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Sunday, July 21st, 2013, 4:08 pm

Moving Away From Civility

1st confederate flag

I COULD not help noticing that society is moving away from civility, attaining the exact opposite of progress because plutocrats took over the government and are now occupying entire nations.

We oughtn’t assume that society always moves forward. Just look at the Middle Ages, Islamisation, the rise of Nazism in Germany and so on. Civil rights are relative, but they are not very subjective. There is a yardstick for comparatively assessing human values.

The United States has been the world’s unchallenged empire for a few decades now (after parity with the Soviet empire) and it is conspiring with several other nations where degradation of human rights is closely correlated (the UK is no exception). Consider collaboration on surveillance by the NSA, drone strikes (the UK and Australia help with those), indefinite detention (with abductions outside the US), and even torture cells in several unmarked sites across Europe (for the CIA to aggressively “interrogate” people). These are just a few examples among many more. This post is not an exhaustive summary of what I have in mind.

In the age of Facebook as an online distraction (people posting photos of their family and friends, i.e. unwittingly act as informants) I remain quite pessimistic. Those of us who try to warn others about the loss of civility in the digitised and increasingly-automated world (where spying and assassination too are being automated) just perpetually remain a niche, so the forces of plutocracy carry on, largely unchallenged and scarcely feared by the public. The corporate media helps keep it that way and independent sites keep imploding in an age of austerity and other types of pressure against the population at large.

I realise that protests — while they’re in principle considered legal here — are practically impossible. For a protest to be effective it needs to be disruptive but authorities limit the effect by ensuring no protest disrupts anything (otherwise there are mass arrests to serve as intimidation measures). Online protests are being suppressed and journalism too (see Barrett Brown), so even those of us who engage in peaceful activism and no civil disobedience are coming under unprecedented pressure.

Defeatism would be premature because leaks such as the ones from Manning and Snowden show everyone that we, the people, still have ways to counter human suffering.

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