Note: Since writing this, things moved on so the post has been updated to reflect those changes.
What should you do if you discover an anarchist living next door? Dust off your old Sex Pistols albums and hang out a black and red flag to make them feel at home? Invite them round to debate the merits of Peter Kropotkin’s anarchist communism versus the individualist anarchism of Emile Armand? No – the answer, according to an official counter-terrorism notice circulated in London last week, is that you must report them to police immediately.
This was the surprising injunction from the Metropolitan Police issued to businesses and members of the public in Westminster last week. There was no warning about other political groups, but next to an image of the anarchist emblem, the City of Westminster police’s “counter terrorist focus desk” called for anti-anarchist whistleblowers stating: “Anarchism is a political philosophy which considers the state undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, and instead promotes a stateless society, or anarchy. Any information relating to anarchists should be reported to your local police.”
Interestingly enough, they do seem to understand what anarchism is – unlike some of the protesters recently who seem to think it involves more government, spending even more of our money.
Frankly, I’m appalled. Actually, no, I’m not. Not remotely. There was a time when I would have been shocked about such a statement, but not these days. Orwell’s dark prophesies about thought crime have been a reality for so long now, we should have expected this type of thing. What the Labour party honed and polished to perfection while in power, the Coalition now uses willingly to the detriment of our civil liberties.
So, there you have it, if you don’t believe the state is necessary, you’d better do the decent thing and nip round to your local nick and turn yourself in, there’s a good chap.
The result of increased requests by the police to report behaviour they deem suspicious has led to a hardening of my attitude towards them. These days, just being a bit odd will suffice – such as not going out very much and keeping your curtains pulled (my neighbour does this). Oddly enough, we have been here before. Well, when I say “we” I mean Europe in general. It is precisely the technique the Gestapo used in the early days of the Nazi regime. They were under-staffed and couldn’t identify all those awkward buggers by themselves, so they used informants, actively encouraging people to spy on and report their neighbours – a tactic enthusiastically continued by their effective replacement in East Germany in the post war years, the Stasi. The brief was pretty wide – anyone who appeared “suspicious”, didn’t seem part of the community, mentally ill, loners, that sort of thing (it goes without saying that Jews were included, but that’s not relevant on this occasion) – not to mention critical of the ruling party.
Of course, you can’t get more critical than being an anarchist – someone who is openly willing a pox on all their houses.
I’ve said it before, but it seems it needs saying again; the state is not your friend.
Update: Such is the way with having to schedule posts. They occasionally go out of date. Since writing this on the morning of 1st August when the news was fresh, the police have had a rethink.
The Metropolitan police initiated an embarrassing climbdown after a police station in Belgravia, west London, published a leaflet asking the public and businesses to report anyone with anarchist sympathies.
The call for information on a political rather than criminal group echoed a similar appeal for information about al-Qaida activity and “could have been better worded”, Scotland Yard admitted.
Better worded, eh? That’s what happens when you simply plagiarise Wikipedia instead of actually, you know, concentrating on catching criminals instead of going after people who have different opinions. Shit for brains doesn’t even start to cover it. Anarchism is a political philosophy and is not a criminal offence, and therefore does not warrant police attention. Violent behaviour is and does. Most of us can tell the difference.
“The Metropolitan police service does not seek to stigmatise those people with legitimate political views.
“People purporting to be anarchists have caused criminal damage this year to business premises, and government buildings in Westminster. The message we were trying to convey was to gather information on criminal acts to help us prevent crime and bring offenders to justice.”
See? Nothing to do with anarchism, because if you understood what anarchism was – instead of just lifting it unedited from Wikipedia, you would realise that anarchists wouldn’t be seen dead at demonstrations demanding more government. Idiots.