressing — your depression will, of course, itself be a matter of record. As it is we are all increasingly monitored and filmed wherever we are. The seemingly inevitable “pay” roads will give even more feedback on where you are and where you go, not to mention the satellite-tracking “anti theft” bugs makers may put into cars — how long before they also become compulsory? Given a few more years the tagging of prisoners may be quite unnecessary, as everyone will effectively be “tagged”. Exaggerating a little — for now — how long before “missing children” or some similar rationale is used as the basis of a suggestion to implant chips in babies as is presently done with recovered stray dogs?

The so-far thwarted moves against privacy of communications (on various pretexts, which don’t really stand up to close examination) by the US government in particular are another area of concern. Governments will keep on trying to outlaw unmonitored communications, for such is the nature of the control-freaks who, alas, so frequently rise to the top in politics. At the same time, we have the arguments for ID cards with all sorts of data on them — for “our” convenience, of course; the fact that people can get a passport and use it as ID if they want to does not seem to count. Much of the data is now processed overseas, just to make matters unaccountably worse.

We may well end up in a situation where only the richest and most powerful have any privacy at all. The law courts would offer no protection to the poor, whatever legislation might be enacted, since they could not afford to buy their justice. Think of all the negative things we always were told about the old eastern bloc countries. We are getting all of these features here, bit by bit, and considerably more high-tech and efficient. Look at the increasing number of posters exhorting people to inform on others… regarding guns was one of the most recent, but that is unimportant in itself, and it isn’t at all a matter of whether the things postered are wrong or right, the point is that an “informer” culture is being promoted. We thought Romania was bad; but in the basic principle is there all that much difference?

In saying these things are done on pretext, it does not necessarily mean the people who seek to solve their own compartmentalised problems through implementation of such measures are deliberately engaging in some conspiracy. If they were, it would be less of a threat to freedom, as it would be open to exposure. The surveillance society that is emerging is the sum of various separate fixes. Add in the privatisation of several policing and monitoring functions, with its attendant profit motive, and the situation becomes even more potentially threatening to freedom. The free-marketeers, blinded by an economic ideology they have elevated to near-religious status, assert that shareholding gives the people some kind of stake, some form of control, over these corporatised former state functions. In reality that offers no safeguard whatsoever; the small shareholders are more or less an irrelevance where control is concerned — it lies with the big financial institutions and funds, themselves effectively just another branch of the ruling Establishment. Accountability at the top is not increased, it is obscured and diminished, and it would be rather naive to place one’s faith in “watchdogs” themselves appointed by the Establishment. The general public are progressively being redefined as the problem and the enemy rather than the (theoretical) masters of the State. Security and policing services, and politicians, will not be able to resist the temptation to apply the available technology — and precedent — to other, new, problems.

The pretext here is retrospective : when the means are in place it is a small and easy step to integrate them and use them to ulterior purposes. There are certainly serious problems within society, from racial violence to computer fraud and all points between — but there are many un-addressed underlying causes such as poverty, insecurity, marginalisation, stress and gross alienation, and their solution most definitely does not lie in the virtual imprisonment of the entire population! The threat of the one-party State or the police State is as real now as it was in the days of Hitler and Stalin — and, as well as the physical aspects of a potentially totalitarian infrastructure, we see disturbing tendencies towards the “politically correct” thought-policing of society.

At Third Way we stand solidly for freedom, and against such intrusive and fascistic concepts of government.

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