Two good (even entertaining, on a serious subject) articles in the Guardian: Jan Morris’s Davis fight is not just for liberty: It is for Britain’s soul. (This was published a couple of days ago but it’s well worth reading just to remind yourself that the whole world is not mad.)
She says that Britain is becoming divided into two camps – those who care about freedom and those who are happy to give it up:
of the contemporary two nations, it seems to me, by far the greater is giving up on liberty. 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.
She suspects that even those of us who don’t want to be brainwashed are dreaming of autocratic powers to put paid to the current nonsense.
Already every free soul, I suspect, has sometimes wished that we had a benevolent dictator to sweep all the nonsense aside, the flabbiness and the conformity, the brainwash and all.
There is something in the point she is making – so many people are becoming so passive and fearful, it’s quite a temptation to think they don’t deserve any freedom.
Today, the intermittently-brilliant Marina Hyde also takes a strong stance against our incorporation into an authoritarian Truman Show world: This surveillance onslaught is draconian and creepy. She says that the level of surveillance for petty offences makes her ashamed to be British.
The past few years have thrown up dozens of instances which made one wince to be a citizen of this septic isle, but a personal low came with the discovery that 500,000 bins had been fitted with electronic tracking devices. Transponders in bins … Could any morning news item be more designed to force one back against the pillows, too embarrassed about one’s country to start the day? Yes, as it turned out…
(referring to the Poole Council’s surveillance of parents suspected of trying to get their kids in a specific school.)
She suggests that wearing a hood or hijab might become a necessity for anyone who wants any degree of privacy in public space.
Yet there does seem a vaguely depressing irony in governments insisting that constant surveillance is essential to prevent our being overrun by repressive regimes who’d make us all cover our heads and the like. It’s these initiatives that drive even the most pliant members of society to dream of taking just that precaution themselves, if only for a bit of privacy.
Of course these articles got a fair number of comments from people who could be replaced by the Twat-a-tron with no loss to the planet and a valuable net saving of air.