You guys ever hear of the Kryptes? It is good that an appreciation of Spartan culture has kinda resurfaced in contemporary America, no doubt due to that Zack Snyder movie 300 based on Frank Miller’s comic. “This is Sparta”, kick to chest and all that. There is much of Spartan culture to be admired, not the least of which is they produced some of the finest infantry the world has ever seen. I imagine one has to go pretty high up on the SF foodchain for a contemporary equivalent to the Spartan hoplite, SAS or Delta. Herodotus writes of a Spartan Peer being blinded in combat at Thermopylae and therefore being excused from combat by Leonidas, but he opted to return to battle. Imagine the training, the culture, that could produce a man with resolve like that; it’s beyond words. Also, some Athenian families would send their boys to Spartan schools. When the Athenians recognize you for your educational system, you’re probably doing something noteworthy. But beyond the attributes to be admired, there were also some notably dark, unpleasant aspects of Spartan society– kinda like, well, kinda exactly like ours. The Krypteia was one of these.
The short version is that Spartan men basically did one thing, serve in the military, so the other fundamentals of life had to be handled by someone else. Food production and domestic chores were handled by the helots, who significantly outnumbered the Spartan citizenry– six or seven times over, and perhaps during some periods significantly more. Moreover, sometimes these were slaves who had access to your home, your children, other assets, and most importantly, many of them had little to lose. While there were opportunities for a helot to accumulate wealth, and there are instances of them being able to purchase their freedom, the day-to-day existence of your average helot was notably brutal. Let me give you an example, because that sentence doesn’t do it justice– every autumn, the helots could be hunted and slain with impunity by a citizen. Imagine what that would do to your stress level. Really think about that. Autumn comes every year.
This Krypteia, according to some, was part of a final phase of the agoge where promising cadets could improve their skills at surveillance, stalking, and killing, keeping an eye on the helot villages and keeping the slaves on their toes. Sort of a Deutsches Jungvolk with more stabbing. According to others, it was something more organized than that, a secret police whose function was rooting out potential leaders among the helots – who, and this cannot be stressed enough, had very little to lose – and eliminating even the potential for sedition. Common sense would tell us it was a little of both.
The reason I bring this up is one wonders how much of this sort of thing goes on today in contemporary America. Even the helots had revolts, but you don’t see much social unrest in contemporary America. Kind of amazing for a population that has had its cost of living double in recent decades. During my lifetime, the biggest movements here I’ve witnessed was nothing for decades, then the Tea Party thing against basically poor people having access to healthcare more robust than emergency room visits. (I don’t want to dwell on the Tea Party, because that’s a digression, beyond saying that whole thing was shameful. When you’ve reached the stage in life where you’d fault a poor person for having access to the most basic, weak tea sort of socialized medicine, you need to start looking inward for the source of your unhappiness.)
Then along came Occupy Wall Street, and reasonable people perked their eyebrows. Here was a group of not insignificant numbers who were kinda committed, halfway organized, had little to lose, and, not to go unmentioned, were clearly in the right. Now, on top of everything else, generations of Americans had their pensions looted by sociopaths in business casual wear– something which then-chair of the CFTC Brooksley Born warned the people who you’re supposed to warn was going to happen, and they did nothing. No, scratch that, they didn’t do just nothing, they shut her down. Beyond America, those sociopaths sent the world economy into recession in what has to be the largest theft of wealth in human history. Plunder not done with the straightforwardness of pointy sticks or gladii or bullets, but keyboard-mashing, button-presses. Button-presses. Nobody went to prison. In fact, the criminals didn’t just get away scot free, their dishonor was covered to the tune of $700-plus billion that is publically disclosed, plus billions of dollars that aren’t, ostensibly because it could cause a “lack of confidence” in the banking institutions that we should have a lack of confidence in, but truly because helots don’t deserve to know who their tax money is being plundered by. And the sad truth of the matter is, at that point, there may have been no real choice but to pay the mafiosos their tribute. Too big to fail indeed.
For those who would likewise seek change and move forward, pay attention to what happened to the Occupy movement. As a younger person you judge people, in part, by their friends. As you get older, you judge them by their enemies. And the enemies started slinking out of the slime to take on Occupy. The Kryptes began to mobilize. Our newspapers of record focused on the trash – the fucking used McDonald's cups and shit – inevitably left when large crowds gather. That didn’t fully work, so the kid gloves halfway came off. You’ve read the stories. I was particularly alarmed by Yasha Levine’s account in 2011 about Occupy LA arrestees being held on a sheriff’s department bus for seven hours without food, water, or bathroom facilities. They had to urinate in their seats. (If you snickered right now, focus on being the exact opposite sort of person you are.) He wrote about 200+ protesters later being held for over 48 hours in scabies-infested cells, then being slapped with significant fines for failure to disperse.
Plus there was that iconic photo by Louise Macabitas, of the campus security goon pepperspraying the clearly nonviolent, sitting protesters at UC Davis in November 2011. That photo. There’s something about it. Zeitgeist. The expression on that rent-a-cop’s unfortunate face, not “I hate myself for what I’m doing to these obviously nonaggressive kids, my fellow citizens, somebody’s sons and daughters, betraying every single notion about a mostly-free society that comes to mind, but I have to feed my own children”, but more like, “I’m getting off on brutalizing these kids in public, on camera, and nobody’s going to lift a finger to stop me. Mmmmmmm”. I’ve heard that guy made over $100k a year at the time of that assault. Being a footsoldier in the Kryptes is apparently a lot more profitable than writing morose books sans quotation marks. Amor fati.
Note how the incident was handled by UC Davis and Fox news. The university released a statement saying that, after all, the kids were blocking the path. Bill O’Reilley, who’s my personal favorite establishment-appointed jester, chatting with Megyn Kelly, pointed out on November 21st, 2011 that we don’t have the right to Monday morning quarterback the police. Um, that rent-a-cop was clearly in no danger for his personal safety. He clearly had time to reflect on his actions. So yes, yes we do. That’s actually the whole point of this whole 237-year-old social experiment we’re currently failing, Bill. We absolutely do have the right.
In some perverse way, you’ve got to tip your hat to the propagandists at Fox News. These are advanced-level techniques, perpetrated by clear masters of the form. Why send the Kryptes out to bushranger amongst the slaves and get their blades wet, when the helots will welcome you into their homes en masse via the TV? O’Reilley, a smartly-dressed, financially successful, Old Skool paternal-type, and Kelly, a pretty blonde with a juris doctorate speaking with enunciation, both speaking with confidence, telling you it’s just not that big of deal. Those kids had it coming to them, they were sitting there not obeying like you’re supposed to, and they’re probably not your kids, although they could have been, but forget about that last bit. Go back to sleep, helot. Men want to have intercourse with Kelly then have her fight their traffic tickets. Women want to… well, women want the financial security that O’Reilley offers. Plus it all sounds so right if you don’t dig beneath the surface. It’s hitting your brain from multiple angles of attack. Pepper spray is “like a derivative of actual pepper. It’s a food product essentially”, Kelly said. There are types of pepperspray peppers that actually eat through the migrant workers’ gloves while harvesting FYI. “This was on the chancellor’s orders,” O’Reilley said. Appeal to authority. I mean, wow.
So far we’ve been discussing the way Occupy was handled publically. But there’s a book to be written about what went on in the shadows. I hear the joke in the ‘70s was that there were more COINTELPRO informants at the anti-Vietnam rallies than actual protestors. The question for years was, Was Occupy being handled similarly? Even back in 2011, Adrian Chen for Gawker sure presented a compelling case that there could be a reasonable suspicion that the Kryptes were alive and well. In the October 15 article, “COINTELPRO 101: Meet the guy who snitched on Occupy Wall Street to the FBI and NYPD”, Chen revealed how an informant hacked one of Occupy New York’s mailing lists and leaked the intel to the FBI, the NYPD, and then even NBC (wow) when protests were planned in front of morning shows like Today and Good Morning America. What was unclear is whether this snitch acted at the behest of law enforcement agencies or did it, as Chen wrote, jokingly, “out of the goodness of his heart”. There were emails where they thanked him for the info. Conspiracy theories became less easy to dismiss.
Now in the last 48 hours, the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund is reporting that they have thousands of new FOIA-requested documents proving that the Department of Homeland Security in addition to the FBI has been routinely surveilling and obstructing Occupy in many cities, through both official and “off the books” (read: quasi- or yet-to-be-legally-justified) means. Go to www.justiceonline.org for the specifics, and they’re appalling. “[E]ven before the first tent went up in lower Manhattan” the PCJF writes, referring to documents obtained last year, the FBI was treating Occupy as “a potential criminal and terrorist threat in spite of the fact that the FBI acknowledged that the OWS organizers explicitly called for peaceful protests.” Now the website quotes PCJF Legal Director Carl Messineo as stating that the new DHS documents “show that federal and local law enforcement agencies, in concert with the biggest banks on Wall Street and elsewhere in the country, conducted a massive spying program and a large-scale disruption operation against the Occupy movement.” “Taken together, the two sets of documents paint a disturbing picture of federal law enforcement agencies using their vast power in a systemic effort to surveil and disrupt peaceful demonstrations. The federal agencies’ actions were not because Occupy represented a ‘terrorist threat’ or a ‘criminal threat’ but rather because it posed a significant grassroots political challenge to the status quo,” stated PCJF Executive Director Mara Verheyden-Hilliard.
You don’t have to read too much about the Atomic Energy Commission’s radioactive iodine experiments, the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, MKULTRA, or the PCJF’s document grabs to figure out that we’re not talking about one or two or even a handful of malevolent types within our government; there is an inarguable pattern of evidence over decades to show that some elements within our government view the 99% (as David Graeber of Occupy coined the term) as helotlike chattel. The Krypteia has never gone out of style, has only been refined over the centuries. More on this in the future.