The NSA’s public surveillance wire tapping and how it relates to the book 1984 by George Orwell
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26 April 2015
The NSA’s Public Surveillance Wire Tapping And How It Relates To The Book
Nineteen Eighty-Four, the dystopian novel by George Orwell shows us the picture of the highest forms of autocracy and suppression of the freedom of speech and even thought. While such a dystopia might appear to be far removed from the world we live in, some features of the super-state of Oceania are actually not that different from the ways of our governments. The recent National Security Agency or NSA controversy has exposed the methods of function of surveillance agencies and how little respect they possessed for privacy. These intrusive methods could soon be used as evidence of ‘conspiracy’ against the government and even disallow all forms of criticism.
SURVEILLANCE BY THE NSA
The random and clearly illegal acts of surveillance by the NSA, often in the name of ‘national security’, are a method, which we are well acquainted from despots throughout history. By using the fear of the enemy, the government creates an illusion, which frightens the general populace into surrendering more and more of its rights in exchange of their security. On the other hand, the increasing and arbitrary authority that the fear of the enemy gives the government can be used to root out critics of the government, who can then be prosecuted on charges of sedation or terrorism(Howe; 74) Thus the intelligence agencies are no longer used simply for the purpose of aiding national security from attempts at undermining the safety of the state, but rather used as a weapon against internal dissent against the political structure of the state. Thus the very foundation of freedom and liberty, which are understood to be the basis of any modern state is thus undermined.
THE ORWELLIAN DYSTOPIA
The novel of Orwell follows a similar line, with the government effectively controlling the freedom of thought, belief and action by restraining the ability to think and even developing a new language which would disallow thoughts against the government or ‘thought-crime’. Detection of ‘thought-crime’ may be done through the various techniques, which the government of Oceania used to intrude into the private lives of anybody under their purview and keep a tab of any thoughts that they may have had. Hence, any attempts at even thinking against the government, is swiftly and deftly crushed. It appears that the current state in the US and the western world in general, also points to a similar situation(Meyers; 144).The way the governments have repeatedly reacted to exposes by the whistleblowers like Chelsea (Bradley) Manning, Edward Snowden and Julian Assange proves that the governments are unwilling to be open about most of their operations to the public. Thus the idea of democracy, which is based upon informed consent, becomes defunct and futile under such a regime of secrecy.
The relationship between the government and the public should be of mutual trust and understanding. When the government can no longer trust its own citizens and need to resort to the massive uses of surveillance, as shown in the novel ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’, it becomes clear that there is something fundamentally wrong in the political structure. This structure, if it intends to continue itself will need to resort to actively suppressing the voices of dissent against the existing system. This would be impossible if one were to keep the spirit of freedom and democracy alive. Today the US and the western world in general is becoming increasingly insecure of their position and resorting to unethical spying on innocent citizens. This may have grave consequences for the future.
Howe, Irving, ed. Totalitarianism in Our Century. New York: Harper Row. 1983. Print.
Meyers, Jeffrey. Orwell. Wintry Conscience of a Generation. New York: W.W. Norton. 2000. Print.
Howe, Irving, ed.1984 Revisited: Totalitarianism in Our Century. New York: Harper Row, 1983.
Meyers, Jeffrey. Orwell: Wintry Conscience of a Generation. New York: W.W. Norton, 2000.