Our foremost compromise must be in the area of privacy. This sounds terrifying to some, but effectively, it is not as scary as one may think. First, one cannot cause much trouble these days unless one is using a digital device. As a result, we must make certain consolations. Namely, that our communications will be surveilled. Second, one cannot have much influence unless one establishes a network; and this network is a subsequent threat to security. The result is that one must admit to surveillance in public. That is, public moments and discussions are public information.
People generally have a fear of being watched. It is innate. Should they realize that in there home they are being watched, or in public that they are being followed, this fear comes out regardless of their guilt as to a given matter. To some extent this fear is rational; on the one hand you may be watched or followed for malicious reasons – the questions regard who is doing the watching or following. We should all be quite a lot more comfortable should we know that the person doing the watching or following is also being watched or followed by a higher authority. But then the issue becomes abuses of that authority.
The potential for abuse is obvious. If the surveillance reveals strategic information then that strategy can be easily defeated or hedged, in most cases, in advance; leaving it less effective or not effective at all. And if this means that Libertarians are defeated by Republicans as a result, then obviously this is an abuse of power. The same goes for business. The same for personal battles. As a result, to defend against such abuse, one has to amend the conditions of surveillance, such that it does not fall into the lap of interested parties – i.e. parties with an interest outside of keeping the peace. The best method for this is automated surveillance, i.e. surveillance which starts, and in almost all cases, ends with a computer.
**This is part of an essay unpublished, but written in early 2010**
There is no better time than now for some common sense. The fact is that we are a nation in some disarray. On the one hand, we are concerned that we may be subject to terrorist threats should we let our guard down. On the other hand, we are concerned that our liberties are eroding for the sake of safety, and that there is no end in sight but the police state. This balance between liberty and safety is the matter when it comes to politics. The Republicans are known as the military party, but the democratic spending is all defense spending of a social sort. In the end, it is the balance between this spending as a whole, together with our residual liberties, which makes our nation what it is.
The recent ‘Libertarian’ uprising is a reaction, first and foremost, to the fact that our liberties seem to have become just that: residual. That what matters in government is the control they have over our lives and not the protection of liberties at all. In this light, it is not surprising that the people are rallying behind the “Tea Party” movement. The promises that liberty can be restored, the promises that America can return to a golden age post-revolution.
But one cannot turn back the clock without also destroying the blueprints on all modern weaponry, including something as simple as the PC. Realizing this, a restoration to the days of the constitution is not feasible, since for one, it is not really what anyone wants. And should we like the comforts of technology, then we must also appreciate that the Constitution does not provide enough guidance on the matter of balancing liberties with security. What we can say is this: the fig leaf is on the ground. We have bitten from the apple for better or worse and we cannot go back. So we must consider the amendment of some of those liberties, to some degree. The romance of utter liberty has long been dead – for it was anarchy – but going back to the days of yore is not an option. If we are to be Libertarians, we must make compromises.
**This is the first installment from a short piece I wrote in early 2010. It has not been made public – in any part – until now**