David Bromwich On “Liberty, Security, and Fear”

Yale literature professor David Bromwich has a superb piece on HuffPo today that articulates so well the fraud that is the American Surveillance State:

And what of liberty? A view taken by many apologists for massive surveillance holds that liberty is what is left once you have subtracted all the obedience and good behavior required by government to secure for the people a long life. But nothing could be more remote from the spirit of liberty. The Declaration of Independence — with which the Constitution means to be as consistent as a framework of laws can possibly be — holds instead that liberty is integral. It is not something you can add or subtract bits of. Liberty denotes the condition of the person who judges for himself, and whose actions are not constrained by an external power hidden from himself.

And on the executive branch officials, their actions and the mentality behind them:

The leaders and functionaries who in the past twelve years have imposed on the United States a massive system of secret surveillance are best looked on not as betrayers but as thoughtless people. They have forgotten the moral perceptions that were once felt to make the United States a country exemplary for its freedom. The work of this moment is to compel them to see again what people who understand liberty have never failed to see.

I would only add this: this scourge of mass suspicion-drive surveillance is not simply a product of the last 12 years, it is the product of our nearly nearly 70 year old national National Security State. President Washington warned us about the consequences of such establishments:

Over grown military establishments are under any form of government inauspicious to liberty, and are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty.

For our current predicament, we do have a solution.

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