Prison officers unofficial action spreads

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Red Marriott
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Nov 26 2009 22:10
Irrationally Angry wrote:
I see that you don't dispute my comment that anyone who is uninterested in splitting the ranks of the repressive apparatus of the capitalist state is uninterested in a social revolution. Is that you think that we should only start attempting to do so during an actual revolution?

No - but that splitting is not an ahistorical eternal possibility, it's dependent on particular social conditions and developments - which I don't see present today. And sometimes what is claimed to be an attempt to do so is only an excuse for opportunist recruitment strategies that have nothing to do with creating disaffection. I don't anyway see recruitment to leftist parties as capable of achieving such a split, as they are themselves only wannabe repressive state-apparatuses-in-waiting.

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You clearly haven't been reading this site very closely.

Oh, I have - and stand by my judgement.

Samotnaf
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Nov 27 2009 20:09

Vanilla said:

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there was a former copper in the SWP, and he was sound, he had quit for sound reasons and had a good analysis, probably better than many of his comrades.

.

raw rightly said:

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Its obvious the SP won't have a problem with recruiting cops and screws because they have no problem with cops and screws full stop. The only problem they have with them is that they aren't all in the SP.

The same could be said of the SWP. Of course, vanilla said it was an ex-cop, not an actual one, so it's kind of different from the SP case, though he seems to think joining the SWP was a good thing. What he said might be true of those who pass through the SWP, maybe stay there for a year, but if the ex-cop had really had a "good analysis" and broken with the need for hierarchy, the belief in a Good State and the defence of reified commodity relations, he obviously wouldn't have joined the SWP.

As for the SocialistP - it's logical but it's also a surprise, for me at least, to have the top of the screw Union hierachy in what is officially a far-left party. It would have been unthinkable under Thatcher to have the top of the screw Union hierachy in Militant - for the POA, the government, the official 'opposition' as well as for Militant; posi said that at that time the screws were even more reactionary than now. But this is too easy to say. Sure, screws are more bullied by management than in the 80s (my heart bleeds). Sure, they're under greater pressure (who isn't?). But I think it's more a case of the epoch today being so utterly counter-revolutionary, that there's nothing very much concrete in the way of social contestation in the UK to show how reactionary both screws and the Socialist Party are. On the one hand, a Trot organisation with revolutionary pretensions has no need to put on an appearance of squaring their apparent 'socialism' with having a top screw in their organisation because there are so few prison riots that would show up the contradiction. Though maybe someone could tell me what their stance is when there are riots? I know that one of the leaders of Militant - can't remember - was it Sheridan? - condemned the Trafalgar Square poll tax riot of 1990 and wanted rioters to be grassed up and handed over to the cops, but at least he got a lot of criticism from Militant's rank and file. But would those kinds of grumblings from the base happen today? The screws have no need to show how reactionary they are in practice - they rarely get the opportunity to put down a riot. Under Thatcher, with the riots of '86 and the Strangeway's riot of 1990, plus innumerable other riots, screws' reactionary role was very clear.

As for the various posts insisting that a free society would involve prisons and cops, not one of you have answered an earlier post of mine:

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1.Incarcerating anti-social leftovers of the mad alienation of class society (the ex-cops, ex-screws, politicians, rapists, paedophiles, etc.) all in the same horrible anti-social alienated hellhole is obviously idiotic.
2.If elements of incarceration are necessary they will have nothing to do with the brutal repressive reality of prisons throughout history.
3.To think that we'd call such incarceration a 'prison' is as like calling 'workers' councils' (or whatever term you'd like to imagine the future fantasy society to be) 'the State' or 'the government'. This is not just a question of semantic terms but of a break with hierarchical notions and practices of social control. Killing scum is not the same as capital punishment. Forcible restraint is not the same as prison. A margin of rationing ( where scarcity is not forced by capitalist property relations but comes about because of production differences between different geographical areas) is not money.

Jack thinks he answered it by saying:

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"communist prisons" (I don't really care about the semantics, I doubt whether anyone cares if they're called prisons, rehabilitation centres or any other name) would - beyond the fact that they would be a place where people had broken laws would be forcibly detained - be entirely different to capitalist prisons.

How? How does it help putting everyone we could all agree are obnoxiously anti-social in a revolutionary sense (recalcitrant ex-politicians, rapists, paedophiles, etc) in one institution/building together? And surely if you talk about communist prisons being entirely different from capitalist prisons that's rather like saying the communist State will be entirely different from the capitalist State (haven't we all heard that ideology somewhere?). Obviously in this future (admittedly slim) possibility there will be some way of punishing people who act in ways the community they're part of find insupportable. But it's not just semantics that separates, say, "grounding" a teenage kid from the idea of putting him/her in prison, but a general attitude that you want social relations to constantly experiment with changes that have some healthy result. If we talk about the abolition of the State that also means abolishing specialists in social control, abolishing cops and screws; the task of determining the methods of making it clear to people that certain behaviour is unacceptable will be the task of the whole of the anti-hierarchical community. As Ret Marut said:

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a far more important question is how would such anti-social acts be dealt with within a radical social movement (and how have they been? ...). The lived experience of doing so is likely to provide more answers for the post-revolutionary era than dogmatic ideological positioning from any angle.

If these discussions have any purpose then it's partly to make sense of history and our history with others and of our own history inter-relating with mass history, so as to act in a clearer manner in the future . What punishments have we received or given that we considered changed a situation for the good? What punishments during intense moments of class struggle have changed situations for the good? What punishments are we prepared to mete out to those we consider beyond the pale? For me, prison isn't an answer to any of these.

As for the difference between the army and cops and screws, I think Ret has answered that:

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We rarely, if ever, meet soldiers here in the UK as a repressive force used against class struggle. If we ever have to face soldiers on the streets you can try to subvert them and/or demoralise them (very difficult with a professional army) but if you want to continue to struggle you have to accept that while they act as soldiers they are on the opposite side - otherwise just put some flowers in their barrels and hug them or join the Clown Army.

But no-one who has raised this "but what about your attitude to soldiers?"- type question has bothered to deal with what Ret said, partly because they prefer to deal with abstractions about who is a worker and who isn't without looking at the concrete us and them situations that people find themselves in (as Ret has also pointed out).

An aside:
I must admit to having talked with a screw once (other than the very brief moment I was inside 40 years ago). He turned up at a few 'No War But the Class War" meetings in London 2002. I'd known him fairly well about 30 years previously (we'd distributed a situ-influenced leaflet he'd mostly written), and I'd occasionally bump into him on and off since. After the first meeting he turned up to, he told me he was a screw in a courtroom, been doing it about 6 months if I remember. I was a little astounded as in the NWBTCW meetings he was still clearly influenced by the situationists. Even more surprised when he said he was getting 12 grand a year for the job in London, which seemed to be the minimum wage, possibly less. My feeling was - yes, we're all doing things (or not doing things) now when 30 years previously we would have been, but that's a compromise too far. I found his choice bizarre, though financial desperation can make you do crazy things (I remember reading about someone in Germany in the 30s meeting an old friend and being astounded that he was in the SS; the guy replied, "Well - after 5 years of unemployment they can use me how they like"). The second time I was a bit distant until he told me he'd chucked it in ( after about 6 months ) because he'd tried to organise a strike (over pay) but the other screws were totally wimpy and backed out of it. I suppose a screw in a courtroom is a bit different from a screw in a prison - no barrack mentality. Though I'm not justifying him at least he didn't stay long. The point being...? Well, I suppose there are occasionally exceptions to my rule, "don't talk to screws or cops if you don't want to feel like filth yourself".

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Schmoopie
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Jun 8 2016 12:42

Thread continued from, http://libcom.org/forums/news/wildcat-strikes-belgium-28052016. To put it in context, Richard 1917 reported that amongst other actions of our class, prison officers in Belgium had staged Wildcat strikes in recent days. The opinion was expressed by rat that, 'We really could not give a flying fuck about any prison guards though.'

I retorted: 'And psychiatric nurses, school teachers, parking attendants, park wardens...? All agents of social control, but simultaneously wage workers.' To which I received the reply from radicalgraffiti that I was 'talking shit'.

radicalgraffiti wrote:

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Schmoopie wrote:

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So say so! It is more social.
When I was inside, the cons and remands were definitely my friends but the screws were not my enemies.

really? so they didn't do anything to stop people leaving anytime they felt like it? you and everyone one else was just their for a holiday?

Don't get me wrong! I was fully aware that prison officers are a force of violence used against inmates and that it was necessary for inmates to counter that force of violence with our own; I am not naive. However, to treat each prison officer as your class enemy would be unwise in prison.

radicalgraffiti
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Jun 8 2016 15:24

this thread is 7 years old, you might as well have started a new one

Schmoopie wrote:
Thread continued from, http://libcom.org/forums/news/wildcat-strikes-belgium-28052016. To put it in context, Richard 1917 reported that amongst other actions of our class, prison officers in Belgium had staged Wildcat strikes in recent days. The opinion was expressed by rat that, 'We really could not give a flying fuck about any prison guards though.'

I retorted: 'And psychiatric nurses, school teachers, parking attendants, park wardens...? All agents of social control, but simultaneously wage workers.' To which I received the reply from radicalgraffiti that I was 'talking shit'.

radicalgraffiti wrote:

Quote:
Schmoopie wrote:

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So say so! It is more social.
When I was inside, the cons and remands were definitely my friends but the screws were not my enemies.

really? so they didn't do anything to stop people leaving anytime they felt like it? you and everyone one else was just their for a holiday?

Don't get me wrong! I was fully aware that prison officers are a force of violence used against inmates and that it was necessary for inmates to counter that force of violence with our own; I am not naive. However, to treat each prison officer as your class enemy would be unwise in prison.

i don't know what you mean by "treat each prison officer as your class enemy" here, they are clearly a part of the mechanism by which the ruling class controls the working class. not only that they are one of the most simply oppressive parts. lots of jobs have aspects that are oppressive, but with prison guards thats pretty much there entire function, in what sense are they not the enemies of the working class?

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Schmoopie
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Jun 8 2016 15:42

radicalgraffiti:

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...in what sense are they not the enemies of the working class?

In the sense, and to the extent, that they are a part of the working class. Remember, the context that we are referring to prison officers is not in their compliant role as custodians but as strikers.

Fleur
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Jun 8 2016 15:54
Quote:
In the sense, and to the extent, that they are a part of the working class. Remember, the context that we are referring to prison officers is not in their compliant role as custodians but as strikers.

The cops where I live have been in dispute and have been taking action for months. Are they also part of the working class and in need of our support?

*answer, no they are not.

radicalgraffiti
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Jun 8 2016 16:12
Schmoopie wrote:
radicalgraffiti:

Quote:
...in what sense are they not the enemies of the working class?

In the sense, and to the extent, that they are a part of the working class. Remember, the context that we are referring to prison officers is not in their compliant role as custodians but as strikers.

they are a part of the working class, a part thats function is to oppress other parts of the working class. People need to understand there are conflicting interests within the working class, some of this can be overcome though solidarity, but at a basic level prison guards are at odds with the majority of the working class, that doesn't go away because they are on strike

Fleur
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Jun 8 2016 16:20

Also, let's play one of these things is not like the others:

psychiatric nurses,
school teachers,
park wardens,
prison guards.

Can you pick the odd one out?

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Jun 8 2016 17:08
Schmoopie wrote:
radicalgraffiti:

Quote:
...in what sense are they not the enemies of the working class?

In the sense, and to the extent, that they are a part of the working class. Remember, the context that we are referring to prison officers is not in their compliant role as custodians but as strikers.

That is a pretty extraordinary post. And not in a good way.

factvalue
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Jun 8 2016 17:10
Fleur wrote:
Also, let's play one of these things is not like the others:

psychiatric nurses,
school teachers,
park wardens,
prison guards.

Can you pick the odd one out?

Park wardens.

no1
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Jun 8 2016 17:30
Fleur wrote:
Also, let's play one of these things is not like the others:

psychiatric nurses,
school teachers,
park wardens,
prison guards.

Can you pick the odd one out?

It must be school teachers - psychiatric nurses, park wardens, and prison guards all wear uniforms, right? That's what libertarian communists are opposed to?

factvalue
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Jun 8 2016 17:59

Nah, park wardens. They get paid to lock people out.

factvalue
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Jun 8 2016 21:39
Fleur wrote:
Quote:
In the sense, and to the extent, that they are a part of the working class. Remember, the context that we are referring to prison officers is not in their compliant role as custodians but as strikers.

The cops where I live have been in dispute and have been taking action for months. Are they also part of the working class and in need of our support?

*answer, no they are not.

Incorrect. If cops go on strike then presumably there won't be any cops, therefore they deserve our full support.

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Schmoopie
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Jun 9 2016 08:49

Glad to see no one's lost their sense of humour.

Spikymike
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Jun 9 2016 10:52

factvalue,
Your brief comment re-opens the question of what is meant by 'support' far more adequately argued out in the earlier sections of this thread which hopefully recent posters have actually troubled to read.

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Jun 9 2016 12:46
Schmoopie wrote:
Glad to see no one's lost their sense of humour.

Hey, were you trollin'? If so, you're the nuts. If not you're just nuts, period.

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Schmoopie
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Jun 9 2016 13:10

Noah, you're one crazy beatnik! What does your last remark have to do with prison officers' strike action? I'm bemused.

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The working class is revolutionary or it is nothing

(Marx's letter to J.B. Schweitzer, 1865)

Quoted here: https://libcom.org/library/marx-theoretician-anarchism

Trolling or not, I see from the posts immediately above that we have a difference of opinion. On the one hand we have those that believe prison officers are a part of the working class, on the other hand are those that believe they are not.

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Noah Fence
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Jun 9 2016 15:18

Crazy beatnik! Love it. So you're not trolling then? Wowzers. I just can't see how prison officers can be seen as anything but collaborators and class enemies. But then I am crazy. And a beatnik too! xxx

factvalue
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Jun 9 2016 16:55

Having not read the thread at all before this page, would it not be necessary to encourage any form of dissent in the ranks of screws, pigs, grunts or any other part of the working class which had been paid to kill the other half? In any revolutionary period would it not be necessary to bring such benighted individuals into the light to secure victory? Sorry if this has already come up 'far more adequately' earlier.

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Jun 9 2016 18:41

Noah, I hate screws but that is personal not political.

Quote:
...would it not be necessary to encourage any form of dissent in the ranks of screws, pigs, grunts or any other part of the working class which had been paid to kill the other half? In any revolutionary period would it not be necessary to bring such benighted individuals into the light to secure victory? Sorry if this has already come up 'far more adequately' earlier.

This is close to what I've been thinking this afternoon. And to sow dissent means to break the esprit de corps of the prison service, to show rank and file officers where their interests lie.

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Noah Fence
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Jun 9 2016 18:41
Schmoopie wrote:
Noah, I hate screws but that is personal not political.

Well, as I say, extraordinary.

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Jun 9 2016 19:36
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I just can't see how prison officers can be seen as anything but collaborators and class enemies

Fence, perhaps this will help.

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Jun 9 2016 19:36
Schmoopie wrote:
Noah, I was bemused, I will cease before I become exasperated by your bizarre conversational technique. Good night and write soon.

Blimey, it's hardly a technique, just the inadequate mumblings of an inept dickhead.
I'm doing my best comrade but it appears to be woefully lacking and now you don't want to be my friend. Sob.

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Jun 9 2016 19:59

If that's your best comrade I hate to see you at your worst. I'm happy to be your friend but my primary motivation to post here is not to make friends.

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Noah Fence
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Jun 9 2016 20:09

So what is your prime motivation? Mine is to amuse myself.

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Noah Fence
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Jun 9 2016 20:10
Schmoopie wrote:
Quote:
I just can't see how prison officers can be seen as anything but collaborators and class enemies

Fence, perhaps this will help.

Btw, this won't link.

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Schmoopie
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Jun 9 2016 20:17

To learn of revolution. By the by I am amused and sometimes bemused and sometimes exasperated and insulted but hopefully that makes us stronger.

I can watch the link on my tablet. It is an account of the repercussions of the ongoing strike by prison staff. The commentator describes the situation as approaching insurrectional.

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Noah Fence
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Jun 9 2016 20:19

Ok, I could engage properly on this but I'm in far too silly a mood right now so I'll leave it.

Nymphalis Antiopa
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Aug 3 2020 05:04

ASAB - All Screws Are Brilliant/Beautiful/Brave/Bent/Beyondhope/Bestburiedalive (delete where applicable)

A precursor to this: https://libcom.org/forums/general/acab-true-or-false-29072020