Sunday, August 11, 2013

Against the Terrorizing State

A friend shared this story, about British citizens being effectively denied entry to their country of citizenship, and it set me off on a Sunday morning rant. Of course the nation state is always an ideological construct, and culture, language, geography, ethnicity etc play a much bigger role in identity-formation than legal procedures, but this kind of smoke and mirrors policy-making, aligned with a blatantly exclusionary approach is more characteristic of the values of a fascist or apartheid-regime than a liberal-democratic state. But without the right papers, it's hard to go anywhere... So, rant's angrier than usual, but I thought I would let off some steam...:

...The story below is absolutely characteristic of this bunch of idiots' policy-making process - dream up a slogan, surround it with nasty rhetoric, implement it too fast and never, ever, consider the unintended consequences of this arbitrary bullshit. I came through immigration on Friday and was struck by the hostility of the signage - no 'welcome to the UK' (or even 'welcome to Scotland') to be seen, just large notices warning the queue - all of EU citizens - that 'tougher checks take longer' and other such aggressive bollocks.

People have citizenship rights - the case below would surely suggest that a legal challenge would have good grounds for success. But when the courts label 13 year olds as 'sexual predators' and the police have hundreds of files of their own abuse of citizens left uninvestigated (see yesterday's 'Guardian' headline) - not to mention the industrial scale of state surveillance of communications, and wars fought on fictional grounds at vast expense, while three quarters of the planet struggles to secure a basic livelihood - it's not surprising that people feel cynical about their prospects of securing any kind of justice in this corrupt neoliberal empire.

This is the hijack of the state by corrupt, greedy, short-termist, ignorant windbags who care only for their own self-preservation (because this is intimately bound up with their wealthy paymasters' preservation) . They are doing everything possible to pull up the drawbridge, with a population anaethesetised by sickeningly divisive 'us and them' language, the chains of indebtedness and a continued assault on working conditions and wages in the name of 'global competitiveness' and 'efficiency'.

"Just keep your head down and stay quiet", says Lord Suit-Fracker: "conditions will improve if you don't make any noise or trouble. Oh, and look! Here's some money you can borrow to help feed your family. Get a job! House prices are going up again! Let's have a nice shiny spectacle in a stadium somewhere! Have you bought your private health insurance yet? Just ignore the security vans over there - they've come to keep the terrorists out. Nothing to worry about. Alarm clock Britain! Cut benefits for scroungers! The Greenest Government ever! Let's frack! Tough but fair! More Money for Everyone! We're all in this together!" 

And "Her Majesty's Official Opposition" is virtually silent on these or any other aspects of the coalition's hideous corruption. Total abdication of responsibility. Utterly spineless. 

This is institutionalised abuse of citizens by the state. (Ironically enough, implemented by a government propped up by the so-called "Liberal Democrats"). This is a simulation of democracy, where words are stripped of meaning and in the process, basic rights quietly evaporate in the move to creeping authoritarianism. I'm going to re-read Reich's "Mass Psychology of Fascism" - we need tools to counter this nonsense. Human rights? Civil liberties? Democracy? Social justice, tolerance and solidarity? No, instead we have menacing border guards in black stab-proof vests stopping "suspicious looking" people at stations, demanding to see their papers. A kind of terrorizing state. 

We are genuinely in danger of sleepwalking into a state of fascism. It's frightening. And I suspect that it's fear and insecurity, and sheer exhaustion with the struggle of keeping going, and cynicism about their abilty to change anything, that is also keeping a lot of decent people quiet. Largely as intended.