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Why We Oppose the Police

From Sprout Distro:

We’re re-posting this article (“Why We Oppose the Police”), because as is so often the case, many of the discussions locally about Ferguson, resistance, and police tend to be very shallow and are severally limited by myths of necessity, reform, and nonviolence.

There’s also a new zine version of the article that we encourage folks to print and distribute. It should be useful in counter-acting many of the tired arguments that come up whenever people take steps to challenge and resist the forces that enforce the status quo.

Why We Oppose the Police

Criticism of opposition to the police usually falls into one of five categories. The first common argument is that the police, as our fellow workers, are also exploited members of the proletariat, and should therefore be our allies. Unfortunately, there is a vast gap between “should” and “is.” The police exist to enforce the will of the powerful; anyone who has not had a bad experience with them is likely either privileged or submissive. Today’s police officers, at least in North America, know exactly what they’re getting into when they join the force; people in uniform don’t just get cats out of trees in this country. Yes, most take the job because of what they feel to be economic necessity, but needing a paycheck is no excuse for obeying orders to evict families, harass young men of color, or pepper spray demonstrators; those whose consciences can be bought are everyone else’s enemies, not potential allies.

This argument could be more persuasive if it was couched in strategic terms, rather than Marxist abstractions: for example, “Every revolution succeeds at the moment the armed forces refuse to make war on their fellows; therefore we should focus on seducing the police to our side of the barricades.” But again, the police are not just any workers; they are the ones who have most deliberately chosen to base their livelihoods and value systems upon the prevailing order, and thus are the least likely to be sympathetic to those who struggle against hierarchy. This being the case, it makes sense to focus on opposing the police as such, not on seeking solidarity with them. So long as they serve their masters, they cannot be our allies; by publicly deriding the police as an institution, we encourage individual police officers to seek other employment, so we can find common cause with them.

The second argument is that the police can win any confrontation, so we shouldn’t invest ourselves in strategies that involve confronting them [1]. It may seem that, with all their guns and armor and equipment, the police are invincible, but this is an illusion. They are limited by all sorts of invisible constraints—bureaucracy, public opinion, their own need to avoid inconvenient escalation. This is why a motley crowd armed only with the tear gas canisters shot at them can hold off a larger, more organized, better equipped force; contests between social unrest and military might are not played out according to the rules of military engagement.

Those who have studied the police, who can predict what they are prepared for and what they can and cannot do, can usually outsmart and outmaneuver them. Such small victories can be inspiring for those who chafe under the heel of police repression, as well as instrumental in accomplishing concrete goals. In the collective unconscious of our society, the police are the ultimate bastion of reality, the force that ensures that things stay the way they are; to fight them and win, however temporarily, is to show that reality is negotiable.

The third argument is that the police are a mere distraction from the real enemy, not worth our wrath or attention. Alas, state power is not just the politicians; they would be powerless without the millions who do their bidding. When we contest their control, we are also contesting the submission of their flunkies, and we are sure sooner or later to come up against those of the latter who insist on submitting. That being said, it’s true that the police are no more integral to hierarchy than the oppressive dynamics in our own communities; they are simply the external manifestation, on a larger scale, of the same phenomena. If we are to contest hierarchy everywhere, rather than specializing in combating certain forms of it while leaving others unchallenged, we have to be prepared to take it on both in the streets and in our own bedrooms; we can’t expect to win on one front without fighting on the other. We shouldn’t fetishize confrontations with uniformed foes, we shouldn’t forget the power imbalances in our own ranks—but neither should we be content merely to manage the details of our own oppression in a non-hierarchical manner [2].

The fourth and most despicable argument is that we need police. According to this line of thinking, even if we can aspire to live in a society without police in the distant future, we need them today, for people are not ready to live with each other in peace without armed enforcers. As if the social imbalances and submissiveness maintained by the violence of the police are peace! Opponents of the police need not even answer this charge, however. It’s not as if a police-free society is suddenly going to appear overnight, for good or for ill, just because someone spraypaints “Fuck the Police” on a wall—if only it was so easy! The protracted struggle it is going to take to free our communities of police repression will probably go on as long as it takes us to learn to coexist peacefully; indeed, no community incapable of sorting out its own conflicts can expect to triumph against a more powerful occupying force. In the meantime, anti-police sentiments should be seen as objections to one of the most advanced and egregious forms of conflict between human beings, not arguments that without police there would be no conflict at all; and those who argue that the police sometimes do good things bear the burden of proving that those same good things could not be accomplished at least as well by other means.

The final and most nuanced objection to militant resistance against police oppression is the pacifist critique of violence itself. According to this account, violence is inherently a form of domination, and thus inconsistent with opposition to domination; those who engage in violence play the same game as their oppressors, thereby losing from the outset. Others hold that violence enforces unequal power dynamics in some cases, while in other cases it contests them—that is to say, there is such a thing as self-defense. For those whose value system is still descended from Christianity, keeping one’s hands clean of immoral behavior is the top priority, at whatever cost; for the rest of us, who desire to be free of superstitious prohibitions, the most important thing is what will work, in a given context, to make the world a better place. Sometimes—to name an obvious example, in the struggle against Nazi Germany—this may include violence.

To make this clear: yes, cops are people too, and deserve the same respect due all living things. The point is not that they deserve to suffer, or that we have to bring them to justice—that’s Christian morality again, dealing in currencies of superstition and resentment. The point is that, in purely pragmatic terms, in order that others not have to suffer, it may be necessary to interrupt, by militant and confrontational means, the injustices perpetrated by police officers. It can be empowering for those who have spent their lives under the heel of oppression to contemplate finally settling the score with their oppressors; however, a real liberation struggle does not focus on exacting revenge, but rather on solving problems so that all might have better lives. Therefore, while it may even sometimes be necessary to set police on fire, this should not be done out of a spirit of vengeful self-righteousness, but from a place of careful thought and compassion—if not for the police themselves, then for all those who would otherwise suffer at their hands.

One could make the argument that encouraging people to struggle against the police does more to publicize disapproval of them than to cause actual assaults. One could even argue that it thereby does a service not only for those who suffer police oppression, but also for the families of police officers and even for the officers themselves—for not only do police officers have a disproportionately high rate of domestic violence and child abuse, they also get killed, commit suicide, and become addicts with disproportionate frequency. Anything that demoralizes police officers and delegitimizes their authority, thus encouraging them to quit their posts, is in their best interest as well as the interest of their loved ones and society at large.

[1] Some people are thrilled when the Zapatistas or others far away in space, time, and culture confront and defeat their oppressors, and gladly use the photographs from those engagements to illustrate their publications, but oppose doing anything of the sort here in the heart of the beast, where the powers that would destroy the Zapatistas and others are most deeply rooted.

[2] Just as there is a sort of person who would rather physically fight external enemies than acknowledge his own shortcomings, there is another sort who prefers the comparatively safe project of critiquing his comrades to the risky business of confronting the armed enforcers of social inequality.


The post Why We Oppose the Police appeared first on Sprout Distro.

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’tis The Season Of——

      As 2014 draws to a close, we should do well to remember that, "'tis the season of-----" sleeping rough and homelessness. Figures for those sleeping rough in England, state that there were 2,414 rough sleepers at any time during 2013, an increase of 5% on the previous year. Government figures, (England) for homeless applications for 2014 were 27,970. Families in temporary accommodation for 2014 was 60,940, up 6.1% on 2013. It is also accepted that 62% of single people homeless is hidden, sofa surfing etc.
         "'tis also the season of-----" workfare, working for no salary. An employer's dream. Government figures state that the so called "work experience Scheme", which is an 8 week placement, usually in the private sector, is expected to put more than a quarter of a million people in work without pay. However the government refuses to state how many of the 850,000 people already on their "work program" have been forced to work for no pay. 
           "'tis also the season of-----" sanctions. Government figures show that sanctions, (stopping of benefit) on Employment and Support Allowance claimants were approximately 4.5 times higher this year than the same period last year. The first three months of 2014 saw 15,955 individuals on ESA sanctioned, up from 3,574 for the same period in 2013.
             This is just some of the "good cheer" that is being visited on vast sections of our community, by the privileged, pampered parasites, that manage the system on behalf of the financial Mafia. At this time of year, those who legislate to bring this penury to our communities, will be sitting and wallowing in unearned wealth, no worries about heating, which one of their homes they happen to be in. No worries about putting ample food on the table, and no worries about the bills after the event. Why do we put up with it?
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The Weekly Libertarian Leftist and Chess Review 61

George H. Smith begins discussing the ideas of Bishop Butler. Matt Peppe discusses the U.S. invasion of Panama. Patrick Cockburn discusses the torture report. Kevin Carson discusses the question that Michael Lind has yet to answer. David Roediger discusses the defenders of police violence. David Stockman discusses Wall Street crony capitalist plunder. Sheldon Richman discusses…

Continue reading at Center for a Stateless Society …

Why We Oppose the Police

From Anarres Press Criticism of opposition to the police usually falls into one of five categories. The first common argument is that the police, as our fellow workers, are also exploited members of the proletariat, and should therefore be our allies. Unfortunately, there is a vast gap between “should” and “is.” The police exist to…

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Big Business and the Rise of American Statism on Feed 44

C4SS Feed 44 presents “Big Business and the Rise of American Statism” from the book Markets Not Capitalism, written by Roy A. Childs, read by Stephanie Murphy and edited by Nick Ford.

The purpose of this particular essay is simply to apply some of the principles of libertarianism to an interpretation of events in a very special and important period of human history. I have attempted to give a straightforward summary of New Left revisionist findings in one area of domestic history: the antitrust movement and Progressive Era. But I have done so not as a New Leftist, not as a historian proper, but as a libertarian, that is, a social philosopher of a specific school.

In doing this summary, I have two interrelated purposes: first, to show Objectivists and libertarians that certain of their beliefs in history are wrong and need to be revised under the impact of new evidence, and simultaneously to illustrate to them a specific means of approaching historical problems, to identify one cause of the growth of American statism and to indicate a new way of looking at history.

Secondly, my purpose is to show New Left radicals that far from undermining the position of laissez-faire capitalism (as opposed to what they call state capitalism, a system of government controls which is not yet socialism in the classic sense), their historical discoveries actually support the case for a totally free market. Then, too, I wish to illustrate how a libertarian would respond to the problems raised by New Left historians.

Finally, I wish implicitly to apply Occam’s razor by showing that there is a simpler explanation of events than that so often colored with Marxist theory. Without exception, Marxist postulates are not necessary to explain the facts of reality.

Feed 44:

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Not about being deranged, about becoming deranged

Latest piece from Vets: I thought I was writing a music piece...go figure?
Comments are again anyone can go to the places my readers go from where I start amazes me and kind of scares me. Now, get in line with the 200 Mosaic laws or the Zionists will send a drone after you. 
Christmas should not be about being a crazy sonofabitch. That's for New Year's, President's Day and St Patrick's Day. Christmas may be about hope, peace, love overcome by futility and inadequacy and frustration -- Frank Costanza beating a man senseless trying to buy a doll for George and thus inventing Festivus, which is a logical reaction to stimulus -- but it's not about being a crazy sonofabitich conspiracy nut. Didn these people not get the memo?
Anyway, nobody ever wrote a good song about President's Day..except maybe this one. 


So, To Summarize …

In 1950, the US went to (undeclared, and under pro forma UN auspices) war with North Korea.

In 1953, the parties (the US, the UN, South Korea on one side, North Korea on the other) negotiated a cease-fire, which has now been in effect for 61 years.

Over the years, various incidents have occurred which strained the cease-fire. From the point of view of an American media consumer, most of those incidents (the taking of the USS Pueblo, sinking of the ROKS Cheonan, the artillery duel on and around Yeonpyeong, etc.) have been blamed on the north, but …

Earlier this year, Kim Jong-Un’s regime declared that the impending release of a film, The Interview, constituted an act of war. And we all laughed. Well, most of us laughed. I know I did.

Then, earlier this month, the studio releasing the film — an American subsidiary of a Japanese company — came under cyber attack by hackers unknown. Part of the fallout from that hack was disclosure that, well, the production and planned release of The Interview WAS pretty much an act of war. That is, the US government encouraged and facilitated its production for the clearly stated purpose of encouraging the assassination of Kim Jong Un and the overthrow of his regime.


Now, most of us are probably still laughing.

I still was, until the Obama regime announced its certainty — unbacked by any disclosure of real evidence, that’s “classified,” see? — that the Kim regime was behind the hack and that the Obama regime plans some regime-to-regime retaliation.

Well, now. This shit is starting to get real all of a sudden, isn’t it?

Could the US go to back to open war with the DPRK over the matter? I’d like to laugh at that notion, too, but then I remember what the Obama regime has done or tried to do to individuals who have initiated embarrassing disclosures about it (the four who come immediately to mind are Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden and Barrett Brown).

When the US accuses a foreign government of doing things that it has jailed (or tried to jail) and exiled people for, war doesn’t really seem beyond the realm of likelihood. And the US government’s bellicosity abroad seems to run on the same cycle as its descents into banana republicanism and police statism at home. We’re at a pretty high tempo on the latter front right now, for reasons including but not limited to the Ferguson intifada. New attempts at Internet control and censorship here at home, with the Sony hack as an excuse, will almost certainly top the next session of Congress’s to-do list.

Kinda scary.

[cross-posted from KN@PPSTER]

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the greatest story ever told

people do look awfully grim about the war between kim jong un and seth rogen, but i just want to point out that it is the greatest story ever, just a complete delight. when 10th graders in 2153 read about american history, seth rogen will be the major figure, the turning point, like lincoln or napoleon. we have lived through the moment when seth rogen went from so-lame-it's-funny comedian to world-bestriding colussus. this will be remembered as the era in which americans followed seth rogen unquestioningly to our doom. the seth rogen era, world war seth, was always where the inevitable process of history was going to end up. now only james franco can save or redeem us.

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Response to, “5 Legal Rights Women Have That Men Don’t”

(Nick’s Notes: Responding to this.) >Genital integrityHow many legal abortion clinics exist in the US? Apparently over 1,000 as of 2011 which isn’t very many. And as reported by Guttmacher (“Is it difficult for women in the United States to reach a provider?”): Some 87% of U.S. counties do not have an abortion provider and 35% of women […]

Continue reading at The Anarchist Township …

Carl Sagan and the Beginning of History

Our pale blue dot has circled its star eighteen times since it lost the astronomer who gave us the perspective to see it that way — and that phrase.

Carl Sagan is not usually remembered as a political prophet, aside from pioneering recognition of the dangers of nuclear war and remaining an inspiration to opponents of drug criminalization. But his inquiry probed any political order’s taboo “set of forbidden possibilities, which its citizenry and adherents must not at any cost be permitted to think seriously about” (like the USSR’s “capitalism, God, and the surrender of national sovereignty” or the USA’s “socialism, atheism, and the surrender of national sovereignty”). Otherwise, it would wither, as with antiquity’s Alexandrians who never “seriously challenged the political, economic and religious assumptions of their society. The permanence of the stars was questioned; the justice of slavery was not.”

While not a radical leftist like his feminist wife and coauthor Ann Druyan or his New Leftist friend Saul Landau (who, in a sign of the up-in-the-air alliances of the times, contributed to the Cato Institute’s Inquiry Magazine), his liberalism was influenced by the ferment of SDS’s participatory democracy Whole Earth Catalog-style emancipatory technology. It was thus steadfastly in favor of civil liberties, people power, and sexual liberation, and highly wary of moral panics and calls to trade freedoms for security. Despite being vilified by a right dominated by National Review hawkishness, he sought common ground with pro-lifers. As he said of Albert Einstein, he “was always to detest rigid disciplinarians, in education, in science, and in politics,” and his distrust of politics was evident in proposing “[a] series in which we relive the media and the public falling hook, line and sinker for a coordinated government lie.”

He took note that the flowering of inquisitive, tolerant values in ancient Greece and Renaissance Holland grew from their trading economies; as his muse Bertrand Russell put it,

The relation of buyer and seller is one of negotiation between two parties who are both free; it is most profitable when the buyer or seller is able to understand the point of view of the other party. There is, of course, imperialistic commerce, where men are forced to buy at the point of the sword; but this is not the kind that generates Liberal philosophies, which have flourished best in trading cities that have wealth without much military strength.

His antidote for the existential crises of nuclear war and environmental damage was not consensus reasonable-centrism — he was apprehensive of the triumphalist The End of History prediction “that political life on Earth is about to settle into some rock-stable liberal democratic world government” — but the widest possible experimentation. He recommended two of the great science fiction depictions of functional stateless societies: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, with its “useful suggestions… for making a revolution in a computerized technological society,” and Eric Frank Russell’s “conceivable alternative economic systems or the great efficiency of a unified passive resistance to an occupying power.” He hoped the inspiration of such ideas would make a reality “the beginning, much more than the end, of history.”

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