June 30, 2006

Security Culture and its Discontents

by The Brilliant
Operation Backfire, the FBI operation that has led to the arrest over the past few months of dozens of so-called eco-terrorists has had a dimming effect on the direct action movement. The idea that of property destruction, without injury or loss of human life, had a certain cachet as threading the needle between the Weatherman movement of the 1970's and the protests of the tree-sitting and sign carrying variety. In America this idea was clearly naive as murderers are often given much lighter sentences than drug offenders.

After the burning of the Vail ski resort on October 18, 1998 there could have been no doubt that the government would launch a major investigation against the ELF and associated environmental groups. At least twelve million dollars of damage was caused in one evening and at least one agency suffered a black eye as a result. The insertion of the now infamous Anna into the protest movement should be seen for what it is, a reconnaissance mission, not the primary attack.

The ability of Anna to act as a street medic, a journalist (on several Indymedia sites), and eventually the bait to entrap several young radicals does not represent a problem with how porous our communities are. It demonstrates how inexperienced our generation is with real government attack.

This has been further demonstrated by the surprise and horror that supporters of the Operation Backfire prisoners have had when the accused became complicit with their captors. Many of the accused had moved on with their lives and away from radical politics. During the actions that they are being accused of, many of them were very young and new to radicalism. Many were reaching far beyond their grasp and upon realizing this retreated away from the positions, choices, and groups that informed the property destruction they are accused of. People cannot stand up to torture, isolation, or even social pressure forever.

The surprise should be that anyone stays around obscure radical circles or holds the line against forces of repression at all. Many of us have seen what the science of control technologies and the realities of prison life does to strong people. Propaganda creates social isolation and the sense that even simple positions are aberrant. While there is a certain dignity in obscurity and pride in exclusivity, what is the cost?

We are sick of hiding in shadows!

We do not believe that anything, or nearly anything, that we do is truly hidden from eyes that are looking in our direction. We believe that if they want to find us they are more than capable. We are too few and they have too many resources to bring to bear. We do not believe that anything that we do, except the most blatantly scandalous, should be hidden behind false names, secret communication, and indecipherable jargon. The only secrets should be secrets and not the possible existence of secrets.

We believe, in our heart of hearts, that our security culture friends embarrass us. Security culture is the half-assed practice of confusing our desire for a different world with a tree house that doesn't allow those with cooties. Our pretensions of illegality and danger look exactly like what they are, children at play. As long as anarchists remain children we will be treated like them, by our potential allies, by our enemies and by ourselves.

If we really were planning to wage war upon those in power, rather than just have it waged upon us, we would need people from all walks of life to understand where we were coming from. We would need the brilliance of our vision of a better world to shine so brightly as to suffocate thoughts of this one. Our ideas are ideas of transparency, individual capability, and solidarity. Why should we hide these ideas? Even if the only expressions that we can offer of our choices are of petty theft and marginal living why should we live in shame? No one chooses to live in shame for long. Shame will kill us faster than the State will ever find us. An atmosphere of secrets and group-think isolates us into sub-culture that includes only our peers.

Our ideas are brilliant. We deeply believe that the majority of the world basks in the light of the same sun that we are shielded from by the State and Capitalism. We survive on a fraction of what is possible. Those who shield us feast upon the bulk of the sustenance. From below, above and without we have another solution. Be gone interlopers! We will wear no masks when we tear your creations asunder. They stand in our way. They stand in the way of the brilliant!


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