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bootsy
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Oct 11 2011 02:42
Khawaga wrote:
bootsy wrote:
It has pretty profound implications for the attitude our movement should take toward academics. It bothers me that the LibCom group are so unwilling to confront that.

It bother me that you are so willing to just condemn academics for being academics. What about condemning the janitor working for a prison, or the police? They clearly do much more for the state than some academic writing about ethics on Survivor.

I am not condemning academics for being academics Khawaga, but like I have said earlier your comments are very unconvincing. Following that line of thinking why draw a line anywhere? I get it, reductio ad absurdum and all that. But I don't think you can seriously compare cleaning the toilets in a police station to conducting research which is used to develop anti-riot strategies.

I don't want to condemn academics full stop, I myself am a student and get along really well with some of my instructors. But what has happened here, it shouldn't happen again. I think at the very least it means academics involved in radical movements should be totally open about the kind of work they do, that the rest of us should keep a close eye on the kind of work they do and should be prepared to hold them to account if it looks like they're beginning to cross a line. If it is normal for an academic career to push you this close to the state then like I have said the problem lies with academic careers and not with us.

Aufheben say:

Quote:
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.

Also I would like to pre-empt you here JK. This post does not mindlessly repeat TPTG's allegations, I am being careful to only go off what was in the Aufheben response and am not trying to infer that they're lying.

I would also like to point out that there was a thread on here recently criticising IWW cleaners for addressing parliament. I find it hard to read something like that, and then read this, and not get the feeling that there's one rule for some, another rule for others.

Edit: Here is the thread.

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Khawaga
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Oct 11 2011 02:37
Awesome Dude wrote:
Academics have a high degree of control over the work they choose to do. Most workers don't.

Simply not true. Only if you're tenured, but even then there's not that much choice. Often you have to chase funding, which means that the research you do depends on who you get funding from. What you teach depends on your department; you rarely get to teach only your own "speciality".

I am a PhD student and teaching assistant. While I could choose my own topic for research, I've considered changing it from a very Marx centered analysis of media/communication towards something that is more "employable". I get to choose between maybe 6 courses to TA; if I want to teach my own course it has to be constructed in a way so that it's approved by admin and preferable over my competition (the reserve army of PhD students, post-docs and sessional instructors that is making up the majority of academic workers nowadays). When I am TAing it is up to the prof what is taught, often how it's taught as well. Tutorial sections are often overcrowded, we don't get enough hours to actually do our work and we never get "overtime". On top of that is the pressure to publish, go to conferences (typically paid out of pocket) so that we become employable when we graduate.

Seems like folks view of academia is the one that existed maybe 30 years ago. Being an academic now means being precarious, being stressed and working way way too much for too little money.

tastybrain
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Oct 11 2011 02:41
Awesome Dude wrote:
tastybrain wrote:
whatisinevidence wrote:
It is common practice for academics to critique academia (in fact, it is a necessary ritual for 'radical' professors), and anyway the article does not deal with the crucial question - that the author/editor of it is in fact part of what he is writing about. It is dishonest*.

So it's dishonest to critique a system you are part of...kind of like workers critiquing wage labor.

Academics have a high degree of control over the work they choose to do. Most workers don't.

Again, it depends on what we define as "academic". Professors do. Lecturers have some control, not as much as professors. Researchers, tutors, and public school teachers have almost none. Even professors can only teach classes in the field they are qualified in and are constrained in the research they do (if they care) based on what sorts of research are likely to be valued by other people in academia. What's your point anyway? If you are talking about this specific case and faulting J for doing research that could be turned against revolutionary movements, than I agree. If you are generalizing and making some point about "academia" I don't really follow your reasoning...

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Khawaga
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Oct 11 2011 02:43
bootsy wrote:
But I don't think you can seriously compare cleaning the toilets in a police station to conducting research which is used to develop anti-riot strategies.

No you can't; I was comparing it to studying ethics on Survivor. In that case, clearly the janitor is "worse" than the academic. FWIW, I don't think developing anti-riot strategies is something that radicals should do.

Quote:
I don't want to condemn academics full stop, I myself am a student and get along really well with some of my instructors. But what has happened here, it shouldn't happen again. I think at the very least it means academics involved in radical movements should be totally open about the kind of work they do, that the rest of us should keep a close eye on the kind of work they do and should be prepared to hold them to account if it looks like they're beginning to cross a line.

Of course academics should be open about the work they do. If they don't they're being unethical. There has to be full disclosure. Even most university guidelines will agree on that.

Quote:
If it is normal for an academic career to push you this close to the state then like I have said the problem lies with academic careers and not with us.

It really depends on what your area of research is. The problem lies with the academic IMO.

bootsy
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Oct 11 2011 03:23
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No you can't; I was comparing it to studying ethics on Survivor. In that case, clearly the janitor is "worse" than the academic. FWIW, I don't think developing anti-riot strategies is something that radicals should do.

Well whatever... I'm not really interested in pontificating over the finer details of levels of collaboration with the State. My concern is what might do real damage to our movement and to proletarian movements more generally.

Also I would like to point out that I said 'conducting research which is used to develop anti-riot strategies' not 'developing anti-riot strategies'. That seems to be the clear difference here, since TPTG accuse J of the latter when he is at least involved in the former. Both are bad. However one is much, much worse. I reserve my judgement on that until there is more information however as Blasto has pointed out there are words coming from J's own mouth which really don't coming across well to put it mildly.

I really hope LibCom removes the preface to the TPTG letter calling it a smear. We're big kids, Aufheben have had their chance to respond. People can read both and form their own opinions.

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jesuithitsquad
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Oct 11 2011 03:58

my favorite part of this thread is when whatisinevidence goes on and on about honesty and full disclosure as if their newly created account is the only account they've ever had on libcom.

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Khawaga
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Oct 11 2011 04:08
bootsy wrote:
Well whatever... I'm not really interested in pontificating over the finer details of levels of collaboration with the State. My concern is what might do real damage to our movement and to proletarian movements more generally.

The reason I raised this was because you painted all academics as potential state collaborators and that therefore radicals should not be academics. I was just trying to show the ridiculousness of that statement (which you now seem to recognize). I don't have an issue with your take on what could do real damage to the movement.

Wellclose Square
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Oct 11 2011 06:11

Leaving aside the specifics of the TPTG accusation and focusing on the acknowledged role of the Aufheben member in his field of work, I'm troubled by the impression of being evasive evident in Aufheben's response and the readiness of certain posters to give the benefit of the doubt to the Aufheben member - even when what he has acknowledged as true is extremely dodgy. An impression of evasiveness masked by bluster (largely the bluster of his defenders on this thread). It doesn't look good.

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waslax
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Oct 11 2011 06:56
Wellclose Square wrote:
Leaving aside the specifics of the TPTG accusation and focusing on the acknowledged role of the Aufheben member in his field of work, I'm troubled by the impression of being evasive evident in Aufheben's response and the readiness of certain posters to give the benefit of the doubt to the Aufheben member - even when what he has acknowledged as true is extremely dodgy. An impression of evasiveness masked by bluster (largely the bluster of his defenders on this thread). It doesn't look good.

I couldn't agree more. This all is very disconcerting.

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Rob Ray
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Oct 11 2011 08:21
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Living in the past may help you to cope with the contradictions of the present, but it won't do anything to change the reality which confronts us. This kind of snide comment does little justice the points being raised.

It's not living in the past, it's pointing out that the people who shaped anarchism as an ideal in the first place had backgrounds in academia - not particularly surprising, as a lot of anarchists spend a lot of their time learning stuff and sometimes find they can get a bit of money out of it.

What I find to be snide and doing little justice to the points raised is the blanket insinuation off the back of one (right or wrong) accusation against one academic to say that all academics (I'm not one btw) are inherently selling out and attacking the movement - would whatisinevidence say all construction workers should stop working because some of them built the prisons?

It insults and demeans people who (like Colin Ward) led pretty fucking blameless lives dedicated to bringing anarchism into the mainstream and made a huge positive difference.

bootsy
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Oct 11 2011 09:01
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What I find to be snide and doing little justice to the points raised is the blanket insinuation off the back of one (right or wrong) accusation against one academic to say that all academics (I'm not one btw) are inherently selling out and attacking the movement - would whatisinevidence say all construction workers should stop working because some of them built the prisons?

What I said was that if J has been pushed into this uncomfortable position through no fault of his own, and that it is something which accompanies a career in academia, then for me that raises questions about radicals pursuing careers in academia. I stand by that statement.

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Rob Ray
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Oct 11 2011 09:07

And what I quoted in my OP was:

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That so many so-called communists are academics is troubling, yes?

By whatisinevidence. I didn't actually comment on what you wrote.

Having said that, I also think the statement you're standing by is pretty lame - name me the job which doesn't involve uncomfortable compromises with capitalism.

bootsy
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Oct 11 2011 09:35

Edit: Nevermind I've already done this with Khawaga.

Jason Cortez
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Oct 11 2011 11:35

Perhaps we could focus on the particular allegation from TPTG rather than wandering off into critiques of academia. Having not read J 's papers I am not in position to ascertain whether his research is directly contributing to the state's ability to better manage our expolsive mass rage. His work undoubtedly does contribute indirectly to this process. But as has been pointed out so does a whole range of activities under taken by communists outside the academy. This does not mean we should not ignore this problematic (but on another thread).
The problem here, is that it is difficult without doing lots of research to get a proper handle on this. Indeed the very nature of the disclosure of J's alleged activity has made it very unlikely that an open and honest account can now occur. By TPTG sending an open letter to the movement which does not comment on or refer to communications from Aufheben and just reiterates their original concerns which implies there has been no attempt to address these. There is inevitably a circling of the wagons and a lot of mudslinging. Which makes it very difficult to come to a clear conclusion and more importantly to learn any lessons from this experience.
Personally I think Aufheben reply is a tad disingenous and overly defensive, and does not attempt to give a proper account of the situation including the tensions and conflicts involved.
But what would you expect when a friend and comrade has been called out as working with the state to suppress moments of resistance. This court of justice approach from both sides means that we have probably missed an opportunity for deeper understanding and a clearer concept of where "our" 'lines in the sand' should be drawn.
Still this will no doubt mean a large attendance at this year's London Anarchist Bookfair, so this circus of scandal can be played out, to everyone's (dis)satisifaction. Which probably explains the timing of the open letter.

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ocelot
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Oct 11 2011 16:03

Agree with JC that the timing does look suspiciously like a late play to gazump the theme for this year's annual anarchist bookfair rumble (and the whole "all academics are servants of satan" thing is a complete derail - get your own thread, guys). Also the timing thing is probably why the "defence team" have switched to a strategy of keeping schtum in the last 24 hours, in the hopes that the thing will blow over before then.

But to narrow the problem space a little, I would suggest that the question of J's doings be set aside as a secondary matter to await resolution until a more primary question can be sorted out.

Is the argument put forward by Aufheben, in their response, that the activities of other academics in the field of "crowd management", such as Stott & Reicher, are essentially harmless, acceptable or not? If we can't even agree on that, then there is no way to anchor any discussion of J's potential role.

Aufheben's argument that Stott & Reicher's work has no significant effect seems to be based on the proposition that the only effect of their activities is

1) An ideological "legitimation" effect, of providing window dressing for the evolution of public order policing in directions that the police were intending to go, anyway.

2) An (ultimatly misguided and impotent) attempt to exhort the police to be less thuggish.

Neither of which, in their opinion has any real effect. IMO there's a whole number of problems with this argument and also taking the fact that JD does not share their "liberal-reformist arguments", as being the reason why he shares no responsibility for their work.

Firstly, it appears to fetishise the separation of theory and practice. Stott & Reicher's activity is dismissed as being merely theoretical, either ideological legitimation or humanistic exhortation, but having no implications in police pratice.

Second, more peculiarly for a group of their political identity, it appears to privilege the ideological consciousness of the actors over the objective material impact of their activity (within the context of the totality of social relations). Stott & Reicher are dismissed as well meaning Guardian-reading liberals whose intentions are good (reduce police cracking heads) and this "neo-Kantian" reading of their activity is allowed to edge out any more materialist critique of the effect of their activity, regardless of their subjective intentions. It is on the grounds of these subjective intentions only that J is absolved of any joint responsibility as he does not share their "liberal-reformist" assumptions.

All in all, a very peculiar set of arguments to be putting forward for a supposedly Marxist group.

But going beyond mere matters of theoretical inconsistency, to more practical questions.

In passing, the idea that the cops, managing scarce budgets as it is, are happy to spend their money on having a bunch of liberal academics berate them to "be cool, guys!", with no other practical interest than "it looks good". Is not exactly credible. Why the hell would the cops need more legitimation than the unquestioning and uncritical support of virtually every mainstream media outlet in the country?

But I think the basic contention that it is not something the movement should be concerned about, when participant researchers who involve themselves in the activities of direct action groups, anti-cap or summit protestors, football fans, etc, and then go on to use that research to not only make a remunerative academic career (not necessarily a problem, in and of itself) but to help advise and train top police public order strategists, is going to be a hard sell to the movement at large.

For example, from that 2009 paper that bear's J's name we have the following section:

Quote:
"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."

Sound familiar? It does to me. I was in that bloody kettle at the Mayday protest in London in 2001 that Reicher and Cronin are talking about. Let's put it in Foucauldian terms, their words, into the ears of the top cops and then down the chain of command to the riot cops to exert over my body, and the other thousands with me. Let me repeat. Their words inscribed on our bodies as repressive power. This may be acceptable to Aufheben as "politically irrelevant". But it sure as hell isn't to me. So to the extent that they extend their defence to the likes of Stott, Reicher and Cronin, I'm, definitely not buying it.

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Oct 11 2011 17:29

Just wanting to clear up some specific points that seem to be creeping in here, even amongst people who are fairly “neutral”. Clearing up some misconceptions. This is solely aimed at the people watching this impartially, who may have accepted some of the falsehoods running around. It is not aimed at any of those with a pre-formed agenda – People who think academia is inherently beyond the pale, people who want a pop at the ultra-left, those hostile to Aufheben’s theoretical analysis, random internet mentals who see police conspiracy everywhere. If you’re one of these, then I have no interest in engaging with you – your mind isn’t going to be changed.
 
However, for many others without a prejudice, there is likely to be a feeling that *something* is going on here. The whole thing is akin to the the ”wedge strategy”. The reasonable person is drawn to thinking the answer is somewhere in the middle ground – that while the critics may be going too far, that J has done *something* wrong. However, this is not the case – the only wrongdoing by J is perhaps to be a bit stupid letting his name be used on a paper he hadn't read.
 
-”J Wrote the article”
 
Completely untrue. He was listed as a 3rd author, as a favour, as some of his work was used. Despite TPTG claims the paper was by ‘J et al’ - this is simply untrue. This is completely common in academia – with the pressure to “publish or die” it is completely the norm. I mean, does anyone think that with a paper authored by 5 people that they all sat around a laptop and wrote it by committee?
 
-Not standard academic practice (aka “That sounds really weird!”)
 
Yes. It is. Academia is a murky world full of all kinds of bullshit. No one is defending this practice, but it happens. Given the incredible pressures to publish or get the boot, do people really expect this *not* to happen? Anyone claiming that doesn’t happen is either unfamiliar with the world of UK academia (lucky you!) or if they are, are simply being dishonest.
 
-If he rejects the paper, why is it still on his academic profile
 
The profile is maintained by the department. The paper was, within the world of social psychology, fairly major. This department is, amazingly, not communist. Given this, the department was hardly likely to want to remove this from his profile because of J’s political misgivings. This is especially ridiculous, as those wording this often couple it with…
 
-J has hidden this work from those he works with.
 
Perhaps the most absurd of the charges. The work was published under his real name. Publicly posted by his employer on his academic profile. His job is well known within the scene. While TPTG might wish to believe they have done sterling detective work, the reality – that of reading a public website – is far more mundane.
 
-J trains cops to deal with public order situations
 
Completely untrue. Not even really worth going into detail on this. There is simply no factual basis to this whatsoever.
 
 
-TPTG were right to rush this out – this is important information that needs to get out right away!
 
TPTG have sat on this specific piece for 9 months – on top of this, J’s research area has been a cause of gossip for years. During this time, they have gossiped around it, but made little attempt to verify it or check the accuracy of their incredibly serious accusations. It is not the case they were gathering information or ensuring they had their facts right. They kept it in their small gossip circle, added nothing to it – and ignored all information contrary to their preconceived conclusion, then pushed it out without verifying anything
 
-Communists shouldn’t be academics anyway
 
Sure, okay, you can think this. I disagree, but that’s beside the point. That’s not the issue here at all – if you want to make this critique, go for it. But that obviously isn’t the issue at hand here – if the criticism was just that J shouldn’t have been an academic, then the criticism here would run far wider than Aufheben! There’s no issue with people having this political view, but it’s a totally separate discussion to the one at hand.
 
-There needs to be a clear rejection of this paper from Aufheben
 
There is. Three times. Twice in bold.
 
-Aufheben are defending Reicher/Stott .
 
No, they aren’t. They simply think the research is impractical and idealist, and not applicable in the real world. They are stating it is harmless specifically because *even if they wanted to* this stuff couldn’t be applied to the class struggle - it only applies when there's no fundamental conflicts of interest – unsurprisingly liberals believe in liberalism. Saying something is so absurd it could never work is hardly a defence!
 
-Even if he didn’t write it, his research can be used to benefit cops – this is bad!
 
Think about this for a moment. This argument could be made about almost any research – for example, is it wrong to document processes by which workers organise? This could clearly and obviously be used by bosses to undermine organisation efforts – it is a risk with any knowledge. J researches how crowds act, against the popular misconception of “the mob”. Of course, with this, there could be stuff that would be approaching/crossing the line. J accepts this – when he felt his research was potentially moving towards this, he made the choice to move towards disaster response.
 
-The TPTG piece isn’t a smear
 
Our opinion is that it is. TPTG made no attempt to contact Aufheben. When they contacted third parties who were aware of the facts, (who weren't exactly friends with Aufheben) they were told this was known and that several details were wrong. Several facts contained within the piece were explicitly corrected. However, there is no mention of any of this – not even to dispute the validity of denials.
 
If, as has been claimed this was done in good faith then why was J’s full name revealed? The only think this helps is potentially outing him to employers. Anyone who is aware of the ultra-left scene would know who it was based on description. Anyone who wasn’t wouldn’t get much help from knowing the guys name.
 
Libcom wouldn’t uncritically host an expose by the right wing media of a comrade. We won’t do the same thing just because it is written by people calling themselves communists – especially as shockingly, they have acted considerably worse and less honestly than the media have in recent exposes of comrades.

-Libcom are shutting down debate.

Again, just absurd. There are 2 threads on here about this, one over 100 posts Despite several new posters registering solely to join in what the admins consider a smear, no posts have been deleted, and no one has been banned.
 
-People are being defensive
 
A communist has been outed by supposed comrades. His name has been plastered all over the internet, without even basic attempts to verify the accuracy of the charges. This is in a context of a spate of outing of communists by the mainstream media. If, in these circumstances people seem a little annoyed or defensive, then to be honest, I think it’s perfectly understandable.

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Oct 11 2011 18:52

This has obviously (and inevitably) turned into a messy thread. There's now seemingly 3 running through it. There's the two parts to Aufheben's reply, 'the research work'/normal academic practice and 'the supposed dangerousness of the liberal reformists' and now this third thread of "Communists shouldn't be academics".

I'm not really concerned right now with the first and third parts, but I think there's an important discussion to be had on the article itself and the role of academia in policing, that ocelot keeps bringing up and I don't think is being discussed.

ocelot wrote:
But to narrow the problem space a little, I would suggest that the question of J's doings be set aside as a secondary matter to await resolution until a more primary question can be sorted out.

Is the argument put forward by Aufheben, in their response, that the activities of other academics in the field of "crowd management", such as Stott & Reicher, are essentially harmless, acceptable or not? If we can't even agree on that, then there is no way to anchor any discussion of J's potential role.

I too don't find the answer under Aufheben's reply acceptable either. There's two differing interpretations of the article by TPTG and Aufheben, regardless of J's involvement or not. It's this we should be focussing on.

Having read the article, I'm inclined to come down on TPTGs view in terms of the dividing into legitimate and illegitimate/good and bad protesters that the article outlines, which is of concern to anarchists and communists as well as something discussed on here frequently with regard social movements, protests, etc.

It would appear that while rejecting the paper as reformist it seems to also be saying these reports are idealist and don't have any impact on policing. If that were the case, as I've mentioned, why would the dutch police have a special group of their own for this sort of thing and why would the german Verfassungschutz request surveys if they weren't going to make any use of them, make them applicable in the real world?

Surely, policing and policing methods do have an impact on struggle? Sometimes unintended, sometimes not, sometimes for the better and sometimes not, but ...

piter
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Oct 11 2011 19:10
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Fall back wrote :
-Aufheben are defending Reicher/Stott .

No, they aren’t. They simply think the research is impractical and idealist, and not applicable in the real world. They are stating it is harmless specifically because *even if they wanted to* this stuff couldn’t be applied to the class struggle - it only applies when there's no fundamental conflicts of interest – unsurprisingly liberals believe in liberalism. Saying something is so absurd it could never work is hardly a defence!

heuh?

Reicher/Stott are doing research that are completlty state and authoritarian oriented, and that are at least supposed to help the police manage crowd and keep their legitimacy.
and then we are told "Aufheben aren't defending them, they simply (that simply is a jewel!!) think the research is impractical and idealist, and not applicable in the real world.

and some people wants us to believe that they are not defending them!

and no it's not "simply impractical and idealist".

and if Aufeheben really believe it is, then they have some problems of judgement it seems...

whatisinevidence
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Oct 11 2011 20:12
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Second, more peculiarly for a group of their political identity, it appears to privilege the ideological consciousness of the actors over the objective material impact of their activity (within the context of the totality of social relations). Stott & Reicher are dismissed as well meaning Guardian-reading liberals whose intentions are good (reduce police cracking heads) and this "neo-Kantian" reading of their activity is allowed to edge out any more materialist critique of the effect of their activity, regardless of their subjective intentions. It is on the grounds of these subjective intentions only that J is absolved of any joint responsibility as he does not share their "liberal-reformist" assumptions.

This sudden lapse in critical thinking isn't accidental. It is an after-the-fact ideological justification for J.D.'s behaviors.

Another problem that needs to be brought into the open is why so many people apparently knew about this ('decade of gossip') but didn't say anything. So, for example, members of the Libcom group say they were aware of J.D.'s activities but didn't find them worrisome or worth bringing to light?

Mike Harman
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Oct 11 2011 20:16
Jason Cortez wrote:
The problem here, is that it is difficult without doing lots of research to get a proper handle on this. Indeed the very nature of the disclosure of J's alleged activity has made it very unlikely that an open and honest account can now occur. By TPTG sending an open letter to the movement which does not comment on or refer to communications from Aufheben and just reiterates their original concerns which implies there has been no attempt to address these. There is inevitably a circling of the wagons and a lot of mudslinging. Which makes it very difficult to come to a clear conclusion and more importantly to learn any lessons from this experience.

I'm not online much the next week or so (and hence have not read the published version of the open letter nor the response in full, although I read the open letter from a few weeks ago and it sounds like it wasn't changed at all despite correspondence), but just to say I completely agree with this. I'm quite surprised that they published without even a mention of the correspondence - they don't have to even believe it, or change their conclusions, but simply not taking it into account at all is very strange - and I'd expect that to be done before making public accusations against an individual (at the very least).

no1
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Oct 11 2011 20:41
piter wrote:

heuh?

Reicher/Stott are doing research that are completlty state and authoritarian oriented, and that are at least supposed to help the police manage crowd and keep their legitimacy.
and then we are told "Aufheben aren't defending them, they simply (that simply is a jewel!!) think the research is impractical and idealist, and not applicable in the real world.

and some people wants us to believe that they are not defending them!

and no it's not "simply impractical and idealist".

and if Aufeheben really believe it is, then they have some problems of judgement it seems...

I saw Stott give a seminar a few weeks ago about his work and his many attempts to influence actual policing. He was quite open that he had completely failed to make a difference, and he was pretty angry about this which I found quite amusing. He even showed a video clip of some senior cop give evidence in parliament about policing the G8 protest in the City. Stott used this to demonstrate how the cops still clung to their 'outdated' views of the crowd as the angry irrational mob and hadn't taken on board his newfangled model. In actual fact, the police had behaved in a perfectly 'sensible' way, i.e. they had chosen to prevent economic damage, at the expense of behaving like thugs towards peaceful protesters and perhaps radicalising some of them. Their thuggish behaviour appears mistaken to Stott, based on an obsolete model, but it's Stott (and TPTG) who doesn't get it. The simple fact is, Stott believes that the police are there to 'facilitate peaceful protest' as part of the niceties of liberal democracy, but the cops obviously know better and have no interest in his recommendations.

Edit: OMG - I have just admitted that I have had contact with Stott, doesn't that put me in the same category as J? Will I be called a POLICE COLLABORATOR too?

Ed's picture
Ed
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Oct 11 2011 20:55
Shorty wrote:
Having read the article, I'm inclined to come down on TPTGs view in terms of the dividing into legitimate and illegitimate/good and bad protesters that the article outlines, which is of concern to anarchists and communists as well as something discussed on here frequently with regard social movements, protests, etc.

Well, yeah, of course, that's because you (like me) are a communist. But you get that J had nothing to do with the writing of that article, right? Of course me, you, Aufheben and J all have criticisms of the paper, it was written by liberals and they stuck J's name on it to help him meet his publishing targets..

Shorty wrote:
It would appear that while rejecting the paper as reformist it seems to also be saying these reports are idealist and don't have any impact on policing.

I don't see the contradiction here. If I'm a liberal and think the world can bumble along with some harmony of interests shite then I think my ideas would be both reformist and idealist. What's more, let's say I believe that markets can help everyone if only the state intervened to make it so.. you know that I could write as many papers as I liked and no one in power would listen to me, because that's not how states/markets work (i.e. it'd have zero impact)..

It's the same with this. You can talk to police about 'liberal policing' as much as you want but at the end of the day, police will be police.. they've got a job to do and they do it the way it needs to be done, regardless of what some liberal academic reckons is best..

Also, what do people think about what Fall Back said regarding the fact that this exact same Open Letter could have been written without mentioning J's name? I mean, the ultra-left milieu is small enough that everyone reading who knows J would've known who he was without the name and for anyone who doesn't, the name doesn't make the slightest bit of difference.. considering that the jury is still out on this, does it not seem a bit out of order to out him to his bosses while we all decide whether he's a snitch/cop collaborator or not?

whatisinevidence
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Oct 11 2011 23:42

So the quotation from J.D. at the end of this press release is not actually from him?

http://www.sussex.ac.uk/newsandevents/pressrelease/id/2567

Quote:
Our recommendations form part of a new agenda for the mass democratisation of crowd management. We have designed interventions based on our approach and have shown that they work."

If his name was just tacked onto the report at the end, why in the world would the University put his picture in the press release, instead of a picture of the actual authors? It doesn't make any sense.

avantiultras's picture
avantiultras
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Oct 12 2011 00:10
Fall Back wrote:
-”J Wrote the article”

Completely untrue. He was listed as a 3rd author, as a favour, as some of his work was used. This is completely common in academia – with the pressure to “publish or die” it is completely the norm. I mean, does anyone think that with a paper authored by 5 people that they all sat around a laptop and wrote it by committee?

I made a quick search of the Policing articles and I found this one by J. Hoggett and C. Stott: Crowd psychology, public order police training and the policing of football crowd, Policing 33(2) which also uses some of the work of J. What's interesting is that Hoggett and Stott acknowledge J for his help in editing the work (Hoggett&Stott link.) In particular they write: "The authors would like to thank the ACPO football portfolio holder Stephen Thomas for his help and support. The work was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Case Award PTA/033/2005/00044. Thanks also to all the police officers who helped to facilitate the work and support the authors. Thanks to J for his help in editing the work."

I believe that this is an example of "standard academic practice", i.e. when the contribution of an academic is not substantial, his name just appears in the acknowledgements. And here J helped editing the work apart from his work being used extensively as a reference. Then, why didn't they include his name in this case also "as a favour", since his contribution is even bigger than in the other article if we accept Aufheben's explanation?

The article in its entirety can be found here

ocelot's picture
ocelot
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Oct 12 2011 08:49
no1 wrote:
I saw Stott give a seminar a few weeks ago about his work and his many attempts to influence actual policing. He was quite open that he had completely failed to make a difference, and he was pretty angry about this which I found quite amusing. He even showed a video clip of some senior cop give evidence in parliament about policing the G8 protest in the City. Stott used this to demonstrate how the cops still clung to their 'outdated' views of the crowd as the angry irrational mob and hadn't taken on board his newfangled model.

And a actor's subjective consciousness of his or her actions is the only basis for assessing their social effect, right?

In other words, if Stott's personal mythology is offended that the police haven't used his research and training in the way that he wanted them to, does it necessarily follow that they have made no use of it at all?

There seems to be a basic contradiction within your premiss - i.e. that Stott and his sometime police employers have a different agenda means from that his evaluation that the police have not followed his agenda it necessarily follows that the police cannot have used Stott's research to render their public order policing tactics more effective, in terms of their own agenda.

We're back to the rejection of basic critical materialist politics. But on a practical level, lets take the example of informers recruited by Brit intelligence in the Six Counties in the late 60s and early 70s, as told in Fred Holroyd's book and others. Holroyd talks of the different motivations that impelled his sources to become informers. One man was a stickie (Official IRA) who believed that the Provos were a sectarian force driving a wedge between the protestant and catholic working classes. Another was a constitutional nationalist (since extinct, but later reborn in the guise of the SDLP, and nowadays arguably, Sinn Fein) who informed against the provies out of some tortuous 'patriotic' motive. A third was a woman who'd been beaten up for "fraternising with the enemy". Each had different subjective motives for what they thought they were doing. Of course, from the perspective of their handler, Holroyd, and the Brits, their function was as informers against the Provos.

Marx also always draws this distinction between why people say (and think) they are acting as they do, and what their actual role is relative to the social relations of the time. It's an important distinction, I think it should be basic to any critical anti-capitalist politics.

Subjective consciousness does not determine social function.

Quote:
Bob: Hi Sue
Sue: Hi Bob, what's up?
Bob: There's a new guy joining us at the meeting tonight. He's called Tristan. He sounds a bit posh, but don't worry, I've talked to him and he's a good bloke.
Sue: What's he do?
Bob: He's a student. He's doing a Phd researching social movements, direct action and policing.
Sue: Oh. Really?
Bob: Yeah, I was talking to him about it. I didn't follow everything he said, to be honest, but it sounded pretty cool. Like that when the cops are being violent and everything it's because, like they've got the wrong "model" in their heads. It's like they think we're all animals or something?
Sue: I don't need a Phd to know that.
Bob: Yeah, but he said, like, it doesn't have to be like that. Like if they had a different model or something, they wouldn't need to be such twats all the time? I dunno. Anyway, he's definitely on our side.
Sue: And what exactly is he going to do with all this research?
Bob: Well I guess he'll publish it as a Phd or something and then be an academic.
Sue: Didn't the last guy who did that end up spending 10 years training the police about crowd control tactics and stuff?
Bob: Well, yeah. But like, he did end up very disillusioned at the end of it, and say the cops never really got his real message.
Sue: So that makes it all better then does it?
Bob: Yeah well Tristan says you can't blame academics who train the police for what the police do with their training.
Sue: Why not?
Bob: He says it's because there's "Too many mediations" or something.
Sue: What the fuck does that mean?
Bob: I dunno. Tristan said it was something to do with Hegel.
Sue: What the hell has some dead German dude got to do with this.
Bob: I dunno, but that's the whole point Sue. We can't judge people like Tristan who read Hegel and stuff by our standards. These people are clever and they know more than us, so we just gotta trust 'em.
Sue: Bob, there are days I wonder why I put up with you...

IMHO, the "Too many mediations" defence is, like nationalism, the last refuge of the scoundrel.

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Leo
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Oct 12 2011 08:49

Just saw this thread and aside from writing something, I thought it would be better to just re-post what I posted here: http://libcom.org/library/response-tptg

Quote:
Quote:
it knowingly states stuff the authors explicitly know to be a lie.

Actually it doesn't. It states stuff which the accused claim that the authors explicitly know to be a lie. There is a difference.

Quote:
It is a smear because snitchjacketing someone as a police collaborator is pretty much the worst thing any revolutionary can do within the realms of discourse.

Aside from actually collaborating with the police within the realms of discourse, of course.

Quote:
It's patently obvious he rejects the article though

Actually, it isn't patently obvious he rejects the article. What is patently obvious is that he says he rejects the article in his political life. In his personal life, whether he wrote it or not, it is something he obviously defends as his name is on it. It is true, of course, that he may well have co-signed this article if not co-wrote it to please his bosses. The question is how far can revolutionaries go to please their bosses.

Quote:
The libcom collective looked into this in some detail over a month ago.

The libcom collective is in England as is Aufheben. I would be very much surprised if the libcom collective sent someone to Greece to inquire with the TPTG.

Of course the way the critics of the official libcom line were treated was no different from any other time. The aggressive tone used reeks of loyalty and makes me think that the libcom collective or at least some people in it has rather close personal relations with Aufheben and none whatsoever with the TPTG.

And because of this, the libcom collective is doing a very bad job trying to defend this person.

And with all the accusations of smears, slanders, lies and so on, I think it is telling that neither Aufheben or the libcom collective has said anything about why the TPTG is doing this if there is no fire to the smoke.

As for what I personally think, I don't want to comment on the accusations of the TPTG themselves, because I know little about the situation and don't personally know anyone from Aufheben.

I do know the TPTG, and I do know that they are very active, experienced and serious people with a history of involvement in the struggles in Greece. They are not political novices, and I don't think that they would do something like this without thinking it through, based on gossip or with malicious intent. This said, however, although they are fairly good English speakers, English is their second language as it is mine and anyone who speaks English as a second language is more prone to misunderstanding phrases and so on.

Yet at the end of the day, what Aufheben itself says is problematic enough on its own:

Quote:
TPTG take the word ‘consultancies’ on J’s university profile too literally (...) 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.

"It would have looked odd to refuse to communicate with the cops"? Really? What would have happened if it looked odd, would he be shot or sent to a prison camp? Would he even be fired from his job? Or would his colleagues simply have a doubt that maybe he doesn't like the cops? Most people generally tend to dislike the cops after all.

There can be movements when revolutionaries might have to communicate with the cops. For example, if someones house is robbed and a police report is necessary to get insurance money, I don't think anyone can condemn a revolutionary for having to do this (and would probably advise them to clean up the publications etc. before reporting the robbery).

Of course none other than the accused know how literal the word ‘consultancies’ should be taken and what this guy said to the police. However talking to the police from a scientific position about their job because it would "look odd" otherwise is not an acceptable argument unless there was an actual risk of something happening to the person if it did indeed look odd.

Quote:
bootsy wrote:
Quote:
And with all the accusations of smears, slanders, lies and so on, I think it is telling that neither Aufheben or the libcom collective has said anything about why the TPTG is doing this if there is no fire to the smoke.

I asked that question in this thread.

Fall Back said this:

Quote:
Well, I'd suggest the most obvious is that the international ultra-left scene is a tiny incestuous scene, and scene's like that love gossip and scandal?

The truth is banal and boring. Having uncovered a secret police agent is sexy and attention grabbing.

Unconvincing.

meinberg
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Oct 12 2011 10:24
Ed wrote:
Also, what do people think about what Fall Back said regarding the fact that this exact same Open Letter could have been written without mentioning J's name? I mean, the ultra-left milieu is small enough that everyone reading who knows J would've known who he was without the name and for anyone who doesn't, the name doesn't make the slightest bit of difference.. considering that the jury is still out on this, does it not seem a bit out of order to out him to his bosses while we all decide whether he's a snitch/cop collaborator or not?

i think that would have been pretty difficult, to write that letter without pointing to j. even if they hadn't mentioned his name it would have been clear to everyone because of the cited paper etc.

another note: libcom is doing an far better job outing j to his bosses than tptg, because there is an pretty low probability that they will read an open letter of an obscure greek group.. analyzing the backlinks of their webpage which will point to this thread is a whole different matter..

Ed's picture
Ed
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Oct 12 2011 14:11
whatisinevidence wrote:
If his name was just tacked onto the report at the end, why in the world would the University put his picture in the press release, instead of a picture of the actual authors?

Because there was a fairly famous (in academic circles) paper put out with the name of someone from the department. Universities are businesses and want as much publicity as possible to attract new students, researchers etc.. J gave a quote. Maybe he shouldn't have, maybe he should have said nothing, maybe he should have said the paper was a load of shit and PS fuck the police.. he didn't, he chose the quiet route.. but whatever you think of that, it's a million miles away from collaborating with the police or advising them on how to put down social movements..

avantiultras wrote:
I believe that this is an example of "standard academic practice", i.e. when the contribution of an academic is not substantial, his name just appears in the acknowledgements. And here J helped editing the work apart from his work being used extensively as a reference. Then, why didn't they include his name in this case also "as a favour", since his contribution is even bigger than in the other article if we accept Aufheben's explanation?

I dunno, maybe he'd met his publishing targets already.. maybe in their opinion, drawing heavily from someone's work makes them more deserving of inclusion as one of the writers than their "help in editing" it.. fuck knows really.. but it looks to me like you're really clutching at straws to find reason behind the original beef rather than taking quite a simple explanation at face value..

ocelot wrote:
But on a practical level, lets take the example of informers recruited by Brit intelligence in the Six Counties in the late 60s and early 70s, as told in Fred Holroyd's book and others.

How on earth could it be practical to draw on British counter-insurgency during The Troubles in this instance? That's absolutely bonkers..

Moreover, you've missed the point and added a confusing dialogue which seems to fuse J and this Stott character together.. yeah, of course we (as in all of us in this discussion) are critical of Stott and his piece and probably wouldn't invite him to political meetings because he is a liberal academic (and plays the function of the liberal academic).. however, why would we even invite him to a meeting? Why would he want to come?

Or are you saying that J shouldn't be allowed to come to meetings, because he wrote a paper which was used by a liberal academic who went on to try to train police in liberal crowd management techniques?

Leo wrote:
And with all the accusations of smears, slanders, lies and so on, I think it is telling that neither Aufheben or the libcom collective has said anything about why the TPTG is doing this if there is no fire to the smoke.
[...]
I do know the TPTG, and I do know that they are very active, experienced and serious people with a history of involvement in the struggles in Greece. They are not political novices, and I don't think that they would do something like this without thinking it through, based on gossip or with malicious intent.

I don't have a clue about why they are doing this. But in my opinion, political pointscoring happens all over the left and ultra-left.. people talk shit about each other, take a personal disliking to people and dress it up as political, pass on and exaggerate gossip, whatever.. TPTG being serious and seasoned militants doesn't change this. I know serious militants who have serious beef with other serious militants that I know that stretches back to the 1980s (or further back even).. there's nothing about being a serious militant that means you can't act like a twat sometimes as well.. nor does this say anything about the great work they do in Greece..

This isn't to say it's definitely malicious on TPTG's part, it could be any number of things like language or whatever else.. but to say that they do lots of great work in Greece doesn't say anything about this imo..

meinberg wrote:
i think that would have been pretty difficult, to write that letter without pointing to j. even if they hadn't mentioned his name it would have been clear to everyone because of the cited paper etc.

Hmm, perhaps you are right about the cited paper.. maybe they could have simply described the offensive parts of the paper? Even citing the paper but not stating the name would still leave five possible people. But anyway, all this confirms to me that it would have been better to open a dialogue between TPTG and Aufheben privately rather than sit on this info for months and publish something ignoring Aufheben's response..

meinberg wrote:
another note: libcom is doing an far better job outing j to his bosses than tptg, because there is an pretty low probability that they will read an open letter of an obscure greek group.. analyzing the backlinks of their webpage which will point to this thread is a whole different matter..

Possibly true, but the alternative is what, to delete posts? We're already being accused of lying to cover our mate's back (I've met J once, btw) but I don't think I've got the stomach to throw in accusations of censorship as well.. I sometimes wonder why I helped start this fucking website.. smile not to mention that it's not our fault that anonymous internet seekers of ultra-left justice see fit to out someone in much the same way as the right-wing press have..

meinberg
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Oct 12 2011 15:24
Ed wrote:
meinberg wrote:
another note: libcom is doing an far better job outing j to his bosses than tptg, because there is an pretty low probability that they will read an open letter of an obscure greek group.. analyzing the backlinks of their webpage which will point to this thread is a whole different matter..

Possibly true, but the alternative is what, to delete posts? We're already being accused of lying to cover our mate's back (I've met J once, btw) but I don't think I've got the stomach to throw in accusations of censorship as well.. I sometimes wonder why I helped start this fucking website.. smile not to mention that it's not our fault that anonymous internet seekers of ultra-left justice see fit to out someone in much the same way as the right-wing press have..

i think to break the links or use an anonymiser for external sites would do the deal

piter
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Joined: 30-06-08
Oct 12 2011 15:30
Quote:
Ed wrote :
in much the same way as the right-wing press have

do you mean they are "guilty by association"?
or some new kind of "trostko-fascists"?

I can understand you find wrong to cite one's name if you think he's doing revolutionnary work, but is it really necessary to repeatedly associate this with the right-wing?
I don't think so...