It hasn’t been just government and military whistleblowers (most notoriously, Bradley Manning) who have been targetted with unprecedented repression by the Obama administration. Radical activists, including some in Seattle, are also facing harassment.
Three local anarchists–Matt Duran, Katherine “KteeO” Olejnik, and most recently Leah Plante–have been jailed in the last two months for refusing to testify before a secret federal grand jury supposedly convened in the aftermath of some ludicrously trivial misdemeanor vandalism during this year’s May Day protests. Thing is, results from a FOIA request by Plante’s attorneys suggest that the grand jury was convened two months before the May Day protests it is a supposed response to.
In service of the same investigation, on July 25 multiple houses were raided by SWAT teams of FBI and local law enforcement in Seattle, Olympia, and Portland. Three homes were raided in Portland by approximately 60-80 police, including cops from the FBI and the local Joint Terrorism Task Force. Police used flash grenades during the raid.
The Seattle raid was particularly absurd, focusing on a house shared by members of Occupy Seattle belonging to the Kasama Project, a Maoist offshoot of the Revolutionary Communist Party, with a search warrant looking for “anarchist materials.” Setting aside the fact that it’s impossible to legally define what such materials are (Bakunin’s autobiography?), and the fact that there’s nothing incriminating, let alone illegal, about having such materials, anyone with an even passing knowledge of radical politics knows that a nest of Maoists is about the worst conceivable place to look for them. The odds would be substantially higher at any Tea Party meeting.
The same week as the Northwest raids, ANSWER’s Los Angeles office was broken into. Los Angeles is also where socialist activist Carlos Montes is hurtling toward trial after his arrest last year on transparently bogus federal charges.
Occupy activists, including black bloc anarchists, have frequently worked together throughout the West Coast, particularly in Oakland, San Francisco, and the three northwest cities targeted by July’s raids. It was probably only a matter of time before law enforcement harassment began to exploit those links. Such legal harassment is not a reason for any activist to lie low or be paranoid, but activists should use common sense. Don’t share information unnecessarily which would create a problem in the wrong hands, and whatever you do, never, ever say anything to cops of any stripe.
The national ACLU office has some excellent resources on your rights if you come into contact with law enforcement personnel. Study up.
An undeniable icon in Seattle’s radical history, as well as that of the nation, Anna Louise Strong was born on the date in focus here in the uncannily-named Friend, Nebraska. She acquired many distinctions during her long life as a social justice activist, among them a Ph.D. in philosophy earned at the precocious age of [...]
One thing that gets lost in the 24 hour news cycle of political reporting is a longer view of political developments—-not just for today, this week, or this past election cycle, but over a span of decades. One of the most significant political developments over the past half century has been the extreme rightward shift [...]
[These next two blog entries are companion notes to the story "Not Your Grandfather's GOP"]
Political scientist Dr. Lawrence Britt studied the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia), Salazar (Portugal), Papadopoulos (Greece), and Pinochet (Chile), Dr. Britt found they all had 14 elements in common. He calls these the identifying characteristics of fascism. The list below is adapted from his original article published in Free Inquiry magazine, Spring 2003, and is reprinted for fair use only. These characteristics seem to offer a disturbing similarity to the current Republican agenda and playbook.
The 14 characteristics of fascism are:
1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism: Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.
2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights: Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.
3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause: The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.
4. Supremacy of the Military: Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.
5. Rampant Sexism: The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.
6. Controlled Mass Media: Sometimes the media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.
7. Obsession with National Security: Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.
8. Religion and Government are Intertwined: Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions.
9. Corporate Power is Protected: The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.
10. Labor Power is Suppressed: Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.
11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts: Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.
12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment: Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.
13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption: Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.
14. Fraudulent Elections: Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.
Kevin Phillips has observed the long arc of the GOP’s rightward movement as closely as anyone. In 1968 he wrote The Emerging Republican Majority, which both forecast and offered strategy for the GOP to dominate national politics by using race and religion to retake southern states long allied with Democrats. In later years he became a leading critic of what this new Republican majority had created.
In his 2006 book, American Theocracy, Phillips describes three major pillars of the Republican Party of the 21st century: oil interests, radical religion, and Wall Street. He writes: “Over three decades … the Republican party has slowly become the vehicle of all three interests-—a fusion of petroleum-defined national security; a crusading, simplistic Christianity; and a reckless credit-feeding financial complex. The three are increasingly allied in commitment to Republican politics, if not all in full agreement with one another.”
The religious element has led to the growth of faith-based politics on the right: Not just inserting religion into politics, but a politics where belief trumps empirical evidence. Phillips notes, “In a late-2004 speech, the retiring television journalist Bill Moyers, himself an ordained Baptist minister, broke with polite convention. He told an audience at the Harvard medical school that ‘one of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe, to sit in the seat of power in the Oval Office and in Congress. For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington.’”
Phillips continues, “These developments have warped the Republican party and its electoral coalition, muted Democratic voices, and become a gathering threat to America’s future. No leading power in modern memory has become captive, even a partial captive, of the sort of biblical inerrancy-—backwater, not mainstream-—that dismisses modern knowledge and science.”
Viva la France! Oct. 16, 1854: Jean Grave born. Important figure of the early French anarchist-communist movement; popularized the ideas of Kropotkin. 1906: Congress of the C.G.T. held. Charter of Amiens is adopted. Influenced by the anarchists, a massive majority calls for total independence of the trade unions from the political parties of the State. [...]