Tuesday 3 July 2012

The Myth of Control

Freedom is an interesting concept. Freedom to live the lifestyle you choose. Freedom of religious belief. Freedom of speech. The list can be quite extensive, even tedious.

Freedom from being a serf, peon or slave is something of a universal desire crossing many boundaries of culture, race and faith.

This will seem like a diversion into The Twilight Zone, but how far do you trust your government ?  Not the greedy, self-righteous, self-serving cretins that we inevitably vote for called "politicians".  No, the real government. The multitude of largely faceless, bureaucrats who advise and implement government policy.  The self-same collective within whose ranks lobbyists find willing ears (and pockets) to grease the wheels of government towards some corporate or other pressure group's agenda.

If you have been fortunate to live in a democracy, throughout your life you will have been told that "government is elected by the people" and that the politicians are "servants of the nation". What utter tripe! In an idealized democracy described in books, that may well be the case. Regrettably for the real world; political campaigns cost money, lobbyist's cost money, advertising campaigns designed to sway public opinion cost money, and most importantly, "government" costs money.

So what is this apparent rant about ?  The progressive erosion of YOUR rights by pressure groups whose agenda have nothing to do with your freedoms and everything to do with grabs for money and power.

To avoid litigation, I'll steer clear of the core that drove me to write this since the group in question have far more money than morals and less scruples than is safe to publicly question. Let's keep this hypothetical since it will serve as well as the current concrete issues.

There is a belief within the circles of those currently in positions of extreme power that controlling what the public can and can not do is in everybody's best interest. Indeed, they would go so far as to claim that YOUR right to do what you will with products you purchased with your own money is outweighed by THEIR right to specify most of the terms under which you may use it. From tools to toys to movies and music, restrictive controls are being placed that do not serve either the original creators or the legitimate users. The only beneficiaries are those who sit in the middle making money while adding little or no value.

The theory runs that this continued tightening of controls is for our own good; be they airport scanners, GPS in phones, warrantless wire-taps, smart-chips in passes and cards or even simple statistical collection of your online shopping habits.

Fine, but where's the "opt out" option ?  Increasingly, there is not one available. Some of the controls are not even transparent, nor are the records on YOUR activities available for you to review. That is of course assuming you even know that it is being done or sometimes more importantly, by whom ?

Control is important.  You would not fly in a plane that had little or no controls.  A microwave oven would be potentially lethal with no controls.  This post would not be viewable without controls.

Too much control however is quite patently bad, especially if it is done in a ham-fisted manner.

There is an old saying about love that runs; "If you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it is truly yours. If it doesn't, it never was."  The point is much like many other analogies; the tighter you grasp some things, the harder they are to hold on to.  From eels to dreams, the result is much the same.

An interesting comment was made some time back about revolutions. Trying to squash them by force is ultimately doomed to failure. Some things will be free. You may kill a hundred or a million, but eventually oppressive regimes fall.

A favorite quote of mine is "the price of freedom is eternal vigilance" and a more disturbing cousin "when repression becomes Law, rebellion becomes duty". Both are frequently misquoted (I may even have mistyped here), but the message is clear.

Those who would be our masters are steadily eroding our rights in the name of Law and claiming to do so to protect us. Across the globe we see new sections written into Law that effectively remove YOUR rights. We do not have to look to the Third World for would-be dictators, politicians with similar aspirations in all but name are in our parliaments and other governing bodies. Right to freedom of association, limited. Right to public assembly, limited. Right to withhold your labour in protest, revoked. Right to trial by a jury of your peers, limited and in some cases revoked.

At the same time, those in power who seek more controls to be placed on "we the people" get them with almost no debate or opposition in the corridors of power.

History is a harsh and implacable teacher.  At every turn in recorded history where the general populace get pushed into a corner, whipped and told to like it, they do what even the lowliest cur in the street would do, they bite back. Sadly, when they do, many innocents suffer while the true guilty parties make deals to avoid any form of punishment.

So the wheel will turn.... but who will it crush in the relentless strivings of those who wish to control "we the people" and when the the pendulum swings the other way as "we the people" make a break for freedom ?

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