Thursday, 6 November 2008

Government's Power Grab (part n)

They're at it again: preparing the ground, building a consensus among themselves, establishing their opponents as simply illegitimate and continuing the process of trying to bring the blogosphere under control.

The modern totalitarians are very effective indeed. They know how to work things.

Firstly you need, definably, to be on the side that is understood by those who matter (government, academia, liberal media) to be the compassionate one. It helps if you can point to a list of laws you've introduced on behalf of special interest groups. It also helps if you can have "science" on your side - especially social studies carried out by people with definite ideologies.

Then you pathologise your opponents, slowly but clearly. You begin with accusing them of being "x-phobic", and when this is mainstreamed, you start on the idea of "offensiveness" and "ignorance" (which merely means "dissent" when used in this context). You discuss the need for "dialogue" (which means the government talking and everyone else listening), and you look sternly upon those who are "unhelpful". Laws are brought in citing some of these words. During this process minor court cases, arrests, fines and stories in the tabloids steadily demonstrate that these words actually do have criminal impact and are enough to have the police interested in you. So, gently, you spread a little fear while denouncing all these stories as myths.

Your opponents being successfully pathologised, it follows that they will need to be controlled in order to promote healthy dialogue and positive contributions. There will be an urgent need to prevent the abuse of science and the spread of ignorance.

You will begin very softly, with a quality mark for the good blogs. You will, however, be building a national firewall and a national electronic database during this time. You will send in your trolls to the political blogs. You will maintain the discussions in Europe about the dangers of untrammelled offensiveness online. Eventually you will discover an incidence or two of racism or some other offensiveness on a blog or two, and this will serve as a pretext for closing down websites.

Finally, because of the huge public outcry in the Guardian and on the BBC following these incidents, laws will be introduced and a Council or a Commission will be created, to which all blog-writers will need to apply. This council will consist of government supporters and one or two pro-government bloggers. Applications for rightish blogs will mysteriously fail to be successful.

This will continue regardless of whether this government stays in power or not: for the other Party will be too afraid to close the Commission down, for fear of being painted as pro-racist or pro-whateverotheroffensivenessmattersatthattime.

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