I argued that the Chinese intervention is an embarrassment for the US which has tried to retain the moral high ground. I continued that many argue that individual liberties have been subordinated, debased or devalued in recent years. This led to three open questions:
- Have democracies subordinated individual liberties in recent years? If so
- Why have democracies subordinated individual liberties?
- What should be done to restore individual liberties?
I received a very detailed response from John Gelmini which I am reblogging below in the interest of public debate. Whilst I relate to John’s argument, with my own political views, I seem to place more emphasis on the importance of personal freedom.
Any way, let us know your thoughts?
Spying, Personal Freedom, and the Moral High Ground – John Gelmini
There never was any “moral high ground”, spying is as old as humankind itself and for those who read the Art of War and understand its timeless principles, the words of Sun Tzu echo down the ages when he said that “victory could be discerned but not manufactured”.
To achieve a high level of insight and discernment, countries whether engaged in military conflict, economic warfare, or attempting to become the world’s superpower (China) or retain that position (America and before that ourselves the UK), spying is necessary.
As technology has advanced, it is now possible for machines with intelligence to read millions of e-mails and other communications leaving it to human beings to focus on any real threats posed.
Like Boris Johnson in the Daily Telegraph, I have never imagined that privacy of e-mails and telephone calls exists or has existed for some time, so I say more or less what I think in public unless there are overriding reasons not to.
The desire of the authorities all over the planet to know what people are thinking is rooted in a desire for control which is why when the UK Post Office was first established; it was on the orders of a King, who in the days when few people were literate, who wanted to know exactly what his subjects were saying and thinking.
Supposedly, the desire to spy on everyone is to “protect us against the threat of death or injury caused by terrorists”.
In reality the recent tally of deaths in the UK shows :
–95% of us will die of heart disease or cancer with the current incidence of cancers of all types being 1 in 2.5
–120,000 will die in NHS hospitals from botched operations with the true figure being hidden via gagging orders, brutal sackings and cover ups
–70,000 will die at the hands of their GPs through honest mistakes and misdiagnosis
–2950 will die in road accidents
Terrorist deaths in the US and the UK combined over that time total 3,500 and out of that figure just 75 were people killed by terrorists in the UK.
We are told that many terrorist plots are foiled by the security services but the number of court cases and convictions does not match the rhetoric and when called to quote actual figures no Government Minister has ever done so.
Local Authorities use these powers of surveillance and intrusion under RIPA to see if people are trying to “game” their school catchment area for the advantage of some pampered and probably spoiled child, to stop potential fraud, to see whether people’s dogs are fouling pavements, to identify noisy tenants and to stop fly-tipping.
Democracies have subordinated individual liberties in recent years because the internet reveals many of those in control to be corrupt and useless apparatchiks, whereas before they could operate in complete secrecy. Similarly, respect for politicians, and those in authority everywhere, is at a low ebb because most of them are not up to the job they are being paid to do, but refuse to resign unless pushed and get rewarded well for failure.
The conundrum for them is the fact that the internet creates much of the wealth and power the plutocrats derive their positions from and because the politicians sit like fleas on the back of the “elephant” they too have to wrestle with the problem of allowing the internet to create wealth which they can tax and steal whilst trying in vain to control what people are thinking by selling them bogus or incomplete information and using internet search patterns and Google analytics to predict the behavior of the “Great Unwashed”(their potential voters) so that they can regain the upper hand.
Leveson and new attempts to control internet porn, this time to protect children and vulnerable adults are the next Trojan Horses in this new front and identity cards will come next(chip technology for people is not yet advanced enough but it is for dogs, cats and livestock).
ANPR and satellite tracking allows car journeys to be mapped and mobile phones in roaming mode can enable a person to be tracked from the time they get up until the time they go to bed.
Our UK streets and shopping centres have more cameras per head of population than does China and yet in that country one is far safer from pickpockets, aggressive beggars, squeegee merchants, muggers, rapists and the drunk and disorderly.
With regard to Edward Snowden, he did take an oath and as an intelligent man was free to take up other employment before leaving his last employer. In China, he would have been given the death penalty for treason and under present conditions, a way will doubtless be found to bring him to book, “terminate him with extreme prejudice” or ensure that he meets with a fatal accident after all the furore has subsided.
REGAINING PERSONAL FREEDOMS/WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE
Freedom has always had to be fought for and on balance I can only see that happening when people have had enough as we are witnessing in the case of Brazil where the people have had enough and are demanding change.
Those people who do not do this will use proxy servers, write letters and in more and more cases leave the country.
They will drop below the radar and the clever will become PTs (Perpetual Travelers), who are people living in one place, ordinarily resident in another, with businesses, websites and bank accounts all in different places.
For the rest, whether they are in the UK, Europe, America or Asia, the order of the day will be increasing surveillance, more intrusion and more pressure until such time as they collectively say what they think and force reasonable change.