Government just law and order, freedom, and liberty.
Government surveillance is an issue everyone should be aware and suspicious of. The topic is portrayed to the public as an effective tactic to ensure that the country and the citizens residing in it are safe and secure. Though this may be true, the downsides are not touched on, and government officials such as James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence have been caught lying on camera about the programs put in place, with little to no backlash at all. Though it may seem like an isolated issue, nationwide surveillance is a part of a broad recurring strategy that has been around for centuries. The issue derives from the deceitful tactics governments have used to gain control over their country by hiding controversial policies, laws, and regulations behind foreign and domestic threats that supposedly attack its people, their way of life and the country itself. Allowing this to happen can lead to things quickly getting out of hand, so it must be watched and if necessary stopped to maintain just law and order, freedom, and liberty. Through the examination and contextualization of Nazi Germany, Communist Russia and the French Revolution, the damage that can be caused through the peoples blind trust in the government has been made evident. While these matters have proven to be hard to solve, and dangerous to dissolve, preemptive measures are the best way to stop deceit such as this from taking place. For simple guidance these are three questions every person should ask themselves often on different subjects to make sure they are aware of the situation; Are the solutions proposed taking away the rights of the countries citizens? Are the policies put in place actually solving the issue? And who are these laws helping?The most important question to be asked since it allows one to clearly see if a political body such as a party or the government is doing something wrong is; are they removing people of their rights and freedoms to solve the issue at hand? This is often viewed as a necessary evil, and there is merit to that way of thinking. Change can occur faster if the government is able to disregard certain limitations democratic states create and are able to solely focus on solving a singular problem. The problem is that whoever the leader and new holder of this absolute power is must use it only for the purpose that it was intended for, and that is a very large risk to take for change. The rise of Nazism and Hitler’s ascension to power is a prime historical example of how the promise of improvement can go terribly wrong when the trust of the nations people are put in the wrong hands. Following the surrender of the German military forces on November 11th and an official Armistice to end the conflict on the Western Front in World War One later that morning, Germany was a crippled country. The implementation of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 weakened the country, it’s economy, its people and their morale through ridiculous demands placed on the government. Forced to pay back the debt allied countries gained during the war, it limited Germany’s ability to get back up on its feet. This could be described as a hotbed for a racist ideology such as Nazism to thrive and a perfect storm for a dictator like Adolf Hitler to rise. Through his manipulative tactics and intelligent use of the public’s fears and frustrations, Adolf Hitler presented appealing ways to solve various problems the country was facing all the while stripping it’s people of their rights. Once Hitler became chancellor of Germany, the National Socialist German Workers Party worked on solving the communist revolution they insisted was close to taking place. As Joseph Goebbels, the newly appointed leader of the Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, either hinted at or predicted in his diary, he commented “In a conference with the Fuhrer we lay down the line for the fight against the Red Terror…The Bolshevik attempt at revolution must first burst into flame” (pg 266). With little evidence of any real threat coming from the communist parties located in Germany and the public not fully convinced, the Nazi leaders set up their own communist declaration of war by lighting the Reichstag, a prominent political building in German history, on fire. The blame was easily thrown on a socialist arsonist named Marinus Van Der Lubbe who conveniently bragged about wanting to burn down the German seat of Parliament. The N.S.G.W.P. was then able to use this attack on the country to put forward the Reichstag Fire Decree, which stripped numerous civil liberties from the German people all under the context of protection and safety. This gave Hitler and the Sturmabteilung “Storm Detachment” soldiers free reign to suppress any conflicting political beliefs people may or may not have, without any legal repercussions, this was “the first experience Germans had had, with Nazi terror backed up by the government” (270-271). Next, after months of giving speeches on the crippling Treaty of Versailles and how business and trade would prosper under Nazi Party control, Hitler dissolved all trade unions. On May 2nd, on a day ironically meant to celebrate the workers of Germany and their economic rights, they were in fact being stripped from the citizens out in the streets. This tactic to seize control of the economy was much more blatant than the well planned staging of a communist revolution, but it did the job. Hitler and his party now had the ability to control exports and imports, allow businesses to flourish if the owners donated to the party or ruin them if they didn’t. Through a whole campaign to convince the country that the economy would succeed under Nazi rule, the ones who benefitted weren’t the labourers and hard workers of the middle and lower class, but the politicians and the Chancellor himself. Finally the Untermensch or Subhuman in english, were groups of racial, sexual, and religious minorities who were slandered, attacked and nearly eradicated in the name of purification and a better German nation. Growing in power, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi movement turned more towards painting these minorities as the cause of the German people’s problems through speeches and a constant stream of propaganda led by Joseph Goebbels. As Hitler stated in his “autobiography” Mein Kampf, “All great cultures of the past perished only because the originally creative race died out from blood poisoning”. Hitler attacked african americans, homosexuals, and predominantly the Jewish population. The removal of these peoples rights were not immediate, but his speeches and book laid the groundwork for a racist ideology to sprout in the minds of the German citizens. There were boycotts of all Jewish businesses, next slums were created to house Jewish families with awful living conditions, and through the use of mass labour concentration camps, Jewish families were executed on a scale unseen of before. Through convincing solutions to seemingly pressing problems such as the threat of a communist revolution, the failing economy, and impurity in the gene pool, Hitler took away most and for some, all, of their personal and economic freedoms to create a powerful, dominant, and ruthless totalitarian dictatorship.Secondly, there’s a chance that the plan proposed, that is taking away the rights and freedoms of a country’s citizens, won’t solve the issue. This can be caused by a lack of focus on the specific problem, or blatant disregard for what the original motive was. This can be seen in Russia during the early 20th Century, where the power a Communist Dictatorship had over the country was abused. The origin of the communism in Russia was in large part because of the terribly run military campaign in World War One led by the monarchy. Poor planning, outdated tactics and underprepared soldiers led to the slaughter of thousands of Russian troops. which led to revolt against commanding officers on the front lines, and finally the toppling of the imperial government and the Romanov Dynasty. What made socialism such an appealing political system to the Russian people was that like many industrialized societies, the working class made up a large percentage of the population. This meant that the writings of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels resonated with a large amount of people and generations of labourers. The Bolshevik movement, through the Russian Revolution and Russian Civil War drew from the suffering of proletariat of Russia and convinced them that the philosophy proposed by Marx was the answer to their problems, that “they were slaves of the bourgeois class and of the bourgeois state; they were daily and hourly enslaved by the machine, by the overlooker, and, above all, by the individual bourgeois manufacturer” (30). That equality, the destruction of the upper class and the acceptance of collectivism would create a striving utopia for all to enjoy. These proposed and implemented solutions did not work the way they were promised, for the strict rule of Joseph Stalin curtailed the solutions for his own parties gain, not for the ones suffering. Equality and how to obtain it wasn’t specifically addressed in the writings of Karl Marx, but the injustices and inequalities that capitalism created in nations were. This led to socialist politicians such as Vladimir Lenin having to propose their own solutions to the inequalities the labourers face, without clear guidance from the most well respected communists out there, Marx and Engels. Lenin with the creation of the Leninist movement led extreme political reform in the country, mostly improving the lower classes conditions and quality of life. He attempted to solve inequalities such as the exploitation of the working class and the lack of rights and options for Russian women who wanted to make a living. Many people benefited from the policy change but the redistribution of private property created new forms of injustice. Factory and business owners lost their homes and the source of income they were completely dependant on to make living. Secondly, the class struggle was always a major issue in Marxist theory and philosophy and both Lenin and Stalin attempted solving it. To help justify the unfair treatment the middle and upper class had been subjected to, both communist leaders drew on the victimhood mentality of the slavic people. Painting oneself as a victim allows for a diversion of responsibility and a desire to be compensated through any means necessary. This is what Lenin and Stalin drew on and utilized to strip the upper class or bourgeois of their means of production as well as their homes, which forced them to obtain lower paying jobs given to them by the state, as long as the state didn’t execute them, which was common during Lenin’s Red Terror and Stalin’s Great Purge. The removal of upper class citizens who owned land, employed workers, and ran various institutions in the community meant they had to be replaced. This led to the creation of a new, but similar upper class, known as the Nomenklatura. Instead of being run independently, all members of the Nomenklatur were employed by the state, which only created another class struggle but in the name of Communism. What someone must ask themselves is “are these solutions solving the issue?” If not, then there is a justifiable reason to be concerned, especially when people’s rights are beings restricted for the purpose of coming to the pointless solution.The last question to be answered is “Who is truly benefitting from these movements, policies, and laws?” because when a government gets too much power and control in its hands as seen in the French Revolution as well as Nazi Germany and Communist Russia, the people at the top tend to make life better for themselves, not others. In the beginning of the movement, the French Revolution was an attempt at a better country for all, with the removal of the death penalty, redistribution of power giving more influence to the people living in poverty, and a better third estate all were objectives put forward in parliament. Though that was the original motive, time brings change for better or worse and ideals were lost and the Jacobins, Robespierre and the Committee of Public Safety created a complete oligarchy that was only out to maintain power. Through increased political violence and the destruction of the monarchy due to the beheading of King Louis XVI, a tyrant by the name of Robespierre came into power who still preached for equality, liberty, and fraternity but enforced harsh punishments and only took power for himself. He created a climate of fear in France and brought them into what is now known as The Reign of Terror. This same situation can be seen in Nazi Germany, where Adolf Hitler created a movement to improve the lives of the everyday German, but what was created was an authoritarian government that lied, scapegoated and murdered their way to get into power. The German economy appeared to be recovering, an illusion created through the Mefo Bill which helped German industry grow in secrecy from other countries until it crashed, and the removal of Jewish business owners which helped increased jobs for “Germans”. The Nazi Government’s tight grip on the economy sometimes helped people, but it also completely ruined others and it was not in the name of public interest. The Communist Movement in Russia was promised to help the proletariat. After decades of oppression the people were looking for change, to improve their lives in whatever way possible. Though the socialist party led by Lenin and later followed by Stalin spoke of their plans to help the common folk, what the party strived for was complete control over the nation, its institutions, its media, and its people. Allowing for the elimination of the state’s enemies to reduce any form of opposition and millions of innocent people as well. These authoritarian governments all spoke of the peasant, the worker, the lower class serf, and gave them promises of an improved life under their rule. The problem is when the government has complete rule, they can say one thing and do another without any form of repercussion and consequence.Creating a plan to effectively solve the issue of government deceit is an impossible challenge, but looking back at key moments in history allows for more awareness and insight for the people of today. Though Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia and the French Revolution might seem like extreme examples, the underlying themes are ever apparent in the growing issue of government surveillance, and the questions outlined for each time period are applicable to this topic as well. National security and terrorism is normally the reason given as to why government surveillance is necessary. That the information available through META data collecting and analysing software such as PRISM will help defend countries from inner and outer threats, but the effectiveness of these programs is unclear. As stated by former NSA worker Edward Snowden, “when you cast the net too wide, when you’re collecting everything, you understand nothing”.Not only that, allowing the government that much free reign is putting a lot of power into the hands of an institution that can go unchecked, and it’s taking away the privacy of millions of americans in the process. It’s impossible to see who benefits from this, especially when it’s a current event with very little neutral research done on the subject. Nonetheless these questions are made as a simple reminder, a way of putting a situation into a different perspective which is always constructive thing in a time of opinion pieces and biased news sources. There’s a likely chance that government surveillance is truly meant to be a force for good, but that doesn’t mean it should be blindly trusted as so many people allow it to be. Nothing should go uncontested since it leads to no constructive change, and in the case where it isn’t meant to be a force for good, it would be an even greater duty to the people of the country to point out the underlying problems a policy such as this has.