Acorn

The Acorn – 43

acornmastheadnew1

Number 43

In this issue:

  1. Stop the Salzburg summit!
  2. Intergalactic week at the zad
  3. Thousands block US air base in Germany
  4. Returning fire against the industrial capitalist system
  5. The Broken Harp: how colonialism crushes culture
  6. Organic radicalism: bringing down the fascist machine
  7. Acorninfo

1. Stop the Salzburg summit!

NOS20

The call is going out to mobilise against a fascistic and militaristic “security” conference being staged in Austria on September 20, 2018.

The informal meeting of EU heads of state and government is being held under the slogan of “A Europe that protects”, and key points on the agenda include so-called “internal security”, the so-called “protection” of the EU’s external borders, and so-called “cyber security”.

Say opponents: “We refuse to be deceived by the EU’s excessive use of euphemism. It is crystal-clear that the Salzburg summit will be a summit of authority: a pseudo-democratic spectacle of a bunch of assholes deciding about repressive policies that will boost their position in the struggle for economic and military power – at our expense.

“‘Internal security’ means giving even more weapons of all kinds to those whose job it is to spy on us and arrest us. The ‘protection of the EU’s external borders’ is the militarized expulsion and deterrence of refugees and migrants. ‘Cyber security’ means digital control of our data and our actions.”

Migration will be a key point on the agenda on September 20. In an insidious propagandistic move, people fleeing from war and hardship are portrayed as a security threat. But whose security is meant, and who is supposed to be protected from whom?

Calls for an extended Frontex mandate and an increased number of deportations have a clear aim: the militarized expulsion and deterrence of people fleeing the devastations caused by power blocks such as the EU, who actively engage in the exploitation of the Global South.

Politicians are vying with one another for the most absurd plans. To name just one example, Jens Spahn, the Health Minister (sic!) of the German conservative party (CDU) wants to see Frontex forces multiply from the current 1,500 to 100,000.

frontex
Frontex cops

The portrayal of refugees as a security threat serves to legitimize policies of “internal security”, that is the increased arming of the state’s institutions for spying and repression.

Sadly, governmental and non-governmental racist-nationalist projects have won over the minds of a considerable proportion of the population (not only) in Austria – with the result that people enthusiastically embrace policies that run against their own interests, believing that these measures will “protect” them.

For instance, the new Austrian Face-Veiling-Ban makes surveillance much easier by forcing each and every person on Austrian territory to present their face to the ubiquitous CCTV cameras at all times. This is hardly likely to foster the “peaceful coexistence” mentioned in the preamble to the new law.

Another European trend is the increased arming and militarization of the police and the extension of their powers. The new Bavarian police law is a particularly scary example: police in the southern German state are set to be given secret-service-style powers. “Smart” video technology and face recognition are going to be used, postal secrecy will be lifted, and the cops will be equipped with hand grenades.

The Austrian conservative chancellor Sebastian “Message Control” Kurz has announced he will take up the “struggle against internet giants such as Google and Facebook”. Of course, digital policies are not driven by the desire to protect the personal data of the EU’s subjects. Neither do they arise from sincere outrage about the large-scale tax evasion practised by corporations.

On the contrary, the driving force of such policies is the competition for technological hegemony among those in power and for the technological means to monitor our thoughts and actions.

Sebastian Kurz
Right-wing Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz

Those in power in the EU have recognized the need to secure control over the technological apparatus, in order to keep up with the latest top manipulation techniques (e.g. look up “nudging” in your newspeak dictionary). In this context, chancellor Kurz tellingly used the phrase “equality of weapons”.

According to press reports, the state dinner on September 19 is likely to take place in Mirabell Palace, and the political meeting in the Mozarteum University. Thus, both relevant venues as well as the four hotels where the heads of state and government, plus their entourage, will be staying for the summit will be in close proximity to each other (all in the inner city of Salzburg to the right of the river Salzach).

Around these venues, a so-called “security zone” is going to be set up – for rebels it is more likely to be an insecurity zone. In mid-April, local press reported the planned use of drones “as one part of the security concept for the Austrian presidency of the EU council”.

The call-out adds: “Police drones will be hovering above our heads this autumn, spying on and filming each of our movements. When will they shoot at us?

Salzburg cops

“The militarized siege of our city that is lying ahead seems like a consistent follow-up to local policies. Decades ago, homeless people were removed from the inner city during the posh Salzburg Festival, and a sectoral ban on begging was imposed on large parts of the inner city some years ago in order to get rid of the travelling poor, many of them Romani and Sinti people.

“These measures are supposed to make sure that the city’s wealthy conservative elite and paying tourists are spared the sight of the poverty caused by capitalism and nationalist-racist policies of expulsion. This is how Salzburg discriminates between wanted and unwanted guests.

“We are calling all partisans of freedom and equality to come to Salzburg in mutual solidarity – let’s demonstrate what is really unwanted: the oppression caused by white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, the nationalism feeding on antisemitic conspiracy theories, the positions of power that enable a system of inequality to live on.

“We’ll see you on the streets on September 20!”

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2. Intergalactic week at the zad

zad intergalactic

After the long-awaited victory against the airport project, residents of the zad autonomous zone at Notre-Dame-des-Landes in France are trying to recover from a brutal spring which was marked by two phases of violent evictions.

The massive police operations caused many injuries, the destruction of a part of the living spaces of the zad and involved a long military presence. But the state was forced to give up going any further and entirely eradicating the rebel presence.

Resistance on the ground, solidarity elsewhere and the negotiation process resulted in a status quo that left dozens of homes, common spaces and activities on most of the land held by the movement. Nevertheless, this could very quickly be attacked again, administratively, politically or militarily.

Whilst the zad recovers from its wounds and recomposes itself, the work in the fields and the constructions resume.

Important global issues are involved here: collective and respectful use of the land, sharing of the commons, questioning of nation-states and borders, reappropriation of habitats, the possibility of producing and exchanging free from the shackles of the market, forms of self-organization on territories in resistance and the right to live there freely.

Following more than two years of regular building work and a new month of construction this summer, the week of August 27 to September 2 will also be the inauguration of the Ambazada, a space intended to welcome rebels and struggles from around the world to the zad of Notre-Dame-des-Landes.

To honour and celebrate the opening of the Ambazada the zad rebels have made a call for a new intergalactic week.

The zad forever site says there are lots of questions to be discussed, such as “how to throw down the anchor for the long term without becoming domesticated; being community centred or more porous in our movements; the power struggles and frontal relationship with the state and possibilities for victories to last”.

Part of the week will be devoted to open encounters with guests from the Wendland in Germany, Christiania in Denmark, the free district of Lentillères in France, Errekaleor in the Basque Country and perhaps Exarchia in Greece.

There will also be discussions on the way that peoples everywhere are resisting cultural assimilation and liberal ideology.

zad flag

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3. Thousands block US air base in Germany

Ramstein1

The US air base at Ramstein in Germany was completely blocked by a protest of 2,500 people at the end of June, calling for it to be closed.

Ramstein is the biggest American air base outside the USA and hosts the USAF’s European HQ, and control rooms for drone missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan.

On a blistering hot day better suited for a trip to the pool, and despite the rival attraction of the World Cup, opponents of the base turned up in large numbers for the annual protest in Rhineland-Palatinate in southwestern Germany.

Ramstein2

Sahra Wagenknecht of Die Linke (The Left), Ann Wright (former US Army colonel), Reiner Braun (of Stopp Air Base Ramstein) and Eugen Drewermann (theologian and psychoanalyst) were all in attendance. Wagenknecht told the crowd: “There are over 1,000 US military bases around the world, and none of them exist to ensure the security of those countries”.

Ramstein - Sahra Wagenknecht
Sahra Wagenknecht of Die Linke

The protest came as US President Donald Trump seemed to be questioning the need for the huge US military presence in Germany, which has been in place since the end of the Second World War.

Protesters hoped this could put the issue on the political agenda in Germany, though they warned they did not want to see the bases simply moved into Poland as part of US pressure on Russia.

ramstein logo

A new international network against military bases has now been set up. Its founding statement defines the establishment of a military base by one country outside its own territory is an act of aggression.

It declares: “Our goal is to close all foreign military bases. Military bases pose threats of political and economic expansion, sabotage and espionage, and crimes against local populations. US bases in particular are the largest users of fossil fuel in the world, heavily contributing to environmental degradation.

“We commit to supporting and working with all organizations and networks who campaign for the removal of foreign military bases in their countries and communities, to raise public awareness, increase political and international pressure and help as far as possible to organise and co-ordinate non-violent resistance with the aim of eventually closing them all.”

See also:
Okinawa: resisting the US occupation

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4. Returning fire against the industrial capitalist system

Return Fire 5

The latest issue from our comrades at Return Fire magazine is now available online.

At 128 pages, this is their largest offering yet. It includes previously unavailable English translations looking at the bandits operating against shipping industries off the Somalian coastline and Marco Camenisch’s commentary on the molecular frontier of industrial toxicity, Nanotechnology & Transparency.

There is a look at the “New Smart World of Slaves” into which we are currently moving and at anti-state forms of social life in Zomia, south-east Asia, amongst much else.

Here is a passage from a heart-felt piece called “We are not afraid of their ruins… We carry a new chaos in our hearts”:

“We proclaim from our madness, rebellious and contagious, that we don’t care about the penal codes and their reforms because we do not believe in their laws or in their disorders.

“Since we were born we have lived in turmoil and subjected to the rule of law, the family, religion, medicine, school, work, husband, father, state… and disobeying them all, and for that reason they have labeled us with their despicable assortment of incurable and chronic diseases.

“They condemn us for life even before we are born, and we will continue shitting on their scientific, political, economic, social and religious truths, because obedience and submission are the only true diseases.

“We began a long tormented journey in which we were torn from our natural environment to join the system of a world to which we do not want to adapt. We will always be uneasy, unstable, critical, irritating, miserable, emotional, passionate, restless, resistant, distracted, loving, hyperactive, overflowing… and warriors, because we will not give up germinating our madness in the face of the blackmail and emotional conflicts with which they want to domesticate us and the permanent confrontation between us and them.

NGS Picture ID:621636

“We are sick with a dark bile of rage that stirs like a storm against all those who feel safe and secure in this uncertain world that, day by day, destroys us. They contaminate the air we breathe with sulfur and uranium. The waters of the rivers are increasingly toxic due to their heavy metal slag discharges.

“Their emissions of dioxides, methane and fluorinated polluting gases are suffocating and burning nature and putting at risk the survival of all animals, human or nonhuman, and plant beings.

“They covered the planet with a thick skin of toxic black paste and surrounded the territory with rail tracks, highways, metal fences, concrete walls, high voltage towers and barbed wire fences… separating us from our siblings and neighbors and filling the atmosphere with electromagnetic radiation.

“They keep the mountains seriously ill from wounds opened by quarries, mineral extraction and deforestation. They imprison nonhuman animals to die in industrial farms, and they enlist us in industrial centers of penitentiary exploitation.

“They bomb civilian populations in the name of freedom, justice and democracy, plundering entire countries for questioning their hegemonic model of capitalist, white, patriarchal, western and Christian life, leading thousands of people into the blind alley of their misery, destruction and death.

“And it is they, the selfproclaimed guardians of the freedoms of the world, of this destructive world order that is nothing new, who consider us ‘crazy’ and ‘dangerous subjects’ to justify our gags, the pharmacological straitjackets, the confinement to perpetuity and the death sentence.

“Our ‘madness’ is not fooled by the modern designs of the democratized chemical lobotomies and shock therapies that they use as torment and torture in the most bloody of dictatorships… because they fear us.

“They, those who throw us out of our houses, those who after exploiting us in their factories force us into unemployment. They, those who determine who has more ‘right’ to live in a territory that is not theirs and in which they can only maintain their privileges by the harsh repression and by the destructive capacity of the weapons of their armies… They fear us”.

return-fire-vol5-art

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5. The Broken Harp: how colonialism crushes culture

Broken harp cover

When we think of people suffering under colonial occupation, a number of elements immediately spring to mind.

There is the military and repressive side, of course. The occupiers’ army bases and patrols, the courts and prisons enforcing the “legality” of the occupation and the local police forces who collaborate with the colonisers to keep down their own people.

Then there is the economic aspect, ultimately the raison d’être of all imperialism. Raw materials are ripped out of the earth to feed the empire’s insatiable greed, crops are exported directly back to the imperial centre even if locals are starving, the colonial subjects are denied the right to autonomous lives and are put to work as slaves for the imperial machine.

Those who look into the effects of colonialism more closely will also detect the cultural dimension. The values of the ruling imperial order are imposed and local culture, traditions and ways of thinking, which might offer some resistance to the smooth running of the centralised system, are devalued and destroyed.

One aspect of this cultural colonisation which is easily forgotten, especially by those of us who are native English speakers, is the linguistic one.

The crucial importance of this issue is examined in depth in The Broken Harp: Identity and Language in Modern Ireland by Tomás Mac Síomóin, published by Nuascéalta.

The starting point for Mac Síomóin’s analysis is his own home country, where the Irish Gaelic language risks becoming extinct within a few decades, if current trends continue, despite its superficial presence on road signs and the like.

irish gaelic

He takes issue with the assumption, apparently widespread in Ireland, that Irish particularity can just as well be expressed by speaking English in a particularly Irish way.

He points out that words, in any language, have an aura of subtle associations that are specific to the culture which gave rise to them. The English word “seaweed”, for example, is not the exact equivalent of “feamainn”, which comes with its “own unique set of social and literary allusions”.

The inability of any community to express itself in its own terms, according to its own thinking, is a form of disempowerment that runs parallel to the inability to participate in decision-making processes.

Effectively, by talking and thinking in the coloniser’s language, the colonial subject submits to the dominant worldview of the coloniser. This is the “defining colonizing moment”, as Mac Síomóin puts it.

He quotes academic historian Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh as describing the abandonment of native language as inevitably involving “a disorienting rupture in cultural continuity at several levels; not only an alienation from landscape (place names) and inherited historical narratives and communal myths, but also a deep psychological trauma, at an individual and communal level, caused by the loss of a rich inherited matrix of wisdom and knowledge.”

The issue is by no means confined to Ireland, of course. More than 6,000 languages are currently spoken around the globe, but between 50% and 90% of these are likely to have vanished by the year 2100, warn experts.

Mac Síomóin cites perspectives from other continents, where the death of local culture has gone hand in hand with the death of local language.

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o
Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

The Kenyan writer and cultural activist, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, for instance, writes: “Communication between human beings is the basis and process of evolving culture. Values are the basis of people’s identity, their sense of particularity as members of the human race. All this is carried by language. Language as culture is the collective memory bank of a people’s experience in history. Culture is almost indistinguishable from the language that makes possible its genesis, growth, banking, articulation and indeed its transmission from one generation to the next.”

He adds: “The bullet was the means of the physical subjugation. Language was the means of the spiritual subjugation.”

In their Neo-Colonial Politics and Language Struggle in the Philippines (1984), Virgilio G. Enriquez and Elizabeth Protacio-Marcelino argue that possession of a national language is an essential precondition for autonomy.

They say the continued use of English in a US-oriented educational system “undermines Filipino values and orientation and perpetuates the captivity in the minds of the Filipino people to the colonial outlook. For them, the English language symbolizes the belief in the superiority of US culture, values, society; thus it can only serve the exploitative profit-seeking ends of US power.”

Mac Síomóin identifies several layers of colonisation in Ireland, from the historical English colonisations to the Anglicising role of the Roman Catholic Church, the contemporary effect of British TV and, of course, the influence of US cultural imperialism, which has so undermined the authenticity of European societies since the mid 20th century.

He asks how many Irish children, even Irish-speaking ones, know a tenth as much about the heroes of traditional Gaelic mythology, Fionn Mac Cumhail and Cúchulain, as they do about The Simpsons, Dora the Explorer, Sponge Bob Squarepants, etc., and the world of Disney.

mcdo ireland
Irish culture?

He identifies the Irish as suffering from a kind of collective Stockholm Syndrome, a “Super-Colonized Irishness” (SCI), which renders them incapable of even noticing what has happened to them, let alone resisting it.

And, in a fascinating aside, he dips into contemporary genetic research to suggest that some kind of inherited colonisation trauma could be affecting the psychological health of the Irish people, as well as other victims of imperialism across the world.

From a native English-speaking perspective, it has to be said that the psychological state of the English population is not great, either!

But then the dispossessed of England have also been dominated for centuries by an arrogant ruling elite, seen their folklore and ancient wisdom suppressed by authoritarian religion, been thrown off the land and into industrial slavery and been used as cannon fodder for the profiteering greed of the imperialist classes.

Who, anywhere and in any language, can really escape the deeply imbedded trauma of being born into a dehumanising industrial capitalist society plummeting towards nightmarish environmental catastrophe?

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6. Organic radicalism: bringing down the fascist machine

orpic

In a new in-depth analysis just published on our website, we take a look at the “eco-fascist” smear often levelled against deep green anti-capitalist thinking.

Although the Nazis certainly exploited nature-friendly language for their propaganda, we show that ultimately their narrow racist dogma was completely incompatible with coherent holistic and organic thinking.

We also explore the organic philosophies developed by anarchist, left-wing and Jewish thinkers and suggest that these would make an excellent basis on which to rebuild an explicitly anti-fascist organic radicalism to resist and eventually bring down the industrial capitalist machine.

Here is an extract:

Kurt Goldstein
Kurt Goldstein

Kurt Goldstein (1878-1965) was a Jewish socialist critic of modernity, who set out to combine holistic and organic German philosophy with the values of reason, democracy and individual freedom.

Throughout his life, he warned against the dangers of applying narrow, fragmented scientific ways of thinking to other realms.

He wrote in an unpublished 1965 paper: “The progress by the application of science to all fields, also those which are related to the spiritual side of man, as education, psychology, sociology, etc, seems to be so enormous that somebody who today dares to oppose even a little this trend and warns against the fateful consequences for human existence is considered either stupid or uneducated, irresponsible or prejudiced”.

From Goldstein’s holistic perspective, everything was interconnected, outside and inside the individual human being. The words ‘mind’ and ‘body’, for instance, did not point to genuine entities but were just ‘symbols’, human abstractions, denoting different aspects of an overall organic reality that could not in fact be divided.

He has been described, by Ruth Nanda Anshen, as having introduced “a new doctrine of organism which may be said to be taking the place of the materialism with which, since the seventeenth-century, science has enmeshed philosophy”.

Max Wertheimer
Max Wertheimer

The psychologist Max Wertheimer (1880-1943), took Goethe as a starting point, developing the idea of Gestalt, or underlying form, in a promising direction far removed from the dead-end of racism into which the Nazis tried to divert it.

Born in Prague, he fled central Europe before Hitler came to power and continued his work in the USA, later becoming an American citizen.

While the Nazis claimed piecemeal or fragmented thinking was a Jewish trait, Wertheimer, who was himself Jewish, turned this round against them.

He argued that the modern world had cropped humanity’s thinking capacity. Piecemeal thinking – strings of propositions torn from their original living context – was being used by demagogues and certain intellectuals to hoodwink people into accepting their ideas.

In the 1934 essay ‘On truth’ he distinguished between truth and mere facts. Facts meant nothing on their own. Truth was a holistic understanding of the significance of various facts in the wider context of their relationship to one another and to a larger whole. He wrote: “A thing may be true in the piecemeal sense, and false, indeed a lie, as a part in its whole”.

Wertheimer judged that the key concepts of truth, ethics, democracy and freedom were all under attack from contemporary academic thinking, influenced by positivism, pragmatism and cultural relativism. Indeed this anti-holistic stance had itself helped prepare an intellectual field in which it had become possible for the Nazis to succeed.

In an essay on ethics, he took a critical look at ethical relativity which – like the Nazis with their German/Aryan particularism – denied the existence of ethical universals.

As a believer in the organic unity of humankind, Wertheimer disputed this and insisted that experience showed that most people, “when faced with clear, actual injustice”, responded spontaneously in ways that human beings would universally consider decent and ethical.

Gestalt psychology, which Wertheimer developed along with Kurt Koffka (1886-1941) and Wolfgang Köhler (1887-1967), was an influence on the anti-capitalist Critical Theory of Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979), Max Horkheimer (1895-1973) and the Frankfurt School in general.

The organic and anti-mechanistical approaches taken by Jewish thinkers like Wertheimer and Goldstein illustrate the fact that there existed a broad anti-industrial current in German-speaking Europe which was not simply non-Nazi, but anti-Nazi, and whose fundamental principles placed it in direct opposition to fascism.

tree and roots2

Read the full article here

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7. Acorninfo

Two big days of action against the far right are coming up in London. The first is on Friday July 13, when massive protests are expected against US President Donald Trump. The second is on Saturday July 14 when bigoted worshippers of the Tommy Robinson cult will be peddling their own version of Muslim-hating xenophobia. The Anti-Fascist Network have announced a Saturday meet-up at 1pm at the International Brigades Memorial in Jubilee Gardens on the south bank of the river and they will march from there.

stop-tommy

* * *

The Earth First! UK 2018 summer gathering will be held in Sussex from August 15 to 20. It offers five days of skill-sharing for grassroots ecological direct action – make links, share ideas, and get involved in the struggles against fracking, new roads and more. The gathering will be camping at a rural site (accessible by public transport, nearest station Horsham). Participants will need to bring a tent, sleeping bag, torch and suchlike. Meals are provided by the gathering’s collective kitchen and there’ll be a snack shop.

earthfirst

* * *

The fascist-capitalist-industrial system is using private security firm Eclipse Strategic Security to carry out surveillance against anti-fracking campaigners on behalf of the oil and gas business, an article on Motherboard has revealed. It adds: “Eclipse has ties to oil companies, the police and military networks, and one director is a former British soldier who has expressed support for far-right groups online”.

eclipse security

* * *

From July 29 to August 2, the 4th international Degrowth Summer School in Germany will take place at the Climate Camp Leipzig Land. After three years at the Rhineland Climate Camp, the event with around 500 participants now moves to another mining area and to this new camp.

degrowth.de logo

* * *

Israel is arming neo-Nazis in Ukraine, a shock report on Electronic Intifada has revealed. The Tavor rifles being used by the Azov militia are produced under licence from Israel Weapon Industries, and as such would have been authorized by the Israeli government. This is just the latest instance of links between Israel and the extreme right in Europe.

Ukraine nazis

* * *

“Reviving the memory of the struggles of the past makes us feel part of something larger than our individual lives and in this way it gives a new meaning to what we are doing and gives us courage, because it makes us less afraid of what can happen to us individually”. So says Italian activist and author Silvia Federici in an inspiring interview on the joyfulmilitancy site.

silvia federici
Silvia Federici

* * *

Are the degrowth “Buddhist economics” of E.F: Schumacher heading for a badly-needed revival, as capitalism pushes humanity to the brink of disaster? In a thoughtful article on brainpickings, Maria Popova looks at a vision that challenges the dominant mercantile and mechanistic mindset obsessed with production and profit.

ef-schumacher-2
E.F. Schumacher

* * *

Pro-war “radlibs” (radical liberals) come under discussion in this moderate rebels podcast from the USA, which also debunks the “red-brown” smears increasingly used by McCarthyite pro-war “leftists” to malign anyone opposed to US/NATO-led regime change.

moderate rebels

* * *

Acorn quote: “You have hanged in Chicago, decapitated in Germany, garotted in Jerez, shot in Barcelona, guillotined in Montbrison and Paris, but what you will never destroy is anarchy. Its roots are too deep. It is born in the heart of a society that is rotting and falling apart. It is a violent reaction against the established order. It represents all the egalitarian and libertarian aspirations that strike out against authority. It is everywhere, which makes it impossible to contain. It will end by killing you”.

Émile Henry, speech in court (1894)

anarchist-hand

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

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Organic radicalism: bringing down the fascist machine

orpic

“We have realized that a detachment of man from Nature, from the Life-Whole, leads to his annihilation… No longer does man alone stand in the centerpoint of thinking, but rather Life as a Whole does, as it reveals itself in all living things on earth”.

On the face of it, this statement sounds rather good. It’s the sort of thing we send out on our Winter Oak “Quote for the Day” tweets.

But in this instance, we definitely won’t be doing that. Why? Because it comes from a 1934 book called Biological Will: Means and Goals of Biological Work in the New Reich by Ernst Lehmann, a leading Nazi biologist. (1)

The occasional similarity in vocabulary or rhetoric between radical eco-anarchist thought and a certain strand of Nazi ideology has long provided a source of ammunition for enemies of radical green thinking.

Sometimes these attacks amount to little more than laughable right-wing propaganda, as with a 2018 item (2) on the Encounter Books website focusing on the “totalitarian roots” of the green movement as a whole and, in particular, of wind power.

Others are taken a lot more seriously when they warn that a radical political philosophy which is too nature-based inevitably risks carrying us down into a dark underworld of proto-fascist ideology.

While Murray Bookchin was no doubt right to take elements of the American deep ecology movement to task for not fully recognising the social roots behind ecological problems, the rhetoric he deployed, condemning what he regarded as “ecofascism”, has ultimately only increased the perceived Nazi contamination of radical green thinking in general.

Fellow social ecologists Janet Biehl and Peter Staudenmaier carried on his approach with great enthusiasm. In Ecofascism: Lessons from the German Experience, they wrote: “The National Socialist ‘religion of nature,’ as one historian has described it, was a volatile admixture of primeval teutonic nature mysticism, pseudo-scientific ecology, irrationalist anti-humanism, and a mythology of racial salvation through a return to the land. Its predominant themes were ‘natural order,’ organicist holism and denigration of humanity: Such arguments have a chilling currency within contemporary ecological discourse”. (3)

earthfirst

More recently, Alexander Reid Ross, a one-time editor of Earth First! Journal, has identified parts of the EF! network, as well as anarchists and left-wingers generally, as being affected by what he terms ideological “fascist creep”. (4)

There are plenty of other examples out there, plus, it should be added, actual attempts by sections of the far right to hijack environmental positions and language for their own ends. (5)

All of this has, of course, not been without an impact on the thinking of the broader environmental movement.

Sensitive to comparison with Nazi policies, Germany’s Green Party has long gone out of its way to stress its rupture from this past.

For instance in a 1987 interview with the Oxford journal Green Line, party representative Jakob von Uexküll, grandson and namesake of an archconservative behavioural biologist, said that the Greens in Germany had made a conscious decision to seek out allies in minority groups because critics had pointed out that ecological-holistic statements had historically been made by Nazi and Fascist governments. (6)

While forging alliances with minority groups is itself a positive move, the problem lies in the way that ecologists with a social critique find it safer to tack their environmentalism on to an already-existing package of left-liberal thought rather than to source it from what is seen as an entirely discredited green tradition.

bramwell book

Historian Anna Bramwell wrote as long ago as 1994 that since the Second World War “any talk of holism, or a love of nature that adduced certain values from nature or strove to adapt humanity to those values, was suspect” (7) – and things certainly haven’t improved since then.

We can testify to this ourselves. An article published in 2017 by Winter Oak, Envisioning a Post-Western World, proposing an exit from industrial capitalist ways of living and thinking, was only reposted by the radical American website antidote zine after much discussion and with a disclaimer that some of the arguments we put forward were “right on the knife’s edge”. (8)

The knife in question turned out to be the one being dramatically waved around by Reid Ross, which seems to have successfully intimidated a large part of the anti-capitalist movement in the US, even if some are still brave enough to publish “suspect” ideas in spite of his efforts.

But what is the truth behind this “Nazi” smear against organic deep green ideology? Is it justified? Is it something that should influence the way we collectively formulate our own vision of the world? If so, in what way?

To get to the roots of the matter, we will here be asking, and answering, the following questions:

1. What were the origins of this organic thinking?
2. To what extent was this thinking part of Nazi theory and practice?
3. Are there other possible manifestations of organic ideology?
4. What political ideology is the best fit with an organic approach?
5. Is organic radicalism the only target of the contemporary Nazi smear?
6. What is the relationship between anti-capitalism and anti-semitism?
7. So what, do we conclude, is the smear all about?
8. Why do we care so much about this issue?
9. What would we like to see happen next?
tree and roots2

1. What were the origins of this organic thinking?

By organic thinking, we mean a vision which regards human societies, as well as the environment, as being essentially alive and of consisting of countless subtle interactions and collectivities which can never fully be described because of their rich complexity.

It regards human beings as an extension of nature. It is a holistic approach, because it understands that everything is connected, everything is ultimately one.

A holistic and nature-based view of the world was the starting point of all human cultures and inspires the indigenous spiritualities of North and South America, of Australia and Africa, and, yes, even of Europe.

It was the foundation stone on which were built the metaphysics of Chuang Tsu, Plotinus and Paracelsus. It remains a widely-shared, instinctive, “common sense” view of the world which has never been completely erased from the human spirit.

The coming of the Industrial Revolution sparked a reaction, in which some people actively sought out and revitalised these old ideas. This was not so much an intellectual movement as an instinctive response to cultural, social and environmental danger.

As Vivianne Crowley writes: “From the late eighteenth century onwards, rapid industrialization and the rape of Europe’s natural scenery and resources caused many people to feel that the time was out of joint; that common sense was being sacrificed to material progress with potentially disastrous results”. (9)

The organic thinking on which we are focusing here is this version, the one that emerged in reaction to the trauma of industrialisation, of Western civilization’s drift away from that original wisdom and towards the cold and mechanical philosophies of the modern era.

In a sense it could be termed Organic Thinking II, because it included a conscious defence of Organic Thinking I in the face of the sterile dogmas of capitalist modernity.
Everywhere affected by industrialisation saw the emergence of anti-industrial currents of thought.

The English-speaking world had the likes of William Blake (1757-1827), William Wordsworth (1770-1850), Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), John Ruskin (1819-1900), William Morris (1834-1896) and Richard Jefferies (1848-1887).

William Morris
William Morris

Morris spoke for many others when he admitted in 1894, two years before he died: “Apart from the desire to produce beautiful things, the leading passion of my life has been and is hatred of modern civilization”. (10)

France had its own tradition, which flowed from the anti-industrialism of the eighteenth-century philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) into the twentieth-century anti-productivism of Jacques Ellul (1912-1994) and Bernard Charbonneau (1910-1996) as well as the powerful critique of modernity voiced by George Bernanos (1888-1948), who declared: “The Civilization of the Machines is the civilization of quantity opposed to that of quality”. (11)

German-speaking Europe had a particularly strong concept of Naturphilosophie, intertwined with Romanticism, which could draw on the wisdom of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), Novalis (1772-1801), Friedrich Hölderlin (1775-1854) and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling (1775-1854).

In her book Reenchanted Science: Holism in German Culture from Wilhelm II to Hitler, Anne Harrington traces the evolution of one thread of this thinking from nineteenth-century scientists who developed holistic approaches in their own specific fields and then, as good holists, saw that there was also a bigger picture.

“From Berlin to Prague to Vienna to Zurich, these scientists began to mingle their voices with those of other kinds of cultural critics, would-be reformers, and crisis-mongers. Those other voices from outside the sciences also typically used the oppositional imagery of machine and wholeness in order to articulate what they believed had gone wrong in politics, the community and individual existence – and to identify roads to renewal. That imagery in turn had energetic links to other, overlapping political and societal oppositions of the time: Gemeinschaft (community) versus Gesellschaft (society), an opposition made famous by the nineteenth-century sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies; (German) Kultur versus (French) Zivilization; Life and Soul versus Mind and Reason, a squaring-off associated with such ‘life philosophers’ as Ludwig Klages”. (12)

ruhr
The Ruhr valley

The starting point of Organic Thinking II was opposition to The Machine and all the damage it was doing to human culture and well-being, as well as to the natural world.

The Machine, which spawned the ugly coke furnaces and iron and steel factories of the Ruhr valley, powered the militarism of Otto von Bismarck, Chancellor of the German Empire between 1871 and 1890.

There was a process of extraordinarily rapid industrialization at the end of the nineteenth century that, notes Harrington, had left many feeling “uprooted and aesthetically revolted”. (13)

And The Machine also reached inside people’s heads, breaking down older ways of thinking and remodelling minds according to the demands of the new industrial civilization.

A fragmentation of understanding was identified by critics of the modern age. Like the living communities replaced by urban dormitories for the factory wage-slaves, everything seemed to be broken down and torn apart.

In the sciences, research was increasingly specialist and narrow, geared towards utilitarian pragmatism rather than a quest for knowledge.

The success of individuals or nations was judged in terms of material wealth, of productivity, rather than in terms of inner integrity or happiness.

A sense of belonging to the land, to the past, to a continuum, was rased by the brutal demands of so-called progress.

An individual’s sense of self was swept away by the depersonalised speed and fury of steam-powered living and, at the same time, any sense of belonging to humanity as a whole was denied by the nationalistic fervour of industrial and imperial rivalry with other Europeans and officially-encouraged contempt for the “inferior” and “backward” peoples of the non-industrialised world.

factory workers

The realm of offices, factories, newspapers and trains forced people into a state of existence where they seemed to exist purely in their own heads, on the surface of being, and were as cut off from their own bodies, their own physical reality, as they were from the natural world from which they had been separated for the first time in a million years of human history.

Organic Thinking II sought to counter that fragmentation, that separation, on every level, and to reinstate a sense of interconnecting wholeness.

Body and soul were not regarded as separate, but as two aspects of one and the same entity. Likewise with individuals and society – not industrial-capitalist society, of course, but the natural and organic one put forward as a healthy alternative.

Collective groups of people were described as living organisms, themselves forming part of even greater living organisms. Humanity itself was one living entity and part of the living natural world.

None of this was new. All of this had already been known by Organic Thinking I. But the difference here was that the new embrace of this holism was also a pro-active call for the realisation and return of that holism.

Organic Thinking II was a demand for change, for the overturning of shallow, fragmented, dehumanising, nature-destroying industrial society and for the rediscovery of authenticity, community, belonging and wholeness.

2. To what extent was this thinking part of Nazi theory and practice?

There is no doubt that Nazi rhetoric and ideology was partly shaped by the organic thinking that was such an influential counter-current in German-speaking Europe at the start of the twentieth century.

The Nazis painted themselves as being on a mission to put things to rights, to bring about a “great revolution in values”, to restore  healthy attitudes towards nature.nazis nature

Nazi language reflected the idea that human life was, and should be, interlaced with nature. Notes Nina Lyon: “All manner of lengthy compound nouns abstracting this ideal prospered: Erdebundenkeit, the binding or oneness with the earth; Volksboden, the connection of the people with the soil; Bodenständigkeit, or the nature by which life was shaped by earthly forces”. (14)

Nazi professor Friederich Sander named “the longing for wholeness” as one of the two basic motives behind the movement. He added: “Present-day German psychology and the National Socialistic world view are both oriented towards the same goal: the vanquishing of atomistic and mechanistic forms of thought: vanquishing through organic thinking, in the structure of völkisch life here, in the researching of psychological reality there”. (15)

Lehmann, cited at the beginning of this article, wrote a book, Biology in the Present Life, which included chapters on “individual wholeness”, “transindividual wholeness”, “the cosmos of life” and “völkische wholeness”.

He argued: “This striving for connectedness with all of life, indeed with Nature in general into which we are born – that, so far as I can see, is the deepest purpose and true essence of National Socialistic thinking”. (16)

This holistic tendency even reached down to a practical level. The Nazis promoted healthy eating and wholemeal bread. They were all in favour of homeopathy, herbalism and other natural therapies. There was a herbal plantation at Dachau concentration camp.

Dachau
Dachau

It is the jarring note of that last sentence that reminds us that there was something not quite right about the Nazi love affair with the organic ideal.

In fact, the closer you look, the more it becomes apparent that the Nazi version of organic thinking amounted to a distortion so severe as to render it philosophically unrecognisable. They used holistic and organic thought merely as “a fund of metaphors” (17) with which to present and justify their own totalitarian ideology.

Adolf Hitler himself, for instance, wrote in Mein Kampf that to replace the “dead mechanism” of the liberal state “there must be formed a living organism with the exclusive aim of serving a higher idea”. (18)

It is clearly nonsense to speak of a living organism being “formed”, as any real follower of organic thinking would immediately understand. A living organism could be freed from certain restraints, or even revived, but not formed by the machineries of political will.

Hitler is in fact talking about the Nazi state – centrally controlled and ruthlessly hierarchical – to which he is trying to lend an aura of natural authenticity by describing it as an organism in the language popular at the time.

He – and his followers – completely undermined Tönnies’ distinction between organic, bottom-up, community (Gemeinschaft) and artificial, top-down, modern society (Gesellschaft) by pretending that the Nazi Gesellschaft was really a kind of Gemeinschaft. The state and the Führer somehow magically represented the authentic will of the German people.

This notion of the state as organism had already been developed by the right wing of the organic movement, but in Nazi dogma it took on whole new proportions, because the idea of total power resting in the hands of the state was so central to their ideology.

Zeev Sternhell remarks: “Totalitarianism is the very essence of fascism, and fascism is without question the purest example of a totalitarian ideology. Setting out as it did to create a new civilization, a new type of human being and a totally new way of life, fascism could not conceive of any sphere of human activity remaining immune from intervention by the State”. (19)

rudolf rocker
Rudolf Rocker

The Nazi obsession with order imposed from above, with the absolute rule of the central state, is the opposite of an authentically organic vision.

As the anarcho-syndicalist Rudolf Rocker wrote: “Dictatorship is the negation of organic development, of natural building from below upwards”. (20)

A further corruption of the organic principle came from what Harrington describes as “the ‘racializing’ of holism’s struggle against mechanism” (21)

The right-wing generation before the Nazis, inspired by Houston Stewart Chamberlain and others, had already formulated the concept of “race”, which broke down humanity into distinct groups – as with the scientific tables and hierarchical classifications of minerals, vegetables and animals which were favoured at the time.

These race theorists, both in France and in Germany, took the philosophical idea of Gestalt, of underlying form, and twisted it into a justification for rigid racial typology. This then fed into a racially-based definition of the social organism which excluded those of whom they disapproved.

Sternhell explains their argument thus: “The nation is a living organism, and nationalism is therefore an ethic, comprising all the criteria of behaviour which the common interest calls for, and on which the will of the individual has no bearing. The duty both of the individual and of society is to find out what this ethic may be, yet only those can succeed who have a share in the ‘national consciousness,’ shaped over the course of the centuries: the Jews, as a foreign race, cannot enter upon this quest”. (22)

The anti-semitic thread incorporated into organic and holistic philosophy by right-wing nationalists became more pronounced in the 1920s. Germans projected on to Jews all the aspects of the German industrial capitalist system that they disliked most – Jews were demonized as being soulless, rootless and mercenary.

It was even said, or implied, explains Harrington, that the very capacity to think and see nature as a “whole” (the art of so-called Ganzheitsbetrachtung) was a trait peculiar to the “Indo-Germanic” mind, while the Jewish mind was fundamentally analytic, dissolutive, and materialistic. (23)

A 1935 article that appeared in the official medical journal of the Nazi party, Ziel und Weg, said the dissolute, sterile nature of Jewish thinking and Jewish science could lead only to “death” and contrasted this with the “simple, organic, creative” thinking of the “healthy non-Jew”, who “thinks in wholes”. (24)

The irony, of course, is that these racist and anti-semitic theories demonstrated that it was the Nazis themselves who were incapable of thinking holistically.

A holistic vision of the world understands the connection between all people, all creatures, all of nature, all of the cosmos and bases its vision on a sense of overall unity.

tree-earth-sun

An organic interpretation of the human species necessarily recognises the human species itself as an organism.

There may be lesser, shifting, “organisms” within that unity – and humanity may form part of larger natural and cosmic organisms – but the human species is undeniably the clearest instance of a biological unity between the individual and the bio-system of Earth as a whole.

A sense of this unity is integral to the organic, holistic world-view, and yet it is entirely absent from racist, anti-semitic, Nazi ideology.

The ideas of universalism and humanism were anathema to Nazism and regarded as cosmopolitan Jewish inventions designed to undermine the German sense of national and racial identity.

Their stunted sense of human solidarity was limited to those they defined as being their own people. Anyone outside of that Teutonic enclave was simply a non-person, an object.

Like certain postmodern thinkers of a later era, the Nazis denied the very existence of humankind, which, as Johann Chapoutot points out, “makes fraternity, feeling the suffering of the other, impossible as an emotion and invalidates it as a principle”. (25)

This was what lay behind the cold look in the eyes of the Nazi scientist famously described by Primo Levi in Survival in Auschwitz. He was looking at the Jewish prisoner as if he was observing a sea creature through “the glass window of an aquarium”. (26) There was no sense of human connection.

The anti-semitism displayed by the scientist here is not simply a prejudice, but a prejudice solidified into something self-justifying by a belief in the validity of the Nazis’ pseudo-scientific racial theorising.

Chapoutot says of this racism: “Slavs were presented as such strange beings that no communication of a human kind could be imagined with them. As for the Jews, they weren’t even considered as a foreign race, but rather as a phenomenon of a bacteriological or viral type”. (27)

Auschwitz

It was this capacity to regard fellow human beings as mere bacteria which enabled the Nazi state to embark on its inhuman policies of racial screening, sterilization, castration, experimentation and mass extermination.

Far from being inspired from a holistic view of the world, this outlook stems from the very fragmentation of which the proponents of organic thinking complained. This is mechanical thinking.

The Nazis’ approach is marked by a desire not to understand, to include and to connect, but to separate, to classify and to objectivise. As Hitler himself said: “Nazism is applied biology”. (28)

Rather than making a break with the cold, soulless, mechanical age, the Nazis were pushing it on to new levels of inhumanity.

As earlier as 1933, the psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich observed that fascism was not about Wholeness at all, but rather was the culmination of modern civilization’s mad worship of The Machine. It was possible because fascist man had let himself be transformed into a machine that was alienated from all authentic biological impulses and thus capable of ‘machine murder’. (29)

Much the same point was made in an article by Gerhard Portele in Gestalt Theory in 1979 when he argued that, despite the Nazis’ use of holistic language, the essence of their ideology lay in their neglect of the whole: “The Nazis with their calculating book-keeping rationality were trained in piecemeal thinking to an extreme degree and viewed people as cogs”. (30)

This fundamental incompatibility between organic, holistic thinking and Nazi ideology became increasingly apparent once their romantic rhetoric collided with the pragmatic realities of running the German industrial-capitalist state.

Hans Driesch
Hans Driesch

Hans Driesch (1867-1941), a biologist whose organic vision was defiantly internationalist, was among the first non-Jewish German professors to be forcibly retired after Hitler came to power in 1933 and in 1935 all public speaking and travel privileges were taken away from him.

After Germany’s defeat in World War II, a number of other organic theorists, such as the philosopher and historian of biology Adolf Meyer-Abich, came forward to report that they too had been actively persecuted by the Third Reich because of the perceived threats their holism posed for Nazi policies.

The Nazi faction which had twisted organic thinking into a racist and anti-semitic theory was itself displaced by an even more hardline group.

Harrington explains: “The second faction was made up of more pragmatic medical technocrats who wanted to use a hard-nosed form of Mendelian genetics, Darwinism, and racial biology as the basis for Nazi social policy and military strategy. This group had found a home for itself under the jurisdiction of Himmler’s SS and its daughter racial organizations, the Lebensborn and Ahnenerbe”. (31)

Human geneticist Karl Astel and his technocratic colleagues, outraged at the influence wielded by the likes of Karl Kötschua and his “nature therapy”, hatched a plot to discredit holistic views, which, he correctly concluded, flew completely in the face of narrow Nazi theories of racial supremacy.

In the same way as today’s anti-holistic propagandists try to blacken its name by linking it to the Nazis, these Nazis smeared holism by linking it to the Roman Catholic Church.

A 1936 article “exposing” this Catholic plot described “a skillfully organized and well-camouflaged attack on the entire exact sciences, including genetics and racial hygiene”.

Under the name of holism, it said, sinister Jesuits were using scientific dupes to spread a Catholic doctrine and undermine Nazi science. Their cunning ploy involved making “full intentional use of words that sound National Socialistic, like ‘wholeness’, ‘organic’, ‘biologic’, and so on” in order to spread confusion while appearing to be on-message. (32)

As a result of this propaganda, even Nazi exponents of organic theory were now hounded out of positions of influence. In 1938 Lehmann, previously quoted, was expelled from the Biologen Verband (Biologists’ Organization) which he had headed since 1931 and removed from his position as editor of Der Biologe.

A new organization within the SS was created, the Reichsbund für Biologie (Reich Division for Biology) which, under the direct supervision of the Ahnenerbe and ultimately of Himmler himself, took over the editorship of Der Biologe.

autobahn
Nazism didn’t look much like a nature cult

An organic theory of life, with its emphasis on natural harmony, human interconnectedness and symbiotic relationship, stood in stark ideological contradiction to the aims of the Nazi regime, which wanted to build up Germany’s industrial and military power, build motorways, develop scientific racial engineering to strengthen “The Master Race”, explore the potential of nuclear physics, and ruthlessly eliminate “alien” human elements from German society.

The new SS-run version of Der Biologe made it clear that there was no room for the woolly, holistic views of men like Lehmann and the völkisch anthropologist Ernst Krieck, even if they were Nazis and anti-semites. “Biology is research about facts!” it barked in a 1939 editorial.

Facts! This is the language of the atomistic, mechanistic, industrial thinking of The Machine, the very language that the Nazis had claimed to be opposing, at the stage when they were wooing the German population.

From the 1890s onwards, there had been a cultural battle between two German tendencies. On one side stood the tradition of Goethe, of a Romantic desire for life, for soul, for wholeness. On the other side was the new Germany, obsessed with efficiency and Technik, the militarist “machine nation” of 1914.

While Nazism was clearly influenced on one level by the first, Romantic tradition, and happy to use that association to garner support from a German public despairing of capitalist modernity, it proved ultimately to belong firmly to the second.

It incarnated, in an exaggerated form, the thinking of the industrial capitalist Machine, for whom human beings are nothing but fodder. It was not simply a question of racism; even those accepted as German were expected to be “productive”, to serve the purposes of the Machine-State in some way. Non-performing, non-productive Germans (leistungsunfähige Wesen) and scroungers (Asoziale) were not deemed worthy of living in German society.

Because of the hideous crimes committed by the Nazi regime, there is today near-universal agreement that we do not like the Third Reich and its ideas.

nazi tanks

But we should be clear as to what it is that we don’t like. We don’t like the mass extermination. We don’t like the anti-semitism and racism. We don’t like the warmongering militarism. We don’t like the blind nationalism. We don’t like the police state. We don’t like the eugenics. We don’t like the propaganda and mass hysteria.

There were other elements present in Nazism which are not among these evils and which do not necessarily pave the way towards them.

Is wholemeal bread a bad thing because the Nazis said it was good? Are herbal plantations insidious because there was one at Dachau? Is all organic thinking suspect because a version of it was harnessed, and distorted, by some Nazi ideologues?

Continuing her discussion of the Nazis’ use of an organic and nature-based vocabulary (see above), Lyon, who describes herself as a Jewish writer, adds: “There is nothing intrinsically problematic about any of these three terms. Their adoption to make the argument that one race of people should be superior to others, because it stemmed from those values and that soil, was where it all went wrong…” (34)

3. Are there other possible manifestations of organic ideology?

As we have already noted in the last section, non-Nazi versions of organic ideology are not only possible, but existed in a very real form alongside the now-discredited right-wing racist variety.

Anne Harrington
Anne Harrington

Harrington correctly points out that it is useful to know something about the history of German holistic science, in order not to fall into the trap of thinking that any alternative to the prevailing mechanistic worldview is to be avoided because it somehow points inevitably towards fascism.

She adds: “It is important that we resist ‘discovering’ the outline of a terrible future in holism’s past or imagining that all holistic, vitalistic, or teleological views of nature are part of a larger ‘destruction of reason’ that can be tracked in some straight, degenerating line from the romantics to Hegel to Nietzsche to Hitler”. (35)

Sometimes these investigations might lead simply to the revelation that a particular scientist or thinker was not actually a Nazi. The biologist Jakob Von Uexküll, for instance, was certainly very conservative, politically, but was no white supremacist: he argued that all human groups must be respected in their distinctiveness, because all in the end are expressions of the same creative life energy. (36)

At other times, it goes a lot further than that and we see the enormous ideological potential in variants of the organic theme which point in a libertarian, humanist, internationalist, left-wing direction.

Driesch, for example, defended an ideal of cultural cosmopolitanism and rejected any idea that a nation-state could be seen as an organism. The only supra-personal collective organism he was prepared to consider was the concept of a humankind that recognised no national or völkisch boundaries.

Before Hitler came to power, Driesch had been warning, both in academic and newspaper articles, of the dangers of the growing nationalistic mood. To counter this, he stressed the biological unity of the human species. He also voiced his opposition to militarism, describing this as the “the most terrible of all sins” against the vitalistic principles of life, holistic cooperation and higher development. (37)

The Russian-Swiss neurobiologist Constantin von Monakow (1853-1930) also developed a holistic and organic theory which retained its logical coherence by talking about interconnected wholes, rather than veering off into the fragmented and divisive particularism of Nazi dogma.

Constantin von Monakow
Constantin von Monakow

Monakow came up with the idea of the horme, a kind of all-pervading intrinsic motivating and guiding force. He explained: “The horme is nothing other than the activity of the universe (Worldhorme), within which we human-children are highly organized necessary parts. As such we are temporally and partly also spatially – through free mobility – closely bound up with one another: we form ties with animals and plants and also with nonorganic bodies, into which last we merge after death. There is an undeniable glory in the thought that an indelible temporal bond links us, not only with our ancestors and our descendants, but above all also with the whole rest of the organic world”. (38)

He interpreted our relationship to the outside world in terms of expanding concentric circles of awareness. The most basic level of existence involved a preoccupation with self and survival. This was often extended to a focus on family and the immediate community around the individual.

But more evolved human beings could grasp their belonging to increasingly larger entities, up to the human species, the organic world and the cosmos.

Monakow’s holistic vision of all life as being enmeshed in one dynamic process of evolution thus naturally involved an internationalist perspective. Nothing else, in fact, would have made sense in that context.

It also placed him in opposition to the thinking of an industrial age which rejected any idea of organic subject-to-subject relationships with fellow parts of the natural organism in favour of a subject-to-object relationship based on domination and exploitation.

He saw that to heal itself and set itself back on its true evolutionary course, humanity had to trust in its deepest biological impulses. All the wisdom we needed to find that course was already within us, but stifled by the constructs of modern society. We had to tap into that natural sense of direction and rightness, he said, and realise that every tiny living fibre inside us is “so much more wonderful than all the wonders of technology and a thousand times more clever”. (39)

One of the most enthusiastic advocates of Monakow’s approach was Kurt Goldstein (1878-1965), a Jewish socialist critic of modernity, who set out to combine holistic and organic German philosophy with the values of reason, democracy and individual freedom.

Throughout his life, he warned against the dangers of applying narrow, fragmented scientific ways of thinking to other realms.

He wrote in an unpublished 1965 paper: “The progress by the application of science to all fields, also those which are related to the spiritual side of man, as education, psychology, sociology, etc, seems to be so enormous that somebody who today dares to oppose even a little this trend and warns against the fateful consequences for human existence is considered either stupid or uneducated, irresponsible or prejudiced”. (40)

Kurt Goldstein
Kurt Goldstein

From Goldstein’s holistic perspective, everything was interconnected, outside and inside the individual human being. The words ‘mind’ and ‘body’, for instance, did not point to genuine entities but were just ‘symbols’, human abstractions, denoting different aspects of an overall organic reality that could not in fact be divided.

He has been described, by Ruth Nanda Anshen, as having introduced “a new doctrine of organism which may be said to be taking the place of the materialism with which, since the seventeenth-century, science has enmeshed philosophy”. (41)

The psychologist Max Wertheimer (1880-1943), took Goethe as a starting point, developing the idea of Gestalt, or underlying form, in a promising direction far removed from the dead-end of racism into which the Nazis tried to divert it.

Born in Prague, he fled central Europe before Hitler came to power and continued his work in the USA, later becoming an American citizen.

Max Wertheimer
Max Wertheimer

While the Nazis claimed piecemeal or fragmented thinking was a Jewish trait, Wertheimer, who was himself Jewish, turned this round against them. He argued that the modern world had cropped humanity’s thinking capacity. Piecemeal thinking – strings of propositions torn from their original living context – was being used by demagogues and certain intellectuals to hoodwink people into accepting their ideas.

In the 1934 essay ‘On truth’ he distinguished between truth and mere facts. Facts (as fetishised by the SS biologists – see above) meant nothing on their own. Truth was a holistic understanding of the significance of various facts in the wider context of their relationship to one another and to a larger whole. He wrote: “A thing may be true in the piecemeal sense, and false, indeed a lie, as a part in its whole”. (42)

Wertheimer judged that the key concepts of truth, ethics, democracy and freedom were all under attack from contemporary academic thinking, influenced by positivism, pragmatism and cultural relativism. Indeed this anti-holistic stance had itself helped prepare an intellectual field in which it had become possible for the Nazis to succeed.

In an essay on ethics, he took a critical look at ethical relativity which – like the Nazis with their German/Aryan particularism – denied the existence of ethical universals.

As a believer in the organic unity of humankind, Wertheimer disputed this and insisted that experience showed that most people, “when faced with clear, actual injustice”, responded spontaneously in ways that human beings would universally consider decent and ethical. (43)

Gestalt psychology, which Wertheimer developed along with Kurt Koffka (1886-1941) and Wolfgang Köhler (1887-1967), was an influence on the anti-capitalist Critical Theory of Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979), Max Horkheimer (1895-1973) and the Frankfurt School in general.

The organic and anti-mechanistical approaches taken by Jewish thinkers like Wertheimer and Goldstein illustrate the fact that there existed a broad anti-industrial current in German-speaking Europe which was not simply non-Nazi, but anti-Nazi, and whose fundamental principles placed it in direct opposition to fascism.

michael-lowy
Michael Löwy

The French-Brazilian sociologist and philosopher Michael Löwy has explored in depth the intellectual movement, mainly Jewish, which he terms “anti-capitalist Romanticism”.

Löwy writes: “In many respects, the Jewish intellectuals of Mitteleuropa, in the utopian-Romantic movement, grouped around Martin Buber’s review Der Jude, expressionist publications (such as Die Aktion), the Bar-Kokhba circle in Prague, the Frankfurt School or various left-wing parties, set themselves apart from Western or Eastern European Jewish intellectuals, as well as from their peers, the ‘gentile’ intellectuals of German culture, by the kind of culture they produced”. (44)

Their vision, he says, revolved around “a cultural critique of modern capitalist civilization in the name of pre-modern or pre-capitalist values” and they were revolting “against the quantification and mechanisation of life, the reification of social relationships, the dissolution of community (Gemeinschaft) and, above all – to take up the terms used by Max Weber – the disenchantment of the world (Entzauberung der Welt) resulting from the instrumental rationality (Zweckrationalität) and the corresponding calculating spirit (Rechnenhaftigkeit) which dominated modern culture”. (45)

The Jewish identity of thinkers like Buber or Gershom Scholem did not stop them drawing partly on the heritage of the German Romantic tradition to condemn the emptiness of modern life and search for a meaning to existence in myth, history or religion.

Martin_Buber
Martin Buber

Buber, for instance, put forward a vision of libertarian socialist society inspired by, but not limited by, communities of the past. He wrote: “The new organic whole, founded on the regeneration of the ‘cells’ of the social tissue, will be the renaissance (rather than the return) of organic community in the shape of a decentralised federation of small communities”. (46)

His position was echoed in France by that of Bernard Lazare (1865-1903), a Jewish anarchist who rejected the myth of progress and the allure of the modern in favour of a respect for the past, particularly for medieval guilds or rural communities.

There was nothing reactionary in this opposition to the mass-produced solitude of the modern capitalist world and the desire to revive, in a different form, the organic communities which had been steamrollered by The Machine.

Löwy comments that Lazare was “projecting his Romantic nostalgia for the past into a utopian future, by embracing anarchist ideas”. (47)

Walter Benjamin, for his part, insisted: “The deconstruction of the ideology of progress isn’t carried out in the name of conservation or of restoration, but in the
name of revolution”. (48) He pointed out that, in stark contrast, fascism involved the typically modern combination of technological progress and social regression. (49)

From this radical organic perspective, fascism is clearly revealed to be a counter-revolutionary force protecting the industrial capitalist system.

4. What political ideology is the best fit with an organic approach?

A good starting point is the immensely influential German sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies (1855-1936), famous for contrasting Gemeinschaft (traditional community) with Gesellschaft (modern society).

His analysis was not new in itself and could virtually be said to be part of Organic Thinking I, as set out above. It was almost a traditional way of regarding authentic society as being one rooted in the symbiotic human relationships of small-scale community.

But Tönnies’ own experience was shaped by the mechanisation and commercialisation of the German society in which he lived. His theory was very much a political response to industrial capitalism and therefore part of the ideological wave we have termed Organic Thinking II.

It is clear throughout his best-known work, Community and Society, as well as in Geist der Neuzeit, that Tönnies regarded the Western transition from Gemeinschaft to Gesellschaft as a social and cultural decline rather than a triumph of progress.

Since the Middle Ages, people had been reduced from participants in a generally harmonious, living entity into atomised victims of a system which imposed its demands and laws from above.

Ferdinand Tonnies
Ferdinand Tönnies

Tönnies spelled out clearly the difference between the two ways of living: “There exists a Gemeinschaft of language, of folkways or mores, or of beliefs; but, by way of contrast, Gesellschaft exists in the realm of business, travel, or sciences… Gemeinschaft is old. Gesellschaft is new as a name as well as phenomenon”. (50)

The term “organic” is used frequently, and always in a positive sense, by the sociologist and is placed in direct contrast with the word “mechanical”.

He writes, for instance, in Community and Society: “In contrast to Gemeinschaft, Gesellschaft is transitory and superficial. Accordingly, Gemeinschaft should be understood as a living organism, Gesellschaft as a mechanical aggregate and artifact” (51) and adds that “the tendencies and inevitableness of organic growth and decay cannot be understood through mechanical means”. (52)

Tönnies subscribes to the holistic view of the human being, writing: “The conclusion is drawn that the soul (or the will) influences the body. This is impossible as both are identical”. (53)

He puts forward the idea of “natural will”, a kind of individual manifestation of Gemeinschaft – innate, organic and artistic – as opposed to the “rational will” of increasingly artificial modern society.

Tönnies refers to “the masterly analysis of Karl Marx”, (54) one of his principal influences, and clearly presents a left-wing anti-capitalist version of organic ideology – it was not for nothing that he was ousted from his long-term presidency of the German Sociological Association when the Nazis took power in 1933.

He explicitly equates Gesellschaft, the opposite of his organic Gemeinschaft, with capitalism. “The merchants or capitalists”, he writes, “are the natural masters and rulers of the Gesellschaft. The Gesellschaft exists for their sake. It is their tool”. (55)

The move to Gesellschaft “meant the victory of egoism, impudence, falsehood, and cunning, the ascendancy of greed for money, ambition and lust for pleasure”. (56)

new york

The city, for Tönnies, is the epitome of the soulless, artificial, capitalist modern world: “The city is typical of Gesellschaft in general… Its wealth is capital wealth which, in the form of trade, usury, or industrial capital, is used and multiplies. Capital is the means for the appropriation of products of labor or for the exploitation of workers”. (57)

Alongside his critique of how mercantile relationships – capitalist society – destroy authentic communities, comes a scathing condemnation of the modern state.

The state, says Tönnies, “is nothing but force” (58) and totally opposed to the “folk life and folk culture” (59) which underpin the cohesion of Gemeinschaft, suppressing all possibility of “a natural order in which every member does his part harmoniously in order to enjoy his share”. (60)

The common people are all too aware that the state acts against their interests, he says, and effectively stops them existing as an organic entity.

“The state is their enemy. The state, to them, is an alien and unfriendly power; although seemingly authorized by them and embodying their own will, it is nevertheless opposed to all their needs and desires, protecting property which they do not possess, forcing them into military service for a country which offers them hearth and altar only in the form of a heated room on the upper floor or gives them, for native soil, city streets where they may stare at the glitter and luxury in lighted windows forever beyond their reach! Their own life is nothing but a constant alternative between work and leisure, which are both distorted into factory routine and the low pleasure of the saloons. City life and Gesellschaft down the common people to decay and death…” (61)

This understanding of the state as an artificial entity which claims to embody community, but in reality kills it, is very much part of the classical anarchist tradition, particularly when combined with Tönnies’ class awareness and fundamental rejection of the capitalist mindset.

anarchy
Anarchists insist that we have a natural tendency to co-operate

The idea of an organic community, Gemeinschaft, which is prevented from flourishing because of the state, is in fact essential to the anarchist argument.

Opponents claim that doing away with the state would lead to chaos, but anarchists maintain that this is not the case, because people have a natural capacity (even if this is not realised) for living harmoniously and cooperatively outside of any state hierarchy.

The anarchist vision is inherently organic, because it is based on the concept of free and authentic communities as living, collective entities.

Theodore Roszak draws attention to this in Where the Wasteland Ends, noting: “Anarchism has always been, uniquely, a politics swayed by organic sensibility; it is born of a concern for the health of cellular structure in society and a confidence in spontaneous self-regulation”. (62)

Up against this, he identifies “the anti-organic fanaticism of western culture”, which is essentially the Gesellschaft’s hatred of Gemeinschaft.

Roszak explains: “Organism is spontaneous self-regulation, the mystery of formed growth, the inarticulate wisdom of the instincts. Single vision cannot understand such a state of being, let alone trust it to look after itself”. (63)

The concept of (possible) organic community, allowing human beings to live without a top-down state structure, is necessarily implicit in all coherent anarchist thought, but is sometimes more explicitly expressed.

Gustav Landauer (1870-1919) was a German-Jewish anarchist close to Martin Buber and very much part of the anti-capitalist tradition identified by Löwy. His philosophy illustrates the exciting potential of organic thinking which is developed in an anarchist and internationalist direction.

“Landauer represents a left-wing form of the völkisch current in thought,” say Russell Berman and Tim Luke in their introduction to his book For Socialism. (64)

Gustav Landauer
Gustav Landauer

Landauer condemned the “unculture” of mechanistic capitalism and wrote that “anarchism’s lone objective is to end the fight of men against men and to unite humanity so that each individual can unfold his natural potential without obstruction”. (65)

Like Monakow, Landauer extended his concept of the organic to a cosmic level, regarding the universe as a living creature with a collective soul and writing that “the psyche [das Seelenhafte] in the human being is a function or manifestation of the infinite universe”. (66)

He rejected the idea that the onward evolution of humanity was dependent on the progress of science and proposed instead a regeneration based on social spirituality, or Geist, the collective energy animating authentic human community.

The Russian anarchist Peter Kropotkin (1842-1921) is well known for having developed the idea of mutual aid as a way of understanding human society.

He argued, against right-wing social Darwinists, that co-operation is at least as important in evolution as competition and that, therefore, human beings have the capacity to live together in a free anarchist society, based on organic solidarity, without any state control.

But, in fact, Kropotkin went even further in developing a nature-based philosophy which was similar in many ways to those of Driesch, Monakow and Goldstein.

He argues, in Ethics, that not only are we human beings physically part of nature but that our thinking, too, including our morality, arises from the same source. Nature was “the first ethical teacher of man” (67), he says, our ideas of bad and good being reflections of what our ancestors saw in animal life. (68)

Mutual Aid-Justice-Morality are thus the consecutive steps of an ascending series, revealed to us by the study of the animal world and man. They constitute an organic necessity which carries in itself its own justification, confirmed by the whole of the evolution of the animal kingdom, beginning with its earliest stages (in the form of colonies of the most primitive organisms), and gradually rising to our civilized human communities. Figuratively speaking, it is a universal law of organic evolution, and this is why the sense of Mutual Aid, Justice, and Morality are rooted in man’s mind with all the force of an inborn instinct”. (69)

Peter_Kropotkin
Peter Kropotkin

Like Tönnies, Kropotkin looks back favourably on the Middle Ages and previous societies where customs and codes served to protect the collective community from greedy or power-hungry individuals.

He does not shy away from talking about the “social organism” (70) and from expressing a classically holistic and nature-orientated view of the world. He writes, for example, that “we are compelled to acknowledge that every natural phenomenon – the fall of any particular stone, the flow of a brook, or the life of any one tree or animal, constitutes the necessary manifestation of the properties of the whole, of the sum total of animate and inanimate nature”. (71)

This should not surprise us, even if many of Kropotkin’s 21st century anarchist successors seem afraid of any talk of nature, social organisms, inborn instincts and universality.

Anarchism is a political philosophy whose revolutionary, destructive aspect only makes sense if it is backed up by this positive vision of a natural, organic society which will be set free to flourish once the state-capitalist machine is brought down.

It is, to directly answer the question at the top of this section, quite clearly the best political fit with the current of holistic and organic philosophy that we have been outlining in this article.

5. Is organic radicalism the only target of the contemporary Nazi smear?

So far we have seen that, although a certain strand of Nazi ideology was influenced by aspects of organic thinking, it was very much a departure from that tradition. In rejecting a universalist humanist vision in favour of narrow racism, these Nazi thinkers essentially turned their back on holism as a philosophy.

Their fragmented, piecemeal, divisive approach instead reflected the fragmented thinking of the industrial age which the new wave of organic thought had emerged to attack. Critiques of industrialism within the Nazi movement were almost entirely eclipsed by a pragmatic obsession with Technik and industrial advance.

Indeed, fascism looks more like a grotesque caricature of the inhuman industrial society opposed by organic thinking, a chillingly efficient 20th century upgrade of the steam-powered capitalist machine of the previous era.

So why, we might ask, do so many political writers seek to make a connection between the Nazis and anti-industrial, ecological, organic ways of thinking?

To help answer this, it is worth placing the issue in a wider context and looking at another instance in which alleged Nazi associations have been deployed as a political tool.

Seattle

The global anti-capitalist movement, ever since the heady successes around the turn of the 21st century, has often being accused of harbouring some kind of hidden fascistic or anti-semitic tendencies.

One of the main themes of this critique was that voiced in June 1999 by the Dutch organisation “De Fabel van de illegaal” (“The myth of illegality”) which withdrew from the anti-globalization movement, complaining that it was leading left-wingers towards a kind of nationalism.

While examples were given of right-wing individuals or groups influencing the fringes of the movement, the gist of the criticism was more ideological.

De Fabel wrote back then that analyzing in terms of “international capital” or “speculation capital” is “potentially anti-Semitic”. “Potentially”, because the ideology of this kind of anti-capitalism was said to show “enormous structural similarities with anti-Semitism” even when there was no talk of “the Jews” owning international capital, as Eric Krebbers explained in 2003. (72)

In the same article, Krebbers also took issue with the solidarity with Palestinian struggles being expressed by anti-capitalists, complaining: “At the recent huge demonstrations in Italy, where the anti-globalization movement probably is the strongest, Palestine seems to have become the central point of reference. Many activists speak of ‘a worldwide intifada against globalization’ and they often shout: ‘We are all Palestinians’. Why do anti-globalization activists need to identify with ‘the Palestinians’, with some ‘nation’? Why do these inhabitants of worldpower European Union continually make out Israel and the US as ‘main imperialist enemies’?”

A similar point was made three years later, in 2002, in an article entitled ‘Anti-Globalization: The New Anti-Semitism’ which appeared on “the leading Jewish content website” aish.com.

This suggested there was an “association between the Arab world and the anti-globalization movement” which “has its roots in a common opposition to American ‘domination’. Israel and the Jews represent American capitalism”. (73)

The same line of attack was notably developed the late Moishe Postone, an academic who detected affinities between forms of anti-capitalism and anti-semitic conspiracy theory.

Occupy protest

The anti-elitist, anti-capitalist message of the 99 per cent against the 1 per cent, which was so central to the Occupy movement, is seen from this perspective as being a disguised attack on Jews.

If you talk about bankers and financiers running the world, controlling the media, and cheerleading for war, it is argued, you are really blaming Jewish people or, at the very least, falling into the hands of those who do.

As Daniel Finn crucially pointed out in a 2018 article in Jacobin magazine, insinuations of anti-semitism can thus be used, not merely to defame critics of Israel, but “to discredit any radical critique of capitalism or imperialism in the modern world”. (74)

6. What is the relationship between anti-capitalism and anti-semitism?

At this point it is worth lending some historical perspective to this alleged connection between anti-capitalism and anti-semitism.

Very instructive in this respect is the work of Lazare, one of Löwy’s anti-capitalist Romantics, who became known as one of the principal defenders of Alfred Dreyfus, a famous victim of institutional 19th century anti-semitism in France.

As a young man, Lazare had read socialist and anarchist literature explaining that Jews were big businessmen and capitalists, and so he decided that he himself could not possibly be ‘Jewish’, even if he remained an ‘Israelite’.

He wrote in 1890, at the age of 25: “The Jew (there are many who become Jews, without being destined by their race to do so, but who are rather doomed by their native virtues) is someone who is dominated by the sole preoccupation of making a quick fortune, which he will more easily obtain by fraud, lies and cunning. He despises virtue, poverty, selflessness”. (75)

Bernard Lazare
Bernard Lazare

Lazare was therefore driven into an absurd form of anti-semitism by the social stereotype of the Jew as a capitalist – any anti-capitalist, it appeared even for this young Jew, therefore had to be anti-‘Jewish’.

Wertheimer was later to comment on this phenomenon in his 1935 essay on ethics. Here he describes “a young, idealistic party member” – Nazi Party, that is – who is “passionate in the negative evaluation of members of a certain race” – in other words, of Jews.

Wertheimer adds: “This young man perhaps behaves thus only because he has been brought to this state through suggestion, propaganda, through the wanton slander that this race is a poisonous snake. He does not really behave with respect to A (members of this race) but to a B which he has been taught to identify with this race”.

In other words the young idealist is instinctively opposed to capitalism, usury, greed or whatever other negative qualities have been ascribed to Jews by the Nazis. Because of their anti-semitic propaganda, he associates these negative qualities entirely with Jews and is thus turned into an anti-semite, even though he did not necessarily originally bear any ill will towards Jews as such.

Says Wertheimer: “The real problem here lies not only in the behaviour of the young man, but in the enforcement of the blind identification… To take away by artifice the possibility of seeing the true situation, through the enforcement of blind judgments, of improper narrowing of the mental field, induction of blind centering, deprives man of the prerequesites for our problems”. (76)

While a non-Jew might find themselves stuck in this induced anti-semitism, Lazare’s own Jewishness enabled him to quickly realise that what he really disliked were the materialistic and greed-driven capitalist attitudes which made life a misery both for non-Jews and for ‘Israelites’ like himself.

He wrote in another essay: “There are now thousands of Jewish workers in France, exploited like the Christians, dying of hunger like the Christians, unhappy like the Christians. They are also there in England, in Germany, in Russia…” (77)

As he matured, Lazare asked himself why it was that the sins of capitalism were conventionally heaped on this scapegoat figure of the archetypal Jew.

He noted, in an 1892 article entitled ‘Jews and Anti-Semites’ that when “liberal anti-semites” declared war on the Jews they claimed to be opposing crooked financiers. But, in fact, they were targeting anyone who was circumcised or went to the synagogue, including workers. (78)

belle époque
Anti-semitism suited the upper classes

Increasingly Lazare saw this phenomenon as one carefully fabricated by the upper classes. They used the stereotype of the greedy materialistic Jew to divert attention and anger away from their own greedy materialism.

Anti-semitism, he wrote in 1899, “is good for vicars, reactionaries and the bourgeoisie, because they are the only ones who can – or who hope – to gain from it; they rely on it to dodge the blows coming their way and to solidify their power”.

He added: “Beware of those pseudo-socialists who tell you that if your wages are too low, the fault lies with foreign workers and Jews, and that you’ll be happier when
they’ve all been kicked out. How the bourgeois would laugh if he could set you against your brothers in misery, against your companions in chains, so as to save his own skin”. (79)

Lazare refuted the supposed link between materialism and Jewishness and pointed out that there were plenty of Christian capitalists around, not least the Roman Catholic Church, which even had its own banking wing. Indeed, he suggested, the influence of Roman civilization was in fact behind many of the social ills blamed on Jews. “The deification of money, capitalist barbarity, ignorance of all human interest other than the financial or commercial interest, are the traits of the Roman soul, but not of the Jewish soul”. (80)

Lazare thus clearly explained the way that anti-semitism was used, by the ruling classes, as a way of deflecting attention away from the fundamental problems and injustices of their hierarchical industrial capitalist society and of shunting opposition into a sordid dead end of racial scapegoating.

He died in 1903, but he would surely have identified exactly the same processes at work in Nazi Germany. The Nazis were used by the ruling classes to save Germany from a genuine rebellion against industrial capitalism.

People’s natural and healthy animosity towards profiteering materialism, towards the commercialisation of society, was deliberately hijacked and diverted into anti-semitism, leaving the field clear for German capitalism to storm ahead under the Nazi banner.

nazi factory
Industrial-military capitalism thrived under the Nazis

The key element which allowed this scapegoating to take place was, obviously, the equation of Jewishness with capitalism, materialism and so on – the fake definition which had confused the young Lazare.

To stop it ever resurging, it would therefore seem crucial to break that link, to demolish the lie that capitalism was the property of any one people, nation or religion.

However, unfortunately, the Jewish stereotype lives on today. Even more unfortunate is that it is often kept alive by people who are ostensibly countering anti-semitism.

As we have seen, left-wingers who criticise bankers, industrialists and capitalist organisations are sometimes accused of deploying a “coded” form of anti-semitism.

Now, perhaps those making the allegations are justified in fearing a return of the scapegoating of Jews under the pretext of anti-capitalism. But it is beyond dispute that in automatically equating opposition to the global banking system with anti-semitism, they are in fact reinforcing the old stereotypes.

What appears to be happening, in some cases at least, is that the “Jewish banker” figure is again being deliberately deployed to thwart opposition to capitalism.

Previously, it was used to steer people away from anti-capitalism and into anti-semitism, but now the aim is rather to steer people away from anti-capitalism with the threat of being labelled anti-semitic.

anti-capitalist-protest

The aim of this ideological scaremongering is not, in fact, to combat anti-semitism, but to use the smear of anti-semitic associations as a means of discrediting opposition to the dominant economic system.

In other words, capitalists, in the past, deliberately whipped up anti-semitism to protect themselves from popular fury (as Lazare outlines) and their successors are now differently – but equally dishonestly – using the spectre of that very same anti-semitism to protect themselves from a 21st century wave of anti-capitalist anger.

7. So what, do we conclude, is the smear all about?

There are several factors that might lie behind the way that radical ecological thinking is sometimes tarred with Nazi associations – wrongly, as we have established.

One is that there is a genuine fear that organic language could again be co-opted and diverted into a sinister direction by modern-day fascists. The trauma inflicted by Nazism remains so intense, more than 70 years later, that terms (mis-)used by its adherents in the past are still capable of triggering fearful reactions.

Another possible cause for the misunderstanding may lie in the way that our civilization and culture have drifted ever further from a nature-based understanding of humankind, and the organic approach is thus faced with a concrete wall of non-comprehension, which leaves the way clear for all kinds of misinterpretations of the intentions behind its approach.

Most likely is that both these factors have played a role and that they have combined to reinforce a still-more important element – a deliberate attack on the deep green, organic, ideology.

The aim of this would be, like the anti-semitism accusations described by Finn, “to discredit any radical critique of capitalism or imperialism in the modern world”.

As with the anti-semitism smears, the “eco-fascism” accusation is presented as a noble attempt to stop a new form of fascism from arising, thus seeking the support and gratitude of people who fear that very outcome.

But, in reality, it is a cynical ploy designed to attack anti-capitalist thought from behind the safe smokescreen of anti-fascism.

It has just enough evidence (of the superficial similarities of rhetoric we have discussed, of various right-wing extremists trying to co-opt deep green thought, etc) to make the claim sound plausible for those who do no further research of their own, but the accusation is fundamentally disingenuous.

child labour

To understand what is happening we need to go back to the 19th century, at the time when Organic Thinking II was developing. It was, as we have said, a reaction against
The Machine in all its guises, against the industrial capitalist system that was destroying communities, countryside, everything that was worthwhile, authentic, beautiful and everlasting about our world.

To counter this opposition, The Machine (by which we mean a theoretical collective entity consisting of all the individuals who worked for it and with it) disguised itself as something other than the exploitative, destructive, inhuman, monstrous phenomenon that it really was.

Everywhere it depicted itself as representing “progress”, “prosperity”, “scientific advance” and so on and its enemies as backward-looking barbarians, stuck-in-the-mud reactionaries and dim-witted Luddites.

In German-speaking Europe, this Machine also managed to recuperate part of the very movement which had emerged to oppose it by stealing parts of its language – in the same way that capitalism recuperated punk music, for instance, or that Tony Blair’s New Labour used the language of social democracy to gain power for a neoliberal clique.

The promotion of communal Gemeinschaft, social organism and mutual aid against mechanistic industrial capitalism was transformed into a narrow racism and nationalism which diverted criticism of capitalism on to Jews and foreign powers, leaving the industrial capitalist system in Germany very much intact.

Fascism was, as we have seen, nothing but a reincarnation of The Machine itself.
It was not the only incarnation, though – and after defeating fascism, and using some of its know-how and personnel in its struggle against Soviet communism, the US/UK branch of the Machine was keen to present itself as the world’s great defender of democracy.

But by “defending democracy” what they really mean is repelling all threats to the continuation of their military-industrial-economic-prison-complex, the capitalist Machine.

In the language of contemporary “centrist” neoliberals, any political position which challenges their version of capitalism is necessarily “extremist”. They like to claim that extreme right and far left are essentially the same thing; a “red-brown” alliance against the neoliberal democratic values enshrined and protected by the USA and its allies.

This is the context in which anti-capitalism is equated with anti-semitism and in which deep green organic thinking is equated with fascism.

The Machine which we face today is indisputably the same Machine which provoked the anti-industrial, anti-capitalist philosophical revolt of the 19th century. There is an unbroken continuity there.

cogs-in-a-machine

And that Machine, which in its fascist guise co-opted organic terminology for its own ends, is now happy to use that co-option, that misuse of organic language by the
fascists, to try to discredit the original, non-fascist, organic philosophy by a fake association with fascism.

It aims to disqualify organic/holistic thought, a philosophy which threatens the domination of its industrial capitalist system.

To do this it will use which ever means seems most effective – and the “Nazi” smear is the perfect weapon.

The immensity of this ideological deceit becomes even clearer if we look again at what it is that we, today, particularly dislike about Nazism. It is, as we said, the mass extermination, the anti-semitism and racism, the warmongering militarism, the police state, the blind nationalism, the eugenics, the propaganda and mass hysteria.

Which of those elements is present in deep green organic thinking? None of them! How can you accuse an ideological current of being “fascist” or “eco-fascist” if it doesn’t contain the ideological elements typical of fascism?

What are you left with if you start from a hypothetical “fascism” and then strip away nationalism, racism, militarism and authoritarianism? That’s simply not fascism any more. There can be no such thing as an internationalist, anti-racist, anti-militarist, libertarian “fascism”. The label is simply not appropriate and if you want to criticise it, you will have to find another language with which to do so.

riot cops2
Mainstream capitalism learnt a lot from fascism…

Now let’s look at the industrial capitalist system. How does that compare with the Nazi model? Warmongering militarism? Yes. Police state? Yes. Propaganda and mass hysteria? Yes. Blind nationalism? Yes, despite its global character, capitalism is always happy to use this to rally the public. Eugenics? Yes, although they don’t call it that these days. Cold inhumanity? Yes. Racism? Very much so.

Anti-semitism? Although anti-semitism exists in our society, it is not systematically encouraged by the ideology of industrial capitalism. It is, however, systemically abused, as we have seen – being turned into an ideological weapon to be used not principally against anti-semites, but against anti-capitalists. The victims of this cheap weaponising of the term will be those who find it leaves them horribly exposed to the real thing.

Contemporary capitalism has not yet plumbed the depths of depravity achieved by the Hitler regime and operated mass extermination camps, but that is pretty much the only way in which it can claim any moral high ground over Nazism.

In other respects, it shares the thinking of the Nazi Machine, which is not surprising because it is essentially the same Machine. It is obsessed with industrialisation, production, technology and war. It regards people as human resources, as labour units, as consumers, as cannon fodder and as collateral damage. Its thinking is utilitarian, fragmented, non-holistic. It is cold, mechanical, exploitative. Its own inner logic of self-interest blinds itself to all morality, ethics, humanity.

And this system dares accuse its opponents of being “fascist”?

8. Why do we care so much about this issue?

Why open this particular can of worms about supposed fascist influences on organic, nature-based ideology? Why do we think this issue is so important that we feel the need to address it in this article?

There are two aspects involved here. The first is that we are concerned at the adverse effects the “Nazi” smears, and the fear of such smears, have had on radical thinking.

There are, again, strong parallels with the “anti-semitic” smears levelled against some forms of anti-capitalism.

The aim of equating talk of “the one per cent” with anti-semitism is presumably to deter people from drawing attention to the existence of a very real capitalist ruling class.

Instead, anti-capitalists are supposed to address the matter in a convoluted, theoretical way which may make sense to postmodern academics but is never going to spark a wave of public support in the way that the direct approach can.

In radical environmental circles it likewise becomes impossible to talk about nature, a return to the land or organic communities without someone like Staudenmaier popping up to identify a “chilling” resemblance to Nazi thought.

greenanarchy2

This simply rips the heart out of the ideology, destroying its fundamental coherency. How can we criticise modern capitalist society, and propose a radical alternative, if the language in which we do so has been ruled out of bounds by some kind of ideological thought police?

Instead of getting to the core of the problem with industrial capitalism, and everything that goes along with it, people are forced to retreat into positions which do not fundamentally challenge capitalism.

Either they end up accepting its claims that we “need” economic growth, never-ending technological progress and so on, or they adopt superficial nihilistic approaches which condemn capitalism without being able to propose an authentic alternative.

The second aspect of the problem relates to the ideological gap left by the abandonment of organic anti-capitalist thinking by left-wingers scared off by the smear campaigns.

Just because those ideas are not being expressed in certain circles, does not mean that they do not exist, or that they will magically be stopped from taking shape in people’s minds.

Imagine a young person who feels aesthetically revolted by the capitalist society in which they have been brought up – by its materialism, environmental destruction, fragmentation and consumer shallowness.

In contrast to all of that, this young person imagines a different world, a world where people live more simply and sanely, in small communities imbued with healthy
values, feeling a strong connection to the land and to the other creatures who live on it.

This young person looks around for other people saying the same thing, for a movement which voices those ideals and seeks to realise them.

green anarchist badge

The ideology they are looking for is organic radicalism, green anarchy, but maybe, thanks to the efforts of the ideological thought police, this ideology is no longer visible.

Imagine that there is, however, a group expressing some of these ideas in a slightly different way. They talk of going back to the land, building healthy small-scale communities and of respecting nature. The only thing is that they also talk a lot about kinship and ethnic identity, which our young person is not quite sure about, but feels is perhaps just one detail that they can learn to live with.

Later, the new recruit discovers that this movement has been exposed as extreme right-wing and fiercely criticised. But because the criticisms come from a left-wing movement which seems to reject all of the young person’s ideals, they fall on deaf years. “If these ideas are extreme right-wing ideas,” they think to themselves, “then I myself must naturally belong to the extreme right”.

This is roughly the same process that led Lazare, a Jew, into expressing anti-semitic ideas because he had swallowed the lie equating capitalism and Jewishness and the process that Wertheimer depicts twisting the mind of the young Nazi idealist.

Maybe in due course our young person will, like Lazare, see through the emptiness and inhumanity of fascist rhetoric and walk away from it in order to rebuild their own personal philosophy on a healthier basis, but that is far from being sure.

The damage will already have been done by the way the left has turned its back on a deep critique of capitalism with a powerful vision of an alternative society.

This, in fact, is what happened a hundred years ago, when much of the left, particularly in German-speaking Europe, had abandoned a nature-based, holistic anti-capitalism in favour of an industrially-orientated Marxism. (81)

Soviet factory
Marxist socialism failed to oppose industrialism

Juan J. Linz, in ‘Some Notes Toward a Comparative Study of Fascism in Sociological Historical Perspective’ explains that “the lack of understanding of traditional Marxist theory and especially Central European social democracy for the plight of the peasant and pre-industrial strata” (82) left the way clear for Nazi recruitment. “A romantic youth protest against bourgeois society was captured by the fascists,” (83) he adds.

Landauer was very aware of this problem. Berman and Luke explain that he saw the need for society to break free from “the false mechanical concepts of science that impoverish human understanding” (84) but understood that Marxism was itself trapped inside this mindset, with its “scientific” belief in the supposedly inevitable transition of capitalism into socialism.

This meant orthodox Marxists had to applaud capitalist growth and capitalist progress. “In the light of Landauer’s critique, nineteenth century scientific socialism ceases to appear as a radical critique of the status quo. Rather, behind its revolutionary pretenses, it buttresses the development of capitalist structures”. (85)

In failing to take up the Romantic struggle against industrial capitalism, building on the rich organic and holistic philosophy which was being developed in German-speaking lands, the Marxists allowed this powerful anti-capitalist current to flow into the stagnant waters of fascism.

Comment Berman and Luke: “The turn of völkisch thought to the right is ultimately not indicative of the quality of such thought, but rather of the self-imposed constraints of the traditional Marxist left, which failed to appropriate the leftist potential of the völkisch movement”. (86)

The Marxist left of that place and period had become sterile and dogmatic and shied away from appealing to those who wanted to fundamentally challenge the assumptions and infrastructures of capitalist society, who were ready to embark on a total revolt against the Gesellschaft of state and business.

As Sternhell notes: “With their thirst for action for action’s sake and struggle for struggle’s sake, the fascists appeared to be the only authentically revolutionary political organizations, the only movements unconditionally opposed to the established order, the only people whose revolutionary credibility – unlike that of the parties of the left, including the communist parties – had not been damaged by compromise”. (87)

It is ironic that contemporary leftists are being urged to steer clear of emotive anti-capitalism and nature-based organic environmentalism, because of an alleged taint by Nazi associations, when it was actually a previous left-wing generation’s drift in that very same direction – its abandonment of authentic anti-capitalist ideals – which allowed the Nazis to co-opt and distort those ideals for their own dishonest ends.

9. What would we like to see happen next?

Antidote zine, the American website which reposted our Envisioning a Post-Western World article, commented that “it behooves people in contested cultural terrain to, well, contest it”. (88)

This is what we would like to see happen next. We would like to see the terrain of organic ideology contested with the aim of lifting the Nazi curse which has stifled its voice and restoring it to its rightful role as the ideological heart of anarchist and anti-capitalist thinking.

We wrote above that the holistic philosophy which emerged in the 19th and early 20th century was a kind of Organic Thinking II, because it had added a specifically anti-industrial and anti-capitalist layer on top of the older holistic heritage.

It is now time to develop Organic Thinking III, a 21st century version of the ideology that is not only anti-industrial and anti-capitalist, but specifically anti-fascist.

The reasons for this should by now be obvious. By clearly defining and explaining itself as anti-fascist, Organic Thinking III can not only shake off the smears with which Organic Thinking II has been attacked, but also shed light on the real successor to fascist ideology – the authoritarian, militaristic, racist, industrialist, science-obsessed, capitalist Machine.

Gulf War 1991  Victory Celebration  USA

It will condemn fascism not for being the “religion of nature” that it never really was, but for being the epitome of industrialism, the death-cult military-technocratic system pushed to its brutal limits.

Organic Thinking III will include the awareness that the Machine has tried to destroy anti-capitalist organicism by tarring its language with the broad brush of a deliberately misinterpreted fascism.

It will relaunch the ideological war on industrial capitalism begun by Organic Thinking II, but inoculate itself against a new take-over bid by the extreme right by placing at its core the left-wing values of humanity, solidarity, compassion and universality.

alwaysantifascist

It will declare itself an implacable enemy of fascism and present a coherent and self-contained organic political vision that could never be acceptable to fascists – one fuelled by the ideas of anarchists, non-nationalist socialists and Jews, from Morris to Goldstein, from Monakow to Kropotkin, from Tönnies to Wertheimer, from Landauer to Roszak.

It will be unflinching in its complete rejection of this capitalist-fascist system in all respects – its economics, its infrastructures and its ideology.

It will condemn all the new forms being taken by fascism – the sinister techno-totalitarianism of genetic engineering, nanotechnology, surveillance, drone warfare and transhumanism.

It will challenge head-on the productivist obsession with quantity over quality, with profit, with economic growth, with “progress” and it will call for a society built on ethics, values, humanity and solidarity.

It will favour the authentic over the artificial, the beautiful over the ugly, the living over the sterile.

It will understand the distinction between Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft, as set out by Tönnies, and struggle for the revival of the former.

It will pay no heed to the demands of authority, with its states, currencies, laws, police forces, armies, courts, prisons and concentration camps.

It will reject the mercantile mindset and seek to build a society based on exchange, mutual aid and common interest, where food is grown and objects are produced on the basis of collective need rather than for private gain.

tierra_y_libertad

It will refuse the false construct of land ownership, recognising the land as something to which we belong, rather than as something which could ever belong to us.

It will go beyond contemporary society’s toxic separation of body and mind and embrace the holistic reality of our being.

It will likewise embrace the holistic unity of humankind and insist that within that unity all borders are fluid, all particularisms imbued with the universal human essence.

It will condemn the arrogance of Western civilization in imposing its structures and ideology on the rest of the world and find inspiration and alliance with peoples everywhere seeking to protect or restore non-Western, non-capitalist, ways of living and thinking.

It will acknowledge that humankind is a nothing but part of nature and that our future can only be healthy in the context of a healthy natural world, free from pillage, pollution and destruction.

It will understand that the universe itself is a living entity and that human well-being depends on individuals acting as part of a greater whole, a social organism.

It will know that these individuals can only be free within a free community and that this free community must always be made up of free individuals.

It will break through all the lies and taboos to spread the message that the planetary destruction being wreaked by the industrial capitalist system must be stopped.

It will inspire people to dream, to hope, to speak out, to discuss, to write, to mobilise and to turn their ideas into action.

One day it will bring down The Machine – the industrial, capitalist, fascist Machine – and clear the way for natural life once more to flourish

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greenanarchy

1. Ernst Lehmann, Biologischer Wille. Wege und Ziele biologischer Arbeit im neuen Reich, (Munich: J.F.Lehmann, 1934), cit. Anne Harrington, Reenchanted Science: Holism in German Culture from Wilhelm II to Hitler (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999), p. 177.
2. https://www.encounterbooks.com/features/rupert-darwall-totalitarian-roots-environmentalism/
3. https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/janet-biehl-and-peter-staudenmaier-ecofascism-lessons-from-the-german-experience
4. www.akpress.org/against-the-fascist-creep.html
5. www.redpepper.org.uk/darker-shades-of-green/
6. Anna Bramwell, Ecology in the Twentieth Century: A History, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1989, pp. 272-73.
7. Anna Bramwell, The Fading of the Greens: The Decline of Environmental Politics in the West (New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 1994), p. 43.
8. https://antidotezine.com/2017/08/19/envisioning-a-post-western-world/
9. Vivianne Crowley, Wicca: The Old Religion in the New Millennium (London: Thorsons, 1996), p. 32
10. William Morris, ‘How I Became A Socialist’, News From Nowhere and Selected Writings and Designs, ed. by Asa Briggs, (London: Penguin, 1984) p. 36.
11. Georges Bernanos, ‘La France contre les robots’, cit. Aux origines de la décroissance – Cinquante penseurs, coordonné par Cédric Biagini, David Murray, Pierre Thiesset (Paris: L’Échappée, 2017), p. 28.
12. Harrington, pp. xvii-xviii.
13 Harrington, p. 20.
14. Nina Lyon, Uprooted: On the Trail of the Green Man (London: Faber & Faber, 2016), p. 192.
15. F. Sander, ‘Deutsche Psychologie und nationalsozialistische Weltanschauung’. Nazionalsozialistisches Bildungswesen. 2. pp. 641-643, cit. Harrington, p. 178.
16. Lehmann, cit. Harrington, p. 177.
17. Harrington, p. 188.
18. cit. Harrington, p. 175.
19. Zeev Sternhell, ‘Fascist Ideology’, Fascism: A Reader’s Guide. Analyses, Interpretations, Bibliography, ed. Walter Laqueur (Aldershot: Scolar Press, 1991), p. 356.
20. Rudolf Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism (London: Pluto Press, 1989), p. 75.
21. Harrington, p. 182.
22. Sternhell, pp. 324-35.
23. Harrington, p. 181.
24. Alfred Böttcher, 1935, ‘Die Lösung der Judenfrage’, Ziel und Weg 5: 226. cit Harrington, pp. xx-xxi.
25. Johann Chapoutot, La révolution culturelle nazie, Paris: Gallimard, 2017
p 83.
26. Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz: The Nazi Assault on Humanity, trad. Stuart Woolf, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996), p. 105.
27. Chapoutot, p. 79.
28. Chapoutot, p. 85.
29. Harrington, p. 189.
30. Gerhard Portele, ‘Gestaltttheorie und Wissenschaftstheorie. Pläyoder für eine alternative Wissenschaft’, Gestalt Theory I (I), pp. 26-38, cit. Harrington, p. 211.
31. Harrington, p. 195.
32. NSDAP’s Mitteilungen zur weltanschaulichen Lage, Nov 27, 1936, cit. Harrington, p. 196.
33. Harrington, pp. 197-98.
34. Lyon, p. 192.
35. Harrington, p. xxi.
36. Harrington, p. 62.
37. Harrington, p. 190.
38. Harrington , p. 92.
39. Harrington, p. 98.
40. Harrington, p. 172.
41. Ruth Nanda Anshen, ‘Open letter to Dr Kurt Goldstein in commemoration of his eightieth birthday, November 6, 1958, Goldstein Papers, cit. Harr, p. 172.
42. Max Wertheimer, ‘On truth’, Social Research 1 (2), cit. Harr pp. 133-34.
43. Max Wertheimer, ‘Some problems in the theory of ethics’, Social Research 2 (3), cit. Harrington, p. 134.
44. Michael Löwy, Juifs hétérodoxes: Romantisme, messianisme, utopie (Paris: Éditions de l’éclat, 2010).p. 23.
45. Löwy, Juifs hétérodoxes, pp. 33-34.
46. Michael Lowy, Rédemption et utopie: le judaïsme libertaire en Europe centrale, (Paris : Editions du Sandre, 2009), p. 74.
47. Löwy, Juifs hétérodoxes, p. 82.
47. Löwy, Juifs hétérodoxes, pp. 82-83.
48. Löwy, Juifs hétérodoxes, p. 36
49. Löwy, Juifs hétérodoxes, p. 121.
50. Ferdinand Tönnies, Community and Society: Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft, trad. Charles P. Loomis, (New York: Dover Publications, 2002), p. 34.
51. Tönnies, p. 35.
52. Tönnies, p. 36.
53. Tönnies, p. 121.
54. Tönnies, p. 89.
55. Tönnies, p. 83.
56. Tönnies, p. 202.
57. Tönnies, pp. 227-28.
58. Tönnies, p. 216.
59. Tönnies, p. 225.
60. Tönnies, p. 208.
61. Tönnies, pp. 230-31.
62. Theodore Roszak, Where the Wasteland Ends: Politics and Transcendence in Postindustrial Society (New York: Doubleday, 1972), p. 424.
63. Roszak, pp. 95-96.
64. Russell Berman & Tim Luke, ‘Introduction’, Gustav Landauer, For Socialism, trans. by David J Parent, (St Louis: Telos Press, 1978), p. 8.
65. Gustav Landauer, Revolution and Other Writings: A Political Reader, ed. and trans. by Gabriel Kuhn, (Oakland: PM Press, 2010), p. 22.
66. Gustav Landauer, Skepsis und Mystik: Versuche im Anschluss an Mauthners Sprachkritik, (Cologne: 2d ed, 1923) p. 7, cit. Charles B Maurer, Call to Revolution. The Mystical Anarchism of Gustav Landauer, (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1971) p. 69.
67. Peter Kropotkin, Ethics: Origin and Development (Dorchester: Prism Press, n/d) p.45.
68. Kropotkin, pp. 16-17.
69. Kropotkin, pp. 30-31.
70. Kropotkin, p. 18.
71. Kropotkin, p. 87.
72. https://www.doorbraak.eu/gebladerte/30046v01.htm
73. http://www.aish.com/jw/me/48898397.html
74. https://www.jacobinmag.com/2018/04/jeremy-corbyn-antisemitism-labour-party
75. Bernard Lazare, ‘Juifs et Israélites’, La Question Juive (Paris: Éditions Allia, 2012), p. 26.
76. Wertheimer, ‘Some problems in the theory of ethics’, cit. Harrington, p. 135.
77. Lazare, ‘La Solidarité Juive’, p. 41.
78. Lazare, ‘Juifs et Antisémites’, p. 58
79. Lazare, ‘Antisémitisme et révolution’, p. 84.
80. Lazare, ‘Conception Sociale du Judaïsme’, p. 185.
81. See Paul Cudenec, The Stifled Soul of Humankind (Sussex: Winter Oak, 2014).
82. Juan J. Linz, ‘Some Notes Toward a Comparative Study of Fascism in Sociological Historical Perspective’, Fascism: A Reader’s Guide, p. 17.
83.Linz, p. 19.
84. Berman & Luke, p. 7.
85. Berman & Luke, p. 11.
86. Berman & Luke, p. 8.
87. Sternhell, p. 343.
88. https://antidotezine.com/2017/09/19/envisioning-a-post-western-world/

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Does opposing U.S. imperialism and wars mean you’re not really an anarchist?

 

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Does opposing US imperialism and wars mean you’re not really an anarchist?

The answer is obviously “no”, but you wouldn’t think so if you took seriously a most peculiar attack which has been made against us, following on from recent articles on our site.

We weren’t initially even sure if the blog post from “cautiously pessimistic” was worth responding to, as it basically just regurgitates the same memes we were highlighting in the first place.

For instance, one of the main points in our pieces (here and here)  is the way in which anyone critical of the neoliberal system and its imperial wars is being automatically accused of supporting states regarded as enemies of the USA.

It is not possible, according to this mindset, that someone could have moral objections to bombing civilians, shooting unarmed protesters or destroying the environment with fracking – anyone voicing such opinions must obviously be working for Putin or Assad.

So how did “cautiously pessimistic” choose to cleverly counter our comments on this phenomenon? By accusing us of “unswerving loyalty to the Russian and Syrian governments”!

Another important theme of our articles was the way that neoliberal imperialists like to hide behind an apparently left-wing, anti-fascist identity in order to attack actual leftists, anti-fascists and anarchists.

We have no idea who the author of the blog piece is, but in choosing the heading “In defence of anarchism and antifascism”, they clearly also want to be seen to be launching their attack from the radical high ground.

If we feel obliged to respond to the article, it is because of the deceit contained in that headline. Obviously neither anarchism nor anti-fascism need to be “defended” from our articles, because we are both anarchist and anti-fascist. What we object to is people who misuse these labels to camouflage pro-war neoliberal views.

Throughout the article, the author goes out of their way to suggest that being an anarchist is somehow incompatible with opposing imperialism.

The argument is a familiar one, but no less stupid for that. If you oppose empires, it goes, you must support nation-states. Therefore you are a statist and not really an anarchist at all.

It is purely on the basis of this rickety reasoning that the author allows themself to claim that we have abandoned anti-statism, discarded “basic anarchist principles” and seem “willing to ditch everything that makes anarchism distinctive, meaningful or coherent”.

Nothing could be further from the truth, as can be seen by reading our material. In our article What is real anarchism, for instance, we very clearly explain that the state is not only unnecessary but “is actually stopping us from living how we should be living. The state is a positive menace to human well-being.”

But the blog author is not going to let actual written evidence get in the way of their smear. Getting rather carried away with their own rhetoric, they melodramatically conclude: “Apparently Winter Oak think it’s necessary to destroy anarchism in order to save it.”

Destroying anarchism by criticising neoliberals and their war propaganda?

Really?

A lot of the article makes no sense at all. It seems to be aimed at people who are not actually going to read the whole thing, but will just skim through and come away with the vague impression that it has identified some sort of inner contradiction in our analysis.

The author fails to recognise the difference between mentioning somebody – simply commenting on the unfair way in which they have been attacked  – and actually being a political supporter or associate of that person.

For instance, in another cunning bid to somehow prove that we are not actual anarchists at all, the author seizes on the fact that we mention Jeremy Corbyn in the articles.

Now, anyone who has actually read the contents of our website will know that we regard Corbyn, and the Labour Party, as reformists who will do nothing to challenge the existence of the industrial capitalist system.

What astonishes us, and what we try to highlight, is that even their mild form of social democracy is now considered beyond the pale by the neoliberal establishment and their mouthpieces.

There has clearly been a concerted campaign to discredit and destroy Corbyn and his supporters by pro-US, Blairite neoliberals, some of whom pretend they are attacking him from the left, when they are really doing so from the right.

Pointing this out does not mean that we always leap to an “automatic defence of Jeremy Corbyn”, or that criticising Corbyn is “off-limits” for us. How could that be? We are anarchists, not Labour Party people.

In general, the article seems to deliberately mix up what we have said with what other people have said. Readers not paying attention could end up imagining that we were somehow involved in the internal Labour Party controversies, for instance, or that we had expressed some kind of support for Assad or Putin.

The author also conveniently fudges important parts of our exposé of the fake left’s attacks on anti-capitalism.

For instance, the key thing about Alexander Reid Ross’s article on Syria in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz is that he criticises what he describes as “Labour’s tepid response to the Douma attacks and Corbyn’s rejection of any humanitarian grounds for military action”.

This is simply not an opinion that has any place on the left to which Ross claims to belong. He is not attacking Corbyn from an anarchist or anti-capitalist position, by accusing him of being statist, reformist or a sell-out. Ross is attacking him from a right-wing pro-war position, complaining that Corbyn is not going along with the “bomb Syria” policies promoted by the UK Conservative Party and the US government.

The blog author can’t actually bring himself to support Ross over this, so instead he veers off in a strange direction, declaring: “I don’t believe Ross being wrong on this issue discredits all of anti-fascism.”

Eh? Well, no of course it doesn’t! How could it? Who said it did? Not us, that’s for sure. We are ourselves part of “all of anti-fascism”. Why does he think that criticising Alexander Reid Ross is an attempt to discredit anti-fascism?

What really discredits anti-fascism, in our opinion, is to use it as a device to protect pro-war voices from criticism by the anti-capitalist left.

The blog author also plays down the significance of Caroline O, aka @RVAwonk, (whom Ross quotes in his article and describes as a “public scholar”), commenting merely that she “apparently has some dodgy neoliberal/establishment connections”.

It’s a bit more than that. On her Twitter account she identifies herself as Writer/Editor @Shareblue Media: “We tell real-world stories to give voice to the heroes fighting for American values”.

She is a great supporter of Hamilton 68, the surveillance project which claims to “track Russian propaganda” but in fact amounts to a McCarthyite system of blacklisting people whose views don’t please the neoliberal establishment.

As she tweeted on September 1, 2017: “Hamilton 68 is a great project. I’m hoping to see it expanded even more. I can see a lot of potential for it [to] grow.”

The significance, of course, is that Hamilton 68 is a propaganda project being run by the US state. Its aim is to counter criticism of US foreign policy by claiming that it all originates from enemy states, such as Russia or Syria, and thus is “fake news” which should be kicked off the internet.

Drawing attention to this US propaganda project does not amount to “unswerving loyalty to the Russian and Syrian governments”, even if Hamilton 68 and “cautiously pessimistic” would like you to think so.

There are other very odd accusations scattered across the blog post, such as the suggestion that by not writing about a particular court case in the USA we were “implicitly siding with Fox News, Max Blumenthal and his lawyers, and so with the whole weight of the state apparatus”.

“Implicitly” siding with the “whole weight of the state apparatus” by not writing about an American court case that we hadn’t even heard of? Guilt by omission and association at one and the same time? This really is desperate stuff!

Follow Winter Oak on Twitter at @WinterOakPress

The Acorn – 42

 

acornmastheadnew1

Number 42

In this issue:

  1. France’s Thatcher sparks social war
  2. Thought (      ) spies
  3. Okinawa: resisting the US occupation
  4. How to kill a book
  5. Anarchist values
  6. Acorninfo

1. France’s Thatcher sparks social war

MacronThatcher

It has long been obvious that the Thatcher years in the UK were an important moment in social history, which paved the way for the neoliberalism we know today.

Her fervently pro-US government pushed through wave after wave of privatisation and assaults on the public sector, dismantling the structures of the vaguely social-democratic version of industrial capitalism that had remained intact since the Labour election victory of 1945.

The same thing is happening in France at the moment under President Emmanuel Macron, a hardline neoliberal in the Thatcher mould, who hides this by adopting, in a Tony Blair kind of way, a smoothly “progressive” facade.

Like Thatcher and Blair, Macron is “pro”-US in the same way that leaders of Cold War East Germany could be said to have been “pro”-USSR.

With Brexit, the US neoliberal empire lost its key placeman in Europe, so it was vital that France flew the flag for “Transatlantic values”.

GMF-ASD

Macron, a former investment banker at Rothschild, was actually groomed by a US propaganda organisation, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, as they proudly declare on their website.

He was “awarded the Marshall Memorial Fellowship, the flagship leadership development program of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, in 2006”.

Macron “participated in an intensive learning and networking experience designed to foster collaboration, build personal capacity and prompt innovative thinking and problem-solving” and was “immersed in communities across the Atlantic through travel and study”.

Macron may have won the 2017 election, but his attempts to Thatcherise France are proving deeply unpopular and have sparked massive opposition in the streets.

francemai-c

The main elements of this revolt concern:

1. Trade unions. Currently the railway workers are in the front line, fighting Macron’s attack on the SNCF and the unions.

2. Education. His neoliberal education “reforms” are being met with fierce resistance by students and lycéens – High School students – with occupations and protests across the country.

3. Migrants. Macron may have won the presidential run-off because people didn’t want a Front National government, but his interior minister Gérard Collomb is rolling out anti-immigrant rhetoric and legislation worthy of the extreme right.

francemai-a

4. Zadistes. Macron abandoned plans for an airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes only to launch a brutal eviction of the zad, a unique free space of resistance and alternative living.

5. Police violence. Common to all these aspects has been a spiralling use of thuggish violence to impose neoliberal policy. Trade unionists, students and other protesters have been frequently attacked by the CRS riot police. Far-right vigilantes appear to be working hand in hand with the state. At the zad, a young man had his hand blown off by a police grenade and dozens have been beaten up and injured by Macron’s enforcers.

22mai
“He who sows misery, reaps anger”

6. “Convergence des luttes”. The positive side to all this is that there has been increasing emphasis on a convergence of all the struggles, a realisation that they in fact amount to one single social war. Rail workers have supported the zadistes and vice-versa. There is solidarity between students, anti-fascists, anarchists, socialists and so on. The common enemy, the Macron regime, and its extreme neoliberal objectives, are plain to see.

Defeating this enemy will not be easy, despite the enthusiasm generated by the 50th anniversary of the May 1968 uprisings, but if Macron had wanted to radicalise a whole new generation of young people and turn them into sworn enemies of his neoliberal project, he could hardly have gone about it better.

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2. Thought (      ) spies

mystery-man

Most of us are familiar with word puzzles that invite us to fill in the missing link between two apparently unconnected words. The solution to road (      ) bean would be “runner”, the answer to salad (      ) gown would be “dressing”, etc.

The same game can be played with issues and events. Two different things are going on at the same time, which seem to be unrelated. But, if you pay attention, you will see that there is a hidden element which ties them together.

To see how this works, let’s take two current UK controversies. The first is the Philip Cross scandal, in which Wikipedia entries have been systematically edited for political ends by some kind of self-appointed thought police.

The second is the question of police infiltration of dissident political movements. After activists started unmasking police spies in 2010, with media interest, the state was forced to hold an Undercover Policing Inquiry, which has led to more revelations and a lot more official obfuscation and cover-up.

spycops2

The puzzle here could be expressed as thought (       ) spies and our sharper readers will already have spotted that the answer is “police”.

But what implications lurk behind the word, in the context of a bracketed zone between Orwellian re-writers of the record and coppers pretending to be activists?

As a useful article by Connor Woodman in Jacobin Mag reminds us, there is a political objective behind the spy cop operations: “These overwhelmingly left-wing groups were infiltrated for a clear reason: to delimit the scope of threats to the status quo”.

In our own recent Winter Oak special report we looked at the way in which the infiltration of our movements is not limited to the level of practical activism.

thoughtpolice

It is clear that we are witnessing a concerted attempt at ideological sabotage, at a bid to destroy anarchist and anti-capitalist coherency and effectiveness by infiltrating and undermining its thinking.

Much of this currently seems to revolve around the “red-brown” smear, the claim that certain people on the left are actually, wittingly or not, pandering to fascism and crossing a line of “acceptable” opinion.

This is staged in a very clever, but intellectually dishonest, way.

The witch-hunt process paints itself as coming from a very enlightened anti-fascist position.

And from that position, which amounts to the moral high ground in anti-capitalist circles, it condemns others as being somehow right-wing, reactionary or, increasingly, “anti-semitic”.

But the truth is the exact opposite. The witch-hunters are themselves part of a pro-war, pro-US, pro-Israel, neoliberal network and are attacking their targets not from the left but from the right.

They in fact object to anyone who is critical of the neoliberal system and its imperial wars.

The whole “red-brown” angle totally reflects the neoliberal worldview, in which they, the imperial capitalists, are the political default position, the “centre”, and anyone who opposes them is an extremist, a populist, a “red-brown” fascist.

By constantly insisting that the anti-capitalist left is somehow close to far-right populism, these neoliberals are in fact doing the very work they accuse others of doing – of trying to blur the lines between the two very different and in fact incompatible world views.

red scare2

This attempted ideological amalgamation is an assault on the left, a bid to tarnish its strong ethical principles with racist or other unsavoury associations.

Apart from the neoliberals themselves, the other big winners from this strategy are the fascists, who suddenly find the perfect camouflage for their views. When half of the left are being accused of anti-semitic or fascistic tendencies, what have real fascists got to fear?

Do the fake-left witch-hunters care about this? No, because they are not actually anti-fascist. They merely use the “fascist” smear as a way of discrediting and disabling the anti-capitalist left in the interests of right-wing neoliberalism.

These attacks are being churned out at an alarming rate at the moment, and all seem to follow more or less the same line of attack.

Witness a three-part article which appeared on the New Zealand site Fightback entitled “The Red-Brown ‘zombie plague’: how fascist ideas are becoming popular on the Left”.

Daphne Lawless
Daphne Lawless

Author Daphne Lawless, a supposed left-winger, launches straight in with a complaint about left-wing challenges to the dominant narrative in Syria. Like all neoliberals, she just has to leap to the defence of Uncle Sam.

Claims of pro-US false flag attacks are “baseless slander” and, of course, nothing but “conspiracy theories”, tainted by association with the far right, she says.

This is her springboard into the usual smears. It is all part of “a growing convergence of Leftist and far–right rhetoric”, a “red-brown” menace.

Critics of US imperialism, she suggests, neatly integrating the US state’s “fake news” offensive, have simply fallen for “Russian propaganda”.

Lawless approvingly quotes an attack on anti-Americanism by Moishe Postone, the Canadian “leftist” who is regarded as a major inspiration for the antideutsch movement, that bizarre pro-US, pro-Israel, pseudo-leftist German political movement.

On and on she goes, leaving the reader with a gnawing realisation of how familiar it all seems. The obsession with Syria, Russia and “the Iranian mullahs”. Her quoting of the views of Alexander Reid Ross, Jonathan Freedland, Robin Yassin-Kassab and Leil al-Shami to back up her arguments. Her dislike of Jeremy Corbyn, Noam Chomsky, Vanessa Beeley, Jill Stein, Max Blumenthal, Caitlin Johnstone, Roger Waters…

American flag wavers

Lawless in fact generally shares the same likes and dislikes as whoever is behind the Wikipedia re-writing.

The “bad guys” are anyone who criticises the US empire and the “good guys” are all the cloned corporate hacks who furiously condemn them as “red-brown” pro-Russian fascists for daring to do so.

But there is more to the neoliberal attack on the real, anti-capitalist, left, than this spurious equation of anti-imperialism with nationalist or pro-Russian positions.

The other big ideological weapon in their armoury is the claim of anti-semitism and this is being rolled out with desperate regularity.

This has now gone far beyond questions around Israel or Zionism and is being used to vilify all direct opposition to the capitalist system.

Occupy London protest, London, UK, 15/10/2011

Author and blogger Jonathan Cook remarks: “It is an indication of how quickly this slippage is occurring that repeating now a slogan of the Occupy Movement from only seven years ago – that we are ruled by a ‘global elite’, or the ‘1 per cent’ – is cited as proof of anti-semitism. The liberal New Statesman recently ran an article dedicated to proving that the articulation of basic socialist principles – including ideas of class war and the 1 per cent – was evidence of anti-semitism.”

He concludes that the mystification of anti-semitism is being used to prevent any criticism of “a turbo-charged neoliberal capitalism destroying our planet”.

A look at the article in question shows that he is right. Targeting Corbyn in particular – a real hate figure among neoliberals, presumably because he might win a UK general election – authors Matt Bolton and Frederick Harry Pitts condemn “his understanding of capitalism as a ‘a rigged system'” and declare that “if Corbyn is as serious as he says he is about militant opposition to anti-semitism, his worldview as it is may not survive intact. Rather, it must be radically revised and rethought”.

And whose words do they use to back up this insidious argument? None other than Daphne Lawless’s hero, the late Moishe Postone. The same old script!

Moishe Postone
Moishe Postone

The message of these various efforts is that if you don’t want to be called an anti-semite and a red-brown fascist, in “left-wing” articles and on Wikipedia, you will have to “radically revise” your anti-capitalism so that it suits the neoliberal fake-left agenda.

You will have to say that capitalism is not a rigged system, that a tiny elite ruling class does not hold all the wealth and power, that Israel is not a militaristic apartheid state, that the USA is not a warmongering imperial capitalist menace to the rest of the world.

You will have to say that two plus two makes five, otherwise the neoliberal thought police, posing as holier-than-thou fellow left-wingers, will be out to get you…

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3. Okinawa: resisting the US occupation

okinawa1

A startling insight into the ongoing US military occupation of the Japanese island of Okinawa has been published on the In The Fray website.

The article was written by Eliza Egret and Tom Anderson of Shoal Collective, a newly formed cooperative of writers and researchers writing for social justice and a world beyond capitalism.

More than six decades after America’s post-World War II occupation of Japan officially ended, more than 50,000 US troops remain there. Over half of them are stationed on Okinawa, an island with a population of 1.3 million, which the United States values as a strategic base close to China and North Korea.

Although few people outside of Japan know about it, demonstrations go on daily against the thirty-two US military bases and forty-eight training sites on Okinawa, which occupy about a fifth of the island’s land. The protests have been a feature of Okinawan life since the beginning of the US occupation in 1945 (which officially ended for most of the country in 1952, but not for Okinawa until two decades later).

Okinawa2.jpg

From time to time the discontent has exploded into massive street demonstrations, often in response to violent crimes connected to military personnel, such as the 1995 rape of a twelve-year-old girl by three American soldiers and the 2016 rape and murder of a twenty-year-old woman by a former marine working as a contractor for the US military.

In the late 1990s, the US military and Japanese government announced plans to build a new helipad in the far north of Okinawa and relocate the aging Futenma air base to the Henoko district of Nago, a city near the island’s centre.

For a time, fierce public opposition stymied those plans, but after the conservative government of Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe took power in 2012, the work moved ahead. The plans for Henoko involve the expansion of the Marine Corps base already there, Camp Schwab, and the construction of a military runway in the waters of Oura Bay, which critics say will destroy coral reef and seagrass essential to the survival of aquatic life like dugongs, a manatee-like species of marine mammal.

Okinawa4

Japan has remained militarily dependent on the United States ever since the postwar occupation, when it was forced to accept a new constitution banning it from building offensive forces, and its government has long supported the establishment of US military bases throughout the region.

Hiroshi Inaba, a sixty-seven-year-old Japanese peace activist, received an eight-month suspended prison sentence last year because of his work protesting the US military presence on Okinawa.

He told the Shoal journalists: “After the war, the US government thought that Okinawa could be a keystone in their policy against China. US occupation on the island lasted for twenty-seven years, and people used the dollar note. Okinawa wasn’t returned to Japan until 1972.

“More than 70 percent of US bases in Japan are in Okinawa. Okinawan people don’t want the US base construction, but they’re not being listened to. People here deserve democracy and human rights.

Okinawa3

“Some people protest because they’re upset about nature being destroyed—others because of the noise pollution at night from the Osprey military helicopter flights, or because of the lack of democracy, or because [their] relatives were raped by US soldiers.

“Tell people what’s happening in Okinawa—that’s the thing I want people to do the most. A lot of people here can’t speak English, so they can’t tell the outside world what’s going on.”

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4. How to kill a book

Ulfkotte

How would the CIA go about making sure nobody in the English-speaking world could read a book which revealed some uncomfortable truths about its operations?

“It’s an old lesson that blacklisting and publicly banning books is counter-productive, and often leads to stronger sales long-term,” comments someone investigating this very issue.

A much better approach, they suggest, is to quietly “capture and kill” the offending volume. “This method requires a fake publisher, who acquires the rights and then simply refuses to sell the book.”

This seems to have been what has happened to a German best-seller by Udo Ulfkotte, the former editor of the well-known Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

His book Gekaufte Journalisten (Bought Journalists) drew on his own experiences in corporate media to explain how its editors are totally under the control of the neoliberal system. Those who do not play along either cannot get jobs at any news organization, or find their careers cut short.

A man crosses the Central Intelligence A

Ulfkotte admitted himself collaborating with this US-led manipulation of “news” by planting stories in the media for the CIA.

He talked in English about his experiences of being wooed by powerful “Translatlantic organisations”, and his decision to go public, in this TV interview.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGqi-k213eE

The book was a big hit in Germany and an English version, called Journalists for Hire: How the CIA Buys the News, was supposedly published in May 2017 by US-Canadian publisher Tayen Lane.

But it has never become available and Tayen Lane have not been forthcoming with information.

censorship

German publishers Kopp Verlag apparently told one enquirer: “Unfortunately, after signing the contract we have not heard from Tayen Lane, our letters and emails have gone unanswered.”

An American resident who became interested in the case recently searched out Tayen Lane’s offices and reported: “It was no surprise their office doesn’t actually exist. There’s no trace of Tayen Lane anywhere at the address they give.

“Conclusion: A fake publisher has quietly ‘captured and killed’ a German best-seller. How many other books are disappeared in a similar way? No one knows, except the ones doing the censoring.”

Udo Ulfkotte died from a heart attack on 13 January 2017 at the age of 56, while awaiting US publication of his book.

May 31, 2018. After we published the above article (last night) it was kindly brought to our attention that Udo Ulfkotte became notorious in his later years for his derisive comments about immigrants in Germany. We still think that the story of his book is worth telling, but we want to make it clear that we in no way support his anti-immigrant views and are not presenting him as any kind of political hero!

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5. Anarchist values

eco-anarchist-flag

Five years after Winter Oak published his first book, The Anarchist Revelation, Paul Cudenec has set out the basic elements of the personal version of eco-anarchist philosophy he is developing in the face of a “hostile intellectual environment”.

He writes: “I regard industrialism as a facet of capitalism and therefore something that is necessarily anathema to anarchists. I wouldn’t term myself a ‘primitivist’, but I certainly hope for an end to the nightmare of industrial society and for a future where people can live in harmony with the natural world, growing and producing according to the needs of the community rather than for the profits of an exploitative few.

“I advocate a future society based not on money, economic ‘growth’ and technological ‘progress’, but on values. These values would be anarchist, of course – co-operation, equality and non-domination – but also, more broadly, involve the respect and appreciation of nature, beauty, quality, authenticity, simplicity, honesty, integrity and dignity.

“I am seeking to piece together a philosophy founded on nature and on our belonging to nature. This seems to frighten some urban-minded anarchists, but was in fact very much what Kropotkin was working on, particularly in Ethics.

Layout 1

“By a philosophy of nature, I don’t just mean environmentalist politics, but an understanding of the human mind, and the human culture it has created, founded on the fact that we are one small part of a greater organic whole, usually called ‘nature’. Our innermost mental structures and tendencies reflect that belonging: it is the canvas on which our human culture is painted.”

He explains he is consciously pursuing a holistic approach, focusing on “interconnections and correspondences” and the idea that we belong to a dynamic and living universe: “This is anarchist metaphysics! What could be more empowering, philosophically or politically, than realising that you are a temporary manifestation of a great organic whole, with all the freedom and responsibility this involves?”

The whole article can be read here or here.

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6. Acorninfo

A radical political space was briefly opened in central London on Sunday May 27. Kurdistan Place was occupied by friends of Anna Campbell  in solidarity with the Kurdish Freedom Movement. In a statement, the occupiers said: “We want this space to enable learning about Kurdish culture and Kurdish liberation’s emancipatory politics. We also want this space to enable solidarity and anti-capitalist organising.” The first meeting there was held by the Anarchist Action Network and there  were workshops on Kurdish language and dance plus a talk on anti-fascism before it was announced  by @KurdistanPlace on Twitter that the occupation was ending on May 31.

KurdistanPlace

* * *

European police launched a new wave of repression against anti-capitalists on May 29, raiding addresses in Italy, Spain, France and Switzerland in connection with last year’s protests against the G20 in Hamburg, Germany. German public broadcaster NDR reported that apartments in Rome, Genoa, and Madrid were among those searched, including properties “linked to the left-wing scene”. The “Black Bloc” task force in Germany has been combing through police footage, CCTV recordings and private videos with the help of facial recognition software and geolocation data to track down dissidents.

Ham-1

* * *

Protests against the 2018 G7 summit are due to get underway in Quebec City on June 8. Says the antiG7 site: “For the beginning of the G7 Summit, the elites of the world will gather in La Malbaie, isolated in their ivory tower protected by more than half a billion in security costs. They might as well stay there! Everyone in the world will be better off without them and that is why we intend to cut ties with the people creating our misery. Come join us! Meet us at 7:30AM SHARP in the parking lot of the Normandin on the corner of the François-De Laval and Sainte-Anne boulevards, in the Beauport borough, 5km northeast of downtown Quebec City.”

G7 June 8

* * *

A celebration of 50 years of resistance, campaigning and alternatives for a better world, despite 50 years of police opposition, spying and repression, is being staged in London in July. It will include a rally in Grosvenor Square at 1pm on Saturday July 7 and a conference and exhibition at Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, on Sunday July 8.
50 Years A5

* * *

Ineos’s fracking protest injunction will be challenged at appeal court, after campaigners won their latest legal battle. Joe Corre (left) and Joe Boyd have described the move to stop protests as “unprecedented” and “draconian”. The injunction criminalises trespass and what is described as “unlawful and unreasonable obstruction of the highway”, including slow walking, climbing on vehicles and lock-on protests. Breaching the order risks prison, fines or seizure of assets. With Cuadrilla about to try the same approach, and the government threatening to remove decision-making on fracking from local authorities, the fracking mafia are clearly worried that the resistance is winning…

joe-corre-and-joseph-boyd

* * *

A discussion on Radical Ecology is being staged by the UK’s Anarchist Federation in east London on Saturday June 9, as part of its AntiUniversity programme. It is taking place from 4pm to 6pm at Doomed Gallery, 65-67 Ridley Road, Dalston, E8 2NP.

antiuniversity-radical-ecology

* * *

An analysis of the rise and future of the degrowth movement has been published by The Ecologist. Federico Demaria summarises the way that the French activist term décroissance entered the English-speaking world as ‘degrowth’ and the way it has been developing over the last decade, through various networks. He adds: “The alliances among these networks, and networks of networks, are fundamental to weave the alternatives and foster a deeply radical socio-ecological transformation. We could imagine it as a rhizome of resistance and regeneration.”

degrowth stencil2

* * *

Acorn quote: “Men once believed that the establishment of universal suffrage would guarantee the freedom of the people. That, alas, was a great illusion…”

Mikael Bakunin

sheep voting

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

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Fake-left pro-war neoliberals break cover

A special Acorn report

The war-hungry capitalist propaganda machine has been in overdrive in recent weeks.

It has, of course, been relentlessly amplifying the views and narratives of the status quo and giving no platform for dissident opinion – that’s what it’s there for!

But in these days of social media and independent online journalism, that is no longer enough to ensure that its message is swallowed by the public and the system has also been churning out endless bile vilifying its opponents.

It has been doing this not only through its mainstream media but, as we will see, by means of commentators who superficially appear to be on the left.

A strange incident in Salisbury

Neoliberal reaction to the Skripal aftermath, in which people actually dared to question the official narrative, was furious, with former ambassador turned blogger Craig Murray attracting particularly vitriolic abuse.

The same thing happened all over again after the alleged chemical attack by the Syrian government in Douma.

A particularly nasty article which appeared on the BBC’s website on April 19 2018 had the clear aim of rubbishing opponents of a US/UK/French war against Syria, depicting them as “conspiracy theorists”.

It said: “The group includes activists and people who call themselves ‘independent journalists’, and several have Twitter followings reaching into the tens or hundreds of thousands. The activists call themselves ‘anti-war’, but as they generally back the Syrian government’s military operations against rebel forces seeking to overthrow Mr Assad and Russian air strikes carried out in support, it might be more accurate to describe them as ‘anti-Western intervention’ or ‘pro-Syrian government’.”

The BBC’s conclusion is clear. There is no such thing as an independent journalist or a genuine anti-war activist, only shady agents of sinister foreign forces. Challenging UK/US foreign policy means you are probably in the pay of The Enemy. Questioning official propaganda regarding Russia or Syria makes you an apologist for Putin or Assad and your opinions can therefore be disregarded.

This isn’t a subtle approach to winning an argument. It’s just an attempt to completely close down any possibility of dissent: “Our side are good. The other side are bad. If you criticise us, then you too are bad so nobody should listen to you.”

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn

A similar approach has been taken in the fabricated controversy over alleged antisemitism within the UK Labour Party.

Because antisemitism is a sensitive issue, it has proved particularly easy here to disallow any challenge to the smears.

A denial that there is a particular problem with antisemitism in the Labour Party is regarded in itself to be evidence of antisemitism, or at the very least of a wilful desire to conceal the existence of antisemitism.

This little trap, worthy of the Inquisition, tells us nothing about the reality of the alleged antisemitism, because it would work just as well with any allegation against any group.

And, at the end of the day, the issue at stake is not actually antisemitism.

In an excellent article in Jacobin magazine, Daniel Finn, deputy editor of the New Left Review, pulls apart the agenda behind the smears.

He concludes: “Insinuations of antisemitism can be used, not merely to defame critics of Israel, but to discredit any radical critique of capitalism or imperialism in the modern world”.

This is the key point. The aim behind these smear attacks is not to oppose antisemitism as such – in fact, by crying wolf at the wrong targets,  the accusers distract attention from real antisemitism and other forms of racism.

Instead their purpose is to attack the left using the “antisemitism” angle as the perfect weapon, because of the way that it is so difficult to refute without digging a deeper hole.

In the past, during the 20th century Cold War, the capitalist system would attack opponents by calling them Communist sympathisers, lackeys of the evil USSR.

The collapse of the Soviet bogeyman meant it had to modify its tactics. Instead of denouncing its anti-capitalist critics as being on the extreme left, which no longer seemed so scary, it sometimes found that allegations of far-right contamination were more effective.

When these allegations came from sources which appeared to be “left-wing”, the ideological smears could be effective in manipulating thinking within the left.

Ideally, the left would be remodelled along lines acceptable to the capitalist system. It would be allowed to espouse certain liberal social causes, demand a certain amount of reforms and so on, but would be steered away from challenging neoliberal imperialism or the fundamental assumptions of the global capitalist system.

The end result of this approach was very apparent in Germany, with the emergence of the Antideutsch movement which, in the name of this new authorised “leftism”, applauds US and Israeli imperialism.

Fake-left pro-imperialist Antideutsch

In the UK, an important role was played by Norman Geras, a “left-wing” academic who supported the US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq and in 2006 published his Euston Manifesto.

Under the guise of “a renewal of progressive politics”, this sought to push the UK left away from the opposition of the US and its neoliberal wars that had been so apparent.

It declared: “We reject without qualification the anti-Americanism now infecting so much left-liberal (and some conservative) thinking. The United States of America is a great country and nation. It is the home of a strong democracy with a noble tradition behind it and lasting constitutional and social achievements to its name.”

Norman Geras: a UK “left-wing” fan of US militarism

Nafeez Ahmed, in a 2015 article, explored the links between Geras and James Bloodworth of Little Atoms, a notorious defender of US neoliberalism who frequently lays into its critics from an apparently left-wing position.

Little Atoms is itself owned by an “impact agency” called 89up which, as we pointed out in Acorn 41, has been playing a key role in whipping up anti-Russian sentiment in the UK. Its boss Michael Harris has been a vociferous supporter of the bombing of Syria.

In France a site called confusionnisme.info, which is still online but hasn’t been updated since 2016, specialised in accusing various left-wingers and environmentalists of being tainted with fascism, of being “red-browns”.

Its leading light, one Ornella Guyet, even managed to get in very early on the antisemitism smears against Jeremy Corbyn, sticking the boot in via an article published in October 2015 just after he was elected Labour Party leader.

She says she is a “libertarian communist”, but in a piece exposing her activities, the left-wing website Le Grand Soir concluded that she was “an opportunist in thrall to the neocolonial and ultra-liberal system”.

It added: “Ornella Guyet claims to be ‘left-wing’, but her work proves the opposite.” It said she uses the cover of anti-fascism to attack genuine opponents of the capitalist system. “In this sense she is the perfect example of the Fake Antifa, a guard dog of power”.

Ornella Guyet

This is all just the tip of the iceberg, of course. In truth, there is an enormous and well-funded international network of pundits, think-tanks and websites feverishly defending the interests of global capitalism and the USA.

Part of their modus operandi is to contaminate genuine anti-capitalism and anti-imperialism with an unsavoury odour of antisemitism or a “red-brown” form of fascism.

This tends to work, because no anti-fascist wants to be thought by his comrades to be somehow tainted by fascism.

The effect of all this propaganda, often spread no doubt by genuine activists who are not aware of its dubious origins, is to shift the parameters of left-wing anti-capitalist thinking, to gradually exclude views and ideological insights which were previously considered perfectly acceptable and even mainstream in anarchist and anti-capitalist circles.

We, here at Winter Oak, came across this phenomenon after we published the essay Envisioning a Post-Western World by Rob los Ricos and Paul Cudenec in July 2017.

It attracted some positive comments and was later reposted by some American comrades at Antidote Zine, although with what was, to us, a rather puzzling disclaimer.

Antidote wrote: “In light of recent discussions among antifascists (including here within the Antidote Writers Collective) about an esoteric but significant kind of red-brown convergence—the potential for fascist counter-recruiting on the more nihilistic, misanthropic fringes of deep green, Euro-pagan, and Malthusian eco-anarchist groups—we recognize that some of the arguments put forward in the article that follows are right on the knife’s edge.”

Anyone who reads the essay will see no sign of nihilism, misanthropism or Malthusianism, nor of any paganism that is specifically European. What was this “knife’s edge” stuff all about?

It turned out that the “recent discussions among anti-fascists” centred around the work of Alexander Reid Ross, who teaches geography in Portland, USA and who got his MA in 2014 from the prestigious private Swiss university, the European Graduate School.

Alexander Reid Ross

Ross is author of Against the Fascist Creep (2017), a book which purports to show “how infiltration is a conscious and clandestine program for neofascist groups that seek to co-opt and undermine both mainstream and left-wing institutions”.

Here he claims that there is a “crossover” between fascism and revolutionary causes, conflates opposition to NATO with post-war fascism and claims that Earth First! has at some times in its history bolstered white supremacism through its appeals to Nordic paganism.

Not everyone was impressed. One online reviewer complained that the work “was absolutely ruined by a nearly complete lack of citations to back up the claims that were being made. As a result I had to do outside research to learn about the things that were being discussed, and when I did I discovered that many of the claims being made were exaggerations, manipulations, or outright lies”.

Anyway, that very same anti-fascist hero, Alexander Reid Ross, was back in ideological action on April 17 2018 with an article in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

This is entitled “How Assad’s War Crimes Bring Far Left and Right Together – Under Putin’s Benevolent Gaze”. The sub-heading declares: “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”.

A clue to Ross’s stance comes from the fact that the term “anti-imperialist” has been placed in scare quotes, as if this political position didn’t actually exist!

He writes: “In recent months, the crossover between leftists and the far-right in defense of Syria’s tyrant and Russian geopolitics has become increasingly obvious. Its implications are potentially disastrous for the course of the international left and political society in general.”

This is nonsense of course. The fact that some far-rightists oppose war on Syria does not invalidate left-wing opposition to the attacks, any more than the fact that some far-rightists support Palestinian rights and criticise Israel means that leftists should stop criticising Israel and should instead applaud the IDF when they murder unarmed protesters.

Ross is reading from exactly the same ideological script as the likes of Norman Geras, Ornella Guyet, James Bloodworth, Antideutsch and the smear-piece on the BBC site.

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.

Ross really lets the cat out of the bag with his comments on the UK’s Labour Party, where he notes that “its leader Jeremy Corbyn’s controversial comments on the Skripal case brought widespread condemnations” and remarks on “Labour’s tepid response to the Douma attacks and Corbyn’s rejection of any humanitarian grounds for military action”.

Hang on! Let’s just read that again! Self-proclaimed anti-fascist Alexander Reid Ross is complaining about “Labour’s tepid response” to the alleged gas attack in Douma and its “rejection of any humanitarian grounds for military action”?

Doesn’t that sound more like the opinion of a right-wing neoliberal war hawk?

Ross’s article certainly raised the suspicions of Robbie Martin, aka @FluorescentGrey, on Twitter.

He pointed out that Ross uses a quote from Caroline O, aka @RVAwonk whom Ross describes as a “public scholar”.

On her Twitter account she identifies herself as Writer/Editor @Shareblue Media: “We tell real-world stories to give voice to the heroes fighting for American values”.

Caroline O is a great supporter of Hamilton 68, the surveillance project which claims to “track Russian propaganda” but in fact amounts to a McCarthyite system of blacklisting people whose views don’t please the neoliberal establishment.

As she tweeted on September 1, 2017: “Hamilton 68 is a great project. I’m hoping to see it expanded even more. I can see a lot of potential for it [to] grow.”

The Hamilton 68 dashboard was launched as part of the Alliance for Securing Democracy (ADS), which is  described in its Wikipedia entry as a “transatlantic national security advocacy group”.

The ASD is “chaired and run primarily by former senior United States intelligence and State Department officials” and the Washington Post called the membership of the advisory council “a who’s who of former senior national security officials”.

It is part of the German Marshall Fund of the United States which, as we explained in Acorn 39, aims to maintain “transatlantic values” in Europe.

Robbie Martin suggests that “Caroline O.’s main mission was to inject Alliance for Securing Democracy / Hamilton 68 into the neoliberal/resistance dialog, from people on that side of the argument she promoted it/pushed it more than anyone else I saw”.

He expresses surprise that Alexander Reid Ross would be “so nakedly working with the same people promoting Hamilton 68 / Alliance for Securing Democracy”.

With hindsight, it’s clear that the aim behind Alexander Reid Ross’s book Against the Fascist Creep was not to counter actual fascism, nor even to warn the left of the dangers of fascist infiltration, but to attack and undermine anti-capitalism by claiming its beliefs are tainted with fascist associations.

The real problem faced by anarchists and anti-capitalists is Neoliberal Creep – or, in fact, a whole network of neoliberal creeps, hell-bent on ideological sabotage.

So what can we do all about this? How can we resist these attempts to cripple the cohesion, credibility and effectiveness of genuine anti-capitalism, anarchism and anti-imperialism?

The first thing to do is to talk about it, as we are doing here. We need to take a good look at where these fake left voices are coming from, understand why they spread certain memes and sow confusion around certain issues.

There is the possibility, in fact, that in breaking cover and making their propaganda so obvious, they have already hammered a nail into the coffin of their own political effectiveness. We can hammer in another few nails by spreading awareness of what they are up to.

We also need to talk about what it is we really believe in, what we are hoping for, how we define ourselves in relation to Western capitalist modernity and the global neoliberal military-industrial-prison complex.

We need to talk honestly and seriously, ignoring the ideological smears, shaking ourselves free from the fearful group-think that stifles free thought and discussion in the name of a phoney “consensus”. This received opinion has often in fact been injected into movements by elements out to manipulate and destroy it.

Yes, of course we need to remain constantly alert to the possibility that we may inadvertently find ourselves voicing the same views on specific issues as people whose general politics we do not appreciate and that they might be deliberately attempting to use us to advance their own unsavoury messages.

To combat this, we need to state clearly where we stand. We at Winter Oak, for example, place ourselves firmly and proudly in the anti-fascist tradition. We are committed to its values of internationalism, equality, solidarity, mutual aid, anti-militarism, anti-sexism and anti-racism and we will never work with anyone who does not at least share these basic values.

If we all adhere to similar principles, we have no reason to fear the toxic smears coming from the likes of Ross.

Meanwhile, those liberals in our midst who agree with the Washington-approved definition of “democracy”, with the profit-guided “progressive values” of capitalism, with its insane obsession with endless economic “growth” and with its deceitful “humanitarian” warmongering imperialism, may well decide to stop associating with a revolutionary global struggle for liberation which opposes all of these.

So be it.

Do we really want to have anything to do with them, anyway?

Related articles:

Criminalising anti-capitalism

The CIA and the war of ideas

So who’s behind all the propaganda?

Fake democracy – neoliberals ramp up information war

Extremists of the neoliberal “centre”

Time’s up for the fake neoliberal “left”

Attacks on Antifa

Exposed: fake “left-wingers” who hate the alternative media

The murky world of US “counter-disinformation”

Fake news and propaganda wars

The system is losing control

Witch hunt: antisemitism smears are ideological warfare

Conspiracies and contamination

Complete control: “cleaning up” the internet

Deconstructing our resistance?

 

The Acorn – 41

acornmastheadnew1

Number 41


In this issue:

  1. It’s war: neoliberalism versus humanity
  2. Planting the seeds of hope
  3. Resist the G7 in Montreal!
  4. So who’s behind all the propaganda?
  5. Acorninfo

1. It’s war: neoliberalism versus humanity

A civil war is breaking out between the neoliberal system and anyone who dares to resist its global stranglehold on power and wealth.

The insight came this week from a supporter of the Zad autonomous zone at Notre-Dame-des-Landes in France, as an army of cops were sent in by the French state to destroy it, even though Macron’s government has abandoned plans to build a new airport there (see Acorn 40).

But it could have come from one of the many student occupations against the neoliberal French state, which have been coming under increasing attack from gangs of fascist thugs tacitly encouraged by the authorities, or indeed from the railway workers striking in the face of a Thatcher-style assault on the trade union movement.

It could equally have come from Kurdistan, from Palestine, from Catalonia, from Brazil… All across the world the “democratic” gloves are coming off, the “news” is revealing itself to be nothing but desperate propaganda, the “freedom” capitalism claims to deliver is being exposed to one and all as a hollow lie.

Dissident individuals challenging the Empire are systematically victimised, smeared and marginalised, while rebel movements are repressed with brute violence.

The attack on the Zad began under cover of darkness, in the early hours of Monday April 9. This long-planned assault involves 2,500 militaristic gendarmes, armoured vehicles, lorries, cattle trucks, helicopters, and hundreds of riot police on stand-by in nearby Nantes and Rennes.

Said Hervé Kempf on the Reporterre website: “The disproportionate means being used shows that what is being lived out at the Zad threatens the neoliberal system: the possibility of existing in a different way, of choosing co-operation rather than competition, of organising ourselves without hierarchies, of resolving conflicts with the police or judicial system, of sharing the commons in harmony with what we call nature, of living simply, of freeing ourselves from the servitude of money…

“Has this been achieved at the Zad? You couldn’t say that. But we are really trying and there is plenty of evidence to show that there truly is a magnificent alternative there, a window opened in the suffocating wall of capitalism. The mission of the 2,500 robocops sent by the banker president is to destroy all possibility of living differently.

“And it goes further than that. What’s happening at Notre-Dame-des-Landes is part of a general war being waged by the oligarchy against the world’s peoples. Current headlines show us how Lula, the spokesperson for the Brazilian poor, has been imprisoned after a bizarre legal process, or how the Israeli state has killed protesters and journalists in the Gaza Strip. These are the latest outbursts of a global wave of authoritarianism on the part of the ruling classes. Almost the whole of Latin America (Brazil, China, Argentina, Peru, Guatemala…) has come under the control of hardline regimes imposing the neoliberal agenda.

“In Egypt, in the Philippines, in Poland, in India, in dozens of countries, we find this same powerful force being used to defend the interests of the oligarchy and destroy the environment in the name of growth. Europe is moving more and more towards this new model of authoritarian oligarchy. A global civil war is in fact breaking out, a war being waged by the ruling classes against peoples dazzled in the headlights of globalisation and against any pockets of resistance to the capitalists’ shock strategy.”

Live blog on Zad evictions

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2. Planting the seeds of hope

“A person alienated from nature is alienated from and is destroying himself, and no system has shown this connection more clearly than capitalist modernity.

“The connections between the market economy, exploitation, destruction of nature, war and migration show what the result is when centralist and hierarchical systems try to subjugate nature.

“Instead of tackling the cause of the destruction of nature, capitalism itself, the symptoms are treated instead. The land must be defended or there will not be a place for the revolution.”

With the tragedy of the fall of Afrin to Turkish forces, and the death of Anna Campbell, a much-loved anarchist comrade from Sussex, these words from the Internationalist Commune of Rojava are a reminder of what is at stake in Kurdistan.

As at Notre-Dame-des-Landes, or in Chiapas, we have been witnessing one of those rare and beautiful flowerings of human autonomy and hope in the face of the relentless Machine of profit, greed and war that is destroying life and happiness in our world.

While sometimes the forces of Empire are happy to exploit certain struggles for their own short-term ends, they know they cannot allow them to flourish and thus encourage others.

They will always try to crush the tender shoots of resistance, unleashing their mercenary thugs and fascist puppets against us.

But resistance is life itself. It renews, shoots back up through the cracks in the capitalist concrete, time and time again, in different places, different generations, different forms.

Nobody struggles in vain. Nobody suffers in vain. Nobody dies in vain. Every banner waved, every street reclaimed, every offensive launched, is another seed planted in the soil of our victory over the capitalist system.

Anna Campbell

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3. Resist the G7 in Montreal!

A call-out has been made for resistance to the  2018 G7 summit in Québec.

The neoliberal capitalist showpiece is taking place from June 8 to 9, and will convene seven of the most powerful countries in the world at the Manoir Richelieu in La Malbaie.

Say the anti-G7 resistance network in Montreal: “If we don’t choose to resist the State and the Bosses, we’re setting ourselves up once more for a passive role in the pageantry of this large-scale spectacle.

“In a luxurious manor protected by fences and the police, these misogynists will talk about gender equality; these militarists will talk about peace; these capitalists will talk about ecology – all without any effort to consult us.

“What the G7 Summits actually do is decide the world organization of the capitalist economy according to the interests of the banks, and the oil, agri-food, pharmaceutical, technological, armaments, and other large conglomerates.

“The G7 is proving to be one of the neoliberal states’ symbolic meetings that legitimize the richest 1% of the world’s population by creating and maintaining social and economic inequalities.

“All over the world, the workers, the unemployed, the stateless, the exploited, and those left behind in the capitalist system are indignant at this farce that will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, and refuse to let it be legitimized by those who benefit from it.

“We believe it is time to unite and refuse this absurdity to make our voices heard. It is time to mobilize, to protest, and to resist the system manipulated by the privileged!

“The  status  quo  is  death.  Capitalism  is  creating  global  apartheid,  imperialist war, and the destruction of life on Earth. Fear has to switch sides: let’s make our affinity groups and protest in June, together, against the G7.”

The RRAG7 will hold a festive collective march against the G7, extractivism, and borders in the evening on Thursday, June 7 in Quebec City. It is also calling for a day of disruption of the G7 summit on Friday, June 8 in the Quebec City area.

Contact info@antig7.org

An English-language anti-G7 journal can be found here.

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4. So who’s behind all the propaganda?

Acorn readers will probably have noticed for themselves that the UK media have been in all-out propaganda mode in recent weeks.

Whether it’s Syria or the Labour Party, Israel or Russia, the old-fashioned model of subtly biased journalism has been ditched in favour of a crude torrent of right-wing bile.

One enthusiastic participant in this wave of warmongering rhetoric has been a London outfit called 89up.

It describes itself as “Europe’s first impact agency”, adding: “We campaign for great causes, build technology, tackle complex problems & inspire action. We run campaigns to make the world a more open, pluralistic, and democratic place. Our services ensure that charities, NGOs and not-for-profits make real change.”

89up weighed into the “great cause” of whipping up hatred of Russia in February by submitting a report to MPs investigating the role of “fake news” which claimed that “Russian propaganda” had been crucial in the Brexit vote.

Tellingly, The Daily Mail described 89up not as an “impact agency” but as a “communication and social media analytics company”, creating the impression that they were somehow merely professional observers.

Then in March, 89up hit the headlines again with another fab idea for making the world “a more open, pluralistic, and democratic place”.

It was such a “great cause”, that 89up’s boss Michael Harris couldn’t resist congratulating himself on Twitter for having got it into The Daily Mirror. “I am so proud of this”, he boasted.

And what was the plan? Taking legal action to stop those dreadful Russians from hosting the World Cup this summer.

Sadly for Harris, the British public seemed to find this marvellous cause less than inspiring – at the time of writing, the first 11 days of fundraising had notched up a mere £90 of 89up’s £10,000 goal.

Harris was back in action on April 3, tweeting indignantly against any idea that the UK shouldn’t have escalated tensions against Russia in the absence of any actual evidence showing that they were behind the Salisbury poison case.

He profited from the opportunity to have a dig at the Labour Party, in language reminiscent of the Cold War propaganda against the USSR.

“So the UK shouldn’t have ‘escalated tensions’? Bearing in mind how pathetic the British government’s response was, calls for a weaker response by a Labour MP will be music to the Kremlin’s ears”

Now all this wouldn’t be too surprising if you were starting from the assumption that Michael Harris was just another foaming-at-the-mouth Tory jingoist spouting the usual right-wing line.

But what is interesting is that the 35-year-old in fact presents himself to the world as residing elsewhere on the political spectrum.

His Twitter profile, for instance, declares his interest in “free speech, digital rights, freedom” and proudly announces that he was a Labour councillor for Lewisham from 2010 to 2014.

Between those same years, he was also Head of Advocacy at Index on Censorship.

Michael Harris

Harris is the sole director of 89up, which owns Little Atoms, a magazine which defines its “duty” as “defending rationalism, science and free inquiry” and appears at first glance to be vaguely on the left.

However it in fact purveys a strangely skewed view of the world, as we remarked back in 2015.

In particular, its writers particularly resent any criticism of the USA and the neoliberal system it champions. And, of course, they can always be relied on to despise Uncle Sam’s current enemies, whether that be Putin, Assad or Corbyn.

So where exactly is Michael Harris coming from?

In a 2016 newspaper article extolling the virtues of billionaire George Soros, Harris felt obliged to declare an interest, admitting: “Yes, many of the campaigns I’ve worked on previously have been part-funded by Soros”.

His admiration for his sponsor remains intact in 2018. Harris tweeted on February 7 that Soros “is in my humble opinion one of the 20th centuries [sic] great heroes”.

Harris’s hero: George Soros

Indeed, 89up’s site boasts that it was “the sole communications agency for Best for Britain”, the “Remain” pressure group funded by Soros.

Beyond that, Harris’s LinkedIn profile declares that he has “excellent political and media connections, with a strong knowledge of the workings of government and international bodies”.

This rather vague statement is obviously open to more than one interpretation.

His profile also states that he is “one of only two Britons to be selected for the prestigious US State Department ‘Young Leaders of the Future’ programme”.

Interesting.

The murky world of US “counter-disinformation”

Time’s up for the fake neoliberal “left”

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5. Acorninfo

A couple of top days out for anarchists are coming up. On Sunday May 6 there is the Norwich Anarchist Bookfair, from 2pm to 11pm at Bedfords Crypt, 1 Old Post Office Yard, Bedford Street, NR2 1SL. Then on Saturday May 12 it’s the Bristol Anarchist Bookfair, 11am to 6pm at City Academy, Russell Town Avenue.

* * *

“It is time to name the disease. Capitalism is a cancer. And the only way to defeat this cancer is to completely transform our way of living and our way of thinking about ourselves.” So says US actor and activist James Cromwell in this online video interview.

* * *

Seven myths about the police have usefully been outlined on the Gatorna website. 1. The police exercise legitimate authority. 2. The police are ordinary workers just like us; they should be our allies. 3. Maybe there are some bad apples, but some police officers are good people. 4. Police can win any confrontation, so we shouldn’t antagonize them. 5. Police are a mere distraction from the real enemy, not worth our wrath or attention. 6. We need police to protect us. 7. Resisting the police is violent—it makes you no better than them. Go to the site to see these myths duly debunked.

* * *

Power Trip: Fracking in the UK is new hour-long video from Undercurrents which goes on to the frontlines of UK resistance to the toxic industry, from Sussex to Lancashire. It can be seen online here and there are public screenings on Thursday April 12 at SOAS university London, Thursday April 26 in Pulborough, Sussex, Wednesday May 9 in Manchester (TBC), Friday May 18 at  St Paul’s West Hackney, London and the weekend of May 19-20 at Wood festival, Oxfordshire. To arrange a local screening contact Undercurrents via their website.

* * *

Tuesday April 17 is International Day of Peasants’ Struggles and there will be a protest in Brussels under the slogan “Free Farmers from Free Trade Agreements! MERCOSUR, CETA, JEFTA are a deathblow!” Say organisers: “Breaches of peasant rights, which outrageously happen on a daily basis, are on the rise due to free trade agreements which only serve the interests of multinationals.” The protest starts at 9am at the Belgian city’s Schuman Roundabout.

* * *

The nightmare assault on our countryside being carried out in the name of technological advance has reached new levels. It has now emerged that bringing high-speed mobile phone coverage and internet to rural Britain will require at least 400,000 extra masts, many of which will need to be 80ft high, experts have predicted. And this will all be in the name of 5G, which is aimed to imprison us within a totalitarian Internet of Things, involving everything from automated cars to smart meters tracking and controlling every detail of our home lives.

* * *

England! I fucking weep for you. England, I could have died for you. But
Lazy corruption and the acceptance of third-rate propaganda has done for you
Eaten away at you…
And the Jerusalem of Blake’s imaginings
Has become a Photostat of an apartheid state
Third-rate, mean-spirited and devoid of blissful dreaming

Panic Room by The Mighty Ur

* * *

Acorn quote: “The acceptance of progress meant replacing faith in the wisdom of our ancestors by the conviction of their ignorance”.

Keith Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic

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

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The Acorn – 40

acornmastheadnew1

Number 40


In this issue:

  1. Stop fracking before it’s too late!
  2. An airport defeated, a capitalist system still to be toppled
  3. The murky world of US “counter-disinformation”
  4. Time’s up for the fake neoliberal “left”
  5. Acorninfo

1. Stop fracking before it’s too late!

The fight against fracking in the north of England is to be dramatically intensified with three months of intense direct action against the sinister and toxic industry.

The newly-launched United Resistance group is promising significant levels of activity, starting in April, when Cuadrilla says it expects to begin fracking at its Preston New Road site near Blackpool.

Say United Resistance: “The situation is urgent and it is only a united and powerful resistance that will halt fracking before it’s too late – and we’re on the threshold of it being too late.

“If the industry performs a ‘frack job’ then the damage is done and stopping them becomes a far greater challenge.

“Sites across the UK are making a stand with residents taking part in community meetings, rallies and non-violent direct actions; here in Lancashire, we know that Cuadrilla intends on pushing the chemicals, silica sand and vast quantities of water underground between April and July.”

“We are asking nothing more of you than your body and if you can’t bring us this… then your online shares, letter writing, local actions and events… but mostly, we need you here with us for any part of  three months of targeted resistance starting 2nd April 2018.”

Campaigner Tina Rothery’s blog reveals that the initiative will see different groups ‘adopting’ a week each in order to bring about maximum resistance to the fracking industry.

She says: “The first week has been adopted by the women of Nanashire as well as women from the weekly Call for Calm, the local area, other groups and camps”.

Tina calls on women to take time off work and arrange care so that they can be available at Preston New Road in Lancashire “to exercise our lawful right to peaceful protest and non-violent action”.

Meanwhile, in Yorkshire, Frack Free Ryedale and Frack Free United have organised a series of talks in eight villages about INEOS’s shale gas exploration plans in the area – for full details see the Drill or Drop website.

Opponents of fracking point to the large number of fracking bans, moratoria and restrictions across Europe, “every single one of them powered by ordinary people standing up against a corrupt political system”.

As one local group in Yorkshire put it: “We can do this – standing together against fracking is the only way we can make a difference and stop the destruction of our beautiful villages and countryside”.

There are strong signs that the battle is winnable. When Conservative-controlled Derbyshire County Council rejected INEOS plans to explore for shale gas at Bramleymoor Lane in the village of Marsh Lane on Monday February 5, it was the fourth time in under a fortnight that an English council had opposed shale gas plans.

The message is clear and simple: people power can defeat fracking. And the death-breathing industrial capitalist dragon of which it is just one poisonous fang.

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2. An airport defeated, a capitalist system still to be toppled

A huge victory party is being staged at Notre-Dame-des-Landes near Nantes in France on Saturday February 10, after the French state finally abandoned plans to build a new airport there after 50 years of resistance and occupation.

Now the struggle will revolve around resisting the authorities’ declared intention of evicting the ZAD autonomous zone which was the focal point of the successful long-term campaign.

There has already been a reaction amongst more radical campaigners against the idea that now the airport has been scrapped, everyone can pack up and go home happy.

Said one statement: “True, the airport project has been abandoned… Certainly, it is a victory for the struggle against the airport of Notre-Dame-des-Landes.

“But many of us have fought and supported the struggle against the airport and its world. The capitalist world, to tell the truth, the world of economic and social inequalities, the world of oppression and exclusion. Is this struggle victorious? And if it is not, how can it still radiate towards other struggles against useless and imposed mega projects?

“Since January 17, we are no longer fighting against this airport, but we are still fighting against its world and its allies. What is happening now in this struggle is also happening in many other struggles, environmental or social.”

The ZAD Forever website says, regarding February 10: “We will celebrate the fact that this unique landscape of forests, fields and wetlands will never be turned into a giant machine for burning the climate, never!

“It is also is a victory of all those who have put their bodies in the way of the machines for decades, a victory for a truly popular movement that brought so many differences together into a rich composition, a victory for an unimaginable diversity of tactics from sabotage to petition writing, direct action to mass demos, it a victory for all those who live on within this bocage (the name of this specific type of landscape, a rich chequerboard of small fields, hedgerows and forests) and are trying to reinvent forms of life together, despite capitalism and the state.

“The 10th of February will a day to celebrate the burying of the project, to show that the ZAD is here to stay, that we are going to continue to grow roots deep down into this territory and to demonstrate our solidarity with other struggles against destructive projects around the world”.

People are being invited to bring saplings, bushes and shrubs to plant and enrich the hedgerows and to come dressed for carnival in Green One style.

“Marching bands, a giant fire-breathing salamander and other mythical beasts, will lead the crowds through the zone towards a convergence point where everyone is invited to put effigies (in wood, paper or cardboard) of unwanted projects against which they are resisting into a giant bonfire with a big surprise at its heart ! With a plethora of musicians, bands and invited Dj’s, we will dance and feast together late into the night.”

The joint press release put out by a range of airport opponents on January 17 declared: “This is an historical victory against a destructive project. This was made possible thanks to a long mobilisation that has been both diverse and determined.

“First of all, we’d like to sincerely thank everyone that mobilised against this airport project over the past 50 years.

“As regard to the future of the ZAD, the whole movement would like to confirm the following points:

“The need for the farmers and people that were expropriated to recover their rights as soon as possible

“The refusal of any eviction of those who came here over the last few years to live and defend the place, and who wish to continue living here and look after the area.

“The will to let the various actors of the struggle (farmers, naturalists, locals, groups, people that have lived here for a long time or have just joined us) handle, on the long term, the land/fields of the ZAD.”

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3. The murky world of US “counter-disinformation”

More light has been shed on the murky network of dodgy organisations behind the current anti-Russian and “fake news” hysteria, designed (as we explained in Acorn 39) as the perfect pretext for a fascistic clamp-down on all online news and views unwelcome to the global capitalist elite.

On this side of the Atlantic, it has emerged that the European Commission’s “High Level Expert Group” investigating unauthorised news is, as the anti-capitalist commentator Civic Critic points out, “made up of Google, Facebook and Twitter employees, plus appointees chosen by centrist US-aligned media”.

And in the USA on January 10 a significant Senate report on the subject was unveiled, which dresses up its real agenda with a flurry of inflated claims about Russia’s “malign influence operations”.

Corporate media such as CNN faithfully lapped all this up, of course, and gushed obligingly about “Russia’s arsenal of military invasions, disinformation campaigns and corruption, and its weaponization of energy resources”.

But, more significantly, the report calls on companies such as Facebook and Twitter to be held more “accountable” because “social media platforms are a key conduit of disinformation that undermines democracies”.

Read that last quote again! This is chilling stuff. In neoliberal language, “disinformation campaigns” which “undermine democracies” of course include factual reports which happen to reveal inconvenient truths about US military and economic global domination.

The agenda is clear. The genie of uncensored information unleashed by the internet is threatening neoliberal power and must urgently be pushed back into the totalitarian bottle of elite control.

The “who” and “where” of the Senate report’s presentation are also useful indicators of the political agenda which fuels its claims.

It was unveiled to the world by veteran US Democrat politician Ben Cardin, whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s forthcoming election opponent.

Ben Cardin launches the report

Cardin is known for his vehemently pro-Israel stance. As The Intercept points out, “Cardin’s crowning achievement came last year when he authored a bill that would have made it a felony to support a boycott of Israel”.

And the “where”? Cardin launched the report at the HQ of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, which, as we reported in Acorn 39, has been leading the propaganda campaign against so-called fake news, partly through its front organisation, the Alliance for Securing Democracy.

Following on from our articles, we have been pointed towards some further fascinating information about the GMF on the Powerbase website.

It notes that the GMF was conceived during the Cold War to tie Europe to the United States and was “a breeding ground for journalists, university students and politicians committed to Atlantism”.

The GMF was set up in 1972 at a time of widespread protest against the US war in Vietnam, it adds. The Red Army Fraction had just attacked the US Army HQ in Heidelberg to destroy the strategic computer that controlled its bombers in South-East Asia.

“It was also the time of the strategy of tension whereby NATO secret services manipulated right and left-wing factions to encourage a more authoritarian government.

“The idea behind the Fund was that it would facilitate the identification and recruitment of new ‘messengers of Atlantism’. With the collapse of the cold war the neoconservatives have reactivated the Atlantic networks, to use in their own project dominated by two terms coined by Joseph Nye: ‘Neo-liberalism’ and ‘soft power’.”

In the light of all this, it comes as little surprise to discover, on a close reading of the report, that talk of the so-called “threat” from Russia is nothing but a thinly-disguised geopolitical call for action to defend US global corporate imperialism.

It claims, for instance, that bogeyman Putin has “made it a priority of his regime to attack the democracies of Europe and the United States and undermine the transatlantic alliance upon which Europe’s peace and prosperity have depended upon for over 70 years”.

It also says the US government should continue to oppose the construction of their rivals’ Nord Stream 2 pipeline, “a project which significantly undermines the long-term energy security of Europe and the economic prospects of Ukraine”.

So that’ll be the famous “weaponization of energy resources” – moves which undermine European states’ complete dependence on the US capitalist system.

The same twisted Cold War mentality also sees the report claim that the European anti-fracking movement is being secretly supported by the Russians, in order to keep the continent “more dependent on Russian supplies”.

Anti-fracking Nanas in Lancashire – part of Putin’s fiendish plot to undermine the transatlantic alliance?

And all the talk of “fake news” really concerns a propaganda war being waged by the US to maintain the economic, military and cultural occupation of Europe, originally just Western Europe, that it has maintained since the end of the Second World War.

When the report writes of “disinformation and conspiracy theories that seek to undermine European institutions like the EU and NATO” that’s what it’s all about. Control. From the US imperialist point of view, any information that threatens its interests is automatically “disinformation”. Any analysis of the underhand activities of the CIA, NATO etc is automatically “conspiracy theories”. Any news it doesn’t like is automatically “fake news”.

The talk of dastardly Russian attempts to “break centrist consensus” by supporting “extreme” political parties reflects US fears that its own placemen (“centrists” like Tony Blair and Emmanuel Macron) will no longer be able to ensure that Europe is under the American military-corporate thumb.

The language is coded but nevertheless clear. “Democratic” always translates as “capitalist”, while “transatlantic values” refer to the US strings attached to European puppet-politics, as in the statement that “Merkel’s Germany has led the defense of transatlantic values that underlie open, democratic societies”.

The report makes it plain that any method is considered fair in this propaganda war in defence of the US Empire, talking blatantly about creating “narratives” that suit US objectives.

It states at one point: “The RAND analysts also recommend not just countering the actual propaganda, but its intended effects. For example, if the Kremlin is trying to undercut support for a strong NATO response to Russian aggression, then the West should promote narratives that strengthen support for NATO and promote solidarity with NATO members facing threats from Russia.”

So what would “promoting a narrative” involve, then? Inventing threats from Russia to drum up support for NATO? It certainly sounds that way!

It’s interesting to note that the report itself does not talk about the US publishing information, as in true information, to counter “Russian disinformation”, but rather something called “counter-disinformation”.

The hub for this, it tells us, is the Global Engagement Center, within the State Department, which is “tasked with coordinating counter-disinformation efforts across the US government”.

It includes personnel from the Department of Defense, Department of Treasury, National Security Agency, National Counterterrorism Center, the Broadcasting Board of Governors and, of course, the CIA.

In case there were any lingering doubts about what kind of “fake news” and “disinformation” the CIA and its chums are keen to stamp out, there are a couple of telling mentions of President Macron of France, a particular favourite of the neoliberal establishment.

The report complains that “during the French presidential elections, Sputnik reported on unfounded rumors about the sexual preferences of the pro-EU candidate, Emmanuel Macron”.

It adds later: “Reports disseminated by these outlets and on pro-Kremlin social media had variously decried Macron as a puppet of US political and business leaders, alleged he held an offshore account in the Bahamas to evade taxes, and fueled rumors of an extra-marital gay relationship, which Macron publicly denied.”

Obviously any suggestion that Macron is a puppet of the US (and in fact a product of the US Marshall Memorial Fellowship scheme!) is the sort of dreadful slander that should never be allowed to see the light of day in any self-respecting freedom-loving centrist democracy, committed to transatlantic values.

Macron is much appreciated in Washington, DC

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4. Time’s up for the fake neoliberal “left”

A powerful backlash is underway against the ideological sabotage which has been undermining anti-capitalism for the last few decades.

Since the turn of the century, radical political thought in the West has increasingly been infected by self-defeating tendencies which destroy its coherency and energy from the inside.

But now it  is starting to shake off the debilitating intellectual malady and is reasserting its own inspiring vision of a world beyond capitalism.

People are turning their backs on the defeatist analysis that suggests there is no point in identifying and opposing the current system and its ruling class.

They are refusing to sign up to an ultra-liberal pseudo-radical agenda which promotes individualism in a fake-leftist guise and which can only imagine collective levels of oppression and resistance within the limits of the intersectionality of purely individual experiences.

One important recent intervention came from the anarchist thinker Miguel Amorós in the course of two talks in Mexico in November.

Here he strongly criticised postmodernism, which he described as the first ever philosophy not to be based on the love of truth. Instead it relativises the idea, regarding it as a mere “construct” – something artificial and with no real foundation.

The logical conclusion of this kind of thinking, he warns, is that no universal value or concept will be considered valid. “Being, reason, justice, equality, solidarity, community, humanity, revolution and emancipation will all be classed as ‘essentialist’, in other words as ‘pro-nature’ abominations”.

Amorós noted that, although it pretends to be radical and has infected anarchist thinking, the postmodern philosophy amounts to “nihilism in harmony with the Markets, for which anything without economic value is of little importance”.

The contemporary “intersectional game of oppressed minorities” is replacing a collective resistance to established power, warned Amorós.

Miguel Amorós is pictured on the right

He said this was the latest stage of a historical sabotage of authentic opposition to industrial capitalism, that had begun at the end of the 1960s.

“Once the revolutionary subject had been neutralised in practice, it had to be suppressed in theory, so that its struggles might remain isolated, marginalised and incomprehensible, wrapped up in a brain-sapping, self-referential waffle designed only for the initiated. That was the task of French Theory.”

A similar message comes in an article by Sandra C. in the French-language anti-capitalist bulletin Négatif, in which she condemns the “insidious influence exerted on left-wing circles for many years by the postmodernist theory and cultural studies”.

Sandra C. writes: “By abandoning the concept of exploitation in favour of an analysis based on relationships of domination, by abandoning universalism for a defence of particularism and by abandoning the idea of a revolutionary and universal proletariat, so-called radical activists find themselves far away, poles apart even, from the emancipatory politics they claim as their own.”

She describes postcolonialism as closely linked to postmodernism and criticises the attitudes associated with what is sometimes known as critical whiteness.

She says: “It is disconcerting to see so-called revolutionaries, taking on board a collective guilt for colonial exploitation and its crimes and feeling shamefully ‘European’, ‘French’, ‘white’ and ‘privileged’. Self-assigned identity-based labels dressed up with guilt are not the way to emancipation and are in fact just mirror images of the identities claimed by the extreme right.”

Elsewhere, US-based journalist and writer Andre Vltchek condemned the anti-revolutionary thinking of the contemporary Western left in a blog article on February 3.

He writes: “The European left betrayed as early as in the 1980’s, by becoming too soft, too undisciplined, too cautious and too self-centered. It put pragmatism above the ideals. It rapidly adopted the lexicon of the liberal ideological establishment, complete with Western perceptions of human rights, democratic principles and political correctness.

“It ceased to be revolutionary; it essentially stopped all revolutionary activities, and it abandoned the core element of any true left-wing identity – internationalism.”

Vltchek adds: “The Western left is much more part of the West than of the left.”

A German-language diagram has also been circulating on social media which draws a distinction between the “traditional” and the “new” left.

It contrasts the traditional left’s struggle on behalf the  majority of the population with the new left’s over-emphasis on minorities.

The traditional left is internationalist, calling for the workers of the world to unite against capitalism, but the new left tends to be globalist in the liberal sense, it says.

Whereas the traditional left is anti-fascist, anti-imperialist and anti-war, seeing fascism and militarism as aspects of the capitalist system, the phoney liberal left swallows the lie that there could be such a thing as a “humanitarian” war and that states which do not bow down to Western interests are basically dictatorships, fascist regimes that “we” have a moral duty to oppose.

The traditional left has always been against the power of financial capital, but for the new liberal left this position smacks of anti-Americanism, even anti-Semitism.

Freedom of opinion has always been a mainstay of traditional left-wing thought, since the Enlightenment, but the new left denies this freedom to any thinking which strays outside of its own values, the values of “the West”, it is further claimed.

The suggested differences between these two kinds of “left” stem from differences in ways of seeing the world and don’t necessarily apply to practical policies and sympathies.

The “old left” is far from indifferent to the plight of refugees, for instance, but does not regard their situation as something outside of the general conditions of capitalism, against which it is already fighting.

It includes the need to help migrants and oppose racism within its left-wing vision of the world, but it does not fetishise and separate off this particular aspect of the overall struggle, leaving it open to reformist recuperation.

We should acknowledge, at this point, that, in the past and today, some anti-capitalists have paid lip service to the idea of racism but have avoided facing up to the reality of racism as experienced by individual people. They have not properly considered how this shapes their vision of society, social movements and anti-capitalist struggle.

But this criticism has clearly been taken too far when “left-wing” ideologies end up rejecting the universalism which has always been the bedrock of the left’s internationalism and anti-racism.

It is, in fact, quite mysterious how the postmodernist critique of universalism has so easily been swallowed by swathes of the so-called left.

The argument is based on the way that, historically, European colonialists described their own values as “universal” to justify imposing them on the rest of the world.

But it is false logic to claim that because the term “universal” was misused in this way, it therefore has no validity.

The idea of human universality should be fundamental to any socialist, anarchist or communist view of the world. This is the bedrock of our opposition to racism, nationalism and all the other excuses for separating people, dividing them into categories, deciding that some have more “rights” than others.

It is closely linked to the idea of equality. From a universalist perspective, all human beings are equal.

Right-wingers have always, of course, deliberately misunderstood the idea of equality. They try to pretend that it means left-wingers want to “make everyone the same”, to create some kind of faceless totalitarianism which imposes this terrible equality on us all.

They refuse to accept that equality is perfectly compatible with diversity and simply means acknowledging the theoretical equal value of every single human being, whatever their particular characteristics.

The postmodernist argument against universalism is, effectively, this same stupid right-wing argument! It deliberately presents universalism as a way of imposing a certain model on people, of destroying diversity in the name of some kind of central control.

But this is just not true. Universality, like equality, comes from below, from within humankind. There is a human universality which bonds us. There is a human equality which unites us. Left-wing, particularly anarchist, thinking understands and embraces this.

Throwing out universalism from the anti-capitalist world-view sabotages it at a fundamental level. Reclaiming universalism is therefore the first stage in renewing the international ideological and political struggle against capitalism and all the fragmented, incoherent, disempowering philosophies that it spawns.

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5. Acorninfo

Thousands of people protested in Switzerland in January against the World Economic Forum at Davos, and the presence of US President Donald Trump (see preview in Acorn 39). The venue hosting the global elite was protected by thousands of troops and protests there were banned on the flimsy pretext that there was “too much snow” in the Alpine resort.

* * *

A big weekend of international solidarity with the struggle to defend Hambach Forest in Germany was staged on February 3 and 4. Reports Hambachforest.org: “From all across Germany, from Genoa, Amsterdam and Spain, from Bristol and countless other locations came solidarity demonstrations, soli photos , banner drops, actions and all other outpourings of support. The largest demo took place in Cologne. Large demonstrations also took part in Aachen and Essen.” Although tree felling is on temporary hold, the authorities are trying to evict the 20 tree-houses and 11 barrios which have been set up to block the mine’s expansion and levels of police repression are on the rise.

* * *

Campaigners in Italy are trying to halt the environmentally-destructive Trans Adriatic Pipeline project, which aims to bring gas from Azerbaijan via Greece and Albania. On February 6 the EU’s bank EIB approved a €1.5bn loan for the controversial TAP project. Commented Friends of the Earth Europe: “This will keep Europe hooked on fossil fuels for decades – just when we should be kicking our fossil fuel addiction”. But the fight in Italy goes on. Said the NoTap campaign on February 7: “The day after EIB’s criminal decision to finance a huge useless and anachronistic project, the population continues to fight against the realization of TAP”.

* * *

If you believed the industry’s propaganda, you’d probably imagine that opposition to fracking is a lot of fuss about nothing. The odd well here and there, what’s the problem? But can you imagine living in a town with 300 fracking wells, where asthma is rife and children can’t go out and play because of poison gas in the air? That’s the reality in the USA, where fracking has been allowed to get a hold, as illustrated in the excellent documentary Don’t Frack With Denton. A successful campaign earns a fracking ban, which is overturned by corrupt authorities, steering local activists towards direct action and anarchist principles. “We will be enforcing our ban here,” they declare. “Expect resistance!”

* * *

The UK’s Anarchist Action Network is next meeting in Bristol, from 1pm to 4pm on Sunday March 11. The session is being held at “Resist!” (previously known as “Kebele Community Co-Op”), in Robertson Road.  All anarchists welcome.

* * *

A planned road tunnel past Stonehenge, England’s most important prehistoric site, could spell the loss of a unique site nearby, that can trace the presence of people back to 8000 BC, reports The Guardian. Warned David Jacques, an archaeologist at the University of Buckingham: “The intention is that an 8m high flyover will be built next to the site. One of trenches is only 2m away from the road. They seem prepared to carry on no matter what. It’s a scandal that this is being rushed through.”

* * *

“In May 2015, a declassified Pentagon document provided shocking evidence that the US-led campaign in Syria not only contributed directly to the rise of the Islamic State (IS), but that Washington was perfectly satisfied with such an outcome.” This is one of ten “very curious facts” about ISIS published by Mint News Press on January 30. The rest are worth a look, as well.

* * *

“The future of humanity is the struggle between humans that control machines and machines that control humans… Undetectable mass social influence powered by artificial intelligence is an existential threat to humanity.” This was the stark warning from Wikileaks founder Julian Assange on January 18, 2018. But since he’s a known denier of transatlantic values, and a fugitive from liberal Western justice, everything he says can safely be dismissed as nothing more than extremist disinformation.

* * *

Acorn quote: “The social distinction that counts most in the present state of things is that based on wealth, that is to say on a purely outward superiority of an exclusively quantitative order”.

René Guénon, The Crisis of the Modern World

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

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