The French government has introduced Plan Vigipirate which “calls pon all French men and women, whatever their occupation or level of responsibility to participate in this state of vigilance that allows us to make an effective collective response to the threat of terrorist acts.” Since a terrorist act can come from anywhere, most often from where you least expect it and may not have any specific object, it requires a state of vigilance. Vigilance is a state of mind and focuses attention at all times towards anything or anyone for any reason. It assumes even if the exact nature of the threat is unknown, there is no doubt the threat exists because by definition there are threats and if we assume there are threats then threats must exist. While surveillance is an activity, with a beginning and an end, vigilance is a permanent state of mind that creates new relationships between the indvidual and society.
Every time I read ideas such as Plan Vigipirate, I can only assume someone is pulling my leg until I realize in making that assumption I have played into the hands of the non-existant terrorists. In a sense, engaging in a state of vigilance is like being a character in a Seinfeld episode about nothing. America has been in a state of vigilance for seven years and during that time we have encountered the Ft. Dix group who more likely would be successful in an episode of the Three Stooges than in actually doing anything or a man who wanted to light his shoe and blow something up.
I must admit my greatest anger at beng in a state of vigilance for the past seven years is my failure to invest heavily into security firms since they apparently are weathering the stock market fiasco in quite a healthy manner.