"They who can give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty
-- Benjamin Franklin 
| "All governments lie and nothing
say should be believed."
demands GCHQ report on NSA's UK data
2. Stupid Government Policy Is
More Dangerous than
Huxley: the prophet of our brave new digital
is yet another crisis item. Today is Saturday, which often means there
are fewer crisis items, and today there are indeed only three crisis
thought a while I would add another personal section, but decided the
present is enough.
demands GCHQ report on NSA's UK data storage
To start with, an article by Nick Hopkins and Matthew Taylor in the
This starts as follows:
I say: Sir Malcolm Rifkind!
And a little later: Nick Clegg! Who tells the Guardian that
The watchdog tasked with
scrutinising the work of Britain's intelligence agencies is to demand
an urgent report from GCHQ about revelations that
the phone, internet and email records of British citizens have been analysed and stored by America's National Security Agency.
Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the
chair of the parliamentary intelligence and security committee, told the Guardian he
would be seeking an explanation of a secret deal that appeared to allow
the NSA to "unmask" personal
data about Britons not suspected of any wrongdoing.
This material had always
been off-limits because the US and UK are the two main partners in an
intelligence-sharing alliance – and the governments had agreed not to
spy on each other's citizens.
But that code of conduct
changed fundamentally in 2007, with the approval of British
intelligence officials, according to documents from the whistleblower Edward Snowden.
"My view is with
each passing day there is a stronger and stronger case … to look at
this in the round."
doubledealers, who get also very well paid. So I am sorry if I am not
impressed, but all I expect from them is professional doubledealing.
But there are some other voices:
Lord Strasburger added: "So now it seems that as well as
being snooped on by our own spies, the last government allowed the
Americans to spy on innocent Brits. As far as we know, they still are.
Who have the Americans decided to share our private data with? Who
knows? It's high time the coalition got a grip on this. It can no
longer ignore these very disturbing revelations."
There is more in the
Government Policy Is More Dangerous than Terrorism
Next, an article on and by
This starts as follows,
with the colors and links from the article:
The Shocking Reasons that Americans Are Right to Be More
Afraid of Bad Government Policy than Terrorism
Preface: I am not so
much anti-government as anti-stupid
policy. (Moreover, the problem is not solely “bad government”
or “corrupt corporations”. The deeper problem is that the two have
in a malignant, symbiotic relation.)
Multiple polls show that Americans
are more afraid of our own government than of terrorists.
Sure, the government –
not Al Qaeda – is taking
away virtually all of our Constitutional rights. And that includes
reserving to itself the right to assassinate
or indefinitely detain American citizens.
Yes, indeed. The rest of
the article contains a lot of evidence for the blue proposition just
3. Aldous Huxley: the prophet of our brave
Today's last crisis item is an
article by John Naughton in the Guardian:
This starts as follows:
On 22 November
1963 the world was too preoccupied with the Kennedy assassination to
pay much attention to the passing of two writers from the other side of
the Atlantic: CS Lewis and Aldous Huxley. Fifty years on, Lewis is
being honoured with a plaque in Poets' Corner at Westminster Abbey, to
be unveiled in a ceremony on Friday. The fanfare for Huxley has been
I knew most of that, but I did
not know C.S. Lewis is currently more popular than Aldous Huxley
(<-Wikipedia). In fact, Naughton provides the reasons for it, viz.
that the Christian apologist's stories have been made into films that
"propelled him into the" - gasp! - "Tolkien league", which I accept,
but that simultaneously explain why I wasn't aware of it: I don't go to
movies; I have no interest in Christian apologists; and I found Tolkien
As to Huxley:
Orwell feared that
we would be destroyed by the things we fear – the state surveillance
apparatus so vividly evoked in Nineteen Eighty-Four. Huxley's
nightmare, set out in Brave New World, his great dystopian novel, was
that we would be undone by the things that delight us.
Naughton gives a potted
background to Huxley and his family, that I take for granted (you can
look it up) and then says:
is a totalitarian society, ruled by a supposedly benevolent
dictatorship whose subjects have been programmed to enjoy their
subjugation through conditioning and the use of a narcotic drug – soma
– that is less damaging and more pleasurable than any narcotic known to
us. The rulers of Brave New World have solved the problem of making
people love their servitude.
Yes, indeed. In fact, the
dictatorship is benevolent, at least in the sense that they believe
they are doing the right thing - they believe their own propaganda.
Finally, as to the difference between Orwell and Huxley, here is
We failed to
notice that our runaway infatuation with the sleek toys produced by the
likes of Apple and Samsung – allied to our apparently insatiable
appetite for Facebook, Google and other companies that provide us with
"free" services in exchange for the intimate details of our daily lives
– might well turn out to be as powerful a narcotic as soma was for the
inhabitants of Brave New World.
Yes and no. Firstly, I don't
like the "We" - and for one thing, I never owed an Apple or a Samsung
or indeed a cell-phone; I am not and never have been on Facebook; I
rarely use Google; and I can program. But secondly, I mostly agree
about most of the others. Even so, thirdly, I also think considerably more
is involved, and that has been well explained by Adam Curtis, e.g.
Century of the Self. But I agree that is a bit of another subject,
that I may take up myself later.
 Here it is necessary to insist, with
Aristotle, thay the governors do not rule, or at least, should
not rule: The laws rule, and the government, if good, is part
of its executive power. Here I quote Aristotle from my More on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn
It is more proper
that law should govern than any of the citizens: upon the same
principle, if it is advantageous to place supreme power in some
particular persons, they should be appointed to be only guardians, and
the servant of laws.
(And I note the whole file I
quote from is quite pertinent.)
About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.:
The "/CFS" is added to
facilitate search machine) which is a disease that I have since 1.1.