The new crime of anarchism! (U.K.)

Posted on August 3, 2011


Every few years, anarchists are deemed scary again, the media goes into hysterical overdrive and policing becomes more repressive. It is a pattern we have seen repeated several times over the years.

However, the news briefing from Project Griffin, issued each week from Chief Inspector Nick Smith and his team at the ‘Westminster Counter Terrorism Focus Desk’,
advising “any information relating to anarchists should be reported to your local police”, has shocked even seasoned fitwatchers.

And, whilst their description of anarchism is laughably limited, and it’s all rather silly, there is a sinister rhetoric being adopted which cannot be ignored. There is no surprise the state views anarchism as extremism, and we know they pay large amounts of money to infiltrate our movements. However, this blatant criminalisation of political ideology without caveat is something which needs to be challenged.

There are many reasons to be wary. Demonising a political belief or movement is the starting point for greater public acceptance of harsher and more repressive measures. This was seen in the animal rights movement where demonisation of the movement was the first step which eventually led to the SHAC defendants being given such long sentences for conspiracy to blackmail without evidence they had ever committed an offence.

The Islamic community has seen this to an even greater degree, with widespread use of offences such as encouraging terrorism or dissemination of ‘terrorist’ publications. Last week, a man was sentenced to twelve years imprisonment for writing a comment on a blog calling on people to kill the MPs who had voted for the Iraq war. He didn’t kill anyone, and there was no evidence anyone planned to take action based on his words.

We are not yet in a situation where people are being sent to prison for terrorism for advocating black bloc tactics, and this article should not be seen as scare-mongering because it’s still a long way off. However, with articles such as the Independent one linked to above suggesting anarchists are more of a threat to the Olympics than Islamic terrorists appearing in the same week as this shop-an-anarchist bulletin, there is reason to be cautious and this shouldn’t be dismissed as simply more idiotic policing without examining the potential implications.

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