Liberty, TSA, and the Technological Society

This is precisely what has happened at TSA, as the agency implements policies that Congress has not authorized but is also powerless to revoke.

The monstrous Leviathan into which TSA has quickly, albeit all too predictably, morphed is a textbook illustration of Ellul’s thesis. Several elected representatives of the people politely suggested that a political technician, a bureaucrat, might possibly want to think about maybe giving, you know, just a bit of thought to not forcing American citizens to choose between being irradiated or groped, and he simply said:

“No.”

That’s a quote. He didn’t mince words, he didn’t equivocate, he didn’t evade the question. He simply said, “No.”

And the politicians did nothing, because they had no power to do anything. The technician had the power, and they all knew it.

In this same way, little by little and in virtually every nook and cranny of our daily lives, the role and extent of the bureaucrat -- the political technician -- extends to the point of near universality, and the seemingly endless, self-replicating rules that constrain and bind us become like white noise, unheard for its ubiquity.

Soon enough the Lilliputian technicians have turned their master into their subject, having tied down and captured their Gulliver -- the people -- via the countless cords of our mind-numbing, soul-deadening bureaucratic codes. In the end, it’s easier to surrender than to fight, just as it is always easier to be a subject than a citizen.

So it all comes down a simple question: will we be citizens whose elected and appointed servants must obey us, or subjects of a self-aggrandizing behemoth that claims sovereignty over our very bodies?

To their great and lasting credit, the American people understand on a deep, even instinctive level that the TSA groping flap is about far more than either security or inconvenience. It is about fundamental liberty, about personal sovereignty, and about preserving our Constitutional rights as Americans. It is a battle that the American people must, and will, win.