Slay The Jabberwock
The Jabberwock, of course, is the modern capitalist / patriarchal / empire memetic-virus that is infecting the global ethnosphere and threatening to exterminate life on Earth.
Why must you slay the Jabberwock?
The same reason you must extinguish your adolescence with authentic adulthood initiatory processes...
Because it will not give way.
Extinction Rebellion, Fridays For Future, School Strike For Climate, Youth Climate Movement, Deep Green Resistance, Stop Ecocide, Decisive Ecological Warfare, and so on, are not a legal conflict. They are political insurgency.
For simplicity, let's pack them all together into one name: '(r)evolution'.
The bad news is:
As ruling systems try to suppress the insurgencies they engage in low-intensity warfare. In other words, we are already at war.
The good news is:
The states don’t know how to win this war.
“No state has ever defeated an indigenous insurgency.” - Jerry Boyle
The 'Jabberwock' is led by psychopathic personalities using 'single-mind' intelligence passing orders down through their hierarchies.
In comparison, the (r)evolution is open-source (leaderless), and uses many-mind (swarm) intelligence, which is nonlinear and which tends to generate an abundance of parallel (unpredictable/uncontrollable) actions.
Therefore, if the (r)evolution persists, the Jabberwock has no chance!
Persistence is enhanced through intelligent understanding of (r)evolution strategies and technologies, thus, this website, in which you will find the following sections:
1. General (R)evolution Strategies
(R)evolution increases the ability of individuals and small groups to accomplish tasks through rapid improvements in decentralized decision making, teamwork, nonlinear strategy, and the use of technology to access global networks.
Many-to-many collaborations enable small groups to radically increase their productivity in protests.
For example, if many small groups disrupt a system by attacking its weak points simultaneously in diverse modalities (such as walkouts, flashmobs, media campaigns, street theater pieces) this can multiply the effectiveness to achieve as much as a 1,400,000 percent return on investment. That is superempowerment.
(R)evolution gains diverse intelligences by remaining leaderless so it can be sourced by the whole swarm rather than by individual leaders.
Through self-organizing its nonviolent noncompliance with what-is-not-sustainable, (r)evolution acts in parallel through a large collection of small, superempowered groups.
These small groups can work together to take on much larger foes (usually hierarchies).
Open-source organizing enables high rates of wildly diverse innovation, increased survivability among the participant groups, more frequent protests, and an ability to swarm targets.
HOW CAN (R)EVOLUTION SOURCE A LONG-TERM SUPEREMPOWERED OPEN-SOURCE INSURGENCY?
A) THE PLAUSIBLE PROMISE
Establish an idea that holds the open-source insurgency together. The plausible promise is composed of:
B) THE FOCO
Every open-source insurgency is ignited by a small founding group, a 'foco' in guerrilla parlance.
The foco sets the original goal and conducts the operation that provides the insurgency with its demonstration of viability.
It's important to understand that in order to grow an open-source insurgency, the foco must follow a simple path:
2. What Is (R)evolution Actually About?
(R)evolution is comparable to what we have seen in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, etc. Remember, these are actions that have already toppled governments.
The big difference between (r)evolution and those other protests is that (r)evolution is not directed at governments. It is aimed at companies, but not just any companies. It's aimed at the banks that own and run the global economy.
(R)evolution is replacing the heart of the global Capitalist system with a new human agenda on the planet.
(R)evolution ignores governments and standard political processes because:
What's the real goal of (r)evolution? It's a recognition that the center of world power doesn't reside in Washington or London or Moscow or Beijing anymore. It's in the executive suites and luxury resorts behind the global corporate hegemony.
(R)evolution dispenses with the middle men (governments) and goes straight after the real power to divest it of whatever credibility it still tries to claim.
The reason we are seeing this movement right now is because Capitalism, the last great ideological system, is in crisis.
This isn't merely a crisis of outcomes (economic depression, financial panic, etc.). It's a crisis of BELIEF.
While people generally believe in the idea of 'capitalism', a critical mass of people now think that the global capitalist system we currently have is so badly run, so corrupt, so terrible at delivering results that it needs either:
A) A complete overhaul, or
B) To be replaced with something new
Which equates to the same thing! Because the Jabberwock cannot be overhauled.
The Jabberwock cannot become anything other than a Jabberwock.
3. Specific (R)evolution Strategies
There is no difference between a person and their absolute responsibility for the consequences of their actions.
The concept that a person’s responsibility is subsumed by the corporation they work for (corporate personhood) or the government they serve (national laws, or the customs of the bureaucracy) or the general they take orders from ('just following orders') is a false paradigm. We live in a responsible universe. You are responsible for what you do or say, or don't do or don't say.
Believing in any false paradigm is still your absolute responsibility.
Believing in this particular false paradigm (the capitalist patriarchal empire - actually 3 false paradigms...) leads to global suicide.
It can help to consciously remember that:
How do you know you are thinking in this particular false paradigm? How can you detect if you are infested with the memetic viruses of the Jabberwock?
Here are some symptoms:
Here is an expample. In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg thought he could have the owners of Zuccotti Park – Brookfield Properties – shut down #OccupyWallStreet early in the morning of 14 October 2011 using the ruse of 'cleaning the park'. He thought he could avoid the consequences of this decision. He was thinking inside the false paradigm.
#OCCUPY perceived the cleaning order as Bloomberg vs. #OCCUPY. One Mind vs. Many Minds. Linear Thinking vs. Nonlinear Thinking. From the very beginning Bloomberg had no chance. (This is true for whatever authority figure tries to subdue or suppress the people united.)
#OCCUPY took immediate actions to delegitimize the complaint that the park was dirty and unsafe. It brings in power-washers, brooms, and mops and as one body deep cleans Liberty Square. They even hired a dump truck! They even offered to let cleaners into the square to clean 1/3 of it at a time!
With the complaint delegitimized, #OCCUPY goes on the offensive. It personalizes the eviction move. It finds Bloomberg. He's at a gala dinner at Ciprianis (a Wall Street restaurant). They surround the restaurant and try to enter it to deliver a petition with 310,000 signatures. Bloomberg hides, departs from the rear. In short order the deputy mayor announces that the eviction is cancelled!
Remember, every situation is unique, but general group-intelligence strategies apply.
Here are some guidelines:
Success story. The flashmob tactic was tried in Panama a couple of years ago by the SUNTRACS construction workers union. With very small groups pre-planted all over the city they drove the police absolutely crazy. Police would show up at location A, the mob would disperse immediately, two text messages and then flashmobs would simultaneously block streets at locations B and C. This worked very well and with much fewer people than #OCCUPY has available.
Encourage multiple #OCCUPY flashmob teams to self-organize and operate in parallel!
Continue to exist.
Logistics are important.
Cold weather is coming fast, freezing your food, water, everything in a few weeks.
People in the (r)evolution will get tougher, but it eventually gets impossible with snow blowing.
Continue to exist, but consider abandoning the parks. Why not do the 'very-small-groups-pre-planted-all-over-the-city-for-flashmobs' tactic from warm apartments? Print an apartment hospitality directory, or put it online, like the Mennonite Your Way Directory http://www.mennoniteyourway.com
It’s time for tribal living.
Become 'Lady Randomfactor'. Many random events that are out of control will wear down and use up the Jabberwock’s resources.
Then become 'Lord Critical Mass'. Except, instead of every Friday, pick one random, unpredictable day (or a couple days) each week to (r)evolutionize with a critical mass of people (meaning, enough people to attract attention and cause an impact).
Five hundred police come out on Monday expecting the crowd from Sunday to still be there, but people have mysteriously vanished and downtown looks like a Police State. By Wednesday there are only fifty police left, and then suddenly thousands of (r)evolutionizers show up there, warm, fed, showered, shaved, and feeling quite chipper, even in the middle of winter.
4. A Taxonomy Of Action by Derrick Jensen
Deep Green Resistance News Service, the 12/04/2019 edition:
A Taxonomy of Action
Excerpted from the book, Deep Green Resistance: Strategy to Save the Planet.
We’ve all seen biological taxonomies, which categorize living organisms by kingdom and phylum down to genus and species. Though there are tens of millions of living species of vastly different shapes, sizes, and habitats, we can use a taxonomy to quickly zero in on a tiny group.
When we seek effective strategies and tactics, we have to sort through millions of past and potential actions, most of which are either historical failures or dead ends. We can save ourselves a lot of time and a lot of anguish with a quick and dirty resistance taxonomy. By looking over whole branches of action at once we can quickly judge which tactics are actually appropriate and effective for saving the planet (and for many specific kinds of social and ecological justice activism). A taxonomy of action can also suggest tactics we might otherwise overlook.
Broadly speaking, we can divide all of our tactics and projects either into acts of omission or acts of commission. Of course, sometimes these categories overlap. A protest can be a means to lobby a government, a way of raising public awareness, a targeted tactic of economic disruption, or all three, depending on the intent and organization. And sometimes one tactic can support another; an act of omission like a labor strike is much more likely to be effective when combined with propagandizing and protest.
In a moment we’ll do a quick tour of our taxonomic options for resistance. But first, a warning. Learning the lessons of history will offer us many gifts, but these gifts aren’t free. They come with a burden. Yes, the stories of those who fight back are full of courage, brilliance, and drama. And yes, we can find insight and inspiration in both their triumphs and their tragedies. But the burden of history is this: there is no easy way out.
In Star Trek, every problem can be solved in the final scene by reversing the polarity of the deflector array. But that isn’t reality, and that isn’t our future. Every resistance victory has been won by blood and tears, with anguish and sacrifice. Our burden is the knowledge that there are only so many ways to resist, that these ways have already been invented, and they all involve profound and dangerous struggle. When resisters win, it is because they fight harder than they thought possible.
And this is the second part of our burden. Once we learn the stories of those who fight back—once we really learn them, once we cry over them, once we inscribe them in our hearts, once we carry them in our bodies like a war veteran carries aching shrapnel—we have no choice but to fight back ourselves. Only by doing that can we hope to live up to their example. People have fought back under the most adverse and awful conditions imaginable; those people are our kin in the struggle for justice and for a livable future. And we find those people—our courageous kin—not just in history, but now. We find them among not just humans, but all those who fight back.
We must fight back because if we don’t we will die. This is certainly true in the physical sense, but it is also true on another level. Once you really know the self-sacrifice and tirelessness and bravery that our kin have shown in the darkest times, you must either act or die as a person. We must fight back not only to win, but to show that we are both alive and worthy of that life.
Acts of Omission
The word 'strike' comes from eighteenth-century English sailors, who struck (removed) their ship’s sails and refused to go to sea, but the concept of a workers’ strike dates back to ancient Egypt...(Read the whole article in this PDF)
5. How To Disarm A Police Officer
These are notes from a video made 11 October 2011 (posted below), featuring Chicago lawyer Jerry Boyle of National Lawyers Guild giving a street workshop to #OCCUPYCHICAGO. It contains valuable legal and strategic information for protesters everywhere. It's an hour long, but completely engaging and well worth watching. It is included below, and also posted at http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/17807926 by Linda Ross.
Police are trained to think within five legal definitions of force:
In an interaction with police, you have the power to determine to what degree of force the situation escalates.
This is a tremendous amount of power.
For example, if an officer speaks to you and you ignore him, you force him to escalate the force he is using with you. He must speak louder or get angry to get your attention.
Therefore, in non-violent (r)evolutionary actions, you can de-escalate force by looking police officers directly in the eyes.
Most police officers already sympathize with (r)evolutionary goals. You can demonstrate compliance with their physical presence and verbal direction by acknowledging them, listening to what they say, and repeating back what you understood (using a 'Completion Loop').
You do not necessarily have to DO what they say, but if you stay in relationship with them, acknowledging them, listening and speaking with them (perhaps even being kind to them) then there is a good chance the force can be kept at the verbal level.
You can also determine whether or not you will be arrested. If you do not wish to be arrested then create it so interactions stay within the first two levels of force. By the time an officer goes to the third level of force - empty hand control - and grabs you by the arm, you are already being arrested.
Police may be tired, angry, scared, or overwhelmed. They may regard dealing with street protests as a distraction from their true work of dealing with criminals.
Being frustrated, they may (unconsciously) wish to escalate the level of force in an interaction so that if they do go to the trouble of arresting you, you will be charged with a higher crime.
For example, police are trained in 'pain points'. If an angry police officer grabs you he may intentionally apply pressure at a pain point causing you to automatically flail about, which on a video would be hard to distinguish from resisting arrest or attacking the officer, which is an automatic felony charge for you. Your flailing is also a good excuse for him to use pepper spray, a knee, or his club on you.
Some people recommend that if you are grabbed you should go limp, but if you do, you will likely be trampled or dragged around and might get hurt.
If you already know a police officer might grab you in a pain point you can prepare yourself to not react aggressively no matter what.
Often, these days, to avoid escalation of force, white shirt police do the actual arresting, with blue-shirt police as their backups.
To disarm a police officer, use the first three levels of force on him before he uses them on you.
For example, at level one: physical presence, to maximize the apparent show of force at a scene, the police may be outfitted in riot gear, head to toe armor, shields, batons, helmets, etc. This is the police officer’s 'power costume'.
Well, you can wear a power costume too.
Consider this, if you wear a suit and tie, the police will have a very difficult time hitting you because blue-shirt police take their orders from people wearing a suit and tie.
If you wear a pink bunny suit, it will look very bad on TV seeing a police officer beating on girls dressed in pink bunny suits.
If you wear a V for Vendetta Guy Fawkes mask with your suit and tie they don’t know what you are. This is powerful.
Using the first three levels of force (presence of force, verbal direction, and empty hand control) on a police officer before he uses it on you, disarms him (or her).
It can look like this: When the police arrive, you scan the group and locate the highest ranking officer. Then, in your suit and tie you smile professionally, make eye contact, hold out your open hands, walk enthusiastically up to the him, shake hands and introduce yourself, “My name is David Applebee. I am a Possibilitator. If there are any problems here, let me know what I can do for you. I’ll be right over there.”
Physical presence, verbal direction, empty hand control. Sweet.
How To 'Disarm' A Police Officer
with Jerry Boyle of the National Lawyers Guild
6. And Hast Thou Slain The Jabberwock?
There's no question that (r)evolutionary groups have done a great job with constructing a foundation for resilient communities in the heart of many of our most dense urban areas.
People are already considerate with each other, despite personal discomforts.
All of this is great and this experience will definitely pay off over the next decade as the global economy deteriorates, panics, and dissolves. Experiencing co-intelligent collaboration at sit-ins and festivals and marches indicates to newbies that resilient communities are possible. Actually they are thriving around the planet beneath modern culture's new radars.
What you can do now is leave the psychopaths behind because you have learned to consciously feel and can, as a result, detect psychopaths at a distance. Then, like a bullfighter, you can hold the red cloth to your side rather than directly in front of your heart... and let them go charging by you.
You can also prove to yourself that there are thousands of thriving parallel-cultures co-existing right now in the global ethnosphere. The marketing that the patriarchal empire does to promote the idea that modern culture is the dominant culture is just that, marketing.
The empire is in rapid decline. It is unsustainable. Just keep letting the empire slide out of your life like a lizard sheds its skin. Make your 3Cell. Bring as many of your friends along as you can.
Trying to fight psychopaths directly triggers their strong suit - stupid weaponized aggressions. It's what they are most afraid of being used on them so they use it on others.
What is even more lethal to psychopath-topped hierarchies is divestment. There are four powerful ways you can divest from supporting the capitalist patriarchal empire (and, by realizing the ways to divest you also identify the ways you support the Jabberwock by not divesting...):
By changing yourself and your life you have already slayed the Jabberwock. Instead of merely surviving in a survival-oriented culture, use your creativity to keep developing next culture lifestyles and connections.
You have heard, "Build it and they will come." Perhaps you have not heard, "If you don't build it, no on even has a chance of coming." So build it, even if it looks like no one is coming.
At the same time, the quicker western civilization Zombie culture is taken down the fewer species will be exterminated, leaving more life on planet Earth to regenerate ecosystems even if humans are gone. If you love life, then support groups like Deep Green Resistance with money and direct actions. Please.
7. How To Manufacture A Tribe
this section was copied from http://villageseed.mystrikingly.com/#a-village-is-a-tribe
How do you manufacture a resilient community that protects, defends and advances the interests of its members? You build a Tribe.
I spell the word 'tribe' with a capital 'T' to mean 'a tribe that has consciously built itself', 'a Tribe that knows it is one of the many possible Tribes that any human being can create and be a part of'.
Most indigenous tribes do not teach 'cultural relativity' so the word for 'person' in most indigenous languages means 'the real people' or 'the human beings', and the word for 'foreigner' means 'the edible ones'.
A Tribe (with a capital 'T') lives in the understanding that the construct the Tribe lives in together is 'bullshit'.
'Bullshit' is a technical term that means 'arbitrary', or 'fabricated out of thin air', or 'very relevant but not true'.
When you have experiential certainty that your own Tribe is a gameworld which you intentionally constructed out of a context, distinctions, thoughtware, Codex, Bill of Wrongs, and Rules of Engagement, then you do not have to go around inflexibly defending your Tribe to the death because you believe that IT IS THE ONE TRUE TRIBE that lives in the ONE RIGHT WAY, like happens in child-level religions.
You just made your gameworld up out of nothing! You are proud to say that it IS bullshit!
Taking ownership of your power to build a Tribe out of nothing, anytime, anywhere, with anyone, gives you the possibility to disidentify with, and reinvent, your gameworld whenever that would become necessary or desired.
This is what makes your Tribe bulletproof.
Human beings have already known this for a long time, unconsciously, in our memetic structure. Tribal organization is the most survivable of all organizational types, being the dominant human cultural form for 99.99% of human history. Like a cockroach, it has proved it can withstand the onslaught of the harshest of environments.
Global depression? Economic collapse? No problem.
Coup? Regime change? No problem.
Inquisition? Cultural cleansing? Democide? No problem.
Climate change and collapse of global ecosystems? Well, don't kid yourself about this. You are one of millions of species of life on Earth, species which are going extinct - which means: killed off forever, never to live again on any planet - at the rate of 200 precious irreplaceable species per day. How long do you think before humans become the next species to go extinct if the fragile ecosystems that created and continue to support us are weakened or gone? Not as long as you might hope...
In the meantime you might want to think about moving out of the city and building a Tribe. I make this invitation in that particular order very much on purpose.
I have tried to 'build a Tribe and then move out of the city' a number of times. Each time we failed. Finally we figured out why. A Tribe that comes together in the city to talk about moving out of the city has already fulfilled its purpose: to be a group that comes together in the city each week to talk about moving out of the city.
That is the purpose of the city-dwellers. They were completely satisfied with the weekly-meeting Tribe. None of them actually wanted to move out of the city. They just wanted to talk about it.
If you are like most people in the 'developed world,' you don't have any experience in a true Tribal organization. Indigenous tribes were crushed in the last couple of Centuries due to pressures from the nation-state that saw them as competitors, and by the marketplace that saw them as impediments.
All you have now it is a moderately strong nuclear family (weakened via modern economics that forces families to split apart to 'earn enough money to survive'), a weak extended family, a loose collection of friends (a social circle of 'Facebook friends'), a tenuous corporate affiliation (as a slave, even if you are a manager or in the board of directors), and a tangential relationship with a remote nation-state (they will chase after you if they detect that you are not paying your taxes). This degree of connection, for many of us, is proving to be insufficient as a means of withstanding the pressures of the chaotic and harsh modern environment.
The solution to this problem is to build a Tribe... a group of people you are loyal to, and who are loyal to you in return. In short, the need for a primary loyalty to a group that really cares about your survival and future success.
To build a regenerative-culture Tribal, you need to manufacture 'fictive kinship', that is, you need to agree on 'the story of who we are together' as a Tribe... a Tribal identity. This is more than a brand. It is more than a 'mission' and 'vision'. Your Tribal identity emerges from the resonance that people feel towards the Bright Principles of your Tribe which provides energetic food that feeds their Being and gives them a real place to deliver the services of their Archetypal Lineage.
Here are some possible new identities to shift into as a story about who you are and what you are doing together to establish a basis for the existence of your next-culture (archearchal) Tribal gameworld:
Fictive kinship is built through the following (see David Ronfeldt's paper for some background on this):
The 300 million strong (R)evolution Tribes of Cultural Creatives seems to be building a stable and recognizable identity. We are experiencing in certain moments the bondedness of fictive kinship.
Our relationships and commitments to each other, and to our future together, are deepening.
Participating in (r)evolutionary gatherings, events, and initiations as your Tribe is a true rite of passage. (R)evolutionary spaces have protocols, customs, and rules of conduct which become apparent as you shift out of a shame-culture into an appreciation-and-personal-development-culture.
(R)evolution is egalitarian and leaderless. It is spread out over different geographies. Given the efforts that have been put in to keep (r)evolution growing, it appears that people have become loyal to the (R)evolution Tribe.
How to slay the Jabberwock? Here is how. If you use your inner Sword of Clarity (and the other 13 Tools on your Toolbelt) to Hold and Navigate Spaces so you live within a set of distinctions that are beyond the comprehension of the Jabberwock, then you leave the Jabberwock behind and it quickly dies of attrition.
We can only go there together.
8. The 'Evolution' Component In (R)evolution
If you look around and ask yourself, "What is the purpose of the Universe?" it does not take long to consider that the purpose of the Universe might be Evolution, particularly the Evolution of Consciousness. Particularly the Evolution of the Consciousness of Consciousness.
During the past 200,000 years, Gaia (the local field of consciousness of Earth) served the Bright Principle of Evolution and evolved a climate and ecological systems that could support a biological form complex enough to become aware that it was aware. Voila! The naked monkey experiment began.
There is great risk for Gaia in making this experiment. The risk is that the naked monkeys would avoid the first two initiations: I am not my body. And, I am not my mind/psychology/ego. As long as we lived in tribes and villages, adulthood initiations were central. Gaia had hope.
But then we invented agriculture which made it possible for some naked monkeys to shift out of living in tribes and start living in hierarchical structures within cities.
The city is a machine of war. This is because a city can no longer grow its own food nor survive with the material resources within the city limits. The city has to have an army that can conquer and enslave the surrounding areas to steal the materials and force the slaves to grow and deliver food to the city. Without that constant flow of food the modern city would die within three days. With war machine hierarchies in place, authentic initiatory processes could be forbidden and adolescents and psychopaths could take over and run the show. This has been human history for the past 6000 years.
Human beings only shift out of adolescence and begin the adulthood journey when forced to go through authentic adulthood initiatory processes. Why must they be forced? Because adolescence is too self-centered and greedy to give way.
Authentic initiations lose 10% of the initiates (read Of Water And The Spirit by Malidoma Patrice Somé). Once identified, psychopaths are never allowed to hold positions of power in the tribe (read Original Wisdom: stories of an ancient way of knowing by robert wolff). Among other things, initiations protect the village from being taken over by psychopaths.
Part of the culture-shift occurring now is the natural emergence of 'archearchy' after matriarchy and patriarchy have run their course.
Archearchy is the culture of archetypally-initiated adult women creatively collaborating with archetypally-initiated adult men. Modern culture knows nothing about archearchy.
Modern culture cannot be 'fixed'. This is because modern culture is not broken.
Modern culture is doing exactly what modern culture is designed to do: transform nature into bank account numbers for the uninitiated at the expense of life on Earth.
Modern culture cannot be changed into archearchy any better than you could eat dollar bills for breakfast.
While modern cultures define adulthood by your physical age, archearchal cultures do not. Archearchal cultures understand that adulthood is a potential, not a given. In archearchy, adulthood is recognized in reality as it emerges step-wise during each successful completion of an authentic adulthood initiatory process.
Modern culture knows nothing about authentic adulthood initiatory processes. Initiations are not given in any modern culture education program, not even at the post graduate level.
In archearchy, the central value is not figuring out ways to get 'profit' for free, possessing properties, owning material goods, cleverly escaping responsibilities by externalizing costs to the environment, 'undeveloped' countries, or future generations. These are recognized as the adolescent values of the uninitiated.
In archearchy, the central value - and the currency of exchange - is authentic adulthood initiatory processes. Transformation is the path.
The Bright Principle of Evolution is once again welcomed into the center of human culture.
I was a police officer for nearly ten years and I was a bastard. We all were.
This essay has been kicking around in my head for years now and I’ve never felt confident enough to write it. It’s a time in my life I’m ashamed of. It’s a time that I hurt people and, through inaction, allowed others to be hurt. It’s a time that I acted as a violent agent of capitalism and white supremacy. Under the guise of public safety, I personally ruined people’s lives but in so doing, made the public no safer… so did the family members and close friends of mine who also bore the badge alongside me.
But enough is enough.
The reforms aren’t working. Incrementalism isn’t happening. Unarmed Black, indigenous, and people of color are being killed by cops in the streets and the police are savagely attacking the people protesting these murders.
American policing is a thick blue tumor strangling the life from our communities and if you don’t believe it when the poor and the marginalized say it, if you don’t believe it when you see cops across the country shooting journalists with less-lethal bullets and caustic chemicals, maybe you’ll believe it when you hear it straight from the pig’s mouth.
WHY AM I WRITING THIS
As someone who went through the training, hiring, and socialization of a career in law enforcement, I wanted to give a first-hand account of why I believe police officers are the way they are. Not to excuse their behavior, but to explain it and to indict the structures that perpetuate it.
I believe that if everyone understood how we’re trained and brought up in the profession, it would inform the demands our communities should be making of a new way of community safety. If I tell you how we were made, I hope it will empower you to unmake us.
One of the other reasons I’ve struggled to write this essay is that I don’t want to center the conversation on myself and my big salty boo-hoo feelings about my bad choices. It’s a toxic white impulse to see atrocities and think “How can I make this about me?” So, I hope you’ll take me at my word that this account isn’t meant to highlight me, but rather the hundred thousand of me in every city in the country. It’s about the structure that made me (that I chose to pollute myself with) and it’s my meager contribution to the cause of radical justice.
YES, ALL COPS ARE BASTARDS
I was a police officer in a major metropolitan area in California with a predominantly poor, non-white population (with a large proportion of first-generation immigrants). One night during briefing, our watch commander told us that the city council had requested a new zero tolerance policy. Against murderers, drug dealers, or child predators?
No, against homeless people collecting cans from recycling bins.
See, the city had some kickback deal with the waste management company where waste management got paid by the government for our expected tonnage of recycling. When homeless people “stole” that recycling from the waste management company, they were putting that cheaper contract in peril. So, we were to arrest as many recyclers as we could find.
Even for me, this was a stupid policy and I promptly blew Sarge off. But a few hours later, Sarge called me over to assist him. He was detaining a 70 year old immigrant who spoke no English, who he’d seen picking a coke can out of a trash bin. He ordered me to arrest her for stealing trash. I said, “Sarge, c’mon, she’s an old lady.” He said, “I don’t give a shit. Hook her up, that’s an order.” And… I did. She cried the entire way to the station and all through the booking process. I couldn’t even comfort her because I didn’t speak Spanish. I felt disgusting but I was ordered to make this arrest and I wasn’t willing to lose my job for her.
If you’re tempted to feel sympathy for me, don’t. I used to happily hassle the homeless under other circumstances. I researched obscure penal codes so I could arrest people in homeless encampments for lesser known crimes like “remaining too close to railroad property” (369i of the California Penal Code). I used to call it “planting warrant seeds” since I knew they wouldn’t make their court dates and we could arrest them again and again for warrant violations.
We used to have informal contests for who could cite or arrest someone for the weirdest law. DUI on a bicycle, non-regulation number of brooms on your tow truck (27700(a)(1) of the California Vehicle Code)… shit like that. For me, police work was a logic puzzle for arresting people, regardless of their actual threat to the community. As ashamed as I am to admit it, it needs to be said: stripping people of their freedom felt like a game to me for many years.
I know what you’re going to ask: did I ever plant drugs? Did I ever plant a gun on someone? Did I ever make a false arrest or file a false report? Believe it or not, the answer is no. Cheating was no fun, I liked to get my stats the “legitimate” way. But I knew officers who kept a little baggie of whatever or maybe a pocket knife that was a little too big in their war bags (yeah, we called our dufflebags “war bags”…). Did I ever tell anybody about it? No I did not. Did I ever confess my suspicions when cocaine suddenly showed up in a gang member’s jacket? No I did not.
In fact, let me tell you about an extremely formative experience: in my police academy class, we had a clique of around six trainees who routinely bullied and harassed other students: intentionally scuffing another trainee’s shoes to get them in trouble during inspection, sexually harassing female trainees, cracking racist jokes, and so on. Every quarter, we were to write anonymous evaluations of our squadmates. I wrote scathing accounts of their behavior, thinking I was helping keep bad apples out of law enforcement and believing I would be protected. Instead, the academy staff read my complaints to them out loud and outed me to them and never punished them, causing me to get harassed for the rest of my academy class. That’s how I learned that even police leadership hates rats. That’s why no one is “changing things from the inside.” They can’t, the structure won’t allow it.
And that’s the point of what I’m telling you. Whether you were my sergeant, legally harassing an old woman, me, legally harassing our residents, my fellow trainees bullying the rest of us, or “the bad apples” illegally harassing “shitbags”, we were all in it together. I knew cops that pulled women over to flirt with them. I knew cops who would pepper spray sleeping bags so that homeless people would have to throw them away. I knew cops that intentionally provoked anger in suspects so they could claim they were assaulted. I was particularly good at winding people up verbally until they lashed out so I could fight them. Nobody spoke out. Nobody stood up. Nobody betrayed the code.
None of us protected the people (you) from bad cops.
This is why “All cops are bastards.” Even your uncle, even your cousin, even your mom, even your brother, even your best friend, even your spouse, even me. Because even if they wouldn’t Do The Thing themselves, they will almost never rat out another officer who Does The Thing, much less stop it from happening.
I could write an entire book of the awful things I’ve done, seen done, and heard others bragging about doing. But, to me, the bigger question is “How did it get this way?”. While I was a police officer in a city 30 miles from where I lived, many of my fellow officers were from the community and treated their neighbors just as badly as I did. While every cop’s individual biases come into play, it’s the profession itself that is toxic, and it starts from day 1 of training.
Every police academy is different but all of them share certain features: taught by old cops, run like a paramilitary bootcamp, strong emphasis on protecting yourself more than anyone else. The majority of my time in the academy was spent doing aggressive physical training and watching video after video after video of police officers being murdered on duty.
I want to highlight this: nearly everyone coming into law enforcement is bombarded with dash cam footage of police officers being ambushed and killed. Over and over and over. Colorless VHS mortality plays, cops screaming for help over their radios, their bodies going limp as a pair of tail lights speed away into a grainy black horizon. In my case, with commentary from an old racist cop who used to brag about assaulting Black Panthers.
To understand why all cops are bastards, you need to understand one of the things almost every training officer told me when it came to using force:
“I’d rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6.”
Meaning, “I’ll take my chances in court rather than risk getting hurt”. We’re able to think that way because police unions are extremely overpowered and because of the generous concept of Qualified Immunity, a legal theory which says a cop generally can’t be held personally liable for mistakes they make doing their job in an official capacity.
When you look at the actions of the officers who killed George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, David McAtee, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, Eric Garner, or Freddie Gray, remember that they, like me, were trained to recite “I’d rather be judged by 12” as a mantra. Even if Mistakes Were Made™, the city (meaning the taxpayers, meaning you) pays the settlement, not the officer.
Once police training has - through repetition, indoctrination, and violent spectacle - promised officers that everyone in the world is out to kill them, the next lesson is that your partners are the only people protecting you. Occasionally, this is even true: I’ve had encounters turn on me rapidly to the point I legitimately thought I was going to die, only to have other officers come and turn the tables.
One of the most important thought leaders in law enforcement is Col. Dave Grossman, a “killologist” who wrote an essay called “Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs”. Cops are the sheepdogs, bad guys are the wolves, and the citizens are the sheep (!). Col. Grossman makes sure to mention that to a stupid sheep, sheepdogs look more like wolves than sheep, and that’s why they dislike you.
This “they hate you for protecting them and only I love you, only I can protect you” tactic is familiar to students of abuse. It’s what abusers do to coerce their victims into isolation, pulling them away from friends and family and ensnaring them in the abuser’s toxic web. Law enforcement does this too, pitting the officer against civilians. “They don’t understand what you do, they don’t respect your sacrifice, they just want to get away with crimes. You’re only safe with us.”
I think the Wolves vs. Sheepdogs dynamic is one of the most important elements as to why officers behave the way they do. Every single second of my training, I was told that criminals were not a legitimate part of their community, that they were individual bad actors, and that their bad actions were solely the result of their inherent criminality. Any concept of systemic trauma, generational poverty, or white supremacist oppression was either never mentioned or simply dismissed. After all, most people don’t steal, so anyone who does isn’t “most people,” right? To us, anyone committing a crime deserved anything that happened to them because they broke the “social contract.” And yet, it was never even a question as to whether the power structure above them was honoring any sort of contract back.
Understand: Police officers are part of the state monopoly on violence and all police training reinforces this monopoly as a cornerstone of police work, a source of honor and pride. Many cops fantasize about getting to kill someone in the line of duty, egged on by others that have. One of my training officers told me about the time he shot and killed a mentally ill homeless man wielding a big stick. He bragged that he “slept like a baby” that night. Official training teaches you how to be violent effectively and when you’re legally allowed to deploy that violence, but “unofficial training” teaches you to desire violence, to expand the breadth of your violence without getting caught, and to erode your own compassion for desperate people so you can justify punitive violence against them.
HOW TO BE A BASTARD
I have participated in some of these activities personally, others are ones I either witnessed personally or heard officers brag about openly. Very, very occasionally, I knew an officer who was disciplined or fired for one of these things.
If you take nothing else away from this essay, I want you to tattoo this onto your brain forever: if a police officer is telling you something, it is probably a lie designed to gain your compliance.
Do not talk to cops and never, ever believe them. Do not “try to be helpful” with cops. Do not assume they are trying to catch someone else instead of you. Do not assume what they are doing is “important” or even legal. Under no circumstances assume any police officer is acting in good faith.
Also, and this is important, do not talk to cops.
I just remembered something, do not talk to cops.
Checking my notes real quick, something jumped out at me:
Say, “I don’t answer questions,” and ask if you’re free to leave; if so, leave. If not, tell them you want your lawyer and that, per the Supreme Court, they must terminate questioning. If they don’t, file a complaint and collect some badges for your mantle.
DO THE BASTARDS EVER HELP?
Reading the above, you may be tempted to ask whether cops ever do anything good. And the answer is, sure, sometimes. In fact, most officers I worked with thought they were usually helping the helpless and protecting the safety of innocent people.
During my tenure in law enforcement, I protected women from domestic abusers, arrested cold-blooded murderers and child molesters, and comforted families who lost children to car accidents and other tragedies. I helped connect struggling people in my community with local resources for food, shelter, and counseling. I deescalated situations that could have turned violent and talked a lot of people down from making the biggest mistake of their lives. I worked with plenty of officers who were individually kind, bought food for homeless residents, or otherwise showed care for their community.
The question is this: did I need a gun and sweeping police powers to help the average person on the average night? The answer is no. When I was doing my best work as a cop, I was doing mediocre work as a therapist or a social worker. My good deeds were listening to people failed by the system and trying to unite them with any crumbs of resources the structure was currently denying them.
It’s also important to note that well over 90% of the calls for service I handled were reactive, showing up well after a crime had taken place. We would arrive, take a statement, collect evidence (if any), file the report, and onto the next caper. Most “active” crimes we stopped were someone harmless possessing or selling a small amount of drugs. Very, very rarely would we stop something dangerous in progress or stop something from happening entirely. The closest we could usually get was seeing someone running away from the scene of a crime, but the damage was still done.
And consider this: my job as a police officer required me to be a marriage counselor, a mental health crisis professional, a conflict negotiator, a social worker, a child advocate, a traffic safety expert, a sexual assault specialist, and, every once in awhile, a public safety officer authorized to use force, all after only a 1000 hours of training at a police academy. Does the person we send to catch a robber also need to be the person we send to interview a rape victim or document a fender bender? Should one profession be expected to do all that important community care (with very little training) all at the same time?
To put this another way: I made double the salary most social workers made to do a fraction of what they could do to mitigate the causes of crimes and desperation. I can count very few times my monopoly on state violence actually made our citizens safer, and even then, it’s hard to say better-funded social safety nets and dozens of other community care specialists wouldn’t have prevented a problem before it started.
Armed, indoctrinated (and dare I say, traumatized) cops do not make you safer; community mutual aid networks who can unite other people with the resources they need to stay fed, clothed, and housed make you safer. I really want to hammer this home: every cop in your neighborhood is damaged by their training, emboldened by their immunity, and they have a gun and the ability to take your life with near-impunity. This does not make you safer, even if you’re white.
HOW DO YOU SOLVE A PROBLEM LIKE A BASTARD?
So what do we do about it? Even though I’m an expert on bastardism, I am not a public policy expert nor an expert in organizing a post-police society. So, before I give some suggestions, let me tell you what probably won’t solve the problem of bastard cops:
Police officers do not protect and serve people, they protect and serve the status quo, “polite society”, and private [corporate] property. Using the incremental mechanisms of the status quo will never reform the police because the status quo relies on police violence to exist. Capitalism requires a permanent underclass to exploit for cheap labor and it requires the cops to bring that underclass to heel.
Instead of wasting time with minor tweaks, I recommend exploring the following ideas:
One final idea: consider abolishing the police.
I know what you’re thinking, “What? We need the police! They protect us!” As someone who did it for nearly a decade, I need you to understand that by and large, police protection is marginal, incidental. It’s an illusion created by decades of 'copaganda' designed to fool you into thinking these brave men and women are holding back the barbarians at the gates.
I alluded to this above: the vast majority of calls for service I handled were theft reports, burglary reports, domestic arguments that hadn’t escalated into violence, loud parties, (houseless) people loitering, traffic collisions, very minor drug possession, and arguments between neighbors. Mostly the mundane ups and downs of life in the community, with little inherent danger. And, like I mentioned, the vast majority of crimes I responded to (even violent ones) had already happened; my unaccountable license to kill was irrelevant.
What I mainly provided was an “objective” third party with the authority to document property damage, ask people to chill out or disperse, or counsel people not to beat each other up. A trained counselor or conflict resolution specialist would be ten times more effective than someone with a gun strapped to his hip wondering if anyone would try to kill him when he showed up. There are many models for community safety that can be explored if we get away from the idea that the only way to be safe is to have a man with a M4 rifle prowling your neighborhood ready at a moment’s notice to write down your name and birthday after you’ve been robbed and beaten.
You might be asking, “What about the armed robbers, the gangsters, the drug dealers, the serial killers?” And yes, in the city I worked, I regularly broke up gang parties, found gang members carrying guns, and handled homicides. I’ve seen some tragic things, from a reformed gangster shot in the head with his brains oozing out to a fifteen year old boy taking his last breath in his screaming mother’s arms thanks to a gang member’s bullet. I know the wages of violence.
This is where we have to have the courage to ask: why do people rob? Why do they join gangs? Why do they get addicted to drugs or sell them? It’s not because they are inherently evil. I submit to you that these are the results of living in a capitalist system that grinds people down and denies them housing, medical care, human dignity, and a say in their government. These are the results of white supremacy pushing people to the margins, excluding them, disrespecting them, and treating their bodies as disposable.
Equally important to remember: disabled and mentally ill people are frequently killed by police officers not trained to recognize and react to disabilities or mental health crises. Some of the people we picture as “violent offenders” are often people struggling with untreated mental illness, often due to economic hardships. Very frequently, the officers sent to “protect the community” escalate this crisis and ultimately wound or kill the person. Your community was not made safer by police violence; a sick member of your community was killed because it was cheaper than treating them. Are you extremely confident you’ll never get sick one day too?
Wrestle with this for a minute: if all of someone’s material needs were met and all the members of their community were fed, clothed, housed, and dignified, why would they need to join a gang? Why would they need to risk their lives selling drugs or breaking into buildings? If mental healthcare was free and was not stigmatized, how many lives would that save?
Would there still be a few bad actors in the world? Sure, probably. What’s my solution for them, you’re no doubt asking. I’ll tell you what: generational poverty, food insecurity, houselessness, and for-profit medical care are all problems that can be solved in our lifetimes by rejecting the dehumanizing meat grinder of capitalism and white supremacy. Once that’s done, we can work on the edge cases together, with clearer hearts not clouded by a corrupt system.
Police abolition is closely related to the idea of prison abolition and the entire concept of banishing the carceral state, meaning, creating a society focused on reconciliation and restorative justice instead of punishment, pain, and suffering — a system that sees people in crisis as humans, not monsters. People who want to abolish the police typically also want to abolish prisons, and the same questions get asked: “What about the bad guys? Where do we put them?” I bring this up because abolitionists don’t want to simply replace cops with armed social workers or prisons with casual detention centers full of puffy leather couches and Playstations. We imagine a world not divided into good guys and bad guys, but rather a world where people’s needs are met and those in crisis receive care, not dehumanization.
Here’s legendary activist and thinker Angela Y. Davis putting it better than I ever could:
“An abolitionist approach that seeks to answer questions such as these would require us to imagine a constellation of alternative strategies and institutions, with the ultimate aim of removing the prison from the social and ideological landscapes of our society. In other words, we would not be looking for prison-like substitutes for the prison, such as house arrest safeguarded by electronic surveillance bracelets. Rather, positing decarceration as our overarching strategy, we would try to envision a continuum of alternatives to imprisonment-demilitarization of schools, revitalization of education at all levels, a health system that provides free physical and mental care to all, and a justice system based on reparation and reconciliation rather than retribution and vengeance.”
(Are Prisons Obsolete, pg. 107)
I’m not telling you I have the blueprint for a beautiful new world. What I’m telling you is that the system we have right now is broken beyond repair and that it’s time to consider new ways of doing community together. Those new ways need to be negotiated by members of those communities, particularly Black, indigenous, disabled, houseless, and citizens of color historically shoved into the margins of society. Instead of letting Fox News fill your head with nightmares about Hispanic gangs, ask the Hispanic community what they need to thrive. Instead of letting racist politicians scaremonger about pro-Black demonstrators, ask the Black community what they need to meet the needs of the most vulnerable. If you truly desire safety, ask not what your most vulnerable can do for the community, ask what the community can do for the most vulnerable.
A WORLD WITH FEWER BASTARDS IS POSSIBLE
If you take only one thing away from this essay, I hope it’s this: do not talk to cops. But if you only take two things away, I hope the second one is that it’s possible to imagine a different world where unarmed black people, indigenous people, poor people, disabled people, and people of color are not routinely gunned down by unaccountable police officers. It doesn’t have to be this way. Yes, this requires a leap of faith into community models that might feel unfamiliar, but I ask you:
When you see a man dying in the street begging for breath, don’t you want to leap away from that world?
When you see a mother or a daughter shot to death sleeping in their beds, don’t you want to leap away from that world?
When you see a twelve year old boy executed in a public park for the crime of playing with a toy, jesus fucking christ, can you really just stand there and think “This is normal”?
And to any cops who made it this far down, is this really the world you want to live in? Aren’t you tired of the trauma? Aren’t you tired of the soul sickness inherent to the badge? Aren’t you tired of looking the other way when your partners break the law? Are you really willing to kill the next George Floyd, the next Breonna Taylor, the next Tamir Rice? How confident are you that your next use of force will be something you’re proud of? I’m writing this for you too: it’s wrong what our training did to us, it’s wrong that they hardened our hearts to our communities, and it’s wrong to pretend this is normal.
Look, I wouldn’t have been able to hear any of this for much of my life. You reading this now may not be able to hear this yet either. But do me this one favor: just think about it. Just turn it over in your mind for a couple minutes. “Yes, And” me for a minute. Look around you and think about the kind of world you want to live in. Is it one where an all-powerful stranger with a gun keeps you and your neighbors in line with the fear of death, or can you picture a world where, as a community, we embrace our most vulnerable, meet their needs, heal their wounds, honor their dignity, and make them family instead of desperate outsiders?
If you take only three things away from this essay, I hope the third is this: you and your community don’t need bastards to thrive.
10. Recommended Further Reading
Deep Green Resistance: a practical manual for building a resistance movement by Aric McBay, Lierre Keith, and Derrick Jensen
Many additional resources are listed at: