When I arrived in Britain in 1992 I experienced a great cultural shock. I arrived from a country which until just over a year before that was ruled and policed by one of the most intolerant and controlling dictatorial regime. No amount of training and preparation could have made me ready for what life was like in a free country as the UK. I am sure that many other young people who made a similar transition might have had a similar experience.
When I arrived in the UK I was amazed that there was so little surveillance (people here did not even have an ID!) and overwhelmed by the lack of directives and rules. It was left to myself to discover all the intricacies of life in a residential college and society in general. It took me more than 6 months to enter the local supermarket, as I was afraid that people would watch me! Now I find this embarrassing, and probably a little funny, but at that time it was really a struggle. It is dreadful to see (and experience) what a dictatorial system does with a human person. Over above the fact that it dis-humanises people, also it takes away one’s confidence and it installs in you paranoia.
Over the last few years, (since this tendency to legislate on anything), every time when I had an opportunity I sought to tell my friends and colleagues that at this moment in time we, here in Britain, are slowly sliding towards a totalitarian police state. The government is slowly bringing in, what they call, security measures, which are designed to spy and gather data about everyone, which could easily be used by the authorities to control people.
Recently the press reported on some of these intrusions. Remember this headline Council admits spying on family, (and see this link for coverage in other media) what about this one A spy in your bin? Then add the multitudes of cameras all over the place in towns, on the roads, even in public buildings. I think the UK is the most spayed on country in the world!
In my spare time I am a member of the local Community Council. (Last week I attended a a training session, with the local Council planning chief, on the new planning legislation to be implemented from August this year. To tell you the truth, the Scottish Parliament made a mess of this legislation). Anyway, at one of our recent Community Council meetings (you can read the minutes now on line, and if would like to, just get in touch with me and I will give to the web address) some of the councillors come with a suggestion as to ask the council to install CCTV cameras in our area. Well, that turned me on, and you might guess that by the end of the conversation only the chair person was in favour of the cameras!
Timothy Garton Ash is raising this issue in a brilliant article last week in the Guardian. The only thing that I would like to add is that: I hope (and I will spare no effort to make sure) I am not going to relive again the nightmare of the communist regime! Only thinkig about it makes me shiver!