Wednesday, October 16, 2013

National security: the lie that's the thief of freedom

I've said this before, but it bears repeating: I'm more than 50 years old, and for nearly all of those years, “national security” has been trying to justify its existence with scare-stories to frighten children.

Look around the Australia you see right now, and ask yourself: is our lifestyle threatened more by terrorists, or by the toxic combination of right-wing politics and self-interested security agencies?

Well: in my entire life, Australia's terrorist toll is the bombing of the Hilton Hotel – attributed wrongly, with convictions overturned – and the bombing of the Israeli embassy in the 1980s. That's the crop.

Oh, there was once a post-911 fool who filled a Toyota Hiace with ANFO and set it off in the Dean's Park defence land to see what would happen. And there's been utterly incompetent plots to take over army bases, justly receiving their convictions.

But in my whole life, being tabloid-frightened by the idea that commies, Viet Cong, Serbian terrorists (in the 70s, look it up), hackers, jihadists, boat people, the Ananda Marga Sect (look it up) …

The net effect on “the Australian way of life is zero …

...except that the agencies wrap their dark wings around power and liberty, call it a success, and while local councils tap phone records to discover unregistered pets, and our communications are snooped and tapped, nobody is actually good at threatening us.

The Milperra Massacre – performed by the bikie gangs that hipsters now pay a tax to, to get their tattoos, or pay to provide a Harley-Davidson escort to their weddings – chalked up more deaths (seven) than Australia's entire terrorism toll.

But the world of “national security” isn't just about government agencies protecting their budgets: it's also about consultants to those agencies, protecting their budgets. And a consultant won't get rich saying “defund ASIO and ASIS by 20 percent because there isn't a credible threat”, will it?

And if there's no local client for consultant money saying “pour tax dollars into national security”, there'll always be an American client to foot the bill: because America has outsourced its vile trade in liberty and death to the private sector. And that private sector earns its every calorie sucking at the teat of the taxpayer in every damn country it plants its flag.

And as a result: Australia is bombarded by our terrorist threat, and we will lose our liberties and have our communications snooped on, and the kind of media that print a “think tank study” without criticism will work to lull us into accepting it.

I can tell you, from my interactions on Twitter, that the people giving this bad advice weren't even born – as in “I wasn't born when Andanda Marga was a thing, what's your point?” when most of the scare-stories were the tabloid staples of my youth. Which means the entire history of “they're coming to get us” scare stories is in the unreal past, whereas fear-of-bearded-Islam is a Real and Present Danger.

As was every other damn fake fear I was peddled in my lifetime. As the cartoonist Matthew Martin put it: national security is a bunch of turkeys with paper bags over their heads. They've offered not a damn thing to my personal security nor political freedom in fifty years, and I don't trust them now.

1 comment:

Quiddity said...

If it helps to get you through the day, try to imagine those same people you describe reaching retirement! After a working lifespan spent in secretive systems designed to monitor everyone's activities.

A good day for people in these organisation is one where they get to attempt redesign the data collection and reporting systems themselves to streamline the process of their work. That at least means brainstorming flowcharts.

An entire working lifespan spent monitoring boring surveillance of uninteresting people, then writing yawn-inducing reports designed to justify such interest? When the ennui sets in, it'll be difficult to dispel. :)