The Acorn – 31

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Number 31


In this issue:

  1. Capitalists threaten Stonehenge and Sherwood Forest
  2. Britain: open for pillage
  3. Roads to disaster
  4. Fighting fascist America
  5. Strike back at the capitalist beast!
  6. Acorninfo

1. Capitalists threaten Stonehenge and Sherwood Forest

The vampires of industrial capitalism are entirely ruthless about the living flesh off which they feed, whether the human beings they exploit or the nature they despoil.

They are particularly callous regarding anything to do with our culture, the people’s culture, which they regard as an irritating obstacle in the way of their never-quenched red-fanged thirst for profit and power.

These self-obsessed social parasites simply don’t care if their schemes destroy communities, displace whole populations from their homelands, trample all over sacred sites across the world.

And just because Britain was the country where the curse of the Industrial Revolution was first unleashed, don’t imagine these life-hating sociopaths have any more respect for our own cultural heritage.

If they did, how could they be planning to pierce a tarmac-and-concrete hole through the heart of Stonehenge, symbol of England’s mystical past? How could they envisage inflicting the toxic industrialisation of fracking on Sherwood Forest, legendary home of Robin Hood, incarnation of the age-old fight by England’s dispossessed against injustice and tyranny?

The road scheme planned for Stonehenge in Wiltshire is supposed to be a good thing because the current road, close to the ancient monument, will disappear. But it will “disappear” into a short tunnel passing right through the sacred soil surrounding this iconic site, with massive portals causing permanent damage to the landscape.

Nobody with any sense of history could possibly countenance such desecration of what is considered “the most archaeologically significant land surface in Europe” and acknowledged by UNESCO as “without parallel”.

But then the money-men and their puppets in government care only for the short-term future of their own offshore bank accounts.

Stonehenge has been threatened by road building and other major developments for over 20 years, as explained on the Stonehenge Alliance website.

The current UK Government plans to spend £2 billion widening the A303, with the dual carriageway crossing the Stonehenge World Heritage Site.

The historian Dan Snow, president of the Council for British Archaeology, has likened the capitalist roadbuilders to vandals and zealots who destroy artefacts of ancient civilisations.

He said: “Of all our many treasures on these islands, none is more internationally revered than Stonehenge. We have recently started to realise that the standing stones are just a beginning, they sit at the heart of the world’s most significant and best preserved stone age landscape. The government’s plans endanger this unique site.

“Around the world we see pictures of our fellow humans smashing the treasures of the past and count ourselves lucky that we live in a country which values its rich history and appreciates what it offers modern Britain. Our heritage helps us understand ourselves, how we got here and where we are going.”

sherwood1

Meanwhile, opponents of fracking have vowed to defend Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire after it was revealed that chemical company INEOS is preparing to explore for shale gas.

According to a Freedom of Information request by Friends of the Earth, INEOS has been negotiating since last summer with the Forestry Commission for access to land for seismic surveying and a possible well site.

Drill or Drop reports that maps released under the request show surveys would be carried out across the Sherwood Forest national nature reserve, on Forestry Commission land and the Welbeck estate.

They suggest that if the surveys went ahead, the edge of one block would be within 500m of the legendary Major Oak, an 800 to 1,000-year-old tree reputedly slept in by Robin Hood and his merry band.

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Protecting the Major Oak from the fracking mafia

Friends of the Earth campaigner Guy Shrubsole said: “Is nothing sacred? By hunting for shale gas in Sherwood Forest, chemicals giant INEOS is sticking two fingers up at England’s green heritage, all in the pursuit of profit. INEOS seems to have taken a different message than the rest of us from Robin Hood”.

Hundreds of protesters met at Major Oak on January 7 with what the local press described as “one clear message – ‘frack off and leave us alone’.”

Greg Hewitt of Frack Free Nottinghamshire said: “I’m really happy with the turn-out today. I thought it would be 50 to 100 people but it’s double that at least.”

Frack free campaigner David Kesteven said: “We’ve got to stop fracking because of climate change. The fact that they have come to the heart of Sherwood Forest shows that they will stop at nothing. We have got to make a stand somewhere and this is a good place to stand.”

Rose Hart added: “We are protectors, not protesters. We are protecting this land. We say no to fracking anywhere. We also feel it’s important that somewhere like Sherwood Forest isn’t affected because Sherwood Forest and the Major Oak are so symbolic of our country.”

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The fracking industry is a corrupt mafia-like entity linked to the state (see this spinwatch investigation) and it is no easy task trying to halt it in its tracks.

But the stakes could hardly be higher, as a stirring recent blogpost by frack free campaigner Tina Rothery points out.

She writes: “Nothing is more important than our air and water – nothing. For those still unsure if NOW is the time to stand up and say no, to get involved in a local campaign, to join others to stop this industry as it steamrollers through our communities and shatters democracy… please be assured that NOW is when you are needed most!

“The UK currently IS frack-free and that puts us in the stronger position – IF this industry gets a foothold, then we are disempowered by laws and the cost of accessing ‘justice’. Then we will only have direct action as the option – all others will be gone”.

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2. Britain: open for pillage

Greg Clark busy representing business interests, as ever

We live in a “representative democracy”, but whose interests do our political leaders really represent?

The answer has been more obvious than ever in the UK in recent weeks, with the government’s announcement of a “Modern Industrial Strategy”.

It is adding an extra £4.7 billion to the money it already bungs to its boardroom sponsors in the guise of so-called research & development funding. This “investment” will go to areas such as AI, “smart” energy technology, robotics, and 5G wireless.

Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark says the strategy will “drive economic growth across the whole country”. In case you hadn’t noticed, “economic growth” equals business profits at the expense of you and your environment.

fatcats

The government is planning to spend £170 million to establish new Institutes of Technology providing “high-skilled technical training tailored to employers’ needs” – nice of them to pay for businesses to train their own workforces, from whose efforts they presumably aim to make a tidy profit. Who needs an education when you can be a fully-trained system-monkey?

When the government says that Britain is “open for business”, it really means that it is whoring out the population and the countryside to the highest bidder.

Chancellor Philip Hammond pledged £23bn for the National Productivity Investment Fund in his autumn statement, with money earmarked in the next five years to create an Oxford to Cambridge expressway road and new railway infrastructure in the Midlands. The government has also set a target of 200,000 new homes a year. The countryside is coming under direct attack with 14 “garden villages” to be parachuted right on to the middle of greenfield areas.

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That’s better. Woods and fields do nothing to boost the economy

The Department for Communities and Local Government said there had been “high levels of interest” in building more villages in the coming years – yes, from ruthless sharks in the property development business out to make a quick buck from destroying our countryside!

Another “infrastructure development” under consideration is the National Grid’s £2.8bn plan to connect the planned Moorside nuclear power station, Sellafield’s replacement, to the UK power network with a 102-mile long power line. The route goes through the Lake District national park.

Shaun Spiers, chief executive of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), said there was “a real concern” about the way development is being prioritised. “Everybody recognises that we need to update infrastructure, and the CPRE’s traditional role since it was set up in 1926 has been to question whether or not it’s necessary and if there are alternatives to industrialising landscapes,” Spiers told the Observer.

“There’s a terrible sense right now that ministers are just keen to say that Britain’s open for business at the expense of everything else. It’s all justified on narrow economic grounds, and I’m not sure anyone is standing back and saying ‘what are the alternatives?’”

See also:

Degrowth and the death of capitalism

Degrowth: complete system change

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3. Roads to disaster

roads

Whether it’s by “easing congestion” or “boosting the economy”, the industrial capitalist ruling caste is always keen to insist that new roads are in everyone’s interests, not just those of the construction, road haulage and oil industries.

But it is becoming increasingly clear that roads are nothing short of a disaster for every living creature on this planet and that we need to collectively take the next exit off the modern motorway to madness.

A new study has revealed that rampant road building has shattered the Earth’s land into 600,000 fragments, most of which are too tiny to support significant wildlife.

roadclose

The impact of roads extends far beyond the roads themselves, the scientists said, by enabling forest destruction, pollution, the splintering of animal populations and the introduction of deadly pests. New roads also pave the way to further exploitation by humans, such as poaching or mining, and new infrastructure.

Roads are also bad for individual health, as you may have guessed the last time your lungs were filled with the toxic fumes that so many of us have been exposed to throughout our degraded urban lives.

A new study published in The Lancet has proved that living close to a busy road increases the risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia by up to 12%.

Lead scientist Dr Hong Chen, from Public Health Ontario in Canada, said: “Our findings show the closer you live to roads with heavy day-to-day traffic, the greater the risk of developing dementia. With our widespread exposure to traffic and the greater tendency for people to live in cities these days, this has serious public health implications.

“Increasing population growth and urbanisation has placed many people close to heavy traffic, and with widespread exposure to traffic and growing rates of dementia, even a modest effect from near-road exposure could pose a large public health burden”.

And, as “economic growth” increases and the juggernaut of industrial capitalism transports us all towards oblivion, that craze-inducing pollution will inevitably worsen, despite the introduction of slightly less polluting engines.

January’s cold, still weather saw swathes of the UK suffer from alarming levels of air pollution. Northern Ireland, London, the South East and Eastern regions experienced “very high” levels of pollutants known as particulate matter, or PMs, which come from sources such as traffic emissions, in particular diesel engines.

Responding to advice that people should reduce outside activity because of the pollution, Friends of the Earth London campaigner Sophie Neuburg said: “It’s outrageous that children, who have done nothing to cause the problem, need to be kept indoors when air pollution is bad. Instead, the mayor should introduce emergency traffic restrictions to reduce air pollution quickly and make our air safer.

“We know traffic is one of the biggest problems for air pollution and diesel is the worst of all”.

It’s not just the UK that is affected, of course. Paris has been suffering its worst and most prolonged winter pollution for at least 10 years, while cities like Beijing face constant “red alert” levels.

All the worthy efforts to peg back the pollution ultimately just distract attention from the real problem – an industrial Frankenstein’s monster which is careering out of control under its own momentum and threatens to bring life on this beautiful planet to a tragically premature halt.

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4. Fighting fascist America

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A massive wave of angry revolts took place in Washington, DC and across the USA on January 20 as Donald Trump became President.

Report submedia.tv: “On Friday, January 20, more than 200 comrades were arrested in DC during the protests against Trump and the hatred and bigotry he represents.

“They risked their freedom not only to confront individual fascists, but the fascist agenda itself – and to show that no matter who is elected, we are ungovernable.”

Throughout the day, hundreds gathered to receive the arrestees as they were released from jail: as each person was released, at times escorted by riot cops, the crowd cheered and chanted as they welcomed them back.

But many will be facing serious legal battles in the coming months. Said submedia: “Let’s show them we are willing to support them in return for the courage they have shown for us!”

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The day began well, as crews from Standing Rock and Black Lives Matter blocked all entrances to the inauguration venue in Washington, DC.

Later, more than 500 anti-capitalists rampaged through the US capital in defiance of the security state. They blockaded streets and attacked symbols of capitalism and the cops. Windows of banks, Starbucks and McDonald’s were smashed and a stretch limo torched.

This 14-minute video shows the courage of the Black Bloc. Needless to say, the police presence was extremely high and hundreds were arrested. People now face felony charges and legal support is sorely needed. You can donate to the bail and legal support funds by going to disruptj20.org/legal-fund/

Disturbingly, journalists have been charged with felonies for covering the unrest with at least six media workers facing up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine if convicted.

Other protests across the USA were also met with police repression. One notable success was in Chicago, were thousands invaded the streets in the evening of January 20, blocking traffic and smashing bank windows.

Said protesters in Washington, DC: “Activists warned there would be ‘no peaceful transition’ and indeed there was none: J20 was well and truly disrupted! This is but the beginning of four long, hard years of utter fighting against every scrap of Trump’s racist and fascist agenda.”

As well as the risk of ongoing internal dissent, the USA now faces an international image problem. Hundreds of cities across the world hosted protests against Trump. The camouflage provided to US imperialism by Obama, recipient of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, has now gone forever. Under Trump, every move made by the Evil Empire will be fully scrutinised by world opinion…

trump-gun

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5. Strike back at the capitalist beast!

hamburg-poster2

There is more than one way to resist the industrial capitalist system.

One is to stay put where you are and ferociously defend its onslaught.

Another way, which can of course be combined with local resistance, is to take the fight to the system itself and to come together to attack the symbols of its authority.

This summer in Hamburg presents an excellent opportunity to put this second option into practice, alongside hundreds of thousands of like-minded people.

In July the leaders of the capitalist world, including a certain Donald Trump, will be gathering in the northern German city to tell the human race that they have got everything in hand and all we need to do is sit back on our comfy sofas of apathy and let them get on with it.

A few people with an alternative vision of how things might pan out around the G20 summit got together in Hamburg in December to discuss tactics. Well, no fewer than 600 of them, in fact!

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With summit protests on the wane in recent years, the capitalist scum are crawling back from remote rural fortresses into city centres – the Hamburg summit will take place in the middle of the city near St Pauli, Schanzenviertel (Rote Flora) and Karoviertel.

This is handily close to the left-wing and alternative neighbourhoods and the German police are already planning to clamp Hamburg into a state of emergency, with more than 10,000 cops present and the inner city in lockdown.

But the NoG20 platform has also been making plans, which involve NGOs, political parties, social initiatives in the city, radical left groups, militants, autonomous groups, anti-globalisation groups, climate groups, unions, refugee groups, Kurdish and Turkish groups.

They say: “If they want to lock down Hamburg, we know what we have to do. We will show them that we are still existing, not accepting their global politics of devastation. We will show them that Hamburg is rebellious and that the city belongs to us.

“There will be the possibility to come together as rebellious movements to protest against the isolation and the closure of the borders, against the ecological destruction, against violence and sexism, against war and exploitation and to show that we want the freedom of movement, the good life for everybody and solidarity for all.

“We have much to say and to criticize and we want to have another world. It’s still true, another world is possible and more necessary than ever, let’s meet in Hamburg!”

hamburg-poster

The broad anti-G20 platform wants to create a common week of protest against the G20 summit. The idea so far is for a counter summit on July 5 and 6, a day of action on July 7 and a huge demo on July 8, at which they expect more than 100,000 people.

The next action conference, in the spring, will be an international one hosted in Hamburg. Blockupy International has published an open letter to call for other European networks and movements to discuss the upcoming G20 mobilization

There will also be protests in Baden-Baden in southwestern Germany on March 17 and 18 for the pre-summit meeting of the G20 finance ministers.

badenbaden

Say anti-G20 organisers: “We think the first step is done and was very successful. Now we have to get in the more detailed preparing. We’re looking forward to plan and discuss with you the next steps until July. See you soon or at the latest in Hamburg on the streets”.

See also report in Acorn 29

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6. Acorninfo

The Earth First! Winter Moot is being held in Manchester, UK, from February 24 to 26. This is a weekend of campaign updates, networking, planning, solidarity and socialising in the North West – the fracking frontline. If you are involved, or want to get involved, in ecological resistance in Britain and Ireland, whether you are fighting fracking, opencast coal, GM, nuclear power, new road building or quarries, the Winter Moot is for you… The venue is MERCI, Bridge 5 Mill, 22A Beswick Street, Manchester M4 7HR, a 20-minute walk from Manchester Piccadilly station. http://earthfirstgathering.org/moot.html

efwinter

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A booklet exposing the adverse health implications of fracking has been published online by Frack Free Sussex. It says: “Fracking has been linked to numerous health conditions, including asthma, headaches, high blood pressure, dizziness, nose-bleeds, sore eyes, anaemia, neurological illness, pneumonia, premature birth, heart attacks and cancer. In the UK indirect health effects are already being felt in communities where there are unwanted fracking applications. Stress, depression and anxiety affect residents and people in the locality, particularly the vulnerable and the elderly.”

fracking-booklet

* * *

“Anarchy and Anarchists in the Archive” is the title of an event being staged from 2pm to 3pm on Tuesday February 7 at London Metropolitan Archives, 40 Northampton Road, Clerkenwell EC1R 0HB. Attendance is free but has to be pre-booked on 020 7332 3851 or via the website.

anarchy

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The British Army social media psyops unit 77 Brigade is struggling to recruit trolls and cyber-warriors in spite of a recruitment publicity blitz last year, according to the Ministry of Defence. The “brigade” – in reality a unit slightly smaller than an infantry battalion, with a target manning strength of 448 people – is under strength by about 40 per cent, according to figures released under the Freedom of Information Act. The unit’s dark arts include destabilising opponents of the British state by starting whispering campaigns among their supporters and potential supporters, reports The Register.

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Ignore those trolls!

* * *

Anarchists across the world have been expressing solidarity with Hüseyin Civan, editor of anarchist newspaper Meydan Gazette in Istanbul, who has been jailed for a year and three months by the Turkish state. His crime was “propagandising the methods of a terror organisation” by supporting Kurdish revolutionaries fighting Islamists in Rojava. More info from Freedom News.

meydan

* * *

Local authorities in the UK were given permission to carry out more than 55,000 days of covert surveillance over five years, including spying on people walking dogs, feeding pigeons and fly-tipping. A mass freedom of information request has found 186 councils used the government’s Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act to gather evidence via secret listening devices, cameras and private detectives. When the law was introduced, the government said it would only be used when absolutely necessary to protect British people from extreme threats. Surprisingly enough, it was lying.

big_brother_is_watching_you

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“Humans lived for tens of thousands of years in small, sell-governing, hunter-gatherer groups and agricultural villages, mostly cooperative and equal, without states, or classes, or markets. In a real sense the anarchist vision is of a spiral return to such a society, at a higher level of production—with guarantees of plenty for all and of sufficient leisure, in balance with the ecology”. This is The Vision of Revolutionary Anarchism set out by writer Wayne Price in a new book just published in Greek, based largely on articles from Anarkismo website.

wayne-price-book

* * *

Two new books on the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s relation to anarchism have been published, one in English and one in German. Nietzsche and Anarchy: Psychology for Free Spirits, Ontology for Social War by Shahin is published by Elephant Editions & Active Distribution. It aims to use some Nietzschean ideas as weapons for self-transformation and social struggle. Hard copies are available from Active Distribution or you can read it online at The Anarchist Library. The book in German, Dominique F. Miething’s Anarchistische Deutungen der Philosophie Friedrich Nietzsches, states that although Nietzsche was not an anarchist his ideas nevertheless generated strong interest from key figures in the historical anarchist movement such as Gustav Landauer and Emma Goldman. In recent times, the intellectual cult of “postanarchism” has invoked Nietzsche’s abstract ideas, while disregarding actual historical examples of Nietzschean anarchism. More info here.

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Friedrich Nietzsche

* * *

The sinister potential of Amazon’s new voice-interface operating system, Echo, has been revealed by reviewer John Naughton. He writes in The Guardian: “It brings a networked listening device into the heart of the home, with appalling implications for misuse. Amazon tries to dodge this issue by saying that the Echo is always listening, but not recording: it only starts transmitting data to the cloud after it hears the trigger word ‘Alexa’. Some police forces in the US clearly doubt that. The cops in Bentonville, Arkansas, for example, have issued a warrant requiring Amazon to hand over any audio or records from an Echo belonging to a guy who is set to go to trial next year for the murder of a friend. The police are after any audio the speaker may have picked up on the night of the murder because while “the Echo is activated by certain words, it’s not uncommon for the IoT gadget to be alerted to listen by accident”. You have been warned, techno-addicts.

echo
Big Brother is listening, too

* * *

The battle to stop Brighton Council selling off two much-loved areas of public downland is still there to be won, after they were given a second last-minute reprieve. The sell-off of the land (see Acorn 29) at Plumpton Hill and Poynings is on hold pending more information and alternative revenue-raising options. By the way, anyone tempted to believe that the Labour Party has miraculously become a radical force under Jeremy Corbyn should note that a Brighton Labour councillor insisted that the privatisation of the downland “made good economic sense and the public would see no change in the land after the sale”.

The latest protest in Hove
The latest protest in Hove

* * *

Acorn quote: “One of the essential themes of this critique, which resurfaces like an obsession in the work of writers, poets, philosophers and historians, is the clash between Kultur, a spiritual realm of ethical, religious or aesthetic values, and Zivilisation, the vulgar materialist world of economic and technological progress. If capitalism is, according to Max Weber’s mercilessly perceptive expression, the disenchantment of the world (Entzauberung der Welt), then anti-capitalist Romanticism has to be seen primarily as a despairing and nostalgic attempt at the re-enchantment of the world”.

Michael Löwy, Rédemption et utopie: le judaïsme libertaire en Europe centrale

ascona
Anti-capitalist Romantics at play in Ascona

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

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