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The Exchange – A Citizen and the State agent in Victoria, Australia.

The Exchange – A Citizen and the State’s agent in Victoria, Australia.

Footage of police violence and the tantrums of the mob during the protests, not just in the Australian state of Victoria but the world over, depict a division between the powerful armed professionals of the government and the angry rage from some parts of the citizenry. The narrative can suit ones own partisan bias, media habits and how much the lockdown has influenced you. Captured recently was an interaction between police and the citizen dissenters.

It is a human moment. Behind the dark military armour, the helmet and the badge lurks a man. Alongside him an almost naked by comparison protester, a lowly citizen. The phone camera is on, it shakes and captures the interaction with as much uncertainty as those that it records.

“What sort of gun is that?” the citizen with the phone asks an armed officer as he walks on heavily laden in kit. Ahead is another officer, walking fast past unarmed citizens. He is stressed, “I’ve had enough of this.” So begins the exchange.

“If you have had as much as us, then why are you enforcing it?”

The police officer with the riot gun replies, hidden behind his armour, “We have to. Listen I am not here to argue with you. Go home, otherwise they will start issuing you a ticket. We don’t want to do it, but we will do it. “

“If you don’t want to do it, then don’t. Stand up for what you believe in,” the citizen says from behind the phone camera. The officer turns away, standing nearby are other members of the Victorian State Police, some wrapped in riot gear as others hide behind disposable surgical masks wearing peacetime uniforms. None challenge the interaction, all watch on. Tired and perhaps, besides the pay rolling in, morally drained.

Another officer in riot gear walks up to the citizen with the phone camera, he is emotionally fatigued, empathetic, “Just go home, alright? We get paid to do this mate. I am just as over this fucking protest as you are, by protest I mean lockdown. But unfortunately I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do.”

“You don’t have to though,” the citizen challenges the group of armed officers.

“I’m not skilled to do anything else, mate. So unfortunately at this time of my life, that’s what I have to do.” the officer says with an innocence that defies the consequences of his role. Perhaps in his mind and those he works with, they are reluctant leaves floating on the stream of history. Powerless and yet, the powerful require them. They are the power that the rulers wield. And they serve because the officers family is more important than the lowly citizens. The police officers income is secure, he is not a terrorist filled with a deranged ideology of hate, revenge and revolution. He is not a zealot of religious or political conviction. He is a man doing a job. A mercenary. That is all authority ever is throughout history. Servants of the powerful. It is the magical potion of power.

“And the people like us that aren’t skilled? We don’t get paid, we don’t get the food at the moment,” the unarmed citizen with the camera phone replies.

“I hear ya mate, my wife’s in the same position. She is out of a job at the moment as well. I understand you being pissed off about it. But there is a way to go about it that’s all. Unfortunately punching on with coppers isn’t it though mate.” The officer replies as his colleagues stand by idle, as though he speaks for them. As if he is espousing their sentiments. The defrost of his professional chill, the fiery emotional violence absent. Just two men talking to one another, it is peaceful and sincere. This should be the other way of going about things, yet it is not. This way is unprofessional, unofficial and non-violent. So it doesn’t suit the powerful. It is not the governments way, because it does not require the government to be involved.

But what are the other ways to go about it of which the police man speaks? To vote for more of the same? This is the course, the institution, the monopoly of violence that embraces us all the moment we are born. No contract is signed. We are instead owned, decisions are made for us all, not as individuals but as a mass, a collective. We are not considered with any dignity, we are instead made dependent and reliant upon a government, an entity ruled by temporary executives that are voted by the bigger piece of a mob, that does not represent all individuals. Only those interested in the promises that often go unfulfilled or with hidden consequences and caveats.

Laws that were long ago written by rich and elite minded people who believed in abstracts such as empire, God, glory and a civilisation that has changed in the century plus since the federation was created on land conquered. Those past archaic laws are then are added to by modern day mutations and reactionary layers, those of which outlaw momentary trends such as ‘planking’, act as moral prohibitions against plants or respond with clumsy and heavy hands to terrorism or in this instant against a virus. The individual, men like the one behind the camera or even the officers hidden beneath their uniforms are made helpless and perhaps do become the leaves not on a stream but an ocean of hubris, with no ability to control their own destinies. Just the employed and the owned.

The exchange continues, the citizen behind the camera in a spirited plea of fast words tells the officer and his comrades, what they already know, “… People are killing themselves, none of this has to do with health. Exercise, fruit and the sun, not injections. OK. Mental health…”

The officer breaks the citizen with a camera’s attempt at another way, the alternative to ‘punching on with cops’, “I don’t have time… at the end of the day, I agree with ya.”

“Then why are you standing on this side and not with us?”

“Because that’s what I get paid to do.” The truth. The honest root of government. All government. No matter what the theology or ideology, it is made possible by those who get paid to make it happen. The central planners may very well be true believers, absolute in their conceit to steer humanity in the direction of Utopia. The experts and commissars may also be convinced of their Godlike omnipotence to control other human beings and know events far into the future, they may embrace their own arrogance and conceited intelligence absolutely. And some may just be cynical and power hungry. But on the ground, the meat, the muscle and sinew of the State are those who are just doing a job. The frightened, the morally neutral or cowardly. The paid.

The pair exchange some more, another officer pulls his colleague away from the citizen with the camera. As the officer begins to leave, “You are doing what you are getting paid to do, not for what you stand in. And that’s why I disrespect you.” It’s an indignant statement of civil disobedience from a man who has been made a citizen of a state that claims to own him and all beneath it.

“That’s fine and I am still asking you to go home please.”

“Get your paychecks so you and your wife can eat. We won’t… just letting you know we won’t go home,” the citizen says to the backs of the officers as they walk away, back to their station, to their families and with job security. Behind them, the community that they claim to protect. The citizens that exist to carry the powerful, to feed the state and who despite all of its claims are in the end its victims.

“… just letting you know if we come back again you are all going to be arrested.”

“That’s fine mate. If you can’t tell we are not afraid anymore.”

A member of the community spoke not just for himself but likely for hundreds, if not thousands of others. Just as the police men in the exchange likely had expressed the sentiments of those that they serve alongside and the armies of public servants all with financial security, just doing a job. In an insecure moment that was unfiltered and raw. The professional media, both state and corporate have been cowardly in their consistency of the reporting. At best playing the goofy charade of partisan politics, the politicians have all been political. Some now that it is popular to do so, are rearing their heads from beneath their upper suburban homes to peer at the proletariat and dependent classes gripes.

Children are lied to in Western society, they are usually told stories about the Tooth Fairy, Father Christmas and the Easter Bunny. These are fun deceptions that the older play on the younger, it is viewed with little conflict in mind, no regard for distrust and deception. Yet, despite learning from a young age that authority figures will lie to us. We are told about liberal democracy, rule of law, Western values, representative government and community policing. In time for many the truth is learned, just more deceptions and lies. The Emerald City of deceit conjured up to validate and maintain the state itself, to project itself as a vanguard of stability, order, security, justice and freedom. But for who? For the questioning adult mind, those words are meaningless abstracts.

The State is just a monopoly, it pays well in many cases and it does provide services and while it has some benevolence at the heart of its programs and from its central planners, it is a monolith. A Leviathan. Alternatives, choices, anything other than the State itself are denied or at best polluted by its tinkering and regulatory self interest. The seen and unseen is ever apparent, for the lazy minded it is just the seen that matters. The unseen potential, the many alternatives that are yet to be revealed or allowed, linger in a fog of denial. Instead it is always more of the same. The Wizard never really has any powers, just deception and in this City, violence. The courage, wisdom and heart belongs to all of us despite any magical direction from the wizards of planning. It is not magical or something that can be steered, it is living an organism of so many unseens.

The response to a virus is a police state. The response to terrorism is a police state. The response to the war on drugs and other prohibitions, a police state. On and on it goes. More censorship, surveillance, home invasions, taxation, policing powers and so on. Never less of these things, just more. The ratchet only ever tightens. For the states in Australia, COVID zero seems to be the Utopia. It is an unattainable goal, why not AIDS zero, Cancer zero, Flu zero or any death causing illness for that matter. Because that would seem silly to defeat by locking down society, by putting police on the streets interacting at times violently with people, who may or may not be infected with a virus. If AIDS appeared in the 2020s instead of the early 1980s, it is likely that the central planners would have responded by The banning of non-marital passions, night clubs, dating apps or even sex itself in the hopes of curbing a disease. It would not be scientific, only moral.

COVID zero is the next Utopia. It is the impossible promise that the commissars and experts promise the citizenry. The obedient, dependent and true believers do not doubt this vision or most other promises. Smarter people than them are in charge, the certainty of experts are the bishops in touch with the true way. Any that challenge the narrative, dissenters and protesters are the problem. Everything would work, if only everyone just listened and followed the rules. If everyone just ‘did the right thing’, if everyone just obeyed without question. . That is the morality that each Utopia requires. The morality that it takes to knock down an elderly woman, two men doing a job spraying her face with chemicals, her the citizen beneath them.

Whena private individual murders, steals or kidnaps it confirms their wicked nature. When an agent of the state does those things, usually on a grander scale, it is performed out of necessity. The greater good, abstractions for the collective confirm this, even if performed by those just doing a job. It is just a job at the end of the day, Utopia and COVID zero is for the smart god-humans to plan and decide for the rest of us. But they require those in uniforms and armed to implement, whether they believe it or not. So long as they get paid to do so.

Those who live behind the curtains of government, the doers and implementers see how it functions. They are aware that much of it is theatre, arbitrary or even corrupt. Elliot Ness enjoyed a drink, many cops smoke weed and take steroids. Yet, they are ardent prohibition enforcers. Because they are paid to be. The cynicism that many of them feel is not expressed enough it would be unprofessional and challenge the narrative. Instead a culture of vices, domestic abuse, depression and oftentimes suicide is the toll. “I don’t have skills to do anything else” that is the belief and maybe the reality. The central planners dream, no free market, just a world of less opportunities, licensing, paper work and denials. The alternatives are limited, government jobs, welfare and what else remains. It would be a genius perversity if it was done by design, instead it is merely the un-altruistic outcomes of so many flawed and failed policies of altruistic ambitions. His lack of options are the ironic outcomes of that which he enforces.

And now, parts of Australia slowly wither. The veterans association, the Return Servicemen League, condemns the protests because they clumped across the Shrine of Remembrance. The necrolith of State worship for the martyrs that died in wars abroad. To read and hear the words of those soldiers who served in the many wars, they fought for a notion of some freedom. Freedom for those at home and overseas. It seems that the understanding of freedom for most is not liberty, just home rule. Under such a definition North Korea is free, it is after all home rule, free of foreign imperialism. That is how many view the wars of the past and present in Australia. How they now rationalise the police state that occurs in some parts of the nation. Home rule is freedom, even as the national government signs another treaty ensuring it acts as a military colony to a greater empire.

We are all human beings, not all of us think or feel the same. That is the beauty and diversity of life. The perversity of central planning is to believe that we all should become a homogenised collective, to be ruled beneath one system. That in allowing or forcing the citizen to vote for members of a parliament, ensures freedom. It not only validates, but perpetuates much of the same, it leads to more or the same government. To be taught that this is a means to a frontier of liberty, is just another deception that children of society are fed. The police man in the video claims that there is another way, but does not explain it. There is no doubt that he believes that there is another way. The monopoly does not allow any other way, it is the Leviathan.

For those in Victoria the media are no longer allowed to live stream the protests, those who share information on the protests in some cases have been visited by the police. Much of the mainstream media is antagonistic towards the protesters and those who dare to question the curfew orders of the state. Men in military uniforms, some observers claim army special forces, have arrested and attacked protesters. A union head, who was in fact trying to dissipate the crowd in favour of the governments wishes was also arrested. The protests are a crude expression of anger and frustration but also helplessness. The protests are a mob. If enough form and make up the majority of Victoria, would this not then be that sacred democracy, no matter how crude and brutal it becomes.

Perhaps in time the government will cut the internet in part or all parts of the state and someday the nation. The curfews will continue and the modern technologies will enable them to track down protesters by their faces, thanks to the facial recognition techniques perfected by the Chinese government. Social media posts and sharing of such exchanges as the one above may very well be an offence, perhaps soon even writing a piece like this shall too. This is the marriage between the police and health state. It is the Utopia of clumsy control, it is simply violence. Directly and indirectly. The magical gadgetry and curtains of this magical wizard is the legalese and official rituals, behind it is the naked and ugly force of people with guns just doing their jobs.

As for the protests, in 2003, 3-4 million people in 800 or so cities across the world protested the US led invasion of Iraq. It changed nothing. Iraq was destroyed, one million Iraqis murdered. And in time, after the protesters went home the energy to be anti-war disappeared and soon other nations joined in Iraq’s fate. Whatever the protests do in the cities of Australia and the World over, it will not change the future of more laws, more police action. Less liberty. The present crisis, like the prohibitionist war on drugs has shown that the moral and health crusaders are relentless. They know better and so long as individuals lack moral courage and will do anything for pay, then they will always be the enablers of power, the rest of us powerless. Freedom is personal responsibility and accountability, that is perhaps why Utopias that promise neither and strip away liberty are ever so seductive. And in getting there it always pays well.

Kym Robinson, September 2021

Published inAll Articles and EssaysPhilosophy, Society and Liberty