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cop-out: the signifigance of Aufhebengate


Aufhebengate comes out of the cyber world and on to hard copy!

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The following essay is an example of making a serious criticism, with the sometimes irritatingly detailed recitation of events that that can include. But besides the rigor that has apparently gone into this account, it also raises three topics that are in need of more discussion amongst anarchists: a) the role of academics, b) “soft policing”, what it means and what it looks like, and c) letting friends slide, despite evidence of serious complicity with the state.
We live in a world in which accusations get easier and easier to make, with the concomitant burnout. The state gets more and more savvy about using that against us; cointelpro being only the initial salvo in that direction. The burnout and cynicism that protects us in some ways, makes it hard to gauge accusations that deserve to be taken more seriously. How do we determine if something is serious? And then how do we respond if it is? These are assessments that have to be asked everytime this kind of question is raised, because every scenario is different. But this essay reminds us that they’re important to make, and that what we do is meaningful and worth paying attention to.



the following is from


Whilst the criticisms made here use Aufhebengate as their starting-point (because of the appallingly pathetic nature of the UK “libertarian communist” milieu revealed by this event) it is not necessary to know all the ins and outs of it to be able to understand most of the conclusions developed from it, nor is it really necessary to be that interested in Aufhebengate to find these conclusions useful. It’s simply a matter of recognising an objective event and developing from there…developing our critique of modern cop practice, of academia, of the misery of the UK so-called libertarian communist milieu, of our analysis of the contradictions of friendship and more…

Could there be anything more boring than digging up Aufhebengate again? Only one thing more boring – not digging it up again. It’s the elephant in the room of the “revolutionary milieu” that everyone wants to ignore or pretend was just a mirage and will anyway go away of its own accord so they can carry on as normal. The shit it’s dumped in the corner reeks a stench ignored by blocking out one’s sense of smell and one’s sense altogether. Clearing this up is filthy work, but someone’s got to do it.

So, let’s sum up.

From Millbank to Quebec, via Athens, Tunis, Suez, Oakland, Barcelona and countless other places1, the crowd has confronted the forces of the state with varying degrees of success and failure, of non-violent and violent tactics, over the last couple of years. Ostensibly these outbreaks of class war have been supported and encouraged by the “libertarian communist” section of the supposed movement against capitalism, including those publishing extreme anti-state and anti-commodity theory. So when, in January 2011, the TPTG2, a small Greek group, discovered that John Drury, a significant “theoretician” and long-standing member of the self-styled anti-state communist group Aufheben, had been helping the cops with a divide and rule strategy for the very same crowds that this group ostensibly wanted to contribute to radicalising, they were shocked and sent out, to their English speaking friends in London and elsewhere, requests for some strategy of how to deal with this information. After several months of a combination of mainly indifference and ideological obstacles from some and out and out resistance on the part of people closest to Aufheben as well as the rest of the members of Aufheben, the TPTG and myself publicised (on Libcom Blog and elsewhere) this information on the internet3in October 2011 (see The strange case of Dr.Johnny and Mr.Drury on this site. Open Letter from TPTG and Second Open Letter from TPTG). As a result we encountered a deluge of denial, contorted evasions and the most stupid defences of a clear-cut case of collaboration. The resulting scandal became known as Aufhebengate.

Aufhebengate would have all been over and done with in a couple of days if the Aufheben team had broken with JD and Libcom Blog’s admin, led by Joseph Kay and followed by his faithful lap dogs (Mike Harman, Steven, Ramona, Ed, Jim Clarke, Fall Back etc.), had not then gone on to support Aufheben and JD. The story would have been just about one man from a relatively obscure ultra-leftist theoretical journal, who’d rightly been named and shamed – outed to the movement he leeches off. And that would have been that. A number of other people initially supported Libcon/Aufheben‘s stance then reluctantly and quietly changed their minds (but not a single detail of their social relations), with an air of indifference. When Drury appeared at the London anarchist bookfair a month ago, at the end of October this year, no-one said a thing. If they had realised that just shrugging it all off as a tedious waste of time was an evasion of their own partisan complicity and its history, a way of avoiding any consequential decision, then this follow-up would have been unnecessary.

“…an attachment to abstraction as self-defeating as a drowning man clinging onto his chest full of gold…”

Two big “if“s as it turns out. The failure of “revolutionaries” to deal with something that they could clearly and directly effect, as opposed to, for example, writing about things that they can’t influence very much, indicated an attachment to abstraction as self-defeating as a drowning man clinging onto his chest full of gold. The fact that Libcom admin could justify a cop consultant and lie about those who oppose him, calling them liars, and that this cowardly attitude is acceptable to other “anarchists”, “communists”, or whatever makes a total mockery of their supposed “libertarian” anti-state attitudes. A symptom of utter decay. For them, the “radical milieu” is just like any other family, a cosy set of complacent roles happy to shove that awkward skeleton back in the family cupboard. The social movement that seriously wants to contribute to the supercession of this futureless society needs to seriously confront its recuperators, the enemy within.

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