29 September 2020, Tuesday, 8:21
Sim Sim, Charter 97!

Why Is It Necessary To Boycott Census?

Why Is It Necessary To Boycott Census?

There are two reasons for this.

The “Basta!” Telegram channel publishes a text by activist Mikalai Dziadok about the census in Belarus.

- Many activists these days became concerned about the upcoming census: there are disputes about language issues, how to call oneself and how to answer the questionnaire in order to articulate Belarusian-speaking people as a significant subject. In short, socially active people think how to use this census for good purposes.

But I consider participation in the census pointless, and even harmful. There are two reasons for this.

1. Absolute non-transparency of the procedure, and impossibility to control it.

Activists hope that, if 80% of Belarusians indicate Belarusian as their native language, it will show everyone that we exist, and our language is alive, which, of course, is good. But tell me, at least one of you can guarantee that, having received the result 80% after the calculations, Belstat will not publish, for example, the figure of 51%? Or 44%? Well, seriously, what prevents them from doing this?

None of the levels - data collection, processing, analysis and disclosure - provide for a single mechanism of public control. At absolutely every stage, fraud can take place.

The tasks of the census are performed by a closed, bureaucratic state structure. More precisely, a network of such structures. And there is no doubt that if they wish, they will bring to us - the population - the figure that will be politically beneficial to them. And we will never know the real one. Because in an authoritarian state it does not happen so that one state procedure (for example, the presidential election) is deceitful and fake, while another state campaign, like census, is honest and transparent.

Thus, an attempt to influence the state machine through the articulation of our identity during the census seems senseless, because there is no guarantee that true numbers will be announced. However, there is every reason to believe they will call the fake ones.

2. Collection of personal data

We all complain about total control, censorship and police control in the country, but we often forget that the control and the police are more effective, when the state knows more about the society, that is, about you and me. By participating in the census, we voluntarily pass into the hands of the state (apparatus of violence) information about our habits, behavior, and opinions. This is about the same as sitting in the company of thieves and telling where you keep money is at home. The social status of Belarusians, their profits, the sources of information they use: all this, don’t hesitate, will fall on the table to the leadership of the KGB and the OAC (moreover, they, unlike us, will receive true information), and will be used to improve the punitive apparatus and strengthen the systematic social control at all levels.

When we voluntarily give information about ourselves to corporations through social networks, we receive spam and targeted advertising. By giving it to an authoritarian state - we will get far worse consequences.

As you understand, it would be ideal in this situation to convince all those who stand for changes in Belarus, to hold a complete boycott of this census. However, a full-fledged boycott campaign, of course, requires efforts of a completely different level. I have no illusions that by this post I will inspire Belarusians not to support a dubious state initiative, and not to give criminals the information that will be used against all of us.