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Re: Los Angeles Times article on Helsingius and anon.penet.fi

>The principle fear of the authorities appears to be terrorist rather
>than normal criminal activities.

Either that, or the fear that authorities are no longer necessary unless
they can point to something dangerous that they're protecting the rest of us
from - with the plausibility of the Godless Communist Threat waning, it
becomes necessary for drug sellers and people with fringe politics to appear
more threatening. Support (political and financial) for the exercise of
power is a function of the anxiety level of the populace. People whose
income and sense of self-worth is derived from that exercise of power have a
clear interest in maintaining or increasing the level of anxiety. Do you
imagine a future in which law enforcement holds a press conference to
announce "We're mostly eating donuts and reading magazines. There's not much
for us to do. Perhaps half of us should be laid off or something."? Can you
imagine the military spontaneously downsizing, or failing to oppose
reductions in force? 

>Terrorism is no longer limited to far
>off irredentist struggles that ex-patriates can harbour romantic
>thoughts about. The reality the the IRA is an organisation that murders
>children by placing a bomb in a rubbish bin outside a MacDonalds has
>been brought home to the suporters of Noraid through the bombings of the
>World Trade Center, Oaklahoma and Atlanta.

While domestic terrorist events may bring a sharper focus to discussions of
the merits and costs of politically motivated violence, your fantasy that it
will somehow bring about a change in someone's substantive politics is
amusing. It seems at least as likely that domestic repression purportedly
adopted in "response" to recent events will create a feeling of solidarity
with people living under Orwellian governments. ("Of course those guys over
there are blowing things up. Their government sucks. Hey, our government is
starting to suck. Let's blow some stuff up.")

Further, your notion that "terrorism" has somehow been limited to "far-off
irredentist struggles" of concern only to expatriates is ridiculous. Have
you not noticed the arson, bombings, and shootings at abortion clinics in
the US? Or the history of violence on the (neo-) left, e.g., the Weather
Underground, etc.? Or the history of the KKK and race-motivated
lynchings/beatings? Or the Unabomber? 

>If one lives in a country
>where there is little terrorism it is easy to imagine that people driven
>to extreeme actions are driven by a extreeme situation. If one is faced
>with the reality of terrorism one soon reaches the conclusion that its
>perpetrators are simply ordinary psychopaths.

Isn't it wonderful that "one" unavoidably "reaches conclusions" which
eliminate moral and political arguments you find uninteresting? We might as
well announce that "One soon learns that repression will never eliminate
violent opposition" or some other arguable proposition. Deciding that every
person who supports or engages in politically motivated violence is an
"ordinary psychopath" suggests that many, many people are psychopaths; and
that makes the diagnosis of "psychopath" unremarkable. Was that really your

>Having stated that terrorism is an important concern for the state it is
>necessary to ask whether it is necessary to restrict freedom to combat
>terrorism. In answering one must bear in mind that a central part of
>most terrorist strategies is to force the state to respond with
>disproportionate measures (here recent events in Chetchnya indicate that
>Trotsky was not widely read in the USSR). 

Or perhaps "it is necessary to ask" whether restricting pre-existing freedom
has ever reduced or eliminated "terrorism"; it's certainly worked well in
Lebanon and the Palestine, in Germany, Japan, and Peru .. or has it? (But as
counterexamples, we've got the Soviet Union under Stalin, Germany under
Hitler, Italy under Mussolini, Chile under Pinochet, Cuba under Castro,
Nicaragua in the mid-80's, and China. Perhaps you're right.)

>Absolutely anonymous cash may create problems, but what if it were
>possible to generate small quantities of "marked bills" within an
>otherwise anonymous system. If the circumstances under which the marked
>bills could be distributed were limited to a small set of tightly
>controlled circumstances the legitimate need of the government to oppose
>terrorism and organised crime could be met without imposing a Singapore
>style system with total monitoring.

Boy, if we could just figure out the right combination of procedural rules,
we could simply abandon all of this problematic "rights" stuff. Wouldn't
that be a lot simpler? These pesky "rights" keep getting in the way of
legitimate government needs. Shit.

>In effect what is taking place is a negotiation between two groups, the
>government and civil rights activists. If one side refuses to consider
>the needs of the other they will be marginalised. Absolutism in politics
>is usually a bad thing. Politics usually works through compromises. The
>art being to ensure that one compromises the inessential terms in order
>to defend the key items.

Don't forget that it's necessary to adopt an exaggerated version of your own
position, such that you can "compromise" your way to "agreeing" on exactly
what you wanted in the first place. It's also useful to categorize your
opponent's position as "extreme", "radical", "unworkable", "unrealistic", or
"militant" - such that they cannot continue to maintain it and remain
"reasonable". (e.g., "extreeme [sic] examples of Chaumian cash") 

In effect what is taking place is a negotiation between two groups, the
government and civil rights activists. The government is asking us if we'd
rather be shot in the right kneecap or the left kneecap to ensure that we
don't try to run from the legitimate needs of the government. If the civil
rights groups don't get on the bandwagon and pick a kneecap, they'll lose
any chance they had to have an influence over this crucial process of
self-government. Would you like one lump, or two?

>If privacy is raised as a policy concern in this
>election it will reoccur in the next and both parties will have to
>justify their policies in terms of personal privacy as well as
>everything else.

Not if "privacy" is considered something suspicious which only extremist
militant pro-pedophile terrorists would be interested in. After all, every
reasonable person is open to compromising in order to accommodate the
state's legitimate interest in preventing bad things from happening, right?
And if a little repression and loss of privacy doesn't seem to improve
things, we'd better just have some more, hmm? Never can get too much of that
compromise stuff.

Greg Broiles                |"Post-rotational nystagmus was the subject of
[email protected]         |an in-court demonstration by the People
http://www.io.com/~gbroiles |wherein Sgt Page was spun around by Sgt
                            |Studdard." People v. Quinn 580 NYS2d 818,825.