[The following piece is an supplement to a document disseminated to RAIM cells and comrades for the purposes of security. We post it here in order to help all comrades improve security practice, especially in the face of the post-crisis rise of fascism in the over-developed world.]
We must take great care when approaching questions that could potentially jeopardize personal security or the security of the revolutionary movement. While it is clear that some questions pose a direct threat to our security, oftentimes such pig questions are asked innocently, simply with the intent of making small talk or getting to know one another. However, a case can be made for altogether avoiding the process of “getting to know” our comrades. Many personal details such as home town, family size, criminal or activist history, religious or ethnic background, etc., are entirely unnecessary for us to know about one another, as these distract from our purpose in coming together as an organization. The expectation that we must know each other as we know ourselves is damaging, and we must accept that there is some information which we do not need to know.
That being said, humans are social animals. As such it is natural for us to become friends with our comrades, and in socializing we often seek to learn more about each other. There are many things that, at the discretion of people involved, may not be “dangerous” to discuss; however some questions pose hidden threats. What is important is that we remain constantly vigilant in guarding ourselves from infiltration, while remembering that we must invest some level of trust and respect in each other. We know that these things are the natural stepping stones to “getting to know” one another, so most often these questions are asked it is not in a nefarious attempt to gather information; nonetheless we must practice some kind of discipline when considering what questions we should answer.
“Where are you from?”
“What do you do for a living?”
“Do you have siblings?”
“Where do you live?”
“What do you do in your free time?”
Obviously these questions are at times dangerous to ask, and we should avoid answering them in situations where they may compromise us. That said, we must not treat every inquirer as if they are an infiltrator, or punish them asking. It is enough to simply state that you do not wish to answer the question. However, in explaining why, it is important to be cautious not to come across hostile or defensive towards your comrades. You must give your comrades the benefit of the doubt that they are not in fact informants for having asked a question. Such an accusation should be taken very seriously. Such unwarranted hostility is never valuable in our practice.
If we consistently approach these situations with constant hostility, we not only incite unnecessary suspicion on the part of others as to our intentions, but we also alienate them without any real reason for doing so. Further, in doing so we fail to give them any explanation of how they may better their own security practice or any awareness of the political consequences for such a question. We don’t have to be confrontational or elaborate in our explanation regarding why we cannot answer this or that question, instead we should explain ourselves simply. For instance:
Comrade 1 “So where are you from originally?”
Comrade 2 “I don’t exactly feel comfortable sharing.”
Comrade 1 “Why not?”
Comrade 2 “Well, that kind of information isn’t really appropriate for me to share, and we need to be careful about what we ask and tell people in our political work.”
Obviously there is more to be said as we cannot perfectly anticipate how others will respond, though this should illustrate a general guide for these sorts of interactions.. We shouldn’t fire back with accusations affiliation with the pigs or their network of spies, as this kind of response incites anger and paranoia which works against the projects we are trying to build. We must remain sensitive to what can actually aid the pigs, especially when discussing our own experience with revolutionary activity. This is not only out of a need for real humility and a focus on effect rather than personal prestige, but also out of care for our own security and an emphasis on the content of someone’s work in the present.
Furthermore, this goes double for interactions on the internet. One can say or claim anything from the relative safety and anonymity of the internet. It becomes infinitely easier to claim you are of any particular background with any particular history, and to even claim to be particular people entirely. So we should take what is said online with a grain of salt, and further move away from basing our ideas of people on the boasts they make online. Just as important should be our care in remaining respectful and contained when talking with each other. There is no need and no benefit to angry accusations against people on things we are unsure of. Without taking such care, all we accomplish is alienating comrades over asking perfectly normal questions, rather than doing what is we should be doing: engaging with comrades on questions of security in a productive way.