Thanks to a tip from Alun, I watched the film ‘The lives of Others‘ last night.
This is a brilliant and very important film. People often cite the STASI and its tactics and corrosive effects on East German society as a way of warning people of the sort of place Britain will become should it continue down the road of the insane mass surveillance that it has embarked upon. The lives of Others portrays in a most compelling and gut wrenching way what the STASI really means.
In the light of Poole Council’s nauseating surveillance of a British family, this is a film that everyone, every decent person in Britain, should see, as an example and warning of what is here and what is coming.
The parallels to East Germany and today’s Britain are clear. Britain is turning into a place where the horizon of surveillance is now under our feet, and the next stage, acting on it German style, is beginning to approach.
For my part, the idea of these people carrying out these operations in the past made me sick, as it always does. Watching fat pig government employees violate and wield unlimited power over people should make all good people feel queasy.
The main lesson of this film however is that the decent people did nothing. They carried on as best they could, trying to live as normal a life as possible, putting up with every outrage like prisoners suffering from one of those psychological disorders that affect mammals habituated to incarceration. They were frightened to the point that it was impossible for them to even speak. And then….
It all just ended.
Its rather like the three prisoners in THX-1138 walking out of the white space, being astonished that nothing stopped them. The power of the state is an illusion in this way. All of those East Germans could have simply stood up and walked away at any time. The only thing that was stopping them was their belief that the system was real, when in fact, it was not.
I note with dismay, that the names of the councilors and actors who carried out the surveillance were not names and photographed by the newspapers who feigned outrage. It is almost as if they were frightened of some unspoken consequences of doing the obvious; shaming these people so that they are made to suffer humiliation when they violate the rights of others. As it stands now, we do not know who these people are, what they look like or anything about them; they cannot therefore be shunned and vilified by decent people. This is part of the problem. It is this self protecting system of keeping quiet that emboldens these monsters.
Here are some links:
Our state collects more data than the Stasi ever did. We need to fight back
To trust in the good intentions of our rulers is to put liberty at risk. I’d go to jail rather than accept this kind of ID card
Timothy Garton Ash
Thursday January 31, 2008
This has got to stop. Britain’s snooper state is getting completely out of hand. We are sleepwalking into a surveillance society, and we must wake up. When the Stasi started spying on me, as I moved around East Germany 30 years ago, I travelled on the assumption that I was coming from one of the freest countries in the world to one of the least free. I don’t think I was wrong then, but I would certainly be wrong now. Today, the people of East Germany are much less spied upon than the people of Britain. The human rights group Privacy International rates Britain as an “endemic surveillance society”, along with China and Russia, whereas Germany scores much better.
It isn’t too late to turn everything around. This is how it starts:
Do you get me?