Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The dwindling democratic air

"There is absolutely nothing, in my view, that should come before the basic liberties of people in this country to be freed from the tyranny of this type of organised crime."

That's Tony Blair talking about, in per centage rank order of dreadfulness, drug trafficking (40%), people trafficking (25%), fraud (10%) and other organised crime (15%).
In deference to the Prime Minister I think we'll ring-fence fraud, New-Lab sphincter-wise, right now. It's clichéd I know, but a man who's cuddled up just one slippery prophylactic layer away from the mafia needs total protection from the brutally obvious.
And if there are crimes worse than people trafficking (which includes slavery, torture, rape as the ingredients of choice), then what are they? I think we find ourselves on the same side as Tony here.
In fact, most of us disorganised, non-organised or frankly useless criminals find on reflection that we are against crime in general, with a few let-out clauses for our own tiny trans-legal excursions. It's not me who's going to say "give the slavers and crack barons their heads".
But he's a slimy proto-totalitarian, the Prime Minsiter, nonetheless. A lot of people think he's thick, blinkered, has a tunnel vision that would lead in the end, if his legislative programme came to fruition, to a lethal and paranoid absolutism, Like Stalin or Saddam Hussein. But he's not thick, Blair, and he's not blinkered, he has a vision of startling clarity and focus which he knows will lead in the end, if his legislative programme comes to fruition, to a benign and wise and caring fatherhood of the nation, where no sparrow will fall without a lens on it. Just like Stalin or Saddam Hussein.
An exemplary demonstration of his virus-like cunning is there in the quote at the top. I don't know if his Downing Street subversion-sniffers caught wind of it or whether the Prime Minister and his speech writers subconsciously sensed its imprint on the dwindling democratic air, but the most powerful and economical analysis and demolition of any NewLab claim to be anything but the party of the New Repression was Karma Nabulsi's Don't sign up to this upside down Hobbesian contract.

"[Hobbes] sets out a cold contract among individuals to form the state: the individual surrenders part of his liberty to purchase security, which it is the sovereign's job to determine... How much of your liberty do you yield to your protector? As much as he says he needs to provide you with protection."

That is the Blair/Bush/Stalin/Hussein line.

Against this Nabulsi posits

"a social contract... the purpose of [which] is to protect a citizen's liberty... In this version... the sovereign citizen does not surrender sovereignty, but only specific powers and functions to the state."

What was it Blair said again?

"There is absolutely nothing, in my view, that should come before the basic liberties of people in this country to be freed from the tyranny of this type of organised crime."

How the attempted nobility collapses into incohate putrefaction now. The bladdered gas with Blairite liberty written across it's surface in lurid slime has a dodgy bung, the phrase "to be freed from". Not "to be free" from all organised crime, a pointless utopianism but syntactically harmless. No, we are to be "freed from", we the prisoners, passive, slack jawed, quaking, impotent, freed from the terrors that surround us, that have reduced us to this dark, now for ever inescapable shadowland where we are no longer agents, but subjects, ciphers, pitiful trash.
Who, what el Cid or Pol Pot, will do the freeing? "In my view..." it says.
It is the view of the Great Helmsman.
And how important is our liberation from any democractic responsibility for, any agency in our own "freedom"?
"There is absolutely nothing, in my view, that should come before th[is] basic liberty."
Absolute, then.


CuriousHamster said...

Well said.

He really is a frightening man. That speech he made a while back when he referenced the theorists of the Roman state and Hobbes's Leviathan said it all. All hail the sovereign.

Jago said...

You dont' have a link to that, do you?

CuriousHamster said...

Yes indeed.

From the theorists of the Roman state to its fullest expression in Hobbes’s Leviathan, the central question of political theory was just this: how do we ensure order? And what are the respective roles of individuals, communities and the state?

He's a nutter. That's what I reckon.

Jago said...

Thanks for that link - he's all over the place, intentionally I'm sure. What he is centrally asserting is the necessity for the State to be able to impose summary punishment. But his sole argument for this is "otherwise the paperwork, the court time, the money, is too much and spat at old ladies go on suffering". I'm no advocate of old ladies being spat at, but at a time when, apparently, corner shop owners shouldn't call the police if they've only been robbed of seventy pounds or less, and a Dorset policeman can still beat someone up for being black while driving a motor vehicle without getting sacked, I'm not sure summary justice is the elixir that Blair pretends to imagine it is.