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Optimistic View of Surveillance in the Light of Changing Governance Structures

This writing is to criticise the somewhat pessimistic and at times also paranoid attitudes towards surveillance in the light of recent spectacles around them. The aim here is to try to conclude and reason that surveillance should be considered as having ended up to be a key player in the spectacles of legacy governance structures aiming to preserve and re-activate their role from a static and rather fixed position.

So the key statement here is the one that the actual and practical governance of and in many cases the inner and immediate world of the people has already shifted from state-centric to mere mesh- or mixed, rather than providing an identity for people in the industrial, economical and social settings, people are identifying themselves through varying ideological global organisations, movements, and tools. For example, it used to be at the heydays of the nation-states that they were the ones to provide citizenship, but it's very clear and visible that at this time the institutions who provide the practical citizenship permissions are not the states but varying financial and social institutions such as banks, rental offices and other labour services. If one has their support and acceptance, full privileges are provided, no matter what the state says, and other way around even if the state provides full identity, if one was not accepted by let's say insurance company due to some database issue, would the actual citizenship of the person be only partial and practically useless. In this sense, one could argue, that the liberalism as such was dead, at least the one which was secured by the state and bound to it.

Hence the legacy states, in the light of their eroding position, are benefitting of any spectacle that arises around the surveillance subject, as these spectacles are seen to “payback” as increased loyalty to the state and the drafting of the new identity politics to replace the former labour, culture or physical security ones. The pessimistic view of the surveillance would see these spectacles and surveillance as a phenomena fearful, dangerous and something to be regulated in order to control it. But here these pessimists fall into the trap, they assume the nation from the static and fixed stance. The pessimistic view of the surveillance assumes that the state is fixed and that the challenging surveillance somehow needs to be regulated, consumed and managed in order to revive the health of the fixed state. However, it's argued here, that the surveillance in its varying modes and means should instead be seen from an optimistic point of view. This means, in essence, to move the cursor away from the fixed state and instead realise and actualise that the state itself as a governing model, as well as the identity and privacy themselves, are fluid, changing and under debate. This does not mean to shake the world order but instead pave the way forward to peacefully shape the postmodern world from the industrial nation-based anarchy to something which only today is becoming to have its shape and form. In the light of this it's argued, at least stated, here that the surveillance, databases, networks and the whole application layer should be seen as a torch in the darkness instead as a beast to be captured. So there could not be some legacy entity to be conserved in the cyberworld, how understandable that is in every transformative phase, but there is an endless flow of entities each of them developing based on the time and their settings. In this sense, please do not accept and consider all the surveillance spectacle to be viewed from the conservative point of view, but instead, try to see that as a part of the changing governance structures in the optimistic sense being able to support the peace and happiness in the world. Carefully consider everyone who wages wars, such as cyberwars, everyone who tries to promote urgency towards something in the name of security. Each one of those who are trying the build cages around the beast of surveillance is in effect trying to conserve the establishment in the pessimistic sense. So the “admins of the world”, be optimistic and do not fall into the trap of pessimism and conservatism!


Kristo Helasvuo, Guest Author.

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