The always sour and worried looking Australian Federal Police chief Mick Keelty told a national security conference yesterday that the economic crisis might overtake terrorism as the number one security threat in Australia. Worried about demonstrations, strikes and riots witnessed overseas, especially in European countries, he’s looking at the UK for answers – of course. The British apparently have developed so-called coherence surveys that measure community pressure and community dissent, allowing cops to pin-point hot spots and quell disturbances.
What is community dissent in economically rough times? An expression of deep dissatisfaction and frustration with government policies that favour the accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few and make the rest of us pay through job losses, home foreclosures, family breakups, loss of lifetime savings, bank bailouts with our tax payers’ money and the like.
So again, let’s get that clear: governments over the last three decades, by embracing the neo-conservative philosophy of economic rationalism, have created through the deregulation of markets, the privatisation of public assets, lower and indirect taxation and the championing of the ‘free market’ the conditions for rampant greed and consequently a severe economic collapse.
The vast fortunes that were made by the main players of that market anarchy might have been halved but they let them still sit more than comfortably on top of their of multi millions and billions. At the other end of the spectrum, millions of people who contributed their money to the bank accounts and private estates of the rich have lost it all: their homes, their jobs, their savings, their families. Why wouldn’t they be pissed off and cry foul?
The government of course, whose misguided structural reforms created this mess in the first place, does have a moral obligation at least and a material one) to put into place a new structure that will give a guarantee to the people in this country that they will never ever have to face this kind of hardship and suffering again. That means seriously addressing the systemic roots of the current disaster, which includes radical structural changes to eliminate the social, economic and environmental imbalances in our society. How could it achieve such changes? By engaging with the community, by listening to it and working with it on solutions. After all: don’t we live in a democracy in which governments serve all people, not just a small elite?
What are Rudd and Co doing instead? They throw money at people to encourage consumption instead of investing it in rebuilding an economy along sustainability lines. They back up a corrupt and profit hungry banking and financial system that got us into the mess in the first place instead of radically changing it. And, to add insult to injury, it considers ways for its Federal Police force to monitor community dissent so it can quell it if it becomes too loud. And through its representative Keelty it even equates its critics with terrorists by claiming threats caused by dissent could be more dangerous than terrorism threats (many invented by the government in the first place, of course).
Dangerous to whom, to whose interests? Whose side is the government on? The people’s? It doesn’t seem that way.