Thursday, March 14, 2013

Me, myself, and Thomas de Maiziere

For many people a book they have read in their youth, becomes their guiding light in life. For some it is religious writings, for some it is Atlas Shrugged, for people like Paul Ryan it is a incompatable combination of both the atheistic writings of Rand, which favor a voracious Capitalism and the story about Jesus, who wanted to bring a socialist utopia down to earth (creating nourishment out of thin air and then just giving it away kinda goes against Rand). I think de Maiziere and I loved the same book: Orwell's excellent Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Of course there is a difference between me and our current Defense Minister and former Minister of the Interior in Germany in the perception of the book. He seems to think that the true hero is Ampleforth - the intellectual at Minitrue, who understood the principles of newspeak all too well.

In the ironically named book "Damit der Staat den Menschen dient. Über Macht und Regieren." "That the state serves man.[..]" aka "freedom is slavery" he described how a failure to apply newspeak can lead to the unintended consequence of people thinking - leading to opposition to a law which would have made state surveillance over every person at any time possible. The people at (probably the only ones who read the thing) showed a quote of de Maiziere that just had me think of Ampleforth freely describing the concept of newspeak:

Dabei freilich kann man mal wieder lernen, welche Wirkung Begrifflichkeiten haben können. Beim Wort »Vorratsdatenspeicherung« wird bei vielen der Eindruck erweckt, der Staat wolle auf Vorrat alles speichern.
Here one can again learn about the effects of  terms. The word "Vorratsdatenspeicherung(VDS)" leads to many people thinking that the state wants to save and store [your internet connection data, mobile phone connections].
 See it is just a failure to apply newspeak. If they had only chosen a different word the perception would have been all different.

He then goes on to explain that VDS is the wrong word since the state just forces private companies to store these data. Of course this is totally different from the above concept, since the state can then - possibly without a search warrant - get all the data it did not store. So he also explains the concept of doublethink. The end result is exactly the same. The state can check what you did, where u did it, and with whom you did it. To a person unable to use doublethink the entity that stores this information does not make a difference if in the end Government agencies can get the data through pressing a button. To de Maiziere it makes all the difference.

Luckily, in his new job he was more succesful in the application of newspeak: not being able to use drones to kill people was excellently described as "Fähigkeitslücke" "ability gap" IMO something not unlike the "doomsday or mineshaft gaps".

Of course there is nothing wrong with the state knowing everything about you. If you apply enough doublethink you just can't find any examples of a German state doing anything bad to its citizens ever.

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