Who does the state serve?
It’s a fundamental question for any society. The executive branch, however that is manifested, holds many of the cards and in practice much of the power. So whose interests the state is working matters. A lot.
All kinds of measures are in place to hedge around, limit and mitigate against the power of the state. None of these powers, in the UK at least, have been readily given away, but taken under some sort of threat, normally by groups of the organized citizenry.
On one reading the police simply enforce the law, scooping up people who they believe may have transgressed and passing them onto the courts if needs be. A secret police force goes looking for political ‘subversives’, and a secret police isn’t the hallmark of a functioning democracy.
Peter Francis, a police whistleblower, has revealed that the Met police drew up files on construction workers who a third party – Consulting Agency – placed on a blacklist. Employers in the construction industry paid for access to this list and the individuals targeted went without employment.
Clearly, the state here is not serving the people, but seeking to marginalise and oppress some who represent dissenting political voices. Workers were dubbed as “militant” and similar. Several questions arise from these revelations, and particularly the fact that there was collusion between the police and industry. Who initiated the arrangement? What were its terms? Was there any oversight and direction from above (presumably) and if so how far up the chain did that direction reach?
The Special Demonstration Squad (what a name) operated from 1968 – 2008 working against groups that the establishment wanted to disrupt: anti-Vietnam campaigners, leftist groups and so on. More recently environmental groups have come under surveillance and suffered from police infiltration.
Who gets to decide what is subversive? Well, here it’s me. And I reckon using law enforcement to prevent attempts to question authority and persecute innocent individuals is just that.