WHAT IS THE SECRET STATE AND WHY ARE WE INTERESTED?
Karl Marx (remember him?) famously described the state as a body of armed men, but times have moved on since then--as have armaments....The aspect of the state that most interests us research-wise is the 'secret state', those sections beneath the surface--primarily MI5 (domestic Security Service), MI6 (overseas Intelligence Service) and the local Special Branches, now under the control of MI5, set up in 1884 to combat physical force 'Irish Republicanism'.
A key facet of our approach is we recognise the reality of 'inter-agency' rivalry, whereby not just overseas but also domestic fractions of the secret state feed stories to journalists and the internet to advance agendas and discredit rivals. The myopic attitude demonstrated by much of the 'Last Century Left' towards the secret state we do not share--and neither did Marx (see our review of the neglected classic 'Herr Vogt & the Workers Movement' in NFB 2) or indeed Victor Serge. As part of our overall project of rescuing what is valuable in Leftist tradition, we want to reawaken those sensibilities...
Our interest is based on four things.
First, such bodies are not properly accountable, and have a corrosive effect on the 'democratic process', undermining even elected governments, and suborning the media. Hence, we oppose efforts to expand the power of the secret state, whether by stealth (eg rendition flights/covert ops) or overtly by legislation. We note, critically, how in these post-Cold War times the secret state seeks to present themselves PR wise as libertarian technocrats, valiantly resisting pressures fron gung-ho politicians.
Second, the secret state undermine forces fighting for radical change in society, especially by the use of disruption, infiltration, and hijacking. No way do we accept the liberal fairy tale that state assets inside movements merely monitor and observe--it usually goes a lot further, and often has, right back to the Babbington Plot & the Phoenix Park murders. It is a central contention of ours that groups once labelled 'subversive' are still on the secret state radar, merely reclassified as 'terrorist' or criminal.
Third, even when the secret state infiltrates groups NFB has no sympathy for, eg fascists, the consequences concern us--the outcome is often targetted violence against Left/Green/progressive groups. We note the similarity of techniques used against groups across the whole political spectrum.
Fourth, our criticism of the secret state, while deep-rooted, is nonetheless evidence-based. We do not believe in evidence-free propaganda, imputing imaginary crimes to spooks--their real ones are more than enough. It follows, therefore, we do not accept the absurd denialist position that no adherents of radical Islamism have ever conspired to carry out acts of mass murder/plant bombs, any more than we would argue no Catholics ever supported the IRA when they were active.