Wednesday, September 12, 2007

One Nation Under Surveillance

Here is a debate that has been raging for quite some time now. Ever since the Patriot Act, the issue of government surveillance over the public has been hotly contested. This type of monitoring over its citizens includes phone tapping and cameras on street corners and high traffic areas.

Overall, does the government have the right to “spy” on its own citizens?
Is there enough justification for the government to install surveillance cameras in public areas?
Does this photograph represent the United States in a fair light?

This photo is courtesy of David Foster, a contact of mine in a photography magazine that I contribute to.

One Nation Under Surveillance


katrina337 said...

I don't believe the gov has a right to spy on its own citizens; not everything is the government's business. Isn't that the point in having freedom? Can we really say America is a free nation if our every move is being watched?
Maybe there is enough justification to increase surveillance in some areas, but I think there's a limit to which they can justify it. And while possibly not entirely fair, I believe the photograph is accurate.

StarD said...

I also believe the government has NO RIGHT to spy on its own people. I mean, the whole point of a government is to SERVE THE PEOPLE. The citizens need privacy but of course they gotta stop the attacks even before they come so i really don't know but i think i believe in the fact that the government should just find some other ways to stop them instead of intruding on other people's privacy, which they SHOULD respect.

Mr. Pseudonym said...

This is going to be long, so feel free to skip this.

We have been talking about college essays in English class, and one of the prompts that was brought up was: "Defend one of your unconventional beliefs."
Mine is that a Totalitarian state is good. This applies perfectly to this TOK prompt, so I am going to do a little bit of justification of Totalitarianism, perhaps beyond just surveillance.

People always picture Stalin or Hitler when they hear totalitarianism, and that is not necessarily incorrect, but also a bit over sighted. In a totalitarian state everyone works toward the goal of the society. Yes, we in the US&A may pride ourselves on our freedoms, and our love of doing whatever we so choose, but that does not make for a productive society. It is the states responsibility to make sure that everyone is doing everything they can to make everything get better. People may not agree with the views of the government, and that is where surveillance comes into play. In 1984 Big Brother is ever present. He is in the streets, and he is in your homes in the great TVs that constantly broadcast into and out of your house. This very successfully prevents dissidents. Just think, no matter what you do, you are being watched, you aren't going to do anything bad. You will do whatever you can to not be imprisoned, and killed.
Beyond just that Orwell has a great vision of the justice system itself. You are faced with your greatest fear, and then taught that Big Brother (the state) is the only way to be free from the terror you are facing. Big Brother frees you, and you love him because he did so. The surveillance, I feel, is just a little step toward the eventual success of the great Totalitarian state.

I know that I am going to catch flak for this POV. If you want further justifications and clarification, email me.

katrina337 said...

I've honestly never read 1984, so explain things to me:

Why must they watch every move you make? I mean, if you're still being productive for the economy, then what else does it matter that you do? How are you specifically defining something 'bad'?

And it seems to me that a totalitarian state would leave no room for individuality, which I do personally value, and I think there could be ways to make an extremely productive society without taking that away.

Rebecca said...

I think that this comes back to the whole society vs. individual thing. I read too much Ayn Rand for my own good, so I tend to be on the individual's side. I recently finished We the Living, which is set in Communist Russia. There's this one quote that says: "If you write a whole line of zeroes, it's still--nothing." I think what she's saying here is that a society doesn't exist if it's made up of nothing but a bunch of individuals who believe that the purpose of their life is to society and that their personal desires and values mean nothing. Then what has the society become taht they serve? A large collection of people who believe that their individual lives are unimportant and, in other words, a long line of zeroes. It's great that a society has a goal, but when it abandons the individual lives of its people to achieve that goal, then it has become a unique kind of Hell that I hope never to encounter. If you read We the Living, then you'll know what I'm talking about. Mind you, I don't know how historically accurate the book is, so I'm not sure if it was really that bad. However, if there are any seniors who might know something about the development of communism in Russia that wish to elaborate or prove me wrong, I would be most appreciative.

katrina337 said...

Communism in Russia is a rather...tricky subject. I think you have a good point though (and I personally think you can't read too much Ayn Rand for your own good, but I'm weird like that). Anyway, communism in Russia had both major flaws and successes, but I believe it did eliminate individualism to a great degree. I wouldn't say anything Ayn Rand writes is historically inaccurate because it's her perspective of communism, but beforehand individualism was being squashed and afterwards I believe Russia had a depression because the economic basis was screwed up...but anyway, I agree with what you said about individualism, Rebecca.

Mr. Pseudonym said...

katrina337: They watch to make sure you aren't doing anything subversive. Mind you after a few generations this isn't as necessary, thanks to education/indoctrination. It isn't just being productive to the economy. After a while the economy would disappear, just your monthly rations would continue. It isn't up to me to define what that gov't thinks is bad, that is for them to say. They can dictate that Zoroastrianism is the only religion.

Rebecca: Yes, a whole bunch of zeros is still nothing, but ones and zeros together gives us a lot of stuff. You don't need just one kind of person, you need two.

Mr. Pseudonym said...

Also: I have read most of Ayn Rand's as well. That doesn't mean I agree with it anymore than Also Sprach Zarathustra means I am now a deconstructionalist.

katrina337 said...

Okay, thank you for the clarification, Wolf.