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(en) Freedom 6401 Jan, 2003 - What we say ...

From <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Sat, 25 Jan 2003 08:18:53 -0500 (EST)

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

Tony Blair's New Year message, and the actions linked to
it, provided further evidence of New Labour's agenda and
the tactics they intend to deploy in pursuit of it. According
to Blair, 'we' are entering 2003 faced by some of the most
'difficult and dangerous' problems of recent times. Among
the problems on their way this year, he said, were "the
terrorist threat, the economic slow-down, the effect on jobs
and pensions, and the sense that, in key areas of social
behaviour and in our asylum system, those that play by the
rules are being damaged by those that don't".
A perfect snapshot of New Labour in action, in other words
- hyping up fears about terrorism, crime, social disorder and
asylum in order to manufacture generalised insecurity, with
the spectre of economic slowdown as a code for 'sacrifices'
to maintain economic stability and the introduction of new
state powers to make the social order 'safe' once more.
That the sacrifices will be borne by the working class, that
it's always the poorest who are to be policed, of course goes
The response in practice to Blair's latest 'difficulties and
dangers' has taken two forms. There are new laws being
planned to allow police and military personnel to evacuate
or quarantine urban areas by force 'in case of terrorist
attack'. And there's the appointment of Louise Casey to
head a new 'anti-social behaviour unit', targeting
'community cohesion'.
The proposed Civil Contingencies Bill will create a
7,000-strong armed reaction force. Under the guise of
dealing with 'terror', the 14 regions of the UK will have
large numbers of armed military police on the streets (the
north of Ireland has them already, of course).
The appointment of Casey, previously 'homelessness tzar',
represents the extent to which social issues are seen as
purely security matters by New Labour. The consequence is
that 'social policy' is now a matter for the Home Office.
Insecurity - the real insecurity of joblessness and poverty as
well as the manufactured insecurities of the 'asylum crisis'
and of law and order - is the enemy of solidarity. It
undermines the 'community cohesion' Blair and his cronies
pay lip service to.
Sociologist John Vaill has said that "insecurity has seeped
into the fabric of our lives and has become the template of
our daily experience". The solution advanced by New
Labour is the increased policing of everyday working class
life. The cohesion to be preserved is the cohesion of class
In his New Year message of doom, Blair said "the blunt
truth is that there has never been a time when domestic
and foreign policy were so closely linked". It's this
acknowledgement which underpins the New Labour project.
Modern capitalism is a globalised system of exploitation
which relies on high speed transport and communication to
secure internationalised production. The defeats inflicted
on working class organisation in the last 25 years have
facilitated the compression of space and time that the
market depends on today.
But this 'speed-up' renders capital yet more vulnerable to
disruption. As a result, the norms of liberal democracy are
norms which capital can less and less afford. Even before
September 11th the United States had 470 emergency
power statutes, delegating legislative power to the
Executive. As legal theorist William Scheuerman has
pointed out, "liberal democracy has increasingly blurred the
dividing line between 'normal' and 'exceptional', or
emergency, powers ... most important, the definition of
what constitutes an 'emergency' has taken on ever broader
contours". To maintain its 'order', capital is dispensing with
the 'democratic norms' it formerly claimed were the
guarantees of 'security' in capitalist society.

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