The increase in mechanisms of government mass surveillance of the peoples of Europe, which is of a magnitude that cannot be exaggerated, is finally causing critical discussion in the blogosphere and elsewhere. In one of the European countries that is so far most affected by this unprecedented power-grab by governments (including super-governments such as the European Union) and politicians, Sweden, the discussion is successfully being limited to the blogosphere even though the media is beginning to feel it necessary to do some reporting.
Since this, for political activists holding post-enlightenment individual rights dearly, is a battle that has to be fought on many [political] levels, the discussion sometimes seems a bit irritated or frustrated. And properly so, there is no way a discussion limited to the blogosphere can change political discussions unless they manage to mobilize large numbers of people to protest the decisions. They are indeed trying and trying, but failing.
One method that is used by the activists trying to push government back through stopping the mass surveillance propositions, and one that is very often used by political interests and interest groups as well as (I presume) lobbyists, is the power of individual contact with the people’s representatives in the regional, national, or supernational parliaments. Politicians, as we know, tend to seek the path of least resistance. If too many people complain and ask the politicians to stop doing whatever it is they’re doing, they often choose to not do it. After all, they tend to believe that they are the representatives of the people, but as such they are also subject to the popular vote – and making enemies might mean losing office.
The method is presumed to be effective, since politicians want to stay in power and supposedly tend to listen if a large number of people state that they reject a certain policy. Most of the frequent political power-grabs are done without anyone at all finding out (at least, not until it is way too late), but when politicians have the great unfortune of people finding out what they are up to they do [pre]tend to listen.
But is this really an effective means to change politics and to push back the State’s continuous attempts to feed of yet a few of our liberties? First of all, anyone realizes that the method has an inherent problem: it is dependent on a sufficient number of people caring enought to actually do something to stop it, and this in turn requires organization to make it happen. Reaching out and then making sure people do what they are supposed to is, it seems, almost always a too great obstacle to overcome. So most attempts fail.
The failures to make use of the method should not, however, affect our analysis of whether it is an effective method (if used properly). That a lot of attempts do fail is a problem of organization and should make most groups reconsider and perhaps choose a different method for whatever political aim they may have, but it does not mean the method is inherently bad.
Also, the illusion – and it is an illusion – that politicians actually listen to the electorate is at best quite naive, but it also most seriously affects the effectiveness of this method. Politicians have no reason to listen to the electorate simply because they have the power and can hide behind not being accountable – their actions are almost never individual actions but group actions, and as such it is both difficult to identify who is responsible for what. And even if this were the case, there is almost never only one or a few politicians responsible for a decision: they voted as they did because of log rolling, their “hands were tied” (which is not true, but I certainly wish this was the case), or “one has to choose one’s battles,” and there are most certainly other ways of seeing it so that the individual politician “tried his best.”
Furthermore, and this is an important point, the attempt to make politicians listen to the electorate through contacting them about a certain issue presumes the democratic system works the way we’re taught that democracies work. This is literally never the case: democratic States are not “of the people, by the people, for the people” but of the ruling class, by the ruling class and for the ruling class – at the expense of the people.
But there are other reasons why this is an inherently bad method.
Contacting politicians trying to make them change their minds about something is the same as sucking up to them. Being utterly despicable people who are so insignificant and rotten that have no other way of achieving a sense of greatness but by using hired muscles to push idiotic policies down people’s throats, and this is what politicians are, they are in office mainly for people to suck up to them. Politicians like to be treated the way they demand to be treated: as a post-feudalism class of kings and masters.
The reason politicians “listen” to the electorate is not that they serve those who vote, but because they are so fundamentally worthless in the marketplace for products and services that they are terrified of not being reelected. And they are so utterly small-minded that they cannot even imagine a life where they are not rulers with serfs, where they do not enjoy the illusion of being a just ruling class “to serve others.”
In the freed market, where people may lead their lives as they see fit, you truly serve others – you make a living and profits through making other people’s lives better in a number of ways. This is, in essence, what politicians try to achieve without doing the work necessary: they want to be both “of service” and through it enjoy people’s gratitude and not put in a cent’s worth of labor. They want to free-ride on everybody else only to balance the fact that they are truly insignificant and couldn’t ever be successful in actually helping people.
In fact, politicians want to enjoy the might and glory of absolutist royalty.
The democratic State is but the extension of the feudal system. The difference is that the democratic State allows for some mobility (you can join the ruling class, and you can be thrown out of the palace) but also demands and requires the illusion of legitimacy. Feudalism was never legitimate and never asked for legitimacy – it was a system based solely on violent force. But the “modern” power of the democratic State is one that thrives only when it is considered legitimate in the minds of its slaves; it is, therefore, more devilishly evil in how it has solved the problem of keeping slaves in line, but at the same time vulnerable. There is a reason why democratic States find it necessary to have public schooling, public day care centers for children, an dpublicly financed science. Without the brain washing, the State would evaporate.
This is why contacting “one’s representative” in whatever parliament is such a bad method: it only strengthens the legitimacy of their rule, increases their power, while reinforcing your statist mindset. Not only do politicians like it, they are dependent on it. And they play the game of “listening” to voters simply because that is how they best play the game – changing their vote for a future policy when people seem to want it is but to strengthen the foundation of political power.
As the political activists working so hard to force government back (if only stopping its one small step forward) should realize every time they are “successful,” the policy will still be enacted as law. The only difference, except for perhaps the wording of the proposition, is that it may be postponed a little bit. And at the same time, political power as an [oppressive] institution has been reinforced so that it will last yet another set of years.
So when you engage in writing letters to politicians, what exactly would you expect to accomplish? You are the slave pleading to your masters, where the masters thrive off your crawling in the mud at their feet: they still get to say whether or not and you have to abide by their wishes.
I say get upp from where you are kneeling; stop the groveling. You are a slave but there is no reason for you to encourage and cherish your masters. It is better to stand tall and proud than to kneel to the ugliest power seen by man; I would rather let them be and take the pain than fight them in their game played in their backyard and according to their rules – where winning is possibly only through further subjection.
I choose to fight them through refusing to grant them legitimacy, not through accepting their fake sense of rightousness and pleading to their “good will.” They have no good will – they claim us as slaves and long to be our masters. It is only through peaceful non-compliance that the oppressive bluff can be called; only though refusing to play along can the true face of the system be seen.
Do you think submission to your masters is an effective way of bringing about change?