Monday, November 07, 2011

An Economic Police State

Negri and Hardt's Empire and subsequent Multitude discuss the status of the police in modern democracy, and their role in enforcing a supposedly illegitimate will. In order to have this level of enforcement accepted by the people, it is necessary to build fear in the populace, and a consensus that the state is required to defend the majority. The argument was that in a post-9/11 world (though Empire was released just prior to the September 11th attacks), state's could ratchet up the fear, increase the level of imposition, maximise curbs on freedom (in the public interest) and exert controls over media and other propaganda weapons. Spooky stuff, and in America we had the Patriot act, in airports we had our nether regions fondled, and in law we saw our rights being eroded while civil libertarians were denounced as kooks or anti-Americans. The world was indeed becoming a scarier place. We now had threats of weapons of mass destruction, dirty bombs, global terror networks and rogue states that could destroy us all. We didn't quite have Joe McCarthy warning us of a terror within - thank goodness for small mercies - but the fear was now palpable.

The economic events of the last several years have served to layer another scoop of fear on top of that orchestrated by the late Osama bin Laden. Now, we are being told that in order for our economies to survive, in order to protect our economic sovereignty, in order to protect the currency (and by extension our prosperity) we must once more submit: we must submit to austerity (if you're Greek, Irish, or Portuguese); we must submit to a kind of neo-socialism (if you're German); we must submit to Brussels, and neo-Federalism (take note, Turkey!). There is resistance, but the European organisation moves on.

Personally, I'm getting a little fed up with all this fear. If the Iranians want to bomb the village Inch, where I live, let them try. If the Germans want to come and take my house in return for the debts of others in Ireland, let them try. The reality of course is that Ahmadinejad has no more interest in bombing Inch than Angela Merkel has in repossessing my house. The threats are hollow. But the system responds in a way that is self serving. Those operating the system, or more accurately within the system, have no alternative. There is no plan B.

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