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It was 20 years ago today…

Terror has reduced our rights and freedoms and given the ruling classes power over dissent. So says the Guardian opinion piece by Julian Borger. And this is what I feared and predicted years ago (and I was hardly alone). Here are some of my terrorism related posts.

How to fix Iraq, and not invade Iran [28 SEP 2007]

We want to see democratic, or at least more liberal, societies in the middle east, something that has been very hard to do when so much of it is tribal, and ethnic divisions were not respected by the victorious powers of the Treaty of Versailles after the first world war. How can we achieve this? Well, for a start, it is not by demonising local leaders, and nor is it by the use of military force. This will inevitably harden attitudes, and set back the local liberalising movements by decades, if not centuries.

Follies d’Air [30 DEC 2007]

The New York Times has a long overdue article on the stupidity of airport security measures for those flying to, within or in markets affected by the United States post-9/11. Pointing out that the security screening at airports in no way reduces any threats (but screening luggage does considerably), and that anyway it is the role of government enforcement agencies to prevent terrorism the old fashioned way, using police work techniques, Patrick Smith highlights the loss of rights, the incredible costs, and the increase in inefficiency of a mode of transport that was supposed to improve our ability to get around and not reduce it.

This is part of an easily foreseen (and indeed The Onion did foresee it in 2000) reduction in rights and convenience of citizens of democratic nations due to the tendency of controlling governments to abrogate freedoms and arrogate powers in the name of “security”, national or otherwise.

On fear and risk [31 JAN 2010]

My parents’ generation went through the second world war, fighting tyrants and ideologies that sought to control our everyday lives; for which reason they are sometimes called “the best generation”. Their parents’ generation fought world war one and went through the Depression. The generation I am the tail end of, the Baby Boomers, fought in Korea, Vietnam and the Cold War. Despite all this threat and challenge, liberty increased – by the early 1970s, there was an assumption that one had the right to behave in any way that didn’t harm another person, and that the law would eventually catch up. The right to free speech in countries that didn’t have it was increasingly taken, not asked for, and in countries that did, it was applied in ways that broke the comfortable conventions of the past.

Statism and Wikileaks [ 20 DEC 2010]

No, the real lesson is the extent to which the professional political classes of the west are statists. They have no concern for their citizenry. They have no concern for their economies or even for the corporations or big labor organisations they nominally represent. They only care that they are in power, or might get into power, and so the state is what they care about, so they can have that power.

Goodbye freedom [10 SEP 2011]

Ten years ago tomorrow tonight I was watching an episode of West Wing, and, as I do, channel surfing during the ads. One channel showed a fire in the World Trade Centre, which less than a month earlier I had stood at the base of looking up like the Australian tourist I was. I watched, and as I watched, I saw a second plane hit it, and I thought that we were now in a terrorist event.

On tribalism [25 SEP 2014]

… right now that tribalism is being used to take away legal rights that Australians have enjoyed for over 60 years. We are giving up rights like the presumption of innocence, public accountability of government, and general human rights.

Look over here – “terrorism” [13 JUN 2017]

Consider then, why such laws as the PATRIOT Act in the US, the Terrorism Acts in the UK, or the Anti-Terrorism Act in Australia, to name only a few, exist. Are they needed from a legal standpoint? I would argue, and have since before 9/11, that they are not. The intelligence communities and the police already had the laws they needed. What was lacking was resources to apply them. The terror acts were an attempt to shortcut the rights and rule of law that existed, to prevent and investigate terrorism. In short, these acts tended to violate the rights of all, and especially the hated “others”, for simple political gain.

Godz I can talk a lot, can’t I?

But it is, as my commenters noted also, a long standing strategy, much like the American obsession with declaring war on non-state things like cancer or drugs, for rolling back rights for the general population. Goes right back to the Romans. Carthaga delenda est!