Home > All, General Rants, Security Issues > The tension between security and liberty makes me a political blogger

The tension between security and liberty makes me a political blogger

I have arrived. I am justified. I have come of age. I am now officially a European Political Blogger.

Home page of loggingPortal, 2 June 2010

But GuidoIainDizzy and Hopi Sen needn’t worry too much. Not just yet. I am really a security blogger; and am a political blogger only courtesy of the tension between security and liberty.

These are two extremes of the same thing. Think of it like a see-saw. Absolute liberty means the absence of all security; total security negates all liberty. This applies equally to both physical security and cybersecurity because we can no longer separate the two. We are mugged in the street and burgled at home as much for our cyber-identity as for our mobile phone or flat-screen TV. The art of riding this see-saw is in striking the right balance between liberty and security.

But the problem is in politics. Security is mine, saith the politician. And the more authoritarian the politician, the more liberty (ours, not his) he will sacrifice in the name of security. Sometimes it is not even our security that concerns him, but his own: his re-election or his continuance in power.

In the last ten years, the abuse of power in the name of security has been nowhere more evident than in the UK (and to a lesser extent in the USA). The UK has become a police state under the control of the politicians. The police are meant to be a-political; but the last Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police (the single most powerful copper) is now a Labour Lord. Was he ever anything less? With the new Coalition government we have the hope of things changing, of the balance between security and liberty being more reasonably aligned. That’s what they’re promising us. But a politician’s promise presages disappointment; so we must wait and see.

I have no hope for the European Union. It is run by unaccountable people doing unaccountable things. Let me say straight off: I love Europe, but I hate the EU. The EU will bring pain and despair to Europeans. This is inevitable. The EU is a system. All systems decay. That’s not politics, that’s physics. The only way to stem the decay is to counter it with additional of energy, and that energy is some form of force.

Consider history. Empires do not survive. They grow by force. They are maintained by force. But eventually and inevitably, the stresses they contain are too great for the force that contains them. And almost always with blood. The two great empires of the late 20th century were the Soviet Union and the USA. But the stresses were greater within the former than the latter. In the USA, people tend to think of themselves as Americans first, and Californians or Texans or New Yorkers second. But in the Soviet Union, people were Ukrainian or Russian or Georgian first, and Soviets second. The EU is more like the Soviet Union: we are English or French or German first, and only citizens of the European Union a distant second.

Imposing a union that doesn’t exist naturally can only work by force and ever-increasing centralisation. This is physics, remember – not politics. The more that power is centralised and force is used (not necessarily, but possibly, by armed militia; but certainly by enforced rules and regulations and restrictions) the greater the internal stresses and the greater the tendency to decay. This can only be reversed by more force, more energy applied to combat the laws of thermodynamics.

But eventually it will not be enough. Ultimately there simply isn’t enough energy available to defy thermodynamics. Eventually the European Union will fall apart. And that will be traumatic. There will be tears before bedtime.

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