Saturday, August 12, 2017

“A concentration camp is the complete obliteration of privacy…." - Milan Kundera 

 “A concentration camp is the complete obliteration of privacy…." - Milan Kundera https://www.thomhartmann.com/forum/2016/03/“-concentration-camp-complete-obliteration-privacy…-milan-kundera

 “A concentration camp is the complete obliteration of privacy…a world in which people live crammed together constantly, night and day. Brutality and violence are secondary, and not the least indispensable characteristics.” 

–Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

 One evening while streaming video on the internet I came across the film, The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988), and decided to watch it again since it has been a number of years since my first viewing of the film. Sometimes there are story details missed in the first viewing, and subplots become clearer with a second viewing. Film versions of novels are notorious for short changing literary works and Czech writer Milan Kundera’s 1984 book, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, is a classic example.

 The novel is not only about the love affair between the main characters, Tomas, a Czech surgeon and intellectual, and his wife, Tereza. There are other themes and one important element of the novel is its historical setting within the repressive government of Czechoslovakia in 1968 after the old Soviet Union invaded Prague. Milan Kundera is a Czech writer who went into exile in 1975 and later became a French citizen . He had been expelled from the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia twice for his political opinions. Consequently, Kundera has some knowledge of how a totalitarian society works. Kundera’s novel, Lightness of Being, was published in 1984, the same year as George Orwell’s famous dystopian novel title, Nineteen Eighty Four. The experience of living in the repressive Soviet Czechoslovakia finds its way into the novel in a greater way than in the film version.

 While researching this aspect of the novel, I came across a 10-hour audiobook version of novel, The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1984) audiobook on Youtube. So I began listening to the audio version of the book and came across a particularly interesting chapter (starting at 5:35:00 to 6:13:00) describing the interrogation of Tomas by Czech agents concerning an anti-government letter he wrote to a weekly newspaper editor shortly before the Soviet invasion. Kundera’s description of the interrogation by a Czech government agent is very revealing of his experience and is worth listening to because Americans are currently under assault by a sophisticated security state propaganda campaign determined to invade the privacy of every American citizen even more than it already has in the recent past.

 The power gained by the private-state intelligence agencies just by weakling citizen privacy is immense. Most Americans do not know how effective an interrogation can be. Those that believe, “I have nothing to fear, because I have done nothing wrong” are the best subjects to interrogate because they can be led deep down the interrogation path before they even realize they are in serious trouble. Some may think they can outsmart a trained interrogator, but even a person as intelligent as theoretical physicist, J. Robert Oppenheimer, fell victim to his FBI interrogators as they utterly destroyed him professionally and spiritually.

 I recommend listening to the audiobook section referred to above, but here are some general observations about how a lack of privacy gives tremendous power to an interrogator within any government whether it is democratic or not.

 There are three functions of the secret police:

  1.   Intimidate citizens to control their behavior and make them afraid, 
  2.   Report what people are saying, 
  3.   Entrap persons in illegal activity to force collaboration and then set traps for others to create still more informants.

 Many Americans are complacent and apathetic as the US intelligence security state works to weaken privacy laws and join forces with private corporations to track all Americans’ phone communications, social media activity, and internet financial activity. Some Americans are even in support such widespread surveillance, but they have no idea what they are getting into by opening this Pandora’s box of unlimited police power.

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