What Mladina & Demokracija Are Saying This Week: Surveillance Capitalism vs Attacks on Govt

By , 28 Mar 2020, 09:04 AM Politics
What Mladina & Demokracija Are Saying This Week: Surveillance Capitalism vs Attacks on Govt Covers from the weeklies' social media accounts

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The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 27 March 2020. All our stories about coronavirus and Slovenia are here

Mladina: Beware surveillance capitalism

STA, 27 March 2020 - In the times that are coming, democracy will be more important than we could ever imagine and the countries that do not have people fully committed to human rights and democracy in power now will have it hard, the editor-in-chief of the left-wing weekly Mladina, Grega Repovž, argues in Friday's editorial.

"In the coming weeks (!) so much will happen that we will indeed wake up to a different world, a different world order", Repovž says, pointing to restrictive measures and electronic surveillance devices that Asian countries are using to prevent the spread of coronavirus among their citizens.

"The use of such applications is undoubtedly controversial, because they severely encroach on personal privacy. But as long as health arguments are used we are somehow trying to understand them," Repovž says.

However, the world today trembles before another fear: the fear of a great economic collapse. "This fear is getting worse, because for healthy people quarantined today it is much more tangible and known than some unknown diseases. One of the reasons for this is that only a decade has passed since the last major crisis."

It was only a matter of time before those who are primarily concerned about the state of the economy realised that these applications and surveillance of infected persons can actually enable them to allow citizens to return to their jobs early in the name of the economy and assume their role of consumers again.

The technology enabling surveillance of infected persons is sending the message that capitalism can function even before the pandemic is completely contained.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn revealed for Die Zeit this Wednesday that the German government was already working on a plan to revive public life before the end of the epidemic, so that life could return to normal for most people right after Easter, except for the older and the most vulnerable, who would be asked to remain in quarantine.

He argued that in a liberal society it is not possible to restrict contacts between people in the long-term, which Repovž says is a seemingly acceptable view for any liberal. But his next sentence was that digital tracking of people's contacts, meaning tracing people's mobiles, will be inevitable in this scenario.

"And so it has happened. The wall has been penetrated. The one thing we feared has happened: the argument of liberal values has been used to violate those exact values only to let capitalism start its engines again."

The question now is whether we will give up our freedom and privacy to enable life to start again despite the virus that is among us. Will we even have a chance to be against? "Is this the world we want to live in? And primarily: Can you trust your authorities - for example in Slovenia - that they will not abuse the situation?"

But what if this experiment causes the disease to spread even more, and bring even more deaths, Repovž wonders under the headline Surveillance Capitalism Is Coming.

Demokracija: Mainstream media should not attack government

STA, 26 March 2020 - The right-wing magazine Demokracija endorses government restrictions aimed at slowing down the spread of coronavirus in its latest edition, berating mainstream media for accusing the government of censorship.

In the piece headlined What the World Will Be Like After the End of the Outbreak, Jože Biščak, the editor-in-chief, writes that everyone should abide by the restrictions and behave as if they were contagious, including journalists.

"In particular the ladies who are reporting on the ground in front of cameras without protective masks (great example for the viewers indeed), and then when the government cancels live press conferences, go crying that they cannot do their job, complaining about censorship, talking about dictatorship, curbs on the freedom of speech.

"Dear readers, we are at war, at war against a virus we do not know well enough and do not know what consequences it will have on people's health."

Biščak says that no one is denying anyone's right to express their opinion, or hindering journalist work and that no one will be any less informed if the government responds to questions remotely.

He accuses the media mainstream of using the state of emergency to attack the centre-right government, arguing that people are not interested in who has been replaced at the helm of the army or police force at the moment, but rather if and how they will survive the epidemic.

"Things that are completely irrelevant to health at the moment are only of interest to socio-political workers, a phalanx of NGOs and ideological parasites as they are helplessly watching how they are losing their influence and how ordinary people are welcoming government measures."

Biščak says that restrictions will pass and that the current government has no desire to extend the state of emergency beyond what necessary, as mainstream media commentators claim.

"However, this is a time for a rethink what world we want to live in after the end of the outbreak. A globalised one where international elites take decisions that affect us and decide the quality of our lives, or a world where the power would be decentralised, people freer and regions more independent?"

All our posts in this series are here

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