By Ann Cavoukian
The Laws of Nature constrain our freedoms – this is clear. We cannot fly, jump off a tall building, or eat “junk food” without repercussions. However, we do have the freedom to act within those constraints– to create and innovate artefacts that give us airplanes, parachutes and supply healthy foods (now even delivered to our doorsteps). These freedoms may be categorized as political freedoms.
The original idea of a liberal State was to establish a political entity to protect individuals from aggression so that they could be free to act to fulfill their lives, however they deemed appropriate. We even gave the State a monopoly on the use of force, primarily to protect us from aggression by others. Although with some exceptions in economic and civil liberties, liberal-leaning societies around the world advanced and prospered far more than authoritarian ones.
But then the State started to use its monopoly on force to violate the freedoms it was initially instituted to protect, while protection of its citizens from the aggression of other individuals or institutions was literally placed on the back-burner. Over the past few decades, slowly at first, but then with the war on drugs, terrorism, and now pandemic disease, mass surveillance in all forms escalated. And now, draconian measures were introduced to control the movement of people — our political freedoms have rapidly spiraled downwards because of the State’s malfeasance. Now the State, instead of protecting our life, liberty, and property, is the main perpetrator of the losses of our freedoms.
Surprisingly, the world observed that it was Canada, by way of the Truckers Freedom Convoy, that gave voice to the concerns of freedom-loving people relating to the ugly transformation of liberal governments into authoritarian regimes. Not surprisingly, the Canadian government responded with even more authoritarianism, to the point of freezing the bank accounts of individuals, without a warrant, who had donated to the Truckers Convoy. Despite this, the message of the Truckers Convoy was loud and clear: We want our freedom back! Let us now review why freedom is so important.
Freedom is critical, not only because it is moral that individuals be able to exercise choice as long as they do no harm, but also it’s utilitarian. Free economic behaviour gives us homes, clothing, medicines, food, computers, smartphones, air conditioning, electric lights, airplanes — far greater prosperity in general.
Political behaviour, on the other hand, often leads to lies, bombs, frauds, prison camps, wars, mass surveillance, persecutions, horrendous debt, devaluation of currency, polarization and poverty. Furthermore. The fabric of a political lie always has a thread of truth woven into it — which is why they are so insidious and difficult to detect.
We the people will no longer condone the foolhardy antics of preening government officials, lying to and coercing innocent citizens to abide by their view of what is in their “best interests.” It’s time to say: Enough is enough! To those of you who are dependent on governments to take care of you, it is a false security — your pensions and payouts are deteriorating in real value with government-caused inflation (printing money) and soon, the metaphorical four horsemen of the apocalypse will override your well being. We can no longer depend on governments for our well-being. Politicians will paint platitudes of compassion, but only to be elected, re-elected, and to gain more power.
We the people must depend on ourselves, and on the communities of which we are a part of. Our objective must be to care for the members in our community and to form voluntary relationships with other caring communities. As Rianne Eisler in The Chalice and the Blade pointed out, there is strong evidence that during the Paleolithic and Neolithic eras — up to approximately 3,000 BCE, societies were comprised of smaller communities in which the major social features were partnership and linkages, not centralization and domination.
As Eisler wrote: “One of the best kept historical secrets is that practically all the material and social technologies fundamental to civilizations were developed before the imposition of a dominator society, including food growing, construction, containers, the wheel, clothing technology, use of natural resources, law, religion, prayer, judgeship, priesthood, dance, ritual drama, oral and folk literature, art, architecture, town planning, trade by land and sea, administration, education, and even forecasting the future via oracles.”
The point being made is that for over 10,000 years, prior to the invasions of what was then Europe, by barbarians from the north and south (and their societal structure of domination), societies innovated and flourished without any coercive governments! Mind you, during that time, we women were at the top of the “food-chain,” but it was an actualizing matriarch, not a domineering one. (But still, women rock!)
We have lived in domineering social structures for only 5,000 of the last 15,000 years. It is time to return to our human social roots of partnerships and linkages, and when coupled with the great innovations of technology, it could result in an even more beautiful and peaceful world!
Dr. Ann Cavoukian is a member of our Board of Directors for the Probe Foundation. Dr. Cavoukian is the Executive Director of the Privacy and Big Data Institute at Ryerson University. Recognized as one of the leading privacy experts in the world, Dr. Cavoukian is an avowed believer in the role that technology can play in protecting privacy. Her ground-breaking 1995 paper, Privacy-Enhancing Technologies: The Path to Anonymity, laid the foundation for her magnum opus, Privacy by Design (PbD) – which is now recognized as the world’s gold standard in privacy protection. Dr. Cavoukian is well known for her former role as Ontario’s longest serving Information and Privacy Commissioner.