17 May 2012

Scholium (1)

Here a new weapon of crowd dispersal, a kind
of fragmentation grenade made of wood, is
being subjected to live field tests. Meanwhile - in
Oregon - demonstrators blocking traffic face sen-
tences of twenty-five years imprisonment. In the
field of urban pacification the Israeli army is be-
coming the most prominent consultant. Experts
from all over the world rush to marvel at the latest,
most formidable and subtle findings in anti-sub-
versive technology. It would appear that the art of
wounding - wounding one to scare a hundred - has
reached untold summits. And then there is "ter-
rorism". That is to say, according to the European
Commission: "any offence committed intentional-
ly by an individual or a group against one or several
countries, their institutions or their populations,
and aiming at threatening them and seriously un-
dermining or destroying the political, economic or
social structures of a country." In the United States
there are more prisoners than farmers.

As it is reorganised and progressively recaptured,
public space is covered with cameras. Not only is
any surveillance now possible, it has become accep-
table. All sorts of lists of "suspects" circulate from
department to department, and we can scarcely
guess their probable uses. The social space once
traversed by flaneurs is now militarily marked and
sealed, and its ties of chatter and gossip have been
transformed into recriminate whispers, the sub-
stance of new micro-legal constraints. In the UK
the Anti Social Behaviour Orders have turned the
most petty disputes among neighbours into per-
sonally tailored edicts of exile, banishing a marked
individual from a street corner or proscribing the
wearing of hooded tops within a specific zone.
Meanwhile the Metropolitan Police, working with
members of the special forces, pursue their cam-
paign against terror with a series of "mistaken"
shootings. A former head of the CIA, one of those
people who, on the opposing side, get organized ra-
ther than get indignant, writes in Le Monde: "More
than a war against terrorism, what is at stake is the
extension of democracy to the parts of the [Arab
and Muslim] world that threaten liberal civilisa-
tion. For the construction and the defence of which
we have worked throughout the 20th century, du-
ring the First, and then the Second World War, fol-
lowed by the Cold War - or Third World War."

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