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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

UK: a surveillance society? « Previous | |Next »
April 27, 2010

David Marquand in The Independent argues that:

The age of the collective is over. A new kind of individualism is in the ascendant. The mass society has disappeared; its preoccupations have disappeared with it. The great liberal issues that seemed quaintly archaic in the 1920s – citizenship rights, the devolution of power, individual freedom – have returned to the centre of the stage. The state-centred collectivism which the rising Labour Party offered in place of liberalism, and to which it still obstinately cleaves, is patently a busted flush, just as liberalism was in the 1920s.

Under Blair/Brown Labour there has been 13 years of authoritarian legislation and the growth of the surveillance and database society in which the state acquires ever-greater powers to track people's movements and retain personal data. This would have the effect of corroding public life and space, leads to a crisis of legitimacy and radically transforms what it means to be a free citizen.

New Labour had its opportunity and it blew it.Its embrace of globalization as a driver of econonic growthwent with an embrace of inequality, authoritarianism and deception.

Marquand adds that, if they are to succeed, the Liberal Democrats need to show that they:

are the heirs of all that was best in the old Labour Party: that there was a libertarian strand in the Labour tradition, as well as a statist one, and that the libertarian strand is encompassed by the Liberal Democrat party of today.

So they need to challenge the sleepwalking into a surveillance society emerging from the Labor Government's disproportionate efforts to guard against terrorism; and to do so by highlighting the limits of state interference into the private sphere of both citizens and non citizens. A large dose of the “surveillance-as-a-threat-to-freedom” and the standard liberal language of freedom and individual self-determination is needed if the Lib Dems are to help produce meaningful political change in the UK.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:45 PM | | Comments (1)


A beautiful mind. All "harmonising" with the yanks, at back.
You suppose this tension between private and social flows sometimes unpredictably.
Six hundred years ago they began conferring upon themselves a notion as "reborn", shining beacons in a temporal universe precondioned by the rise of Christianity and literacy. The Thirty Years war, plague, various Inquisions and brutalites, have us conclude we have emerged from a Dark Age.
Yet we are pricked, just at the margins of consciousness of this, "sleep walking into a surveillance society" with its attendent dystopic permutations to trouble us like phantoms, in their Legion.
"Oh Brave New world,
with creatures such as, these in it".
Still, there is the grim consolation of a hope of seeing Brown, Cameron and others also, behind big politics and big parties, copping a tempest of comeuppance, in the way of Bush and Howard.
Watch out, Rudd Labor, btw..