Bahrain’s Blame Game

“Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa has,” according to Reuters, “said a foreign plot against his Gulf Arab kingdom had been foiled …” The king’s statement, a paranoid imputation citing an “external plot … fomented for 20 to 30 years,” appears little more than a transparent attempt to delegitimize protests during what onlookers call a “political crisis” in Bahrain.

Last week, with protests against his monarchical state continuing, Khalifa commenced a crackdown that met demonstrators with an inordinate show of authoritarian force. “The opposition protest,” notes The Telegraph, “denies it is sectarian-based,” but both Bahrain and Iran — the putative source of the dreaded “external plot” — are taking advantage of the much-ballyhooed Sunni/Shiite split.

Though Bahrain’s Shiites, the majority in a country with a Sunni political establishment, have long aired grievances against the government, the protests have centered on general notions of constitutionalism and democracy. Having intermittently declared Bahrain its own in recent decades, Iran undeniably has an interest in leveraging popular discontent against the Sunni Kingdom. And Khalifa, keen to undermine objections to his rule, has a corresponding interest in identifying Iran as the origin of political unrest and division among Bahrain’s citizens.

Still, while the bickering political classes of these states attempt to cash in on recent events, demonstrations in Bahrain have included both Sunnis and Shiites, who have lived and worked side by side for generations. This is not to downplay the existence of religious frictions within Bahrain, but there is a paucity of evidence that would link Tehran to the situation there.

The Bahraini state’s obsession with intricately-conceived “subversive designs” therefore looks to be a phantasmal danger suited to rationalize the brutality of riot police and military personnel. The state’s golden calf of “security,” with its unending need to set up enemies, is among its most powerful weapons of psychological manipulation. It is in the nature of the state to breed wars it can reference to show the need for hierarchy and control.

“War,” wrote Gustave de Molinari, “has been the necessary and inevitable consequence of the establishment of a monopoly on security.” Molinari — who called for an end to the state’s monopoly on defense services — understood that it is the introduction of force into economic and social relationships that makes the “condition of the masses … as miserable as possible.”

The free market anarchists of today likewise see interstate disputes (from petty diplomatic quarrels to wars) as the natural, necessary outgrowth of both the conflicts of interest and the constant need for new crises inherent in statism itself. The antidote to the state’s culture of war, implemented in domestic crackdowns and foreign crusades alike, is the elimination of the coercion necessary to monopolize.

“Labor and trade,” which Molinari observed to be “shackled [and] enchained” in contradiction to free markets, ought to be liberated to address the problems created by monopoly. Without special privileges granted through the use of force, the voluntary agreements of people in productive society could begin to whittle down the strictures of the state that engender tyrannical repressions of all kinds.

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