Them (and us)

After the speech in December my friend Karin Spaink, who was in the audience, stood up and delivered some criticism to what we had said. Our speech, she said, contained way too many undifferentiated references to ‘them’, and ‘they’. And she was right: we should have talked about this ‘them’ issue a bit more.

I’m not much of a conspiracy nut, and I normally make the point myself that I do not believe in ‘a secret world government’ or anything like that. I know there is way to much incompetence and infighting behind the scenes to come up with something that homogenous. As they say: “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.”

That said: I do believe there are changing groups of right-wing control freaks in every government, and I do believe that at least some of them were smart enough to have secretly coordinated plans for repressive legislation ready to be voted on as soon as the shit hit the fan. I mean: to assume all of the thinking, writing and coordinating started happening after 9/11 is nuts given how smooth it all went.

Now there’s nothing wrong with admitting that we were outsmarted. We (an undifferentiated kind of ‘we’, meaning everyone that cares about democracy) should have had our own plan B for when something like 9/11 happened, and we didn’t. Now the laws are there, they will increasingly be applied to non-muslim non-terrorists, and getting them repealed is going to be hard.

But two can play this game. I suggest legally-inclined lovers of democracy spend some time planning for a time in the not too distant future when some of this repression becomes highly controversial. Maybe some scandal that involves torture and secret prisons which, unlike the present scandals involving torture and secret prisons, manages to really upset some huge percentage of the population. If that happens, we should have all the currently unthinkable laws and motions ready for our respective parliaments to sign before the momentum is lost again.