February 20, 2006

Either global markets are completely free, or they are not. Either private enterprise is allowed free rein, or it is not. The ideal pursued can no longer be termed "free enterprise" when privatisation is acceptable for some, but not for others. It may be that the ideal still remains a qualified free enterprise -- a few specified security-oriented industries being exempt -- but a secondary irony here is that the security issue here did not even seem to be a security issue until control threatened to pass out of the hands of a British (private) company.

Mixed signals, certainly. Free enterprise and freedom from government interference alternating with security concerns as to which is to be the banner, which the reality in any given situation. As perhaps ever and perhaps always, the deciding factor determining the direction of the tilt seems to be who, specifically, stands to benefit this particular time ... even, sometimes, at the overall expense of a country, and increasingly (in this global microcosm) of the world as a whole.

(Unless, of course, all else serves only to camouflage a single, overriding, Me First! version of "free" enterprise: which is not to be considered free unless I Win, whatever it takes.)

Perhaps extreme measures are necessary to ensure one's own security. Perhaps extreme measures serve only to enhance the need to act in order to preserve an increasingly eroded foundation of an illusion of personal security. And perhaps ultimately there is no such thing as perfect security within what we can accept as human beings. (I say nothing about whether we should or should not stop chasing it, should this last turn out to be the case.)

However, if we are willing to enact extreme measures, for any reason: then we cannot exactly claim to be acting in the name of freedom and liberty and justice for all.

(Tangentially related: another take on looking in the mirror.)

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