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(en) Freedom 6319 5th Oct. 2002 - What we say ...

From FreedomCopy@aol.com
Date Sat, 26 Oct 2002 11:12:56 -0400 (EDT)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

The publication of Blair's long-promised dossier reveals
that - unlike the US, Britain and a handful of others - Iraq
has no workable nuclear, chemical or biological weapons
programme. All Saddam Hussein has got is the desire to
acquire one. In this, his government is pursuing ends of
state just like every other. But what the debate about the
dossier has shown, as have the moves to war more
generally, is far more significant.
Since the end of the Second World War, we have been sold
an image of bourgeois democracy. It's been portrayed as
moving from a recognition of interests of state to a
nurturing of universal rights which override the 'rights of
states'. The principal vehicle for this universalism has been
the United Nations, with a secondary role played by the
various transnational agencies that have formed around it.
Its aims have been set out in the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights and in related documents Ğ the European
Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) is the most obvious
example. The most progressive element of bourgeois legal
ideology has always been its universalism, embodied in
writings such as Grotius's Of the Law of War and Peace
and Kant's On Perpetual Peace. But in practice the gap
between bourgeois universalism in theory and the action of
capitalist states in practice has been filled with mounds of
After 1945, the rhetoric of universalism was taken up by
the United States and Britain as a flag of convenience, a
stick with which to beat the Soviet bogeyman and a way of
distancing their own bloody colonial heritage from the
reality of the genocide unleashed by fascism in Germany.
What is most apparent now is that those states which
function as the 'hidden fist' supporting the 'hidden hand' of
capital (to paraphrase free market 'philosopher' Thomas
Friedman) have no further use for the rhetoric of human
rights and universal law.
Internment has become a reality, both in Britain and in the
United States. While Camp X-Ray is the most obvious
example, New Labour's rushing-through of the Terrorism
Act in 2000 (and its consequent opting-out from Article 5
of the ECHR) has allowed the British state to ban a variety
of political organisations and to detain nine men
indefinitely. With the general prison population hitting
71,894, it's clear the rhetoric of 'rights' is being abandoned
for the 'native' population too.
The recall of parliament and the toothless debate which
followed went to show only that Blair doesn't need the
support of our 'democratically elected' representatives
before killing Iraqis in our name. Bush has already said
that, if he sees fit, he'll declare war unilaterally, regardless
of the concerns of the UN. So the structure of international
law will be abandoned by those who were its most vocal
advocates when it served their ends.
The poet and film-maker Pasolini once said that liberalism
and its political institutions were merely fascism in slow
motion. Bush and Blair are set on a course which
demonstrates the truth of his remark. The notion of 'rights'
in bourgeois ideology makes our freedom dependent on the
'self-shackling' of states. We can put our trust in no such
illusion. Our freedom and autonomy can be guaranteed
only in struggle against the state and against the system of
exploitation it oversees.
A number of groups have begun to organise for acts of civil
disobedience when the war begins. We support these
moves. And as we do so, we remember that Bush, Blair
and all they represent threaten, not only the rights and
physical security of the people of Iraq, but the 'rights and
liberties' so many of us here in the west have come to take
for granted as well.

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