To read later but here's a quote from the piece that sums up the NCRI
"the NCRI are basically tracking people and ideas and then giving that information to “the cops.” You’ll note, of course, that what qualifies as extremism, manipulation, hate, and deception are not defined."
Last fall the NCRI published a report entitled: Network-Enabled Anarchy: How Militant Anarcho-Socialist Networks Use Social Media to Instigate Widespread Violence Against Political Opponents and Law Enforcement.
So yeah me & my friends are extremists
Sorry for the late reply, lots going on. I have a lot of thoughts about this, and would refer people to a piece I wrote about a similar situation in the UK with a professor named John Drury. It can be found here:
There are some important nuances here that have been lost in the debate though, that become relevant in how we approach this scenario
Firstly, let me say that the scope of these comments do not include conceptual critiques of Ross's work; I have plenty of those, and am working on a piece with a friend outlining some of those issues. The article linked at the beginning of this thread lays out a lot of similar criticisms.
There are clear positional issues with this. But, we have to be specific about what we are problematizing and how.
The claim in some pieces is that the Network Contagion Institute has people from CIA, DHS, etc working there; that is false. The people that work there are FORMER members of intelligence agencies and academics, but they are not current members of intel branches. This positions the work of the NCI completely within academia, and specifically within a form of academia that has inherent relations to the State; in this case Ross is a geography professor.
As a former academic myself I can definitively say that the distance between any academic institution and the State is minimal. This exists in the form of direct funding, in some cases, but also grants, the former occupations of faculty, the political connections of trustees, etc.
The State, and politicians, on the other hand utilize academic work to justify policies, many of which have horrendous consequences in everyday life.
This then allows us to identify a few issues, some of which Ross needs to be accountable for, and some of which require more nuanced approaches. The first issue, as was identified, is positional. This institute does influence State policy, directly, and was used to attempt to justify repression against anarchist groups this past Fall, with politicians using their reports as grounding to justify police action.
That is a HUGE problem!
In this, and this is inherent in writing in general, one loses control over diffusion and impact, allowing that to be determined by readers. That does not mean, however, that we cannot structure our writing to attempt to shape impact, and that involves style and the form of release.
In taking a position at this institute, the lines of diffusion are clear, and they lead directly to the national security apparatus.
The third issue is one of the university as a whole, and what academic careers require. To maintain an academic career, which Ross is clearly doing here, one needs to become comfortable with the connections between the university and the State, and the role of the university in State activity.
This often means taking on roles which involve ethically questionable elements. This is partially why I left, personally.
So, what we really have here is a struggling academic taking a role at a highly problematic institute which distributes work directly to the national security apparatus, and that Ross has taken a position there. In that scenario there is no way to make assurances about how one's work is going to be used; which is how he is justifying his employment there.
Even though the claims around this controversy are overblown and imprecise, there are also clear problems here which require accountability on the part of Ross, and an apology to everyone that has been harmed by this institute. That includes the whole anarchist milieu in the US, and specifically the YLF, It's Going Down and Crimethinc, all of which were directly targeted.
So, I can say with absolute certainty, that IGD addresses this on the yet to be released episode of the This is America podcast; it should be released in the next 3-5 days, so check your podcatchers. There will also be a written statement, likely a short one, which will address this as well.
I have not talked to Crimethinc people about this yet, so I'm not sure where they are at around this right now.
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