Even though an American is four times more likely to be killed by lightning, there's no greater bogeyman in the Anglo-American body politic than the homicidal terrorist. It beggars belief that something so statistically insignificant (it has been suggested that the odds of death at the hands of a jihadist, or the like, is one-in-20 million) has been manipulated to trump fundamental freedoms – not just in the US, but globally.
No matter that salt, sugar and fat contribute to a one-in-467 chance of dying from heart disease, or that, approximately, ten times the number of people that died in 9-11 are slain annually as a result of gun violence - it's counter-terrorism that sets the real agenda. Its counter-laws (laws that repeal the rule of law) have been used to explain away indefinite detention, extrajudicial assassinations and torture – sure signs of a tyrannical order.
Whistleblower Edward Snowden's recent leaks to The Guardian confirm that our everyday communications are marked with the electronic equivalent of original sin. With the assistance of corporations and contractors all of humanity's data is being dispossessed of privacy and warehoused in RAF Menwith Hill and Camp William, Utah, and who knows where else. (Pretoria's "bulk interception" equivalent is the National Communications Centre.) No matter who we are: we're all under surveillance.
Phillip K Dick's 1956 short story, The Minority Report, describes a dystopia overseen by the "Department of Pre-crime". Early on the main protagonist explains its crystal ball powers:
"We're taking in individuals who have broken no law ... because we get them first, before they can commit an act of violence. So the commission of the crime itself is absolute metaphysics. We claim they're culpable. They, on the other hand, eternally claim they're innocent."