February 23, 2017
London, United Kingdom
Barbaric Sport: A Global Plague — Marc Perelman
Perelman’s book takes a subversive look at sport and global sporting events such as the Olympics to reveal their darker side. He argues that sport has become an instrument of political control and a vehicle for capitalist monoculture. This timely polemic offers refreshing reading to those looking for an antidote to this summer’s Olympian frenzy.
Cities Under Siege: The New Military Urbanism — Stephen Graham
This authoritative study examines the rapid and dangerous spread and normalization of surveillance and state policing in western cities and warzones alike under the guise of national security. As such it provides an unsettling and provocative insight into the global backdrop of the rising costs and militarization of London’s Olympic Games security operation.
A New Kind of Bleak: Journeys through Urban Britain— Owen Hatherley
Hatherley’s critical tour of Britain’s urban centres incorporates the latest and most high profile attempt at regeneration offering a carefully considered indictment of the architectural and social failures of Stratford’s Olympic sites.
Last week, Stephen Graham sat down with WBEZ 91.5 in Chicago to talk about the new and increasingly militarized forms of law enforcement that are fast becoming the norm throughout the West. Drawing from his new book on the topic, Cities Under Siege: The New Military Urbanism, he addresses this rapid transformation and critically examines both the subtler and more familiarly overt modes of social control and surveillance that are being put to use in troubling ways. In the interview, Graham touches on these new modes of enforcement and considers how they are used to subdue dissent and criminalize behaviour, among other things. With new technologies and invocations of "security concerns," these are now becoming a part of our urban landscape and are being used in everything from the increased policing of borders and crowds to the surveillance of public space and police crackdowns. As Graham suggests, it is part of larger, discomforting trends that are changing the way people live and move within cities.
Please visit WBEZ to listen to the interview in full.
More troops - 13,500 - will be deployed to cover the London Olympics than are currently stationed in Afghanistan. This frightening statistic opens Stephen Graham's powerful and harrowing piece on Olympic 2012 security for the Guardian. Arguing that the London Games will see the largest mobilisation of military and security forces since the second world war, Graham, author of Cities Under Siege, warns that the effects "will linger long after the athletes and VIPs have left."
As estimates of the Games' immediate security costs double (from £282m to £553m) Graham highlights the hypocrisy of spending on this scale,
All this in a city convulsed by massive welfare, housing benefit and legal aid cuts, spiralling unemployment and rising social protests. It is darkly ironic, indeed, that large swaths of London and the UK are being thrown into ever deeper insecurity while being asked to pay for a massive security operation, of unprecedented scale, largely to protect wealthy and powerful people and corporations.
Graham points out that the total security force could number anything between 24,00o and 49,00o. He writes in disturbing detail of the intricate security arrangements underway,
During the Games an aircraft carrier will dock on the Thames. Surface-to-air missile systems will scan the skies. Unmanned drones, thankfully without lethal missiles, will loiter above the gleaming stadiums and opening and closing ceremonies. RAF Typhoon Eurofighters will fly from RAF Northolt. A thousand armed US diplomatic and FBI agents and 55 dog teams will patrol an Olympic zone partitioned off from the wider city by an 11-mile, £80m, 5,000-volt electric fence.