Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Surveillance in a Democracy

Any government, corporation or organisation is composed of a turnover of people. People are fallable. Some people ain't no good. Surveillance increases the power that these unseen individuals have over me by increasing my visibility. Visibility is a trap, said Foucault, despite the idea that those with nothing to hide have nothing to fear.

I act according to what I believe to be right. But I may be penalised for actions that another individual may believe to be wrong. Were I to criticise and ridicule the idea that there is an all powerful man in the sky prelonging patriarchal prejudices and inflaming opinions, there could be a majority without access to our education that would disagree and may act against me.

It is quite widely known that the German government had conducted a census after the First World War in order to aid the rebuilding and to help with welfare. It listed large amounts of Jews. When the political environment swung further right, the same lists were put to a horrible use.

Therefore, I disagree with extensive surveillance not because I do not think that I act rightly, but because I believe that there is a majority who still do not understand the difference between right and wrong, and I do not want to be at their ignorant mercy.

The Thames Festival

A huge amount of people watched the fireworks that marked the end of this year's Thames Festival. After photographing the parade, I got in place for the fireworks at a vantage point on Hungerford Bridge. Deciding that there was a better view from the stone balcony on the bridge, I went past a barrier and set up my tripod. To my dismay, I was moved by a constable of the Health and Safety brigade, keen to see that I would not choose this momentous occasion to leap into the chilly Thames, or be pushed in by the surging mass of a couple of cold individuals. With no possibility of setting up now, I turned my camera on those people watching the fireworks, who stood universally transfixed. With the fireworks outside of the frame, this otherwise empty space in London's heart now is scattered with silent watchers.