no third solution

Blogging about liberty, anarchy, economics and politics

Community, Not Government

November 4th, 2012

All of the things which we would look to community for, are predominately provided by government agencies.


  • Governments “take care of the poor” so we don’t feel the responsibility to take care of ourselves.
  • Governments “protect us” so we don’t responsible for our own protection.
  • Governments give us “work” so we don’t need to be productive.
  • Governments teach us so that we don’t have to learn.

The divisiveness of winner-take-all politics relies on class warfare, pitting individual members of society against one another, communities against communities, interests against interests. And despite evidence to the contrary (it’s also widely known that Americans are among the most charitable in the world), they have convinced you that your neighbor is your enemy. So is it any wonder why this process destroys and divides rather than strengthens and unites?

We absolutely need more “community,” but this we are going to have to build on our own. Stop looking for government to solve your problems. If you look hard enough, you’ll probably find they’re responsible for them in the first place.

It’s all fun and games until you’re faced with the difficult proposition of martyring yourself for a cause

May 9th, 2012

Note: Deanna Aenead has set up a fundraising page where you can lend a hand to help those who have been arrested as a result of Stacy’s coerced police informant work. Because we should always be looking out for, and taking care of our own, I encourage you to donate whatever you can to assist in their defense. 


I don’t have a dog in this fight but I think it is important to flesh out the issues. William Gillis has a perfectly succinct synopsis to get you up to speed:

A prominent left market anarchist activist but dropped off the radar last year, just publicly admitted she got nabbed on some serious charges [dealing drugs] in September and collaborated with the state to bust several people on drug charges. Her account of fear and ignorance is harrowing, as they usually are, especially when people don’t have immediately accessible community and legal support (something we should really work on). She says she did what she did to minimize net damage to radicals by redirecting the feds. But snitching alters the landscape in an inescapably categorical way. You don’t get to be an activist after you snitch. You don’t get community support. Otherwise every single instance of collaboration would get hemmed and hawed over, leaving us even more riven with tension and divisiveness. …It’s infinitely easier and more efficient just to draw the obvious hard line. [She] is on her fucking own.

It’s all fun and games until you’re faced with the difficult proposition of martyring yourself for a cause… She made a conscious and calculated decision to get involved in the war on drugs the moment she decided to play Robin Hood (or the pot-dealing equivalent of Robin Hood whatever his name is…), which was an enormous tactical blunder.

As George Donnelly notes, “You can’t be a prominent and public anarchist activist and engage in illegal activities on a sustained and significant basis at the same time. The two roles just aren’t compatible in today’s political climate”  (you really should head over there and read the rest of George’s post).

Bad decisions have a way of compounding themselves

Ultimately it is this decision which allowed law enforcement to target her, apply leverage over her and turn her in to a tool for their own purposes.

Further, did she err, by not reaching out the broad network of likeminded individuals and fellow activists who may have been able to provide support (legal, financial, moral, or otherwise)? No question. Was she lied to and manipulated by law enforcement after she was nabbed? Absolutely. Under duress? You betcha, that is their MO. Was she given lousy legal advice by a barely competent attorney who was probably just looking to cash a retainer check for just-another-nobody who would never be any wiser? Almost without a doubt. Did she the sell out others in order to save her own ass? Yep.

It is disheartening to me that she made the bad decision of jeopardizing others’ lives in order to save her own ass. It is understandable even if not forgivable.  For the implications on others’ lives this would be the worst of it. But it’s not.

What saddens me the most is how she reationalizes this decision. Although she paints this as a matter of “survival”, it was in-fact only a matter of comfort. This wasn’t life-or-death and she did not have to roll over in order to “survive”. Perhaps this verbiage is a defense mechanism to assuage her own sense of guilt, or perhaps I have taken it somehow out of context but I read it like “This can’t happen to me because my life’s work is more important or more significant than others'” and/or “I can do more good for the cause/etc. if I am not stuck behind bars”, etc.

Of course, nobody is duty-bound to become a martyr, but it’s not like she didn’t know that, if she ever got caught, they’d apply leverage like this. There has to be some moral obligation not to drag other people down with you, otherwise we’ve already lost.

Although I am disappointed in some of her decisions, I appreciate her candor now. I am initially inclined to believe it was a lapse in judgment and hopefully not indicative of her character when she elected to throw others under the bus (although this point is contested by several close acquaintances, see Mike’s comment below, as well as Deana’s thorough synopsis). I am also in 100% agreement with Donnelly’s assessment: We all have a breaking point and it would not be very difficult for the long arm of the law to exercise similar leverage, with similar results, over most of us any time they want.

I want to also mention the vitriol I have seen in some comments, up to and including threats of physical violence. I get that, or at least I hope that, these reactions are simply the manifestation of disappointment, anger that one of “our own” could have been compromised in such a manner and that cooler heads will ultimately prevail. Although many are posturing moral superiority, I don’t think this is an appropriate response. I would of course prefer the course of events had taken a different turn, but we all have a breaking point; this is not a condemnation, a character assassination, or even moral judgment.

But what’s done can’t be undone, and so that’s why I also fully understand why others may have a very hard time putting their faith & trust in her again.

I can’t blame them.

Post Script

THIS is possibly the best piece I’ve read, to date, about why she was wrong to do what she did and remains wrong for trying to rationalize it and wronger still for blaming others for her terrible decision-making.

This is not about whether I think the actions she was nabbed for should be legal (I do, see here, here and here).

Further detail on this particular incident provided at the nominally anyonymous Drug War Victim blog.


Militarization of Law Enforcement: Is it Preparation for Civil War?

December 21st, 2011

A century ago, the Federal government established armories throughout the country ostensibly for the purpose of “national security”, although it’s not abundantly clear what the real threat was at that time. These armories were probably most-often used to supply federal troops and private security brought in to put down popular movements like strikes and shutdowns. This was essentially a civil war, although it is never mentioned as such.

Today, we have the Department of Homeland Security doling out billions of dollars (a nice interactive map, here) to Everytown, USA, in order to supply them with battlefield-grade arms and armor, to fight hypothetical bogeymen and non-existent threats.

Just your ordinary small town police force, nothing to see here

Just your ordinary small town police force, nothing to see here

Authorities in Fargo, ND (which has averaged 2 homicides per year over the last 5 years) spent $8 million buying state-of-the-art military grade weapons like the assault rifles which now come standard in every squad car, and the “$256,643 armored truck, complete with a rotating turret”.

Sadly, rather than being some unfortunate exception, Fargo is just another example in the trend to militarize local police departments (via Daily Beast).

  • In Montgomery County, Texas, the sheriff’s department owns a $300,000 pilotless surveillance drone, like those used to hunt down al Qaeda terrorists in the remote tribal regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
  • In Augusta, Maine, with fewer than 20,000 people and where an officer hasn’t died from gunfire in the line of duty in more than 125 years, police bought eight $1,500 tactical vests.
  • Police in Des Moines, Iowa, bought two $180,000 bomb-disarming robots
  • An Arizona sheriff is now the proud owner of a surplus Army tank.

To understand this trend, you have to understand a little bit about government appropriations. Generally the money is on the table and you have to use it or lose it. The logic is almost always that if you don’t spend the money, if you don’t pretend you need it, then you can get by with less, so they cut your budget. And government agencies are always in the business of preserving their power, whether it is just looking out for No. 1, or something more Machiavellian like amassing your own little fiefdom or mercenary force, the incentive structure in government always works the same way. Use it or lose it.

Also, follow the money:

One beneficiary of Homeland’s largesse are military contractors, who have found a new market for their wares

Warfare is big business and government contracts are essentially guaranteed profit. So the companies involved in this business can afford to spend lots of money (given to them in fulfillment of government contracts) lobbying the government to give them even more budget for larger contracts next year. It is a sick cycle that shows no signs of abating any time soon.

The article highlights some moral hazard of the hyper-militarization, which I would liken to “Field of Dreams”. If you build it, they will come. Well, if you give it to them, they will find a way to use it.

“With local law enforcement, their mission is to solve crimes after they’ve happened, and to ensure that people’s constitutional rights are protected in the process,” says Jesselyn McCurdy, senior legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. “The military obviously has a mission where they are fighting an enemy. When you use military tactics in the context of law enforcement, the missions don’t match, and that’s when you see trouble with the overmilitarization of police.”

When the only tool you have is a hammer, sooner or later, everything starts to look like a nail. When you arm officers to the teeth, when you train them for war, when you hire a disproportionate amount of ex-soldiers, and when you bombard their psyche with warrior mentality training it is not really a surprise when they start putting that training in to practice, no matter if its warranted or not.  Over the last decade we’ve seen an increasing number of SWAT teams raiding teenage rave parties or serving routine drug warrants on non-violent offenders, creating volatility and chaos where there would never have been any had the police taken a more conventional approach and we are even seeing incidents of police tasering and pepper-spraying children.

Riot police attacking protestors

Riot police attacking protestors

What will be the longer-term ramifications of increased militarization, especially in light of NDAA and the PATRIOT Act? I fear that these weapons will one day be turned on the people of this country. I fear that it is a matter of “when”, not “if”. We’re already seeing some of it in the deplorable way that local cops have handled several situations in the Occupy Movement, still in its infancy.

As government institutions always seek to preserve and expand their power even at the expense of their constituents’ liberties and livelihoods, there doesn’t need to be any evil villain, plotting and scheming, no Illuminati/New World Order tin-foil hat bullshit. All of the pieces are already falling in to place, the product of human action, not of human design. In other words, it doesn’t matter if they’re explicitly preparing for a civil war, everything they’re doing is inadvertently preparing for one, anyways.

A century ago, the Federal government’s armories were turned against its citizens, used to put down popular movements and general strikes.

Today, they’re shipping the munitions directly to what will eventually be the front lines.





no third solution

Blogging about liberty, anarchy, economics and politics