pdf (spacing between articles and illustrations, though not perfect, has been improved on the previous pdf: added 2/10/2013): cop out – the significance of Aufhebengate
pdf in book form: Aufhebengate_book (without illustrations)
(mostly completed November 2012, with a few bits added in January 2013)
Author: Sam FantoSamotnaf
soft cop v. hard cop policing….
academia, sociology and the muddle class….
the poverty of UK “libertarian communists”….
the contradictions of friendship….
Whilst the criticisms made here use Aufhebengate as their starting-point (because of the appallingly pathetic nature of the UK “libertarian communist” milieu revealed by this event) it is not necessary to know all the ins and outs of it to be able to understand most of the conclusions developed from it, nor is it really necessary to be that interested in Aufhebengate to find these conclusions useful. It’s simply a matter of recognising an objective event and developing from there…developing our critique of modern cop practice, of academia, of the misery of the UK so-called libertarian communist milieu, of our analysis of the contradictions of friendship and more…
Could there be anything more boring than digging up Aufhebengate again? Only one thing more boring – not digging it up again. It’s the elephant in the room of the “revolutionary milieu” that everyone wants to ignore or pretend was just a mirage and will anyway go away of its own accord so they can carry on as normal. The shit it’s dumped in the corner reeks a stench ignored by blocking out one’s sense of smell and one’s sense altogether. Clearing this up is filthy work, but someone’s got to do it.
So, let’s sum up.
From Millbank to Quebec, via Athens, Tunis, Suez, Oakland, Barcelona and countless other places 1, the crowd has confronted the forces of the state with varying degrees of success and failure, of non-violent and violent tactics, over the last couple of years. Ostensibly these outbreaks of class war have been supported and encouraged by the “libertarian communist” section of the supposed movement against capitalism, including those publishing extreme anti-state and anti-commodity theory. So when, in January 2011, the TPTG 2, a small Greek group, discovered that John Drury, a significant “theoretician” and long-standing member of the self-styled anti-state communist group Aufheben, had been helping the cops with a divide and rule strategy for the very same crowds that this group ostensibly wanted to contribute to radicalising, they were shocked and sent out, to their English speaking friends in London and elsewhere, requests for some strategy of how to deal with this information. After several months of a combination of mainly indifference and ideological obstacles from some and out and out resistance on the part of people closest to Aufheben as well as the rest of the members of Aufheben, the TPTG and myself publicised (on Libcom Blog and elsewhere) this information on the internet 3 in October 2011 (see The strange case of Dr.Johnny and Mr.Drury on this site, Open Letter from TPTG and Second Open Letter from TPTG). As a result we encountered a deluge of denial, contorted evasions and the most stupid defences of a clear-cut case of collaboration. The resulting scandal became known as Aufhebengate.
Aufhebengate would have all been over and done with in a couple of days if the Aufheben team had broken with JD and Libcom Blog’s admin, led by Joseph Kay and followed by his faithful lap dogs (Mike Harman, Steven, Ramona, Ed, Jim Clarke, Fall Back etc.), had not then gone on to support Aufheben and JD. The story would have been just about one man from a relatively obscure ultra-leftist theoretical journal, who’d rightly been named and shamed – outed to the movement he leeches off. And that would have been that. A number of other people initially supported Libcon/Aufheben‘s stance then reluctantly and quietly changed their minds (but not a single detail of their social relations), with an air of indifference. When Drury appeared at the London anarchist bookfair a month ago, at the end of October this year, no-one said a thing. If they had realised that just shrugging it all off as a tedious waste of time was an evasion of their own partisan complicity and its history, a way of avoiding any consequential decision, then this follow-up would have been unnecessary.
“…an attachment to abstraction as self-defeating as a drowning man clinging onto his chest full of gold…”
Two big “if“s as it turns out. The failure of “revolutionaries” to deal with something that they could clearly and directly effect, as opposed to, for example, writing about things that they can’t influence very much, indicated an attachment to abstraction as self-defeating as a drowning man clinging onto his chest full of gold. The fact that Libcom admin could justify a cop consultant and lie about those who oppose him, calling them liars, and that this cowardly attitude is acceptable to other “anarchists”, “communists”, or whatever makes a total mockery of their supposed “libertarian” anti-state attitudes. A symptom of utter decay. For them, the “radical milieu” is just like any other family, a cosy set of complacent roles happy to shove that awkward skeleton back in the family cupboard. The social movement that seriously wants to contribute to the supercession of this futureless society needs to seriously confront its recuperators, the enemy within.
GOOD COP BAD COP
A look at some of the developments in policing up to the present and on the blind refusal to recognise the significance of new developments in policing on the part of some of the UK “libertarian communist” milieu
Peeling back the mask
“In my view policing is on the cusp of the most significant period of change in its history since Peel.”
– Sir Hugh Orde (UK President of the Association of Chief Police Officers), May 22, 2012.
In 1942, G.M.Trevelyan, the bourgeois historian, wrote in English Social History, beginning from a look at the Luddites, “Although there was a tendency to violence among some Irish in the Luddite ranks, there was no likelihood of a serious rebellion, and the fear of one was simply due to the absence of any effective police in the island. For that reason alone, resort had to be made to the soldiers to repress the mobs and protect the machines. The non-existence of a civilian police aggravated the symptoms of political and social disturbance, and was a direct cause of the Peterloo tragedy. Peel’s initiation of the famous blue-coated corps, with its top hats and truncheons, in the year 1829 was the beginning of a better state of things. Formed in the first instance for the London area, ‘the new police’ saved the capital, during the Reforms Bill agitation two years later, from suffering at the hands of Radical mobs as Bristol and some other towns suffered, and as London itself had suffered from the Gordon riots fifty years before. As Peel’s police were gradually established throughout the whole country, riot and the fear of riot ceased to have their former importance in English life.” 4 (written in 1942, during the war, when everything was done by the dominant organisation of society to ignore the internal class divisions in the UK, Trevelyan had significant bourgeois “reasons” to understate the importance of riotous revolt, and its consequences, of those he reduces to “mobs”…. but there’s no point in going into all that here).
Clearly there are and will be significant changes in policing which a revolutionary movement will have to become conscious of, though whether the modern police can make as extensive a transformation as was accomplished in the first half of the 19th century in the changes from the yeomanry to the Peelers remains to be seen. The recent election of Police and Crime Commissioners, on an absurdly low turnout from the electorate, was also billed as the biggest transformation of UK policing since Peel – but it’s certainly not the most important aspect of the attempts to “democratise” the filth, as we shall see.
After Peterloo, when the yeomanry massacred 15 men, women and children, and seriously injured over 400 others at a peaceful demonstration in Manchester, the reverberations forced the ruling class to change strategy. Peterloo had caused a major scandal that shocked even sections of the middle classes and the establishment. Moreover, the violence had failed to subdue the emerging movement for political and civil rights. Instead it led to a growing number of demonstrations, riots and strikes. So the rulers had to develop a form of policing that did not involve the privileged in directly dirtying their hands and being too overtly a method of enforcing the rulers’ law. The development of an ideology of “policing by consent” mixed brute force with constantly renewed attempts to manipulate a purely reformist consciousness which would involve reforming the commodity economy rather than subverting it. Peel famously said, “The police are the public and the public are the police.” Insofar as “the public” means remaining passive and silent before the status quo, we could extend Peel’s dictum to mean, “the State in all its forms is the public and the public is the State”. But the curiously-named “public” makes about as much sense as the term“public schools”. Insofar as people think of themselves as mere members of the public, giving an arm and a leg but leaving their heart and head out of sight, the masses of individuals see themselves in terms of individualised private separate interests in complicity with the State as protection racket (protecting the brutality of class society under the guise of “equality before the law”). And a fundamental aspect of this was that the “police must secure the willing co-operation of the public in voluntary observation of the law to be able to secure and maintain the respect of the public…The degree of co-operation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force.” 5, which translated means: “The degree to which the proletariat polices itself in submission to the rulers’ laws diminishes proportionately the necessity to use overtly brutal physical state violence”. Peel’s recruiting sections of the “deserving poor” so as to police the “undeserving poor” meant the creation of the “best police in the world” – the sweetly-named Bobbies, the cops with the best PR in the world.
the aristocratination of the proletariat or the proletarianisation of the aristocracy?
The Metropolitan Police Act of 1829 established the “Bobbies” in the capital (although the first London police were the river police towards the end of the 18th century – nicking dockers for “perks” taken from the ships to compensate for the enormous delay in wages, wages which were often never even paid: many of these dockers were subsequently hanged).
But the police still hadn’t managed to find any legitimacy on the part of most of the working class. The following is an example of this failure on the part of the State. On 13 May 1833 at the Calthorpe Estate, Cold Bath Fields, Clerkenwell, Grays Inn Road, a meeting was held to protest the pathetic nature of the 1832 Great Rreform Act. Lord Melbourne, the Home Secretary, had declared the meeting illegal. By midday on 13 May approximately 300 people had assembled for the meeting. A heavy detachment of police was detailed to the area. A correspondent for The Times described what happened next: “The police furiously attacked the multitude with their staves, felling every person indiscriminately before them; even the females did not escape the blows from their batons – men and boys were lying in every direction weltering in their blood and calling for mercy.” Two cops, Sergeant John Brooks and PC Redwood, were stabbed trying to wrest a flag from one of the demonstrators. No-one saw what happened to a third, PC Culley, but he staggered into a local pub with blood pouring from a wound in his chest, and died a few moments later. The coroner’s jury that examined the death of Culley returned a verdict of ‘justifiable homicide’. The jury justified its verdict on the grounds that the crowd had not been ordered to disperse under the terms of the Riot Act, and that the ‘conduct of the police was ferocious, brutal, and unprovoked by the people’. A few days after the jury returned its verdict, a package arrived at the home of the jury foreman, Samuel Stockton. An anonymous donor had struck a number of pewter-type 1¾ inch medallions for Stockton, with instructions for him to pass them on to his fellow jurors. One side of the medallion contained the names of the jurors, with the message: ‘We shall be recompensed, the resurrection of the just’. The reverse was inscribed: ‘In honour of the men who nobly withstood the dictation of the coroner; independent, and conscientious, discharge of their duty; promoted a continued reliance upon the laws under the protection of a British jury’. George Fursey, the man charged with stabbing Brooks and Rewood was acquitted by an Old Bailey jury. On 8 July 1833, crowds thronged the streets at Blackfriars to cheer the coroner’s jurors who had returned the verdict of ‘justifiable homicide’. A trip was arranged by a group of City men with radical persuasions, the Milton Street Committee, for the jurors and their families to sail the Thames up to Twickenham on the steamer Endeavour. It poured with rain throughout the day, but crowds still flocked to the banks of the Thames to cheer on the jurors on their trip upstream. As the ship sailed to moor at Twickenham, canon fire saluted the arrival. The significance of the juror’s verdict was remembered long after. A banquet was thrown to honour the anniversary of the jurors’ findings.
Despite resistance like this, the ruling class, bit by bit, were compelled to advance its project to police the dispossessed. In response to the first Chartist agitation, the 1839 County Police Act was enacted allowing the formation of regional police forces. The fear of disorder from demobilised soldiers returning from the Crimean War led to the 1856 County and Borough Act which established police forces across the whole of the country. This period during the mid-19th century represents British capitalism maturing from the more brutal primitive accumulation of capital into a settled capitalist democracy. Central to this process was the development of the rule of law as the primary method of enforcing order. Legally regulated state violence was replacing naked class terror. The police force was founded on the principle of “citizens in uniform”. In other words, they were supposedly bound by the same laws as anyone else. They were also made structurally independent from the control of either politicians or individual members of the ruling class 6. So they were bound by law in a manner unlike that of the yeomanry or other military forces, whose authority came directly from the Crown and the socio-economic power exercised in localities by the landed gentry and aristocracy. The establishment of the police was part of a move away from a form of class rule which saw little separation between economic and juridical power. Hence you have the development of a separation of “Law” and “Order”. And the police became legitimised as “embodiments of impersonal, rational authority” (Reiner, “The Politics of the Police”).
One could say that the police were seen less and less as a force for the rulers’ property and power the more the working class achieved genuine reforms (though at the price of increasing social control and the acceptance of a greater hierarchical mentality within the working class towards different sections of the class). As sections of it, particularly sections of the skilled working class, were increasingly integrated into class society, so the cops were less and less seen as something imposed on them by an alien state. Nevertheless, the attitude towards the cops, even when they were clearly proletarianised at least in terms of appallingly crappy wages and conditions (see “The 1919 Police Strike” on this site), was at the very least very ambivalent, at least until the post World War ll period, when, with the manipulative propaganda of the war being carried over into peacetime, increasing numbers of the traditional working class tended to see the cops as somehow necessary. Whilst “All Coppers Are Bastards”/ACAB remained a popular proletarian expression, they were increasingly seen as a necessary evil.
In the past, in the post World War ll period, the attempts to gain policing by consent were fairly crude compared with nowadays. Much of it depended on presenting the cops, particularly via the TV, as protective nice guys – most obviously exemplified by the paternalistic “Dixon of Dock Green” image. The avuncular illusion of the firm-but-fair cop on the beat, low in the hierarchy, slight cockney accent and apparently working class was an ideology that hid the viciousness of the UK filth from the 1950s to the mid-70s, and manipulated the consciousness of those who never came into contact with the cops except to ask them directions. Whilst nowadays reports of cop callousness, lies, racism and brutality abound, that was very very rarely the case when the “good cop” Dixon image prevailed.
What is hardly known is the fact that Ted Willis, the creator of the pro-underdog Dixon, was a leftist who’d been in the Young Communist League and had been significantly helped in his career by literary agents in the Communist Party (he became a baron in ’63, put forward by the Labour Party). Ironic then that pro-State “Communists” and “socialists”, the most effective policers of proletarian subversion of the 20th century, their policing functioning all the better for seeming to be on the side of the proletariat, should nowadays be superceded by an apparently “anti-state” communist, John Drury, also helping the cops reform their image (and worse) whilst claiming to be on the side of the proletariat.
The unquestioning faith in the word of honest coppers promoted by the Dixon image allowed them to get away with murder.
In all this, the leftist-inspired Dixon of Dock Green, as do more sophisiticated cop series in the present, helped to brainwash people so as to blind them to what was going on. So inculcated were people with the idea of the nice British Bobby, unarmed and always doing right, that, largely up until Thatcher, the ’81 riots and the ’84 miners’ strike, it was always assumed by spectators that only wrong ‘uns were, rightly, deserving of anything the cops doled out to them. Many still do. However, modern cop shows often present the cops as more obviously ambiguous than the archaic “nice guy” representation of Dixon, because anything as superficial as what seemed to take in naïve spectators in the 50s, 60s and early 70s would now be laughed at by today’s sophisticated cynical spectator and so proven ineffective as a method of manipulation. Today’s cop series more often present the cops as the better of two evils – sometimes “bad” but never as bad as the bad guys.
Far From The Madding Crowd Controllers
State terror often induces a pacifying reformist timidity on the part of innumerable proletarians even as they complain about it. Often less courageous proletarians want to avoid recognising their submission to fear, to the objectively imposed reasons for fear, and do so partly by blaming and/or attacking the more combatative proletarians amongst them. As it becomes obvious that the state will face more and more opposition (both genuinely subversive and essentially not much more than merely moaning about it all) to its intensification of an even more divided and repressive class society, it will have to induce those who think of themselves as “deserving citizens” – those who consider themselves morally superior and still want to be part of this society – to police (this time, unpaid) the “undeserving proletarians” in their midst. And certainly not just in the UK. If capitalism survives the next decade or three, it will rule with an unsurpassed mix of brutality and sophisticated pacification. We know the brutality of the filth, but what about the current development of its “Soft Cop” methods?
On the 24th April 2009, the cop journal Janes Police Review published an article called “Chaos Theory“7 (co-authored by Aufheben‘s John Drury) designed to advise cops on better “divide and rule” policing after the famous G20 demonstrations in which a cop killed Ian Tomlinson. The following is some of it:
“The graded tactical model that grew from this strategy began with ofﬁcers in normal uniform. Riot police were on hand, but were deliberately kept out of sight. Frontline ofﬁers were then embedded within crowds (even during events categorised as high risk), working in pairs, interacting and encouraging legitimate behaviour. As a result, police ofﬁers were able to gather information and constantly monitor for and then react quickly to emergent risk. By using modern crowd theory and principles in this way, the police were able to avoid indiscriminate interventions against large crowds, although they still maintained this as a tactical option. What was also evident was that in this context of perceived police legitimacy, fans began to ‘self-police’ by actively undermining those trying to initiate trouble or at the very least making it easier for the police to deal with them. But, most importantly of all, there was an almost total absence of disorder.”
Recently, in June 2012, some aspects of this strategy were put into effect:
“Protesters have complained about a new breed of police officer being sent to demonstrations to talk to people. Smash EDO’s march in opposition to a possible war with Iran passed peacefully yesterday (June 4) with about 100 people walking from North Street, Brighton, to Hove Town Hall. But many protesters complained that police “protest liaison” officers – used throughout the weekend to allow organisers to discuss plans as events unfolded – were intrusive. The officers marched among the demonstrators at the Smash EDO event. But when protesters gathered in North Street they were addressed by a speaker who told them the officers were not welcome. Anarchists, with their faces covered, used umbrellas to try to block the officers’ views, and argued with their own legal advisers over how to get rid of them. Long-time Smash EDO supporter Glenn Williams said: “They are mingling in with the crowd. People have been objecting to that, and that has been the only source of conflict.” –
“At the end of an anti-war march in Brighton a group of marchers surround a man in a blue bib labelled ‘Observer’.
‘You work for the police.’ They accuse him.
The man rolls his eyes contemptuously, ‘I do not work for the police, I am an academic.’
‘So what are you doing here then?’
‘I am observing.’
‘Observing for the police.’
‘No, I am an academic, I work for Liverpool University.’
‘So what do you do with your observations?’
‘They are used to help train people in crowd control.’
‘So you sell them? Who to? Can we have them?’
A look of disgust crosses his face. ‘No you cannot.’ He sneers and shakes his head.
The questioning continues and the academic’s sense of irritation boils closer and closer to the surface, his answers get more sarcastic. ‘So you sell them to the police – you work for the police’. Finally an eruption from the academic: ‘Yes I work for the police… You all want to cause trouble,’ he waves an arm in a semicircle that encompasses the mass of gathered protesters, ‘you believe that the police represent the state, and that you can bring down the state by fighting them.’
So who is the academic, and where does his contempt for protesters come from?
A little while later Sussex Police announced that it had started a new policing initiative, especially for protests. Police liaison teams were to be clad in high visability jackets, as they had been at the anti-war march.” This was to be a new friendly face for policing at these events,Sussexpolice announced, and the academic, Dr Clifford Stott was the consultant helping them mastermind the new plan.” – http://fromoutsidethewhale.wordpress.com/2012/06/27/crowded-out/
“Sussex police have recently started to use new forms of repressive tactics for policing demonstrations. They seem to have taken a break from head cracking to trial what they have termed ‘Police Liaison Officers’ or PLOs at the recent Smash EDO demonstration on June 4th. This may not be simply a new fad by the cops, but could be part of a new era of repression based on the relatively new ‘science’ of crowd psychology. The PLOs are the brainchild of Dr. Clifford Stott, a crowd psychologist working with the cops to ‘manage’ crowds. This man was seen at the Smash EDO demo wearing a blue observer vest, presumably to check up on his PLOs he’d just trained.
He tweeted this last week just before the Smash EDO demo:
“A brilliant few days creating PLTs in Sussex. A long way to go but a rubicon has been crossed. Helping secure ECHR based approaches!…”
The Sussex Police PLOs are predominately female, and use a nicey-nicey approach to try and create the illusion that they are the “good” people and on our side. On top of this, Graham Bartlett, the local police chief has “praised” Smash EDO for their good behaviour…….After the riots it seems the police are finding new and invidious ways to keep us in our place, which is leading to a new form of policing where police are integrated into the crowd, not as undercovers, as they have been previously, but as part of it. Crowd psychology, if it takes off, may result in a form of repression which is more dangerous to social movements than water cannon or rubber bullets, as it creates a situation where the public become more sympathetic to the police than to those facing repression. On top of that, PLOs suck the energy and solidarity away from the people on the streets. What is clear is we need to make sure we do not allow our demonstrations to be infiltrated by the police in this way and we make sure they are not welcome. Once we allow them to be part of our demos in this way we have already lost, as it will be the cops and not us calling the shots.
The use of this new tactic shows us the cops are out of their depth and cannot deal with the new wave of social unrest sweeping the UK in recent years. To beat them at their game we have to stay one step ahead of them by understanding these tactics and what they mean for us before they are truly put to use.” – http://www.fitwatch.org.uk/2012/06/11/sussex-police-unleash-new-weapon-crowd-psychology/
It should be pointed out that these tactics had already been used in the demonstrations against the cuts in London in March 2012, though without the least opposition fom the demonstrators. See: http://www.demotix.com/news/1104889/protest-liaison-teams-deployed-london-first-time#slide-1
Killing Us Softly With Their Siren Song:
the UK, South Africa, Bangladesh, France, Greece, the USA…
When “Chaos Theory” was made public to the anglophone anarchist/libertarian communist/ultra-leftist milieu a year ago, there were, amongst its more deceitful sections, innumerable attempts to minimise the implications of these new forms of policing. The Libcom/Aufheben8 defence team claimed that the strategy (which Drury had clearly been central in formulating as part of the Reicher/Stott team) was merely reformist (humanisticly designed to reduce cop violence) and not useful for the cops. It was as if this report of their strategy in practice had nothing innovative for the state. Sure, when things hot up soft cop strategies are put aside, but it’s obvious to anybody but the wilfully self-deceitful that soft cop strategies are used to try to minimise the possiblity of things hotting up. Moreover, the Aufheben defence team claimed that cops were cops and that in the heat of class conflict were uninfluenced by research-based theories for which the state paid good money; as if cops on the ground always acted in a manner which their more intellectually sussed officers could not determine, as if cops have always been the same and are so intrinsically thick that they are incapable of developing from the history of their own mistakes. Whilst this may well be true for the “ordinary coppers”, it’s obviously not true for those developing policing policy and for those who give the rank and file their orders and training. So patently obvious that it’s also obvious that this was merely one of the many attempts to fob the whole affair off as irrelevant.
The following comes from “Knowledge-based policing…” (pubd. 2007), co-authored by the “communist” John Drury, an article he denies contributing to but which, for several years, was part of a list of texts he claimed to have authored on his website for his University:
“We were asked by the Metropolitan Police to consider how to develop the corralling tactic (Cronin, 2002; Cronin and Reicher, 2002).
We stressed, first, the need for officers to understand the meaning of their tactic from the perspective of the participants. In particular, the anger of participants should not be dismissed simply as reflecting a prior hostility to the police. Rather, officers need to consider how they might be producing hostility in those who started off being sympathetic towards them. Next, we stressed that, if crowd members had to be contained out of fear that some amongst them might be violent, it was critical to communicate to the people as to why they were being contained and how this was necessitated by minority actions. Part of this may involve the development of new communications technologies such as high-powered mobile loudspeaker systems and giant LCD screens. Third, procedures of selective filtering should be developed for enabling those with specific needs to exit the containment area—and this should also be communicated to the crowd. Moreover, it should also be stressed that conflict within the containment area would disrupt the selective filtering process and hence act against the interests of crowd members. Fourth, once those in need had been allowed to leave, it should be stressed to the remaining crowd that the police also wish to let them proceed as well, but that this could only occur under conditions that will prevent some amongst them from causing violence. These conditions might include the removal of clothing that obscures individual identity, abandoning placards, bottles and other objects that could be used as weapons. This advice has been taken on board by the Metropolitan police and we are told through personal communication that it has been applied on a number of occasions to considerable effect.”
This was the policy, used for the first time systematically in the UK, applied to the Mayday 2001 demonstration. This use of “kettling” was a policy which Aufheben described as “politically irrelevant”.9
But even worse was Libcom/Aufheben‘s claim that JD’s work for the CBRN (Chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear) emergencies was “humane”, and that state management of emergencies was neutral. Is this humane? Is it neutral?:
Humane screens at Occupy St Pauls
“The portable steel cordons were designed to be used not for public order situations like political protests, but for dealing with CBRN incidents, “where they can obviously very effectively direct the crowd”. 200 of them were purchased by the Home Office in 2008 for CBRN preparedness, but they’re now available for any police force in the country to use, for any purpose at all.”10
Humanism: the art of putting lipstick on a monster and getting him to look all dewy eyed, dressing him up in soft hued clothes of compassion; the art of making one’s own defence of such inhumanity appear humane.
“Society’s owners indeed want to keep a certain ‘social relation between people’, but they must also maintain continual technological innovation… When an instrument has been perfected it must be used, and its use will reinforce the very conditions that favour this use. Thus it is that emergency procedures become standard procedures.” (Thesis XXIX, Comments on Society of the Spectacle, Guy Debord ).
This was completely lost on those Libcom/Aufhebeners who scornfully dismissed the observation of the presence of police CBRN crews at demos in London in 2011 (with their use of LED screens to issue instructions, and mobile barriers to funnel marchers), accusing us of clutching at straws, blissfully unaware of the straws that they themselves were being carried on.
In an email discussion list on this subject, Otto Geyrtonnex wrote: “Aufheben writes that “’blue light services’ work closely together” to a humaniarian and non-repressive end. For them, it would seem that their comrade works for a certain service concerned with crowd management during major incidents…and that being in this line of work “means probably talking to cops ”. For them this type of activity has nothing in common with maintaining bourgeois order against proletarians’ offensives. We have to be cautious when faced with these so called distinctions which only exist in the conscience of the leftist. For the State a catastrophe is a catastrophe. It is a moment of rupture with consensus, with social peace, whether it be for one reason or another. For the State it is clear that the primary objective is to get things back to normal as quickly as possible. In the towns around nuclear power plants the State organises mock evacuation and emergency procedures claiming that this will help people to be prepared in case of a nuclear accident. In health terms these exercises are of no benefit to anyone. But they are however a great opportunity for the cops to learn precious lessons about crowd management. The Katrina catastrophe did not dull the cops’ sense of responsibility as they beat up looters and protected stores. In this regards rioters who throw rocks at firemen and burn down schools are by no means mistaken. It is an illusion to believe that there is a nice cop who helps children to cross the street on the way to school and another villainous corrupt cop who spends his days raping prostitutes and shooting demonstrators. These deeply ideological borders are porous.”
Nowadays the difference between “the emergency services” and the cops are largely spurious. For example, in Cape Town, South Africa, some significant proletarian protests round the time of the Marikana massacre, were partly dealt with by the city’s disaster management spokesman.11
And “Health and Safety” is always a pretext to attack social movements (Occupy in Oakland is an obvious example12).
Against the oh-so-convenient pretence of all those who parroted the “correct line” of Aufheben claiming the irrelevance of the influence of Drury and his crowd psychology team’s suggestions vis a vis the actual practice of the cops, it is obvious to anyone with a minimal critical lucidity that ideology has a miserable consequence regardless of such deluded denials and self-justifications. And far more debilitating for social movements than any proletarian’s production of a car or whatever.
Take, for example, the policing of the Bangladeshi garment workers’ struggles: “Whereas it would previously be the norm for striking workers to leave the factory and then quickly march to neighbouring workplaces to picket them out, the IP [Industrial Police] are now more often forewarned of trouble via intelligence reports and so can quickly deploy to isolate protests – if necessary, augmented by other police departments and presumably using a form of what we know in the UK as ‘kettling’ to contain workers’ demonstrations. They can then play their mediating and counselling role to encourage negotiation and resolution of disputes between bosses and workers in individual workplaces. (Crowd psychology techniques appear to be an increasingly routine weapon in the arsenals of police forces of the world.) And so the garment workers’ long tradition of picketing out nearby workplaces – a practical application of the class-wide solidarity of “an injury to one is an injury to all” – is, for the moment at least, broken. The practical common identity as a class, above and beyond identification or loyalty with a particular workplace, is suppressed. The paramilitary/counselling IPF unites the carrot and stick approach; in the absence of functioning trade unions on the job (which bosses still refuse to allow) the IP takes a surrogate role, playing a role normally reserved for unions; the mediating of conflicts between exploiter and exploited.” (“The policeman’s new clothes…“)”13
And as Otto Geyrtonnex wrote: “During the movement against pension reform in France the cops applied certain methods which were qualitatively very different from those which had been used in the past. No more police lines encircling everyone. No more threatening legions of cops. No more tear gas bombs emptying public squares. Instead we saw a few plainclothes cops discreetly moving among the demonstrators, arrests which were as singled out as possible, small cans of tear gas which the cops used to spray the eyes of the rare undisciplined proletarians in such a way that it wouldn’t hurt those standing near him. In this way the demonstration took place, expressing its democratic right with no outbursts whatsoever. Ten minutes after the end of the demonstration had been called ( stipulated in the negociations with the prefect) the public square was clean and empty. It’s certainly efficient.”
Although 99% of the time, the brutaity of austerity in Greece means that Greek cops are usually very brutal, they do occasionally resort to Druryesque soft cop tactics. Though the following is more an attempt at ideological consolation for those frightened by the violence of both cops and rioters, it could still be used practically in certain circumstances in the future, just as occasionally it has been used in Greece in the past:
“It is obvious that attempts are being made at readapting the doctrine of the security forces’ involvement in social reactions, which will escalate continuously. A society that suffers badly from economic measures cannot be beaten up by the forces of repression which have not found or do not want to find a way to isolate those who regard violence as an end in itself. The events of recent days, if not marked by the death of the 53-year-old PAME trade unionist, could be seen as a sign of an effective change in police doctrine towards a softer management of demonstrations.
Indeed, in those two days that police were fully in a transitory phase in terms of its leadership team, the risk was double. Initially, the apparatus was led for two days by those available since changes in leadership were announced simultaneously with the big demonstrations. And even with the participation of Christofareizis C., who was recalled from retirement, the designer of the MAT [TN: the riot squad] in the ’90s, whose name was associated with the attack against pensioners out of Maximou [TN: the Presidential Mansion] in 1995. The other change observed was the return of the doctrine of self-control and inconspicuous granting of power to organized unions to self-guard the demonstrations…. What happened on Thursday with PAME guarding its demo not only in a defensive but also in an offensive way at the Unknown Soldier monument was the beginning of a new tactic which gives room for self-regulation to the demonstrators that will have the first say in the prevention of the intrusion of troublemakers in the body of the mobilizations. And this is risky, because the incredible violence between protesters, while the police were discreetly absent, could have had more serious consequences. Although any police involvement might have had even worse consequences. In any case this tactic is likely to be applied again after consultations have been made. In this critical period it was clear that Chr. Papoutsis [TN: Minister of Public Order, or in the neo-orwellian language of the PASOK government, Minister of Citizen Protection] wished for a softer administration at all levels of the Staff and not only at the leadership. That is why he transfered hardline officers that he thought were damaging the image of the police due to the behaviour of policemen who had seriously injured protesters and professional journalists in recent months, during demonstrations. Obviously, for reasons of balance, the minister also hired an experienced veteran and put him in the position of operations consultant.
For over a year, the minister has been talking about a lack of democracy in the security forces and has threatened that he will not hesitate to attack some structures, units and commanders. Certainly these commanders were appointed by the same government two years ago, when the offensive doctrine was applied for the regaining of the streets, according to the official announcement that was made then.
The murder of student Al. Grigoropoulos had repercussions on the police as they were delegitimised in huge parts of society, i.e. they were marginalized socially and professionally. There is an attempt now by the Ministry of Citizen Protection to reverse this disturbance of professional self-image and behaviour, in the worst period in decades, as the economic crisis is ruining people and cracks in social cohesion are increasing.” [TN: It is not surprising then that some riot squads were telling the demonstrators that they were there for their protection!]”
(“Greek Police: softly-softly is the new doctrine”, Eleftherotypia, 23/10/2011) 14 (Eleftherotypia is a liberal newspaper of wide circulation).
During the often violent Oakland Occupy movement against the brutality of the cops and the society they protect, there was a moment where cops mingled amongst the camp and chatted in a friendly manner, almost unprecedented behaviour for US cops. And after the brutality of the cops, the town hall felt obliged to discipline some of them in order to maintain an image of fairness and to show to those occupiers who defined themselves as “citizens” that the local state could listen to them.
“The former Seattle chief of police, Norm Stamper, in an interview following the most recent brutal incident of police repression in Seattle, articulated the insidious strategy that police agencies across the country should be employing against Occupy demonstrations:
“If the police and the community in a democratic society are really working hard – and it is hard work – to forge authentic partnerships rather than this unilateral, paramilitary response to these demonstrations, that the relationship itself serves as a shock absorber. Picture police officers helping to protect the demonstrators. Picture demonstrators saying, “We see people on the fringes, for example, who are essentially undemocratic in their tactics. And so, we need to work together to resolve that issue.”
The triumph of American policing is this partnership that Stamper eludes to. Programs devoted to the furtherance of identification with authority are the most effective way that the policing apparatus functions, at once reducing the material role of the police in society and more than doubling its unpaid workforce. In United States society, even the staunchest of good citizens holds the belief in “freedom of speech” as a practically sacred right.
A brutal or violent suppression of a protest movement that has mostly agreed to play by the rules could cause a crisis of legitimacy for the American state and cause the demonstrations to increase rapidly in size and intensity…..For this and other reasons, a far more likely outcome, and a more efficient avenue for the state, is the violent suppression of any uncontrollable elements of the movement combined with the seamless recuperation of its more digestible elements”.
People reading this might remember how the cops in Madison initially supported the occupation of the state capitol and the aims of the protesters, a couple having banners saying “Cops for Labour”. But at the end they did their job of expelling the occupiers, and doing so with very little resistance. This soft cop stance was part of the cops’ training, having previously been led by former Madison chief of police, Couper, who wrote in October 2011: “Earlier this year in Madison, we saw restraint and common-sense used by the Madison police who, interestingly, set the tone during the occupation of our state capitol building. What we learned together all those years has not been forgotten.”
In the same article he says, “The method I developed over forty years ago is still effective as the British police recently found out through the research of Dr. Clifford Stott. In short, restraint works better than aggression. This is part of what I wrote in my book.
“One of the most important things police do is ‘handle’ people in crowds. In the long run, a professional police will ultimately be judged by how well they do this―that is, by how they do it fairly and effectively, without regard to whether they agree with the people in those crowds or not…. the primary function of police is relational, whether they are responding to a domestic dispute, investigating a crime, enforcing a traffic regulation, helping an elderly person cross a busy street, or handling a crowd. Once this is understood, it is a lot easier to figure out what it is police need to do and how they should do it…More recently, the British Home Office has also been concerned about contemporary behaviors of their passionate football (soccer) crowds… and the confrontations that frequently occur today between those crowds and police. Commendably, they consulted academia and found a social psychologist who was studying crowd behavior. Dr. Clifford Stott, one of Europe’s leading researchers regarding such behavior. Stott advocates a different approach for police to use when handling crowds. His studies found that: “’[L]arge-scale disorder tended to emerge and escalate because indiscriminate, heavy-handed policing generated a group mentality among large numbers of fans that was based on shared perceptions that the police action was illegitimate. This had the effect of drawing ordinary fans into conflict with the police’….The finding here is that when a crowd perceives the police as overreacting or being heavy-handed, crowd members have a tendency to stop observing and start taking action. To prevent this from happening, Stott advocates using what he calls a ‘softly, softly’ approach―a low-key approach in which officers mix with and relate to crowd members on the basis of their behavior, rather than their reputation. If police approach a crowd with the expectation that its members are going to make trouble, it often turns out that way. This will not be unfamiliar to Madison residents or their police.”16 This text also gives a positive mention to JD’s “The Crowd” blog17. “Cops For Labor” meet “Cops for communism”. For obvious reasons, Libcon/Aufheben are conveniently and wilfully blind to this obvious double edged sword pushed for by Drury’s team, with his mate Stott as its foremost advocate, presenting it as reformisticly harmless.
ACADEMIA, SOCIOLOGY & THE MUDDLE CLASS
In the18th century in Germany, the University produced about 4000 books on the science of policing (Polizeiwissenschaft). The German academic Von Justi gave the following definition of the police: “Laws and regulations that concern the interior of a state and which endeavor to strengthen and increase the power of this state and make good use of its forces, to procure the happiness of its subjects, in a word, the commerce, finances, agriculture, mining, woods, forests etc., in view of the fact that the happiness of the state depends on the wisdom with which all these things are administered.” (“Grundsatze der Polizei-Wissenschaft”, 1756). And Hohentahl wrote, “I accept the definition of those who call police the set of means that serve the splendour of the entire state and the happiness of all its citizens.” (“Libia de politia”, 1776)18. The University has always been, in some form or another, an institution for producing the ideological justifications, and consequently their material realisation, for the forces of the state, its image of splendour and the “happiness” of the ruling society. It has been as fundamental an aspect of class society as has been the dominant media: a society in which the ruling class speaks to, and tries to convince, itself and society generally in order to ever-perfect its forms of social control. Whilst academia’s differing illusions of “objectivity” and “neutral” acquisition of knowledge have changed and developed, along with its intake, over the centuries, its fundamental prop for this miserable world has always remained. So it should be no surprise that academia has produced more modern and subtler versions of how to preserve hierarchical order in the 21st century, such as the Stott, Drury, and Reicher team mentioned previously.
There will be no more reason to retain the University in a free society than to retain banks, police or supermarkets. The University is, as always, a product and producer of the hierarchical division of labour, and must disappear if we’re ever to free ourselves from the alienations of class society: in the only possible future which does not involve barbarism, education shall be everywhere, the educators shall be educated and those who have specialist knowledge will share this knowledge with whoever they want (and not just in the future, but also now). In the present, with the increasing imposition of debt-inducing fees, in many countries the University’s intellectual specialisation is increasingly open only to the children of the elite, but even where such fees are being successfully resisted, there is no reason to support such an ideology-factory. In manufacturing ideas separate from their social consequences, it is an arm of separate power, of class power. There is no such thing as a Free University, an Open University or a People’s University, any more than there could be such a thing as a Free Bank, an Open Bank or a People’s Bank (or a Free Police, an Open Police or a People’s Police). The abolition of the commodity economy and the abolition of specialised intellect necessary to justify and reinforce it entail the end of both universities and banks. Just as banks are an expression of the mediation of life by value and the relatively arbitary hierarchies it produces, so universities are a symptom of the hierarchy of brain over body, thought divorced from its social consequences, the production of words and insights resulting at best in “interesting ideas”: entertainment or half-truths easily used by our enemies. The experimental testing of desires and ideas and their correction can only take place in daily life and on the terrain of their social results.
That, of course, is a very general critique with which many ultra leftist academics would “agree”, even recuperators like Drury, at least in terms of an abstract “after the revolution” perspective – though not now, as part of the real movement that abolishes the present social order. After all, it was Drury himself who said,“Critical psychologists… appear to have the best of both worlds; we can satisfy some of our own needs as critical people (and be true to our conscience) while at the same time making our living as psychologists – even perhaps getting a decent career out of it…Such a position is part of the problem, not part of the solution…If anything, critical psychology leaches off the “anti-capitalist movement” and all radical activity….Any instrumental functions are themselves premised on the supposed neutrality of academia – i.e. its continued existence as a repository of disinterested knowledge. In other words, the think-tanks and applied scientists rely on a base of ‘useless’ knowledge.” (Annual Review of Critical Psychology, Vol.3). It is the essence of ultra-left academia to develop “critiques”, including “critiques” of themselves, without the slightest bit of practical consequence, thus becoming utterly schizoid in the process. This is the heart and soul of recuperation – the co-optation of subversive theory and practice into a paid career role complicit with the rules of this society, even to the point of being able to articulate such a practically impotent self-”critique” as part of the pretension.
As Red Marriott said in one of the post-Aufhebengate debates on Libcom19: “If one doesn’t try to suppress a critique of specific social function, recuperation and its consequences, one can see that crowd psychology as a specialisation is almost a textbook case of the traditional middle class role of the professional mediating of class relations and class conflict – whether applied in the fields of protests, riots, disasters or football supporters, where derived lessons and applications will inevitably overlap.
‘He (JD) had to do these things as part of his job.’ Is that not the wrong way round? Such a career choice, as specialist subject – and the way it was pursued – for a ‘communist’ is quite perverse in itself, and an unnecessary choice if one simply wished to pursue academia.”
That’s why such a critique of the University has to be concretised more precisely in relation to the actual practice of academia today. The further from recuperation involvement in academia is, the more we can recognise it as having little detrimental effect on any social movements. Astronomy, geology, linguistics, archaeology20, being some teaching or research assistant have little ideological content or at least very rarely involve directly producing innovative ideas useful for the ruling class when it comes to social control.
However, sociology, for instance, is clearly an area that the rulers have an interest in tapping, particularly its leftist or “alternative” versions21. Otto Geyrtonnex again:
“Sociology is a pain in the ass. It leads us to decipher the world according to its rigid concepts, to its hopeless exteriority, to its total absence of a grasp at what is at stake in the forces present thus camouflaging a single perspective, that of the gradual and functional improvement of this world.Those are its negative points.22 But they are nothing at all if we don’t talk about its primary function: surveying, studying, integrating. Sociologists love whatever is in the margins of society, what is not directly controlled by institutions, what lies a little bit outside. Deviants, struggles, the miserable. Whether they are conscious or naïve it doesn’t really matter. But this is the mission for which they invest themselves: Bring to the State’s knowledge whatever it ignores. Set up an up-to-date table of the world’s horrors and mutations. In this respect sociology is an arm for power. This arm is made up of thousands of little hands, some cynical and others sincere, which are working for it. Certain sociologists try to get around this limit and study the State itself in order to show its atrocities, to better reveal its limits and weaknesses. But is this not in fact a service which is rendered to the State? Alas, we know that managers and bureaucrats are always much more anxious to take advantage of these lessons than we are.
Let’s take an example. The book Résister à la chaîne (Resisting the Assembly Line) is made up of a series of interviews between a worker named Corouge who had been on the assembly line at Peugeot for years and the sociologist Pialoux who wrote in the review Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, founded by Pierre Bourdieu. Corouge acknowledged that the management “had read and had very well read the texts which were published in Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales…” We know very well why they read it. They could discover how proletarians organized themselves to work less, to take breaks, to commit acts of sabotage…This book is very interesting for us as well. But at the end of the day we must note that the circulation of such a book is a double edged sword. This sort of study only helps the bourgeois who are always looking to perfect their techniques of control and repression. The State has the monopoly of information networks, of language. Its language.”
In an article written in The Financial Times, entitled “Interrogation is not a social science”23 and with the byline “Academics have been used for years by western intelligence: think of all the psychiatrists in the cold war”, it was revealed that the US military has been employing the services of anthropologists in Afghanistan to improve its data-gathering techniques. In particular, during the past five years, it has apparently run so-called “human terrain analysis” programmes, to make its Afghan operations more culturally sensitive:
“During recent decades, academic anthropologists – like sociologists – have tended to cultivate a fairly anti-authoritarian air. This is partly because they have often studied poor communities, but also because the very process of analysing how social systems work tends to leave one pretty cynical about the state and its dominant ideologies…. But in the 1960s, rumours surfaced that some anthropologists were being recruited by the CIA in Vietnam. In 1970, Eric Wolf, then chair of the AAA ethics committee, declared that social scientists were being recruited to assist the military in dealing with counterinsurgency in Thailand. “These programs comprise efforts at the manipulation of people on a giant scale and intertwine straightforward anthropological research with overt and covert counter-insurgency activities in such a way as to threaten the future of anthropological research,” he warned. And, according to a new book, Weaponizing Anthropology, by David Price, in recent decades the CIA has been funding social science programmes, and using the analysis for unlikely ends, such as designing policy at the Abu Ghraib detention centre…. To put it another way, precisely because anthropologists are good at analysing cultures and power structures, their research is of interest to people in… er… power. It is a bitter irony; even – or especially – in Afghanistan.”
Clearly academics without any pretension to a “communist” critique are better equipped to unravel some of their contradictions than many of those who claim to be “radicals”.
As X, who is familiar with both the London “milieu” and the Berlin one, said in an email discussion list (1st November 2011):
“Half of the radical left in Berlin is in one way or the other financed by Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung (Partei Die Linke); half of the autonomist scene in London worked as ‘organizers’ for various mainstream trade unions. If I sit in a meeting ‘supporting cleaning workers’ at least half of the people in the meeting either write a freelance article about it afterwards, write on a phd about ‘migration as affinity labour’, or are there because of their job in the union. What this spreads is an atmosphere of constant schizophrenia later in the pub (“you know, i just wrote this article now for The Guardian, this gives me then time to write something really radical for our magazine” etc.). In 99 per cent of the cases the ‘I sussed it out, I just make use of the apparatus’ does not actually work out. The phd does not actually leave more time or at least the individualistic framework impacts very negatively on the general atmosphere. The ‘independence’ within academia or ‘movement jobs’ from the institutions is largely illusionary. Here again, the worst element of it all is the lack of a collective debate within the millieu. This is the general atmosphere and background which makes ‘the Aufheben case’ possible at all. A general ignorance and ‘individual laissez faire’. ‘Modern collectives’ seem to come together as individual brains who leave their bodies with bread and butter at home – which obviously also expresses itself in their political concepts of ‘what is the working class’ and our practical relation with(in) it.”
These libertarian communist academics and/or students don’t pose the struggle in their own daily lives, their own work, they merely suggest things for “the workers” to do. Often those adopting the most clever critical language that makes them appear to be class conscious are those least consicious of the contradictions. Often lefty/ultra-lefty academics, who, having faced pressures from bosses for increased productivity, now want to be counted as exploited workers like the rest, deliberately sidestepping the question of what their relationship to other classes is, how its function for Capital has been changed. It is not simply a question of re-defining oneself as an “education worker”, thereby ignoring the hierarchy in the division of labour, simplifying everything into an equality of alienation. One can’t simply connect to all other workers just by defining oneself as a worker, though that might form part of the movement towards connecting. The tendency for those higher in the hierarchical division of labour, even those claiming to identify with class struggle, is to squawk the squawk but never walk the walk. One has to put ones life where ones mouth is and not use the domination by false choices that this society pushes or panics us into as an absolutely determined force out of our possible influence: “I enjoy writing and thinking and we’re all forced to sell our labour to surivive – better do it doing something I enjoy”. Well – most people enjoy sex, but it’s simplistic to valorise prostitution. This is positivism blind to how the division of labour also encourages an alienated relation to the things we enjoy, and contorts these pleasures by commodifying them.
Whilst some ‘intellectual labour’ is certainly more proletarianised, and far less ideological, than others (e.g. teaching a foreign language, which in some parts of the world is extremely badly paid), much of it is just plain middle class – i.e. work that clearly reinforces the division of labour both in the nature of the authority roles and the ideology developed. The role of the intellectual section of the middle class is to develop ideologies that implicitly or explicitly justify their own definitions of themselves as having a consciousness of being objective and detached – ‘scientific’ rather than an unenlightened self-interested career move. If such people are to contribute to a radical opposition to this society they are going to have to take the risk of subverting these roles and ideologies, along with the rest of us, though it’ll probably take us who are lower in the hierarchy to first of all challenge the absurdity of their position.
In the end, it’s more likely from outside that the University will be more and more challenged, most notably by the excluded poor24
Cartoon, early 70s
Extract from “The Strange Case Of Dr.Johnny And Mr.Drury”:
“The vast decline of class struggle in the UK since the 80s has encouraged the emergence of activists (many from university) for whom class struggle, in its marginality, has remained largely intellectual and abstract. These activists often reacted to the limitations of activism by turning to its flip-side – theorism, without recognising the basis of their previous activism as being the fact that the practical critique of daily life at work and elsewhere was being greatly repressed by the increasing atomisation and defeat at the hands of the neo-liberal project (”Thatcherism”/”Blairism”) of the seriously consequential class revolts that had been contesting it. With the project of the self-emancipation of the working class greatly repressed for a generation, the appearance of radical critique seemed compatible with the ultra-left of the University ivory tower.
In the 60s a critique of the University (http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/poverty.htm) significantly contributed to the social explosions in France, May ’68 (e.g.11http://www.cddc.vt.edu/sionline/si/enrages.html. ) There were a few leftist academics who supported and participated in student movements and consequently were fired (eg Robin Blackburn of New Left Review fame, who got the sack from his job at LSE for supporting the ”vandalistic” dismantling of gates designed to suppress and control student occupations). Anglophone academia certainly produced some interesting historians and social critics on the Left (e.g. Zinn, Chomsky, Portis from the USA, E.P.Thompson, Christopher Hill, Tom Nairn and others in the UK) but what they had to say about immediate history and social contradictions that was any independent use to the movement of social contestation could have mostly been written on the back of a postage stamp. Admittedly there are occasional exceptions to this – e.g. Mike Davies – but their need for an acceptable image of radicality, their alternative celebrity status as social critics, generally , though not always, obviated any direct participation in concrete social contestation.
Those who weren’t leftists or anarcho-leftists (in the sense of having very definite positions either as paid ideologues or as political organisers) recognised that theory and an ideological career were incompatible, and at the very least, should be kept clearly separate. Those who thought you could combine the two became ”radical sociologists”, ”radical psychologists”, ”radical architects”, ”radical social workers”, ”radical philosophers”, etc. No-one, however, suggested you could combine bricklaying as a means of survival and that the work itself could be radical. Anyone thinking they could consistently make money out of building walls in the form of an ”A” in a circle, or chiselling ”Abolish wage slavery!” into their bricks would have been seen as slightly eccentric and virtually unempoyable (except if they’d defined themselves as “artists”). When the more obviously proletarian workers revolted it was usually against their work, not an attempt to dress it up as something subversive in itself. The few genuine radicals who briefly flirted with a career in academia, particularly those from more proletarianised backgrounds, quickly gave it up because it was doing their head in. The domination by intellectual concepts (as opposed to dominating and applying such concepts where subversively useful) and by having to endure the artificial up-in-the-air conversations, the teaching of people who you knew would expropriate your ideas and turn them against you – all this just tore them away from the reality they still wanted to challenge and change, and not just talk about challenging and changing….
.There are building workers who refuse to participate in the building of prisons. There are building workers who help build prisons but put sugar or something else in the cement so that the walls crumble. And there are building workers, with far less integrity, who participate in the building of prisons and don’t sabotage their shitty job. But even amongst the latter, not one of them publicly puts their name to it, not one of them inscribes their signature onto the prison bars. Intellectual cadres, however, are always proud of their alienated labour, and wholly identify with it, even when it’s so alienated it goes totally against everything they claim to stand for. Let no-one say ideological work is the same as building work or working in a hospital or a call centre: the hierarchical division of labour has always meant that capitalism, even in its initial development, wasn’t just capital but was also an “ism”. It meant that, as well as an armed and economic force, it was also an ideology brutally materialised. Ideas for the ruling class, developed by professional intellectuals, were not “merely” ideas any more than religion, developed by the priesthood before the bourgeoisie, was “merely” religion….”
Some Schizophrenic “Radicals”
The spectacle’s division of labour allots to its most precocious intellectual strata the task of presenting its image of struggle in order to preserve the reality of the division of labour, of proletarian misery.
John Drury is in “good” company:
Herbert Marcuse, of Frankfurt School fame, worked as an advisor for the OSS (the precursor to the CIA) up until 1945 and then for the US Department of State up until 1951. But at least he’d left by the time he’d written his most interesting work, “Eros and Civilisation” (Paul Mattick was offered work by the OSS as soon as Hitler came into power; he refused point-blank).
Theodor Adorno famously called the cops on students who’d occupied his faculty and disrupted his lectures (and then later complained that the students had taken seriously and practically what he’d merely intended to be philosophical constructs)
Cornelius Castoriadis, the leading theoretician for Socialisme ou Barbarie, worked as an ideological adviser for the OECD from the 1950s. This was not some minor position but definitely as an ideas man.
Massimo Prandi, a leading theoretician for the French ultra-left Mouvement Communiste, knowingly provided (along with others) information for the creation of 2 lists for President Mitterand – in the 1980s – of Italian refugee exiles from the social movements in Italy in the 1970s; one of those he considered basically “harmless” and therefore able to stay in France, the other a list of “dangerous” ones that the state could extradite to Africa. Mouvement Communiste26justified him doing this as if he was some kind of Schindler. See: “Sociétés et terrorisme” (which received the “Prix spécial du jury européen d’Amalfi” in1989) written by a sociologist specialising in what the state deems as terrorism, Michel Wieviorka (the book contains, in Chapter IV, “Une intervention sociologique avec des terroristes” to which Prandi made a significant contribution).
THE POLITICS OF LIBCOM
On 27th October 2012 the UK anarchist scene had its annual gathering of those who claim to oppose the state. The cop collaborator, John Drury (who, as we’ve seen, has provided the state with innovative ideas for reforming its practice and its image), and his Aufheben gang, was provided with a stand and no-one confronted him27. Jolly nice day, jolly good show. Joseph Kay, Libcom admin’s chief defender of Drury, and a sometime contributor to Aufheben, gave a little talk appreciated by the benignly tolerant anarchists. Whilst it would be incorrect to tar all anarchists with the same brush, tolerance for the intolerable has long been an aspect of anarcho-leftism. For example, Paul Mason, of BBC Newsnight fame, was invited to the anarchist bookfair a couple of years ago, and not insulted by the far too polite “libertarians” who amassed there. Some even felt some vicarious fame by having a friendly chat with him. After all, Libcom, and other anarchos, often refer to him uncritically. But with the ruling class internationally assaulting the working class as almost never before, what was important was to maintain a show of opposition that excluded dealing with the collaborators and recuperators within their midst. Drury and Aufheben (or, indeed, Lefty cadres whose celebrity careers help develop the BBC’s image of “free speech”) aren’t the only form of complicity with the enemy, though. Politics – in part, the art of putting forward an abstract program to be followed by partisans and the art of manipulatively falsifying those who oppose such a practice – is what unites all the phoneys and con-men of whatever persuasion: above all, this kind of politics is the enemy within.
When the TPTG initially put up their first “Open Letter to the British internationalist/anti-authoritarian/activist/protest/street scenes (and to all those concerned with the progress of our enemies)”28, on Libcom, Libcom admin immediately took it down and then, after people complained (because of the reputation that the TPTG have for sober analysis, and the fact that Libcom had always hosted TPTG articles) put it up with a picture of Pinnochio and said it contained untrue smears and allegations. After endless complaints from neutral posters they felt pressured to withdraw the picture, though they continued to have the “untrue allegations” smear even though there were innumerable links to articles written or co-written by Drury that clearly showed that these were no mere allegations. Despite claiming to be an open forum for anti-state anti-politics, Libcom admin has shown, in the Aufhebengate scandal, its political clique mentality which up until then had remained diffuse and obscure.
“Surveillance has an interest in organizing poles of negation itself, which it can instruct with more than the discredited means of the spectacle, so as to manipulate, not terrorists this time, but theories” .(Thesis XXX, Commentaries on the Society of the Spectacle, Guy Debord)
Whilst Libcom do not in any way consciously manipulate radical theory in order to intensify toleration for the state, it is clearly one of the results of what they have done in this case. What they imagine subjectively they are doing is irrelevant: the road to reformed capitalist hell is paved with “radical” intentions. Here a guy, in his participation in past radical active opposition to the state, has clearly used his research to help the state, to reform its strategies, and will try to continue to do so. This is in some ways worse than the Mark Kennedy/Mark Stone cop infiltrator of the activist milieu. Whilst subjectively Kennedy/Stone certainly traumatised his lovers and friends, and led to some arrests, one expects this shit behaviour from the filth. What he did was logically consistent with his choice to serve the ruling class. What is not at all logical is for those who ostensibly desire an opposition to the ruling class to give new ideas to their enemies that could only have arisen out of their direct participation in some forms of radical activity. Whilst the Kennedy/Stone case affected dozens of individuals, the team of which Drury is a part potentially affects millions. And it’s worse in the sense that the UK “libertarian communist” milieu (as a whole, not necessarily as individuals) doesn’t give a toss about this, at least in any publicly decisive manner. So much so that Drury, unlike Stone/Kennedy can continue as normal, as if nothing has happened.
What is not at all logical is for those who ostensibly desire an anti-state revolution to support and justify this piece of shit, or to do nothing about him, and so encourage others doing likewise. In fact those who defend him have become just as bad as him, lying29 in order to rubbish genuine opposition. Doubtless there are some things more indicative of the old-style authoritarian communism than Joseph Kay saying of the TPTG’s publicising of the texts authored by JD: “They published information they knew to be false, as a lengthy email was sent to them in August”30but it still sounds like another way of saying : “They published information they knew to be false, as the Central Committee had ruled it to be false in August”.
After 5 or 6 weeks of persistent gang-like denial of the obvious (including the absurd notion that the Drury, Stott and co. team’s ideas had no material effect whatsoever), they were able to dismiss the whole affair as “a massive waste of time” (Joseph Kay). Politics as a method of influencing people by means of lies remains at the heart of this affair, aimed at imposing silence. Libcom admin then went on to shut down thread after thread on this affair, leaving only one with the obscure title “Why this article has been removed?”31, and banned various people either temporarily or permanently, according to whimsical subjective criteria (e.g. the dismissal of someone as a troll in order to ignore something valid in their post, or insults censored as “flaming”, when often similar behaviour on the part of someone close to admin or part of it went unchecked) and deleted various posts without even saying they’d been deleted. I am reminded of Lenin’s “You can stand here with us, or against us out there with a gun in your hand, but not within some opposition….We’ve had enough opposition.” Obviously the comparison with an armed conflict between state and anti-state forces is hyperbole, but the viciousness of the ideological manipulation in an epoch where ideology is often a far greater debilitating force than military might is pertinent. Of course, there is nothing wrong with a website deciding what on it should be said and discussed and what shouldn’t, but this has to be made explicit and clear; Libcom wanted the appearance of open access (a bit like the BBC) whilst maintaining a hidden agenda close to Solfed and to the ideological middle class that form the majority of admin and their fellow travellers. Above all, they want the appearance of being anti-state, but in this basic definition of being “libertarian” have proved themselves utterly self-contradictory (Lenin, too, in State and Revolution just before the Bolshevik seizure of state power, presented himself as a bit of a libertarian and many anarchists were temporarily taken in). One libcom fellow traveller even complained that since we didn’t live in the S.E. of England and didn’t really know JD, that what he did didn’t concern us. Even though JD’s team’s suggestions have been taken up internationally by cops, these “internationalists” panic themselves into a hastily cobbled and politically convenient localism at the first sign of an external attack (a bit like Kropotkin on the eve of WWl).
The diplomatic roles developed by libcom admin have even found themselves excusing polite dialogue with the former Chief Adviser on Strategy to Tony Blair, Matthew Taylor32 , and an obnoxious journalist, sometimes writing for the Daily Mail33, who then went on to attack the August riots of 2011 in the most racial terms, was a constant contributor to libcom and a close friend of some of admin (specifically, Brian Whelan, whose article on the riots is no longer available on the internet and whose unpleasant and vapidly cynical comments over the years on libcom have now also been disappeared). But then, the UK anarchist scene as a whole (individuals are another matter) has long made its peace with the ruling show. For example, the elder statesmen of the anarcho-celebrity world (Bone & Wright) could seriously consider standing in bourgeois elections when the previous entire history of anarchism had, as a minimum common agreement, a contempt for such circuses. Populism inevitably leads to such degraded compromises.34
In previous pre-World War epochs, most of the statist sections of the old workers’ movement, and many of the more libertarian sections also, could only conceive of an “egalitarian” “democratic” version of this society as the outcome of a successful revolution. This demand for “equality” in epochs where the material base of genuine scarcity and the exclusion of proletarians from the now commonplace kinds of compensations previously offered exclusively to the rich had a certain logic (owning a car, let alone a computer, was obviously very far from the possibilities of most proletarians). Combined with a more obvious rigidity of hierarchical relations, these tended towards a greater narrowing of people’s vision. With the post WWll growth of “consumerism”, this demand for an “egalitarian” “democratic” version of capitalism began to be recognised by those with a radical critique as a demand for equality of alienation. Now that neo-liberalism has increasingly repressed the Keneysian logic of a non-austere balance between production and access to “consumer power” and hopes to usher in a thoroughly modern version of 19th century forelock-tugging austerity, most dream of a return to “the good old days” of the welfare state and Keynesian economics – most notably, a State-promoted increase in spending power and the apparently greater margin of freedom given by State benefits35. Likewise, over 20 years of counter-revolution, and the unprecedented colonisation of people’s minds by dominant ideology, has tended to shrink many “anti-authoritarians” ‘ vision to merely a self-managed form of this society.
But few would go so far as to claim, as Libcon admin and their cheerleaders have consistently done, that “after the revolution” there will still be specialists-in-order (anarcho-cops) and, as leading admin Fall Back called for, “far more complex, modern, well resourced kinds of ‘prisons’ with more progressive aims than currently exist…”communist prisons” …would be a place where people who had broken laws would be forcibly detained”.36 To talk about communist prisons being entirely different from capitalist prisons is like saying the communist State will be entirely different from the capitalist State: here “anarchism” joins Leninism. Incarcerating anti-social leftovers of the mad alienation of class society (the recalcitrant ex-cops, ex-screws, politicians, rapists, paedophiles, etc.) all in the same hellhole is obviously idiotic. If elements of communal constraint are necessary they will have nothing to do with the brutal repressive reality of prisons throughout history. To think that we’d call such forcible restraint a ‘prison’ is like calling ‘workers’ councils’ (or whatever term you’d like to imagine the future fantasy society to be) ‘the State’ or ‘the government’. This is not just a question of semantic terms but of a break with hierarchical notions and practices of social control. Killing scum is not the same as capital punishment. Forcible restraint is not the same as prison. A margin of rationing (where scarcity is not forced by capitalist property relations but comes about because of, for example, differences between different geographical areas) is not money. Obviously in this future possibility there will be some way of punishing people who act in ways the community they’re part of find unbearable. But it’s not just semantics that separates, say, “grounding” a teenage kid from the idea of putting him/her in prison, but a general attitude that you want social relations to constantly experiment with changes that have some healthy result. If we talk about the abolition of the State that also means abolishing specialists in social control; the task of determining the methods of making it clear to people that certain behaviour is unacceptable will be the task of the whole of the anti-hierarchical community. To ground this in the past and present: what punishments have we received or given that we considered changed a situation for the good? What punishments during intense moments of class struggle have changed situations for the good? What punishments are we prepared to mete out to those we consider beyond the pale? To anyone not clogged up with dominant perspectives, prison isn’t an answer to any of these. But if the Libconmen/women have anything to do with this possible society, it will mean an extension of their “libertarian” methods of dealing with ideas they find uncomfortable (i.e. the fog of censorship that pervades their site) to more consequential means of punishment – “self-managed” cops and screws. In all previous revolutions, many of the ‘radicals’ of the past became the politicians of the future. See Danny Cohn-Bendit: the seeds of his later officially accceptable power were already partly there in his desire to be a spokesman of a movement whose most radical aspects involved acting for yourself37. If you don’t take risks for yourself, then what can you do to speak up for (not the same as speaking for) others who do?
“Can you imagine telling a young person involved in the anti-cuts demos or the riots, someone beginning to develop a critique of the system, “here have a look at our magazine, we’ve also got a web site with forums and a library, we are anti-capitalists and anti-state, oh yeah one of our members works with the police but don’t worry about it everything’s ok, he’s really on our side”, who the fuck is going to take you seriously?”
– Dinosavros38(November 4th 2011)
One of the reasons Leninism is more widely seen as discredited, after the fall of East European state capitalism, is not because of the ideology of political organisation, but of the misery of the political parties aiming to take over the state. However, the use of confining debate and conflict to what is a priori defined by – in this case – libcom admin as “acceptable”, i.e. acceptable to a politics whose perspective is primarily for others, has something in common with Leninism. And if people are so imbued by the ideology of this society, even were there to be some kind of revolution with little significant transformation based on the interaction of the point of view of the masses of individuals, a self-managed version of this society would very likely be increasingly advocated, a more modern version of the statist version of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Though it would be impossible to be clear about what this would entail in any specific detail, one can imagine a bit by projecting current attitudes into a kind of democratic “Workers’ Councils” future. For example, we can see in the present (and some of the attitudes towards Aufhebengate express this) that there are plenty of “libertarians”/”anarchists” (whatever) who mostly merely follow and imitate, who want to be a part of a scene above all, who don’t want to develop their own intelligence, confidence and inititative, who often defer to the intellectuals they trust and thus, by sheer lazy lack of critical vigilance, succumb to the articulate experts, who could well have hidden agendas.
To see Lenin as outside his historical precedents is to conveniently see him as a fairly unique abberation and not a result of the weaknesses of the revolutionary movement before him, which is also reproduced today and in the last 30 years or more, amongst many anarchists, left communists, ultra-leftists, situs, etc.
Revolutionaries in the 1st International helped create the basis for the political monstrosity of Leninism when they, despite Marx’s “the emancipation of the working class is the task of the working class itself”, decided that the workers by themselves couldn’t destroy capitalism without leaders and without concentrated centres of class consciousness. Whilst a specifically international worker’s association was an original innovation for its time, with historical reflection, what is clear is that organising the organisation constantly interfered with the need to decide what to organise. Bureaucratic specialisation – secretary, treasurer, etc. – as an innate part of this “organisation building” was a practice which was in some ways imitative of the political organisations of the bourgeoisie in form at least, though obviously not in content. What is clear is that organising the organisation constantly interfered with the need to reflect and decide on what to organise; the desire to organise a collective image substituted for concentrating on this essential question – what activity is worth organising together. From then on, all those boring “Where we stand”s, “Minimum definitions of a revolutionary organisation”, etc., intended to propagandise a set of “correct” but fixed and ready-made criticisms and abstractly unite people around these unnuanced positions. However, one of their hidden aims was, and is, to protect the adhesion of the collectivity by narrowly setting out limits (in particular, purely “objective” criteria) to the permissable critiques of the individuals adhering to this collectivity. Here we can see the link between the 1st International and most of the subsequent experiments with revolutionary organisations. One of the main aims of the 1st International was to win over/seduce/entice/recruit the masses with openly reformist ideas separated from a critique of capitalism as a whole; only once inside the party would the workers learn the whole of the truth as revolutionaries saw it. Typical politics: a mediated and hierarchical view of revolution where political consciousness separates means and ends and hierarchically patronises “the workers”. Battles over the organisation between Marx and Bakunin (Marx easily being the greater manipulator) became battles over the possession of the revolutionary movement (which at that time was primarily considered in terms of those who explicitly considered themselves ‘revolutionaries’). But if neither of the two main traditions of the 1st International – marxism and anarchism – had concerned themselves with getting followers and alligning their different camps, then the essential questions of international solidarity, of international communication and other forms of self-organisation, could have been addressed without such political manoeuvres (a symptom of this nowadays manifests itself in the various milieus as a sneering contempt for anybody who’s not into the particular dogma of that scene, dismissing not just what is obviously narrow and reductionist in an opposing dogma, but also what partial truth it may contain, what makes it attractive to those hoping to oppose this world).
However, this is not just a question of a rivalrous attitude in attempting to influence others, but also the fact that the centre of this desire to influence was not based on firstly influencing themselves, undercutting their own complicity with alienation, with hierarchical power and the commodity form. In this upside down perspective, the idea is first of all to win othersto the cause. This manifests itself today and in Lenin’s time with a more crude politico mentality: ‘ordinary’ workers fight for themselves – for their own self-interest, but ‘revolutionaries’ are other-directed, caught up in political roles, fighting to gain adherents to their ideas. One can see this contradiction in one of the bits of propaganda by Solfed (which a majority of Libcom admin belong to) after the August riots, in which they condemned rioters for burning cars because it prevented people from going to work; at the same time, they’d put out posters, at the anarchist bookfair, celebrating May ’68 with burning cars on them39. Too much of anarcho organising involves amassing partisans who can spout the correct line, rather than developing their own autonomous initiatives, rather than organising activities directly without mediating them with an Organisation (obviously it’s more complex than that but that’s essentially the problem with ‘revolutionary organisations’ ). In Lenin’s case the ‘hierarchically correct line’ led to the State and to State capitalism and to Stalin’s brutal primitive capital accumulation. But, although the content of anarchists’ and other revolutionaries’ critique rightly condemns the monster created from that part of Marx’s inconsistent ideas which believed in the State as a neutral tool, they still have an other-directed role which thinks that they have already rebelled but now it’s up to others to revolt. Marx said “the educators must be educated”, a radical idea that led in the late 60s to “the revolutionaries must be revolutionised”. That’s still the problem today, and Lenin’s influence is in part to blame (but let’s not go overboard on this blaming: it’s first of all the other-directed political mentality that’s to blame).
As the Aufhebengate scandal unfolded, there were some who regretted the fact of what seemed like an internecine struggle, that “communists” have far more in common than they have significant differences. But whatever you call yourself is largely irrelevant: it’sin the practical struggle against our alienation, the world and our comportment in it, that we express our desires for a different world, and that can include those who do not call themselves communist/ anarchist/ libertarian/ situationist/ autonomist/ marxist or whatever as much as those who do. Those who are complacent, resigned and who unnecessarily reproduce hierarchical relations and strengthen contradictions within the margin of choice their lives have are supporters of this society whatever they call themselves. Such an attitude runs counter to the historical experience of the movement that has described itself as “communist”. On the most basic level, history – of above all the 20th century – is littered with examples of people who called themselves “communist”, “socialist” or “anarchist” which they weren’tin any way or degree. Labels tend to create an inner and outer definition of yourself that allies yourself with those who adopt the label, and oppose those who don’t, when the reality is that regardless of the label you adopt or avoid adopting, it’s on your acts and their consequences, on how you embody your ideas in practice (including what you say or write) – not on whether you in theory support or oppose this, that or the other.
“The site probably is more boring. It’s also a lot better as a political forum”.
– Fall Back (one of libcom admin) on the changes in Libcom Blog since Aufhebengate40.
“The question is not to abolish the split between politics and daily life; it’s necessary to criticise politics within daily life itself, where it started from, and only afterwards came to dominate daily life in the form of the State, the parties and all the various representations. …Thus , the critique of politicians and of politics shouldn’t limit itself to a crude anarchistic attack on “political men”: it only makes full sense in its application in daily life itself, to the politicians of daily life, just as it has already been applied to the politicians of organisation. The politics of and in daily life is the last possible expression of the State – i.e. daily life and its relations led in a way similar to the way in which the State or a commercial business (it comes to the same thing) are led. And it’s no threat to Capital if, at the moment that the old separated politics can no longer impose itself on people and make them carry on like sheep, it searches for a way to maintain itself – this time in the heart of daily life itself.
Thus, it’s necessary to stop understanding “revolutionary” politics as it wants to be understood, that is to say in the so-called struggle it proposes to lead against the dominant society, which is merely the external justification for the necessity of its existence: politics is less a relation between two opposing sides than above all a relation within each side.”
– Joel Cornualt, Pour le passage de la decomposition a des constructions nouvelles, 1978.
The Libheben scandal in one sense marks the unconscious acceptance within the ‘libertarian communist milieu’ of the idea that you can fight alienation with alienated means. In an epoch in which old-style Leninism is utterly discredited, the new forms of representation of the communist project stand against proletarian subjectivity in the form of recuperators of this subjectivity. They talk of people fighting and speaking for themselves but only to keep up appearances. They talk of “the critique of daily life” as just a correct line, an ideology opposed to other ideologies.Their diffuse hierarchical mentality is a subtler form of the more obviously outmoded rigidity of old style manipulative political rackets . From little acorns of petty manipulative politics, mighty oaks of counter-revolutionary machinations grow.
There were some who hoped that Libcom would reflect a bit on their opportunism, subvert it openly and practically and move on. Somehow we doubt it. For one thing, it would require one or two of those who are either part of admin or close to it to break ranks and take the risk of integrity, to break with their indifference. To take some individual inititative seems scary, particularly considering the flak you get. So the status quo continues, driven by the boring momentum of habit. Continued participation on Libcom until there’s a significant confrontation with what they’ve chosen to repress is a lazy compromise too far. In the past one could genuinely feel that participation on the widely-read Libcom Blog, however eclectic its perspectives, was a way of publicising critiques that would otherwise get little airing (I even came top of the Libcom Blog parade for 2010 for a couple of articles on the social movements in France in the autumn). And Libcom undoubtedly have an excellent library. But an excellent library isn’t much of a reason to comply with their fundamentally flawed flounderings. Continued participation would be a bit like writing in The Sun: collaboration with collaborators undermines what one has to say – the medium becomes the message, and implies support for libcom admin’s hopelessly self-contradictory politics. In strikes, riots, occupations “eclecticism” is inevitable – you partly get on with people because you have to for the fight to advance – and, as long as the momentum of the situation is maintained, that’s a fine thing – differences are aired and have both a positive and negative aspect. But when it’s clear that some people just want to “speak radical” , to maintain an image of “rebellion” and avoid practical conclusions, ending up supporting what they’d claimed to oppose, then tolerance either reaches breaking point or ends up suffocating everything by changing “critique” into some abstract game.
In Thesis 101 of Debord’s Society of the Spectacle, he quotes – “ ‘In all previous revolutions,’ wrote Rosa Luxemburg in Die Rote Fahne of 21st December 1918, ‘the combatants faced each other openly and directly ― class against class, program against program. In the present revolution, the troops protecting the old order are not fighting under the insignia of the ruling class, but under the banner of a ‘social-democratic party.’ If the central question of revolution was posed openly and honestly ― Capitalism or socialism? ― the great mass of the proletariat would today have no doubts or hesitations.’ Thus, a few days before its destruction, the radical current of the German proletariat discovered the secret of the new conditions engendered by the whole process that had gone before (a development to which the representation of the working class had greatly contributed): the spectacular organization of the ruling order’s defense, the social reign of appearances where no “central question” can any longer be posed “openly and honestly.” The revolutionary representation of the proletariat had at this stage become both the primary cause and the central result of the general falsification of society.”
In this epoch, where those who contest this society no longer have any pretensions to wanting, or illusions in, a political party, it would seem that this particular lesson from history has been, for the most part, learnt by those fighting this society – most of whom recognise there’s no externally organised hope that could save them. Nevertheless, milieus, scenes, cliques have substituted for political parties, which have generally been more about providing a social network than merely the simplistic way of getting some ready-made meaning and superficial connection with history that political parties provide. In this, the revolutionary role – the representation of being on the side of the proletariat whilst not beginning with opposing your own complicity with this society – is still rife. Obviously the direct consequences of JD’s representation of proletarian critique is not of the same immediate magnitude as the killing of a Rosa Luxemburg or a Karl Liebkecht of our epoch, at least not for now; but the uses of such crowd psychology is being shown in Oakland, Wisconsin, London, Paris and elsewhere, where the cops sometimes use the strategy advocated by Drury, Stott and Reicher. In this epoch the defeat of a global social movement (in which ideology and its practical applications – both from the State and the ruling society and within the revolutionary camp itself – play a significant part) means rooting out Drury and co.’s little contribution towards such a defeat and its horrific consequences. Combining peace police and war police, openly supported and advocated by these scum, within the social movements developing, have already helped arrest loads of people.
FRAYED THREADS OF FRIENDSHIP
“Opposition is true friendship” – William Blake
Many of those who supported JD, from Aufheben to Libcom and beyond, did so because he was their friend. Yet, in the complex dialectic of subjective choice and objectively determined circumstances, it is as essential to unravel the contradictions of friendship as all the other aspects of life. History is not simply an external force we have to intervene in. Friendship, the area of life most dominated by individual choice, is also affected by history, by the ebb and flow of class struggle.
Just as we cannot understand the world unless we try to change it, so we cannot seriously understand our friendships unless we try to transform them. Clarity begins at home.
In many ways the dominant relationships of this society continue in part because of varying degrees of the complex web of toleration for what is termed “friendship”. This society is maintained as much by the repressions involved in traditional friendship as it is by political identification or identification with the Nation, particularly as friendship functions at a far more personal, less objectively defined, level than nationalist or traditional politically organised substitutes for genuine community. Equally, opposition to this world will never develop unless friendship becomes inseparable from solidarity. Anti-politics and affection must combine. Solidarity begins at home.
There are two sides to this separation. It’s clear, for instance, that in many anarchist or ultra-leftist organisations daily life is reduced to something you get down to after the meeting is over. Such political organisations inevitably develop a functionalising of people as mere members and the members gladly take on this role. For most, the separation of means and ends and the rivalrous/complicitous mentality is pursued spontaneously with a “what else can you do?” shrug. Shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a Berlin ultra-leftist, after asking if we were there to have a drink and a chat or if we were there to discuss politics, admitted, after a couple of pints, that he felt that sometimes being into politics was like being a businessman. But over twenty years of counter-revolution later, the dominant separation of intellect from the emotions, analysis and critique from the positive and negative poles of feeling (love, friendship, respect and affection; hate, anger, contempt and disgust) are not even conceived as a problematic terrain of struggle for most of the ultra-left 41
The other side of this separation, though is traditional friendship. Traditional friendship bases itself on the ideology of “friendship above politics”. Insofar as this is a refusal of the racket mentality that pits political gang against political gang, this has all the appearance of being an improvement. Traditional friendships generally are less pretentious than political relationships. They involve a minimum of generosity, mutual concern in adversity, and a desire to enjoy each other’s company as far as possible. But some of their limitations are a lack of critique of anything outside the immediate and often a sentimental attitude based on what you had in common in the past, but less and less in the present. What’s more, often this “friendship” is as subject to the gang mentality as politics is. Often it’s a question of one friendship network against another, and of the habitual avoidance of questioning significant contradictions amongst one’s friends, particularly when this friendship avoids expressing itself in acts of solidarity with those struggling to confront concrete expressions of complicity with this society.
In reality, of course, these “two sides” often overlap in some way – but for the purposes of trying to unravel different elements of these “types” of friendship, it has been necessary to look at them as two distinct “forms”.
In uprisings people go beyond their particular scenes, break up with some of the people from before, meet and connect to individuals and groups from different scenes and a new fluid world opens up. Then, after the retreat or successful repression of an uprising, the old relationships, from couple to political organisation, can seem insufferable and artificial, their separations and obvious narrowness all too cardboard. So some then either try to supersede these habitual relationships by critique and experiment insofar as these are possible. Or they fall into the depression and/or boredom and/or narrowly easy pleasure-seeking that comes from the sense of defeat and betrayal, arising from experiencing the open air of freedom and being shoved back between the grey walls of old habits and a life going nowhere.
“.. all the good times that I’ve wasted having good times” – The Animals42
The need to have “a good time” defined within the acceptable limits of resigned forms of hedonism is as subject to history as anything else. As a friend from the USA wrote recently, “Oakland seems to be in sort of a rough state right now. I encountered a few of my friends being a little bit more into drugs and partying than I felt comfortable with, which was hard to see. I think things are collapsing a bit there, maybe now that there isn’t as much conflict in the streets people are looking for that buzz elsewhere…”. Struggle unrenewed tends towards this kind of desperate pleasure, which is never pleasurable enough.
In this opening scene of the old 1960 movie, “Saturday night and Sunday morning”43the main character, played by Albert Finney, says as the week’s final work shift comes to an end before the weekend: “I’d like to see anybody grind me down – that’d be the day. What I’m out for is a good time. All the rest is propaganda.” Nowadays people are ground down far worse than during the 60s, and one of the reasons people avoid arguing about significant social matters, particularly those that lie closest to home, is that they’re just out to have a good time after the stresses of work and other externally-imposed miseries. It’s not just propaganda they reject, but also critique, which they consider a cold distraction from having a good time. But critical ideas one has developed oneself through trial and error, through struggle and reflection on struggles, in fact can only develop partly by opposing the manipulations of propaganda (whether obviously capitalist or, apparently, anti-capitalist) but also by opposing significant forms of complicity with this society. At the same time, the rejection of propaganda (whether in the form of the dominant dogmas coming from the commodity economy, ‘oppositional’ ideology which reforms this or just simply malicious gossip) obviously recognises that the rejection of critique is not the way to reject manipulation, and insures that these conventional “good times” get worse and worse, increasingly frustrated by social constraints the more they are not the result of opposing such restraints. Everyone wants an easy life, but finding it is not at all easy. Consequently these “good times” involve an increasingly desperate attempt to immerse onself in the immediate without critical distance, an immediate of ever more devastating drugs, drink, culture (popular or “sophisticated”) and other religions. Though the desire for life which asserts itself in practical-critical activity is a source of joy, often fun, absorbing, meaningful, exhilirating and funny, it is also necessary to launch battles which are not always the cause, or even the aim, of the immediate pleasures that far too many people seek to consume. Nowadays, almost anybody who tries to argue over significant contradictions is regarded as a killjoy, and certainly someone who takes themselves far too seriously. It is not that people are necessarily against having a good argument, but they only look for arguments that remain at the most “objective” level, abstracted from any particular contradiction of the person one is having an argument with, and particularly one that requires absolutely no practical decision on the part of the arguers whatsoever. Anybody who stirs up emotional and personal tension in an argument, particularly when some kind of action is shown to be vital, is regarded as a pain-in-the-arse, and not invited to the next dinner party.
“Having feelings of affection in regard to other people is not contradictory in itself with maintaining an individual point of view – true affection can only exist where there is individual affirmation, except when these feelings serve as justification for a person to abandon their point of view. I define affective relations as those relations justified by “affection”, which can only maintain themselves on the basis of repression.
Pseudo–affection, which serves as justification for self-betrayal, must itself be justified – to give a coherent appearance to this very betrayal – with objective qualities, be they real or imaginary, encountered in the people who are the objects of pseudo-affection. But in so doing, the affective individual reveals that they aspire to be loved for their “objective” intrinsic qualities, even though they do not know how to put them to use for themselves – and thus these qualities do not exist – any more than they know how to recognise, through practice, the qualities of their friends. Having…renounced critique, they demand that others reciprocate, that they leave them alone, that they accept them as they are. What is to be found here is…the old mystico-bourgeois conception of the “interior richness of the human being, always there to be discovered”, which would have it that a person is something other than what they actually do.”
Nadine Bloch, ‘All Things Considered, 1976’.
From the late 1970s onwards we have seen the development of enormous amounts of proletarians who thankfully no longer play any arrogant, verbose or rigid rôle. Unfortunately they also don’t put themselves in any serious opposition to this society or to the powers-that-be, particularly when ideological pro-state or pro-market comportment expresses itself in their own friendships. Here we see the development of the “anti-role” amongst individuals which, whilst often paying lip-service to “anti-capitalist” verbiage, says or does nothing that might upset the equilibrium of their conservative social relationships. Humility has replaced arrogance. If the false self-importance of the “arrogant” comes from the illusion of being significant despite the paucity of the social effect of their ideas, as well as their inability to empathise, the excessively “humble” regard their point of view as being so insignificant they’ve decided that expressing and arming it is being over-serious, too self-important and pretentious.
In a meaningless world, to struggle for a rational passionate society is considered as having an unrealisticly inordinate sense of purpose. Whilst the still-present hangovers of post-modernism continue to try to valorise present meaninglessness as realisticaly unideological, such flaccid resignation is becoming all-too obviously complicitous with the intensifying horrors of an intensifying crisis-ridden class society. Yet, despite the obvious, the feeling that nothing can be done becomes an excuse for not even taking the first step. After all, it’s just one measly step and not worth the bother. Here “critique” of the obvious limits of “first steps” is not intended to lead to any personal proof of something better, but just as an articulate excuse to not do anything even as good. The negative petrified into negativism. The demoralised always have to sneeringly reduce those trying to do something to their own demoralised level because they cannot stand anything that reminds them of their own inertia and need to pretend that everyone else is the same. Here humility and arrogance combine in an aggressive display of impotence. What the humble arrogantly demand is to become as inconsequential as they are. And it is you that gets accused of arrogance for changing, however minimally, a situation that they have stubbornly resisted changing. “Failure to transform oneself and to transform society is jabbered away in the public expression of a powerless consciousness. This is everywhere acclaimed, acknowledged as the mark of sophistication …Beyond the aestheticized folderol, the choice is simple: you either submit to your “fate” or undercut in practice the objective bases of your own participation in what makes you a perennial loser. “ – Chris Shutes, “Two Local Chapters In The Spectacle of Decomposition”44.
Over 20 years of serious counter-revolution have fretted and frayed the fragile threads of friendship, and inseparably the fragile sense of self, in such a way that people tend more and more to desperately latch onto any “community” just to feel they exist.
In the UK, this repressed subjectivity has been compounded enormously since the early 1990s when one could say that the last national crisis of class society (the poll tax riots) hit the streets, only to have such crises assuming an increasingly marginal aspect up until the attack on Millbank in 0ctober 2010. This profound weakening of individuals’ ability to contest this society brought about by the counter-revolution has infected “revolutionaries” as much as anybody else, surprise surprise. A kind of indifferent relativism reigns, an eclecticism in which all conflicting perspectives are reduced to a post-modernist equivalence. Anyone who considers something as vital, is thought of as getting on their moral highhorse and clearly compensating for some other misery.
Certain geographical areas in which isolation is particularly acute, particularly those where there is very little community of struggle, contribute towards this “any friendship is better than taking a calculated risk with friendships”. Whilst boasting about the sexual “conquests” one has notched up is considered a little shabby, sad and definitely archaic, this is not the case with friends. Hence all those Facebook pages with a large list of friends you try to impress the world with how much you’re liked (often, particularly with teenagers, this includes people you’ve only met once whilst drunk at a party). To hide our isolation we have to make a show of these numbers: not only does quantity takes precedent over quality, but the show of friendship hides its superficiality, the avoidance of trying to go beyond its limits.
In the UK I know people who are friendly with an ex-Class War guy who, publicly on the internet, advocates, using a semi-anarchist self-management ideology, an entirely nationalist attitude towards immigration control because that’s what the (UK) working class wants (this at a time when various pseudo-anti-capitalist nationalist “solutions” to the crisis could lead to some form of fascism). He is tolerated because he’s a “nice guy”, a justification which ignores the very nasty politics he advocates (in fact, over a hundred years ago, Irish immigration to the UK was also opposed, in a racist manner, because of its undercutting of English workers’ wages – Keir Hardie was one of the more public advocates of this nationalist perspective).
But this is not at all confined to the UK. An absurd example of this pushed to extremes is a story I recently heard of Australian anarchists who, when it was discovered that one of them was an undercover cop, declared “But he’s a nice guy”. As if this hadn’t caused these anarchists to have a crisis over their notion of what “nice” meant. Judgement on the very superficial considerations of someone’s personality and image, the criteria by which increasing millions of proletarians are accepted or rejected for many different types of wage labour, is increasingly applied to personal relations as well. But the shallowness of such criteria are rarely tested, because, if challenged in any significant way helpful to subverting the nasty world we live in, one can find behind many a nice persona a very unpleasant attitude, utterly complicit with the viciousness of capital (and not just amongst undercover cops). Such superficial judgement is a mark of how enormously weakened the working class has become.
Ignoring (in any practical sense) someone’s sick behaviour because they are “nice” is often a reflection of one’s desire to be accepted and liked for your own resigned self as long as you put on a smile. In a fundamentally schizoid world, this toleration and desire to be tolerated for ones’ resigned self is bought at the cost of a fundamental self-betrayal. People have become so neurotically unconfident about asserting themselves and upsetting people that they almost sound like those teenagers of the last 20 years or more who make every sentence, even the least controversial, sound like some tentative question for fear of sounding too strident. The desire for popularity, the tendency towards a need to be liked above all other considerations, expresses a deep-seated terror of recognising the reality of separations and even more so of trying to overcome them. In a world of strangers, those who strive to take off the socially acceptable masks are considered strange. In the UK more than anywhere….As people’s lives have become increasingly precarious, so their sense of self has also become increasingly precarious. And avoiding confronting the material base of this fragility also involves avoiding trying to subvert frustrations in friendships, and avoiding activity which could overcome such frustrations. This intensified fragility means that everytime a significant contradiction arises in friendships, instead of making an irreversible demand on the friend to not continue doing what’s seriously pissing you off in their repetitive behaviour or proposing a project that could challenge the contradiction, a compromised avoidance of a break with the past is reached and the tension is repressed until the same old contradiction surfaces again and the whole tension is repeated. Or else a break happens without explanation and so the social consequences for such a friendship network is also avoided. These vicious circles must be broken (and some of these circles of friends can be very vicious).
The contradictions of traditional friendships accumulated over these past 20 years or so of counter-revolution niggle like a disconcerting dream on the brains and bodies of living relationships. In the previous epoch of restless sleep into which proletarians have settled, the sentimental attitude in friendships based in the past and in habit, even those born out of struggle, have become, for many, reduced to the minimum give and take without much exigency at all, other than a vaguely oppositional verbiage. But in the current epoch, where clearly a brutal future awaits us, the traditions of “any friendship is better than none” function as a brake on the need to advance a desperately felt opposition to the accelerating runaway train of the rulers’ economy. We must demand more than this bare minimum if friendship is to mean solidarity. And strive to clarify what such solidarity concretely means.
In this unexperimental retreat, there are many who have adopted a spectacle of opposition as complacent as all the other pseudo-communities. “Polite society”, based on not speaking your mind, has so invaded daily life that even those claiming to oppose it avoid the slightest awkwardness of significant critique, let alone consequential critique. In fact, those who apparently oppose this society actually often seem more afflicted by the self-satisfaction constantly generated by it than those who haven’t developed the smokescreen of “critique”. Their identity as rebels lets them believe that purely by holding this identity are they actually doing something to undermine their complicity with this society. That by consuming &/or adopting and mouthing a set of beliefs and routines they can feel safe within the category “rebel”/”communist”/anarchist/Marxist/whateverist. There are some who are clearly intellectually (but not practically) adept at bringing new light onto the more objective aspects of the new forms of alienation, but remain merely theoretically innovative, a bit like the Frankfurt school in its time, even if a more proletarian class conscious version. But they have forgotten those past moments when they expressed genuine dissatisfaction directly, made a decision that challenged their equilibrium and that of dominant social relations a little, took some angry initiative, used their insights consequentially, and demanded the support and encouragement of their friends. Here, a community of “intellectual” critique proves itself to be as tenuous a link between individuals as that between individuals in “communities” based on taste and hobbies, yet even more self–contradictory since it claims to be confronting social misery. The counter-revolution has meant a repressed reversion to traditional “friendship”. And when there are split loyalties, usually those in the middle choose to avoid the discomfort of either taking sides or of ”making sides” by openly stating their differences with both sides, for fear of a consequence they feel they can’t control. That is, they remain to all intents and purposes, passive and silent, only having the intent and purpose of sitting on the fence, staying ‘friends’ with everybody and dismissive of any attempt to persuade them to make a stand as pushy and “alienating”. Friendship discovered by making some stand and joining others who do so has been forgotten, and yet in this epoch, with so much at stake, it is this, this elemental solidarity, that will have to become the norm if the struggle to defeat the terrors to come has any chance of making progress.
It is in this accepted atmosphere of merely going through the motions of contestation that making our disgust for Aufheben and its defenders public had to be obstructed, resisted and opposed with endless bullshit obstacles, even by some of those who also felt disgust. To make this public (essential if you were serious about making sure that this kind of recuperative rip-off never happens again and that people on demonstrations could make an informed decision about whether they wanted to have a crowd psychologist next to them) challenged everyone’s “Let’s not look at our own indifference and cowardice, politics as normal” mentality. And in the UK this routine “community” just wants to get on; ok, some political ganging up, siding with this clique or organisation against another, or against some individual, but nothing more than sectarian political bickering, or psychologistic criticism, and often private and inconsequential. Everyone in this scene is connected to everyone else, if only by the friendship network. So being public about such contradictions had to be resisted not just with lies but also fake humanist concern. For these people, all those thousands directly affected by the ideological application of the crowd psychology team’s divide and rule tactics were just abstract people “out there”; what mattered were the people or individual (JD) they personally knew.
In the 70s amongst some sections of what at that time was some kind of revolutionary milieu, when people had a conflict with friends that also became something significant for the other people who knew them, this conflict was made public to the people concerned (in fact, to a certain extent, this is still the case with some people, though hardly at all in the UK). Curiosity about immediate concrete problems were partly the basis for developing a wider social curiosity. Nowadays, there’s an attitude that “my conflict is my conflict, your conflicts are your conflicts and it’s entirely our own separate business”; yet, though certainly this is not to suggest people take sides necessarily (they could equally take a 3rd or whatever position, in other words, to make sides), it seems that significant arguments are also indicative of wider contradictions and it’s part of the retreat into abstraction, into individualism and into a separate ideological notion of “autonomy” that what is in fact social has become separately, privately “individual”.
While modern capitalism manufactures en masse the need for consoling illusion, above all the need for the illusion of community, those who identify with, and try to contribute to, an opposition to capitalism rightly recognise themselves in a genuine community of strugglewith all its various contradictions. However, the shattering of marginal areas of life partly free from and resistant to the economy has made more and more shattered individuals identify with a gang, a milieu, a clique, a political organisation or a commune as their safe illusion of community, their often fantasy, sometimes genuine, protection from the cold winds of capital. For many of those who hope to contribute to the class war, instead of organising particular activities as part of their mediation between them and history, they identify with a particular scene or organisation, which mediates their relation to the global community of struggle. This replaces the traditional family with an alternative one. But as with traditional families, familiarity breeds a mix of contempt and respect (respect for a person’s acts, not simply blindly hierarchical, mixed with the contempt that comes from people not being honest or assertive). Everyone with any healthy instinct develops networks of friendship that involve more respect than contempt, and so give some kind of stability in an unstable world. But unless such friendships develop a constant self-questioning as well as affection, and a questioning that leads to activity and decisions, they become increasingly a spiral downwards of more contempt than respect. As petrified as the traditional hierarchical family they hope is a thing of the past. Loyalty to these habitual friendships overrides loyalty to the desire to liberate oneself, inseparable from the desire to contribute to the liberation of humanity. Some of these friendship scenes develop a kind of corporatism, in which loyalty involves the underlying threat: if you dare step out of line, we will gang up against you, and humiliate you, and you will be sacked/ostracised. Loyalty is a fine thing, a basic expression of solidarity. But when it expresses itself as loyalty to ‘friends’ who have clearly manifested a betrayal of perspectives that have formed a basic part of the friendship, it becomes a form of masochism, the kind of self betrayal that niggles and wears you down for the rest of your life unless you express yourself in such a way that breaks with such a submissive loyalty. Which is not to say that there are any quick solutions to this split loyalty conflict.
The gang mentality most often manifests itself in the way people change friends with the wind: if the family/clique oppose the person where once they liked them, then the individual has to choose between having some integrity of independence whilst feeling their way around a complex situation or silently going along with the most articulate view of the people in their scene. Affection is abandoned too quickly, too easy to be genuine. It takes time, tears, questions, patience…before ones patience runs out.
The enormous intensification of the individualist mentality brought about by the repression and marginalisation of communities of struggle over the last 20 years or more, has, seemingly paradoxically, also had the effect of reinforcing all the “collectivities” (from the nation to the traditional couple, from the clique to NGOs) which seem like some exit from bourgeois individualism. But as the proletariat starts to resurface and once again strives to seize the stage of history, the false conflict between individualism and collectivism also seems to intensify and functions as an even more complex force repressing the struggle for a community of mutual recognition. In this context, Aufhebengate revealed the “loyal” attachments of those collectivists who supported Aufheben – a kind of blind faith in their friends (like faith in God or the State, it was not tested by open practical questioning). At the same time, it revealed the indifferent individualism of those who kept quiet about their misgivings, those who considered such a contradiction to be a private individual affair, and maintained their (largely secret) critiques of Aufheben without considering any public decision had to be made. In both cases (collectivist self-repression, and individualist self-repression) the desire to avoid any progress or upset was necessary to maintain a fixed notion of an incontestable reality.
In mid-October 2011 ocelot, a regular contributor to Libcom, wrote about Aufhebengate: “The underlying issue here is the tendency of people who elaborate sophisticated politics in “peacetime” – i.e. in conditions free from any stress – to revert to unthinking or opportunistic politics at the first sight of trouble. Given that politics effectively only really matters in whether people make the right decisions or the wrong decisions in the most desperate situations, only “politics under fire” is real politics. In this case, under the relatively minor stress of a perceived online threat to a friend and comrade, people involved in Aufheben and Libcom both, apparently, have come out with some completely untenable politics in their somewhat panicked efforts at defence. If you can’t even hold a proper political line under relatively minor stress, what chance have you got when people really are being killed or jailed forever? Worse still, experience teaches that some people are so lame that rather than admit that some of the things they said under stress, were a mistake and/or politically absurd, they then spend the rest of their days trying to rearrange their political frameworks to retrospectively justify hastily adopted opportunistic positions, forced on them by the contingencies of the moment .”
On the eve of possibly the world’s gravest crisis ever (both economic and ecological, and possibly eventually military) one wonders how those who haven’t the will, nerve or strength to confront an individual helping the state within their midst, or confront those making excuses for him, dare have the pretension to believe they could significantly contribute to subverting the power of the state when it attacks them as an external and far more powerful force.
Poll tax riot 1990, London, Trafalgar Square
Stanley cup riot, Vancouver , 2011
“True friends stab you in the front” – Oscar Wilde
There will doubtless be people who will object to this or that as being too superficial, not being fairly balanced or “objective”.
But I have written this from the simple perspective:
“if the shoe fits – wear it.”
(and point it in the right direction)
LOOSE ENDS: SOME EXTRA BITS AND PIECES
The following reflections, some of which are fairly trivial and obscure, are much more directly related to Aufhebengate than the four previous sections.
Going About It All Wrong
Some of the criticism of us has been that we did the right thing in some way, yet we should have gone about it differently – complaints by people who did nothing and had nothing better to suggest other than silence and permanent hesitation. Doing anything against an obvious enemy is better than staring petrified into the headlights. Those who never make mistakes never make anything. Going round and round in ever-diminishing circles asking “What should we do?” becomes an abstract avoidance of never once moving towards doing anything.
About the only concrete suggestion was that we should have spoken to JD himself. A bit like going to the police to complain about the police. Anyway, considering the fact that he has denied any “wrongdoing” the decision not to talk to him would have had the same result. Those who constantly repeat this ideas of a “correct” way of doing what should have been done have done nothing against the guy, and so merely use this as an excuse for not doing anything better.
One person45 compared our apparent “shoot first, ask questions later” approach to how they (a group in the States) dealt with the presence of a suspected cop informer in their midst. Given the manipulative policies of COINTELPRO (well-known for manipulating killings through disinformation – e.g. by claiming someone was a cop informer when he or she wasn’t) they took their time, asked loads of people about him and eventually confronted him and discovered the truth of their suspicions (though, quite honestly, they seem to have been rather weakly over-concerned about being nice to him even when they were absolutely sure he was a cop informant, even to the point of telling him from afar rather than face-to-face, thus – as far as one can tell – ensuring he was never confronted directly). But the two situations were not at all comparable. Everything JD had put his name to and not publicly rejected – from 1998 onwards – was online. He wasn’t hiding anything but clearly felt ok about it. The question of State cop manipulation had nothing to do with it. There was no chance of him being killed because we’d outed him if somehow we hadn’t got our facts right. The contradiction was, despite being ok not to hide it, he also didn’t want us to publicise it to “the revolutionary milieu”. His closest friends knew we were onto him, but did nothing to try to communicate with us until the cat was almost out of the bag, and then got into a panic to try to do anything to keep his counter-revolutionary function secret from the movement he pretended to be a part of. Nowhere could they explain how a face-to-face encounter with the guy would have had a different result. They assumed that because he had won over their hearts he would do the same for us. After all, he was “a nice guy”. And in the upside down spectacle of pseudo-opposition, we were “the bad guys”. As for the sin of naming names – Joseph Kay gave his name in a previous libcom article. And the aforementioned “Annual Review of Critical Psychology” links his University work with Aufheben. But though, sadly, it was not at all on the cards, why should we have cared if he’d lost his shabby cop consultant job, any more than we would cry crocodile tears if a cop gets hospitalised by a rioter’s brick? The spectacle of humanism defends the inhumanity of this society and gets outraged by those who, without qualification, express their rage against the collaborators of this fundamentally outrageous world.
Outing their collaboration had to be put down as a “witch hunt”, almost as if what we were doing was a hierarchical manipulation comparable with McCarthyism or Salem. Or a “show trial” as if we were Stalin.
”When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’
‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’
‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.”
– Lewis Carroll, “Through the Looking Glass.”
In the reflected looking-glass image of this world, everything is the wrong way round, words being part of this process of inverting reality. Instead of “witch-hunts” being something the State or other hierarchies use against those lower in the hierarchy, the expression is adopted from the masters and used unthinkingly to caricature an expression of anger by those low in the hierarchy against someone higher – against a cop collaborator, a provider of practical ideas, image consultancy and ideological legitimation for the State’s guard dogs.
“Language is the house of power, the refuge of its police violence…The discourse of power establishes itself at the heart of all communication, becoming the necessary mediation between self and self. It is thus able to lay its hands on contestation diverting it onto its own terrain, infiltrating it and controlling it from within….The decline of radical thought considerably increases the power of words, the words of power” – Mustapha Khayati, “Captive Words”, Internationale Situationniste, 1966.
The “witch-hunt” accusation was an abstraction to be thrown out there to make the accusers look good, and to make us who wanted to publicise this look bad and coldly inhuman, a humanist argument to give themselves an image of how human they were whilst covering up the truly inhuman.
Most people most of the time use words arbitrarily, and so use them to hide the truth more often than to reveal it, to resist the practical truth rather than to develop it. Habitually used cliches (e.g. “witch-hunt”) get thrown out without any reflection on their historical associations nor of what’s going on here in this precise situation: a whole scene of mutual collaboration and evasion gets outed so we, the outers, get classified with the term “witch-hunt” to imply our opposition is just in-fighting, a personal vendetta motivated by moralist purism, oblivious of the moralist pseudo-humanism of their own witch-hunt accusation. It’s not for nothing that the obviously liberal collaborator and cohort of JD, Clifford Stott recently said, in response to criticism from Brighton protestors46, “Anyone who reads the catalogue of material I have published over my career and has any awareness of the progressive reforms in policing I have achieved as a consequence will be aware of that – but hey don’t let evidence get in the way of a good witch hunt.” (Facebook September 5th 2012).
Those who used a critique of dominant moralism against our disgust, slandering us as the “moralists”, have also got everything the wrong way round. Besides, in a sense, there’s always been a “moral” side in the class war, but formed by our experience and our choices, by history both personal and “historical”. If there wasn’t this side, why would anyone feel disgust for cops’ behaviour, for instance? Emotional responses are not enough, because they don’t, for example, get to the root of their function. But trying to understand and express emotions as part of a situation should never be dismissed as “a self-righteous moral crusade”. Anger and disgust should never be repressed with a detached “theory” adapted to the market nihilism of the post-Thatcher epoch. The problem with dominant moralism is its hypocrisy, its blindness to financial or other externally imposed pressures, its self-contradiction (at one and the same time the mostly jaded cynic who slagged me off for this “self-righteous moral crusade” defended his opposition to the publicising of JD with the moral argument that he “has a family”).
But a kind of “moral” (for want of a better word) judgement is necessary when one judges individuals on how they affect class society, and on the class line they either cross or refuse to cross. Sure, we’re fortunately a long way off from the pretentious post-68 pro-situ moralism involving everything from condemning someone who sold their labour as being a “sell-out” to criticising those who closed their bedroom doors when they made love, to refusing to talk to people who talked to leftists, or even despising women who decided to have kids. This wasn’t just part of the standard ganging up mentality which reduced the critique of daily life to a self-defeating battle of egos: it reinforced such a hierarchy with an “I’m more radical than you” attitude which could only reinforce separations with ideologies of “coherence”. But the opposite, in which those who try to act against obvious class collaboration are accused of moralism and whose disgust is psychologised as a compensation for more fundamental miseries or portrayed as simply a desire to stir things up for its own scandalous sake, is indicative of how flabby Thatcher’s children have become, even those claiming to want to reverse this counter-revolution.
Sometimes this pseudo-critique of “moralism” sounds a bit like those therapy sessions for rich guys, who are assured by modern pop psychologists that there’s nothing wrong with their accumulation of loads of money, that they must repress those terrible guilty feelings. But just as guilt, however useless it is as mere feeling, is a niggling doubt indicative of an honest self-questioning, an awareness of the fact that you are partly responsible for a social situation that you’re contributing to making worse, so choosing to be or not to be a crowd psychologist is also a question of conscience. In French, the word “conscience” means both consciousness and conscience, there’s no separate word: class consciousness is also class conscience.
Just as riotous opposition to the nation you live in, even as you’re in it, is caricatured by the dominant spectacle as “hate–filled mobs” and psychologised away as the fault of absent fathers, so any angry confrontation with the contradictions of this milieu, even as you find yourself part of it, is dismissed as “obsessive”, an evasion of more important matters or whatever acceptable stereotypical avoidance any particular scene or individual adopts. Obsessions are not something you should repress: they have to be realised as well as suppressed, to be superseded. You have to get into them to get out of them. If you don’t go into all the ins and outs of a situation, you skim the surface, repeat standard unthought out and unearned “correct lines” about it, avoid looking at your own complicity with a stupid situation and yet the obsession still niggles or gets to you some other way. “One situation well comprehended and followed out in its consequences is more important than a thousand mundane situations, no matter how passionate or intense these latter might be”, Cronin and Shutes, 1975.
Indifference and obsession are social relations and cannot be understood except in the truth and falsehoods in each others’ opposition: indifference incites obsession, just as obsession can induce indifference. The unstoppable force of obsession meets the impregnable wall of indifference. What is “boredom”? It seems like something that just happens or, at best, the inevitable result of a society forcing people to submit to irrational externally directed repression. But it is also a subjective force, involving a margin of choosing to repress anger against the objective forces of repression, choosing to repress desire, interest, the passions that inevitably cannot be acceptable to a society based on repression and the mere representation of these qualities. Indifference is so often an excuse for, and a symptom of, timidity, avoding a situation that provokes anxiety, suppressing questions to maintain an illusion of togetherness.
In this case, some went so far as to claim boredom about such an academic irrelevance as Aufheben, yet continued to maintain connections with those utterly complicit in the JD cover-up. And in this indifferent swamp, the tendency is for everything to sink into irrelevance. Indifference is the first victory of the state and of this society. People might talk of capital being above all a question of social relations, but their own chosen social relations seem to be the last thing they choose to test a little. The only decision made is to make private in-jokes against anyone who tries to shake things up a bit. Or to complain that this desire to shake up things is inordinately oppressive. Inevitably, if one chooses to avoid doing something about a situation that one can do something about, anyone who does do something about it is considered ”heavy”, “bossy” or dismissed in some other off-hand way (a bit like the way people moan when there’s a strike that inconveniences them).
Anyway, let’s just reiterate the process of what happened:
Late January 2011 the TPTG contacted me (I live in France) and 4 others in London about the links to JD’s various online stuff. I was in favour of going public after contacting the others in Aufheben. Others also wanted to contact them, and one of us who knew them contacted a woman from Aufheben who said, “I had no idea that Johnny’s research had gone that far”. She was asked to provide a personal email address, which the common friend knew, but rightly wanted her approval before giving it out. But she finally said that anyone who wanted to should contact the email address for Aufheben; but since in the past the tptg had always got JD answering their emails, it seemed a pointless thing to do. I was hesitant and though finally against contact, I was at one time in favour of contacting JD in some other way but, living in France, I asked the 4 people in London how this could be done, and got essentially no response for various reasons, and in fact some of the discouraging resistance to publicising it involved a considerable degree of emotional upset. There was a long delay in which no successful contact was made and nothing moved on this affair until July, when I knew I could meet the tptg in just over a week in France, so set to writing a first draft, finished on 8/8/11. This was given to the tptg, another Greek and 2 former members of Aufheben, plus one or two others; 8 or 9 copies in all, clearly marked: “This is an uncompleted draft document intended for discussion. It is certainly not intended to be the final published version, which will be published online on ‘libcom blog’ later this month.”
A few days later I got an email from a woman I knew in London who was a friend of Johnny and all the rest, who told me not to be a jerk, not to publicise this, as this would ruin the Aufheben project and besides Johnny’s a nice guy who naively allowed his name to be used on the “Knowledge-based policing… “article, saying the now standard line that this team’s research was useless to the cops and saying we should have contacted JD. She ignored everything other than her own subjective feelings about it all. An awkward phone call and a few strained emails between us later resolved nothing. Just 9 days after distributing the first draft of “The Strange Case Of Dr.Johnny and Mr.Drury”, Aufheben sent a critique of this draft to my personal email address (which probably the previous mentioned woman had given them, without asking me first) as if it was a finished text, a critique which only differs from their public refutation of the tptg’s first “Open Letter…” (the one libcom called a smear and put a Pinnochio picture on) in that it had specific things against pro-situationist attitudes, me being moralistic and against my “character assassination” which were kind of “relevant” only to my text. It suggested we contact them directly, but in an arrogant manner not conducive to a positive response. It was entitled “Not for circulation”. Its sole aim was stopping publication. It also mentioned the fact that “P” had been given the personal email addresses of the rest of Auf. Nobody knew who this P was, as all those we knew beginning with the letter P had had no contact with Auf (a couple of months later we discovered who this P was and he said he had never had the personal emails of any of the Auf team). I was in London for about 10 days during which libcom asked me for the draft of the text I was planning to put up, which they’d heard about, so they could form an opinion of it, so they could kind of pre-moderate it (not exactly of course – since I, along with anyone else, could put it up, but making it clear it would be taken down immediately; nobody mentioned the fact that Joseph Kay had been a part of Auf in the past and was very close to them). I had to deal with several emails from various people who clearly thought I was going about it the wrong way, but had no suggestions of doing it better other than contact the very person who we found had betrayed (in a very basic fundamental way) our own and others notion that he was in some way on our side against this society. These were from people in London who had had a far greater ability to contact the guy than either me or the tptg. None of those outraged by him, yet insisting on contact did, in fact, contact him. Me and the tptg decided to do more research and keep quiet to almost everybody because it only brought endless obstruction. Just less than 2 days before I left London, I discovered the “Chaos Theory” text (having been alerted of its existence by the tptg), which at that time we didn’t realise was online, in the British Library in Collingwood on the edge of London. I was even more astonished and disgusted and furious than I felt when I first heard about JD at the end of January.
I give all this information, these petty, boring, details, as a way of asking – how could we have done this better, how did we do this “all wrong”? This was the first time we’d ever done anything like this. Next time, perhaps, we’ll be able to be perfect.
Aufheben’s Secret “Critique”
“I thought I was being clever and subversive” – John Drury in Auf’s secret “critique”
In their secret denunciation of me in a text circulated to about 200 contacts following the publicity of the scandal, a text neither I nor the TPTG were meant to see, Aufheben state:
“He has been involved in the ridiculous and destructive politics of denunciation for decades, and has done nothing to inspire or encourage others to get practically involved in struggles – the opposite, in fact. He dreams of a return to the good old days of the 1970s when there was a “substantial” milieu of would-be “Situationists”, when introspective “revolutionary theory” was therapy, and when a practice of tediously-documented denunciations, character assassinations and dramatic splits was seen as a way in which revolutionary politics progresses.
This “Situationist” “critical practice” was a dead-end in the 1970s. It certainly is of no use now.”.
Undoubtedly, most of this post-68 mutual denunciation, “coherence” and purity (of which some of Debord and Sanguinetti’s “Veritable Split in the Situationist International” is a good example) had little use other than as a one-upmanship ego-battle, an ideology of revolution competing for star billing against other ideologies, expressing something other than what it intended and serving ends other than its explicit ends. There was nothing in such behavior which could reinforce any community of struggle. As a marginal critique “useful” only to a small in-groupuscule, despite occasional elements of general conclusions one could apply more widely, it largely hid a retreat from the class struggle and from confronting new developments arising from a new epoch.
However, this is an ad hominem reference to distract from the obviousness of JD’s collusion with the enemy and the uniqueness of the situation. What we did was not some kind of radical posturing performance but, on the contrary, an attempt at setting things straight concerning cop collaboration.
They felt fine denouncing the TPTG’s and my critique of Aufheben as gossip, smears and mere “allegations” and yet took fanciful “criticism” plucked from the clouds one step further than what they attributed to us: they claimed to know all about my dreams, my “dreams of a return to the good old days”. They also claimed I “dream of being the sole proprietor of revolutionary truth“. Devoid of any content to back it up, it’s just the throwaway line of those living a counter-revolutionary lie. Cheap and easy: dismiss the radical choices of an individual or group as super-arrogant. Like Leftists who constantly attack anyone making a significant critique of them as “sectarian”. In the spectacle of materialist “theory” everything is upside down: what they imagine are my dreams becomes fact-based analysis. Though mud sticks, it’s useless answering this Aufheben line, some of which is cut and pasted from a 1997 article of theirs (an article I rather naively contributed to by filling in some things for its author in answer to his queries, knowing that he was in the process of writing this article). At this level of baseless unsubstantiated blah blah blah, some people will be convinced by whatever they want to be convinced by: they’ve chosen their side and that’s all that matters. Suffice to say, that though Joseph Kay (in the “why this article has been removed?” thread) has said this politics of denunciation of mine goes back over 3 decades, the only public denunciatory text – “Re-Fuse” from 1978 – “denounced” those who were already public (apart from one unnamed person and an ICC member, whom I stupidly named, which I definitely should NOT have done). Besides, when it comes to “denunciation” I am no different from Aufheben, who also, as do most people whether claiming to be revolutionary or not, “denounce” the writings and actions of various people (though, of course, they wouldn’t use the term “denounce”), and in their crude tit-for-tat secret critique, have obviously “denounced” me and the TPTG..
The irony is that this text – “Re-Fuse”, which I stopped distributing in 1980, and even destroyed most copies of because of its self-importance and other crap – has been positively quoted by just one “radical” group – Aufheben !!! – in the aforementioned article, where they say “This is an interesting British situationist text” (see “Whatever happened to the situationists?” in Aufheben vol.6 47)…and even more so by John Drury himself in Annual Review of Critical Psychology, Volume 348 , where he says, referrring to academics, “Our specialised roles are alienated. We need to act out of role rather than try to hang onto them as part of our supposed radicality. This kind of point was ably made in Re-Fuse: “The ‘opposition’ by counter-specialists to the authoritarian expertise of the authoritarian experts offers yet another false choice to the political consumer. These ‘radical’ specialists (radical lawyers, radical architects, radical philosophers, radical psychologists, radical social workers – everything but radical people) attempt to use their expertise to de-mystify expertise…The academic counter-specialists atempt to attack (purely bourgeois) ideology at the point of production: the university. Unwilling to attack the institution, the academic milieu, the very concept of education as a separate activity from which ideas of separate power arise, they remain trapped in the fragmented cetegories they attempt to criticise…[but] when [others] participate in the class struggle they don’t do so by ‘radicalising’ their specific place in the division of labour (e.g. radical dockers, radical mechanics) but by revolting against it” .
(This article by Drury is self-contradictory: after presenting an excellent critique of academia, he then undermines the validity of his critique by justifying his crowd psychology work, as if the critique of “radical psychology” didn’t apply to him; though a very sophisticated bit of recuperation, it’s fairly typical – acknowledge and positively affirm a possible critique in order to divert attention from the fact that such a critique won’t practically influence the person acknowledging it in the slightest; and from the fact that such “lucidity” is unearned and has essentially been taken from others without having to go through the effort of testing it out oneself).
Illustration for text criticising radical social workers and radical academics, “Dialectical Adventures Into The Unknown”, 1974 (“Re-Fuse” was a 1978 reproduction and “development” of this earlier text.)
All this praise and positive quoting, and then pretending to have an opposite position about the same text when convenient, is just another banal case of putting someone on a pedestal and then knocking them down and kicking them. The politics of the threatened, hitting out with gratuitous jealous spite.
The whole tone of JD’s self-defence in this « not to be circulated » text comes over as the fake humility of an apologetic politician who’s been found out for some corrupt practise or other, and convinces himself and others that what he’d done was stupid, naive and careless, but in no way « bad » (or, in JD’s case, « not crossing the class line »). It merely “looks bad” (as JD put it) but it isn’t. People’s capacity for self-deceit to assuage the anxiety of a bad conscience is often boundless. Its intention is to avoid the basic integrity of having to face the pain and trauma of recognising and confronting the material base of an utterly schizoid self-contradiction, to « redeem » onself in one’s own eyes first of all (confronting such a miserable history is the only way to make personal progress and to contribute to your own and the world’s liberation). In this flight from reality, it of course helps to have a gang behind you propping you up – because if you fall they fall too.
Amongst some of the strangely confusing responses to Aufhebengate, there’s one from Internationalist Perspectives, most of whom used to be members of the ICC49
Although I responded to the first text, the responses (one by me, and 4 others) have been taken off, and I have found no way to respond to the 2nd, which specifically criticises me but does not contain a link to my original critique, a copy of which I failed to keep. I suspect that my inability to post is for technical reasons, some fuck-up on their site, rather than anything manipulative, but then sometimes I’ve been proved naive.
However, I did keep an email of my first reaction to their article:
“Just an initial response to “Internationalist Perspective”‘s take on all this. They say, “As a preliminary point, however, it’s important to call attention to the history of “proletarian inquiries,” “courts” or “tribunals,” the political uses to which they have been put, and their impact on the pro-revolutionary milieu. Internationalists, left communists, oppositionists, have had a long experience with such institutions. In the 1930’s the accusations against Trotsky of being an agent of fascism because of his critique of Stalinism; during the war itself, the repeated accusations (and physical assaults) against Victor Serge and G. Munis in Mexico or Stinas in Greece, as “Gestapo agents” because of their rejection of the defense of the “USSR”; the hunt by the Stalinists and the Resistance in 1944-45 in France for internationalists who did not support the allies or the killing of fleeing German soldiers who had thrown down their weapons, all constitute so many examples of the danger represented by such tribunals and inquiries. We point to that experience simply to recall the lamentable experience of pro-revolutionaries with such tribunals; the way in which they have been used in the past by those claiming to be communist militants
That atmosphere of accusation and investigation directed at militants has not been limited to the world of Stalinism and its Maoist and nationalist offshoots. It has unfortunately continued even within the pro-revolutionary milieu, and many examples can be provided to show the disastrous effects of such practice on it. Such practices, such tribunals, in our view, are to be avoided at all costs, especially in the absence of a thorough discussion of just what acts by an individual contradict one’s commitment to the overthrow of capitalism and its states; are in contradiction with being a militant.”
Firstly, the reference to State capitalists, hierarchically backed by a monopoly of propaganda, by cops and armies and by the bureaucratic organisation of the means of survival, who presented themselves as communist in order to hold so-called “revolutionary” tribunals in which the state representatives of the proletariat condemned individuals to torture and death – all this is mentioned as some kind of way of hinted association of what the TPTG proposed with these mass murdering scum. It’s not totally explicit, but certainly this insane reasoning, this amalgam technique, is implicit. Is this pretentious attempt to make an historical analogy/comparison meant to be taken seriously?
Secondly, in revolutionary situations,which are not the case at the moment, proletarians, regardless of whether they were part of the “pro-revolutionary milieu” or not, have always had to deal violently, without any ideology of humanist leniency, which is always anti-human and self-defeating, with collaborators with the state in very decisive ways (in South Africa during the 1980s, for instance, or amongst the Makhnovists against nasty anti-semites within their midst).
But the proletarian counter-enquiry that the TPTG proposed right at the beginning of their first open letter had nothing at all in common with even this. It was simply a proposal to develop our own research into how cops manage crowds in opposition to state policies, and later on, after some revelations, a proposal to be very wary of researchers in crowd control posing as friends.
There might be other things in what Internationalist Perspective have to say which are more intelligent, but these two paragraphs stick out as utterly absurd.”
Let’s look at what the TPTG’s “proletarian counter inquiry” (which was not, as I mistakenly misremembered, at the beginning of their “Open Letter…” but later) entails:
“In any case, we would urgently like to appeal to the British internationalist/anti-authoritarian milieu so that a more thorough proletarian counter-inquiry is carried out. This may include (but should not be limited to): newspaper articles, cop consultant university research-projects (especially those related to the faculties of sociology/psychology etc.), cop blogs and websites and/or the vast literature on the subject of crowd management, just to name a few obvious steps. By doing so, we hope that information (e.g. scientific papers, articles, police guidelines, reports or other details regarding seminars to cops, field-research projects, activist interviews conducted by sociologists etc.) related to the knowledge-based crowd psychology and modern policing strategies the cops are using against us will be disclosed, disseminated and discussed among the internationalist milieu, facilitating the development of our own counter-strategies. Personal witnessing of the implementation of such policing strategies in demonstrations or riots needs to be recorded, circulated and then discussed amongst us. Attempts by various sociologists to gain access to the milieu and conduct interviews have to be met with firm rejection, to say the least. We all know perfectly well that what they try to do is to understand us, our temporary communities of struggle, our thoughts, the way we organize against this decomposing world of capital and its spectacle and, then put this valuable knowledge into practice against us, tearing us apart. Our response should equally be collective and knowledgeable!” (http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2011/10/486344.html)
If it is “clear in our letter IP did not see the proposal of the TPTG as having anything to do with that history” (i.e. the history of Bolshevik and other forms of pseudo- revolutionary tribunals) then why does the majority of the article focus on this history, before then going on to say that JD overstepped the line, when it has nothing to do with “Aufhebengate”, i.e. the apparent subject of the article? Clearly if I mis-read the implication, it was because it would be very difficult for anyone not to see such an inference, and insofar as I’ve communicated with people about it, that’s how they saw it. Indeed, the final sentence of their article reads: “And to that end, a “proletarian counter-inquiry” or commission the purpose of which is to examine the behavior of a particular person, to investigate a specific “case,” is one that we reject. “, is hardly a way of saying clearly that their letter “did not see the proposal of the TPTG as having anything to do with that history” even if they see the important thing as being the more general question of where the bar is set (in fact, the general principles and particular individual cases are inseparable, but let’s not quibble). However, anyone can see by comparing this last paragraph with the original TPTG proposal, that this has virtualy nothing to do with what the TPTG suggested.
One suspects that the members of Internationalist Perspectives who were formerly members of the ICC have been so traumatised by the process of “trials” and vicious behaviour towards dissidents on the part of this organisation, that they have projected a meaning onto the TPTG’s proposal that was never there. It’s doubtful that anyone who’d never been subjected to, and imbued with, the political mentality of the ICC would be capable of projecting such an interpretation onto their proposal.
Though I obviously take full responsibility for the production of this text, it couldn’t and wouldn’t have been written without a great deal of critical input from people in various bits of the world
(Greece, France, Belgium, the United States, South Africa, Australia & the UK)
Sam Samotnaf Fantomas,
November 22nd 2012
Links to various texts written or co-written by (or referring to) John Drury
Since October 2011 and the revelations of the Aufhebengate scandal, many of the original links to articles have been withdrawn from the internet. Why? Your guess is as good as mine (I hope). Nevertheless, some have been copied and put up on the net:
(This is his original University of Sussex page, in which “Knowledge-based public order policing: Principles and practice” taken from the journal “Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice” was originally listed as one of his texts, but was taken off it after Aufhebengate)
(another archived biographical page which he changed post-Aufhebengate)
(description of JD’s police consultancy work )
(The Role of Police Perceptions and Practices in the Development of “Public Disorder”)
(Quote: “The implication of this work…..has led to a number of consultative roles, including with the Department of Health, national police CBRN centre, Civil Contingencies Secretariat, as well as with Business Continuity managers and event organizers and CPD training for crowd managers.)
(“Greater Manchester Policing of Major Events policy review ” in which J was a participant ‘expert’ )
(see pages 229-241 for JD describing his research as and of road protesters )
(comparing himself with Mark Kennedy, pointing out some of the differences, but in a disingenuous manner)
(The Social Psychology of ‘Public Disorder’ symposium, at an International conference on psychology and police investigations, 2001)
Other texts on crowd control:
(in which Drury’s “The Crowd” blog is cited in the context of ‘Occupy#’)
5bNote (28th Jan., 2013) re. this cartoon:
Ian & Jake: Ian Purdie and Jake Prescott, both on trial at that time for being part of the Angry Brigade conspiracy.
David Oluwale: a black vagrant killed by 2 cops in 1969. The judge at the trial of the cops who beat him, said, as he insisted that the charges of manslaughter be dropped, “Another feature the jury must not allow to influence them were the feelings of nausea, the outrage at the shocking conduct of Oluwale, a menace to society, a nuisance to police, a frightenening apparition to come across at night, his filthy habits, all of which had been described about him.”.
Stephen McCarthy: An Irish teenager absconding from a detention centre had his head repeatedly banged against a London bustop until he collapsed and died. This killing by the Met in the early ’70s is now virtually unknown (for instance, I can’t find this mentioned on the internet).
Note added March 8th 2022: there are now quite a few mentions of this – e.g. here
Pauline Conroy: A lecturer at the polytechnic I went to (the cartoon above was put in the poly Socialist Society rag that I’d helped edit). She’d been arrested during the clamp-down against the Angry Brigade and had been originally charged with conspiracy with them. The charges were dropped on the eve of the committal proceedings against the Stoke Newington 8. The only ‘evidence’ against her was that she’d written “Power to the People” somewhere. Pity the same “evidence” hadn’t been used to arrest John Lennon. The raid on her home involved cops tearing apart her kid’s teddy bear to look for something incriminating. Her boyfriend, a political refugee from Turkey, was also arrested and was threatened with being sent back to an almost certain death by hanging in Turkey. He eventually managed to get accepted as a political refugee by the Algerian state.
7Available here: http://jdarchive.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/chaos_theory_bw.pdf . Interestingly, since the publicising of this “Chaos Theory” article in October 2011 by myself and the Greek group the TPTG, it has been taken off the internet (though the above link, put up recently by other people, works), and since November 2011 Janes Police Review as a whole is no longer available on the internet even to those willing to pay for it. Nor are those published after November 2011 available in British libraries. It might well be self-important paranoia to assume these are responses to the TPTG’s appeal for a counter-enquiry into various theories and practices of police tactics in the class war (see: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2011/10/486344.html and http://anarchistnews.org/node/15545 ), but, as the old saying goes, “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you”.
The article was co-written by Clifford Stott, Stephen Reicher and John Drury. Aufheben, Drury and their protection racket in Libcom Admin rushed to say that he didn’t write it, but just put his name to it so as to ensure he continued getting money from his crappy crowd control consultant career at the University of Sussex without having to go through the arduous task of producing any extra public text. Regardless of whether this is true or not (which is pretty unlikely, especially given the fact that he has published loads of crowd control articles as part of the Stott etc. team), putting his name to such an ideological support for the cops is hardly an excuse. Imagine a letter to The Times supporting some atrocity or other, signed by 3 celebrities and when people objected to the content 3 years later, one of them said, “I didn’t write it, I just put my name to it to continue getting money”. Makes the adjective “pathetic” seem pathetically inadequate.
10 « Standard kit for PSU officers consists of a transparent acrylic riot shield, a baton, a visored ‘NATO’ helmet, shin and elbow guards, along with fireproof coveralls when required. This level of protection allows officers to deal with a variety of violent situations, including riots, football violence and suspects armed with a variety of weapons. Some PSU teams are also dual-trained as first-line responders for CBRN incidents and carry relevant detection kit as well as major incident equipment. » – from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Police_Support_Unit
- 12 A more recent example: “Los Angeles city officials have torn down a 6-foot-tall wooden fence surrounding a home whose owners are fighting a bank-ordered eviction….The Los Angeles Daily News reports (http://bit.ly/SXomW6 ) that bulldozers from the city’s Building and Safety Department removed the fence Monday. Officials said it posed a danger and was on public property.”From here: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/oct/29/la-bulldozes-fence-around-occupy-protest-home/?
14 In emphasising cop tactics, however, we shouldn’t minimise also the idioticly ideological use of pacifism amongst artists, decrying the use of destruction in the struggles of the Greek proletariat, as a method of trying to inculcate a sad insipid notion of being “constructive” – a different kind of policing; e.g.check out this pretentious video – called “Take back the Greek streets, with art” – of dancing artists outside a Macdonalds in Athens: http://blog.occupiedlondon.org/2012/08/30/take-back-the-greek-streets-with-art-new-film-by-ross-domoney/
Equally, we should recognise that the European Union, winner of the Nobel Peace prize, is prepared to do whatever is needed to enforce their peace: http://www.golemxiv.co.uk/2011/10/foreign-riot-police-now-operating-in-greece/
http://improvingpolice.wordpress.com/2011/10/ A friend from St.Louis wrote, after reading this “Improving Police” site, “This was exactly the strategy used during the occupation (month and a half) and up through until the end of the year . Exactly. Step by step. It took a lot of us by surprise.”
Despite pretenses to the contrary, Drury still continues to collaborate with Stott; in March this year he went up to Leeds with him for a conference on crowd control, which originally Stott posted on his Facebook page ( http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dr-Clifford-Stott/179023995454028 .) but withdrew that particular comment more recently. People have accused us of “guilt by association”, but it’s inevitable that if you choose to associate with and help out obvious collaborators, it’s perfectly justifiable to be tarred with the same brush: “by your friends shall ye be known”. This is on top of the fact (disputed by this serial liar and his guard dogs) that he has lectured cops on the subject
These quotes are from Foucault’s “Security, Territory, Population”. Despite often providing some interesting research and facts, Foucault is a good example of the complete and utter lack of goal or direction of the professional intellectual, whose thought is never tested by any real contestation, so much so that his ideas can be quoted by Lefty politicians and anarchists alike. When the Ayatollahs seized power in Iran in 1979, Foucault supported them, only to retract his support a few months later, and then a bit later to re-affirm his original support. A bizarre attitude for a homosexual. At one time he supported Maoists, but remained consistently anti-Stalinist, whilst never once criticising the French Socialist Party, even proposing himself to Mitterand to represent France as ambassador to some South American country. See “Dits et Ecrits” by him.
20 For an interesting comment on some of the conservative ideological aspects of archaeology, see: http://libcom.org/forums/history-culture/anarchist-archeology-12112010?page=1#comment-408950
21See “Deviant Sociologists” in this long text (fairly near the beginning): http://www.revoltagainstplenty.com/index.php/recent/34-archivelocal/37-like-a-summer-with-a-thousand-julys.html
22“Sociology does nothing more than take a photograph of society. It classifies, separates, and categorizes every last detail, shutting it all away into little boxes. The end result is: so many divisions, so many opposed interests, and each element opposes the others according to whatever appearance the situation may have at one time or another. This is the State’s goal: to do everything so that each of us believes ourselves to be completely different from anyone else. That is one thing which the notion of proletariat opposes. To consider oneself as part of a class and not just some vague conglomerate of incompatible subcategories is to seek out convergence in the many forms which the struggle may take on.. It is a movement to reinforce the struggle through this convergence.” –Otto Geyrtonnex
24See some historical examples of how the excluded poor and the educational elite treated, and were treated by, their situation a little differently: http://libcom.org/library/university-car-factory-working-class-0
26 Mouvement Communiste is generally despised in France by radicals for their crude workerist trashing of the November 2005 movement in the banlieux. This included the assertion of a significant lie that even the dominant media had corrected within a very short time after they’d spread it; namely that a racist guy (Mouvement Communiste did not mention his overt racist attitudes) had been killed by rioters after they set fire to a bin outside his home; in fact, the guy had died of a heart attack.
27This may have partly been due to the fact that Aufheben weren’t expected: they hadn’t booked a table – someone sneakily booked one for them.
29 One of the most obvious political manipulations was the way the Libcom team claimed that avantiultras and Dr. faustus were the same person, communicating from the same ISP, and thus hoped by this falsehood to rubbish the whole perspective of the TPTG on this issue.
32 See the comments on June 8 2010 here: libcom.org/history/join-banana-club-memories-brambles-farm-peace-camp
34 “The secret of the demagogue is to appear as stupid as his audience so that it can believe itself to be as smart as he”. – Karl Kraus.
35 For a good, mid-80s, critique of the welfare state, see: libcom.org/library/welfare-state-isn’t-now-never-was-“genuine-gain-working-class” . It’s worth pointing out that the policy of “military Keynesianism”, the only Keynesianism neo-liberals like, was actually advocated by Keynes himself as a prerequisite for a better “standard of life”. In the New Republic, July 1940, he wrote: “It is, it seems, politically impossible for a capitalist democracy to organise expenditure on the scale necessary to make the grand experiment which would prove my case – except in war conditions…If the United States takes seriously the material and economic side of the defense of civilisation and steels itself to a vast dissipation of resources in the preparation of arms, it will learn its strength – and learn it as it can never learn it otherwise; learn a lesson that can be turned to account afterward to reconstruct a world which will understand the first principles governing the production of wealth…War preparation, so far from requiring a sacrifice, will be the stimulus, which neither victory nor defeat of the New Deal could give you to greater individual consumption and a higher standard of life…” One can imagine, given the significant possibility of another world war over the next decade, how versions of such arguments might well be used by some of today’s advocates of Keynesianism.
36 This comment was originally posted on a thread about prison guards going on strike. Significantly, it has disappeared down the memory hole. Though reactions to the comments exist, Fall Back has airbrushed his own reflections from the thread. It is one thing to be embarassed by one’s past, it is another to hide and falsify it.
37 His book, translated as Obsolete Communism: the Left-Wing Alternative, co-written with his brother, although kind of interesting, gives, for instance, some credence to Maoism. It’s largely a re-hash of the ideas of Solidarity and Socialisme ou Barbarie with a bit of pro-situationism thrown in, and nothing really original on top of those influences. Not that he wasn’t involved in some good activities at the time of May ’68, but he quickly succumbed to the flattery that the spectacle of radicality tames people with, getting involved in, amongst other things, trying to do a movie with Godard, a Western with the Indians as the good guys (and this just a few months after the movement in May).
39 In Athens on September 12th, 2 incendiary devices, planted – with care to avoid dangers to passers-by – in the entrances of Marks & Spencers and Benneton, were claimed in solidarity with the August riots, and criticised the “North London Solidarity Federation” for collaborating with the police/media language of repression.
41A contact wrote, “There’s something about the lingo of the Solfed group which rubs me all wrong. It lacks any emotional substance or grit, it reeks of academics trying really hard to speak like a simple prole. Their brains have been morphed into a cobweb of formulaic abstractions, it’s just so boring and tedious and bureaucratic, it really has no relevance to the world of flesh and blood people, ‘political groups vs. political/economic groups’ and so on. I remember awhile ago reading some of the writing from members of the FAI….whatever we think about the FAI these days, what made that writing stick in my head is that it communicated a degree of passion and despair which you never really see coming from revolutionaries these days. It struck you as people speaking from their hearts. You don’t get this from solfed or from many of these ultra-left communist groups like Aufheben even when their articles are very good in other ways. I’m not sure exactly what that means except that maybe too many people have a largely intellectual attachment to class struggle which is why they’re really bad at communicating what they feel as well as what they think.”.
48 www.discourseunit.com/arcp3/ARCP3%20complete%20issue.doc (published in 2003)