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Sunday, 8 April 2012

Good but weak leaders driven by fear and reassured by their own arrogance are unwitting bidders for the devil

Great leaders defend their principles, weak leaders make excuses for their decisions.

The string of politicians responsible over half a century for the subversion of justice and erosion of freedom from state intrusion are on the whole good people.

Good but weak leaders who have opted to make excuses rather than defend what they know to be right.

Politicians and leaders pushing detention without trial, control orders, secret justice, Guantanamo interrogations, mass electronic surveillance, rendition... Driven by fear.

A fear that conventional justice is not sufficient to deal with the 'new' threats of today.

A fear that if they don't act, something bad will happen.

A fear that the internet fundamentally weakens the power balance which allows governments to maintain law and order.

Weak leaders, good people, are turning their backs on their own belief in society; a belief that in our individual freedom and autonomy lies our collective strength; instead becoming advocates for shallow excuses.

Advocates for safeguards that aren't quite the safeguards developed over centuries; independent judicial oversight degraded to the nod of a senior officer, presumption of innocence - but only for less-serious crimes, open justice - unless the government insists on secrecy.

Their arrogance isn't malign, but the consequences are.

An arrogance in understanding; a blind belief that the new safeguards are sufficient and state intrusion necessary in the first place.

And somewhere behind these good but weak leaders lies the devil, waiting to pounce on a civilisation where doing the wrong thing has been normalised through fear of evil.

@JamesFirth

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