March 16th 2013:
(modified on 18th March, because apparently the “Nihilst Communist” who supposedly posted the links to my text on UK Indymedia wasn’t the person he deliberately, with a deceitful malicious intent, implied he was. My apologies to the Nihilist Communist who I thought it was.)
I have hastily written this today because tomorrow Little Black Cart press is publishing and distributing a hard copy version of “Cop-Out – the significance of Aufhebengate”, with their own introduction, at the San Francisco Anarchist Bookfair. Although this initiative is completely their own and totally independent of me, it seems like an excellent thing to do, and I am pretty pleased.
In the wake of “Cop-Out – the significance of Aufhebengate”, the text, minus pictures, was reproduced on Anarchist News; a pamphlet-sized version (again, with virtually no pictures) was made available here: http://takku.net/mediagallery/download.php?mid=20130122041228568 (on my computer, the link only works if you copy it into your url address box, or whatever it’s called; the text automatically downloads onto your computer); and bits of it were posted up on UK Indymedia and on Libcom Blog. I should point out that none of these were solicited by me, but I certainly have no particular problem with them appearing there, though some of the different takes on it I do have a problem with. Some of these I deal with below.
Most people most of the time, when forming an opinion about something of which they have virtually no personal experience, tend to repeat the opinions of others. Most usually it’s the opinion of their rulers or their rulers’ media. Perhaps a bit less often, it’s the dominant opinion of someone in their “radical” group, or their gang or that of their family, friends or even the opinion of their other half in a couple. Usually, this is seen as a way of appearing loyal to whatever collecitivity they want to remain a part of. Others simply react negatively to such opinions, adopting a kind of “my enemies’ enemy is my friend”-type attitude – a kind of “the opposite of my enemies’ opinion is my opinion”. In other words, it’s fairly rare that individuals seek out the truth for themselves, do their research about something that might be significant for them independently, take a sceptical curiosity towards a situation. They prefer to want to “belong” by being in automatic agreement with the separate community they think themselves part of, or by being in automatic disagreement with the separate community they have no desire to be a part of. And this is regardless of whether such a “community” has some conservative ideology or a revolutionary one or neither, regardless of whether it be the “gay community”, “America”, or the “Anarchist Federation”, for example. Partial truths, but essential evasions, dominate, unrefined by experimental enquiry, unrefined by the struggle for freedom from external authority. This is how ideology develops. It’s not that anyone can be totally free of ideology in a world dominated by lies and false choices, but one can take an anti-ideological perspective that strives to root out one’s ideological tendencies, by putting oneself in a situation which tests out these unearned ideas, that strives to unearth the nuances rather than seek the security of dogmas, or the overly-comforting automatic affirmation of ones scene (and other forms of fixed almost “institutionalised” forms of largely unquestioning loyalty).
In relation to Aufhebengate, this ideological attitude has not just been taken by those who rubbished my text but also often by some of those who supported it.
Petty as the attempt to unravel some of these attitudes to my text (both pro and con) might seem to be as compared with other written tasks, it is, for me at least, essential. The struggle for some kind of clarity begins with what one knows best, and yet does very little about.
It’s unavoidable that when one writes something, or does something, against this society, you get supported by lots of people whom you have very little in common with otherwise. So let’s start with some of those who supported the text.
“Nihilst Communist” posted up a small part of my text, and linked to it, on UK indymedia, saying, “SolFed support with libcom, and full of journalists and academics, therefore cannot be trusted.
Every revolution is made by the working class and betrayed by ‘revolutionaries’ (Bolsheviks, CNT, Daniel Cohn-Bendit). Revolutionary ideology (middle class) is the enemy of revolutionary practice (working class). Therefore to be pro-revolutionary, we must expose and attack all middle class ‘revolutionaries’. This is most important task during capitalist crisis, or these scum will again side with the state against proletariat insurrection (like in August riots).”
I WROTE THE FOLLOWING ON 16TH MARCH, BUT IT TURNS OUT IT REFERS TO SOMETHING POSTED ON UK INDYMEDIA THAT’S NOT BEEN WRITTEN BY ANYONE THE NORMAL “NIHILIST COMMUNISTS” KNOW OF, AND CERTAINLY NOT BY THE NIHILST COMMUNIST THAT I’VE BEEN IN TOUCH WITH, SO – ALTHOUGH I WON’T “CENSOR” MYSELF, I OBVIOUSLY WITHDRAW THE INFERENCE THAT IT WAS HIM.
I strongly suspect that this was written by someone I vaguely know (through emails only) who, in fact, has a job which he himself described to me as “middle class”, even though he comes from a working class background. Now the whole class question, particularly given the “quintessentially English archaisms” that dominate the UK, is fraught with minefields of complexities that explode in your face as soon you try to defuse them. Two-class “theory” is a sick joke in the face of this, but “3-class theory” also doesn’t deal with what’s going on, in particular the proletarianisation of what previously were roles we could simply define as middle class (ie ideological and/or policing authority roles).
Many of the comments here and there referred to the middle class background of Libcom admin. Suffice to say, that there have been people from working class backgrounds (particularly those who climbed within the ranks of various Communist Parties in the 20th century) who have been extremely brutal in their support for so-called “socialist” or “communist” forms of capitalism, just as there have been some from middle class backgrounds (e.g. Steve Biko in South Africa) who have paid with their lives with their basic integrity against the system. The fact that someone went to a public school or Oxford or Cambridge does not in itself mean that they will shit on the working class. For instance, John Barker, who was in the Angry Brigade, went to Cambridge and yet prison was his primary University. I knew someone from a working class background who went to a public school and at one time was a revolutionary risking prison for burning a Porsche during the Poll Tax riots. Equally, there are lots of people whose means of survival have remained proletarian for most of their lives who have developed some kind of “revolutionary theory”. Undoubtedly all this distracts from the necessity to fight those who want to represent the working class, regardless of whether they are working class themselves or not, and regardless of their background (which is certainly not necessarily the same as their present social situation). For instance, Fall Back is hardly to be condemned (as some did) for what his father did when he was 14 (surprisingly, we don’t choose our parents), but he’s certainly to be condemned for working for his dad’s business helping Tony Blair with his spin. Yet, he himself might condemn this past complicity, though you’d have thought – given its very high-up political nature – he would have done this publicly. On the other hand, relations with one’s parents are always difficult to unravel, given the emotional affection that can still linger despite our disgust for some of what they do. But the attacks on him re. his past and and his father distract from what he is to be condemned for – his support for JD and the lies used in this support, and the sub-Leninist need to represent others which are a basic ingredient of Libcom politics. Background might help in encouraging such an essentially intellectual role, but in itself is not a determinant. I, in fact, come from a middle class background. Some of the TPTG also. Now I don’t want to say that it’s totally irrelevant, but it obviously also doesn’t lead automatically to the kind of shit politics you get from Libcom admin or the deceits of Aufheben.
Given the neccessity to attack this kind of fake revolutionary image, it’s understandable that many of the posts on UK Indymedia expressed a particular disgust for the journalist Rob Ray, who is the SolFed member who (perhaps with others) posted this press release about the August 2011 riots:
“The Solidarity Federation is based in resistance through workplace struggle. We are not involved in the looting and unlike the knee-jerk right or even the sympathetic-but-condemnatory commentators from the left, we will not condemn or condone those we don’t know for taking back some of the wealth they have been denied all their lives.
But as revolutionaries, we cannot condone attacks on working people, on the innocent. Burning out shops with homes above them, people’s transport to work, muggings and the like are an attack on our own and should be resisted as strongly as any other measure from government “austerity” politics, to price-gouging landlords, to bosses intent on stealing our labour. Tonight and for as long as it takes, people should band together to defend themselves when such violence threatens homes and communities.”
This is simplisticly ideological, to say the least, conflating clearly anti-working class acts such as muggings with other more complex things. A representation of a section of the working class (those who work and who apparently resist through “workplace struggle”) as opposed to those who don’t work, at least not in any “workplace” sense (ie they might be still going to school or are unemployed, but doing black economy stuff etc.) contributes to divisions in the working class. What’s more, looting has to be supported, and taking a neutral stance (“we will not condemn or condone those we don’t know for taking back some of the wealth they have been denied all their lives.”) is evasively populist, pandering to the more conservative sections of the working class. Moreover, the bit abut “Burning out shops with homes above them,” ignores the fact that these homes weren’t deliberately burnt out – it was the shops that were attacked. Now, it might be stupid to do this, butthen in riots (as in normal daily life) a lot of things happen that are stupid but not necessarily malicious. In the Poll Tax riots of 1990, people got hit on the head with bricks from our own side. It wasn’t deliberate, of course, but a result of a mixture of a kind of unthinking excitement on the part of those for whom rioting was something new and the fact that they were often too scared to get up close to their intended targets. But anybody who’d made an enormously disproportionate thing about this in order to condemn chucking bricks as such would have been treated with the contempt they deserved. Likewise, in the absence of a support for the burning and looting of shops, whilst clearly stating there was an unthinking over-excitement on the part of some rioters who were blind to the possible consequences of their burning, this kind of press release is the kind of populist demagogy that, regardless of apparent intentions, supports the dominant media’s image of rioters. This text on the riots is more nuanced precisely because it isn’t trying to appeal to passive members of the working class: “In Liverpool 8 in 1981 rioters evacuated a geriatric hospital that was inadvertently threatened by the fires they had started, before returning to their battles with the police. This spirit was not always evident in the August riots. Its absence only hinders us. We should be going beyond previous rebellions, not falling below them. We need to be clearer about who are real enemies are, and choose our targets and tactics so as to avoid unnecessary suffering to those on our side of the social divide between the owners of society and those forced to serve them.“ and it critiques the conservatism of the spectators: “Distressed by 100 homeless families and a few people deprived of their means of support, they bind themselves more firmly to a system that evicts 4,000 families from their homes each year for failing to meet the mortgages that have been hung around their necks and makes many more “redundant.” “
As for the condemnation of “burning…people’s transport to work”, as I said in the “Cop-Out…” text, Solfed had pictures of burning cars on a poster celebrating the riots of May 1968 in Paris at the anarchist bookfair and yet it had condemned the August rioters for doing the same thing. I emphasise this because in this comment on a thread about part of the “Cop-out…” text (http://libcom.org/forums/general/anarcho-leftism-politics-libcom-13012013?page=5#comment-509141), Rob Ray, referring to the press release, refuted any such contradiction by lyingly claiming “Care to point that bit out in the article …? Oh… doesn’t seem to be there… well never mind eh, I’m sure the rest of your “rumour mill” will continue to be invaluable..” Libcom posters are generally such “dittoists” (as one person put it on “anarchist news”) that they probably never bothered to check out the article he linked to, taking Rob Ray’s denial as a truth, and “upping” the post, whilst “downing” the person who had pointed it out like blindly obedient automatons. Typical manipulative journalist cheered on by willingly manipulated readers lacking the slightest critical vigilance. Now, unlike Nihilist Communist, I have never said that Solfed is full of journalists and academics. But unless those involved in Solfed with a healthy mistrust for these professional ideologists assert themselves against them, and against what is written in the organisation’s name, they will remain spectators of their own organisation, as complicit in their own miserable nothingness as other proletarians who remain passive before things that they could do something about. Affirming organisational loyalty before loyalty to any class antagonism is always self-defeating and cowardly. In this, however, they are encouraged by simplistic denunciations like that of “Nihilist Communist”, which tend to make people unite round their organisational identity when confronted with an apparent threat from outside the organisation, which the culture of “organising the organisation” is intended to guard against. A bit like nations uniting against an attack from another nation. At the same time, “Nihilist Communist” is a reaction to the pretensions of “revolutionary” organisations but remains at the level of merely reacting without getting to grips with any of the complexities of these organisations.
Fetishists of organising the organisation talk endlessly about “building the movement.” But movements aren’t “built”, any more than buildings move (except during an earthquake). Movements move – they advance and retreat. Those who talk of “building” really mean building a bureaucracy, building an organisation rather than organising precise activity that advances a movement against this apparently immutable world.
Others apparently supporting my text seemed like deliberate parodies intended to discredit it. Take, for instance, Мѣньскъ’s comment (http://libcom.org/forums/general/anarcho-leftism-politics-libcom-13012013#comment-506168) which referred to “Libcom and JD’s links to MI5, exposed by brave investigations by TPTG”, when the TPTG had done no such thing. S/he then elaborated a bizarre conspiracy which couldn’t distinguish a significant critique from an attempt to uncover a state cover-up. How convenient! It immediately enabled complacent comatose Libcommers to dismiss the whole text as “conspiracy theory”, when the text itself never tried to claim there was a conspiracy but merely pointed out a commonality of interests and deceit in suppressing the truth about the situation. Dominant ideology dismisses any attempt to uncover a commonality between different sections of the ruling class as “conspiracy nutters”, when we know perfectly well that the ruling class is never public about their real manipulations of the mass of spectators, unless they can no longer hide some aspect of these lies. In the same way, Libcom reduced everything to a parody so as to be able to laugh it all off. Likewise they hid the elaborations of how very concretely JD and his crowd psychology team helped the divide and rule of mass demonstrations, trusting in the lazy indifference, of those who like to be spoonfed, to bothering to check out the various links I’d put up.
Another useless “supporter” was πυρ, which means “fire” in Greek. On UK Indymedia (http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2013/02/506138.html?c=on#c291518), s/he wrote, citing my text,“Freedom is the headquarter of cop-collaborator libcom. If they work with police they deserve all the fire “ S/he also wrote, “’Seriously folks’, ‘working class solfed member’, ‘right’, ‘Old Timer’ etc, basically shut up. The details do not really matter. So John Drury says he did not write a paper. Maybe this is true. He says he only talks to cops about ’emergencies’. Maybe this is true. Details do not change the picture. He works for the police, and anyone who does not clearly and publicly say this and exclude him from the movement, is in effect, the same as him, in partnership with the police. You try and blind us with ‘details’ and ‘facts’ so that we miss the big picture: the pro-cop, middle-class, academic ‘libertarian communist’ movement is the enemy of proletarian insurrection. It must be destroyed. Nothing anybody say or do can change that.”
It’s hard to know whether this was written by
a) a Greek insurrectionist, who’d been humiliated by Freedom bookshop or by some Libcommers who hung around there and hated the lefty-liberalism of most of the UK anarcho-scene and wanted to tag on the text to his own personal grudge, someone who’d probably only browsed superficially through my text. But it’s obvious that my text cannot be used to justify what was probably a fascist-inspired molotoving.
b) a member of the Aufheben/libcom team wanting to tar the text with the same brush as the bookshop firebombing.
c) a UK version of COINTELPRO hoping to manipulate various strands of “libertarians” (or so-called libertarians) against each other.
I suspect the first in this list, but you never know.
Against this perspective, details matter – the devil is in them. For instance, Drury, clearly, for several years, listed “Knowledge-based policing …” as one of his articles on his University site, and only withdrew it when the TPTG exposed the text in their original “Open Letter…” For all his defenders to now say he’s only been involved in giving advice on emergencies, and very conveniently linking this to a retrospective hypothesis – “if only his advice had been taken up in Hillsborough” – something that only got mentioned after the post-Hillsborough report of 2012 – is the kind of re-writing of history worthy of Stalinists, Trots and other lying manipulative scumbags, and parroted by faithful followers who intiate fuck-all, but want to alleviate their bad conscience with some nice humanist delusion.
There are a few other stupid bits of deceitful gossip that were spread, particularly on UK Indymedia. Their intention was merely to distract and evade and avoid and throw dust into people’s eyes, just as the dominant discourse of The Daily Mail or The Sun might do.
For instance this from Spyhunter : “You might also be a bit careful taking ‘Sam Fanto’ at face value, as his dad worked with British Intelligence during WWII (doing brave and noble work smuggling documents to refugees under Nazi occupation, but still an uncomfortably close link to the spooks by Sam’s own standards).” (http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2013/02/506138.html?c=on#c291667 )
Reference to “Sam’s own standards” is plucked out of air so thin that nothing living could survive in it. They might be Spyhunter‘s bizarre standards, but they’re not mine.
Spyhunter‘s bizarre standards clearly have very little to do with the truth. My dad went to Czechoslovakia a week or so after the Nazis invaded in March 1939 to help get Jewish and Communist Party refugees out of the country by giving them false documents. He did this as a member of the Communist Party, not as part of British Intelligence. Now, of course, there were people who were in British Intelligence and were in fact members of the Communist Party, but this was not until the war itself, and, besides my father was not one of them (he was a fireman during the war). All of which is irrelevant to the issue, another distraction. Even if it had been true that my dad had worked for British Intelligence I can hardly be held responsible, particularly as it would have been something that had happened before I was even a twinkle in his eye. The sins of the father…? Doubtless Spyhunter sees himself as “the LORD your God,… a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me” (Exodus 20:5).
Another person called “The mob” quoted me:
“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”.” And added his/her own words – “So Samotnaf’s a sex offender?” Since none of my friends are – as far as I know – sex offenders, this kind of malicious gossip, all too common on the internet, is in total contrast with me and the TPTG’s thorough research into stuff that JD openly admitted to putting his name to. It functions yet again to avoid the point that JD has for decades collaborated, and provided research and ideas that could only have come from his participation in the movement to subvert this world, with a group of people who have directly given the cops and the media ideas on reforming the cops’ image, ideology and their concrete policies in demonstrations. Moreover, if I discovered a friend of mine was a sex offender (unless it was something s/he’d done when s/he was a teenager) s/he’d no longer be a friend. Which makes me very different from JD, who is clearly part of Clifford Stott’s team and has been for some time.
Nowadays, the little boy who shouts out “the emperor has no clothes” is clipped behind the ear, told he’s a conspiracy theorist, calumnied with grotesque manipulative bullshit, screamed at for spreading false rumours and dismissed as a frightening person who everyone should avoid. Worse, this is from people who claim to be against emperors and empires…..
But enough of all this……………………………………………………………………………………………………for the moment….
PS I forgot to post up this comment from “anarchist news” (way back in mid-January) about Castoriadis (mentioned in the section on academia in the “cop-out …” text):
it’s definitely shitty that he worked for the OECD, but where did you get the information that he was an “ideas man”? Never heard that before. It seems his position was Director of Statistics, National Accounts, and Growth Studies – doesn’t really sound like he was an ideological motivator, more like someone who did empirical research”
My reply was:
I was told this by Henri Simon, but it’s possible I misunderstood. Nevertheless, “Director of Statistics, National Accounts, and Growth Studies” sounds like something more than “someone who did empirical research”.
I forgot to include this critique of a French article on the site non-fides:
Statement on “Libcom and Aufheben working with the police” by Samotnaf
SamFantoSamotnaf | 12.08.2013 18:12
The title and content is factually incorrect. Neither myself nor the TPTG have ever stated that these two groups work with the police, merely that John Drury of Aufheben worked (and possibly continues to work) with the police, and certainly continues to collaborate with the cop crowd psychologist, Clifford Stott. Libcom and Aufheben have certainly defended Drury in his role, but there is no evidence that I have seen that they themselves work with the police. Nor have they totally “censored on Libcom any mention of the argument in order to stifle this “Aufhebengate” . They’ve been more subtle than this – allowing a certain degree of discussion, then closing it down and lying about the TPTG, claiming that they were posting using another name and using this as a pretext to close down discussion. Their censorship has been selective – for example, about 2 months ago a friend posted up a thread taken from the section of “Cop-Out…” on soft cop policing (“Good cop Bad Cop”), taking care to reduce John Drury’s name to JD throughout, and they took it off within 2 hours without mentioning it publicly or in private to my friend.
It’s ridiculous, careless, unthinking and potentially dangerous to go around publicly claiming someone works for the cops when they don’t. It trivialises and undermines the whole critique I made. It also allows Libcom and Aufheben and all those who don’t want to reflect on the significance of their defence of Drury to dismiss the whole affair as some stupid rivalrous attitude without any basis in fact. In this the non-fides text has helped to undermine the very critique of these scum that I was making and make these pseudo-radicals sound reasonable. Despite asking “non-fides”, two weeks ago, to publicly retract what they have written about this affair, they have not even bothered to reply to me in private.
For those interested in an analysis of the significance of this affair which many consider insignificant, see: http://dialectical-delinquents.com/?page_id=9 (this text only uses the affair as a starting point, and analyses: developments in the history of policing including especially the use of soft cop policing; the symbiotic relationship between academia and capital; the poverty of anarcho-leftism; various contradictions in the current development of friendship; and lots of other bits and pieces).
PS If I have delayed responding to this translation of an article by non-fides, it’s mainly because I’ve had better things to do – but sometimes you have to do things that niggle at the back of your mind in order to then go on to do the things that are slightly stifled by this niggling…
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