Monday, 10 June 2013

Here be monsters...

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown”  H. P. Lovecraft

Here we go again. Buoyed up by terrible things, the bureaucrats of the security state are out to persuade their political masters that, without them, we'd all be raped, pillaged, blown up and generally battered by the chthonic forces of evil that cluster round the gates into our civilised land.

"Indeed you will never be aware of all the things that these agencies are doing to stop your identity being stolen or to stop a terrorist blowing you up tomorrow." 

This fills me with such confidence - "you will never be aware" says the Minister. But surely the whole point is that we should be aware, we should know what these agencies are doing. Not every case, every investigation but the rules under which they operate and the manner in which those rules are applied.

Instead of understanding, openness and information what we get is fear and the feeding of fear. We are to be scared - of terrorists, of sinister identity thieves, of cunning fraudsters and international crime. And when the justification for all this frightening of the people is challenged, we regaled with 'facts' - unsubstantiated statistics of terrorist plots thwarted and spy networks broken, of criminal masterminds snared in their lairs and drug lords brought to justice.

Without these 'powers', without the snooping, poking about and pouring over data, the monsters would flood in - from a peaceful, quiet place we would tumble into barbarian chaos, into some dystopian dog-eat-dog nihilism where terrorists, criminals and fraudsters destroy the tranquillity of our world. The spooks and spies are guarding the gate to that dark underworld of evil.

And the spies, spooks and snoopers know their world must remain secret - without that secrecy the frightening things would wither and suddenly the billion pound industry of surveillance and espionage would seem less vital, less important. And that would never do!

Out there in the world are bad people akin to the monsters of old. I know this because the minister told me.


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