The Surveillance Society
By Keith Sherwood
“Every single day
And every word you say
Every game you play
Every night you stay
I'll be watching you”
During the middle and late Pleistocene, which lasted from 2,500,000 to 12,000 years ago, people experienced very little privacy. They lived in small communities among people they knew intimately. Information about other people was available just by hanging out or by engaging in gossip.
In those days, the people who knew your business were for the most part blood relatives or in-laws. In the world they lived in, it made no sense, for an individual or select group, to collect and use information about their kinfolk in self-serving ways, especially when people depended on each other for their physical and psychic survival.
Longhouses in North America are a case in point; during the coldest months of the year, Iroquois families lived next to one another with only animal skins or fabric partitions separating them. Neighbors and extended family members knew when adults in the next compartment had sex, what adolescents were doing, what family members talked about, and how parents raised their kids.
But it was never a lack of privacy that made these natural forms of surveillance such a disruptive influence. It’s the fact that surveillance in the modern world is invasive, ubiquitous, and has a nefarious purpose that is self-limiting and destructive. Modern technological surveillance interferes with a person’s choices, relationships, and the way they express themselves. It’s also destructive because it distorts a person’s orientation to themselves, other people, and the world around them on the deepest levels of spirit, soul, and body.
In the modern world, information is often used by groups and institutions to control people and prevent them from participating in activities that are considered contrary to the values of the people surveilling them.
Although a lack of privacy and independence during the Pleistocene could create challenges for some people, they pale in comparison to the existential problems created by governments and non-governmental institutions that spy on their citizens and patrons.
In the body of this newsletter, I will look at how surveillance influences people on the subtle levels of consciousness, energy, and etheric matter and how it inevitably causes changes in behavior and relationships that are self-limiting and destructive.
The Roots of the Surveillance Society
The term "surveillance" entered the English language in the late eighteenth century. It’s derived from the French word “surveiller,” to watch over.
According to Annette Kern-Stähler and Nicole Nyffenegger, authors of the article ‘Secrecy and Surveillance in Medieval an Early Modern England,’ a form of surveillance was already practiced by the Catholic church during the Middle Ages. At the time, Catholic clerics believed that they had a God-given right to scrutinize the private lives of their parishioners.
“It is appropriate,” Pope Gregory advised in his ‘Book of Pastoral Rule,’ “that those who lead should have eyes within and around them so that they can detect what should be corrected in others.”
It goes without saying that the inquisition in Europe from the Thirteenth to Sixteenth Centuries required clerics to collect information about offenses committed by both the clergy and lay parishioners.
The church was not the only institution that spied on people during the Middle Ages. According to Annette Kern-Stähler and Nicole Nyffenegger, the nobility also spied on their subjects. Kings and Queens from all over Europe and the levant including Richard III, Louis XIV, and virtually every sultan of the Ottoman empire employed spies.
It’s clear that surveillance is nothing new. But the introduction of surveillance technology used by governments, corporations, and even private individuals in the past two hundred years has changed things dramatically.
David Vincent, Professor of History at Keele University, observed that state surveillance began with the introduction of the Penny Post in the British Isles in 1840. With advances in technology, the ability to spy on people continued to be refined. During the American Civil War, two decades later, both the Union and the Confederacy tapped into each other's telegraph lines and copied down the messages.
It was during the occupation of the Philippines after the Spanish American war in 1898 that the United States created the world’s first full-scale system of surveillance. The lessons learned during the occupation of the Philippines provided the foundation of the modern surveillance state. Although surveillance is conducted by most governments, the Nazi regime and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) stand out in the grimmest ways possible.
Surveillance in Nazi Germany
Beginning in February 1933, the Nazi regime used the Reichstag decree, enacted after the Reichstag fire, to transform Germany into a surveillance society. It suspended individual rights and legal protections, including the right to privacy. This made it easier for the police to investigate, interrogate, and arrest political opponents and ‘societies parasites,’ including Jews, Communists, and Roma. Police could now read private mail, secretly listen to telephone calls, and search homes without warrants.
By 1936, most forms of surveillance were conducted by the Gestapo. Its power was enhanced a few years later when it was combined with the criminal police. Together, they formed a new organization known as the Security Police.
The security police’s main mission was to “investigate and combat all attempts to threaten the state.” In the Nazi view, threats to the state encompassed a wide variety of activities and groups, including membership in the political opposition. Even critical remarks about the government and its leaders could lead to a visit by the Gestapo.
To combat this wide array of potential threats, the Gestapo went much further than monitoring individual behavior. They implemented Nazi ideology, which defined entire groups of people as enemies of the Reich. Membership in the Communist Party or a Jewish background was enough to make someone a threat and subject to the attention of the Gestapo.
It’s interesting to note that, because of manpower constraints, their primary surveillance tool was denunciations from the public.
Surveillance in the People’s Republic of China
The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has taken the surveillance techniques used by the Nazis to a new level. China monitors its citizens through the internet, through cameras located in both the public and private domain as well as through digital technology and facial recognition.
Mass surveillance in China emerged after the communists took control of the government in 1949. In the early years, when technology was relatively undeveloped in China, supporters of the regime kept a watchful eye on their neighbors and reported inappropriate behavior that infringed upon the dominant social ideals of the time.
In 2005, the Chinese government created a mass surveillance system called Skynet which included more than 20 million cameras. In addition to monitoring the general public, cameras were installed outside mosques in the Xinjiang region, temples in Tibet, and the homes of dissidents. Four years later, the Chinese government began to use mobile apps that allowed private citizens to report security threats and violations. As the tech improved and AI came of age, the Chinese government adopted facial recognition technology, drones, and robot police to monitor its citizens.
In addition to monitoring its own citizens, China supplies AI surveillance technology to sixty-three countries. In that way, it legitimizes its surveillance practices at home and extends the influence of the surveillance state in other countries.
Effects of Constant Surveillance
The erosion of trust is the first casualty of pervasive surveillance. Trust is complex; it includes trust in oneself, other people, and the institutions of society. On the subtle levels of consciousness, energy, and etheric matter, trust depends on the condition of a person’s subtle field. This is the field of consciousness, energy, and etheric matter that interpenetrates a person’s physical-material body.
By eroding trust, a surveillance society interferes with the normal functions of a person’s subtle field by forcing them to become reactive. They must either submit or resist the intrusion of big brother. My research indicates that, in either case, the third chakra’s ability to function as designed will be disrupted.
The third chakra is located by the solar plexus, and when it can’t function healthfully, feelings of comfort, trust, and belonging will be replaced with pathological anxiety. In societies where surveillance has become pervasive, pathological anxiety can become chronic. This won’t simply erode a person’s trust in themselves, other people, and the institutions of society; it will prevent them from sharing pleasure, love, intimacy, and joy.
The loss of personal privacy, which is a hallmark of a surveillance society, can also disrupt the functions of the second and fifth chakras. These two energy centers are companion chakras, which means they have complementary functions. If their functions have been disrupted by big brother, the surveilled person can be forced to adapt an extreme polar position. This will make them either excessively masculine or excessively feminine. In either case, balance will be disrupted – and that will disrupt the flow of life-affirming energy through their subtle field.
If a person becomes aggressive and defies the will of a surveillance society, they can adopt core values and a life vibration that are self-limiting.
If the individual acquiesces to the will of a surveillance society by becoming overly receptive, their boundaries on the levels of consciousness, energy, and subtle matter will be weakened. That will allow distorted fields to intrude into their subtle field. The intrusion of these foreign fields will disrupt their life vibration and support core values that are self-limiting.
There is a long list of additional symptoms that constant surveillance can create. It can inhibit a person’s ability to express their authentic emotions and feelings, and it can make it difficult for them to stay centering in their personal body space.
If a surveillance society is willing to use violence and intimidation to control the population, it can push citizens with a different world view to worry constantly. This constant mental chatter, known as the internal dialogue, can inhibit a person’s creativity and ability to innovate. In the end, a surveilled person can be forced to permanently alter their behavior, which in turn will restrict their freedom of self-expression on both the physical-material dimension and the subtle dimensions of consciousness, energy, and etheric matter.