An open letter to ODRC Legal Counsel Trevor Matthew Clark, Esquire, on his favorite topic–my unapologetic advocacy of political violence (written in the hopes of inspiring others to adopt my position and engage in revolutionary action).
In the interests of full transparency, I’d like to begin this letter by making my aims clear. I advocate political violence. I contend that political violence is absolutely necessary for the success of a revolutionary project, and I defend its morality as well as its practicality. I write this in the admitted hope that my reasonable and articulate arguments will reach rational people who will embrace the position I advocate, and that theywill take back the future from oppressors and tyrants by engaging in effective revolutionary action.
I present all of this as a letter to you for a few reasons. First, your written positions related to my prison disciplinary situation provide a pretty good representation of the State’s position, or at least can be used for extrapolating authority’s position on political violence. Second, you are an attorney, which makes you an expert at law and at argument, so if and when I can dispose of your stated positions and reduce your claims to nonsense, that will then demonstrate the superiority of my position to yours, and will prove pretty conclusively that political violence makes sense. And third, I know that once this is posted, given your emotional instability, the presence of this letter online will drive you completely bonkers for the rest of your life–which I will find personally satisfying, given your role in the State’s efforts to destroy my life; as listening to my disciplinary proceedings made you feel like “shooting [your]self in the face,” I imagine this will too. By all means, do not let me dissuade you.
I think that takes care of the disclosure ad transparency, so we should proceed to the topic of political violence. Typically, I will predicate a work like this with a few relevant quotes. I think that approach appropriate here.
So we begin.
“We are anarchists specifically because we do not water down our critique of social ills. We seek to strike the system at its roots.” –Crimethink, After the Crest III:Barcelona at Low Tide
“The revolutionary project of anarchists is to struggle along with the exploited and push them to rebel against all abuse and repression, so also against prison. What moves them is a desire for a better world, a better life with dignity ad ethic, where economy and politics have been destroyed. There can be no place for prison in that world”
“That is why anarchists scare power.”
“That is why they are locked up in prison.” –Alfredo Bonanno, “Introductory Note,” Locked Up
“Men [sic] will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last pope.” –Denis Diderot
Defining “Political Violence”
What is violence? No one can reasonably adopt a position on something before we define what it is. My dictionary gives five definitions, but the first one, I think, is more than adequate for our purposes here: “physical force exerted so as to cause damage, abuse, or injury.” By this definition, “violence” would include property damage and sabotage, though most purists would object to this definition and assert that “violence” is only “violence” when directed at living beings. I’m inclined to accept the definition that property damage is also violence because that’s more consistent with the position you’ve put forward on behalf of the State when you argued that I advocated violence against “people,” “destruction of property,” and “harassment,” and I would prefer not to quibble over the smaller details. So, for our purposes, we can accept that property damage is violence.
I think it’s important, though, that we point out that the definition of violence doesn’t include any qualifiers. What I mean is, by our definition, it matters not whether I’m punching you in the face or whether you are punching me in the face; a punch in the face is “physical force exerted so as to cause damage, abuse or injury,” no matter who the actor is. Violence is violence.
I know, that’s kind of self-evident as far as observations go. Kind of a no-brainer. I just wanted to point it out though, for future reference, for when we get to the point where you want to shoot yourself in the face.
But we don’t want to talk about just any violence. Interpersonal violence isn’t our topic. I don’t think either one of us is, for instance, advocating “domestic violence.” The question before us is whether or not we advocate political violence. Again we consult a dictionary and the first definition for “political” is, “of or relating to the affairs of government, politics, or the state.” I think that’s workable for the definition of “political.” If we put that together with our definition of violence, we create our working definition of political violence: “Physical force exerted so as to cause damage, abuse, or injury…of or related to the affairs of government, politics, or the state.”
I suppose we could go further and ask what the State is, particularly in this age where the State is so inextricably linked with the management of the economy and in the affairs of large corporations, but that’s really a whole other discussion unto itself, isn’t it? Our topic here is already ambitious enough, I think. So we can forego the question of, “What is the State?,” at least for purposes of identity, and we’ll suffice to say that the State is “the government,” the incorporated entity that exercises its assumed powers and authority, by and through its agents–like you. You qualify as an agent of the State.
Belief in Political Violence, Part I
Having defined political violence, we now address the question of whether or not I “believe in it.” If by “believe in it” we mean, “do I believe that political violence is real, then I would have to say, no, I do not believe in political violence. I know that political violence is real.
Political violence–“physical force exerted so as to cause damage, abuse, or injury…of or related to the affairs of government, politics, or the state”–is a fact of reality. It is happening at all times. It is ubiquitous.
The reality of political violence cannot rationally be questioned.
Belief in Political Violence, Part II
If by “belief in political violence” you mean to ask, “Do I believe political violence is practical?,” I would again have to answer, no. I do not believe that political violence is practical. I know that it is.
The reason I know political violence is practical is, I took a sociology class with Ashland University. I read the textbook. In it, the writers pointed out that movements like the Irish Republican Army that employed violence achieved at least partial success an overwhelming majority of the time, as opposed to strictly nonviolent movements where just the opposite held true.
So, we can say objectively and without a doubt that, as a practical matter, political violence works.
And, I think I need to point out here, I’m not yet making an argument for political violence. Nothing so far related to how I “feel” about political violence or whether I “like” political violence or not. Political violence is real and it works, however we “feel” about it, the same way that the planet is round, gravity persists, and the earth goes around the sun, all independent of the question of whether we “believe” in the planet’s roundness, or gravity’s legitimacy, or the earth’s trajectory.
Gravity does not seek our consent. Neither does the efficacy of political violence.
Belief in Political Violence, Part III
If you ask, “Do you believe in political violence?” and by “believe in” you mean, “Do you think political violence should be employed?” I would answer with an emphatic yes. But if you were being honest, Trevor, you would also answer with an emphatic yes. You accept political violence as moral and legitimate, and I can prove it to you.
You work as ODRC Counsel–as an attorney for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. The ODRC is an agency of the State of Ohio, established by the Ohio Constitution of 1803. Ohio is the 17th state of the United States; the United States gained its independence from the British crown with the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1787.
By calling yourself “ORDC Counsel,” you are implicitly stipulating to the truth of all of those facts. You have to be. If any one of those statements above are untrue, you aren’t ODRC Counsel. You’re just a dude in skinny jeans with a lot of college debt and the FBI on speed-dial. If the ODRC is not an agency of the State of Ohio, then you have no claim to exercise authority on behalf of the State. If the Treaty of Paris didn’t provide the United States independence from the British crown, then the United States is not a sovereign nation, Ohio isn’t part of its confederation, and Ohio is not a state. Again, that leaves you in your skinny jeans chatting with the fascists and wondering how you’ll pay off all that college debt since you don’t have a job.
So, in Trevor Clark’s world, the Treaty of Paris is valid. The revolutionaries in the colonies who engaged in open, violent rebellion against the rightful authorities–rightful authorities under existing international law–were not criminals, traitors, offenders against the peace and dignity of the British crown, but were instead signatories to a treaty, the proper representatives of a nation whose independence was gained through the means of political violence.
You’re an attorney, Trevor. Do you practice British law in British courts? Are you a member of the British bar? When you introduced yourself to me on 27 March 2013, did you refer to yourself as Counsel for the British Crown?
I guess that means you accept the legitimacy of the political violence employed by Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Patrick Henry, and the rest. I guess that means that you, like every other U.S. citizen, have to concede and stipulate to the acceptance of political violence and its validity.
So much for your categorical rejection of political violence, huh?
This is an important point because it proves that you and I have more in common in our thinking than we have uncommon. We both know that political violence exists. We both know that, as a practical matter, it works. And we both accept that recourse to political violence is legitimate. We only argue, potentially, over the questions of when political violence should be employed, by whom, to what end, and against whom.
So let’s shift gears for a moment. Let’s stop talking about my advocacy of political violence and start talking about yours.
Back to our Definition of “Political Violence”
You’ll recall that earlier I made the point that “violence” as it is defined, has no qualifiers, that it matters not whether I’m punching you in the face or whether you are punching me in the face. A punch in the face is violence no matter who the actor is. Violence is violence. And so we get to the point I foreshadowed, where you want to shoot yourself in the face.
On 19 September 2012, without any justification at all–and admittedly so, because everything I was accused of related to my apprehension was dismissed–you, the State, removed me from the prison population. You put me in cuffs. You “exerted” “physical force…so as to cause damage, abuse, or injury,” forcibly taking me into custody and putting me in a torture cell for days. That’s violence. And it’s violence “related to the affairs of…the state,” as it’s violence employed by the State in the (mis)management of its affairs. I was then subjected to conditions that the CIA described as “the simple torture situation” in its KUBARK Counterintelligence and Interrogation Manual, an insidious how-to manual for torturers and state-terrorists like yourself.
It was also on 19 September 2012 that you, the State, “seized” my typewriter and then destroyed it in retaliation for me calling the ODRC director a “sock puppet” for the JPay corporation. You’ll recall, by our definition, when you “exert” “physical force…so as to cause damage…,” that’s violence. And in this case, the violence, destroying my typewriter, is directly “related to the affairs of…the State,” as “the State” is the entity destroying my typewriter for its own political agenda.
See the problem you have here, Trevor? It’s very, very difficult to hear your indignant and self-righteous condemnations of “political violence” because every time you try to speak, more and more corpses fall out of the mass grave we know as your mouth.
But while we’re on the topic, let’s also analyze the larger context of your political violence. In my own case, I’ve been held without a legitimate legal justification according to your own laws, for twenty-three years. That means I’m not a prisoner; I’m a kidnap victim.1
Kidnapping is a violent crime, Trevor. Violence. State violence, and State violence is, de facto, political violence.
When you continually employ political violence against someone, it seems more than a little bit irrational and hypocritical for you to assert that the victims of your political violence do not so much as have the right to “advocate” its use against you.
And, of course, the ultimate irony is, if you had not abducted me and tortured me and mounted an all-out assault on every aspect of my life in flagrant violation of your own written laws (not that anyone, particularly you, pays any attention to those), I never would have been provoked to “advocate” a politically-violent response.
You will recall that you wrote to my attorneys, “The types of violence and intimidation that are advocated for [sic] in his writings fall clearly within the legal exceptions to that right [of free speech].2 ODRC will not tolerate threats, harassment and attempts at intimidation.” That’s what you wrote.
See your problem? If the State will not tolerate “threats,” perhaps the State should get out of the “threat” business. If the State won’t tolerate “harassment,” whatever that means, perhaps it should cease its torture and state-terror operations. If the State won’t tolerate “intimidation,” maybe it should stop using its machinery of violence to silence, neutralize, and destroy its critics, whistleblowers, and political opponents.
Just an idea. Otherwise, if the State is going to be in the threat, harassment and intimidation business, as it clearly is now, then the State is going to be turning a lot of people into enemies, the same way you have made a lifelong enemy of me, and you will soon have to confront thousands of Sean Swains…all of us recognizing that we have no other recourse but political violence. Not all of us can easily be tucked away at super-duper-uber-mega-ultramax.
You’re got something like twelve million people in Ohio. And lots and lots of guns.
I read somewhere that estimated gun ownership in the U.S. is more than 200 million. That’s a lot of guns. If you divide that evenly among all 50 states, which is unrealistic since only 12 people live in Montana, the people of Ohio alone have at least 4 million guns. That’s a gun for every third person.
I suppose for the remainder of this, I can address my arguments directly to those people. The literary device of directing my arguments to you has served its purpose. So, by all means, don’t let me hold you from any important business. Feel free to shoot yourself in the face at any time.
12 million People, 4 million guns, and 1 Common Enemy Subjecting Everyone to Political Violence…Arrogantly Assuming We Won’t Do Something About It…
The Trevor Clarks who run the State of Ohio will not tolerate your “threats” or “harassment” or “intimidation.” They will, however, take your money without your consent to pay their own salaries. They tax you, supposedly for your own good. Supposedly to provide you “services,” like roads, schools, and protection.
But you’re reasonable. You’d voluntarily pay for services. You voluntarily pay for services every day. If the State really offered services, you would gladly pay for the value of those services.
The State doesn’t give you that option. Instead, the State “exerts” “force” to fund “the affairs of government,” to your loss, to your “injury.” The State engages in political violence in your every transaction. The State knows that reasonable people like you would never pay outrageous sums for shoddy services, and so it resorts to political violence to keep itself going, not for your own good, but at your expense.
The Trevor Clarks who steal your money from you make a good salary. You pay them generously, not for roads, schools, and protections, but for chuck-holes, illiteracy, and political repression. You pay for the government hackers who are reading your e-mails and listening in on your phone calls. You pay for the miseducation system that convinces a new generation that they cannot possibly handle ruling themselves, that they need the government’s “services” of chuck-holes, illiteracy, and political repression. You pay for the Apache attack helicopters the government buys to “protect” you…and then points the helicopter at you.
The State will not tolerate your “threats” or “harassment” or “intimidation.” The Trevor Clarks have spoken. You 12 million people with at least 4 million guns will do what you are told and you will pay the bill…or else.
Does that sound like “freedom”? I could be wrong, but I think real freedom doesn’t involve your government constantly employing political violence against you and intimidating you if you start talking about freedom.
Not that it matters because we have no duty to defer to the documents of the Trevor Clarks who are stickingit to us, but the Ohio Constitution expressly provides that we have the “right” to “abolish” the government. Article I, Section 2. We can do it whenever we “deem it necessary.”
I don’t know about you, but I deem it necessary. I don’t want to die at super-duper-uber-mega-ultra-max because I defended my own life and then told the truth about the prison directors’ crimes. And, more importantly, I don’t want others to die for what they believe, locked away or shot by agents of an irrational State.3 So, that means the State has to go.
We deserve better.
Something to consider. There’s us… There’s them…
We have 12 million people and at least 4 million guns.
Just a quick reminder to any remaining pacifists out there–your choice is not between “violence” or “peace.” If it was, we would all choose peace. But if we do not choose to engage in violence, that does not create a situation of peace; that creates a situation of unilateral violence where the State continues to “exert” its “force” to your “injury.” So, an absence of action, on your part, facilitates State violence. In fact, the longer you refrain from acting, the more lives are devastated. Objectively, anyone who is really, truly for peace will struggle–by any means necessary— to destroy the State completely and as quickly as possible so that the principle cause of State violence will cease and we will then finally have the option of choosing peace.
You can’t choose “peace” with a loaded shotgun in your face. Once you address the issue of that loaded shotgun in your face, you have the option of choosing peace.
And personally, I cannot wait to choose peace.
The State and its political violence are an obstacle to that peace. Let’s remove it. Completely. Immediately.
As someone else who confronted terrorists at the controls once said, “Let’s roll.”
We own the future.
It starts now…if only we have the will.
Freedom or Death,
Ohio State Penitentiary
1. I was kidnapped by the State in 1991 after defending my own life in my own home. Erie County Case No. 91-CR-253. My false conviction was reversed, Sixth District Case No. E-91-80. On remand, the trial court refused to follow the mandate of the Court of Appeals. I remain imprisoned for 23 years, still awaiting the fair trial ordered in 1993. To avoid having to recognize my innocence and the illegality of my captivity, the Erie County Court of Common Pleas simply refuses to file anything I present.
2. You have asserted that the First Amendment does not protect speech that “advocates violence.” If that’s the case, it was illegal to support the bombing of Iraq or the invasion of Afghanistan. Bombs are violence, Trevor. It would also be illegal to advocate the executions of the Lucasville Uprising leaders.
Killing people is violence, Trevor.
So, clearly, the question of whether speech advocates or does not advocate violence is perfectly irrelevant to whether it enjoys First Amendment protections. In fact, if you read all of the U.S. Supreme Court cases that delineate prisoner free speech rights, the question of “advocating violence” is no part of the calculus. The question isn’t related to content, but to the forum and the purpose–in this case, a public forum, and the purpose is political speech; so, the speech in question is afforded the most protection according to your highest court’s decisions. See, Jones v. NCPLU, 433 US119 (1977); Pell v. Procunier, 417 US 817 (1974; Thornburgh v. Abbott, 490 US 401 (1989); Turner v. Safley, 482 US 78 (1987); Procunier v. Martinez, 416 US 396 (1974; and Simon & Schuster Inc v. Members of the New York State Crime Victims Board, et. al, 502 US 105 (1991). Simon & Schuster stands for the proposition that the State cannot create a “disincentive” for prisoner speech in a public forum…like, say, sending me to super-duper-uber-mega-ultra-max for my communicated ideas to a website.
3. The Cleveland Police reserve the right to shoot unarmed people 137 times. “To Protect and Serve” looks a lot like “To Enslave and Oppress.”
4. Some excellent resources:
Computer Security: crypto.com anonymizer.com colt.org/crypto c4m.net fbi.gov/hq/lab/carnivore/carnivore.htm netsol.com/cgi-bin/whois/whois
Special Training: nasta.ws operationaltactics.org bad-boys.net swattraining.com specialoperations.com
Ohio Militia: oomaac.com
I have no idea about the politics of any of these groups, but I suspect they are armed. That’s a start. Whatever your politics, they can teach you how to shoot. That’s a start.
Or, apart from firearms, you could descend on the Ohio Statehouse in ski masks with cans of gasoline and books of matches. That’s a start too.
Article I, Section 2 of the Ohio Constitution affirms your right to do it.
Sean Swain is a prisoner in Ohio State penitentiary and a regular contributor to Fubar. He does not have computer access and cannot receive email. Sean’s website http://seanswain.org is maintained by his supporters.
Sean’s address is:
Sean Swain 243205
Ohio State Penitentiary
878 Coitsville-Hubbard Rd.
Youngstown OH 44505