Some notes on surveillance and national security

Jill Lepore, in her excellent examination of the current state of surveillance that we languish in, made this remark in reference to Jeremy Bentham’s essay  On Publicity:

““Without publicity, no good is permanent: under the auspices of publicity, no evil can continue.” He [Bentham] urged, for instance, that members of the public be allowed into the legislature, and that the debates held there be published. The principal defense for keeping the proceedings of government private—the position advocated by those Bentham called “the partisans of mystery”—was that the people are too ignorant to judge their rulers.”

To paraphrase, according to Bentham, it wasn’t previously that that citizens should know what their government was doing because they wouldn’t be smart enough to understand and evaluate the decisions made by their leaders.

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