Tweet Follow @RPJblog
By Jason Michael
In modern Britain terrorism is what the government says it is. This nebulous idea of terrorism is now being used as a pretext for the UK government to censor and, where possible, shut down the internet. This is a war on cybernatism.
We don’t read political manifestos, but maybe we should. If Donald Trump’s rise to power in the United States has taught us anything it is that we should be paying careful attention to what politicians say they are going to do. In the UK the political manifesto spells out the plan for government each party has, should it win the election. Given that it is likely, albeit with a slimmer majority or as a minority, the Tories will be returned to government, the 2017 Conservative Party Manifesto is essential reading. It’s not my intention to preach; I rarely read manifestos, but I am glad I took the time to wade through this one.
Call me a cynic – sure, call me a conspiracy theorist even – but the Tory manifesto definitely puts the Manchester Arena bombing and Saturday night’s terror attacks in London into sharper focus. Make of that what you will. Theresa May and her Conservative government want to control the internet and they are planning on doing this on the grounds of protecting us from hate speech, extremism, and terrorism. “Some people say,” says page 82, “that it is not for government to regulate when it comes to technology and the internet.” Yeah, “some people” say this because it is not for government to regulate when it comes to technology and the internet. But it goes on: “We disagree.”
Can we please not have a Tory landslide so they can continue hacking apart our healthcare/welfare and begin censoring The Internet kthanx. x—
Charlie Warren (@MrWarrenTweets) June 07, 2017
Of course the British government disagrees that its regulatory hands should be kept the hell away from digital technology and the internet. The space for free expression the internet has facilitated and social media in particular have become a serious pain in the arse for authoritarians the likes of Britain’s Conservatives. While the internet is jammed to the rafters with an unfathomable amount of porn and other shite, without it the mass political awakening we have witnessed in the past two decades would simply to have been possible; the massive and socially transformative independence movement that has sprung up here in Scotland would not have been possible.
Mrs May’s nanny state bullshit has nothing to do with keeping us safe from terrorism whatsoever. Whether you like the definition or not – I don’t care – it’s true: “Terrorism” is just the word powerful states, engaged in asymmetric wars, use to describe what happens when their victims hit back. Either this or, as the case has been in the most recent attacks in England, the government knows exactly where the terrorists are and what they are up to because it funded them and trained them. The British government has these people on bloody speed dial of God’s sake.
The bottom line is that the digital revolution poses the single greatest threat to the hegemony of the big brother state since the inception of the nation-state. It was all well and good so long as we were all just googling Betty’s-Big-Boobs-dot-com, hilariously amusing fail videos, and yummy mummy blogs for banoffee pie recipes. Theresa May, who is quite partial to a good old fox hunt, doesn’t give a jot about online pornography. Her Tory establishment pals have made a fortune from seedy strip clubs, exclusive photoshoots with page 3 models, and high society paedophile rings. She couldn’t give a toss that countless thousands of Britons are getting their onanistic jollies from images on their computer screens.
What she does care about; what the entire Tory power structure cares about, is that the internet and our use of social media have politicised the electorate they have worked so hard to keep in the dark. The internet and our online privacy have upset the British applecart. They undermine the government’s claim to the monopoly on truth, and therefore its claim to power. The internet forces a dilemma on governments; it forces them to behave has though they too are being surveilled – as this is what the internet gives us the power to do – or to censor the internet. Power detests a rival, and so power hungry governments like Britain’s will always opt for control over compromise.
The Conservatives are promising a “Digital Charter” on top of the Snooper’s Charter by which they propose to limit our access to the internet, gain access to all of our apps and online communications, and effectively construct a North Korea style super-max prison internet. They want to control – and they have made this explicit – what we say and read online.
In the Scottish context this would be fatal to the independence movement. What we have achieved has almost entirely been down to what freedom we do have online. Without the support of any friendly news media – television, radio, or print media – the independence movement was built by dedicated cyber activism on blogs, podcasts, videos, Facebook, and Twitter. With the exception now of The National and iScot – which we should be supporting by the way – we are still very much limited to these tools. An aggressive assault on our use of the internet – because, let’s be honest, we are a threat to national security – will deal a catastrophic blow to our struggle.
Theresa May: Thank God for terrorism, now I can grab the internet.