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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I'm not the only one afraid of tyranny

In an earlier post, I talked about the use of drone aircraft by local police as an inroad to eventual tyranny and the government spying on private citizens. It turns out I'm not the only one thinking along these lines. Over at IEET, they are thinking the same way as me.

On the one hand, I don't know what to think about that. Perhaps I have to rethink my whole argument about the spy drones. I suddenly wonder if I erred in my conclusions.

On the other hand, people with faulty reasoning ability sometimes end up at the right conclusion. I guess they and I both worry about "who" will be controlling the invasive, tyranny-fostering technology. I worry about people like them oppressing people like me. They worry about people like me (or what they imagine people like me to be like) oppressing people like them. So it just goes to show that a) governments should be small and relatively powerless, just large and powerful enough to do their essential tasks, but otherwise be impotent to do any harm; and b) the weapons of tyranny should be kept out of everyone's hands. There is no such thing as a trustworthy government, because you never know who will be running the government down the road.

So my reasoning is this: People have a right not to be spied upon unnecessarily. The government could easily misuse spy drones, just as they have in the past misused phone taps and other investigative techniques. Therefore, this is a technology that should be kept out of the hands of regular law enforcement. No government should have the power to watch its citizenry like that. It's about human freedom and the right role of government.  I suspect (but cannot prove, and I'm about to engage a little sarcasm besides) that the reasoning of the folks at IEET would be more like this: I have a right not to be spied upon. The only people who would want to spy on me are those backward naysayers that are always looking on new technologies as witchcraft. Those people might come to power and are just slavering to oppress me. I'd feel different if I could be sure such people could be kept out of government. In other words, if I act in a way that I know the government approves because I am a fan of the government, I have nothing to worry about by the government spying on its citizens -- it is only the prospect of a government coming to power that disapproves of what I do that makes me say the police should not use spy drones. It's about my freedom, not human freedom generally.

We end up in the same place. The reasoning is different. And I have to say, the IEET didn't actually offer any real opinion on the matter or any reasoning to any conclusion. My remarks are based on the reasoning they tend to employ on other issues and some comments in the combox. So maybe I was unfair. For instance they do argue for their own freedom and right to pursue trans- and post-humanism, not for human freedom generally, for they have no concern for their mutant/modified creatures' freedom.

My objection to the death penalty is reinforced. Considering the kind of people who might come to power one day and their willy-nilly definitions of "person" and "non-person" (and you can kill non-persons, after all), then I think the government should not have the power to kill anyone. Ever. If governments are more and more prone to abuse their power, then all the more should they have limited power.

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