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Queering Snitches, Landlords, and Bosses? Why Anarchists Must Not Host "Queering Anarchism
by qu@ck
Saturday Feb 23rd, 2013 1:12 PM
We are writing to inform you about concerns we have with the book Queering Anarchism, recently published by AK Press. This is not a critique of the politics within Queering Anarchism, albeit we have many, rather it is to offer you vital information on some of the contributing authors. We believe this information to be damning and contrary to anarchy, anarchism, and revolutionary movements alike.
Dear Friendly Anarchist Social Centers, Infoshops, and Book Stores,

We are writing to inform you about concerns we have with the book Queering Anarchism, recently published by AK Press. This is not a critique of the politics within Queering Anarchism, albeit we have many, rather it is to offer you vital information on some of the contributing authors. We believe this information to be damning and contrary to anarchy, anarchism, and revolutionary movements alike.

Dr. Anthony J Nocella, II is a professor, self-described “scholar activist” and known state collaborator. In 2006, Anthony gladly accepted an invitation extended by the FBI to educate their classes at Quantico on how they could better police revolutionary movements using “conflict-resolution.” Anarchists as well as earth and animal liberation activists widely condemned Nocella's cooperation. In his own words:

“Perhaps frustrated by their inability to catch any significant number of underground activists, the FBI recently began contacting academics and high-profile activists to invite them to speak at their academy. Under the guise of dialogue, clearly their intention was somehow to glean information to use against the underground movement. I was told I had been invited not because of the ALF, but to quote the instructor, because of my …studies in the areas of peacemaking and conflict resolution. Before deciding to accept their speaking invitation, I consulted the views of about 30 people — former political prisoners, anti-imperialists, professors, animal liberationists, Earth liberationists, and friends. After much discussion and debate I decided, with the agreement of others, that I would go…

I would speak solely on conflict resolution (specifically restorative justice which I studied for my MA at Fresno Pacific University), which I am more than willing to do and have done for military officers, ROTCs, public safety, law enforcement, and NGOs throughout the Americas.[i] I also said I would explain why there is no satisfactory definition of terrorism. I accepted the FBIs invitation to speak at their academy, along with their $800.00 payment, and donated it to grassroots groups and political prisoners…

I hold to the belief that dialogue (speaking truth to power) is the way to peace, not ideological positioning. Further, we must be critical of ourselves as well as others in the form of dialogue. This belief comes from my Quaker religion and Freirian philosophy. Of course  we should not speak when they come knocking or at a grand jury, but the situation is different when we confront the opposition in open debates, classrooms, and conferences. Most important, whereas they thought they could play me for information, I came to learn something about how the FBI thinks and operates. As many long-time anti-imperialists and Black liberationists have told me, the old way was not working, and we need to gather information on them as well.  Note also that this was a class sponsored by University of Virginia, so there were no transcripts, as is common in any university class, but again the class I taught was no different than any class I have taught or assisted for at Syracuse University….

While I do not advise others to attend the FBI Academy or work with the FBI at all, I do believe it was beneficial in the sense that I provided conflict resolution and explained that kicking in doors at gun point and using other forms of repression are not the answer to ending illegal actions activists often take, but rather an escalation of conflict and a cause of more extreme
tactics.”

We reject the notion that Nocella's donation of a mere $800.00 to radical projects and political prisoners justifies his actions. Nocella goes on to use his religious beliefs as a half-assed excuse for turning his back on resistance movements. To be clear, any religion which accepts cooperation with state power or any oppressive institution is the enemy. Anthony's assertion that his treachery should be accepted because he gained valuable information on the inner workings of the FBI by lecturing at Quantico is laughable.

Dr. Anthony J. Nocella, II is the co-author of Queer-Cripping Anarchism: Intersections and Reflections on Anarchism, Queerness,
and Dis-ability

Ryan Conrad is a phd candidate, a self-described product of the safe, white middle class, and a landlord. Upon his graduation from Bates University, Ryan purchased a house to be used as a “queer collective” on his parents' dime. Conrad's super nice gesture to create a house for queer youth, named the Bangarang Collective, was soon replaced by his desire for authority. The author's of this piece know of at least one trans person to publicly acknowledge that they were evicted from Conrad's house after they were unable to pay rent to Ryan Conrad in a timely fashion.

In the spring of 2012 individuals on tumblr and elsewhere on the internet created satirical memes critiquing the actions and positions of Ryan Conrad. Rather than brush the inevitable satire a public figure faces aside, Ryan and his photographer claimed to own the rights of the images used in the memes and threatened legal action against those who reblogged the memes should Tumblr not remove the meme posts.

We could go on for hours about Ryan's manipulative behavior or his attempts at creating a career out of the struggles of poor, gender variant, and queer people but we think his being a queer “anarchist” landlord is enough to discredit him.

If you would like to know more about Ryan Conrad's self-serving contributions to the “queering” of “anarchism” take a look at his personal website: http://www.faggotz.org

Ryan Conrad authored “(Gay) Marriage and (Queer) Love” in Queering Anarchism

Jerimarie Liesegang is the Director of TransAdvocacy Coalition, lobbyist, and former owner of a software company and boss of twelve programers. Actually we aren't going to say anything else about Liesegang we will just let her speak for herself.

“Founder of the Connecticut TransAdvocacy Coalition (CATC) whose mission is to improve, through education, political and social advocacy and activism, societal attitudes and the law in order to achieve equal rights for the Trans and gender non-conforming individuals and communities. CTAC is a true grassroots and coalition oriented organization comprising individuals and organizations dedicated to the advancement and attainment of full Human Rights for all trans and gender non-conforming people in every aspect of society and actively opposes discriminatory acts.”
Brief autobiographical blurb from http://cira.yale.edu/people/jerimarie-liesegang-phd

“...I had a thriving business in Ct that employed up to 12 technical programmers and sadly when I transitioned I lost all my contracts due to discrimination and had to shutter my businness. Though I searched for a new job, it took me over three years to find an employer who would look beyond my being a transsexual and realize that I could be of value to them...I will also say that there is light in all of this misery. The company that finally did hire me realized the value that a trans person can be to a Corporation and two years ago modified their EEO policies to include Gender Identity”
Transcript of her testimony before the Connecticut State Legislature's Judiciary Committee
http://www.cga.ct.gov/2011/JUDdata/Tmy/2011HB-06599-R000321-Jerimarie%20Liesegang,%20Ph.D.,%20Director%20CT%20TransAdvocacy%20Coalition-TMY.PDF

Jerimarie Liesegang authored “Tyranny of the State and Trans Liberation” in Queering Anarchism.



Some Other Academic Contributors to Queering Anarchism:

Dr. Jami Heckert, PhD, consultant at The Open University; University of Essex; Research Assistant at University of Essex
Dr. Martha A. Ackelsberg, PhD, Chair of the William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of Government Program for the Study of Women and Gender at Smith College
Dr. Benjamin Shepard, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Human Service at New York School of Technology/City University of New York.
Dr. Farhang Rouhani, PhD.; Associate Professor at University of Mary Washington
Dr. Benjamin Shepard, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Human Service at New York School of Technology/City University of New York
Dr. Sandra Jeppesen, PhD, Assistant Professor at Lakehead University; Assistant Professor at Concordia University
Jason Lydon; Reverend with the Unitarian Universalist Church
Dr. Liat Ben-Moshe; PhD Postdoctoral fellow at the department of Disability and Human
Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago

We do not mean to imply that any of the individuals listed above are evil nor do we advocate threats against their safety. We admit many of the academics or reverends listed are probably very nice people who enjoy their work. However, does a book comprised almost entirely of works by professors and aspiring academics accurately represent queer anarchism? Do any of these academics know what it is like to have to fight to survive? Do they have any real experience participating in queer anarchist struggle? Have they done anything other than turn our stories into self-serving theories to be sold to university for a fat pay check or to bolster their CVs? What makes these individuals so qualified to write an entire book on the “queering” of “anarchism?” What gives these people more legitimacy on the subject of “queering anarchism” than those of us who have lived on the streets, sucked dick in alley ways, and fought bashers, pigs, and johns? Should we allow bosses, landlords, professors, academics, and snitches to be the voice of queer anarchism?

We are not liberals. We do not have heart strings to be pulled by an academic who snitches in the name of religious freedom. Furthermore, justifying collaboration by donating your money to prisoners is a disgusting ploy and slap in the face to anyone who has ever done time. Offering up advice or education on “conflict resolution” to a university whose sole purpose is to train FBI agents puts revolutionaries at risk of injury, imprisonment, and death. We do not feel bad for power hungry, “middle class,”white children who purchase a house with their rich family's money and then evict a poor transperson who cannot pay rent. We have no sympathy for landlords. We will not cry for a boss who looses their fortune after coming out as trans, only to find their worth again in Corporate America. Not only do we refuse empathy for these individuals but as poor queer anarchists we view them as our class enemies.

Anarchists do not hope for a better policing apparatus. We want to destroy policing. Anarchists do not want dialogue with the most sophisticated and violent counter insurgency agency in the history of the world. Our aim is insurrection. Anarchists do not seek legitimacy in academia. Our goal is to destroy the university. Anarchists are not landlords who throw people out on the streets. We want landlords dead and property destroyed. Anarchists are not bosses. We organize to destroy work itself.

As it stands, queers and fellow anarchists should view Queering Anarchism for what it is, recuperation of our struggle. In the last five years queer anarchists have taken our struggles to the streets with a militancy not seen in decades. Queer anarchists have built barricades, rioted, created safety nets, made camps, started houses, and opened squats social centers. The consequences have been real; house raids, incarceration, and grand juries. We will not silently allow our struggle, desires and pain to be recuperated into the academy or co-opted by the state.

The Queering Anarchism editorial collective must publicly condemn the actions of Anthony J. Nocella, II a known collaborator with the state. They must condemn the Capitalist, cissupremacist, landlord Ryan Conrad. They should offer up an explanation as to why they have included an article titled Tyranny of the State and Trans Liberation written by a lobbyist, boss, and assimilationist Jerimarie Liesegang. Until they do so their projects should not be welcome in anarchist spaces.

We ask that the Wildcat Social Center in Seattle, MonkeyWrench Books in Austin, Bluestockings Books in Manhattan, the Bay Area Anarchist Bookfair, and all other anarchist spaces who are set to host Queering Anarchism rescind their invitations.

Some Insurrectionary Queer Anarchists

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by deanosor
( deanosor [at] mailup.net ) Sunday Feb 24th, 2013 10:49 AM
I have not read the book (i plan to), and i would probably criticize Dr. Nocella, who I believe is a sort of a libertarian capitalist if i ever met him, for among other things his connections with the FBI.(i would not call him a snitch, only a collaborator,) I am also happy the editors of the book put something in about disabled queers. Even tho i have heard of Dr. N., I didn't know Dr. Nocella was queer or disabled before reading this posting.

The people speaking at the bookfair on this topic and the editors of the anthology are good anti-capitalist anarchists, who included many points of view in the book. They should be celebrated for this not vilified. Class is an important question but anarchists and many others know that i is not the only question in the universe like these sectarian "insurrectionary queer anarchists" claim. The book was edited by people who they have differences with in the movement. (Most of the editors are communist or syndicalist anarchists). The attack on these other people is being used as a smokescreen for their "differences".
These insurrectionists want to limit anarchism to only those who support their sectarian vision of macho thuggery. They believe that pacifists, "middle class people", and anyone who does not support their particular limited vision of anarchy do not belong in the anarchist movement. They have used guilt by association, lies, threats, and violence against their opponents, and others who they feel are not up to (or down to) their standards. (If anybody wants to know specifics of what i am writing about, write me).
--Dean Tuckerman (I'm disabled and queer and i've been an anarchist for more than 40 years.)
by Bay Area
Sunday Feb 24th, 2013 11:49 AM
Thanks for calling this out. I think you nail it with this comment.

"These insurrectionists want to limit anarchism to only those who support their sectarian vision of macho thuggery. They believe that pacifists, "middle class people", and anyone who does not support their particular limited vision of anarchy do not belong in the anarchist movement. They have used guilt by association, lies, threats, and violence against their opponents, and others who they feel are not up to (or down to) their standards. (If anybody wants to know specifics of what i am writing about, write me)."
by deanosor
( deanosor [at] mailup.net ) Sunday Feb 24th, 2013 8:41 PM
I have not read the Queering Anarchism book (though i plan to), and if i ever met Dr. Nocella (whom i believe is a sort of a libertarian capitalist), i would probably criticize him for his connections with the FBI, among other things. (I would not call him a snitch, only a collaborator.) I'm also happy the editors of the book included something in it about disabled queers. Even tho i have heard of Dr. Nocella, I didn't know that he was queer or disabled before reading this posting.

The people speaking at the Bookfair on this topic and the editors of the anthology are good anti-capitalist anarchists, who included many points of view in the book. They should be celebrated for this, not vilified. Class is an important question, but anarchists and many others know that it is not the only question in the universe – despite that apparent claim by these sectarian "insurrectionary queer anarchists." The book was edited by people with whom they have differences within the movement. (Most of the editors are communist or syndicalist anarchists). The attack on these other people is being used as a smokescreen for these "differences."

These insurrectionists want to limit anarchism only to those who support their sectarian vision of McCarthyism and "Ultra-Violence." They believe that pacifists, "middle class people," and anyone who does not support their particular limited take on anarchy don't belong in the anarchist movement. They have used guilt by association, lies, threats, and violence against their opponents, and others who they feel are not up to (or down to) their standards which are actually quite authoritarian.
--Dean Tuckerman (I'm disabled, queer and have been an anarchist for more than 40 years.)
by Drew
Monday Feb 25th, 2013 10:11 AM
I have not read the book yet, though my friend Anthony (you may know him as the evil Dr. Nocella) has a copy waiting for me. Oh yes, please, lay it on me. Discredit everything that follows because of my voluntarily admitted association with him. Because we're all about guilt by association, right?

What passes for criticism in this article amounts to little more than posturing and ad hominem attacks. While I think there is a solid argument to be made about the dangers of colluding with the systems one struggles against, such an argument is absent from this screed (let alone a more nuanced discussion of when, where, and why some anti-authoritarian types may choose to work with authoritarian regimes). In its place we have a tirade that seems to focus on a handful of scary words that are associated with the individuals highlighted. Let's start with my good Friend (!) Anthony.

First of all, the author(s) of this piece seem(s) to have gone really far out of her/hir/his/their way to label him as a "snitch". And who, pray tell, is he supposed to have snitched on? Any evidence that Anthony actually informed on anyone, ever? Nope. So maybe he's a "snitch" for working with the FBI. Okay, let's examine that a little. Did he give the FBI information on even a single activist or community organization? Nope. Did he tell them anything about restorative justice they couldn't have accessed themselves through well-circulated published documents? Nope. Did he make a tough decision to open up his reputation for attack by making himself the face of State commodification of restorative justice in order both to minimize the violence enacted by police against activists/organizers in arrest situations and to gather information on how State agencies attempt to hegemonize activists to their interests so that he could better fight against exactly those tactics, later spreading his knowledge across the anarchist community both through academic publication and by holding clandestine grassroots activist trainings? Nop....oh, wait, he did. Funny that.

Secondly: mere $800? That's my non-rent budget for a month, and I am much better off than a lot of people. Knowing what the finances of your average non-tenured professor are like, many of whom are more intimately familiar with roommates and ramen than the students they teach, it seems to me like he took a pretty big hit so that he could redistribute the resources to which he had access.

Thirdly, "to be clear," as the author(s) so pompously put it, this article seriously plays on a fear of ideological contamination. Fear of the State, fear of religion, fear of our own work being co-opted by those against whom we work. These are certainly valid fears; but at no point are there any concrete instances of those fears being manifest in Anthony's work. They're hung out there, like dirty, dirty laundry, but they're not actually pinned to anything. Strikes me as being divisive and mongering fear for the sake of making oneself looking cooler or more radical by comparison, and completely in line with their refusal to source any contextual information ("We know a guy..."). In fact, these are the same tactics used by the Fox News Corporation. How lovely to see them employed within anarchist communities as well.

Let's move on to Mr. Conrad, with whom I am personally unfamiliar. As such, I'll limit my criticism to how he has been represented here. The big, scary word of the day for him is "landlord". Don't get me wrong, I do think this should be a scary word. It is deeply problematic...no, fuck that, WRONG for someone to exploit their economic privilege by using capital to purchase a home that then becomes a means of further capital production for them. But do we know that is what has actually happened? Not from the article above. We know that Conrad used money (assumed to be parental; there's no actual evidence of that, though it may be true) to buy a home that was then turned into a queer collective. We also know that the term "collective" must have been used pretty loosely, since he was still taking rent from people and had some degree of authority within the house; as such, we now have reason to question whether this was ever a "collective" in the sense that word is being used here. If it's not, a lot of the rhetorical wind comes out of the author(s)'s sails.

Moving on, we know that, under circumstances barely explained here, Conrad evicted one of the collective members for failure to pay rent. If this is true, we have even more reason to doubt that the word "collective" was used by Bangarang in the same way it is being used here. Collectives generally kick people out as a...you guessed it, collective. The fact that one person was in the position to do that indicates that the concept of a collective, as it was being used by Bangarang, is not resonant with the concept as it is being used in this article, which seems to convey the more traditional idea of a collective being a group of people who have chosen to live communally and are pooling both resources and authority. This slippage is also a technique common to the Fox News Corporation.

Furthermore, this article labels Conrad as a "cissupremacist". Moving past my own issues with the concept of "cis" (Why do non-trans* folks need a special term, separate from the ones that already exist, to refer to their already privileged identities? Just to show that they know they have privilege? Why not just admit that you're gender normative? If it's so fucking important to set yourself apart from other people with privilege based on their gender normativity, why not call yourself and your privilege "non-trans*"? Ultimately, what does this label do that wasn't done by the labels we had before, other than let privileged people feel better about themselves?), where do we have even a shred of evidence of this being true? Simply choosing to evict a transperson does not make one committed to the supremacy of the gender normative. That, in itself, is a transphobic idea, since it reduces transfolk to partial people, people who can only be the underdog, people who can't possibly do wrong, people who don't experience the full texture of moral existence along with everyone else. Bullshit. Being oppressed doesn't mean that you're automatically a good person or that you shouldn't ever be held accountable; it means you're oppressed. For all I know, for all any of us know, Conrad did indeed do something horrible by evicting this person and his reasons were steeped in a hatred of transfolk and a love of gender normativity; but neither I nor anyone else unconnected to the incident actually know that, since we've not been provided with anything that would indicate that is the case.

As to the Tumblr incident...while it does sound like Conrad's actions were pretty shitty, in terms of being propertarian and exploitative of one's economic power, it hardly seems less shitty that the way some anarchists express disagreement is by sitting behind their computers and making memes instead of engaging people in dialogue. Internet memes are the bumperstickers of activism: they show your opinion and your privilege, and little else. Furthermore, as far as I know from this article, Conrad is not a public figure. He's a figure in the public, yes, but so is a postal carrier. He's not a public intellectual (yet), he's not the face of a radical activist group, he's not campaigning for political office. One, or even a few, published articles does not a "public figure" make. So I can kinda see why he might have such an unpleasant reaction to being publicly lambasted.

On to Ms. Liesegang. Other than the words "corporation" and "boss", what have you got? I'm sure the author(s) is/are aware that "corporations" are not, in and of themselves, part of "corporate America", a term generally referring to the dominant institutional powers within a matrix of interlocking capitalist and Statist forces in the U.S. Volunteer-only organizations with any legal standing whatsoever are corporations. Indigenous nations are corporations. Little hideaway pot-growing towns on the West Coast are corporations. The word means that an organization, such as an activist group, a tribe, or a municipality, has some form of internal structure which has been recognized by the State. Is it unproblematic? Hell no. Is it automatically evil? Of course not. Every anarchist publishing house in the U.S. that isn't a self-publishing entity is a corporation, every non-underground info shop, every collective that takes over a condemned house from a city council in order to live there without the cops hassling them.

But Liesegang must be a monster, right, because she was a "boss" of twelve people? "Bosses" always construct authoritarian regimes that oppress their workers; there's never once been a "boss" who essentially acted as an administrator, or as the person who deals with the public, or as someone who manages and facilitates production. I've never, ever been in an anarchist diner that was technically owned and administered by one person but operated collectively. I've never, ever heard of an insurrectionary group that chose to put one person forward as their mouthpiece. And I've certainly never, ever seen a play or performance piece put on by an anarchist theatre troupe that selected one of their members to be the show's director. These things have never, ever happened, right? Because "bosses" are always already evil, right? Because that's never a term used to paint someone as uncommitted to their politics when other information that might condemn them is unavailable, right? My point is not that the corporations Liesegang operated/was employed by are great places to be; they may not have been. But we don't know that from this article. We only know that the author(s) is/are committed to used the rhetoric of Big Bad Words to frame her/hir/his/their readers to not trust the people targeted.

And on to the final ad hominem attack here: "academics". Of course it's problematic to fill a book solely or primarily with academic authors. But you know what? It's also a hell of a lot more effective than trying to split book time between activists and academics (as if the two are somehow naturally distinct). And for damn good reasons: there are radically different standards for speech/writing productions amongst those two camps. Scholarly authors/readers tend to have fairly strict textual criteria for verifying the source of a bit of information, and also expect that both authors and readers of academic texts will be familiar with a technical vocabulary and particular style of argumentation. Likewise, activist authors/readers tend to have fairly strict experiential criteria for verifying the truth of a claim, and expect that technical language will be avoided and that readers will be provided with suggestions or advice for practice. These different standard produce different articles, and often these different articles don't mesh well in a single book. One generally winds up with an anthology that is too academic for the activists and too experiential for the scholars; as such, it makes a lot of sense to publish books that tend toward one style or another, so that the book on a whole will be successful and the information in it will be widely distributed, not bound up in a volume that few people want to read. Is it a problem, in a system-wide sense, that academic texts are more commonly published than activist ones? Hell yes! But does that mean that every book must somehow blend these two frequently antagonistic writing styles? Hell no!

In closing, I am now more excited than ever to read Queering Anarchism. Not because I'm expecting it will be some revolutionary revelation; it very well may be, though I see no reason to assume that going into it. I want to read it because, after reading this article here, I still have no earthly clue about its contents. The article above isn't a review; it's a soapbox. It doesn't critically engage with the ideas contained therein; it reproduces sections of text in order to trade on the fear contained in certain words within those texts. At the end of the day, it's exploitative, mean, and petty. I would love to see what inspired such a reaction.
by Uncover It
Monday Aug 12th, 2013 11:05 PM
Real snitches and agents work undercover with anarchists making friends and writing articles providing the basis for actions that hurt your cause and isolate you and your group politically.