/** Tools */

23 June 2008


"I find it strange that people in the UK are arguing today whether it is humane to detain someone without charge beyond 28 days, e.g. up to 42 days, when I have already been detained without charge for nearly four years.

Such debates are smokescreens to hide the real injustices that are happening in Britain today."

-- Babar Ahmad,
Britain’s longest detained-without-charge detainee

David 'Double-tap' Davis caused something of a stir when he resigned his position as MP following the House of Common Criminals' vote on Secret Inquests, Inquiries and secret jury-less trials. In the cloud-cuckoo land of political, temporal and spiritual mythology, Davis is now Bailiff of Her Majesty's Three Chiltern Hundreds of Stoke, Desborough and Burnham.

In the customary method of political theatrics the Commons Criminals' Counter Terrorism Bill 2008 vote was dressed up as a vote on the benefits, to the State people, of locking people up for 42 days without charge. (Actually, that's slightly incorrect. The State has no plans to lock "people" up, only "terrorists". "Terrorists" aren't "people". Don't ever forget that.) "Terrorists" against whom, the imposition of 42 days detention without charge would suggest, there is no evidence sufficient for the State to bring a successful prosecution, even under the ever more inclusive "anti-terror" laws and increasingly lax evidential demands. Ergo, the requirement to detain people "terrorists" without charge for six weeks. The irony is lost on no one that the "anti-terror" laws are passed by those who preside over all the nuclear technologies, explosives, bombs, machine guns, pistols, chemicals, black pepper, armies, navies, air forces, police, incarceration centres, and so on. Never mind the instruments of imperial global fascism, beware brown-skinned people with CDs they've never looked at, containing information published by the U.S. government.

The practice of locking people up without charge was once known as internment.
"It is no exaggeration to say that at the time of the arrest there was not one shred of admissible evidence against Barot. The arrest was perfectly lawful - there were more than sufficient grounds, but in terms of evidence to put before a court, there was nothing. There then began the race against time to retrieve evidence from the mass of computers and other IT equipment that we seized. It was only at the very end of the permitted period of detention that sufficient evidence was found to justify charges. I know that some in the media were sharpening their pencils, and that if we had been unable to bring charges in that case, there would have been a wave of criticism about the arrests. Barot himself of course eventually pleaded guilty last year and received a 40-year sentence."

Historically, the need for internment has been justified as a means by which the State can pretend to protect its citizens from whichever human or sub-human threats it tells everyone it faces. In recent times internment in its many guises has saved us all from Communists, Anarchists, Jews, Nazis, Italians, blacks and the Irish. More recently, now that its forerunners have served their propagandistic purpose been neutralised, we need internment detention without charge to save us from the impending Muslim caliphate. History contains numerous examples demonstrating the liberal use of internment by States fearing for their legitimacy, credibility, authority, and ultimately their survival. However it is dressed internment is the ideal solution for the purposes of suppressing dissent and grass-roots political opposition organised against ruling class barbarism. Of the first world war Historian Margery West noted about Britain's policy of internment that by 1916, 'the Isle of Man' had become one huge enemy prison camp' and internment arguably seems to the method of choice by which States protect themselves from the consequences of their own actions, with large numbers of people 'disappeared' from circulation in the servitude of ruling class political interests.

During the 'great war' little attempt was made to distinguish civilian from military prisoners. In the great 'war on terror' -- ironically the single biggest coordinated and ongoing series of acts of mass terror ever witnessed, whose self-justifying proof of 'success' is a death toll fast approaching that achieved by the Nazis, there is no distinction between civilian and military prisoners. In the 'war on terror' all captives are military prisoners and Guantanamo has set the Mengeleian standard, a standard that has yet to be destroyed like the cancer that it is.

David Davis, raised by a single-mother on a council estate, as legend has it, may well have been sincere about his stance on 42 days, but it didn't stop him voting for 28 days detention without charge. Nor did it inspire him to do much about the steady creep of fascism during his tenure, except riding the tired old terror ticket gravy train along with just about everyone else. In fact, scratch the newly revealed 'liberal' 'libertarian' David Davis and, lo and behold, you find a traditional Conservative authoritarian fatherless paternalist who would happily lock up your children. For their own good, you understand.

Davis' stunt has resulted in follow your establishment-leader demagogue turning into a follow your establishment-dissenter demagogue, whether it be David Davis, Home Office lawyer Director of Liberty Shami Chakrabarti or any other figure that jumps on the Fast Moving Consumer Good that is the David Davis for Freedom cross-media marketing PR bandwagon.

Of course, everyone would rather have a small part of them which believes that there is a degree of humanity entrenched somewhere in a system that seeks to preserve itself above all else. While the notion of a benevolent 'Nanny State' might save everyone having to think about organising any alternatives for themselves and everyone else, considerable evidence consistently indicates that the contrary is nearer the truth.

If Davis' dissent is fickle fakery - which it is, little more than an apolitical, single issue, populist stunt in which Davis spat the proverbial dummy - then the follow up is precisely what has been delivered: A cross-party coalition of apolitical nothings who think the 'ex' SAS serviceman Basher is a rather nice, freedom-loving chap. Nothing changes but everyone gets a glimmer of the light at the end of the tunnel. Unfortunately, the glimmer being seen is from a light that was turned off a long time ago, owing to financial considerations. Illuminations never come from the crowned.
"All the world is a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and entrances; each man in his time plays many parts."
Shakespeare hit the nail firmly on the head and nowhere is it more applicable than the bread and circuses of the political theatre.

If you ignore the socio-political class roots of the origins of the apparent dissent, then Davis has struck a blow for freedom. Which he hasn't.

If there were to be a serious political backlash, it would have to come from the organised masses of the general public in the form of mass-strikes, civil disobedience and inventive ways of surviving despite the best efforts of the State to suppress the backlash. However, if there were to be a serious political backlash from the general public, well, the "anti-terror laws" are all in place to deal with that "grave exceptional terrorist threat" and precedents have been set that allow the State to extra-judicially execute everyone from foreign nationals to nice middle-class legal types. That's what you call "covering all the bases".

So, Davis / Chakrabarti / hysterical world-and-his-hysterical-wife / fight for freedom theatrics aside, the alleged 42-day detention vote has left us with:
  • Secret inquests
  • Secret inquiries
  • Secret jury-less trials
  • Lest we forget - 42 days detention without trial, even though Babar Ahmad has been locked up for four years without charge and Harry Roberts is now in his twelfth year of detention without charge, despite having already served a 30-year life-sentence for his crime.
Quoting from the brief Antagonista Manifesto at the top left of this blog:
"When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty."
For anyone to expect that duty of resistance to be presented in any legitimate way from within the system is, at best, naive.


Kier said...

Let's not judge David Davis too harshly; surely this spirited stand over a small aspect of a much wider issue demonstrates great integrity and value for human life!

To start with, I bet he's well against the death penalty.....oh. Oh dear.

Okay, well I certainly bet he believes in equality of opportunity and would never discriminate against minority groups.....erm.....perhaps not, then.

All right.....fine....well, it must go without saying that he's against Control Orders; those punitive, totalitarian measures taken against innocent people, the same innocent people that he doesn't want to see locked up for 42 days, of which he said in June 2007 "This is yet another example of how control orders, while doing much to undermine our rights and freedoms are astonishingly ineffective at protecting our safety".

Except.....surely this can't be right....Mr. Davis voted in favour of Control Orders just four months before he said that!

I'm devastated!

Kier said...

A reviewer of 'Captivated' wrote last week,

"And then, from somewhere, a thought occurred to me; is this to ‘humanise’ the individuals caught in a legal maze that retained the right to make and change the rules of the ‘game’ at will. As I write the word ‘humanise’ I recall Mozzam Beg’s curt retort – “Humanise?” he said, “Are they [the detainees] animals that need humanizing?” – I believe he has a point. I suppose if the exhibition hoped to ‘humanise’ terror suspects, such an aim speaks merely of the degree to and the speed with which our media and its authorizing discourses shamefully blinker our minds."

Brilliant post btw, Antagonist.

Shahid said...

Absolutely brilliant writing - I wish I could write with such precision, truth and power.

I don't have to. Every time I need a dose of reality, which is more often than used to be the case, I just read your work.

Somebody has got to be listening. the problem is, they can't talk, because we're now so observed.

We have already lost of all our freedoms. We can't assemble (unless it's for some nothing cause, or a blatant set-up), we can't associate and fuck it, we can't even go for outdoor pursuits, because that's training for jihad, right?

They have us isolated and scared. Exactly where they want us. And now they're going to hit us with a recession.

The Antagonist said...

Kier -- Perhaps I should have referred to him as David 'Death Penalty' Davis. It is definitely much more authoritative sounding than 'Double Tap', which leaves a lot to the imagination.

The Antagonist said...

Shahid -- As ever, you're too kind.

They have us isolated and scared. Exactly where they want us. And now they're going to hit us with a recession.

The only things we are afraid of are apathy and silence.

I think we could all take a few lessons in motivational speaking from this man.