London at War
I was thinking the other day about the incredible hardships suffered across the UK and in particular the city I live in and love. London was decimated by German bombing in World War II. Those men, women and children suffered and endured to protect the liberties and way of life they cherished and today, we in the West are tacitly surrendering those freedoms to our own governments without a second thought. I don’t mean to marginalise the horrible events in July 2005 or in Woolwich recently, but I’ve felt for a long time that we’ve lost our sense of perpective with terrorism.
I’ve always been concerned with the passive erosion of civil liberties but it’s come into sharp focus in the last few weeks with the revelation of the PRISM program. How can we accept that the government can read through our private correspondence and content? What does privacy mean to you? We’ve been encouraged for years now by our banks, telecoms and utilities companies to go ‘paperless’ for the sake of the environment. Giving up paper, it seems, just meant putting our sensitive personal financial information in the grasp of the surveillance agencies. The Politicians, military chiefs and media moguls tell us we’re at war with an invisible enemy and an ideology which practical terms can never be defeated. So this is it? Can we ever have that privacy back or are we to accept that this is what we concede so long as we can have the Nike and the Apple products we want. The safeguards put in place in law to protect our individual rights are increasingly circumnavigated by ‘essential’ National security measures.
"If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about". This is exactly the principle that the totalitarian states works on. I don’t know what else to say other than if you accept this, you accept that the illusion of freedom and assurances of safety from your government is more important to you than actual freedom.
And just because we can’t imagine our current leaders have sinister intentions for such programs, what about the powerful lobbying groups that have their ear? What about 20 years from now if a popular protest vote puts a right wing political group in power and they have immediate, fully legal access to this state apparatus. How easily they could deal with their political opponents.
Those determined to do others harm will find a way. The current massive surveillance operation did not prevent the murder of Lee Rigby or the Boston Marathon bombing - and after these events, patriotic politicians readily agree with military intelligence chiefs telling us they need more concessions to our liberties in order to prevent future attacks. Then another attack happens and they tell us it might have been prevented if they had even more powers. Perhaps we are allowing ourselves to be terrorised. To me, it is the job of the security services and lawmakers to find and stop those individuals without altering the framework of our democracy. The scope of the PRISM project is so far beyond what we should accept from our governments and we need to get mad.