Law ‘n’ disorder By William Bowles

26 June 2006

“There are also potentially desirable limits to the indefinite extension of political democracy … A government which lacks authority … will have little ability, short of cataclysmic crisis, to impose on its people the sacrifices which may be necessary.” – 1975 Trilateral Commission Report on the Governability of Democracies

I’m not sure who said it but any central State is a form of oppression. One of the few observations Marx made about the nature of a socialist society worth its name is that eventually it would have a government of things rather than of people. Sounds good to me.

Of course, such a vision is entirely dependent on a fully informed citizen able to make decisions based upon an understanding of events and also possessed with the means to govern themselves as autonomous and freely associating people.

Unfortunately, we are headed in entirely the opposite direction, with the state taking more and more control over peoples’ lives under our so-called democracy. All of this is being done under the cover of the ‘war on terror’ which because of its implicitly indefinable nature, is an open-ended war, under which almost anything goes including whatever rights we have won.

But then that’s the entire point of the ‘war on terror’ isn’t it. Without the Communist ‘foe’ continued control of our lives had no purpose thus a new one had to be invented, only this time we have the ultimate ‘bogeyman’, one who is invisible, the ‘international terrorist network’ and thus continuously redefinable.

Under such circumstances ‘democracy’ is a ‘luxury’ that can be dispensed with as surplus to requirement.

Over a dozen years in the making, the ‘war on terror’ serves no other purpose than to justify the continued oppression of Capital, but to carry it out on a global scale it also needs to repress at home where opposition could stop it in its tracks.

So far from being secure in its post-Communist world, Capital reveals to all and sundry just how insecure it is. But it is no simple matter to simply dispose of the ‘luxury of democracy’ as and when the State dictates, it has after all spent the better part of a century convincing us that capitalist ‘democracy’ is the best thing since sliced bread.

The attack on the limited democracy we had achieved has therefore to be an attack on all fronts, one not confined simply to the ‘war on terror’, though many of the laws passed are in effect ‘dual purpose’. It’s also an attack that would be impossible to carry through without the active collaboration of the media and the education system.

The Blair ‘project’ only makes sense when viewed in the context of an all-out assault on the capitalist concept of democracy as it has been sold to us, in other words, the propaganda war of the past century had to be dismantled piece by piece and replaced with what is essentially Mussolini’s vision of a hegemonic state composed of an all-powerful state apparatus armed with an array of repressive laws administered by a re-structured state apparatus, one which incorporates Big Business directly through privatising much of the administration of this new array of laws.

Effectively then, this is ‘new age’ Fascism made possible by harnessing the IT revolution, itself not only wholly owned by Big Business but one essential to the functioning of a global capitalist order. Thus the New Capitalist Order and the New Capitalist State go hand-in-hand.

The two Blair governments have passed over forty new laws that have outlawed much that was previously legal, not only the more obvious criminalising of opposition to government policies but also the criminalising of many aspects of personal behaviour, personified by the ‘Anti-social behaviour’ laws or ASBOs. Accompanying this process has been the attacks on the judicial system itself, the last barrier to the imposition of an out-and-out Fascist order. The latest attack is the demand for “summary justice” announced last week by the home secretary.

Note that since 1992 there has been overall reduction of 44% in crime, not that you’d notice from the newspaper headlines which create the impression of a crime wave sweeping the country. An investigation reveals that this impression is achieved through a not so subtle sleight-of-hand as media coverage of ‘crime’ reports largely not on actual crime figures but people’s perceptions of crime, perceptions that come from the media in the first place by making people feel unsafe whether through ‘terrorism’ or ‘delinquent youth’ who have been created, surprise-surprise’, by our ‘permissive’ society and the ‘failure of the family’.

In fact, Blair’s new Fascist Order has succeeded in criminalising virtually the entire population, especially working class youth, many of whom are outside the mainstream of economic life and thus not controllable through the credit/debt bondage system. This so-called underclass already ghettoised in ‘sink estates’ or in poor neighbourhoods and deliberately un-educated in ‘sink schools’ and composed of poor whites and blacks performs the same role in justifying the creation of this new Fascist Order as do Muslims in the ‘war on terror’.

By demonising what is in reality a small percentage of the population, the State has been able to effectively terrorise the population into accepting the imposition of a range of laws which actually apply to everyone.

Not surprisingly, parallel to this Blair’s regime has also liberalised the laws in two critical areas; alcohol and gambling and is in the middle of a ‘debate’ about its attitude toward drug addiction with the possible return to the previous situation where drug addiction was regarded as a medical not criminal condition. This may well have to do with the fact that the prisons are bulging to bursting point with inmates (the highest in Europe) with around 70% of all ‘crime’ drug-related and the belated recognition that the US-imposed ‘solution’ simply doesn’t work.

The role of the media in this entire process has been absolutely critical and can viewed in two lights determined by the target audience. For the working class we have the Murdoch-owned ‘red tops’ with their lurid, OTT ‘reportage’ and it’s sub-text of racist, xenophobia. For the ‘chattering classes’, the allegedly educated, and more literate section that actually manages capitalism, the same lies but dressed in different clothes, are delivered via the BBC and the ‘educated’ press.

So too the role of ‘education’ has been critical in this process of building the ‘New Jerusalem’ (Blair’s words, not mine) with a return to a never-ending ‘testing’ of the youth but a commensurate reduction in actual learning, surely ironic in an age which is meant to be one of the ‘knowledge-based’ economy, where creative thinking is meant to be the most important objective.

All bullshit of course as bear in mind that to actually manage this ‘new’ economy requires far fewer people than it did in the past. Add to this the fact that manufacturing has been ‘outsourced’ to the newly created industrial ‘suburbs’ of global capitalism and the ‘master plan’ of the new imperialism makes some kind of mad sense.

It is imperative therefore that to manage this new global enterprise, an enterprise which is extremely vulnerable due to the concentration of power at its centres, it is necessary to impose a rigid system of social and political control. Moreover, as the brutality of the war it wages on the poor of the planet increases in its ferocity, suppressing dissent at home becomes increasingly important.

The last thing the new imperialism needs is an ‘uppity’ domestic population which because of its crucial role in the actual management of capitalism has to be controlled utilising a carrot and stick arrangement.

The carrot is easy credit, unlimited access to alcohol as the one socially and legally acceptable drug, mind-numbing entertainment and mass, sporting spectacles of one kind or another and the invention and marketing of an entirely fictitious past ‘heritage’ that the ‘New Jerusalem’ is allegedly recreating for us. This ‘heritage’ draws its imagery from our imperial, colonial past, a past which returns to haunt us as our former ‘citizens’ of empire hammer on the doors demanding to be let in.

It’s a propaganda war not without its inherent contradictions, not the least of which is the notion of ‘Britishness’, something that nobody has actually been able to define, given as there actually isn’t one. But swamp us in enough Union Jacks, Royal Family ‘reality shows’, and celebrations of past imperial battles fought and won (or lost) that the rest of world has long forgotten, and hopefully we won’t notice that it’s not our history but that of those who rule us.

The stick is reserved for the scapegoats who are held up to the rest as the cause of all our problems whether they be the ‘ASBO posse’, ‘illegal immigrants’, ‘terrorists’ and other assorted miscreants and trouble-makers who threaten ‘our way of life’.

Of course none of this would be possible without demolishing any potential political opposition, even something as vapid and ineffectual as the ‘Labour left’, something that Blair achieved where even the nineteen years of Thatcher failed to, although she struck the first blow, the defeat of the organised working class, achieved largely through the de-industrialisation of Britain. And bear in mind that without the collaboration of the Labour Party and right-wing led trade unions, Thatcher’s job would have been much more difficult.

The ‘left’ such as it is (and was) largely sleep-walked through the entire process, either consumed with devouring its own or wrapped up in its own brand of anti-communism, heaping most of the blame on how the Soviet Union ‘failed us’ by not building ‘real socialism’ and pinning its hopes on a Labour government that had with its Tory opposite number, managed capitalism for fifty years, thank you very much.

Which kinda brings me back to where I came in, with the proposal that we have to dump the idea that a centralised State can ever be trusted to represent us, especially in the age of the computer which not only makes centralised control doubly dangerous but also redundant.

You have to ask yourself why is it that the State insists on increasing its control over our lives? On the surface it says it’s to protect us from the ‘terrorists’ and ‘criminals’ in our midst, yet after umpteen laws that we are told, are designed to protect us, are we less safe than ever before?

In reality, we are in far more danger from the state itself which with every passing day tries to make itself ever more indispensable by creating situations which put us in ever greater danger. It’s a vicious cycle, for as history demonstrates once the State obtains such powers it never, ever gives them up voluntarily. It has either to be forced to relinquish them or in the last resort, overthrown by whatever means are necessary.

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