Sunday, July 27, 2008

The following is from the membership blogs section of Linchpin, the publication of the Ontario Common Cause group. See the end of this story for Molly's comments. This one should probably go into an article on the 'Why Anarchist Projects Fail' series.
Youth and Supporters of Indigenous:
Beware of Cops in Sheep's Clothing:
Mohawk Nation News
MNN. July 20, 2008. Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Julian Fantino’s fascistic actions against Indigenous people are not new. His illegal dirty tricks to trap Mohawks and Shawn Brant in particular have been developed and practiced in cop training school. He’s following an old pattern. Really old. Cops are basically well-paid thugs. We’ve seen some of the police training videos. Police are trained to instigate violence.

Way back in the Winnipeg Workers(General-Molly) Strike in 1917 (1919-Molly)the police were found to be responsible for the violence. In relations with the Ongwehonwe, it is once again armed state forces, police or military that have caused violence and deaths time and time again. Remember the Mohawk Oka Crisis in Kanehsatake in 1990, Gustafsen Lake in B.C. in 1995, the killing of Dudley George at Ipperwash, and all of the recent confrontations at Six Nations and Tyendinaga! The violence on all occasions was started by the cops and their instigators.

We’re not the only ones targeted for abuse. The 1970 Quebec nationalist movement that wanted to create an independent socialist state was almost completely taken over by the RCMP. Many of the people in the movement were young idealistic students and professors. The police turned their movement into a violent crisis. British Trade Commissioner James Cross was kidnapped and Quebec Labor Minister Pierre Laporte was kidnapped and murdered.

Bombings were threatened. The FLQ was used to provide all the justification that war mongering individuals in the Canadian government needed to launch an All-out offensive. Pierre Trudeau, that sneaky “rat fink” who sold out integrity, instituted the War Measures Act authorizing extraordinary actions by the RCMP. Rule of law was suspended. The armed forces were deployed. Thousands of innocent youth and students were arrested and held without charges for weeks and months. The same kind of tactics are being used against Indigenous today.

Trudeau claimed this use of state force was necessary to protect Canada from the “scourge of terrorism”. There was no terrorism except the terrorism from within that was planned and orchestrated by the RCMP.

The MacDonald Commission of Inquiry into Certain Acts of the RCMP revealed that the FLQ was completely infiltrated by police agents from the very beginning. The 1981 report found police agents were responsible for planning and carrying out terrorist activities within the FLQ. The RCMP used paid agents and other Canadian and Quebec groups to spy on and discredit the youth and student movement. It is very likely that they are doing the same again.

The students who support the Ongwehonwe and human rights, freedom of speech, decency and fair play, are all extremely vulnerable. The so-called forces of law and order have a long history of infiltrating student and popular movements in order to create violence that will enhance the power of the police and military forces.

During the October Crisis the Commission described 11 different types of dubious or outright illegal operations that were carried out by the RCMP. These included:

RCMP agents made secret allegations against tens of thousands of Canadians and shared them with police in other countries including the U.S., India, Pakistan, Israel, Lebanon, Iran, Britain and Ireland. They’re still doing that. Remember Arar who was sent on an “extraordinary rendition” flight to be tortured.

RCMP stole membership lists from the Parti Quebecois and looked for people who could be recruited to be their agents.

RCMP burned barns in Quebec as part of training sessions for terrorist activities; they gave weapons, explosives and cash to members of the FLQ and trained them to use them.

Did the public learn anything? The cops have become more secretive. That’s when the Canadian Security Intelligence Service CSIS was formed. They have an “Indigenous sector” and they have classed Mohawks as terrorists and insurgents. This means that our rights have been taken away from us without trial or due process or even notice. Or maybe they have secretly declared war on us without the knowledge or consent of the Canadian people. We must always keep in mind how far these state funded “power freaks” will go to achieve their nefarious ends.
Molly Notes:
The use of agents provocateurs has a long and dishonourable history . The frequency with which they are used and the methods they employ vary from country to country and time to time. It should be noted that the author is obviously quite young and also much more concerned with indigenous rights than with anarchism- the article was first published, after all, in the Mohawk Nation news. That doesn't mean that it is wrong; it is generally correct. What it does mean is that the author both overstates his case and fails to report some of the more egregious examples. The police infiltration and attempts to provoke violence at the recent protests in Montebello for instance. Or perhaps the most prominent example, the Air India case, where numerous people have suspected the involvement of Indian security in setting up the tragedy. This pattern traces way back. Molly's favourite is the Ohkrana arranging the assassination of a government minister (no doubt a personal enemy of the person in charge of the Ohkrana at the time) in Tsarist Russia to help discredit the narodniks. Her second favourite is the shady relationship between Stalin, when he was an up and coming revolutionary, and the same Ohkrana . Was he an agent ? Yes and no. He wasn't paid by the government, but he was totally happy to arrange the arrest of his competitors within the Bolshevik Party who might be obstacles to his rise.

The latter case leads into the "overstating the case" part of this. There is little doubt that every radical movement will be infiltrated by the police at some point. They'd hardly be doing their job if they didn't. The statement that there was "no terrorism" during the FLQ crisis except that instigated by the RCMP is a gross overstatement. The RCMP were, indeed, complicit in some of the terrorist acts of that era, but they were innocent of most of them. It's quite simple actually. The acts were done to "establish credibility" amongst an already existing group of people who thought that terrorist tactics were a fine and good thing. I think that the balance of evidence suggests that the Canadian government did not want the turn to terrorism in the early 70s, but that they were simply following the sort of bureaucratic procedure that the above author alludes to. No doubt!!!!! the government of the day was very happy to use the ill advised acts of the FLQ of the time to advance its own interests, but it ascribes a superhuman capacity for planning, execution and subsequent cover-up to the RCMP of the day that simply isn't credible to say that they were the authors of the act.

Whether they "knew about it and let it go ahead anyways" is a totally separate matter. Radical groups in general (especially the deluded radicals of the early 70s) and anarchist groups in particular have more than enough nuts and aggressive people in their ranks to make it a waste of time for the agents of the state to try and build terrorist groups from the ground up. At best the agents often merely catch up to the nuts in their race to martyrdom. Just make sure that your "ears" are connected to such formations so you can keep track of them, and then let (human) nature take its course. Arrest them early if it is a simple police matter. Arrest them late if other goals can be achieved via their actions, whatever these others goals may be, police work or political. Establish your "cred" if it is necessary, but don't make potential disasters for your bosses. THIS accounts for the great 99% of police activity within radical organizations. One should also note that simple "disruption" os a radical movement is often the goal rather than discredidation. You don't have to break the law to spread rumours (more often true than not) about the leadership of a group that you think should be destroyed. Why bother to plot and plant a bomb when simply telling the truth will suffice ?

I have only hinted at the complexity of such situations above. In countries such as the USA (especially with its multiple secret police agencies) and Canada (with the RCMP and CSIS, along with the laughable "military intelligence" centred in Ottawa) an extra layer of bureaucratic rivalry interposes itself. Agencies not only don't cooperate. They often have quite different goals, and what they both encourage and simply permit may be at total variance. The goals of some sort of semi-mythical "ruling class" may have nothing whatsoever to do with the goals of people in a certain bureaucracy, especially as it relates to another. The Air India case is the primary Canadian example of such cross- purposes.

That's all well and good, but what does it mean in terms of practical proposals ? For some time now Molly has been proposing the following:
1)That any anarchist organization worthy of the name should make its opposition to violence quite explicit in its founding principles. This is common sense. You are exposed to arrest and harassment simply for being what you are. Why, on God's Green Earth, do you want to give the prosecution a freebie in eventual trials ? Violence will happen. Mass violence. So-called "revolutionaries" can neither anticipate nor provoke such incidents. All the bullshit about being so smart as to be a "revolutionary" is just that-bullshit. Revolutions happen. They are not created by revolutionaries !!!!! Talking about a revolution never lays the ground for such a thing. Tiny little terrorist acts which usually approach the term of "juvenile violence" are even less likely to do anything practical.
2)Quit demonizing the enemy !!!! The police are neither "pigs" nor "thugs". In a radical sense they are opponents who are both bigger and smarter (because of their wide base of recruitment) than you are. Treat them as the opponents they are. Respect for the opponent is one of the cardinal rules of military strategy. Those who believe their own propaganda are often doomed to fail. In a more class-based view of society today they are "necessary" in our present time. YES I mean that. The role of the police is not just to protect class rule, though they do that often enough. They are also the agents of enforcing what we, the great majority of the people, consider to be "acceptable behavior" . Hopefully in an "anarchist society" we would have no police, but until that great millennium one can say that far too many "revolutionaries" would institute a police force that would be far more brutal and effective than what we have today. As to "demonization" I will guarantee that the people entrusted to enforce social norms in an anarchist society will be exactly the same as our present police. The difference would be that there would be fewer rules to enforce and that the general population would be enforcing much of what is presently "police functions".
3)Molly has a "simple solution" to this conundrum. Molly believes that anarchism should be organized, and she also believes that such anarchist organizations (in the plural) should have the maturity to denounce anarchist "deviations" in no uncertain terms, as well as to both denounce violence carried out by non-anarchists and to point out the greater violence of the state. THIS is not "taking the other side" as ideologues would claim. It is simply the mark of a mature movement that actually thinks rather than just acts.


Anonymous said...

It's pretty sad that you feel so free to post such misinformation about police activity and anarchist groups. I've been part of anarchist groups that have been infiltrated by the police. The vast majority of the time, the police are there to COLLECT INFORMATION about what a group is planning and who the members are. The idea that the police infiltrate groups to agitate them to do illegal acts is pure myth.

One thing people like yourself refuse to understand is that rational people in social movements choose to use violent tactics for some very legitimate reasons. The support for violence as a tactic is very widespread, which surprises even people like me who support violent tactics, yet gravitate towards nonviolence.

mollymew said...

You say "the vast majority of times". I SAID 99% of the time. Did you bother to read the comments or did you just jump on your hobby horse of defending violence ?
Yes,yes, yes, there are sane rational people that might support violence in certain situations. The problem is that there are precious few such situations and none of them involve the sort of "anarchists" that bullshit about violence. Speaking of percentages I'll go even further than 99%. I like to describe a cat fight as 95% noise and 5% action. Anarchist, and leftists in general, mercifully have a 99.999% noise to 0.001% action ratio in this regard.
Bullshit plain and simple. Yes, there are rational people who support violent tactics in certain situations. The problem is that NONE of them are the anarchists you are familiar with because NONE of them are it in situations where such tactics are appropriate.
As to mythology and the idea that police never "infiltrate groups to agitate them to do illegal acts", just listen to your self. Have you NEVER heard the expression "sting operation" ? Or another one- a "sting gone wrong" ? These things are part and parcel of regular police procedure, and they are usually applied to groups that the police consider (REALISTICALLY!!!) more important than tiny leftist sects. There is a fine line between what the police are allowed to do during such operations- a lot of law breaking is excused- and what constitutes entrapment. This line is crossed hundreds of times a year across the continent in various operations.
In leftist sects and anarchist mutual admiration societies all the infiltrator usually has to do is keep up with the collective shovelling of militant bullshit talk. Very little effort is involved, and the only contribution is helping to keep up the delusions of grandeur that the groups suffer under. As to actually "doing something" it may be a rather low level clownish act such as the (mythical according to your view)situation where undercover agents were exposed at the recent Montebello protests trying to start rock throwing. Love those "myths".

Anonymous said...

Why should "anarchists" be against "violence" in general? The vast majority of anarchists have always supported and participated in the violent struggle for social revolution. Bakunin, Louise Michel, Joseph Dejacque, Carlo Cafiero, Malatesta, Kropotkin, Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman and Sacco & Vanzetti are just some of the most well-known examples of anarchists who were not non-violent. Some anarchists have been against all violence. So stop making false generalizations. Violence is part of life. Animals eat each other. It's a question of what kind of violence is acceptable given different circumstances.

mollymew said...

As I said in the original comments- if you would bother to read them rather than trying to justify an unjustifiable position- "violence happens". What I WILL repeat here is that all the bullshit on the part of so-called "revolutionary" groups, anarchist and otherwise advances the cause of such a "revolution" NOT ONE TINY LITTLE NANOMETER. This is applicable to ALL industrialized states, and the number of countries where the "peasant war/foco" alternative of "revolutionism" (which is the bullshit in the abscence of a revoutionary into "revolutionist" (the genuine McCoy, the REAL thing)has been progressively shrinking throughout the last century and is practically non-existent now. Most (but not all)of the people you mentioned were quite clear about the difference between a "revolution" and the futile actions of a self-proclaimed 'revolutionary elite", whatever name it gives itself-anarchist or otherwise.

I am old enough to rememember the nonsense of the New left as it degenerated into mindless Maoism, delusions of omnipotence and violence for the sake of violence. People then argued as you do, and they were just as wrong then as you are now. Nowadays even some of the "old personnel" are trying to make a comeback within anarchism, which now virtually defines the ultra-left, changing their set of heroes (switch Mao for Bakunin, etc.)but not their goals- which are very far from an anarchist society, let alone a society worth living in period.

My view is rather simple. It's about time for anarchism to "grow up". I have actually been in a country- Spain- where the anarchist movement has a sustained and important influence on perhaps 5% of the population. I'd like to see that happen elsewhere, including in my own country Canada. To do that requires some verrrry boring long term organizational work, and it requires anarchists who are NOT navel gazers, who recognize that the sort of cultism so popular in the USA, the very heartland of cults, is NOT how to reach out to ordinary people. It requires anarchists who are VERY UNCOMFORTABLE in a tiny enclosed world of self-congratulation, even if it has become large enough to offer such comfort.

Violence on the part of the majority of a community or the majority of a whole society is one thing. Goofballs who want to get beaten by the cops repeatedly or who want to engage in what is best described as "kindergarden level terrorism" are quite another.

A goal of 5% "influence"(NOT convinced anarchists but "influence") may seem far less romantic than "social revolution" or the bizarre "anti-social revolution" of abolishing civilization, but it happens to be a realistic goal while the self deluded fools who romanticize actions that merely repulse the vast majority of ordinary people are usually operating under the great and grevious delusion that they have greater than the 0.000001% influence that they actually have.

In sum I say it is time for the movement to "grow up". A movement that can make the sort of breakthrough into the general population will have to carefully choose issues that appeal to ordinary people, will have to avoid tactics that offend them and will also have to guard itself against prosecution as its grows. One of the great reasons why there is so little of the so-called "mythical" provacateur action that you think is imaginary (I doubt you actually believe this "false generalization" yourself- seems like an obvious rhetorical trick to me)is simply and plainly that the anarchist movement is, as yet, so goddamn unimportant.

If we succeed in making a breakthrough by avoiding what is offensive to ordinary people and by actually addressing their concerns bullshit about violence becomes a great liability. It fills court dockets and drains a movement. That is why guy, the attempt to get away from this purple show off prose should begin now. Right fucking now actually. It serves no purpose except to impede the growth of a movement that I hope will grow.

I have at least a little bit of understanding for a young person in the full glow of their hormones who wants to "get their rocks off" by pointlessly challenging the police. The "vast majority", to use one of your terms again, will eventually back away and silently slip away into the night, somewhat nostalgic and somewhat appalled by their youthful enthusiasm and arrogance. I have NO sympathy for those who reach middle age and who continue to insist that ANY movement(anarchist or otherwise) remain in a condition of juvenile ineffectiveness.

I would submit that the vast majority of anarchists worldwide, and even in the heartland of cultism, the USA, are now quietly opting for gradual and practical proposals and NOT the flashy show-off actions that are proposed by some so-called anarchists. We'll see if I am right or not.

Ernest said...

You said: "any anarchist organization worthy of the name should make its opposition to violence quite explicit in its founding principles."

And you haven't answered why anarchists should do so. You point to Spain as a leading example of anarchism's effect within a society. And in what context did it get that way? Violence on both sides of the class war. Durruti and Ascaso advocated working class violence. They killed bosses and police. They patiently listened to pacifist anarchists but then explained they were not against violence. Everything has a context. Everything can be reduced to abstractions. Different methods flourish or flounder depending on many different circumstances. No one method is "revolutionary". Violence is not inherently elitist. The difference between small acts of violence against the class enemy and revolution is obvious and it has nothing to do with whether or not anarchists should declare themselves to be against violence. The anarchists I've mentioned did know the difference and all of them also engaged in violence on one level or another, except for maybe Kropotkin, who at least defended working class violence in his writings and escaped from prison (which some would consider "violent").

"In the midst of discontent, talk, theoretical discussions, an individual or collective act of revolt supervenes, symbolizing the dominant aspirations. It is possible that at the beginning the masses will remain indifferent. It is possible that while admiring the courage of the individual or the group which takes the initiative, the masses will at first follow those who are prudent and cautious, who will immediately describe this act as 'insanity' and say that 'those madmen, those fanatics will endanger everything.'"
- Kropotkin

mollymew said...

Indeed there is "context". Before getting to the punchline- you provided what is known in the entertainment business as a "straight line", let's do a little visit to Quote City. Guess who said the following,
"Comrades, ...the group to which I belong, whose members you all know, believe that the recent eruption of robberies is a serious threat to our movement and could lead to our practical decomposition if it isn't stopped in one way or another. ...That's a serious problem because it confuses people about our real motives. The CNT is a revolutionary workers' organization...the Prisoner Support Committee exists to help workers who fall in the battle, not to supply lawyers and other types of aid to petty thieves captured by the police....we propose that the FAI urge each of its members to get the union to which he belongs TO DISTANCE ITSELF FROM SUCH ACTIONS< AND< ALSO< THAT NO PRACTICAL SUPPORT OF ANY KIND BE PROVIDED TO INDIVIDUALS INVOLVED IN SUCH ENDEAVORS."

The person who said these words was also instrumental in making sure that the Prisoner Support Committees offered no aid whatsoever to the petty criminals he spoke about. Full marks if you guessed the name of Durruti, and you can read all about it in Chapter XXIV of Paz's biography of him, entitled 'Banditry, No; Colective Expropriation, Yes!' As this individual also said, "tactics overcome by history must be left in the past, because they are now counter-productive and outdated".

That's all very nice and in the past that you think I referred to, but- the punchline- I wasn't talking about the Spain of the 1930s. I was talking about today's Spain, not now, not right now but right fucking now. In the year of our Lord 2008 !!!!

I made it very plain why such violent tactics should not only be avoiuded but also condemned. Two simple reasons: 1)they waste the time and resources of militants and organizations in the defense of stupid, useless and counterproductive "actions". Every dollar spent and every minute wasted in promoting, acting on and defending such tactics could better be spent on other things (amongst which are totally non-political pleasures which at least don't set the cause back) and 2) While such actions may "pump up" the delusions of a closed ingroup about their effectiveness and importance they drive the sort of normal people that anarchism should be speaking to away in droves.

Get out your calculator because here come a few ratios. In Spain TODAY the anarcho-syndicalist CGT recently claimed to have received the votes of close to 2 million Spanish workers in the workplace elections. Now there might be a certain amount of exaggeration in the claim, but let's take it as a given. The population of Spain is about 40.4 million. That of the USA is about 301.1 million. Do the calculation. In American terms this would come out as 14.9 million people !!!! Do yopu have the foggiest idea of what that means ? The highest AFL-CIO membership was back in 1975 when it stood at 14.1 million, and it has been declining ever since. The TOTAL union membership in the USA is only 15.7 million nowadays. The figures would be less dramatic if compared to my own country Canada (an equivalent of 1.6 million people), but even this would be impressive.

I have often mentioned my admiration of anarchism in Spain today with the mention of a "5% influenceon the population". The CGT is merely the most prominant of the Spanish organizations, not the only one. How did the present day !!!!! Spanish anarchists do this ? NOT by dressing up in silly masks, tavelling across their country and getting the snot beat out of them by the police time after time after time. NOT by firebombing SUV dealerships. NOT by making kissy face with Maoist thugs who make "jail-house conversions" to anarchism. NOT by getting into Time Magazine by making kissy face with a psychotic killer- the Unibomber- who is far worse than any Maoist. NOT by treating such things with kid gloves and "analyzing" them.

They succeeded by actually paying attention to what ordinary people were concerned about, by doing the hard work of day to day organization to do something about these concerns, by leavinga side th apocalypic dreams to concentrate on the here and now, by distancing their organizations from such lunacy. Yes...that is what should be done. As I've said many times before anarchism is a growing movement that should leave the things of its childhood behind.

ernest said...

And after Durruti said that about robberies he was challenged by an anarchist who pointed out that Durruti himself had taken part in robberies, to which Durruti responded that it was true but the CNT had gotten to the point that it had surpassed such actions. He said nothing about violence. He continued to take part in war, the most extreme form of violence.

As far as your two simple reasons against violence:

1) Don't waste your time and resources in the defense of what you see as stupid, useless and counterproductive "actions". Nobody asked for your support.Pacifist anarchists gave places to stay to Durruti and Ascaso back in their heydays even thought they disagreed with them. That was their choice. Just as you can choose to disagree with all violence.

2) Many normal people are far more violent than anarchists. Most people don't believe in turning the other cheek in the face of violence. And as Malatesta said, the slave is always in a state of legitimate self-defense.

Anarchism means "without rulers" not "without violence". Most anarchists have not rejected working class violence as a whole. Most anarchists have supported fighting for anarchy with violence against the violence of State and Capital.

"Let us salute every act of revolt; salute everyone who smashes windows in shops; salute robbers because they too are in revolt against society; salute revolt in every form."
- Louise Michel, early french anarchist, London, May Day, 1891