The internal enemy, or preventive war as the science of maintaining order

translated from Echos de la Taïga (french support committee bulletin) #5 June 30, 2009.

It is sometimes by an apparent chance that makes one believe that there really does exist a “spirit of the age”. Thus, the appearance of a book on the “Internal Enemy” by Mathieu Rigouste at the same moment when “the Tarnac affair” was in the news, leaves the thought that a real popular uprising, for those who want to contain it as for those who place in it their hopes, is in the air. Invited to Tarnac to present to us his research, the author brought us some thoughts on the theory of revolutionary war that involves a good part of the “cadres of the Nation”. If we have contributed to diffusing this work, it is as much to show that the preventive war of counter-insurrection is truly a practical and theoretical reality, as it is to give certain clues to all those who envisage derailing this war machine.

The colonial roots of counter-insurrection: Indochina, 1946-1954. The French military who tried to safeguard the colonial empire of France were bypassed by events. The techniques of crowd control that they could have utilized up until WW2, in the face of a clearly identified enemy, were checked by an untraceable form of anti-colonial revolt, where the actors were disseminated amidst the mass of the colonized population. Undiscoverable, the presumed terrorists could hit everywhere, only to dissolve back once more into the largely supportive population. It was thus necessary to react, invent, and experiment with techniques other than that of frontal combat, with a sentiment of urgency all the more powerful as the Cold War hit its peak, and as the military theorists were convinced that the hand of Moscow was hidden behind all forms of insubordination. Relying on historical antecedents, but also on a creativity not devoid of zeal, they began to utilize certain techniques: it was a question of finding one part of the enemy that was the politico-administrative organization, supposedly the spinal column of subversion, the structure of which was to be destroyed; on the other hand, systematic propaganda and psychological action upon the population, as well as the use of industrialized torture on the prisoners, to make each and every one lose their interest for insubordination. Sure of total support from a colonial state attached to “defending the free world” against “communist subversion”, the generals who guided these operations had free reign for testing techniques the better to defend the French empire- whatever the price.

Thus, even though paid for by defeat, the war in Indochina had permitted the refinement of a doctrine of revolutionary war which shortly thereafter found its place in the heart of institutes for military studies (such as the Institute for Higher Studies in National Defense [IHEDN]). Taught to military figures, but equally to owners of the media, the military industrial complex, and high ranking judges who were invited to participate in seminars, and in this way to ministers who regularly received reports- in brief, all the “cadres of the nation”- the new doctrine permitted the circulation of what they called “defense theory”. The nation is considered as an organism that must be immunized against the menaces of dissolution that eat away at it. The army is here the source of an “immunization theory” which it has precisely to function to defend the national “body” politic. The diffusion of “defense theory” into the population, relayed by all the cadres formed to this end, is thus a manner of bringing the population to immunise itself against the intervention of a protective army. An army that on its side, develops to the end of combating subversion (“cancer“) a coherent ensemble of techniques to conjure a revolutionary menace.

The resume made by Mr. Rigouste is eloquent: 1)The colonized populations are the centers of proliferation of revolutionary subversion 2)Information gathered must reveal the appearance of parallel hierarchies, which can be supported, destroyed, or replaced 3)Terror permits the adversary to hold the population, it is necessary to re-appropriate these principles 4)Designating interior subversion permits the population to be lead into supporting and participating in repression. 5)Psychological action permits the control of representations of the population and psychological war fools the adversary. The army must be the surgeon of a gangrenous society. 6)The military-police cordoning of the urban terrain constitutes a radical surgical act to purge the subversives and immunize the colonized population. 7)Reasons of state justify the state of exception and militarized surveillance.

Theorized and taught, the doctrine of counter insurrection continued at the same time to nourish itself on French colonial wars, particularly in Algeria. A new stage was thus reached during the 1957 “Battle of Algiers”. Confronted by a city-labyrinth in which subversive elements could move about and hide themselves with an uncontrollable ease, the military created what they called the “technique of urban protection”, namely that -a number was attributed to each house – the population was carded in its entirety, each one being the object of a summary of information on their job, their habits, their activities- the city was cordoned off with barbed wire and barricades, constituting so many checkpoints that permitted the control of the smallest movements-and last, diverse operations of “disappearances” and of torture were effected against anyone who was suspected of harboring bad intentions. In a parallel fashion in the 50’s, the doctrine was exported to diverse international colloquiums, for example into Nato. In the U.S., this doctrine would be immediately applied, notably against the Black Panthers.

Importing revolutionary war into the metropolitan space: After the colonial terrain, relayed by military theorists who had applied it there, the doctrine imported itself into the metropolis. In France, it was forbidden following many attempted coup d’etats (in 1961 and 1962) by its principal theoreticians (the future cadres of the Secret organization of the Army [OAS in french], but it remained studied in military institutes, and its heritage remains visible in the techniques of maintaining order. It’s in this manner that the leftists of the 60’s were designated as “chienlit”, and thus an action was taken to teach the populace to immunize itself against the leftists. At the same time, the security techniques multiplied, the media stations were held under control and the subversives expelled. But it was above all a few years later that the practices of counter-insurrection reappeared with force.

An old student of IHEDN, Giscard D’Estaing, put in place the plan Vigipirate applying the counter-insurrectional model: classed in part secret defense, this plan aimed as much to cordon the urban terrain as to immunize the population and diffuse among them the spirit of security. Later, another old student of IHEDN, Mitterand, chose to rehabilitate the generals who had attempted the coup d’etats under De Gaulle, and by this to give a new legitimacy to the doctrine. The affair of the “Irish of Vincennes” in 1982 inaugurated in France the practice of “media-police montages”: a concerted action between the media and the police permitted the preparation of a designated enemy for the populace, the diffusion of descriptive details about this foe, and, after a few months of recitation, to proceed with collective arrests.

The doctrine of revolutionary war seems to henceforth appear as a pure technology of the state, apolitical, leading simply to the maintenance of order in a population all at once menacing and menaced. The doctrine was, however, shaken by the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War. Deprived of their principle justification in the designation of an internal enemy, the theoreticians of counter-insurrection recovered very quickly, using the “theory of new menaces”. The new doctrine always advocates the non-distinction between the subversive and the enemy, the interior and the exterior, but it adds to this the existence of gray areas, spaces of an incomplete control which serve as the terrain for the premise of subversion. And above all, the enemy from now on has multiple faces: suburban youth, leftist subversives, radical ecologists, diverse independence fighters, and above all, foreign populations. These last, constituted as “French suspected of questionable allegiance” have thus been made the object of many mediatic campaigns since their invention as a problem, and of many police interventions, and justifying at the same time by the fear that they are supposed to inspire, an ever-growing mobilization of the population.

Human Rights Watch numbers 17 media-police montages in the 90’s in France, of which the two most memorable concern such “enemies” as Khaled Kelkal, the name of the Algerian accused of the metro bombings in Paris in 1995, and who was killed by gendarmes in front of TV cameras- the affair in which the #1 and #2 in the DST have since admitted were commanded by the Algerian secret service…in the shape of an operation of psychological war; and the affair of the “Chalabi network”, which lead in 1995 to the arrest of more than 300 people of which many passed years in provisional detention to end finally at the quasi-total acquittal of the detained.

New menaces, the reinforcement of Vigipirate, psychological action…in step with the time, “defense theory”  became “security theory”: the theory no long posits the population faced with an exterior enemy, but facing a new enemy from within which everyone must mistrust, and against which a permanent military-police presence is indispensable. Since 9/11, the techniques have hardly evolved, but the urgency imposed by the “Global War on Terror” has, in passing, permitted the acceleration and intensification of actions of preventive war, all the while multiplying security laws.

The internal enemy, today: One can largely resume things thusly: elaborated in the course of colonial wars, the doctrine called revolutionary war (or counter-insurrection) has since been imported into the metropolis while adapting to the context of the age. The “thought of security” has a clear lineage, and the theories that have issued from it have very concrete practical applications on the techniques of maintaining order, at the national level first, but equally and more and more, at the international level.  The dominant representation is henceforth at a quasi-global level that of a singular society placed under the threat of internal subversion disseminated amongst the population, and which must at all costs be contained and prevented by the States.

In France, the two most ancient interior enemies, who have been the object of very elaborate actions of counter-insurrections, are the “savages of the suburbs” and the “illegal immigrant”. These two types constructed by “security theory” are supposed to be an antisocial force, sometimes aided by foreign powers, who menace the integrity of the nation which must protect itself. It is, in the terms of the state, a “low-intensity war” that has been led against them already for twenty years. ”Low intensity war”, that is to say one employs the methods of war in a time of peace. Thus, faced with the amplitude of the riots in 2005, it was the theory and the military figures who were solicited to the end of reestablishing order. A “technique of urban protection” of which we spoke of previously, was employed on this occasion for the first time in a metropolis: checkpoints, cordoning, and carding of the population. The military mobilized were the same who, a few months earlier, had assured the defense of French interest in the Ivory Coast (see the affair of the Ivory Hotel, an affair that was paid for by 64 deaths among the rebels). The possibility of having to use guns to keep down the rebels was envisaged with the greatest seriousness, and the military was finally mobilized to that end. And if finally its above all the CRS who were put in the foreground of the scene, the employment of technique or military material in their action was frequent (drones, flashballs, protection equipment).

In such a context, one understand better the ideological reasoning of the “Tarnac affair”. One can in effect observe, across this prism, the putting into place of a counter-insurrection operation with the intention to designate a new type of interior enemy: the anarcho-autonomous. To that end, in 2007, the first descriptions of this “new menace” began to circulate in the media. In 2008, the mediatic interventions multiplied, and the first arrests where held in a new context, attacking a supposed “French anarcho-autonomous movement”. At the same time, a certain Alain Bauer, security counselor of Michele Alliot-Marie and besides a boss of an important international security company, passed around examples of The Coming Insurrection, alerting the responsible figures of national security of the danger represented by these authors. In June 2008 all French judges received a service note inviting them to inform the Anti-Terrorist Bureau (SDAT) of all affairs that could be linked with the anarcho-autonomous movement. Then in November, after a year of mediatic preparation diffused against the new enemy, came the time for the “police-media montage” of Tanac, which permitted the public designation of the supposed representatives of this menace, and to give some principle characteristics: young, white, cultivated, mistrusting cellphones and suspecting police shadowing, living occasionally in groups…After many months of preparation, the population is in this way made to see their new enemy, against which the State is posed as the savior who intervenes preventively against a group launched on a dangerous path. That this action was balanced by a burning failure matters very little. The fact that it was irony which stood out against this paranoia of the state does not change the fact that the structures which give shape to its phantasms are really present. The plan Vigipirate has passed to red for many years (cordoning of territory and security theory), the gendarmerie is in the process of passing under the responsibility of the Minister of the Interior (army/police fusion), the general carding of the population advances slowly (Edvige and its cousins, student id cards, internet surveillance, biometrics), arrests follow, psychological action is constant, whether it be in the media or in all the places where one calls for the vigilance of the citizens against a supposed menace, the fight against the interior enemy is internationalizing, and its techniques are changing. . .

The state appears for better or worse, at all levels, to be leading a preventive offensive against all that could oppose the dominant order, combining the permanent drilling and mobilization of populations, and war operations of low intensity to assure itself of protection against the “subversive cancer” that corrodes it. Associated with the arsenal of anti-terrorist laws, which offer a legal frame for the state of exception necessary to apply this military theory, this ensemble of measures offers a structure more and more operational for putting down all eventuality of revolt. If we add to this certain recent information on the actuality of this paranoia, there is much to be unquiet about: on one hand, the same Bauer who cultivates “defense theory” at the summit of the State is about to put into place a “National Security Council” that would reunite all the bosses of the military-industrial companies, ministers, or owners of the media; on the other hand, one knows that a note has been sent to retirees and reservists of the national gendarmerie, demanding them to hold themselves ready to mobilize as of next June 30. . .

Thus, unease. But as M. Benasayag said in an interview diffused by numerous committees, “Unease, it’s what makes you move, what makes you act”. It’s not by fear or anguish which paralyzes and incites to replace something as stronger or more protective- above all in the context of the state, which poses as savior, since it is the same one that diffuses this anguish.

We thus face a disturbing machine of preventive war. But for one part, all machines have failures, bugs, and dysfunctions. And for another part, they also all have weak points. The question is now to succeed at discovering these, and to derail this machine. Some ideas? If the machine rests upon psychological action to diffuse anguish, we can stop trusting it; if it rests upon our collaboration, we can refuse it our complicity; and if it counts on the discretion of its real intentions, we can also put these in the light. . .

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