Monday, 10 June 2013

Western Democracies through a PRISM

The document published by The Guardian, leaked by ex-NSA employee Edward Snowden, is only shocking for those who had been brainwashed enough to think that governments, specially the western democracies modeled after the USA, are moral entities that protect the rights of their citizens above everything. I'm not saying that they're not law-abiding entities, even because they have enough expertise to circumvent any imaginable law, I'm saying that they should not be blindly trusted about anything. And for those who think I'm saying something new, this is a quote by Thomas Jefferson
"Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."
The above quote, ironically by the 3rd president of the USA, appeared around 1810 for the first time. Since then, it seems, a lot of things have changed.

The PRISM project, which aims to spy on any citizen through mobile phones and internet without any a priori reason to suspect, is just another piece of evidence that shows that the objective of any government in the world is to retain power. Controlling what people think, or in this case what they are interested in or talking about, is just one way of guaranteeing that everybody is having the correct "mindset" for this to happen.

In the same way that happened with Julian Assange, and in a different context with Aaron Swartz, the USA government will do everything it can to get its hands on and try to make an example of Snowden. Surveillance on digital communications is a way to make sure that the example will stick.

Fortunately, we still have newspapers like The Guardian. Not that I trust them blindly either, but they have enough power not to be censored, and that's something. So much that neither the USA nor the UK, which is also involved, could deny the accusations, entering in the "defense mode". As they cannot deny their deeds, they try to justify on the basis that they are fighting terrorism, with the word "terrorism" meaning whatever they need it to mean to justify their acts. Are you skeptical? So read this piece of dialogue which was also published in The Guardian. Pay attention to the answer William Hague, the British foreign secretary, gave to the question of an MP:
Angus MacNeil, the SNP MP, asks if "within the law" always means the same as moral. 
Hague says "within the law" means for the purposes set out, such as preventing terrorism.
I'm not impressed that Hague said that, but I would be very impressed if people fail to read all the implications of this answer. First of all, it implies the old the ends justify the means, because Hague is saying that they are allowed to do whatever they want to fulfill an objective and moral plays no role in that. Another thing which is clear is that Hague is saying that the law is whatever they want to do. I'm pretty sure last time I studied democracy, the word "accountability" was part of it.

It's laughable that these same democracies constantly criticize authoritarian regimes, China mainly, for trying to do exactly the same thing. It's also interesting that Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Prize of Peace some years ago. 

There is no new lesson here. It's the same old lesson that we all have the duty to pass to the next generations.  The lesson of eternal vigilance. The lesson that governments, rulers, are interested in power and power relies on control. Control relies on limiting freedom, spreading fear and censoring. Once this sets in, the governments can take whatever decision they want. And if you really believe that governments will only do what is good for you, seriously, you must be really stupid. Sorry, but I can't find a better word.

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