Mass surveillance, what everyone was led to believe was a measure by states to counter the threat of terrorism, was in fact a plan long in the making. The purpose of mass technologically sophisticated surveillance was never about terrorism or about stopping terrorists in their tracts. In the United States alone mass surveillance has led to the requirement of over 80,000 ethnically profiled people to register with the state for reasons of ‘national security,’ more than 8,000 people have been interviewed by the FBI, and some 5,000 people have been imprisoned. Yet not one single terrorist has been positively identified by any of this surveillance.
Full spectrum surveillance of whole populations, ranging from on street closed circuit cameras, to wholesale spying on emails and online activity, to the developments of smart devices for listening into conversations in people’s homes has become the norm. Using the flimsy excuse of a state of emergency the most significant fact of modern life is that governments and government agencies are spying on everything we do and say. Given this programme’s complete lack of success at catching terror suspects it must be assumed that its continuation has another purpose.
Of course it has another purpose. Leaks from a growing number of whistle-blowers has made it more than obvious that all this surveillance was never about terrorism, and that it only ever had one purpose; to keep a very close eye on the most dangerous people in the world, us. Surveillance, and especially the knowledge of being surveilled, has the proven ability to pacify individuals. It follows then that mass surveillance has been engineered to pacify whole populations, and the available evidence is that this process is working. States are now in the business of creating docile populations, and we are all the victims.
The modern state has long since moved away from the idea of true democracy because the will of the people is seldom in the best interests of profit and big business. Mega corporations have become the real hub of global power, and neoliberal states have been effectively reduced to the role of store security. Governments have one overriding function in the new order of things, and that it to control the mounting frustrations of people as they are being shaped into docile and obedient consumers. Surveillance, as has been learned from the prison system, has become one of the most effective means of control, forming prisoners and consumers into reproductions of the system who begin even to surveil themselves.