Full refund within 30 days if you're not completely satisfied.
4 Race & Class 51(3)
becoming obvious for all to see. ‘Globalism’, the ideological underpinning of globalisation, preached (and imposed) free markets, neoliberal privatisation of state industries and institutions, unfettered free movement of goods and capital, disciplining and control of labour (no unfettered freedom there), with its disposal at the behest of foreign multinationals. In the 1990s, we can say that globalisation became a hegemonic economic system. The unconstrained freedom of global neoliberalism necessitated retention and creation of powers for the close disciplining of possibly recalcitrant populations, either overtly, through state force as in many Third World countries, or covertly through techniques of surveillance, as in many western democracies. For, while globalisation is popularly understood as an interconnected, interdependent world, characterised by lightning communications, easy travel and international trade, this is by no means the whole picture. At its heart is a politics that owes little to popular democracy (except in the most superficial sense), but almost everything of substance to transnational corporations, financial interests, ruling elites, transnational institutions of financial governance and compliant nation states.
As Sivanandan puts it: Globalisation in political essence is international government by multinational corporations aided by nation states. In treating globalisation as a wholly economic project, we tend to overlook its political underpinnings. And the nation state is the political agency through which corporations are able to effect regime-change and/or sustain friendly regimes, militarily or politically to get at a country’s resources and markets.7
Biometrics, ID cards, databases, data-mining, interception of communications and more all existed before 11 September 2001. What stood in the way of their widescale development, their ‘universality’, was a political will which was constrained by a fading adherence to liberal norms. Take for example, the EU-FBI Requirements allowing for the interception of telecommunications (phone calls, emails and faxes) which were adopted by the EU as far back as January 1995, to give law enforcement agencies access to all communications data.8 Despite that agreement on paper, EU governments displayed a distinct lack of ‘political will’ about proceeding with the EU-FBI ‘Requirements’. Then, in 1998, it was proposed to amend these Requirements to cover internet and satellite telecommunications as well; the EU report setting this out was thought at the time to be virtually the finalised version (in ENFOPOL 19/99, 15 March 1999). Yet, this report too continued to gather dust, almost five years after the original agreement. By October 1999, the EU Working Party on the issue noted that ‘progress in this matter is being very slow’. ‘In previous meetings [the working party had] discussed that it could be sensible to get some political support from upper instances in the Council for this matter to go forward.[emphasis added]’ The main reason for the delay and the apparent lack of political support was held to be ‘the negative press that this issue has received in the media’. Perhaps, opined the Working Party, to counter this, the Council should put out a press release of its own but ‘several delegations . . . Tony Bunyan: Just over the horizon 5
[thought] this could provoke a chain reaction and further negative press in the media’.9 In effect, the ‘leaking’ of the contents of ENFOPOL 98 and ENFOPOL 19 and a widely reported campaign by civil society NGOs in the national European and international media at that time scuppered these proposed surveillance ‘requirements’.
But, a few years later, in 2004, no such constraints stopped the bulldozing through of a much wider provision: the mandatory retention of all communications traffic data.
The trigger The deadly attack on the Twin Towers on 11 September 2001, and its aftermath, changed the scenario in two important ways. First, ‘war’ was declared on terrorism, a war that for its continuation drew on a wider politics of fear, enhanced and sustained by what was conceived as the ‘clash of civilisations’ – which, in turn, fostered, exacerbated and intensified a latent anti-Muslim racism, engendered by states, endorsed by politicians, propagated by popular media and embraced by majority publics. For the West, and most notably the US, this new hydra-headed enemy filled the political ideological void left by the ending of the cold war as globalising, economically powerful and technologically sophisticated western nations defined themselves in opposition to it.10
Second, the sweeping measures to control the threat, adopted in the US and the EU, and initially presented as necessary, temporary responses have now become permanent. What was perceived and presented as ‘exceptional’ and time-limited, became the norm. And as time has gone on, the ‘exceptional’ has come to define the norm, and not just in the area of potential threats to security, but across the board. In a very real sense, the official mindset has changed. Take, for example, an area that is completely remote from any link with national security – is indeed as far away from it as possible – child protection. Of course, children deemed at risk require all available protection but does this mean that all children should be logged, tracked and surveilled from birth into adulthood, to death? Yet, in the UK, all children, from birth, are being placed on a national database with their personal details, school record and behaviour, and parents and guardians’ details too.11 It is hard to see the rationale for this, except that, because it can now be done, it is being done.
The vectors At this historical juncture of the ‘war on terrorism’ and accelerating, intensifying globalisation, the interests of governments and states (especially their internal security and law enforcement agencies) and of transnational corporations and financial institutions neatly coincided.12
In another happy coincidence, the technological revolution was ready for the next stage of its development. The humble kilobyte computer that had allowed widespread access to wordprocessing and the creation of databases was taking on