An Upward Spiral
by Beauchamp Art
When an individual or organisation goes against the “spiral of silence” [Hampton, 2013]; verbally or visually, the negative backlash can range from the trivial, to events like the recent Charlie Hebdo attacks; which may then be politically exploited to establish greater self-surveillance in the meaningless name of National Security. Such as David Cameron proposing; “Britain’s intelligence agencies should have the legal power to break into the encrypted communications of suspected terrorists to help prevent any Paris-style attacks,” which Nick Clegg observed the hypocritical irony of politicians who “defend freedom of expression and then […] advocate a huge encroachment on the freedom of all British citizens’” [Watt, et al. 2015]. Such a situation may reveal a hypocritical double standards of regimes berating terror, whilst simultaneously permitting it for its own cause.
The Panopticon demands a maximum flow of information from the Public, whilst releasing minimal data of its own workings, the ultimate oligarchy in the guise of democracy. Such Conservative-Libertarianism means (to paraphrase George Orwell’s Animal Farm) some are more free than others, and the balance of power is always shifted towards the established order. Questioning this threatens National Security; Freedom of Information Requests are acts of war. The Private Eye ‘blinks in the face of terror’. Moreover, as the US demands to retain EU travel data for longer than the currently permitted 10 years, a greater glut of blanket data retention is accumulated without justification. As in the case of Charlie Hebdo, the assailants were Parisian residents, so such information would have made no difference. [Watt, et al. 2015].
Individual man cannot ascertain omniscience, but through technological extension, it can be simulated. As is the basis of the Panpoticon, it is not necessary to observe everyone constantly, only to create a sense of paranoia to protect the status quo, and the steady flow of the” spiral of silence” make outspoken voices disappear into the void, as “those who think they hold minority opinions often self-censor, failing to speak out for fear of ostracism or ridicule.” [Hampton, 2013], as all information is seen to flow upward.
- Hampton, Keith. (2013). Social Media and the ‘Spiral of Silence’. Pew Research. [Online] <http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/08/26/social-media-and-the-spiral-of-silence/> Accessed 14.11.2014
- Watt, Nicholas; Mason, Rowena; Traynor, Ian (2015) David Cameron pledges anti-terror law for internet after Paris attacks. The Guardian [Online] <http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jan/12/david-cameron-pledges-anti-terror-law-internet-paris-attacks-nick-clegg> Accessed 13.1.2015