Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Too Much

Much too much about freedom, recently, to cover comprehensively - about the sordid and terrible history of the Bush administration in America, about the shocking plans for 24 hour surveillance of all UK electronic communications, about the down-grading of the Titan prison plan (NOT), which will produce five huge prisons instead of three monstrous prisons and is probably what the bureaucrats and politicians wanted in the first place.

Who was it wrote recently that there had been the equivalent of an arms race about prisons and imprisonment, about the punishment of crime in the UK?

'I am tougher on crime than you can ever be' has become the favourite boast of politicians of every party as if more repression, rather than more freedom, is what the UK requires.

Real freedom includes the possibility of considering, discussing, planning, advocating, voting for, social, economic and political provisions outside the extraordinarily limited range of options which current UK parties (and political parties in all the Western countries) represent.

It is repressive not to be able to consider revolution, especially when the collapse of banks and the appalling crimes that have recently been committed in the name of our current 'civilization' proves that everything that we care about most deeply is at risk.

Torture is everywhere.

America debates torture as if it were just another weapon in democracy's armour, instead of a poison which subverts all our ambitions and destroys all our hopes.

Naomi Wolf wrote the comments quoted below in the Guardian a few weeks ago and they summarise and encapsulate many of the writings and opinions and the evidence which have recently surfaced.

It is to the shame of all of us, commentators and the public, that so very little was said about these horrific abuses during the 8 years when they were openly perpetrated.

And have the abuses stopped? And will they stop for ever?

No chance.

There will always be thugs within the police and within the security forces, there will always be ruthlessness amongst their controllers, a willingness to use torture to achieve 'a greater purpose' (defined, no doubt, by those same anonymous controllers) and an apparent inabilty to realise that the 'greater purpose' is so suborned if criminal tactics are employed that it fails to be valuable even if achieved.

Great Britain survived Hitler and the Provisional IRA without regularly or officially employing the techniques of the torturer.

How come we cannot survive Al Qaida with the same sang froid?

But let us be aware of one crucial consideration.

If policemen and spooks brutalise the innocent (or even the guilty) in darkness and in secret, if they surreptitiously sub-contract torture to other regimes, they do not do it in my name or yours - not with my implied sanction or (I hope) yours either. They are criminals when they do it and they must remain criminals, outside the acceptable boundaries of western democratic behaviour.

Like capital punishment, torture destroys what it purports to protect, our liberty, simply by being put into practice.

It can never be sanctioned within a democracy, especially within a country like Britain that claims not just a democratic heritage but to lead the world on these issues.

Naomi Wolf, Guardian, 28th. April, 2009

"Since 2003 it has been fully documented .... that direct US policy for prisoners included electrodes on genitals, suffocation, hanging prisoners from bars by the wrists, beatings, concealed murders, sexual assault threats, sexual humiliation and forced nudity ......., Did our leaders call for investigations? They barely even called for a moment's consideration; tolerating torture ..... made them look tough .... (it) polled well ..... it was overwhelmingly OK with them."

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