Lesen Sie die deutsche Version hier.
In George Orwell’s novel «1984» the matter is clear: The state knows everything about its citizens. How they live, how they work, whom they love, what they think and feel. Conversely, the citizen knows nothing about the state. Who the political leadership of the «Ingsoc» party is, whether big brother exists at all, whether a war is actually being waged or whether everything is staged – all this remains a mystery. Orwell has grasped something fundamental here: In totalitarian systems, the relationship between state and citizen is highly asymmetrical. The state knows everything about its citizens; conversely, the citizen doesn’t know the first thing about the state. Everything is a facade, propaganda, a sham.
In a democracy, it should be the other way around, especially in a liberal one. Here, the ideal state would be the absolutely transparent state, for which its citizens are black boxes into which it cannot see. The transparent state and the opaque citizen – that should be the ideal of every liberal polity.
But the trend is clearly moving in a different direction. The administrations of modern states are becoming increasingly complex and bloated. Ministries are growing, offices are expanding, authorities of all kinds keep extending. In Germany, for example, the number of civil servants has risen from 4.5 to over 5 million since 2008. Added to this is digitization, which allows much more efficient data processing than analog administration.
Cash, an enemy of the state
Above all, the digitization of all areas of life allows the state almost complete access to the lives of individual citizens. Under the pretext of alleged modernity, customer friendliness, proximity to the citizen, or comparable propaganda slogans, the state is eating its way further and further into the private lives of individuals. Taxes, health, education, consumer habits, expressions of opinion in social networks – nothing remains hidden from the state. The transparent citizen is slowly but surely becoming reality.
«Under the pretext of alleged modernity, customer friendliness,
proximity to the citizen, or comparable propaganda slogans,
the state is eating its way further and further
into the private lives of individuals.»
Of course, it should be the other way around. What I do with my money, whether I pay cash or not, when I go to the doctor and why, which preventive checkups I have, whether I get vaccinated and if so against what, where I travel, what I think and say – all this is basically none of the state’s business.
The state’s overreaching greed for information is most striking when it comes to money. And not only in the form of the tax office, from which, from a statist perspective, there can no longer be any secrets, let alone banking secrets. In order to record the economic circumstances of its citizens even more efficiently, the modern control state relies above all on the abolition of cash and the digitization of payment transactions. The pretext for this is either organized crime or undeclared work.
At the beginning of this year, for example, the so-called Sanctions Enforcement Act came into force in Germany. Among other things, it prohibits cash payments when purchasing real estate. For the German Interior Minister Faeser, however, this does not go far enough. She is also calling for cash caps on the purchase of jewelry and watches. This is intended to make «ownership structures more transparent.» Cash payments when buying a car would then also be history.
The goal is clear: a cashless society that is completely controlled by the tax office and the security…