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Phoenix: Breathtaking Abuse of the Constitution

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In a breathtaking abuse of the United States Constitution, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, and their increasingly unhinged cat's paw, special prosecutor Dennis Wilenchik, used the grand jury to subpoena "all documents related to articles and other content published by Phoenix New Times newspaper in print and on the Phoenix New Times website, regarding Sheriff Joe Arpaio from January 1, 2004 to the present."

Breathtaking Abuse of the Constitution

Joe Arpaio, Andy Thomas and Dennis Wilenchik hit New Times with grand jury subpoenas
By Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin
Phoenix New Times
Published: October 18, 2007

This newspaper and its editorial staff — both current and former — are the targets of unprecedented grand jury subpoenas dated August 24.

The authorities are also using the grand jury subpoenas in an attempt to research the identity, purchasing habits, and browsing proclivities of our online readership.

It is, we fear, the authorities' belief that what you are about to read here is against the law to publish. But there are moments when civil disobedience is merely the last option. We pray that our judgment is free of arrogance.

These are the issues as we understand them.

In a breathtaking abuse of the United States Constitution, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, and their increasingly unhinged cat's paw, special prosecutor Dennis Wilenchik, used the grand jury to subpoena "all documents related to articles and other content published by Phoenix New Times newspaper in print and on the Phoenix New Times website, regarding Sheriff Joe Arpaio from January 1, 2004 to the present."

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Phoenix: Breathtaking Abuse of the Constitution | 19 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Phoenix: Breathtaking Abuse of the Constitution
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, October 19 2007 @ 03:54 PM CDT
Maybe I'm missing something here, but exactly what is the point of putting these three related articles on the Infoshop newswire? Is there some reason why this story about some fairly mainstream journalists and their legal problems should be of any special interest to anarchists or other activists?
Phoenix: Breathtaking Abuse of the Constitution
Authored by: Admin on Friday, October 19 2007 @ 04:26 PM CDT
These stories are not just about a bunch of mainstream journalists. The main story here is about a corrupt sheriff who more or less runs the city. This is the infamous sheriff that set up that tent city to alleviate prison overcrowding. This ongoing situation is about an extreme abuse of state power, which is of course of interests to anarchists AND the non-anarchist readers of Infoshop News.

Plus, Arizona anarchists are involved in the fight against this sheriff and his goon squads, so there is an anarchist angle.

Chuck
Phoenix: Breathtaking Abuse of the Constitution
Authored by: Necrotic State on Friday, October 19 2007 @ 06:41 PM CDT
Makhno, Makhno, Makhno... *sigh*... You're right. You are missing something. Perhaps it would help you out to know that these "fairly mainstream journalists" - and their publication - have been pretty much the only magazine in town willing to take Sheriff Joe on. So, naturally, his attempt to shut them up and subpoena the names and email addresses of everyone who ever visited an online article critical of him is of great importance.

Sheriff Joe (as he is both affectionately and derisively known here in the Valley) is at the forefront of the anti-immigrant roundups, has a persecution complex, doles out kickbacks and shady deals to his allies in town and routinely abuses both his powers and his prisoners. Further, he is actively recruiting from other police agencies in the county with the argument that he will allow officers to detain undocumented immigrants, something the other police agencies in town have so far refused to do, much to the consternation of the racist anti-immigrant movement here.

And before you say, "Abuses his powers?! All police power is abused power," let me advise you to spend an Arizona Summer in his tents sometime. Sheriff Joe is over the top and needs to be stopped. Those few "fairly mainstream journalists" that keep the heat on him need to be supported because once they're gone, you can bet so will the rest of us.
Phoenix: Breathtaking Abuse of the Constitution
Authored by: HPWombat on Friday, October 19 2007 @ 09:33 PM CDT
First, I'd like to say I'm glad to see Necrotic State here again, I've missed his views on the news. Second, what's the tent situation like? Do you have a story, link or something that might detail what this is like. I'm curious because the police are waging a war on the homeless in town and wanted to know how it's being handled elsewhere.

---
http://midwest.azone.org
Phoenix: Breathtaking Abuse of the Constitution
Authored by: Necrotic State on Sunday, October 21 2007 @ 11:28 AM CDT
Thanks for the kind words, HPWombat. I have been working on analysis and such, but I have been posting it under Phoenix Insurgent for the last few years.

As for the tents, the situation is bad, as usual. Sheriff Joe engages in kickbacks with the food concessions and feeds the inmates (many of whom have never been convicted of a crime - especially in the case of undocumented immigrants) green bologna and a gross protein loaf. The jail has been condemned by Amnesty International.

In terms of information, the best source for information, as it turns out, is from the magazine referenced in this article (the one that Makhno considers mainstream and not worth defending). They do good coverage, unlike the other papers in town, which give Joe and the jails a free pass.
Phoenix: Breathtaking Abuse of the Constitution
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, October 20 2007 @ 07:53 AM CDT
Necro, Necro, Necro...

Taking on "corrupt" sheriffs? Defending "freedom of the [liberal mainstream] press", or immigrants' "rights"? Since when did these reformist issues become of particular concern to anarchists? I haven't spent any time in one of "Sheriff Joe"'s tents, but I have been in a few jail cells, and I didn't like them any better. I feel outraged every time I see a cop car coming down the street, or see one of those ubiquitous police spy boxes hanging from a telephone pole in Chicago.

If anarchists were to protest in Phoenix as anarchists, with a strong, unambiguous anti-State and anti-law enforcement (all law enforcement) message, that would be one thing, but if your attitude is typical, then it looks like they're just providing some more warm bodies for the liberals to further their own agenda.
Phoenix: Breathtaking Abuse of the Constitution
Authored by: Admin on Saturday, October 20 2007 @ 10:04 AM CDT

The Phoenix anarchists are doing some of the most solid anarchist work as anarchists of any local anarchist group that I know of. Perhaps the anarchists in Lawrence, Pittsburgh and New York have their shit together more. You really are picking on the wrong people here.

Anarchists do work with reformists on a variety of issues, a fact that has forgotten by many in the movement who insist on a more purist form of practice. The anarchist movement made great gains during our work in the anti-globalization movement precisely because we worked well with non-anarchists. After 9/11, we anarchists here in the U.S. opted for a more separatist, purist stance on our politics, which I think really hurt anarchism.

The Phoenix anarchists are doing the right thing by getting involved in these local issues.

Chuck

Phoenix: Breathtaking Abuse of the Constitution
Authored by: Necrotic State on Sunday, October 21 2007 @ 11:18 AM CDT
First Makhno, I have to point out that for some reason you are putting things in quotes that I never said, so I am not sure who you are arguing with... are you quoting someone else? I never said any of those things you put in quotes. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and just assume you're confused, but a more cynical person might think that you are more interested in arguing with whatever strawman you set up than with me.

Perhaps that's because you know absolutely nothing about what is happening here or what we or anyone is doing about it. You have a boring, inactionistic ideology of defeatist purism that is neither useful nor realistic. Your bland, holier-than-thoug cookie-cutter analysis has no real world application, as evidenced by the fact that you offer no alternative plan of action (at the same time not knowing what we are doing, if anything, in the first place).

As I already said, this is a case of a brutal sheriff in the fifth largest city in the US attempting to gather private information on EVERYONE who read critical articles about him posted online. Not just liberals, not just libertarians, not just anarchists. Everyone. Further, in response the magazine engaged in civil disobedience and broke the law by revealing the grand jury subpoena and the facts of the inquiry. And two reporters were arrested for it. That's hardly standard journalistic behavior to me.

You don't know what you're talking about.
Phoenix: Breathtaking Abuse of the Constitution
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, October 21 2007 @ 05:49 PM CDT
You disappoint me, Necro. I thought your reading and debating skills would be a little better, yet you spend a whole paragraph of your last post obsessing about how I use quotation marks in a previous comment. For the record, while you did not use the word "corrupt" to describe "Sheriff Joe", you did say the following:

[Sheriff Joe]...doles out kickbacks and shady deals to his allies in town and routinely abuses both his powers and his prisoners.

I'd say the word "corrupt" sums that up pretty well, wouldn't you? Of course, I could have just used that whole passage instead of saying "corrupt", and placed quotation marks around "shady deals" and "abuses" instead, but the meaning would have been the same. Your criticisms of this sheriff are couched in the liberal language of legalism and morality.

Likewise, while you did not say "immigrants' rights" or "freedom of the press" in your first post, are those not precisely the two issues that the entire movement against Sheriff Joe, as detailed in the Phoenix News article, is predicated on? So far in this thread, you haven't offered a single argument that deviates from the standard liberal analysis: this sheriff is "over the top" (implying that some other law enforcement activities are within acceptable limits), he "abuses" his power (as opposed to using it in a responsible manner). You are appalled by the bad food and the living conditions of his prisoners; I am appalled by the fact that he is allowed to keep anyone a prisoner at all. How do you intend to "support" the two journalists, if not by supporting the legal actions being taken on their behalf? By the way, "standard" and "mainstream" most certainly don't mean the same thing. Many mainstream journalists have, at one time or another, shown great courage in exposing instances of official or private malfeasance, and are to be respected for that, but I'm not about to jump on some liberal bandwagon and start collaborating with their efforts to invoke constitutional protections or anything of that sort. As to my "inactionistic ideology" (what an awkward phrase!), you will note what I suggested in my second post:

If anarchists were to protest in Phoenix as anarchists, with a strong, unambiguous anti-State and anti-law enforcement (all law enforcement) message....
Phoenix: Breathtaking Abuse of the Constitution
Authored by: Necrotic State on Sunday, October 21 2007 @ 08:26 PM CDT
Your use of quotes was pointed out because it's a weak and manipulative arguing tactic. I think the point stands given your backing off on the quotations. If you would like to characterize something, feel free to do so. That's what analysis is. But using quotes to do it is disingenuous.

As for liberal attitudes, you have in fact filled in blanks where you have seen fit, to suit your own purposes which, it's amply clear, are not informed by the facts of what anyone here or anywhere is doing about this issue. In fact, it is you that has a pre-set view of what is going on that has nothing to do with reality. This is a failure of analysis and creativity on your part.

Defending immigrants is not liberal. Nor is being concerned with the conditions of prisoners (several of which have included friends of mine). In fact, the conditions in the jails and the immigrant round ups are terrible injustices, but they are also ammunition provided by Sheriff Joe to be used by whoever so chooses. They themselves contain no bias whatsoever. If anything, I would say you're the one bringing some kind of liberal bias to this, since you're the one who is contextualizing it that way. In fact, it's the only way you seem able to analyze this situation.

For instance, you're the one who seems to conflate a concern that justice be done with liberalism. I see no such inherent relationship. Likewise you confuse organizing to keep immigrants out of jail for the mere fact of having broken a law with liberalness. And you also somehow see as liberal the defense of two journalists who broke a law by knowingly defying a grand jury. I think in fact it is you who may have the liberal bias.

As for your advice, I already critiqued it, as it contains nothing but useless rhetoric. If there were to be a protest or some other action (which, I point out again, you have no idea if there has or has not been one, much less what the content of that message has or has not been) against the Sheriff, what would make you naturally think that a group of seasoned, militant anarchists would make arguments couched in liberal terms when they have not before? Certainly the past near decade of anarchist organizing in Phoenix in which I have been involved would not indicate any justification for this fear.

What's interesting to me about your singling out of the immigrant issue is that precisely this issue contains within it the capacity to challenge and undermine liberal assumptions about legality and the so-called justice system. Already we have liberals engaging in direct action that violates the law in defense of those that have, through their actions, violated a basic premise on which the state rests, namely control of borders and immigration. This indicates to me that you have little grasp on the issue of immigration as it is being played out here in the Southwest.

If we want to keep undocumented immigrants and migrants out of jail, which is a good thing, and to weaken the power of the state to regulate their lives and ours, then undermining Sheriff Joe is an important part of that struggle, especially if we can link that issue to his downfall. As I mentioned before, Sheriff Joe is in conflict with local police chiefs here precisely on the issue of immigration and whether local police should have the power to enforce national immigration laws. With him out of the way, so also increases the power of immigrants to continue deconstructing the idea of the border through their actions, and to bring along with them many non-radicals to a position of supporting the undermining of the state's power to enforce borders and regulate the movements of people.

I fail to see how that is liberal. That you think so is a failure of your own analysis not anyone else's.
Phoenix: Breathtaking Abuse of the Constitution
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, October 22 2007 @ 01:57 PM CDT
Finally, Necro, you offer something that looks like a little more radical critique (along with more liberal platitudes). You suggest the following:

...precisely this [immigrant] issue contains within it the capacity to challenge and undermine liberal assumptions about legality and the so-called justice system. Already we have liberals engaging in direct action that violates the law in defense of those that have, through their actions, violated a basic premise on which the state rests, namely control of borders and immigration.

Why precisely this issue? Doesn't any illegal act have the capacity to challenge assumptions about legality and the justice system? Also, I hate to break the news to you, but this is hardly the first time that liberals have engaged in direct action that violates the law in defense of some oppressed group or individual - ever heard of the Civil Rights Movement, the women's suffrage movement, etc.? The people involved in these actions showed great courage and dedication, but the fundamental premises of State and capitalism were not at issue for most of those involved.

I don't know how things are in Phoenix, but an anti-Minutemen protest here in Chicago last year (where immigration policy is also a big issue) was divided into two distinct groups, a smaller crowd of more radical protesters blocking an entrance, and a few hundred Latinos who had been bussed in and were conducting a peaceful demonstration in front of the building, complete with American flags. Needless to say, that second group did absolutely nothing to support the direct action going on elsewhere. Now, I'm not putting down the larger group; after all, it was their issue, and it was up to them to decide how to deal with it. This episode just serves to demonstrate the limited potential of what is primarily a struggle for inclusion in the existing system for radicalising people to the point of challenging the very existence of that system. The immigrants - legal or illegal - who cross the border are looking for jobs; many of them would probably like to become US citizens. Attacking capitalism and the State is the last thing on their minds. The liberals who defend them, whether through political or legal means or direct action, are opposing what they see as a flaw in our political or economic system; they want to fix the system, not bring it down.

You ask, "..what would make you naturally think that a group of seasoned, militant anarchists would make arguments couched in liberal terms when they have not before?" Well, we have one "seasoned, militant anarchist" from Phoenix (you) who has been doing exactly that throughout most of this thread. Instead of critiquing the very existence of a legal or justice system, you have complained about "abuses" of power (as if there were any legitimate use of such power?) Instead of plainly saying that there should be no prisoners or prisons at all, you have focussed on bad food and harsh living conditions (if the food were better and the accommodations more comfortable, would you be less indignant?) You take your stand with the liberal defenders of constitutional rights, rather than rejecting outright the State's (or anybody else's) authority to impose any norms at all on us.

We could easily settle this dispute if you would simply show us some samples of the kind of propaganda that Phoenix anarchists have been disseminating around the "Sheriff Joe" issue; if it is as radical as you say it is, then I will be happy to make a full apology on-line, and say no more about this matter.
Phoenix: Breathtaking Abuse of the Constitution
Authored by: Necrotic State on Monday, October 22 2007 @ 04:13 PM CDT
Uh, Makhno, I got some news for you: this is an anarchist site and I am a long-time anarchist. And not only that, you are certainly familiar with some of my work and analysis. Nevertheless, doesn't it go without saying that I am opposed to the state's prisons and the entire policing apparatus? Duh, dude. Your feigned ignorance about these basic facts is just plain silly. Are you aware of where we're debating?

And I certainly need no lecture from you on the various movements in American history that involved law-breaking. Certainly the immigration debate is complicated and the actors within it have different goals. But that's precisely one reason why radicals and militants participate in movements, to push events and ideas in more radical directions. You cite the Civil Rights movement, among others, but I would refer you to the Abolition movement for a great example of how two totally different groups (abolitionists and slaves), through militant action and patient (and polarizing) organizing were able to bring about a revolutionary rupture in American society. If you wait forever for your perfect movement to arrive, you'll have no say in when and where it does so. And you'll be totally unprepared if it does.

Your defeatist purism chalks up all non-anarchist movements (and most anarchist ones) that do not spontaneously come to the conclusion that anarchist revolution is necessary right now. Sadly, however much you and I may agree that such a revolution is in fact necessary right now, that doesn't change the fact that many more other people don't yet think so. Changing that is the role of the militant, buddy.

As for the importance of the immigration issue (not the only one I work on), I have already explained how the issue contains within it a challenge to the state and, I would add, white supremacy, which is perhaps more important strategically for revolutionaries. It also offers ample opportunities for radicalization not least among them the fact that immigrant workers have a more militant tradition of struggle at home and some in fact have direct experience participating in revolutionary - even armed - movements in Central America. An example of this militance is the wildcat general strike a year or so ago, which never would have been called for by American or white workers.

And, as for other things that have been distributed about Sheriff Joe, I will cite the following, two from my own website and a link to the anti-Sheriff Joe section of the Phoenix Anarchist Coalition's page. Then I will await your apology. These are just a small sample, since Phoenix anarchists have organized for many years against Joe Arpaio.

(1) PHOENIX INSURGENT: Sheriff Joe a hypocrite? Say it ain't so!
(2) PHOENIX INSURGENT: Sheriff Joe's 'techno cops' goes online and Scottsdale's freeway cameras go live
(3) PHOENIXANARCHIST.ORG: Sheriff Joe Blows
Phoenix: Breathtaking Abuse of the Constitution
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, October 23 2007 @ 10:25 PM CDT
Well, your sample web pages don't offer anything more than what you've already said in this thread; they all amount to saying that Sheriff Apaio is a bad guy. There was one especially interesting passage:

In what can only be viewed as a clear victory against Maricopa County's megalomaniacal and power-mad Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the US Supreme Court today refused to hear an appeal of a 9th District Court ruling that Joe cannot broadcast live video of inmates being booked at county jail. The lawsuit was brought by the prison reform group Middle Ground.

So here we have a bunch of "seasoned, militant anarchists" hailing a reformist lawsuit as a "clear victory". This goes along with what I have pointed out several times in this thread, and to which you have yet to give a direct response:

How can someone calling himself an anarchist possibly speak seriously of "abuses" of power, when it is absolutely fundamental to anarchist principles that all forms of legal and political power are inherently unacceptable? The very term "abuse" automatically implies that there are legitimate uses of such power. Your failure to face this issue squarely shows that with this immigration issue, you are simply riding the liberals' coattails, following their lead, adopting their issues and their perspectives. Hardly what one would expect from a "revolutionary" anarchist.

Unless you are prepared to give a real answer this time, I'm done with this discussion.
Phoenix: Breathtaking Abuse of the Constitution
Authored by: Admin on Tuesday, October 23 2007 @ 11:01 PM CDT
You have to use the language that people understand. You have to talk to them where they are at. That might mean that you have to say "abuses of power" or "rights" when there are good anarchist critiques of those words. This is what Chomsky is doing when he writes for and talks to mass audiences. We know that you don't like that, but Chomsky would be far less effective if he toed a purist anarchist line.

I think that it's important to be true to anarchist ideas as much as possible, but that's not a lifestyle and some of us have to interact with the real world.

Chuck
Phoenix: Breathtaking Abuse of the Constitution
Authored by: Necrotic State on Tuesday, October 23 2007 @ 11:55 PM CDT
Maklhno, it's a clear victory because it increases the space in which inmates can operate in the prison to organize, it increases their level of privacy and it narrows the space that Sheriff Joe has to manipulate and attack the power of the inmates. It also provides a victory to inmates who can now use it as an example of successfully challenging their conditions. Plus, it has direct results: the cameras will no longer webcast female inmates peeing and some money will be transferred out of the hands of the Sheriff's department and into the hands of its victims. Now, just because some of these may happen to also be the goals of some liberals or libertarians doesn't mean that an anarchist involved in that struggle is a liberal or advocating liberal positions by recognizing the utility of those victories.

The fact is, those kinds of smaller steps must be taken if you want to build a movement and a revolution. As a minority in a movement, one intervenes where one can. Now, in the case you criticize, would I be happier if those cameras had been removed through rioting and tearing the cameras out? Of course, that would be great. And, in fact I have taken positions supporting rioting prisoners here in Arizona where, for instance, some used the tactic to successfully challenge the policy of shipping them out of state to far off private prisons. But we don't always get the exact struggle that we want, do we (and your constant state of consternation at the world indicates that you know this more than anyone)? And certainly there is no inmate movement to speak of in this county that can advocate riots, much less follow through on them regularly in a political fashion.

On a related note, as with the cameras, I can also think of plenty of ways that I'd like Sheriff Joe to leave office. Sure, one is revolution. While I'm not advocating for a replacement candidate, it cannot be ignored that forcing him from office could very clearly be a victory for many in the county, primarily immigrants, who he is quite legally rounding up every day. These folks cannot vote, so necessarily any movement against him that includes them would not involve voting, for instance, for a liberal candidate (Ha! As if there is such a thing in Maricopa County sheriff's elections!). But, if he is hoisted on his own petard and faces the wrath of outraged residents, that's great. And even better if it limits the ability of the next Sheriff to act as brazenly as Arpaio has. That you can't understand would be mind-boggling if I wasn't already familiar with your brand of defeatist purism, in which you criticize from the safety of the sidelines without ever forcing your ideas to encounter the real world.

Still, let's take your argument to it's logical conclusion. I would love to see you try to organize with prisoners by saying that you are not concerned with their basic living conditions. Or that you are not interested in improving them. Or by telling them that it makes no difference to you whether they are in lock down with no reading material or instead have access to law libraries and free movement without humiliating cameras watching them pee and broadcasting live it on the internet (after all, who needs the law, right?). Instead, you will tell them, that you are only interested in their movement if they organize how you like and adopt the goals that you like. And that they do it right now, without any intermediary steps, learning or radicalization process. You prefer a stillborn movement that fits your narrow ideological view to a real, living one that grows, learns and engages in struggle. Sadly, this is not how real world organizing goes. One may have the goal of eliminating prisons and all police, and certainly advocate for it, but building towards that in real life means taking on those institutions on a variety of levels. One takes the movement one has, find allies within it and advocates for political positions within it, both practical and revolutionary. That's reality, buddy.

I wonder, when you face the injustice system, do you hold to your values, tell the judge to fuck off, dismiss your lawyer and accept your lumps? Perhaps. But I, on the other hand, and pretty much everyone else I know, fight it because being in jail helps no one and I'm not too keen on going back there.

You know, even the specifics of your position on this are totally ridiculous. You keep saying that arguments against Sheriff Joe spying on Arizonans buoys liberals! That's hilarious. What liberals? This is Arizona, dude. We don't have liberals here. Challenges to Arpaio in the electoral process have always come from the right. Likewise, the immigrant movement here is completely void of liberals - and white people generally. The main organizer in the immigrant movement here is a Republican who, interestingly, Arpaio accused of threatening to kill him in cooperation with Minutemen and Mexican drug cartels! Yet again, what we have here is you criticizing from afar something you know absolutely nothing about. As usual, your ideas fall apart the second they encounter reality.

Still there's one more place that you're wrong. It isn't words that make a revolutionary. It's actions. Tell me, Makhno, where have you been putting your revolutionary ideas into practice?

I will take your failure to respond as an acknowledgment of the inapplicability of your purist defeatism to reality.
Phoenix: Breathtaking Abuse of the Constitution
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 24 2007 @ 11:55 PM CDT
You're right about one thing, Necro: I have done absolutely nothing to put my ideas into practice, nor will I ever. Now that we've got that out of the way, let's get back to the situation in Phoenix. From your "revolutionary anarchist" perspective, a victory in a lawsuit brought by a reformist group is a "small step" toward "building a a movement and a revolution". Really? Well, it must not be an anarchist revolution you're talking about, or your statement would make no sense. The reformist group who initiated that lawsuit have made the system work better, not undermined it. They have used the power of the courts, backed by all the enforcement powers of the State of Arizona (which are, in turn, backed by the power of the country as a whole), to correct what they (and you) saw as an "abuse" of power, an "injustice". They have proved to themselves, to the citizens of Arizona, and, perhaps, even to some of the prisoners affected, that the existing legal and political system can be made to work for their benefit.

So there are no liberals in Arizona? That sounds about as reliable as Ahmadnejad saying there are no homosexuals in Iran. In my book, someone who devotes themselves to using legal and poltiical means to struggle for amelioration of what are generally considered social problems is a liberal, whether they are white, Latino, Republican, or whatever. Actually, I have great respect for some liberals like Ralph Nader, Noam Chomsky (sorry, ChuckO), and so forth. Unlike you, they are very clear about what they are doing, and why; they believe in the possibility of effecting meaningful reform through legal and political methods - they see the State as a tool that can be used either for good or ill. It is only some deluded anarchists who believe that they can talk like liberals, act like liberals, devote themselves to working with liberals on liberal issues, and still be "building a movement and a revolution" to oppose the very system they are embracing.
Phoenix: Breathtaking Abuse of the Constitution
Authored by: Necrotic State on Friday, October 26 2007 @ 08:55 PM CDT
Thanks for admitting it, Makhno. The problem is that since you don't put your ideas into any kind of practice you really are in no position to tell anyone how a struggle ought or ought not take place. You don't know if your advice makes any sense at all, which, I can assure you, it does not. So, I'm not sure if we can get it out of the way because it's pretty much the problem with your whole world view and analysis.

As for the situation in Phoenix, you know basically nothing about it, so I'm not sure why it's worth pursuing further. The New Times is not a liberal magazine. It's much more of a libertarian magazine. Our political leadership is not liberal here in the state. We may have a Democrat or two in office, but I assure them that they are not liberals. There are, I suppose, liberals in the anti-war movement here, such as it is, but they are unable to accomplish anything since they are stuck in ritualistic protest in which they refuse to engage in any direct action or to link their struggle against the war to local issues (like immigration). I have, of course, advocated since the anti-war movement started here in Phoenix (September 12th, 2001) that the movement stay direct action oriented, anarchist and linked up to local struggles. But what can one do? They are determined not to rock the boat. Sheriff Joe was actually challenged last time by a guy whose son was a Nazi who was charged with murder. Not that I would vote for a liberal candidate for Sheriff even if there were one (why vote for who's going to send you to jail?). Indeed, that last group that really challenged him in an organized way merged with the Minutemen. Really. Now they love him because he puts immigrants in his jails.

I bring this up not to humiliate you, but to point out what I meant by my statement about liberals here in Arizona. The two daily papers in Phoenix are right wing. The few liberals that there are here are distracted by anti-war reformism and are not engaging with the immigrant movement and mostly just spend their time gentrifying the art district downtown. So, seriously, there is no chance liberals will recuperate the struggle here because there really is no liberal movement here. Nor are their leftist groups here because we have disrupted their meetings every time some commie nut front group shows up in town. Seriously, that you insist that there is a real threat of playing into the hands of the non-existent liberals shows how little you know about political life in Maricopa couty. I'm not sure how else to get this through your head.

I realize that you are not interested in the conditions of prisoners and would just as well see them worsened as bettered, since you're terrified of what you call recuperation, which seems to you to be something associated with liberals (or proximity to them). I admit that recuperation does exist and does happen, not of course merely from the liberals. The anti-war movement is a great example of it. The immigrant movement here might or might not go that way. Currently its leadership is pushing for legal reforms and legislation, which it isn't getting. In fact thing are getting worse, in large part thanks to Sheriff Joe. Despite the current reformist nature of this movement's leadership and stated goals, I engage with that movement regularly.

Why? Aren't I afraid of recuperation? Well, sure, there's always a risk but recuperation is not a set in stone effect that comes from a reformist movement. For instance, I participated in a justice for roofers campaign here in town many years ago that used borderline illegal secondary boycotts to achieve real advances for their largely immigrant workforce through picketing. What lessons did those guys learn? Have you written them off already?

Getting back to the immigrant movement as it is now, first of all, the grassroots is almost always more radical than the base. Second, once the demands of the leadership for reform become revealed as impossible (as they almost certainly are) they will turn to more radical goals and leadership, especially as the repression continues or worsens. New forms of organizing will appear. By engaging with that movement now (and believe me, my comrades and I engage in direct action, not in issue advocacy) and supporting its general stated goals, despite the unlikely chance they will be agreed to by the elite, we are in a position to be there when the discussion of new tactics and ideas begins, as it inevitably will.

You, on the other hand, will be nowhere to be seen when that happens. As a result, you will not see things like the youth attending the rallies and their radical ideas, highly influenced by Zapatismo and anarchism. You won't hear them complain about the politicos who show up to the demonstrations. You won't see that the day labor centers are being organized based on workers control and direct democracy. Fearing recuperation, you will have missed out on some very radical trends just waiting to bust out once the leadership and it's reformist, legalistic program is discredited. Likewise, no one will see you as an ally worthy of listening to when that happens, because you have sat sour-faced on the sidelines just because the language that they may use doesn't fit your narrow, little leftist lexicon of terms approved for use in struggle. Sad, really, but that's where you're heading. The fact that you don't know this is because you have never really participated in a movement.

I'm sorry you're so pissed that I used the word "abuse", but you've really missed the point entirely (unsurprisingly). You're a smart guy (if misguided politically), so even though you come across as something of a one-trick pony (or broken record, take your pick) I trust you can just extrapolate my argument above to the other issues we have discussed (like the prisons). But, hey! Don't worry! When you're in prison and they're webcasting you taking a shit on the internet for everyone to see, I'll make sure to tell the reform group and the sheriff that you would prefer a close up instead. "He thinks what you all do is a waste of time," I'll tell them. I'm sure both will oblige.
Phoenix: Breathtaking Abuse of the Constitution
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, October 27 2007 @ 10:26 AM CDT
You're not too swift at picking up on sarcasm, are you Necro? Well, that's OK, because I have no interest in discussing what I have or haven't done with you. I'm not sure what you mean by not wanting to "humiliate" me, unless you think you might be doing that by displaying your first-hand knowledge of current events and politics in Phoenix. Why should it surprise or humiliate me that you are more familiar with the details of events in your local area than I am? I'm sure I could say the same about Chicago.

Nevertheless, several articles on these matters have been posted on Infoshop, as well as the links you provided to your own propaganda, and you have gone into great detail in this thread, so I have a fair amount of information on which to make my critique, and the situation there, as you have described it, is not so terribly difficult to understand. Where shall I start? You say the following:

I have...advocated since the anti-war movement started here in Phoenix that the movement stay direct action oriented, anarchist and linked up to local struggles. But what can one do?

Well, what you have done is quite obvious. Regardless of what direct action you and your comrades may engage in on your own, you continue to publicly support reformist legal and political measures. You continue to play the leftist/liberal game of issue-oriented political struggle, while downplaying, ignoring, or ridiculing criticism of the theoretical contradictions and practical results of such a strategy.

For instance, you focus on harsh prison conditions, but say little or nothing - in public (or in public writing), where it counts - about the injustice of having any prison or legal system at all. After all, the very definition of a "radical" (let alone anarchist) is one who goes to the root of a problem. You complain about surveillance of prisoners, but, curiously, say nothing about the constant and growing surveillance we are all subjected to in this society (and not just by the State or our bosses!).

Likewise, you protest the oppression of illegal immigrants, yet have little (nothing, really) to say about the oppressive nature of our daily lives. And that, finally, is the most serious problem with your praxis: it is always focussed on some partial, external "issue" - external, that is, to yourself, with your own unique needs, dreams, desires, and relationships. Furthermore, even the people you are trying to help seem rather objectified and impersonal in your discourse: they are less real individuals than categories - "prisoners", "immigrants", "roofers", etc.

Moving on, you have evidently seriously misunderstood my critique, if you think I've been talking about "recuperation". Working with reformists on reformist political issues directly and substantially supports the oppressive State system you assure me that you are opposed to. I repeat, a successful reform campaign reinforces the message that the existing legal and political system can be made to work in a positive way, and that injustice can and should be addressed through the inherently authoritarian mechanisms of the State. I'm glad to hear that there are some radical-minded people out in your area, but constantly engaging with reformists on reformist issues is no way to encourage them.
Phoenix: Breathtaking Abuse of the Constitution
Authored by: WorkingClassHero on Tuesday, June 10 2008 @ 01:50 AM CDT
Sharif Joe is a fascists and racist, making Phoenix into an Orwellian city where any one with brown skin is subject to police harasment and allegations of being "illegal aliens". This is just another notch in his belt of fear mongering, hate mongering, and unconstitutional actions that seem to be taken straight from the Bush administration strategy book. Get rid of the fascist before he completes his task of turning this city into a police state!