Friday, June 28, 2013

When Did "Free Assembly" Become "Inconceivably Dangerous"?

[Part of the series: 2013 = 1984?]

"The idea of following up their momentary contact hardly crossed his mind. It would have been inconceivably dangerous even if he had known how to set about doing it." (George Orwell, 1984 - p. 16)

An atomized society. Everyone afraid to talk with anyone else (at least about anything important). Just the way the government likes it.

Hurtling through our days, tuning the rest of the world out . . .

In Chicago, we've seen exactly how this works. In September, 2010, Chicago antiwar activists were among 24 raided by the FBI in several different cities. Raids, grand jury subpoenas, and infiltrators have become part of the background noise of the antiwar movement.

One consequence -- fully intended -- of FBI intrusion is to sow fear and suspicion. No meaningful movement to disagree with and protest the actions of our government can form if people are constantly guessing who is (and is not) an FBI informant.

Read more about this at Committee to Stop FBI Repression.

Of course, to whole communities of people, the constant threat of FBI informants and agents provacateurs discourages free association and assembly, and the expression of dissent. Combating the intrusions of the FBI and local law enforcement on communities of color and especially Muslims is being tackled on a national scale by the Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC), Project SALAM, and National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms. The phenomenon of FBI entrapment has now been documented in a new book by Trevor Aaronson, The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI's Manufactured War on Terrorism.

Upcoming in fall 2013 will be a major trial in Chicago: the NATO3. A searingly important part of this trial will be the question of whether the government can use a sweepingly broad Illinois terrorism statute and laws on conspiracy to put a chill on dissent. (For more on this, read the excellent analysis of the case by Kris Hermes: "The NATO 5: Manufactured Crimes Used to Paint Political Dissidents as Terrorists".

The only possible antidote is to intentionally push back against this repression.

Occupy Chicago assembly at "the horse" (Michigan and Congress)


NATO protester with
Veterans for Peace flag

Go have coffee with someone "dangerous."

(Do it today.)

Get hooked up with one or more of the civil liberties organizations mentioned above.

Oh, and one more thing . . .

Read 1984.

Occupy Chicago: "RAISE HELL"

Chicago Coalition to Shut Down Guantanamo: "End Indefinite Detention"

(1984 page references are to the 2009 Plume paperback edition.) 

Related posts

There is an eerie similarity between events in the book Paul Revere's Ride and events in our world today. I'm thinking particularly of how a network of mass resistance springs into action.

(See New World Counterinsurgency: Deja Vu All Over Again)

I've realized that when we ask ourselves, "What is it that we hope people will do?" we must include an element of recursivity: One of the things we want people to do is to involve more people in doing it. In a way, that element of recursivity -- dare I say "evangelism"? -- defines what it means for people to really become part of a movement.

(See Invite More People into Activism! (Pass It Along!) )

Faced with chorus of voices saying, "Isn't it time for you to tone it down? Can't you be more reasonable? What is it you want, anyway?" Jesus kept right on doing what he was doing. And that was a sign to us about how to live our lives . . . .

(See WWJD? Occupy! )