Anews podcast – episode 22…

Welcome to the anews podcast. This is episode 22 for July 28. This podcast covers anarchist activity, ideas, and conversations from the previous week.

Editorial: On Heroes
TOTW – Sign of the Times
A101 question: Marx and Marxism

This podcast is the effort of many people. This week this podcast was
* sound edited by Linn O’Mable
* written by jackie and a thecollective member
* narrated by chisel and a friend
* Thanks to A! and ariel for their help with the topic of the week
* Contact us at
To learn more

Introduction to anarchism:
Books and other anarchist material:

Edited for

Sabotage in the American workplace: anecdotes of dissatisfaction, mischief and revenge

Sabotage in The Office

A truly fantastic study of everyday employee resistance at work. First person accounts of sabotage, beautifully illustrated and intermingled with related news clippings, facts and quotes.

Published in 1992.

If you enjoy this text, please become a Friend of the publishers, AK Press, or give them a donation here on their website:

Attachment Size
Sabotage-1.pdf 8.45 MB
Sabotage-2.pdf 9.53 MB
Sabotage-3.pdf 12.16 MB

Edited for

The article does not reflect the thoughts of the individuals on this website.

Infiltrated! How to prevent political police from undermining grassroots solidarity

This is a photo of Denis Leduc


Leduc’s identity was revealed during the bail hearings of two people alleged to have firebombed a branch of the Royal Bank of Canada on May 18, 2010.

“The first time I met ‘François Leclerc’ … he gave the story he was there from the north,” says Jeff, a member of EXILE Infoshop, an anarchist hub for anti-capitalist organizing in Ottawa. “He was interested in Indigenous issues. He took out a book, Ward Churchill’s A Little Matter of Genocide, and he wanted to sign up for [the protest against] CANSEC,” an annual arms trade show held in Ottawa.

“He did most of the talking in our relationship […] He told very elaborate stories of whale hunting and seal hunting,” notes Jeff.

I met Leduc for the first time in 2009, when he participated as a street medic in the protest against CANSEC. He was introduced to me by two friends and members of the Indigenous Peoples’ Solidarity Movement of Ottawa (IPSMO). A short, stocky man with shoulder-length red hair, a trim beard, and an eyebrow ring, he had a thick francophone accent and dressed casually.

He was soon invited to an IPSMO organizing meeting. At the time, IPSMOwas comprised of student and community activists, and it was most involved in supporting the Algonquins of Barriere Lake (ABL), who were fighting Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada to stop interfering in their governance. Leduc organized with IPSMO for over a year: he regularly attended meetings, took minutes, transported people and equipment in his van, administered the email list, helped set up and take down events, and provided legal support – mostly mundane, routine tasks.

Leduc began to befriend local activists, attend parties, and have drinks after organizing meetings. He told activists that he was married to an Inuit woman and that he was attending university. He said he had family in Montreal; he also mentioned working as a tree planter, and he frequently left Ottawa for weeks or a month at a time, supposedly to visit family or for work.

Organizing, solidarity, and the G20 summit

The ABL have been in conflict with the Quebec and federal governments for the past 25 years. Since 1991, the First Nation has demanded that both levels of government implement the Trilateral Agreement, which establishes revenue sharing and co-management of the territory. Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), the Sûreté du Québec, and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) have all attempted to undermine the ABL’s self-determination, including in 2008, when INAC exploited a division in the ABL by imposing an election that brought to power a small faction of the community, bypassing the traditional leadership that had earned majority support. The IPSMO had supported the community, including by participating in two ABL-led blockades of Highway 117, the only highway in the area and a major artery.

IPSMO also supported Indigenous activists in opposition to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and the G20 summit in Toronto. IPSMO was, and remains, a small grassroots collective of activists who combine Indigenous solidarity organizing with anti-capitalist and anti-oppressive politics.

In 2010, the G20 Joint Intelligence Group listed IPSMO, along with 21 other organizations, such as Defenders of the Land and the Council of Canadians, as “domestic groups of concern.” As part of the G20 Integrated Security Unit (a coalition of municipal, regional, and provincial police forces, RCMP, and Canadian Forces), police infiltrated Greenpeace, No One Is Illegal chapters, the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, and the Southern Ontario Anarchist Resistance, among others.

In that charged political time, Leduc and another undercover officer were also core members of the Collectif du Chat Noir, the anti-authoritarian collective mobilized around the Toronto G20 summit.

Undermine and overreact

From the time he joined IPSMO until the May 18 arson, Leduc avoided encouraging violence or provoking conflict within the group.

“I don’t remember him ever suggesting, like, anything really, like any sort of violent action,” says Krishna Bera, a former IPSMO and EXILE Infoshop member.

But in retrospect, IPSMO activists recalled three incidents where he had undermined the group’s organizing.

The first was when the Olympic torch passed through Ottawa on its way to Vancouver. IPSMO activists had planned to drop a 30-foot-by-50-foot banner that read, “NO OLYMPICS ON STOLEN NATIVE LAND” off a nearby bridge. Activists had made the banner in the parking garage of Leduc’s apartment building, though Leduc himself wasn’t otherwise involved in making it, claiming that day that he had a cold. However, he did drive the activists to the bridge where they dropped the banner.

“I was doing the lookout for cops, and I spotted these two undercovers that were right at the spot that we were at. In my mind, looking back, they … had been tipped off,” says former IPSMO member Louisa Worrell. It appears that Leduc had forewarned the police, who placed undercover officers at the drop site to quickly remove the banner; they didn’t, however, arrest anyone.

In the other two instances of undermining IPSMO solidarity, Leduc had at the last minute cancelled his offers to drive people to do court support in Maniwaki and to drive to Akwesasne to meet Mohawk activists. This impeded efforts to support Indigenous and settler activists arrested during the blockade of Highway 117, and to develop relationships between IPSMOactivists and the Mohawk activists in Akwesasne.

Leduc’s strategies revealed the nature of undermining solidarity work: over a longer period, he was careful to preserve his cover while he tried to exercise control over what IPSMO activists did, and he sabotaged efforts to build trust between IPSMO and the Indigenous communities of ABL and Akwesasne.

After the firebombing of the RBC, Leduc’s rhetoric escalated.

“My radar went up immediately […] He mentioned something to me to the effect of, ‘[the firebombing] was just small potatoes and you know these companies deserve a much bigger response than this. That struck me as an odd thing to say, especially to somebody that you’d just met,” says Dave Bleakney, a Canadian Union of Postal Workers activist who met Leduc once, soon after the arson.

Political policing

Since its formation in 1984, CSIS has been responsible for political policing, but all large police forces in Canada, especially the RCMP, engage in it. Indigenous people, and to a lesser extent Indigenous solidarity activists, continue to be among the top targets of this practice in Canada.

In their essay “Surveillance: Fiction or Higher Policing?” Jean-Paul Brodeur and Stéphane Leman-Langlois explain that high policing – the surveillance of political involvement – is “entirely devoted to the preservation of the political regime” as opposed to the supposed “protection of society.”

The purpose of political policing is to identify, surveil, disrupt, and control real or perceived threats to political and economic elites. Political policing is fundamentally different from “law and order” policing, which focuses on arrest and incarceration. It emphasizes intelligence gathering using both technological surveillance and infiltration. The intelligence is intended to be used only when necessary in efforts to control people and organizations considered to be a threat.

The activists I interviewed had all been surprised that Leduc was an undercover officer, either because they didn’t expect to be surveilled in the first place or because Leduc’s behaviour did not fit their expectations of an infiltrator.

This surprise likely stems from the misconception that all infiltrators act as agents provocateurs who try to manipulate activists into taking illegal, violent, unpopular, and ineffective actions. But as Gary T. Marx points out in his theory of social movement infiltration, social movements are damaged by “opposing organizational, tactical, and resource mobilization tasks.” In other words, infiltrators suppress social movements by fomenting divisions and internal conflicts, diverting energies toward defending the movement rather than pursuing broader social goals, sowing misinformation or damaging reputations, obstructing the supply of resources (money, transport, meeting spaces), or sabotaging planned actions. Many infiltrators are thus better described as agents suppressants, who are there to gather intelligence and channel groups away from militant action.

David Gilbert describes in Love and Struggle the agents suppressants in the Weather Underground Organization “who tried to put a damper on evolving movement militancy.”

“Provocateurs,” he says, “are more dramatic and damaging, but much of the Left has an anti-militant bias in not discussing the problem of suppressants at all. There is no simple litmus test to differentiate sincere militancy from provocation or honest caution from suppression.”

Incidents of provocation can be high-profile and sensational, such as undercover police posing as members of the black bloc at Montebello. This can lead activists to paint all militant action as the work of agents provocateurs, even if there is no evidence that this is true. Conversely, because of the low-profile of most agents suppressants, activists are often unaware of their role and impact in pacifying and controlling social movements.

A chilling effect

Seven years after the OPP revealed that Leduc was an infiltrator, there appear to be fewer groups and events organized around openly anti-authoritarian and anti-capitalist politics.

However, IPSMO continues to organize in support of the ABL. It took a lead role in organizing the Indigenous Solidarity Assembly at the 2014 Peoples’ Social Forum, and has supported efforts to protect the sacred Chaudière Falls and its islands from the Windmill Development Group and Dream Unlimited Corp.’s colonial and gentrifying plans to build condominiums on stolen Algonquin land.

But the fallout of the infiltration was significant. The five Ottawa activists I interviewed all said that they are now less likely to trust other activists. They described feeling paranoid, suspicious, and demoralized, but also afraid and violated, knowing that private social moments had been surveilled.

“There’s definitely a sense of invasion, especially knowing that he’d been at my house,” says one member of IPSMO.

The IPSMO activists also emphasized that distrust and paranoia are a bigger problem than infiltration. The longer-term consequences – the sense of destruction and harmed relationships with communities that we are in solidarity with – are much more difficult to bounce back from than the direct effects of the infiltration. Indeed, it seems likely that the choice to out the infiltrator was an intentional effort by the police to create a chilling effect on activism in Ottawa.

“It did sort of dampen enthusiasm in a way. People immediately started to question anybody … who’s not almost mainstream in their activism,” said Bera.

Know your enemy

The infiltration of anarchist, Indigenous solidarity, and anti-Summit organizing from 2009–2010 was part of a long-term effort by the political police to undermine anti-capitalist, Indigenous, and Indigenous solidarity organizing, with specific interest in anti-Olympic and anti-Summit organizing.

Nuanced, strategic organizing should not be hampered by these accounts. Activists can reduce the damage done by infiltrators by being principled in their actions, respectful and accountable in how they organize with others, and by keeping in mind that distrust is usually more harmful than infiltration.

Some of Leduc’s behaviour that was suspicious included his regular absences from Ottawa, his access to a vehicle, his silence about politics, and his sudden militancy after the arson. Marx, in his essay “Thoughts on a Neglected Category of Social Movement Participant: The Agent Provocateur and the Informant,” writes that other indications of infiltrators include “difficulty in reaching the person directly by phone, reluctance to discuss one’s personal past, discrepancies in biographical information, [and] extensive knowledge of weapons and self-defense.”

Police and spy agencies continue to gather intelligence and control activist groups across Canada, and officers and paid informants continue to infiltrate activist groups. They drive activists to events, take minutes, and listen attentively to plans, ideas, dreams, and conflicts. Groups that have been infiltrated have noted that there is no uniform or tidy response to the threat. Activists should understand that the political police closely monitor and even moderate political activities with the intention of gathering intelligence on so-called “subversives.” To stay safe, activists must stay informed of police literature and legislation that upholds the conditions for infiltration, and cultivate knowledge of broad organizing methods to limit the harm caused by surveillance. It’s also vital to keep in mind that one of the purposes of surveillance is to promote distrust, and that paranoia is more corrosive to organizing than infiltration. Strategies are neither neat nor foolproof, and political policing tactics are ever changing. Activists should retain their commitment to nurturing relationships with one another and between oppressed communities, but the hard truth is that they must be savvy about their collective safety.

Editorial note: The names of two people charged in association with the firebombing of the bank have been removed from the online version of this article upon request. The names and information surrounding the case are publicly available, but Briarpatch and the author chose to comply with the direct request.


New Zines in Our Catalog

new zines


We’ve added a handful of zines to our catalog:

  • Affinity Groups: Essential Building Blocks of Anarchist Organization – A recent guide published by Crimethinc to forming an affinity group.
  • A Critique of Ally Politics – A zine-formatted version of an excellent essay that appeared originally in “Rolling Thunder” and then was later republished in Taking Sides: Revolutionary Solidarity and the Poverty of Liberalism.
  • The Delirious Momentum of the Revolt – This zine is billed as “the complete works of A.G. Schwarz.” It’s very solid writing from an insurrectionary anarchist perspective that draws heavily on Greece for inspiration.
  • In Our Hands #1 – This is zine is consists of writings by the In Our Hands collective about their work using a community accountability approach to address sexual violence, abuse, and oppression.
  • Insurrectionary Ecology – This zine is a collection of reflections that builds on the writings of the UK-based eco-anarchist journal Do or Die. The zine is a humble attempt to fuse more eco-oriented and insurrectionary perspectives.

As always, all of these zines (among many others) are available as PDF downloads. We’re always looking to add more zines to our catalog, so please get in touch with recommendations. We are particularly interested in zines that deal with practical skills and/or those that offer theoretical insights that are useful in sharpening anarchists’ collective capacity to act.

Edited for

TOTW: Don’t Get Trolled!

This week’s topic is near and dear to our hearts. Sometimes entertaining and often frustrating, trolling as a phenomenon is endemic to modern discourse, and this is especially true of political spaces. From people who veer discussions wildly off-topic with seemingly unrelated opinions to those who provoke frustration or even anger with opinions with which we disagree strongly, we are presented daily with complicated social interactions both online and offline. Trolls, by nature of their often provocative views and tendency to dominate discussions, may leave us feeling overwhelmed and ill-prepared to do anything but try and ignore them.

This topic of the week is about taking a more proactive stance on trolling without getting pulled into the cycle of trolling itself. Much as trolling often snowballs, on-topic comments which actively engage with the original topic of discussion or engage with it in a less unpleasant way can pull people out of the troll-spiral.

What are some concrete ways to shape a discussion to be interesting and engaging when we see it going off the rails? How can we make conversations that we don’t feel included in or feel frustrated with more interesting to us? How do we challenge views we disagree with without engaging in the often fruitless and unpleasant task of trying to engage a troll directly?

Here are some suggestions from the collective – we’d love to hear more in the comments!

  1. Point out something you like, don’t like, or are confused about in the original topic of discussion
  2. Mention something you’re reminded of in your past experiences or something you’ve read before that agrees or disagrees with the original piece – offering a link to a related article can help slow the discussion down and get people more involved in a more interesting way
  3. Offer a deeper analysis of an article – is what the piece is saying new or old? What kind of anarchy is it describing?
  4. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the arguments presented? What is it a good example of? What is it a bad example of?
  5. What would your favorite historical anarchist say about this?


Edited for

Anews podcast – episode 18, July 2nd, 2017

Welcome to the anews podcast. This is episode 18 for July 2nd. This podcast covers anarchist activity, ideas, and conversations from the previous week.

Editorial – Waking the Woke
TOTW – Changes through Aging
A101 question – What is right and wrong with the idea of gradual transitions to anarchy?

this podcast
This podcast is the effort of many people. This week this podcast was
* sound edited by Linn O’Mable
* written by jackie and a collective member
* narrated by chisel and a friend
* Thanks to A! for their help with the topic of the week
* Contact us at

To learn more
Introduction to anarchism:
Books and other anarchist material:
News and up to the minute commentary: