Friday, December 16, 2011

BIG Brother is watching YOU, but NOT them!


by Mark Steyn

What to do? Where to go? In 1785, the British philosopher Jeremy
Bentham began working on his famous "Pan-opticon"-a radial prison
in which a central "inspector" could see all the prisoners, but
they could never see him. In the computer age, we now have not
merely panopticon buildings, but panopticon societies, like
modern London, with its wall-to-wall CCTV cameras. Soon perhaps,
excepting a few redoubts such as Waziristan and the livelier
precincts of the Horn of Africa, we will have a panopticon

You remember how President Bush used to talk about illegal
immigration - about how we needed to help all those undocumented
people "living in the shadows"? Doesn't that sound kinda nice -
and restful? Living in the shadows, no government agencies
harassing you for taxes and numbers and paperwork. By comparison,
those of us in the blazing klieg lights of the nanny state are
shadowed everywhere we go: government numbers for this,
government cards for that, a life of barcodes and retinal scans,
the TSA Obergropinfuhrers at the airport.... You'd almost think
that, compared to the 15 or 30 or however many million fine
upstanding members of the Undocumented-American community are out
there, the 300 or so million in the overdocumented segment of the
population get a lousy deal. Incidentally, over half the illegal
population supposedly came to America after September 11, 2001.
That's to say, they broke into a country on Code Orange alert.
Odd that. Even under the panoptic surveillance of the "security
state," certain identity groups seem to be indulged by Big
Government. In California one notices that the same regulatory
leviathan that thinks nothing of sending in the heavies if a
hardware store is offering complimentary coffee to its customers
seems somewhat shyer of enforcing its bazillions of building
code/food prep/environmental/health and safety rules against ad
hoc mobile kitchens serving piping hot Mexican dishes up and down
the highway. Park your van, get out the plastic chairs, pull out
a tarp for a bit of shade, and start selling. All those county
kitchen inspectors and food-prep permit issuers? Not a problem.
Victor Davis Hanson, a tireless bicycler round the Golden State's
Central Valley, notices the ever proliferating slicks of fat and
lard emptied out on the road by such mobile restaurants, as do
the crows and squirrels who love lapping them up. In the
Panopticon State, the Shadowlands are thriving: a state that
presumes to tax and license Joe Schmoe for using the table in the
corner of his basement as a home office apparently doesn't spot
the half-dozen additional dwellings that sprout in Jose Schmoe's
yard out on the edge of town. Do-it-yourself wiring stretches
from bungalow to lean-to trailer to RV to rusting pick-up on
bricks, as five, six, eight, twelve different housing units pitch
up on one lot. The more Undocumented America secedes from the
hyperregulatory state, the more frenziedly Big Nanny documents
you and yours.

This multicultural squeamishness is most instructive. Illegal
immigrants are providing a model for survival in an impoverished
statist America, and on the whole the state is happy to let them
do so. In Undocumented America, the buildings have no building
codes, the sales have no sales tax, your identity card gives no
clue as to your real identity. In the years ahead, for many poor
Overdocumented-Americans, living in the Shadowlands will offer if
not the prospect of escape then at least temporary relief. As
America loses its technological edge and the present Chinese
cyber-probing gets disseminated to the Wikileaks types, the blips
on the computer screen representing your checking and savings
accounts will become more vulnerable. After yet another brutal
attack, your local branch never reconnects to head office; it
brings up from the vault the old First National Bank of
Deadsville shingle and starts issuing fewer cards and more
checkbooks. And then fewer checkbooks and more cash. In small

The planet is dividing into two extremes: an advanced world -
Europe, North America, Australia - in which privacy is vanishing
and the state will soon be able to monitor you every second of
the day; and a reprimitivizing world - Somalia, the Pakistani
tribal lands - where no one has a clue what's going on.
Undocumented America is giving us a lesson in how Waziristan and
CCTV London can inhabit the same real estate, like overlapping
area codes. There will be many takers for that in the years
ahead. As Documented America fails, poor whites, poor blacks, and
many others will find it easier to assimilate with Undocumented
America, and retreat into the shadows. It will not merely be
states and sub-state jurisdictions that secede, but individuals,

1 comment:

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