Dead Men Left

Friday, February 18, 2005

And then they bang on about "totalitarianism"

Post-9/11, to use the common division of all human history, there has been an unerring tendency for all acceptable political positions to collapse into agreement on "security" matters.

Tony Blair is expected to seek cross-party consensus on the government's controversial proposals for new control orders when he meets opposition leaders, Michael Howard, and Charles Kennedy today.

Official dissent is squeezed into a corner, whilst unofficial, popular outrage is granted a few snarled warnings. The prevailing consensus that any effort, no matter how foolish or immoral, to improve "security" must be supported is noisily backed by the approved opposition, even where clear political advantage can be gained. Only the rude interruption of mass discontent into the official political sphere has broken this triumph of the technocratic will: the new politics of "security" that states political problems can be solved with technological fixes: that terrorism will be stopped by ID cards, or that human rights abuses can be ended with cruise missiles.

Mark Kaplan has a few words on the "left" variant of this process; I would only add that a deep-rooted Orientalism, in perhaps its most obnoxious form - Western Enlightenment versus the savages - has been necessary to secure the position. (This is also a good point to plug newish and bracingly acerbic blog, Time of the Barmecides, from which Kaplan takes his cue.)