Monday, March 29, 2010

Infiltration, Surveillance, Brutality: The Police State is Issue #1

No matter what your primary concerns about society are -- environmental degradation, sweatshop labor, war, racism, etc. -- without foremostly addressing and scaling back the corporate police state, i.e. the prison-industrial complex, any progressive social change you are advocating for can, and will, be thwarted. This matters not if you are part of the most non-violent vegan sewing circle or if you are prepared to throw down in the streets for the dignity of humankind. Any perceived threat to the status quo, to profits and destruction, will be subjected to the evermore brazen and militarized forces of the state.

With about 2 million+ people remaining imprisoned each day in the USA, and with closer to 9 million+ getting cycled through the prison system each year, the prison-industrial complex should be an issue unto itself (even if we are living in an otherwise utopia). As long as small children continue getting arrested for tantrums and elderly grandmothers get tazed for indignation, as long as people of all stripes get murdered on a daily basis by "peace" officers, abolition of the prison-industrial complex can and should be a populist issue for people to rally around. And this is well before we get to issues of entrapment, infiltration, surveillance, and overt violence against movements advocating for social change.

No matter what your primary concerns about society are, if you don't spend some time addressing this issue... the rest of your time may likely be wasted. There are at least 2 reasons for this. The first has already been addressed inasmuch as movements and organizations will be infiltrated and attacked at every level. The second has to do with issues of populism. The police on the street are the face of authoritarianism in a very real way for a great many people. Whether as a conscious decision or not, many people won't to be inclined to involve themselves with other social issues until the pressing daily issue of their subjection is addressed. And who can blame them?

If we want to build populist solidarity and further our other efforts for social change we must regularly spend some time addressing the prison-industrial complex. And although it may seem wishy-washy, reform at the local level may be key in addressing this issue. Even so-called "progressive" candidates campaign on issues of increasing the budgets for local police departments and increasing the numbers of police on the streets. That, at very least, needs to change. But more than that, in addition to it, we need to present frequent criticism of the police state in our social networks. We need to share links, pass letters, and have discussions about the problem. At every major protest there should be some element of relevant criticism directed toward the police state. This issue is nearly on par with, and is (as Angela Davis points out) an extension of the abolitionist movement.

If you are already involved with movements for social change, no matter how mild or radical your connections are, you should consider the strong possibility that you are already under some degree of surveillance. Agents of the state have infiltrated a wide variety of groups (even to the highest levels of leadership) -- often to merely keep track of who is joining and with an eye on figuring out what their interests or exploitable tendencies are. Sometimes the agents merely take up space or subtly drive away people who may share our values. Sometimes their intentions are more insidious and diabolical. Everyone should consequently have a strong understanding of what's required from above-ground radicals and underground activists. People should operate on a need-to-know basis involving even the mildest protest tactic (as even those mild tactics are often brutally repressed). The bolder your actions are... the smaller your group of participants should be. When organizing with others you should be mindful of bravado, ignorance, and ill-informed advice. No one you've just met should be trying to involve you with anything illegal and, even after a while, the level of illegality must be scaled up over time -- if you are so inclined to engage in non-sanctioned protest activity. It's called security culture, people, and if you are serious you should spread the word about it in a serious way. There will be no need for paranoia or general mistrust within our communities if you practice security culture as a natural extension of your activities. They still may come after you, in all manners of appearance, but there is no reason to make their sociopathic jobs any easier.

And that's about all this writer has to say. I don't want to know about any planned crimes beyond misdemeanors (no matter how justified) and won't involve myself with anything more. If you want to discuss theory, or generalities, or if you want to spread already public information... that's what I do and I'm often happy to assist with those endeavors. I'm optimistic about creating a better world with less oppression, less war, and less environmental degradation. However, before that happier and healthier world will be created... the police state must be abolished.


Nihilo Zero (out of nothing, nothing)