Privacy Issues of TTIP: the history it brings up and the mistrust it creates
“In Germany, whenever the government begins to infringe on individual freedom, society stands up. Given our history, we Germans are not willing to trade in our liberty for potentially better security. Germans have experienced firsthand what happens when the government knows too much about someone. In the past 80 years, Germans have felt the betrayal of neighbors who informed for the Gestapo and the fear that best friends might be potential informants for the Stasi. Homes were tapped. Millions were monitored.” ~Malte Spitz, The New York Times.
I find it extremely fascinating how European culture and history play such a large role in the national politics and the EU politics. History seems to be a role of the day-to-day life of the citizens that I have come in contact with here in Brussels. They are aware of their past, where they come from, and who they are. They see the implications of history and make connections from the past with current events. They are learning from History, taking notes, trying to prevent past atrocities from happening again. This is something I don’t see at home in America. There is an increasing dis-concern about history. For most Americans history is of the past, it has no relevance, especially world history. And, frankly that’s beyond sad. It’s disgusting!
Why is it that world history is of so little importance to the American citizen? Has the United States become such a Hegemon that we have forgotten the past and the importance of our History? Are we so egotistical that we think that the world should revolve around us and our current interests politically, economically, and socially? We have a habit of not taking the culture and traditions of a country into account when we walk or barge in. We demand everyone to conform to our standards. Remember the Manifest Destiny, the Marshall Plan, the McCarthyism and Red Scare???? All displays of America promoting our form of “civilization.”
So, what does this mean for a twenty-first century Transatlantic deal (TTIP) and the subsequent relationships? Each member state of the EU calls on their own culture and demands to protect it from Americanization. The citizens hold their heritage close to them. It is what makes them French or German or Belgian or Dutch. They respect their right to privacy, something we don’t have here in the States. Lack of privacy is a quality of an era in which no European wants to relive and remember (the 1930s and 40s). Their history and culture help to protect them from another wanna-be-Hegemon, this time American corporations and government. Europeans know and remember what a control on information could lead to: fear, mistrust, lack of Locke’s guaranteed rights, and hence freedom. Fear and mistrust could lead to a fall in EU and US relations as well as NATO alliances. Currently, mutual trust (and common norms to an extent) is what is holding these alliances together. So with these implications why can’t we as Americans respect European culture and heritage?
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