I am not surprised by the “revelations” of the Ellison Report and the activities of the “secret” police unit the SDS. I am not surprised by the revelations of Wikileaks and Julian Assange. Nor am I surprised by the information that Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden released. I grew up in the 60’s on the left. But if scales do begin to drop from others eyes the question of “Who do you trust?” becomes very real.
I have never believed that the state operates in my own personal interests. I believe it operates in its own interests and will happily justify and defend inequality and vested interests, habitually distort subvert and undermine its own rules and laws and to do that all on the basis of a “necessary evil.”
Its probably part of being a child of the 60s and growing up with a left leaning mindset. I remember so well attending left wing meetings back in the 1970’s and Special Branch, or similar, standing outside taking down the numbers of cars in the car park. When challenged why they were doing this the excuse was usually parking issues, roadworthiness checks or something similar but strangely enough the local Conservative Club car park remained unpatrolled.
So the revelations about GCHQ stealing webcam pictures, bugging hacking and surveiling our online world is not a surprise to me. Frankly I always assumed that this was the case. I also assumed that any competent terrorist or foreign intelligence service also knows about it or assumed it was happening and so would take the necessary measures to avoid it. If not they were not really much of a threat really. No, I always assumed that the excuses trotted out by the state to justify its habitual intrusion on legitimate activates was simply a cover for suppression and anti democratic, and as soon as a politician trots out that they are undertaking some inherently illiberal act on the grounds that it will help prevent “paedophiles” eating our children or something similar, you know they are simply dog whistling away like crazy. As Pit the Younger would have it “Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.”
I am sure that there are some foot soldiers in the various agencies that still do drink the koolaid and believe this is all good and well intentioned but, to quote Alexander Solzhenitsyn, - who knew a thing or two about state intolerance – “in order for men to do great evil they must first believe they are doing great good.”
But, the state does what it does purportedly by the notion of consent and the fabric of our society is bound by trust.
Of course whilst it was probably a minority of folks like me that worried about this kind of stuff back then and the habitual bogey man then was the threat of the “red under the bed”, such a small number of “concerned citizens” wasn’t really an issue for “the authorities”
But as the light progressively shines on the workings of those seeking to defend their privilege and power perhaps more will join my view and, in so doing trust will gradually erode. The moral high ground of our institutions is increasingly seen to be built on sand, and their hypocrisy rings ever more hollow.
Trust is one the key currencies in the socially collaborative world we increasingly live in and it is why so many organisations driven by irretrievably deceitful marketing campaigns are finding it difficult to adjust.
But it is exactly why the fearful state being so intrusive in this realm is so dangerous.
A progressive decline in “respect” for institutions” or even the rule of law and the trust that binds is for some a scary prospect, for others it heralds revolution.
But the question asked ever more frequently is “who do you trust?” and if you don’t trust how can you, I, we and they work to rebuild it?