How They Take Away Your Freedom

It’s funny – I wanted to write a blog post about creativity & freedom, and then the surveillance scandal leaked through. Rather than ranting about it, I want to show you the importance of (creative) freedom and how easily it can, and WILL be taken away from you.

Let me make this claim :

Freedom is essential for creativity.

In order to create anything innovative, you must have the opportunity to express yourself
freely in every way. You must be permitted to form unpopular views, be wrong, and swim against the stream.
If you don’t have that ability, you will never create something new.

And with freedom, it’s a black and white issue. You can’t have just a little bit of freedom.
You either have food or poison. A food with a little bit of poison is still poison, and it will sicken you, and eventually lead to your demise. Game over, baby.

As soon as your government limits your freedom of privacy, it’s turning against you.
The idea of spying on your people in the name of security is the first step to oppression,
paving the way to a society of dystopian state control.

I cringe at that thought because I know this path all too well – looking back at my parents who fled from East Germany because of government oppression.

Quick reminder :
When Germany lost WWII and the Allies split the country in territories, the shit hit the fan.
The Sowjet-controlled east part of Germany quickly turned into a police state with a government
enslaving its citizens, all in the name of security.

Spying on its people, monitoring every action, claiming :
“Everything we do is for your own good,”
Turns out it wasn’t.

What happened :
Establishing laws that limited your liberty, forcing you to follow their ideas.
And when people were fed up and escaped in masses ?
Build a wall, keep everyone imprisoned and shoot anyone who tries to flee.

It didn’t happen in one day, it took years.

And it started with surveillance :

“If you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about.”

That’s bullshit with capital B.
Why ? Because it’s vague wording open to endless contortion.

What exactly is ‘doing wrong’ in the government’s point of view ?

We think of grave actions like stealing, rape or murder. But any seemingly harmless
action can be deemed as crime by the officials.

Just a few examples :

Chewing bubble gum is illegal in Singapore, because of the way some people dispose of.
So, if you get caught chewing gum, you’ll get tagged as a criminal.
You either pay a fine or go to prison.

Selling traditional light bulbs in the European Union is considered a crime.
Why ? Because the officials in Brussel claim it’s not eco-friendly, and must therefore be taken care of.
They force countries to comply, whether they agree or not.
I can’t wait for the headlines : Criminal sentenced to prison for selling light bulbs !

What about freedom of speech ?
Is it considered a crime to criticize your government ? Expressing your critical views openly ?
In countries like China, it is a crime.
It’s considered an act against state security.
A potential “threat” that must be taken care of.
The result ? Prison or worse.

“If you aren’t doing anything wrong, you have nothing to fear!” therefore doesn’t apply.

When people can get imprisoned in Europe and Asia for selling light bulbs and chewing bubblegum, it’s fair to say that anything, literally ANYTHING can be considered a crime in the eyes of the government.

Hence, the minute you’re under government surveillance you’re guilty unless proven innocent.
Criticize the government in a mail ? Guilty. Supporting a country that your government dislikes ? Guilty.
Talking about chewing gum in Singapore and selling light bulbs in Europe ? Guilty, guilty, guilty.

It will happen step by step, one restriction at a time. Light bulbs, chewing gum come first. And then ?
Restrictions to buy this, restrictions to say that.

Before you know it, you get forced to walk down a path that leads to slavery.

And a world without freedom is a world without art.

It’s happening in Asia. It’s happening in the EU. It’s happening in the US.
And only by raising attention and doing your art without compromise will you fight for your freedom.

Like I said, with freedom it’s a black and white issue. It’s precious and it’s essential for creativity.

A nation without freedom like Russia or China doesn’t innovate, because you need
creativity to innovate, and creativity stems from freedom.

The freedom to do what you want, whenever and wherever you want to do it,
as long as you’re not harming someone else.

D*uh.

Share this message if you want it to spread.

  • http://digitalwheelie.com/ Ted Kusio

    Good stuff, Mars. Thanks for this.

    One other elements that scares me is that innocent people will be charged with crimes due to misunderstandings. “If he does that again I’m going to kill him” or “Let’s drop the bomb!” could now be read as real threats instead of an abused woman’s anger or a DJ’s promise to kick some wicked beats.

    Worst of all, it could happen to the same people who are ignoring this because they’re “not doing anything wrong.”

    • http://www.marsdorian.com/ Mars Dorian

      Yeah, because under surveillance, everyone is really guilty until proven innocent. Every tiny bit of ambiguous text and opinion can be misinterpreted as criminal activity, that comes with the territory. I hope we don’t approach that dreaded dystopian model that’s so prevalent in sci-fi fiction ;(

      • http://digitalwheelie.com/ Ted Kusio

        The anarchistic part of me wants to suggest “SEND NOTHING BUT ‘DANGEROUS’ TWEETS, EMAILS, MESSAGES AND LET’S CLOG THE SYSTEM!” but with all the cat photos on the web, that’s damn hard to have happen. HA!

  • Simon

    Your title makes perfect sense, but your choices of examples over simplify things greatly.

    In East Germany/USSR creativity was still there. It just always had an extra political aspect. This did not mean the creativity was below par – look at these buildings for example http://io9.com/5960467/the-strangest-monuments-of-the-communist-era-that-are-still-standing?utm_campaign=socialflow_io9_twitter&utm_source=io9_twitter&utm_medium=socialflow

    Then when it comes to lightbulbs – your are complying to use an eco-type of filament – you can still design funky lightbulbs & lampshades (if that is your thing) & if you do decide to sell the old bulb, you won’t be put into prison. You will just find it really hard to sell old light bulbs as they become economically unaffordable within a few years.

    Look at it this way, culture (or new inventions/designs) has always ‘banned’ out-dated tools – VCRs being a perfect example because they just didn’t do the job, compared to the ‘new cool & hip’ DVDs.
    You are just a bit annoyed that in this instance it was government that started the ‘ban’ on an old-fashioned tool; thus pushing the economy, then culture to move as well.

    Just like smoking.

    Additionally, stating Russia and China have no creativity, is like stating they have no culture. China may be communist based – but no culture, really!?

    If you wanted to really make a point, why not talk about 1984, or the film Brazil (which still had moments of dastardly creative pluming) Alternatively in the real modern world why not talk about businesses stronghold on copyright. If everything is a remix http://vimeo.com/14912890 then surly it is the copyright laws they push government to make that stop creativity within the 21st century.

    I’m going to stop there, before I write a blog.

    • http://www.marsdorian.com/ Mars Dorian

      Thanks for your comment, I appreciate the time you took writing it.

      Innovation in the East was non-existant compared to the West – that’s why it went down financially and socially. Sure, they had creativity in the beginning because Russia took all the resources and caused the GDR to make much out of nothing, but the more laws and restrictions they imposed on people, the less creative they became because people were afraid of failing and offending (two important ingredients to innovation / creativity ).

      That’s why in the end of their reign, 1985-1989, everything died down and lead to the collapse, because society wasn’t working anymore. Heck, they didn’t even had bananas or real cars. While the West of Germany (with the support of America ) made the country the third most powerful economic power in the world (at that time), the East was leading its people into famine and oppression, with no worthy invention to speak of.

      I also disagree with your culture example on out-dated tools.

      It’s a BIG difference between technologies losing appeal and getting obsolete (hence sinking the demand), or rules forbidding you to sell them in the first place.

      You can legally still sell VCRs, whether people buy them is another question.

      But at least you have the freedom to do it. With light bulbs in the EU, you don’t even have the right to sell them, they deprive you of the freedom.

      It’s not about supply & demand, it’s about the principle of free choice.

  • Kristine Allcroft

    Thank you so much for posting this! Sometimes I feel like everyone here is just asleep. I’m glad to hear you’re awake and helping other folks to wake up too!

  • http://www.lauryndoll.com/ Lauryn Doll

    Powerful message. Because it’s so small and subtle… we won’t notice it… and then when false flags are thrown in our direction, we’re taught to beg and crave this new mental… financial…soon federal slavery.

    • http://www.marsdorian.com/ Mars Dorian

      Yep, although I hope it will never happen in the Western world.
      The internet allowing us to build our own systems and careers is a good counter-movement, even though it makes us more transparent.

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