As the British royal wedding fades out of the news cycle, it’s important to take a look at the freedoms that were trampled to make it a perfect day for royalty.
In the days leading up to the wedding, numerous squats and social centers were raided, and their inhabitants detained, by large squads of police. In addition, a member of the Love Police street theater group was detained for conspiracy to cause a public nuisance and breach of the peace. The police activity was pitched as deterring anarchists from crashing the royal party. It’s unclear how much the police believe the sanctity of the marriage spectacle was threatened versus how much the raids were a pretext used to disrupt the state’s opposition. Of course, either way an arm of the security-industrial complex needs to find threats to justify its budget.
While the idea of royalty might be an anachronism, unfortunately the obsession with protecting elites from the freedom of common people is not. When it comes to guaranteeing that the important people have a good time, the people judged less-important are expected to bear much of the cost. They might pay though taxes, detainment, or disruption, but they will be assured that those who outrank them care deeply about their troubles.
A major public spectacle provides those in charge with a useful pretext to disrupt those who oppose them. By acting like the suppression of dissent by squads of enforcers is really just a matter of public safety, they can more easily present the mission of securing power as a mission of securing the general public. Disruption of anarchist and radical left opposition is a very convenient thing to do with May Day coming up. May 1, the traditional workers’ holiday, is frequently used as a date of protest. It must have been especially concerning for British authorities with all the political unrest seen over the past year.
Whatever the state’s other motivations, it should always be remembered that the police and those who supply them want to get paid. More threats mean a bigger budget. And someone will secure contracts for the equipment of surveillance, enforcement, and detention.
One would have to ask if common sense has caught up to Thomas Paine’s 1776 observation: “Of more worth is one honest man to society, and in the sight of God, than all the crowned ruffians that ever lived.” At least the existence of opposition to the royal display of elitism is a promising sign.
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