The British state is a deeply secretive, anti-democratic entity, with GCHQ and its associate 'security' apparatus engaged in the most illicit forms of surveillance, manipulation and other mass violations of civil liberties.
The British state is a deeply class-serving entity, underwritten by archaic institutions and selective 'traditions', all giving ideological continuity to elite privilege.
In a stunning indictment, independent journalist Glenn Greenwald has brought these two facets of the British state's dark actions and ideological powers together, via a comment piece on the UK court decision to uphold an 'anti-terrorist' detention order against his partner David Miranda.
Miranda was held for nine hours at Heathrow airport in August 2013 under Section 7 of the UK’s Terrorism Act (2000).
As Greenwald brilliantly observes:
That such repressive measures come from British political culture is to be expected. The political elite of that country cling desperately to 17th century feudal traditions. Grown adults who have been elected or appointed to nothing run around with a straight face insisting that they be called “Lord” and “Baroness” and other grandiose hereditary titles of the landed gentry. They bow and curtsey to a “Queen”, who lives in a “palace”, and they call her sons “Prince”. They embrace a wide range of conceits and rituals of a long-ago collapsed empire. The wig-wearing presiding judge who issued this morning’s ruling equating journalism with terrorism is addressed as “Lord Justice Laws”, best known for previously approving the use of evidence to detain people that had been derived from torture at Guantanamo (he can be seen here).Ex-UK ambassador, turned dissident, Craig Murray has also condemned the "disgraceful judges of Britain’s High Court – who have gone along with torture, extraordinary rendition, every single argument for mass surveillance and hiding information from the public, and even secret courts".
None of this behavior bears any relationship to actual reality: it’s as though the elite political class of an entire nation somehow got stuck in an adolescent medieval fantasy game. But the political principles of monarchy, hereditary entitlement, rigid class stratification, and feudal entitlement embedded in all of this play-acting clearly shape the repressive mentality and reverence for state authority which Her Majesty’s Government produces. That journalism disliked by the state can be actually deemed not just a crime but “terrorism” seems a natural by-product of this type of warped elite mindset [...]
For Murray, the effort to castigate Miranda as a 'terrorist suspect' illustrates perfectly the British state's deepening vindictiveness, a ''totalitarian" slide, he relates, evident in the additional intimidation of Edward Snowden's legal representative on entering the UK.
While the surveillance and detention of Miranda reveals the extensive scope of UK spookdom, the holding of such people on specifically 'anti-terrorist' grounds shows the very 'British way' in which the establishment seeks to demonise as well as control.
Of course, the treatment of Chelsea Manning, and threats towards Snowden, Assange and Greenwald, confirm that similar punitive action can be expected from the US.
But, as Greenwald argues, Britain's conduct in such matters also points to a deeper political culture of assumed hierarchy and demanded subservience.
In assisting the US purging of Snowden, Assange, Greenwald and their associates, the British state is deploying its most oppressive technologies and a feudal-style intolerance of dissent.
Greenwald's broadside against Britain's secretive state brings to mind the UK's wider record of black-ops, subterfuge and global warmongering, as documented by historian Mark Curtis, while his searing attack on the establishment network and fiction of 'noble Britishness' helps evoke Tom Nairn's landmark texts The Enchanted Glass and The Break up of Britain.
Fittingly, Greenwald's charges on British elitism and the tyranny of Empire reflects a gathering crisis of legitimacy for 'old Britain', as variously registered in the large public rejection of UK wars, demands for Scottish independence, and a growing refusal to accept that state spying on citizens is in the 'national interest'.
A Nobel nominee and modern hero, Snowden's popular whistleblowing has helped undermine much of the traditional deference towards propagandist notions of 'vital state security', as have Greenwald's own key journalistic efforts in revealing US/UK criminality.
Snowden's election yesterday as Student Rector of Glasgow University is another small but encouraging indicator that the old-order demonisation of dissidents is no longer holding.
Bit by promising bit, a modernist, radical politics and confident, alternative media is helping to expose not only the dark, malignant menace of the British state, but the "adolescent medieval fantasy" upon which its authority has been resting.