Comparative Analysis


While civil liberty has been one of the most important part of the philosophy of progressivism, however, if American leaders were to be analyzed for its role in progressivism all the American leaders past or present could be found guilty of trampling civil liberty. For one, progressivism asserts that all form of scientific, economic, technological and social advances should be geared towards improving human condition, but considering the history of America, and the current happening, it is quite clear that it is only in America where the government feel obliged to trample the rule of law without questions. Historically, American dissents have been maltreated, prosecuted and persecuted for standing up for their right. This makes everyone question, the role of the rule of law in America if the government itself is breaking the law. This paper seeks top analyze Progress in Western civilization and determine if America actually attained the desired.

While progressivism was designed to ensure that the aims of civil liberties was secured in America. However, the right to both privacy and security are the most trampled. In fact, in America, a number of laws have been passed that override the original intent to protect America and its properties. The right to equal treatment as well as due process s currently a term in law books and not actualized. People are searched in a way that contravene the laws and breach their privacy. For example, forced medical examination, electronic surveillance by the government, and invasive faux security measures are the key privacy and security problems that all the Americans have had to learn how to live with. Therefore, the federal government has been trampling on the amercing civil liberty with abandon under the disguise of protecting the same privacy that they trample.

Summary of the texts

The idea of privacy and security from Wendy Kaminer’s perspective

In her article “Trading Liberty for Illusions”, Wendy Kaminer argues that the American is too scared to question the intention of the government and the effectiveness of their security measures. The idea of American liberty is not a misnomer, but an illusion because the American can believe promise so long as they are secure even though this is only in their imagination. American’s have had to trade their privacy with security. This means that there is no privacy as people are bugged and their house wired. Technological surveillance is now a norm as NASA and video surveillance cameras are everyone to help “cops catch criminals.” She argues that "considering the ways facial recognition systems have been used and abused so far, it’s fair to say that they constitute a threat—to privacy, liberty, and even physical safety—not a promise of security."(Kaminer, par. 6)

“ If looks could kill”- the economist

On the other hand, the economist published an article titled “If looks could kill” to analyze the advancement in surveillance technology. It becomes apparent that the hard-core criminals who are trained to “fool” intelligent surveillance systems by suppressing their emotions, behaviors, and facial expression beat the “inaccuracy- pun intended” of the government surveillance and technology. The4 lie detectors have become almost obsolete, as they do not go beyond measuring the physiological correlates of stress. According to the economist, a number of lie detection technologies have a patchy and controversial history and the various innocents have been fingered while practiced liars are acquitted. This leaves technology surveillance system a very controversial topic across America.

Similarity and differences of the texts

In as much as these two papers look at different aspects of civil liberty in the American context, it is quite clear that the two authors believe that the American government has failed in its progressivism ideology especially in the security and privacy front.

Differences between the two texts

Never the less, despite all these arguments, America seems to be out of choice, luck as threat levels are high, and the citizens want privacy and security. The government is divided between using law as it was intended or bending law to meet special interest or providing security within and without invading privacy, and breaching security of the people it is supposed to protect. In this context therefore, it is quite clear that while the economist purports that the surveillance technologies may not be perfect after all considering the fact that in an experiment involving lie detection, 20% of the results were wrong . On the other hand, Kaminer posits that Americans have successfully traded their liberty for mere illusions of security. Perhaps it is also important top point at the fact that instead of false promises, the government should consider a logical and pragmatic approach to privacy as opposed to the irrational wishful thinking. In as much as precaution is important, the government should not exploit the gullibility of the citizen because very soon, dissenters will start questioning the credibility of the America philosophy.

The strategies the authors use to make their arguments

These two texts use a set of references, quotes and historical texts to emphasize their points. While these two texts are clearly well researched, it is quite clear that bias is a major issue as the arguments are non-objective, balanced and authoritative as any text intended for the public domain audience should be. The authors have not taken time to reconsider the benefits of such efforts by the government considering the fact that the federal government is not serving and individual household, but represents a diverse group of people with vested special interest. Therefore, the government may be working hard to offer the best security to everyone, but there is no way total security can be assured without compromising privacy. I find the articles particularly touching as they address many present day security and privacy concerns, but the government needs to practice restraint when it comes to privacy. Better still, the constitution should be amended to allow the government to exercise its discretion.


In conclusion, it is quite clear that America is halfway towards attaining the goals of progressivism especially civil liberty. There need to be room for dialogue, discourse and if possible amendment of the current constitution to address the upper handedness of the government in its bid to provide security to its citizens. It important to note that in as much as the technological advancement is geared at improving security, they should not be relied upon as the most accurate measure against threat. It is also worth noting that the citizens should be empowered and not frightened by the government measures as this upper handedness has lead to the display of erroneous behavioral and emotional features that can be misread and misinterpreted. Finally, it is important to note that despite the false promises of privacy and security by the government, their efforts may be thwarted by their own technologies as the real culprits known how to beat the surveillance system and only the innocent will be prosecute and persecuted. The government need a sober approach to security and privacy and not rely on its existing system, laws, and technology. The citizens should be empowered in line with the original progressivism philosophy.

works cited

Kaminer, Wendy. "Trading Liberty for Illusions." Trading Liberty for Illusions. Free Inquiry Magazine-Volume 22, Number 2., 13 Feb. 2004. Web. 06 Mar. 2014. .

The Economist. "If Looks Could Kill." The Economist. The Economist Newspaper, 25 Oct. 2008. Web. 05 Mar. 2014. .


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