Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Speaking of "robust defeat".

Blair's discussion of "terrorism" isn't worth too much attention at the level of empirical argument. What is asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof, and as ever nothing he says is designed to convince - it is designed to distract and muddy the waters. Blair asserts that "terrorism" is "an attack on our way of life". The BBC calls that "robust". Blair says "terrorism" isn't to do with foreign policy. That too is "robust". Blair says something about "reforms" to meet "rising expectations", which is not designed to communicate anything other than the sense that the British public are collectively an amusingly pushy consumer demanding better all the time and that they, New Labour, the managers as it were, are jolly well working their fingers to the bone to keep us happy.

Anyway, on the terror/foreign policy business, (and this appears to be the only way in which he really addressed foreign policy at all - the disgusting man couldn't even bring himself to mention Lebanon, to even fake a bit of shame), it is Blair versus reality. Were it not for the Prime Minister's unfortunate condition (that of being Prime Minister) we could afford to simply ignore his propositions as delusional salesy bullshit. Instead we have to address them as an expression of the pernicious, reactionary and authoritarian politics of New Labour. Since they cannot publicly acknowledge that Iraq and foreign policy in general is related to the increased risk of attacks in the UK, the government must insist on categorical guilt - that is, it must insist on the guilt of the Muslim community. They, collectively, are held responsible for rooting out the darkness within, and if it comes to it, destroying their own brains instantly utterly. Hence, the renewal of internment, the imprisonment of thousands of innocent people, the suspension of habeus corpus, the collusion in torture etc etc.

They cannot possibly sell this sort of policy without an appeal to racism, however attenuated, and however delegated. Islamophobic attacks through the press on Muslim organisations or individuals who dare to dissent are one way of propagating this. Another is to raise hysteria about alleged threats. There is nothing sophisticated in how this is done: the message is simply repeated over and over, with brutal insistence. Those who dissent are bullied. Those who try accomodate themselves to it while retaining some criticisms are threatened with ex-communication if they don't fully repent. Because this is New Labour's only way out of the shit it's in over the wars on Iraq, Afghanistan and the recent proxy one in Lebanon. Blair is a competent salesman, and he's advertising like crazy. But you know, as Bertolt Brecht once remarked, under capitalism you sell your piss to the urinal. I hope the conference delegates have some of those refreshing blocks to suck on.