Over ten months, the Gilets Jaunes movement has managed again and again to surprise: to surprise the authorities, the police, the media, public opinion. And even the GJs themselves! Apart from determination and a burning desire for change, what has really changed the landscape of social struggle in France is the new reality of totally decentralised and autonomous actions. Blockades, occupations, demonstrations, disorder. So many possibilities that can no longer be found in the standardised world of trade unions, opposition parties, NGOs and other well-established structures.
As protests step up again after the summer of 2019, the field of possibilities seems even more vast. Much more vast than the authorities and the media are saying. But if we are to make waves again, perhaps even bigger ones, we need to think about strategies of struggle, whether that be for the demos which lie ahead or for other kinds of actions. Here are some suggestions and observations which could usefully be developed and fleshed out. Please note that these suggestions are from a clearly insurrectional, even revolutionary, perspective. Since so many GJs (and other citizens) have been calling and hoping for this for several months now, let’s dare to think about it calmly. A sort of manual for “acting like a primitive and planning like a strategist”, as recommended by the poet and resistance fighter René Char.
STRENGTH IN NUMBERS
This has always been the case but is becoming more and more blatantly obvious in France: it is important, even crucial, to take to the streets in pretty large numbers if we are to succeed in staging actions which actually bother the authorities. This does not mean that any huge demo is, per se, a success. The climate marches have shown us over recent months that you can have tens of thousands (or more) in the streets and still not bother the government and the economic powers. On the other hand, if you want to overwhelm an increasingly aggressive police presence, which directly engages you and is increasingly mobile (with motorbikes), you need thousands of people.
The moments that have really scared the authorities over these last months have always been when the balance of power in the streets has tipped towards the GJs because of their numbers. Even with the massive human and material resources at their disposal, the police were unable to control the anger of thousands of protesters, in different parts of town, for the duration of several hours.
The most striking example of this was surely during Acte 23 of the revolt (Ultimatum 2). Following the authorities’ impotence during the first Ultimatum of March 16, they mobilised a huge police presence to prevent any disorder. The Ultimatum page posted, at the last minute, several meet-up points. The GJs who went to these points were, unfortunately for them, met by dozens of riot cops. Nothing could be done. Except that on that same day, there were so many GJs in Paris that a big “authorised” demo got underway at Bercy. There, again, the police had seen this coming and decided to split the demo up into lots of small sections which they could control more easily. But this didn’t work because the march was so huge and determined, to the extent of breaking through several police lines to regroup.
Finally, taking to the streets in large numbers is also a way to protect those who have decided to take action (and not necessarily violently, but in civil disobedience). By their presence, with their bodies, thousands of protesters, even without taking direct action themselves, can help to make a protest really effective and a problem for the authorities. This is how the “front of the demo” emerged a few years back in France. We could also take the example of the revolt in Hong Kong, where this strategy has been taken to an incredible level and where the presence of “basic” protesters is essential for the front-line protesters.
One of the major challenges for the weeks ahead is therefore to achieve turn-outs of the same massive size (or greater) than in November and December. And this is completely possible. Virtually nobody who took part in at least one act of the GJ protests has today been won over by the government. If some of them have disappeared from the streets, it’s due to weariness and/or fear (of police brutality and arrests) rather than because of any change in their opinion on the social and economic situation. Indeed, the numbers of potential resistance fighters are surely even greater than last year. GJs only have to look around themselves: who today is satisfied with Macron and his world? Who isn’t aware of the climate and social crisis? Each of us has to persuade our friends and loved ones to get out into the streets for the upcoming protests.
PLEASURE AND IMAGINATION
What is most striking about GJ demos today is their repetitive, unchanging quality. But what actually made the movement a success was its capacity to create, to be innovative with its occupations of streets and towns. New songs, new ways of mobilising, new economic blockades (eg: the Champs Elysées). It even had its own language distinct from the norms of social struggle: you can make fun of the succession of “acts” and “ultimatums”, but the GJs have created their own calendar, their own battle terrain and their own way of gathering. When they occupied the roundabouts, everyone found that peculiar. Same thing when they took over motorway toll booths. And same thing again when they decided to head into town centres every Saturday. And when the new songs came along, it was like a minor victory. The creation of a new space for self-expression, exchange and action.
Those in power have always tried to blinker the population and make it think that nothing is possible, apart from expressing your anger through elections or institutionalised struggles (trade unions, political parties, NGOs..) But the reality is very different. Life is a huge playing field. And so are towns and cities.
Nothing annoys the authorities more than people who enjoy coming together and resisting. They do all they can to make protests unpleasant, whereas they can provide the chance for meeting people, for feeling alive, for having fun… Everything they will never know in their comfortable little bourgeois lives. It is therefore important to bring joy, madness, fire and life into the streets. To smash their dream of greyness, to enjoy ourselves but also so that other citizens want to join us. So that they understand that what is happening is not just about burning cars or banks. So that the revolution has its heart not in destruction, but in encounters, complicity, exchange and constructivity.
LESS TELEPHONE, MORE SOLIDARITY
It is important to have photos and videos of what is going on in the streets, notably at the most insurrectional moments and especially when police are being violent, to bear witness to these realities which the authorities try to conceal. But today too many people have got into the habit of whipping out their phone for every burning dustbin or, worse, for the smallest police charge. These people are still part of the movement, in solidarity with it, yet they don’t realise that by filming with their phones they are quitting the ranks of protesters who are capable of actually doing something. They are physically present but can no longer take action. They become spectators. How many videos have we seen of someone being maltreated by the police where nobody is helping them, although dozens of protesters are filming what’s happening? This isn’t about passing judgement and awarding good or bad scores. Each person is free to do whatever they want, not least on a demo. And it is totally understandable to want to film a crunch moment. But you need nevertheless to analyse the phenomenon in a general way and see what it implies for the protest as a whole. And from that vantage point we have to acknowledge the problems with this tendency and be aware that it serves the interests of the authorities because it makes the protest less pro-active and less cohesive. Not forgetting that the videos are sometimes used in evidence against protesters accused of misdemeanors.
It is therefore time to put away your phone and actively take part in the next protests. This could take various forms: singing, running, graffiti, banner-making, keeping other protesters informed, suggesting actions. So many things that the brain stops doing when it sees the protest via the screen of a phone.
DIVERSITY AND RESPECT FOR PRAXIS
It is important to consider the place and degree of combative action on protests which see themselves as insurrectional. This question is highly complex and sensitive because nobody has the right to set out a precise limit to the moral rightness of combative actions. We all refuse to go along with the framing imposed by society which regards all illegal action as immoraL. It goes without saying for many of us that a Fouquet’s restaurant on fire is no worse than a boss who lays someone off to increase his profits. But this doesn’t mean that smashing or burning is necessarily appropriate for the struggle and for advancing the revolutionary cause.
While we should take care not to condemn a protester who has broken the law, we should also not veer off in the opposite direction and applaud, de facto, all acts of damage or violence. At some moments, in some places, vandalising street furniture or shops or attacking the police can turn out to be strategic mistake and play into the hands of the authorities.
Damage or violence are in no way a yardstick for assessing the success or otherwise of a protest. In either way. Offensive actions are merely tools to reach goals which are more significant than the immediate outcome of a torched car or a ransacked bank.
In a society governed by images and appearance, where the authorities rely on illusion to persuade us that they have everything under control and that there is no alternative, these offensive actions make sense when they help shatter that illusion. It works when whole areas of Paris seem to have slipped out of the authorities’ control despite the deployment of thousands of cops and troops. But to achieve this, it is necessary to create the conditions conducive to such a situation.
It must also be borne in mind that offensive action and rebellion can take very subversive forms without necessarily being violent. Thousands of people on the Paris ring road, on the tracks at a station or occupying a government building can also hurt the powerful.
So let’s refuse to label protesters as violent or non-violent. Only those who fear change have a vested interest in this totally artificial separation. This classification (stigmatisation) is merely a tool for domination. Violence is not immoral in itself. Even the history books sing the praises of resistance fighters who fought evil. Fought in its true sense. In the violent sense.
ADAPTING TO REAL TIME
In the face of the new strategies for “maintaining law and order” with highly mobile and aggressive police units, it is more than ever necessary for protesters to pay attention and adapt rapidly to situations. In Hong Kong when the police line becomes too dangerous in front of them, the protesters don’t just stay put. Very quickly, the demo moves elsewhere. It is very difficult to take decisions collectively in these situations, especially in a totally horizontal movement without leaders, but it works. And often it is better to take the decision and move rather than remain static for fear of making a mistake.
We should also bear in mind that sometimes confrontation with the cops does not make strategic sense. When the balance of power is clearly tilted in their favour, it is sometimes better to think about alternative solutions which allow protesters to continue to occupy the space, to blockade, to be on the offensive. The police are not our objective. They are the tool of the authorities which can stop us from reaching our objectives. Focusing on them can sometimes stop us from creating more beautiful and constructive moments of struggle.
Anyone who has been following the Gilets Jaunes’ struggle since November 2018 will appreciate to what extent France is slipping into 21st century neoliberal-style fascism.
From the sheer physical violence of the state’s attacks on protesters, through its draconian use of bans on protests and “pre-emptive” arrests, to the cover-up and denial of what is happening by politicians and their tame media, the situation is truly alarming.
We can expect more evidence of this in coming days when the full force of Macron’s Reich will be deployed to prevent any signs of dissent against the G7 summit in Biarritz, in French-occupied Euskadi.
But to understand the extent to which this authoritarian cancer has riddled French society from top to bottom, it is instructive to look at what has been happening in recent weeks in the little southern village of St Jean du Gard.
The place is hardly a hotbed of radicalism. However, this year a local group has been active opposing the imposition of Linky smart electricity meters and generally challenging the right-wing mayor, Michel Ruas.
The astonishing thing is that all they have been doing is handing out leaflets – mainly at the weekly market, which has been held on Tuesday mornings for a thousand years.
Incredibly, the mayor passed a law banning all leafleting for a year. Even more incredibly, the authorities from the Gard department have backed up this totalitarian gesture by sending in cohorts of cops to enforce it and to threaten those who stand up for their basic freedom of speech.
An update from local campaigners on Tuesday August 20 reported that the morning’s market had again been targeted by Macron’s uniformed thugs.
A week previously, there had been a call-out for supporters to come from around the area to challenge the year-long ban on all leafleting (unless “authorised” by the mayor/dictator Ruas) issued on July 31.
But on August 20 there was just a little Stop Linky stand as there has been every week for months.
When a woman campaigner held up a photocopy of the mayor’s new Nazi-style law to show a passer-by, the zealous gendarmes decided a ‘leafleting’ offence had been committed and tried to fine the woman.
This aggressive move shocked everyone present, but the cops weren’t finished there and not only kept pursuing the woman but used force against those trying to defend her from them, pinning people violently against a wall.
They also turned on passers-by who remonstrated with them, accusing one disabled person using a crutch of possessing an offensive weapon!
Say campaigners: “These measures are unacceptable and revolting. We are therefore calling for a protest on Tuesday August 27 from 9am at the market of Saint Jean du Gard”.
International solidarity with the freedom fighters of St Jean du Gard!
1. Basque rebels prepare hot reception for G7 leaders
The welcome awaiting Macron, Trump and the other G7 world leaders in Biarritz later this month promises to be not so much warm as hot.
The Basques already have a proud tradition of anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist struggle.
But from August 24 to 26 the opposition to the summit will be bolstered by the mass participation of the Gilets Jaunes, or Yellow Vests, who have been protesting every week non-stop since November 2018.
Not only is the G7 being hosted by their primary hate-figure in President Macron, but it will also receive – in the words of the Bayonne group of Gilets Jaunes – ‘world leaders who defend an ultra-liberal economy which offers us nothing’.
Gilets Jaunes were already active in Biarritz in December, when protests against a preliminary G7 meeting were met with tear gas and rubber bullets.
In April L’Express newspaper reported that the French authorities were preparing for “an explosive G7”.
And in July, more than a month before the actual summit, there were already a thousand people taking to the streets to voice their opposition.
The summit comes at a time when repression is reaching dizzy levels in France.
The first six months of the Gilets Jaunes uprising alone saw 2,448 protesters injured. Of these, 24 lost an eye and five had a hand blown off by police grenades, according to Le Journal Du Dimanche.
Protests are being banned all over the country each weekend and Gilets Jaunes regularly arrested on “suspicion” of being about to commit an offence, before they have had the chance to do anything.
This has filtered down to a local level, empowering one right-wing mayor in the Gard department, stung by criticism from local campaigners, to ban all leafleting in the town centre for an entire year!
Campaign group G7 EZ (“No to the G7, for another world”) warn that the summit will inevitably involve significant restrictions on people’s freedom of movement and the right to protest.
They say: “It imposes a real state of siege and a choking police occupation (a number of 15,000 soldiers and policemen has been announced)”.
But the protesters are determined not to let this stop them.
They add: “Why should we accept all this without reacting? As for the usefulness of the G7, no one believes in it any more, no one wants it any more. It is a waste of public money and the best solution is a pure and simple disbanding of the G7.
“We will join forces against the G7 in August 2019 in the Basque Country because the world it embodies must change deeply and urgently.
“Building another world is possible and urgent. And from the Basque country, we must also take part in it.
“Here too joining forces and sharing projects so as to change our model have multiplied: to stop climatic changes, in favour of freedom of movement, for the protection of the interests of workers against gender domination, for the cultural and linguistic diversity, against war and in favour of peace.
“That’s why while we refuse this G7 summit, we intend to reinforce our struggle for a social change”.
A Jamaican-British man has encountered shocking first-hand proof of the way that the global capitalist elite is profiteering from climate concerns.
John Lennon contacted The Acorn to explain how he had proposed a scheme to allow state schools in Jamaica to generate their own electricity.
There is plenty of free sunshine in the Caribbean and a payback period of under four years means solar-powered schools would be economically viable and installation would not end up costing taxpayers a dollar.
Said John: “Simply apply prudence: instead of using taxpayers’ money to indefinitely pay electricity bills, schools should service fixed-term loan agreements – with repayments lower than bills – to pay for their own electricity-generating facilities”.
Although nobody could point to any flaws in John’s plan, he has met with a complete rebuff from the Jamaican government and the UN Development Programme (UNDP).
Mainstream journalists have also given him a polite brush-off and he has come to appreciate the extent of the UN’s involvement in the “climate capitalism” scam which has hoodwinked too many environmentalists into cheerleading for an industrial capitalist agenda.
John told us: “One has to question the purpose of the UN and its Sustainable Development Goals. The whole thing is a joke”.
The UN’s sheer hypocrisy is breathtaking. On one hand it pumps out a load of pious spin using hashstags like #MoreEqualWorld, pointing out that “26 people own the same amount of wealth as the poorest 3.8 billion people combined”.
On the other hand, as this recent post on the Wrong Kind of Green website explores, it plays a central role in maintaining the global capitalist dictatorship.
Earlier this summer a statement from the UNDP confirmed the 100% capitalist agenda behind its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
It referred to the Business Commission on Sustainable Development at Davos, which reckoned achieving the SDGs could “open up an estimated US$12 trillion in market opportunities”.
“The SDGs are the business plan for people and the planet,” boasted Anna Ryott, a Steering Group member and Board Chair of Stockholm-based Summa Equity. “Investments can be both profitable and sustainable”.
Cohen is a leading venture capitalist who is notorious in the UK for bankrolling Tony Blair’s neoliberal “New Labour” government.
Alongside him sit the likes of John Denton, who “serves on the Board of leading global infrastructure group IFM Investors” and Anna Ryott of Summa Equity, with her proud record of “investing in impact tech entrepreneurs”.
There is also leading Chinese banker Ma Weihua and “veteran economist and business leader” Rajiv Lall, whose expertise spans international and macro-economics, banking, capital markets, infrastructure finance and private equity/venture capital.
A strange line-up for an organisation supposedly acting in the interests of the world’s poor!
The macrocosm of the UN’s profit-based corporate agenda is reflected in the microcosm of the UNDP Jamaica website.
Articles are packed with corporate clichés of “entrepreneurship” and “stakeholders”, alongside the usual babble about “youth engagement” and building a “better world”.
Dr Elsie Laurence-Chounoune, UNDP representative in Jamaica, writes that the “UNDP remains committed to advancing sustainable human development and working collaboratively to mainstream Climate Change mitigation and adaptation into development processes”.
Not a hint here that it is this capitalist “development” which has caused the environmental crisis, just a desire to ensure that attempts to combat that crisis do not threaten the ongoing profiteering of the ruling elite and can be safely absorbed into “development processes”.
In the light of all this, it is clear that the UN, and other representatives of the corporate system, have no interest at all in renewable energy schemes like the one proposed by John, which would benefit local schools and communities without offering massive profit opportunities for big business.
They will never enable renewable energy for its own sake, but only as yet another lucrative means for the extremely rich to get extremely richer.
And that, as Cory Morningstar and others never tire of pointing out, is what this whole climate capitalist scam – with its “sustainable” growth, “green” industrial revolution and “smart” living – is really all about.
As John says: “Greed is the driving force and this needs to be exposed”.
Trees are getting in the way of the sinister new techno-future lined up for us all.
Corporate engineers are complaining that the roll-out of 5G is being held up by these inconvenient remnants of the natural world.
They are trying to work out how to ensure nobody is beyond the reach of the smart-fascist system.
And it increasingly looks as if this is what has provoked the massacre of thousands of healthy trees in cities like Newcastle, Edinburgh and Sheffield, all 5G trial areas.
5G uses “millimeter waves”, broadcast at frequencies between 30 and 300 GHz, previously only used for communication between satellites and radar systems.
But millimeter waves can’t easily travel through buildings or other solid objects, so 5G will take advantage of “small cells” — smaller miniature based stations that can be placed about every 250 meters throughout dense urban areas. These provide much better coverage in such locations. Unless they are blocked by trees.
Damning evidence on this issue comes in a report from the 5G Innovation Centre at the Institute for Communication Systems at the University of Surrey.
This states: “In the past the priority for planning authorities has been to reduce mobile mast heights so that masts are visually screened by buildings and/or trees – with trees being the highest and more likely obstruction.
“However this also screens the RF signals and has defeated the objective of reliable coverage… it is necessary for the tree height to be at least 3m less than the base station height.
“Having adjacent trees and or building at comparable heights to the mast can reduce coverage by as much as 70% in that direction, which is not in the interests of the operator, the local planning authorities and more importantly the mobile phone user.
“This is the source of many of today’s mobile coverage issues for consumers in many rural locations”.
A Sunday Times report in 2018 revealed that more than 110,000 trees had been chopped down in three years by councils across the UK — equivalent to a sixth of the size of Sherwood Forest.
The vigiliae.org campaign site warns that it looks as if “millions of trees” face being felled in the UK alone to ensure continuous signalling for self-driving buses, cars and trains and all the rest of the smart nightmare.
The unending war against trees being waged by this industrial civilization shows once again that is nothing but a malevolent death cult, which must be destroyed in order that living things can survive and flourish.
On July 1 2019 activists across the UK took part in a national day of action against Israeli-owned weapons manufacturer Elbit Systems.
In Kent, protesters gained access to the new site of Elbit subsidary Instro Precision. The action shut the factory down for the day.
This is the 5th time since 2014 the Kent-based factory has been forced to shut. Elbit is the largest Israeli owned arms manufacturer, and produces many of the weapons used by Israel in its oppression of Palestinians.
They produce 85% of the armoured drones used by Israel, along with a range of other military equipment, such as artillery cannons and tank parts.
These weapons are then used directly on Palestinians. For example, drones have been used to drop tear gas on protesters on the Great Return March.
Along with this, Elbit’s Hermes 450 drone, which can carry up to two medium range missiles, was used in the 2014 Gaza Massacre, in which Israel killed over 2100 Palestinians.
A crowdfunder has been set up to help pay for transport, banners, leaflets, accommodation, communications and other equipment used on the day.
All money donated will go towards the collectively agreed costs of the protest. Any extra will go towards future actions.
“Indian cosmology has never separated the human from the non-human – we are a continuum”
Vandana Shiva (1952-) is a Gandhian eco-activist and agro-ecologist, who has dedicated her life to resisting global capitalist destruction of nature and communities in India and beyond.
She is particularly known for her involvement in the international sustainable food movement and her battle with the former agrochemical company Monsanto.
Shiva declared in a 2003 interview with Sarah Ruth van Gelder: “Our system of food security is being destroyed in the name of economic growth and economic liberalization, and people don’t have enough food to eat.
“Our farmers are being ravished by seed companies, being pushed into debt, and committing suicide”. (1)
In combatting the capitalist dogma of economic growth in her book Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace, Shiva proposed the alternative of an economy in which people worked to directly provide the conditions necessary to maintain their lives.
This “sustenance economy” includes all spheres in which humans produce in balance with nature and reproduce society through partnerships, mutuality, and reciprocity.
She has highlighted separation as being at the heart of our contemporary malaise, referring in a 2012 interview to “an eco-apartheid based on the illusion of separateness of humans from nature in our minds and lives”.
She added: “The war against the Earth began with this idea of separateness. Its contemporary seeds were sown when the living Earth was transformed into dead matter to facilitate the industrial revolution.
“Monocultures replaced diversity. ‘Raw materials’ and ‘dead matter’ replaced a vibrant Earth. Terra Nullius (the empty land, ready for occupation regardless of the presence of indigenous peoples) replaced Terra Madre (Mother Earth)”. (3)
Holistic Vedic metaphysics fuels Shiva’s philosophy and activism. In an interview with Ranchor Prime she described how she met many people during her years fighting the construction of dams “and I found that they were all inspired by the idea that the river is divine, a sacred mother, and that trying to appropriate her water is like annihilating the very source of your sustenance.
“In fact I’ve learned that there is not one environmental movement in India that is not informed by the ecological roots of Vedic culture”. (4)
Talking about the concept of Earth Democracy, she said: “The notion comes from a very ancient category in Indian thought… In India we talk about vasudhaiva kutumbakam, which means the earth family. Indian cosmology has never separated the human from the non-human – we are a continuum”. (5)
This radical organic understanding was helping to fuel resistance to global industrial capitalism, she said, in the form of “a spontaneous resurgence of thinking that centers on protection of life, celebrating life, enjoying life as both our highest duty and our most powerful form of resistance against a violent and brutal system that globalizes not just trade, but fascism, and denies civil liberties and freedoms”. (6)
Hindu wisdom also helped her keep up her strength in the struggle, she explained. “I do not allow myself to be overcome by hopelessness, no matter how tough the situation. I’ve learned from the Bhagavad Gita and other teachings of our culture to detach myself from the results of what I do, because those are not in my hands.
“I do not allow myself to be overcome by hopelessness, no matter how tough the situation… I think what we owe each other is a celebration of life and to replace fear and hopelessness with fearlessness and joy”. (7)
Under the worsening mood of neoliberal McCarthyism, the UK state is defining those who are left-wing and oppose war as potential sympathisers with “violent extremism”, warns an article by David Miller in Tribune magazine. The government’s so-called Commission for Countering Extremism decrees that opposing the US/UK global empire amounts to “occupying a position of solidarity with terrorist organisations and violently repressive regimes”.
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Limiting CO2 emissions is a false solution to the environmental crisis, argues Paul Kingsnorth in a thought-provoking video. He argues that the contemporary “green” movement has lost interest in wild nature in exchange for an obsession with wind or solar panel “farms” – power stations, in fact, which only prolong the industrial nightmare.
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“Along with military invasions and missionaries, NGOs help crack countries open like ripe nuts, paving the way for intensifying waves of exploitation and extraction such as agribusiness for export, sweatshops, resource mines, and tourist playgrounds”. So wrote Stephanie Macmillan in an excellent 2015 article Why NGOs and Leftish Nonprofits Suck which we have, admittedly, only just discovered.
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A new deep sea mining process could devastate fragile ecosystems that are slow to recover in the highly pressurized darkness of the deep sea, experts have warned. It could also have knock-on effects on the wider ocean environment. And the aim? To “diversify the sources currently supplying metals needed for electronics and evolving green technologies, such as electric vehicles and solar panels”. The firm behind all this even calls itself “DeepGreen Metals”. So that’s all OK then. It’s environmentally-friendly environmental destruction!
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What a vision of the future from Boris Johnson, the new lunatic-right Prime Minister of the UK. He declared on August 11: “Today we’re announcing another 10,000 places in our prisons; a big building program for prisons.” The phrase “big building program” is notable, not least because of the American spelling of what would normally be “programme”. Will US contractors and private prison businesses be the big winners from Boris’s war on the UK population?
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Acorn quote: “For Bakunin, Sorel, Proudhon and Landauer the revolutionary utopia always goes hand in hand with a profound nostalgia for forms of the pre-capitalist past, for traditional rural communities or craftsmanship; with Landauer, that even extends to an explicit defence of the Middle Ages… In truth, at the core of the approach of most of the great anarchist thinkers lies a Romantic attitude towards the past”.
Guerrilla warfare has begun in Europe against the “smart” fascism being imposed on us all by the wealthy technocratic elite.
In the early hours of the morning on Tuesday June 11 2019, ten vehicles belonging to electricity distribution company Enedis were torched at Albi in southern France, causing damage put at 400,000 euros.
The firm is controversially imposing “Linky” smart meters on households across the country, sparking a massive wave of grassroots rebellion.
While this usually takes the form of local campaigning, legal action and physical blocking of access to meters, some opponents have taken the war with Enedis a step further.
Attacks against Enedis premises have already been carried out in Grenoble, Crest, Limoges, Paris and Besançon.
On December 6 2018, numerous Enedis vehicles, and two buildings, were damaged by fire in Foix, in the south-west region of Ariège.
Corporate media are reporting that the attacks are the work of a mysterious underground anarchist group called “ACAB”.
Smart meters are just one aspect of a nightmare society being planned for the global population, involving the computerised control of every aspect of our lives.
This techno-totalitarianism, embracing AI, 5G, the “internet of things” and transhumanism, presents itself as “sustainable” and part of a “green” revolution, but in fact involves an intensification of the industrial nightmare.
Following an arson attack against Enedis in Montreuil, Paris, the anti-industrial rebels posted a statement online.
“A nuclearised society, radioactive waste in the air, water and earth. A society of control, smart spies in the homes, everything connected, measured, under surveillance.
“Desire for revolt, desire for destruction, desire for freedom”.
It criticises the Deep Green Resistance (DGR) movement, citing longstanding concerns regarding its language on transgender issues and tendencies towards hierarchical organising.
There is a quote from one of the DGR France organisers about “laws of natural selection” which smacks of a social darwinism completely at odds with Peter Kropotkin’s theory of mutual aid.
So why do we say the article is disturbing? There are two reasons, one relating to its content and the other to its author.
A closer look at the blog reveals that nestling within a perfectly legitimate criticism of a particular organisation, DGR France, is a broader ideological attack aimed at all of us who challenge the industrial system.
This is expressed most succinctly in one of author Mukhamedov’s replies in the comments section, dated March 26 2019.
Here he declares that the problem with DGR is that “it confuses the capitalist techno-industrial system with the tools of technology and forgets that we could find an emancipatory use for our tools so as to dismantle oppressive structures and redefine our relationship with the biosphere”.
At root, this is the same old message which has been touted by the industrialist left for decades. It’s not the technology that is the problem, they say, but the use it is put to, the political context in which it is situated.
But even worse still, Mukhamedov explicitly tries here to confuse social progress with industrial “progress”, in suggesting that technology could be “an emancipatory” tool for dismantling undefined oppressive structures.
Here we see the fake green message peddled by those who try to sell us (lucrative) techno-solutions to the climate crisis and by those who present “smart” technology, AI and transhumanism as offering a golden “emancipatory” future for the human species, while totally ignoring that the ongoing development of such technologies would spell certain death for the planetary organism of which we are part.
In the same comment, Mukhamedov goes on to identify as “reactionaries” those who deliberately sow “confusion” by “criticising mainstream environmentalism without even discussing what the dismantling of our civilization could imply”.
He also addresses this issue in the article itself, where he says it is “highly problematical” to welcome the ending of industrial civilization.
He complains that DGR “has for its primary aim the dismantling of existing institutions, without worrying about providing alternatives for people who depend on these”.
Mukhamedov’s argument here is the same as the one used by mainstream capitalists. “You can’t do away with our system because we have made people depend on it for their survival”.
The reality of industrial civilization is that it is killing the whole of life on Earth. That is why so many of us are now saying that industrial civilization must be stopped.
We are anti-industrialist because we are partisans for life, for all life, for real life.
But the trick always used by the system, and adopted here by Mukhamedov, is to reverse the morality.
We are supposed to believe that it is industrial society which stands for life and health, thanks to the marvels of its pharmaceutical industry, and that it is its heartless opponents who threaten to bring death and misery to millions.
Mukhamedov spins a “slippery slope” trajectory which starts with deep green bogeymen attacking industrial infrastructure, continues with them dismantling towns and setting up rural autonomous communities organised by direct democracy (an “ultra-hierarchical” concept in his view) and ends with the death of “the majority of human beings”.
While being careful (in view of his target readership) to pay lip service to traditional medicine, he in fact leaps to the defence of its industrial counterpart citing (like any good industrialist) its inventions which have saved “innumerable” lives.
Refusing to acknowledge the benefits of “modern medicine” amounts to “reactionary eugenics”, he strangely argues.
While he has to admit that “many ‘deep’ green environmentalists are not reactionaries”, and that social ecologists also call for an exit from industrial civilization, Mukhamedov claims that “the heirs of ‘deep’ green politics have often forged deplorable links between the environmental movement and theories similar to those of the extreme right”.
Here we describe and deconstruct, in detail, the “ecofascist” smear used to attack opponents of industrial capitalism.
We mention, in passing, Alexander Reid Ross, a one-time editor of Earth First! Journal, who identified parts of the EF! network, as well as anarchists and left-wingers generally, as being affected by what he terms ideological “fascist creep”.
Mukhamedov in fact relies on Reid Ross as the principal source for his analysis of the US deep green movement.
This explained that he had just written an article in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz smearing opponents of US/NATO warmongering in Syria as stooges of Assad and Putin.
He declared: “The ‘anti-imperialist’ left is now shilling for tyrants in Damascus and Moscow. And conspiracy theories are the toxic glue binding them to their fellow Assad and Putin apologists on the alt-right”.
Astonishingly for a self-proclaimed anti-fascist, Reid Ross complained about the UK Labour Party’s “tepid response” to the alleged gas attack in Douma (now exposed as a false flag) and its “rejection of any humanitarian grounds for military action”.
He identified a “crossover between leftists and the far-right” in challenging the Western narrative on Syria.
As we wrote at the time, Ross was reading from exactly the same ideological script as neoliberal war apologists.
“He is trying to use the bludgeon of an alleged ideological association with the far right as a way of silencing voices on the left who challenge the US imperialist narrative”.
Funnily enough, of course, this same “far right” smear was Reid Ross’s weapon of choice in his attack on the deep green movement, one taken up enthusiastically by Mukhamedov in his French language version of the narrative.
Even more funnily enough, Mukhamedov seems to have exactly the same views as Reid Ross on Syria!
Clearly frustrated by stubborn types who refuse to swallow Western propaganda on Syria, Mukhamedov denounces them as “reactionaries infiltrating left-wing spaces”.
He claims they are “attempting to subvert movements deeming themselves progressive in favour of a pseudo anti-imperialist and reactionary approach to geopolitics, which lacks any concern for civilians and promotes, under the guise of secular anti-imperialism, a ruthless and sectarian dictator who has executed thousands and continues to commit crimes against humanity”.
Note that this is the same morality-reversal trick again. People opposing war are presented as the baddies, lacking any “concern for civilians” and effectively being responsible for thousands of deaths and “crimes against humanity”.
This is just like the way people opposing the murder of the planetary organism are depicted as monsters who threaten to kill off “the majority of human beings”.
In both instances Mukhamedov attempts to discredit authentic anti-imperialist and deep green opponents of the industrial capitalist system by adopting a pseudo-radical critique intended to sway a left-wing readership.
He can’t condemn his opponents as “extremists”, “enemies of the West” or “anti-American” because this would do them more good than harm in most left-wing circles, so instead he calls them “reactionaries” and insinuates contamination with far-right ideas.
It is worth noting that Mukhamedov’s article was published by Pulse Media, edited by Idrees Ahmad (notorious for his attacks on anyone challenging Western narratives on Syria), the controversial Robin Yassin-Kassab and Danny Postel, who in 2014 urged the US to ‘Use Force to Save Starving Syrians‘.
Interestingly, the Pulse piece is quoted twice, and at length, in an article by Daphne Lawless, who cloaks him in the white coat of neutral expert objectivity by introducing him as a “French political scientist”.
We noted how Lawless, a supposed left-winger, had leapt to the defence of the US involvement in Syria, insisting that talk of pro-US false flag attacks was “baseless slander” and “conspiracy theories”, tainted by association with the far right.
This was all part of “a growing convergence of Leftist and far–right rhetoric”, a “red-brown” menace, she argued, not forgetting to quote that esteemed “fascism expert” Alexander Reid Ross.
Mukhamedov was also honoured with a guest post on the blog run by “Bob from Brockley”, who was heavily implicated in the Philip Cross scandal which involves the systematic editing of Wikipedia to mute criticism of the US-led system.
Lawless, Reid Ross, Bob from Brockley and Mukhamedov clearly all very much come out of the same political mould.
Mukhamedov’s work has also been published in Lebanese English-language paper The Daily Star and in Yemeni publication Al-Jumhuriya.
Yep, that’s right, the regime, backed by Saudi Arabia, the US and the UK, which for the last four years has been unleashing hell on earth for the people of Yemen, bringing death, famine and destruction to millions of innocent civilians and creating what the UN has described as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.
We would have liked to have provided readers with a bit more information about Anton Mukhamedov and his take on current affairs but unfortunately both his Facebook and Twitter accounts seem to have been terminated.
Here is a screenshot of what the latter used to look like.
We have never met Mukhamedov and for all we know he may be a completely autonomous and genuine activist whose views simply don’t happen to coincide with our own.
But we do find it a bit strange that this “revolutionary” always seems to be on the side of the system, defending industrialism against deep green critics, cheerleading for US intervention in Syria, lending his services to a mouthpiece of the US-backed regime in Yemen.
Whether deliberately or not, his attacks on anti-industrialists and anti-imperialists amount to a defence of the military-industrial complex, a defence which dishonestly presents itself as a noble emancipatory crusade against “reactionaries”, “red-browns” and fascists.
Mukhamedov, like Reid Ross, effectively acts as a gatekeeper of the system, embedded with what is supposed to be the opposition.
They, and all the others like them, try to define the limits of our resistance, tell us all when we are going too far, whip us back into line when we begin to question the official narrative of infinite industrial growth, of humanitarian warfare and emancipatory technology.
Their venomous smears are aimed at all of us who dare to call for real change, who dare to believe that another world is possible, who dare to challenge the system to its core.
A very useful expose of the “green” capitalist machine manipulating climate darling Greta Thunberg has now been translated into English.
Isabelle Attard, who describes herself as a green anarchist, writes: “Everything was carefully planned to transform the young Swede into an international heroine.
“Among the shareholders of the start-up, we find members of the two interconnected families: the Perssons, children of the billionaire Sven Olof Persson, who made their fortune in large part by selling cars (Bilbolaget Nord AB), and the Rentzhogs.
“The two families of investors, who met in the region of Jämtland, have no connections to environmentalism, they are specialists in finance”.
The article describes a hidden agenda which can only be described as greenwashing, a deliberate lie “that enables capitalism to continue”.
Attard adds in a PS: “So that things are clear — the cause of this young teenager and all the young people following her, all over the world, is righteous and a great source of hope for environmental awareness.
“That being said, we shouldn’t be fooled by the role of certain adults in her entourage — spin doctors, mentors, specialists in greenwashing, green growth and capitalism. To wage an effective fight, we cannot allow ourselves to be fooled”.
We have been compiling a page of links to articles on this whole issue of fake-green capitalism within the climate justice movement, which we will continue to update.
The in-depth investigations by Cory Morningstar on the Wrong Kind of Green blog are particularly worth studying.
“The people of Fermanagh came together as never before to defeat this toxic industry in 2014. We can have confidence that together we can save our county once again.”
Determined words from local councillor and campaigner Donal O’Cofaigh in response to Tamboran’s renewed bid to frack Northern Ireland.
The company was last granted a licence in 2011, but its plans to drill a borehole at a quarry near Belcoo were met with fierce community opposition.
In late July 2014, Tamboran arrived on site in Belcoo with the intention of carrying out exploratory fracking in the Acheson and Glover quarry.
Their arrival sparked a determined local mobilisation and led to the establishment of a 24-hour camp at the quarry entrance. No drilling rig arrived.
One of the highlights from the campaign included local children singing a song calling out those in power for ignoring the hearfelt concerns of their community.
In August 2014, the Environment Minister finally took heed of the community’s demands, asking Tamboran for an Environment Impact Assessment. The project was stopped. Until now, that is.
In a radio interview, Aedín Mc Loughlin of Good Energies Alliance Ireland, based in Leitrim, highlighted the cross-border aspect of the project, saying “We know that water knows no borders, no boundaries, and if they are going to frack in Fermanagh that will have an impact on our area.”
A public consultation is open until July 5. Keep an eye on the Belcoo Frack Free Facebook page for detailed guidelines on how to make a submission.
Grassroots community resistance has been the driving force behind the success of the anti-fracking campaign across Europe and, along with unfavourable geology, continues to hamper efforts to develop the industry at scale in England too.
Understanding the difference between community and society – as highlighted by sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies – has been essential to defeating fracking, and provides valuable lessons for other movements.
As a long-time supporter of the UK campaign comments in a recent article: “The frackers might not have succeeded in establishing an industry, but they have certainly unintentionally built a committed, resilient, effective movement of people”.
And it is this people power, rooted in communities, that is sending – and will continue to send – the fracking industry packing wherever it seeks to establish itself. Fracking is stoppable, another world is possible!
Taken from the third issue of ‘Fracking is stoppable, another world is possible!‘
We are living in surreal times, when most journalists have dropped all pretence at reporting the truth.
They churn out blatant propaganda on behalf of our rulers and obediently avoid mentioning anything that might upset their paymasters.
The Gilets Jaunes revolt in France might as well never have happened, for English-speaking media. Exposure of NATO war crimes and false flags is consigned to the memory hole. The suffering of the Palestinian people is ignored. The persecution of Julian Assange is, at best, an amusing aside.
It is therefore crucial that independent journalists step forward to fill the space vacated by their corporate counterparts.
One of several encouraging initiatives is Shoal Collective, which provides “radical writing for a world beyond capitalism”.
A glance at their website, shoalcollective.org, reveals an impressive range of subject matters. Recent articles include:
* An analysis of the way the hyperloop high speed travel project uses fake green credentials to win credibility (see below).
* A call by Australian Palestinian and Jewish activists for singer and songwriter Xavier Rudd to cancel his planned concert in Israel.
* A report on how the Turkish state is continuing to try to wipe out Kurdish culture with a controversial dam which will see hundreds of majority-Kurdish villages submerged under water, displacing 78,000 people, as well as thousands of nomadic people.
* An exposé of the way the French state has been caught out using fake news in its unrelenting war against the Gilets Jaunes uprising.
* An interview with an anti-fascist fighter about defeating Daesh (Isis/Isil) in its Syrian capital.
Imagine the delight! In years to come we could all be zipping merrily across continents at almost the speed of sound through massive low-pressure tubes!
Even better, we’re talking eco-chic sustainable speed, with fossil fuel air and motor transport reduced and the super-duper shiny new “Hyperloop” tubes powered by a host of solar panels.
Following the stalling of plans for a Los Angeles to San Francisco route, US entrepreneur Elon Musk reported last year that he has now received some written authorisation to start work on a Hyperloop connection between New York and Washington, DC.
Pods travelling at 1,200 kph (750 mph) would take passengers from one city to the other in 29 minutes, he said.
The Hyperloop concept has been offered by one of Musk’s companies as open-source technology and various businesses have been showing an interest.
South Korea signed a dealto develop Hyperloop and is hoping the scheme will allow people to replace a three-hour drive from Seoul to Busan with a 20-minute trip.
Plans are also underway in France for a 40-minute Hyperloop connection between Paris and Toulouse, while the first operational route could be in the Emirates, with a Hyperloop tube planned to span the 150km between Dubai and Abu Dhabi in 12 minutes. The first stretch is due to be launched in 2020.
India, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Sweden and Indonesia are also said to be interested in building their own Hyperloops.
Over the last few years, Musk and his cheerleaders have been making much of Hyperloop’s supposedly “green” credentials.
Josh Giegel, president of Los Angeles firm Hyperloop One told the Inverse website: “We’re advertising, and we really believe in, a fully kind of green solution here.”
The techno-enthusiast Digital Trends website gushed about the “fantasy of futuristic transportation” and declared: “The Hyperloop could revolutionize mass transit, shortening travel times on land and reducing environmental damage in the process.”
Norway’s Green Party also jumped aboard the “renewable” high-speed bandwagon when it called for a Scandinavian Hyperloop connection between Oslo and Copenhagen.
But potential passengers should prepare to mind the gap… between hype and reality.
Christopher Laumanns of the degrowth.info web portal in Germany warned that there were a number of questions that needed to be asked about Hyperloop, such as “do we really want to go that fast?”, “is this the kind of technology we want?”, “who will profit from this?” and “what is the real, full ecological impact of this project?”.
He told Shoal: “The hyperloop is a mega-infrastructure-project. These projects have a rich tradition of being way more expensive than the ambitious investor says they are at the beginning.
“It will have a huge impact on the landscape, especially if the pods have to travel in a very straight line, just like highways and high-speed rail, which cut through landscapes, often with tunnels and bridges”.
Plans reveal that the giant Hyperloop tubes would either run underground, as in the New York to Washington project, or be raised above ground level on pylons – in either case cutting swathes through vulnerable landscapes and fragile habitats.
And what of the steel or reinforced concrete that would be needed to construct these continent-spanning tubes? Would this be sourced, manufactured and transported with zero environmental impact?
Not exactly. Steel depends on iron ore mines, mainly opencast, and the production process involves high levels of greenhouse gas emissions, wastewater contaminants, hazardous wastes and solid wastes.
On top of that, all the aggregates that make up concrete have to be quarried or dug out of the Earth somewhere, then transported, with further use of fossil fuel and other resources and increases in pollution.
The inclusion of solar panels in the Hyperloop marketing vision is also something of a green herring.
Enthusiasts for solar power often seem to conveniently forget that the panels themselves have a heavy environmental footprint, starting with the quartz mining, which threatens miners with the lung disease silicosis, and continuing with the caustic chemicals such as sodium hydroxide and hydrofluoric acid used in their manufacture.
The process uses not only precious water but also large amounts electricity and there is a problem with waste.
In 2011 residents of Haining in eastern China rioted for four days because the local solar panel factory was seriously polluting a nearby river, dumping toxic levels of fluoride into the water and killing large numbers of fish and some pigs.
It is unsurprising then, that Hyperloop’s claims to be eco-friendly have been greeted with scepticism by environmentalists.
Grayson Flory, editor of theEarth First! Journal in the USA, told Shoal: “The Hyperloop project is another example of dangerous greenwashing, pure and simple.
“It is a blow against a sustainable future for the planet disguised as a solution to industry-caused climate catastrophe. Environmental claims about the Hyperloop demonstrate the dominant culture’s obsession with technological progress and speed over all else.
“To prioritize high-speed transport over actual necessities for survival – such as non-toxic air, pure water, and thriving, intact ecosystems – is to ignore the very problem proponents of the Hyperloop claim they are trying to solve.
“Increasing our reliance on and dedication to technology and industry is not a rational or holistic approach to problems caused by increased reliance on and dedication to technology and industry.
“High-speed travel is not sustainable, no matter what new technology we use to make it appear so.”
Laumann, in Germany, said the broader issue of high-speed transport was important from a degrowth perspective:
“Capitalist acceleration creates the illusion of giving you more time, while it actually leads to a greater number of activities in the same amount of time, thus also creating more growth.”
José Ardillo, author of books such as Les Illusions renouvelables (“Renewable Illusions”), also agreed that the contemporary capitalist demand for high-speed transport, which Hyperloop seeks to meet, was the underlying problem.
He told Shoal: “The need for high-speed transport in modern industrial society comes within a wider historical context which was already underway at the time when the first railways were being built.
“You could say that the first need for capitalism was to efficiently link energy resources with the centres of industrial transformation, on the one hand, and on the other, of course, with distribution networks.
“The first war fought by industrial society at that stage was a war against distance. It had to nullify distance. Now contemporary industrial society is at war with time.
“Once towns and centres of production across the territory are linked together, you have to eliminate as far as possible the time needed to move between them.”
The great English writer and art critic John Ruskin died in January 1900 and so never knew the industrial insanities of the twentieth century, let alone the twenty-first.
But when he wrote in the 1870s about the madness of the railways he could just as easily have been describing the hyperloopiness of certain contemporary high-speed projects.
“There was a valley between Buxton and Bakewell, once upon a time as divine as the vale of Tempe”, he recalled.
“You enterprised a railroad through the valley – you blasted its rocks away, heaped thousands of tons of shale into its lovely stream.
“The valley is gone and the Gods with it, and now, every fool in Buxton can be at Bakewell in half-an-hour, and every fool in Bakewell at Buxton; which you think a lucrative process of exchange – you Fools everywhere”.
“No revolt against domination can really represent the general interest unless it turns itself into a rebellion against technology, a Luddite revolt”
Miguel Amorós (1949-) is an anti-industrial anarchist theorist, close to the situationist movement.
In the 1970s he was involved in setting up anarchist groups such as Bandera Negra (Black Flag) and Tierra Libre (Free Land). Jailed by the Spanish Franco regime, he then went into exile in France.
Between 1984 et 1992, Amorós was involved in producing the post-situationist review Encyclopédie des Nuisances and became known for combining full-on revolutionary anarchism with anti-industrialism.
In an article entitled ‘Where Are We Now?’, inspired by the essay of the same name by William Morris, he wrote: “The most basic task ahead of us is to bring as many people as possible together around the conviction that the system has got to be destroyed”. (1)
He added: “Technology is an instrument and a weapon because it benefits those who know best how to use it and how to be used by it. The bourgeoisie have used machines and the ‘scientific’ organisation of work against the proletariat. (2)
“No revolt against domination can really represent the general interest unless it turns itself into a rebellion against technology, a Luddite revolt”. (3)
Amorós mused on the disastrous own-goal scored by the 19th century anti-capitalist movement when it decided that industrial development offered the best route to liberation.
He wrote: “Contrary to what Marx and Engels claim, the workers’ movement condemned itself to political and social immaturity when it abandoned Utopian socialism and chose science and progress (bourgeois science and bourgeois progress) instead of community and individual flowering”. (4)
In the essay ‘Elementary Foundations of the Anti-Industrialist Critique’, he insisted that “factories, machines and bureaucracies are the real pillars of capitalist oppression”. (5)
He added: “Our critique of science, technology and the industrial system is a critique of progress. And in the same way it is a critique of the ideologies of science and progress, not least the workerist ideology, in both reformist and revolutionary guise, which is based on taking over, in the name of the proletariat, the bourgeois industrial system and its technology”. (6)
In the article ‘We Anti-Industrialists’ he wrote that in the previous phase of capitalist domination people had worked so that they could consume, whereas in the current phase we had to constantly consume so that work existed. The anti-development struggle was based on the negation of both work and consumption, in a bid to break this vicious cycle, he explained. (7)
Rather than abandon the traditional anarchist class struggle in order to embrace an anti-industrial perspective, Amorós has often stressed that they are one and the same fight.
“The anti-industrial critique does not deny the class struggle, it preserves and surpasses it and, moreover, class struggle cannot exist in today’s world other than in the form of anti-industrial struggle”, he wrote in his ‘Elementary Foundations of the Anti-Industrial Critique’. (8)
In this essay, he also made it clear that humankind will know no happiness and no future unless we can destroy the prison of industrial capitalism, writing: “An existence designed by technocrats according to industrial norms is, in effect, a life of slavery… (9) The struggle against capital is not simply a struggle for a free life, but a struggle for survival”. (10)
1. Miguel Amorós, ‘Où en-sommes nous?’, Préliminaires: Une perspective anti-industrielle(Villsavary: Éditions de la Roue, 2015), p. 22.
2. Amorós, ‘Où en-sommes nous?’, Préliminaires, p. 12.
3. Amorós, ‘Où en-sommes nous?’, Préliminaires, p. 19.
4. Amorós, ‘Où en-sommes nous?’, Préliminaires, p. 20.
5. Amorós, ‘Fondements élémentaires de la critique anti-industrielle’, Préliminaires, p. 60.
6. Amorós, ‘Fondements élémentaires de la critique anti-industrielle’, Préliminaires, pp. 60-61.
7. Amorós, ‘Nous, les anti-industriels’, Préliminaires, pp. 55-56.
8. Amorós, ‘Fondements élémentaires de la critique anti-industrielle’, Préliminaires, p. 59.
9. Amorós, ‘Fondements élémentaires de la critique anti-industrielle’, Préliminaires, p. 60.
10. Amorós, ‘Fondements élémentaires de la critique anti-industrielle’, Préliminaires, p. 61.
Political prisoner Julian Assange (see Acorn 49) is still in Belmarsh high security prison, after the hearing for his extradition to the USA was delayed until February 2020. He risks being handed a 175-year jail sentence by American courts, for revealing Uncle Sam’s dirty secrets. As the Defend Assange twitter account put it: “175 years is not a life sentence. It’s a death sentence”. Meanwhile the police raid on the ABC offices in Australia confirms that it is not just one individual facing the wrath of the authoritarian neoliberal system. All journalists who reveal truth and challenge power will be targeted as the system ramps up its attacks on dissident voices.
* * *
The Gilets Jaunes’ revolt against the neoliberal Macron regime in France is, incredibly, still going strong after 31 successive weekends and huge levels of repression. While numbers on the protests have inevitably dropped slightly, the general feeling is that this is no passing moment of discontent and that a solid grassroots network has been built which will continue to present a serious challenge to the system. Our Gilets Jaunes page now has links to more than 30 English-language articles and videos.
* * *
“It is easy. These spaces are designed so that a worker, who probably isn’t paid enough, can change over hundreds of these adverts in one morning!” Not content with exploiting and controlling every aspect of our lives, capitalism also visually occupies our urban environment with its advertising. If you feel like taking back what is yours, the free online Street Ad Takeover Manual from Brandalism tells you exactly how to go about it.
* * *
“Behind financial institutions’ and NGOs’ plans to ‘combat’ the climate crisis, a project aims to generate profits through the indiscriminate sale of forests. This model is being used to green capitalism…” This is the timely warning from Aldo Santiago in Guatemala, who explains how so-called “Protected Areas” in the department of Petén are a Trojan Horse for capitalist exploitation.
* * *
“The Zapatistas of Chiapas have shown that small autonomous and federated communities can cultivate the land by and for all, provide medical care, produce natural energy, renewable and free (an option ignored by the ecological mafias). It is essential that gratuity enter, like life, into our manners and our mentalities, from which it has been banished, excluded, forbidden for millennia. No illusions, however: the struggle against the chains with which we have deliberately held ourselves back may be very long. Which is a good reason to give ourselves over to it immediately”. So writes Raoul Vaneigem, the Belgian situationist philosopher, in an article calling for ‘A radical politics of life‘.
* * *
A call has gone out for international action against the World Economic Forum in January 2020. The WEF paints itself as a vaguely “green” organisation, and hosted Greta Thunberg at its 2019 event, but in fact it represents the vile business interests which are destroying nature everywhere. Swiss activists are planning action and an international strike against the opening of the WEF’s next summit in Davos on January 21 – “Tuesday to End the Past, instead of Fridays for Future”.
* * *
“The ‘smart city’ project on the Toronto waterfront is the most highly evolved version to date of what Harvard professor Shoshana Zuboff calls ‘surveillance capitalism… It is a dystopian vision that has no place in a democratic society”. This is the warning from none other than Roger McNamee — prominent Silicon Valley tech investor. Find out more on the Common Dreams site.
* * *
Yet more shocking news of the extent to which the industrial capitalist cancer is eating away at the living flesh of our world: “There’s so much plastic in the environment that bees are making nests out of it” reveals this report from Argentina.
* * *
Acorn quote: “We must have the earth again. The communities of socialism must redistribute the land. The earth is no one’s private property. Let the earth have no masters; then we men are free”.
Synchronicity has a funny way of throwing together two apparently unrelated events in a way that invites comparison.
This was the case, for instance, with Saturday November 17 2018, the day on which both the Gilets Jaunes in France and Extinction Rebellion (XR) in the UK were launched onto their respective national stages.
Initially, the comparison appeared to favour XR, from our perspective at least. In Britain, altruistic environmentally-aware protesters were battling to save the planet, while across the Channel the Yellow Vests were upset about a rise in petrol prices.
But that perception rapidly changed.
The Gilets Jaunes, attacked by the police, smeared by the corporate media, despised by government and business elites, clearly represent a serious and genuine radical challenge to the existing order (see our Gilets Jaunes page).
XR, big pals with the police, frequently feted by the corporate media, adored by a significant part of the government and business elites, are clearly seriously compromised by their close connections with the existing order (see our Climate Capitalists page).
We saw another synchronicity in the fact that the new organic radicalism project (see Acorn 48 and orgrad.wordpress.com) was unveiled at the same time as the latest XR happening and all the controversy surrounding it.
Again, at first sight the comparison might seem favourable to the climate protesters. One small group of people present a political ideology or philosophy built on wisdom accumulated over many decades, centuries and even millennia. But it’s all just words, which modern people are too busy to read.
Another, much larger, group actually does something. It takes to the streets, blocks one of the world’s great capital cities for days on end, draws everyone’s attention to climate change, miraculously forces the British parliament to declare a “climate emergency”.
But, in fact, close scrutiny of XR and the climate movement as a whole suggests that all this rebellious energy is in danger of being channelled into a cunning ploy to relaunch capitalism.
The plan is to use a “Green New Deal” and a “New Deal for Nature” to spark a “Fourth Industrial Revolution” which will make a lot of people very rich, including the venture capitalists who have voiced support for XR.
Obviously the people involved on the ground in the XR London protests were not willingly part of a capitalist plot. Obviously they are not stupid and many must have been aware of the danger of their struggle being co-opted. Hopefully many of them will break free from the “leadership” and organise autonomously and radically.
The problem is with the use of the term “climate” as the cornerstone of the movement.
We are not saying that climate change is not real and dangerous but it is by no means all that is really dangerous about industrial capitalism.
What about extractivism in general, not just for fossil fuels? What about pesticides? What about nanoparticles? What about all the rest of the pollution, contamination and destruction that forms part of this nightmare industrial age?
It won’t disappear with the measures being proposed to deal with climate change. All that hi-tech carbon capture technology, all those solar panels covering the world’s deserts, all those wind turbines cluttering our coastlines, will still need to be manufactured in polluting factories, using raw materials mined out of the flesh of Mother Earth.
Fighting under the banner of “the climate” is a severe weakness for the environmental movement because it means the issue can be picked off, channelled and neutralised.
If “the climate” is the problem, then capitalism is on hand to sell us the solution.
The money-orientated approach is always about superficial responses. If you have got a cold, a drugs company will sell you a product to suppress the symptoms. But you will still have a cold and it will probably last three times as long because your body will be prevented from expelling toxins in the way it knows best.
If environmentalists place climate issues within the larger context of what our culture has become, then the capitalists can have no quick-fix solution to sell us. There is no sales opportunity for them. They cannot latch on to a movement which aims to see their empire of greed and profit taken down.
The narrow fixation with “climate” on the current environmental scene is part of a larger issue, namely that of fragmented thinking.
It is here that the relevance of organic radicalism comes in. Again and again, the thinkers who inspired this philosophy condemned the modern tendency towards fragmented thought.
Indeed Kumar has specifically mentioned “climate” in this context, saying: “I am constantly reminding people to think holistically, think in a bigger way, a spiritual way, rather than get stuck in this one idea that climate change is the problem, or this or that is the problem. Our problems are interrelated”.
He adds: “The actions of environmentalists will lead to tears if they don’t come from the place of the spirit. Their activism can end up in nuclear power or genetic engineering or the whole countryside covered with windmills or solar panels and no trees left anywhere”.
Fragmentation is a problem which goes to the heart of the failure of our civilization. We have lost sight of the holistic unity of things and see only unconnected separate items forming no coherent pattern. We don’t see a wood, just trees. There is no such thing as society, only individuals. The idea that humankind is part of nature is regarded as a naive fantasy.
On the political level, once we start fragmenting our understanding into separate issues, we cut those issues off from the whole of which they are part.
Racism and sexism, for instance, can only really be understood within a wider context of our relationship to “the other”, of complex patterns of projection, power and domination.
An organic radical perspective insists on the unity of the human species as an organic entity, and on humankind’s belonging to the living world and the cosmos beyond.
It challenges the individualism, the subjectivism, the “me first”, the “I think therefore I am”, that underpins our whole modern culture.
Fragmented thinking just talks about racism or sexism as separate issues. And, lo and behold, in isolation they can easily be “solved” (in fact, hidden from view!) by the system.
“Racism is over – here’s a black president! Sexism is over – look how many CEOs of rapacious capitalist corporations are now women!”
“You say CO2 is the problem? We have just the machine you need? Can’t afford it? You’d better declare a climate emergency and raid the public piggy bank to buy it from us!”
Organic radicalism is an attempt to counter fragmented thinking in anti-capitalist and environmental circles.
It is an attempt to give our movements real philosophical roots, to make them strong and alive.
The name given to this deeper understanding is not important, of course. It has appeared in many forms throughout history and will do so again.
Whatever we choose to call it, we badly need this ancient and powerful wisdom to guide us away from traps and dead-ends and to steer us into the free and healthy future for which we yearn.
2. Why I decided to fight: letter from a Yellow Vest prisoner
Thomas P is just one of many Gilets Jaunes prisoners in France, locked up for their participation in the mass uprising against the neoliberal Macron regime. Below are some excerpts from an open letter he wrote from jail, after three months behind bars.
One is no longer innocent when one has seen ‘legitimate’ violence, legal violence: that of the police.
I saw the hatred or emptiness in their eyes and I heard their chilling warnings: ‘disperse, go home’.
I saw the charges, grenades, and beatings in general.
I saw the checks, searches, traps, arrests, and jail.
I saw people falling, blood, I saw the mutilated.
Like all those who were demonstrating this February 9th, I learned that once again a man had just had his hand ripped off by a grenade.
And then I did not see anything any more, because of the gas. All of us were suffocating.
That’s when I decided not to be a victim any more and to fight.
I’m proud of it. Proud to have raised my head, proud not to have given in to fear.
Of course, like all those who are targeted by the repression against the Yellow Vests movement, I first protested peacefully and daily, I always solved problems with words rather than with fists.
But I am convinced that in some situations conflict is needed.
Because debate, however ‘big’ it may be, can sometimes be rigged or distorted. All that is needed is for the organiser to ask the questions in a way that suits them.
We are told on one side that the state coffers are empty, but we are bailing out the banks with millions when they are in trouble, we are talking about an ‘ecological transition’ without ever calling into question the production system and consumption at the origin of all climatic disturbances.
We are millions who shout at them, saying that their system is rotten, and they are telling us how they are trying to save it.
The challenge of street clashes is to manage to push back the police, to keep them in line: to get out of a trap, to reach a place of power, or to simply take the street.
Since November 17th those who have threatened to fire their weapons, those who brutalise, mutilate, and suffocate unarmed and defenceless protesters, those who are not the so-called ‘breakers’, they are the police.
If the media does not talk about it, the hundreds of thousands of people who have been at the roundabouts and in the streets know it.
Behind their brutality and threats, it is fear that is hiding.
And when that moment comes, in general, it means that the revolution is not far away.
Read the full English translation of the letter here.
Rarely has the arrogant imperialism of the USA been so blatantly exposed as by the case of Julian Assange.
On Monday May 13 Swedish authorities announced, bizarrely, that they were reopening the long-dropped “rape” investigation against the Wikileaks founder.
Assange’s lawyer Per E Samuelson told Swedish TV the decision to reopen the investigation was “an embarrassment”, while WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson said it would give Assange a chance to clear his name.
Assange is also still facing the extraordinary prospect of extradiction and trial in the US, despite not being American and not being alleged to having committed any offence on US soil.
The “world’s policeman” apparently has the right to punish anyone, anywhere in the world, who it considers its enemy, and supine vassal states like the UK are only too eager to go along with this.
The twist in the Assange case is that the “crime” he is said to have committed is precisely to have exposed, through Wikileaks, the arrogant imperialism of which he is now a victim.
Having been illegally dragged out of the Ecuadorian embassy with the UK political police, he is being treated with all the justice that might have been afforded a political dissident in Stalin’s USSR.
As historian Mark Curtis has pointed out, UK government minister Alan Duncan called Assange a “miserable little worm”, the judge called him “narcissistic” and he received a grossly disproportionate sentence on the bail issue.
“Is Assange even going to receive a fair trial?” asks Curtis. The question seems rhetorical.
Veteran investigative journalist John Pilger wrote: “The shocking arrest of Assange carries a warning for all who, as Oscar Wilde wrote, ‘sow the seeds of discontent [without which] there would be no advance towards civilisation’.
“The warning is explicit towards journalists. What happened to the founder and editor of WikiLeaks can happen to you on a newspaper, you in a TV studio, you on radio, you running a podcast”.
Our comrades at Shoal, a collective of independent journalists, also voiced concern at the precedent which would be set by the extradition of Assange to the USA.
They asked: “Would the same judicial process apply to journalists who offended the sensibilities of the governments of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel or Russia?”
Meanwhile, the constant sneering from the corporate media merely confirms what many have long known – that these so-called journalists are nothing but servile protectors of the system, ready to dance and write to any authoritarian tune their bosses ask them to.
There are also question marks over a liberal-left consensus which is too easily swayed by dog-whistle smears engineered to destroy the reputation of any effective enemy of the system.
Former ambassador Craig Murray raised this point when he wrote: “All the false left who were taken in by the security services playing upon a feminist mantra should take a very hard look at themselves. They should also consider this.
“If you seriously put forward that in allegations of sexual assault, the accuser must always be believed and the accused must automatically be presumed guilty, you are handing an awesome power to the state to lock people up without proper defence.
“The state will abuse that awesome power and fit people up. The Assange case shows us just that. And it is not the only case, currently, as everyone in Scotland should realise.
“But there is more. If you believe that any sexual accusation against a person should be believed and automatically and immediately end their societal respectability, you are giving power to state and society to exclude dissidents and critics from political discourse by a simple act of accusation.
“That power will be used and abused by the security services”.
If you are one of those comrades who has reservations about supporting Assange, we would humbly suggest you read Caitlin Johnstone’s comprehensive article “Debunking All The Assange Smears“.
This thought-provoking passage is taken from Darren Allen’s 33 Myths of The System: A Brief Guide to the Unworld. The whole book is available for free download here. We should declare that we consider ourselves to be leftists, so we have to accept our fair share of the criticism…
The modern leftist complains about ‘victim-blaming’ yet never criticises the system which relentlessly suppresses the idea that the environment causes conflict, crime, physical ill-health or outright madness.
The modern leftist complains about ‘objectification’ yet sees the entire world and everyone in it as a collection of categories; you are not an individual, you are ‘white’ or ‘a man’.
The well-to-do leftist regularly expresses ‘solidarity’ [i.e. intense identification] with those most affected by the system (the global poor and excluded) while making demeaning professional interventions in their lives and patronising pronouncements about how they should resist the system.
The modern leftist complains about ‘fragile egos,’ yet demonstrably possesses a self so extraordinarily delicate and brittle, it can shatter at (be traumatised, triggered, even infected by) a word.
The modern leftist complains about ‘being silenced,’ yet shuts down all criticism immediately and ferociously with arguments largely based on belittling interlocutors, or ruling out their entire view based on a single piece of information, rather than on making a persuasive case.
The reactive leftist regularly meets fact, knowledge and truth (1) with feeling (2) — ‘what you are saying is irrelevant, because it (it and nothing else; certainly not powerful social forces that stand to benefit from my feelings) makes me feel threatened, offended and angry; and because you do not belong to my category, you can never understand this feeling’ — a minority version of the standard mainstream position; reality is what we say it is (3).
The modern leftist has a great deal of difficulty speaking for himself; opinions are prefaced with ‘as a’ [homosexual, white man, a writer, a mammal].
The modern leftist believes himself to be cruelly abused, not just constantly harping on the actual insults he receives (‘see how awful they all are! look what names they call me!’) but constantly interpreting as derogatory ‘pretty much anything that is said about him (or about groups with whom he identified)’ (4).
The institutional leftist believes herself to be a radical while aspiring to state control and professional advancement, regularly supporting centralised, hierarchical or artificially distributed power, happily working for a large corporation, or implicitly supporting apparently opposed ideologies (e.g. the absurd collusion between feminism and Islam).
The postmodern leftist often claims that knowledge is a product of one’s race, privilege, gender and so on, yet demands that her intensely relative philosophy (5) take first place on the institutional syllabus.
The modern leftist — black and white, male, female and transgender, able-bodied and disabled — is terrified of the total abolition of the system.
1. Which are not the same thing. 2. Actually, or more accurately speaking, emotion. The difference is discussed in 33 Myths of the Ego. 3. Or ‘power determines reality’. The modern leftist may be in an inferior or minority position, but the group as a whole is still enormously powerful and the individual still has power to stir up emotion and create justifying belief based thereon. 4. As Kaczynski points out. 5. The philosophy of the modern left is actually an extreme form of ‘nominalism’, the idea that if you change what something is called, you change the thing itself. Another word for this is ‘magic’.
Rudolf Rocker (1873-1958) was an anarchist activist, theorist and writer who became well known in Germany, Britain and the USA.
His importance lies in the way that he used the idea of a “social organism” (1) as the basis for his internationalist anarchist philosophy.
For instance, in his 1937 book Nationalism and Culture, Rocker argued that nationalism was reactionary because it imposed artificial separations within the “organic unity” (2) of humankind.
He insisted that the nation was not something that existed naturally, and which then formed a state to protect its interests, as commonly imagined, but a fake entity invented to justify hierarchy and control: “It is the state which creates the nation, not the nation the state”. (3)
He added in the book Anarcho-Syndicalism (1938): “Dictatorship is the negation of organic development, of natural building from below upwards”. (4)
Rocker had been a conventional socialist in his youth and, like Gustav Landauer, often expressed his frustration at how that movement had failed to inspire authentic revolt against the capitalist system, allowing the Nazis to exploit discontent and sweep to power in his native Germany.
The socialist movement’s historic failure was partly a result of its participation in parliamentary politics, which he said had affected it “like an insidious poison”, spreading the “ruinous delusion that salvation always comes from above”. (5)
He added: “It did not even possess the moral strength to hold on to the achievements of bourgeois Democracy and Liberalism, and surrendered the country without resistance to Fascism, which smashed the entire labour movement to bits with one blow”. (6)
Rocker reminded his readers that the German Social Democrats had, in practice, ceased to be a revolutionary party and that when the November Revolution broke out in 1918 their newspaper, Vorwärts, warned workers against rushing to take part because it said the German people were not ready for a republic.
He concluded: “Its absolute impotence contributed not a little to enabling Germany to bask today in the sun of the Third Reich”. (7)
Rocker saw that socialism at the beginning of the 20th century had drifted into a “gradual assimilation to the modes of thought of capitalist society” (8) – a fate which threatens other supposedly radical currents 100 years later.
In contrast to this, he developed a revolutionary philosophy which, in Noam Chomsky’s words, “stands in opposition to all the dominant tendencies in modern social and political thought”. (9)
Explains Chomsky: “In Rocker’s radically different conception, people must take their lives and their work into their own hands. Only through their own struggle for liberation will ordinary people come to comprehend their true nature, suppressed and distorted within institutional structures designed to assure obedience and subordination”. (10)
In rejecting the lie of salvation from above, Rocker pointed to the potential for liberation from below, from within, from what Chomsky describes as a “deeply rooted striving for freedom, justice, compassion and solidarity”. (11)
Rocker’s vision was, of course, an anarchist vision – an organic anarchist vision, in fact – and he highlighted the contrast between the vibrant Spanish anarchism of the 1930s and socialism in his home country.
He wrote: “The libertarian labour movement in Spain has never lost itself in the labyrinth of an economic metaphysics which crippled its intellectual buoyancy by fatalistic conceptions, as was the case in Germany; nor has it unprofitably wasted its energy in the barren routine tasks of bourgeois parliaments.
“Socialism was for it a concern of the people, an organic growth proceeding from the activity of the masses themselves and having its basis in their economic organizations”. (12)
For Rocker, anarchism was not some kind of fixed, self-enclosed social system, but a current which battled for the “free unhindered unfolding of all the individual and social forces in life”. (13)
The possibility of another world, a free anarchist world, was already there within human nature and the goal of anarchism was to release this “vital concrete possibility for every human being to bring to full development all the powers, capacities and talents with which nature has endowed him, and turn them to social account”. (14)
The less the “natural development” (15) of humanity was constrained by any kind of authority, the more harmonious it would be.
Freedom, that is to say the right to unhindered individual and collective self-fulfilment, therefore had to be defended against social and economic tyranny by “the violent resistance of the populace”. (16)
Rocker wrote: “Great mass movements among the people and whole revolutions have been necessary to wrest these rights from the ruling classes, who would never have consented to them voluntarily. One need only study the history of the past three hundred years to understand by what relentless struggles every right has to be wrested inch by inch from the despots”. (17)
Rocker’s explanation of the effects of industrial society on its human victims echoes Ferdinand Tönnies’ account of the transition from traditional Gemeinschaft (community) to industrial-capitalist Gesellschaft (society).
He wrote that the natural human ties which had previously existed between the old master-workman and his journeymen had no meaning for the modern proletarian, who, since the industrial revolution, had become merely an object of exploitation by a class with which he no longer had any social relationship.
“Socially uprooted, he had become just a component of a great mass of shipwrecked beings, who had all been smitten by the same fate.
“The modern proletarian, he was the man of the machine, a machine of flesh and blood who set the machine of steel in motion, to create wealth for others, while the actual producer of this wealth must perish in misery”. (18)
Rocker fled his native Germany to escape repression in 1892 and ended up in England, “the mother country of capitalist big industry”. (19)
Although he was a Gentile, he became involved in the Jewish anarchist movement in London, learnt Yiddish and lived in the Jewish community.
He was interned during the First World War, and in 1918 he was deported from Britain and returned to Germany, only to be forced out of his home country by the arrival of the Nazi regime in 1933. He spent the rest of his life in the USA.
1. Rudolf Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism (London: Pluto Press, 1989), p. 11. 2. Rudolf Rocker, Nationalism and Culture, cit. Peter Marshall, Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism, (London: Fontana Press, 1993), p. 419. 3. Ibid. 4. Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism, p. 75. 5. Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism, p. 83. 6. Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism, p. 85. 7. Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism, p. 97. 8. Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism, p. 84. 9. Noam Chomsky, Preface, Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism, p. vi. 10. Chomsky, Preface, Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism, p. vii. 11. Ibid. 12. Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism, p. 98. 13. Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism, p. 31. 14. Ibid. 15. Ibid. 16. Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism, pp. 111-12. 17. Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism, p. 112. 18. Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism, p. 43. 19. Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism, p. 56.
Following the success of the 2018 decentralised anarchist festival in London, the 2019 version is being extended across the UK and Ireland. Explains the website: “The idea is simple: groups put on their own programme of anarchist events, concentrating on the dates of the long weekend of 31st May to the 2nd June 2019”. Check out the programme here.
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Green Anti-Capitalist Front, the activist organisation formed to give a radical edge to XR’s London protests, is going from strength to strength. On May 4, around 70 people attended its second open assembly, noting the greenwashing agenda behind the so-called Green New Deal, putting an emphasis on anti-imperialism and solidarity with the Global South and calling for direct action in response to specific ecological threats, like airport expansions.
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The fight is on to stop a theme park being built on the bonnie bonnie banks of Loch Lomond. Explain Save Loch Lomondcampaigners: “The developer’s own Environmental Impact Assessments states that there will be damage to ancient woodland, pollution of standing and running water, red squirrel and otter fatalities and more, all for the construction of woodland lodges, treetop walkways, a hotel, restaurant, brewery, a monorail and much more, all to be built on what is currently public land but which will be sold off to the developer. This is about protecting our world-famous environment but it’s also about the fundamental question of who owns Scotland and who our beautiful country is for”.
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Brazil is a neoliberal state which has fostered economic development at any price through capital incentives. After Australia, it is the second largest ore exporter in the world and is scarred by no fewer than 430 ore dams. This report on the guilhotina.info site warns that the mining business has turned the country into a time bomb, with disaster after disaster caused by the industry’s greed. Movements opposing the dams have been met with repression and assassinations.
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Resistance News is a free monthly newsletter providing analysis and commentary on ecology, global capitalism, empire, and revolution, linked to the Deep Green Resistance News Service. The May 2019 issue can be found here.
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A new international campaign has been launched to defend the Rojava revolution and its achievements. Riseup4Rojava’s online call declares: “We must expose and attack the military and diplomatic cooperation between the AKP-MHP government and opportunist governments of the USA and Western European states. We have to build a collective resistance against the cooperation of our governments with Turkish fascism”.
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“Extinction Rebellion is part of our capitalist system” – according to Bill Jamieson, business writer at The Scotsman. “Climate change activism and campaigns for sustainability are part and parcel of capitalist progression”, he adds, in case we had not caught his drift. And who is Bill? “He is a passionate advocate of the positive overall economic effects of championing entrepreneurs and why over-regulation and risk aversion can damage our economy”, say specialistseakers.com.
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Acorn quote: “What is an anarchist? One who, choosing, accepts the responsibility of choice”.
A collective probing behind the scenes of the XR spectacle is unearthing more and more inconvenient truths.
Take, for instance, this article from 2016 by John Elkington, which has been drawn to our attention.
Elkington, alongside Volans Ventures Ltd colleague Louise Kjellerup Roper, is one of the XR “business leaders” featured on the missing website and in the XR Business letter to The Times.
He is also involved in the Tomorrow’s Capitalism Inquiry backed by companies like Aviva Investors, Covestro, and Unilever, the massive transnational consumer goods company.
The article is entitled “Tomorrow’s Business Models will be X-rated” and the letter X is a theme which runs through the whole text.
Elkington starts off talking about the California Gold Rush but adds: “The latest rush — in pursuit of exponential opportunities, or ‘X’ — feels even more seismic. The deeper I dig, the more potential opportunities surface to transform capitalism, markets and business in pursuit of sustainable development”.
Strangely for a supporter of environmentalism, Elkington boasts that he has been “accumulating air miles at an almost exponential rate”.
One of his many jet-set missions was to “Google’s X facility, the self-styled ‘Moonshot Factory'”, he explains.
“When visiting X last week, I was fascinated to see robotic arms, futuristic model aircraft dangling from the high ceilings (they have colonized an old shopping mall) and the sort of radar scanner used to guide autonomous cars.
“But my theme here is less the technology than the business models that are helping turn new technology into viable businesses — especially businesses that can help drive progress towards UN’s Sustainable Development Goals”.
Talking about the “Sustainability X agenda”, Elkington calls for a radical reinvention of what he charmingly calls the “Sustainability Industry”.
The Volans boss writes: “As leaders learn to ‘Think Sustainably,’ they will also need to learn to ‘Think X,’ shorthand for ‘Think Exponential’.
“In the same way that they once looked to activists and social entrepreneurs for evidence of where markets were headed, they must now engage a very different set of players.
“These new players are not happy with 1% or even 10% year-on-year improvements, instead pushing towards 10X — or 10-fold — improvements over time”.
This last sentence is worth reading again.
“The X agenda”. “Sustainablity X”. “X-rated” business models. Massive profits. Spiralling economic growth.
If Think X is shorthand for Think Exponential, as this XR Business Leader insists, what does XR actually stand for?
“We have seen powerful and courageous civil disobedience in the streets of London this week”, enthuses the woman on the YouTube video.
Placing Extinction Rebellion in a proud political tradition including the US civil rights movement and the Suffragettes, she declares: “What they are doing is waking everyone up to the fact that we do have an emergency on climate change. We are simply not acting fast enough”.
The title of the video, posted by the Global Optimism channel, is “Christiana Figueres in support of Extinction Rebellion”.
Figueres, for those who do not know, is an international mover and shaker generally regarded as the architect of the Paris Agreement which resulted from COP 21 in 2015.
But where exactly is this Costa Rican diplomat coming from and what sort of “environmentalism” does she represent?
Her family background is certainly interesting.
Born in 1956, Christiana is the daughter of the three-time Costa Rican President José Figueres Ferrer, aka Don Pepe.
Remembered mainly for his fervent anti-communism, Christiana’s late father admitted to the New York Times in 1981 that he had been aided by the CIA and that he was “a good friend” of its director Alan Dulles.
Christiana’s older brother José María Figueres was also President of Costa Rica, from 1994 to 1998.
The US connection seems to run in the family. According to Wikipedia: “Figueres completed his undergraduate studies at the United States Military Academy (West Point).
“While attending West Point, he attended and completed the US Army’s Ranger Training Course in 1975. Later, he continued his academic studies at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University”.
As President he aimed to “transform the Costa Rican economy towards one of higher productivity” and “the administration is credited with having worked to advance and promote further integration of Costa Rica into the globalised economy”.
Christiana’s brother shares her enthusiasm for “sustainability” – within an entirely capitalist context, of course.
He is on the Board of Trustees of the US-based Rocky Mountain Institute, which, in its own words, “transforms global energy use to create a clean, prosperous, and secure low-carbon future”.
José María’s profile on its site explains that he pioneered the linkage between sustainable development and technology while in power in Costa Rica and then with the United Nations.
He was also the first CEO of the World Economic Forum, where he “strengthened global corporate ties to social and governmental sectors”.
José María must have lots to discuss over family meals with his brother-in-law, Christiana’s husband Konrad von Ritter.
Her profile on the World Bank website (she is World Bank Climate Leader) praises her for work in bringing people together on the climate issue, not least “corporations and activists”.
Christiana is convenor of the UN’s Mission2020, which declares: “We’re on a mission to drive urgent action to limit the effects of climate change, particularly for the most vulnerable people and countries.
“With radical collaboration and stubborn optimism we will bend the curve of global GHG emissions by 2020, enabling humanity to flourish”.
Mission2020 hopes to achieve this by means of “targeted, high-level diplomacy”, “multi-stakeholder convening” and “creative strategic communications”.
There was a glowing report of Mission2020’s launch on The Grantham Institute’s website.
It gushed: “The Mission 2020 movement views the climate challenge, not as a burden; but a tremendous opportunity.
“Through being ambitious they aim to inspire us all to meet the challenge, spur innovation, create new jobs and economic opportunities, and while at the same time nurture the benefits we get from an unspoiled natural environment.
“The campaign states that the intrinsic value of the benefits of climate action extend beyond just economic metrics, and indicate that by 2050 efforts to slow climate change could make us $19 trillion richer”.
Figueres is ideologically very keen on connecting the public and private sectors and has made a significant personal contribution to that fusion.
For instance, she is a member of Acciona, “a global company with a business model based on sustainability”.
Its aim is to “respond to society’s main needs through the provision of renewable energy, infrastructure, water and services”.
She is also on the advisory board of international experts set up by Italian energy company Eni to “analyze the main geopolitical, technological and economic trends, including issues related to the decarbonisation process”.
Figueres is involved in The B Team, co-founded by Richard Branson, which describes itself as an “initiative formed by a global group of business leaders to catalyse a better way of doing business”.
On its website, The B Team reveals it is supported by Ford Foundation, Kering Group, Guilherme Leal, Strive Masiyiwa, Joann McPike, The Tiffany and Co. Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, Unilever and Virgin Unite.
Chaired by Paul Polman, former Unilever CEO and one of the XR business leaders described in our last article, The B Team was of course right behind the XR Business initiative (for which the website seems to have been withdrawn for the meantime).
There may be XR supporters and activists out there who think that none of this matters, that it is better to be supported by business interests than opposed by them, that it is even an encouraging sign that big companies are getting on board an environmental struggle.
We would ask them to contemplate these two points:
1. High-profile movements like XR are good news for those who want to pressure governments to channel massive amounts of funding into the “renewables” sector.
2. They are particularly good (and lucrative) news for businesses and individuals who have a financial stake in the renewables sector.
The dangers to the environmental movement from capitalist involvement are clear. It risks being:
* Exploited for private business aims.
* Severely compromised in the eyes of the public.
* Used as “social licence” to launch a “Green New Deal”, a “Fourth Industrial Revolution”.
* Limited to calling merely for a “nicer” form of capitalism, rather than for its abolition.
* Used to prop up a global complex based on social injustice, imperialism, racism, militarism and exploitation.
* Limited to addressing the climate change impact of industrialism, ignoring all the other forms of pollution, destruction and contamination that we are facing and which would continue unabated in a “renewable” capitalist future.
* Prevented from challenging economic growth itself and instead envisioning a future of degrowth, where production is based on needs, not profit.
Our message to XR activists and supporters is simple.
If we really want to save the future of our living planet, we need to bring down the capitalist system.
And we are never going to bring down capitalism by collaborating with capitalists.