What happens when the techniques of counterinsurgency, developed to squash small skirmishes and guerrilla wars on the border of Empire, blend into the state's apparatus for domestic policing? In Life During Wartime, fifteen authors and activists reflect on the American domestic security apparatus, detailing the increasing militarization of the police force and the re-emergence of infiltration and counter-intelligence as surveillance strategies, highlighting the ways that the techniques and the technologies of counterinsurgency have been applied on the home front, and offering strategies for resistance.
Includes contributions Kristian Williams, Will Munger, Walidah Imarisha, George Ciccariello-Maher, Beriah Empie, Elaine Brown, Geoffrey Boyce, Conor Cash, Vicente L. Rafael, Alexander Reid Ross, Evan Tucker, Layne Mullett, Sarah Small, and Luce Guillen-Givins.
COINTELPRO to COIN
Claude Marks, interviewed by Kristian Williams and Walidah Imarisha
Marks discusses the continuities and the developments in repression from the Cointelpro era to today.
Repression, Civil Liberties, Right-Wingers, and Liberals
by Chip Berlet
Berlet contrasts the state's approach to addressing challenges from the right with its response to opposition from the left. He then considers the political implications for left movements when the state attacks the right.
Canada's Counterinsurgency Strategy Against Indigenous Peoples
by Zig Zag
Zig Zag shows how its history of colonialism has shaped the Canadian government's strategy of repression.
Part Two: Counterinsurgency and Domestic Policing
The Other Side of the COIN: Counterinsurgency and Community Policing
by Kristian Williams
Williams describes the historical transfer of counterinsurgency theory, strategy, and technique, from the U.S. military to the domestic police and back again. He ends by pointing to the implications for social movements as they encounter and resist repression.
Social War in the Salad Bowl: Counterinsurgency in Salinas
by Will Munger
Will Munger presents a contemporary case study of police counterinsurgency, drawn from his thesis research on the collaboration between the Naval Postgraduate School and the Salinas Police Department.
Gang Injunctions and the Control of Neighborhood Life
by Rachel Herzig
This chapter considers the history of gang injunctions and the effects of their implementation in communities of color. It then details the campaign against the introduction of injunctions in Oakland, California.
Part Three: Security Culture: Recognizing and Subverting Repression
Recognizing Informants and Avoiding Entrapment
by Jenny Esquivel
Esquivel recounts documented cases of infiltration and entrapment, drawing lessons for social movements.
Who needs the NSA when we have social media?
by Evan Tucker
Tucker explains how the state and private businesses use of social media to monitor, track, and disrupt their opponents.
by Josef Schneider
This short paper explains the basic principles of computer security and suggests some simple ways to diminish its effectiveness.
Part Four: Political Offenses and Legal Defenses: Case Studies
The Curious Case of Conor Cash
by Conor Cash and Kevin Van Meter
Conor Cash is one of the only "Green Scare" defendants who is not in jail and there are a number of important reasons for this beyond his innocence. Cash and Van Meter provide a chronology of the case, describe the surrounding environment, and detail the support strategy. They identify lessons for current political organizing in general and political prisoner support work in particular.
Repression to Resistance: How Fighting State Repression Can Make Us Stronger Layne Mullett, Sarah Small, and Luce Guillen-Givins
This paper is an exploration of how fighting government repression and supporting political prisoners can and does open doors for us to advance and connect our movements while we support our comrades. The authors discuss how their own experience organizing around the RNC-8 case led to alliances with other people fighting repression, in particular the Puerto Rican independence movement's struggle to free their political prisoners.
Part Five: Political Prisoners, Politicizing Prisons
White Supremacy and the Prison Crisis: Connecting the Dots
by Beriah Empie
This paper offers a framework for tackling white supremacy within radical currents. It briefly covers the history of white supremacy and explains the ways the prison industrial complex is central to the maintenance of a racist culture.
Political Prisoners and Prisoner Support
by Jenny Esquivel
This chapter outlines both the political necessity and the practical challenges of organizing in support of political prisoners, tracing the steps of a campaign from arrest to trial to long-term incarceration and eventual release.
On Memory and Resistance
by Elaine Brown
This excerpt from Brown’s keynote speech connects the history of the black freedom movement with her work in supporting the 2010 Georgia prison strike, the largest prison strike in US history.
Part Six: Social Science and Social War
Geography, Counter-insurgency and the “G-Bomb”: the Case of México Indígena
by Geoffrey Boyce and Conor Cash
In 2005, geographers from the University of Kansas began a “collaborative mapping” project with indigenous peoples in Oaxaca, Mexico. Dubbed “Mexica Indigena”, this project was presented as a means of defending traditional land claims. Instead, Mexica Indigena was the pilot for a Foreign Military Studies Office program meant to augment counterinsurgency efforts in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Colombia, and elsewhere. This paper explores the implications for military/academic collaboration, professional ethics, and the colonial legacy of geography and anthropology.
Targeting Translation: Counterinsurgency and the Weaponization of Language
by Vicente L. Rafael
Rafael focuses on two prevalent tropes in the discourse of counterinsurgency: the “weaponization” and “targeting” of foreign languages. How is the counterinsurgent notion of languages as “weapons” and “targets” linked to the strategic imperative of deploying translation as a means for colonization? What are the limits and contradictions to the targeting of speech?
Part Seven: Counter-COIN
Countering Counterinsurgency: Strategies, Situations and Tactics
by John Kelly
Kelly argues that counterinsurgency doctrines preemptively define local situations in transvalued, global terms. He examines the antidemocratic roots of the "insurgency" concept, and then tracks the fall, rise, and current status of "insurgency" and "counterinsurgency" metaphors in military theory and practice. Citing examples from his own research in Thailand, Burma, and Northeast India, he outlines the stark consequences of such transvaluation.
Counter-Recruitment as Counter-Counterinsurgency
by Mario Hardy
Hardy places opposition to military recruitment within a framework of broader resistance.
Just Us: Transforming Justice by Building Communities
by Alexis Pauline Gumbs
Gumbs examines crime as a problem for resistance movements, both in terms of its corrosive effects on solidarity and as a source of legitimacy for the state. She then describes some of the ways social movements have addressed this problem, and the politics implicit in interventions outside of the existing justice system.
Capture/Rupture: Insurrectionary Counter to Counterinsurgency
by David Cunningham
Cunningham argues that empire responds to all social conflict with methods of counterinsurgency; and he advocates countering the state with the insurrectionary potentialities that exist in our day-to-day struggles.