This is not what should happen in a free and democratic society. Our leaders have power only because we consent to be governed. They press the flesh of police officers and soldiers at photo-ops, they do not use them as witting or unwitting props in a campaign of intimidation. Democratic leaders do not politicise the police and the army and otherwise make their members instruments in a partisan conflict in which it is likely some level of force will be used. This is an upsetting development and one we must now all watch closely.
Where does this mindless obedience lead us? We know fine well where this behaviour leads; history teaches us all we need to know, and this is precisely why we refer to the defence of “only following orders” as the Nuremberg defence. This leads to the deprivation of civil and political rights, the creation of categories of political crimes, and to the exact same thinking that brought us the re-education camps and concentration camps of the totalitarian and authoritarian régimes of the not so distant past – and this is no facile comparison.
Our problem with such violent political policing is not the violence per se. We are used to violence. Western civilisation was built on violence, and is perhaps the greatest purveyor and consumer of warfare and state sponsored violence in the history of the human race. Rather, our problem with this sacrilege is that it shatters our illusions pertaining to the nature and power of democracy. It reminds us that democracy is a pacifier; a ritual that sedates people with the tranquiliser of the mere impression of control while the state qua the ruling establishment is free to get on with the business of power.
Mr. Rajoy can be damn sure there was a referendum. Spanish nationalists and Scotland’s British nationalists – eager to keep the independence movement here at heel – have been repeating the chorus, “the vote was illegal – the police were in the right.” The Catalan government was expected to negotiate with the central government in Madrid, but they failed to do this. No talks have happened with Spain because such talks, according to the Spanish Constitution, are themselves illegal. Spain’s Constitution forbids constitutional change and talk of it is seditious.
Neither Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil have shown any serious commitment to tackling the homeless crisis. They have been content to have people put onto the streets and leave it to the law to make the victims invisible.
Every social crisis is the result of the conditions that govern society remaining as they are and functioning as they were intended. This is true in the case of racially motivated police brutality because the structures of law and order – as the hard edge of the hegemon – are inherently racist.
You can’t beat that sort of carry on with a stick. Now I’m not sure if this newfound sense of humour makes up for all the times they have beaten me with a stick, but it does show that there is something happening between their ears.
It is estimated that there are presently eighty million Christians who practice their faith in China, and that by mid-century there will be more Christians in China than in any other country in the world.