It is indeed a truism that fear and the need to feel secure and safe always trump unalienable civil rights, let alone humane values normally espoused by the citizens of a given democratic nation.
Still the question remains: how did all of this come about?
First - politicians continually prey on our fears of crime and terrorism (especially conservative politicos).The same three points apply likewise with regards to increased indiscriminate domestic monitoring/spying (internet, emails, phones, credit cards, etc.), airport scanners and patdowns, the ever lowering threshold of reasonnable suspicion for searching and seizing without warrants (if not for the actual need for search warrants), and even the monstruosities that are security letters.
Second, law enforcement and security agencies continually demand better, greater tools/powers to "monitor" crime activity in order to be more efficient at catching criminals (and of course, terrorists) - remember their ever convenient rationale?
And third, security corporations prey on the fears of politicos, on the wet-dreams of law enforcement and security agencies, and on the (already stoked) fears of the populace, in order to not only create a market of surveillance technology but furthermore ever expand said market.
However, those three previous points explain the dynamic of how it all has come about - and keeps on worsening from a democratic point of view - but not the why of it.
Some two and a half years ago, I wrote the following which I present again herein, as I find it quite à propos for the subject of the present post:
Let it be known ad nauseam: living in a democracy is a right and a responsibility.Now, it must be understood quite clearly that when I use the term "us", I literally mean all citizens of a democratic society - from the unemployed to blue and white collar employed, from civilians to civil servants and military, from firefighters and police constables to sergeants, lieutenants, captains and chiefs, from journalists to reporters, from academicians to business owners (small and large), from clerks to elected representatives to cabinet ministers/secretaries, etc., etc., etc.
Granted, this responsibility requires effort. But which is better: having your back bent by the effort required to keep on living in a democratic society, or letting leave for complacency and find yourself one day with a back bent under a totalitarian regime (however benevolent it may be)?
It is high time to remember that it is indeed we who guard all the doors and hold all the keys of our democratic values and institutions.
It is, in the end, up to us to act as the Guardians and Caretakers of our constitutions, our civil rights and our civil liberties.
It has always been up to us.
In other words: we are all citizens of our respective democratic societies - whether we are Canadians, Americans, Britons, and so on. Regardless of gender, ethnicity, religion (or lack thereof), sexual orientation, or musical/culinary/artistic/leisurely/whatever tastes.
Hence, the police officer stands no more apart from me as a citizen than my neighbor from across the street. Likewise, the richest people of the country stand no more apart from me as citizens than my elected MP or my Prime Minister.
Which in turn means that they have the same rights guaranteed under the constitution as you and I.
They also have the same democratic responsibilities as you and I.
The problem, of course, is that those we entrust with protecting us and/or serve us seem invariably to forget these simple verities - that they are no more special than you or I with regards to citizenship.
Still, they do forget these simple verities. Why? Perhaps because of some prevailing mentality to which they must ascribe in order to be accepted by their own respective professional (or elected) peers. Or perhaps the job, the entrusted powers and/or privileges, simply go to their heads, consequently inflating their egos to the point whereby they see themselves apart of the rest of us.
Yet through it all, most of us not only let them forget said aforementioned verities, but moreover most of us plainly forget them as well - period.
How else can the majority of "us" simply shrug without an iota of care when one who seeks our vote displays an utter ignorance of what Teh Constitution says and means, and furthermore elect that person nevertheless?
How else can the majority of "us" pay no attention whatsoever to the gravity of consequences implied by a proposal that voting should be restricted to property owners? What's next - restrict voting to those who make $500,000 and more? To those who serve as police, national security and army/navy/air force? (Should we even care?)
How else can the majority of "us" gladly surrender more and more of our rights in the name of security, regardless of the ballooning costs, if only because "we have nothing to hide"? And then shrug without a care at the alarming increasing number of abuses of power because ... it is someone else that is being abused, not "us"?
How else can the majority of "us" yawn and move on when a top official of one of our security agencies thinks that things such as rights, rule of law and Teh Constitution are hindrances that must be done away with in order to efficiently ensure the security of the Nation?
How else the majority of "us" simply doesn't care that the paranoid mindset of police and security agencies cares only about finding guilt (whether it is truly there or not), not the truth? And regardless whether you are actually innocent or not? (Which brings me back to abuses of power ... just one more example here among so many others)
How else the majority of "us" yawn in boredom upon hearing of secret laws (the very anti-thesis of common law in a democracy - one example here) and the growing acceptance of secret evidence as "evidence established" without cross-examination in judicial proceedings? Same thing regarding military tribunals?
How else the majority of "us" can shrug off the insidious infiltration of corporate lobbyists in the very process law writing/making, and the reality that we are living in a pre-corporatocracy where the mainstream/corporate media is nothing more than a subservient stenographer and defender of the "establishment"?
Because, "who cares?" - right? As long as we feel safe, we have a job and have access to our favorite entertainment, really, who should give a fuck about all of this?
And so now we have the why all of "this" has come about, and why it will only get worse:
First, you need prevalent incompetence in government, since abuse of power, slavery to expediency and deficiency of ethics and morals constitute three landmarks of incompetents.Consequently, here we are in a "perfect storm" to end our civil liberty-driven democracies and replacing them by authoritarian, corporatocracy-driven, security and surveillance states:
Second, you need a populace generally afflicted with intellectual sloth-driven ignorance (or their righs, of their constitution, of facts) in order to keep it afraid of the "bad guys", therefore allowing the incompetent decision-makers to justify their abuse of power in the name of Security - a mendacious justification that is in turn all-too-eagerly accepted by the said largely ignorant and fearful populace.
Third, you need the legislative and judicial branches of government to be largely intellectual sloth-driven incompetents as well - therefore facilitating not only the acceptance of abuse of power from the government, but furthermore echoing the ignorance-based fear of the populace, consequently exhibiting an eagerness of compliance by legally ratifying said abuse of power after the fact.
And fourth - you need an equally intellectual sloth-driven MSM to spread the foul propaganda of the government, or conveniently turning a blind eye to said abuse, or even outright excusing said abuse, consequently solidifying its lies and mendacious justifications for abuse of power as "evident truth".
As I said before, no one is safe from the convenient rationale of security agencies to spy indiscriminately on their own citizens - when we allow them to do so, that is.Now, simply add the aforementioned profit- and control-driven self-interest of corporations in widespread electronic surveillance, along with their control of mass media, and ... well, you should get the point now.
Of course, and as I discussed previously at length in numerous posts here at APOV (such as here, here or here, as a few exanples), a confluence of attitudes is required for a democracy to arrive at a stage whereby pervasive domestic spying comes to be not only instituted, but furthermore ratified as legal after the fact - despite its illegal nature to begin with.
Then voilà - you have abuse of power made legal throughout the land.
Then again - perhaps you just won't. Because, "who gives a fuck?" - right?
A democratic society, whether breathing through a parliamentary system or a republic one, can only bring about - and sustain - the commonwealth and common good of its citizens so long as said citizens (i.e. all citizens) remain knowledgeable, respectful and protective of their civil rights as entrenched in the constitution of their democratic society.
How ironic, then, that in these times of mass information so easily accessible, an increasing majority of our citizenry grows uninformed, uncaring or disrespectful of their constitution and their rights - let alone feeling any inclination in participating responsibly in the democratic process of their own society.
And how tragic this sad situation is as well, for it can only lead to one thing: the death of democracy and its replacement by some form of authoritarian regime - whether a corporatocratic one or otherwise.
So ... who gives a fuck?
Well, I do.