Tories and Liberals alike have demanded Blair's resignation, but New Labour has stood by him. In media interviews Livingstone has defended the killing of de Menezes with the words "these things happen", a phrase which echoes Blair's own comment soon after the 2005 shooting that it was just "one of those things that happen" during armed police operations. While many have been shocked by the callous arrogance and complacency of this attitude, in fact it is no more than an unusually frank acknowledgement of the role of the police and the nature of state violence.
Violence is inherent to the state as such. This is true not just of "bad" states, "rogue" states, dictatorships or "oppressive régimes": it is true of all states, by definition. The state perpetuates itself through legalised violence against its own population, whom it may "legitimately" intimidate, imprison, injure and kill, and against the populations of other states, whom it may treat no less and often more brutally under the aegis of war. The police and the armed forces are two sides of the state's bloody coin:
The supreme law of the State is self-preservation at any cost. And since all States, ever since they came to exist upon the earth, have been condemned to perpetual struggle -- a struggle against their own populations, whom they oppress and ruin, a struggle against all foreign States, every one of which can be strong only if the others are weak -- and since the States cannot hold their own in this struggle unless they constantly keep on augmenting their power against their own subjects as well as against the neighborhood States -- it follows that the supreme law of the State is the augmentation of its power to the detriment of internal liberty and external justice.
Thus those who are calling for Blair's replacement are doing nothing to prevent further killings. On the contrary, in wishing to re-establish the "honour" and effectiveness of the Met they seek simply to re-legitimise the arming of the state against ordinary people, in the name of the "anti-terrorism" which itself licenses terror -- in Bakunin's words, "this flagrant negation of humanity which constitutes the very essence of the state."
So much, then, for the two minutes' silence, the poppies, the Queen mooching around the Cenotaph with a face like a slapped arse. Remember the wars, remember the dead and the wounded, remember Gordon Brown's paean to wartime courage and the glorious cannon fodder, remember anything you like as long as you also forget the freedom that lives in your own dreams and desires, in Mad Love and the Marvellous, in the necessary interdependence of all organic and inorganic life on earth ... Open the prisons! Disband the army! Abolish the police! And remember your own revolutionary dreams of poetry and freedom, because they are within our collective grasp, not just in some far-off political future but now, here, tonight.
Non-UK readers who are unfamiliar with the background of the de Menezes case can find information, including a detailed timeline of events, at www.justice4jean.com.