When starved people find food they tend to desperately swallow everything and not take time to chew the food properly. We’ve all felt the same thing: when we’re really, really hungry and finally get that so desired meal our heartrates go up, we feel stressed, and we eat as quickly as we can without really knowing why. In a sense, we give in to the beast within, the stoneage man who thinks only about survival and reproduction. When food is scarce, which is what hunger means to us, we devour as much as possible to make sure we survive.
Of course, in our modern and civilized society, at least in the so-called West, there’s almost no reason to quickly devour the food. There’s plenty of food and plenty of time to eat it, and eating too fast is usually a bad thing – our bodies tell us to slow down. But the instinct is hard to overcome, since it is and has been so fundamental for our survival as species for three million years.
So when we’re really hungry and are served food we basically give in to the caveman withing – we forget everything that is civilized and expected of us only to get those calories our bodies need to continue functioning.
The same seems to have been the case in politics in this century. Just like people used to eating a lot easier get hungry, politicians learned in the 20th century that they had a lot of power within their grasp. In fact, their powers increased greatly during the last centry, often as a product of unnecessary (the propaganda somehow left out the “un” of the word) wars fought only to increase the powers of the State. With such an appetite built up by the political class, we’re bound to see a quickly growing State – and thus to see our liberties being quickly undermined and taken away.
Then came the crises in the 1970s and the following credit-based “glorious” 1980s, and with them came a change that the statists on the left are still talking about: the so-called revolutions of Thatcher in the UK and Reagan in the US. These were not regimes as great for individual liberty as statists on the right often claim they were, but they nevertheless to some degree forced back the State in certain areas. In other words: political power was forcefully decreased – mostly in rhetoric, but also to some degree in reality. A new trend was seen in the Western world, where the State was slightly pushed back in order to utilize the enormous wealth producing potential of the market.
Politicians, often in the statist left, loudly complained about sometimes fictional and sometimes obvious injustices caused by these new economy-supporting (big business fascist) polices. The so-called globalization that this caused has since been a bad word for leftist statists.
Politicians on the statist right enjoyed their time in the sun, since they rhetorically are advocates of a less restricted economy and therefore in the minds of people were the creators of the new economy and the great prosperity it generated. (How politicians can be thought of as creators of something good in any normal sense of the word is completely incomprehensible – they are at best relatively harmless parasites.) But the statist right soon found that a somewhat liberated people and economy is much more difficult to command – while they had gained and strengthened their power as the economy seemed to be booming (in pre-inflation numbers, of course) they were losing power at a fast rate as people got richer.
In some sense, but hardly in general terms, the powers of the State were somewhat more restricted compared to what it had been before. Or rather: the steady and ever increasing rate of bigger government in the Western world throughout the 20th century had somewhat declined. And, as we know, with a learned habit to consume large volumes of wealth comes a great appetite. This appetite could not be satisfied, and so the politicians suffered.
It was not until the terrible events on 9/11 that the trend could be reversed. President Bush and his hungry lackees quickly seized the opportunity and played on people’s fears to gain support for radically strip Americans of their rights and freedoms while starting wars in order to further keep the people in the dark and make them agree to support “temporarily” established torture champers, to not mind thousands of dead soldiers in foreign lands, to approve of increased taxes (mostly indirectly through government debt), and to accept the “need” for government to seize totalitarianism powers domestically.
Bush and his league of starved, power-craving parasites took advantage of the situation and did what any starving caveman would at a table filled with foods: they devoured anything they could get their hands on, and they did it quickly – possibly (hopefully) more quickly than they should’ve.
As soon as cavemen (politicians) around the world learned of this opportunity they set out to do the same thing. After all, they too were starving for greater powers and unrestricted possibilities of growing their supply of it. And so countries all over the world have adopted the “anti-terrorism” laws that fundamentally restrict the domestic populations and strip them of any rights against the government that they supposedly used to enjoy. That these laws do not target terrorists or even people the State would consider terrorists (i.e., people not paying “enough” taxes) to the same degree they are all directed towards the domestic population.
Surveillance and control hardly ever target such things terrorists would be likely to use (the government doesn’t have such great imagination); they only target what most people use or do most of the time. We now have large-scale phone and e-mail surveillance, video-monitored public places, and a large number of authorities that need to approve of our intention to do certain things. Who can truthfully say they believe politicians sincerely thing they will stifle terrorism through listening in on your aunt’s phone calls or monitor her actions while riding the subway or buying groceries?
The new powers established by and for the State are even more ridiculous considering where these measures have been taken. For instance, Sweden will shortly allow its military to routinely save and catalogue all e-mail and phone traffic at any point transmitted across the national border. Now who would’ve thought that Sweden, the cowardly State not even brave enough to take a stand as the Allies were winning WWII, would be a target for terrorists? The fact that all parties unreservedly support this large-scale surveillance should tell us something – it is so obviously in the political powers’ interest to have this infrastructure of surveillance that they don’t even bother to make it seem like there are differences between the parties.
What we’re seeing is simply starving politicians devouring everything they can get their hands on. And they will be at it for as long as people let them, since there are of course no real restrictions on government. They are in power and they make the restrictions; they can at any time repeal or ignore these restrictions if it is in their interest.
I, for one, hope they devour our liberties so fast they choke to death – or at least get a really bad stomach ache.