Saturday, 9 November 2013

Corporate militarism: the gravest threat to human security

This week has seen prominent media coverage of two major 'fear and insecurity' stories: the 'questioning' of senior intelligence chiefs by a parliamentary committee; and the employee-dreaded announcement of shipyard job losses, after Portsmouth was closed and Govan in Glasgow 'spared'.

The first had MI5, MI6 and GCHQ heads warning of the perennial 'terrorist threat', within and without, all now intensified by the 'reckless' disclosures of Edward Snowden and his 'irresponsible' journalist filters. Predictably, the BBC headlined and repeated all these claims as if they were obvious, standard facts.

The second story had reports on doleful workers, competing shipyard claims, reflections on the end of Portsmouth's military economy and assessments on whether 'favouring' warship work on the Clyde was a political ploy in the approach to Scotland's independence vote.

A common aspect of both stories was the suspicion of fearmongering: the spooks using their parliamentary outing (weren't we, like the BBC, just fascinated to see them for 'real'?) to whitewash their dark practices and deepen public insecurity; and the funereal-sounding Philip Hammond and his Unionist government intimating to workers, in and beyond the shipyards, that livelihoods can just as easily be withdrawn 'should political circumstances change'.

In each case, the 'politics of fear' got nominal media treatment: the BBC and others pitching on how parliament is 'forcing' much-maligned spy agencies to 'explain' themselves; and the 'probing' of government ministers on their cynical political manoeuvrings over jobs and independence.

Yet, amid all the 'watchful enquiry' of our security guardians and political leaders, where was the slightest mention of what's most deeply responsible for all this fear and insecurity: neoliberal economics and political militarism.

For, contrary to the BBC's 'impartial' analysis, that's the key context behind both these issues.

Amongst all the reports on 'keeping us safe from terrorism', there's nothing to be said, apparently, about the economy of war and corporate militarism driving all that surveillance, spying and other spurious intelligence. 

Amongst all the pieces on job losses, decimated communities and independence politics, there's nothing to say, it seems, on the immoral war economy, workers' dependency on building murderous hardware or the corporate, political and military/intelligence network that help maintain all that through the promotion of public anxiety. 

Where are these core issues being raised and probed by our 'watchful' parliament and media?

While anxious, insecure workers, some now on the scrapheap, vie for jobs, there's no attempt to question either the actual power of arms corporations like BAE Systems or the political, military and intelligence nexus serving it.      

Media comment on the doubling cost of two new aircraft carriers is, likewise, narrowly framed as a 'value-for-money issue' rather than an even more obscene promotion of warmongering.    

It's a double-ended weapon. Massive resources are being expended on warships, nuclear bombs and other wicked procurement. And while all that production is being used to kill, occupy and immiserate others in far-off places, an economic gun is being held to workers' heads.

The misery of people losing their jobs cannot be understated. But where is the more critical debate about rampant military expenditure and workers' very engagement in war-destructive industries rather than constructive and peace-promoting ones? Where is the slightest scrutiny here of promiscuous arms corporations and neoliberal determinations on who should be targeted, either by weapons or redundancy?        

And so it comes full circle, in an endless economy of militarism and surveillance, as all that occupation and aggression prompts more conflict and backlash, helping to maintain the needed 'war on terror', the vast corporate interests behind it and the 'necessary intelligence' to monitor it.  

All told, from the offices of spymasters to the shipyards of war, it's a system of profit and control that thrives on fear and insecurity.     

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