Monday, September 27, 2010

The Prince, The Leviathan, and the Patriot

Inspired by the postAre we in a Machiavelli decade? and our class lecture a week or more ago, I decided to share a few thoughts...

First, I would like to agree with Enos. There are numerous salient parallels between our Nation's post-9/11 experience and the concepts conveyed in both Machiavelli's The Prince and Thomas Hobbes' The Leviathan. Simply recall the Patriot act. One can easily argued that more civil liberties were taken away by the Patriot Act than by any other single piece of legislation—all done in the name of security. Throughout history, people seem willing to sacrifice freedom for security. However, with this in mind, I mention a derivative of a quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin, "People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both" see (see here). The debate on finding the balance between security and liberty is frequent and recurring—even with regards to digital media and technology. For example: Last month on the radio, I overheard a discussion about the government regulating youtube because of the supposed pandemic of injuries resulting from people's attempts to make a YouTube video that would go viral (a similar debate is found here). Furthermore, many are also aware of the recent debate on Government censorship of the internet that was generated by the Wikileaks release of thousands of military documents. Or finally, the recent debate over new X-ray scanners in airports (read more here).
The question each person needs to ask themselves is: Where do you stand on the matter? Exactly how much liberty and privacy are you willing to sacrifice in the name of Security?