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We are ruled by Suicide Bombers

February 21, 2006

A power capable of destroying the world many times over is based at Faslane in the West of Scotland – not very far away from where I am sitting writing this.

The Trident defence system has 1772 times the power of the atomic explosion that wiped out Hiroshima. And that’s just Britain: what about all the other nuclear powers?

Together, the world nuclear arsenal is probably powerful enough to destroy much of our solar system (every wondered why Mars is barren? I reckon the Martians discovered nuclear power before we did).

Having unstable, meglamaniacal world leaders sitting on nuclear arsenals is like having suicide bomber walking through a crowded area, threatening to blow everyone up unless we do as he says – except on a global scale.

How did we allow these maniacs to get into power? We are ruled by suicide bombers, crazy men with sweaty fingers hovering inches above a red button that will blow us all away. It’s time to bring an end to this Thanotocracy, this regime that worships death and destruction.

Blair managed to get a law passed which outlaws the ‘glorification’ of terror. This gives the UK government a monopoly on the glorification of terror: every night on television, you see advertisements for the air force and army, making war and conflict look like the kind of thing every enterprising young man or woman would want to do. “Together as one”, declare the ads, showing booted soldiers shooting their way into a building. Isn’t this glorifying terror? I know I’d be terrified if they broke into my house that way. So why is it OK for them?

One of the things I hate about the British establishment is the obsession with social control – the UK is the most monitored society on Earth, and the average Londoner is filmed 300 times a day by CCTV. Recently, Blair got his bill for biometric ID cards passed. And this is supposed to make us feel safe? In this context it is easy to see the role of TV programmes like Big Brother to manufacture consent for the surveillance society.

Foucault, in Discipline and Punish, speaks about a way of controlling prisoners called the Panopticon. Basically, the prisoners can be seen by the guards at all times, but can’t see if they are being watched or not. So they behave all the time, because a guard might be watching. CCTV operates in the same way.

And if that’s not bad enough, the world just took another swing to the dark side: for the first time, humans have had tracking devices implanted in their bodies. George Monbiot considers the implications in this article.

Only when the last warmonger is strangled with the guts of the last bureaucrat will we be free, eh?    

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    February 21, 2006 3:51 pm

    being concerned about the world’s nuclear arsenals and the people who control them is smart and advisable, but please don’t go irrational on us.

    take the effort to pass basic physics, and do a bit of math before you go spouting nonsense like “powerful enough to destroy much of our solar system”; that sort of crap just makes you sound like a hysterical babbler to anybody who knows better than that. and please look into some planetary astronomy before you go speculating on the past history of Mars, while you’re at it.

    there are real worries and concerns about nuclear proliferation. you don’t need to invent imaginary ones, or people will just end up thinking that you don’t know what you’re talking about, even in the cases when you do.

  2. Walton permalink
    February 21, 2006 4:20 pm

    That’s a fair comment, and one I take to heart. The Mars thing is meant to be a joke or speculation, to try to bring home the real horror of the situation.
    But maybe sober and rational argument is the best way to approach this. Only no one seems to take notice of that.

  3. Ian permalink
    March 1, 2006 8:51 pm

    I tend to agree with anonymous. I also think more people than you realise tend to take notice of convincing arguments. The horror is real enough without exaggerating it. In fact an exaggeration weakens the whole thing. Here’s an example I recently came across. Someone claimed ‘George Bush is the worst US president ever’. Much of the commentary was pointing out what nonsense this is. Look into the histories of many of them and you’ll see a lot worse. But the whole thing detracted from the real issue around the Bush presidency the poster was trying to make. I have the same problem with apocalyptists. It’s quite fun predicting the end of everything (nowadays usually due to environmental concerns), but that breeds pessimism and disinterest, when actually there’s much that can be done, and much to do.

  4. Walton permalink
    March 2, 2006 10:17 am

    You make a very good point, but I still don’t know how I feel about this one. I guess this is because of personal experience. I spent 5 years as an active revolutionary socialist, trying to change the world by winning the battle of ideas.
    While the ideas I was proposing were flawed, they were a damn sight more logical than capitalism. I found it relatively easy to debate with people and show them the contradictions in the ideas they had absorbed from the outside world, but instead of becoming convinced socialists, this made most people anxious and led them to retreat into a ‘we’ll just have to agree to disagree’. People – my younger self included – invest a tremendous amount of emotional energy in maintaining their worldviews, and don’t like this to be threatened.
    The arguments for a better world – call it anarchism, socialism, communism or something else, I don’t care – are so much more coherent than the arguments for allowing greed to reign, and they have been around for centuries, even millenia. Yet we are still ruled by greed.
    Obviously, a lot of this is over who controls information. But a bigger part is that only a very small minority of people use their intellect to determine their world view and their response to it. Most people’s response to the world is irrational and based on emotional triggers.
    I think it was Trotsky who said something along the lines of ‘one blow of a policeman’s truncheon is worth more than 4 years at university’ – because that blow will allow you to realise, viscerally, the ‘class structure’ of the society we live in.
    While it is important to be able to communicate an idea rationally – and I believe I can – I think the key is to engage people in other ways, buy grabbing them by the guts or heart.
    There’s an old folk song, popular at the time of the miner’s strike in Britain, that asks ‘Which side are you on?’ Most people are uncommitted either way. Once they have answered that question for themselves, the specifics can be ironed out.
    This is why situationist and surrealist politics appeals to me, because it relinquishes the modernist need to find a coherent system of explaining the entire universe, without collapsing into pomo introspection.
    “From this moment, despair ends and tactics begin”.

  5. trebla permalink
    March 3, 2006 10:00 pm

    I think what Trotsky really said was one blow from a policeman is beter than 4 years of uni-poonani. But seriously, I can only ever subscribe to the situationist idea. Am I mistaken in my understanding that true Socialism always entails some curtailment of individual freedom? I’m really not too worried about Blair or some coppers seeing me 300 times a day (except perhaps when receiving a blow from a policeman). I can’t imagine what it is you want to be doing that would make being observed such an annoyance. Big Brother just doesn’t scare me, never has. Should it? Am I missing something? Perhaps I can’t relate cos it’s still possible to get away with so much down here in Cape Town. But granted, injustice is always awful, and there’s plenty of it going around on micro and macro levels. But I’m sick of the Left thinking that peaceful protest is ever going to make any difference, and the people on the left too easily mistake the dissemination of information (i.e. journalism) as sufficient. Most of it is preaching to the converted. The Muslim terrorists are mostly despicable, of course: imagine the support Osama Binbag would have had if he’d kept attacking US military targets instead of civilians. So, knowing that those of us/them on the Left are in the minority (face it: the majority rarely know better, no matter how much you preach), and knowing that, in the final analysis, this world is characterised by a struggle for power and not much besides, what is there we can actually DO? On a grand scale, nothing? Right, so let’s talk tactics. On a personal scale all I can seem to convince myself will ever be of any use us industrial-style sabotage. Spanners and sugar in petrol tanks. With the internet one would have expected there to be more of an international level of organisation going on, with a co-ordinating function that works as a sort of call to arms where sabotage is required. Hey, don’t look at me, I don’t have the time, mate. And besides, then the forces of darkness would know exactly where to expect sabotage to be done. Nope it’s useless. I’m gonna surf some porn instead. Cheerio.

  6. Alan permalink
    March 5, 2006 8:53 am

    I agree with the comments on exageration. The whole story with opposition to American foreign policy can leave you in dispair. You assume (wrongly as it turns out) that because right wing moral arguments are pretty much universally a justification for material and class interests, that the lefts arguments must be inherently more rational. But the left shoots the moral high-ground out from under their feet quite happily with unsustainable hyperbole. When you hear some hysteric going on about the USA being as bad as Iraq you start to think, “we’ve lost. there’s no way sane minds will be convinced.”
    The right wing remains united in the belief that whatever serves their interests is justifiable. The left-wing has no such unity. The wilder the claims of some left wing writers play into the hands of the right.

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