Orwell would be turning in his grave
“Bread and circuses” – throughout history, human
needs have been fundamentally simple. Wise leaders know they can do whatever
they want (within the norms of a particular society) if they provide these two basics of human satisfaction. A comfortable
life makes us lazy and indifferent. So lazy and indifferent that we are eager
to accept that even our right to privacy – the only valuable leftover of
“a democracy” – is being taken away.
“Shock! Horror! Spy agencies
spying!” – political commentators flooded twitter with jokes,
demonstrating a worrying acceptance of the perverted reality, following the
Snowden revelations. It was a shocking reaction to what was a seismic shift in
the relationship between the individual and the State. It isn’t spying on suspects: it is spying on everyone. The Guardian was the only voice of
reason, not least because they had a scoop and needed to milk it as much as
Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, one of the very few who made an
official complaint, said: "The law governing state surveillance has never
been fit for purpose but advances in technology and capacity mean it needs
It is a
natural reaction from a civil rights group. But what about the general public?
That’s what worries me most. My
friends casually say, as they rush from work to be on time for yet another
party, that it doesn’t bother them, and they are
happy for anyone who is prepared to sit through their telephone calls, read
their texts or scan their Internet photos for clues to do so. In their view if
looking through a million innocent people's stuff leads to finding one bad egg
then it's worth it. All in the name of fighting terrorism.
be happy for someone going through your diary? Even if it is someone who wishes
you no harm, like your Mum? As much as I adore my mother, I would die from
embarrassment if she read my diary. Perhaps that is why I don’t even keep one! I hope it isn’t too old-fashioned or naïve to want to keep your
private life private. I don’t walk around naked for all to
see. In the same manner I only share my "naked" thoughts and views with a
selected few. I feel violated, mentally raped that there is even a small chance
of my correspondence being read… I tried to protest against it
by continuing to write in the free manner but couldn’t help noticing that certain people changed their email
behaviour, following the surveillance revelations.
tell you that if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. If you
accept this principle today, tomorrow it may become a thought crime. Or it may
be even worse. It may become a business. I wouldn’t be surprised – if we accept it – that tomorrow our data might
be sold off to big business for a profit. Collecting our shopping preferences
via google or facebook, is already very valuable for advertisers. Imagine how
much profit the government could make by selling off our data to big
major happened. But where is the outrage? Has anybody written to his or her MP
with a complaint? How many non-politically active people signed online
petitions? What else has to happen to shake off this political lethargy and
indifference? How soon is the law going to be amended? Will the trust between
the State and the individual ever be restored?
Chakrabarti says: "The latest revelations reveal the authorities' contempt
for basic privacy, legality and democracy itself. When combined with other
recent scandals of intrusive surveillance it’s not difficult to see how
blanket harvesting of personal sensitive data will be abused in years to come.
We need urgent law reform and the intelligence community to be brought back
under control. If that doesn’t happen, we could find
ourselves living in a very different country."
A new social divide
It is a
worrying sign when a Liberal Democrat appears more Conservative than a
Conservative, and a Conservative seems way too liberal with things that need a very
careful approach. But that’s what happened with Nick
Clegg's and David Cameron’s different stances on GM
recent radio interview, the Deputy Prime Minister said he did not knowingly give his
children GM food, and favoured a precautionary approach. Post-election Cameron,
however, gave his blessing to the environment secretary Owen Paterson going
ahead with promoting this controversial policy. Pre-election Cameron was far
Paterson enthusiastically pressed for a relaxation of strict EU rules on the
cultivation of GM crops, it made me think that sometimes the EU is not such a
bad thing after all… A worrying thought!
We have a controversial agricultural revolution imposed on us, while being given very
little say in it. Paterson should listen to the farmers who complain about bad
weather affecting crops, but first and foremost he should listen to us, the
ultimate consumers of his policies. It should not all be about money and
business. An overwhelming proportion of public does not want GMO. If the
Government thinks the public is too stupid or archaic in its approach, then
they should at least respect that as a sign of having to take things slowly,
before bowing to big business.
the go ahead is given, we don’t need to rush into growing
GMO crops on a grand scale straight away. Better to continue small, and see the
effect it has. Surely, that would be a far more conservative approach? Perhaps
the problem is that there are too many men in politics with thick skin and
subdued parental instincts. But as a future mother (well, hopefully) I feel strongly
against what could potentially affect the lives of my children.
Clegg won’t feed GM food to his kids, while Downing Street refuses to
answer whether the PM would eat or let his family eat GMO. Why not admit it if the PM is confident
about it? It all stinks of hypocrisy.
The height of such hypocrisy is that Parliament has even banned GMO from its
own restaurants! The rich and powerful will continue eating organic, just like
they do now.
GMO will be much cheaper than traditional food. Thus, it is those for whom the
price tag matters, the poorest – not the poorest of the world
but in this very country – who will involuntarily become
guinea pigs for Mr. Paterson. What is it, if not yet another handmade social
Magic in the air
Brown – a British illusionist,
mentalist, trickster, hypnotist, painter, writer, and sceptic – raised important social issues in his latest show “Infamous”. It was a case of the public
coming for easy entertainment but getting educated on quite a few issues
started the show with how it felt for him coming out as gay. I certainly didn’t expect a magic show to start like that. But it obviously
mattered a lot to him, so we listened. The revelation made
me look at the performance a bit differently. And – involuntarily – I couldn’t help thinking he picked a very handsome young man out of
the audience as a central figure for his tricks and took him on stage for a
good hour or so, because…. he fancied him. That was
probably a mental trick and a challenge to us in its own right.
played another trick to prove that we were all greedy (a valuable lesson to
deprive us of self-righteousness). He picked a child in the audience and asked
him to choose one of two envelopes: purple or yellow. One of them contained £50, and it would be his if he guessed it correctly. The
child went for the yellow envelope, and he was right: £50 was his. How wonderful! Until the child learned that the
purple envelope had…£300! The child, who had only
just been jumping up and down with joy, fell on his seat on the brink of tears.
at its best!