Sunday, November 15, 2009
No doubt a Soviet military conquest would have brought about a swifter and much more complete Sovietisation than did the crumbling of the Soviet Union; but there is no doubt that in the realm of practical reason the Soviet Union won the Cold War hands down, at least in Britain.
Who would have guessed that, within fewer than twenty years, the British would be more comprehensively surveyed as they went about their daily business than the poor Soviets ever were? That, once they stepped outside the confines of their house, almost all that they did would be photographically recorded? Attending murder trials as I do from time to time as an expert witness, I am astonished by how many of the movements of the accused (and of other witnesses) are recorded on video cameras, for production if necessary at some time in the future. We now live our public lives entirely on camera; every person in the country has his Boswell which is the surveillance camera.
Who would have thought, at the downfall of the Berlin Wall, that a British government would seriously consider recording all telephone calls and monitoring the use of the Internet by all citizens? Who would have thought that it would even dare propose that a centralised dossier on each and every child in the country should be kept? Who would have thought that it would likewise propose an identity card system that enabled the recording of untold information about each and every person, and what is more propose to charge the citizen for the privilege of being thus spied upon? Who would have thought it would have run advertising campaigns to ask citizens to denounce one another if they thought they were cheating on social security, thus introducing into Britain what might be called the Pavlik Morozov conception of truth-telling?
Not unconnected with this is the constantly-changing langue de bois, or Newspeak, used by the hierarchy of almost all public institutions, to disguise the reality of what is actually happening. Words no longer have any tolerably fixed meaning, but must always be construed in their dialectical sense. Experience has taught me, for example, that when the chief executive of an NHS institution says, ‘I am passionately committed to x’ he means, x is about to be disbanded or closed down, and about time too.
An atmosphere of fear now stalks the land: people are reluctant to speak their minds, even if what is in their minds is by no means outrageous. Whole subjects, some of them of great national importance, are now beyond the pale of acceptable discussion. In the public service, underlings are afraid that their superiors might get to hear anything that contradicts the latest ideological doctrine, or even that fails to use the latest accepted terminology, and that they might suffer accordingly. In Britain, careless talk costs careers.
Posted by theo at 12:08 AM