In the 1960s I personally witnessed the use of covert secret police operations to disrupt and destroy budding social movements.
COINTELPRO was only the best known.
Blackstock, Nelson: Cointelpro: The FBI’s Secret War on Political Freedom
Churchill, Ward: Agents of Repression: The FBI’s Secret Wars Against the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement
Churchill, Ward: The COINTELPRO Papers: Documents from the FBI’s Secret Wars Against Dissent in the United States
Since the late 19th century every left wing organization that has fought for or advocated for the rights of any oppressed minority has automatically been labeled Communist or Anarchist. With that label has come covert secret police operations aimed at disrupting and destroying that movement.
Some of that disruption includes the implanting of spies within the organizations. Once implanted their job is to report incriminating evidence back to their superiors.
Here is where it gets tricky. Since their job is to find a reason to arrest the members of this group these secret police will often create the crime, encourage, plan, provide the materials and abet an action that would not have otherwise taken place in order to have cause to arrest the members of a given organization.
Secret Police always want to take the violence to the next level. Even when other members of a group object to that. If a group does vandalism such as repurposing billboards, the secret police agent will urge them to commit violence against people.
There are other ways to disrupt organizations if such organizations are not involved in public demonstrations or doing actions such as postering.
One way involved the “center of attention”, the most oppressed person in the world sucking up all the energy that would otherwise be devoted to the cause.
Freeman, Jo: The Tyranny of Structurelessness
Freeman, Jo: Trashing
Over the last forty years, I’ve watched the rise of both Antisemitism and Transphobia as levers of disruption used to fragment struggling movements
Jewish people who trace their ancestry back to Eastern Europe have this incredible history of involvement in the labor movement, the Civil Rights Movement and all the rest of the progressive movements we have in this country. Yet we have seen the rise of Antisemitism under the guise of Anti-Zionism.
A small class of people among the most progressive, historical victims of pogroms, bigotry and genocide are accused of perpetuating every evil in the world with attacks that could have come straight from Hitler’s propaganda minions. As a result the movement is deprived of the involvement of a class of people who have been at the forefront of American progressive/radical left movements.
This brings us to transsexual/transgender people. We were used to disrupt both the Feminist Movement and the Lesbian Movements back in the 1970s. Organizations were torn apart, struggling women’s enterprise collectives were damaged.
The charges leveled against TS/TG people were extremely bizarre and often contradictory. Just as often they were one step away from suggesting we either kill ourselves or be subjected to genocidal measures as extreme as those proposed for gay and lesbian people in certain African countries.
One is forced to ask: Cui Bono? Who benefits?
It’s like how the Tea Party has drawn a lot of working class whites, who are justifiably pissed off over the ratcheting up of their level of misery. So the Koch brothers and ALEC poured a bunch of money into creating a movement to focus this anger on any progressive measures that might have helped these working class people.
Great trick… Divert the anger from those causing your pain and redirect it towards those who might do something to alleviate that pain.
In the past TS/TG people have been used as scapegoats to disrupt and sow dissension in both the Feminist Movement and in the Lesbian Movement. In the Gay Movement not so much.
There is a vicious right wing war on women going on. The ultra right wing Christo-fascists aka Dominionists are attacking women’s access to contraception as well as abortion.
All of a sudden there is a major attack on TS/TG people’s rights lead by the Christo-Fascists, Neo-Nazis and the so called Radical Feminists. What do these groups have in common?
Over the last couple of months these attacks on TS/TG people have moved beyond the Lesbian Community and the Feminist Communities. Now the attacks are cropping up in the Eco-Movements, especially the Eco-Feminist and Deep Green factions. Cui Bono?
Over the last 40 years these Dominionists aka Christo-fascists have taken over the Republican Party, are a substantial portion of the police and military industrial complex.
The ultra right wing in this country has been actively waging war against the Left since the 1930s when the enemy was the New Deal and the attacks were led by Martin Dies, a Dixiecrat representative from Texas and co-creator of HUAC (House Committee Investigating Un-American Activities)
In pre-war years and during World War II, HUAC was known as the Dies Committee. Its work was supposed to be aimed mostly at German American involvement in Nazi and Ku Klux Klan activity, such as the German American Bund. As to investigations into the activities of the “Klan,”, the Committee actually did little. When HUAC’s chief counsel Ernest Adamson announced that: “The committee has decided that it lacks sufficient data on which to base a probe,” committee member John E. Rankin added: “After all, the KKK is an old American institution.”
In the 1950s we had McCarthyism and the rise of the John Birch Society. The Neo-Fascists of the American ultra right even managed to get their candidate, Senator Barry Goldwater the Presidential nomination in 1964.
In the fifteen years that followed America enjoyed a brief window of freedom and liberation that was strangled by the ultra right wing rise to power that brought us Reagan.
Reagan strengthened the Police State, encouraging the building of an American Stasi to root out traitors at the same time he spent lavishly on building the American Military Industrial Complex.
Fast forward to the second election of Barrack Obama, a tepid moderate milk-toast, who is perhaps the least effectual President in modern history, yet the ultra right wing portrays him as a Muslim anti-Christ bringing about Soviet style Socialism.
No matter how I dig I feel I am only touching the edges of the spying. The government isn’t the sole offender, some covert corporate and privately funded operations function with no governmental oversight what so ever.
International Socialist Review: The lessons of COINTELPRO
Scholarly Commons: Police Infiltration of Dissident Groups
Covert Action Information Bulletin: Domestic Surveillance: The History of Operation CHAOS
Wikipedia: Operation Chaos