Affinity Groups and Security Culture: Staying Out Of Jail, Getting Things Done

A successful direct action requires significant planning, as I have mentioned before. To plan properly one needs a team and they need to trust their team. A group of people who trust each other enough to plan and engage in direct action together is called an affinity group. An affinity group maintains trust through friendship and security culture. Mutual trust, friendship and, security culture between a group of radicals might end up saving humanity from itself.

The need for direct action against the monoliths of government and industry has only grown as inequality and the greenhouse effect have increased. Widespread, strategically planned direct actions might be the only solutions to the issues we face today.

The fossil fuel extraction industry deserves direct public opposition because the industry’s growth will destroy more land and release more greenhouse gases. Corporate power deserves to be halted by direct public opposition because it has institutionalized a system in which individual capitalists take obscene wealth from their businesses while their employees, the people who make the product which the capitalists get rich from, require public assistance to survive. The military industrial complex deserves direct public opposition because it brings death and destruction to communities around the world using money that should fund schools and social programs, while serving the interests of the above-mentioned capitalists.

If a list were made of every issue on the planet that could be solved with direct action then we probably would not have enough people from disenfranchised labor, the poor, and their allies to complete every action in a day. We would all need to be pulling multiple shifts for months on end. It would be the most highly-organized human endeavor ever, to win justice for the working people. If we all need to be on deck, that means that we cannot all get arrested, and this is where security culture and affinity groups become important.

Direct action is autonomously addressing a problem without the permission of the people who have power over, or caused, the problem. Filling a pothole is a type of direct action. Chaining oneself to the industrial equipment of a pipeline construction site is a type of direct action. Feeding and educating people who the government has failed is also a type of direct action.  

Powerful people do not like free thinkers or anyone who wants to solve social problems without the go-ahead of a bureaucrat. People involved in direct action are enemies of the powerful.

The State is against direct action for a good reason. It is scared that its patrons will lose profits, it is scared of losing its grip on social order, and it is scared of appearing weak to the world.

The Water Protectors in North Dakota are receiving a militant response from police and private security, working in tandem, because the idea that the American State cannot ensure international investments from the American people’s right to protest terrifies globalist billionaires. American politicians’ opposition to this clean water activism is a projection of the emotions of those in control, the wealthy. I like their fear, but to win we need to sustain pressure. And that means that, once the direct action army is formed, we need to keep as many of our participants out of jail as we can.

Security culture and affinity group relationships can complete actions that shake the system. In the following video a group executes their plan to shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline. It also has a nice banjo backtrack.

The severity of security culture required depends on the risk involved in the action and the targets of the action. Common rules for security culture in a high-risk action are:

  • Only share important information with the people who need that information
  • Do not let anybody who does not plan on taking part in the action be in the planning process for the action
  • Use a vouch-for system for participants; if nobody who is trusted to be in the discussion can vouch for a person in the room, ask that person to leave or move the discussion
  • Do not share personal information with the group, nobody should know everybody’s names
  • Communicate through secure, encrypted channels such as Signal with pin-protection
  • If the action can be done without arrests, do the action without arrests
  • Do not pressure anybody to take any risks they are not comfortable taking, always offer people the opportunity to back out without judgement

A strong security culture within an affinity group is a key element of having an effective affinity group, and in the face of potential extinction, we need superabundant affinity groups fighting for an egalitarian future on a living planet.

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