Police Violence - by Christopher Barnett

Christopher Barnett
Nantes, France

i have been beaten by warders & police in adelaide, melbourne, sydney, london, belfast & milan

beaten to the extent where it was difficult to recognise my own body

i never ever took it personally, it was in its way historically, predetermined. my person, not my self was the object of their violence

only once, when i was nearly murdered in adelaide inn the darlington police station & then charged with the acts they committed, that i researched for reasons out of the ones i has already instincted

i do not know if it is still their practice but in the sixties, young cops were blooded in working class neighborhoods. it was both a way of breeding hatred for the people but it was to habituate them to violence, & to a certain degree, to have them learn the limits of violence, but all cops are not good learners, some of them congenitally incapable of learning, & the cops could kill, by accident, or negligence. the others knew when it had to stop & what parts of the body to hit

what they did not know or even want to know was some of the people they were hitting, were hit once too much & something in their self worth & i witnessed this with some very hard people, lost faith in themselves & the world. i knew many young men & women who were dead because they could not live with that

Michael, asked, interrogated, the difference between instinct & impulse. instinct is learned, is dialectical & as much as it is possible in dangerous circumstances it synthesises all those lesson whereas impulse is purely a reflex, personal, psychological - it is ego, it mistakes the field for the world. instinct places a primacy on survival (michael i am not sure but i think mao even speaks of it in 'on contradiction' obliquely, engels certainly does in 'dialectics of nature')

instinct is learned & i use it in my work to understand which of our participants is in immediate danger & which is, even if they are suffering, which they are, is melodrama

instinct is based in life & in art on risk, on being able to take enormous risks & to absorb them & be transformed imperceptibly by them

when i came to france in 1990, i had 200 francs, a reputation, some teeth, little french & a desire not to die in australia, which was for me in that time, inevitable

the synthesis arrived organically as it always does, a muséee xanted a performance of my work in a special exhibition of soviet painting, the centenary of maïakovski's birth was having a colloque in which i was to perform my work on him,a generous dentist said it was enough now to be protected from fools by my abscence of teeth so she created them, that act moved me, really moved me because her instinctual comprehension was so formidable. i was to be published by the most prestigious of belles lettres editions, who introduced paul celan to france & i began my collaboration with thomas harlan who was to remain & still does, even after death, themost important man in my life. even if god existed he could not have organised a meeting of two people whose concerns were almost identical.

we might be called flawed communists but that is what we are & remain

violence, at the hands of the state, as pier paolo pasolini knew is by its very nature sensuous. it is a sensuous activity at its most perverted as is torture & i can say openly on some of those occasions the difference between the violence & torture was quantitative. their intention was to destroy, without killing. that the empire reserves for africans, for asians, for the arab people, for the wonderful brothers & sisters of latin america. that i why in those cases they very often use proxies

what does it do to someone, i can only account for myself, if you can survive it, it transforms you, it makes you listen, become more attentive, to be less negligent, more generous because you have been a participant, i will not use the word 'victim' because in each instance it was my politics being attacked not my 'self', in those moments of intense violence you are a multitude, you have to deliberately take on the weight of your camarades & in the end almost innately but very materially the consciousness of those camarades protects you.

what you have been a part of witness/participant is evil, profoundly evil that is class determined & nothing any recent thinker will make me thin otherwise. i knew the eyes of those who were beating the living fuck out of me, i recognised those people in many countries & i had seen it in the lumpen faces of the fascists i had fought on london streets in 1977

the violence that was done to me, did not hide the greater violence of the inequalities of education & of housing, forms of violence becoming extreme today in europe. no it never hid that, for me it highlighted it

when their knees went into your back while the other was strangling at you, another pissing all over you & another calling you every name popular culture has taught them to call people like me, the multitudes. when their very care in not hitting you around the head creates a loss of breath that i can feel today because of my illnesses & in those moments today, surely the historical memory within me recalls

when you have been beaten beyond consciousness, consciousness remains.

fear too, disappears because you are aware of accidents, accident that can kill you, i remember in milan my head being thrown with great force on the corner of a table, i was wiped out & i was very surprised that i woke, to another beating, you fear their stupidity much more than their aggression

today iin remembering this, writing it down i hear their voices, loud insistent always rapid as if this itself will break your will - it doesn't, concentration returns very quickly & even though i have been knocked out & do not know where i am let alone what country i am in, consciousness, which is really the muscles of memory returns you have an operation & strategic capacity that these thugs are unaware no matter how numerous their practice. most people just want it to stop, you have other options

when all this is being done to you it is being done in an enviroment of both noise & silence, the thrashing of your body is itself creating sounds you can barely hear over & because it is so full of menace & your awareness of menace, it is silent, when in fact it is not, in every horrible experience such as this i have been given, unknown to the perpetrators, a terrible knowledge

a terrible knowledge, capital, especially late capital would like to conceal in it concatenation of imperial culture's agitation, that terrible knowledge is that the elites hate us, hate us so deeply, if they had the opportunity to exterminate us, they would.

i am not being melodramatic what the einsatzgruppen did & taught through the Rsha is the language empire uses when it is crushing counties & it is the language, the physical language that is used in every police station

imperial culture imagines people forget, they remember everything, state violence imagines it leaves you with dear but the reality is, it leaves you with the opposite

i know i teach the act of creation, of writing with more precision because of what the body has endured

the body being the most material substance


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