Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Radiation sickness. posted by Richard Seymour
No disrespect to the 95 rebels - far from it - but for how long can we be put through this pathetic charade and be told we have a functioning democracy? I accept that it is no novelty for states to take the most important decisions about the society's direction without deference to public opinion. The British state made the decision to start Britain's nuclear weapons system in the first place without even bothering to inform cabinet. At least this time they felt the need to condescend to us with a vote, even if not a free vote. But the arguments offered over the last couple of days are drawn from a lunatic's sock-drawer and reiterated by a herd of irradiated minds.
Tom Watson MP this morning said that we had to support the renewal of Trident now, because we never know what might happen in twenty years time. No, really. He actually said that. Of course we don't fucking know what will happen in twenty years time! I don't even know what will happen when I go to bed, but I'm not planning on getting a gun and threatening the neighbours before I hit the sack - y'know, to be on the safe side. And if you take that argument seriously, then it cuts both ways: we don't know what will have happened to Western governments or societies in twenty years, and we may not fancy finding out what they could do with limitless nuclear weaponry. But Watson's argument is exactly the same as that used by the Tories. In fact, Blair made a similar argument, with some absurd bells on, last year. Roughly he explained: what if, right, Iran gets nuclear weapons, right? And then they give them to terrorists? Or, no wait, what if North Korea gets them and Kim Il-Sung calls Osama up and plots the obliteration of all of America's national monuments? You never know. Could happen. And then if it did, wouldn't we want nuclear weapons in order to be able to... er... 'defend' ourselves? I mean, what are we supposed to be hoping for? At least if they kill a few thousand Americans we can wipe out hundreds of thousands of Arabs? (Silly me - they've already done that). One New Labour publication actually has the chutzpah to claim that it is about honouring a manifesto commitment. The Labour Party? They value manifesto pledges? Yeth ith twooo.
Are these more of those lies that aren't even designed to be convincing, I wonder? If so, it has worked spectacularly. Even the usually reliably dumb and docile intelligentsia aren't suckered into this one. Not Polly Toynbee, nor Nick Cohen, nor David Aaronovitch, nor any of the usual crowd of Blairite scum (no offense, obviously). Naturally, the televised hairdos such as Tom Bradbury will at the slightest squeeze of the nipple read out New Labour's press releases and call it political analysis. The Sun's Trevor Kavanagh thinks Iran is an oil-hungry Sunni dictatorship, so obviously he's all for it. But public opinion isn't behind it, celebrities are lining up to denounce it, the experts aren't exactly brimming with enthusiasm, Labour members show genuine signs of having an opinion about it (they're against). And almost 100 Labour MPs defied the party whip and forced the government to rely on Tory support. I grant you, the fact that this is important tells you how pathetic the House of Commons is, but it is in fact important. Parliament is always the last place that a crisis registers.
Once upon a time there was a story about nuclear weapons: we had to have them, so that we could assure another nuclear power that we could destroy them if they destroyed us. That story was believed for a while, but what we now know is that we came terrifyingly close to destroying the planet. In the grand scheme of things, the human race probably doesn't matter all that much, but we should probably avoid destroying ourselves until all other options have been considered. As it now stands, however, the theory of mutually assured destruction can't even begin to persuade, because the 'mutual' element no longer obtains - for now, anyway. Instead what we have is a one-sided threat of annihilation, more or less open. It wouldn't be the first time. In February 2003, UK Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon told the world that Britain was fully prepared to use nuclear weapons against Iraq. What else could it mean? Why on earth does a state want nuclear weapons attached to submarines if not to threaten population centres all over the world with extinction should they fail to obey orders? What else is the purpose of redrawing the boundaries between nuclear and conventional weapons? Why else would those trying to foist the system on us be reduced to such incoherent fucking gibberish?