The following statement has been approved by the Society's Executive Committee.
‘Security measures’ are becoming all-pervasive, supposedly to protect us from severe threats. In practice, such measures turn us into suspects – subjected to preventative measures such as state surveillance, restrictions on movement, extra-judicial powers, secret evidence and even punishment without trial. ‘Terrorism’, ‘extremism’ and ‘suspicious behaviour’ are defined so broadly and vaguely as to entrap potentially anyone.
Some measures target specific group. Anti-terror powers target migrant-diaspora and Muslim communities, as well as (increasingly) political activists. Bans on ‘terrorist’ organisations have been designed and used to persecute migrant communities here. Anti-terror raids are organised as mass-media spectacles, labelling individuals and entire groups as ‘terror suspects’.
Secret evidence has been systematically used to detain foreigners as ‘terror suspects’, who must be deported in the interests of ‘national security’. More recently, secret evidence has been extended to other procedures, likewise in the name of national security. Curfews and dispersal orders target youth, labelling normal social activities as dangerous.
Military equipment has been deployed to build public fear, justifying a quasi-military occupation protecting multinational companies from protest. In summer 2012 the MoD sought to put missiles in housing estates in East London, supposedly to protect the Olympics from terrorist threats. The High Court ruled that the MoD had legal powers to site missiles wherever necessary for that purpose. As an opposition campaigner rightly said, ‘This ruling means that the MoD can put missiles on our roofs or can even station troops in our houses, simply by claiming that it is necessary for national security.’
Through privatisation and outsourcing, ‘security’ companies have been gaining state-like powers in this country. The British-Danish company G4S was designated as ‘official provider of security and cash services for the Olympics’. When G4S failed to deliver adequate numbers of staff, this unfortunately obscured the fundamental scandal: government outsources responsibility and even makes itself dependent on G4S for training police. This arrangement makes ‘security’ measures even less publicly accountable.
Israel’s Occupation of Palestine has served as a laboratory for many surveillance and control techniques designed for global export. These have been adapted for ‘security measures’ at airports and mega-events such as Olympics. Long before the London Olympics, G4S was involved in the Israeli Occupation, e.g. by supplying equipment to Israeli prisons and ‘security services’ to businesses in illegal Israeli settlements. Israeli-type checkpoints have been spreading to other types of public events.
In all these ways, securitisation is a political strategy for spreading fear and insecurity, while also suppressing dissent against neoliberal policies and war. It attempts to discipline us all through fear that our behaviour will be treated as ‘extreme’ or ‘suspicious’. Societal conflicts are increasingly defined as ‘security problems’ warranting special measures – which thereby become normal. This politically disciplines society, while also securitising politics – turning all societal conflicts into ‘security’ problems. All these measures encourage suspicion towards each other, thus discouraging solidarity. Securitisation is psychological warfare targeting us, in the name of protecting us.
Securitisation measures have provoked resistance of various kinds, but they remain largely fragmented. Effective resistance needs stronger linkages among the groups being targeted. Such linkages should be promoted through common approaches at three levels:
Concepts: Identify all our campaigns with the concept ‘securitisation’ as the overall problem.
Activities: Organise protest and education activities which link different aspects of securitisation.
- Oppose oppressive legislation, especially ‘anti-terror’, curfews, dispersal orders, etc.
- Oppose contracts outsourcing ‘security’ roles to private companies.
- Oppose the spread of military equipment outside military bases.