Tuesday, April 7, 2015

UK – Prisoner Emma Sheppard: Prisons do not work for anyone – except those who profit from them

Reblogged from: Act For Freedom Now
The prisons are nearly full. So they are building more. From Topshop to Tesco, DHL to Lend Lease, and Virgin to Geoamey, there is a lot of money in the prison regime. Now private ‘Community Rehabilitation Companies’ are running the probation service. Christopher Grayling has announced another ‘rehabilitative initiative’ for the Ministry of Justice. Prisoners will create sandbags, fence posts and kit for the Armed Forces, in order to ‘learn important new skills’ and the ‘value of a hard days work’.
The word rehabilitation is never far away inside these walls. But prison has a long shadow – it isolates, separates and destroys lives. Much has been written recently about women in prison. Even Vicky Pryce – ex-wife of a Tory MP has called for change. But whilst women in prison certainly have, to use the language of the screws, ‘complex needs’, calls for reform on gendered lines oversimplify the problem. Prisons do not work for anyone – except those who profit from them.
And what does ‘rehabilitation’ even mean? Repenting for your crime? Bowing down to supposedly benevolent systems which are offered to us as ‘choices’? Rehabilitation is used like a carrot we are meant to chase. But I will not participate in a race to make sandbags. There is no rehabilitation in an IPP, CSC or seg. When people are shipped out without warning. This is not rehabilitation.
Assata Shakur described one of the many show trials she was subjected to. Whilst I am not in any way comparing myself to her, the sentiment really resonated with me:
“Participating in the New Jersey Trial was unprincipled and incorrect.
By participating, I participated in my own oppression.
I should have known better and not lent credence to that sham. In the long run, the people are our only appeal.
The only ones who can free us are ourselves.”
Some people successfully detox in prison, many relapse. Some leave their abusive relationships, may return. Just like the myth of ‘protection’ the police perpetuate, ‘rehabilitation’ is a convenient facade which hides systemic violence. The decisions people make in prison may benefit or harm them. But any positive changes the individual makes happen in spite of, not due to, the ‘opportunities’ we receive. I will never forget the razor wire and the sound of the key in the door. but even though you lock me in, I am not alone.
Much love,Em x
Sheppard was sentenced to two years in prison for damaging police cars outside of Bristol.

You can write to her at:

Emma Sheppard
HMP Eastwood Park
Church Avenue
GL12 8DB

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Video: Spiritual Anarchism

Pygmalion is an Evil Bastard (Especially if He's a Radical Leftist)

A word of advice I'd give to all radical women who date men is this: steer clear of dating someone who desires to convert you to his political or religious views. This has happened to me before on multiple occasions, and it will certainly cause you a lot of pain. It's not just that men who assume they're entitled to fuck with your mind don't appreciate you for who you are in the present, it's also that their acts most certainly amount to gaslighting.

If you find that the Lefty dude whom you're dating acts like this, it's a sign that he may very well desire some kind of mental control over you. I made the mistake of not realizing it sooner and it fucked me up a lot. So, if you encounter someone like this, tell him to fuck off and let him understand that he is in no way entitled to your mind.

Overall, this is very much symptomatic of basing one's romantic intents primarily on politics. There were times in my life where I entered relationships with people solely on the basis of political views, and in every case it turned out to be a disaster; little disagreements we had overshadowed everything else to the point where the smallest debate can destroy your relationship. When you're in a radical organization, having everyone line up ideologically can be so crucial that people will leave or be looked upon with suspicion for taking a different stance on any issue. But that's political organizing. Things become even worse when ideological differences become the reason you break up with that otherwise amazing person whom you've been dating.

I will not speak for others, but I have never experienced a healthy relation in which one person constantly tries to "fix" their partner in such a way. Radical men, in particular, tend to have a complex where they only desire the woman whom they can "carve" themselves, whose every aspect (particularly her mind) is a product of his domination over her. If his partner evolves ideologically, he will try to stop her and regain control of her mind, because for him, his connection to her is based on the two of them being so ideologically identical. It is submission, albeit in a form that comrades would find tolerable.

So, to the radical dudes who date women: don't try to create and preserve the radical girlfriend you imagine from the girl in your organization whom you think is sweet and cute. If you desire to be with her, carry out your feelings through actions rather than an aggressive, possessive control of what she thinks. If you love her for her political views only, you will almost certainly not love her for very long, as all of us inevitably grow and evolve. You do not love her for herself but for the person you wish she was. And if she tells you to fuck off, please fuck off.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Ma chanson française préférée

Maintenant que la jeunesse
s'éteint au carreau bleui
Maintenant que la jeunesse
machinale m'a trahi

Maintenant que la jeunesse
tu t'en souviens souviens-t-en
Maintenant que la jeunesse
chante à d'autres le printemps

Maintenant que la jeunesse
n'est plus ici n'est plus là
Maintenant que la jeunesse
suit un nuage étranger

Maintenant que la jeunesse
a fui , voleur généreux
me laissant mon droit d'aînesse
et l'argent de mes cheveux
Il fait beau a n'y pas croire
Il fait beau comme jamais

Quel temps quel temps sans mémoire
on ne sait plus comment voir
ni se lever ni s'asseoir
Il fait beau comme jamais

C'est un temps contre nature
comme le ciel des peintures
comme l'oubli des tortures
Il fait beau comme jamais

Frais comme l'eau sous la rame
un temps fort comme une femme
un temps à damner son âme
Il fait beau comme jamais

Un temps à rire et à courir
un temps à ne pas mourir
un temps à craindre le pire
Il fait beau comme jamais.
- L. Aragon 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

One of the Few Things That Keeps Me Going

Self-interest is a very strange thing. It may very well dictate how we act, yes. Perhaps we aren't rational all the time, that is true. What is best for us? We don't always know.

The times in my life in which I've felt like giving up have been many. Feeling abandoned by everyone around you drives you to unspeakable thoughts and acts. Sometimes I feel as though I'm undeserving of any of the things I hold dear. These thoughts are not uncommon.

Whenever these feelings come, I have to remind myself: I study philosophy, politics, the humanities, anthropology, economics, and everything in between for the creation of the new. At the end of the day, it isn't for the benefit of a single individual. You can become very well-read and everyone from school or work will come to you looking to understand what radical political theory is, but the praise you'll receive during that one moment doesn't translate to the overall project. It's not about your individual self-improvement, it's not about your social improvement, it's not about your intellectual improvement, but about winning. Whatever happens to me along the way doesn't really matter. It's far more in my self-interest to see the status quo crumble at our feet than it is for me to gain little compliments from others.

It is difficult to think like this. But I do so out of necessity - because if I didn't, I would be broken. 100 years from now our bodies will be gone, but the effects of what we did during our lives will remain.

Don't give up.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Former Classmate of Mine has Become a "Meme"

After graduating from McDaniel College, it was assumed I'd never hear about this guy again. Unfortunately, videos he did years ago are now all over the internet. I took philosophy courses alongside this guy back in 2011-2012. In class, he would act identical to his presentation in this one particular video. I have no hard feelings towards him, despite the fact that I find many of his views deplorable. This video of his (entitled "Confronting a Flu Vaccine Worker"), in which he harasses a pharmacist with straight-out-of-Infowars claims about vaccines back in 2009, is pretty bad. Prepare to cringe, or rage.

If that is too much, I recall this guy promoting backwards ideas of "black brains"/"white brains" and "male brains"/"female brains" in class, which shocked most of us. He would also bring in an Alex Jones water bottle, complete with a straw to take out the fluoride. Did I mention he was the guy my buddy and I were going to troll during my last semester there?

Almost 40,000 views. Even this well-known YouTube personality has made a response video laughing at Patrick's ridiculous antics.

To my knowledge, Patrick is now studying osteopathy in Mississippi. I haven't kept up with most of the people I knew from McDaniel and find no reason to do so. I do miss those days quite a bit, actually. 'Twas fun.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Athens: Nikos Romanos ended his hunger strike

Reblogged from ContraInfo:

Nikos Romanos, anarchist prisoner in Greece, was on hunger strike from the 10th of November until the 10th of December 2014. The judicial mechanisms refused his furlough request to attend university classes. In response to this, multiform actions of solidarity took place inside and outside the prisons of Greek democracy and internationally.

Most of all, it was the urgency of the situation that sparked street clashes and inspired instances of rebellion across the territory controlled by the Greek State. At the same time, comrades were eager to exchange ideas and desires over the previous month, and a great many diverse actions were able to see the light of day on the occasion of this prisoner hunger strike: daily assemblies, banner actions, direct actions, such as numerous arsons and attacks with homemade explosives (mainly against bank ATMs), hit-and-run attacks against police, street riots and large-scale clashes with the forces of order, building blockades, acts of sabotage (with the use of glue, paint, etc.), physical assaults against persons of Power, spontaneous protests against public appearance of politicians, symbolic occupation of radio and tv stations, a wave of state/corporate building occupations, counter-info gatherings, and large demonstrations. The creativity and conflictuality of various different anarchist individualities and groups may not be strong and decisive enough to keep the fight equally intense at the everyday level, but there’s always a chance that new projects will emerge from the latest encounter of comrades in occupied buildings, street actions, and so forth. However, only if people in solidarity with Nikos Romanos, and anarchists in particular, are willing to reflect on the specifics of what occurred during the last couple of days of his strike, they may find themselves prepared to practice a much-needed prisoner solidarity in the face of the new maximum security facility in Domokos, as well as the overall worsening of prison conditions.

Seeing that his initial request was repeatedly and vengefully denied, our comrade was blackmailed to accept electronic tagging as an option for getting educational furloughs eventually, “a last resort” that became more pressing as his health was quickly deteriorating. In fact, he chose to stop his hunger strike only after the Greek parliament voted almost unanimously (with the exception of two MPs of the main ruling party according to the official record, while MPs of the Nazi party were apparently quasi-present at the vote) in favor of an amendment proposed by the justice minister. This amendment refers to prisoners – convicts (sentenced in court) and indictees (awaiting trial) – that have the right to study at a higher education institution available in the same region as the state facility where they are incarcerated, but have not been granted educational leave from prison to regularly attend their classes. It specifies that any such prisoner must successfully attend 1/3 of classes and laboratory activities in one semester of an academic year by completing distant learning courses, and only then be permitted to make use of educational release days by wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet to physically attend classes. The justice minister included the provision of electronic tagging at the last minute, making sure to add that the competent disciplinary boards (prison councils) may still deny the request of an inmate for educational leave should they present a “special justification” for issuing a negative decision (even after the inmate has completed the required distance learning courses inside prison walls, and even if s/he accepts to be monitored by bracelet outside the walls, we presume). This legislative amendment applies in all cases of sentenced and awaiting-trial prisoners who are deprived of student furloughs (so, not just in the case of Nikos Romanos). On this occasion, almost all political parties had an electioneering benefit from promoting further repressive measures against prisoners while not missing their chance to show off a democratic and humanitarian profile.

Nikos has quit his strike, after 31 days, but he’s still asphyxiating for a few breaths of freedom. Given the outcome, knowing that his claim has not yet been vindicated, we demand what should be granted to him right away: educational leave from prison. Contrary to a widespread feeling of “victory”, we feel that nothing has been won apart from the valuable life of our comrade and the realization that we should respond to every blackmailing of statist lackeys, not sometime in the distant future but now, by intensifying all forms of fight against the prison-society. We firmly stand by the side of prisoners in struggle, and against the enforcement of the use of teleconferencing and electronic tagging as yet another method of isolating captives of the State/Capital. Now, more than ever before, prisoner solidarity must go on the offensive by any means necessary.

"I Love Anarchism but I Can't Stand Other Anarchists"

Certainly, I'm not the only one who has felt this way. There are many comrades with whom I have spoken who have revealed the same. It's not the sectarianism or conflicting ideas of what is (or isn't) to be done, but the general feelings we have towards one another.

I've acted very snobby to other comrades before, especially online. There were cases years ago where I said things that would be considered outright ridiculous. When speaking to people outside the internet, I would always become very tense, worried that everything I said on the internet would come back to stab me. It's odd, how the internet has made it possible to know everything about a certain individual without ever having to speak to them face-to-face. It's particularly damaging when trying to organize in a political fashion. You know everyone's views about everything, even if they've never told you upfront, so you can more easily "weed out" the theoretically-backwards from the theoretically-efficient.

There are definitely reasons to be cynical of others whom you find are weak in theory and practice. For one, I (as well as many others on the far-left) want absolutely nothing to do with "social justice warriors" like those on tumblr, as we feel they make a mockery of concepts from Critical Theory and have no motivation to fight the culture they deem "problematic" when it comes to matching theory with practice (praxis). They are self-righteous hipsters who look to win by demanding sympathy; I will write a long article on this in the next few days as I don't want to get off-topic.

This "love the ideology, hate the ideologues" is a common reason why many leave. They can't stand the people they work alongside, or see these people taking positions on issues that seem counter-intuitive or whatnot. Of course, we are not a monolith when it comes to our theories and practice, or how we relate to others in and outside our spaces. Yet, it can be truly overwhelming if the most vocal around you are complete dicks.

Don't let the ideas and behaviors of others in anarchist organizations or online cause you to lose your principles. Don't assume that every single one of these things which turn you off are the "logical conclusions" of anarchism. There are times when I've thought about abandoning everything I've held for years, because I look at the people deemed my comrades promoting things I find ridiculous or deplorable in the name of "anarchism", "communism", "mutualism" or any variation. What shakes me from it is, going back to the philosophy. Study philosophy, history, political economy, feminism, critical race theory, culture studies, anthropology, sociology, psychology, language, religion, and so on, and you will be able to draw your own conclusions without having to fall back on the words of these people whose beliefs you find faulty. Method is also key; it acts as the pair of glasses you put on in order to help you distinguish what is legitimate vs. what is most likely bullshit. In all, if you don't want to be affiliated with others whom you don't like, don't be, but don't feel as though doing so entails having to give up. You have the ability to be stronger.