Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Glorification of Grand Juries: Stop. Now. And Publicly Renounce Your Error.

Commence Oblivion 

Stop glorifying grand juries. Even if they're "on your side." Stop it now. Just stop. Trust me. Never trust anyone who says, "Trust me." But trust me: full stop.

Grand juries are rogue entities without oversight of any kind who can swoop in and detain anyone under arbitrary secret surveillance state dicta, without much if any cause, as Manning, Snowden, Assange, Greenwald, Poitras, Potter, et al. have risked their lives and safety, gone to prison and into exile to inform and warn us about. Grand juries symbolize everything about the (surveillance) state (and beyond) we should stand united against. So, stand united against them with us.

When Monday evening the top trending social media topic was "Planned Parenthood Not Indicted About Selling Fetal Tissue, but Two Activists Are Indicted for Producing Fake Anti-Choice Videos" or whatever the SEO gods named the thing that everyone was momentarily paying rapt attention to, a wave of nausea and disgust passed over me. I've heard the horror stories about grand juries: the obfuscation, the complete ruination of lives and livelihoods and personages, the Red and Green Scare chilling effect tactics, the prosecutorial puppetry. Remaining improbably still slightly naive about the General State of Things - here referring to knowledge about grand juries - I was even shocked to see the shibboleths of the liberal anti-forced birth leadership praising the plot twist in the narrative of abortion rhetoric, which let's face it, is not news to BAMF readers, anti-natalists, leftists, among others who can see a scripted story playing out like a fifth grade rendition of "Our Town." Yet somehow I was sickened. Somehow the cynicism has not yet seeped to the very marrow of my bones. Stupid lingering remnants of romantic cautious optimism. How dare I assume that comrades, feminist associates, fellow repro-opponents, like-minded uterine autonomists, and other uncharacterizable (I'm not generally an apt applier of labels) sympathizers would recognize this disgusting and thinly veiled ploy to gain public approval for grand juries by rallying support around their heroic indictment of what are undoubtedly unscrupulous and disgusting individuals preventing women from accessing health care they need to remove toxic parasites from their bodies? What is wrong with me? And, more relevantly here, with you?

Do not glorify grand juries. If you do, you're doing feminism wrong. You're doing communism wrong. You're doing Marxism wrong. You're doing anarchism wrong. You're doing Leftism wrong. You're doing things generally wrong. If you support grand juries under any circumstance, you might be a liberal. You also might be a conservative. You also might be a capitalist. Whatever you identify as or actually are, you're wrong. So please for the love of the hate of the state, stop. Just stop. And renounce your support. Post this. Post a bunch of links I'll include despite BAMF's new approach that does not require submissions to have credible citations and reliable research, be bogged down with Marxian terminology, or include trendy whatever-is-in-style-at-time-of-posting rhetorical strategies. I'm running on instincts here, taking a cue from Salvage. The screeds have commenced.

Presumably, everyone reading this can google. If not, I'm not an Expert but I can and have googled for you. I have personally seen it transpire. I have read innumerable accounts of grand juries ruining lives. I have no other pressing reason to butt up against the organizations with the most funding and public support to continue to provide safe, free/affordable (in some cases) abortions while fighting legislative battles to keep it that way. At this juncture, my reason for harshly criticizing the response of Planned Parenthood, NARAL, National Network of Abortion Funds, and countless others praising the use of grand juries in favor of their cause(s) is because my devotion to smashing the state and communism trumps my need to blindly support abortion providers' and their financial backers' political stances. 

Commence Wolfe

One of the most fundamental differences between liberals and Marxists is the way they conceive of the state. For the liberal, the state is a fundamentally beneficent entity—an expression of a social contract between equals, existing for the good of us all, legitimated by the consent of the governed. If the state is failing to act for the common benefit, acting in an oppressive way, they see these actions as uncharacteristic, as deformations. The problem, they say, is we have failed to get the right people in charge, perhaps due to the pernicious influence of big money or, more often, a barely disguised disgust at the fact that ignorant white trash rednecks are still allowed the franchise.

This view leads to a tendency to think that the problem is not with the existence of grand juries but that they have become perverted by prosecutorial bad apples, that the problem is not with the modern surveillance state, but with the people doing the surveilling, that the problem is not with drone assassinations, but with those whose fingers are on the buttons.

Since the state so often fails to live up to liberal expectations, they must tell themselves stories. One story is that we have Fallen from the wisdom embedded in the Constitution, and if we returned to these principles—principles contrived by and for wealthy slave owners—then things would once again be set aright. Another popular story looks back to a more recent “golden age.” They tell us of the wonders of the great F.D.R., who put our nation on the correct course. F.D.R., the East Coast patrician, was a veritable Fredrick the Great who through his enlightened ideas and out of the goodness of his wealthy heart realized the true role of government and showered the working class with benefits. Then came the dark times and Reagan the Usurper...

Those with a Marxist outlook ought know better. The state, for Marx, has always been an instrument by which one class secures its rule over others. It does not act on the behalf of all equally, but on behalf of those whose rule it exists to secure. Any benefits offered to other classes are but instruments for this end. The “social contract” is a convenient fiction, cooked up to justify this. The influence of big money on government under capitalism is not a distortion of the system but of its essence. Given all of this, the state is by nature in the business of repression.

However, too many people who otherwise realize this remain within the spell of the myth of the beneficent state. They cheer when it scores a victory for “their side.” This tendency must be fought. The bourgeois state does not work for us. Occasionally it will, for reasons of its own, haul some dishonest right-wing propagandists up on charges. But when it does something like this it pays to bear in mind that pro-forced birth activists pose no danger whatsoever to capitalist rule, and that left wing activists and environmentalists do.

Oblivion for the Conclusion

May I reiterate my disappointment? Geez, people, really? No one stopped to consider the implications of this uncritical praise for and gushing over a grand jury? Have we forgotten the very recent Tamir Rice no vote? Have we forgotten the historical persecution of communistsAnd anarchists? Have we forgotten the indefinite detention of and terrorism charges brought against animal rights and earth liberation activists? Tune in, folks. You're next. Once you endorse this, you've always already signed an agreement written in invisible ink, agreed to comply, encouraged more persecution of activists of all stripes. And a lot of others' are next as well. Don't make everyone a bed you don't want to lie in yourself.

Notes from Oblivion:

• This post is the first formal collaboration between me and John Wolfe, as well as the (I believe) second attempt to switch up the structural and stylistic approach to BAMF. Let us know your thoughts about the collaboration, the switch up, and the content.

• Some of the following articles are flawed in various ways, but their validity and relevance remains intact. Grand juries are dangerous, secretive, and CAN AND WILL pull yo' ass up on charges out of the blue. They must be abolished. Get on board. Now.



  1. It is refreshing to see an appeal to in no way applaud the bourgeois state for anything, even when it does good things, and does them 'right.'

    Divide and appease and repress and rule.

    Though while keeping guard against falling in line with the state politically; tapping into the sort of social momentum that may come about (or is at its zenith) when the state throws a bread crumb is something that i am curious about.

  2. (I responded previously but noticed a misphrasing that ruined the point, so here it is without it)
    And what an interesting thing to be curious about! Thank you for making me think about it, too.

    My initial, knee-jerk inquiry would be "what type of bread did the crumb come from?," but that seems an irrelevant query if we are to approach things consistently, critically, thoughtfully, Correctly. The nature of the crumb might not matter; focusing on the "sort of social momentum" you mention seems more useful. So, in this instance, said "momentum" would refer to the massive self-righteous liberal response to the indictment of these pro-forced birth activists, right? How could that be "tapped into" when its basic premise is inherently flawed? You're onto something (if I understand your words) that after the indictments, the usual anti-forced birth narrative - which consistently oscillates between "we know it's bad, but it's a woman's choice" and "defend Planned Parenthood!" - shifted to an angry outcry of some sort, perhaps a unified public display of justification(?). They key phrases there being "angry outcry" and "unified public." Indeed, how to tap into that...

    Then there are other crumb-throwing examples that might be easier to address.