For NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden the summer did not get off to a good start, as the United States government announced it is charging him with espionage for exposing the NSA’s secret spying on American citizens’ phone and email communications. Another revelation that came to light concerned the United States and British governments’ sharing of intelligence on each other’s populace for at least the last three years.
A little further research shows that it is not just those two governments spying on their (or each other’s) citizens either. In Russia, president Putin and his helpers like to keep a close watch on the internet; the French anti-espionage government agency DCRI ensures online surveillance there; German intelligence is doing its fair share of spying; Israeli authorities have implemented laws permitting even more surveillance than the PRISM program; the Dutch equivalent of the NSA (AIVD) has been storing people’s phone records and keeping tabs on the internet for over a decade while internet freedom in China is, of course, notoriously limited.
The list of surveillance monstrosities is endless and begs the question: are we in a police state yet? And more importantly, how can an institution that consistently violates individual security be expected to protect “national security”? Does it even have an incentive to do so?
At the core, this idea of something called “national security” is rooted in a collectivist mindset that has absolutely no regard for individual liberties or security but is beat into our brains from a very young age through the education system. We are reminded of this subconscious programming whenever we hear such rhetoric as “we’re all in this together”, playing on the belief that there is a “greater good”, the altar upon which your individual rights must be sacrificed. And most importantly it is how government, through its litany of agencies, justifies stripping away your freedoms to “keep you safe”.
It should be reminded that governments around the world are spending taxpayer money on programs to spy on those same taxpayers, in the name of protecting them. This realization – the absurdity of paying to be spied on – does not seem to have fully sunk in. Instead, much of the debate has centered around “having something to hide”.
Rather than dwell on that debate, though, let’s take the issue apart. The people that get to call themselves “the government” not only tell us that they need our money to protect us from those that supposedly pose a threat to our freedoms, they also deem it a necessity to invade our privacy (i.e. take away our freedoms) for that purpose. Plain and simply put, the public has been convinced that civil liberties need to be taken away in order to preserve civil liberties. Remember the Bush-era axiom of “abandoning free market principles to save the free market”? This kind of (il)logic could only be the work of government.
Finally, as if all of the aforementioned is not bad enough, there is zero transparency concerning what really goes on behind the closed doors of congresses and parliaments. You see, you are just not supposed to know. You wouldn’t understand. Or if you did, you might make a big fuss about it.
Applying this concept to our daily lives might help clarify. Imagine telling your employer the following: “I had a great idea and am working on something that will really help this business but I cannot tell you about it. In fact I will do my utmost to try to keep you from ever finding out what it is I am talking about. I do expect you to pay me, of course, but what I’m doing must remain a secret”. Or imagine if you hired a plumber who, upon arrival at your house, asked you to leave and refused to tell you how he intended to fix the problem. Would you agree? My guess is you would probably hire another plumber.
Yet despite the glaring contradictions and betrayal of the people on the part of this institution called government, very few people are asking themselves and others these tough questions. Perhaps we have been conditioned not to do so, perhaps reality is too ugly to face. Whatever the case, the propaganda machine seems to have mesmerized most. “Nobody is listening to your phone calls!”
Orwell would have been proud.
N.B. If you liked this article, you might also like Larken Rose’s material.