‘To find cracks. To stare down. To keep on… And to provoke…’ – interview with ASBO (May 2020)

We Were asked by some friends to share this interview text; it will appear soon as an audio file and possibly later as a zine; happy reading/listening….

‘To find cracks. To stare down. To keep on… And to provoke…’ – interview with ASBO (May 2020)

DISCLAIMER: This is the first time I have ever done an interview like this, and I am definitely out of my comfort zone! Also, it is important to note that while I wrote ‘Bang-Up and Smash: Women’s Prisons, Bail Hostels and Probation’ as an individual (supported by many patient friends), ‘The Road to Hell Is Paved with Good Intentions: Covid-19, Corbyn and ‘Crisis’ was a collective project. Any comments here on the text are entirely my own random thoughts, and not representative of our whole crew. Also, as I said in ‘Bang-Up’; I am humbly aware that I only had a relatively short sentence with amazing support….so my experience of prison, bail hostels and probation, is very specific, from a (relatively) privileged position. I don’t want my clumsy words to be read as being representative, or imply that I am making assumptions about other people engaging with the prison system.

In Bang Up and Smash you talk about the drugs rehabilitation programme for state-hostages RAPT, you described it as:
“You are not allowed to talk to other prisoners outside the unit (and therefore also have significantly reduced time you are allowed outside). The first for weeks of life on the RAPT unit are called ‘seeking safety’ this establishes you on the wing and programme. Prisoners do not engage with group therapy during this time but do have to attend workshops, and ‘emotional check-ins’. After four weeks, you then start your primary care; which consists of group ‘meditation’, and one and a half hours of group ‘therapy’ every morning, and workshops all together in the afternoon.”

‘Meditation’, ‘emotional check-ins’, ‘occasional exercise’, it seems to me that this may seem all-too-familiar to those on the outside during these days. Do you think the techniques of control which the state employs on incarcerated populations has been employed on the general population of prison island UK? How, if at all, do you think the pandemic ‘emergency measures’ accelerated this tendency?

This is a very good question. The first point I would like to make, relates to the term you use: “prison island UK”. I must say, that I find this label problematic. It has been kicking around for a while, and has always made me bristle, but it seems especially prevalent in these coronal times. I am not implying that the level of police repression and control is not full on. But the phrase “prison island” is problematic to me because it implies some kind of universal and generalised experience of prison (ie. that everyone in in the UK is in a prison -which is not the case) and also is very disempowering (I think it enables people to feel defeated and give up in the face of unprecedented levels of repression).

I can see the logic in the phrase “prison island” but, personally, I think it does a massive disservice to all those incarcerated people who are not only dealing with the general restrictions of lockdown life and the Coronavirus Act, but also the added restrictions specifically related to prisons. Whilst screws “working” during lockdown are to get a £1,700 bonus on top of overtime, people in prison are facing a period of no visits, increased bang up, and no access to things that keep people sane, like exercise. Who knows when this will end. It is certainly not a priority of the Tory government to address this.

Your question highlights an important point, about how techniques and tools use in prisons (and their related institutions: ‘detention centres’/’Immigration Removal Centres’, bail hostels, probation, social services etc) are then often rolled out into wider society (and, as we have seen time and time again, often tools developed within the UK are then copied in other places). This point I think is critical to remember; as many people have no lived experience, or connection to, incarcerated people, so they are often unaware of how many of these strategies of control are being refined behind closed doors.

“Prison, a microcosm inserted into our world but that is denied the possibility to speak” -Juan Jose Garfia, Adios Prision

As an ex-prisoner, what was particularly problematic to me last year was the lack of critical engagement that voting anarchists had in relation to Corbyn’s (and the Labour parties) policies and dogma around police and prisons. This is something that was very important for me to address in ‘The Road’. I think you could say that at times in the text we sounded judgmental (one dear comrade even said arrogant). That certainly wasn’t my intention, and it is a shame if that is the case. If it was spikey, it was from a specific place of rage and hurt, fuelled largely by my personal experiences with the state.

As we highlighted in ‘The Road’, in the run up to the 2019 election, Labour wanted to expand the police force (and the prison system) even more than the Tories. Various Labour members, including Corbyn, publicly called them out on this on numerous occasions. To have many close comrades supporting this implicitly, or willfully ignoring it (trying to blindside me with arguments about the NHS) was particularly challenging. As a side note, it is also interesting that when the ‘Coronavirus Act’ was bought in extending police powers (in the twilight period of Corbyn’s leadership and when Starmer was getting warmed up) the Labour party were calling for a kind of unity coalition with the Tories. I am mentioning this here because I think it relates to a kind of patronising attitude I have felt coming from several friends and comrades, who think that I am maybe too hung up on specifics; or that I am ‘nit picking’ in an unhelpful way in the face of such a catastrophe as Covid-19. I am not an uncaring person, but I am also critical.

To return to your question, it is interesting to reflect specifically on the RAPt (Rehabilitation for Addicted Prisoners Trust) programme that I outlined in ‘Bang-Up’ because, like many ‘recovery’ programmes that follow the ‘12 steps’, it used the language of “disease” (and “safety”) explicitly, (and extensively) as a way to divide the prison population where I was. In the current context of Covid-19 it is both terrifying and fascinating to see how quickly people adopt this dangerous rhetoric. In the mainstream press, when covering the pilot of the NHSX app on the Isle of Wight, there were various anecdotes and quotes of people saying; “it’s ok, we have the app now”; breathing out a sigh of relief that they no longer have to think for themselves about how they relate to the virus…. I think this is an extension of the logic that prison promotes and aggressively enforces… to get people to mindlessly comply; whilst simultaneously offering things like ‘group meditation’ and ‘therapeutic interventions’ as supposedly positive “options” (that are in reality compulsory) to reflect and grow, to become “safe” and “clean”.

“Caring for ourselves doesn’t mean pacifying ourselves. We should be suspicious of any understanding of self-care that identifies well-being with placidity or asks us to perform “health” for others. Can we imagine instead a form of care that would equip each of us to establish an intentional relationship to her dark side, enabling us to draw strength from the swirling chaos within? This kind of care cannot be described in platitudes. It is not a convenient agenda item to add to the program of the average non-profit organization. It demands measures that will interrupt our current roles, bringing us into conflict with society at large and even some of the people who profess to be trying to change it.” -‘Don’t Tell Me to Calm down!’ Crimethinc, 2013 ‘Self Care’

I think this point is especially important today, when we are told constantly to “stay safe”, “do our duty” and the most obnoxious of all “we are all in this together”. It feels recently like people have been drowning in a toxic tide of data; greedily drinking the information fed to us by the government, forgetting that the concept of ‘health’ is just as political as ‘prison’. One pertinent example of the current situation is for example the suspension of the so-called ‘Care Act’ 2014 (and the related development of the ‘Coronavirus Act 2020’.) The combination of these two forms of repression mean that what is classed as a ‘mental health’ condition (and who can ‘diagnose’ it) has been massively broadened, whilst at the same time, people have no legal recourse to challenging these decisions. This is a new phenomenon to many people, but anyone who has spent time inside will know that within the prison system (and it’s related infrastructures), it is the psychologists who wield the ultimate power.

“‘Health’ is a cultural fact in the broadest sense of the word, a fact that is political, economic, and social as well, a fact that is tied to a certain state of individual and collective consciousness. Every era outlines a ‘normal’ profile of health.” –Michel Foucault

Fuck the new ‘normal’! This doesn’t mean that I want people to die. Nor does it mean that I don’t take Covid-19 seriously. But the state has been sharpening it’s teeth on prisoners (and many others) for quite some time in preparation for this, and now is the time to fight back……

LASST. MICH. STERBEN.

mit großem dank an maschinen stuermer distro für die übersetzung.

Wenn man ewig in einem Käfig ‚lebt‘, wenn die Möglichkeit zu sterben Stück für Stück gestohlen wird und die schreckenerregende Realität einer ‚unsterblichen Menschheit‘ jeden Tag ein Stückchen näher rückt, wenn die Kosten dafür, überhaupt zu existieren, sind, dass man durch diese Welt gerade mal am Leben gehalten wird, und wenn jede Möglichkeit auch nur die kleinste Freiheit zu realisieren, die Möglichkeit wirklich zu leben, gestohlen wird unter der Prämisse dich zu beschützen, kann es nur eine Forderung geben, die in dieser alptraumhaften Realität gestellt werden kann…
LASST. MICH. STERBEN.

PDF HIER: lasstmichsterben

Guerra al Estado, no a un virus.

Estamos buscando nuevas historias de la creciente represión, violencia y control estatal que están emergiendo bajo el atuendo de “salvarnos” de este virus; así como todas las historias de rebeldes rompiendo el confinamiento, fugas de las cárceles, ataques a las autoridades, aquellxs que se niegan a estar confinadxs en sus casas, y todos los actos de sabotaje contra la maquinaria de la muerte. El próximo número (si es que existe) será probablemente una documentación de la violencia policial y militar, puestos de control, encierros, y asesinatos así como en las historias de victorias contra esta nueva realidad por nuestro lado. Si tienes alguna historia que aportar por favor contáctanos en: downandoutdistro (@) riseup (dot) net

Nota disuasoria

+Este periódico es el primero de lo que podría convertirse en una colección de reflexiones, intervenciones, llamados a la acción y relatos sobre la propagación el Covid-19 y el fascismo invasor que conlleva.

+Este periódico no lidiará directamente con la naturaleza del virus en sí, ofrecerá soluciones, consejo médico o intentará entrar en narrativas alrededor de la enfermedad.

+Lxs editorxs de este periódico reconocen la seriedad de la pandemia global, y lamentan las vidas perdidas que implica (a excepción de las muertes de políticxs, policías, jefxs, etc.)

+No deseamos ponernos a nosotrxs mismxs o a nuestrxs amigxs en peligro expandiendo este virus, de cualquier modo; creemos en mayor o menor grado que esta epidemia es inevitable.

+Se perderán vidas, como sea ésto siempre ha sido parte de la existencia humana. Lo que NO podemos tolerar es que Estados, gobiernos, corporaciones farmacológicas, y lxs ricxs, etc. tengan el control de qué vidas se perderán, cómo, y dónde.

+Incluso más, como anarquistas, nihilistas, y antiautoritarixs, NUNCA hemos confiado en el Estado, la ciencia médica, o las instituciones que desean constreñir y controlar la vida humana. Pese a que muchxs entre nosotrxs aparenten estar cambiando de bando y obedeciendo a Estados que una vez rechazaron, nos negamos a dicha opción.

+ Si éste es el fin, lo es en nuestros propios términos y los de nadie más.

PDF aquí: spanishcor

Go Outside! Light Fires! Keep a Good Social Distance (from the state)!

Issue II of our ongoing Journal ‘Its the end of the world as we know it….: (Go Outside, Light fires etc) is released today. In this volume of the journal we decided to focus on the varied attacks, rebellions, riots and battles across the world between the state and free wild individuals. We have actively made the choice to not include updates on repression or violence, since we have the impression, these reports are everywhere and all around us and at times become a very stagnating force. We want this second issue to be a provocation to everyone, get out from behind the screen, go out of your home (even if for no reason other than personal satisfaction), and LIGHT. IT. THE. FUCK. UP. This time around, we have been inundated with submissions and nods of things to include and we are happy to say we have many new and original texts, and the first translation into English of a text from the Greek anarchist formation ‘anarchist groups of Night Visits’ who in the last weeks committed a series of arson’s against the personal  properties/homes of a number cops, politicians, and journalists. This issue is comprised of 3 main parts: first Scattered Chronology of attacks and Rebellion which is a day by day rough calendar of different things that have happened between 11th march and 1st of April especially where the writers specifically mention making a connection to Covid 19 or the specific necessity/newness of breaking quarantine. Drawn from counter info sites in four different langues and 3 different continents we hope to put forward the broadest and  widest range of rebellions with which to warm our hearts, 2nd In depth Communiques- which is a section dedicated to longer texts which mix up action and analysis, and finally analysis- In this section we take texts from before and during the outbreak of corona which critique the notion of safety, offer an alternative to the version of the ‘We Are At War’ narrative perpetrated by countless states, and argue the need for an increase in  insurrectional activity in the coming days/weeks/months.

As well as these main parts, the journal also has a brief introduction from the D&O  collective- a correspondence between ourselves and Flower Bomb From the warzone distro, and poetry from our good friend auntie social 🙂

As always we are calling for submissions to this ongoing project; get in touch downandoutdistro(dot)riseup(dot)net PGP available in the ‘contact’ section of the site.

Quotes from the Text:

“We detest the turn-coating, so called anarchists all around us, who are suddenly unquestioningly abiding the states advice, laws, and lock downs. We refuse the prison logic (like all prison logics) and will never trust the state to keep us safe.  The worst Virus is the State”

“Each and every one of us has been turned into a ticking time bomb, a disgusting, diseased, infectious, monstrous, creature who should hate itself and others like it- and keep away from them as much as possible. For those of us already deemed disgusting by society (queers, trans, sexworkers, junkies, HIV positive people etc) this feeling maynot be so new; but now the stigma of the ‘diseased’ is engulfing us all.”

“Police were attacked with stones and bottles and two Iceland supermarket vans were torched outside their depo. Several cars were also smashed and set on fire across the city. Young people are already always under ‘special measures’ by the police -abuse, beatings, harassment, dispersal, special conditions – and rioting and fighting back is the only real solution, not staying in your house and being afraid. Death to the politicians, the police and those who have poisoned this world.”

“The existence of the state is the political component that originates war as we know it.  War is a tool necessary for civilization’s spreading. The need of capitalism for exponential growth is the trigger in wars for resources. The state doesn’t exist to save us from war, it’s the forefather of war instead.”

PDF HERE: Issue II

Quiero matar policías hasta que haya muerto

Traducción de texto ‘I want to Kill Cops Until I’m Dead’ Hecho por unx contribuyente a down & out distro. texto original de Armed and Dangerous Editions (fckcps (dot) blackblogs (dot) org.

 

 

 

 

 

cita del texto:

La destrucción de la policía no requerirá sólo de asesinato en masa, necesitará de una gran deconstrucción, una venganza colaborativa dirigida a aquellxs que han perpetuado la pesadilla del control policial. Significará aparecer en las puertas de holgazanes abuelitos con uniformes de desfile decorando sus paredes y vaciar una 9MM en sus caras.”

“Hacia la aniquilación de la policía y la destitución de la humanidad.”

“Por supuesto, habríamos preferido que estas palabras estuvieran acompañadas de la vital fuerza de una acción, de un ataque, la intensidad de un fuego en la oscuridad, el sonido de una explosión, el girar de una bala en el cañón”

PDF AQUÍ: matar

Liberarnos de ellos (o a traves de ellos)

El texto a continuación es un extracto de ‘Lies: Una revista sobre feminismo materialista’ (volumen 1) escrita por Sky Palace a lo largo de temáticas de luchas en base a la identidad, abolición de la identidad, y comunización. En consonancia con los aportes teóricos del texto, hemos decidido incluir imágenes de grupos que, formados alrededor de asuntos de genero, lucharon por su liberación, mejora de condiciones materiales o la abolición de las categorías que les oprimen. Este fanzine
es parte de “Bootlegs”[1nt] por Down & Out Distro, un
proyecto que aspira a reproducir textos de libros, revistas,
blogs, periódicos, etc, y convertirlos en un compendio de
fanzines de fácil acceso (sin editar los textos en si
mismos). Elegimos textos que portan temas sobre transfeminismos insurreccionalistas, nihilismo queer/abolición de la identidad, crueldad, amoralismo, práctica insurreccional y venganza, y que son presentados como una “colección” que ofrecemos en un esfuerzo hacia construir intimidades/familiaridades con ciertas trayectorias emergentes dentro de la teoría insurreccional- in particular en relación a desarrollos queer y transfeministas en el insurreccionalismo.

[1nt] Bootleg: contrabando, falsificación

Cita Del Texto:

Nuestra visión de la liberación supone no la igualdad de género, sexualidad y raza, sino la abolición de dichas categorías de la identidad como relaciones estructurales que organizan la actividad humana y las dinámicas sociales. Creemos que estas identidades son los nombres de procesos materiales reales del capitalismo – no de algo esencial o salvable dentro de nosotrxs.

PDF AQUÍ: SKYPALACE

War On the State- Not On the Virus

We announce the begging of a new journal; ‘It’s the End of the World as we Know It’- It concerns the Covid-19 virus sweeping through the interior of civilization but not in the way you might expect… We analyze  the consequences of increased militarization, state control, and intervention on our lives. We see this war, as not one against a virus but against the state and all its murderous tendencies. Episode one focus’ mostly on the first signs of the impeding fascism we are all begging to experience on a daily basis- we hope to make more issues- focusing on different aspects of this ongoing conflict…. We have stolen reflections and thoughts from many places, as well as adding our own to the growing body of anti authoritarian literature concerning this pandemic.

We are searching for new stories of the increasing repression, violence, and state control emerging under the guise of “saving” us from this virus; as well as all the stories of rebels breaking the confinement, of prison breaks, attacks on authorities, those denying to be imprisoned at home, and all acts of sabotage against the machinery of death. The next Issue (if it exists) will likely be a documentation of Police and military violence, checkpoints, lock downs, and murders as well as the stories of victories against this new reality from our side. if you have stories to contribute please contact us at:

downandoutdistro at riseup dot net

Quote From the Text:

“We can NEVER trust the state to keep us safe, we can
never trust the state to care about whether we live or die.
All we can trust the state for is the desire to maintain the
broken systems of domination and the religion of the economy.”

“We will build our own measures to protect ourselves, be
they direct conflict: robberies or looting (since most of us
have no access to making money right now and will likely
die of this before we die of any virus), attacks on the
police or surveillance infrastructure, offering food, health
care, and sanitation projects to those most in need, or
providing shelter (such as squats) to those homeless
amongst us who do not have the luxury of quarantining
themselves at home.”

PDF HERE: waronthestate