This new understanding of private security at first challenged the fears I have been developing about the rise of the private security industry globally. In Britain companies like G4S, Serco and Reliance are expanding their business rapidly by intruding into areas previously left to the public sector. For example, I was paticularly concerned by this comment from David Taylor Smith, CEO of G4S.
"And, in August, G4S went further still by launching a unique UK-based surge force of highly skilled ex-British service men and women, capable of deployment across the UK at short notice, to augment government and company resources in an emergency". For more info on these fears see:
Here in Brighton the Business Improvement District partnership recently introduced a security guard patrol (run by SASSCO) for the North Laine district. At first I was intimidated by these guys who do their best to dress like coppers even down to their hefty belts full of all sorts of devices (none of which I suspect contain anything remotely harmful). However, on closer inspection you can see that they are a couple of rather unhealthy pissheads/stoners who probably couldn't crack down very hard on anything much. (Of slightly more concern is the local network of plain clothes security whom I have seen surreptitiously nab a few hard-up shoplifters).
The thing that has been most troubling me is the similarity between the workers in this sector (often ex-coppers, soldiers, football hooligans) and the "Ordnertruppen, a body of ex-soldiers and beer hall brawlers (organized by Hitler) to protect gatherings of the Nazi party from disruptions from Social Democrats and Communists"- wikipedia credit. The Ordnertruppen later become the SA which was eventually subsumed by the SS.
Similarly, "The Blackshirts (in Italy) were established as the squadristi in 1919 and consisted of many disgruntled former soldiers which may have numbered 200,000 by the time of Mussolini's March on Rome from October 27 to October 29, 1922". Could it be that what I perceived to be the bumbling buffoons of Dads Army are in fact, more ominously, the latest incarnation of those same disgruntled soldiers and beer hall brawlers? Recently private sector security staff have been outed in the mainstream media for beating up "failed asylum seekers" within detention centres and duing deportation procedures.
US support for fascist groups in Italy and elsewhere was strong in the aftermath of the WW2, so as to prevent the spread of communism or spontaneously organized co-operatives. Thoughout the latest phase of the drive towards a global economy, labour has increasingly been subordinated to capital through violence or theats of violence. Meanwhile, as responsibility is increasingly decentralized and shifted onto individuals people are growing ever more insecure and open to join groups that promise to provide a sense of belonging whilst excluding others. And now right on cue you have the opportunity to join your local branch of a corporate militia where you can also exercise your political convictions by beating up those you don't understand or don't consider to be in your group.
What started as a humorous observation has taken on a deeper meaning by reflecting on historic examples of paramilitary organizations which is what pivate security companies are in reality. How long will it be before UK security guards cast off their friendly dads army aura and emerge as the new forces of law and order ready for a fresh purge of societys undesirables.