Supposing, in the very near future, the UK suffered a terrorist attack at least as horrific as the one in Paris.
Supposing, citing the French precedent, the government reacted by imposing a UK version of the current état d’urgence, state of emergency, which now risks being prolonged indefinitely.
This would no doubt initially target the Muslim community (because terrorists are always Muslim, we are told), but would quickly be extended to all radical opponents of the capitalist system (as has happened over the Channel).
When David Cameron has already branded half the country “terrorist sympathisers” for opposing his warmongering, it is a small and logical step to completely do away with any distinction between terrorism and dissent.
Supposing – in an atmosphere of hysteria whipped up by the corporate media – all demonstrations were banned, armed raids launched all over the country, activists of all sorts put under house arrest. Supposing this went further than is currently the case in France, and websites were banned, social centres shut down, dissidents rounded up and interned.
What would we actually do, those of us who weren’t already behind bars? What could we do?
It seems to me that it would be worthwhile putting a bit of thought into this before it happens.
As far as our own message goes, how can we counter the state line that if a country is under attack from terrorists, the population has a duty to submit to martial law until the state says otherwise?
The most stable states are those which do not need to rely on physical repression to maintain control – where the public, while it might not agree with specific policies of specific parties, generally accepts the system as a whole.
It is this acceptance that we need to break – the conditioned belief that the state somehow generally acts in the interests of the people.
We must therefore challenge the legitimacy of the system itself, expose its lies and manipulations, in order to spread amongst the public a general contempt for its pronouncements.
We can do this on several levels. On the most immediate one, we can help expose the real corporate and geopolitical agendas behind its machinations and wars.
As part of this we should challenge the official definitions of “terrorism” by pointing to the sordid history of state-backed terrorism in the not-so-distant past (see this interview with author Daniele Ganser for instance – the interview itself is in English).
We shouldn’t fall into the trap of shying away from exposing conspiracies just because of the idiocy of some “conspiracy theorists” – that is playing the state’s game.
On the next level, we can point out how war has always gone hand in hand with industrial capitalism, how corporations have always backed wars and profited from wars, caring no more for the victims of bombs and missiles than for the victims of the pollution and contamination for which they are also responsible.
On a deeper level, we should make it quite clear that the root of the problem can be traced back to the very existence of authority.
This was the original lie with by which we were enslaved – the claim that certain people have the “right” to own land which in truth belongs to nobody and to everybody, the claim that certain people have the “right” to demand our obedience, that the “laws” which they themselves have written somehow prove this and morally justify the violence with which they always maintain their domination (see Forms of Freedom for a longer discussion of all this).
Allied to this is the use of the phoney idea of a “nation”, by means of which the interests of the people are confused with those of the state. This is in effect a kind of Stockholm syndrome, in which people become conditioned into identifying with their jailors.
Of course, there are plenty of anarchists already saying all this, who have been doing so for years and whose words have largely fallen on deaf ears.
But sometimes there is a tendency not to “put people off” by stating too baldly the fundamental opposition to all authority that lies behind the anarchist idea – an attitude which goes completely against everything that the public has been taught to think.
I really feel it is a mistake to hide our anarchism, our total contempt for the state and its lies. If we want this attitude to become more widespread, then we have to start spreading it more widely ourselves!
War and “anti-terrorism” are not really directed at some external bogeyman but at the domestic population – they are important weapons in the battle to keep us all under control.
Once people see these psychological weapons for what they really are, they no longer work. Once people lose their fear of foreign “enemies” and “terrorist sympathisers” and wake up to the reality of this murderous and mendacious industrial capitalist system, the main barrier protecting the authorities from the people will have been breached.
That won’t be the end of the story, of course. The corrupt and ruthless mafia that controls our society won’t relinquish its power quietly.
But the moment that they drop all pretence at democracy is also the moment that they declare war on the population as a whole and instead of being confronted by thousands of opponents, they are faced by millions.
So before the system corners us with another terrorist outrage demanding yet more repression and war, let’s shout loud and clear that we don’t believe its relentless propaganda, we have seen through the lie of its so-called democracy, we care nothing for its “nations” and “borders”, we have absolutely no respect for its self-serving “laws” and we don’t recognise its “authority” as anything other than brute violence.