My New Big Brother

Our country lives
Among the dead
And dies among the living   ― Visar Zhiti

An interesting article posted on “The Conversation” this week explores the issue of the proposed meta-data retention intention of our “government”.  The key paragraph that jumped out at me was this one:

Restricting anonymity through the retention of metadata can have a chilling effect by discouraging individuals from freely expressing and sharing their thoughts, opinions and ideas with each other. Thus, it also has a corrosive effect on democracy, by undermining the very rights and freedoms that underpin it.


It seems to me that, when a democratic society allows its elected government and its various ‘agencies’ unfettered power to snoop, to bully, to persecute and to threaten ordinary people, then it becomes a democratic society in name only.

It has become very fashionable these days, to celebrate our proud military history. “Our Tony” is up there with the best of them, identifying and associating himself with our proud and bloody past.   We love to crap on about how our brave soldiers sacrificed so that we can enjoy the wonderful freedoms that we do today.  I found all this rattling around in my head today and I came across a few worrying thoughts.

Firstly, if one of those brave souls was to find himself in our midst in 2014, I seriously
doubt that he’d have any hope at all of recognising our current society, as the one he gave his all to protect.  The very freedoms for which he made the ultimate sacrifice are
themselves being sacrificed.  To protect our 25 million citizens from a few alleged, theoretical, future terrorists, we are sitting idly by, while a very real, very powerful and very insidious ‘terrorist’ is attacking not our physical selves (not yet) but worse, the very freedoms that are the basis of the nation in which we grew up.

Many of us decry what we see as the loss of our national identity, when we note the enthusiasm with which we embrace and adopt all things American.  But it seems to me, our government follows whatever our big brother over the way is doing … and with such fidelity that any desire on the part of ordinary Aussies to retain any national identity whatever, is kind of moot.  This is nothing new, of course.  What is new is the reality that the US government has invested billions on massive ‘listening stations’ to eaves drop on its own citizens.  This is the same nation that has tortured alleged terrorists in Guantanamo Bay and held them without trial and without due process.  (To put this in
parlance that y’all might understand better … “Governments be like … We’re watchin’ yo ass!”).

As usual, we are following Big Brother’s lead with such enthusiasm that we are writing up the legislation right now ….. not to actually spy on our citizens, you understand  (that would be un-Australian)   …..  But to have the ABILITY to spy on them, should we decide that’s necessary in the “national interest”.  What odds would you like that, before today’s young people reach old age, Australia will have morphed into something that resembles the South America of the fifties ….. where anyone can just disappear in the dead of night, never to be heard from again …. and for no greater crime than that they are an ‘inconvenience’ to the current regime.

And while the individual freedoms for which previous Australians fought and died are being attacked, in plain sight, by the very elected government that is duty bound to defend them, ordinary Australians are sitting on their backsides, watching American sit-coms and whining about how tough life is.  I think that one day soon, life will get a whole lot tougher and a lot less certain.

If one of our past diggers was to magically reappear in our midst, I doubt he’d recognise Australia.  But then, we wouldn’t recognise him as an Australian either.  He’d almost certainly be recognised, not as an Australian hero, but as an uneducated, uncouth, sexist, racist bigot.  Those heroes that we like so much to identify with, grew up in a different time, with different values and different attitudes.  For myself though, I’d like to think I’d recognise him; that I’d feel honoured to meet him and would welcome him into my world.  He might have been a racist.  Maybe his education wasn’t what ours is today. Maybe he was intolerant towards other religions and other cultures.  Maybe he was politically incorrect.  But at least he knew when to get off his bum and fight for that thing that distinguished his society from Nazism, from totalitarianism and despotism.

He didn’t sit idly by, while the freedoms and rights of his countrymen were attacked and
stripped away. But then, he didn’t have the tellie with all those American sit-coms and
reality shows to distract him.  I’m so glad that we are so much better educated today, so
much more sophisticated and well … more civilized.

Speaking personally, I’m far more frightened of a government; ANY government that begins to install the tools of tyranny … than I am of a few terrorists.  And anyone who kids themselves that what we are seeing today is anything less … is a fool.   A day will come very soon now, where you will find yourself hesitating over what you type, over what you look at, what you download, what you read and what you are accessing …. because, even though you know that you’re a good citizen and your thoughts, your motives and your appetites are all above board, someone who is watching just might see you in a different light.  And let’s face it, in these uncertain times, individual privacy is a luxury that the state cannot afford.

Enjoy your Tellie …. it might have atrophied your brain, but it’s so much safer than the phone or the internet in tomorrow’s Australia.

Andrew Caddle    2014-08-30


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