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I think we should really investigate the writers of these two new pieces of legislation. These people are a bigger threat for all our values than all the terrorists of the world. The only good answer to terrorism is to not surrender freedom.



The cynical view is that these people are simply using the attacks as a way to push through legislation that they wanted to push through regardless. Politicians like these are just opportunists and would use any hot button issue to get their way because they know that's the easiest way to railroad through their pet laws. It's easy to get people to vote against their own interest, all you need is fear.

There are many such tricks, another is to bring the important stuff up for vote in the last little bit before a session closes and to waste as much of the session prior to that by debating some inane point of some un-important issue at great length leaving insufficient time to debate the important stuff.

It's all tricks and psychology, reason has little to do with it.


>It’s true that many governments have been set up during such storms; but in those cases it was the governments themselves that destroyed the state. Usurpers always create or select times of disturbance and public fear to get destructive laws passed—laws that the people would never have adopted when they were thinking coolly. One of the surest ways of distinguishing a legislator’s work from a tyrant’s is through the question: When did he choose to act?

-Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract

http://www.earlymoderntexts.com/assets/pdfs/rousseau1762.pdf


The cynical view is that these people are simply using the attacks as a way to push through legislation that they wanted to push through regardless.

I agree. However, I believe the reason for this is more legislative laziness than anything else.

In the wake of a terrorist attack, the public demands that laws be changed to make them safer. The executive's law enforcement and intelligence agencies typically have a wish list that they repeatedly ask the legislature to enact, because it would make their jobs easier. The legislature, under tremendous pressure to do anything and fast, does not attempt to really analyze the legislation, but rather uses every parliamentary trick to rush it through.

The executive uses these expanded powers to check off national security goals it already had in mind (see e.g. the hundreds of arrests during the French state of emergency.)

The end result is threefold:

First the executive is emboldened to at least look like they're increasing security at home and abroad. At its worst, it either draws the nation into a war on territory chosen by the terrorists (see e.g. Afghanistan, the rock upon which the Soviet military machine shattered), or needless wars of choice which drain economic and military effectiveness (see e.g. Iraq)

Second, the country experiences an economic shock far out proportion to the actual attack, due to the fear of the populace, which directly and indirectly depresses multiple sectors of the economy.

Third, the country produces highly visible, although not necessarily highly effective, responses at the expense of sacrifice of civil liberties and personal convenience.

What's more is that terrorists count on this reaction.

They know that the costs of the response will vastly outweigh the actual damage of the attack.These particular non-state actors are deemed "terrorists" for a reason. Because their most powerful weapons are not airliners, or bombs, or assault rifles.

Their most powerful weapon is fear.

They use that fear to cause nations to make poor decisions, then exploit those decisions to advance their causes. The only solution which I can devise is simply not let fear arbitrate our decisions.

We must announce, as one voice, that we are no longer afraid.


"In the wake of a terrorist attack, the public demands that laws be changed to make them safer" = false. The public never said that. You can watch any public rally condemning any terrorist attack and you will never see: "we want more laws and tighter filters and controls everywhere and higher and more taxes spent on security and defense". That's what the government says that "the public wants". In reality most of the public just asks themselves why the authorities are so lazy and or incompetent to use the tools and the powers they already have and why so many terrorists were already known to the special services which so often "fail to recognize the danger or act". And I bet a lot of people start to ask themselves why these terrorists blame the UK, French and US governments and armies for invading their lands but they keep attacking UK, French and US civilians which, is obvious by now, are incapable of controlling their governments and armies at all. It's the governments and the armies who try to "destroy ISIS" not the civilians, wouldn't make sense for ISIS to attack governments instead of civilians ?


> The public never said that.

The "public" is not the people at rallies, not even what people in the street and cafes are saying, but the tally of the vote at the next election, and politicians act accordingly.

As you can see from the first round of the regional elections, the French "public" overwhelmingly voted for more.


"they act accordingly" by doing exactly what suits the power structure and their campaign sponsors best and the public never really wants.. what a convenient response.


Typically the kind of things that makes me thing democracy as it is is broken. It's a self-sustaining low-hanging-fruit race. I wish I knew how to tweak it back into sense.


The Kurds in Rojava have adopted Murray Bookchin's decentralised and democratic system of “libertarian municipalism” which prevents this kind of opportunistic authoritarianism. Hopefully Turkey's dictator doesn't destroy them and we can see what real democracy looks like.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/50102294-77fd-11e5-a95a-27d368e1dd...


How recent was this ? First time I hear that, I wish the medias weren't bubbling so hard in their bubble.



If your level of representation at national level is a single vote every few years, then the average adult is going to get perhaps 10-20 chances to express an opinion at that level in their entire lives. Western governments probably have more departments than that at any given time.

In any party political system, where your choices even when you do get to express an opinion are limited to perhaps half a dozen candidates and only 1-3 with any real chance of winning, the amount of real information you can convey to government about your preferences through voting in national elections is minuscule.

Consequently, as we see in practice, national elections are mostly dominated by a very small number of very high profile issues, and people vote for the candidate or party that most closely matches their views on their top priorities. One of these is almost always the economy. There might be another that is the political hot potato of the day, perhaps immigration or trade union relations or the fate of some popular public service.

On top of this, once a representative has been elected, in many cases they can then hold office for a full term regardless of their future actions, even if they deviate dramatically from what they said to get elected in the first place.

In this sense, our current forms of representative democracy typically are broken, because there is very little one can do as a citizen to express a nuanced view. Often you will get a choice of least-of-evils from your own perspective and that's it for another 4-6 years.

In order to overcome this, there are a few different things that I imagine would help, but they would all need fundamental changes to existing political systems.

Firstly, an elected representative could have reason to fear being unelected again if they lose the support of their electorate for too long. There is a balance to be found between protecting representatives who take decisions that are unpopular in the short term but genuinely in the long term interests of their electorate and forcing out a representative who says one thing before the election but then does another or takes an unexpected and unwelcome position on some particular issue after they've entered office. However, no politician would ever feel so safe in their position that they could do whatever they wanted without care for any consequences to their own career and influence for several more years.

Secondly, the electorate could have a mechanism to impose its will on specific issues in isolation. For example, if memory serves, a few places do have a binding referendum mechanism where the administration of the day cannot overrule the will of the people once confirmed by a referendum. Again this would presumably have to be used in moderation to be effective, but it would allow the people to express views on, say, environmental and energy policies, or the legalisation or otherwise of recreational drugs, or the legitimacy or otherwise of security measures that infringe on other freedoms. Perhaps the most valuable role of this kind of mechanism would be to highlight a subject that isn't quite a top priority in national elections, and thus to drive greater public awareness of the underlying issue and to promote associated debate.

Thirdly, a written constitution and a strong constitutional court could provide another way to mitigate opportunist or short-termist legislation that would other infringe on basic principles. Like the other two measures, this ultimately comes down to forcing an administration that wants to move the goalposts a long way to achieve and retain the positive support of a large proportion of the electorate on that specific issue for a significant period of time before the changes can become established in law. Of course, as we have seen in various countries, this can work well or not well depending on the effectiveness and independence of the constitutional court, so any such measures need adequate safeguards to ensure as much impartiality as possible.


The pyramidal structure annoy me very much. I don't want to align with someone on a big trendy issue. A nation is a system, with organs, I want problems to be assessed on each, fixes proposed, and then applied. And I fear that in reality, no amount of discussion may convey what they are thinking, what they will do and how it has a chance to solve problems.

It's all far too shallow and blurry. Hence the need to rally people on a fad argument, sad.

ps: on to reading the last half of your comment.


I'm gonna go on a limb here and say that ISIS is suspiciously the perfect enemy for our leaders. It just happens that ISIS attacks our enemy (Assad) and the more we "fight" it, the more powerful we get because we have reasons to increase the "defense" spending and the more they attack "us" (they never really attack the leaders personally), the longer we can stay in power (see Hollande's support ratings after attacks), we can pass sensible legislation, keep the internal dissent low and we never run the risk of a clear and complete defeat like it would happen with a real enemy like China or Russia. It's the best enemy you can get (so much better than USSR) no wonder the west supported it's creation and are quite annoyed when Russia wants to destroy them too. globalresearch.ca/newly-declassified-u-s-government-documents-the-west-supported-the-creation-of-isis/5451640


I'd say it really isn't. The region involved is already rife with conflict and IS is not without supporters who also happen to be our allies. If it were the 'perfect enemy' then no such conflicts of interest would exist.


> "In the wake of a terrorist attack, the public demands that laws be changed to make them safer" = false.

Well, that may be a subtle difference in interpretation but the general opinion is that we are 'unsafe' and that 'something should be done'.

Opposition parties in various countries have definitely used these attacks to create an impression that 'something could have been done' and that if they were in the driving seat 'something would have been done'. Incumbents are scared of losing voters due to being seen as 'doing nothing' and so will resort to doing 'something' just to stave off the inevitable (admitting that they don't know what to do, and neither does the opposition, mostly because there isn't a whole lot they can do to begin with that does not involve a change of course for the next 30 years and an admission that they royally messed up during the last 30 years).


The public don't ask for it, they don't know what tor is, they ask for it to never happen again, than the politics turn to the secret services and ask them what they want, no surprise here at their answer, the politics don't have to accept any of that, but the internet is quick to victimize itself.


> In the wake of a terrorist attack, the public demands that laws be changed to make them safer.

Ah, but therein lies a little problem: we probably can't be made safer and eventually this will become obvious to the general population as well. Terrorists have it super easy in soft bellied countries like the west. We have but two choices: change our societies drastically for the worse or accept the fact that complete safety and societies such as the ones that we live in are mutually incompatible.


Unfortunately, when this dos become obvious to the general public the rhetoric will change from "we need this to keep you safe" to "we need this to minimize the danger to you". You can already see the shift in the talk after the recent attacks as the governments are trying to get ahead of this curve.


That has a very high probability of being true.


We're definitely on the same page.

[W]e probably can't be made safer and eventually this will become obvious to the general population as well...

Exactly. How can you stop a few individuals from shooting up public spaces, especially in the United States? For that matter, how would you stop a pair of family members from carrying out attacks with homemade bombs?

We have but two choices: change our societies drastically for the worse or accept the fact that complete safety and societies such as the ones that we live in are mutually incompatible.

Agreed.

If we win this conflict, but sacrifice who we are in the process, then we are no better than those whom we fight.


The slightly less cynical view is that they know that the next time something happens they know that - if encryption is involved, they will be absolutely pilloried by the popular press, opposition etc. for "not doing everything that can be done".

It takes a certain determination to stand up to that kind of threat.


Whether encryption is or is not involved is immaterial, we already know that you can pull off attacks like these without it, so you may assume that it is also possible pulling off attacks like these with it. That law does nothing at all to prevent future attacks and the popular press being clueless isn't news either.


That's why we enshrine certain rights and protect them constitutionally. It doesn't seem to stop policy makers from attacking them though.


> The slightly less cynical view is that they know that the next time something happens they know that - if encryption is involved, they will be absolutely pilloried by the popular press, opposition etc. for "not doing everything that can be done".

And the slightly more cynical view is that they are using the attacks to push through legislation that they wanted for other reasons AND they're using a story of hypothetical public opinion after hypothetical future events to make themselves seem more sympathetic.

And this is also not this is "doing everything that can be done." The Paris attackers didn't even use encryption and the attacks were not prevented, so there's a lot more things that they'd need to do before banning Tor and open wifi would even make a difference. So they'd still open to criticism from the same angle; score one for cynicism.


> using the attacks as a way to push through legislation that they wanted

This practice is culturally independent and it is as old as human corruption. Egyptians and ancient Chinese and Romans were already experts.)


It's not really cynical so much as realistic. Do you really need more proof than "never let a crisis go to waste."


Instead of having the conspirationnist view maybe you could have the simplest one, that politics don't want another attack like that and asked the secret services what tool they would need and secret services being secret service they told them they wanted to be capable to tap everywhere. It is the role of the elected politics to be reasonable about that and say no to the stupid and impossible demands.


The more cynical view is that the government perpetrates the attack to provide the opportunity, ala 9/11 conspiracy theories.


I don't subscribe to that view. There is enough misery in the world that you can always find a suitable event without having to concoct your own. All it takes is the press to magnify an event out of proportion and voila: instant crisis.


Is the distinction between conspiracy and symbiosis really that significant?


That's food for thought. Gut feeling: yes, ability to articulate: none. So I could be wrong on that because I have no data to support it. At a minimum it implies a harder problem to do a roll-back (if conspiracy were detected a roll-back would be easier). So I do think there are differences that are significant.


If one believes in democratic change, then I suppose that yes, exposing the conspiracy would cause it to be eradicated. So in effect, characterizing something as a conspiracy is perhaps taking an easy way out. Less easy than the simplistic "us vs them" narrative, but a shortcut nonetheless.

I'm just sympathetic to the viewpoint because it feels as if it is at least coming from the right place, especially as the damage from the attack is purposely amplified by the government organ of mainstream media.


There absolutely is a mutually beneficial interchange between 'terrorists', 'the media' and 'authorities'. Each gets something out of the others existence and would have a much harder time getting their advantages without this assistance. That's also why this whole cycle is so hard to break.

For contrast: during war time there is a blanket ban on reporting 'bad news', successful attacks on ones own troops by the opponent because that is demoralizing or something to that effect. But if it really were demoralizing how come during peace time we amplify attacks way out of proportion? You'd expect that if the media being told to shut their traps would be to the advantage of those governing that this would be a fairly small thing to arrange. Instead we have the opposite, every instance of an individual event gets blown way out of proportion to push those buttons of powerful emotions.


There is enough evidence that, while not directly performing attacks, they have considered doing such and engage in behaviors that encourage such attacks. For example, look at the FBI radicalizing individuals and convince them to carry out attacks. Even though the FBI works to make the actual attack a fake, they have created a dangerous individual who may switch to carrying out an attack. And this isn't even considering the things the CIA has done. I see no reason why the US would be alone in these horrors.


That's entrapment, bad enough in and of itself but not the same as a conspiracy. Entrapment is a very dangerous strategy for many reasons.


No, that's the insane view.


Why? Pseudo-Operations are a thing: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_Flag#Pseudo-operations

>Similar false flag tactics were also employed during the Algerian civil war, starting in the middle of 1994. Death squads composed of Département du Renseignement et de la Sécurité (DRS) security forces disguised themselves as Islamist terrorists and committed false flag terror attacks.


God, I can't wait until you find out about Operation Gladio...

Conspiracy theories are comforting, in a way, because they project the belief that somebody is in control. The truth is far more terrifying: no one is in control.


Not sure what your point is? Are you saying what I quoted (or Operation Gladio for that matter) is just a conspiracy theory?


His point is that even though false flag operations are a thing there is no evidence that these are false flag operations. The simplest explanation is that what you're looking at is real, any conspiracy theory would require an enormous departure from the facts as we know them today.

The second part of his point is that by positing a conspiracy theory you are presenting a view that there is an overarching plan to all this, whereas the reality is more like a bunch of headless chickens trying to run in three directions at once.


I do not know if it is insane in general, but in the case of french political responsible, I would not bet on conspiracy theories: most of their acts seem to exhibit a complete lack of anticipation.


As is a lot of the proven things involving the FBI and CIA.


You don't say that terrorism is just a tool of totalitarian regimes cloaked as democratic states? That would be outrageous. ;]


"I'm telling you, the man and the dog are definitely working together".. but of course, "let us never tolerate outrageous conspiracy theories".




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