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View Diary: Choose: Total Security in a Police State or Democracy And Freedom (276 comments)

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  •  1984 isnt the right comparison (13+ / 0-)

    "Brave New World" is. Together with Bradbury´s F451 it is really uncanny how closely things begin to resemble these visions.

    Brave New World showed the all encompassing controlled society as a stable thing ("liberals" banned to islands where they could eat themselves in self imposed misery) and it may turn out so.

    Something else should be noted: Police states at all times wanted and achieved the maximum amount of control of the population possible with the technical means of their time. Up to now, that has not saved them.

    Czarist Russia had the radical opposition (developing communists) thoroughly penetrated with its secret police - it effectively quashed the Narodniki terrorists, and it was renowned for being itself responsible for a good portion of political crimes as staged operations to troll fro real opponents.
    Yet when the regime lost popular support so much that no one was lifting a hand for it anymore, it still collapsed.

    The DDR (GDR, East Germany) was the archetypical police state, a giant prison, it had a full 109000 undercover agents (in a population of 17 million): citizens enrolled to spy on and report on their fellow citizens. It knew everything and missed nothing and yet when its external support was taken away, it collapsed ignominiously (luckily) to an unarmed citizen revolt. They had whole companies organized by employer and trained to kill "counterrevolutionaries" outright (Betriebskampfgruppen) yet, in the end everyone refused to do so. (Erich Mielke forever famous: "But I love you all!")

    Egypt just recently - for sure they didnt have the technical means of the US NSA yet they were as unscrupulous as anyone about controlling any and all possible opposition yet in the end the populace still swept the regime away.

    That means: even if the US does turn (as it begins to look like) into a police state, that doesnt mean that that helps the would-be regime (coporatist, "inverse totalitarian", however you want to name it) one bit if the general populace withdraws support. (which is apparently not the case yet in the US but no amount of police-stating could prevent that if it happened).

    There could be an argument made that the new tech´s amount to a qualitative change in police state stability. I´d like see someone argue that, yet given history I´d be rather sceptical about that.

    The big prize - the lesson what I would draw from all that - is not that police surveillance matters, but that propaganda matters. If police states collapse when they lose tacit general acceptance, then this tacit general acceptance must be their primary objective and propaganda is the way to secure it. Maybe it could be argued that the GDR fell because the external western propaganda (GDR in easy range of western TV) wiped the floor with the indigenous one in the eyes of the internal population.

    If that is right the police-state-USA would flourish as long as it is at least tacitly accepted by the people at large. It would be in trouble only if people stopped railing at their TV´s but simply shut them off. Other way put the real threat to this police state would not be people voting for superficially "liberal" candidates (Czarist Russia had reform ministries too). The real hope would be people not voting anymore, and turning their back entirely on "public society". Those would be the ones capable of bringing about actual change.

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