Here’s a sign of the times. Canada has made wearing a mask at a protest a crime.
Why did they do this? It makes it easier for police to ID people using CCTV and social media photos after a protest occurs.
It also makes it easier to assemble a database of facial portraits, that can be run through rapidly improving facial recognition software, so everyone involved in the protest can be IDed and the information stored in a database, for use in the future.
For me, it’s another sign that the big, cumbersome nation-state is in decline.
First of all, don’t confuse decline with collapse. The decline of the nation-state doesn’t mean it’s going away entirely.
Like the feudal system before it, it’s got a long life ahead of it (much of it at our expense).
The nation-state’s rise to power and innevitable decline reads like a Greek tragedy. The nation-state became globally ubiquitous due to its ability to militarily crush all competitive forms of governance. That competition was eventually won in the last century, and nuclear weapons seal the peace. Large scale conventional conflict is now something for the history books (despite the occasional sideshows like Iraq).
However, this success means that the nation-state has lost its raison d’etre, its reason for being. There aren’t any external competitors for the nation-state left to crush, despite a voracious desire to do so.
This loss of legitimacy and an creeping economic impotence (in almost all cases in developed world, they haven’t delivered prosperity to most citizens in decades) has led to a gnawing fear within political and bureaucratic elites. A fear that they are losing control. A paranoia that turns every citizen into a potential enemy of a nation-state that requires enemies in order to justify its existence.
This is why Canada would make wearing mask in public a crime that could put you behind bars for up to a decade. Incidentally, that’s more time than any bankster got for defrauding us of trillions of $$ in 2008!!
A better way to view this? It is the automation of tyranny. A tyranny that can be managed by a small elite through vast networks. A tyranny that is inevitable given the ongoing failure of the nation-state to deliver prosperity to its citizens.
PS: This impotent paranoia is also behind the NSA’s push to build a surveillance apparatus that tracks and gathers data on every citizen 24×7. Data, that once accumulated, imperils the security of every American. Imperils the security of every American? A database that constantly gathers and combines smart phone activity, social media activity, and much more (more than what any commercial company could do its most graphic wet dream). A permanent and growing database like that, is the golden ticket to an information catastrophe for each and every American if it ever fell into the wrong hands. Its very existence puts us all at risk far, far, far, more than the handful of underwear bomber plots it contributes to foiling.
PPS: The Canadian urban theorist Jane Jacobs made a strong case that there’s no economic logic for the nation-state. It’s an arbitrary economic container, the existence of which causes gross misallocations, economic stagnation, etc. (mostly due to corruption of the monetary feedback loop). In contrast, city states like Singapore, make more much more sense from an economic perspective.