I won’t name the guy – he was talking to me in a private setting and such things should remain private – but a friend of mine came up with this rather bizarre defence of the recent fact, as unearthed by Snowden et al, that the US and other powers engage in massive, unauthorised spying on their citizens:
Governments have always done this, so why the fuss now? Accept it and pour yourself a beer.
The world is “massively overpopulated, so with all these ghastly people infesting the planet, governments need to, and will find it easier to, spy on them.
Spying on people, even in ways we find scary, is inevitable, so relax and stop getting oxidised about it.
The second of the arguments interests me because it blends the Malthusian panic about too many humans (and begging the question of what “should be done” about them), pessimism about the inevitability of spying and other outrages, and a sort of world-wearying acceptance of big government. Quite an achievement.
Of course, it maybe that the person making this argument was just trying to be a knob and wind me up (he is familiar with my libertarian views and regards them, patronisingly, as a sort of jolly enthusiasm). But his opinions are probably quite wildely held out there among people who consider themselves to be “realists” and “sophisticated”.