Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Don't call it the nanny state, call it what it is...

Great article by Victoria Coren in the Observer last Sunday about the kicking that smokers are getting at the moment. I've often thought the intolerance shown to smokers has crossed the line into persecution. Well worth reading all the piece but here is an extract:

"Since we have a priggish, disapproving, bullying, absolutist government, which refused to bring in a (good, correct) smoking ban by stages, the Farningham smokers were technically breaking the law even by having a crafty snout on an outdoor platform. But why was this Mrs Buchanan's problem? Anyone who didn't like it could have moved further down, in the fresh air. Nobody was getting hurt but the smokers themselves. They weren't breaking the Ten Commandments".

Recently, some old folks were threatened with an ASBO for feeding birds in their garden.
The Guardian reports today that local authorities and government bodies will soon be allowed to snoop on your emails, texts, and the websites you visit. Police at the Kingsnorth climate camp have harassed and bullied peaceful protesters. We are being threatened with the introduction of ID cards and a national database that will contain information about every one of us. The New Labour government has created over 3,000 new criminal offences since 1997. The prison population has exceeded 80,000 for the first time. Thirty years ago it was half that. So what is going on?

We are living in an authoritarian society where we are becoming more and more regulated and criminalised. The government has recently used the terrorist 'threat' to introduce a raft of legislation which which criminalities dissent and legitimate protests. This 'threat' was comprehensively debunked by Adam Curtis in his documentary 'The Power of Nightmares' in which he showed that the 'threat' was deliberately exaggerated in order to increase the hold of politicians over the population.

Environmentalists are a particular target because they are a threat to capitalism because the policies they propose to fight climate change would end globalisation and threaten the profits of large corporations.

In addition to all this we have the 'Health Police'. The premise is simple - you can legitimately be banned from doing anything if it is 'harmful to you' - and we decide for you. So, we can stop you from smoking, and soon we will be aiming to stop you from drinking. What this means is that we have ceased to be adults in a 'free' society. The government has decided to take these decisions for us because we can't be trusted to do it ourselves.

But this is unacceptable in a free society. I could decide that its bad for you (and me) to be a Tory. So how about banning conservatism? You may laugh but the government now has such draconian powers at its disposal that it is possible to snoop into every aspect of our lives and ban any kind of dissent. That is a totalitarian police state, something that E P Thompson warned was coming in the 1970s and 1980s. You should read Writing by Candlelight (Merlin Press 1980) for an excellent account of the way the government was, even then, seeking to curb our freedoms.

Don't call it the nanny state, call it what it really is ....... the authoritarian state, one step removed from the totalitarian state.

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