Monday, April 13, 2009

welcome to the Police State


114 people have been arrested for allegedly planning direct action at the E.On-owned Ratcliffe-on-Soar coal-fired power station. No details have yet emerged as to the evidence which led the police to make such an astonishing number of pre-emptive arrests but their press release justified it by claiming that their raids recovered "specialist equipment" that would have allowed those arrested to "[pose] a serious threat to the safe running of the site".

E.On themselves declared:
"While we understand that everyone has a right to protest peacefully and lawfully, this was clearly neither of those things so we will be assisting the police with their investigations into what could have been a very dangerous and irresponsible attempt to disrupt an operational power plant."
Really? Very dangerous, really? To whom? Or, more to the point, to whose profits? And irresponsible? Quite, quite the contrary. As Greenpeace demonstrated at the trials of the six brave activists who climbed the Kingsnorth cooling towers, causing tens of thousands of pounds worth of alleged criminal damage can be defended in court through a claim to be "acting to protect property around the world "in immediate need of protection" from the impacts of climate change, caused in part by burning coal".

So what we actually have here is an example of the UK police forces being mobilised to assist in the destruction of property around the world and to prevent legitimate protest (I say this because I very much doubt they had evidence that all 114 arrested were intending to partake in direct action). Clearly the UK police have been instructed from on high to dedicate their substantial resources to pre-empting further direct action of the Greenpeace-Kingsnorth type. This ideology, that places the interests of a private company above those of society and obstructs legitimate, direct action to prevent the emission of greenhouse gases, sounds more like ecofascism than ecoterrorism. The following passage is eerily prescient:

". . . the growing movement against climate change has got the state more worried than we realise, and the idea is to spread fear amongst activists that they are being heavily watched. At the moment campaigners are generally regarded in a positive light and public support is absolutely crucial for successful defiance of the state. Just look at how lightly anti-GM activists and peace protestors are treated by the authorities compared to their animal rights counterparts. Perhaps the time has come to drive a wedge between environmental activists and the general public, and of course the best way to do this is with the emotive issue of ‘violence’. Are we observing the beginning of a smear campaign?"
Here we have E.On claiming that these protesters were an "irresponsible and dangerous" threat to the safe operation of their plant (forget that its oxymoronic to suggest a coal-fired power station is "safe" in environmental terms, of course). Oddly, the Guardian fails to interpret this action in this context, despite carrying articles on the outcome of the trial of the Kingsnorth six and on recent police violence against environmental protests. But then Guardian Media Group have previous form publishing police propaganda with respect to the threat to society from "ecoterrorists".

Addition 14-04-09:

The report in the Graun indicates that some protesters have been released on bail and that none of them have been charged! Furthermore, many have had their homes searched during their detention!

"A police spokesman said that while the group was in custody "a number of premises were searched". Items recovered from the raids included bolt cutters and equipment that could be used to tie people to machinery."
Oh, no! Not the sinful, highly explosive, child-murdering bolt cutters! Think of the poor little children!

No, seriously. That was what a police spokesman is reported to have said. If that's grounds for detention then I'm a fair cop guv. There's boltcutters under the stairs and some sturdy rope in the closet (don't ask). Plus I have dangerous chemicals (bleach, meths), subversive literature (I've got one of Merrick's pamphlets next to the bed) and a wealth of political media on my laptop from well known terrorists such as George Monbiot and Herman Daly.

If I were one of those arrested I would be seriously pissed off. And on the phone to my lawyer.


  1. This is how Hitler started you know. It'll end in the gas chambers. I'm telling you - mark my words.

    Well, perhaps not.

    It's come to something when you can't trash a large power station on an Easter Monday without the forces of evil trying to stop you.

  2. You know, my 'ecofascism' comment wasn't completely without substance. I know this sort of comparison is crass and frequently without substance but if you look at some of the main tenets of fascism- there are many definitions- they all contain certain, prominent characteristics. I'm going with corporatism and single-party state capitalism, nationalism, authoritarianism and the rejection of those deemed "weak" (or just those who advocate progress away from the entrenched elite such as environmentalists, internationalists, human rights campaigners, etc). I imagine you could allocate a healthy majority of the political decisions in the last twenty years in this country to being a direct product of one or a mixture of those ideological drivers. Don't get me wrong- I'm not saying we're about to experience another Kristallnacht; but its not unthinkable either. Noam Chomsky has spent much of the last decade doing really detailed, objective research and analysis to draw out how post-war humanist values have been superceded by the malign, capitalist-fundamentalist philosophy that has ruled since the end of the 70s. That era has clearly now imploded spectacularly but we are left with a vacuum that cannot be filled due to the demise of functional democracy in the UK and the US. And we're not alone.

    I really recommend reading as much of Chomsky's analysis as you can get your hands on. Most of what he talks about is applicable to the UK as well as the US. This was very recent and pertinent:

    This is very old but still very pertinent:


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