On Parapolitics and a New Criminology (Editor's Preface to _The Spectacle of the False Flag_)

[This is  the editor's preface to our newest book on THOUGHT|CRIMES press (imprint of punctum books).  It's called The Spectacle of the False Flag: Parapolitics from JFK to Watergate and it's by Eric Wilson.  Please download it free from our website, or order a print copy here.]

[Cover Image: The Spectacle of the False Flag: Parapolitics from JFK to Watergate]Criminology is a strange discipline. For an area of study focused overwhelmingly, obsessively even, on state activity, criminology has perhaps as much as any social science, outside of psychology, completely and utterly undertheorized the state. The character of the state is largely misunderstood or only slightly understood within criminology (even as the criminology of figures like Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Nicos Poulantzas, who wrote much on law and the state, remain mostly unread by criminologists). Too often the state is simply taken for granted without real critical analysis. It is accepted straightforwardly, unproblematically, as the legitimate social authority, the social arbitrator.

Where critical approaches to the state are pursued there has been a tendency toward instrumentality or uniformity in discussing and explaining state activities. That is, the state is typically portrayed as a rather direct expression of the repressive needs of capital as a whole. And this, again, is the case only in critical approaches in which the state is interrogated or even problematized at all, most criminology taking the state, its legitimacy if not its neutrality, for granted.

The Postmodern Turn in Criminology

Much of contemporary criminology remains bound to concepts and perspectives developed and framed in relation to conditions of modernity (even the emergence of modernity) and the structures, institutions, and processes of modernism. Among these concepts are rationality (rational choice and rational calculation), progress, and enlightenment—deterrence and correctivity.

The modernist criminologies remain dependent on instituted authorities and their organizations—police, courts, correctional facilities, legislatures—for definitions and understandings of crime, criminality, and responses to crime. Processes associated with liberal democratic governance are viewed as proper (and privileged) means for adjudicating social norms and responses to violations of norms. Agencies of the police, courts, and corrections are viewed as the legitimate institutions for the pursuit of—the realization of—“criminal justice.”

Radical Realism

[First published Fall 2014, for the blog, Simply Criminology.]

Realism is generally defined, in a broad sense, as a concern with or interest in the so-called actual or real rather than the abstract or speculative. It is a tendency to view affairs or events supposedly “as they are” rather than as we would like them to be. This is typically contrasted with idealist (or utopian or radical) that are accused of forgoing a focus on everyday life “as it is” and instead focusing on abstract visions of a world imagined or yet to come.

Lombroso’s Anarchy Problem

[by Jeff Shantz, Fall 2014, as appeared in the Simply Criminology blog]

Punishing Bad Thoughts: Next Generation Canadian State Repression

[as appeared in the first issue of the Red Sparks Union newsletter: http://redsparks.org/newsletter1 ]

The apparently random killings of two Canadian Forces personnel, October 20 near Montreal and October 22 in Ottawa, have served, not surprisingly as great mechanisms for reactionary political opportunism. The ruling Conservative Party of Canada, and allied pundits in the corporate media, wasted no time in using the Ottawa shooting in particular as an opportunity to ratchet up social phobias and fear politics, focused once again on that malleable and opportune figure of “the terrorist/terrorism” as means to advance the repressive agendas that are always central to their political projects.

Logistical Anarchism

Fifth Estate (Issue #392, Fall/Winter 2014

[From the fall/winter 2014 issue of The Fifth Estate (#392): http://www.fifthestate.org/archive/392-fallwinter-2014/logistical-anarch... ||  Available as an epub, and in different print formats via The Anarchist Library: http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/jeff-shantz-logistical-anarchism ]

Social resistance has reached a certain impasse, a conundrum as nation states impose austerity as an extended regime of governance throughout social life.

Hidden Away: Policies and Politics of Immigration Detention in Canada

This article appeared on the blog BORDER CRIMINOLOGIES: Foreigners in a Carceral Age (July'14). Click here to read the full piece, with the links >> Available at: http://bordercriminologies.law.ox.ac.uk/hidden-away-canada

Serious questions have been raised about immigration detention practices in Canada and the violations of human rights occurring within the system. Highly secretive, with little in the way of public accountability, the immigration detention system has recently been prised open a little with the release of a report by the advocacy group End Immigration Detention Network (EIDN). This post examines some of the serious problems associated with, and concerns raised over, detention practices in Canada in light of (and beyond) the EIDN report.

protestposterThe Canadian state is one of a few liberal democracies in highly industrialized economies to use regular prisons to hold non-citizens in administrative detention despite recognized international human rights norms against the use of criminal facilities for functions related to immigration detention. As in the UK and Australia, there is no maximum period for which people can be detained. In 2011, a report prepared by University of Ottawa professor Delphine Nakache for the UN’s Refugee Agency criticized the Canadian state for its practices of holding immigration detainees in provincial jails in violation of international law.
[ Continue reading here... ]

ACJS Today: "On the Criminalization of Dissent: Deconstructing Official Oppression in an Age of Neoliberalism"

The criminalization of dissent has been a
common feature of neo-liberal governance in the
current period of capitalist globalization. It has
accompanied various structural adjustment and
free trade policies as the required force to impose
such programs on unwilling publics. Police
violence has been a constant feature of
alternative globalization demonstrations.
Examples of escalating state attacks on
opponents of global capital include tear gas
attacks; use of rubber bullets and concussion
grenades; illegal searches and seizures;
surveillance and beatings of arrestees; and, most

Commonist Tendencies: Mutual Aid Beyond Communism

[Cover Image: "Commonist Tendencies: Mutual Aid Beyond Communism"]NOW AVAILABLE!

by Jeff Shantz

Brooklyn, NY: punctum books, 2013.
108 pages.
ISBN-13: 978-0615849782.

FREE OPEN-ACCESS e-book and $11.00 [€9.00] in print: paperbound/5 X 8 in.

As capitalist societies in the twenty-first century move from crisis to crisis, oppositional movements in the global North have been somewhat stymied (despite ephemeral manifestations like Occupy), confronted with the pressing need to develop organizational infrastructures that might prepare the ground for a real, and durable, alternative.

More and more, the need to develop shared infrastructural resources — what Shantz terms “infrastructures of resistance” — becomes apparent. Ecological disaster (through crises of capital), economic crisis, political austerity, and mass produced fear and phobia all require organizational preparation — the common building of real world alternatives.

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