Friday, October 16, 2009

Cascadia Free State Oppressed

On Monday, July  7th, Earth First!, Cascadia Summer and other affinity groups blockaded and occupied a logging road in Elliot State Forest. They asked the Oregon Department of Forestry to “buyback all sales in Elliot state forest, namely because we need to save this carbon and biodiversity reserve”, says Jasmine Zimmerstucky, a spokeswoman for Cascadia Summer. This blockaded held off loggers for two days, then was issued an eviction notice from the Oregon Department of Forestry. Holding off loggers and the state of Oregon’s finest; Cascadia Free State held for four long days. Using logs, an overturned van and roughly 45 persons, there were constructed a tri-pod, bi-pod and a sky-pod, one Cascadian said “The structures are complicated and the people are dedicated.”

            The police themselves seemed to agree, when the department of Forestry delivered the eviction notice (signed by governor Kulongoski), one agent is said to have remarked “This is impressive, what are we gonna do”?  The answer to that question came the next day, when state called in some 80-90 persons. There were 40 State troopers with their green camo and ‘less than lethal’ weapons, 10 black-clad Sheriffs armed like a swat team, 10 Special Forces agents who hiked in the back way, Department of Forestry members, engineers who cut the blockade, Sheriff’s marine patrol in a black SUV, High angle rescue ‘arial patrol’ National Guard, Black-Clad State detectives, Plain clothes forest service members, local sheriffs (and deputies) in brown, video crews (using generators), liaisons and Leaders. The vehicular entourage was between 14-25 vehicles including: ATVs, Patty wagons, trailers, a Fire truck, Ambulance, SUVs, a cherry picker, bulldozer, all led by a golf-cart with ATV wheels.  Traveling on windy gravel logging roads, they arrived at 9:40am, their attitude that day was summed during a press conference when Sergeant Stone said “I don’t care about the earth, I am just here to exploit it and enjoy it”.

            Meanwhile as this group trundled up the mountain, bristling with weapons. Cascadia Summer and Earth First!, began its morning meal. The group had just hauled a fallen tree, some several hundred meters, maneuvered it and turned it around and was digging a hole for it to become a mono-pod. The Cascadians, were cleaning their breakfast dishes, sending supplies into the bi, tri and sky pods. A massive collaborative undertaking was being handled… when the shrill whistle of warning told Cascadians of the impending police confrontation.

            From several reports based upon those inside the blockade. ‘First the state troopers wandered around grabbing anyone who was not locked down, gradually dragging and pulling people out of the brush, or who had been away from camp when the warning came. Then they spent ten minutes staring around looking confused, until one of the officers began directing the removal of people, those in arm bars, U-locks, cutting out barrels, a overturned van and bulldozed the wood barricade. Getting in to the van required cutting the windshield, this took some hour. Then the police targeted a sunken barrel which one Cascadian was locked to, taking some two hours. Next officers seemed to prioritize getting down the pods (a bi-pod and sky-pod), somewhat ignoring two lockdown barrels. They offered several plans of increasing bravado, all of which were severely dangerous and potentially deadly and those locked-down explained the disadvantages and risk of pursuing some of the purposed plans. The officers eventually called in the National Guard. The Guard arrived and began their work to get access to the pods. This process went on for several hours, then the officers went to work on the barrels, taking roughly one hour each. Cutting down to the very arm chamber of the occupants, to force their arrest. All the while, the police were filming the dismantling of the whole setup, as part of a training video’.

            The small state army arrested some 27 persons, 16 of which were in lockdowns. There was one woman in a sky-pod, one male in a bi-pod, a male in a tri-pod, four in barrels, and nine in ‘black bears’ (arm covers which can’t be pulled apart). This band held off logging in Elliot state forest for four days. When asked if they were effective, one member ‘Badger’ of the lockdown replied “if we weren’t effective, they wouldn’t be here. We stopped them yesterday, we will today and must tomorrow”! One Cascadian, Spindle said “It would cost them less money to just buy back the timber sale; not to mention the associated risk”. The Department of Forestry apparently did not agree, claiming “You’re subject to arrest if you are on this road”, grabbing everyone of those who were not locked down, a medic, a hiker nearby, and all direct support persons. However, the operation had a price tag, “The Sheriff’s department spent $50,000”(The Register- Guard). One man who had just come from a hike was thrown into a patty wagon “My handcuffs were too tight, 9 hours I had to wait in that van. My arms were swelling and I was only let out to relieve myself once. No food or water was given. By the time we got to the police station, other people, who I had never met, commented that my hands were swollen”  says Kodiac, a person who had come to see the goings on in public land, but was arrested for being in the area. The public land also had barricades, with state troopers and sheriffs.

            Why ‘The Elliot’, as opposed to other sites, was selected for blockade. One member in the Cascadia Free State, Mullen, replied “It is a destructive practice, logging. We saw large trees coming out of the Elliot. ODF (Oregon Department of Forestry) has a history of destructive practices, especially here in the Elliot and in Tillamook. We needed more than litigation, or protesting, I wanted to do things that really made an impact”.  Another Cascadian Wulf said “There is only twenty percent of native forest remaining in Oregon. We must preserve what’s left”.  Trying to prevent another area from being covered in mono-cropping or replacement trees, Earth First! and Cascadia Summer took a stand. Another Cascadian, Phoenix, offered an articulation of the Forest defenders position “We need to live with the earth, and treat it with the respect it deserves. We need to live sustainably, off the land and with the land. Without a competitive hierarchy”. For more information, visit: www.forestdefensenow.org .

 

            

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Interview: Impressions of the North American anarchist movement

An interview with Andrew Flood about the impressions of the North American anarchist movement he formed during his 2007/2008 44 city tour of the US and Canada. The interviews ends with questions about the comparison of the movement in Ireland with that in Britian and the promotion of anarchism via the internet. This was submitted and published in Black Flag.

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Q. Which places did you visit in your tour? Did any local anarchists groups host events? If so, which ones?

In total I spoke in 44 North American cities scattered across 2 Canadian provinces and 18 US states. These were on the east and west coasts and from the east coast across the mid-west as far as Minneapolis-St Paul’s.

There were lots of organizations, infoshops and organizations in formation involved on putting on the dates. Around one third were organized through the North East Federation of Anarchist Communists (NEFAC) while some local groups just organized a meeting in the one city they were active in. In the vast majority of cases I’d never met any of the organizers, everything was done over email, the entire Florida tour for instance was initated by one student who was on the Crimthinc mailing list and saw an announcement for my tour which was apparently posted there. He contacted me and then proceeded to contact email addresses he found in Florida and managed to get four dates together that way.

Cities on the tour, drag to look around the map, click on the pins for links to the blog account for that city


View Larger Map

Q. Were the meetings well attended? Does there seem to be much interest in libertarian ideas?

Attendance varied from around 60 to around a dozen, perhaps giving a total close to 1400 people who attended a meeting during the tour. In quite a few stops it was the first public anarchist meeting organized in quite a while so apart from city size and local politics there would have been a good deal of variation in how experienced the local organizers were at putting together and promoting events like these. The people who turned up certainly seemed to be interested but they were rather a small fraction of the local population.

Q. What was the theme of the meeting? Were they well received?

The theme was ‘Building a Popular Anarchism in Ireland.’ Basically I was telling the story of the growth of the Irish anarchist movement in the period from 1997-2007 and in doing so making an argument for an outward looking, organized movement capable of working in alliances. Generally there seemed to be a very high level of interest, it was a great help that the subject matter contained loads of interesting anecdotes that reflected a decade of positive anarchist organization in Ireland.


Note you can now view the talk at http://www.politube.org/show/1441 the embedded video below is much smaller than the one available at that link.


Q. What is the US movement like from a class-struggle perspective?

Better than I expected. I think on arrival in North America I shared any of the prejudices that you find in the British anarchist movement towards North America, prejudices that are often based on a failure to try and understand conditions there. I expected a lot of North American anarchists to be liberal idiots but the reality I found was huge numbers of people doing quite solid local organizing, in particular when you considered their weak numbers and relative lack of experience. And a good few of the positions that seem a little odd from Europe make a lot more sense when you can put them in the contest of local conditions and North American history.

Q. What are, if any, the tactical and political priorities/differences in the US compared to Ireland/UK?

Actually from my experiences I’d say the movement in Britain is closer to the movement in North America then either of those movements is with Ireland. Chiefly compared to the number of self-declared anarchists the level of national or regional organization is very, very weak in North American and Britain in comparison with Ireland. Beyond that there are people who like riots and people who like workplace organising there just as there are in most places, there isn’t really a single tactical direction

Q. Did anything in particular stand out and impress you about the American movement?

I think the sheer number of people involved in local projects was very impressive. At a simple level about 2/3 of my meetings (about 30 of them) took place in radical social spaces of one form or another. And I probably visited at least another twenty or more. That is a fair greater level of infrastructure (and the commitment that implies) much more then I had expected to find.

Q. And on the other side of the coin, did anything stand out and/or depress you about it?

The acceptance of primitivism as a legtimite part of the anarchist movement and even the left in general. I was amazed for instance to discover that some union locals had sponsored the speaking tour of Derick Jensen whose primitivist writings amount to an argument for mass murder. He was charging in the region of 2000 dollars an appearance in Ontario, it was quite extraordinary to me that unions would spend their members money on such a huckster.

Q. What are the major tendencies in the American movement? Which ones seem to growing and which ones declining?

My tour coincided with and fed into a wave of anarchist communist organizing across many of the regions I was visiting which meant I got to play some role in the formation process of five or six new organizations. But I wouldn’t overstate this, as is true of the North America in general these organizations are tiny in comparison with the population of the areas they operate in. The positive news on the primitivist front is that apart from the couple of celebratry gurus who are very visible on the internet there is very little primitivist organization anywhere, even in Eugene, Oregan. I have the general impression that many of the people who might formly have been primmies had drifted into some form of insurrectional anarchism although again there are almost no organizations (formal or otherwise) outside of a couple of cities. Some of the insurrectionalist stuff is really stupid, taking no account whatsoever of local conditions and acting out a weakass version of what is seen on Greek youtube riot porn. But there is nothing uniquely North America there either

The IWW remains by far the largest network for anti-authoritarians in the US but it didn’t really strike me as having any real existence as a union outside of what were pretty small struggles in a couple of cities. Many social anarchists join it as a way of meeting up with like minded folk and of distancing themselves from the nuttier end of the local anarchist scene.

Q. What do you think are the main problems (internally and externally) facing the growth of anarchism in America?

Internally issues like the high rate of transience which means its hard to accumulate collective experience in any city as people are always moving in, in particular when organizational problems are encountered. Related to this is the very low level of intergenerational contact which means the movement today which is mostly under 30, if not 25 doesn’t easily benefit from the lessons learned the hard way by the movement in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.

Externally the North American cult of the rugged individual and the American dream not only make popular organizing difficult but seeps into the anarchist movement like a poison. Couple this with the historic success of the US state in smashing radical oppositional movements in all their forms and the current high degree of repression of anything that steps over the limited boundaries of protest allowed and you have a very difficult atmosphere in which to build anything that goes beyond lobbying. The number of police are extraordinary, their constant use against the ‘civilian population’ is striking, I saw more people being arrested on the streets in the 16 weeks of my tour as I have in nearly 40 years outside North America. And finally in the US in particular there is an extraordinary level of state infiltration and the use of agent provocateurs to tempt fresh young activists into doing stupid stuff that can lead them to very long jail sentences.

Q. What do you think are the main good points (internally and externally) for the growth of anarchism in America?

Class divisions, although sometimes camouflaged by race are very, very visible in the USA and almost as visible in Canada. Workers, particularly outside the coastal cities, are being fucked over in a very, very visible way. So ‘rugged individualism’ aside North America should be fertile ground for class struggle politics, it certainly has been in the past. Also the left does not really exist, the few far left groups that exist are much smaller than their equivalents in Britain despite the much greater population, they don’t really exist outside a few colleges in a few towns. With the exception of Canada there is no social democracy and no viable green party. In short it would not that hard for anarchists to become ‘the’ opposition.

Internally there is actually a huge amount of individual experience of grassroots organising within the anarchist movement. If you had the emergence of a coherent movement this individual experience could be turned into some pretty powerful collective organization.

Q. How do the American and European anarchist movements compare in terms of struggle and organisational aspects?

The US and Britain are very similar in that most anarchists are not part of region wide organizations or often even local organizations. The region wide organizations in reality really only exist as more than isolated individuals in a very small number of cities although they often have a scattering of individual members outside of these.

This means that in terms of struggle the vast majority of activity is around individual anarchists involved in local community, environmental or workplace struggle as militant individuals who happen to be anarchists rather than as part of a collective anarchist effort. From time to time there are a variety of social / political gatherings at which people can exchange experiences but which apart from the occasional spectacular event like summit protests these don’t formulate collective action. As with Britain the biggest of these are bookfairs but the sheer scale of North America means there is no single equivalent to the London bookfair but rather a range of bookfair and conference events across the continent.

There is no equivalent to the anarchist influenced revolutionary unions on the European mainland. The IWW would like to be that but the reality is that its membership density is less than that of the WSM in Ireland so its more of a network of anti-authoritarian workplace militants that occasionally tries to act as a union when the opportunity arises at a particular location or at a particular time. There are no also equivalents of the sort of regional anarchist political organizations that are found in some countries that have a real presence across a large number of cities but this is a product of the small size of the movement as well as not talking the organizational question seriously enough.

Q. Did you get much chance to see working class parts of America? How do they compare to what you see in the media?

I’d question this question. What exactly would be ‘non-working class’ America outside of very small strips of the super rich in New York, Miami, LA or the other global cities. The vast majority of the US population is working class so it follows that most of the urban geography is working class., including of those cities already listed. I guess this question may come from the way the US is portrayed in the TV that makes it over here, after all workers are pretty absent from ‘Sex & the City’ except when they are pouring drinks for or being targeted by the main characters.

Beyond that perhaps this is a question about the industrial working class? A good part of the trip was in cities that would have been associated with large scale industry, particularly those cities in the mid-west, places like Detroit. I saw 8-mile, Detroit seemed to be close enough to that but considerably more run down then at the time of that story. I’ve also seen all the episodes of the Wire and that seems like an accurate enough portrayal of life in Baltimore. Miami on the other hand was nothing like what is portrayed in CSS Miami, there is a very narrow strip of really rich folk but behind that, away from the beach are mile after mile or ordinary workers and patches of extreme poverty and deprivation. My New York didn’t look much like that of Sex & the City or even friends, but then I was staying in Jersey city.

Q. Any anecdotal tales?

Dozens – I talk about some of them in my blog and I’m in the process of extending this as I have time. Riots in Olympia, broken down buses and the strange smell of an anarchist conference in DC all feature.

NW poster

Q. Do American anarchists really smell that much?

Nope – I only hit that smell once, in DC. There is a fringe of lifestylist types, very often students, for whom smelling is something occasionally adopted to give them kudos. It’s really not very important even if on that one occasion it was annoying. Most of the anarchists I met were ordinary folks that only differered from the people around them by their politics.

Q. You are now back in Ireland, have things changed much during you time in the states?

Ha. At the time of writing they certainly have. I left the Celtic Tiger and returned to an economy that has collapsed month after month since my return. Now that is a long story and one that is far from over. But I first saw the collapse when I arrived in Miami around the start of April, loads of condo skyscrapers hand been abandoned after 20 floors of construction after the banks had stopped loaning money to the developers. Crossing the Atlantic was a bit like getting a flight that was running a little ahead of the sunset, you had seen what was coming.

Q. How do the Irish and British anarchist movements compare in terms of struggle and organisational?

The Irish movement is smaller both because the island has a 1/5th of the population and in real terms. But for its size it’s a lot more organised. I would guess there are 3-400 anarchists in Ireland who have some level of activity and 20-30% of these are in one of the two national organization, mostly in WSM. I’d guess there would be maybe 4,000 anarchists in Britain but only 4-8% of that number are in national organizations. Anarchism here is also pretty much always class struggle in flavor even if a particular struggle happens to be one around what might be seen as environmentalism.

Q. Has the Irish movement got anything to learn from the UK, and visa versa?

Try to avoid extreme sectarianism posioning the ability to work together although in reality that is easier to say than to do. On the local level there are loads of things we see and would seek to learn from although the question of what can be transferred to the different conditions here is not always an easy one. And of course we nicked the idea of doing a bookfair and that has been a strong success, the Dublin one is around ¼ the size of the London one now which is pretty good given the population difference.

Q. The WSM always have a stall at the London bookfair. Do you think it, and by extension, the British movement changed much over the years? For the better?

I’m not sure it has changed very much, at least it hasn’t changed in any consistent direction over those years but ebbed and flowed throughout the period. Even apart from the bookfairs many of our members have lived in Britain for periods and been active in the movement there, from the late 1970’s to the current day. The bookfair itself seems to have changed for the better, not only is it bigger but it’s a lot less counter cultural than it used to be.

Q. The WSM was at the forefront of putting an anarchist presence on the net, starting back in the 1990s. Do you think that has paid off?

No question about that although really it was an individual rather than an organizational effort up to the late 1990’s when the internet really started to take off. I worked in IT from the early 1990’s and basically just grabbed electronic versions of anything we printed, for most of that time I think the others were inclined to view my online activity as a rather odd and nurdish hobby. Nowadays we are working on lots of ways of developing a collective online presence and probably a dozen members are actively involved in that in a regular way, in the last months we’ve been putting a lot of video and audio online as well as working on social networking sites like Facebook.

Q. How has the internet changed how anarchists get their message across? Has it affected how the WSM work in Ireland?

Obviously the net is now far more important than the scattering of local radical bookshops used to be. But there are negatives to that, people are probably reading a lot fewer book length texts for instance. The growth of indymedia here in Ireland, which we played quite a central part in, was extremely useful to us. It got our ideas out to huge numbers of people who may never have visited our own site. And it generated a very useful debate, particularly at the time of the 2002/3 anti-war movement. But the internet has changed a lot in the last few years, the indymedia model may well be on the way out and we need to keep looking at how we can turn aspects of the new stuff to our use. Anarchists are nervous about stuff like Facebook, and rightly so, but remember the origins of the internet lie in the military wanting a common and control system that could survive a major nuclear war, if that can be used for good anything can

Q. Can you tell us something about your latest project, Anarchist Writers (http://anarchism.pageabode.com/)?

I’m terrible at managing to file anything I write so for years I’ve used the internet to store my public writings and often as not I use google to locate old stuff. For years this was on a variety of manually edited pages but these are a lot of work to maintain. When I moved to Canada and became involved in Common Cause we needed a web site and from the start we wanted to make this a collective project. So along with someone else I forced myself to learn enough Drupal (an opensource CMS system) to put it together.

When that was done I realized that creating a new site would be an easy way not only to store my own material but that it would also be almost no extra work to create accounts on it for other anarchists to do the same for theirs. Then when I was organising the tour I realized creating a blog on the site would be an easy way for people (including my parents) to keep track of how things were going. I found I quite liked the freedom of blogging (as people don’t expect the same level of editorial care as they do with articles) so I’ve kept going.

As of now I’m starting to expand the number of people with accounts on the site, basically through offering accounts to people I know and those who agree with the Anarkismo statement. So over time the site may build to quite a useful resource in its own right. But it also functions as training for me, I may work in IT but I’ve never done any formal training outside of the equivalent of a YTS course, I tend to learn new stuff by starting off a project that I think should exist and pick things up as I go along.

Q. Any final comments or suggestions?

We’ll build a successful movement by always looking outwards, taking risks and trying new things. Traditionalism and too much concern with purity are a recipe for inaction.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Taking Shorter Showers Doesn't Cut It: Why Personal Change Does Not Equal Political Change

By Derrick Jensen

This article was first published in the July/August 2009 issue of Orion Magazine.

Would any sane person think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday, or that chopping wood and carrying water would have gotten people out of Tsarist prisons, or that dancing naked around a fire would have helped put in place the Voting Rights Act of 1957 or the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Then why now, with all the world at stake, do so many people retreat into these entirely personal “solutions”?

Part of the problem is that we’ve been victims of a campaign of systematic misdirection. Consumer culture and the capitalist mindset have taught us to substitute acts of personal consumption (or enlightenment) for organized political resistance. An Inconvenient Truth helped raise consciousness about global warming. But did you notice that all of the solutions presented had to do with personal consumption—changing light bulbs, inflating tires, driving half as much—and had nothing to do with shifting power away from corporations, or stopping the growth economy that is destroying the planet? Even if every person in the United States did everything the movie suggested, U.S. carbon emissions would fall by only 22 percent. Scientific consensus is that emissions must be reduced by at least 75 percent worldwide.

Or let’s talk water. We so often hear that the world is running out of water. People are dying from lack of water. Rivers are dewatered from lack of water. Because of this we need to take shorter showers. See the disconnect? Because I take showers, I’m responsible for drawing down aquifers? Well, no. More than 90 percent of the water used by humans is used by agriculture and industry. The remaining 10 percent is split between municipalities and actual living breathing individual humans. Collectively, municipal golf courses use as much water as municipal human beings. People (both human people and fish people) aren’t dying because the world is running out of water. They’re dying because the water is being stolen.

Or let’s talk energy. Kirkpatrick Sale summarized it well: “For the past 15 years the story has been the same every year: individual consumption—residential, by private car, and so on—is never more than about a quarter of all consumption; the vast majority is commercial, industrial, corporate, by agribusiness and government [he forgot military]. So, even if we all took up cycling and wood stoves it would have a negligible impact on energy use, global warming and atmospheric pollution.”

Or let’s talk waste. In 2005, per-capita municipal waste production (basically everything that’s put out at the curb) in the U.S. was about 1,660 pounds. Let’s say you’re a die-hard simple-living activist, and you reduce this to zero. You recycle everything. You bring cloth bags shopping. You fix your toaster. Your toes poke out of old tennis shoes. You’re not done yet, though. Since municipal waste includes not just residential waste, but also waste from government offices and businesses, you march to those offices, waste reduction pamphlets in hand, and convince them to cut down on their waste enough to eliminate your share of it. Uh, I’ve got some bad news. Municipal waste accounts for only 3 percent of total waste production in the United States.

I want to be clear. I’m not saying we shouldn’t live simply. I live reasonably simply myself, but I don’t pretend that not buying much (or not driving much, or not having kids) is a powerful political act, or that it’s deeply revolutionary. It’s not. Personal change doesn’t equal social change.

So how, then, and especially with all the world at stake, have we come to accept these utterly insufficient responses? I think part of it is that we’re in a double bind. A double bind is where you’re given multiple options, but no matter what option you choose, you lose, and withdrawal is not an option. At this point, it should be pretty easy to recognize that every action involving the industrial economy is destructive (and we shouldn’t pretend that solar photovoltaics, for example, exempt us from this: they still require mining and transportation infrastructures at every point in the production processes; the same can be said for every other so-called green technology). So if we choose option one—if we avidly participate in the industrial economy—we may in the short term think we win because we may accumulate wealth, the marker of “success” in this culture. But we lose, because in doing so we give up our empathy, our animal humanity. And we really lose because industrial civilization is killing the planet, which means everyone loses. If we choose the “alternative” option of living more simply, thus causing less harm, but still not stopping the industrial economy from killing the planet, we may in the short term think we win because we get to feel pure, and we didn’t even have to give up all of our empathy (just enough to justify not stopping the horrors), but once again we really lose because industrial civilization is still killing the planet, which means everyone still loses. The third option, acting decisively to stop the industrial economy, is very scary for a number of reasons, including but not restricted to the fact that we’d lose some of the luxuries (like electricity) to which we’ve grown accustomed, and the fact that those in power might try to kill us if we seriously impede their ability to exploit the world—none of which alters the fact that it’s a better option than a dead planet. Any option is a better option than a dead planet.

Besides being ineffective at causing the sorts of changes necessary to stop this culture from killing the planet, there are at least four other problems with perceiving simple living as a political act (as opposed to living simply because that’s what you want to do). The first is that it’s predicated on the flawed notion that humans inevitably harm their landbase. Simple living as a political act consists solely of harm reduction, ignoring the fact that humans can help the Earth as well as harm it. We can rehabilitate streams, we can get rid of noxious invasives, we can remove dams, we can disrupt a political system tilted toward the rich as well as an extractive economic system, we can destroy the industrial economy that is destroying the real, physical world.

The second problem—and this is another big one—is that it incorrectly assigns blame to the individual (and most especially to individuals who are particularly powerless) instead of to those who actually wield power in this system and to the system itself. Kirkpatrick Sale again: “The whole individualist what-you-can-do-to-save-the-earth guilt trip is a myth. We, as individuals, are not creating the crises, and we can’t solve them.”

The third problem is that it accepts capitalism’s redefinition of us from citizens to consumers. By accepting this redefinition, we reduce our potential forms of resistance to consuming and not consuming. Citizens have a much wider range of available resistance tactics, including voting, not voting, running for office, pamphleting, boycotting, organizing, lobbying, protesting, and, when a government becomes destructive of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we have the right to alter or abolish it.

The fourth problem is that the endpoint of the logic behind simple living as a political act is suicide. If every act within an industrial economy is destructive, and if we want to stop this destruction, and if we are unwilling (or unable) to question (much less destroy) the intellectual, moral, economic, and physical infrastructures that cause every act within an industrial economy to be destructive, then we can easily come to believe that we will cause the least destruction possible if we are dead.

The good news is that there are other options. We can follow the examples of brave activists who lived through the difficult times I mentioned—Nazi Germany, Tsarist Russia, antebellum United States—who did far more than manifest a form of moral purity; they actively opposed the injustices that surrounded them. We can follow the example of those who remembered that the role of an activist is not to navigate systems of oppressive power with as much integrity as possible, but rather to confront and take down those systems.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Road Blockade Stops Logging In Elliott State Forest: Call For Action

Dear Friends, Supporters, and Comrades,

Today, a group of Cascadia Earth First!ers and Rising Tide members took action against the continued liquidation and destruction of Oregon's Elliott State Forest. Using sky pods, bipods, road blockades, overturned cargo vans, lock downs and many other beautiful installations, the road to Umpcoos Ridge timber sale has been occupied, held and reclaimed for the forest, the people and future generations.

For decades this forest near Coos Bay has been hammered, managed as if it was a piggy bank, smashed in an unsuccessful attempt to fund public schools.

Some of Oregon's (and the world's) last native forests, old growth, and future old growth forests are on the chopping block in the Elliott. A lawsuit has been filed against the current management plan for sanctioning the killing of endangered spotted owls. That lawsuit has been ignored. Community groups have resisted the extraction for years and have been ignored.

But the blockade stands, and WE CAN HOLD THE ROAD, but NOT WITHOUT YOUR HELP! Please take some time to protect your public land!

How to help:

Call These Folks!!!! Please! Public Support for the Blockade is Absolutely Necessary for its continuation! We need hundreds of calls ASAP to stop the sale and maintain the blockade

Secretary of State and Oregon Land Board member Kate Brown: (503) 986-1523
Coos District Forester Jim Young (541) 267-1741
Ask them to cancel the current timber sales (Umpcoos and Fishing Cougar) in the Elliottt State Forest! This area is important native forest land; it should be set aside as a biodiversity and carbon reserve for endangered species and climate change mitigation. Tell them you support the continuation of the blockade!

Second, JOIN US! Bring all you need to be self sufficient in the woods for as long as you plan to stay and come to the Elliott!
Directions:
Go West towards Reedsport on Highway 38
Turn Left on Loon Lake Road
Pass Camp Creek Road, take first right (unmarked)
After 100 feet on unmarked road you will see Cougar Pass Road sign
This road becomes 7000. Follow to site. Careful of multiple forks, stay on road more traveled.
The Free State is at mile marker 3 ½ on the 7000 road.

Third, if you can't come, please donate to the cause on our web site: www.ForestDefenseNow.org (but make sure you call the land board first, the success of this action depends on everyone showing support)

Check out our web site for full information www.ForestDefenseNow.org

Love and Rage,
Cascadia Summer

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Help the People of Iran!

From friends in Iran :
Dear all: Set your twitter time and location to Tehran. Makes it harder for the Iranian secret service to track people down in Tehran. We need your help. Thank you.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Cascadia Summer 2009

Earth First! summer time roadshow
By Cass K. Dia


Imagine a land with lush ancient forests, infinite shades of green, exotic creatures and a picturesque rocky coastline. Cascadia is the portion of the Pacific Northwest west of the Cascade Mountains that ranges from northern California up to the southern tip of Alaska. It is also a land scarred by a history of ongoing conflict between timber barons and grassroots environmental movements. Within the zone of an internationally recognized biodiversity heritage site (the Klamath-Rogue-Umpqua Watersheds) we are preparing for the onslaught of thousands of acres of clear-cuts and devastation this summer.

In western Oregon we are launching a forest defense campaign that will include many creative tools such as non-violent direct action (tree sits and more!), picnics, education, colorful community creation, media outreach, double dutch competitions, broad outreach, hikes, puppet shows, engaging representatives, and lobbying. We will be here fighting together for the forests we love. We will have a camp in the forest and friendly houses in the city and we're inviting comrades young and less young, experienced and less experienced to join us for a summer, a month or just a few days.

We are currently faced with the implementation of the Western Oregon Plan Revisions (WOPR) enacted on Dec. 31, 2008; a last attempt by the Bush Administration to attack what remains of this nation's ancient forests. The WOPR allows the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to completely renege on its responsibilities under Clinton's Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP) and increase logging by 436%! 70% of this new logging under the WOPR would be clearcuts! Of our last remaining old growth stands, 100,000 acres would be cut and existing riparian zone protections would be cut by half. With over 30,000 official public comments against the WOPR, the BLM is clearly ignoring public opinion with these plans. This summer we shall make them listen.

Unfortunately, the WOPR is not the only thing we have to worry about. The BLM has also auctioned and awarded the 'rights' to slaughter more than 25,000 acres of public forests this summer, altogether separate from WOPR plans. Since 2004, the Oregon BLM has been found guilty of breaking federal law by 9th Circuit federal courts in at least six separate cases involving timber sales in southern Oregon. When breaking the law becomes tiresome one can always change the law, with enough money, as we have seen with the WOPR. Another imminently threatened area, Elliot State Forest, has sometimes slipped under the radar. State forests are managed by the Oregon Department of Forestry and unlike federal forests have no public input process at all. Much of the Elliot is speckled with clearcuts and herbicides but nearly half of the Elliot has never been logged. This summer 500 acres of Elliot State Forest are set to be cut.

In the times of Oregon past, such policy changes have met with tangible, on-the-ground resistance. After Clinton passed the Salvage rider in 1996 (a 16 month suspension of NWFP protections) defenders of Warner Creek mounted the longest road-blockade in U.S. history, the largest mass arrest in Eugene since the Vietnam War. The first Cascadia Summer was organized in 2003 to confront similar erosions of environmental laws on public forest lands inspired by Judi Bari (rest her soul) and the work of Redwood Summer. This is only the latest season of resistance here in Cascadia; our heritage is rich.

In these bleak times we stand with the last 5% of this country's old-growth. Countless sister and brother creatures and their homes in the forest are in danger. The spotted owl continues its 4% a year descent into extinction. Approximately 40,000 rural Oregonians live within one half-mile of BLM land and the security of their homes, drinking water, and local economies are already under assault. In the face of these concerns WOPR timber harvesting would further scar 1 million acres.

As long as the forests are threatened and we are able, every summer will be Cascadia Summer. The government repression of the last few years has weakened our communities, and many of our comrades are held hostage by the prison state; but our resistance cannot, and shall, not fade away. With the global economic crisis we have a window of unique opportunity: the compulsive building has slowed and timber prices are severely slumped. These companies cannot afford to deal with costly opposition. We invite you to join us in joyful resistance and ecological defense. Where will you be this summer when the chainsaws roll and the trees cry out?

Important Dates in Cascadia this 2009 summer

May 23-25 Cascadia Summer Campaign Action Camp

June 20-26 Trans and Womyns Action Camp

June 29-July 6 Earth First! Round River Rendezvous

July 8-July 15 EF! Climbers Guild Intensive Climb Camp

To contact your Cascadian welcoming committee, for more information, or to get involved in any capacity, please visit forestdefensenow.org or email forestdefensenow@gmail.com. We'll see you in the woods, we'll see you in town, in the legislature, on the street or wherever you frequent, there we shall meet.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

UO Students Demand a Sweat Free Campus


A dozen students marched from the UO Amphitheater to the University's marketing department to demand no more UO licensed Russell Clothing. The new student group Step Up, Oregon! is raising awareness of Russell Athletic's poor human rights record.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

NAFTA's Impact on Food Security and Migration in Oaxaca: A Lecture

Baldemar Mendoza Jimenez, an agro-ecologist from Oaxaca, Mexico, will speak April 13 at 7pm, in Room 175 of the UO Law School, 15th and Agate, Eugene.


Mr. Mendoza weaves connections to demonstrate how globalization, the neoliberal economic model and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) have contributed significantly to the increase in migration and poverty in Oaxaca, Mexico. 

 

Baldemar Mendoza JimĂ©nez works for the Union of Organizations of the Sierra Juarez of Oaxaca (UNOSJO) by supporting indigenous communities to practice organic and traditional agriculture.  He has participated in UNOSJO’s informational campaign regarding the contamination of native corn by genetically modified corn.  Mr. Mendoza promotes sustainable agriculture using the farmer to farmer 

method to attain food sovereignty. 

 

"NAFTA took away price guarantees for corn and other products,” said Mendoza.  “Farmers could not make ends meet and looked for alternatives that would generate income.  They abandoned their lands, they left to work in maquilas and they emigrated to the United States.  Migration has brought the abandonment of the countryside, family disintegration and a decomposition of the tightly-woven community.  Community practices that were an integral part to indigenous Oaxacan communities have been lost.”   

 

Mr. Mendoza will be hosted by Witness for Peace Northwest, with complete Spanish to English interpretation provided by Witness for Peace Mexico Team member Ann Thiesen.  Witness for Peace is a politically independent, nationwide grassroots organization of people committed to nonviolence and led by faith and conscience. WFP’s mission is to support peace, justice and sustainable economies in the Americas by changing U.S. policies and corporate practices which contribute to poverty and oppression in Latin America and the Caribbean.  

 

For more information visit www.witnessforpeace.org/northwest.  

 


Atheist Group forms on UO Camps

Originally organized by a small group of students early this year, AHA! has grown into an organization of over sixty members in less than a week of campaigning. Currently under review to become an officially-recognized ASUO student organization, AHA! was created in order to support the growing number of atheists and nonreligious students on the University of Oregon campus.

"We formed AHA! with many goals in mind, but most importantly, we want to serve as a support system for campus atheists, agnostics, and religious skeptics. We want people to know that atheism isn't something to hide--we want to make it something that people are proud of, something that isn't shunned," says Lucy Gubbins, one of the founders of the group. 

According to a 2006 University of Minnesota study, atheists are the least trusted minority group in the United States. A 2007 Gallup poll recorded that only 45% of those surveyed would vote for a qualified atheist political candidate; this score was lower than that of an otherwise qualified homosexual candidate, and a full 10% lower than the scores women, blacks, Jews, or Mormons received. No minority scored lower than atheists.

Despite the societal stigma attached to atheism, 25% of Americans between the age of 18 and 29 identify with no religion, doubling since 1986, according to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. The University of Oregon does not currently recognize any student organization geared toward nonreligious students.

"Being the first group of its kind, we expected that it would be difficult to organize around something that people commonly misunderstand," another founding member, Jeff Kline, says, "but these are just the kind of challenges that we look forward to and that we find necessary in order for atheists to get the recognition they deserve."

The group's first meeting will focus on orienting new members to the organization's vision and future goals, and garnering input and ideas. AHA! is also hoping to begin organizing a week-long celebration for the National Day of Reason, in early May.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Anti WOPR Action

By Tangent

In the early hours of Tuesday, Nov. 11th, Jasmine Zimmer-Stucky ascended a pine on state capitol grounds and began an urban tree sit in protest of the Bureau of Land Management’s Western Oregon Plan Revisions (WOPR). She descended on Friday, Nov. 14th in order to speak at a rally of over 200 anti-WOPR protestors on the capitol steps.
The BLM claim on their website that the basic principles behind the WOPR include managing natural resources “for human use and a healthy environment” and management that is “focused on ecological principles to reduce the need for single resource or single species management”. However, several statistics regarding the WOPR do not support these claims. According to Oregon Wild’s® forest expert Doug Heiken, logging on Oregon BLM lands would be increased upwards of 375%, and old growth logging would be catastrophically scaled forward. Additionally, approx. 180 million tons more carbon would be released into the atmosphere as opposed to a “no-harvest” alternative. Statistics such as these have incensed Oregon environmental groups, who banded together in the WOPR and Beyond Coalition to organize the anti-WOPR rally and garner popular opposition to the new forest plan.
Trip Jennings, a member of the radical advocacy group Cascadia Rising Tide, claimed, “The number one reason to oppose the WOPR is that it represents a forest policy that The WOPR ignores all of the most progressive and sustainable ways to get our forest products and reverts back to a time when we thought the trees were endless, and we could clear-cut forever without any repercussions.” Cascadia Rising Tide is an activist collective formed to address the root causes of climate change.
Jasmine Zimmer-Stucky is also a member of Cascadia Rising Tide, as well as a University of Oregon student. She claimed that during the tree-sit, “the support that poured in from all over was very amazing, at times almost overwhelming... My middle school sent a big card, with things like “I’m glad you’re doing what you’re doing, I love big trees.” Their anecdotes were very inspiring. Also having people from the capitol building come out, say hello, and say they were proud of us was very reaffirming.” Regarding the rally, she said, “I thought that the rally did a good job of not only exposing the WOPR, but exposing a host of bad forest policy that we need to keep fighting.”
So, now that you’re all fired up with talk of rallies and protests, what can you do to help stop the WOPR and bad forest policy across the state of Oregon? One approach is to contact the Obama administration via web; after all, our new president has promised to address environmental issues in his policy. If you want to get a little more “grassroots” with your approach, a good place to start is Google: look up the WOPR and Beyond Coalition, to discover various Oregon environmental justice groups that work to prevent harmful logging practices.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

By Eliza Crunch

The Sea Shepherd is a real life band of pirates. They are guardians of the ocean, shepherding marine mammals, keeping them safe from illegal whaling and over fishing. Japan kills hundreds of whales per year in the name of research and also results in selling the leftovers and making bank. Whale meat is a cash crop in Japan. However, The Steve Irwin Foundation and many research facilities in California have dedicated their time and efforts to develop non-lethal or even non-harmful ways of gathering the same data. The ways are developed and being finely tuned everyday. The cash crop ‘research’ that Japan engages in could be done without the bloodbath.
Cpt. Watson of the Sea Shepherd has developed non-lethal pirate techniques to stopping the slaughter. Greenpeace just stands aside and whines, “Please let them go.” But Sea Shepherd has acknowledged that petitions haven’t made them stop, and has taken the stand (as the only organization doing this) to put themselves physically between the Japanese boats and the whales.
Conservation means protecting and preserving what little is left. Right now in Antarctica the boat, The Steve Irwin, is patrolling the area with a helicopter and a gas powered little inflatable boat I like to call Speedy. There are multiple cameras being used at all times because documentation is everything. Catching every action made internationally protects the Sea Shepherd and is evidence against Japan. From Speedy, crew members throw stink bombs on whaling boats which A) make the boat smell offensive to possible oncoming whales and B) make the boat smell so offensive that the crew gets nauseous and have to turn around ASAP. From Speedy, they can also deliver official international notices of violating ocean laws. For example, certain areas in the Antarctic oceans are protected as breeding grounds for species like humpbacks whales, going there for the purpose of slaughter is against the law!!!!
SSCS also protects seals in Canada from being clubbed. They were the first to get film footage of the massive bloodbath dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan. This footage got on international news so the world could see the reality that occurs every year. And what about the sharks in South Africa? Or the habitats being destroyed in the Galapagos? The SSCS is about education and action but they need our help.
The Sea Shepherd runs off of donations. Fall term, an individual recognized the need to help them and organized a pirate costume party fundraiser at the Campbell Club that raised $553. SSCS ACTUALLY save the Whales. Look forward to a follow up party Winter term. To stay up to date, watch Whale Wars on Animal Planet.

The Socialist Ideology

By Robert Caswell

This world is plagued by fear. Fear of economic downturn. Fear of financial insecurity. Fear for the lack of control over the means of production. This is the fear that has inhabited the planet since the inception of the free market; as such, it is perpetuated by the fundamental structure of capitalism. The capitalist system breeds anxiety and self-loathing, and thus, all ideologies that adhere to this economic system innately oppress the masses. Every ideology, from the New Right to modern liberalism, endorses the corporate structure, save one: socialism. In a society where job security is guaranteed and economic hardships are shared across a population, suffering is significantly less present and poverty on the individual level is nonexistent, since the whole of society distributes the burden equally. Socialism is the only political theory that holds any merit, and its establishment is necessary to guarantee true freedom to all and give courage, hope, and a voice to the oppressed.
Capitalism, especially the American version, is comprised of artificial entities that serve no purpose other than to generate a surplus of wealth and to propagate insecurity. Banks and conglomerates, minorities in the world, are nothing more than constructs that own a majority of the assets and control the means of production. Meanwhile the real majority, the working class does not actually own property, even in the Information Age; rather, they are allowed through contract to operate underneath capitalist oppression. The banks permit proletarian residents to live in property that is actually owned by the banks, so long as the workers continue to make monthly payments. All the while, the banks, which serve no real purpose, generate large amounts of capital to feed back into the same illusory system, and the working class remains in the same fearful state, worrying whether they will have a roof to live under next year. To make matters worse, markets are allowed to fluctuate violently over periods of time and force massive layoffs which spread more misery through the working classes. As long as the system is fairly stable, the government allows a certain amount of individual freedom, which is taken away the moment financial security is lost. This perpetuates fear and inequality, which causes suffering. Suffering would be limited in a socialist society where the means of production are owned and controlled by all.
Whether through reformation or through revolution, a socialist world must be brought about to ensure equality. The abolishment of private ownership is necessary to end the cycle of human suffering, and its end will help to see the creation of a truly free society. When the means of production are owned collectively, self-interest decreases over time, and mutual prosperity ensues without the interference of affliction upon the masses. The selfish ego matters less and less during the evolution of a classless society. Goods and services are valued only by the need they fill in a community, and monetary value is abolished to be replaced with a system of need-based consumption in which all commodities are free to everyone. When items are free and readily available to all, theft and greed lose their appeal, and hoarding supplies to create a safety net is no longer necessary since all individuals are secure in all aspects of life.
At current, the American system is not yet ready for the construction of a society based on collective ownership of all industries. The recent election of Barack Obama as President of the United States shows a slight movement towards the left for this country, but even President Obama endorses the free market without remorse. His support for nationalizing healthcare is only a movement towards a state operated social democracy, under which the proletariat is still oppressed by capitalist overlords. In fact, on the political spectrum, Obama lies entirely to the right of the median line, encouraging market competition instead of cooperation. His views are not only authoritarian, but they help to artificially substantiate the claim that capitalism could be reformed to eliminate class oppression. This idea has failed in the past in Northern Europe, as all Nordic economies have started a trend of slow decay, and the reformation of capitalism will fail in the United States if President-elect Obama intends to found it there.
While detrimental to the working class now and further along if a social democracy is established, the Obama regime could further the spread of leftist ideals in the long run. In fact, he could prove entirely different than his Senate record suggests in terms of ideology. Also, although descriptions of a socialist Obama are at this point entirely false, his administration could allow Americans to observe what a social democracy is like, and if it’s a success, the political spectrum of the United States could shift as a whole towards socialism. However, this would be a slow transition for American politics and would allow for the bourgeois to maintain power while the suffering of the working class continues. Patience is the only path to tread in seeing what the Obama’s regime holds in store.
On a world scale, socialism’s future is more hopeful. In particular, the Netherlands, famous for its ingenuity and forward thinking, has seen an increase in socialist movements. The Socialist Party of the Netherlands has had enormous success over the past fifteen years, currently comprising the third largest share of seats in the politically significant Lower House which directly reflects the democratic will of the people unlike the Upper House which is appointed by regional councils. As one of the forerunners for modern capitalism and the stock market, the Netherlands was among the first colonialist nations to build factories and transition to modern oppression; at that time, capitalism and imperialism were a step forward for human rights. Also, the country has always been known for its permissive attitude towards non-standard cultures and has been able to maintain this attitude in a world that isn’t so complacent. Thus, a self-sufficient agrarian economy is feasible for the tiny nation, and its embrace of modernity allows would allow it to progress intellectually and technologically. These two key features would allow the generation of capital and of required goods, and a society like this would be able to subsist while the rest of the world remains capitalist. This is why Holland is one of the more perfect breeding grounds for the first true tests of socialism.
Other small democratic nations could follow suit, or perhaps could beat the Low Countries to the chase by claiming a majority of socialist citizens within their borders; a simple majority is all that stands in the way of establishing a socialist state in most countries. Other options exist, but are less favorable than democratic processes, since they require the suppression of dissenting ideas which are needed, even if they are primitive. Anyway the revolution is brought about, the ultimate goal of socialism is a single, unified, and globally socialist human civilization. This is brought about through the rationalization of individuals across the globe, and their inevitable rejection of capitalism. The spread of ideas is therefore the key factor in swaying minds to the cause.
But why must capitalism be rejected? With reform and a post-ideological mindset, it could be possible to keep the free market, since rationality could justify this position. Post-modernism and the globalization of the “shrinking world” through the spread of capital, information, and ideas have brought about the simplified approach to politics that is the post-ideological belief structure. This position concentrates on skirting multiple viewpoints with a strong sense of incredulity, and its skepticism of simple methods of progression seems valid at first since it calls into question all foundations. The post-modern approach to ideology claims socialism, like every other belief, cannot be justified. It rejects the notion that there is only one legitimate political view, asserting that post-ideological non-partisanship is the most logical way to view politics.
However, a post-modern globalized system is still oppressive to the majority of the world, and creates excess capital that is squandered on the business class bourgeois. Post-modernity, while striving for a valid philosophy through reason, overlooks the fact that the entire capitalist system is based on fear. Consequently, the exploited classes should refuse this and every other viewpoint as corrupt and tyrannical. They should embrace the globalization of socialism as the only valid ideology.
The socialist view holds that the means of production must be collectively owned by all in order to ensure security for all. This principle is unyielding to a reformed free market or State capitalism, and it calls for the expedition of global revolution, primarily through the active spread of ideas. As stated by the Socialist Party of the Netherlands, “Silence is consent.” In order to throw off an oppressive capitalist government, the spread of ideas and the spread of one unified voice for socialism are mandatory. So stand up, gather your voice, and support the socialist ideology by inspiring action and thought.

Security Culture

The first step in recognizing security risks in a community is working towards creating a security culture. Below we have compiled some relevant materials and links that should be used in conducting security workshops and educating activists that you work with.

As our direct action movement becomes more effective, government harassment will only increase. To minimize the destructiveness of this government harassment, it is imperative that we create a "security culture" within our movement. Violations of security culture include behavior is inappropriate because it intensifies government harassment, jeopardizes the freedom of other activists, and destroys the trust within the movement.

COMMUNITY ORGANIZING AND STATE REPRESSION

It was not that long ago that discussions about security culture were seen as not relevant to the vast majority of community organizers. As long as one didn't "break the law" it was assumed that social freedoms in North America and Europe would allow for the expression of dissent without a rise in repression. A number of events have conspired since the late nineties to change the landscape of organizing considerably.

New legislation - the PATRIOT Act in the US and Bill C-36 in Canada - which have been sold to the public as required to fight the spectre of terrorism in a post-911 world, serve double-duty in giving the state new laws with which to crack down on internal dissent. A rise in state-hyped racist hysteria, has made community organizers from middle eastern origins (or other "suspicious" backgrounds), increasingly targets of incarceration without cause, and other abuse at the hands of governments eager to deflect attention from the real issues of failing economies and unpopular wars. In many countries, governments have enacted laws to make it illegal to work with overseas organizations now declared "terrorist" - putting at risk communities who have worked to support liberation fighters around the world.

It follows that those who fight to change the world will be met with resistance by those who do not want it changed. One does not have to participate in extralegal activities to raise the interest of state security forces (whether those be local, regional or national agencies). Security culture must no longer be thought of as merely the domain of those who might break unjust laws - but as something that is part of the organizing toolbox as a mechanism for community self-defense.

The guidelines presented here are designed to enhance your personal safety as well as the overall effectiveness of our movements. By adopting a security culture, we can limit or neutralize counterintelligence operations meant to disrupt our political organizing, be it mainstream or underground.



TOWARDS AN EXPANDED DEFINITION OF SECURITY CULTURE

Creating secure communities is about more than being educated about the state and its security forces. Fundamentally, it means creating working dynamics of respect, education and inclusion in all our work. Building strong communities that act in solidarity with one another is the best protection against infiltration, disruption and other conditions of repression.

So what is a security culture? It's a culture where the people know their rights and, more importantly, assert them in all situations. Those who belong to a security culture also know what behaviour compromises security and are quick to work with people who exhibit insecure or oppressive behaviour. Security consciousness becomes a culture when a community as a whole adopts this awareness and demonstrates that those behaviours which violate security are unacceptable.

SECURITY CULTURE MEANS CHALLENGING OPPRESSION

Security culture is about more than just targeting specific behaviours in individuals such as bragging, gossiping or lying. It is also about checking movement behaviours and practices as a whole to ensure that oppressive practices aren't feeding into intelligence operations being carried out against our community.

Within the histories of groups targeted by COINTELPRO (such as AIM and the BPP), and certainly within the animal rights and environmental movements, there are many example of how oppressive behaviours created conditions ripe for FBI manipulation.

Underlying sexism in some groups has meant that women trying to raise security concerns are not taken seriously, or (on the other end), are not suspected as informers simply because they are women. A tokenistic approach to recruitment has lead socialist organizations to bring in new members who fit their 'ideal' of what the working class should be - only have them to later turn out working for the British Home Office.

Racism, sexism and homophobia in the movement spread division that create overall weaknesses and create openings easily manipulatable by state operatives. Exclusion can make those people who feel marginalized by group practices more open to infiltrators.

Obviously, our movements still have a lot of work to do before we have satisfactorily addressed issues of oppression - but what is important here is a recognition that oppressive behaviours feed into poor community security.

(IN)SECURE PRACTICES

The following section was originally written for an audience engaged, or on the periphery of extralegal activity, and so focuses on "underground" groups. We would like to add that the same rules apply to discussions about individuals involved in or providing support groups considered "terrorist" by western governments (but who are in actual fact, liberation fighters at odds with US foreign policy). It is generally good practice to limit discussion about movement individuals where you are unsure what information about them is "public" knowledge.

As community organizers, a lot of activists like to verbally engage with each other and have no trouble spending hours discussing theory, tactics, and strategy. This is an essential part of building our analysis and work, but in some cases this can put ourselves or others in jeopardy.

WHAT NOT TO SAY

To begin with, there are certain things that are inappropriate to discuss. These things include:

* your own or someone else's involvement with an underground group
* someone else's desire to get involved with such a group
* asking others if they are a member of an underground group
* your own or someone else's participation in any action that was illegal
* someone else's advocacy for such actions
* your plans or someone else's plans for a future action

Essentially, it is a bad idea to speak about an individual's involvement (past, present or future) with illegal activities, or with activities that may raise the interest of the state (such as advocacy of certain groups or tactics). These are unacceptable topics of discussion regardless of whether they are rumor, speculation or personal knowledge.

Please note: this is not to say that it is incorrect to speak about direct action in general terms - just be sure that you don't link individual activists to specific actions or groups. It is perfectly legal, secure and desirable that people speak out in support of all forms of resistance (though if you're involved with illegal activity, it is probably best that you don't openly advocate for breaking the law as that alone can raise state interest in your life).

THREE EXCEPTIONS

There are only three times that it is acceptable to speak about specific actions that may be against the law. These are the only situations when it is appropriate to speak about your own or someone else's involvement or intent to commit an illegal act.

The first situation would be if you were planning an action with other members of your small group (your "cell" or "affinity group"). These discussions should never take place over the Internet (e-mail), phone line, through the mail, or in an activist's home or car, as these places and forms of communication are frequently monitored. The only people who should hear this discussion would include those who are actively participating in the action. Anyone who is not involved does not need to know and, therefore, should not know.

The second exception occurs after an activist has been arrested and brought to trial. If s/he is found guilty, this activist can freely speak of the actions for which s/he was convicted. However, s/he must never give information that would help the authorities determine who else participated in illegal activities.

The third exception is for anonymous letters and interviews with the media. This must be done carefully and without compromising security. Advice on secure communication techniques can be found at elsewhere on this site.

BOTTOM LINE SECURITY

If you are engaged in activity that is considered illegal, it is best to take a lesson from veteran activists of the direct action movements and only allow a select few to know about your activity. Those few people should consist of only the individuals who you are doing work and actions with and AND NO ONE ELSE!

The reason for these security precautions is obvious: if people don't know anything, they can't talk about it. When activists who do not share the same serious consequences know who did an illegal direct action, they are far more likely to talk after being harassed and intimidated by the authorities, because they are not the ones who will go to jail. Even those people who are trustworthy can often be tricked by the authorities into revealing damaging and incriminating information. It is safest for all cell members to keep their involvement in the group amongst themselves. The fewer people who know, the less evidence there is in the long run.

SECURITY VIOLATING BEHAVIOURS

In an attempt to impress others, activists may behave in ways that compromise security. Some people do this frequently - they are habitually gossiping and bragging. Some activists say inappropriate things only when they consume alcohol. Many activists make occasional breaches of security because there was a momentary temptation to say something or hint at something that shouldn't have been said or implied. In most every situation, the desire to be accepted is the root cause.

Those people who tend to be the greatest security risks are those activists who have low self-esteem and strongly desire the approval of their peers. Certainly it is natural to seek friendship and recognition for our efforts, but it is imperative that we keep these desires in check so we do not jeopardize the safety of other activists or ourselves. People who place their desire for friendship over the importance of the cause can do serious damage to our security.

The following are examples of security-violating behaviours:

* Lying: To impress others, liars claim to have done illegal actions. Such lies not only compromise the person's security -- as cops will not take what is said as a lie-- but also hinders solidarity and trust.
* Gossip & Rumors: Some people think they can win friends because they are privy to special information. These gossips will tell others about who did what action or, if they don't know who did it, guess at who they think did what actions or just spread rumors about who did it. This sort of talk is very damaging. People need to remember that rumors are all that are needed to instigate an investigation, or even lay charges. New anti-terrorist law in both Canada and the United States allows state security forces to carry out raids on individuals based on nothing more than hearsay evidence.
* Bragging: Some people who partake in illegal direct action might be tempted to brag about it to their friends. This not only jeopardizes the bragger's security, but also that of the other people involved with the action (as they may be suspected by association). As well the people who s/he told can be charged as accessories after the fact.
* Indirect-Bragging: Indirect braggers are people who make a big production on how they want to remain anonymous, avoid protests, and stay "underground." They might not come out and say that they do illegal direct action, but they make sure everyone within earshot knows they are up to something. They are no better than braggers, but they try to be more sophisticated about it by pretending to maintain security. However, if they were serious about security, they would just make up a good excuse as to why they are not as active, or why they can't make it to the protest . Concealing sensitive information from even trusted comrades is far better than jeopardizing underground work.

SELF-EDUCATION TOWARDS LIBERATION

With the above information about security, it should be easier to spot those activists who compromise our movement's security. So what do we do with people who display these behaviours? Do we shun or expel them from our groups and projects? Actually, no - not for the first security violation, at least.

The unfortunate truth is there are some security-ignorant people in the movement and others who have possibly been raised in a "scene" that thrives on bragging and gossiping. It doesn't mean these people are bad, but it does mean they need to inform themselves and learn about personal and group security. Even seasoned activists make mistakes when there is a general lack of security consciousness in our groups. And that's where those of you reading this can help. We must ALWAYS act to inform persons whose behaviour breaches security. If someone you know is bragging about doing an action or spreading security-compromising gossip, it is your responsibility to explain to her or him why that sort of talk violates security and is inappropriate.

You should strive to share this knowledge in a manner that encourages the person's understanding and changes her/his behaviour. It should be done without damaging the person's pride. Show your sincere interest in helping him/her to become a more effective activist. Keep your humility and avoid presenting a superior, "holier than-thou" attitude. Such an attitude can raise an individual's defenses and prevent them from listening to and using the advice offered. The goal of addressing these issues with others is to reduce insecure behaviour, rather than showing how much more security-conscious you are.

Share your concerns and knowledge in private, so that the person does not feel as if they are being publicly humiliated. Addressing the person as soon as possible after the security violation increases effectiveness.

If each of us remains responsible for discussing security information with people who slip up, we can dramatically improve security in our groups and activities. When people recognize that lying, gossiping, bragging, and inappropriate debriefing damages both themselves and others, these behaviours will soon end. By developing a culture where breaches of security are pointed out and discouraged, all sincere activists will quickly understand.

DEALING WITH CHRONIC SECURITY PROBLEMS

So what do we do with activists who repeatedly violate security precautions even after being informed several times? Unfortunately for them, the best thing to do is to cut them loose. Discuss the issue openly and ask them to leave your meetings, basecamps and organizations. With law enforcement budgets on the increase and with courts handing down long sentences for political "crimes", the stakes are too high to allow chronic security offenders to work among us.

By creating a security culture, we have an effective defense against informers and agents who try to infiltrate groups. Imagine an informer who, every time they ask another activist about their activities, receives information about security. It would frustrate the informer's work. When other activists discovered that she/he continued to violate security precautions after being repeatedly informed, there would be grounds for isolating the person from our groups. And that would be one less informer for us to deal with!

ADOPT A SECURITY CULTURE NOW! Activists are restless and resistance is on the rise. Some people are adopting radical and confrontational tactics. The more we organize and are effective, the more police forces continue to escalate their activities against us. For direct action movements to continue, we need to consider our security more seriously. Good security should be made one of our strengths.

http://security.resist.ca/personal/culture.shtml

Poetic Terrorism

By Joseph Savage

The class on Friday the 13th began as normal as any other class on any other day might. Students trickled in until the exact hour and while we sat waiting for the lecture to begin one of the students started talking about the police. There was a “traffic-stop-sting” on 18th and she’d been pulled over with about 7 other cars. They were all lined up on the shoulder of the street with fully uniformed officers writing tickets at their windows.

“The policemen are such a problem,” the professor is young, from Latin America and begins to tell us a story.

“When I lived at my home, my car was stolen. My family reported it, but with luck the car made it back unharmed, parked right in front of our house,” she went on, “The thing is, since it was reported stolen we had to take it down to the police station to sit for one night. We drove it down, everything perfect on the car, and dropped it off. The next day, when the car showed back up, everything was missing. The CD player, windows, anything and everything that could be removed was stolen,” she sighs, “and it was done by the police. That’s the way it is. I’m not saying anything bad about the police here, just that in my country they are horrible.”

Everyone sort of laughs it off. Whenever anyone talks this way about the cops it’s always kind of funny because everyone knows there is nothing that contests the authority’s absolute power.

I sit in the back of the class. I don’t really care about the material; I just come to class to finish school. I am in my last few terms before entering the real world. There is a very curious student who always seems overly hyped up about everything and regularly acts very critical of everything. His name is Slater Brawley.

I like to watch Slater because, at the very least, he seems a little different from the other students. I wonder what he thinks about all this university stuff. I wonder what he thinks of being a duck. You can tell he’s unsatisfied. I’d like to talk to him, but don’t know what to say and it’s definitely not the norm to just go up and say hello. That part of college I still haven’t figured out. Social networks are a very strange thing, and I assume that Slater wouldn’t mind talking with someone; it is his first term here at the University.

The class goes on. The professor is always trying to get people to speak up. Slater is always ready, but you can tell he holds back. He doesn’t want to dominate the class. He doesn’t want to feel marginalized or on trial as the one student who is really interested in the subject matter. So you can see him, a bit nervous, watching and thinking, his eyes move from here to there and unlike most of the students, Slater tries hard to always sit up straight, to always maintain good posture with powerful broad shoulders.

The theme of today is two short stories concerning the Independence of Mexico. The first one, “The Dead Man” talks of a man who accidently falls on his machete while working in his plantation. The main character didn’t want to die, and Slater kept talking about our inability to accept death although we are constantly aware that it will come. It’s difficult to exclude philosophy from a literature class. The second story, The Bullet Party was about the era of Pancho Villa. Some 300 prisoners were shot by pistol, one after the other entering from a corral to meet their doom. Slater went on talking about morals and the values of human life. It’s hard to keep ethics out of a Literature Class.

I personally don’t care. I mean, I care about life, but stories and essays and lecture class…I’m tired of them. And as I was day dreaming of the parties coming up for Valentine’s Day, someone came into the room looking distraught and serious. The whole class looks up at him.

“Are you the professor?”

“Yes, I am the discussion leader. The GTF, what can I do for you?”

We all wait to see what’s happening.

“I need to speak with you in the hallway for a moment.”

The two of them disappear. Slater looks a little worried. I wonder if it has something to do with him.

“WOW,” a student says, “That’s the director of Student Life. I’ve never seen him so shook up. He’s usually very happy and upbeat.”

“I wonder what’s happening,” another student says.

“I’ve never seen anything like this happen before.”

Everyone is discussing what’s going on; everyone except Slater and myself. I don’t say anything because I just don’t say anything, but I have a feeling this has something to do with Slater.

The door opens again and the GTF enters saying, “Ok, well nobody worry. Whatever the problem is I’m sure it will be resolved easily and simply.”

“What’s the matter?” a few students are still curious.

“It’s a secret,” she says, “no one worry. Let’s finish up our lecture; we only have 10 minutes left.”

Everyone goes back to acting studious, discussing and aiming for a good grade. The professor acts as if nothing’s happening, so does everyone else, even Slater seems a bit more at ease. I continue to sit slouching, chewing on my pin. It’s still a little too early to be in class, and I’m hung over from last night, and still there are the parties this weekend. I need to take a nap. I’ve yet to see Slater at any of the parties I’ve gone to. I wonder what he likes to do after class. Maybe the visit from the Office of Student Life has something to do with it.

“Okay class. Thank you. Have a great weekend.”

The professor’s dismissal snaps me out of my day dream and I gather my things to go. I don’t have any more classes today so I’ll just turn in my work and head home to prepare for the festivities. And as I was slipping my assignment into the folder with my identification number on it, I hear the professor speak to Slater, “Slater, could you please stay after a few minutes?”

“Sure,” his voice is cherry and complying.

I go out the classroom like normal, but wait around on the lawn outside Condon Hall to see if Slater comes out with the Director of Student Life. As I really don’t care about the university too much, I do care about drama, and I’ve been interested to know Slater for some time. So I waited.

Sure enough he leaves with the Director and they begin walking down the street slicing thru the middle of campus, heading for the Office of Student Life. Slater doesn’t seem too worried and is talking and smiling with his escort. I really wanted to know what happened so I followed them carefully, nonchalantly, and it is very easy to blend into the crowd, for all together there are close or even more than 20,000 students enrolled each year.

They walk quickly and arrive all the way to the other end of the campus in no time disappearing inside Oregon Hall. With nothing to do, I sat there out in front of the new residence halls, put in just 2 years ago, covering up the old tennis courts and outdoor recreation sites. I smoked a cigarette and looked around. The campus health center was right next to me and I watched the sad people go in, climb the stairs, and await their therapy session. There are so many depressed people in this world. When I was a kid the doctors tried to give me meds. Said I wouldn’t be able to function in society without them. I disagree and that is part of the reason I keep to myself. I don’t want to be labeled.

Time went by, 20 minutes maybe, and finally I see Slater coming out the door with the same man who walked him down, pointing over in my direction, yet not at me directly, which the thought frightened me, but over towards the entrance to the Health Center. Curious. Did Slater have a problem? Is he troubled? It’s not every day that the Director of Student Life meets with you and then shows you where the entrance to the Health Center is. I decided I’d stick around and see if I could find out more.

Slater crossed the street. He rolled a cigarette and sat down and pulled out a notebook and began writing while he smoked. I almost went up to him, but suddenly he got up and disappeared up those same stairs that all the sad people take. What’s wrong with Slater? Did he forget to take his meds this morning? Did he do something horrible? And just as those thoughts passed thru my head, 2 fully uniformed police officers left out the building of Student life. They took the same exit that Slater had used just 5-10 minutes ago. Was there a connection? Did those two cops have anything to do with this whole thing? I thought back on the two antidotes told in class.

By this time I was hooked to figure out all the mystery. I sat and waited to see if Slater would come back out of the Health Center, all the while watching the masses of people walking, stopping, smoking, talking, eating, all the things that we do on campus. I guess part of the reason I was so curious is that I just wish sometimes to see something different happen. I long to see emotion on campus with some sort of breaking from the norm and a leap into true existence. The university is a bubble, and as I’ve just seen, not a bubble totally separate from guns. I mean, the two officers that walked out of Oregon Hall both had full holsters. What is the need to bring firearms onto a campus?

Finally Slater walks out the front door of the Health Center. I had to know at this point and so as he passed me heading back up towards Kincaid I said, “Hey.”

“Hey. You’re in my class, right? The one we just got out of?”

“Yeah. I wanted to know what was happening. Did those cops have anything to do with you?”

There were cops? No way. I saw them in the lobby when I left the building, but I didn’t think they had anything to do with me. Maybe they were just in case.”

“Well, what did you do?”

“Uh...,” and he smiles, almost proud of himself, “I wrote a poem…,”he pauses, “and sent it to the president of the university and the Oregon Board of Higher Education. Kind of a protest, but also as a suggestion for the new selection of president. You know that Dave Frohnmayer is retiring this year, huh?”

“No I didn’t know that. But why all the drama? It’s like high school that you’d be called out of class like that. What did the poem say?”

“Well, it was just some thoughts. I didn’t think it was too serious, especially for an intellectual atmosphere. I just made some statements concerning the contradiction of this school. But I guess they thought I was gonna hurt somebody. I think they were picturing a bloody suicide on campus, or maybe even a terrorist attack. But hey! I’m not a terrorist. I swear.”

“Ha ha…Kind of like Virginia Tech, or something, huh?”

“Yeah of Columbine, except I used a pen and paper with words and images, and I sent it thru email to a few people, including one of the wealthiest members of our little community. Did you know that the president makes around $700,000 a year? And our professors make the same as a mail courier, while students drown in debt. It’s all so interesting.”

“Well, do you have the poem?”

“Yeah, you wanna hear it?”

Of course I wanted to hear it. This thing that had caused all this drama, I had to hear it. He pulled out his journal and started to read.

“ To the University of Victory


Teachers!
Why is it like this?

There’s no time…
There’s no time…

Instructors!
Why do I feel this way?

I’m falling behind…
Falling behind…

Time ticks and the clock quickly tocks…
Your lecture halls are filled with stale
electric light…

Professors!
Why does it have to be this way?

Athletes make millions…
Arts and science starve away…

Teachers!
I know you see this…

The library’s dying…
Oh! It’s dying…

Instructors!
Don’t you feel it?

Inside I’m crying…
I am crying…

Professors!
Can’t you see this?

The intellectual sits aside
while the crowd cheer on with pride,
feeling we’re alive through great Olympian dreams.

Time and time again,
I pass Kesey’s statue with a grin…
I stop and stare at him
And think of this town we’re in…

Teachers!
Don’t be defeated…

I come to class my eyes are bleeding,
And my body swims in alcohol.

Instructors!
Please appease me…

Tell me how to talk your lectures
at these parties I’ve been seeing.

Professors!
Please forgive me…

I don’t know why I call on you
Just sometimes I feel lost
And that maybe you’ve the clue.

Time and time again
I walk Knight’s million volumes

“Ye Shall Know the Truth”

MIGHT MAKES RIGHT

Teachers!
Have you heard it?

We live in a town of taser tag
with red coats in the streets
searching through our bags.

Instructors!
Do you not feel it?

Exclusion Laws…
Exclusion Laws!

Professors!
Don’t you hear it?

It’s time to let if fall,
before they drown us all
converting journalists to marketers
selling golden shovels. GOLDEN SHOVELS?!?

Teachers!
I need more of you…

I do…
I do…

Instructors!
Be my friends.

My parents are far away
I want to feel okay
I need to make all A’s
So I can go back home.

Professors!
Why does it have to be this way?

There’s no time…
There’s no time…

Teachers!
Why do I feel this way?

Falling behind…
Falling behind…

Time ticks and the clock quickly tocks…
Our lecture halls are filled with stale
electric light.

He stopped reading. He’s a good reader. It’s a poem to be heard rather than read. He does the whole thing with this funny English accent and with hand gestures and movements and all. He’s eccentric. I can relate to the poem a little, but it is critical and I guess it might sound angry, but I don’t know. I just say,

“Well, that’s not so bad. It’s critical, but no scary or threatening. I don’t get it. But you need be careful these days. Terrorist are everywhere.

“Terrorists can be anyone…I guess I’ve committed Poetic Terrorism in a sense. I don’t know if I should continue writing or just shut up and visit those counselors. I mean, they all kept asking me if I wanted to commit suicide. Suicide! Or if I wanted to hurt other people. Well, I don’t. I thought Americanism was being critical. I thought intellectualism was to write poetry. But now…Now I’m just not sure…now…you know what I am now?

And I told him. We were thinking the same thing.

“Red Flagged…”

He knew what I meant and then it suddenly hit me. Could I be red flagged too for my curiosity? Who might have seen me here with Slater? It’s funny because I began to feel watched and strange, and I didn’t want to be in the same boat as Slater, but I could relate to him in certain ways. In many ways I feel the same, but it’s not worth it to be red flagged.

Having those thought I cut the conversation short with Slater even though he was gonna say more, even though I wanted to hear more, even though I wanted to say more, and I walked away. I waved goodbye and told him I’d see him in class, but I don’t want anyone to associate me with him…and as I looked back over my shoulder walking away, I saw Slater sitting back down smoking a cigarette and writing in his notebook and I thought that maybe, just maybe, he is a terrorist.