Anarchist Studies Network responds to Metropolitan Police branding all anarchists as terrorists
Dear Chief Inspector Nick Smith,
We, the undersigned, would like to object to the blanket assumption that anyone that promotes a stateless society is a potential terrorist. The segment in the Project Griffin terrorism briefing (29/07/11) reads as follows: ‘Anarchism is a political philosophy which considers the state undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, and instead promotes a stateless society, or anarchy. Any information relating to anarchists should be reported to your local Police.’
First of all, as academics, graduate students and concerned members of the public, we object to this attempt by the Metropolitan Police to place research, teaching and free thought under suspicion. As you can imagine, irrespective of the political persuasion of academics who teach anarchism, this leaflet automatically casts doubt over their integrity and will dissuade future students and others from giving anarchism the critical attention it deserves.
Secondly, statements such as these are not conducive to a free and open society. Do we really want to breed a culture of suspicion and fear without providing any evidence of a future terrorist threat? Is this clumsy move by the Met police not further grist to the anarchist mill? And perhaps more importantly, where do we draw the line?
Anarchists, are not the only ones who ‘promote a stateless society’. Some of the most famous capitalists think the same. For example, Alan Greenspan the ex-director of the US Federal Reserve, Milton Friedman, F. A. Von Hayek and any number of US ‘Tea Party’ supporters subscribe to a variation on this position. Isn’t ‘The Big Society’ all about ‘rolling back the state’? Most Marxists believe a stateless society to be a future ideal, as do a huge proportion of environmentalists, Christians, Buddhists and Muslims. Perhaps this ought to give us pause for thought. Why it is that such a wide spectrum of political opinion takes this position and are they all potential terrorists?
Thirdly, consider this in the context of news headlines of the past 12 months. Since last July, politicians have been jailed for fiddling their expenses; the police have been found to have illegally spied on activists and provoked them into actions they might not otherwise have engaged in (Mark Kennedy); a [M]et police constable is currently being investigated for killing an innocent bystander during a protest (Simon Harwood); the police have been found guilty of illegally ‘kettling’ protesters; the tabloid press are under investigation for hacking and corruption; and finally the bankers have brought this country to its knees, and the politicians have bailed them out. And yet, despite providing no evidence of a credible threat of ‘terror’, the anarchists are considered a significant enough threat to this country to warrant this draconian and authoritarian attack. This would be laughable if it were not such a serious matter.
It is not acceptable to draw suspicion onto such a wide and diverse group of people solely on the basis of their view of the desirability of the state. Unless there is more proof that anarchist beliefs lead directly to terrorist threats then this piece in your briefing amounts to defamation and libel.
Should this matter not be dealt with satisfactorily, we will be referring it to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
Alex Prichard, London School of Economics
Benjamin Franks, University of Glasgow
Lara Montesinos Coleman, University of Durham
Ole Sandberg, Oslo, Norway
Saul Newman, Goldsmiths, University of London
Joe Dewhurst, University of Edinburgh
Ruth Kinna, Loughborough University
Emma Brown, University of Edinburgh
Fiona Harrington, Brunel University Library
Bert Altena, Erasmus University, Rotterdam
See also : Daggers, Rifles and Dynamite: Anarchist Terrorism In Nineteenth Century Europe, January 4, 2011 | Operation 8, July 23, 2011 | Graphic Novel Review: The Lives of Sacco and Vanzetti by Rick Geary…