Few British newspapers, and even less European, have reported the Orwellian plans of Brown’s increasingly illegitimate (and barely democratic) government The main idea is to collect the largest database in the world though logging all the communications (from old phone to the Internet) of Her Majesty’s Subjects. A massive government database holding details of every phone call, e-mail and time spent on the internet by the public will be held in the most ‘secure’ place: the British Home Office. Of course, the reason behind this massively expensive, and entirely futile, database is to save us from terrorism….or isn’t it?The only way to know if the New Labour government is really fighting terrorism or transforming itself into a party of Orwellian magnitude is to check its record before the word terrorism possessed the ascetic face of the evergreen (nearly immortal, and surely elusive) Osama.
Checking the record we discover that the plan for total surveillance started at least in the 1990s and particularly in 2000. The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 is a piece of legislation that I invite all to read. It transforms the Big Brother into many little brothers and sisters with no less power to deprive you of your privacy, and consequently of your democratic rights (if you think that democracy is more than —possibly miscounted—ballots). If you think that you must be a terrorist or a Muslim fanatic to have your private life (including that of your children) spied upon, controlled, and logged into files and folders, well you are wrong. Today we are presumed to be all criminals. Today you are a criminal before you have been proven to the contrary, as the case of Poole borough council, in Dorset, can show.
Terrorism is becoming a serious excuse to curtail not only civil liberties, but actually to introduce a culture of mistrust and suspicion which can affect social cohesion. The number of attacks committed by ‘religious fanatics’ in the UK cannot be compared to those committed by the IRA in its long campaign for the destabilization of the British state. Yet nobody has suggested, during those black years of fear and political turmoil, solutions which curtail the real British values: those dating back our Magna Carta. Nobody has suggested to put under surveillance an entire nation: not only adults, but also children.
Think of all the legislation which the New Labour government attempted to (or actually has) introduce which intends to watch you or your family or dangerously play with freedom of expression. A short list, off the top of my head includes: much of the 2001 terrorist act, the very vague ‘Glorifying terrorism’ of Terrorist Act 2006, the above discussed legislations, the fingerprinting of children in School, the possible creation of a national DNA database, the endless story of ID cards introduced in a evasively expensive way, and so on.
Yet ask yourself which is the attitude of the New Labour towards the very democratic right of citizens to scrutinise how politicians use public money for politicians’ expenses: their fearful faces at the prospect of public scrutiny tells you all. Big Brother is watching you, but do not ask about the costs for their new TV in their offices for watching cricket; just pay and smile for the camera! You have to understand that they work hard to save us from the terrorists by treating you, your family, and your children as such.
Of course, I do not probably have to tell you that mass surveillance is useless for fighting terrorism, but it very useful for political games and economic gain. Your private data, as Google knows, is gold.
The worst is that the New Labour Government is targeting the new generation in order to educate them to give up their privacy, but also more and more, their free-thought and capacity of growing up into self-sufficient adults via the ‘nanny state’. Read the plans for the ID cards or the fact that children are fingerprinted to have access to their school libraries or school lunches. Are not these Orwellian landscapes scary enough? You can be sure, not one of these anti-privacy invasive legislations will save us from a suicide bomber, since to put under surveillance 60,776,238 people in order to catch two or three, or even two-thousand is like looking for the famous needle in a haystack; just more expensive.
It is time that our own politicians show us that they possess those real British values that have made this nation one of the most democratic in the world: among the most important of these values are those granting privacy and freedom from an invasive state. The New Labour too often is reminiscent of the old socialist vision of a controlled-order and state-worship society. At this point we have to ask ourselves, if it really is what we call ‘terrorism’ that is the ultimate enemy that endangers our life-style as we know it. Certainly, we do not want to one day wake up and discover that we are in Nineteen-Eighty-Four:
Do you begin to see, then, what kind of world we are creating? It is the exact opposite of the stupid hedonistic Utopias that the old reformers imagined. A world of fear and treachery and torment, a world of trampling and being trampled upon, a world which will grow not less but more merciless as it refines itself….
The old civilizations claimed that they were founded on love or justice. Ours is founded upon hatred. In our world there will be no emotions except fear, rage, triumph, and self-abasement. Everything else we shall destroy – everything…. No one dares trust a wife or a child or a friend any longer. But in the future there will be no wives and no friends….
We shall abolish the orgasm. Our neurologists are at work upon it now. There will be no loyalty, except loyalty towards the Party. There will be no love, except the love of Big Brother. There will be no laughter, except the laugh of triumph over a defeated enemy. There will be no art, no literature, no science…. There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always – do not forget this, Winston – always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless….
If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever” George Orwell 1984