The government continues to increase its ability to take action under the law against the populace. On 5th August this year, Prime Minister Blair announced a further raft of measures that included new powers to deport foreign nationals, to close places of worship, ban organisations and measures creating new criminal offences of “glorifying terrorism” in Britain or abroad. He said that the government will ban or deport non-UK citizens who express “what the government considers to be extreme views that are in conflict with the UK’s culture of tolerance”. In his sanctimonious style he stated: “If people want to come here either fleeing persecution or seeking a better life, they play by our rules and our way of life. If they don’t they are going to have to go because they are threatening our people and our way of life.”
There was bitter irony in his following utterance: “Let no one be in doubt. The rules of the game have changed”! In truth, the ‘rules of the game’ are what is decided by the ruling class, through its Chief Executive the Labour government. The only criteria for these rules is that they best serve, for the time being, the needs of the imperialist ruling class. The ‘culture of tolerance’, as far as the ruling class is concerned, extends only in so far as it does not interfere with its ‘right’ to exploit and pursue whatever action is necessary to enable it to do so. So in one breath our sacred and apparently eternal rules must be adhered to, and in the next comes the admission, which would embarrass anyone with less sanctimonious pomposity, that the rules change to suit the changing needs of the bourgeoisie. All this was reported in the Guardian of 6 August 2005.
Many of the measures being drawn up by the government in great secrecy will require primary legislation, and Mr Blair said that he may recall Parliament in September to start the process. Others, such as grounds for deportation, do not require legislation.
By mid-August, the Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, put some flesh on the proposals for deportation, for consultation with the other major bourgeois parties. Then on 24th August he stated the measures that had been decided upon. These were almost identical to those put out for the very rapid consultation process, and have been endorsed by the two main ‘opposition’ parties.
The measures apply to any non-UK citizen who expresses views which ‘foment, justify or glorify terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs; seek to provoke others to terrorist acts,’ ‘or foster hatred which might lead to inter-community violence in the UK’, by:
– writing, producing, publishing or distributing material,
– speaking publicly, including preaching,
– running a website,
– using a position of responsibility such as a teacher, community or youth leader.
This does not require legislation and is merely the Home Secretary ‘clarifying’ his powers under the 1971 Immigration Act.
These measures enable the ruling class openly and legally to take action against individuals for the ‘crime’ of thinking and expressing views that it regards as a threat to its hold on power.
There are already existing laws that make some utterances illegal, for example if they are incitement to commit a crime or incitement to racial hatred. Now there is no longer need for the government to demonstrate incitement; it will be enough for the views to merely “justify”, that is to express an opinion, a judgement. It ought by now to be clear that the ‘thought police’ are alive and well and living openly in Britain.
All this is being done in the name of the “war on terror” and under the hype of protecting the people of Britain from the dangers of bomb attacks. In reality these measures are being taken for quite different reasons. They are only part of a “war on terror” to the extent hat it is a euphemism for the war that Anglo-American imperialism in particular is waging in an attempt to maintain, and, if it can, extend and strengthen, its hold on the raw materials, labour force and markets of the world. And when recognised for what it is, it is indeed a worldwide phenomenon.
War is the continuation of politics by other means. The so-called war on terror is the more violent continuation of the subjugation, super-exploitation and plunder of the peoples of the world that has otherwise been carried out by deception, the service of lackeys, and economic coercion. It is not a new phenomenon, merely a new name, and has been around for most of the time that imperialism has existed. It is war waged by imperialism against all and anyone who stands in the way of its desperate drive for the maximum profit. It has been carried out over the globe by warships, planes, tanks, infantry, mercenaries, ‘security’ services and through the agency of prisons and concentration camps carrying out the most horrendous torture. Such is the glorious tradition of imperialism. Such is the “culture of tolerance” that lurks beneath the utterances of the spokesmen of imperialism.
Examples of these crimes against humanity are many; the wars against Ireland, against Korea, against Vietnam, against China, against the peoples of the Indian Sub-Continent; and in more recent times we have seen and are seeing the bombing, invasions and occupations of Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq, not to mention military intervention in places like Sierra Leone and behind the scenes manoeuvring in places like the Congo, leading to the death of millions.
British imperialism has well earned the hatred of the subjugated peoples of the world. And Mr Blair would have us believe that bombings in London have nothing to do with the war in Iraq! (As Mark Anthony might have said – ” and Mr Blair is an honourable man!”)
It is not surprising that imperialism is facing growing expression of nationalism in many parts of the world, not least in the Middle East. Given the anti-secular, anti-socialist and anti-Communist pogroms that have been carried out in these countries at the instigation and under the protection of Anglo-American imperialism, it is not surprising that anti-imperialist national liberation struggles should find expression through such places as the Mosques, the only places in such countries where people can meet and discuss.
Of course the present British government cannot openly acknowledge that fact, however well it may privately understand it. For to admit that it is fighting against aspirations for national self-determination and for freedom from imperialist exploitation would not enhance the sanctimonious public image that it seeks to portray.
And when the opposition to the war that Anglo-American imperialism is waging against the people of countries like Iraq comes home to the heartlands of imperialism, there is no one to blame but imperialism itself, the instigator of the whole process. No amount of double-talk, doublethink or diversionary propaganda about fundamentalist Islam can absolve imperialism from its culpability. The fundamentalism most dangerous in this world is that of market fundamentalism and imperialist domination – in comparison with which Islamic fundamentalism pales into insignificance.
Of course, imperialism will fight back; of course it will take whatever measures it deems necessary to protect its interests. But let us not be fooled that it is doing so for the protection of the working class of Britain. It may be having some success in this deception. An opinion poll published in the Guardian of 22 August 2005 reported that 73% of respondents thought it was “right to lose some civil liberties to improve security”, while 17% thought that it was wrong. In view of the media hype it is perhaps notable that close to 1 in 5 people still did not want to lose any civil liberties.
But the working class would remain blind at its peril to measures that are being prepared and put in place against it. Further ‘primary legislation’ is ‘promised’ There can be no doubt that it will further enhance the powers of the state against what it regards as “home grown terrorists” In proper speak that is the people of this country who stand up against or might stand in the way of imperialist profit, be it exacted at home or abroad.
Imperialism is well aware that, if it is to survive, the standard of living of the working class of Britain is in line for a steady (if not at times dramatic) decrease. Indeed the relentless dismantling of the welfare state by the Labour government shows that imperialism is only too aware of this necessity on its part.
It is a short-sighted person who does not see that the state will use any measures at its disposal to deal with any attempts by the working class to defend its living conditions. And if those measures prove inadequate, it will tear up whatever ‘rights’ it needs to and say “the rules have changed”!
For all the feigned abhorrence of violence, the real perpetrator of violence is imperialism. It uses it blatantly abroad, wreaking mayhem and murder in countries like Iraq.
Incidentally, how would Anglo-American imperialism react if the Iraqi people were to say “If you come here in pursuit of oil, markets and other things that you desire for a good life, then play by our rules and our way of life. If you don’t you are going to have to go because you are threatening our people and our way of life.”
If the British Prime Minister says such things it is OK, and all kinds of draconian steps can be taken. But when the Iraqi people say such things to Anglo-American imperialism, and take steps to make it go and leave them in peace, then they are branded as terrorists and murdered in their hundreds of thousands! Thus do the apologists for imperialism stand truth on its head.
And imperialism will equally use violence at home if it sees the need to do so. It would rather rule by ‘consent’, but look what happened to the miners when they merely opposed the closing of mines and axing of their jobs. What can the British working class expect when it says, “we have had enough of imperialism, and we recognise as friends and allies all those peoples of the world who are opposed to imperialism.”. It will be at the sharp end of imperialist violence; the ruling bourgeoisie is not going to say: “Congratulations, you have achieved a majority view for the end of capitalism, we hereby hand over the keys of power.” No, they will say: “Tear up the constitution, the rules have changed, take that!”
In the meantime, the working class of Britain needs to be clear-headed. It needs to understand what is going on. It needs to realise who is lying to whom, and who its friends are. It may be the Imams, or ‘Mediterranean looking’ students who are in the immediate line of fire. But we have to speak up. More is to come, and for whom will the ‘thought police’ come next? Let there never be any illusion that they are on ‘our’ side. The interests of the working class and oppressed peoples of the world need to be articulated loudly and clearly if imperialism is to be overthrown.