By ann summers
Shock Doctrines in 2016 are at work in the current historical context and its appeals for “law and order” are more about shock and awe in their discourse, however constructed. Emergencies caused by natural or cultural events and whether as states or of states can over-determine the use of remediation force and justice often takes a subordinate place when political expediency reigns.
Since the foundation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923 the military conducted three coups d’état and announced martial law. Martial law between 1978 and 1983 was replaced by a State of emergency in a limited number of provinces that lasted until November 2002. On July 15, 2016 the military in Turkey attempted a coup and said to have implied martial law in a broadcast on their national television TRT.
Of course martial law can’t happen here… except in the context of the post-9/11 GITMO and its now clarified military law and in every instance of local police “lock-down” — a term to which the US public and its school children have been desensitized by the continuing application of penal terms to less carceral institutions.
A Trumpian Presidency that legitimates the continuing domestic RW hate manifested formally and informally could revive unrest like the 1960s and 1970s civil rights and antiwar movements.
Turkey featured that same reminiscence in the recent coup attempt. More troubling is the broad repression during emergency rule that will run for the next three months.
The current repression there does signal matters important to US democracy in the rise of RW discourse. Because as the cliché goes, “poor prior planning does not constitute an emergency” even undeclared martial law if not explicitly named can move in problematic ways. There are even differential spaces for law.
As Erdoğan continues to crack down on those he alleges were responsible for the coup and tackle other perceived threats – affecting up to 5,000 military officers and troops and close to 3,000 judges so far – Turkey’s allies are bracing for further demands from an emboldened leader.
Bekir Bozdağ, the Turkish justice minister, said in a television interview: “The cleansing [operation] is continuing. Some 6,000 detentions have taken place. The number could surpass 6,000.”…
US-Turkish relations have frayed over the accusation of Gülen’s involvement, with the US State Department releasing a statement denying any link to the events. “Public insinuations or claims about any role by the United States in the failed coup attempt are utterly false and harmful to our bilateral relations,” the State Department said, summarising a message given by the secretary of state, John Kerry, to his Turkish counterpart.
Kerry said that Turkey should produce evidence of Gülen’s guilt, amid concerns that Erdoğan was using the aftermath of the coup to settle scores with enemies both at home and abroad. “We would invite the government of Turkey, as we always do, to present us with any legitimate evidence that withstands scrutiny,” Kerry was quoted as saying at a press conference. www.theguardian.com/…
(Erdoğan) blamed the uprising on a political network called the Gülen movement. Due to suspected involvement, tens of thousands of public sector employees including educational staff have been suspended and 1577 deans of universities have been forced to resign by the Higher Education Council (YÖK). More than 600 academics have also been sacked…
The situation is getting worse; an indiscriminate dragnet is undermining academic freedom by seizing control of this sector’s already-impaired autonomous decision-making. Only one-third of universities’ top-choice candidates after university elections were appointed to key academic positions in the past 15 years. Political or military interference has been a problem for a long time.
Quasi-martial law is an extreme example of a tyrannical self-martial law. It is neoliberalism’s new Iron Cage when manipulated as industrial policy for excesses ranging from firearms production to policy changes designed to impel compliance to disciplinary institutions often in Constitutional conflict. It becomes even more paradoxical when seen in the context of survivalist imaginations and the martial acting out of apocalyptic fantasies with firearms.
Emergencies can be unexpected and yet highly contingent crises can emerge at national levels as even taking control of state media did not assist the Turkish coup plotters. Disaster can be war, natural disaster and of course unrest due to racial or labor resistance/conflict. And of course suspension of speech freedoms and their slippery-slope arguments come with the fracture of a public sphere.
Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath in New Orleans showed the coordinated effect on labor and policing no different a decade later in issues related to the current national election campaign. Killing suspected perpetrators suspends habeas corpus preemptively just as paramilitary equipment and tactics preempts Posse Comitatus.
There was also some concern when, on September 8, 2005, President Bush temporarily suspended the Davis-Bacon Act in the affected areas, which allowed for contractors working on Federal construction projects to be paid less than the prevailing local wage. The concerns over these actions were primarily that allowing the government to pay less than the prevailing wage would contribute to increased poverty in the region, which already ranked among the lowest in the nation in terms of household income. The act was later reinstated on October 26, 2005, amid political pressure from both Democrats and Republicans in the United States Congress.
The Danziger Bridge shootings were police shootings that took place on September 4, 2005, at the Danziger Bridge in New Orleans, Louisiana. Six days after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, members of the New Orleans Police Department killed two civilians: 17-year-old James Brissette and 40-year-old Ronald Madison. Four other civilians were wounded.
All of the victims were African-American. None were armed or had committed any crime. Madison, a mentally disabled man, was shot in the back. New Orleans police fabricated a cover-up story for their crime, falsely reporting that seven police officers responded to a police dispatch reporting an officer down, and that at least four suspects were firing weapons at the officers upon their arrival
Martial law has also been imposed during conflicts, and in cases of occupations, where the absence of any other civil government provides for an unstable population. Examples of this form of military rule include post World War II reconstruction in Germany and Japan as well as the southern reconstruction following the U.S. Civil War.
Typically, the imposition of martial law accompanies curfews, the suspension of civil law, civil rights, habeas corpus, and the application or extension of military law or military justice to civilians. Civilians defying martial law may be subjected to military tribunal (court-martial).
The martial law concept in the United States is closely tied with the right of habeas corpus, which is in essence the right to a hearing on lawful imprisonment, or more broadly, the supervision of law enforcement by the judiciary. The ability to suspend habeas corpus is related to the imposition of martial law. Article 1, Section 9 of the US Constitution states, “The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.”
In United States law, martial law is limited by several court decisions that were handed down between the American Civil War and World War II. In 1878, Congress passed the Posse Comitatus Act, which forbids military involvement in domestic law enforcement without congressional approval.
UNITED STATES HISTORY HAS SEVERAL EXAMPLES OF THE IMPOSITION OF MARTIAL LAW, ASIDE FROM THAT DURING THE CIVIL WAR.
There have been many instances of the use of the military within the borders of the United States, such as during the Whiskey Rebellion and in the South during the civil rights crises, but these acts are not tantamount to a declaration of martial law. The distinction must be made as clear as that between martial law and military justice: deployment of troops does not necessarily mean that the civil courts cannot function, and that is one of the keys, as the Supreme Court noted, to martial law.
- The American Revolution As a result of the Boston Tea Party, Parliament passed the Massachusetts Government Act, one of the Intolerable Acts, which suppressed town meetings and assemblies, and imposed appointed government, tantamount to martial law.
- New Orleans, Louisiana in the War of 1812
- CIVIL WAR Ex parte Milligan On September 15, 1863 President Lincoln imposed Congressionally authorized martial law. The authorizing act allowed the President to suspend habeas corpus throughout the entire United States (which he had already done under his own authority on April 27, 1861). Lincoln imposed the suspension on “prisoners of war, spies, or aiders and abettors of the enemy,” as well as on other classes of people, such as draft dodgers. The President’s proclamation was challenged in Ex parte Milligan, 71 US 2 . The Supreme Court ruled that Lincoln’s imposition of martial law (by way of suspension of habeas corpus) was unconstitutional in areas where the local courts were still in session.
- The Great Chicago Fire of 1871
- Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, 1892
- San Francisco earthquake of 1906
- Colorado Coalfield War in 1914
- West Virginia Coal Wars (1920-1921)
- Tulsa Race Riot in 1921
- San Francisco, California, 1934
- The Territory of Hawaii (1939 to 1945)
- Freedom Riders May 21, 1961, Alabama
Some deeply entrenched problems have been historically intransigent since the founding of the nation (racism) as well as other problems since the rise of neoliberalism (MIC/PIC). They have become more prominent in the current election campaign, as regional unevenness in voting rights enforcement resembles an apartheid-like segregation institutionalizing micro aggressive hatreds.
Like true/pure Scotsmen in the face of Brexit, the evil of two lessers is ever-present in voter choice but beyond rhetorical pleas here and elsewhere, pluralistic voting booth decision-making differs from larger historical and structural principles. This discourse weakens arguments that a post-FARC Colombia is a better analogy than Weimar Germany, particularly for potential martial law in the US. Mallinowitz’s Colombian example should be seen in its own neocolonial and kleptocratic history rather than as a strawman for a critique of Venezuelan politics.
OTOH some pluralism is clearly bankrupt when we cannot even get national consensus on certain law enforcement data or solve problems of obvious contradiction that affect martial law – making and selling military small arms for export while regulating / controlling their domestic sales. Keynesian militarism in interwar Germany as well as the lesser-evil isolationism of US domestic politics after the Depression makes for a better comparative context, but that’s always the problem of revisionist histories.
Party-building, if it is to get anywhere in the face of a system rigged by corporate money, corporate media control and an electoral system that pressures people to vote for major-party lesser evils rather than their real interests and preferences, will have to be built up from a more modest local level and be more closely tied to the building and strengthening of grassroots, non-electoral social and political movements.
Parties and coalitions of groups are always necessary to preserve workers’ rights in the face of repression. In the US the problem is affirming the identity of democratic rights. Emergencies make them equally difficult to identify as demonstrable threats to law and order as political election discourse gains in cognitive dissonance which in the last instance are also gains in false consciousness. It becomes even more important to resist a provocative discourse that rationalizes force in the face of potential widespread violence.