We are enemies of the state. We are a greater threat to the existence of the state than any Islamist terror network that ever has or ever will exist. Great Britain has been faced with no comparable threat since the Nazi occupation of Europe. We are the advance guard of a movement of about two million Scottish voters. We are the politicised and engaged activists of Scotland’s independence movement, a largely left-wing separatist movement that is continuing to grow in strength and appeal. This movement now has the power to bring to an end the state-political existence of Great Britain, something the Irish Republican movement at its height could not in its wildest dreams hope to achieve. We are a threat to the state, and therefore the enemy of the state.
Like many activists in similar movements throughout the world we do not hope to win our objectives with violence. Scottish separatism is a peaceful, civic nationalist collective of a myriad of different personalities and political ideologies; a broad church sharing one single vision, the complete separation of Scotland as a free and sovereign state from the United Kingdom – bringing the British state to an end.
It would be naïve to imagine the British state would not be acting to protect itself and its interests.
As grandiose as this description reads – a far cry from the apparent reality on the ground; of rallies, fundraisers, blogs, and face painting – this is the calculable reality of what we are doing from the perspective of the London government. Scotland’s departure from the Union kills the British geopolitical project, and a lot of influential and powerful people have a great many eggs in that basket. If successful, our movement will cut Westminster off from what it presumes to be its own; the United Kingdom’s chief strategic resource asset – Scotland’s North Sea oil. What we may not always realise is that what we are engaged in is a conflict the British administration is taking deadly seriously.
It follows that at present an unbloody war is being fought between the British state and our independence movement. Power’s principle concern, at all times and in every context, is to protect and maintain itself, and it will do this at any and every cost. That the clandestine apparatus of Britain’s state security forces – the secret police and the intelligence services – was mobilised against small and obscure Trotskyist groups in the 1980s and 90s, the Provisional IRA, and even members of the British government, indicates strongly that these very forces are now in operation against us.
This is far from paranoia. It would be naïve to imagine the British state would not be acting to protect itself and its interests. Yet, that such a thought has the power to make us feel paranoid is a useful psychological weapon in itself. We must assume that we are constantly being surveilled, but all the while stay perfectly calm. Given the asymmetric nature of the conflict, we are powerless to retaliate in any meaningful way or even to fully protect ourselves. So to some extent we must accept it.
Accepting this and remaining calm, however, is not enough. Being the subject of intelligence interest is never simply a matter of being watched. There comes with this a certain degree of active intelligence gathering, infiltration, and provocation. Again, this would be routine, and again we are pretty powerless over it, but we can take some basic and sensible steps to make it more difficult for them to find what they are looking for. Our practicality may not prove to be full proof, but we can hide some things from them and otherwise delay them and force them to use more of their own resources.
Practical Advice for Online Activists
Start with Google and Firefox. Get them the hell off your devises. Google has collaborated to the Nth degree with state security mass surveillance protocols such as PRISM, programmes in clear violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. Both of these search engines – most search engines in fact – are open books to state security. Don’t think that you are not special enough to be spied on. Everyone’s information is gathered up as a matter of course. You may not be that special, but what you are searching, liking, sharing, and writing will compromise others.
Try a browser like StartPage or go full dad and download the TOR browser and go deep. There are plenty of online tutorials that will help you to do this. It’s all a little less colourful and sexy, but it’s worth it. Email is the same. Anything unencrypted is being hoovered up and stored. The two-way passkey system of PGP is the way to go. It can be downloaded quickly and easily, and again there is no shortage of help available to you online. The same goes for messages – SMS texts, Facebook, SnapChat, Viber, Twitter, Skype, the lot. Twitter has an excellent reputation for non-compliance with state surveillance requests, but – as it is not open source – we can’t know for sure. Sorry Twitter. Of course, we can use them – just don’t use them. Go and look at Cyph, it is encrypted in much the same way as PGP, while being a quick messenger platform.
Facebook: Bad. Again use it if you must, but never use it. Get an AdBlocker and filter out as many of the ads as you possibly can. They are infested with spyware and malware. Stop liking things, and keep the planning, strategy, and political talk offline altogether if possible, and, when you have to, move it all over to Minds.com.
We don’t have to wrap the microwave and the cat in up tinfoil. What we have to accept is that we are all being watched, some more closely than others, and that our attempts to regain our privacy will not always be bullet proof. But by taking a few practical steps to improve our personal security online, we can make the job of the secret service that bit more difficult and costly. It’s also worth remembering that by making it harder for them we are making them spend more and use up more of their resources. In itself this is a good thing. Sun Tzu said that a loaf from the enemy is worth two of our own. So let’s help them waste their time and money.