The relations between the democratic state and its armed forces, both internal and external, are endlessly analysed and considered in political science. They are compared with relationships within the authoritarian state (of the left and of the right), the feudal state, in history, under various regimes of international law, and across the borders of the state itself until we arrive at global governance.
The nation state, federal or unitary, invariably seeks to draw the power to use force to itself alone. Even the American citizen's individual right to bear arms, enshrined in its Constitution for historical reasons rooted in the circumstances of the foundation of the state, is under constant attack and equally vigorously defended. In our own state the right to bear arms has shrivelled almost to non-existence; except for members of internal or external state security forces arms are, to all intents and purposes, illegal. No longer is military training even offered to the citizenry in England, let alone required as it is in some countries. The United Kingdom is a highly centralised, even if formally federal, state as well.
So in England democratic control over armed force is crucially important to democracy itself. Yet the ground rules governing the use of force, both within and without the state, like so much else have been profoundly altered during New Labour's regime; and before it, because of the contamination of United Kingdom institutional and constitutional structures by membership of the European Union. While our allegiance to Nato, and to the American super power, has altered the state's relations with, and control over, external armed force, too, as Nato itself has responded to changing circumstances.
But it is contamination by the continental European view of the role of force in the relations between the state and the individual that has most damaged our happiness. There is a world of difference between 'What is not forbidden is permitted', and 'What is not permitted is forbidden'. The latter, europeanist stance requires an internal state control apparatus which we are watching being installed in our society now. It is one of the reasons why our borders have been opened to settlement by those who will notice nothing in the change from a free society to a monitored, rights society - and the rights are not even there under our old and tried Constitution; there is nothing there except the remnants of a rule of law now over-ruled by European arrangements.
And to whom do these hierarchically organised, external military and internal security systems answer? To the permanent structures of the state and its executive, not to the transient occupants of office in elected governance, whose purpose is to legitimise the state's requirements in return for the fruits of temporary office. A caste, not a class, openly hereditary in the case of the head of state, and with in-place recruitment means both over the generations, and for the incorporation of threatening or successful newcomers, controls enforcement of the state's ideals and aims.
We have been fortunate throughout most of our lifetimes in our head of state; there has been coincidence of interest and widespread consent, until recently, to the ideas and practice of rule in this country. We may, within our different classes and societies, have disliked the democratic governance in office, but we were all more or less happy with the state.
No longer; we must find ways of democratically agreeing upon and controlling the use of force in our country.
Dick Cheney is right to hate Mandela
1 hour ago