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By Jason Michael
NIETZSCHE NEVER FAILS to unnerve his readers. His nihilistic philosophy of the human condition and the will to power do not make for easy reading. “Uncle Friedrich,” said my Ethics professor, “spells out for us what drives us when we are unencumbered by the gods.” Man, as the final arbiter of his own morality is a monster. He is capable of anything; no achievement and no depth of depravity is beyond him. This was precisely what Dostoyevsky meant in The Brothers Karamazov when he wrote: “Without God, without an afterlife, in the end, it will be that everything is allowed, anything can be done?” In Beyond Good and Evil (1886) Nietzsche writes of the soul gazing into the darkness and the darkness looking back – not the most pleasant thought for anyone afraid of the dark, but his point is simple; the abyss of the human imagination is not a passive force. It is always active, at the deepest parts of our individual psyches and throughout history, in pursuit of its ambitions.
Human darkness, the worst demons of our nature – our conscienceless and insatiable will to power is an intelligent and active agent. Nietzsche and Franz Kafka were prescient enough to perceive what was coming later the twentieth century. They read adroitly the trajectory of European politics and foresaw its descent down into the depths of authoritarianism and totalitarian brutality and state-sanctioned murder and genocide. What they saw was the nature of power in the modern bureaucratic state; how it acts to obfuscate itself in the Byzantine curia of the civil service and how it recoils from no level of violence and savagery in its self-preservation. Its highest moral good is its own survival.
This cybernat conspiracy theory is the most awful mince. Real tinfoil hat stuff.—
Mhairi Hunter (@MhairiHunter) June 11, 2014
Nicola Sturgeon’s assistant, Mhairi Hunter, and Mike Small, the blogger behind the Bella Caledonia website, think me a dolt. Personally, I don’t blame them. I’m usually the first to question my own intelligence. Both have displayed a remarkable ability to sneer at activists in the independence movement who have suggested that the darkness of the British state is watching us, that we – as a movement – are being targeted for surveillance and nefarious interference by Britain’s clandestine services. Long before I was aware of the British Army’s 77th Brigade and the role it plays online to infiltrate and subvert public discourse and political dissent, I rightly assumed this was exactly what the secret services were doing. My presumption was that we had to assume this. After all, their priority is to protect the cohesion and integrity of the British state. As independentistas, our object is the dismantling of the British state. Of course, I assumed, British intelligence is over us like a rash.
Yet, for thinking this and for having the audacity to share this assumption publicly, cosy centrists like Hunter and Small have written us off as tinfoil hat wearing, bampot conspiracy theorists. In fact, anyone who has aired their “paranoid” suspicions regarding state interference in the independence movement has been gaslighted; we’ve been forced to question our own sanity and rationality in the face of those – even inside the movement – who consider themselves the enlightened moral guardians and sensible heads. The very thought of secret government agents messing with our heads on social media screams to them of delusional paranoia.
At first, when the penny dropped for Mhairi Hunter the other day that this is what’s going on, we conspiracists felt vindicated. “We told you so,” we said. But then a profound depression set in. It dawned on me – and no doubt a few others – that we are being led to independence by a political party the leadership of which may be entirely innocent of the strategies and tactics of the regime it hopes to dismantle. The SNP, as we all like to say, is the vehicle that will get us to independence, but if Mhairi Hunter’s opinion of lunatics like me is representative of the party hierarchy – then this is a vehicle with a designated driver without a driving licence. It doesn’t even appear to know the rules of the road to independence, a route that leads us to conflict with the British state. Whichever way we look at it, this is a most depressing thought.
I didn't actually realise the 77th Brigade was real.—
Mhairi Hunter (@MhairiHunter) April 07, 2019
It really shouldn’t come as a surprise that we are being spied on by the state. When Jim Sillars said in mid-2014 he was aware of the arrival in Glasgow of British Army intelligence officers from London, we had every reason to trust him. Even if he was lying it would have been the truth regardless; if military intelligence wasn’t watching us and actively working to undermine our campaign, it wouldn’t be doing its job. That is the job of the secret services. The United Kingdom was the first modern state to set up a police Special Branch – in 1883 – with the express purpose of keeping close tabs on domestic threats to the security of the realm. We know from government records from the time that John Mclean, the Scottish socialist and independence supporter, was under state secret police surveillance from 1914 until his death in 1923. In 2010 a former Strathclyde Police officer, Donald Morrison, alleged that the lawyer, SNP activist, and anti-nuclear campaigner, Willie McRae, was the subject of Special Branch and MI5 surveillance, and said he was willing to sign an affidavit saying they were involved in his murder.
Since 2012, the Scottish National Party and the independence movement have come closer to defeating the British state than either Mclean or McRae ever did. Are we to imagine, then, that the British state has somehow changed tack, that it has decided to cut us some slack – that it is not surveilling and manipulating us?! Give me a break!
Technology and techniques have changed quite a bit since Special Branch was tailing Mclean and since MI5 was lurking in the shadows around McRae. With the use of data harvesting and metadata analysis, there is almost no limit to what the British state has access to, and we know it is interested in the activities of SNP politicians and independence movement activists. During the negotiations leading to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, it is well known MI5 bugged and wire-tapped the Belfast and Westminster offices of Sinn Féin. Between 1970 and 2007 British “police” were undercover inside the Socialist Workers Party. Environmentalist groups, anti-racism groups, and alternative political collectives of every hue have been under constant surveillance since the 1960s. Really, how politically inept does one have to be to imagine this has not been happening to “separatist” parties?
After being mocked and derided as a conspiracist by certain SNP staffers, I am left utterly depressed that it has c… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…—
Jason Michael (@Jeggit) April 09, 2019
Who would win in a fight: Jason with his bananas and latte, or Mark Francois on speed? https://t.co/WyXKM8Ct7N—
Bella Caledonia (@bellacaledonia) April 09, 2019
Even though the penny has dropped for Mairi Hunter, she still thinks this is not a problem. “They are wasting their time,” she says, “because one thing I can say for sure is that the SNP is impeccably democratic and law abiding so there is nothing much to find out by spying on us.” The assumption here is that these spies are instruments of justice, that they are the good guys out looking for the naughty behaviour of others. Something tells me that Mhairi still doesn’t get it. Special Branch and MI5 couldn’t care less how the SNP is governed – it’s not like the UK is particularly democratic. They don’t care about the law – these are instruments of the state with the ability to commit extrajudicial murder. The involvement of the secret service has nothing to do with keeping their targets good. Their sole interest is the defence of the realm, and they will execute this directive in exactly the way envisioned by Nietzsche and Kafka – efficiently and without a single moral scruple. They exist to protect the state, and they will do their job irrespective of the law, any sense of fair play or decency, and without a thought for who gets in their way.
Whether it’s the psych-ops developed, tried, and tested against the civilian populations of Iraq and Afghanistan of the 77th Brigade, or the blunter instruments of Special Branch and MI5, we must not be naïve – these are the dogs of the state. Their interactions with us are intended to distract, distort, and derail us and our discussions and arguments. They are in our midst to discredit us, delegitimise us, and destroy us – up to and including killing us if we become to much of a threat to the state. It is not merely a case of them looking for illegal behaviour. If push comes to shove, they will invent illegalities and provide the evidence. Power does what power does, and it is high time everyone in the respectable towers of the SNP was accurately informed of the nature of this beast.
15 (UK) Psychological Operations Group