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proletarian.
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Oct 16 2011 18:57
Samotnaf wrote:
but I have no intention of being anything but a very painful thorn in your side
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Ed
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Oct 16 2011 21:45
Wellclose Square wrote:
When I read the 2nd Open Letter I wondered whether those who have defended most vigorously X's undoubted deep complicity in developing public order policy would have the humility to apologise or admit they were wrong. Instead they continue to dig deeper, with the usual aggressive denials, tortured logic and counter denunciations. I'm struggling to work out why this is, but this whole issue has raised (again) serious questions for me about Libcom.

My emphasis. Wellclose, I've always respected your contributions but I feel we're not reading the same thread here.. basically, at libcom, we disagree that J is a cop consultant (as do others using the site) and as a result we're facing aggressive denunciations.. I mean, compare Joseph Kay's post #234 with Samotnaf's "this nightmare of your own making won't go away. What more I ( and/or the TPTG )have to say, will be reserved for later - but I have no intention of being anything but a very painful thorn in your side as long as you don't admit you've got this very very very wrong"..

I think if anything, we're laying out our opinion on the matter straight up and if people don't like it, we're willing to take the flak for it. People are going on as if we're making all these underhanded twists and turns, but as far as I can see all we've done is redacted the name of someone whom we feel is being falsely accused (while letting those who know exactly who he is continue discussing it).. interestingly enough, the last time we did this was when a British anarchist was named on the site as having physically attacked a libcom admin at the bookfair, so again, I don't see how this can even be seen as some devious power-play..

I think Juan Conatz and Jason Cortez's contributions have been great (Juan's for having actual experience of dealing with actual cop collaborators, Jason's for just asking Sam what the bollocks he wants out of this).. I'd also echo Tarwater that this whole affair has been massively depressing..

I really have to go to bed but one last thing..

Quote:
So, it seems that you have organized in coordination with J and Aufheben the defence tactics for some months.

This is just absolutely bonkers. We heard about it in August, looked into it and forgot about it, considering the issue dead.. obviously it's come back now, but we haven't been drawing up battle plans in the intervening period.. and again, you don't actually have anything to support this claim other than you reckon it's true (no doubt deduced from other bits of info which are true, but still well off nonetheless)..

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Oct 16 2011 22:24
Ed wrote:
basically, at libcom, we disagree that J is a cop consultant

well, he has literally consulted with the cops on mass emergencies. he's not "pacifying class struggle" or being a "crowd controlling cop consultant" though.

whatisinevidence
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Oct 16 2011 23:54

It boggles my mind how anyone with any dignity (much less a communist) could defend someone who consults with the cops about anything, much less about how to control crowds.

Jason Cortez
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Oct 17 2011 00:41

It may boggle your mind, but what is it you want to happen? What would be a useful outcome for you?

whatisinevidence
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Oct 17 2011 03:31

Well, it would be interesting for Aufheben to write an article exploring how/why they believe doing research for/consulting for the police can be reconciled with being a communist. It would be interesting to really bring the class composition of the milieu out in the open. It would be nice if people who are middle class professionals took themselves out of leadership positions/positions of power within the milieu (ie. editing journals, running websites, etc).

Of course, a good first step would be Aufheben and Libcom to stop trying to play coverup and just admit they are horribly wrong. Then, honestly, Aufheben ought to call it quits.

whatisinevidence
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Oct 17 2011 03:33
Quote:
we disagree that J is a cop consultant (as do others using the site) and as a result we're facing aggressive denunciations

Comrade, the party line has changed! That was the old party line! The new party line is that he did consult with the cops, but his consulting was okay.

whatisinevidence
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Oct 17 2011 03:42

This was a comment about the whole thing elsewhere that is worth reposting:

Quote:
Sorry, but if the standards for the communist milieu have sunk so much that "he's just close friends and co-workers with people who professionally research soft counter-insurgency techniques" is a convincing argument, that becomes an indictment against the milieu, not a defense of this particular member JD. Thankfully, TPTG and samotnataf, among others, indicate that not everyone in that milieu has conceded so much to this society's particular form of market nihilism.
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Oct 17 2011 03:57

I will just chime in to say thanks to Samotnaf. Whatever we may have disagreed about in terms of my past in Point Blank, I would hope we could find a way
to talk about all this. Please write, and you know where to find me.

I will also add that today Collective Reinventions and our circle of friends met
at the Occupy Oakland site. While we had much more urgent and important things on our mind than the future of this site, there was unanimous agreement that libcom has failed those who looked to it as a forum for free and unimpeded debate. And a place to post our texts and announcements.

The thought that this could be a site of censorship and possible police inflitration
or monitoring never crossed our foolish little minds.

We're finished with libcom until libcom clears all this up, and clears it up
clearly!

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Oct 17 2011 04:22

Wasn't going to post on this (though came close regarding Satmonaf's somewhat hyperbolic fantasising about being a "thorn in the side" of libcom - which I think we can all agree is definitely the most important thing any communist could be doing right now) but David Jacobs' (second) post on the subject needs a quick response.

No-one with any sense, not Satmonaf, not TPTG, is claiming that libcom has been infiltrated by the police. Such claims have no basis and (if you got them off indymedia) are the sort of thing that gets bandied about by the sort of morons who think of all libertarian communist groups in roughly the same way. There are no facts to back the insinuation up and if you should not spread that shit around.

As for censorship, how? Having abided by the basic guidelines of "don't name communist activists outright so they can be found by employers' search engines" Satmonaf's piece is no up in full, as is a version of the TPTG piece (again without names). Neither Satmonaf nor TPTG have faced any removal of their articles, nor have they been banned from the site (despite having made some pretty nasty allegations against libcom admins in the course of the generally fraught to and fro). Again, I don't see any basis in fact for this.

Finally, as somone who has watched the IWW US arguments from afar for a while alongside the Earth First! debacles and Crimethinc's bizarre behaviour, the idea that it would be my place to make judgements and flounce off websites based on internet rows which frankly are about as illuminating as a punch in the eye, involving people I don't know living thousands of miles away, has never crossed my foolish little mind. Perhaps I'm just not internationalist enough to reject working with people before I've ever met or spoken to them properly.

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Oct 17 2011 04:29

Nobody really asked my opinion, but that hasn't stopped me in the past: I think that at the very least Libcom should not have characterized TPTG's original post as a smear, and even if you thought that was legitimate then, this caveat should be dropped now. Other than that, people are grownups and they can judge for themselves, given TPTG's letters and Aufheben's response.

Wellclose Square
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Oct 17 2011 06:10
Quote:
Finally, as somone who has watched the IWW US arguments from afar for a while alongside the Earth First! debacles and Crimethinc's bizarre behaviour, the idea that it would be my place to make judgements and flounce off websites based on internet rows which frankly are about as illuminating as a punch in the eye, involving people I don't know living thousands of miles away, has never crossed my foolish little mind. Perhaps I'm just not internationalist enough to reject working with people before I've ever met or spoken to them properly.

Why do I find this response troubling? The implicit 'Little Englandism'? The crass trivialisation and brushing aside of the current question at hand? Dunno, but I've got to go (to work)...

gypsy
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Oct 17 2011 07:34
Joseph Kay wrote:
Ed wrote:
basically, at libcom, we disagree that J is a cop consultant

well, he has literally consulted with the cops on mass emergencies. he's not "pacifying class struggle" or being a "crowd controlling cop consultant" though.

I think he is.(He is not a police informant though and I don't think libcom has been infiltrated by the state). I would have reservations with someone in any groups I worked with who had the same role J had when he co-wrote his articles which have ultimately been written for a hostile audience such as the pigs and others.

I however am not going to stop visiting libcom(great resource) or aufheben(who have written some really interesting stuff). I think youse got it wrong this time, which is understandable since J is pals with many of you lot.

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Oct 17 2011 08:27
Quote:
Why do I find this response troubling?

What's troubling to me is that you apparently think it isn't worth trying to calm the situation down so it can be resolved in something resembling a useful way, instead insisting on comparing my attempts to do so by asking uninvolved people not to weigh in to being a "little Englander"* and comparing libcom admins to censors and managers dealing with a whistleblower.

I mean seriously, is it not even a bit concerning to you that you're currently in a position where libcom admins are being accused of actively being police infiltrators and you think that's not worth a comment, but me telling the writer of those accusations off about it is?

Gypsy, that's pretty much as fair as it gets I think, if I was to come down on the "J's guilty" side I'd probably take that view as well.
----

* I mean come on that's not even a subtle wind-up, you might as well just call me a Daily Mail-reading racist and have done with it.

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Oct 17 2011 09:08
gypsy wrote:
I think he is.

Well with respect, you're not basing that on reading his work, or seeing what he has to say for himself, or looking at how his name got attached to papers he disagrees with. You're basing it on the highly distorted picture being presented by people on here, many of whom seem to be deliberately muddying the waters with lengthy polemics and ignoring contrary information. The only stuff he's spoken to the cops about is mass emergencies, making practical recommendations like regular evacuation drills for large buildings and communication with crowds rather than repression and expert monopolisation of info. Now if you think any contact with the police ever for any reason is unacceptable, then you're not going to be satisfied. Fine. I disagree. But there's nothing sinister in the mass emergencies work (which basically says 'stop treating survivors as a threat to public order and help them'). He does not work on "crowd control". This is, and remains, a smear.

gypsy wrote:
I think youse got it wrong this time, which is understandable since J is pals with many of you lot.

A lot of people are saying this, but it is absolutely untrue. We are not looking out for our 'pals'. None of us are friends with J (as in see him socially). We redact real names as a matter of principle. The last high profile occasion was when a prominent British anarchist carried out a premeditated physical attack on one of the libcom collective and we still redacted his name. I don't think anyone would claim he's one of our 'pals', so even if you think we're wrong give us the credit of acting on principle not nepotism.

gypsy
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Oct 17 2011 09:24
Joseph Kay wrote:
gypsy wrote:
I think he is.

Well with respect, you're not basing that on reading his work.

Your wrong there. Why did you think that I had not read his work?

gypsy
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Oct 17 2011 09:22
Joseph Kay wrote:
A lot of people are saying this, but it is absolutely untrue. We are not looking out for our 'pals'. None of us are friends with J (as in see him socially). We redact real names as a matter of principle. The last high profile occasion was when a prominent British anarchist carried out a premeditated physical attack on one of the libcom collective and we still redacted his name. I don't think anyone would claim he's one of our 'pals', so even if you think we're wrong give us the credit of acting on principle not nepotism.

Fair enough.

Blasto
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Oct 17 2011 09:40

I am done with this thread, but Joseph has repeatedly ask that people read up first before chipping in. I think that is completely reasonable and have compiled a reading list here. I have pulled together every document I can find that has already been linked to elsewhere.

http://libcom.org/forums/general/cop-consultant-reading-list-17102011

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Oct 17 2011 12:18

This whole episode is profoundly depressing. Aside from my initial flippant remarks at the start of this thread, once I realised what it was about, I decided I wasn't going to comment on any of this. However, since it's got to the stage it has, with people falling out who should really be working together, I will now make a few comments and ask that those involved take a deep breath and count to five.

On the wealth of information that is now circulating, it appears that J from Aufheben has crossed a line he should not have crossed, whether this implies outright police collaboration is not clear but there does seem to be a degree of collaboration with emergency services including the police. That said, none of this means that J is a police infiltrator or spy, as some have alleged, because a) none of the evidence suggests this and b) infiltrators do not generally behave in the way he has. In other words, J has actually been open about what he does. He's an academic whose professional area has led to certain lines becoming very blurred. And that is essentially the problem, nothing so dramatic or colourful as some of his detractors seem to suggest, but nevertheless, still wholly inappropriate activities for someone involved with our movement.

Libcom and Aufheben's response has been less open. I understand their desire to defend J. If I'd been involved with Aufheben or the Libcom admin or knew J personally, I may well have felt similarly myself, especially if it concerned a long term comrade. Loyalty toward your comrades is very important in our movement but it can sometimes be misplaced.

TPTG were absolutely right to raise the matter. However, they were wrong to do it in the manner they did - although, with the initial responses from Libcom and Aufheben, I'm not surprised it blew up. Also, the fact that others have since waded in with all sorts of weird and wonderful allegations against J, Aufheben and Libcom, or thrown in their personal bugbears such as the role of academics in the movement, etc, has really not helped to clarify anything or help us find a solution to this dire situation.

Libcom admin were right to remove posts which named J, in line with Libcom policy. They were wrong to label it a smear because, whatever the admins knew or didn't know, this is still prejudging the issue. And by beginning with a pre-judgement, the scene was set for TPTG and others to become more agitated and make the issue even more volatile. In the face or some of the more whacky allegations about J, Libcom and Aufheben are right to stick to their guns in defending him (and themselves) against these. However, they are wrong to dismiss the idea that J has crossed a line. They are wrong to give credence to the non-credible excuses for J's name appearing on certain research and articles.

The really sad thing about all this is not the fact that a comrade crossed a line in his academic field but the way we as a movement/milieu/scene have responded to it. J has been found 'guilty' in a manner that might shame aspects of the bourgeois justice system while those defending him have resorted to closing ranks and stonewalling. Others on the periphery have behaved like yappy dogs trying to get a crafty bite in. Some of you seriously need to give your head a fucking wobble.

I have a lot of respect for TPTG, Libcom and Aufheben and it pains me to see what's happening here. However, the situation is not necessarily insoluable. If we want to sort it out, without the drama, flouncing out, spitting our dummies out, then we can.

Firstly, J needs to accept that his professional work has led to a blurring of the lines between being a revolutionary and being an academic. He needs to accept that he has crossed that line; he should be clear in his own mind how far he has crossed over that line and should accept that this is incompatible with his revolutionary politics. He also needs to decide which side he's on and act accordingly. This would mean he'd need to think about the area he works in and make changes in the area he researches and who he deals with. If he insists he has not crossed a line, then he still needs to be aware how this will be perceived by others in the milieu and how the milieu will most likely respond.

Aufheben in particular and possibly Libcom need to seriously talk to their comrade, offer him support to clearly understand the situation his work has placed him in and help him to decide where to go from here.

TPTG and others need to lay off and give them time to sort it out, say, a couple of weeks. Those who just want to gob off or be part of an ongoing soap opera can try and keep your traps shut.

In two weeks, if Aufheben could issue a statement to let us know the outcome, it'd be appreciated. Then if those things are done, it will be up to the rest of us to decide how to respond. We will have the choice to either put it behind us and start behaving more fraternally towards each other or disassociate ourselves from J, Aufheben, Libcom, that Serge Forward cunt, or whoever you like.

I personally hope no one will feel the need to disassociate from anyone, but there you go, optimistic till the end.

baboon
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Oct 17 2011 12:47

I personally agree with Serge above as a positive first step. Further down the road is the need to strengthen questions of organisation, solidarity and how we address each other in the internationalist, libertarian, communist and anarchist milieu that defends the interests of the working class.

LBird
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Oct 17 2011 12:59
Serge Forward wrote:
Firstly, J needs to accept that his professional work has led to a blurring of the lines between being a revolutionary and being an academic. He needs to accept that he has crossed that line; he should be clear in his own mind how far he has crossed over that line and should accept that this is incompatible with his revolutionary politics. He also needs to decide which side he's on and act accordingly. This would mean he'd need to think about the area he works in and make changes in the area he researches and who he deals with. If he insists he has not crossed a line, then he still needs to be aware how this will be perceived by others in the milieu and how the milieu will most likely respond.

This passage by Serge points to the real root of the problem, which I pointed out earlier.

LBird, post #233, wrote:
The problem with JD's position is that he seems to believe in a false 'academic objectivity', of some sort, a position of 'neutral observation' from which he can 'understand' and 'analyse'.

This is impossible. Any research by anyone is always done from a 'perspective'. And those who deny having a 'perspective' are using a conservative method which pretends to itself and its adherents that it is 'objective'. The 'non-perspective' method of academia is an ideological lie.

If one doesn't 'go native', one by necessity 'remains imperialist'.

There is no 'outside of the exploitative system'.

Academics can remain in academia and remain revolutionaries. There are plenty of posters here who are academics in some form, and yet remain good revolutionaries, in my opinion.

In the past, I think it's been easier to be a 'covert Commie' in academia, and keep one's 'true' views apart from one's academic work, for the sake of job, pay, career and advancement. Perhaps JD has tried honestly to do this.

But he was wrong.

Perhaps this need for academics to be 'out in the open' about their real political views, even at the cost of 'academic respectability', and maybe their jobs, is growing ever stronger. For some, the decision will be made for them, when they lose their jobs, which surely soon many will.

On the issue of the form the debate has taken, I'm not sure any of us Libertarian Communists come out of it smelling of roses.

Let's hope years of good work, done by all sides concerned, won't be thrown away, and a sense of perspective will prevail eventually. There are too few of us even now.

I hope everyone can be reconciled, with some good faith and reflection on all sides. If not, it doesn't bode well for our future society.

no1
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Oct 17 2011 13:40

Serge, thanks for that post, it's really refreshing to have someone engage with the actual substance of this mess, and try to find a way out of an impasse.

There can be a danger in trying to be even handed if it means finding the middle ground between something that's false and something that's true . One thing I disagree with is when you say "Aufheben's response has been less open". Their initial response was quite clear that J has made a "mistake" by having his name attached to papers he disagrees with in principle but regards as harmless ; and it was also clear from their response that he has talked to cops as part of his work on how to deal with mass emergencies. What, in your opinion, should they have been more open about?

I agree with you that it is wrong to dismiss out of hand the idea that J has crossed a line *. However, I think it is far from clear that a line has been crossed. Where do you think that line is, and how has J crossed the line?

* I think the response from the libcom collective (labelling the TPTG letter a "smear", etc.) gave the strong impression that they dismissed that idea out of hand , however it has now become clear that they investigated the issues in details, which implies that they did take this serious.
[btw. I do think it was a mistake by libcom collective to label it as a smear in the first sentence, and I actually sent a PM to one of them saying so on the day this began.]

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Oct 17 2011 13:27
David Jacobs wrote:
The thought that this could be a site of censorship and possible police inflitration
or monitoring never crossed our foolish little minds.

We're finished with libcom until libcom clears all this up, and clears it up
clearly!

Rob Ray (thanks, again) answered this well above, but...

-We have very clear posting guidelines, use of real names is clearly in breach of that, as Ed mentioned above we also redacted the name of another anarchist who had physically attacked one of the admin, so it's not just us protecting our mates.

-To take giant leaps from 'aufheben guy gave a lecture to police about dealing with mass emergencies' = 'aufheben guy helps police control crowds' = 'libcom admins dispute this and redact his name' = 'libcom admin have been inflitrated by the police and are monitoring us'... well, that's pretty ambitous but I guess it makes for a really good story. But then I would say that wouldn't I?

-To have not considered the idea that libcom could be monitored by the police is perhaps a little naive - we're a public site, we host content about anarchism, demonstrations, workplace organizing, it's pretty likely that at least threads here and there may have caught the attention of the powers that be. We also have journalists making requests on the forums to talk to REAL LIFE ANARCHISTS, and using quotes from the forums to smear anarchists in shitty newspaper articles. This is why we "censor" people's personal information, to try and minimise the amount of potentially damaging info our site hosts. We are not police informants, or collaborators.

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Oct 17 2011 13:41

I have stayed well out of this as I have been extremely saddened and alienated by the very aggressive nature of this debate. Especially as it comes in the wake of fairly positive conversations in the 'Macho Posting' thread. However I would just like to say that I agree with the general thrust of Serge's post above.

Ultimately I think everyone needs to take a step back, remember that they are talking with fellow comrades-in-struggle, and try to debate these things as calmly as possible. If we can't do that then what hope do we have?

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Oct 17 2011 15:42
no1 wrote:
One thing I disagree with is when you say "Aufheben's response has been less open". Their initial response was quite clear that J has made a "mistake" by having his name attached to papers he disagrees with in principle but regards as harmless ; and it was also clear from their response that he has talked to cops as part of his work on how to deal with mass emergencies. What, in your opinion, should they have been more open about?

Yes, you are right. Looking back at Aufheben's reply, the mistake was acknowledged and that part was a fairly open response. However, as to whether the mistake or having his name added to work that could feasibly be used to assist the police in crowd control is not harmless, that's a completely different kettle of fish. Also, the whole notion of J passively allowing his name to be added to very questionable articles or research that he claims to disagree with was not convincing either. Personally, if someone added my name to such research, I'd immediately demand they remove it and nail their fucking head to the floor. J and Aufheben's apparent blaséness about this does not seem like the genuine response of a revolutionary.

no1 wrote:
I agree with you that it is wrong to dismiss out of hand the idea that J has crossed a line *. However, I think it is far from clear that a line has been crossed. Where do you think that line is, and how has J crossed the line?

I don't know exactly where J has crossed the line, but the fact that his work is referenced and his name is used as a favourable source in pro-police publications, and the fact that his own biog page listed dubious research involvement tells me he really needs to think about what he's doing in his professional life and reassert which side he's on.

But I don't want to get into a big discussion over the rights and wrongs of J's research, that's for J and Aufheben to discuss between themselves, and hopefully come up with a way forward and try find a less damaging outcome to this unhappy situation.

lurdan
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Oct 17 2011 15:51
Joseph Kay wrote:
We redact real names as a matter of principle.

Presumably that's as distinct from the subtly different circumstances where a Sussex University press release about JD's work – containing his full name - is reprinted on Libcom in 2010 and someone called Joseph Kay drops an extremely broad hint as to his identity in the comments underneath it.

Joseph Kay wrote:
you're quoting a press release yeah? you know how these are written, industrial mass pickets are seen as old hat so they'd obviously emphasise the 'sexy' stuff. that said this was done (a) by Johnny and (b) in Brighton, so the activistist assumption isn't too far fetched.

Like puppies, principles aren't just for Christmas...

Joseph Kay wrote:
The only stuff he's spoken to the cops about is mass emergencies, making practical recommendations like regular evacuation drills for large buildings and communication with crowds rather than repression and expert monopolisation of info.

and then at the end of the same paragraph we have :

Joseph Kay wrote:
He does not work on "crowd control". This is, and remains, a smear.

You might make the case that his work on mass emergencies is 'good' crowd control as opposed to the 'bad' crowd control Dr Stott works on. But you cannot claim that he "does not work on crowd control". Except of course in the strictly limited sense that the word used in his 2008 CBRN course outline is not 'control' but 'manage'. The distinction between the words 'control' and 'management' may very well be an important one for JD himself and how he sees and undertakes his professional work. (I imply no criticism in writing that). But in the different setting of a pro-revolutionary forum it is nonsense to suggest that they are not inseparably linked concepts.

As to the charge that he has been smeared :

TPTG produced a critique of the uses that have been made of a model of crowd behaviour he is closely associated with. They focused on one text - a text which had his name on. It is stated repeatedly that TPTG had been told that he hadn't written it before they published their first open letter. TPTG don't deny they were told this - they say explicitly that they did not accept what they had been told.

TPTG in the Second Open Letter wrote:
This awkward and weakly argued email, instead of providing us with satisfactory answers, actually increased our suspicions and urged us to look into the matter more closely.
(...)
Actually, by not dealing with our specific arguments against knowledge-based public order policing and the concrete examples of how dangerous it can be, they proved - in their only concern to protect their member - their indifference towards the matter of state repression.

I'm guessing that they are referring to things like this :

Aufheben in the Response to TPTG wrote:
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.

As TPTG were aware by the time they first published it wasn't just one paper containing ideas he apparently doesn't agree which has his name on it. More importantly the picture that is painted by this paragraph of Aufheben's does not match up to what is clear to anyone looking at JD's published work.

JD has worked closely with Professor Reicher and Dr Stott on a model of crowd behaviour and continues to work with them in promoting that model and in joint research based on it.

Quote:
His core research is in the area of crowd psychology. Along with his colleagues Professor Steve Reicher (University of St Andrews) and Dr Clifford Stott (University of Liverpool), he developed the Elaborated Social Identity Model (ESIM) of crowd behaviour.

JD may disapprove of some of the uses his colleagues put this model to - but his name has been put on such uses. Even if he is the junior member of the team which developed this model of crowd behaviour he isn't a Teaching Assistant or a Grade 6 Researcher who has no say about whether he is credited or not. He is an established academic with a reputation of his own – a reputation which is important for his professional work.

It would be silly to suggest that there was anything to prevent him indicating that he doesn't fully agree with some of the uses the model is put to - if he felt it was important. But he hasn't done. All we have is what Aufhaben say in the reply to TPTG. And what they say actually gives a worse impression. Aufhaben don't say 'JD helped produce a model of crowd behaviour which he considers useful but he doesn't agree with some of the uses it has been put to'. Instead they give the impression that he had nothing to do with any of it other than the fact his research was used - which clearly isn't the case. The research in question was carried out using that model. And as others have pointed out they then try to make a case that the use of the work he doesn't agree with doesn't actually matter.

Given this background, the charge that TPTG are smearing him comes down to the argument that TPTG ought to have believed Aufheben. Why should TPTG accept that JD should be disassociated from the uses this model of crowd behavior is put to – uses which have his name on - when Aufhaben appear to be being less than candid about his role in producing and promoting the model underlying the work TPTG are criticizing?

Should they believe Aufheben just because he's 'a comrade' ? Why should they accept that he is a comrade ? For me the term comrade is something to be applied to people I know, that I can trust and who I can expect to trust me. The notion of 'long distance' comradeship is not just stupid it's dangerous. I can think of plenty of examples where I have agreed with the words people have put on paper, only to discover that we actually meant very different things by them in practice. Or that they had other views which cancelled out those I agreed with. Or that they were not what they represented themselves to be.

If I do things (actively or passively, by commission or omission) which give strangers the wrong impression it's not a smear if they take what I have done, or allowed to be done in my name, at face value.

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ocelot
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Oct 17 2011 15:56

One political aspect that hasn't been mentioned so far is the relationship between all this and autonomist politics.

Operaismo/Autonomia passed on as a legacy two main concepts or tools. The first, conricerca (from Panzieri), loosely co-research (con - with, ricerca - research). The second, the concept of processes of composition, decompostion and recomposition.

I would argue that the way that Stott and others obtained their base material for their research - i.e. participant observation, from the inside of the social movements they studied, is in some ways a perversion of the conricerca model. By definition conricerca was posited on an acceptance that much academic research into social movements is from the outside and in the service of capital. Conricerca claimed to take a partisan position for the workers, against capital, and from the inside of struggles, not outside them. Here we see the danger of a recuperation of conricerca, where researchers claim to be working from the inside and "sharing the values and objectives" of the movement*, but then go on to transmit the findings to the institutional state actors. The question then becomes, when does con-ricerca, turn back into contra-ricerca? And how should social movements defend themselves from this happening? Without reactively destroying any possibility for genuine conricerca (e.g. the tendency of some insurrectionists to attack all camera people, regardless of whether they are commercial snappers, protest TV, or defence campaign anti-police monitoring).

The second question, the relationship between the ESIM model and the autonomist composition/decomposition model can be best illustrated with that example that lurdan picked out from JD's blog, above (comment #222):

Quote:
I was reminded on hearing this story [allegation of PC Kennedy going native] of an episode in my ethnographic research study of the No M11 campaign, part of the UK anti-roads movement in the early 1990s (See http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2004/02/285484.html ). Here too I was studying a type of psychological change that occurred in people involved in an environmental direct action campaign. Wanstead residents objected to their local green being dug up for the construction of a trunk road. They changed on a number of levels. They came to see themselves as in the ‘same group’ as the ‘activists’ who had come to the area for the protest - and indeed in the same group as activists across the country and around the world. They therefore came to see themselves as different from their local neighbours who stood passively by and watched the loss of green space. They also adopted a much more critical view of the police force: when previously the police had been seen as neutral or a protector of their individual rights, now they were seen as agents of unpopular government policy and hence ‘political’.
[...]
But there was something else happening at the time of the transformation of these ‘local’ people into ‘political subjects’. This was their participation in the ‘direct action’ itself. While they may have intended their participation to be different (less ‘direct’) than that of the ‘activists’, it was not seen that way by the police, who acted upon the protesters as a whole – as a crowd, in fact.

Put differently, the (unintended) consequence of the ‘locals’ acting ‘with’ the rest of the crowd was police action which served to impose a common experience (of ‘illegitimate attack’) on all, such that the distinction between ‘activist’ and ‘local’ could no longer be easily sustained. In a context when one is treated as ‘oppositional’ by the police, arguments about the ‘political’ nature of road-building will seem more plausible, and those making them more persuasive. Such people come to be seen as ‘one of us’ rather than ‘one of them’, and we might listen to more carefully.

This is clearly recognisable to anyone familiar with autonomist concepts, as a discussion of police action in relation to the composition of the activist and 'locals' into a unified antagonist political subjectivity. Yet the work of the ESIM model, as articulated by Stott in the Police Review and HMIC report, is clearly about how the police can adapt their activity to minimise the possibility of this composition effect. Does the development by Stott & JD of the Elaborated Social Identity Model from their Exeter Uni supervisor Reicher's original SIM model, include the incorporation, even the recuperation, of elements of the autonomist analysis of processes of composition and decomposition? Needs further investigation, but apriori it certainly looks like it.

The political question then is, if one of the major goals of communists is the recomposition of antagonist collective subjectivities, ultimately class-wide, does the recuperation of public order policing academics of the analysis of composition and decomposition any threat to that project?

Clearly the intention of Stott and Reicher (leaving JD out of this) is precisely that, to prevent the composition of collective antagonistic subjectivities, in the name of defending the useful social role of "peaceful protest". (Which has resonance with the compulsory pacifist tendency we are seeing in the indignados & Occupy movements, as already noted). But intention is no guarantee of effectiveness. Which is JK's argument (comment # 234):

Quote:
- But what is the substance of this? Stott favours graded policing over full-on repression. He somehow has to convince the police that violence is often their fault. in plain english, the 'insight' of the ESIM model is 'if the cops act like cunts, people are more likely to kick off'.

- his sales pitch to the police is that softer policing equals less arrests and less disorder, meaning happier police bosses and politicians. But this is based entirely on situations where there is a harmony of interests, and therefore the police can facilitate the crowd rather than arbitrarily repress them (the Euro 2004 study is main evidence base).

- however this doesn't apply when there's a conflict of interest, such as in class struggles, or a crowd set on property destruction or economic disruption. in such circumstances the police have no option but to fall back on repression, regardless of Stott et al's 'insights' that this may escalate things. For example, UK Uncut. If they're disrupting commercial activity the police can't 'facilitate' that because their role is to defend capital. But even if they do facilitate it, that just means UK Uncut win by getting to disrupt targets at will.

- for example, at Millbank, police were pretty hands off. however rather than leading to self-policing law-abiding protest, students took advantage of the low-key police presence to occupy and sack millbank. there was very little violence (ignoring property), but the movement escalated through the event.

- on the other hand, a fortnight later the police had swung back the other way with kettles and mounted charges and a heavy TSG presence. yet within the kettle, those posh kids did try to 'self-police' by protecting the (erroneously named) #baitvan. however despite all the violence, the movement itself dissipated shortly after.

- in other words, there's no simple relationship between soft/hard policing and escalation/de-escalation of struggles. sometimes the police standing off allows us the space to attack (e.g. Millbank), other times the lack of police provocation means everyone marches from A-B and goes home (Stop the War). While sometimes police repression escalates the struggle (e.g. Sussex uni campus last year), while other times it smashes and demoralises the movement (countless examples).

- hence despite its sales pitch, this stuff cannot possibly undermine our struggles. it only applies when there's no underlying conflict of interests.

Now if we look back at JD's Wanstead example, clearly there is a conflict of interest here between the police whose job is to minimise disruption to the road being built; and those opposed, both actvists and 'locals'. But are the actions of the police powerless to make a difference in this case? Not according to JD who implies clearly that had the police intervention taken more care to exploit the pre-existing divisions between activists and locals, so as to reinforce them, they could have avoided creating this shared identity of a common antagonism. And this is the same analysis that Stott is pushing as ways to make policing more effective, by reducing the spread of hardcore opposition attitudes and identities, so as to "enable peaceful, legitimate protest" in Stotts' auto-mythology or "get the road built faster with less security costs" from the perspective of the police who go to his trainings. In summary I reject JK's argumentation as both wrong and, ultimately, damaging to any social movement that requires the maximisation of the numbers willing to adopt an antagonistic approach to state forces.

* (n.b. not the same thing - the latter allows you to later instrumentalise with the justification of serving the transcendant goal - i.e. "it's for your own good", or "it's for the good of the campaign")

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Arbeiten
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Oct 17 2011 15:52
Quote:
But I don't want to get into a big discussion over the rights and wrongs of J's research, that's for J and Aufheben to discuss between themselves, and hopefully come up with a way forward and try find a less damaging outcome to this unhappy situation.

Perhaps now the everyone has a let of a bit of steam this can be concentrated on. Ya know. How are we going to go forward? What does this mean (if anything?) for the wider project of Aufheben etc, etc.

tastybrain
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Oct 17 2011 17:18

I think Libcom is great in general and most of the time the moderators do a great job. Their responses to this issue have not been exemplary but that's no reason to leave the site or think it's crawling with informants or anything like that. I would like to second what Serge Forward and a few other people have said in that we need to handle this in a calm and friendly manner, without excoriating each other.

That said...can some of the "it's no big deal" people tell me how this is in any way acceptable or unproblematic:

J wrote:
I was reminded on hearing this story [allegation of PC Kennedy going native] of an episode in my ethnographic research study of the No M11 campaign, part of the UK anti-roads movement in the early 1990s (See http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2004/02/285484.html ). Here too I was studying a type of psychological change that occurred in people involved in an environmental direct action campaign. Wanstead residents objected to their local green being dug up for the construction of a trunk road. They changed on a number of levels. They came to see themselves as in the ‘same group’ as the ‘activists’ who had come to the area for the protest - and indeed in the same group as activists across the country and around the world. They therefore came to see themselves as different from their local neighbours who stood passively by and watched the loss of green space. They also adopted a much more critical view of the police force: when previously the police had been seen as neutral or a protector of their individual rights, now they were seen as agents of unpopular government policy and hence ‘political’.
[...]
But there was something else happening at the time of the transformation of these ‘local’ people into ‘political subjects’. This was their participation in the ‘direct action’ itself. While they may have intended their participation to be different (less ‘direct’) than that of the ‘activists’, it was not seen that way by the police, who acted upon the protesters as a whole – as a crowd, in fact.
Put differently, the (unintended) consequence of the ‘locals’ acting ‘with’ the rest of the crowd was police action which served to impose a common experience (of ‘illegitimate attack’) on all, such that the distinction between ‘activist’ and ‘local’ could no longer be easily sustained. In a context when one is treated as ‘oppositional’ by the police, arguments about the ‘political’ nature of road-building will seem more plausible, and those making them more persuasive. Such people come to be seen as ‘one of us’ rather than ‘one of them’, and we might listen to more carefully.
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jesuithitsquad
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Oct 18 2011 05:13

I really wonder if any of the pious prolier than thou folks could spend a moment of self-reflection comparing their stance on this issue to the way evangelical christians treat 'backsliders' (those who were once members of the fold before pursuing a life of sin). the denunciations really seem to have an almost religious fervor usually confined to american cults.

lurdan wrote:
Presumably that's as distinct from the subtly different circumstances where a Sussex University press release about JD's work – containing his full name - is reprinted on Libcom in 2010 and someone called Joseph Kay drops an extremely broad hint as to his identity in the comments underneath it.

While this was a fantastic comment in a game of point scoring, it seems you didn't really count on anyone to actually click through the link. Honestly, are you saying that prior to this debacle you would have understood the subtext of the 'Johnny' comment? If you did then you were the intended audience. I know I wouldn't have. As is obvious to anyone giving that comment a fair reading, it was a coded way to let another poster 'in the know' know the study was done by a trusted source.

As for all those 'outraged' about the behavior of the libcom adminazis I have one to add: how long is the knowing, blatant flaunting of site guidelines going to be tolerated? How Samatnof is allowed to continue to post here after being repeatedly warned about using identifying information is really amazing considering the campaign to silence dissenting voices.

Who the fuck is David Jacobs, and why the fuck should I care if he takes his toys and goes home? I know that sounds like a real asshole comment, but I mean seriously, what 10 posts in 2 years, and you act as if your public flounce (only to come back a few hrs later, much like Sam's repeated threats--please for the love of fuck, follow through Sam!!) is a big deal? You've contributed next to nothing here (and most of it self-promoting), which isn't a problem in and of itself; people are free to post or not, but to make a big announcement you are leaving, after very few contributions is just silly. I really love how people treat this place like they are paying customers demanding quality services or else they'll take their business elsewhere. Ffs

Finally:

Whatisinevidence wrote:
It boggles my mind how anyone with any dignity (much less a communist) could defend someone who consults with the cops about anything, much less about how to control crowds.

This is patently absurd. It must be nice living in your ivory tower, but in my world things are sometimes a bit messier than a simple dichotomy of goodies v baddies. For example, I'll copy an edited version of what I wrote a comrade in a PM about this mess:

While reading some of the diatribes I've been thinking about my line of work w adults w developmental disabilities. On occasion--and actually quite recently--when a client gets abused, exploited or neglected I have a responsibility to contact adult protective services, which here is a division of the prosecutor's office. A recent example is pretty mild: a client went to set up phone service was denied b/c he had an oustanding bill of $107 for a number & address he never had. The name on the bill is a made up feminization of his first name (by cleverly adding an "ia" to his common male name) with the same last name. The last 4 digits of the disputed phone number are the same as a previous # he had with the prefix being different, so its quite clear a former staff person nabbed his SSN & set up phone service using his identity. Its not that huge of a deal by the standard of some of the shit I've seen, but in addition to contacting APS I have to actively participate in the investigation. By the pro TPTG crowd standards I'm pretty much a cop collaborator, but not only do I not feel bad about it, but I feel like its important work that is a necessary social responsibility, much like disaster planning.

Eagerly awaiting a denunciation in an open letter about that backslider jesuithitsquad off of libcop...