seriously, i never added this before? this item was the first bit of my writing re-published in the anarchist press, and is one of the few things i’ve written that is included in anarchist archives online. well, here it is (again):
In his book Temporary Autonomous Zone, Hakim Bey suggests that we not worry about changing the world, but instead take charge of our own lives whenever possible. He reminds us that, even though such insurrections as the ones in Paris 1871 and during the Spanish Civil War were ultimately crushed militarily, they at least achieved a period of autonomy for a portion of their lives, which is more than many of us can say.
One recurring argument that comes up with Anarchists I discussed TAZ with regards the word ‘temporary’. “I’m not so sure I agree with his flippant attitude towards permanence,” wrote South Dakota prisoner Phil Smith. “I am interested in changing the world to the extent possible, and it seems that Bey is willing to accept these temporary autonomous zones flickering in and out of existence while capitalism abides. Fuck that! I want more!”
Indeed, we all want more, but the point is that we are nowhere near the point that we can overthrow capitalism. Should that prevent us from creating oases of liberation whenever and wherever possible? Certainly not!
To put things in another perspective, think of time in a geological sense. Ten thousand years is merely a bat of an eye when discussing epochs of geological history. Ten thousand years ago, much of the Americas was under immense sheets of ice or was the floor of shallow oceans. Of course, these were only temporary conditions which have changed radically since.
In a historical timeframe, human beings have only been recording their doings for five thousand years. Capitalism has only been around a minute fraction of that time, and it will eventually disappear, just as the era of Assyrian or Babylonian empires passed.
In the meanwhile, why not ditch the system now and again to make something different?
Though I initially shared Phil’s sentiments about the term ‘temporary’, now I’ve come to understand that nothing is permanent anyway, certainly not on this planet. However, I also want more than an afternoon of liberation or a few months in a squat. I have a fascination about nomadism that led me to scheming about Travelling Autonomous Zones.
Perhaps the greatest example of a Travelling Autonomous Zone would be an ocean-going one. A sixty-foot long yacht could easily contain a commune of twelve people. The ship could spend most of its time in international waters, beyond the laws and borders of most nations. The opportunities for organizational mayhem are incredible in the open sea: pirate radio, clandestine landings, disrupting whaling and other mammalian massacres by commercial fishers, not to mention ferrying outlaw activists to places of relative safety. The only times the ship would have to come into contact with nations would be to stock up on supplies (fresh water, food, medicine, etc.), and the necessity of such contact could be reduced by a resourceful crew. In times of bad weather a harbor would be a desirable place to be.
On land, a bus or small caravan of vehicles could transport TAZ from one area of liberation to another as time and necessity dictate. The members could transport materials from region to region (things like ‘zines and other literature, clothing, small trade items, etc.).
This would be an extremely valuable resource for the anarchist community, as it might lend itself to more secure distribution (though somewhat slower) than the U.S. mail. Also, it seems that nomadic bands are more naturally resistant to hierarchy than stationary communities. Several such rolling communities could expand for events such as national or regional gatherings, and would also create propaganda merely by passing through rural areas that have little experience beyond their own communities.
Of course, this visibility would also be a danger, as it might attract the attention of unwanted, watchful eyes. Still, it would be better to travel in numbers than to do it alone.
In areas where there is not a strong squatting movement, the squats could move from one place to another as their presence became more noticeable than is comfortable for the squatters. By moving from one campsite to the next, anarcho-campers would be difficult to keep up with, even in the anarchist community. These problems are easily overcome by using available technology, such as radios or cellular phones.
All in all, ‘temporary’ or ‘traveling’ autonomous zones can easily be created by people with the will to do them. In this way, a clear demonstration about how non-state communities could function would do more to educate people about mutual aid and cooperation than almost any other vehicle for the promotion of anarchist ideas. It’s one thing to think/talk/ write about your beliefs, but it is much more meaningful to actually enact them!
Let’s get busy, ya’ll!
“Travelling Autonomous Zone” originally appeared in Imminent Strike. Also published in “Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed” #36 — Spring ’93.
When asked what he thought about Western civilization, Mohandas Gandhi replied “I think it would be a good idea.”
Western civilization is generally thought to be that of Europe and the British Empire. This is a fallacy which historians and other people of learning have perpetuated for many generations.
Europe once had a thriving civilization. There is evidence of sea-faring trade systems which transported goods from around the world. There is also abundant evidence of building techniques which created structures all but impossible to replicate with 21st century technology. Yet all that remains of this early European civilization are the ruins left behind. What happened? Why did it fail so completely that European people do not retain any knowledge of it?
Invaders from Southwest Asia (Asia Minor, the Middle East) methodically and thoroughly obliterated it, and replaced it with their own: a highly authoritarian, highly patriarchal civilization of plunder, rape, and slaughter.
For centuries, the Roman Catholic Church persecuted people of knowledge. Books not written by the hands of trusted clerics were banned. Book burnings were common spectacles, and anyone with knowledge of healing, or who was literate, or who did not willfully silence themselves or put themselves into the service of Patriarchal authorities was burned alive or tortured to death, and their bodies put on display to terrify the general public into obedience.
This is the genesis of what is today called Western “civilization,” which produced a society that values ruthlessness over compassion, and ignorant servitude to brutal, heartless institutions over knowledge of, and harmony with, the world as it exists.
Plunder, rape, and slaughter are rewarded with wealth and power. Smarmy-mouthed imbeciles are elevated to positions of leadership. People of learning are tasked with developing technologies and techniques to further control or destroy anything which has lasting value to life on this planet, and to destroy any people standing in the way of this destruction.
The West’s current incarnation as Industrial Capitalism poses a severe and unprecedented threat to the health and wellbeing of the living planet in general and the human species in particular.
The very basis of this system is the so-called need for permanent “economic growth”, involving a theoretically endless increase in the exploitation of people and nature that, logically, can only end in disaster.
This system justifies and defends itself by means of a mesh of oppressive constructs such as “property”, “law” and “nation”, which today largely go unchallenged, even by critics of capitalism’s worse excesses.
General acceptance of these constructs serves to camouflage and legitimize the violence used by the system to impose its control. It thereby helps to criminalize any resistance to this oppressive violence.
In the Mexican revolution of the early part of the 20th century, the Zapatistas had a slogan: “It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.”
In the West, the pervasive attitude is currently one of ignorance, fear, and slothful privilege, wherein the suffering caused by Western institutions in far-off lands is not of consequence to the people who are causing it through an unquenchable lust for cheap consumer goods.
Few of the beneficiaries are even aware it is happening, and most wouldn’t care if they knew. If told that wireless technology is causing genocide in central Africa, most Western consumers would likely reply “I like my cell phone.” Or their X-box, or their internet-connected refrigerator.
Western consumers have decided that it is – indeed! – much better to live in ignorance and servitude to corporatized, military police states, and to hell with the consequences, rather than do anything to stop campaigns of genocide beyond their field of vision. The products of privilege produced in the process are precious to them, not human lives, or a living planet.
If the society produced in Europe through centuries of bloody violence and subsequently unleashed to ravage the entire planet can be thought of as “civilization,” an intelligent human being can only conclude that this civilization is something which must be eradicated so thoroughly as to never again be obtainable.
If this does not happen, and soon, our planet will become uninhabitable, and life as we know it no longer possible. Something new will evolve in the toxic, ruined wastelands the West creates everywhere. It will not likely be compatible with living things that have been predominant for the past few million years.
To accept the domination of the world by the West as the result of historic “Progress” is to validate genocide against indigenous Peoples.
To refer to this centuries-long, ongoing process of extermination as “progress” is racist. It is the fundamental foundation of White Supremacy. Acceptance of this ideology discards the notion that human beings belong to the Earth and must dwell here with respect, and to live in harmony with the bounty available in the places we dwell. To do so, the life and life-giving aspects of the land must not be over-exploited or destroyed in the process of resource extraction.
This is most evident in the fact that every nation-state where indigenous Peoples still retain traditions and knowledge of how to dwell in harmony with the Earth and the abundance which it provides, the indigenous Peoples are still being exterminated to this day. Despite the many international laws designed to “protect” indigenous Peoples from settler violence, and to protect the Earth.
To live within the abundance the Earth has to offer, and not fuck it up so badly that future generations will not inherit it, requires something the West has no regard for: wisdom.
The idea of a humanity living largely in harmony with nature, in communities founded on mutual aid and co-operation, is not an idle daydream but a real possibility (a possibility that has been realized numerous times, across the world, by people who consider themselves to belong to the places where they dwell).
The industrial capitalist system depends for its survival on a complex web of often-unconscious personal attitudes which normalize and facilitate adaptation to its unhealthy structures of domination and exploitation – examples of these attitudes being sexism, racism, nationalism and the division of human beings into so-called social classes.
In view of all this, it is clear that no mere reform of this system, leaving intact the underlying basis, constructs and attitudes of the industrial capitalist system, will achieve the liberation we desire. A complete destruction, or dismantling, of the entire industrial capitalist system is therefore necessary.
Since no system of privilege and power destroys or dismantles itself voluntarily, a degree of confrontation will inevitably be involved in its removal.
It is important to remember, however, that this confrontation it not an end itself but merely a means to an end.
It is also important to remember that our desire for the destruction of the current system is not nihilistic in motivation, but is born of a yearning for another way of living.
This possible way of living has been denied us not only by the physical violence of the system, which has uprooted us from the soil, imprisoned and isolated us in its machineries of exploitation, but by its psychological violence.
This psychological violence involves the destruction of human dignity and freedom by a process of separation and disempowerment.
Human beings are taught that they are apart from the natural world, which is something to be feared, mastered or exploited. Individuals are further taught that they are apart from all other individuals and that there is no such thing as community and therefore no possibility of societies based on mutual aid and co-operation.
Disempowerment is amplified by the use of constructs of authority, whether in the form of a god, a king or a state and the idea of obtainable wealth for all. People are indoctrinated to believe that their lives depend on their obedience to these authoritarian ideals, that the authorities have everyone’s best interests at heart and that anyone who challenges the legitimacy of these ideals is therefore a threat to all, rather than to the authorities in question.
The first step in overcoming the power of these systems is to reverse the disempowerment and separation which disables any meaningful resistance.
A sense of belonging to community, to nature and to the cosmos was for many thousands of years the bedrock of human psychology and it still survives outside the concrete confines of modern industrial dogma.
In seeking a solid basis for resistance to industrial capitalism, we could look to indigenous cultures for inspiration, as well as to metaphysical currents and heresies that have kept this alternative vision flowing under the surface of Western society, to eco-feminist and deep green philosophy, and to anticapitalist romanticism.
At the heart of all these traditions is the rejection of external divinity or authority in favour of a self-empowerment which begins from within each individual to embrace a holistic sense of belonging to the social organism, the planetary organism and the cosmos.
This deep empowerment and connection combines perfectly with a radical rejection of all the constructs of power mentioned above – from the lies of “law” and “state” to the mental shackles imposed by patriarchal and racist assumptions.
It would strengthen our collective capacity to conduct a pro-active battle against the system and its physical and psychological infrastructures.
Furthermore, we welcome practical initiatives that reject continued existence within the toxicity of the industrial capitalist system in favour of the development of autonomous communities close to the land and informed by practices such as permaculture and simple living.
Our subsequent resistance to the system’s inevitable attempts to bring them back under its control would thus be firmly based on the defence of another way of living, on the defence of real space and real land, rather than on merely symbolic confrontation.
Justice would clearly be seen to be on our side and the resonance of our struggle would attract increasing numbers of people. If they, in turn, launched similar projects with the same underlying sense of empowerment, the system would be unable to cope and the cracks in its supremacy would start to spread.
It is not important that everyone in active resistance to the domination of the West and its civilization of mass destruction be in agreement in their critiques, in their approach to destroying the power Western institutions have over our lives, or in their end goals.
What is important is that the resistance dismantles the systems of oppression and domination used to keep us in servitude to them.
We have no crystal balls or other tools and methods to foresee the future. We do not know which tactics and methods will work best in which places. Therefore, a multitude of approaches will produce a multitude of results, some more effective, some less. The important aspect is that resistance is what we do with our lives, rather than replicating the domination of ourselves and our world through our daily activities: daily activities which are in place to keep us within the parameters set by oppressive institutions of wealth and power.
There will be vast campaigns of propaganda by the privileged elite. They own the mass media. They are over-represented on social media. Our families, friends, lovers, neighbors will often take the path of least resistance in order to live comfortably within the parameters set by the systems of wealth and privilege currently in power. In order to resist this, we must create a culture of resistance.
A culture of resistance would include feasts, dances, and celebrations, as well as on-going campaigns of counter-propaganda and sustained attacks against the institutions of privilege, power, and wealth.
Establishing a culture based on values in direct conflict with those of the West will take time, and will need to be created both underground and in plain sight. Guerrilla forces in past movements were invisible to the federal or colonial forces fighting them. In many instances, it took decades for them to realize that the guerrillas were everywhere, and damn near everyone.
Much of the structures needed to create such a movement in the West are already in place, but need to be pushed into more radical, more confrontational directions.
A culture of sharing should be the common denominator of all resistance movements. Starving people do not have the strength to fight.
We must expend great effort to see to the well-being of our comrades. Few people want to be either martyrs or live monastic lives of self-denial. In order to encourage people to overcome their ingrained alienation from each other and the world we inhabit, we need to embrace one another with new-found passion. We must revel in one another’s joy, and comfort those who are troubled.
The psychological and emotional damage done to most of us by the institutions of power and domination must be healed. Many healing methods will be required, and some amount of patience as well.
The earth has not been damaged beyond repair. We can help it to heal as well. Humans are clever and adaptable beings. Collectively, we can accomplish any task we set for ourselves.
It may take several generations for us to overcome the current systems of privilege, power, and domination afflicting us and destroying our homeworld. It took 1000 years for the systems of oppression to develop and spread throughout the world like a malignant cancer.
We can act to surgically remove the cancer and develop healthier lifestyles to make sure it doesn’t recur.
There is no reason to think that this has not happened before in the long history of human beings. Some indigenous peoples retain stories of such times in their oral histories. We should listen to them.
There is nothing to be gained by continuing to devote our lives to obtaining money through subservience to wealth and power.
The earth will survive and life will continue to evolve, with us or without us. Our mother earth is willing to embrace us, and teach us all we need to know in order to live here with love and respect for the life she provides.
It is up to us to return to her guidance and reciprocate her love.
I’ve seen way too many discussions of shenanigans by the FBI in the 1960s and ’70s. Whether they intend to or not, the authors of these articles are implying that these tactics are old relics of a by-gone era. Which is certainly not true.
While methods and tactics used in the quashing of dissent may have evolved over time, much of the core principles remain unchanged. The nation’s intelligence and federal law enforcement agencies continue to be the executive office’s primary tool to discourage opposition to its policies through intimidation and legal harassment. From its beginning as the Treasury Department’s Bureau of Investigation until the present, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been directed by Presidents from Woodrow Wilson to Donald Trump to spy on peace activists, anti-war organizations, environmentalists, labor unions, and anyone else who might get in the way of US foreign and domestic policies, and interfere with corporate activity and earnings.
Since before it’s formal inception, the FBI has served as the US government’s political police and have engaged in campaigns of low-intensity, counter-insurgent warfare against dissidents, often with the help of irregular forces – even operatives of foreign governments – and the backing of civilian financiers and their front organizations.
In addition, the FBI maintains a network of informants. Senate investigatory committees have previously found the number of paid informants had gone from roughly 1,500 in 1975, to 2,800 in 1980, to over 6,000 in 1986. A budget request presented in 2008 asked for $12.7 million to fund its informant network.
Today, years into an era of eroded civil and human rights in the name of a “war on terrorism,” it is even easier for the FBI and their allies in localized law enforcement to entrap unwitting citizens in fantasy plots they concoct, and convince juries that they have foiled a terrorist action. Unlike the 1970s, when many people understood that the government and police were not on their side, many people now seem to be incapable of seeing through such entrapment schemes, and it is only judges who challenge their narrative. But only if they choose to. Many judges are, of course, just there to send people to prison, for any or no reason. Especially people who are not white.
The American Protective League
When the US entered World War 1, concerned citizens were afraid the government was not up to the task of ferreting out German spies and sympathizers, hidden everywhere in the civilian population. In order to assist the government, numerous vigilante groups were financed by the likes of Henry Fricke, J.P. Morgan, J. D. Rockefeller, and numerous others who were certain to earn fortunes off the war effort.
Under numerous front organizations like the National Security League, the American Defense Society, and National Civic Federation, they produced fliers and posters promoting “100 percent Americanism.” Their recruits would publicly shame anyone who spoke out against the war – and often beat them – with no interference from the police. They would often confront people in the streets and force them to sign “Loyalty Oaths.”
A group of war profiteers from Chicago foresaw America’s forthcoming involvement in the conflict and started the American Protective League, which quickly absorbed similar groups around the country and grew at such a rate that just months after the US entered the war, they were able to provide 250,000 people to the BoI and US Department of War’s intelligence forces.
Their operatives opened people’s mail and illegally entered their homes to search for submissive literature and contraband. Many carried badges identifying themselves as “Secret Agents.”
In order to enforce compliance with draft registration laws, they would round up every male of age in entire neighborhoods and cities, then require them to provide proof of registration before releasing them. Often, family or friends would have to retrieve the documents, and men were held for days until such proof arrived.
In just one such roundup, 150,000 men were questioned in Chicago. They were taken from factories, public transit stations, public parks, saloons, baseball games, stores, and dragged out of vehicles. 20,000 were detained, pending proof of compliance. 1,400 were subsequently conscripted and released, while an unknown number went missing. Perhaps a few thousand. Over 10,000 German-Americans were detained during the war, as suspected traitors.
According to one APL spokesperson, Edward Hough, “It was fear that held our enemy population down. Fear and nothing else. It was the league’s silent and mysterious errand to pile up good reason for that fear” (emphasis from original quote).
Although their stated purpose was to enforce conscription laws and discover German sympathizers and spies, much of the APL’s activities centered around anarchists and syndicalists. The Espionage Act of April, 1917 criminalized “treason, insurrection, or forcible resistance to any law of the U.S., or the obstruction of recruiting or enlistment.”
The federal statutes carried penalties of up to $10,000 and 20 years in prison. By 1921, 35 states had passed “Criminal Anarchy” laws, defined as “the doctrine that organized government be overthrown by force or violence, or by assassination, or by unlawful means.”
Over 25,000 agents of the APL kept files on anarchists and their activities, much of it obtained by opening mail and breaking into organizer’s, agitators, publisher’s and activist’s homes. To further intimidate dissidents, they would maintain obvious, heavy-handed surveillance on their targets, and interrogate anyone who approached or spoke with the targeted individual. They would visit their targets at their workplaces, which could lead to people losing their jobs.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before…
Our Nation is undergoing an era of disruption and violence caused to a large extent by various individuals generally connected with the New Left. Some of these activists urge revolution in America and call for the defeat of the United States in Vietnam. They continually and falsely allege police brutality and do not hesitate to utilize unlawful acts to further their so-called causes. The New Left has on many occasions viciously and scurrilously attacked the Director and the Bureau in an attempt to hamper our investigation of it and to drive us off the college campuses. With this in mind, it is our recommendation that a new Counterintelligence Program be designed to neutralize the New Left and the Key Activists. “Subject: Counterintelligence Program Internal Security Disruption of the New Left.” FBI memo, May 9, 1968.
The US government was at war with Black nationalists, human rights groups, and churches in the 1960s. Just the suppression of the Black Panther Party resulted in over 2,500 deaths and more than 12,000 prison sentences. Some of these Panthers are still in prison.
In just three years – 1973-76 – the FBI and its allied henchmen were involved in the deaths of at least 70 Native American activists, and violent attacks against another 300 in the Pine Ridge and Rosebud communities.
In 1979, a “Death to the Klan” rally by the Communist Worker’s Party in Greensboro, NC, was attacked by Klansmen and members of the American Nazi Party. The attackers had been encouraged by FBI and Greensboro police infiltrators. They brought guns to the CWP event, fired on the attendees, killed 5 protesters, injured another 10, and a bystander.
I won’t go into detail about the role of “secret agents” and the FBI from the ’30s through the 70s. That ground has been well-covered over the years. I hope the above examples are enough to convince you of what the government is capable of doing, when it has a mandate from the Executive Office. Instead of retelling of these familiar shenanigans, I want to jump ahead to the 1980s, under the administration of Ronald Reagan.
“I have seen countless people hurt, jailed, even killed. What you’re up against when you take on the FBI, the CIA, the undercover informants who feed the governmental apparatus, is a self-selected group of people who have a messianic vision of themselves.” Chip Berlet, a political researcher who was involved in cases involving the FBI and the Chicago police in the 1980s.
Reagan was an old, hard-line anti-communist and shitty actor. As President and leader of the “Free” world, this Cold Warrior saw the Communist Menace lurking everywhere. When he intensified counter-insurgency efforts around the world, while cutting domestic spending and federal regulations at home, intense opposition arose in the population. This was, of course, all the proof the senile president – in the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease – needed that Communists were hiding around every corner, spewing anti-American sentiment to a gullible public.
As it had in the earlier parts of the century, the FBI carried out a campaign of intimidation, harassment, and disruption against anyone in opposition to any policy put forth by the Reagan administration.
Reagan’s resolve to crush any who opposed him was displayed when he fired over 11,000 members of the Air Traffic Controllers Union, who were on strike for shorter hours and better working conditions. The demented President gave the strikers until sundown to get out of town…excuse me…gave them 2 days to return to work, and when they refused, he fired them en masse. This was just his first action against dissidents. He later unleashed the FBI to go after his political opponents, even going so far as to investigate elected officials who traveled abroad – including those who visited NATO allied countries.
Just as it had during the WW1 era, the FBI visited the homes and workplaces of anti-war, peace and justice, anti-apartheid, and solidarity activists to confront them with accusations of treason and subversion. Their employers were informed of their political activities. Their friends, lovers, relatives, and neighbors were questioned, and sometimes recruited to report on the activists actions.
This heightened state of repression was intensified after a bomb went off in the US capitol building on November 7, 1983. Although the FBI knew who did the bombing, and why, it used the attack as justification of expanded activity, especially in co-ordinating with the CIA, State Department, and Department of Defense. Which, basically meant the US government was at war with its own citizens.
Again, civic organizations like the World Anti-Communist League, and various factions of the Ku Klux Klan and other White Supremacist groups were given material support and encouragement to intimidate, harass, and physically assault dissidents. Foreign agents of countries experiencing insurgencies at home where given free reign to spy on American activists, and attack people from their homelands who had come to the US to seek refuge. Hundreds of refugees from Central America were deported, and many of them ended up disappeared, dead, or imprisoned. Terrorist attacks against Cubans friendly to Castro’s Cuba were tolerated.
Conservative church leaders were recruited to deliver sermons against “ungodly” communism, media pundits were recruited to write anti-communist columns. William Casey, Reagan’s first director of the CIA, is famously quoted as having said “We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.”
During Reagan’s reign, there was very little mention in the mass media about dissent against his policies, and when there was the occasional story, it was usually highly slanted to present the dissenters as deluded, if not outright agents of communist governments. This tight control over the media lasted throughout the Reagan/Bush era.
The media willingly repeated highly exaggerated claims by the Bush regime in order to justify a war in Kuwait. There was immediate opposition by the general population, which quickly grew into the largest anti-war movement in US history. The movement self-destructed through in-fighting, backstabbing, and gossip. Having experienced first-hand the shenanigans the FBI used while involved with Committee In Solidarity With the People of El Salvador in Dallas, Texas, in the 1980s, I can say with confidence that I saw similar tactics used to split the anti-Gulf War coalition in Austin, just a few years later. “Respectable” activists accused more militant protesters of being provocateurs. I was “outed” by some such activists because I chose to use a pseudonym in public. Two self-anointed leaders of the coalition revealed my and a comrade’s names, while others accused another comrade, who had been beaten and jailed for anti-apartheid protests a few years earlier, of being an undercover cop.
Throughout the Reagan/Bush era, people who tried to talk about their harassment were often ridiculed and called paranoid. They lost friends, and often times relatives would distance themselves from activists, which left the activists isolated and vulnerable. They lost jobs, their careers were ruined. Professional journalists were blackballed by the media and could only have their investigative work published in the dissident press, which meant little or no pay. Many activists and journalists became addicted to drugs or alcohol. Many committed suicide, often in shady circumstances.
During the Clinton years, it was possible for the government to mass murder people without much public outcry, as he demonstrated with his siege and extermination of the Branch Davidian sect in Waco, Texas.
Again and again, no matter who was in office, the FBI kept up a campaign of harassment against dissenters. Yet, they seldom went after White Supremacist groups, who have carried out many of the most lethal terrorist attacks in the US.
This is likely because the irregular forces they regularly employ to target activists are often from fascist or racist organizations. After WW1, when much of the APL was absorbed into the newly-formed FBI, many of those left over joined the KKK.
All of this is relevant because these methods are all still used in the 21st century.
Inventing Terrorism, Ignoring the Terrorists
Combating property destruction by animal rights activists and environmentalists was identified by former FBI Director Robert Mueller in 2006 as one of the agency’s highest priorities. Despite the fact that not one person has been killed due to any of these activities.
But, since 9/12/01, more than 70 percent of the lethal attacks by terrorists in the US have been carried out by white supremacists or neo-nazi groups and individuals who hold sympathetic views. President Trump has gone so far as to direct the government to focus all of its counter-terrorist activities in America on Islamic extremists.
Under the Obama administrations, almost 100 percent of all so-called terrorist incidents were instigated by the FBI or other, local police agencies. This is particularly true of his administration’s record of entrapping Muslims in terrorist schemes.
The script in these cases follows a similar pattern. The FBI picks a target for recruitment into a terror plot. They use an informant or an undercover agent to contact the person, then begin the process of “radicalizing” the target into joining in on a plot to bomb something. Every person the targeted individual meets along the way – the instigator of the plot, the people providing explosives, even instructions on how to create and detonate the devices – are all FBI, police, or their lackeys. They will even come across with cash. Whatever it takes.
But, of course, when the appointed time for carrying out the action comes: “SURPRISE! You’re busted!”
Then, there are press conferences, where the FBI is praised to the heavens for stopping this horrible thing from happening. But, no matter how many times people – particularly defense attorneys – point out that the person involved was duped by the FBI to do something the targeted individuals were at times very unenthusiastic about, the media sensationalism steamrolls the truth of the matter, and the “terrorist” is sent off to prison.
“The problem with the cases we’re talking about is that defendants would not have done anything if not kicked in the ass by government agents,” says Martin Stolar, a lawyer who represented a man caught in a 2004 sting involving New York’s Herald Square subway station. “They’re creating crimes to solve crimes so they can claim a victory in the war on terror.”
Likewise, the government has been entrapping Anarchists involved in anti-war protests into “terror” plots. When it comes to snaring US citizens with their traps, the FBI uses undercover agents to insinuate themselves into a local scene, gain the locals’ trust, then start the plot a-rolling.
During G.W. Bush’s reign, an undercover agent seduced a forest defense activist into a long-term relationship, then encouraged and enabled him to form an underground cell to carry out bombings. She provided transportation, money, explosives, and isolated cabins in the mountains to build bombs. The cell considered her their leader. The cell was arrested, even though they never carried out any actions.
According to an FBI document entitled “Anarchist Extremist Overview,” Anarchists are “criminals seeking an ideology to justify their activities.” The document goes on to wail and moan about how Anarchists are devising new and more extreme weapons to pursue their criminal activity. Of course, they don’t mention that it is actually their own agents who are providing the materials and knowledge to make these weapons.
In a police raid on a Chicago house, 11 people were arrested. 2 of them were undercover FBI agents, who had shown up during Occupy Chicago and became part of the scene. After who’s-who got sorted out, it became known that law enforcement was working with a military and intelligence contractor with ties to the National Security Agency – Booz Hamilton (whistle-blower Edward Snowden’s former employer).
The fact that the government is outsourcing its repression of dissent is a harrowing turn of events. Though it does keep within the established practice of the FBI utilizing irregular forces, issues of accountability, oversight, mismanagement, and overly-zealous extremists are much more of a concern when secretive agencies – both public and private – are involved. In today’s current atmosphere of fake news, ass-kissing media, and lazy, celebrity-driven infotainment, if an actual terror attack were to happen, the truth about who was behind it might never be known, and intentionally covered-up in the interest of national security.
The legal harassment of Anarchists and Animal Liberation activists will force their comrades and supporters – who often eke out a subsistent life, near the bottom of the economy – to spend themselves into extreme poverty in order to defend themselves and their comrades in court. Having dozens, if not hundreds of comrades incarcerated can overwhelm an informal, voluntary collection of punks and activists, emotionally as well as financially.
It wasn’t only bullets and bludgeons that destroyed the Industrial Workers of the World. The Feds also tapped out their membership’s finances by forcing them to defend themselves in courts across the country. This left them blacklisted by employers and scarcely able to fend for themselves after the One Big Union was crushed, adrift and pauperized, just before the Great Depression.
And just to let us know what to expect in this new era of reality TVesque horrors, a church in Alabama has been authorized to form its own police forces.
This is in addition to the forces collected together by several regional Joint Task Forces of Terrorism, specially-created entities that co-ordinate municipal, county, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to carry out joint actions. Many, if not most, of the Bush II’s operations described above were projects of such JTFTs. And these law enforcement agencies – especially at the federal level – are also hiring mercenary forces to help out, and have demonstrated their willingness to utilize irregular forces to do their “dirty work” when they really want to stir things up.
To look back at the well-documented era of COINTELPRO as something from a long-ago time is to ignore the challenges we all face if we choose to fight against the Corporate States of America, with it’s new-found confidence in White Supremacy, vast military, mercenary, and police forces, and a weird, religious fervor to excuse everything it wants to force on an unwilling world. America has never stopped its low-intensity war against dissent, and it won’t. It can’t – those currently in power know very well that their continued rule relies on silencing those who speak out against their inhuman agenda.
US foreign policy has revived slavery in Africa, and many Americans truly believe that the ones responsible for this are wonderful, almost god-like people. Do you think they will so much as notice when dissenters are rounded up into detention centers? Or gunned down in the streets by the police? There was scarcely a word of protest against the APL during WW1, when the world was much more aware of class conflict. They appeared as if out of nowhere, in large numbers, and terrorized the public into silent compliance nationwide.
So far, American radicals have refused to learn from the contemporary revolutionaries around the world, who are actively creating the communities they want to see. In many instances, they are reviving older, indigenous cultures, and adapting them to accommodate current tech and social developments. This is the way to revolutionary change, and many of us trapped in the West have yet to undertake this task. Perhaps we consider ourselves too mired in capitalist muck to think we can escape from it.
We face difficult circumstances, and it’s about time we faced up to the facts. Protesting will not create the world we carry in our hearts and minds. Not matter how much we riot.
Certainly, circumstances vary from place to place, with different challenges to overcome, and we face an enemy who seems unstoppable. To many people before us, the divine authority of god-emperors was too terrifying to stand against. To many people before us, the authority and weapons of the king were not to be challenged. Those worlds do not exist anymore, and the only reason this one continues is because we continue to devote our energy to its perpetuation.
One of the greatest obstacles to overcome in the struggle against capitalism is the sense of dependency its methods of production have forced upon us. By forcing people to spend most of their time in productive, redundant, and unskilled labor, people must depend upon the specialized production of other workers to provide the food, clothing, shelter, and countless consumer gizmos that we’re trained to want.
Prior to the era of industrial enslavement, most households and families were considered functional or not by that household’s ability to be more-or-less self-sufficient. This has been true of societies from the time of nomadic bands through the ages of village communities. The dislocation of peasant populations by the various states during the (on-going) period of enclosure forced people into desperate poverty, into factory labour, and immigration to the newly-conquered colonies abroad. Both the rise of industrial capitalism and European conquest of the new world would not have been possible if not for the evisceration of peasant households. After all, why go abroad to seek one’s fortune, why buy shoddy, mass-produced dry goods, when people are able to make almost everything they need themselves, and everything they need is available at home?
Living, in the days prior to industrial enslavement, was what people did throughout the course of the day; preparing food and things that would be necessary for one’s comfort and survival in the future. This was often done under the supervision of a family member, and everyone would learn the basic skills they needed to provide for themselves. Now, however, people must make a living . We are coerced into making profits for corporations, and are also compelled to structure our lives around these labor activities. To make also means to force. Whereas life once flowed in gentle rhythms of light and dark, now we must jump according to the dictates of the clock, every moment of the day measured and portioned out according to some boss’s demands. Our society jumps according to the rhythms of the factory, the school, or some other institution upholding the state or capital.
Most people accept this unquestioningly. Most people are not only unwilling to take a critical glance at these imposed conditions of their lives, but are actually incapable of doing so. All the institutions of power and privilege serve this purpose of enforcing a feeling of helplessness upon the masses. Their master stroke is achieved by convincing people to embrace their dependency as empowerment. Even the most intelligent, capable people of modern societies have fallen into this trap. They can’t help it. They were trained to be self-repressing imbeciles since the moment of their birth.
The nuclear family – incubator for imbecility
All of us are born as free beings in a thriving, dynamic world of abundance. The totality of nature’s plentiful banquet is ours for the taking, for sharing, for cherishing. This must be denied – at all cost – by the forces of the state and capital. Should we awaken to and demand our birthright, all industry and nation states would vanish, made irrelevant by our refusal to accept their limitations.
Unfortunately, the machinations of industry are so entrenched into our lives that the denial of our birthright begins at the moment of our births. Immediately we are subjected to the regimentation of numbers – weighed, measured, timed, classified, documented.
Once in the grasp of the nuclear family, we are shackled into the role we are expected to play all our lives – that of the helpless, drooling idiot. Someone to be looked after, cared for, spoiled, tolerated, kept quiet, or busily distracted. The straightjacket called childhood enshrouds us and few of us escape its bonds during our lives.
In the times before the era of childhood, young people spent most of their time in the company of their families – mainly their parents and extended family. Infants are observant and intelligent. They could see what their parents did during the day: Cooking, grooming, creating things, working their gardens, foraging. By the time they were old enough to walk, they were capable of helping their families out, if only in minor ways. The more the young person grew, the more the person was able to contribute to the maintenance of the household, and the well-being of its members. This was a source of pride for the young person, and was not discouraged. Instead, the family would suggest and encourage youngsters to learn new skills and help out with more tasks as the youth grew stronger and gained experience. Embedded into extended families and others in their local community, it would require nothing but social opportunity for a youth to discover their own talents, abilities, and interests, and to find elders ready to nurture their development, and possibly even share resources in these efforts. Is it any wonder then that a person raised in this manner would be capable of starting their own household at the age of 13, 14, or 15? Having encountered few limitations other than their own physical and experiential development, these young folks could recognize when they were ready to move on to adulthood.
In the contemporary, conceptual prison of childhood, the child is protected from the demands of the real world. Pushed aside, ignored, and neglected, the child is prevented from being an autonomous person, and is instead treated like an imbecile. Taught to be quiet, still, and out of the way, the child is left dependent upon the family, or – more often – total strangers, who take great care to stop the child from growing, from realizing their abilities, from claiming their rightful places as living beings in a world of abundance.
The nuclear family is just the first method of repression the young person experiences. Later, the expectations of society are made manifest through the school system. This is just a training ground for the lifetime of meaningless drudgery to follow.
Into the herd!
The child is forced to undergo years of imbecility training. Total strangers shall prevent the child from developing opinions, from thinking independently, from thinking critically. Children are taught to be quiet, be still, to repeat what they are told, to obey unquestioningly, to speak only when spoken to. But the young person is full of energy and curiosity. To be still and quiet is unnatural, repulsive even. In having the discipline of school forced upon them, young people learn the most important of all lessons: those who behave in the most unnatural way are rewarded and praised. They also learn another lesson: deviations from expected behavior will be tolerated so long as one gives the appearance of fulfilling the authorities’ expectations. Perhaps this is the most important lesson. In this way, the normal acting out of childhood energies is reified as rebellious, troublesome behavior. As the aging children grow past the point where they could have – in an earlier time – passed into adulthood, these same childish urges are still seen as rebellious behavior: talking out of turn, doing what adults do but prohibit their children from doing, not doing what they are told to do, doing things considered naughty or taboo. Imbecilic rebellion is allowable as long as the supposed rebel otherwise goes through the motions of fulfilling society’s expectations.
This isn’t a problem for almost everyone. Their heightened state of imbecility prevents them from challenging society’s hold on their lives, from realizing their birthright.
After serving their sentence, the oldest children are paroled into the outside world. Here they will put into practice what they’ve learned – to obey without thinking and not challenge authority. Abhorred behavior is punished by sending the unruly child to a sexually segregated re-education center called jail. Here the old rules are once again emphasized: do as you’re told, speak when spoken to, lights out and go to bed! The rules of imbecility are simple.
Imbecilic rebellion is mildly punished. More severe punishment is meted out for superseding the rules of imbecility, by ignoring the rules and making a greater imbecile of one’s self, though it is tolerated with modest punishment if violations are committed for the sake of maintaining the role of imbecile. More severe is the penalty for suggesting that one’s existence need not be imbecilic. True rebels are the actual danger to the forces of the industrial nation-states. Not only must unruly imbeciles pay for their thought crimes with their freedom or their lives, but they must endure denouncements by other imbeciles, who will subject them to abuse and humiliation in the process. More interested in kissing the ass that shits on them , rather than trying to stop the flow of shit over them, the imbeciles wail and gnash their teeth to think that anyone, any one person, anywhere, at any time, would dare to live outside the structures of domination which define the life of the imbecile. True rebels against imbecility are labeled as lazy, or haughty. They are rumored to think of themselves as being “better than” the true imbeciles. Or that “their shit don’t stink,” in imbecile-speak.
The rewards of imbecility are a heightening of the helplessness and impotence of the faithful. The more privileged members of the herd must be protected, secreted away behind secured barriers. Unable to perform even the most basic task, the most privileged imbeciles often obtain surrogate mothers to tidy up after them, to procure and prepare their meals, to make plans for their activities. These utterly incompetent fools are worshiped by other imbeciles, who fetishize and envy those who have achieved a greater state of imbecility. This gives the privileged a feeling of power. The implied power is sanctified by the herd, many of whom aspire to partake in this exclusive state of advanced imbecility. To prove their worth, the imbeciles must demonstrate their idiocy through ruthless obsequience to everything that diminishes human existence. Compassion is seen as weakness. Love is a matter of ownership. Annihilation is called progress. Anything that can be done to generate profit is justifiable. Mountains are leveled, rivers dammed, forests murdered, species of every sort of living thing obliterated, just to provide imbeciles their privileges.
Remember, the imbeciles can only survive by forcing the uninitiated, the under-privileged, even the few remaining free human beings, to provide for them. With their lives reduced to destitution, the marginalized can be bribed into becoming the armed enforcers of imbecility, ensuring the comfort and safety of the imbeciles of the world, and removing anything or anyone not being utilized for the never satiated demands of expansive imbecility.
Deathwatch of the imbecile.
A lifetime of loyal service to the continuance of imbecility is rewarded with the misery of gradually dying, in increasing pain. Their bodies have been ruined by their labours, by their exposure to lethal industrial processes and their by-products. They have poisoned themselves with cigarettes, pharmaceuticals, liquor, horrid food, filthy air, stress, anger, hatred. The fortunate ones can then pay for the privilege of correcting and lessening the impact of this damage through medication, surgery, and the intervention of medical technology. These beaten-down, exhausted people do not demand that the people causing this damage accept responsibility for the harm they’ve caused. Nor do these sick and damaged people demand that the responsible parties and their methods of production cease to continue inflicting damage upon their descendants and the world in general. They are, after all, imbeciles. Indeed, many of these people’s continued existence is dependent upon the continuation of the processes of industry which wrecked their bodies and their lives.
What is to be done about all these imbeciles? Those of us unwilling to perpetuate the domination of imbecility must break free of its grasp. We must learn to care and provide for ourselves, and invite others to share in our adventures in self-rediscovery. In this way, we can create a new cycle of expansive, life-enhancing existence, an undertow of liberation to pull back the tide of death-dealing industrial states.
Reject imbecility by embracing your own ability to meet your needs outside the sanctified disability of the imbecile. Claim your place as a person born into a world of abundance, band together with others who feel the same, and break free of domination and control by wealthy scum who depend on our subservience to provide their lives of extraordinary excess.
The colonies are self-destructing – it's a scorched earth policy, a war of attrition, so the survivors are left with NOTHING!