Tyranny, the march of

On secrecy in government …

The great secret of centralized power is secrecy itself. That holds true of all totalitarian states in the past and down to our own day.

“We have seen, even under our own formally democratic government in America, that any group that operates in secret, be it an Atomic Energy Commission or a National Security Council or a Central Intelligence Agency, loses touch with reality by the very terms on which it operates. What begins as the suppression of a critical opposition ends with the suppression of truth and the elimination of any alternative to the accepted policy, however patent its errors, however psychotic its plans, however fatal its commitments.”

— Lewis Mumford 1961, The city in history, Harcourt Inc, pages 64 and 324

Gary Shapcott

Last updated:
12 October 2020

Secret decision-making by government, secret trials, secret prisoners, secret evidence in court … so-called national security legislation that is supposed to protect us against the threat of terrorism but is in fact used to attack journalists, hunt down whistleblowers and to suppress political dissent. Where are we heading?

Below are some references that give us a clue … .

  • Brian Toohey 2019, Secret: the making of Australia’s security state, Melbourne University Press
  • Bernard Collaery 2020, Oil under troubled water: Australia’s Timor Sea intrigue, Melbourne University Press
  • Both of the above were reviewed by Clinton Fernandes in Arena Quarterly, No. 2, Winter 2020, available at https://arena.org.au/.
  • Desmond Manderson, ‘Push ’em all’: corroding the rule of law, in Arena Quarterly, No. 1, Autumn 2020, available at https://arena.org.au/.
  • The Conversation, https://theconversation.com/au, has many articles on this topic. Search for ‘Collaery’ or ‘anti-terror’ for example.