In a remark on my last post on Iraq, Sam Haque points out:
The situation is that occupation forces have taken for themselves the role of guardians by and large without the consent of those who they are ostensibly protecting.
This is true, and not just of the situation in Iraq. It is as accurate and concise a description as you could make of what governments do for a living, always and everywhere. It’s war that brings this into the sharpest relief, because the normal restraints on brutality are released, the beneficiary-victims are strangers in a faraway land, and the public intellectuals and the official press line up to shout down any serious challenge to the progress of war aims. But war and occupation are only the starkest and most explicit expression of what State power essentially means, not just with bombers and soldiers and tanks, but also with every spook, cop, G-man, prosecutor, jailer, and hangman whose paychecks we are forced to cover. Consider, for example, the local cops in New Britain, Connecticut, who protected the hell out of an 11 year old boy and his mother in the name of serving a drug search warrant without interruption, or last week’s riot and reign of terror by Mexican police asserting their authority to protect and serve the people of San Salvador Atenco, whether they like it or not.
The State is, as Catharine MacKinnon says, male in the political sense. But not only because the law views women’s civil status through the lens of male supremacy (although it certainly does). It is also because the male-dominated State relates to all of its subjects like a battering husband relates to the
household of which he has proclaimed himself the
head: by laying a claim to protect those who did not ask for it, and using whatever violence and intimidation may be necessary to terrorize them into submitting to his
protection. The State, as the abusive head of the whole nation, assaults the innocent, and turns a blind eye to assaults of the innocent, when it suits political interest — renamed
national interest by the self-proclaimed
representatives of the nation. It does so not because of the venality or incompetance of a particular ruler, but rather because that is what State power means, and that is what the job of a ruler is: to maintain a monopoly of coercion over its territorial area, as a good German might tell you, and to beat, chain, burn, or kill anyone within or without who might endanger that, whether by defying State rule, or by simply ignoring it and asking to be left alone.
Or, as Ezra Haywood once put it,
A cruel kindness, thought to be friendly regard, assumes to And so it is for us
protect those who, by divine right of rational being, are entitled, at least, to be let alone. We are not among wild beasts; from whom, then, does woman need protection? From her protectors.
civilians, facing the doorkeep before the Law.