vrijdag 3 juli 2015

The Netherlands: A totalitarian Control-State?

"He who gives up freedom for safety deserves neither and will eventually lose both" 
- Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

On a daily basis the Dutch people are confronted with disturbing stories in the system-media (in the newspapers, on the internet, the radio and television) about the threat of left- and right-extremism, Islamic fundamentalism and/or wars between motorcycle clubs. The people seem to live in a constant climate of fear. At the same time we witness a tendency in which our government evermore intrudes in the freedom and privacy of citizens. It becomes apparent that this security-police has taken Orwellian forms, from the recent NSA scandal, which revealed that 1,8 million Dutch citizens were tapped by the intelligence services of the USA. Apparently this is completely normal according to our government. The government no longer seems to trust its own citizens.   


The attacks of 9/11 had a great impact on the Western world. To combat 'terrorism' the then prevailing ideas about civil liberties were thrown overboard very quickly by the Western governments. Freedoms that were fought for by our ancestors for centuries, many of whom paid for it with their freedom or life, are completely demolished at a rapid pace. One such comprehensive control of civilians as it is today has never been seen before in the entire human history - not under Nero, Napoleon, Hitler or Stalin. Fundamental rights and privacy laws are massively reduced; police and secret services get an increasingly free rein and security cameras are placed next to each road. With this the feast of freedom seems to have definitively ended.

This development is getting worse because of the complete apathy of the Western peoples, who seem to accept this curtailment of their liberties as some kind of 'historical faith'. The people are scared. In ancient times 'terror' was already a State-practice, which was rendered legitimate by philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes. It served to keep the people afraid and thus submissive. Also during the French revolution 'terror' was used as a state-doctrine against the contra-revolutionaries. Later on the term was used mostly in a critical sense, for example in its references to Stalinism and Hitlerism. However, these days this seems to have turned around. Nowadays 'terror' (terrorism) is seen as a phenomenon which is based on the individual and which threatens the State. As a result, the State fights terror from some kind of legal self-defense and thus can never be guilty of terror itself. With this the 'War on terror' (terrorism), that was proclaimed by the Western world, got a kind of universal legitimacy that justifies almost any act, conflict or war the West commits. However these days our nation is not threatened by 'terrorism', but by the willingness of our people to let themselves be intimidated by 'terror', in an attempt of our governments to use this to impose authoritarian structures that will rob us from our freedom and privacy.      

"Safety" has become the new slogan in the political debate. The State suggests that the government needs to know as much as possible about its citizens to protect them as efficiently as possible. However, we seem to forget that 'safety' is not feasible because no risk can be excluded. It is more likely that you will die by a traffic accident than by a terrorist attack. However it’s in the human nature to be more afraid for the unlikely than for the likely. We are most afraid for the things that rarely or never happen. This is probably a good thing if we want to cope with life. So our feeling of insecurity is separate from real threats. Here in the West it is more likely to die by a plane crash, than to get killed as a result of a terrorist attack. This means the climate of fear in our country simply is not rational. The daily calls of terror stand in the way of a rational debate about the sense and nonsense of the proposed countermeasures, which should safeguard our 'security'.  

The question any sane person should ask themselves is: How valid are the tools of counter-terrorism? Are these measures suitable to achieve the desired objective? Are grid investigations (profiling of large groups of citizens), biometric passports, video surveillance, the massive use of wiretapping and other violations of fundamental rights that affect millions of innocent civilians, legitimate means against terrorism? Or does this defeat the purpose? It is totally unclear where these drastic infringements on privacy should result in. While the State applies more and more control options against its own civilians, the terrorist threat only seems to get bigger and bigger.

Until now no demonstrable terrorist attack is prevented on the basis of the heightened security laws. On the other hand many of the implemented measures have proved inadequate in preventing terrorism. So it seems the State is not defending itself against terrorist disaster, but against its own citizens. Previously one was innocent until the contrary was proven; now more and more we see a situation in which everybody is guilty until proven otherwise. From a so-called 'preventive' strategy the government treats all people as potentially dangerous and appropriates itself the right to act accordingly (control, observation, and general suspicion). While our constitution demands that individual citizens are as little damaged by State-interventions as possible, prevention-politics demands gathering as much abstract information on individual citizens as possible. Slowly but surely our rule of Law is changing into a true control-State, in which the doings of every citizen are controlled and monitored by the government.        

The image of a totalitarian control-State that George Orwell painted in his well-known book '1984' seems to have become a harsh reality. The control delusion of the State has long ago left the ground of the struggle against terrorism and now aims at all aspects of our daily lives; social relations, taxes, consumer behaviour and healthcare. Counter-terrorism has become a sharp sword in the hands of "model citizens" who want to submit the entire community to their conformity. Behind the security policy of the State we see an ever further blurring of the borders between politics, justice, police, military, private security and the security industry; it will not be long before the control-State will arise. We exchange our personal freedom for the doubtful and empty promise of 'security'. If we don't resist now it will be too late. Once the totalitarian state is completed any protest will be repressed. Fight now, while it’s still not too late!   

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