Galopando camino a la servidumbre colectivista
Reproduzco aquí artículo publicado en The Times, que ilustra cómo nuestras sociedades, en este caso la británica, están galopando en dirección a la servidumbre colectivista. Particularmente alarmante es que cada vez nos parecemos más a lo vaticinado por Orwell en su novela distópica 1984. Algunos comentarios míos, resaltados en azul, entre el texto del artículo.
A gallop down the road to serfdom
ID cards and smoking bans are only the tip of British servitudeI HAVE LIVED under a Latin American military dictatorship where daily life was freer than in Britain today. Of course, you couldn’t go out into the street and shout “Down with Señor Presidente”, at least not without dire consequences; on the other hand, you were considerably less surveyed, supervised and harried as you went about your business than you are in contemporary Britain.
The average Briton, we are told, is filmed 300 times a day once he steps out of his door. [JRM: Yes, since many years ago Britain has implemented this great Panopticon, as is usual, with the excuse that it serves the public by making them safer (this, at the same time that citizens are forbidden to carry firearms to defend themlseves from aggression)] His home is hardly his castle, either. If he doesn’t have a television he receives repeated menaces from the licensing authority, which may send an officer to inspect his house. And the form granting him the inestimable democratic right to vote comes with the threat of a £1,000 fine if he doesn’t fill it (and he’ll go to prison if he doesn’t pay the fine). [JRM: Fellow Panamanians, does this ring any bells?]
Numerous officials have the right of entry, and his most private affairs are increasingly of interest to the tax authorities, who have de facto, though not de jure, dictatorial powers. When, as rarely happens, a Chancellor of the Exchequer reduces a tax, he is said by almost every commentator to be giving money away, which implies that we all accept, like the good slaves that we are, that the economy belongs to the Government, and the fullness thereof.
If the citizen should drive, he soon discovers that his vehicle confers anxiety rather than freedom. Slight infringements of the driving rules are photographed and he is fined. When he parks he soon discovers that wheel-clamping is the one public service that works with clockwork efficiency. Squeezing money from him is likewise the one task that the State takes seriously, for he cannot rely on the police to protect him, or the schools to educate his children, or the hospitals to succour him when he is ill, or public transport to take him anywhere without hitch. A bloated payroll does not translate into efficient services: on the contrary, it is incompatible with them.
The State is increasingly concerning itself with the individual’s private habits, instituting a reign of virtue, chief among which is healthiness (we are approaching the situation of Samuel Butler’s satire, Erewhon, a country where illness is a crime). Though not a single smoker is unaware of the dangers of smoking, and hasn’t been for 30 years or more, he is now to be prevented from smoking in public, even when he is among other smokers only. [JRM: Your health is your business no more. It's the State's]
The pettiness of this official persecution of smokers (who are not prevented from paying a lot of tax) can hardly be exaggerated. The hospital in which I used to work instituted a no-smoking policy, so that smokers had to leave the building to smoke. To do this, one orthopaedic patient needed a wheelchair, but to hire a wheelchair he had to pay a £60 deposit, which he did not have. He grew so angry that he needed sedation.Increasingly the citizen is asked to denounce his neighbour, for example if his neighbour is cheating social security. [JRM: This is what Orwell foresaw. In his dystopia of Collectivism 1984, people were constantly bombarded with the message that to denounce their neighbours for any fault was good. In fact, children were encouraged to vigilate their parents and denounce any minor deviation from usual conduct or official dogma. I have been saying for long that what he described in that novel has been in place for years in our societies] (Cheating it is the only rational response to so preposterous, impersonal and inhumane a system.) This official invitation to atomise society further by sowing mistrust among the population has not yet been entirely successful; but posters such as the one I saw last weekend in a bookshop — “Racism is a crime. Report it!” — engender a vague but nevertheless all-pervasive anxiety. After all, racism is a vague term, open to many interpretations, and there is an increasing tendency to treat complainants as if their complaints were self-justifying: you have been badly treated if you think you have been badly treated. Far from being a generous and compassionate principle, this attention to, or even encouragement of, complaint confers immense and often arbitrary powers on officialdom. It is not liberating, it is infantilising.
In many NHS trusts, bullying is defined as behaviour that causes a person to feel bullied. No objective evidence whatever is necessary, and the resolution of any complaint is at the discretion of bureaucrats, who thus assume Kafkaesque powers. More and more of us live in an atmosphere of vague and unseen surveillance that might at any moment explode into unanswerable accusation.
We also live in a propaganda state. No one believes what a government official says any longer because he is assumed to be a liar, ex officio as it were, even when he is telling the truth. We assume that all official information is self-exculpating, self-congratulating or self-glorifying in intent, that all official speech is therefore spin or political advertising. Those of us who work in the NHS — not a small number — receive expensively produced glossy publications from our employers, full of photographs of happy, smiling workers meeting happy, smiling customers, at the very same time as drastic cuts must be implemented to meet burgeoning debts and there are patients in casualty who have been waiting for hours for admission. One is reminded of the Stalinist images of flaxen-haired peasant maidens serving at banquet tables groaning with food of every description that were disseminated to the world in the midst of one of the most severe famines in history.
Let them eat lies! In this context, the proposal that we should, at all times, carry identity cards containing a great deal of personal information is particularly sinister. We all know that a suicide bomber is not going to be put off by the mere possession of a biometric ID card, and that the only thing that will deter muggers is efficient policing. Are victims of mugging going to be able henceforth to demand muggers’ identity cards before handing over their cash at knifepoint?
But the requirement that we should carry such cards will no doubt give the police another target to aim at: 20 non-carriers a week, for example, producing £1,000 in fines. After all, the immense outlay on producing the cards and the interest on the resulting debt will have to be paid for somehow. You know it makes sense.
In the meantime, Britons always, always will be slaves.
Theodore Dalrymple is a doctorBurocracia, Colectivismo, Europa, Libertad individual, Panopticon, Socialismo
This entry was posted on February 16, 2006 at 6:34 pm and is filed under Burocracia, Colectivismo, Europa, Libertad individual, Panopticon, Socialismo. You can subscribe via RSS 2.0 feed to this post's comments. You can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.