The Surveillance State

Posted on December 31, 2015 by

Traffic accidents killed more than 2500 Americans this month. But it’s the 14 people massacred in San Bernardino in early December who preoccupied us as we drove to work, holiday parties and shopping centers.

There’s little value in being told that the chances of our friends, family or ourselves being blown up or gunned down are miniscule compared to the routine hazards of the road. The fact that every day nearly 100 Americans die in a car crash is a risk factor we’ve already incorporated into our lives.

But please keep that in mind as we adjust and adopt to domestic terrorism.

Over the next several years, hundreds of billions of dollars will be spent on technology, systems and personnel to protect against attacks. Coordination among local police departments, the FBI and the NSA will be significantly enhanced. The Surveillance State will take on new dimensions.

I’m not necessarily opposed.

Progressives know that a wave of bombings or shootings will trigger an illiberal reflexive reaction among frightened Americans which plays into the hands of right-wing demagogues. So we have to accept invasive measures and expanded police powers.

The question is can we maintain meaningful privacy protections and due process in this fearful atmosphere?

Comments (4)


  1. Betty Madden says:

    Happy New Year Lou & Everyone,
    I was at the Rose Parade this morning with my close childhood friend. Our tickets allowed us access to the adjacent street & our bags were checked before we got near the parade route. All good and friendly. A high profile of police officers friendly but cautious. Fear did not seem to be a concern by those in attendance. Fear isolates us and immobilized we withdraw and isolate. All is lost. We must manage our fear of others by stepping up to the possibilities of connection with others and stepping out of fear into the light of possibilities to be connected to our community. The Rose Parade was amazing we enjoyed those around us and shared a beautiful morning on the first day of 2016.

  2. Steve says:

    The Orwellian society at its best!!

  3. Scott Zwartz says:

    While it is said that the first thing a frightened people will forfeit is their civil rights, in reality, the first thing they give up is other people’s rights. Donald Trump did not call to ban right wing Christians from entering country after the killings at Planned Parenthood.

    The folly of a fearful people who rush to destroy the rights of others is that in so doing, they destroy the fabric of their own society.

  4. Barton Parks says:

    My response is that focusing on the threat of a “surveillance society” is like focusing on the small number killed in one terrorist attack compared to the 2500 killed in auto accidents.

    Our real threat is in the increase of the already overly powerful massive structures of undemocratic power that run our lives–and too much our minds and hearts–our perceptions and feelings.

    We need a movement the likes of which we have never seen, or perhaps even imagined. I do not see it but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there or about to be. It probably will not initially be recognizably political……..

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