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The Social Laboratory 79

An anonymous reader writes: We often worry about technology and unscrupulous intelligence agencies driving us toward a surveillance state. But apparently Singapore already beat us to the punch. "Not only does the government keep a close eye on what its citizens write and say publicly, but it also has the legal authority to monitor all manner of electronic communications, including phone calls, under several domestic security laws aimed at preventing terrorism, prosecuting drug dealing, and blocking the printing of 'undesirable' material." They've used it to do good, like swiftly moving to contain the spread of infectious diseases and to figure out how the public wants policy problems solved. But they've also obliterated privacy and restricted what people can say and do. "Singaporeans speak, often reverently, of the "social contract" between the people and their government. They have consciously chosen to surrender certain civil liberties and individual freedoms in exchange for fundamental guarantees: security, education, affordable housing, health care." The article notes, "It's hard to know whether the low crime rates and adherence to the rule of law are more a result of pervasive surveillance or Singaporeans' unspoken agreement that they mustn't turn on one another, lest the tiny island come apart at the seams."
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The Social Laboratory

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  • by Pino Grigio ( 2232472 ) on Sunday August 03, 2014 @08:41AM (#47593023)
    Not really, no. Your social contract gets signed by someone else the minute you are born. Ultimately it's based on the coercive power of the State and its ability to do violence to you. On the other hand it is willing to do violence to others on your behalf. That is the other side of the contract.
  • by Shoten ( 260439 ) on Sunday August 03, 2014 @09:08AM (#47593095)

    Thank you for obeying!

    You don't understand Singapore. I know it sounds quite bizarre to a Westerner, but the citizens of Singapore *want* this. This is what they actually value; the common perspective differs, in that they feel that the needs of the society of the whole are greater than those of the individual. This level of control isn't something that they're obeying...it's something that they're desiring, facilitating, embracing. And while I'm with you in my preference of a more Western form of social balance, it's also hard to argue that Singapore is actually a bad place to live or be.

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