Imagine the situation: a small village, somewhere in England. The England of one’s home is one’s castle; of innocent until proven guilty; of privacy; of libertarianist disavowals of all things theoretical and curveballed. No post-modern flakiness here.
Facts are facts.
Subjectivity and objectivity exist as polar opposites.
Now imagine that very same village, secretly, via government diktat, introduces hidden cameras and microphones everywhere and anywhere a human soul may go.
And imagine all that is said in anger, shared in pleasure, moaned in ecstasy (for this happens even in England, on occasions …), declared momentously, and let slip when utterly drunk, is recorded for posterior examination and analysis by the Parish Council and its councillors.
Imagine the effect.
Now imagine a global village.
And imagine the same has been achieved.
And think, really think, what this means – not for your secrecy, goddammit, but your privacy, for Chrissakes …
No tradition or prior law is respected in such circumstances. No trust is exhibited by states toward their citizens. In fact, whilst citizens are required to publicly proclaim their trust in these supposed servants, these supposed servants refuse at all, under any circumstances, to trust the citizens in return.
So parish councillors become global councillors, and we must, just must, go with the flow of effluent (my feeling – mebbe not yours!) thus emitting.
Now let’s imagine we call the councillors by some other name. Does that change how challenging it has been all this time to go with the flow I have described? Does putting a uniform or white coat on the imposer of such policy really still, even in this social-networked world, make that much of a difference? Are we still in the thrall of the terrible dynamics Milgram uncovered? And have both Soviet-style and fascist-edged societal control mechanisms won history’s ever so long and – now all too evidently – tawdry debate?
From village gossips to global village gossips. That is where our secretive Parish Council has gone. And so whilst Original Sin overtakes once more our Western – allegedly liberal – Criminal Justice system, under the threat of dreadful terrorism for sure, but without an ounce of kindness or compassion for its citizens already suffering from the fear of aforementioned external atrocity, we lose everything that made us different from our Cold War enemies.
In economics, in technology, in security, in policing, in politics for sure, even in education on occasions, we are fast becoming a weary cipher of what we once aspired to propagate.
We have lost the plot.
Our society just gossips a stream of disconnected events.
We are no longer a why.
Only ever, now, a what.