a friendly guy and you let him into your house because he is delivering
an air conditioner on a sweltering day in August. And he makes some
amiable conversation, the guy loves your house and when you show
him around, he's blown away by all those old 60's posters on the
"Must have been a great
time" he declares. The delivery guy leaves and you forget him
and concentrate on the air conditioner and getting cool.
But the guy doesn't forget about you, on the contrary, he makes
a full report about your posters to Homeland Security. It seems
he has another job that runs parallel to his deliveriesand installations.
The friendly man who loves your house is an informant volunteer
for the Justice Department's new agency and its nationwide program
of participatory dictatorship called TIPS.
All over America postmen,
parcel deliverers and all kinds of repair people and truck drivers
are being recruited and trained in the paranoic practice of reporting
on the "suspicious" or "unusual" behavior of
their fellow citizens. It is perhaps the most terrifying of the
various tyranical measures that have been employed by George Bush
since September 11 in order to insure the preservation of American
Getting citizens to spy on
their neighbors in large numbers, and FEMA plans to beat East Germany's
record, involves the destruction of our civil society and the replacement
sensibility with chilling paranoia. When Big Neighbor is watching,
the necessary distance between society and state is pushed aside
and we are left with massive mistrust, fear and a sense that 1984
wasn't just a scary book.
Usually repression does not
base itself on the mass recruiting of proletarians. But in this
lazy consumerist age when so many people have their objects of desire
delivered to their door and a multitude of workers get to see where
you live, it makes sense that at least the most mobile members of
the working class would be eagerly sought out for snooping and betrayals
of trust and the old good neighbor policy. Some American workers
will be taught how to parlay a friendly smile into amateur espionage.
To keep things fair, everyone
in the country, even rich people, will be encouraged to spy on their
neighbors. The TIPS informants will have stickers prominently displayed
on their vehicles offering phone numbers where the stray snoop and
gossip can call in information about any observed offbeat behavior
and eccentric happenings. And of course, this will be a great way
to settle a grudge. The U.S. Post Office under the embarrassment
of public exposure, has decided, for the moment, to drop out of
the TIPS program. But possibly there are enough bored, restless
and angry Americans, the kind that want to do things, that will
be described as being significant and of vital importance, enough
desperate homeland volunteers to turn TIPS into a smashing success
and a horrible new way to be an American.