Thursday, June 26, 2008

A trenchant defence of Liberty

Excellent piece by Jan Morris in yesterday's Guardian. Using the David Davis carry on as a springboard she comes to the defence of our Liberties with aplomb,

Anyone can see that in Britain, 2008, individuality is being suppressed, so that year by year, generation by generation, the people are being bullied or brainwashed into docile conformity. What is more ominous is that so many want to be docile. They want to be supervised, cosseted, homogenised, obedient....

The so-called war on terror is of course the supposed excuse for this appalling violation of all our privacies, together with the ominous rise of the secret intelligence agencies. The public has been gulled into acceptance of the supervisory state, with all its paraphernalia of surveillance and identity cards, DNA databases, armed police and arbitrary search, by the mantra: "If you don't do anything wrong, why worry?"

Brainwashed by a tabloid press of brilliantly insidious techniques, then, numbed by the relentless mediocrity of television, half the people have willingly forfeited the right to make up their own minds, and mutely accept indoctrination. "He's not afraid of anything," I overheard one young mother say to another, watching her three-year-old clambering over an obstacle, but the reply came straight from the state: "Oh that's dangerous, you must never allow him to think like that."

Even the middle classes, once the very backbone of robust individualism, are not immune to the contagion. They all think twice about expressing their views in case they say something that is politically incorrect. They preposterously mollycoddle their children, not only because they have been so repeatedly warned of life's unspeakable dangers but also because they wonder what the neighbours will think. They are officially encouraged to snoop and sneak on their fellow citizens, so snoop and sneak they do.

And when you are afraid to say what you think, it is a step nearer to the most dreadful condition of all: being afraid of what to think. A few more generations of nagging and surveillance and we shall have forgotten what true freedom is. Young people will have foregone the excitements of risk, academics will temper all thought with caution, and the great public will accept without demur all restrictions and requirements of the state. Ours will be a people moulded to docility, perfect fodder for ideologues....

Tribalism is what every despotism hopes to impose on its people. It is the will of the party, which Davis has apparently flouted. It is the will of the majority, which is one reason why Gordon Brown feels no need to put up a candidate at Haltemprice and Howden. Today the whistleblowers are our guardians of the spirit, and I like to think that Davis is one of them - a true successor of the grand old knight of Castile, but alas, tilting at windmills that are all too real.
So let us all climb aboard our donkeys. It might be the only thing that saves us.

Go on, read the whole thing.


Anonymous said...

Completely over the top nonsense. There has always been a stifling conformity (you couldn't read Lady Chatterly's Lover for christ's sake in the last century) in much of society which sits happily alongside eccentrics, individuals, and bright thinkers. The only difference now is that modern technology and the media makes it far easier for the banal to get seen and heard more. But it's still possible to ignore it. And because technology has allowed people to do it themselves (music, art and god forbid blogs) culture, if you look for it hard enough, remains brighter, more ambitious and braver. There's plenty of brilliance out there but you ain't going to find it in the Sun (or the Guardian). And the idea that everything was better in the old days is bollocks on the grandest of scales.

Budgie said...

Anon 4:11pm said: "you couldn't read Lady Chatterly's Lover for christ's sake in the last century"

Yes, we have more sexual "freedom" (or licence). Part of the bread and circuses a la Brave New World. It helps to keep the plebs quiescent.

But the article is correct in that people are very wary of voicing their true opinions (except perhaps semi anonymously on blogs), compared with the 60s 70s and 80s.

As for ID cards, 42 day imprisonment for the innocent and the surveillance state the article is spot on.

Anonymous said...

Do you really have more sexual license? Are you sure?
Maybe you've missed the enormous invasion of life in terms of your sex life. And even *not* your sex life but an assumed invasive examination to check you are not a 'sexual' criminal.
People owning a picture now is a crime, and yes, I know, this started off as being applicable in the very worst cases. But now its 'extreme' porn. And who exactly judges what is extreme or not?

What people need to comprehend, is that even in austere victorian 'structured' life, people did things behind closed doors.

The state now wants to invade this, areas such as communications are no longer private. And as such, you are guilty, not innocent. And its only a matter of time before you do something wrong. Yes, I know, if you have done nothing wrong you have nothing to fear. But this state makes you wrong as it chooses to, and worse, examine how it works, there is no case in most cases, you are simply guilty.

Government expansion in this area allied to technology is extremely dangerous. In the UK we *have* no constitution like the US that offers some shelter, the state is unstoppable in this context.

Anonymous said...

vote the bastards out

Anonymous said...

I'm reminded of the quote from H L Mencken "“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”