The Silent Apartheid: Militarizing Architecture & Infrastructure

He who is subjected to a field of visibility, and who knows it, assumes responsibility for the constraints of power; he makes them play spontaneously upon himself; he inscribes in himself the power relation in which he simultaneously plays both roles; he becomes the principle of his own subjection

— Michel Foucault

The growing presence of ‘defensive architecture’ reflects a creeping militarization. From New York City’s ‘bum-free’ benches that double up as defensive barriers with anti-skate elements; to Madrid’s corrugated metal strips in doorways designed to prevent loitering by undesirable elements; to London’s studded pavement areas near buildings; or concrete spikes under bridges in Guangzhou city, China; to ‘Sitzkiesel‘ (sitting pebbles) replacing benches in such as the Kleiner Teirgarten Park in Berlin to prevent rough sleeping; defensive architecture is on the march.

Defensive architecture also includes: sprinkler systems which at random intervals nightly pour water down on anyone homeless attempting to sleep rough in doorways below and has even been deployed in places of worship, infamously in San Francisco (St Marys Cathedral) before public outrage forced removal; high- frequency emitting sound devices, ‘Mosquitoes’, which can only be heard  as acoustic irritant by teenagers and those in their early 20’s; loud music blaring early hours from speakers in areas  such as subterranean walkways associated with presence of the homeless seeking shelter; blue lights to prevent intravenous injection; and barriers to prevent entry, including areas  near where Democratic Governmental Institutions housed.

Before 1989, for example, in Downing Street, London, ‘home’ to the Prime Minister (No.10) and Chancellor of the Exchequer (No.11), there were no gates restricting the public or ‘Commoners’ rights of way. A symbolic act carried out by the Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras upon his election in 2015 was removal of the iron fence placed before the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Syntagma Square, Athens. More up to date instance of such march symbolic includes further erection of barriers to the White House. Not to forget the growing presence of closed circuit TV cameras and, in the USA, gunfire locators linked to automatic vehicle locator systems as deployed in Camden, New Jersey to enhance police response time.

Apropos, the epitome of large scale defensive architecture remains the West Bank apartheid wall of Israel; though to ‘march’ or rather ‘drive’ further upon ‘defensive apartheid’ by way of transportation infrastructure one would have to go a long way to beat Highway 443 between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv as travel upon forbidden to Palestinian without permit to work or travel inside Israel, and as reinforced by checkpoints – this despite a decision by the Israeli Supreme Court in 2009 to let Palestinians use the road.

‘The Donald’ with his vow to erect a  new wall between Mexico and USA may yet ‘top’ the list concerning defensive architecture way of ‘biggest and best’ – and concerning architecture  and apartheid, relocation of the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which city divided in to four quarters, has even been mooted.

Is defensive architecture symptomatic of a militarization of society in which Life is being ‘progressively’ and more widely cheapened thru diversity of presence and activity limited – and Democracy cast aside in favour of Corporatism and the transcendence of private interests over public ‘life’ commensurate?

Is same developing to reinforce a silent apartheid of our times, which quietly, and often unobtrusively, differentiates between acceptable and unacceptable, enforcing rules surreptitiously – and cheapening life quietly but efficaciously?

‘Cheapening’ as in certain presence not valued i.e. ‘we don’t want your type around here’.

Consider ‘Pops‘ or Privately Owned Public Spaces, which the ‘Occupy Wall St’ movement helped to raise the profile of. New York City has over 500 of these types of space. Corporate spaces so constructed as to be open to the ‘public’ – this under proviso that they obey increasingly numerous rules, which ‘Occupy’ actions, based on similar previous takeover of public places in Spain and as in The Arab Spring, have only resulted in more rules being explicated within?

For what is ‘Apartheid’ but a constricted definition of the public as acceptable presence in areas – as one individual defined defensive architecture as entailing?

And ‘Defense’ being inherently a military concept?

Accordant such trend, Policing also becoming increasingly militarized; this thru technology deployed supporting such as special weapons and tactics, and as can be based upon lessons ‘gained’ from Israel as offers training in  the best counterterrorism techniques in the world, and this not only to US Police, but also British.

Language deployed commensurate such militarization: war on drugs, war on crime, war on poverty, war on the ever expanding concept of terrorism.

Collateral damage to such wars nought but Human Rights and Democracy; and in the case of America ‘Posse Comitatus’ as in Act of 1878 rendered obsolete thru silent redefinition; such the camouflage as in the bargain basement of military surplus offloaded? One point six billion rounds of hollow point, MRAP vehicles, ‘no more hesitation’ targets featuring ‘non traditional threats’ such as pregnant women, young children and elderly people such the ‘bring it on!’ as ‘Homeland Security’  open purchase order demanded?

Is it permissible to raise such questions without being deemed to be offensive to point of constituting unacceptable presence such the ‘currency’ – for ‘cyberspace’ too a ‘public space’ – and as an infrastructure has its own ‘defensive architecture’ by way of militarization on the march accordant?

Terrorist outrages, which some conspiracy theorists have occasionally had the audacity to contend as ‘false flag’, the rationalization often by way of insight in to ‘never let a good/serious crisis go to waste’ (Churchill/Emmanuel) and awareness of such as The Lavon Affair and the USS Liberty incident as subsequently revealed to be false flag, are related to justifying increased presence of defensive architecture, and a heightening of security measures. The CIA coined the term ‘conspiracy theorist’ after JFK was assassinated. More recently, moderators and bloggers such as Richard Gutjhar have helped interpret the tragedy of terrorist attacks as occurred in Nice and Munich, both which he happened to be present at, a fact which caused some conspiracy theorists to go in to ‘overdrive’, not the least actuarially.

To silent apartheid, are ‘conspiracy theorists’ and the ‘false news’ they would propagate the new ‘bums’ in cyberspace – as should be a ‘bum-free’ zone?

Accordant, ‘Defensive Architecture’ increasingly embracing Information Technology within the purview of its remit; for ‘cyberspace’ as a potentially free area as an ‘infrastructure’ must be defended, not least from ‘false news’ propagated by undesirable elements who would question the rules if not disobey them outright, and offer alternative opinions and interpretations to the approved line; particularly where based on empathy with those who would be out of sight and out of mind – those ‘undesirable elements’ as surplus to requirements – and for whom there would be an ever decreasing empathy, as reinforced, for example, through the criminalization of compassion as defying ‘apartheid’, at least temporarily. For example, feeding someone hungry will temporarily diminish the division between hungry/non hungry by way of number instanced- but will not overcome such ‘economic apartheid’ as systemic obscenity. Soon the hunger will return to the individual, unlike the wherewithal as once was to deny same?

It was but a short move such sense from ‘do not feed the pigeons’ to ‘do not feed the poor’ – especially when one considers that defensive architecture got ‘foot in the door’ by way of such as pigeon spikes on ledges and anti-bird netted areas over roof tops housing HVAC systems – and also that being poor can incorporate absence of information.

A case in point of move from anti- animal to human deployment; anti suicide nets as deployed not only in institutions of incarceration, around monuments and buildings associated with suicides, most notoriously in the case of Foxconn in Shenzen, China. On an infrastructural/ informational basis, such organizations as ‘Google™’, ‘Yahoo™’, and ‘Twitter™’ and Wikipedia™ well placed to facilitate ‘defensive architecture’ in cyberspace – and ‘apartheid’ such sense applies not only to people segregated and differentiated, but to censorship of the unacceptable ideas as ‘bums’ may yet formulate and seek to communicate or propagate? How ‘intermediation’ in cyberspace can quietly and unobtrusively reinforce apartheid by keeping it ‘bum-free’ worthy of investigation by such as DARPA, context of ‘defensive architecture’?

Which brings us to the Economy; and the marginalization of growing numbers as ‘surplus’ or undesirable under neoliberal hegemony -such the Apartheid as would be silent – as unmentionable as unquestioned.

For we are most of us now viewed as ‘Palestinians’ to the technological displacement facilitated by advances in robotic/artificial intelligence as architecture defensive of profit, though we know it not? We hold down jobs in the market place as defined; jobs which are under increasing threat of obsolescence and redundancy, and as such we but two pay checks from the street?

There being cheaper, more cost effective, more desirable presence as conforms to what deemed to be acceptable defense of profit under lack of empathy and technological progress and further pathological pursuit of profit on the horizon?

When the term ‘Palestinian’ used, it is used ‘sense’ as per ‘Nakba‘, whereby people forced to flee or be expelled by a ruling class exercising economic initiative; in this case the parallel concerning employment as presence in the market place, the removal of which can indeed lead to one being driven from one’s home, and greater awareness of defensive architecture resultant?

Is there a synonymy between ‘Goyim/Untermensch/Surplus to Economic Requirements’ such the silent apartheid growing in intensity and incorporation?

That there is empathy in the usage as opposed to ‘so what?’ reflects the sentiments of Martin Neimöller as paraphrased below – to point of delineating the insidious nature of ‘silent apartheid’ in the 21st Century.

The jungle made of life as to a Zeitgeist of austerity promoted by the less than 1% as a transfer of resources and an economic terrorism of the Military Industrialist Complex which President Eisenhower warned of, actualized; this in itself an unacceptable topic (?) – as is any exhibition of anything approaching empathy with those deemed to be unacceptable elements, such the death of thought, or orthodoxy as would be, to Orwellian synonymy?

But the greatest ‘silent apartheid’ being of as a separation of self from self: from our humanity as from our individuality; from our empathy, from our compassion- from our voice of conscience within?

The quote by Foucault above explicates ‘silent apartheid’ much better.

In conclusion, and with acknowledgment and apology to Martin Niemöller:

First they used defensive architecture to drive away animals

I did not speak out, because I was not an animal

Then they used defensive architecture to drive away bums

I did not speak out, because I was not a bum

Then they used defensive architecture to drive away ideas

I did not speak out, because I was not an ideologist

Then they used defensive architecture to drive away jobs

I did not speak out, for I was not unemployed.

Then they used defensive architecture to drive away me – and no one dared to speak out – such the lack of empathy, such the austerity to an apartheid as silent come to be.

Stephen Martin can be reached at: