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After the Attack: New Situation, New Rules

by Alex Saturday, Sep. 15, 2001 at 12:48 PM

In which the author considers how the rules for being an activist have changed due to the attacks.

New Situation, New Rules

The political situation changed this Tuesday, with attacks on America's economic and military infrastructure generating new an entirely new political landscape. This new landscape will be one where jingoism, fear, and hate can be expected to spawn war, racial prejudice of a sort not seen since the fifties, restrictions on our rights, and a whole new set of problems for the left in general, and the anti-globalization movement in specific.

I'll share a couple brief thoughts on the new playing field with you, then make a list of what I see as the new rules for our movement.

First of all, I'm guessing (and it's just a guess) that this attack was not expected. I do think that the Bush White House wanted at the very least a nasty cold war, but I suspect that they had hoped to provoke such a war with China. The idea that anybody would want to get involved in a war in Afghanistan, where incredibly stiff resistance bogged the Russian Army down in an unwinnable war for years is just plain silly.

This probably means that it will be a few weeks before the corporate right gets organized and starts with the serious ass kicking. Hopefully this will give everyone time to figure out how to exploit the situation, or at least get out of the way. Use the couple of days you have before they start exploiting the situation to fix any problems you might have, either in terms of how you might be perceived, or what you might be involved in that could bring the law down upon you.

Second, the situation gives us some new issues and opportunities to focus on:

Would we have been attacked if the elder Bush had sent out armies all the way to Baghdad during the Gulf War? Quite possibly not. Naturally, this makes him a moral coward who has harmed the whole world by his cruel inaction.

What about rebuilding defeated nations after the war. A coalition which began working that issue now could do some very good work making sure that the arrangement isn't too corporate.

And how about those wartime restrictions on our constitutional rights? Bush said, "Freedom itself was attacked... " Fight such restrictions tooth and nail with reference to the above quote. Look for other exploitably bizarre and extreme quotes in the coming week or two.

And the many government departments use that horribly insecure Microsoft OS during wartime. Shouldn't they use Linux? (As a serious geek this is my personal favorite.)

Lead a left wing blood drive.

How 'bout that Orrin Hatch revealing on national TV that we were monitoring Usama bin Laden's radio communications. Loose lips sink ships. Shouldn't he be tried for treason? (This is a great one to discuss on right wing forums. Extra points for finding the exact quote and creating a nice "sound bite" to go with it!!)

I'm sure that other opportunities are out there. Find and exploit them quickly.


1.) Any kind of cooperation or coexistence with the Black Bloc is over.

At this point anyone who gets convicted of throwing a bottle or rock at a demonstration will probably do the maximum sentence. If you're seen as an accomplice, expect the same. The Bloc will be portrayed as blood crazed terrorists from this point forward and be treated as such. If you want to survive, your organization will need to emphatically explain to both the Black Bloc and the police that you clearly understand the new rules. The Bloc is out of any sane movement as of now.

If you're a member of any anarchist group, get out at once. Please understand, I've got nothing against the Bloc, but the situation now precludes these tactics and affiliations.

2.) The police will have to be clearly invited to meetings, social events, and non-violence trainings. (Especially non-violence training.)

This may initially sound like a BAD THING, but remember it is also your chance to educate them. Get together as soon as possible and appoint someone as your liaison to any law enforcement agencies you might be involved with in any capacity. I know this is NOT a pleasant thought, but the police must either be intimately involved with your group or they will see you as part of the Trade Center Destroying Pestilence. Given the political situation, a good rapport with local and (if possible) federal law enforcement might be the only thing that can keep your group safe if things get weird.

3.) You must be respectful of the dead.

Your group's march or activity in DC or any other action in the near future should start with a few moments of silence or a prayer. In DC a big candle light march the night before protests start would be helpful if it can be arranged, as would a well-publicized group donation to any reliable victims fund.

4.) Sorry, no anti-war signs.

There has been too much blood spilled and too much damage done. There WILL BE A WAR AND THERE IS NOTHING any of us can do about it. Going against the war at this point will, while moral, be VERY, VERY FOOLISH.**

5.) Wrap yourself in the flag.

I know it's a despicable tactic, but grit your teeth and do it. You MUST make sure your group is not seen as treasonous. Fly a flag outside your home or HQ. Find a way to describe your group that relates clearly to the current political reality. For example:

"We protest against the World Bank because we believe that their mismanagement creates the social conditions that spawn terrorists. It's much better to keep people from being poor, oppressed and angry in the first place than have to clean up the crushed bodies of innocent civilians. This is George Bush's fault."

Also, make it a point to arrange for blood donation at any actions your group or collective undertakes, particularly DC IMF.

6.) Expect to be spied upon and infiltrated in every way possible.

The FBI, NSA, CIA and the various military intelligence agencies will soon be operating under some kind of special wartime rules, which will give them much broader authority to wiretap, inspect financial records, use listening devices, infiltrate, monitor your e-mail, etc. They will also be given broader authority to use these new powers on domestic, peaceful groups, and they will probably be given a much larger appropriations. Behave accordingly.

7.) Your PC is now your greatest vulnerability.

Don't be surprised if right wing hackers to go after you while law enforcement agencies smile and look the other way. If you're a Windows user go to http://www.grc.com and install the security tools he suggests. If you're a Linux user install a good firewall. Make sure that only your server can connect to the internet. Get rid of modems in any of your other computers. (If you are in the Los Angeles area e-mail me and I'll try to help.) This will not only defend you from attempts to damage you, it will also keep you from attempts to plant files on your machine which appear treasonous or criminal. Grit your teeth and get technical.

8.) Your group's business must now become completely transparent.

Expect the feds to knock on your door and ask to see all kinds of records. Keep them carefully, have them easily to hand, and make sure everything you're doing is legal. If you were not already using encryption, this would be a lousy time to start.

9.) Be respectful of the President.

I really hate this, but I'm determined to bite my lip and take it seriously. He's still a despicable little moron, but don't say so. He's no longer Shrub or "Butterfly" Bush. When the nation is at war you talk nice about the Commander in Chief. You can disagree with him, you can discuss his failings as a war leader in explicit detail, and even dispute his manhood if you're taking a more extreme position than he is, but don't dis the man until he's got a signed surrender in his hand.

There you have it. The rules have changed, and I don't mean they've just changed a little. Three days ago we were playing baseball and now we're playing soccer. Try to make some headway while the right is distracted. Learn the new rules quickly, take advantage of new opportunities, beat the corporate right to the punch and make them huff and puff to keep up with you for a change!

And no running by the pool!!

Please distribute this as appropriate.

** Morally speaking, those who want to speak against the war are correct, but in tactical terms, I can think of nothing worse. Current estimates would seem to say that this attack killed twice as many people as Pearl Harbor, and 95% of them were CIVILIANS. There has been too much blood spilled, to much damage done to an "essential" part of the economy, and too many people have watched too much disturbing footage combined with high power pro-war propaganda. THERE WILL BE A WAR AND THERE IS NOTHING THE ANTI-GLOBALIZATION COMMUNITY CAN DO ABOUT IT.

If we spend our time and energy fighting against the war, we will certainly alienate everyone we want to educate about globalization and "free" trade. We will convince them that we are crazy, soft on terrorists, and foolish. Anti-war protests will be seized upon by the media, branded as traitorous, linked to the anti-globalization movement and used to destroy any credibility we hope to enjoy.

In taking an anti-war stance we'd be in the position of doctors who are fighting the symptoms instead of the disease. The disease is global capitalism, and the institutions of which it is composed. They create war (or take advantage of wars) for their own ends. As "medics" our immediate concern must be the IMF/World Bank meeting. We should make it a point to attack these institutions with all the strength we can muster and avoid discussing the war.

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Thanks Alex, but no Thanks...

by more spine Saturday, Sep. 15, 2001 at 12:58 PM

While I appreicate Alex's suggestions, which I feel are well-thought out at best,

I must say, sorry, but I'm not bending over for nobody...

Spineless liberals can get on their knees if they choose, but as Zapata said,

I'm dying on my feet, thank you very much.

It doesn't matter what activists do, whatever posture they take (I guess you

haven't learned anything from the DNC and Genoa), we're gonna get hit

anyway. We can't bend over just so more people will feel us.

On the contrary, I think this country is already very divided over what's going on

and how to respond. People on the left coast escaped Tuesday's tragedy

unscathed and for this reason they are more skeptical about what's next...

And as for some of your suggestions (let the cops in on our meetings?!) give

me a break....

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by anti-imperialist Saturday, Sep. 15, 2001 at 1:35 PM

Where to even begin. This is probably the most absurd thing I've read since this whole thing started. At least the right wingers have a clear argument. What this post says to me is we need to save ourselves by abandoning our politics. A multi-front ground war is not a game. It will kill and maim at the least thousands (we will be lucky if that is all), possibly millions, and I hate to even think about this but if nukes start getting used billions of mainly brown people in this world. Both in whichever target(s) Bush decides to hit and in the bullet-catcher level of the US military. I for one will never condone vengeance on the civilians of another land. Some of your things are interesting. Blac Bloc probably is done for the time being for people who don't want to immediately spend large amounts of time in jail. But why in the world would we want to invite the police into meetings. That is absurd. If we are going to have any affect on things at all it is not going to be with the help of state security forces. Perhaps your argument is that corporate globalization is still the number one enemy. That's the only way any of this makes sense to me. Corporate globalization has always been an instrument of US imperialism. That is the number one enemy of all people around the world and we should continue to strive to end that, now more than ever. I will not stand by and watch my sisters and brothers around the world die because of some fuck who whips up the flames of hatred, racism and nationalism in order to take political advantage of the horror which happened on Tuesday.

As for wrapping ourselves in the flag. We should remind ourselves that that cloth is a symbol of hate. Now more than ever. It is being used to promote hate against arabs, moslems and anyone else from the middle east. We have a moral obligation to stand against terror, hate, war and murder. Whatever the cost. That's how I see it. We must fight this propaganda, we must do whetever we can to win the hearts and minds of the common people for they are the ones who can bring the coming war to a halt. I'll give you this though. Everything has changed. And if I disagree with your suggestions I definitely agree with the fact that we must think very carefully about everything we do and what the consequences will be. I fear we are quickly moving into a time of horrible repression and terror.

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First post is cointelpro

by Thinker Saturday, Sep. 15, 2001 at 2:42 PM

I believe (but am not certain) that the top post is counter-intelligence by the government or its minions. the post calls for everything from exposing all dissidents to the police (literally!) to supporting the upcoming inhuman war. conclusion: read it carefully and do the negation of what it suggests. Do you want to say years from now "I didn't protest mass slaughter because some fool said it was poor tactics? I didn't support the Black Bloc and others laying down their bodies for the cause because some undercover agent wrote that I shouldn't?" Let's drop this silliness right now.

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Disturbing times

by razer Saturday, Sep. 15, 2001 at 3:18 PM

You may not agree with him on many points, but he is correct on much of it. In times of war, which we are now in, they will not tolerate much protest. You do your cause absolutely no good if you are dead or in jail. We have to think about the future and we need as many people as possible. So we have to go on from this point forward using extreme caution or our family and friends will be reading in the national media about how the police stopped another anti-American radical.

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Yeah, Exactly

by Alex Saturday, Sep. 15, 2001 at 3:30 PM

You've got me exactly right. I AM saying that corporate globalization is the real enemy. But lets treat it a little different. Let's use the disease metaphor.

Corporate Globalization is the disease.

War is the Symptom.

You're the doctor.

If as the doctor you look at the patient, see red spots all over his body and say, "I've got to make these red spots go away!" you're being incompotent. You could be (and would be) sued for malpractice. You'd ruin your credibility with the other doctors. The nurses would talk to you behind you back... You CAN'T make the disease go away by attacking the red spots. You must attack the disease itself.

Protesting against this war is like attacking the red spots. You ruin your credibility.

You must think carefully about how you're going to treat the disease. In fact, you can't even just prescribe your favorite antibiotic and walk away. You must carefully consider the patient's other medical issues. Is the patient diabetic? In that case you can't use medicine A. It interferes with insulin uptake. Is the patient old? You can't use medicine B, it can cause heart trouble in older patients. How far has the disease progressed? Perhaps the patient should be kept in the hospital under close observation, fed a special diet, and given two different IV antibiotics and while taking blood pressure medication.

This last patient is what our country is like right now, with the additional stipulation that our patient is recovering from a severe family tragedy, is clinically paranoid,, has addiction problems, and might attack the nurse at any time.

The patient is also very strong, extremely touchy, and oh yeah - he's a convicted murder who's currently out of jail.

Does that sound anything like our country to you?

YOU MUST, IF YOU HOPE TO TREAT THE PATIENT, THINK CAREFULLY BEFORE YOU ACT, or he'll probably kill you and trash the hospital. You don't confront this patient about his issues right now. You don't tell him he needs to stay off drugs right now. You talk calmly to the patient, listen carefully to his ranting while you nod your head and smile, you explain what you're doing carefully and try to convince the patient that what you're doing, even though the needles hurt, will be good for him in the long run, you try to get him to take a sedative...

So let's review the rules:

1.) Any kind of cooperation or coexistence with the Black Bloc is over.

You don't want the patient to get the idea that you're trying to hurt him

2.) The police will have to be clearly invited to meetings, social events, and non-violence trainings. (Especially non-violence training.)

You don't want the patient to think you're conspiring against him.

3.) You must be respectful of the dead.

Your patient just had a terrible family tragedy.

4.) Sorry, no anti-war signs.

Don't confront the patient about his issues right now.

5.) Wrap yourself in the flag.

Make sure your patient understands that you and he are on the same side.

6.) Expect to be spied upon and infiltrated in every way possible.

Your patient is clinically paranoid. Also, under medical ethics, he's entitled to have his treatment options explained.

7.) Your PC is now your greatest vulnerability.

Computer's don't really translate to this metaphor very well. Sorry.

8.) Your group's business must now become completely transparent.

Your patient is allowed to see his medical records.

9.) Be respectful of the President.

Do you really want to argue politics with your patient right now?

The issue here is to treat the disease. Just maybe, if you make the disease go away, the patient will begin to trust you. Perhaps you can then talk him into rehab or get counseling. Perhaps he can eventually even be convinced to take his medication on a regular basis and stop believing that it's poisen...

And at the same time, perhaps you will begin to get over the frightened feelings which this patient inspires in you. Maybe you'll begin to see his good points, appreciate his company, and enjoy having him around. Perhaps he'll become one of the regular patients in your practice.

Emergency room doctors begin this transformation in themselves and their patients every day. True, it doesn't always take, and sometimes it even backfires... But they accomplish whatever they accomplish because they follow the rules for dealing with crazy patients.

Our country is a crazy patient right now. It's dealing with terrible tragedy, it's paranoid, and is addicted to any hundred substances - oil, for example - you care to name.

One last note. I really get the feeling that you were so angry when you read my article that you didn't read it very well. Keep in mind my the other possibility I brought up - that this attack gives us some openings we didn't have before, particularly if we mobilize quickly to exploit them.



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Interesting, but all wrong in spirit

by ibble. Saturday, Sep. 15, 2001 at 4:33 PM

Whoa, interesting and timely, but all wrong.

there is no need for progressives and people involved in social justice to disappear and change tactics now,

what is needed is only an expansion of respect for difference.

These times are a challenge to our humanity and our real desire to communicate with our fellow humans.

These tactics as represented by Alex are born of fear, not through the knowledge that love and respect bring.

Look, we have a truth among many truths on our side that should be a part of the national (and international discourse) the introspection that America sorely needs and I think is looking for, a part of the "WHY DID THIS HAPPEN?"

Our "movement" has some of these answers and as citizens of an "open country that highlights tollerance and democracy" we ideally have a place at the table.

I have found that I can speak and disagree with people as long as I remain a human being, not an ideologue who is blind to peoples pain, and MY pain as well.

Our disparate organizations have only to keep this in mind an act in an honest way that is void of the bullshit we all see on the Mass Media.

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interesting, but from a wrong point of view

by ibble Saturday, Sep. 15, 2001 at 4:42 PM

Whoa, interesting and timely, but all wrong.

there is no need for progressives and people involved in social justice to disappear and change tactics now,

what is needed is only an expansion of respect for difference.

These times are a challenge to our humanity and our real desire to communicate with our fellow humans.

These tactics as represented by Alex are born of fear, not through the knowledge that love and respect bring.

Look, we have a truth among many truths on our side that should be a part of the national (and international discourse) the introspection that America sorely needs and I think is looking for, a part of the "WHY DID THIS HAPPEN?"

Our "movement" has some of these answers and as citizens of an "open country that highlights tollerance and democracy" we ideally have a place at the table.

I have found that I can speak and disagree with people as long as I remain a human being, not an ideologue who is blind to peoples pain, and MY pain as well.

Our disparate organizations have only to keep this in mind an act in an honest way that is void of the bullshit we all see on the Mass Media.

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Talk hard and then run away?

by Disobedient Saturday, Sep. 15, 2001 at 5:08 PM

I do appreciate the fact that you seem to have given a great deal of thought to the potential outcome of typical protest at this time, but it sounds as though you are asking us to back down at a time when we should move forward. It is a sad state of affairs when Saddam Hussein is the one making sense in the world's political playpen. He stated that the American people are now reaping the thorns sown by their government. That was my belief as well. Once again we have payed in blood and tears for what the government has done to the other people of the world. Now, they are planning to commit more acts of legal terrorism and you are asking us to back down from that. The only thing that has changed now is the increased level of fanatical and mindless nationalism, a horrible yet predictable outcome of such an attack on home soil. While we must now exercise greater caution, we cannot stop. Wrap ourselves in American flags? I think that act would strip any credibility from the purpose of this movement. Let the police into meetings and training sessions? Wouldn't it just be easier to submit a dossier of everyone and save them the trouble? Respect the president? That would confirm the idea that money and power is all you need to be respected. While getting caught or dead is not as conducive as remaining free to act, compromising our principles is a cowardice far more damaging than any vilification the corporates can hand down.

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That Government spy

by See Bush to trial Saturday, Sep. 15, 2001 at 5:36 PM

In a Revolution, conterintelligence plays on the psychological and attempts to take the wind out of your sail.

Will all those cowards who follow the facist Government Occupation Force line enlist in their forces so that (according to pentagoon reports) one in three of them will die in urban combat in US cities.

Sorry government snitch, we do not tolerate your hacking our communications.

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Who's the spy?

by Puzzled Saturday, Sep. 15, 2001 at 5:59 PM

You say you don't tolerate the gov't snitch as a hacker here. Which poster are you referring to?

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Alex the Snitch

by Anti-Fascist Saturday, Sep. 15, 2001 at 6:16 PM

As I told him on another of his posts-TWO WRONGS DON'T MAKE A RIGHT!!!! There is NO EXCUSE for the TERRORIST ATTACK that the Bush regime is now planning to launch! WE MUST NOT BACK DOWN!! This guy is asking us to SUBMIT AND SURRENDER to a government planning to take the law into its own hands IN AN ACT OF VIGILANTEISM!!! The perpetrators of Tuesday's attacks must be BROUGHT BEFORE THE INTERNATIONAL WAR-CRIMES TRIBUNAL AT THE HAGUE TO STAND TRIAL!!!!! That is the ONLY lawful, Democratic and Proper way to punish them!! America is the world's BIGGEST TERRORIST and if Bush goes ahead with his war, then he and his cronies should STAND TRIAL along with the ORIGINAL PERPETRATORS!!!!



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UH take that!!!

by ravah Saturday, Sep. 15, 2001 at 7:04 PM

I can see that the "UNITED" flight meant more than that now.

We might as well start a civil war as well.

Our constituition is being strangleholded.

It is our agreement to stop fighting the government.

I am still just as angry as I was on monday.

Corporate patriot tv brainwashing will not effect me.

The rules have not changed.

The sides that we were once on have changed.

To each his own.

Good luck.

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Civil War is Coming

by clairvoyance Saturday, Sep. 15, 2001 at 7:34 PM

As silly as it may sound, I kind of feel the "independence for California"

sentiment (even if it was only in jest). The last two presidential elections

(including the "selection" of Bush) tells me that this country is severely

splintering, probably into three parts (north, south, and the West).

And I don't share the sentiments of Alex and his spineless supporters.

Activists may have to be a bit more clandestine, but we aren't cringing


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whose rules?

by Michael Balliro Saturday, Sep. 15, 2001 at 7:44 PM

Look, this is the second posting by this character who supposes to have such a wonderful strategic vantage point that he can dispense 'rules' to the rest of us. Let us be clear on how offensive this tone is. Please feel free to not dialogue with the points if you don't agree with the method of distribution. If Alex wants to argue a point of strategy let him take it to an activist meeting and present his case face to face. In this manner he can obtain much needed and immediate feedback on his presention skills. My suspicion is that anytime someone stands up in a group and pretends to tell the rest of us how we should feel about something he is instantly shouted down. In open publishing you note that we can only shout one at a time. Clearly this is NOT an appropriate forum for discussing volitile ideas re: strategy. A more effective writer would find a less offensive way to raise his or her concerns regarding rules for engagement.

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Hear, hear

by Freedom Fighter Saturday, Sep. 15, 2001 at 7:48 PM

Let's join up and see it happen, Comrade.

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California, a new break-away Republic

by Freedom Fighter Saturday, Sep. 15, 2001 at 10:24 PM

clairvoyance, let's keep on the concept and pragmatics of getting California's direct representation at the UN.

This is a bright future.

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I Dare You To Prove Me Wrong!!

by Alex Saturday, Sep. 15, 2001 at 10:42 PM


What I'm seeing here is a lot of name calling and moral outrage. But that's really easy. Why doesn't someone who's more interested in evaluating ideas than calling names take the whole thing into a text editor and create a point by point refutation. We'll see if your logic holds up...

Frankly, I don't think any of you has the intellectual stones to put in the effort.

But if one of you does actually do the work to prove me wrong, why don't you post it as its own thread, so it stays up a nice long time, and we'll have ourselves a good intellectual rumble.


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enough already

by * * * * * * Sunday, Sep. 16, 2001 at 4:15 AM

Alex, your dare and accusation of a loss of intellectual stones (whatever the fuck that is) have indeed moved me to action. Allow me to weigh in on your post with the following:

There is nothing in it that would survive five minutes in a real meeting.

It appears to me that you took a bunch of half-baked ideas, wrapped them up in arrogant rhetoric, arranged them sequentially as if to imply a logical presentation, then posted them on the IMC in order to massage your weak ego and assuage your fear that you really have nothing to contribute. I'm not going to rewrite your dorky ideas. They have already garnered too much attention as it is and are a sad waste of server space.

Sorry I had to indulge you further. For my weakness I am truly ashamed. For my penance I'll now chant twenty anti-war slogans.


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