By Meditations of a Madman
Society when formed, by its very nature, brings about the existence of a certain kind of force. This force (which we will call F) represents the capability to inflict harm on others.
Even in the simplest arrangements, two cavemen living in a forrest, F exists.
F is divided among the members of a society, however it is seldom, if ever, divided equally.
In the simple societies, differences among people results in different allocations of F. With the biggest, strongest given the lions share, but with each individual holding on to at least some.
As societies increase in complexity, who possess the most F and how much they possess relative to anyone one person changes.
One point in the development of a society, a scrawny hacker may posses an abundance of F relative to millions of trained soldiers and yet, at the same time their equally scrawny, two-fingering-typing boyfriend may possess extreme F relative to them.
Indeed, much of human activity, effort and time is spent attempting to collect and consolidate as much of this F as we can.
F is not evil however.
Interestingly, in fact, F is the blade of both justice and tyranny, and it cuts just the same for either.
With that said, it seems apparent to me that one of humanities great challenges is and always will be to figure out ways to fend off the over consolidation of too much of this F in the hands of any one social entity (individual, group, etc.).
It seems to me this was the basis of democracy, the division of powers, etc.
F has one other interesting characteristic which is, as it begins to amass and swells to a certain point, it begins to not play well with other reservoirs of it, often seeking confrontations in order to dissipate or incorporate those other concentrations.
It is here that we come to the idea of privacy, and perhaps see its greatest value to humanity.
Privacy is what allows F to pool and grow. Without it, the entities currently welding F would come and quickly disperse the budding collection.
In privacy the KKK finds and indoctrinates its new members, as does the coder who creates the new algorithm which threatens the long standing market leader.
The consolidation and subsequent utilization of F (i.e., conversion of the potential into actual harm) is not in itself a matter or right or wrong, good or bad. Indeed, our subjective good persists because of its access to F.
Instead, as individuals, as societies, as humanity, we must acknowledge this threat, which sits above those subjective elements — a common enemy. And we must recognize one of our greatest weapons in this battle: Privacy.