Archive for May, 2018



A declaration of war has been issued against Indigenous peoples in Canada by the federal government. By bailing out Kinder Morgan’s investment in the Trans Mountain pipeline, Canada has announced its ongoing intention to violate Indigenous title, law and jurisdiction, as well as the constitutional rights of Indigenous peoples, and all protocols of international law protecting Indigenous peoples’ homelands and right to consent to development on their lands.

Kinder Morgan purchased the pipeline for $600 million dollars. They sold it for a return of almost 650 percent for a product that proved faulty only a few days ago. Canadians are increasingly complicit in this swindle because they are all part-owners now. But Canadians have legal, moral, and treaty obligations to respect Indigenous jurisdiction, especially in light of what is to come. So the strategy must remain the same: we must devalue the pipeline by blocking its construction by any means necessary and supporting those who do.

Indigenous peoples from affected nations along the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion have already been arrested and violently removed from the path of destruction that will expand tar sands production and multiply tanker traffic and the risk of pipeline spills through their watersheds.

While there is much talk in the federal government about respecting Indigenous rights, not only does the pipeline bisect the lands and waters where Indigenous Peoples practice their right to hunt, fish, trap, pick berries, and sustain themselves, rendering those rights vulnerable to the imminent threat of a spill, its direct contribution to climate change already cuts these rights off at the legs.

Furthermore, the law itself and the deployment of police forces must be an object of scrutiny in the protection of Indigenous rights. Canada’s use of legal and police forces to repress Indigenous peoples is widespread and goes hand-in-hand with extraction. It is done in conjunction with corporations like Kinder Morgan, where the risk of Indigenous rights to commercial profit is mitigated through state police criminalizing Indigenous land defenders.

When we write that this is a declaration of war, we mean it literally. The military will be called. But the threat is not only the criminalization of land and water defenders protecting their territory from pipeline construction, but from the harmful corollary effects of pipeline construction, such as the ‘man-camps’ that are being established in four locations along the route. As the Women’s Declaration Against Kinder Morgan Man Camps reads: “Today, wherever man camps are set up, we face exponential increases in sexual violence. As development results in the destruction of our land base and our food sovereignty, it also drives up food and housing prices. This further intensifies our economic insecurity and we are forced into even more vulnerable conditions”.

Indigenous jurisdiction is collectively held. This means the deals Kinder Morgan has made with individual bands do not replace the need for engagement with the nation as a collective, as the proper title and rights holder on a territorial basis. Canada now bears the risks from the company’s failure to obtain consent from the appropriate jurisdictional authority. They are now the ones operating illegally, not the Indigenous land defenders.

It is the national pattern to use criminalization, civil action, and other penalties to repress Indigenous resistance to these policies by bringing to bear the weight of the law and police forces against Indigenous individuals and communities. The widespread surveillance of Indigenous peoples – e.g. the “hot spot” reporting system established under Harper, or the RCMP’s Project SITKA that monitored “Aboriginal public order events’ – is also part of a pattern of intimidation and risk mitigation. The use of incarceration is a long-term strategy to contain Indigenous rights within the carceral state, rather than see them asserted on the ground.

It is the failure of Canada to find peaceful measures to resolve this fundamental conflict that must be examined. Indigenous blockades are not acts of civil disobedience, but encounters between Indigenous and settler law.

And they should be dealt with as political conflict between Nations through diplomacy, not by security forces. Together, we will shut it down.

Support the Tiny House Warrior project!

Read more: https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/kanahus-manuel/kinder-morgan-indigenous-resistance_a_23349533/

Donate: here – https://www.gofundme.com/tinyhouse2

Please email reconciliationmanifesto@gmail.com to add your support and solidarity to this call to action!

A list of people who stand in solidarity with this Call to Action:

Kanahus Manuel, Secwepemc Womens Warrior Society + Tiny House Warriors

Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade

Christi Belcourt (Michif of the Belcourt & L’Hirondelle Families from Mânitow Sâkahikan)

Melina Laboucan-Massimo, Lubicon Cree, David Suzuki Fellow

Jeffrey McNeil, TRU//

Audra Simpson (Kahnawake Mohawk) Professor, Department of Anthropology, Columbia University

The Indigenous Environmental Network

Janice Makokis, Indigenous Scholar (Saddle Lake Cree Nation)

Dallas Goldtooth, Keep It In The Group Campaigner

Eriel Deranger, Executive Director Indigenous Climate Action and member of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation

Hayden King, Beausoleil First Nation, Director, Yellowhead Institute, Ryerson University

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Distinguished Visiting Professor, Ryerson University

Nick Estes, Kul Wicasa, Co-Founder of The Red Nation, Assistant Professor of American Studies, University of New Mexico

Erica Violet Lee, Nêhiyaw nation, University of Toronto

Pamela Palmater, Chair of Indigenous Governance, Ryerson University

Tori Cress, Beausoleil First Nation, Idle No More Ontario

Clayton Thomas-Müller, Stop-it-at-the-Source Campaigner – 350.org

Avi Lewis, The Leap

Naomi Klein, Writer

David Suzuki, geneticist and broadcaster

Bill McKibben, author and environmentalist

Dr. Damien Lee (Zoongde), Band member, Fort William First Nation

Deborah Cowen, Associate Professor, Geography, University of Toronto

Sherry Pictou, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Women’s Studies: Indigenous Feminism, Mount Saint Vincent University

Audrey Huntley, No More Silence

June McCue, Ned’u’ten. Water is Life!

Judy Rebick, Author and Activist

Harsha Walia, Activist and Author

Anne Spice, Tlingit, CUNY Graduate Center

Maude Barlow

Stephen Lewis

Sheelah McLean Idle No More Organizer

Tony Wawatie, Interim Director General, Algonquins of Barriere Lake


Read Full Post »

“Two Years for Escaping,” Toronto Globe. May 31, 1916. Page 16.

“Guelph, May 30. – (Special.) – Fred Carson and David Lee, whom Magistrate Watt last week committed for trial on a charge of escaping from the Ontario Reformatory, were brought before Judge Hates at the Court House this afternoon. They both pleaded guilty to the charge, and were sentenced to two years at Kingston Penitentiary.”

Read Full Post »

“Three Years for Arson,” Kingston Daily Standard. May 31, 1912. Page 03.

Man Tried to Burn Wife’s House by Lighting Fire Outside.

Niagara Falls, Ont., May 31. – It took Magistrate Fraser less than two minutes yesterday afternoon to sentence Simon Bolitho to three years in Portsmouth Penitentiary. Bolitho pleaded guilty to attempted arson, in attempting to set fire to a dwelling in which his wife was living, they having been separated. Bolitho started the fire outside the house, and it would have been difficult for it to have become ignited with the woodwork of the dwelling, but this did not prevent the magistrate in handing out a punishment that was severe.

The offence for which Bolithi was sentenced was committed early Sunday morning.

Read Full Post »

“Minister of Justice At Pen,” Kingston Daily Standard. May 31, 1912. Page 06.

Hon. C. J. Doherty Here To Inspect Prison.

Is Spending the Whole Day Looking into Diffent Departments of the Penitentiary.

Hon. C. J. Doherty, Minister of Justice, is in the city to-day for the purpose of inspecting the penitentiary. Accompanied by his private secretary, Mr. Hackett, he arrived in his private car, ‘Empire’, Thursday night from Ottawa, and at six o’clock this morning he, his secretary and W. F. Nickle, K. C., M.P., went out to the big prison. Mr. Doherty and Mr. Hackett remained there all morning, looking into the different departments, and will complete their inspection this afternoon, leaving for Montreal to-night.

In conversation with The Standard this afternoon Mr. Doherty said he was well pleased with what he had seen of the institution. Asked if his visit had been prompted by the recent escapes from the penitentiary, Mr. Doherty replied in the negative. His object, he said, was to familiarize himself with the penitentiaries of Canada, and this solely explained his visit to Portsmouth Prison.

‘Are we to have a new warden soon?’ asked The Standard.

‘We can’t very well be on with a new warden until we are off with the old,’ replied the minister.

‘Then Warden Platt hasn’t resigned yet?’

‘No, not yet,’ answered Mr. Doherty.

‘Have you anything to say regarding the report which Mr. Hackett prepared after investigating the recent escapes at the penitentiary?’

‘I have nothing to say at the present time, I wish to form some conclusions from the report before making any statement.’

As the reporter was leaving, the minister said that he could make one definite statement and that was that Kingston was a very beautiful city. He envied the citizens of Kingston who had so delightful a place in which to dwell.

Mr. Doherty and Mr. Hackett had luncheon at the residence of Mr. Nickle.

Read Full Post »


…as soon as someone else dreams, there is danger…

Read Full Post »

The writer of this article has experienced life in a federal
correctional system. In fact, was an inmate at Warkworth
Institution, Ontario, when the living unit concept,
which he describes below, was introduced. His views
are entirely his own, based on reactions to the system
prior to and during the initial stages of the project.

“The past 25 years have produced an enormous amount of
research, some empirical and some of the arm-chair variety,
into the subject of the inmate subculture, and almost every
study in corrections since 1950 has dealt with an aspect of
it. This avalanche of information gives one the feeling every
pillar, in every institution, has seemed as a hiding spot for
countless sociologists and psychologists as they peer at unsuspecting
convicts. The common factor in all these studies
is to depict an inmate population held together as a cohesive
unit by an inmate code.

It became clear to me that the type of prison population described
by researchers was not at all like the one familiar to
me. Sensing my hunch was not based on fiction, I decided
to look into the subject, hoping it might result in a paper for
my criminology class. The topic seemed a natural one as I
had been part of that subculture for three years as an inmate.
I was not disappointed in my search for facts. A blend
of available literature, my own experience within the system,
and a return visit to an institution formed the foundation of
my research. 

The inmate subculture or code (the terms are synonymous)
is distinguished by its relative completeness in developing
certain cultural traits. Universals or customs, norms and
values, and a distinctive language have all been clearly defined
by generations of inmates. The convict argot, or slang,
perhaps best epitomizes this cultural phenomena. Being
right or solid, in terms of the subcultural norms, is a necessity
for most inmates. In fact, for the largest percentage of
inmates, right or solid is probably a sign of least resistance
to the institutional milieu.

The dominant drive of the code is to form a cohesive inmate
population … a united front against prison officials and
staff. Gresham Sykes, a criminologist in the United States,
in his book, The Society of Captives, calls the code “. .. a
war of all against all.” The closer an inmate population
moves toward this cohesive attitude, the more the pains of
imprisonment are reduced. This was obviously the dominant
stance when Sykes and others researched their books. I am
convinced this is no longer the case. 

Certainly, solidarity among inmates has a very real place in
a maximum institution and may be strengthened in this setting
more than in medium or minimum security institutions. I
would even say the inmate in a maximum facility could not
do without this reference group. A large number of right or
solid inmates are sent to this kind of prison and, most often,
the type of inmate considered by the majority of the inmate
population to be deviant, such as rats or sex-offenders, are
segregated from the general population. This helps to draw
the other inmates closer together. 

My notion of an eroding inmate subculture is founded on
medium and minimum security institutions, where I contend
the subculture is not as significant, yet affects the majority of
Canadian prisoners. In the past five years I believe federal
corrections has altered its treatment stance in most institutions.
This has the effect of eroding the inmate subculture.
Programs directed toward treatment in medium and
minimum security prisons will, in my view, result in hastening
the departure of the inmate subculture, and could make
it almost invisible in the next few years. Inmates will neither
want nor need the sustaining influence of the inmate subculture.
There are a number of concepts and programs which
bear out my contention, but the most outstanding example
is the living unit concept.

In the wake of the bloody riot at Kingston Penitentiary in
April 1971, which resulted in most of the inmates being
transferred to nearby institutions, and a preoccupation by
federal correctional authorities with a move toward a more
conducive climate for rehabilitation, the living unit concept
was introduced in early 1972. First to try the new concept
was Warkworth Institution, an Ontario medium security institution,
originally opened to house young, first offenders.

Warkworth, because of the type of prisoner it held, was ideal as a try-out institution for the new method of operation. Its stated aim was “. .. a redirected approach in dealing with inmates through better interpersonal relationships between
staff and inmates.” Does it work? I think so, and when I talked with staff and inmates recently at Warkworth, they agreed for the most part. Maybe not 100 per cent, but a marked change for the better is noticeable. As the living unit concept gained momentum, the barrier between
con and staff, while it failed to disappear, caused a

blurring of the barriers in a relatively short time. I hesitate to
term the change a mutual interest; rather, a form of cooperation
and dialogue, if not respect, did take shape. In a few
months rapping with a screw (guard) did not carry with it
the label, rat or stool pigeon, which was an inevitable result
of a conversation between inmate and staff, other than
when official, as dictated by the inmate code. Inmates
and staff at all levels became aware of a totally different
atmosphere in the institution. They began to feel involved
in something which might benefit everyone. 

Certainly the new trip (program) started out with a bang.
Very quickly staff and inmates were cognizant of their part in
an experimental situation which had not been duplicated in
any prison in which they had worked or served time. The
general feeling, during the first year, was directed toward
discussion and mutual involvement in the decision-making
process, hoping to find solutions more acceptable to both
sides. This give-and-take attitude gave the inmates the feeling
they were taking part in the day-to-day planning of activities
within the confines of the double fence surrounding
the institution. Certainly more than had ever been allowed
before the living unit concept was introduced. 

The new penitentiary life in federal institutions, as I see it, is
structured to facilitate many types of programs under a conceptual
umbrella, termed living unit, and is characterized by
its lack of formal outline. It appears to be guided by an “if it
doesn’t work, try something else” philosophy. The resulting
change in staff attitudes, vis-a-vis inmates, is evident to
even the most casual visitor. While security and discipline
remain prime goals, the change in methods of maintaining
them has altered, sometimes radically. Almost all
leisure-time activity for the inmate population has been designed
and set in motion by inmates and their committees.
From the inception of the social-development department at
Warkworth Institution, programming has been the result of a
joint effort by staff and inmates.

During the first year of the living unit concept, the institution
seemed to be in a constant state of flux, which gave needed
impetus to the total concept and its application. Almost
daily, new ideas and short and long-term planning became
a shared process. Different methods were tried, accepted or
discarded, leading to a basic sense of community and
mutual agreement which tended to ease, if not erase much
of the tension that comes from change within any established
system. Inmate newspapers, sport programs, community
involvement inside and outside the walls, open and
often frank discussion with staff, all helped to provide inmates
with a rather drastic alternative to the way in which
they had previously done time. Liaison with nearby Loyalist
Community College in Belleville gave Warkworth inmates an
opportunity to learn new social skills with both credit and

special-interest courses taught within the confines of the

When I spoke recently to inmates, ex-offenders, and staff at
Warkworth, I found most of what I have described above is
still valid, but … a few wrinkles have developed in the past
year. The programming, implicit in the original concept,
seems to have peaked. “For a time,” admitted Robert (Bob)
Clark, the newly appointed director, “we seemed to be sitting
still, spinning our wheels.” I came away from Warkworth
thinking the spinning wheels had allowed the conceptual
vehicle to slide backward a little. Not much, but some. 

at Warkworth has tried to get the whole bag (program)
back on track, but the results of their endeavors will
take time to assess. One of the most positive steps was a
study undertaken by staff, under assistant director of
socialization A C Boothroyd. The report is a look at the original
concept and where it is now in terms of original goals.
Short- and long-range goals are delineated, and possible
ways of attaining them. 

Reading the report, I became convinced time had blurred
the initial concept and the community it envisioned. I found it
particularly noteworthy that, since the impetus for the concept
was heralded as “… better interpersonal relationships
between staff and inmates …,” and “… use democratic
means of dealing with staff and inmates …,” nowhere did
the report indicate consultation with inmates. A significant
remark by one of the four living unit supervisors at Warkworth
lends credence to this notion. In answer to how the living
unit concept had changed, he said, “I think we have lost
the democracy which was one of the basic tenets of the
entire concept." 

Some inmates suggested a formalized inmate committee
might no longer be the most effective approach to resolving
inmate problems. "Concerned inmates, with management
and staff, could probably be far more effective in finding solutions
to mutual problems if a form of lobbying could be effected,”
said one. Another suggestion – some of the more
mature (not necessarily older) inmates, who have demonstrated
a genuine concern for creating a more desirable institutional
climate, could work together with staff to make the
change a reality. Inmates at Warkworth Institution talked
about the decreasing credibility from which inmate committees
are suffering, and staff, at line and middle-management
levels, agreed the inmate suggestions are sound and worth
a try.

However, the living unit concept has made it possible for inmates
to retain ties outside prison walls. It’s not necessary,
or desirable, to leave the outside or street on the other side
of the fence when a person enters the custody of a correctional
system. Constant reminders of the society the inmate
has left behind are around him in medium and minimum

security institutions. Free time to take part in activities with
community members, keeping in contact with current events
via radio, television, newspapers and magazines, keep the
street in front of today’s inmate all the time.
Inmates returning from group or individual temporary absences,
the tales they relate on their return, and more comfortable
surroundings for their visitors, further focus the
individual’s attention on the outside, and remind him his return
to society, and the freedom and responsibilities which
will be part of that return, are imminent.
The need and justification for teaching or strengthening the
social skills of an inmate for his eventual release are constant
reminders for the offender that he will not always be
doing time. 

The argument by older, more hardened cons,
that the old way was better because you could do your own
time in peace, and that new programs only increase the
number of head games, fails to ring true to inmates in
today’s more progressive penal setting. True, the distinctive
language of the con remains, but no longer is it a strong
unifying force. Staff understand and use the argot common
inside the prison, and much of it has been adopted by
today’s drug culture. I contend it has less meaning in
today’s prison society. 

An increase in younger, better educated inmates, probably
because of the large number of drug-related crimes, has
filled federal institutions with a far more enlightened type of
inmate. Maybe not about how to do their time, but certainly
more knowledgeable about things such as civil liberties.
They don’t want to leave the street behind them. They don’t
want to become prisonized. They may not want to be rehabilitated
either, but at least the Canadian Penitentiary
Service, with programs such as those at Warkworth Institution,
can provide a climate in which rehabilitation is more
likely to occur than it did in the past. New programs do not
necessarily equal rehabilitation, but perhaps they can lead
to increased life chances which in turn might spur the inmate
to take a more positive route.

As the cohesiveness of the inmate population decreases,
erosion of the inmate subculture will become more apparent.
It is unlikely lo disappear altogether, but the less it is
needed by prisoners as a unifying force, the further it will recede
into the background. I am convinced the inmate code
or subculture is a major stumbling block in the way of the offender
cleaning up his act (making a better life). The subculture
as a reference point for a person returning to society
after being incarcerated can hardly serve as a model for
anything but recidivism. Its lessening hold on the prisoner of
today will help those incarcerated in Canadian prisons and,
in the long run, Canadian society.”

– Edited by Joseph D. Reddy, “Is The Inmate Subculture Eroding?” Discussion, Vol. 3, no. 3,  Sept. 1975. pp. 23-27.

Read Full Post »

“Grant agreements show that police in Windsor received $87,846 and the Niagara Regional Police Service received $81,976 to cover costs related to the Provincial Electronic Surveillance Equipment Deployment Program (PESEDP), an initiative to roll out unspecified spying gear in cities across Ontario, for the period from March 2017 to March 2018.

A separate invoice shows that Waterloo police had an active service contract with JSI Telecom, a company that provides data collection and analysis services for police and intelligence agencies around the world, through March 2018.

Police in Durham Region received $81,976, while police in Waterloo received an unspecified amount of funds to cover costs of the program during the same period.

Brenda McPhail, Director of the Privacy, Technology and Surveillance Project for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, finds the secrecy surrounding police’s acquisition and use of surveillance gear troubling.

“The absolute minimum we should be expecting from our police when it comes to invasive surveillance, is sufficient public disclosure.”

“The fact that we have secret processes to buy secret technology raises really serious concerns for civil liberties,” McPhail said in a phone call.

“The absolute minimum we should be expecting from our police when it comes to invasive surveillance, is sufficient public disclosure […] to be able to tell whether or not the tools are truly necessary, whether their use is proportionate, and what safeguards are in place [for their use].”

“We can’t know any of these things if everything happens in secret.”

The Waterloo Regional Police Service and the Niagara Regional Police Service both confirmed in emails that they participated in the PESEDP. Each told VICE News that the program ended in 2016. The Windsor Police Service declined to answer questions. Durham Regional Police Service and JSI Telecom did not respond to requests for comment.

Niagara police spokesperson Stephanie Sabourin wrote in an email that the equipment deployed under the program was used under Section 6 of Canada’s Criminal Code, which allows police to intercept personal communications. Sabourin said that Niagara police do not use “mobile device identifying equipment” as part of the program.”

– Nathan Munn, “Details about a secret police surveillance program in Ontario are emerging.Vice News, May 30, 2018.

Read Full Post »

Franz Sedlacek, Lied in der Dämmerung (Song in the Twilight). Oil on board, 1931

Read Full Post »

“Occupation of the Kasbah in Tunis and of the Syntagma Square in Athens, siege of Westminster in London during the student movement of 2011, encirclement of the parliament in Madrid on September 25, 2012 or in Barcelona on June 15, 2011, riots all around the Chamber of Deputies in Rome on December 14, 2010, attempt on October 15, 2011 in Lisbon to invade the Assembleia da Republica, burning of the Bosnian presidential residence in February of 2014: the places of institutional power exert a magnetic attraction on revolutionaries. But when the insurgents manage to penetrate parliaments, presidential palaces, and other headquarters of institutions, as in Ukraine, in Libya or in Wisconsin, it’s only to discover empty places, that is, empty of power, and furnished without any taste. It’s not to prevent the “people” from “taking power” that they are so fiercely kept from invading such places, but to prevent them from realizing that power no longer resides in the institutions. There are only deserted temples there, decommissioned fortresses, nothing but stage sets—real traps for revolutionaries. The popular impulse to rush onto the stage to find out what is happening in the wings is bound to be disappointed. If they got inside, even the most fervent conspiracy freaks would find nothing arcane there; the truth is that power is simply no longer that theatrical reality to which modernity accustomed us.

Yet the truth about the actual localization of power is not hidden at all; it’s only we who refuse to see it for fear of having our comfortable certainties doused with cold water. For confirmation of this, one only has to look for a moment at the banknotes issued by the European Union. Neither the Marxists nor the neoclassical economists have ever been able to admit that money is not essentially an economic instrument but a political reality. We have never seen any money that was not attached to a political order capable of backing it. That is also why the bills of the different countries bear the personal images of emperors and great statesmen, of founding fathers or personified allegories of the nation. But what is it that appears on euro banknotes? Not human figures, not emblems of a personal sovereignty, but bridges, aqueducts, arches—pieces of impersonal architecture, cold as stone. As to the truth about the present nature of power, every European has a printed exemplar of it in their pocket. It can be stated in this way: power now resides in the infrastructures of this world. Contemporary power is of an architectural and impersonal, and not a representative or personal, nature. Traditional power was representative: the pope was the representation of Christ on Earth, the king, of God, the President, of the people, and the General Secretary of the Party, of the proletariat. This whole personal politics is dead, and that is why the small number of orators that survive on the surface of the globe amuse more than they govern. The cast of politicians is actually composed of clowns with varying degrees of talent—whence the phenomenal success of the wretched Beppe Grillo in Italy or the sinister Dieudonné in France. All in all, at least they know how to entertain you, which is their profession of course. So, in addition to stating the obvious, reproaching politicians for “not representing us” only maintains a nostalgia. The politicians are not there for that, they’re there to distract us, since power is elsewhere. And this correct intuition is what turns nutty in all the contemporary conspiracisms. Power is indeed somewhere else, somewhere other than in the institutions, but it’s not hidden for all that. Or if it is, it’s hidden like Poe’s “purloined letter.” No one sees it because everyone has it in plain sight, all the time—in the form of a high-voltage line, a freeway, a traffic circle, a supermarket, or a computer program. And if it is, it’s hidden like a sewage system, an undersea cable, a fiber optic line running the length of a railway, or a data center in the middle of a forest. Power is the very organization of this world, this engineered, configured, purposedworld. That is the secret, and it’s that there isn’t one.

Power is now immanent in life as it is technologically organized and commodified. It has the neutral appearance of facilities or of Google’s blank page. Whoever determines the organization of space, whoever governs the social environments and atmospheres, whoever administers things, whoever manages the accesses—governs men. Contemporary power has made itself the heir, on the one hand, of the old science of policing, which consists in looking after “the well-being and security of the citizens,” and, on the other, of the logistic science of militaries, the “art of moving armies,” having become an art of maintaining communication networks and ensuring strategic mobility. Absorbed in our language-bound conception of the public thing, of politics, we have continued debating while the real decisions were being implemented right before our eyes. Contemporary laws are written in steel structures and not with words. All the citizens’ indignation can only end up butting its dazed forehead against the reinforced concrete of this world. The great merit of the struggle against the TAV in Italy is in having firmly grasped all that is involved politically in a simple public works project. Symmetrically, this is something that no politician can acknowledge. Like that Bersani who snapped back one day at the NO TAVmilitants: “After all, we’re talking here about a train line, not a bomber.” But “a construction site is worth a battalion,” in the estimation of Marshal Lyautey, who had no rival in the business of “pacifying” the colonies. If struggles against big infrastructure projects are multiplying all over the world, from Romania to Brazil, it’s because this intuition itself is becoming widespread.

Anyone who means to undertake anything whatsoever against the existing world must start from there: the real power structure is the material, technological, physical organization of this world. Government is no longer in the government. The “power vacuum” that lasted in Belgium for more than a year is a clear example in point. The country was able to function with no government, elected representatives, parliament, political debate, or electoral issues, without any part of its normal operation being affected. Same thing in Italy, which has been going from “technical government” to “technical government” for years now, and it doesn’t bother anyone that this expression goes back to the Manifesto-program of the Futurist Party of 1918, which incubated the first fascists.

Power, henceforth, is the very order of things, and the police charged with defending it. It’s not simple to think about a power that consists in infrastructures, in the means to make them function, to control them and to build them. How do we contest an order that isn’t articulated in language, that is constructed step by step and wordlessly? An order that is embodied in the very objects of everyday life. An order whose political constitution is its material constitution. An order that is revealed less in the President’s words than in the silence of optimal performance. In the age when power manifested itself through edicts, laws, and regulations, it was vulnerable to critical attack. But there’s no criticizing a wall, one destroys it or tags it. A government that arranges life through its instruments and its layouts, whose statements take the form of a street lined with traffic cones and surveilled by overhead cameras, may only invite a destruction that is wordless itself. Aggression against the setting of everyday life has become sacrilegious, consequently; it’s something like violating its constitution. Indiscriminate smashing in urban riots expresses both an awareness of this state of things, and a relative powerlessness in the face of it. The mute and unquestionable order which the existence of a bus shelter embodies will not lie shattered on the ground, unfortunately, once the shelter is demolished. The broken windows theory will still stand after all the shop windows have been smashed. All the hypocritical proclamations about the sacred character of the “environment,” the holy crusade for its defense, can only be understood in light of this mutation: power has become environmental itself, has merged into the surroundings. It is power that we’re asked to defend in all the official appeals to “preserve the environment,” and not the little fish.”


comité invisible, “To Our Friends.” 2014.

Read Full Post »

Tomiyama Taeko, At the Bottom of the Pacific | 南太平洋の海底で. Oil on canvas, 1985. Source.

Read Full Post »


“Everything functions. That is what is uncanny, that it functions and that the functioning pushes ceaselessly further towards still more functioning.”

– Martin Heidegger

Read Full Post »


Abandoned presidents heads in a rural Virginia field [5184×3456]

Read Full Post »

Dear Mr. Dawson,
Re: Salvation Army visits, B.C. Penitentiary
I presume Chaplain bases his objection to Reg. 64 but that applies only to visits for religious instruction. The S.A. has a special staff assigned for prison work and by the authority of the Minister of Justice they are permitted to interview and advise those whose discharge by pardon or expiry of sentence is anticipated. That is the limit of their rights, but, if the warden can obtain their assistance in protecting the interests of the convicts in such cases as he mentions he is quite justified in doing so and if interviews are necessary in that connection they should be allowed.

What the warden must be careful to prevent both as to the S.A. and the chaplains is any attempt on their part to work up a case for the release of any convict – except by the representation to the warden of any facts that they may obtain. In other words the over-sympathic impulses of the chaplains and the S.A. officers must be kept in restraint. 

Yours sincerely,
Sgd. D. Stewart, Inspector for Warden

Inspector Dawson,
The Penitentiary Branch,

Letter No. 496

May 29, 1912.

Read Full Post »

“These extravagant stories were subsequently distinctly
denied, and Mr. Croker, Secretary of the Admiralty, reported that on visiting Portsmouth
he found the prisoners ‘happy and comfortable; well fed, cleanly; provided with
amusements, including billiards and music.“ Sir George Warrender visited
Chatham with the same result.

In modern prisons than that which requires all prison keys
not actually in use within the walls, to be deposited at the prison gate.
Neglect of this rule entails fine or sharp reprimand upon subordinate officers,
and the superiors do not dare to ignore it. Every one, as a matter of course,
gives up his keys when leaving the prison. Yet, following my predecessor’s
practice, I carried about with me a master-key, one that ‘took’ every lock,
even the most important in the prison; carried it without let or hindrance, or
fear of wrong, wherever I went beyond the prison, into the fortress, town, or
outside the lines when riding into Spain. I wore it much as a young modern
"masher” does his cigar- lights, attached to a steel chain, one end
of which was fastened to my braces, the other with the key in my trousers pocket.
I was often asked to produce my key when dining out, and was proud of
exhibiting the grim emblem that meant freedom or durance to so many hundreds of
malefactors. I never for a moment dreamt of the consequences, should it be
taken from me by force, as was perfectly possible, or if it fell into the wrong

Of course the possession of this master-key gave me facility
of access to all parts of the prison at all hours. It is neither right nor safe
for even the highest authority to have the power to wander about his prison
alone; far better that he should be compelled to call up another officer to
accompany him in his rounds. The freedom I possessed to roam where I pleased
nearly cost me my life. I had returned late one night by the New Mole, the only
approach to my quarters after nightfall and as I passed a wicket-gate which
gave admission to the main prison, I thought I would pay a nocturnal visit to
the interior. Another of the old-fashioned customs retained in the Gibraltar
prison was the employment of the garrison as an additional protection. A
military guard mounted every day in the Dockyard for duty in the prison, and at
night after “locking,” the whole of the interior was in the hands of
military sentries. One of these patrolled, as his post, the exterior of the
prison building just within the walls.

He was provided, of course, with the garrison countersign
for the night, carried his rifle loaded, and had orders to fire on any one who
could not answer his challenge. I crept into the prison noiselessly, by the
wicket-gate from the New Mole wharf, and was proceeding with my perambulation,
when I was halted peremptorily by the sentry, who, without waiting for my reply
giving the countersign, came at me with his bayonet at the charge. Flight,
however ignominious, was my only chance of safety, and fortunately, in running,
the sentry, a rather terrified recruit (as he proved to be), discovered that I
was in uniform, and desisted from his pursuit.

Another laughable misadventure may be mentioned in this
place. A friend, who was my guest in my house at the prison, went up one
evening into the South Barracks to dine at the regimental mess. As he would no
doubt be returning late, I gave him the key of a certain padlock and chain,
which secured a gate through the palisade that shut off my house from the New
Mole and the prison. My friend woke me about midnight to explain that he had
had a terrible accident at this gate. He had unlocked the padlock and passed through,
but, in re-locking, the whole arrangement — key, padlock, and chain — had slipped
and fallen to the bottom of the sea, which washed the walls of the wharf. I was
for going down at once to see what could be done, as the gate would swing open
by its own weight, when he assured me he had made it fast and perfectly secure*
He had employed a strange and novel device. I found, on examining the gate next
morning, that it was kept closed and in its place by my friend’s white necktie!

There was no trifling with regard to the custody of the
keys, or the security of bolts and bars, at the great Chatham Convict Prison,
which I joined as the deputy-governor after I left Gibraltar. This was my first
introduction to a thoroughly effective and admirably-planned prison system. I
had already been struck with the marked contrast between Chatham convicts and
those in the Gibraltar prison. A draft of the former had been received during
my short tenure of office — a quiet, well-behaved, submissive set, when
compared with the free-and-easy, often swaggering and defiant colonial men.
“I see you let your people talk,” I overheard the Chatham principal
warder say ; “we don’t.” This just described the difference between them and
the systems they represented. At Chatham everything went like clock-work; it
was a little too mechanical perhaps, but all strict discipline is that, and
without it the same results would not have been attainable. But if, on the one
hand, stem rules secured good order, industry on the other was encouraged by
judicious concession. The mark system, first invented by Captain Maconochie in
Australia, and generally adopted in the English prisons, makes industrious effort
the price of remission. On all these points, and upon the English prison system
generally, I shall have more to say presently at the end of these volumes, when
I shall endeavour to draw some comparisons between our methods and those of
other countries. But, as the reader probably knows more of our own than of
foreign systems, I propose to give some account of the latter first. It will, I
think, be seen in the end, that however imperfect our methods may be, judged by
the highest and most exacting standard, they do, generally, things worse
elsewhere. Tested by results, especially that great aim and end of all penal codes
— deterrence from crime — this country alone can point to any diminution in the
number of offenders.

Mr. Tallack, by no means a strong partisan of English
ways, admits that "in France, Italy, and the United States, the amount and
intensity of crime has of late years tended to increase in a more rapid ratio
than the general population.” These nations, and many others, appear to be
still groping in the dark, working without unity or consistency, and often
clinging to methods which have been already tried by us and dismissed as ineffective
or untenable. The best that can be claimed for this country is, that it has
proceeded by exhaustion, constantly experimenting, and always excluding what
fails or has been found indefensible. Few other nations have done the same.”


Arthur Griffiths, Secrets of the Prison House. Volume 1. London: Chapman & Hall, 1894. pp. 156-160

Read Full Post »

Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer, La Sorcière. Pastel on paper (unfinished), 1897.

Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France. RF 35503.   

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »