With the millionaire ConDem's rapid dismantling of the very social fabric of our society crashing along unabated, it is obvious that there will be anger among the ordinary people. People who have been subservient, compliant and hard working as they tried to have a decent life will soon find, that is no longer possible. Anger will turn to action with circumstances forcing people to come together and organise for their mutual survival, the state however, to protect its authority, will do its damnedest to prevent that coming together. The policing will change, dissent will be stifled and protest will be criminalised. On that theme, the following article is lifted in full from that old war horse of the anarchist movement, FREEDOM, the longest running anarchist newspaper in the UK.
The graphics are not FREEDOM's.
When Oxbridge graduate Bernard Hogan-Howe began his new job as Metropolitan police commissioner in September, he brought with him a quaint PR phrase 'total policing' (that he himself coined when chief of Merseyside police) as a way of introducing himself into the new role as top cop. As a sound-bite it ticked all the right boxes for an insouciant media – enticing, unspecific, and unavoidably non-committal. But what in reality does a change at the top of the police pile mean for anarchists and activists especially during this period of economic disintegration and increasingly fractious social unrest, what can we expect in this new era of total policing?
Already this year we have seen several examples of pro-active policing taking on a more sinister role – the kind of policing that goes beyond public order and preservation of the peace but designed to undermine political expression.
When education activists did a banner drop at the Lib Dem party conference in September they were remanded for three days by West Midlands police as their “membership of an organisation showed that they could not be trusted not to cause danger to the public”. In Bristol there was a raid on The Automonist radical magazine where police seized phones, computers and paperwork looking for a connection to the August riots, and it was during the August riots that several people received long jail sentences for simply posting messages on Facebook encouraging participation in the unrest. There were also the pre-emptive arrests and raids on squats in the run up to the Royal wedding and of course the arrest of145 people for the Fortnum & Mason peaceful occupation on 26th March.
But perhaps the most pronounced indication that we are enterig a new era of political policing was the excessive and overt role of plain-clothes police during the November student demonstration in Central London.
Despite the tightly regulated route of the march – each side street blocked by a small army of well defended barriers – gangs of plain-clothes police, acting independently of uniformed police, embedded themselves in the demonstration and sought to impose themselves upon the crowd, only revealing their identities when people grew hostile towards them. Whether this was to provoke a reaction or simply target individuals they wanted to arrest, the gang strategy highlighted a new and potentially dangerous example of things to come.
This new approach to the management of political dissent and public protest will impose itself more and more as the crisis deepens, where the legitimacy of government is constantly questioned and the role of the state relentlessly challenged, where ordinary people, angry and disillusioned with the current state of things, become active political subjects.
For the state to maintain its authority and control over an increasingly embittered population they must ensure not only a compliant protest culture but the continued separation between political activists and the rest of society. Policing now has taken on a form of dissuading us from expressing a common purpose. This is is the political policing of the future.