Anarchism seems like an excusable folly in the young, but not the old. Nevertheless the most appealing thing about this gathering is the old-timers, people who've been doing this for fifty years and have conncetions back to the original Wobblies or Sacco and Vanzetti. There's something about being connected to an tiny, obscure, yet vibrant thread of history. I can't abide the young punk anarchists for the most part, but the geezers I like. I bought a copy of The Match, an anarchist journal that has been publishing since 1969 and still looks like it's pasted up by hand like old underground newspaper (ah yes, it says "No computers are ever used in this production" -- guess I won't be linking to their website, but they are in Wikipedia). Much to my non-surprise, anarchists seem to spend a good deal of effort arguing with each other -- the guy who publishes The Match, for instance, has no truck with the sort of anarchists who disrupted the WTO in Seattle.
So it's an exercise in fake nostalgia for me, not a serious political movement that I'm going to support. Yet on the same day Mark Danner has a piece in the NYT and a longer version in the NYRB detailing some new torture revelations that have come to light. Essentially, the Bush administration allowed the International Committee of the Red Cross to interview some of its detainees in order to produce:
The result is a document -- labeled "confidential" and clearly intended only for the eyes of those senior American officials to whom the CIA's Mr. Rizzo would show it -- that tells a certain kind of story, a narrative of what happened at "the black sites" and a detailed description, by those on whom they were practiced, of what the President of the United States described to Americans as an "alternative set of procedures." It is a document for its time, literally "impossible to put down," from its opening page:So, this is what states do. Sadly, the transition to a new and presumably more enlightened administration is not going to solve the problem. Anyone for anarchy?
1. Main Elements of the CIA Detention Program
1.1 Arrest and Transfer
1.2 Continuous Solitary Confinement and Incommunicado Detention
1.3 Other Methods of Ill-treatment
1.3.1 Suffocation by water
1.3.2 Prolonged Stress Standing
1.3.3 Beatings by use of a collar
1.3.4 Beating and kicking
1.3.5 Confinement in a box
1.3.6 Prolonged nudity
1.3.7 Sleep deprivation and use of loud music
1.3.8 Exposure to cold temperature/cold water
1.3.9 Prolonged use of handcuffs and shackles
1.3.11 Forced shaving
1.3.12 Deprivation/restricted provision of solid food
1.4 Further elements of the detention regime....
-- to its stark and unmistakable conclusion:
The allegations of ill-treatment of the detainees indicate that, in many cases, the ill-treatment to which they were subjected while held in the CIA program, either singly or in combination, constituted torture. In addition, many other elements of the ill-treatment, either singly or in combination, constituted cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
Such unflinching clarity, from the body legally charged with overseeing compliance with the Geneva Conventions in which the terms "torture" and "cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment" are accorded a strictly defined legal meaning, couldn't be more significant, or indeed more welcome after years in which the President of the United States relied on the power of his office either to redefine or to obfuscate what are relatively simple words.