The Acorn – 9

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Number 9

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In this issue:

  1. “Democracy” – another stick to beat us with
  2. Police lay siege to Liverpool occupation
  3. Mayday mayhem in Milan and Istanbul
  4. Tarnac: state persecution starts again
  5. East London Rising
  6. Acorninfo

1. “Democracy” – another stick to beat us with

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Police thugs enforce “democracy” near Downing Street earlier this month

It was bad enough, for those of us who have seen through the lie of so-called “democracy”, to be constantly told we had some kind of moral duty to participate in the electoral farce.

But no sooner had it all finished, than the state was announcing yet another raft of repressive new laws – supposed “anti-terrorism” measures using this very same fake “democracy” as a justifying device.

It seems that it is lining up something called an “extremism disruption order” which “would give the police powers to apply to the high court for an order to limit the ‘harmful activities’ of an extremist individual. The definition of harmful is to include a risk of public disorder, a risk of harassment, alarm or distress or creating a ‘threat to the functioning of democracy’.”

Adds the report in The Guardian: “The aim is to catch not just those who spread or incite hatred on the grounds of gender, race or religion but also those who undertake harmful activities for the ‘purpose of overthrowing democracy’.

“They would include a ban on broadcasting and a requirement to submit to the police in advance any proposed publication on the web and social media or in print.”

Prime minister David Cameron also claimed that the UK has been a “passively tolerant society for too long, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone.”

As noted by the Global Research website: “This extraordinary declaration is a backhanded acknowledgement that those who Cameron intends to target with the new law have committed no crime under the existing legal system.”

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“Get me the Thought Police. Now!”

While the state is try to win acceptance for its idea of “extremism” by linking it in the public mind to “Islamic terrorism”, it clearly also applies to anyone who dares cock a snoop at the neoliberal corporate megamachine, as we can see from the remit of the National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Intelligence Unit, for instance.

The technique is Orwellian and essentially simple. The system declares itself to be a democracy and therefore anyone who opposes the system is anti-democratic! This is much the same as declaring yourself to be God and that therefore anyone who challenges your absolute authority is working on behalf of Satan!

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The UK is only “democratic” in that the state uses the device of apparent “democracy” as a mask to conceal the control and exploitation of the population that it carries out on behalf of the business mafia.

This mask is carefully constructed and multi-layered and can sometimes be hard for people to even identify as existing, let alone to see through.

As far as elections are concerned, the only participation allowed to the voter is to select an individual or a party from a limited list. This decision is usually made on the basis of the “issues” aired in the election “campaign”. These “issues” are selected by the parties themselves and by the media which essentially host the “election battle”. Since all the major parties, and the mass media, are capitalist, the “issues” are always those selected by capitalists.

Which capitalist party will respond best to the fears that have been whipped up by that same capitalist system – fears of terrorism and foreigners? Which capitalist party will best manage capitalism – or “the economy” as they prefer to call it?

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Behind all of this is the assumption that things should go on much as they have. That things can only go on much as they have.

The existence of the state is, of course, presupposed by the process of electing people to help manage it – one good reason for never voting!

Beyond that lie the permanent interlaced assumptions which allow this insane capitalist society to continue, despite all common sense.

The assumption that profit (“growth”) comes before all other considerations, including the future of the planet.

The assumption that “the law” has some sort of intrinsic right to demand our obedience.

The assumption that the violence used by the system is acceptable because it is justified by this same “law”.

The assumption that ownership of land is some kind of natural state of affairs and not a theft imposed by violence.

A violence justified by the claim that it is being carried out according to “the law” and by the state.

All these notions simply prop each other up and have no real foundation. They are a house of cards waiting to be toppled.

house of cards

The system knows this. It knows that its control of the population is based on illusions and lies as well as on violence and on the threat of violence – and that it could very easily lose that control. And it is afraid of us!

That’s why the barrage of propaganda is relentless. That’s why the National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Intelligence Unit exists. That’s why the system is introducing yet more repressive “anti-extremist” legislation. That’s why it is authorising yet more surveillance under the “snooper’s charter”. That’s why it wants to repeal the Human Rights Act.

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Post-election anger in London

The desire for freedom is part of human nature and with every new generation of young people that desire is reborn on the streets.

There was an encouraging spirit of defiance to the protests in London just after the election, which can be expected to carry over to the protests against the state opening of parliament on Wednesday May 27 and the anti-austerity protest starting outside the Bank of England on Saturday June 20.

May 27 poster

June 20

However, we must not lose sight of the bigger picture.

It is certainly true that the new government are “Tory scum” and that the neoliberal measures packaged under the “austerity” label must be resisted.

But our real enemy always remains in power regardless of the spectacle of sham “democracy” – it is the death-cult industrial capitalist system itself.

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2. Police lay siege to Liverpool occupation

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The Liverpool city centre occupation

A month-long rebel occupation in Liverpool came to end on May 13 after police laid siege to the building and corporate media waged a smear campaign against the occupiers.

In the words of one of those involved in the Love Activists’ occupation of the former Bank of England site in Castle Street: “The bank of love were sheltering, feeding, clothing and supporting 60 homeless people every day before the police turned up and created a siege”.

He added that the Liverpool Echo was “not reporting the stuff Merseyside police have stolen from us. I have no shoes, coat, phone, card, passport, money, camera, house keys. I was released with only a t-shirt and pants.”

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Rebels under siege

According to the Infantile Disorder blog site, the cops starved out the vast majority of occupiers before moving in to arrest the remaining five.

“Those five have been put in court already, and in the meantime the Labour-supporting Liverpool Echo is covering for the mayor and police with a vicious smear campaign, aimed at reducing the massive public sympathy for the occupiers, and shoring up support for both the police and the austerity agenda of Mayor Joe Anderson.

“The Love Activists’ occupation provided food and shelter for scores of homeless people at its peak. By occupying what spokesperson Juliet Edgar described as ‘a building which symbolised capitalism’, they raised fundamental class issues about in whose interests society is run. The property speculator owners were granted a possession order at the end of April, but the occupiers remained, conscious of the huge levels of public support for their cause.

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The occupation won massive levels of public support in Liverpool

“On 29th April, the occupiers released a list of demands, promising to leave the building if they were met. All these measures, including decent provision for Liverpool’s homeless, were in Mayor Anderson’s gift to give, but he refused to so much as acknowledge the occupation in any public statement. Instead, within hours, cops laid siege to the building. The occupation – including many homeless, was literally starved.

“Meanwhile, the propaganda machine has shifted into action, in order to discourage others from taking similar action, or learning class struggle lessons. There have been false reports about people urinating from balconies onto the street, ‘stealing’ war memorials, and – most bizarrely – costing the police a lot of money.

“The Echo is pumping out this propaganda precisely because the occupation gained public support to remain even after the court order was granted, in an encouraging display of class consciousness from the people of Liverpool. The Love Activists will need much solidarity in the months ahead, as the ruling class tries to turn their inspiring story into a crushing example of the state’s supposedly overwhelming power.”

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3. Mayday mayhem in Milan and Istanbul

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Ready for self-defence: anti-capitalists march in Milan

A thousand-strong black bloc hit Milan on Mayday, as the traditional workers’ day march was expanded by opposition to the Expo 2015 World Fair in the Italian city (see Acorn 7).

This video, taken from within the radical part of the march, shows streets transformed into what looks like a war zone, with masked protesters targeting banks, cars and other symbols of industrial capitalism in clouds of tear gas.

And this video of the day was released by Italian police.

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Demonstrators wearing gas masks clash with police at a demonstration against Milan's Universal Exposition, EXPO2015, in Milan on May 1, 2015. Italian police clashed with protesters at the Milan Expo on May 1, firing tear gas at the masked demonstrators who had pelted officers with stones. AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE

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Despite the scale of the street rebellion, there was almost no coverage in UK corporate media, but a first-hand report on rabble.org.uk states: “Cars were set alight and banks, estate agents, chain stores and CCTV cameras were attacked. Anti-capitalist slogans were daubed on the walls.

“Police attacked the crowd with water cannon, sound grenades and tear gas. The bloc fought back by hurling rocks, the pavement was broken up and cobblestones were thrown at the cops. A line of people wearing motorcycle helmets and wielding clubs protected the crowd on either side. The police did not risk trying to enter the crowd.

“Coming just six weeks after international anti-capitalists came together in Frankfurt, the experience of Milan demonstrated again the value of international solidarity in the struggle against capitalism and the state. Those of us who were lucky enough to be in Milan were able to make links with comrades from across Europe, discuss and compare tactics, dream of the future and take to the streets together.”

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Mayday in Istanbul

Meanwhile, in Istanbul Mayday protests kicked off despite massive attempts by Turkish police to keep people off the streets

Reports the “Ne var ne yok?” website: “This Mayday was banned by the state like in previous years. In Istanbul, city hall decided to block Taksim Square – symbol of the Gezi Park struggle in 2013 but even more so of May 1 1977 when 33 protesters were killed by the police. They also blocked the centre of the ‘European’part of Istanbul – the areas of Beşiktaş, Şişli, Kurtuluş, Mecidiyeköy, Okmeydanı, Dolmabahçe, Kabataş, and Karaköy, as well as the two bridges crossing the Bosphorus to the ‘Asian’ side. 7 km of anti-riot fences, according to the media!

“Public transport was cut for the whole zone from 6am to 8pm – no metro trains, no vapur boats on the Bosphorus, no buses. The latter were used to transport the armies of cops – 25,000 of them saturating the streets of the city centre, complete with their whole armoury of rubber bullets, tear gas, truncheons, 70 water cannon and three helicopters.”

And still people took to the streets – clashes with police ended with 30 injured cops and 300 arrests.

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Reclaiming the streets of Istanbul

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4.  Tarnac: state persecution starts again

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The French state is restarting its persecution of anti-capitalist activists from the village of Tarnac, accused of sabotaging a high-speed rail line seven years ago.

Three of them are facing trial on charges of “terrorism” as the authorities try to milk the public mood whipped up in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attack on January 11.

It was announced on May 7 that Julien Coupat, Yildune Lévy and Gabrielle Hallez faced proceedings in what has been a highly-publicised case.

Police officers walk in the streets of the French city of Tarnac on November 11, 2008 where alleged anarchists have been arrested earlier. French police raided alleged anarchist cells in three cities today and arrested at least 10 suspects following a series of sabotage attacks on the country's high-speed rail network.  AFP PHOTO THIERRY ZOCCOLAN
“Anti-terrorist” police invading the village of Tarnac in 2008

Tarnac activists have been accused of being part of The Invisible Committee, which wrote The Coming Insurrection in 2007 and recently published a new book, To Our Friends, due out soon in English.

The state’s interest in the group seems to have begun after the book’s publication. According to Le Monde, in April 2008 the head of the anti-terrorist police applied for a preliminary enquiry into a “secret anarcho-autonomous structure involving conspiratorial relations with activists of the same ideology based abroad and planning to carry out violent actions”.

Later that year, nine Tarnac activists were arrested and accused of the sabotage, which they have always denied.

It looked for a while as if the case would peter out, but now the state has started the ball rolling again.

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Sympathy for the Tarnac cause is widespread in France, in a way that is perhaps not imaginable in the UK. The Coming Insurrection and To Our Friends are available for sale in High Street bookshops – the latter leapt into the Top Ten Non-Fiction Bestsellers list when it came out in 2014 – and mainstream newspapers and even TV have given space for the Tarnac circle to express themselves.

Interviewed in the media following this month’s announcement, Coupat talked about the way the Charlie Hebdo attack was being used by the French state to hold on to power: “The only hope for our rulers is to persuade everyone that there is no other choice other than to follow them, that it’s futile to imagine that we can build other worlds, foolish to organise against them and suicidal to attack them. That’s why Tarnac has to be decapitated. That’s why the ZADs have to be brought to heel whether by the legal route or with the aid of right-wing vigilantes.”

Sounding a defiant note, he added: “We are fighting because they have tried, and they are still trying, to destroy us, to erase completely from the map the political possibility which the state regards us as exemplifying. We are fighting for ourselves, for those close to us, for our friends and for all those who have ever expressed their sympathy and we are fighting in spite of the massive imbalance in strength between us and them.

“Rather than sensibly backing off, the anti-terrorism machine, intoxicated by its recent popularity, wants to have the last word within the cosy confines of its law courts. But these people should know that we are not going to sit back and do nothing, that we would rather unleash the fires of hell than let them trample all over us – and that we are not alone!”

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5. East London Rising

aan logo

The Anarchist Action Network is appealing for funds to help it put on a temporary anarchist space in East London during the first week of August 2015.

The network, which consists of individuals and autonomous local groups, based in towns and cities across the UK and further afield, says: “During the first week of August we plan to rent a space in East London, give away free food every day and hold workshops, talks and discussions about anarchism, anti-capitalism, anti-racism, feminism, ecology, housing, austerity, workplace and claimant struggles.”

The event follows the AAN’s Newport Rising event last year – see this report on indymedia.

To donate what you can to help make East London Rising happen, go to http://gogetfunding.com/east-london-rising

The next AAN meeting is on Saturday May 30 and Sunday May 31 from 12-5pm at The Cowley Club, 12 London Road, Brighton.

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6. Acorninfo

Anti-fracking activists from across the UK will be converging on Lancashire on June 23 for a big demo. Two planning applications for the UK’s largest ever fracking tests are due to be heard in Preston. Coaches will be running from many parts of the country – those from the South East leave on the evening of the 22nd June and include free hotel accommodation for the night and breakfast the next day. Say organisers: “Limited spaces – so book asap! Suggested donation is £10 – but not having the cash won’t keep you from getting a seat.” More info here.

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Netpol (Network for Police Monitoring) is trying to raise £2,500 to pay for 500 special face coverings to distribute to protesters. It is part of a new campaign to encourage protesters to take more care about their privacy on the streets: “We want to encourage a shift in attitudes so that the wearing of face coverings on protests becomes normal and commonplace, rather than a decision taken by only a few.”

netpol coverup

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Indigenous people in Canada have rejected a massive bribe from the oil industry to allow a gas export terminal on ancestral lands. The Lax Kw’alaams people in British Columbia spurned a 1.15 billion Canadian dollar package ($319,000 each) in a unanimous vote against the hideous industrial project, declaring: “This is not a money issue: this is environmental and cultural”.

Lax Kw’alaams

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Reclaim the Power has now published more details of its camp at Didcot in Oxfordshire from May 29 (see Acorn 7). There is a full programme of workshops around the day of action on Monday June 1, addressing topics such as “how to deal with the police on demos”, a “guide to blockading” and “is RTP an anarchist space?”. The event is part of a global weekend of action for climate justice. A timeline of international events can be seen here.

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Dartmouth Films has produced a short film on Herbert Read and anarchism for Tariq Ali’s weekly news and culture programme broadcast on TeleSur television. It centres on Huw Wahl’s 2014 film on Read, To Hell With Culture, which was screened at the Cowley Club in Brighton in April. The documentary features interviews with author and Read expert Michael Paraskos. It is now online here and here.

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Acorn quote: “Apart from the desire to produce beautiful things, the leading passion of my life has been and is hatred of modern civilization”. William Morris, Why I Became a Socialist.

William Morris

(For many more like this, see the Winter Oak quotes for the day blog)

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