Monday, December 24, 2007

News: Lakota Free State

I have not had the time to update lately, as I have been busy engaging in debaucheries activity here in Vegas. That and there is not free Internet anywhere in this damned town. To make up for that, I wanted to put up a recent news article that I have not heard too much about in the presses.

Sometime last week, a small group of Lakota Sioux Indians withdrew from all treaties and declared their land an independent autonomous zone. The actor, libertarian politicians, and Indian rights activist Russell Means stated that, "we are no longer citizens of the United States of America and all those who live in the five-state area that encompasses our country are free to join us." The newly free Sioux country plans on printing its own currency, passports, and driver licenses all while remaining tax-free for all who renounce their United States Citizenship for the newly created Sioux Nations.

Though the actions of Russell Means, a libertarian who has ran on the Republican ticket for Vice-President, and the small group of Sioux appears to be more of a media action than an actual threat to US power but it does bring up the importance of Dual Power in radical activism.

Dual Power, is a Leninist phrase that is the revolutionary creation of counter-institutions within a state. The goal of duel power is to provide alternative institutions that undermine the state by questioning the states sovereignty over police and welfare actions. The anarchist federation, Love and Rage, first incorporated dual power into American anarchist politics during the early 1990s. The group, attempted to posit dual power as being the central component of a revolutionary politics; taking from the Zapatista's the lesson that dual power organizing can threaten the state while revolutionaries engage in a protracted war against the state.

What does this mean in relation to the Lakota Sioux? In my opinion, the Sioux action has the potential to invigorate the importance of dual power within the Anarchist milieu for the first time since Love and Rage and also provides the first opportunity, since the height of the AIM movement in the 1970s, to provide the indigenous community of the US with community control. I personally see dual power to be an important part of Anarchist politics as it provides a much-needed space to create revolution spaces and allows for experimentation. As activists we can try different programs and engage in different tactics and see what works. It also allows for us, as a community, to set up community run programs organized to provide mutual aid, all while weakening the dependence of people on the state and empowering people to take their lives into their own hands. I personally, hold very little hope for this action. It is not because the Sioux cannot take care of themselves, it is more along the line that I do not trust Russell Means to provide any radical or revolutionary inspiration for the movement. This, if anything, appears to be a more legitimate and inspirational version of the Patriot Movement throughout the West. I hope that I am wrong and that the newly freed spaces do more for the people who live there and do more for the radical movement in the US more generally, I just do not see that happening. So Sioux nation prove me wrong!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Why the Police are not Your Friend: Part 1

One of the biggest reasons people give for rejecting anarchism is their fear of what will happen in a world without police protecting them. To deal with this issue I want to look into two myths surrounding the police (with more to come later): first, that not all cops are bad, and secondly that they have a dangerous job.

Sometime in the next week or two, I will attempt to dispel two other myths: 1) that the cops are there to protect you and 2) the cops deter crime.

Myth 1: "Not all cops are bad"

The Chicago Tribune today published an expose that looked into the 200+ incidents of police shootings going back for 10 years. The report noted that a person is shot by the police once ever 10 days in Chicago and that in less than 1% of the around 250 incidents the police officers are found at fault. In the other 99ish% the police officers get off, often even before the autopsy is completed and before testimony from witness is recorded. In many instances, the police oversight review board did not even interview one witness nor look at any of the forensic or autopsy reports.

The Chicago Tribune reports also claims that at least 12 of the people killed where shot in the back, often from very close range. In one of this instance Cornelious Ware, was shot to death by 5 plain clothes police officers who claimed they saw him wave a gun. His 15 and 13 year old siblings claimed otherwise. The forensics evidence came back and showed that the gun found at the scene had no blood on it, even though Ware was shot in the hand that was theoretically holding the gun.

Of course, the police officers where found to be free of all charges and let to go back to work. The civil courts found otherwise, as early this year a Chicago jury sided with the Wares and before the verdict came out the police department gave the family nearly 6 million dollars to keep quiet. The civil court found that the police officers shot and killed Ware and then placed a gun to cover their asses. They originally got off because the oversight board refused to interview people, miss quoted the witnesses (removing the fact that he was unarmed), and refused to look at the autopsy evidence. In addition, the protocol in the Chicago police department is to let the officers meet together before writing an incident report. This allows all the officers to get their stories straight and to fabricate what needs to be fabricated.

What we have here is systemic police misconduct, abuses of power, and departmental cover-ups. It might not be earth shattering information for most people to hear this but it helps dispel the myth that "not all cops are bad." Why is this? Because, this expose shows that there is an institutional framework set-up within the Chicago police department (and ever other major cities) that obfuscates and distorts truth in order to defend police misconduct. This not-so-thin blue line has to go all the way up to the Chief of police and the politicians in the windy city. It also has to include almost the entire police department. It even implicates those theoretical "good cops" who for some reason or another decided to remain silent while hundreds of their fellow cops murdered, raped, and terrorized the mostly black neighborhoods of Chicago. These theoretical good cops, who had to know about the misconduct, could have told the news reporters and made a stand against this gross abuse of power, instead they remained quiet. To quote Edmund Burke (who I rarely quote), "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." In this instance, the "good men" did nothing, and because of it the "bad men" killed well over 200 people. My question is how good could those "good cops" have been? Maybe they where just following orders or did not fully know what was going on? But it seems I have heard that argument before elsewhere

What also comes out of this story is how horrible a job police oversight boards do. These boards are always just rubber stamps for police decisions. Instead of looking into misconduct and attempting they instead just provide a legal cover-up for the police. The CopWatch program is a much better and more successful way of addressing and stopping police misconduct.

Myth 2: "Cops have a tough and dangerous job"

The other argument in defense of the police is that "they have a tough and dangerous job." This argument is also fallacious. If you look at the statistics there are 676,000 police officers in this country and last year and 147 died on duty (this includes all who died from heart attacks, car accidents, etc). This brings the death rate for police officers to be 21 per 100,000 putting them below carpenters, electricians, coal miners, convenience store workers, and about 30-40 other professions. This number is actually only slightly higher then the death rate in child-birth last year (which was 17 out of 100,000). So if you think the cops have a dangerous job what about the soon to be mothers who are putting their life on the line (nearly as on the line as the police are) in order to have a child? Or the roofer who is always one bad step from killing himself should be allowed the right to kill or maim people.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Lets get ready to welcome the RNC...or Not!

The RNC this year this election cycle is going to have its convention in the wonderful city of Minneapolis. BIG MISTAKE! For those who do not know about Minneapolis, it has a long radical and anarchist history. In recent years, Minneapolis has been the starting point for such important radical organizations as Anti-Racist Action, Love and Rage Anarchist Federation, the revolutionary anarchist bowling league, and Profane Existence. The city has a great radical book stores (Arise! and Mayday Books), vegan restaurants (Sewards Coop and Hard Times Cafe) and radical activists. There must be something in the cold weather and cheap beer because in general the midwest is tons angrier and more militant then the folks here out west.

To get people pumped up for the event the folks at the RNC Welcoming Committee are coordinating a roadshow and there will hopefully be one in Eugene. The welcoming committee plan to make the event enormous and want to try and shut down the convention. Being that there are countless groups planning on attending from throughout the country I would believe its a possibility. Let me know if anyone wants to help organize some events in Eugene in support of this. Everyone should try to attend! Minneapolis is a great town and easily one of the best cities in this country!

For your enjoyment here is a video from the RNC Welcoming folks. Try to notice all the neat Minneapolis historic spots.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Stolen from Another Site: Animal Enterprise Terrorism 101

I do not normally like doing this but Will Potter, from green is the new red, has written an account of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (2006) that is being published in Herbivore magazine. This law has eroded what few civil liberties animal and environmental activists have - do any activists actually have any legitimate civil rights protections? Look at the police responses to anti-globalization protests and the illegal infiltration and spying on peace groups - and has became a legal way to infiltrate, spy, and imprison, non-violent activist. It is amazing that the Congress had not done anything, to my knowledge, that extended police powers and weakened civil liberties in order to destroy the white power, patriot, or anti-choice movements. Also, it should surprise no one that the democratic leadership walked in lock-step with the conservatives in the passing of this bill. It was even co-sponsored by Dianne Feinstein who worked with her good buddy James Inhofe, the most anti-environmental senator, to get this bill passed without a recorded vote.
Enterprise Terrorism 101
By Will Potter

About this time last year, corporations and the politicians that represent them were steamrolling the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act through Congress with little discussion or debate.

The mainstream press barely batted an eye. And national animal protection groups didn’t either, until the bill passed the Senate and it looked like it might actually become law.

Most people still don’t know about the law, and Project Censored has gone so far as to name it one of the most important, yet underreported, news stories of the year.

Activist communities have been talking about it, though. And, of course, with talk comes plenty of speculation and misinformation. So with the hopes of clearing up some confusion, and educating animal folks so they can spread the word to others, here’s a rundown of some of the basics, kind of an “Animal Enterprise Terrorism” 101.

What is the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act?

It’s a federal law that was passed in late 2006, expanding a previous law called the “Animal Enterprise Protection Act,” and expanding the definition of “animal enterprise terrorism.”

But wait, isn’t that what put the SHAC 7 behind bars?

The SHAC 7 were convicted of “animal enterprise terrorism” under the original law (not the new one) for running a controversial website [link:] that posted news of both legal and illegal actions against an animal testing company, and adamantly supported all of it with plenty of snotty, fiery rhetoric.

They weren’t accused of actually doing the illegal things they posted on their website (breaking windows, or rescuing animals from labs), but the government said that through their website and their words they were guilty of “conspiracy.” So they were convicted of “conspiracy to violate the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act,” “conspiracy to stalk,” and “conspiracy to harass using a telecommunications device.”

So how is this different than the original law?

Supporters say the biggest difference is that the new law expands the definition to include so-called “tertiary targeting.” So, the terrorism law not only protects a factory farm, for instance, but now it officially protects any business that does business with the factory farm. (That’s kind of how the anti-apartheid movement worked, too).

To say this is “new,” though, is B.S. The SHAC 7 were convicted of doing exactly that. They didn’t directly target Huntingdon Life Sciences: they targeted the businesses that did business with Huntingdon Life Sciences. AETA may make the “tertiary targeting” language official, but it’s not a new power.

A more significant difference, though, is that politicians took a law that was already vague and overly broad and made it even more vague and even more broad. It expands the law to punish actions that instill a “reasonable fear” in employees of an animal enterprise, or their families. The problem is that corporations have taken out full-page ads in the New York Times [link:] and launched PR campaigns to label activists as “terrorists,” and make the unreasonable seem reasonable.

The biggest change, though, is perhaps one of the most minute. Labeling the law the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act was a calculated decision. It’s meant to send a very clear and chilling message to animal advocates, and make lawful, everyday folks afraid of being labeled a “terrorist” in post-9/11 America. That’s what this law is all about.

(A blow by blow look at the law is available at

Has anyone been prosecuted under this new law?

No. Ricardo Solano, one of the prosecutors in the SHAC 7 case, has been touting the passage of the AETA and promising industry groups that if animal activists “cross the line, the federal government will not stand idly by.” But so far, the government has not tried to use this new law.

And the previous law, which had been on the books since 1992, was only used twice. Once in the case of Justin Samuel and Peter Young, two activists who released mink from fur farms. And the other in the case of the SHAC 7.

Will I be labeled a terrorist for protesting or leafleting?

I doubt it, for a few reasons. And I should be clear, that’s not because of the language in the law “exempting” First Amendment activity. Anyone with any experience covering Congress or working on the Hill knows that’s hogwash. No law can blatantly outlaw First Amendment activity. Saying, “Trust us! It’s Constitutional!” doesn’t make it so.

Still, I don’t think people should be overly concerned of being rounded up as terrorists for doing something like leafleting outside a KFC. First, there’s limited law enforcement and “anti-terrorism” resources. I think this country is going down a very dangerous path, in terms of rolling back civil liberties, but things aren’t quite that bad (yet).

Second, corporations put a lot of money and resources into pushing this law, and I think they realize that using it to go after something like leafleting or protesting would immediately put it in jeopardy.

What about if I [insert legal or illegal tactic here]?

I don’t mean this is a cop-out, because it is important to question the scope of the law. But, in many ways, when you start asking this question, the law has already done its damage. When you start altering your legal actions and scaling back your nonviolent activism because you’re afraid of this legislation, then the law has already accomplished what its supporters intended.

Who was behind this?

Supporters include the usual suspects Herbivore readers know and love: National Association for Biomedical Research, Fur Commission USA, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Wyeth, United Egg Producers, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and many more. Even the University of California joined the scare-mongering, along with some prominent Democrats.

How the hell did this pass?

It passed the Senate by unanimous consent, with the support of key Democrats including Senator Diane Feinstein: it was rushed through in the middle of the night just hours before Congressional recess for November elections.

It passed the House on the very first day back from the elections, by an obscure procedure called “suspension of the rules” that is meant for non-controversial legislation (like, on the same day, renaming a bridge after the man who created the Roth IRA). Only half a dozen lawmakers were in the room.

Wasn’t Dennis Kucinich the only one to vote against it?

No. Dennis Kucinich spoke against the bill. However, no lawmakers present on the floor of the House, including Kucinich, called for a roll call vote, which would have shown that there weren’t enough members of Congress in the room for a legitimate vote.

So what do we do?

I never quite know how to respond to this. I created as a clearinghouse for news and analysis of the Green Scare: what to do with this information is up to you. So, I’ll turn the tables here. What needs to be done to successfully fight the “Green Scare”? What’s the appropriate response to legislation labeling activists as “terrorists”? How should activists deal with the chilling effect of this “eco-terrorist” scare-mongering?

Defending basic civil liberties in this ever-growing “War on Terrorism” will mean reaching out to other animal activists, other social movements, and the general public to try to answer these questions.

For more ways to raise awareness about the Green Scare, check here.

Monday, December 3, 2007

ALF advicate Peter Young is going to give a talk at the U of O this Thursday at 6

From Portland Indymedia:

Former animal liberation prisioner Peter Young speaks about his time in prison, going underground for animal liberation and more.
There will also be a free vegan meal provided by Food Not Bombs and the presentation of the documentary about the ALF, "all my heroes wear masks"

where? University of Oregon, PLC 180 eugene, or

when? thursday december 6 @ 6pm

admission is free, and there will be a distro and more info about animal rights campaigns

Babylon and Beyond: The Economics of Anti-capitalist, Anti-Globalization and Radical Green Movements by Derek Wall

First my first book review on this site, I will be reviewing Derek Wall's new book. Derek Wall is a major player in the English Greens and is currently serving as the Principal Speaker of the Greens in England. He also teaches classes on economics and is the author of Earth First! and the Anti-Roads Movement: Radical Environmentalism and Comparative Social Movements (2002). He has three blogs: Another green world, Ecosocialists, and Babylon and Beyond all of which are good sources for red-green folks.

His new book Babylon and Beyond is an attempt to map out the current anti-globalization folks and provide a primer on their economic beliefs. He looks at: liberal criticism (George Soros and Joseph Stiglitz), the greens, different strands of 21st century Marxism, and Anarchista and Autonomists. The book does a wonderful overview of the mainstream major players (Soros, Klein, Hardt and Negri) but is very weak when it comes to any of the anarchist or "third world" strands of anti-globalization. The section on Soros and Stiglitz was the one I knew the least about and provided useful commentary on these die-hard wealthy liberals who have come to reject neo-liberal globalization. Both of these individuals are supports and early followers of philosopher Karl Popper. Popper was a philosopher and professor at the London School of Economics and became well known as a rationalist, an empiricist and as a positivist. Popper's most famous book, The Open Society and It's Enemies is a philosophical attack against state-communism and authoritarian regimes and a defense of liberal open societies.

Soros is a billionaire who made the majority of his fortune in the futures market, often buying and selling currencies. Since became a billionaire Soros has become the largest contributor to left-leaning liberal organizations, such as move on and the Daily Kos. Soros took from Popper the concern over an open society and created his philanthropic organization, the Open Society Institute, and turned his attention away from communist (though still attacked them) to unrestrained neo-liberal capitalism.

My main problem with Walls account of this section is his willingness to see these two figures as real critics to the current order and overstating their radical stances. He quotes Stiglitz as saying "For decades, people in the developing world have rioted when the austerity programs imposed on their countries proved to be too harsh…what is new is the wave of protest in developed countries" (quoted in Wall, 25). In response to this quote, which appears to be nothing more than descriptive and provides no normative opinions from Stiglitz, Wall states, "Stiglitz comes closer to endorsing violence against economic repression than any other commentator outside of autonomist anarchism" (Wall, 25). This sort of language permeates this section, with Wall constantly quoting and over-analyzing the statements of Soros and Stiglitz, making them more radical and more of a threat to the neo-liberalism then they are. Though Wall does question their radicalism, he does so by just positing that their policies might be a way for capitalism to save face in an uncertain time (just like the New Deal programs in the 1930s).

In addition, Wall contends that Popper and Karl Polanyi have influenced all the strands of the anti-globalization movement, if intentional or not. I find this very hard to believe, especially with the position of the autonomists and anarchists (especially green anarchists) who reject market systems and the conception of rational actors.

The other major section, for me and probably the people who read this blog, was the chapter on Autonomists and Anarchists. As a quick background, autonomists are followers (in a very loose sense of the word) of autonomists Marxist theories that became popular throughout Italy in the 1970s. The most well known autonomist theorist is Antonio Negri, who with Michael Hardt, wrote the seminal book Empire. The autonomists generally rejected the workerism of the communist parties, traditional Marxism, electoral politics, and rejected the Marxist belief that the worker is the revolutionary agent. To them almost anyone could be included as revolutionary agents, including intellectuals, feminists, queer-rights activists, squatters, workers, etc. Their expansion of the revolutionary category, combined with their rejection of legislative politics and political organization, makes them close allies with anarchists (and it is often impossible to tell the difference). The Autonomists became incredibly influential throughout Europe during the 1980s as black-clad squatters in Germany, Holland, and Denmark all started engaging in street fights and uprisings against neo-Nazi and police agencies (See George Katsiaficas The Subversion of Politics: European Autonomous Social Movements And the Decolonization of Everyday Life.

The lasting, tactical, legacy from this theory is the concept of the black-block. In the black bloc people dress entirely in black - originally black was chosen since that was the color most squatters had - with bandanas, baklavas, or gas masks covering their face. The outfit makes it impossible for the authorities to tell people apart and limits their ability to identify those involved. The goal of the black bloc is to "break the spell" and through acts of violence, often against property (can you be violent against property?) lull people out of the complacency of everyday life. Their tactics are meant to demystify the power of the state, the sanctity of private property and empower individuals to take action into their own hands.

In this chapter, Wall spends the vast majority discussing the Autonomists and Hardt and Negri's Empire. Wall seems rather sympathetic with this work, and though he disagrees with the tactic of property damages, seems to be a fellow traveler with them. What Wall show is his contempt for eco-anarchism, especially neo-primitivism by stating that,

The most extreme green anarchists, who reject civilization and see a society rooted in the primitive, draw heavily upon the work of John Zerzan. Zerzan, originally an autonomist, has argued that even such institutions as written language and agriculture function as instruments of social control (Zerzan 1999). The great refusal demands that we re-create a primitive society. Although suchtheorizing appears insanely extreme, primitivists point to studies such as Marshal Sahlin's The original Affluent Society (1972)" (Wall 135)

In this quote, Wall, first off compares all anti-civilizational anarchists with John Zerzan, something I am sure that Dave Watson and the fifth-estate folks would disagree with, and also creates a shallow argument/Strawman for Zerzan. He does not go into detail and explain why Zerzan opposes civilization or modern technology. Though I disagree with Zerzan on many issues, most importantly the issue of language, I feel that Wall did not give much credence to Zerzan and simply glossed over the primitivist argument without any reason.

From here Wall uses the works of Bookchin and other, more traditional anarchists, to criticize Zerzan and seems to be more willing to accept Bookchin or Goldman's rationalist approaches to anarchism then the more openly "irrational" and individualistic.

Either way, the section on Anarchism is very short and other then the small criticism of Zerzan and anti-civilizational anarchism, he spends no time talking about of anarchists activists in popularizing and motivating the anti-globalization movement. He does give some respect to the Spanish anarchists in the 1930s and their use of affinity groups (and its importance on modern day social movements) but at no point supported their perspective. He even failed to mention the selling out of anarchists by Marxists - Leninist, Stalinists, or Maoist- that happened throughout the 20th century.

Overall, Walls book is a decent overview of different strands of globalization and does a good job discussing the green movement and 20th century Marxist theories. His big weakness comes in discussing the Anarchist influences in the globalization movement and his unquestioned support for the red-green activists (he gives a glowing review of Foster's book Marx's Ecology and almost every other eco-socialist out there). He also appears to have a profound support for Zen Buddhism and believes that by combining Zen teaching with green-socialist perspectives that you can provide a theory that is both local and universal.

I give this book 2 power fists out of 5. I would use it for a class as an intro to anti-globalization beliefs but but I feel that it does not provide much depth at all and tries to cover too much in a short space (less than 200 pages). I would recommend Walls book on Earth First and the Anti-Roads movement over this one any day.