A Pervert's Guide to Provocative Agents
"Police responses are not, in general, decided by individual police witnessing specific events, but by senior police and political leaders deciding how to deal with the protest as a whole. If the police attack protestors, it’s because they’ve decided to attack protestors, not because of anything the protestors did (this is also why worrying about police infiltrators is usually pointless; police may use provocateurs to stage-manage their intervention, but the form of their intervention is decided in advance and is independent of what either protestors or provocateurs do)."
By the way, small note on the pervy libidinal economy of the internet and the pre-selection of content...
... there is no way to google image search "agent provocateur" without receiving results that are almost entirely from luxury lingerie ads.
Adding the word "police" calibrates the results to include the standard "use of circles to illustrate how you can, in fact, tell a cop by his shoes", but also to include a very Night Porter falange of lingerie models and a woman in bra and panties standing in front of a custom "Agent Provocateur" pink and black Police mini.
+ "liberal" mainly shifts the optic toward the "non-West," plus the amping up of the spittle-rain of Tea Party hysteria.
But, more seriously: what "agent provocateur" truly indexes is the quintuple notion that
a) as Voyou notes, the fantasy that there is not already a state game plan in action, as if - notwithstanding the genuine, and vicious, decisions that get made on the ground on the basis of a general predisposition to treat people like that, such as the now-infamous of throwing of a flash-bang grenade into a crowd of people surrounding a man who would require brain surgery - the police were a neutral substance that responded solely on the basis of a catalyst such as "property destruction."
b) that there is a predetermined object - a "protest" - that already exists, that is capable of being "ruined." The clusterfuck of predictable media condemnation and predictable "left" infighting over the minor chaos of Rome a couple weeks back entirely confirmed this: the discourse centered around the idea that there was a perfectly good demonstration and a few shits - "bad apples", of course, as if the harvest were ripe, untainted, yet subject to the transmission of decay - who went and spoiled this safe, edible, lovely thing. What this implies, then, is a conception of a protest as something that "everyone" knows damn well how it should go: a set number of hours, the expected quantity of chants performed and flags waved, and a return home at the end, having put in a good day's work. The echoes of labor time are far from incidental. And who could blame some for wanting to ruin it?
c) conversely, that a situation itself neutral, undecided, not agitated but capable of being provoked. A slim beam of contingency.
d) the correct assertion that there do exist, at times, agent provocateurs.
e) the incorrect notion that there are not amongst us who, God for-fucking-bid, might not wish to be provocative, that we might not want our days to end up exhausted, excited, confused, gutted as an abandoned building, taken over by something bigger than ourselves, blown away by how previous lines of adherence came apart, uncertain of what has or what may come to pass.