Police and intelligence services as defenders of the status quo

2020-01-22

in Canada, Economics, Politics, Security, The environment

In Victoria today, about ten young Indigenous protestors were arrested after occupying the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources building.

Meanwhile, British security authorities have categorized Greenpeace and the Extinction Rebellion with far-right groups and neo-Nazis.

Today’s George Monbiot column calls out how government security forces have often been more focused on threats to the political and economic order than on genuine threats to security:

The police have always protected established power against those who challenge it, regardless of the nature of that challenge. And they have long sought to criminalise peaceful dissent. Part of the reason is ideological: illiberal and undemocratic attitudes infest policing in this country. Part of it is empire-building: if police units can convince the government and the media of imminent threats that only they can contain, they can argue for more funding.

But there’s another reason, which is arguably even more dangerous: the nexus of state and corporate power. All over the world, corporate lobbyists seek to brand opponents of their industries as extremists and terrorists, and some governments and police forces are prepared to listen. A recent article in the Intercept seeks to discover why the US Justice Department and the FBI had put much more effort into chasing mythical “ecoterrorists” than pursuing real, far-right terrorism. A former official explained, “You don’t have a bunch of companies coming forward saying ‘I wish you’d do something about these rightwing extremists’.” By contrast, there is constant corporate pressure to “do something” about environmental campaigners and animal rights activists.

Decarbonization is going to be a huge political fight, and it’s clear that the fossil fuel industry has the support of the security and surveillance states which have exploded since the September 11th, 2001 attacks. At the societal level we need to reconceptualize the threats which we face and the appropriate means for dealing with them. Armed force in defence of economic interests which hope and plan to keep fossil fuel use going as long as possible is the opposite.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

. January 22, 2020 at 5:39 pm

When Indigenous Assert Rights, Canada Sends Militarized Police

It’s become routine, but ignores latest law on rights and title, say experts.

. January 22, 2020 at 6:11 pm

12 arrested in Victoria during occupation of provincial government offices over Coastal GasLink pipeline

Protesters support Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who oppose LNG pipeline project in northern B.C.

. February 14, 2020 at 6:51 pm

Noting the anti-fracking movement near the Elsipogtog First Nation, the CIIT [Critical Infrastructure Intelligence Team] report evokes national security language in stating that “violent anti-petroleum extremists will continue to engage in criminal activity to promote their anti-petroleum ideology” (RCMP 2016-1140: 87). In a disingenuous attempt to represent the security state as objective and non-ideological, the report echoes the narrative of climate change deniers who challenge the science of anthropogenic climate change. The report claims, “Governments and petroleum companies are being encouraged, and increasingly threatened, by violent extremists to cease all actions which the extremists believe, contributes to greenhouse gas emissions” (ibid.: 87, emphasis added). Characterizing the science of climate change as a form of “extremist” belief, the report casts a wide net of potential security threats. “Non-governmental environmental groups such as; [sic] Greenpeace, Tides Canada, and Sierra Club Canada, to name a few,” says the report, believe that “climate change is a direct consequence of elevated anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions which, they believe, are directly linked to the continued use of fossil-fuels” (ibid., emphasis added). Written in 2014, the report presents a somewhat shocking — given that it is at odds with even the dominant media, who believe in consensus climate change science — display of climate change denial.

By representing a deliberately misconstrued version of climate science, the RCMP frame those that oppose tar sands development as ideologically-driven, criminal extremists. The position taken by the RCMP, a dramatic endorsement of tar sands development and itself a highly ideological rejection of consensus science, is a product of the partnerships and friendships fostered through nodes of the security state under the rubric of “critical infrastructure.” The RCMP, in effect, are protecting their friends. Moreover, they are casting opponents of the tar sands as enemies of Canadian society.

Crosby, Jeffrey and Andrew Monaghan. Policing Indigenous Movements: Dissent and the Security State. Halifax, 2018. p. 181

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