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Open Letter from TPTG

category international | repression / prisoners | opinion / analysis author Friday October 07, 2011 04:35author by TPTG - Ta Paidia Tis Galariasauthor email tptg at tptg dot gr Report this post to the editors

Open Letter to the British internationalist/anti-authoritarian/activist/protest/street scenes (and to all those concerned with the progress of our enemies)

tptg.jpg


Open Letter from TPTG


Dear comrades,

This letter comes from Ta Paidia Tis Galarias (TPTG), a Greek anti-authoritarian communist group, which publishes a journal under the same title.[1] We are writing this letter at a crucial moment for the class struggles in Greece, at a moment when the capitalist attacks against the Greek proletariat are getting harsher: the Greek government, in close cooperation with the EU/IMF, has just announced a new set of austerity measures, aimed against our direct and indirect wage (massive lay-offs from the public sector, salary and various allowance cuts, new taxes on income, cuts in pension payments, a poll-tax and new sets of property-taxes, just to name a few…), let alone general reforms affecting working conditions, pensions or the higher education system… Against all this, pockets of resistance have reappeared after three months of social hibernation.

We have been actively engaged in many class struggles that have occurred in Greece over the last few years. Through those struggles we have realized that four practical tasks take precedence over all others at the present juncture:

a) confrontation with the politics of money (that is, the recently implemented debt-crisis terrorism, itself an expression of a deeper capitalist crisis),

b) coordination and communication among proletarians participating in the various self-organized class struggles,

c) confrontation with the policies of the state, police and mass media reinforcing existing separations among us or creating new ones and

d) international cooperation among those who understand that these measures and policies are not confined to only one country.

Regarding the last two we always were, and still are, highly interested in understanding police strategies, before, during and after demonstrations and/or riots taking place all over the world. Since the rebellion of December 2008 we, among hundred of thousands others, have participated in various demonstrations, some of which have turned into mini riots (e.g. 5th of May 2010, 15th, 28th and 29th of June 2011) and thus have met the violent repression and zero tolerance of the fully-equipped police forces. This experience made us and other comrades want to delve into cases of rioting and police repression worldwide, as well as contemporary collective behaviour theories and crowd psychology, mainly theories focusing on the police perspective or having a police perspective like the one we are going to talk about below, so as to develop our own counter-strategies. This seems rather crucial to us, especially now that the capitalist attacks against us and our struggles have increased both in magnitude and frequency. We will need your help but first of all we would like to share with you some information you might not be aware of, so that we all know where we stand and what is the progress in our enemies’ camp.

After carefully searching into the relevant international literature on the internet last January, we came across the theoretical work of social psychologists collaborating with the police in the UK such as S. Reicher, C. Stott and, surprisingly enough, J. Drury.[2] For those of you who are not familiar with this name, J. Drury or to be more precise Dr. John Drury, as he is better known to the academic milieu (and not only this milieu) as we shall show, is an active member of the British communist group Aufheben, since the latter’s very beginning.

This unexpected discovery left us all feeling rather uncomfortable and greatly puzzled, trying to think of all the possible explanations for Drury’s attitude. We have known the Aufheben group for many years and have been interested in their theoretical work, part of which we find particularly stimulating. As a matter of fact, six years ago, we co-translated and co-published Aufheben’s pamphlet Behind the 21st century Intifada[3] with other comrades in Greece.

By further examining Drury’s profile on the website of the University of Sussex, unpleasant surprises kept being unleashed... We found out that Drury’s “consultancies include the National Police CBRN Centre, NATO/the Department of Health Emergency Planning Division, Birmingham Resilience, and the Civil Contingencies Secretariat”, while he “run[s] a Continued Professional Development (CPD) course on the Psychology of Crowd Management for relevant professionals”, not to mention that he “teach[es] on the CPD course on Policing Major Incidents at the University of Liverpool”![4]

We also discovered that Drury was the co-author of an interesting scientific article, entitled Knowledge-Based Public Order Policing: Principles and Practice, which was featured in Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice. The latter is a journal with “international reach”, which is “aimed at senior police officers, researchers, policy makers and academics offering critical comment and analysis of current policy and practice, comparative international practices, legal and political developments and academic research” and “draws on examples of good practice from around the world, and examines current academic research, assessing how that research can be applied both strategically and at ground level”.[5]

Drury and Co.’s article discusses “strategies, tactics and technologies”[6] [p. 404] that “promote reconciliation rather than conflict” [p. 404] between the police and social groups, allowing “early, appropriate and targeted interventions before conflict could escalate to a level where only draconian measures would suffice” [p. 412]. Their approach, they claim, can be practically applied (actually it is, as we shall see later) and be “effective in transforming negative relations between police and crowd into positive relations” [p. 404] and thus it “can profitably exploit the opportunities inherent in crowd events” [p. 414], reinforcing already existent differences amongst crowd members, so that non-violent groups within the crowd can be “recruited as allies in subduing violence” [p. 414]

THE NEW PSYCHOLOGY OF CROWD BEHAVIOUR & KNOWLEDGE-BASED PUBLIC ORDER POLICING

Knowledge-based public order policing presents itself as the most sophisticated approach at the moment if one is to understand and explain collective behaviour, let alone to propose practical tactics to control crowds. It makes a distinct break with other relevant sociological/psychological theories as it suggests that the crowd, and thus crowd actions, is neither irrational, nor mindless, nor inherently belligerent. According to this theory, collective behaviour is not the outcome of the rapid “contagion” of psychologically fragile and primitive thoughts/actions amongst crowd members, nor is each crowd member’s individual identity dissolved within the anonymity of the crowd, as Le Bon’s crude pseudo-science alleged. Neither is it the result of violent individuals, who are drawn to crowd gatherings, as another key figure of crowd psychology, Allport, had claimed. Both traditional approaches, Drury and Co. argue, are wrong and most importantly dangerous for the maintenance of public order, as in many occasions they create a self-fulfilling prophesy (that is, crowd members who do act in a violent way) and thus fueling the fire. By perceiving collective actions as the result of a primitive group mind (Le Bon’s “mad-mob” approach) or in terms of crowd members’ character (Allport’s “hooligan” approach), Drury and Co. claim, police do nothing better than to “locate the cause of violence as lying entirely within the crowd” and not in the “interaction between crowds and the police” [p. 403].

It is on this interaction that their knowledge-based approach is focussed. In order to investigate the multi-layered dynamics of this interaction Drury and Co. take a step back in order to elaborate on individual and group identity. As they point out “[t]he core conceptual premise which underlies both Le Bonian crowd psychology and its Allportian critics, is that the standards which control our behaviour are associated with individual identity. If either individual identity is stripped away in the crowd (Le Bon) or else individual crowd members have flawed identities (Allport), then the crowd action will be uncontrolled and the normal restraints against aggression will be removed” [p. 405]. But, they say, 30 years of social identity research “has systematically dismantled the particular notion of identity which underlies the classic crowd psychologies. Indeed, as its name suggests, the social identity tradition rejects the idea that people only have a single personal identity. Rather, it argues, identity should be seen as a system in which different parts govern our behaviour (i.e. are psychologically salient) in different contexts. Certainly there are times when we do think of ourselves in terms of our personal identities: what makes us unique as individuals and different from other individuals. But at other times, we think of ourselves in terms of our group memberships (I am British; I am a police officer; I am a Catholic, or whatever) and of what makes our group unique compared to other groups. That is, we think of ourselves in terms of our social identities” [p. 405-406]. And they conclude that “psychologically, the shift from personal identity to social identity is what makes group behaviour possible” [p. 405-406].

But not all groups are the same. Drury and Co. distinguish between “a physical group of people [which they call an aggregate] and a psychological group. The former simply refers to a set of people who are co-present, while the latter refers to a set of people who, subjectively, think of themselves as belonging to a common social category. The same aggregate may contain no psychological groups (…), one psychological group (…) or indeed multiple different psychological groups (…). What is more, the psychological groupings contained in the self-same aggregate can shift as a function of unfolding events” [p. 406]. This shift, according to Drury and Co., is “more volatile and more fraught” [p. 407] in crowd events where “formal forms of discussing and agreeing on group norms –and how to apply these norms to novel situations” [p. 407] are absent, while “crowd events generally involve face to face contact between different parties –either one crowd versus another (…) or else –very often and of immediate interest here- between crowd members and police” [p. 407]. And they continue saying that “the relationship and the balance between groupings within the crowd is critically dependent upon the interaction between the crowd and outsiders [e.g. police]” [p. 407]. “That is, where the police have both the inclination and the power to treat all members in a crowd event as if they were the same, then this will create a common experience amongst crowd members which is then likely to make them cohere as a unified group” [p. 407].

Therefore, Drury and Co. propose ways of policing that not only hinder such crowd members’ unification, but on the contrary perpetuate – or, even better, extend - already existing separations amongst them (say between non-violent and violent demonstrators) to such an extent that crowd members get actively engaged in self-policing their gatherings. Citing their words, the aim is NOT to “disrupt the willingness of crowd members to contain the violence of those in their midst - what we term self-policing” [p. 408], and so they “do suggest that this understanding [of “processes through which violence escalates and de-escalates”, [p. 409]] can guide the police to act in ways that minimize conflict and maximize the opportunities to engage crowd members themselves in achieving this end” [p. 409]. Cops will succeed that “by facilitating these [legal aims and intentions that characterize the non-violent demonstrators]” [p. 409] and thus they “will not only avoid violence from these participants, they will also gain their cooperation in dealing with the minority of others. But this only becomes possible where there is information which allows the police to understand the priorities of these groups and to devise practices which will allow legal aims to be met” [p. 409]…

TURNING THEORY INTO PRACTICE

Drury and Co. are not paid to limit themselves to a pure theoretical debate. They provide their readers, who as mentioned before include senior police officers, researchers, policy makers and fellow academic cop consultants, with practical guidelines, regarding the most suitable police tactics. To this end, they give two “examples of knowledge-based policing in practice”. It is important to notice that after having dealt with the practical details, Drury and Co. ask their readers to bear in mind that what their “approach provides is a means of asking the questions from which these specifics can be developed” [p. 414] and it is certainly not a question of “‘one size fits all’ public order policing. The specifics must always be tailored to the given event” [p. 414].

The two examples mentioned are the 2001 anti-globalization protests in London and the 2004 European football championship. The first is used as an example to be avoided, as the cops chose to corral all demonstrators. Thus, they failed to “efficiently communicate” the reasoning for their actions to the non-violent ones, giving “rise not only to a shared experience amongst crowd members, but also to a shared sense of police illegitimacy” which may increase the possibility of future conflicts. Therefore, instead of “lead[ing] peaceful crowd members [to] categorize themselves along with the police and in opposition to violent factions” [p. 410], police facilitated their “categorizing along with violent factions against the police” [p. 410]. The authors spend a few paragraphs describing what went wrong (total corralling, lack of comprehensive communication strategy etc.), before they go on to describe what the correct repression tactic would have been had the cops followed their “differentiated approach” [p. 410]. The correct repression tactic, according to the authors, should include (apart from “criminal intelligence”) “new communication technologies”, “a selective filtering process” and humiliating conditions imposed on those being corralled such as “removal of clothing that obscures individual identity, abandoning placards, bottles and other objects that could be used as weapons”… As a matter of fact, it seems that their critical notes have been rather convincing and thus, as they boost, their advice “has been taken on board by the Metropolitan police and we are told through personal communication that it has been applied on a number of occasions to considerable effect” [p. 412]…

Contrary to the 2001 anti-globalization protests, the 2004 Euro championship, in which two of the authors have actively been involved cooperating with local authorities (e.g. the Portuguese Public Security Police), is mentioned as a role-model, a model of how police strategy should be and how cops should operate during such demanding situations. Citing from the article, four different “levels of policing intervention were developed with the aim of creating a positive and close relationship with crowd members, but also of monitoring incipient signs of disorder” [p.412]. In other words a graded policing strategy was followed. The first level of policing intervention was carried out by “officers in uniform, working in pairs spread evenly throughout the crowd within the relevant geographical location –not merely remaining at the edges. Their primary function was to establish an enabling police presence. Officers were specifically trained to be friendly, open and approachable. They would interact with the crowd members and generally support the aim of Euro 2004 as a ‘carnival of football’. At the same time, the presence (and acceptance) of these officers in the crowd allowed them to spot signs of tension and incipient conflict (such as verbal abuse against rival fans). They could therefore respond quickly to minor incidents of emergent disorder and ensure that they targeted only those individuals who were actually being disorderly without having impact on others in the crowd” [p. 412]. Apart from the emphasis given to targeted pre-emptive arrests, “where disorder endured or escalated, policing shifted to level 2. This involved larger groups of officers moving in, still wearing standard uniforms. Their remit was to communicate with fans in a non-confrontational manner, to reassert shared norms concerning the limits of acceptable behaviour, and to highlight breaches of those norms and the consequences that would flow from them. Should this fail, the intervention would shift up to level 3. Officers would don protective equipment and draw batons, but always seeking to target their actions as precisely as possible. If this was still insufficient, then the PSP’s riot squads, the Corpo de Intervenção, in full protective equipment and with water cannon were always ready at the fourth tactical level” [p. 413].

MAINSTREAM SOCIOLOGISTS AND SOCIAL PSYCOLOGISTS OF DEVIANCY

One common excuse often used by academics, who collaborate with the state and its various repression mechanisms, is that what they do is of purely theoretical value. Apparently this is not the case here, as the authors feel the need to back up their theoretical principles with strong evidence obtained from field-research, while they also present the practical outcome of the implementation of their guidelines “in all the [Portuguese] areas under the Public Security Police’s control (which covers all the major cities in Portugal and seven of the ten tournament venues)” [p. 412].

Another excuse, shamelessly used, is that what they do is only lobbying for less violent/more democratic public order policing. But this is not the case here either, as the authors do not disagree on principle or because of their political views (of any kind, from conservative to liberal-reformist or “radical” ones) with police forces being heavily violent but solely as a matter of tactics and public relations. If Drury and Co. reject indiscriminate police violence, they do so not because they favor anti-capitalist demonstrators or football fans but because they strongly believe that when police violence is exercised indiscriminately it can have the opposite effect, i.e. turn the majority of crowd members, violent activists and non-violent alike, against the cops. It is no wonder that they support the presence of riot squads in nearby areas (out of the direct sight of crowd members) in case conflicts escalate (e.g. the 3rd and 4th level of policing in the 2004 Euro championship…), while they emphatically suggest “police actions” (in their academic jargon, this term refers to cop brutality) being carefully and precisely targeted.

What is also striking is the 100% police perspective that characterizes their article. It is not a coincidence that Drury and Co. would rather neutrally refer to crowd members and participants nor that they present the cops as mere peacekeepers and facilitators that enable law-abiding demonstrators achieve their goals: “the primary focus of police strategies during crowd events should be to maximise the facilitation of crowd aims” [p. 409] and thus the police need to explore the means that “can facilitate alternative ways in which legitimate aims can be fulfilled” [p. 410]. Taking all the above into account, would anyone be surprised by the fact that Drury and Co. “use the term ‘public order policing’ precisely because [they] associate crowds with public disorder” [p. 403]?

It is obvious that Drury and Co. have long ago taken sides in the class war and their aim to overcome “seemingly intractable conflicts between the police and other [than hooligans] alienated groups in our society” [p. 414], as expressed in the very end of the article, is clearly about pacifying class struggles. This is also evident by the examples they present: “to the extent that police-crowd relationships are emblematic of relationships with the wider groups from which crowd members are drawn (for instance, events like Brixton and Toxteth were seen to crystallise negative relations between the police and black people in Britain), then crowd policing can have a profoundly positive effect upon policing more generally” [p. 404, our emphasis].

Their police perspective is also evident from the fact that Drury and Co. see no determinants that may bind crowd members together, overcoming pre-existent differences, other than inter-group dynamics, that is the dynamics between group members and “outsiders” (the police). For Drury and Co. crowd members just happen to be out there, their presence being devoid almost of any social context, a social sub-group amid a social vacuum. It is interesting to note the example they use regarding the train passengers [p. 406]... What an appropriate metaphor for the way they perceive society! Drury and Co. deliberately ignore the fact that although demonstrators may be divided in certain aspects according to their different political views or the means they are willing to use, they may also be unified against specific neo-liberal reforms, poll-taxes, capitalism etc. long before police indiscriminate tactics (or even without the latter) solidify this unification. Drury and Co. are also keen on presenting the various subcultural groups (e.g. hooligans) in a rather one-dimensional way, their inter-group conflicts with “outsiders” being perceived as isolated, limited and “anti-social” actions. Considering all the above, it seems that Drury and Co. are much closer to Le Bon’s naturalist pseudo-science they supposedly reject.

WHAT ABOUT ALL THAT?

This type of research and model development is, evidently, of key importance to the police and other state mechanisms, especially after the outbreak of the recent urban riots in UK. It is not surprising that a giant, brand new field-research project, entitled Reading the Riots,[7] backed up by the Guardian, the London School of Economics and the Ministry of Justice, has been announced, just a few weeks after the recent rebellion. The Reading the Riots project will be based on interviews with more than 1.000 riot participants who have already been arrested and have appeared in the courts – an investigation method, by the way, often used by Drury and Co. - and on the examination of more than 2.5 million riot-related “tweets”. We assume that you have already paid close attention to these counter-revolutionary attempts to reinforce public order in proletarian neighborhoods and that you have examined the new methods the British police have been applying in order to successfully repress all future social unrest.[8]

In our part of the world, we have also experienced the implementation of police tactics similar to those Drury and Co. promote in their article. To give a few examples, cop-union cadres tried to approach some of the non-violent demonstrators of the “movement of popular assemblies” so as to have one of their union’s announcement read during the daily general assembly at Syntagma Square last June, an attempt that was, luckily, met with the protesters’ general disapproval. Apart from that, the police and the mass-media have repeatedly tried to intensify existing separations between violent and non-violent demonstrators, by continuously using the so-called “kukuloforoi”[9] or “agent-provocateurs” propaganda to denounce the more violent sections of the proletariat. Left-wing and leftist groupuscules had, from the very beginning of this movement, been trying to deter any violent confrontations with the police and in certain cases they kept trying it even during the riots, while left-wing parties have released crude denunciations of violent proletarians, fuelling official provocateurology hysteria[10]…

Greek police (ELAS) and Scotland Yard (including Special Branch) are known to have been collaborating on various levels for many years now, with the latter mainly offering training, consultancy, technical support, even personnel. The arrest of members of November 17 armed struggle left nationalist group, almost 10 years ago, which was based on interviews with various leftists, or the kidnapping and illegal interrogation of 7 immigrants (mostly Pakistani) a few days after the terrorist attack in London in 2005 are a few examples of the outcome of such collaboration, which also includes events like the Olympics 2004, or guidelines regarding immigration and border control issues. Recently, seminars addressed to senior Greek police officers were organized by Scotland Yard. We, of course, can only guess what was analysed during those seminars. According to certain newspaper articles, however, it seems that tactics to repress the “indignants” were discussed as well. It is, therefore, highly probable that theories and practical guidelines, similar to those elaborated by Drury and Co., might have been presented to the Greek cops.

In any case, we would urgently like to appeal to the British internationalist/anti-authoritarian milieu so that a more thorough proletarian counter-inquiry is carried out. This may include (but should not be limited to): newspaper articles, cop consultant university research-projects (especially those related to the faculties of sociology/psychology etc.), cop blogs and websites and/or the vast literature on the subject of crowd management, just to name a few obvious steps. By doing so, we hope that information (e.g. scientific papers, articles, police guidelines, reports or other details regarding seminars to cops, field-research projects, activist interviews conducted by sociologists etc.) related to the knowledge-based crowd psychology and modern policing strategies the cops are using against us will be disclosed, disseminated and discussed among the internationalist milieu, facilitating the development of our own counter-strategies. Personal witnessing of the implementation of such policing strategies in demonstrations or riots needs to be recorded, circulated and then discussed amongst us. Attempts by various sociologists to gain access to the milieu and conduct interviews have to be met with firm rejection, to say the least.[11] We all know perfectly well that what they try to do is to understand us, our temporary communities of struggle, our thoughts, the way we organize against this decomposing world of capital and its spectacle and, then put this valuable knowledge into practice against us, tearing us apart. Our response should equally be collective and knowledgeable!

In Solidarity,

TPTG
06/10/2011

PS: This letter has been posted on Libcom, Infoshop, Revleft, Anarkismo.net, Anarchistnews, UK Indymedia and Athens Indymedia.
PS2: This is the link to the Policing article: http://www.liv.ac.uk/Psychology/cpd/Reicher_et_al_%2820...9.pdf

1. Those of you who have never read any of our texts in English, could check the following links: http://www.tapaidiatisgalarias.org/?page_id=105 and www.libcom.org/tptg

2. From now on this scientific gang will be referred to as Drury and Co.

3. See: http://libcom.org/library/aufheben-behind-the-twenty-fi...phlet

4. See: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/profiles/92858
5. See the official website: http://www.oxfordjournals.org/our_journals/policing/abo....html

6. All quotes followed by a page number are taken from the afore-mentioned article, which is attached to this open letter, so that a more thorough discussion hopefully be initiated.

7. For example check: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/sep/05/reading-riots-...n-lse

8. Of course, we do not simply and naively claim that from now on police will restructure its policing strategy solely according to Drury’s and Co. guidelines. Police tactics have always been rather diverse, ranging from the “divide and rule” and “graded policing” dogma to “zero tolerance” and indiscriminate exercise of brutal force, depending on the balance of power that exists at a given moment.

9. This term refers to those using hoods in the violent clashes with the cops so as to hide their facial characteristics and avoid arrests.

10. For a first account of the events see our text Preliminary notes towards an account of the «movement of popular assemblies» which can be downloaded at: http://www.tapaidiatisgalarias.org/?page_id=105

11. See: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/sep/07/england-riots-...anted

Related Link: http://www.tapaidiatisgalarias.org
author by Angrypublication date Fri Oct 07, 2011 19:05Report this post to the editors

Why is Anarkismo hosting such disgusting, baseless smears and personal attacks and outing of people's real names?

author by Andrewpublication date Fri Oct 07, 2011 20:47Report this post to the editors

There are three approaches to this sort of story

a. The facts is contains are false or massively out of context. In which case it should indeed be removed
b. The facts it contains are accurate. In which case people need to be made aware of the dangers of working with the person named
c. The facts are presented in a one sided and somewhat out of context way in which case there needs to be a discussion as to what the real situation is.

I've been looking into this for the last 90 minutes and it appears that while some of what is described is close to c. at least parts of what is described are very close to b.,. The University of Sussex profile page does not currently say what was claimed and hasn't said so since at least Tuesday. However he was the 3rd author on a paper whose abstract reads "From this, we develop general guidelines as to how policing can reduce crowd violence and lead crowd members themselves to self-police violent groupings in their midst." and he lists this paper on his own profile as
Reicher, S., Stott, C., Drury, J., Adang, O., Cronin, P., & Livingstone, A. (2007). Knowledge-based public order policing: Principles and practice. Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice, 1, 403-415. The 4th author is listed as being at the Dutch National Police College, NL - http://www.cepol. europa.eu/index.php?id=netherlands

It is worth quoting from this to make clear that it does include giving tactical advise to the police that likely would and has already been used against some anarchists - in the final quote the authors claim that in relation to Kettling this advice "it has been applied on a number of occasions to considerable effect"
" the aim is to shape interactions between police and crowd in such a way as to lead peaceful crowd members categorise themselves along with the police and in opposition to violent factions rather than categorising themselves along with violent factions against the police."
another reads
" It even has implications for clothing since, seen through a scuffed Perspex visor, the faces of the crowd merge into one and make targeted reactions impossible. "
and again in relation to Kettling
"These conditions might include the removal of clothing that obscures individual identity, abandoning placards, bottles and other objects that could be used as weapons. This advice has been taken on board by the Metropolitan police and we are told through personal communication that it has been applied on a number of occasions to considerable effect."

Quite clearly there needs at the very least to be a discussion that explains how someone who is part of a radical journal which often has a stall at the London Anarchist Bookfair has co-authored a paper with someone working for the Dutch police that gives the police advise on "how policing can reduce crowd violence and lead crowd members themselves to self-police violent groupings in their midst." Perhaps there is an innocent explanation for this or it is now seen as a past mistake but i there would seem to be more here then what can be dismissed as a 'smear',

author by andrewpublication date Fri Oct 07, 2011 20:57author email andrewnflood at gmail dot comReport this post to the editors

While writing the above a response was posted to Libcom by Aufheben. I reproduce it in full below without comment as I've yet to read it


A response to a smear by Greek group TPTG.

TPTG have chosen to publically identify the real name of an Aufheben contributor, a method we have previously only encountered from the right-wing press. They have done this despite an email circulated in August clarifying the numerous factual errors and false claims they make. They make extremely serious charges of ‘collaborating with the state and repression’ and ‘pacifying class struggle’, despite knowledge that this is just a smear, and added to this with unfounded speculations of their own. We regard it as ridiculous that at a time of unprecedented class offensive by capital, some of Europe's ultra-left have chosen to focus on ten-year-old gossip about Aufheben, and we resent the fact we've had to waste time on dealing with this when there's any number of more pressing things to be involved in. Nevertheless, we are obliged to respond.

The research work
J did not write the ‘Policing’ paper or any part of it – yet despite knowing this the TPTG piece chooses to refer to this as J’s paper and quotes from it extensively as if it represents J’s views. We obviously reject fully the liberal-reformist assumptions, language and aims of the paper. J was added as an author by the first author as a ‘favour’, because part of the paper refers to J’s research on identity-change in crowds. Being added as an author is a standard academic practice; and sometimes published papers contain statements that some of the named authors don’t agree with. But in this case it was a mistake by J to allow his name to be added to a paper that he was against in principle.

TPTG take the word ‘consultancies’ on J’s university profile too literally. The ‘NATO’ reference is actually a literature review by the Department of Health which cites J’s research on a mass emergency. The review and the research are about psychosocial care and nothing to do with crowd control (this can be checked by the link on his research website); J had nothing to do with anyone from NATO; and J is not responsible for the views expressed by the document authors or any of their statements or recommendations. As TPTG know, The talks to the ‘policing major incidents’ meeting, the CBRN centre, and Civil Contingencies Secretariat were each about his research on mass emergencies. They were part of the dissemination of his research to the emergency services and other relevant organizations that he is expected to do as part of his work at the university. The ‘blue light services’ work closely together; and so talking about emergencies means probably talking to cops as well as the others. His University encouraged this, and it would have looked odd to refuse to communicate with the cops. So he accepted this as a small cost of the overall job of research work.

The mass emergency talks consisted of a critique of irrationalist models and assumptions, and describe his research evidence that membership of a psychological crowd in an emergency is a source of resilience and adaptive response (such as coordination and cooperation). This argument provides a possible justification for emergency response strategies prioritizing communication and provision of information (lack of which survivors find distressing and frustrating) over control. He stands by this research work as worthwhile and even humane.

The supposed dangerousness of the liberal reformists
The TPTG letter is factually incorrect. J’s two colleagues do ‘lobby’ for less violent policing. All such liberal-reformist lobbying addresses the cops in their own terms - and this is what we disagree with. But it is simply wrong and confused to say that this equates with ‘support’ for the use of force; it is precisely because the two colleagues do support ‘anti-capitalist demonstrators and football fans’ that they seek to reduce police violence, arrests and jail sentences.

More importantly, however, J rejects his colleagues’ reformist project: we cannot contribute to the communist movement by using ‘enlightened’ expert advice to alter policing methods, or through any other such mediations, but rather through imposing ourselves collectively. The research he does with his two colleagues, and the fact that his name is sometimes attached to publications by them that are used to put forward their liberal-reformist arguments, is politically irrelevant, rather than practically or ideologically damaging.

TPTG suggest that the ideas in the ‘Policing’ paper have helped in tactics of repression. This is based on a misunderstanding. The premise of the paper is the cops’ own role in (inadvertently) contributing to the development of a riot. In plain English, ‘guiding the cops to act in ways which maximizes the opportunities to engage crowd members’ in processes of de-escalating conflict means suggesting to the cops that it’s in their own interests not to use force as their first choice method. The research on which the paper is based shows that policing perceived by crowd members as illegitimate and indiscriminate brings them together against the police; the premise, therefore, is those situations where people are not already united against the police. The research and ideas don’t explain how the police’s actions can create difference in a crowd where it didn’t exist previously.

Giving the cops the ‘insight’ that their own (‘illegitimate and indiscriminate’) behaviour can contribute to crowd conflict is not at all the same thing as giving them the ability to undermine our struggles. In the first place, there are obvious limits to the extent to which the cops can take on board and act upon this knowledge. For one thing, due to their social location, the police are in a sense right to fear ‘the crowd’ (and therefore ‘rational’ to resist the overtures of the liberal reformers, as many of them do): at the end of the day, the state is threatened by crowds of angry proletarians and reacts accordingly. They will therefore still tend to act ‘against the crowd’ on occasions, even when given the ‘insight’ that beliefs about crowd dangerousness can be a self-fulfilling prophesy.

The ‘Policing’ paper cited by TPTG only aims to “hinder … crowd members’ unification” by arguing against brute force repression. But it is simplistic to understand by this that there is a straightforward relation between repression and the development of struggles, in the same way that there is no simple relation between ‘facilitative’ policing and the falling back of struggles. There are too many mediations. Experiences of police ‘illegitimacy’, rather than spurring people on, can actually be ‘disempowering’. There is not much use being anti-police if you can’t do anything about it. On the other hand, struggles can sometimes take off when policing is experienced as soft or ‘fair’. For example, the UK student movement was boosted by events at Millbank in 2010, when police held back. The crowd event remained buoyant but did not escalate; but the movement itself did escalate through that event.

In short, TPTG are simply wrong to state that the ‘Policing’ paper, and by extension J, help the cops practically with ‘correct repression’. Ultimately, the police are forced into repressive strategies by proletarian militancy regardless of such ‘insights’, and in any case the relationship between soft/hard policing and advance/retreat of struggle is highly mediated and contingent on numerous factors. By association TPTG have implicated J in collaboration with repression - a very serious charge with no basis in fact. Just as we disagree with his liberal reformist colleagues’ view (that working to soften the state through the mediations of expert opinion is a part of social change), so we also disagree with TPTG when they suggest that this expert intervention is an active impediment to social change.

After this decade-old gossip resurfaced back in January 2011, TPTG said they didn’t want to use the Aufheben group e-mail to contact us. Another friend, P, requested and was given one of our personal e-mail addresses in February; but no-one has used this or any other means to get in touch with us about this except through this public ‘outing’. TPTG have made extremely serious charges against one of us (“cop collaborating”), but made no attempt to clarify the facts – for example by contacting us with a simple e-mail. We circulated an email back in August explaining these facts. It seems to have been ignored. But why let the facts get in the way of a good smear story?

Aufheben
7th October 2011

Aufheben
Brighton & Hove Unemployed Workers Centre
PO Box 2536
Rottingdean
BRIGHTON BN2 6LX
UK
www.libcom.org/aufheben

author by Paul Bpublication date Fri Oct 07, 2011 21:23Report this post to the editors

Given that the response above effectively attempts to defend the 2009 paper by C. Stott (see link below) from the accusations that it represents the use of social pyschology research for aiding more effective police tactics against social movements, then I think it is fair comment that these differences are aired and that people's attention be brought to the paper, so that they can read it and make their own minds up. This is a case of a serious political dispute, not the use of untrue allegations to smear someone.


edit: hmm oscailt doesn't handle parentheses in http links, try: http://www.liv.ac.uk/psychology/cpd/Stott_(2009).pdf

Related Link: http://www.liv.ac.uk/psychology/cpd/Stott_
author by communistpublication date Fri Oct 07, 2011 21:35Report this post to the editors

It's a hatchet job. The 'references' to NATO etc are nothing to do with "pacifying class struggle" (the response covers this; psychosocial care in mass emergencies), in any case it just means his work was included in literature reviews not that he's 'collaborating', and also the Aufheben guy was not the author of the 'Policing' paper and disagrees with it. Furthermore, TPTG apparently knew all this and published anyway. This is no secret, it's been gossip doing the rounds for a decade and after titillating Europe's ultra-left all year, for reasons unknown it has now resurfaced so people can sling some more shit.

But the whole danger in this kind of smear is that smart people can spend hours looking into it and conclude there's no smoke without fire. But it's bullshit based on known falsehoods, twisting of the facts and outright speculation.

author by Still angrypublication date Fri Oct 07, 2011 21:50Report this post to the editors

The reader can judge just fine - the Aufheben response completely demolishes the TPTG piece. that doesn't stop there being very good reasons why people might not want their name publicly associated with a communist journal. Names need to be redacted - it's not as if the individual is not identifiable within "the scene" without it. The only effect of publishing his name like this is the possibility of creating work issues for the person involved - something which TPTG were made aware of.

Even if you were to think he has done wrong, this is obviously not an undercover cop equivalent - it's not a hidden infiltration that has been outed here - given that, choosing to publicly reveal the identity of someone who has chosen to remain anonymous is totally unacceptible.

author by andrewpublication date Fri Oct 07, 2011 22:46Report this post to the editors

I don't agree that 'the Aufheben response completely demolishes the TPTG piece.' It puts it in another context but having read the paper in full now I actually think that context is perhaps as skewed as the original TPTG piece. There is much more in that paper than an attempt at "Giving the cops the ‘insight’ that their own (‘illegitimate and indiscriminate’) behaviour can contribute to crowd conflict " - sections of it are clearly intended to get 'the crowd' to accept the isolation, identification and presumably arrest of those the cops identify as trouble makers in a kettle. As someone who would certainly have been in such situations I certainly do not take such advise as in any way harmless, minor or simply reformist. At such a point in time all you have is the collective solidarity of the crowd, furnishing police with advise on how to undermine the development of such solidarity is a rather serious business.

The worst section, quoted below appears to be from just two of the authors and not J but all the same at the very least it shows very bad judgement that he put his name to this paper and continues to list it on his academic profile. If the defense of this (as presented by Aufheben above) is that this was good for his career then really any threat to his career coming from his being named in the original piece is no more than a counter balance to that decision. (And lets be honest here - in the context of academia writing for Aufheben is very unlikely to be any sort of career threat unless the job your going for is quite dodgy indeed).

"Accordingly, we were asked by the Metropolitan Police to consider how to develop the corralling tactic (Cronin, 2002; Cronin and Reicher, 2002).

We stressed, first, the need for officers to understand the meaning of their tactic from the perspective of the participants. In particular, the anger of participants should not be dismissed simply as reflecting a prior hostility to the police. Rather, officers need to consider how they might be producing hostility in those who started off being sympathetic towards them. Next, we stressed that, if crowd members had to be contained out of fear that some amongst them might be violent, it was critical to communicate to the people as to why they were being contained and how this was necessitated by minority actions. Part of this may involve the development of new communications technologies such as high-powered mobile loudspeaker systems and giant LCD screens. Third, procedures of selective filtering should be developed for enabling those with specific needs to exit the containment area—and this should also be communicated to the crowd. Moreover, it should also be stressed that conflict within the containment area would disrupt the selective filtering process and hence act against the interests of crowd members. Fourth, once those in need had been allowed to leave, it should be stressed to the remaining crowd that the police also wish to let them proceed as well, but that this could only occur under conditions that will prevent some amongst them from causing violence. These conditions might include the removal of clothing that obscures individual identity, abandoning placards, bottles and other objects that could be used as weapons. This advice has been taken on board by the Metropolitan police and we are told through personal communication that it has been applied on a number of occasions to considerable effect."

Now the we referred to here is I think two other authors of this piece Cronin & Reicher. Both of whom appear to have a very close working relationship with the police indeed. Following that reference to the end of the paper we see they are Cronin P. Review of the May Day Protests in London, 2001. 2002. Briefing to the Metropolitan Police Public Order Committee. Area 1 Police HQ, Cannon Row Police Station. Cronin P., Reicher S. D. Review of the May Day Protests in London, 2001. 2002. Unpublished Confidential Report to the Metropolitan Police. A 4th author works for the Dutch police training college.

IMHO academics have a tendency to think they are in a special position in relation to the movement under which particular attention should be paid to what they say and very little attention should be paid to what they do. I don't hold with this point of view, indeed I believe the opposite, that because of the nature of their work they should held to be particularly accountable. This should be particularly true when you are in a relationship with at least 3 police advisor/s trainers who advise the police on how to undermine the development of crowd solidarity in order to isolate those they consider to be trouble makers.

We would not accept non-academic activists as having such a close relationship with police advisors and police trainers that they are rewarded (in this case by being named as an author on a paper in which we are to believe they had no part in writing) without question.

I think the risk to the future career of an academic of being associated with writing theoretical articles for a fairly obscure left journal needs to be balanced against the fact that dozens if not hundreds of people received jail sentences for as little as posting to Facebook or stealing bottles of water or not moving away fast enough when the cops told them to clear off during the London riots. At the very least if I was to have a casual conversation about the London riots in the pub after the bookfair with someone I only knew as having being seated behind the Aufheben I would very much like to know in advance that this person had such a relationship in the past. It would certainly have some impact on what I would say even if I believed that the guy had the best of intentions and was very clever indeed. (I am being a little understated here).

Now it may very well be that his intention through such contacts is to do good. He probably reckons he is smarter than the cops and whatever information they might get from him through his colleagues is of lesser value than what he learns. He'd hardly be the first person to make such a calculation. In fact that is often the miscalculation people make in the cells when they figure talking to the cops may get them out of trouble quicker. However if he wants to play both sides of the fence then at the very least he has a strong duty to being very open that this is what he is doing - even though of course this is going to have a major impact on how he is seen on both sides. Some people when furnished with this information will chose to have nothing more to do with him, and they have the right to make this decision.

author by kdpublication date Sat Oct 08, 2011 18:55Report this post to the editors

Like many other I have respect for the Aufheben group and magazine. Theirs is a good contribution and that stands aside from this particular matter/ controversy.

However, that said, I find it difficult to disagree with Andrew's assessment of the issues involved here, and the objectionable nature of any assistance the police may have garnered therein from any of this work linked to J's name. The words and phrases 'poor judgement' and 'mistake' have been used in relation to J's reasoning for allowing his name to be included. But such descriptions hardly do the matter justice. His is a difficult reasoning to understand at all.

Given the highly politicised nature of present day policing (which we should acknowledge is core to in this dispute) and the increasingly offensive (but sophisticated) manner of policing methods with respect to social protest, it is hard to see where the wriggle room is in this association of J's.

To my mind a clear statement of disassociation by J and a clarification statement by the Aufheben group would be in order. Obviously this is not going to happen given the reproduced statement from Aufheben above. Which, to my mind, is where I see the problem being. There appears to be some sort of group denial going on in that statement that a boundary that shouldn't be crossed, was.

author by communistpublication date Sun Oct 09, 2011 05:46Report this post to the editors

"To my mind a clear statement of disassociation by J and a clarification statement by the Aufheben group would be in order. Obviously this is not going to happen"

The Aufheben statement includes not one but three clear disassociations:

"We obviously reject fully the liberal-reformist assumptions, language and aims of the paper", and later, in bold text, "J rejects his colleagues’ reformist project". The third time, also in bold, states "we disagree with his liberal reformist colleagues’ view". That's pretty clear.

author by Paul Bpublication date Mon Oct 10, 2011 20:59Report this post to the editors

We all know the lawnmower defence: "I never broke your lawnmower. I never even borrowed your lawnmower. Anyway, it was already broken when you lent it me". That is, to simultaneously deny and attempt to justify what is being denied.

It is one thing to defend a comrade against an unjust accusation of guilt by association. It is something else entirely to say that there can be no guilt by association, because there is nothing culpable to be associated with.

This is the problem with the heading: "The supposed dangerousness of the liberal reformists" - it implies that the "liberal reformists" - in this case Stott and Reicher, are dangerous only in the eyes of the foolish and the deluded. That section goes on to dismiss the notion that J's colleagues were doing anything harmful to social movements by claiming:

a) That Reicher & Stott's research, reports and inputs to police training programmes have no real effect.
b) That even if they did have an effect on making public order policing more efficient, this doesn't really matter because police repression has no real or important effect on social movements.

a) lacks credibility, to say the least. b) is simply extraordinary.

author by communistpublication date Mon Oct 10, 2011 22:32Report this post to the editors

Paul, unfortunately your logic is faulty. The lawnmower analogy only works due to incommensurable truth-claims implied in each clause. There are no competing truth claims in the Aufheben response that: (a) J did not author the piece but had his name attached as a 'favour' and (b) the piece is in no way as dangerous as implied. To make it extra clear: 'Paul B did not write the Journey hit Don't Stop Believin', and in any case the Journey hit Don't Stop Believin' is not a threat to the class struggle' would not be an example of the lawnmower fallacy. It is a shit song though!

The claim is not that Stott and Reicher's research has no effect. The claim is that it does not have an adverse impact on the class struggle because there are structural determinants of policing which Stott and Reicher, as liberal reformists, overlook. Stott and Reicher argue that the police should look to prevent violence by facilitating crowds to achieve their aims peacefully. It's a variation on JFK's 'those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable'. A familiar liberal-reformist motif.

So in the case on an A-B march, this would mean facilitating the protest and only repressing violence or criminal damage. This has long been a police tactic in the UK, but Stott and Reicher certainly provide intellectual legitimation for it. It only works if the crowd only wants to march from A-B though, if the crowd in question is committed to disruption - a mass picket, a factory or transport hub occupation - then the ability of the police to 'facilitate' the goals of the crowd evaporates due to the class nature of the state, and they fall back on blunt force. And when the police tried this 'facilitative' strategy on March 26th, those who did want to do more than march A-B were inadvertently 'facilitated' too, changing appearance and moving through the main march to lose TSG escorts in a way which would have been impossible if it was more heavily policed. The Aufheben piece gives other examples of the indeterminate relationship between hard/soft policing and advance/falling back of struggle. Softer policing doesn't necessarily mean less struggle, but can mean escalation (e.g. Millbank). Harder policing doesn't necessarily lead to radicalisation and escalation but can also lead to demoralisation and de-escalation (e.g. Wapping).

A final point is that the goal of the liberal reformists is to reduce +violence+. This is not the same thing as class conflict. Their aim, as liberal reformists, is to persuade the police to facilitate peaceful change to make violent change unnecessary. Aufheben's argument is that even if the police take this on board 100% it does not harm the class struggle, since it means either the state backing off to let us achieve our goals peacefully (in which case we could say, pursue a piquetero strategy of economic blockades and be left to get on with it), or more likely reverting to repression to impose capitals interests on the working class. No amount of liberal idealism over-rides these material interests, and therefore the liberal reformists appeals to the police to be nice are politically irrelevant.

Now whatever you think of all this, linking J's real name to being a founder of a revolutionary journal serves no legitimate purpose. Anarkismo could easily redact his real name without detracting from the discussion. Instead, Anarkismo is making it easier for J to be victimised since Aufheben is authored anonymously for a reason (it openly endorses riots, looting, violence etc as part of the class struggle). This kind of public outing (by the right-wing press) has recently lead to anti-cuts activists being investigated by university and work authorities and suspended, and there's no good reason to facilitate that happening to J. +Even if+ you 100% accept TPTG's allegations, enabling his bosses to possibly pursue disciplinary action against him for his political activities is not something anarchists should be encouraging by hosting peoples' real names in political polemics.

author by PaulBpublication date Tue Oct 11, 2011 00:01Report this post to the editors

OK, so basically your line is "b) That even if [Stott & Reicher] did have an effect on making public order policing more efficient, this doesn't really matter because police repression has no real or important effect on social movements".

In your, and Aufheben's opinion, the fact that academics like Stott with his work with football fans (and Poll Tax demonstrators) can gather research from the inside of movements that is then later used in police training, is not a problem from a communist perspective and definitely not something the movement should bother it's little heads with. I don't share this opinion. While I haven't got a crystal ball, I suspect you are going to find that within the anarchist and anti-capitalist DA movement, that position is a lot lonelier one than that Journey were a shite AOR band...

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