The extraordinary 1988 John Hillcoat/Nick Cave film Ghosts … of the Civil Dead is set in a slightly futuristic high-tech security jail, where the prison authorities aggravate the prisoners to incite a riot triggering a ‘lockdown’. It helps to keep them locked away and under control — and seems to have been used as the template for Aussie police forces during this Covid craziness.
Victorian Police Commissioner Shane Patton was boastful of his troops: “They have been brilliant. I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
It is not a new technique: to legitimise violence in suppressing citizens (or prisoners) the authorities create friction, stoke anger and launch excessive violence to overcome the rebels.
A peaceful protest cannot be legitimately attacked by storm trooper-like police with rubber bullets and pepper spray; a provocation is required, to provide cover.
In recent days this tactic has been used on our streets, much to Australia’s shame. It is bitterly disappointing that such tactics are silently accepted by political leaders, given their vastly disproportionate nature. Footage with the sound off could well be mistaken for some giant anti-terrorist operation.
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