Wednesday, December 08, 2004

The great awakening

(Oops. This turned into a rant...)

The Reg reports on a survey from think tank "Reform" that "claims 81 per cent of the British public favour the introduction of compulsory ID cards, with 29 per cent thinking it would be a very good idea, and 52 per cent a good idea." More detailed stats in the article, or possibly in the survey itself, although the site seems inaccessible at the moment.

The Reg puts this imbalance down, mainly, to an uninformed public - a feasible attribution, IMHO (and plausibly a result of a "marketing-led society" in which quantity counts while facts are discarded). Much of it also ties in with the fact that for many, politics just isn't an interest. Unfortunately, as has been proved over the last few years, electorate apathy does lead to things the electorate really don't want, which is all the more reason to think that when the government quote statistics such as these, what they actually mean is "80% of people really don't care, so we're going to do it".

This is the problem we face - our supposed democracy is based on numbers, but the numbers we're using just don't add up, or justify the system. As we keep seeing, in order to influence the system, we must influence the numbers - a nigh-on impossible task when the biggest broadcast systems are mostly out-of-reach except for established media and political channels. Even more difficult when the numbers cited by those behind plans can pick and choose poll results selectively. Why? Again, because no-one really cares.

Admittedly, that's not the end of the story. There's always influence from the minority, for instance. But what's broken is the justification loop - the feedback from those making the final decisions to those who are interested enough to find out the relevant information. In other words, the Government is actively discouraging the people it should be seeking to encourage, by pushing stats obtained from the apathetic onto the interested, in order to avoid real discussion and real participation. It's no wonder that people have lost interest when all they get if they do become interested is one big shake of the head.

Be prepared. Some day the population may wake up to what our Government are doing, under the guise of "their backing". It's not enough to march for a day, banging drums once something's gone away from your liking and out of your control - we need daily active participation, and a way to make the decisions for the future to be relevant today. Until then, the Government can pretty much stomp whatever legislation they want all over us, including - alas - a nationwide tracking system. And all those with "nothing to hide, nothing to fear" will wonder what the hell they were doing.

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