Monday, July 09, 2007

Taking a leaf out of the Stasi's book

In former East Germany, the hated Stasi – or state security police – just about had one half of the population spying on the other. While that is now the stuff of films like Other People’s Lives, the spirit of the Stasi lives on the shape of one Admiral Sir Alan West, who is a security minister in the Brown government of “all the talents”. Leaving aside the fact that West was in charge of the navy, where terrorism is not exactly top of the Admiralty’s agenda, his suggestion that people should “snitch” on suspicious neighbours is right out the Stasi’s handbooks. He didn’t elaborate on what constitutes “suspicious” activities, but they could well include the following acts by members of the Muslim community:
  • buying stuff for barbecues from a DIY store (this is doubly suspicious because the weather is so bad at the moment)
  • looking for articles on the Internet critical of the Bush-Brown policies towards Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan, Chechnya etc
  • being overheard in a supermarket discussing the background to terrorist attacks
  • suggesting in a public place that British foreign policy may well have contributed to the threat of terror attacks
  • failing to greet a member of the police force as a friend and a person who would never knowingly abuse a member of a minority community
  • declining to support England at football, cricket or rugby
  • a refusal to integrate by, for example, insisting on cooking curries or living next door to nice, white, middle-class folk (who, of course, are not required to integrate with anyone)
  • not engaging in serious and sustained binge drinking along with the majority population
  • carrying large parcels or backpacks
  • acting in a manner that could generally cause alarm amongst a fearful population.

There are no doubt many other aspects of strange behaviour that people ought to be on the look out for because, as West told us, the war on terror will last at least 15 years. So in approximately 2022 we will all be allowed to return to life as we once knew it – but only if we snoop and snitch. This is, of course, New Labour fantasy land, made more dubious by Brown’s love-in with military figures like West, who bypass party membership to join the government. This same team brought you the Iraq war and the occupation of Afghanistan – and what great success stories they have turned out to be. Iraq is in ruins and the Taleban are making a comeback in Afghanistan.

Although it is true that Islamic-inspired terrorism has a long history, the British people themselves have become a terror target principally because of these imperial policies. Blind terror is, of course, reactionary to the core and has to be condemned. But finding a way forward will require at the minimum progressive, alternative policies at all levels – social, economic, political, military. Yet today, David Miliband, the new foreign secretary, attacked Iran and stoked up the pressure on Teheran about its nuclear programme. So we’re left with the admiral’s plan to alert the authorities about suspicious Muslims. In the end, of course, the Stasi played a major part in the disintegration of the very state they were supposed to protect. Hopefully, New Labour is set on a similar course.

Paul Feldman, communications editor


Anonymous said...

For those who aren't so familiar with history, before the Stasi in former East Germany (DDR) it was the Nazis who got neighbours to behave as informers on the people next door so that the Gestapo would know what everyone was doing and even thinking every minute of the day and the right to a private life was destroyed, even before the Stasi did. The British weren't supposed to do that kind of thing!

Anonymous said...

I believe that Brown is looking for secret codes and ques. That a covert guerrilla operation would make themselves recognize by having different allegiances to different teams. I know it is a slippery slop. Has the war on terror degenerated to looking for gang type affilations.

Looking for sabotuers of industry has been on the government top list I believe since the begining of working together in groups, even hunting probably.

I think the Stasi approach will teach everyone lessons about human behavior and how to organize society, it maybe lesson we do not want go through and learn, but aftermath, we will be saying why did we do that, and could there been another way, to deal with unhappy people that want a say in their lifes and maybe dignity.

In America we had the red scare of the 1950's, blacklisting because of sabotage by communist operatives, but I believe this just supports the communist or disgruntles argument of lack of opportunity and discrimination about beliefs, it reinforces the domination of one cultural or idealogical group over another. Exclusion is a form of extinction or punishment to promote the obediance to the dominate cultural running the business of government.

The question we should be asking about indirect aggression, or even aggression is , what needs of these people not being met and what do they do not understand about the poltical and economic system that creates the frustration, causing them to act in a matter?

Creating mass paranoia might deter, but as we all see some these people are intimidated by an overwhelming force.

To sum up, What is causing the conflict, is their signs that might signal to an act of sabotage, or extreme violent vandalism. Excluding people by loyal and non loyal distinction may not be the way, because it could viewed, that obediance to the leaders that are limiting opportunty for these people as a sign of loyalty, in essence a sign of submission. These are some thoughts, to create an aire of the all seeing eye, will drive these people further away, and hide legitmate expression because of the exclusion and distrust label, therefore could mitigate other methods of expression which we as international community call terrorism.