Re: Privacy (was RE: FYI: MEDIA & Greenpeace

Wade Cherrington (
Sun, 8 Dec 1996 11:13:43 -0800 (PST)

> Now we have come to an issue which I think is important in the here and
>now, and about which I seem to have serious differences in viewpoint from most
>others. I would like to see what others think of my idea. I do not think that
>privacy is "evil", but simply that it is counterproductive to communications
>and to mutual understanding in human relations. In addition, in my view a
>person who has high self esteemm, ie. is proud of all his/her thoughts and
>actions should have no need for any privacy and, in fact, should be completely
>happy to have these things all open to the public.

I think there may be a confusion on exactly what level we
are discussing "privacy" on. I understand what you're saying,
that people who are intensely private are missing out on a lot, but
really what you're talking about is privacy as a personality trait. What is
a more basic concern to myself as a libertarian is the RIGHT to privacy. How
open can you be to anyone individual when anyone and everyone could hear
what you're saying? What I consider counterproductive is people who demand
of you at every turn "What are doing? What are you working on? Why are you
wasting time with that?
You can be proud as you want of what you're thinking, but if you're in a
situation where there are people who will attack, verbally abuse, or even
lock you up for saying it, you had better
be able to practice some disgression about who is hearing
you and who isn't.

> In our present society, where scarciety rules and it is necessary to
>retain privacy of ideas which might produce wealth for oneself, it seems that
>some kind of privacy is necessary. For an alternative to this which I believe
>is portrayed very convincingly (and which I just loved when I read it) I
>recommend readers to James P. Hogan's "Voyage from Yesteryear"

I too have read an thoroughly enjoyed "Voyage from Yesteryear"; I believe it
won a Prometheus award and would support its addition to any extropian
mailing list (Actually I think it is listed
at the end of the Extropian Principles 2.6).

> In all my dealings with others, I try to be as open and revealing of my
>inner most thoughts as possible. I reject totally the idea that "white lies"
>are OK. Furthermore, I have stated many times that my desire to be able to
>communuicate with fidelity what I am is so great (and I seem not be able to
>accomplish this by standard interpersonal methods), that I would very much
>welcome a human augmentation which would allow us all to transmit and receive
>each others thoughts. I have stated that if such an augmentation were possible,

I too would love to augment my consciousness to the point of direct
transmission of "thoughts", but at the same time I would be reluctant to
ever use that augmentation knowing that my thoughts could be read by ANYONE,
i.e. the State, the nextdoor neighbor, etc..

>then I would volunteer to be the first to allow others to read his thoughts. I
>believe that it would (eventually) be a much less violent and generally better
>world, if everyone could read everyone else's conscious mind whenever they
>liked. (Although if instituted suddenly it might lead to more than half the
>world's population killing each other.)

I have serious reservations about this sentiment. The problems
of violence don't come from lack of adequate means of communication, but
rather the refusal to communicate on a meaningful, productive level,
invariably stemming from an initial refusal to think at all.
All the ESP type powers given to people not inclined to some modicum of
rational thought and respect for other individuals will not a utopia make.
Sorry, but its a classic case of putting the carriage before the horse.

>My basic point here is to question the rationality of anyone valuing privacy.

Privacy in some situations is detrimental, in others necessary.
For any given statement you can make, there will be people out there who
don't care what you say, be annoyed at what you say, be annoyed just because
you're saying something, be violently annoyed at what you say, misinterpret
what you say, twist what you say, violently misinterpret what you say,
decide to use what
you say against you...the list goes on.

As for people who desire privacy having something to hide, aside
from the fact that the same argument has been used to justify
one dictatorial regime after another throughout history, the
reality behind most people's desire for privacy is not for conspiring
against third parties (committing a crime) but to keep third parties from
harming, misrepresenting or interfering with them (read: survival in a world
where the State is recognized as legitimate)

- Wade Cherrington