Burrowing for Bureaucracy - Jeremy John

IN MONCK STREET, WESTMINSTER, not 500 yards from Big Ben, are two enormous rotundas, growing from a huge, man-made crater in the earth, which look like the eyes of a cheap science fiction monster. All around them, in hollows in the ground and on mounds, are mechanical grabs, bulldozers and cranes. They are on a large site which is being built up, burrowed into, altered and protected by an incredible swarming army of engineers, architects, builders, drivers, labourers and Ministry security men. At first sight it looks like an ant-hiIl, or, less prosaically, a picture of one of the giant peasant labour forces in China building a new dam. But use a little imagination and it becomes a fantastically elaborate set for a new science fiction film about "the creature from the bowels of the Earth", with a cast of thousands examining the eyes of the vast monster which has been buried for centuries under the placid soil of London, enjoying a monstrous sci-fic sleep. The labour force is going to extricate it and, I presume, unintentionally let it loose to cause havoc in Central London, where it will eventually be destroyed by honest, cheerful troops and ridiculous, friendly policemen in their comical day-to-day uniform. In fact the site is not a film set but a deep shelter and the labour force is not extricating a monster but burying one — the likely central headquarters of the governmental system of post-nuclear war dictatorship. And, if it is to be destroyed, it'll have to be destroyed by the people, because the troops and police are too busy protecting it.

It seems appropriate to review "The Walter Report",* which details the birth and development of the Regional Government system, in an issue of ANARCHY devoted to Science Fiction. The pamphlet seems to be an extraordinary fusion of fact and fantasy — but unfortunately it's all true.
Most of the material in the pamphlet was once covered by the screen of official secrecy and although it isn't any more it still remains largely inaccessible to the public because it has been released only in dribs and drabs here and there. Nicolas Walter has discovered many invaluable sources which he has listed — more turn up every day if one looks around — and from them he has gathered an astonishing amount of information around which he has written a pamphlet notable for its clarity and punch and available to as many people as want it. It's hardly surprising that it is Solidarity's all time best seller. It's not only the most generally interesting and most generally relevant thing they've done but it's also excellently produced — an example of just how good duplicated publications can be.

* THE R.S.G.s — 1919-1963 by Nicolas Walter (Solidarity Pamphlet No. 15, published by Bob Potter, 197 Kings Cross Road, London, W.C.1., Sixpence).

When the R.S.G. "affair" broke last Easter with the publication by the Spies for Peace of Danger! Official Secret,† the existence of the Regional Seats of Government was taken to be yet another example of how cold-blooded the Government had become with its preparations for World War III. I remember being told at R.S.G. 6 on Easter Saturday that the R.S.G. network was part of a "foul Tory plot". I wonder if that Glaswegian trotskyist has since read this pamphlet and seen evidence of the complicity of the Labour movement in this "plot to destroy the working peoples of the world"? In fact the system of regional government, with regional commissioners and regional bureaucracy for regional dictatorship is forty-four years old and has earlier antecedents both here and abroad. Napoleon and Hitler favoured similar regional systems and in 1655 the English dictator Oliver Cromwell divided England and Wales into eleven regions, each under the control of a major-general who, in the last resort, had total power over his region. Ireland and Scotland were already under similar military governors so even the number of regions was the same as today, though they had different control centres and did not cover identical geographical areas.

We discover from Nicolas Walter that "the present system developed during the 'thirties as part of the Government's plans for dealing with air raids or invasion from abroad; but that system derived from the system developed during the 'twenties as part of the Government's plans for dealing with strikes or revolution at home". The system began in 1919 with the creation, by the Lloyd George Coalition Government, of an emergency supply and transport system (1919-26), the main function of which was to break strikes. Before the strike-breaking system was partially tested during the General Strike of May 1926, a parallel secret Civil Defence system, for use in international rather than class warfare, was being evolved (1924-38). This, in turn, became the open Civil Defence system of World War II, which evolved yet again into the secret Civil Defence system against which the Spies for Peace directed their pamphlet. The new pamphlet is well documented and gives the story in as much detail as the average reader can stand, let alone need. There is a useful bibliography and appendices for anyone intending to use the pamphlet as the basis for further research.

I found the last part of the pamphlet — about the present system of funk-holes — more pertinent than the strictly historical part. It is interesting, historically, to know that the Labour Party used the system against strikers in 1924, took part in it during World War II and recommended its revival in 1951 and 1955, but it is not very surprising! It's more to the point to know that the Government is building itself a huge shelter system in the West of England. Presumably this is to be the first luxury subterranean hotel of the New World Order which will grow up after nuclear war has obliterated all those people "unfit to rule". There may be something we can do about that; but history is unalterable unless one is a totalitarian.
We also discover that the London underground shelter system of

† Facsimile reprint available from National Committee of 100, One Shilling.
World War II has been modernised, altered and extended. Much of this information was printed by the press at the time but either most of us weren't around at the time or we didn't pay much attention. At the beginning of 1960, Chapman Pincher, writing in the Daily Express, said that many hundreds of civil servants were working in shelters, not deemed H-Bomb-proof, and that tunnels were being converted into offices for security staff and overflow staff from the Works Ministry, the Service Ministries and the Post Office. The tunnels, he informed us, were under Leicester Square, Victoria, Holborn and Whitehall and, according to Frank Gullett writing in the Daily Worker in September 1951, were originally built as atom bomb proof shelters for top bureaucrats, Cabinet Ministers and Defence Chiefs. In December 1959 Pincher said that a new system, designed to withstand anything but a direct H-Bomb hit, was being built outside London for "key people" and national art treasures, but not the public. This had already cost £10,000,000. In a later article, on Spies for Peace, he described the new shelter in the West Country as a "bomb-proof underground citadel for the central government". Nicolas Walter comments: "It would not be surprising if the Spies for Peace have turned their suspicious eyes to the Mendip Hills. The omission of any information about the central seat of Government from their pamphlet was disappointing". In any case, according to Mr. Henry Brooke, the best-loved public figure in Western Europe, less than a quarter of the estimated cost of the system has been spent so far, so there is time to look around. It is, after all, more real, more important and more frightening than science fiction.

This pamphlet is fascinating reading for any anarchist because it shows us precisely the extent to which modern governments can be trusted, and is an interesting case history of authoritarianism and political delinquency. It also shows the complete failure of the modern state to deal with the problems and contradictions implicit in its own unlimited power and, further, indicates an area in which the anarchist movement at large might usefully involve itself. There is plenty of "legal" spying for peace to be done and, as Nicolas Walter contends, "our best chance against our known and unknown rulers is that there are plenty more spies for peace".

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Reddebrek
Apr 28 2018 18:47

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Anarchy: a journal of anarchist ideas

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