Google’s new people-tracking software, Latitude – charmingly pegged as a way to “keep tabs on someone special” – is receiving what has become today’s typical response of ‘nothing to hide, nothing to fear’ and ‘grave concerns about the erosion of civil liberties’. How ironic that ‘latitude’, a word once used to indicate freedom has now been doctored to mean precisely the opposite; but Google tries to reassure the public by stating that installing the software is completely up to the individual, that no-one’s compelled to use it; that there’s an element of choice.
Cut to today’s headlines: ‘Trips Abroad To Be Logged’.
Every time you leave the country you have to inform the powers-that-be where you’re going, where you’re staying, with whom and give a detailed itinerary. No impromptu hops to the Continent; no jaunts around Europe if the mood takes you. Presumably, police at this end and in your destination country are going to be checking up to make sure you are where you told them you’d be. Thus, we can see the true scope of today’s world: the freedom to choose to be watched by your loved ones, and the inability to escape the government’s ever-watchful scrutiny. They would make spies of all of us by playing on our worse instincts, instincts upon which police states are built. For such states can only exist if public behaviour imitates that of the government’s.
The engineers behind this uninformed consent, the ones who have created a hostile environment by sharply jerking Joe Public’s emotional strings in order to fulfill their own agenda – have created a nightmare of greater depth and density than perhaps even the most ardent libertarians can envisage. Words like ‘terrorism’ and ‘security’ and phrases like ‘public interest’ and ‘transparency’ remind me vividly of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, words that:
“had behind them, to my mind, the terrific suggestiveness of words heard in dreams, of phrases spoken in nightmares.”
In Heart of Darkness, all the trappings of civilisation fall away and instinct takes over: there is no longer a society, so the laws that bind human behaviour are severed. And behind the nothing-phrases that pass for meaningful utterances in our style-over-content world lurks the same barely-contained ferocity that characterises the essential battle between our human and animal selves, that fight between reason and brutality.
In a society that is becoming ever-more devoid of reason because its foundations have been wrenched away, that ferocity is barely contained: it is straining at the seams. And the engineers of consent who are striving to incarnate ever more demons for us to hate collectively – for on such ripe hatreds are wars forged and millions made – are dangling before us, like dying fish on hooks, the new Other. The new Negro – who was the new Jew – who was the new Catholic – who was the new Jew – who was the new Protestant – who was the Infidel… and behold! We have come full circle.
Such mass hates are not only the province of the animalistic Herd; they creep into the minds of the intelligentsia, also.
As Noam Chomsky put it:
‘the smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum’
– thus giving the illusion of freedom; but it is no more than that, nothing more than a feeble flicker in a world where all the lights are going out. And we do not direct our anger at those who, having manufactured our hates and made our choices for us, are the ones who deserve fully to reap the full rewards of tinkering so callously with the human psyche.
No: we permit them to tell us that it is in our best interests to be deprived utterly of all those things that make the experience of life so meaningful. Spontaneity, privacy, dignity, freedom of thought; abandoned. A life beneath the pitiless brightness of an interrogator’s lamp: applauded. Keeping tabs on a loved one? Applauded. Personal space? Abandoned.
There is no person; they deserve no space.