Posts tagged United Kingdom

Who’s up for ALLiance in the U.K., SoCal, the midwest, or down in the Dirty South?

Alliance of the Libertarian Left Ad Hoc Global Organizing Committee

ALLies,

Are you yourself, or do you know anybody who is, an individualist anarchist, agorist, mutualist, left-Rothbardian, or otherwise on the libertarian left, who happens to live in or nearby any of the following metropolitan areas?

Are you yourself, or is the ALLy that you know, interested in meeting like-minded people and getting (more) involved in local activism and organizing? If so, please drop me a line with your or their contact information. I have some requests from prospective local organizers who are looking for people to start locals for the Alliance of the Libertarian Left. I would love to be able to put interested ALLies in contact with each other.

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Iatrogenesis

In medicine, the term iatrogenesis refers to a condition in which symptoms or complications are themselves caused by attempted medical treatment or the conditions under which it is administered.

John Perceval, a member of a prominent English family and the son of a former Prime Minister, resigned a military commission in 1830, underwent a conversion to an unconventional Christian sect, and had a break-down while traveling in Scotland and Ireland. His older brother, then a Member of Parliament, took him back to England and had him locked away, against his will, in two private asylums, first in Bristol and then in Sussex. Here are a couple things that he had to say about what he observed during his confinement, as noted by Thomas Szasz in The Manufacture of Madness.

I will be bound to say that the greatest part of the violence that occurs in lunatic asylums is to be attributed to the conduct of those who are dealing with the disease, not to the disease itself; and that the behavior which is usually pointed out by the doctor to the visitors as the symptoms of the complaint for which the patient is confined, is generally more or less reasonable, and certainly a natural result, of that confinement, and its particular refinements in cruelty; for all have their select and exquisite moral and mental, if not bodily tortures.

— John Perceval, Perceval’s Narrative: A Patient’s Account of His Psychosis, 1830–1832. Edited by G. Bateson. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1961. 114. Quoted in Thomas Szasz, The Manufacture of Madness. New York: Harper & Row, 1970. 129.

And:

But when the lunatic doctors say that the presence of friends is hurtful to lunatic patients, they are not aware of the fact—at any rate do not acknowledge it—that the violent emotions and disturbance of spirit, which takes place on their sudden meeting with them MAY arise from their being overcome by a sense of their relations’ conduct toward them, in neglecting and abandoning them to the care and control of strangers, and from the treatment of the doctors themselves. The doctors naturally do not acknowledge this, for if they are acting from stupidity, their pride refuses correction, and will not admit the suspicion of being wrong; if they are acting with duplicity and hypocrisy, they necessarily preserve their character, and cannot in consistency confess that there is any error on their part—who can expect it of them? You cannot gather grapes from thorns. Nevertheless, it is true.

— John Perceval, Perceval’s Narrative: A Patient’s Account of His Psychosis, 1830–1832. Edited by G. Bateson. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1961. 218. Quoted in Thomas Szasz, The Manufacture of Madness. New York: Harper & Row, 1970. 129–130.

After he gained his freedom in 1834, Perceval wrote two narrative accounts of his treatment in the asylums. After being released, he spent the remaining four decades of his life campaigning for the liberty of people labeled as mentally ill, notably founding an Alleged Lunatics Friends Society and leading a petition campaign against the Lunacy Act, which allowed for involuntary commitment and denied involuntary patients the right to challenge their imprisonment in court.

Please note that, today, the shrinks and their flunkies, who continue to inflict on unwilling patients every sort of isolation, restraint, confinement, physical torture, and emotional trauma that the mad doctors of Perceval’s day inflicted — the shrinks and their flunkies who continue to march forward with the same invincible ignorance, using the same involuntary commitments and the same hellhole prison-camp asylums, — the shrinks and their flunkies who, in spite of the lessons clearly taught by men like Perceval, still continue to display exactly no self-awareness or critical insight whatsoever into either the history of their own discipline or the possibility that the phenomena they supposedly study and correct may be at least partially the results of their own coercive treatments — those shrinks and their flunkies, I say, now have the supreme gall to turn around and claim John Perceval, the man who their forebearers imprisoned and tortured, and who spent the rest of his life opposing their forebearers’ exercise of arbitrary and absolute power to imprison and torture innocent people who have been labeled as diseased by doctors or family, as a pioneer … for the mental health advocacy movement.

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You got served and protected #3: preemptive “reasonable force” in Blackburn, Lancashire

(Via Manuel Lora @ LewRockwell.com Blog 2008-06-12: Laughing Too Hard Can Cause You Police Problems, via Roderick Long @ Austro-Athenian Empire 2008-06-12: Reasonable Force.)

Cops in England are heavily armed and trained to be bullies. They routinely shove their way into situations where they aren’t wanted, weren’t invited, and have no business being. They deliberately escalate confrontations in order to stay in control through superior belligerence. They use violence first and ask questions later; they commonly use force to end an argument and then blame it on their victim. They rewrite events using pliable terms like aggressive, combative, and belligerent to conflate unkind words, purely verbal confrontations, or weak attempts to escape a grip or ward off blow with actual threats or violence against the cops, to excuse the use of extreme violence as retaliation for mouthing off or not just laying down and taking it like an upstanding citizen. They invariably pass off even the most egregious forms of violence against harmless people as self-defense or as the necessary means to accomplish a completely unnecessary goal.

Consider, for example, what happened in Blackburn, Lancashire, when Christopher Cocker fell off the couch (from laughing at a comedy program), and a neighbor, not knowing what caused the thud, called the cops to check in on him. The cops showed up; he came to the door, thus demonstrating that the cops, happily, didn’t have an emergency to deal with after all; rather than leaving, they demanded his name and started asking personal questions. He said some unkind words and tried to shut the door; so they sprayed him with parva spray, forced their way in, beat him up, restrained him, stripped him naked, threw him in a cage, and then, to crown all, called his behavior aggressive and charged him with resisting a bullying cop who had no reason to arrest him to begin with.

Officers arrived and said Cocker was initially co-operative but became aggressive when they asked his name and tried to shut his front door.

He was eventually disabled with parva spray through the gap and arrested.

Jonathan Taylor, defending, said: The officer accepts in his statement that he struck my client and then sprayed him again.

He was handcuffed and unceremoniously thrown into the back of a police van. When he ended up in a police cell he was asking himself how all this had happened.

Mr Taylor told Blackburn Magistrates’ Court, Lancs., said that having informed the police he was the only one in the flat and he was fine, his client could not understand why they wanted his details.

. . . Cocker, of Blackburn, Lancs., pleaded guilty to resisting a police officer and was given a conditional discharge for six months following the incident on May 20.

A charge of assaulting PC Michael Davies was withdrawn.

Speaking after the hearing, Cocker said he had been in his flat minding his own business.

He said: I can’t believe it - I was thrown in the back of a police van before being stripped naked and put in a cell.

I was handcuffed behind my back and my ankles bound with plastic ties before six of them carried me to the van.

. . . Prosecutor Alex Mann said the police went to ensure everything was all right and spoke to Cocker who was co-operative and relaxed and he assured the officers everything was fine.

He only became worked up when the police asked for his details, said Mrs Mann.

The police tried to explain they just needed the name for the report but he became aggressive and started swearing at the officer.

After the hearing Joan Codling, 57, who lives in the flat below and made the call to police, said she contacted officers after being concerned that he may have fallen ill.

She said: I was worried in case he was having an epileptic fit. There was a lot of noise and I didn’t know what to do so I called the police.

A police spokesman said Cocker became aggressive towards the officers who feared for their own safety.

The spokesman said: Parva spray was used to stop any confrontation and was necessary to protect the officers and any members of the public who were around at the time.

Within the circumstances, we feel we used reasonable force.

— Daily Mail (2008-06-11): The man who fell off a sofa while laughing at Have I Got News For You - and ended up in court

Your idea of reasonable force may be different from theirs. But what do they care? They have the spray and the cuffs. You don’t. So please note the following, if you happen to be in England:

  1. If government cops show up to see whether you are O.K., and it turns out that you really are O.K. and they don’t need to be there, they will still feel free to use violence in order to force you to give them all the details they need for their stupid government paperwork.

  2. Swearing at a government cop is considered an act of aggression that merits massive force, including torture with toxic chemicals, beating, and physical restraint as a defense.

  3. Trying to back out of the confrontation and shut the door on a government cop, who is putatively there to check on whether you’re O.K. and help you out, is also considered an act of aggression that merits torture, beating, restraint, &c. as a defense.

  4. If you become verbally aggressive towards government cops, they will consider it a reasonable use of force to torture, beat, restrain, &c. you as a preemptive strike against the possibility of any confrontation, even if you have given no evidence at all of wanting anything other than to be left in peace.

  5. No matter how obviously harmless you may be, no matter how obviously needless the government cops’ presence may be, and no matter how outrageously over-the-top the violence used against you may be, when a gang of cops serves and protects the hell out of you, they can count on newspaper stories to repeated absolutely any excuse their government cronies offer, with a straight face and as the last word of the article, and to report their thuggery as little more than a isn’t-that-funny sort of human interest story — rather than as what it is, i.e. a gang of thugs flipping out, in a fit of pique, and torturing and terrorizing an innocent and completely harmless man, who they were supposedly there to check in on and help out.

If you’re baffled that cops could get away with these kind of outrages, it may help to remember that in cities throughout Europe and America, there is no such thing as a civil police force anymore. What we have would be better described as thuggish paramilitary units occupying what they regard as hostile territory. Here as elsewhere, they are going to serve and protect us, whether we want them to or not, and if we don’t like it then they’ve got a small arsenal of guns and truncheons and cuffs and chemical weapons in order to make sure we get good and protected anyway.

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Perpetual state of supervision

I first heard about this thanks to an entry in Reason’s March 2008 Brickbats column.

TEENAGERS who refuse to work, attend training or go to school are to be issued with on the spot fines under government proposals. Any who still fail to comply would then be taken to court where they could face further penalties.

The measures are designed to enforce a new law which will be outlined in this week’s Queen’s speech. It will say that all teenagers must remain in education, training or employment until they are 18.

The change will be phased in by raising the age to 17 in 2013 and to 18 in 2015. Details of the new age of participation will be outlined by Ed Balls, the children’s secretary, in a television interview today and in a speech tomorrow.

The new law will effectively outlaw Neets, teenagers and young people who are not in education, employment or training. In a speech to the Fabian Society tomorrow, Balls will put the proportion of Neets at about 10% of 16 to 18-year-olds.

On today’s Sunday Programme on GMTV, he will argue that the change is the biggest educational reform in the last 50 years.

To provide places for the teenagers, Balls will announce the creation of an extra 90,000 apprenticeships by 2013 for 16 to 18-year-olds to add to the current 150,000. There will also be 44,000 new places at further education colleges.

Tomorrow he will also issue a pamphlet detailing how the changes will be put into practice: These new rights must be matched by new responsibilities … young people are responsible for their participation and this can be enforced if necessary.

If someone drops out of education or training, their local authority will try to find them a place.

According to Balls’s department, if they refuse to attend, they will be given a formal warning, in which the local authority will clearly explain their duty to participate and the consequences of not doing so.

The next step will be to issue a formal notice, followed by a fixed penalty ticket. The Neet could then be taken to a youth court and fined, but the sanction will not go as far as imposing a custodial sentence.

— Jack Grimston, The Times (2007-11-04): Teenagers who refuse to work face on the spot fines

What sort of lessons do you suppose this educational reform will be teaching British teenagers, if the Labour government goes through with this plan to use police force, on the spot, against any youth who attempts to exist, even temporarily, outside of the direct supervision of more powerful adults—parents, teachers, bosses, crafts masters, etc.? What sort of a life, and what sort of a livelihood, and what sort of a society, do you suppose that those lessons will be preparing them for?

Dr. Anarchy answers your mail #4: How can we safeguard our data?

… the occasional advice column that’s taking the world by storm, one sovereign individual at a time.

This week’s letter comes to us from a reader in the United Kingdom. The question has to do with a fundamental issue of trust. How can you rebuild your belief in someone when he’s let you down, over and over again?

Dear Dr. Anarchy,

The theft of a laptop from a Royal Navy officer which held the personal details of 600,000 people is being investigated by the police.

The laptop was taken from a vehicle which had been parked in the Edgbaston area of Birmingham.

It contains data including passport numbers, National Insurance numbers and bank details connected to people who had expressed an interest in, or joined, the Royal Navy, Royal Marines and the RAF.

Meanwhile, hundreds of documents containing sensitive personal data including benefit claims and mortgage payments have been found dumped on a roundabout in Devon.

How can we safeguard our data?

— Baffled at the BBC

Dear Baffled,

Stop collecting it. You don’t have secure data that you don’t collect.

I know that you want to believe that if you just had the right people, if you just had the right policies, maybe you could go on turning over all this data to the government and distributing it to all these different agencies and have it somehow remain secure from malice, malfunction, or human error. But you need to look at this relationship honestly and realistically. You may be fooling yourself. The government will go on doing what they have been doing, with all their usual vices and limitations. If the only way to get what you need out of this relationship is to change your partner into something that he’s not, then you need to seriously consider whether it’s time to just dump him and move on.

Yours,
Dr. Anarchy

That’s all for today. Just remember, folks: people are more important than power. And everything is easier when you reject the State as such.

Next week: Dr. Anarchy answers your health and safety questions!

(Story via Phil Wilson 2008-01-20.)