Here are some of the quotes that caught my ear at the Convention on Modern Liberty, which took place yesterday at the Institute of Education. Not ann executive summary of the day, but the imperfect jottings of my notebook. As such, they are perhaps not 100% accurate, so I will correct them as and when footage or transcripts become available, as they are starting to over at the Convention site. They are, however, in chronological order.
“The totally mythical State of Absolute Security”
“Perfectly decent people of course do not realise they are actually [abusing power]. They too are like the frogs going into the water and the heat is turned up they don’t realise they area becoming authoritarian, they think they are the good guys.”
“To abolish the distinction between ‘suspects’, and those suspected of nothing, to place them entirely the same category in the eyes of the state, is a clear hallmark of authoritarianism.”
“A courageous nation would not be afraid of its own newspapers.”
“Imagine a government that trusted the people who elected it. Imagine agencies of the state that regarded the people’s privacy as something it was the state’s duty to guard, rather like the value of their money and the historic individuality of their town centres and their freedom to speak and write as they like.”
“The question that has to be asked … why rights are not part of mainstream education in this country … How are we going to introduce the concept of rights as a mainstream part of educating our young people?”
In fact one of the things that Chuka said reminded me of a very old quote which dates back to the 19th century, liberal is a conservative who has been arrested by the police!
What I want to argue for, one frame we should put this whole discussion in is how do we operate in a socially creative way? What is it that keeps the conversation of democracy going? What its that keeps us renewing ourselves, rethinking things, looking at new situations, finding new ways of adapting to them, watching the changing flux of populations and technologies and so on; and being able to operate without becoming totally paralysed?
“We are not a fair and tolerant society, that’s just our aspiration.”
“A Bill of Rights is not a Culture of Liberty.”
“We gave up our freedoms, but it did not improve our security.”
“That which theInternet has recorded, shall never be forgotten. Paris Hilton’s genitals are immortal.”
“If we want children to be safe from paedophiles, then we should teach them to suspect authority.”