Paul Cudenec of Shoal Collective reports from Montpellier, France, on the first birthday of the Gilets Jaunes’ uprising
“I am not ashamed to feel afraid from time to time. I keep on coming, but I understand those who don’t come any more because they’re too frightened”.
So spoke Antoine, a 75-year-old Gilet Jaune marking the first anniversary of the Yellow Vest movement in the southern French city of Montpellier on Saturday November 16.
This was just one of many protests and occupations across the country (notably in Paris) marking the birthday weekend and paving the way for a big day of strikes and actions on December 5.
Antoine explained: “I’ve been here from day one and I’ve escaped police batons by a whisker on several occasions, even though my only weapons are my whistle and my gilet jaune!”
The last of these alarming encounters had come just the previous week in Montpellier, he said, when the “forces of order” had attacked the demo right at the start.
He had seen a riot policeman from the CRS bearing down on him, baton raised, but fortunately for the pensioner it was another protester who took the blow.
I had already noticed that the majority of the demonstrators gathering in the Place de la Comédie were not wearing the trademark yellow singlets, in the stark contrast to the last time I reported from Montpellier, and Antoine said this was because of the massive police violence which protesters had been facing over the months.
He was sure this was a deliberate strategy on behalf of the French state and felt that the previous week’s brutality was intended to dissuade people from taking part in the anniversary protest we were attending.
Julian, an observer with the Ligue des Droits de l’Homme, a human rights organisation, confirmed to me that the previous Saturday’s police behaviour had been particularly bad.
“There was kettling and teargassing right from the start, for the first time here and without there having been any violence”, he said. “The state really wanted to stop the demo. It was kettled for an hour and a half”.
He said there were some police who did their job properly, but others who certainly didn’t, particularly the plain-clothed BAC (Brigade anti-criminalité) units and the CDI (Compagnie départmentale d’intervention) for the Hérault area.
With this in mind, it was quite a relief when the demo, a couple of thousand strong, was able to form up and leave the elegant main city square without any visible police presence.
To the sound of drums, music and singing, we headed away from the narrow medieval city streets where the police would have been expecting us.
But as we surged in the bright Mediterranean sunshine across a bridge over the River Lez and into the suburbs, the seagulls circling overhead were accompanied by a police drone tracking our movements.
The protest paused for a moment at Place Ernest Granier, blocking cars and trams on this important intersection and then moved off again.
It was now clear that the target was the south coast motorway which runs through the outskirts of the city and, an hour after the march set off, it was met with a line of riot cops blocking the road ahead.
Not content with merely blocking the way, they advanced towards us and soon were raining volleys of tear gas cannisters down on the retreating protesters.
Quickly, a Plan B was hatched and hundreds of us streamed across a small park surrounded by housing estates to seek out another route to the motorway.
“Joyeux anniversaire!” sang the Gilets Jaunes in celebration of a whole year of joyful rebellion across the whole of this country.
Again, police vans turned up to block the way and more tear gas filled the air. Despite successful attempts to create traffic jams to halt the police’s progress, they caught up with us again a mile or so later and this time the protest was cut in two, with hundreds caught in a kettle.
The front part of the march ploughed on, still with the idea of blocking the motorway in mind, and came across the Village Jaune, a birthday-weekend occupation of the roundabout at Prés d’Arènes.
Here there were tents, a large gazebo, trestle tables, banners, yellow balloons and an astonishing level of honking and waving from passing motorists, confirming once again that this movement enjoys high levels of support from the French public, outside the dominant metropolitan elite.
What to do next? Some wanted to keep going for the motorway, some seemed happy to be on the roundabout and others wanted to head back and help out the part of the march kettled by police.
In the end, there was little choice. Police advanced at speed from two directions, the tear gas began coming again and protesters scattered.
The first year of this revolt has been a story of non-stop police repression, combined with the relentless sneering hostility of the corporate media. Can it succeed in the face of all that?
“Yes,” one Gilet Jaune, Ingrid, told me. “I am quite sure of that, otherwise we wouldn’t be here. We have to have hope. We want people to have a life, we want nobody to be sleeping on the streets, we want wealth to be shared.
“The government will give way. We just don’t know when!”
A fellow protester, Manon, said: “We’re still here because we have to keep on fighting. They are destroying everything.
“We have to do this despite the police repression. We are fighting for another world and this is what we find ourselves faced with. It’s totalitarian neoliberalism.
“We are fighting for people’s dignity. It is the same struggle everywhere, in Chile for example”.
Manon said the strength of the Gilets Jaunes movement was the way it brought together people from all sorts of backgrounds.
“We have created something completely different, a new generation of protesters. People have come together who would never have done so before”.
Antoine, who had spoken to me about the way police violence was scaring some people away from protesting, said he didn’t think it would work in the long run.
“I consider myself to be here as a representative of ten other people who have told me they are with me. Most people I know support the Gilets Jaunes.
“The aspects that motivate me are social justice and human rights, which exist less and less from one Saturday to the next.
“The Gilets Jaunes are much more representative of society as a whole than other movements I have been involved in, such as the trade unions”.
There were even people involved who considered themselves to be on the political right, he said, although he questioned whether this self-designation was accurate, given the nature of the cause they supported.
“The real right is that infernal couple of Macron and Le Pen”, he added, noting that Marine Le Pen, the far-right leader, had abandoned her early pretence of supporting the Gilets Jaunes and had since reverted to form by allying herself with a fascistic police trade union which defends the use of violence againt protesters.
Asked whether the movement could succeed, he insisted: “It has already succeeded, by bringing together people from very different backgrounds, which is something in itself”.
This last point was reinforced by my conversation with Damien, a 74-year-old who explained that he was a retired policeman who had once been part of the notorious BAC units which have been in the forefront of the recent repression.
He said former colleagues he had spoken to were now more or less just going through the motions, doing the minimum their job required.
Damien said he was involved from the very start of the Gilets Jaunes revolt. “I’ve come back for the anniversary,” he added. “I’m still very unhappy about what I’m seeing”.
Macron had managed to hold on to power by dividing people, he said, and by buying their collaboration.
“Personally, I have nothing to complain about because I have got a good pension. But I can’t stand seeing people working all their lives and having nothing to show from it.
“I am doing this for everyone. This is a movement which came from below. It was a little revolution and it needs to keep going, starting with December 5”.
We are well aware that there are many genuine grassroots activists involved in Extinction Rebellion protests, people we know are on our side.
But more and more questions are being asked about the nature of the organisation itself, about the true agenda of the leadership lurking behind a flimsy illusion of horizontality.
The non-existence of a mass radical anti-capitalist movement in the UK (let alone a radical ecological anti-capitalist one!) means that XR has appealed to a lot of people who have long been waiting for some kind of rebellion to finally emerge.
Perhaps they have been tolerant of XR’s eccentricities (starry-eyed love of the police, dogmatic non-violence bordering on control-freakery, connections with business interests, refusal to consistently condemn capitalism) because they are the only show in town and it is a question of XR or nothing.
The same is not true in France, though, where revolution is often in the air and where the last year has seen a full-on yellow-coloured challenge to the neoliberal state.
XR have been active there too, but their fake radicalism and lame submissiveness to authority has shocked many eco-radicals and anti-capitalists, who have been voicing their concerns online.
Reporting on the XR occupation in Châtelet, it said “Extinction Rebellion scuttled its own initiative in a total absence of strategic thinking and analysis of power struggles”.
It explained: “The ‘diversity of tactics’ working group on Wednesday evening had asked each of the six blockade points to start thinking about what we would say to the press, the authorities, the public, on the day that we were moved on.
“For instance, it was suggested, in the spirit of a convergence of struggles, that we say ‘we are not leaving without the passing of a law for carbon neutrality by 2025 and an amnesty for all activists incarcerated during the various Gilets Jaunes protests’. That would have been awesome.
“But the XR leadership decided, at a sparsely-attended assembly on Friday morning, October 11, to dismantle the camp, to move most of the equipment and to pull out from the six blockade points.
“In short, XR removed everything which made this public space a living space where we could discuss, debate, get to know each other.
“The given reason was, of course, the next day’s action, but anyone with a minimum of strategic sense should have seen that this camp, now that it was there, now that it had been reinforced by Gilets Jaunes and other anti-capitalist and environmental activists, the night before the weekend, had definite subversive potential. Predictably the action on Saturday October 12 was, on the other hand, a total flop”.
The article went on to comment: “This is not a case of ‘non-violent civil disobedience’ nor indeed of ‘obedience’ since there was no official warning from the police or the authorities. It was rather a case of servility: we ended the camp before even having been ordered to leave. This is exactly the opposite of struggle or rebellion”.
This described a General Assembly held at the protest near the National Assembly in Paris on October 12.
“Several people spoke up to protest against XR having abandoned, the previous day, the occupation of the Place du Châtelet and the response came that since people from outside XR had joined in the blockade and did not adhere strictly to the consensus of non-violent action, with barricades apparently having been built, XR could not condone these actions by being present. And in any case they had needed the gear and the activists for today’s (kettled) actions.
“It was announced that as the police kettle had started at 10h48, the police should be letting everyone go at 14h48 because the law, since the state of emergency, dictates a period of four hours’ detention. As if the police were going to respect the law!
“In the meantime, several activists suggested some activities until the moment of liberation: a talk about XR for newcomers, training in civil disobedience and non-violence, photos for social media showing activists lying on the ground forming the XR logo with their bodies, construction of a toilet area…”
A little later, reacting to the CRS riot police, “a group of people started to chant ‘no justice, no peace!’. Next to us, a ‘peace-keeper’ (an XR activist charged with ensuring action remained non-violent) shouted, despairingly: ‘No, you mustn’t say that!’ and a colleague replied, with contempt dripping from his lips, ‘That lot are Gilets Jaunes from Drôme’.”
So is there any hope that the XR protests will do some good and will not simply lead thousands of good-hearted people into a dead end?
The report from the Concorde Bridge in Paris, for all its criticism, did point to some positive possibilities.
The authors said that when the assembly broke into smaller groups, it became apparent that individuals were keen to break free from central XR control and act independently.
They added: “It was a rather pleasant surprise to see that many XR activists did not stay stuck in the XR box, did not shy away from more radical action, less focused on media PR, and were asking real political questions about the scope of these actions. As often happens, the grassroots could quickly outgrow the organisation”.
Imagine that somebody in your family falls ill, with a whole range of symptoms including breathing problems, extreme fatigue, stomach cramps, mental confusion and rashes on their skin.
Medical advice is initially unclear, until one doctor turns up who confidently announces that the skin issues are the core problem.
He produces loads of information of skin disease, refers you to all sorts of scientific studies and even starts referring to your family member’s illness as “the skin crisis”.
Others in the family pick up on this habit and soon all the other symptoms, some more troubling in fact, are half-forgotten.
One day this doctor phones up in great excitement declaring that he has found the solution to the skin crisis.
A new wonderdrug has been developed in the USA which, he says, will sort it out once and for all. The only trouble is that it is, as yet, only available privately.
When he tells you the price of a course of treatment with this new product, your heart falls. There is no way your family can afford that.
Don’t worry, he says. You could always remortgage your house, cut down on your living expenses, take out a loan. After all, this is an emergency.
The rest of your family are convinced by the doctor and start preparing to break open the piggy bank to pay for this miracle cure.
But you are not so sure. A friend puts you in touch with an alternative healer, who says the underlying problem is a general poisoning of the body.
What is needed is fresh air, plenty of water to drink, lots of exercise, a healthy non-industrial diet.
You try and persuade the rest of the family but they are scornful.
Next, your suspicions aroused, you do some online research into this new wonderdrug and the big pharmaceutical company which is selling it.
To your horror, you discover that your doctor is a paid adviser to a charity which is heavily lobbying for the new drug and lists among its “partners” the pharma company in question.
You alert the rest of your family but they say you’re being paranoid, that the doctor is a lovely fellow, totally trustworthy, and his advice must be followed.
You keep arguing the point. You point out that the new wonderdrug does not even pretend to address the other important symptoms and if the real issue is toxic overload, then it will only make the situation worse.
The family will be bankrupt and the patient still sick, probably even sicker. The only beneficiaries will be the pharma company and the doctor who is essentially on their payroll.
The whole thing is a scam, you tell them.
They are furious. They accuse you of claiming that the family member is only pretending to be ill, of being a disgusting and uncaring human being, a conspiracy theorist and “denier” whose selfish and “purist” stance can only delay or scupper the long-awaited skin cure.
This, as our quicker readers will have spotted, is pretty much the situation with the climate movement and those of us who dare to question the direction it is taking us.
The key, as we have said before, is the term “climate”. Why build a whole, supposedly environmental, movement around this single symptom of the industrial disease?
Could it be because, like the dodgy doctor above, the capitalists manipulating the movement have a “cure” on hand to sell to to us?
But this cure – this “Green Industrial Revolution” of electric cars and solar panels and wind turbines and carbon capture and “smart” everything – is not a cure at all.
It is a continuation of the industrial destruction, exploitation and pollution which has brought us to this terrible point.
It is not “purist” to point this out. It is essential, if we really want to defend the natural organism of which we are part, rather than just help kick-start a new and trendy branch of industrial capitalism.
Greta Thunberg’s first solo “school strike” back on August 20 2018 has become iconic in some circles.
Adoring fans insist that the lonely youngster’s charisma and determination, sitting on the pavement with her placards, forced the whole world to sit up and take notice.
If rich and powerful capitalists and politicians have since paid homage to her, they argue, it is only because they are running scared of the tidal wave of moral outrage the plucky Swede has unleashed.
But investigative journalist Cory Morningstar has highlighted some very interesting facts about that first Greta moment and the extraordinary way that some rather dubious people were already on board her climate bandwagon before it even left the pavement in Stockholm.
One of these was a certain Callum Grieve, who, on August 20 2018 itself, sent Greta a Twitter message declaring: “We’re right behind you. Stay strong”.
And who is Callum Grieve? His Linkedin profile says he is currently a “communications specialist” based in New York.
Grieve worked for five years for The Climate Group, which in 2014 launched We Mean Business in order to “catalyze action around climate change and bring it back to the top of the global agenda”.
Cory reports: “The founding partners of We Mean Business are Business for Social Responsibility, the B Team, Carbon Disclosure Project, Ceres, The Climate Group, the Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. Together, these entities represent the world’s most powerful corporations and investors”.
We Mean Business has made great use of Greta Thunberg’s name to promote “economic opportunity through bold climate action” and something it terms “new power”.
Grieve was communications director of We Mean Business from 2014 to 2016. At the same time he was director of This Is Counter Culture, sometimes described as being based in Edinburgh, although Companies House last had it listed in London.
On Linkedin, Grieve describes his role at This Is Counter Culture as selling “brand development, campaigns, storytelling” and the business’s Twitter account also boasts of its “good stories”.
A document on Changemakers.com reveals that its customers included “international corporations, small businesses, social enterprises, NGOs and government”.
This Is Counter Culture was voluntarily dissolved in the UK in December 2017 and its Twitter account last tweeted in May 2018.
Cory Morningstar has much more to say about Grieve – not least his connection to Christiana Figueres, the very powerful daughter of right-wing CIA-backed Costa Rican president “Don Pepe”. (See our own exposé ).
But let’s turn to another Day 1 Greta Thunberg fan, in fact the man who spoke to her on the pavement on that fateful day in August 2018 and tweeted the world about it.
This was Ingmar Rentzhog (above), CEO of the climate campaign network We Don’t Have Time. He also happens to be a PR professional, like Grieve.
Rentzhog founded Laika, a prominent Swedish communications consultancy firm providing services to the financial industry.
According to the Greta myth, he happened to come across her protest while walking to work and it was this piece of luck which ensured her voice was heard so widely.
Notes journalist Frank Chung: “Despite its name, We Don’t Have Time did have time to produce a short film about Ms Thunberg, which it posted to Facebook the next day”.
It also turns out not to be entirely coincidental that Rentzhog came across Greta’s little protest. He later admitted had already done PR work for her mother and was “tipped off” about the event in advance.
So the bottom line is this: from the very first day of her “rebellion”, Greta Thunberg was being promoted by two corporate PR professionals paid for their skills in “brand development” and “storytelling”.
Since then, of course, she has addressed the UN, the WEF, the European Parliament, featured on the cover of Time magazine, which named her a “next generation leader”, met Barack Obama and Emmanuel Macron and been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
This is all rather strange in a world where the usual reward for environmental activism is a criminal record.
We also recommend Kim Hill’s two-part analysis Unpacking Extinction Rebellion in which she also warns how climate campaigning is being exploited for capitalist profiteering – at the expense of the natural world it pretends to be protecting.
She writes: “This is the future that Extinction Rebellion is envisioning. These are the solutions that millions of people around the world have been marching in the streets to demand of their governments.
“Not to cut back on fossil fuel use. Not to protect wild nature. Not to repair and regenerate the land. Not to do anything at all to address the causes of climate change and extinction.
“Instead to save the very system that continues to wreak havoc on the land, sea, and air, and kill us off at a rate of 200 species a day.
“You might want to take a moment to let that sink in. I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling the need to go outside, and scream”.
The Oil and Gas Authority, which is supposed to regulate the controversial industry on behalf of the UK public, is nothing but a joke, a new article has confirmed.
Will Cottrell, chairman of the Brighton Energy Coop, takes a close look at the OGA in the run-up to the recent planning verdict on plans for five new wells at Horse Hill, Surrey.
He writes: “The OGA oversees drilling permissions around the country. Its self-professed mission is to ‘maximise the economic recovery of UK oil and gas’.
“Indeed, the OGA receives £5m of funding to do just that from the UK Treasury.
“High at the helm of the OGA is Chairman Tim Eggar. Eggar is an oil industry executive with various positions in government.
“An oil banker, Eggar’s history is a backstory of board positions for the likes of Monument Oil and Gas, Indago Petroleum, and 3legs Resources, Expro & Braemar and Energy venutures.
“Meanwhile, Eggar’s number two is chief exectutive Andy Samuel who has 20 years’ experience at BG Group, an oil services conglomerate.
“Non-executive Frances Morris-Jones spent 30 years in oil and gas. The director of operations – Gunther Newcombe – spent most of his career in the same industry. It goes on”.
The article reveals a similar saturation of industry stooges in the objective-sounding British Geological Survey.
It adds: “Back in 2012 (the last time financial figures were produced) the BGS’s annual report showed 29% of the organisation’s funds came from companies involved in the hydraulic fracturing industry, including Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon, BG Group and Schlumberger”.
The industry connections of “experts” at Imperial College London and Bristol University are also examined.
The article concludes: “The purpose of the regulator and its stooges is to construct a seemingly-consensual smokescreen.
“The parallels to climate change denial are striking – the creation of a body of ‘opinion’ that looks like it comes from a cross-section of venerable institutions, but that in reality is thoroughly penetrated by the oil and gas industry. Plausible denial is always the objective.
“And while a smog of earthquake denial has been wafted over Surrey planners, what has not been shown is who pays for these firestarters.
“Now that Cuadrilla have been put on a temporary hold, the focus can switch to who are those that support the industry, and the vested interests that lie behind them. These denial industries and their financial ties – just as their dirty frontmen like Cuadrilla – need to be held to account”.
And the Surrey County Council planning decision for Horse Hill? The drilling was approved of course, with planning development manager Caroline Smith even citing the reputation of the OGA to reassure councillors worried about earth tremors.
The Bristol Radical History Festival 2019 is being held on Saturday October 12.
There are two themes this year: “1919 – Year of Revolutions” and “Green History: from 18th Century roots to Extinction Rebellion”.
Explains the website: “Following the success of the 2017 and 2018 events, this year’s Bristol Radical History Festival is again hosted by M Shed, Bristol’s social history museum located on the historic harbourside”.
Highlights include a talk on Green Romanticism by Stephen Hunt (10.30am), Leonard Baker on Ecology from Below (12.30pm), A People’s History of Poetry by Peter Bearder (1pm), Back to the Land by Kath Holden (3pm), Roots of Resistance: Earth First! (3pm) and a talk on the massive wave of discontent which swept through the British armed forces at the end of World War One (3.30pm).
Say the organisers: “It’s not just talks! Expect walks, films, singing, a performance space with a puppet show, storytelling and poetry, and an exhibition space, as well as stalls with books and merchandise from local and national groups.
“Not to be missed – go up to Level 2 to see the Regional Radical Press exhibition, with highlights from UWE Bristol Regional History Centre’s current project All the events are free with no booking required!”
The Zapatistas, those rebel anti-capitalists in Chiapas, continue to inspire with their communiqués.
A message from the Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee — General Command of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation (featured on the excellent Enough is Enough site) reveals some wonderful names for new caracoles and autonomous municipalities.
There is, for instance, Esperanza de La Humanidad, which means Hope for Humanity.
Others are Floreciendo la semilla rebelde (The Flowering of the Rebellious Seed) and Sembrando conciencia para cosechar revoluciones por la vida (Cultivating Conscience in order to Harvest Revolutions for Life).
But our favourite is Espiral digno tejiendo los colores de la humanidad en memoria de l@s caídos, which translates as Spiral of Dignity Weaving the Colours of Humanity in Memory of the Fallen.
6. Mohandas Gandhi: an orgrad inspiration
Wednesday October 2 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Mohandas Gandhi, in 1869. Although Gandhi is mainly remembered in the West for his strategy of non-violent direct action, which proved ideal for the Indian independence movement, there was much more to his thinking, as this article from the orgrad website explains. The Gandhi Haiku posters are by Gabriel Rosenstock and available via etsy.com.
“Machinery is the chief symbol of modern civilization; it represents a great sin”
Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948) was a political activist who played a key role in the successful Indian struggle for independence.
His involvement in the resistance to British imperialism went hand in hand with a deep opposition to the life-crushing industrial capitalism which it imposed on the sub-continent.
Ranchor Prime notes: “Gandhi was opposed to industrialization. It wasted resources and took people’s work from them. What was the point of labor-saving devices when they created unemployment?” (1)
Gandhi himself wrote in 1909: “Machinery has begun to desolate Europe. Ruination is now knocking at the English gates. Machinery is the chief symbol of modern civilization; it represents a great sin… Railways accentuate the evil nature of man. Bad men fulfil their designs with greater rapidity”. (2)
Later he added: ” The incessant search for material comforts and their multiplication is an evil. I make bold to say that the Europeans will have to remodel their outlook, if they are not to perish under the weight of the comforts to which they are becoming slaves”. (3)
In opposition to industrial capitalism and its insane frenzy to exploit, produce and consume, Gandhi proposed a future in which humankind lived in organic harmony with the rest of the planet.
He wrote: “It is a fundamental law of nature that nature produces enough for our wants from day to day; and if only everyone took enough for their own needs and nothing more, there would be no poverty in this world”. (4)
Gandhi’s vision for India, betrayed by his capitalist successors, was a return to the simple village life his land had known for thousands of years.
Writes Prime: “Mohandas Gandhi, called by his people Mahatma, which means ‘great soul’, loved India’s villages. He believed that they were the key to its happiness and prosperity. In the face of powerful political and economic forces, he tried courageously to preserve their simple way of life.
“Economic behavior determines the way a society treats the earth, therefore any discussion of environmental values has to include economics. The village economics of India give a practical example of an environmental way of living”. (5)
Gandhi argued: “Given the demand, there is no doubt that most of our wants can be supplied by the villages. When we become village-minded we shall not want imitations from the West or machine-made products”. (6)
He saw that this decentralised village economics was the only sustainable long-term way forward for humankind as a whole.
He wrote in a letter to fellow independence campaigner Jawaharlal Nehru in 1945: “I believe that if India, and through India the world, is to achieve real freedom, then sooner or later we shall have to go and live in the villages – in huts, not in palaces. Millions of people can never live in cities and palaces in comfort and peace”. (7)
Gandhi referred to himself on several occasions as a kind of anarchist and always opposed the centralised state and its inherent use of violence. (8)
He was greatly influenced by John Ruskin and translated the title of the Englishman’s Unto This Last as Sarvodaya, or welfare for all. He was also influenced by Leo Tolstoy and Peter Kropotkin, notably by the latter’s vision of a decentralized society of autonomous village communes.
However, Gandhi’s organic radicalism arose primarily from Indian metaphysics and its belief in the cosmic unity of all beings.
Prime writes: “A way of life does not exist in a vacuum. It is based on a way of thinking, a philosophy of life. Gandhi recognized this truth. He believed that it would not be possible to bring about change in society without a corresponding change in the way people behaved.
“To change the way people behaved meant to change the way that they thought. Therefore Gandhi’s primary objective was to influence people’s philosophy of life”. (9)
Central to the Gandhian world-view were the principles of satya (truth), karmayoga (self-realization through disinterested action), varnasramdharma (the Hindu law of right conduct), and ahimsa (non-violence).
Peter Marshall adds: “The most revolutionary aspect of Gandhi’s teaching was undoubtedly his social and political interpretation of ahimsa in which he turned the principle of individual self-realization into a principle of social ethics.
“He also drew on the traditional Indian values of village life and the joint family and the practice of making decisions by consensus”. (10)
Gandhi promoted the idea of swaraj, or self-government, which was the first step towards his ideal of an enlightened anarchy in which social life is self-regulated and “there is no political power because there is no state”. (11)
For him, swaraj had a far deeper meaning than mere political independence. He wrote: “Swaraj is a sacred word meaning self-rule and self-restraint, not freedom from all restraint which ‘independence’ often means”. (12)
At the end of his life, Gandhi was disappointed that India, which gained independence in 1947, was not fundamentally different from India under British rule, except that whereas previously Englishmen had lived in the imperial palace, now Indians did. He feared for the direction India was taking.
Prime comments: “He had always said that real independence for India was not just to become free from British rule. It was also to become free of British culture and industrial way of life and to reestablish the traditional Indian village-based culture for which he had always struggled”. (13)
1. Ranchor Prime, Vedic Ecology: Practical Wisdom for Surviving the 21st Century (Novato, California: Mandala, 2002), p. 84.
2. Mohandas Gandhi, Hind Swaraj, 1909, cit. Prime, p. 86.
3. Mohandas Gandhi, Young India, cit. Prime p. 78.
4. G.A. Nateson, Speeches and Writings of Mahatma Gandhi (Madras: 1935), p. 384, cit. Prime pp. 84-85.
5. Prime, pp. 78-79.
6. Gandhi, ‘Constructive Programme’, cit. Prime, p. 87.
7. Gandhi, letter to Nehru, October 5, 1945, cit. Prime p. 91.
8. Peter Marshall, Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism (London: Fontana, 1993), p. 422.
9. Prime, p. 81.
10. Marshall, pp. 422-23.
11. Gandhi, Young India, July 2, 1931.
12. Gandhi, Young India, 1931, cit. Prime pp 83-83.
13. Prime, p. 90.
If governments and corporations get their way, the bright blue seas of western Greece will be turned into oil fields. The Greek government is selling vast areas of sea and land for oil and gas drilling, report Corporate Watch. The businesses involved include Energean, a fast-growing oil company with close ties to the Israeli government and Israeli corporations. “But it’s not a done deal yet,” add Corporate Watch. “Greece has strong traditions of resistance to capitalist devastation – and now, across the threatened areas, people are coming together to fight the oil plans”. See the Save Greek Seas site.
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Ignored by the corporate media in the UK, the Gilets Jaunes’ revolt against neoliberalism is still going strong after more than ten months, with the weekly round of protests now up to Act 46. Levels of police violence are insane and the cops increasingly coming across as a politicised fascist militia. After left-wing opposition politician Jean-Luc Mélenchon condemned them as “barbarians”, not only did authoritarian Interior Minister Christophe Castaner say he would be prosecuted for this opinion, but a police trade union staged a show of force outside Mélenchon’s party HQ in Paris on September 26. Gilets Jaunes turned up as well, to oppose the police… More about the Gilets Jaunes here.
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“The black bloc more or less destroyed the global justice protests at the beginning of this century. We must do everything we can to exclude them from the climate protests”. These were the words of self-styled radical George Monbiot of The Guardian, surely spelling the end of any remaining credibility for this arrogant, warmongering, pro-nuclear upper-class gatekeeper of the system, who pretends via his corporate media platform to be “one of us” in order to impose limits on our resistance.
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Degrowth is the only responsible way forward, argues an interesting article by Joël Foramitti, Marula Tsagkari and Christos Zografos. They write: “If we free our imagination from the liberal idea that well-being is best measured by the amount of stuff that we consume, we may discover that a good life could also be materially light. This is the idea of voluntary sufficiency. If we manage to decide collectively and democratically what is necessary and enough for a good life, then we could have plenty”.
Global resistance to the nightmarish 5G network (see Acorn 51) is picking up speed. Plans to roll out 5G in Australia were ditched “due to community fears regarding the health impact of the technology”. And thousands have protested outside the Swiss parliament in Bern to call for a halt to the threatened countrywide 5G imposition. Meanwhile the International Society of Doctors for the Environment has called for a halt to 5G in Europe on a precautionary basis. In the UK, the Royal Society of Medicine’s Alan Cooke is speaking on 5G in Eastbourne, East Sussex, at the Friends Meeting House in Wish Street at 7.30pm on Friday October 25. And Dr Karl Cox of Sussex University is speaking at a day’s symposium on 5G at Fairwarp Village Hall, Fairwarp, East Sussex at 10am on Saturday October 26.
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Acorn quote: “Organism is spontaneous self-regulation, the mystery of formed growth, the inarticulate wisdom of the instincts”.
Over ten months, the Gilets Jaunes movement has managed again and again to surprise: to surprise the authorities, the police, the media, public opinion. And even the GJs themselves! Apart from determination and a burning desire for change, what has really changed the landscape of social struggle in France is the new reality of totally decentralised and autonomous actions. Blockades, occupations, demonstrations, disorder. So many possibilities that can no longer be found in the standardised world of trade unions, opposition parties, NGOs and other well-established structures.
As protests step up again after the summer of 2019, the field of possibilities seems even more vast. Much more vast than the authorities and the media are saying. But if we are to make waves again, perhaps even bigger ones, we need to think about strategies of struggle, whether that be for the demos which lie ahead or for other kinds of actions. Here are some suggestions and observations which could usefully be developed and fleshed out. Please note that these suggestions are from a clearly insurrectional, even revolutionary, perspective. Since so many GJs (and other citizens) have been calling and hoping for this for several months now, let’s dare to think about it calmly. A sort of manual for “acting like a primitive and planning like a strategist”, as recommended by the poet and resistance fighter René Char.
STRENGTH IN NUMBERS
This has always been the case but is becoming more and more blatantly obvious in France: it is important, even crucial, to take to the streets in pretty large numbers if we are to succeed in staging actions which actually bother the authorities. This does not mean that any huge demo is, per se, a success. The climate marches have shown us over recent months that you can have tens of thousands (or more) in the streets and still not bother the government and the economic powers. On the other hand, if you want to overwhelm an increasingly aggressive police presence, which directly engages you and is increasingly mobile (with motorbikes), you need thousands of people.
The moments that have really scared the authorities over these last months have always been when the balance of power in the streets has tipped towards the GJs because of their numbers. Even with the massive human and material resources at their disposal, the police were unable to control the anger of thousands of protesters, in different parts of town, for the duration of several hours.
The most striking example of this was surely during Acte 23 of the revolt (Ultimatum 2). Following the authorities’ impotence during the first Ultimatum of March 16, they mobilised a huge police presence to prevent any disorder. The Ultimatum page posted, at the last minute, several meet-up points. The GJs who went to these points were, unfortunately for them, met by dozens of riot cops. Nothing could be done. Except that on that same day, there were so many GJs in Paris that a big “authorised” demo got underway at Bercy. There, again, the police had seen this coming and decided to split the demo up into lots of small sections which they could control more easily. But this didn’t work because the march was so huge and determined, to the extent of breaking through several police lines to regroup.
Finally, taking to the streets in large numbers is also a way to protect those who have decided to take action (and not necessarily violently, but in civil disobedience). By their presence, with their bodies, thousands of protesters, even without taking direct action themselves, can help to make a protest really effective and a problem for the authorities. This is how the “front of the demo” emerged a few years back in France. We could also take the example of the revolt in Hong Kong, where this strategy has been taken to an incredible level and where the presence of “basic” protesters is essential for the front-line protesters.
One of the major challenges for the weeks ahead is therefore to achieve turn-outs of the same massive size (or greater) than in November and December. And this is completely possible. Virtually nobody who took part in at least one act of the GJ protests has today been won over by the government. If some of them have disappeared from the streets, it’s due to weariness and/or fear (of police brutality and arrests) rather than because of any change in their opinion on the social and economic situation. Indeed, the numbers of potential resistance fighters are surely even greater than last year. GJs only have to look around themselves: who today is satisfied with Macron and his world? Who isn’t aware of the climate and social crisis? Each of us has to persuade our friends and loved ones to get out into the streets for the upcoming protests.
PLEASURE AND IMAGINATION
What is most striking about GJ demos today is their repetitive, unchanging quality. But what actually made the movement a success was its capacity to create, to be innovative with its occupations of streets and towns. New songs, new ways of mobilising, new economic blockades (eg: the Champs Elysées). It even had its own language distinct from the norms of social struggle: you can make fun of the succession of “acts” and “ultimatums”, but the GJs have created their own calendar, their own battle terrain and their own way of gathering. When they occupied the roundabouts, everyone found that peculiar. Same thing when they took over motorway toll booths. And same thing again when they decided to head into town centres every Saturday. And when the new songs came along, it was like a minor victory. The creation of a new space for self-expression, exchange and action.
Those in power have always tried to blinker the population and make it think that nothing is possible, apart from expressing your anger through elections or institutionalised struggles (trade unions, political parties, NGOs..) But the reality is very different. Life is a huge playing field. And so are towns and cities.
Nothing annoys the authorities more than people who enjoy coming together and resisting. They do all they can to make protests unpleasant, whereas they can provide the chance for meeting people, for feeling alive, for having fun… Everything they will never know in their comfortable little bourgeois lives. It is therefore important to bring joy, madness, fire and life into the streets. To smash their dream of greyness, to enjoy ourselves but also so that other citizens want to join us. So that they understand that what is happening is not just about burning cars or banks. So that the revolution has its heart not in destruction, but in encounters, complicity, exchange and constructivity.
LESS TELEPHONE, MORE SOLIDARITY
It is important to have photos and videos of what is going on in the streets, notably at the most insurrectional moments and especially when police are being violent, to bear witness to these realities which the authorities try to conceal. But today too many people have got into the habit of whipping out their phone for every burning dustbin or, worse, for the smallest police charge. These people are still part of the movement, in solidarity with it, yet they don’t realise that by filming with their phones they are quitting the ranks of protesters who are capable of actually doing something. They are physically present but can no longer take action. They become spectators. How many videos have we seen of someone being maltreated by the police where nobody is helping them, although dozens of protesters are filming what’s happening? This isn’t about passing judgement and awarding good or bad scores. Each person is free to do whatever they want, not least on a demo. And it is totally understandable to want to film a crunch moment. But you need nevertheless to analyse the phenomenon in a general way and see what it implies for the protest as a whole. And from that vantage point we have to acknowledge the problems with this tendency and be aware that it serves the interests of the authorities because it makes the protest less pro-active and less cohesive. Not forgetting that the videos are sometimes used in evidence against protesters accused of misdemeanors.
It is therefore time to put away your phone and actively take part in the next protests. This could take various forms: singing, running, graffiti, banner-making, keeping other protesters informed, suggesting actions. So many things that the brain stops doing when it sees the protest via the screen of a phone.
DIVERSITY AND RESPECT FOR PRAXIS
It is important to consider the place and degree of combative action on protests which see themselves as insurrectional. This question is highly complex and sensitive because nobody has the right to set out a precise limit to the moral rightness of combative actions. We all refuse to go along with the framing imposed by society which regards all illegal action as immoraL. It goes without saying for many of us that a Fouquet’s restaurant on fire is no worse than a boss who lays someone off to increase his profits. But this doesn’t mean that smashing or burning is necessarily appropriate for the struggle and for advancing the revolutionary cause.
While we should take care not to condemn a protester who has broken the law, we should also not veer off in the opposite direction and applaud, de facto, all acts of damage or violence. At some moments, in some places, vandalising street furniture or shops or attacking the police can turn out to be strategic mistake and play into the hands of the authorities.
Damage or violence are in no way a yardstick for assessing the success or otherwise of a protest. In either way. Offensive actions are merely tools to reach goals which are more significant than the immediate outcome of a torched car or a ransacked bank.
In a society governed by images and appearance, where the authorities rely on illusion to persuade us that they have everything under control and that there is no alternative, these offensive actions make sense when they help shatter that illusion. It works when whole areas of Paris seem to have slipped out of the authorities’ control despite the deployment of thousands of cops and troops. But to achieve this, it is necessary to create the conditions conducive to such a situation.
It must also be borne in mind that offensive action and rebellion can take very subversive forms without necessarily being violent. Thousands of people on the Paris ring road, on the tracks at a station or occupying a government building can also hurt the powerful.
So let’s refuse to label protesters as violent or non-violent. Only those who fear change have a vested interest in this totally artificial separation. This classification (stigmatisation) is merely a tool for domination. Violence is not immoral in itself. Even the history books sing the praises of resistance fighters who fought evil. Fought in its true sense. In the violent sense.
ADAPTING TO REAL TIME
In the face of the new strategies for “maintaining law and order” with highly mobile and aggressive police units, it is more than ever necessary for protesters to pay attention and adapt rapidly to situations. In Hong Kong when the police line becomes too dangerous in front of them, the protesters don’t just stay put. Very quickly, the demo moves elsewhere. It is very difficult to take decisions collectively in these situations, especially in a totally horizontal movement without leaders, but it works. And often it is better to take the decision and move rather than remain static for fear of making a mistake.
We should also bear in mind that sometimes confrontation with the cops does not make strategic sense. When the balance of power is clearly tilted in their favour, it is sometimes better to think about alternative solutions which allow protesters to continue to occupy the space, to blockade, to be on the offensive. The police are not our objective. They are the tool of the authorities which can stop us from reaching our objectives. Focusing on them can sometimes stop us from creating more beautiful and constructive moments of struggle.
Anyone who has been following the Gilets Jaunes’ struggle since November 2018 will appreciate to what extent France is slipping into 21st century neoliberal-style fascism.
From the sheer physical violence of the state’s attacks on protesters, through its draconian use of bans on protests and “pre-emptive” arrests, to the cover-up and denial of what is happening by politicians and their tame media, the situation is truly alarming.
We can expect more evidence of this in coming days when the full force of Macron’s Reich will be deployed to prevent any signs of dissent against the G7 summit in Biarritz, in French-occupied Euskadi.
But to understand the extent to which this authoritarian cancer has riddled French society from top to bottom, it is instructive to look at what has been happening in recent weeks in the little southern village of St Jean du Gard.
The place is hardly a hotbed of radicalism. However, this year a local group has been active opposing the imposition of Linky smart electricity meters and generally challenging the right-wing mayor, Michel Ruas.
The astonishing thing is that all they have been doing is handing out leaflets – mainly at the weekly market, which has been held on Tuesday mornings for a thousand years.
Incredibly, the mayor passed a law banning all leafleting for a year. Even more incredibly, the authorities from the Gard department have backed up this totalitarian gesture by sending in cohorts of cops to enforce it and to threaten those who stand up for their basic freedom of speech.
An update from local campaigners on Tuesday August 20 reported that the morning’s market had again been targeted by Macron’s uniformed thugs.
A week previously, there had been a call-out for supporters to come from around the area to challenge the year-long ban on all leafleting (unless “authorised” by the mayor/dictator Ruas) issued on July 31.
But on August 20 there was just a little Stop Linky stand as there has been every week for months.
When a woman campaigner held up a photocopy of the mayor’s new Nazi-style law to show a passer-by, the zealous gendarmes decided a ‘leafleting’ offence had been committed and tried to fine the woman.
This aggressive move shocked everyone present, but the cops weren’t finished there and not only kept pursuing the woman but used force against those trying to defend her from them, pinning people violently against a wall.
They also turned on passers-by who remonstrated with them, accusing one disabled person using a crutch of possessing an offensive weapon!
Say campaigners: “These measures are unacceptable and revolting. We are therefore calling for a protest on Tuesday August 27 from 9am at the market of Saint Jean du Gard”.
International solidarity with the freedom fighters of St Jean du Gard!
1. Basque rebels prepare hot reception for G7 leaders
The welcome awaiting Macron, Trump and the other G7 world leaders in Biarritz later this month promises to be not so much warm as hot.
The Basques already have a proud tradition of anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist struggle.
But from August 24 to 26 the opposition to the summit will be bolstered by the mass participation of the Gilets Jaunes, or Yellow Vests, who have been protesting every week non-stop since November 2018.
Not only is the G7 being hosted by their primary hate-figure in President Macron, but it will also receive – in the words of the Bayonne group of Gilets Jaunes – ‘world leaders who defend an ultra-liberal economy which offers us nothing’.
Gilets Jaunes were already active in Biarritz in December, when protests against a preliminary G7 meeting were met with tear gas and rubber bullets.
In April L’Express newspaper reported that the French authorities were preparing for “an explosive G7”.
And in July, more than a month before the actual summit, there were already a thousand people taking to the streets to voice their opposition.
The summit comes at a time when repression is reaching dizzy levels in France.
The first six months of the Gilets Jaunes uprising alone saw 2,448 protesters injured. Of these, 24 lost an eye and five had a hand blown off by police grenades, according to Le Journal Du Dimanche.
Protests are being banned all over the country each weekend and Gilets Jaunes regularly arrested on “suspicion” of being about to commit an offence, before they have had the chance to do anything.
This has filtered down to a local level, empowering one right-wing mayor in the Gard department, stung by criticism from local campaigners, to ban all leafleting in the town centre for an entire year!
Campaign group G7 EZ (“No to the G7, for another world”) warn that the summit will inevitably involve significant restrictions on people’s freedom of movement and the right to protest.
They say: “It imposes a real state of siege and a choking police occupation (a number of 15,000 soldiers and policemen has been announced)”.
But the protesters are determined not to let this stop them.
They add: “Why should we accept all this without reacting? As for the usefulness of the G7, no one believes in it any more, no one wants it any more. It is a waste of public money and the best solution is a pure and simple disbanding of the G7.
“We will join forces against the G7 in August 2019 in the Basque Country because the world it embodies must change deeply and urgently.
“Building another world is possible and urgent. And from the Basque country, we must also take part in it.
“Here too joining forces and sharing projects so as to change our model have multiplied: to stop climatic changes, in favour of freedom of movement, for the protection of the interests of workers against gender domination, for the cultural and linguistic diversity, against war and in favour of peace.
“That’s why while we refuse this G7 summit, we intend to reinforce our struggle for a social change”.
A Jamaican-British man has encountered shocking first-hand proof of the way that the global capitalist elite is profiteering from climate concerns.
John Lennon contacted The Acorn to explain how he had proposed a scheme to allow state schools in Jamaica to generate their own electricity.
There is plenty of free sunshine in the Caribbean and a payback period of under four years means solar-powered schools would be economically viable and installation would not end up costing taxpayers a dollar.
Said John: “Simply apply prudence: instead of using taxpayers’ money to indefinitely pay electricity bills, schools should service fixed-term loan agreements – with repayments lower than bills – to pay for their own electricity-generating facilities”.
Although nobody could point to any flaws in John’s plan, he has met with a complete rebuff from the Jamaican government and the UN Development Programme (UNDP).
Mainstream journalists have also given him a polite brush-off and he has come to appreciate the extent of the UN’s involvement in the “climate capitalism” scam which has hoodwinked too many environmentalists into cheerleading for an industrial capitalist agenda.
John told us: “One has to question the purpose of the UN and its Sustainable Development Goals. The whole thing is a joke”.
The UN’s sheer hypocrisy is breathtaking. On one hand it pumps out a load of pious spin using hashstags like #MoreEqualWorld, pointing out that “26 people own the same amount of wealth as the poorest 3.8 billion people combined”.
On the other hand, as this recent post on the Wrong Kind of Green website explores, it plays a central role in maintaining the global capitalist dictatorship.
Earlier this summer a statement from the UNDP confirmed the 100% capitalist agenda behind its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
It referred to the Business Commission on Sustainable Development at Davos, which reckoned achieving the SDGs could “open up an estimated US$12 trillion in market opportunities”.
“The SDGs are the business plan for people and the planet,” boasted Anna Ryott, a Steering Group member and Board Chair of Stockholm-based Summa Equity. “Investments can be both profitable and sustainable”.
Cohen is a leading venture capitalist who is notorious in the UK for bankrolling Tony Blair’s neoliberal “New Labour” government.
Alongside him sit the likes of John Denton, who “serves on the Board of leading global infrastructure group IFM Investors” and Anna Ryott of Summa Equity, with her proud record of “investing in impact tech entrepreneurs”.
There is also leading Chinese banker Ma Weihua and “veteran economist and business leader” Rajiv Lall, whose expertise spans international and macro-economics, banking, capital markets, infrastructure finance and private equity/venture capital.
A strange line-up for an organisation supposedly acting in the interests of the world’s poor!
The macrocosm of the UN’s profit-based corporate agenda is reflected in the microcosm of the UNDP Jamaica website.
Articles are packed with corporate clichés of “entrepreneurship” and “stakeholders”, alongside the usual babble about “youth engagement” and building a “better world”.
Dr Elsie Laurence-Chounoune, UNDP representative in Jamaica, writes that the “UNDP remains committed to advancing sustainable human development and working collaboratively to mainstream Climate Change mitigation and adaptation into development processes”.
Not a hint here that it is this capitalist “development” which has caused the environmental crisis, just a desire to ensure that attempts to combat that crisis do not threaten the ongoing profiteering of the ruling elite and can be safely absorbed into “development processes”.
In the light of all this, it is clear that the UN, and other representatives of the corporate system, have no interest at all in renewable energy schemes like the one proposed by John, which would benefit local schools and communities without offering massive profit opportunities for big business.
They will never enable renewable energy for its own sake, but only as yet another lucrative means for the extremely rich to get extremely richer.
And that, as Cory Morningstar and others never tire of pointing out, is what this whole climate capitalist scam – with its “sustainable” growth, “green” industrial revolution and “smart” living – is really all about.
As John says: “Greed is the driving force and this needs to be exposed”.
Trees are getting in the way of the sinister new techno-future lined up for us all.
Corporate engineers are complaining that the roll-out of 5G is being held up by these inconvenient remnants of the natural world.
They are trying to work out how to ensure nobody is beyond the reach of the smart-fascist system.
And it increasingly looks as if this is what has provoked the massacre of thousands of healthy trees in cities like Newcastle, Edinburgh and Sheffield, all 5G trial areas.
5G uses “millimeter waves”, broadcast at frequencies between 30 and 300 GHz, previously only used for communication between satellites and radar systems.
But millimeter waves can’t easily travel through buildings or other solid objects, so 5G will take advantage of “small cells” — smaller miniature based stations that can be placed about every 250 meters throughout dense urban areas. These provide much better coverage in such locations. Unless they are blocked by trees.
Damning evidence on this issue comes in a report from the 5G Innovation Centre at the Institute for Communication Systems at the University of Surrey.
This states: “In the past the priority for planning authorities has been to reduce mobile mast heights so that masts are visually screened by buildings and/or trees – with trees being the highest and more likely obstruction.
“However this also screens the RF signals and has defeated the objective of reliable coverage… it is necessary for the tree height to be at least 3m less than the base station height.
“Having adjacent trees and or building at comparable heights to the mast can reduce coverage by as much as 70% in that direction, which is not in the interests of the operator, the local planning authorities and more importantly the mobile phone user.
“This is the source of many of today’s mobile coverage issues for consumers in many rural locations”.
A Sunday Times report in 2018 revealed that more than 110,000 trees had been chopped down in three years by councils across the UK — equivalent to a sixth of the size of Sherwood Forest.
The vigiliae.org campaign site warns that it looks as if “millions of trees” face being felled in the UK alone to ensure continuous signalling for self-driving buses, cars and trains and all the rest of the smart nightmare.
The unending war against trees being waged by this industrial civilization shows once again that is nothing but a malevolent death cult, which must be destroyed in order that living things can survive and flourish.
On July 1 2019 activists across the UK took part in a national day of action against Israeli-owned weapons manufacturer Elbit Systems.
In Kent, protesters gained access to the new site of Elbit subsidary Instro Precision. The action shut the factory down for the day.
This is the 5th time since 2014 the Kent-based factory has been forced to shut. Elbit is the largest Israeli owned arms manufacturer, and produces many of the weapons used by Israel in its oppression of Palestinians.
They produce 85% of the armoured drones used by Israel, along with a range of other military equipment, such as artillery cannons and tank parts.
These weapons are then used directly on Palestinians. For example, drones have been used to drop tear gas on protesters on the Great Return March.
Along with this, Elbit’s Hermes 450 drone, which can carry up to two medium range missiles, was used in the 2014 Gaza Massacre, in which Israel killed over 2100 Palestinians.
A crowdfunder has been set up to help pay for transport, banners, leaflets, accommodation, communications and other equipment used on the day.
All money donated will go towards the collectively agreed costs of the protest. Any extra will go towards future actions.
“Indian cosmology has never separated the human from the non-human – we are a continuum”
Vandana Shiva (1952-) is a Gandhian eco-activist and agro-ecologist, who has dedicated her life to resisting global capitalist destruction of nature and communities in India and beyond.
She is particularly known for her involvement in the international sustainable food movement and her battle with the former agrochemical company Monsanto.
Shiva declared in a 2003 interview with Sarah Ruth van Gelder: “Our system of food security is being destroyed in the name of economic growth and economic liberalization, and people don’t have enough food to eat.
“Our farmers are being ravished by seed companies, being pushed into debt, and committing suicide”. (1)
In combatting the capitalist dogma of economic growth in her book Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace, Shiva proposed the alternative of an economy in which people worked to directly provide the conditions necessary to maintain their lives.
This “sustenance economy” includes all spheres in which humans produce in balance with nature and reproduce society through partnerships, mutuality, and reciprocity.
She has highlighted separation as being at the heart of our contemporary malaise, referring in a 2012 interview to “an eco-apartheid based on the illusion of separateness of humans from nature in our minds and lives”.
She added: “The war against the Earth began with this idea of separateness. Its contemporary seeds were sown when the living Earth was transformed into dead matter to facilitate the industrial revolution.
“Monocultures replaced diversity. ‘Raw materials’ and ‘dead matter’ replaced a vibrant Earth. Terra Nullius (the empty land, ready for occupation regardless of the presence of indigenous peoples) replaced Terra Madre (Mother Earth)”. (3)
Holistic Vedic metaphysics fuels Shiva’s philosophy and activism. In an interview with Ranchor Prime she described how she met many people during her years fighting the construction of dams “and I found that they were all inspired by the idea that the river is divine, a sacred mother, and that trying to appropriate her water is like annihilating the very source of your sustenance.
“In fact I’ve learned that there is not one environmental movement in India that is not informed by the ecological roots of Vedic culture”. (4)
Talking about the concept of Earth Democracy, she said: “The notion comes from a very ancient category in Indian thought… In India we talk about vasudhaiva kutumbakam, which means the earth family. Indian cosmology has never separated the human from the non-human – we are a continuum”. (5)
This radical organic understanding was helping to fuel resistance to global industrial capitalism, she said, in the form of “a spontaneous resurgence of thinking that centers on protection of life, celebrating life, enjoying life as both our highest duty and our most powerful form of resistance against a violent and brutal system that globalizes not just trade, but fascism, and denies civil liberties and freedoms”. (6)
Hindu wisdom also helped her keep up her strength in the struggle, she explained. “I do not allow myself to be overcome by hopelessness, no matter how tough the situation. I’ve learned from the Bhagavad Gita and other teachings of our culture to detach myself from the results of what I do, because those are not in my hands.
“I do not allow myself to be overcome by hopelessness, no matter how tough the situation… I think what we owe each other is a celebration of life and to replace fear and hopelessness with fearlessness and joy”. (7)
Under the worsening mood of neoliberal McCarthyism, the UK state is defining those who are left-wing and oppose war as potential sympathisers with “violent extremism”, warns an article by David Miller in Tribune magazine. The government’s so-called Commission for Countering Extremism decrees that opposing the US/UK global empire amounts to “occupying a position of solidarity with terrorist organisations and violently repressive regimes”.
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Limiting CO2 emissions is a false solution to the environmental crisis, argues Paul Kingsnorth in a thought-provoking video. He argues that the contemporary “green” movement has lost interest in wild nature in exchange for an obsession with wind or solar panel “farms” – power stations, in fact, which only prolong the industrial nightmare.
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“Along with military invasions and missionaries, NGOs help crack countries open like ripe nuts, paving the way for intensifying waves of exploitation and extraction such as agribusiness for export, sweatshops, resource mines, and tourist playgrounds”. So wrote Stephanie Macmillan in an excellent 2015 article Why NGOs and Leftish Nonprofits Suck which we have, admittedly, only just discovered.
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A new deep sea mining process could devastate fragile ecosystems that are slow to recover in the highly pressurized darkness of the deep sea, experts have warned. It could also have knock-on effects on the wider ocean environment. And the aim? To “diversify the sources currently supplying metals needed for electronics and evolving green technologies, such as electric vehicles and solar panels”. The firm behind all this even calls itself “DeepGreen Metals”. So that’s all OK then. It’s environmentally-friendly environmental destruction!
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What a vision of the future from Boris Johnson, the new lunatic-right Prime Minister of the UK. He declared on August 11: “Today we’re announcing another 10,000 places in our prisons; a big building program for prisons.” The phrase “big building program” is notable, not least because of the American spelling of what would normally be “programme”. Will US contractors and private prison businesses be the big winners from Boris’s war on the UK population?
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Acorn quote: “For Bakunin, Sorel, Proudhon and Landauer the revolutionary utopia always goes hand in hand with a profound nostalgia for forms of the pre-capitalist past, for traditional rural communities or craftsmanship; with Landauer, that even extends to an explicit defence of the Middle Ages… In truth, at the core of the approach of most of the great anarchist thinkers lies a Romantic attitude towards the past”.
Guerrilla warfare has begun in Europe against the “smart” fascism being imposed on us all by the wealthy technocratic elite.
In the early hours of the morning on Tuesday June 11 2019, ten vehicles belonging to electricity distribution company Enedis were torched at Albi in southern France, causing damage put at 400,000 euros.
The firm is controversially imposing “Linky” smart meters on households across the country, sparking a massive wave of grassroots rebellion.
While this usually takes the form of local campaigning, legal action and physical blocking of access to meters, some opponents have taken the war with Enedis a step further.
Attacks against Enedis premises have already been carried out in Grenoble, Crest, Limoges, Paris and Besançon.
On December 6 2018, numerous Enedis vehicles, and two buildings, were damaged by fire in Foix, in the south-west region of Ariège.
Corporate media are reporting that the attacks are the work of a mysterious underground anarchist group called “ACAB”.
Smart meters are just one aspect of a nightmare society being planned for the global population, involving the computerised control of every aspect of our lives.
This techno-totalitarianism, embracing AI, 5G, the “internet of things” and transhumanism, presents itself as “sustainable” and part of a “green” revolution, but in fact involves an intensification of the industrial nightmare.
Following an arson attack against Enedis in Montreuil, Paris, the anti-industrial rebels posted a statement online.
“A nuclearised society, radioactive waste in the air, water and earth. A society of control, smart spies in the homes, everything connected, measured, under surveillance.
“Desire for revolt, desire for destruction, desire for freedom”.
It criticises the Deep Green Resistance (DGR) movement, citing longstanding concerns regarding its language on transgender issues and tendencies towards hierarchical organising.
There is a quote from one of the DGR France organisers about “laws of natural selection” which smacks of a social darwinism completely at odds with Peter Kropotkin’s theory of mutual aid.
So why do we say the article is disturbing? There are two reasons, one relating to its content and the other to its author.
A closer look at the blog reveals that nestling within a perfectly legitimate criticism of a particular organisation, DGR France, is a broader ideological attack aimed at all of us who challenge the industrial system.
This is expressed most succinctly in one of author Mukhamedov’s replies in the comments section, dated March 26 2019.
Here he declares that the problem with DGR is that “it confuses the capitalist techno-industrial system with the tools of technology and forgets that we could find an emancipatory use for our tools so as to dismantle oppressive structures and redefine our relationship with the biosphere”.
At root, this is the same old message which has been touted by the industrialist left for decades. It’s not the technology that is the problem, they say, but the use it is put to, the political context in which it is situated.
But even worse still, Mukhamedov explicitly tries here to confuse social progress with industrial “progress”, in suggesting that technology could be “an emancipatory” tool for dismantling undefined oppressive structures.
Here we see the fake green message peddled by those who try to sell us (lucrative) techno-solutions to the climate crisis and by those who present “smart” technology, AI and transhumanism as offering a golden “emancipatory” future for the human species, while totally ignoring that the ongoing development of such technologies would spell certain death for the planetary organism of which we are part.
In the same comment, Mukhamedov goes on to identify as “reactionaries” those who deliberately sow “confusion” by “criticising mainstream environmentalism without even discussing what the dismantling of our civilization could imply”.
He also addresses this issue in the article itself, where he says it is “highly problematical” to welcome the ending of industrial civilization.
He complains that DGR “has for its primary aim the dismantling of existing institutions, without worrying about providing alternatives for people who depend on these”.
Mukhamedov’s argument here is the same as the one used by mainstream capitalists. “You can’t do away with our system because we have made people depend on it for their survival”.
The reality of industrial civilization is that it is killing the whole of life on Earth. That is why so many of us are now saying that industrial civilization must be stopped.
We are anti-industrialist because we are partisans for life, for all life, for real life.
But the trick always used by the system, and adopted here by Mukhamedov, is to reverse the morality.
We are supposed to believe that it is industrial society which stands for life and health, thanks to the marvels of its pharmaceutical industry, and that it is its heartless opponents who threaten to bring death and misery to millions.
Mukhamedov spins a “slippery slope” trajectory which starts with deep green bogeymen attacking industrial infrastructure, continues with them dismantling towns and setting up rural autonomous communities organised by direct democracy (an “ultra-hierarchical” concept in his view) and ends with the death of “the majority of human beings”.
While being careful (in view of his target readership) to pay lip service to traditional medicine, he in fact leaps to the defence of its industrial counterpart citing (like any good industrialist) its inventions which have saved “innumerable” lives.
Refusing to acknowledge the benefits of “modern medicine” amounts to “reactionary eugenics”, he strangely argues.
While he has to admit that “many ‘deep’ green environmentalists are not reactionaries”, and that social ecologists also call for an exit from industrial civilization, Mukhamedov claims that “the heirs of ‘deep’ green politics have often forged deplorable links between the environmental movement and theories similar to those of the extreme right”.
Here we describe and deconstruct, in detail, the “ecofascist” smear used to attack opponents of industrial capitalism.
We mention, in passing, Alexander Reid Ross, a one-time editor of Earth First! Journal, who identified parts of the EF! network, as well as anarchists and left-wingers generally, as being affected by what he terms ideological “fascist creep”.
Mukhamedov in fact relies on Reid Ross as the principal source for his analysis of the US deep green movement.
This explained that he had just written an article in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz smearing opponents of US/NATO warmongering in Syria as stooges of Assad and Putin.
He declared: “The ‘anti-imperialist’ left is now shilling for tyrants in Damascus and Moscow. And conspiracy theories are the toxic glue binding them to their fellow Assad and Putin apologists on the alt-right”.
Astonishingly for a self-proclaimed anti-fascist, Reid Ross complained about the UK Labour Party’s “tepid response” to the alleged gas attack in Douma (now exposed as a false flag) and its “rejection of any humanitarian grounds for military action”.
He identified a “crossover between leftists and the far-right” in challenging the Western narrative on Syria.
As we wrote at the time, Ross was reading from exactly the same ideological script as neoliberal war apologists.
“He is trying to use the bludgeon of an alleged ideological association with the far right as a way of silencing voices on the left who challenge the US imperialist narrative”.
Funnily enough, of course, this same “far right” smear was Reid Ross’s weapon of choice in his attack on the deep green movement, one taken up enthusiastically by Mukhamedov in his French language version of the narrative.
Even more funnily enough, Mukhamedov seems to have exactly the same views as Reid Ross on Syria!
Clearly frustrated by stubborn types who refuse to swallow Western propaganda on Syria, Mukhamedov denounces them as “reactionaries infiltrating left-wing spaces”.
He claims they are “attempting to subvert movements deeming themselves progressive in favour of a pseudo anti-imperialist and reactionary approach to geopolitics, which lacks any concern for civilians and promotes, under the guise of secular anti-imperialism, a ruthless and sectarian dictator who has executed thousands and continues to commit crimes against humanity”.
Note that this is the same morality-reversal trick again. People opposing war are presented as the baddies, lacking any “concern for civilians” and effectively being responsible for thousands of deaths and “crimes against humanity”.
This is just like the way people opposing the murder of the planetary organism are depicted as monsters who threaten to kill off “the majority of human beings”.
In both instances Mukhamedov attempts to discredit authentic anti-imperialist and deep green opponents of the industrial capitalist system by adopting a pseudo-radical critique intended to sway a left-wing readership.
He can’t condemn his opponents as “extremists”, “enemies of the West” or “anti-American” because this would do them more good than harm in most left-wing circles, so instead he calls them “reactionaries” and insinuates contamination with far-right ideas.
It is worth noting that Mukhamedov’s article was published by Pulse Media, edited by Idrees Ahmad (notorious for his attacks on anyone challenging Western narratives on Syria), the controversial Robin Yassin-Kassab and Danny Postel, who in 2014 urged the US to ‘Use Force to Save Starving Syrians‘.
Interestingly, the Pulse piece is quoted twice, and at length, in an article by Daphne Lawless, who cloaks him in the white coat of neutral expert objectivity by introducing him as a “French political scientist”.
We noted how Lawless, a supposed left-winger, had leapt to the defence of the US involvement in Syria, insisting that talk of pro-US false flag attacks was “baseless slander” and “conspiracy theories”, tainted by association with the far right.
This was all part of “a growing convergence of Leftist and far–right rhetoric”, a “red-brown” menace, she argued, not forgetting to quote that esteemed “fascism expert” Alexander Reid Ross.
Mukhamedov was also honoured with a guest post on the blog run by “Bob from Brockley”, who was heavily implicated in the Philip Cross scandal which involves the systematic editing of Wikipedia to mute criticism of the US-led system.
Lawless, Reid Ross, Bob from Brockley and Mukhamedov clearly all very much come out of the same political mould.
Mukhamedov’s work has also been published in Lebanese English-language paper The Daily Star and in Yemeni publication Al-Jumhuriya.
Yep, that’s right, the regime, backed by Saudi Arabia, the US and the UK, which for the last four years has been unleashing hell on earth for the people of Yemen, bringing death, famine and destruction to millions of innocent civilians and creating what the UN has described as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.
We would have liked to have provided readers with a bit more information about Anton Mukhamedov and his take on current affairs but unfortunately both his Facebook and Twitter accounts seem to have been terminated.
Here is a screenshot of what the latter used to look like.
We have never met Mukhamedov and for all we know he may be a completely autonomous and genuine activist whose views simply don’t happen to coincide with our own.
But we do find it a bit strange that this “revolutionary” always seems to be on the side of the system, defending industrialism against deep green critics, cheerleading for US intervention in Syria, lending his services to a mouthpiece of the US-backed regime in Yemen.
Whether deliberately or not, his attacks on anti-industrialists and anti-imperialists amount to a defence of the military-industrial complex, a defence which dishonestly presents itself as a noble emancipatory crusade against “reactionaries”, “red-browns” and fascists.
Mukhamedov, like Reid Ross, effectively acts as a gatekeeper of the system, embedded with what is supposed to be the opposition.
They, and all the others like them, try to define the limits of our resistance, tell us all when we are going too far, whip us back into line when we begin to question the official narrative of infinite industrial growth, of humanitarian warfare and emancipatory technology.
Their venomous smears are aimed at all of us who dare to call for real change, who dare to believe that another world is possible, who dare to challenge the system to its core.
A very useful expose of the “green” capitalist machine manipulating climate darling Greta Thunberg has now been translated into English.
Isabelle Attard, who describes herself as a green anarchist, writes: “Everything was carefully planned to transform the young Swede into an international heroine.
“Among the shareholders of the start-up, we find members of the two interconnected families: the Perssons, children of the billionaire Sven Olof Persson, who made their fortune in large part by selling cars (Bilbolaget Nord AB), and the Rentzhogs.
“The two families of investors, who met in the region of Jämtland, have no connections to environmentalism, they are specialists in finance”.
The article describes a hidden agenda which can only be described as greenwashing, a deliberate lie “that enables capitalism to continue”.
Attard adds in a PS: “So that things are clear — the cause of this young teenager and all the young people following her, all over the world, is righteous and a great source of hope for environmental awareness.
“That being said, we shouldn’t be fooled by the role of certain adults in her entourage — spin doctors, mentors, specialists in greenwashing, green growth and capitalism. To wage an effective fight, we cannot allow ourselves to be fooled”.
We have been compiling a page of links to articles on this whole issue of fake-green capitalism within the climate justice movement, which we will continue to update.
The in-depth investigations by Cory Morningstar on the Wrong Kind of Green blog are particularly worth studying.
“The people of Fermanagh came together as never before to defeat this toxic industry in 2014. We can have confidence that together we can save our county once again.”
Determined words from local councillor and campaigner Donal O’Cofaigh in response to Tamboran’s renewed bid to frack Northern Ireland.
The company was last granted a licence in 2011, but its plans to drill a borehole at a quarry near Belcoo were met with fierce community opposition.
In late July 2014, Tamboran arrived on site in Belcoo with the intention of carrying out exploratory fracking in the Acheson and Glover quarry.
Their arrival sparked a determined local mobilisation and led to the establishment of a 24-hour camp at the quarry entrance. No drilling rig arrived.
One of the highlights from the campaign included local children singing a song calling out those in power for ignoring the hearfelt concerns of their community.
In August 2014, the Environment Minister finally took heed of the community’s demands, asking Tamboran for an Environment Impact Assessment. The project was stopped. Until now, that is.
In a radio interview, Aedín Mc Loughlin of Good Energies Alliance Ireland, based in Leitrim, highlighted the cross-border aspect of the project, saying “We know that water knows no borders, no boundaries, and if they are going to frack in Fermanagh that will have an impact on our area.”
A public consultation is open until July 5. Keep an eye on the Belcoo Frack Free Facebook page for detailed guidelines on how to make a submission.
Grassroots community resistance has been the driving force behind the success of the anti-fracking campaign across Europe and, along with unfavourable geology, continues to hamper efforts to develop the industry at scale in England too.
Understanding the difference between community and society – as highlighted by sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies – has been essential to defeating fracking, and provides valuable lessons for other movements.
As a long-time supporter of the UK campaign comments in a recent article: “The frackers might not have succeeded in establishing an industry, but they have certainly unintentionally built a committed, resilient, effective movement of people”.
And it is this people power, rooted in communities, that is sending – and will continue to send – the fracking industry packing wherever it seeks to establish itself. Fracking is stoppable, another world is possible!
Taken from the third issue of ‘Fracking is stoppable, another world is possible!‘
We are living in surreal times, when most journalists have dropped all pretence at reporting the truth.
They churn out blatant propaganda on behalf of our rulers and obediently avoid mentioning anything that might upset their paymasters.
The Gilets Jaunes revolt in France might as well never have happened, for English-speaking media. Exposure of NATO war crimes and false flags is consigned to the memory hole. The suffering of the Palestinian people is ignored. The persecution of Julian Assange is, at best, an amusing aside.
It is therefore crucial that independent journalists step forward to fill the space vacated by their corporate counterparts.
One of several encouraging initiatives is Shoal Collective, which provides “radical writing for a world beyond capitalism”.
A glance at their website, shoalcollective.org, reveals an impressive range of subject matters. Recent articles include:
* An analysis of the way the hyperloop high speed travel project uses fake green credentials to win credibility (see below).
* A call by Australian Palestinian and Jewish activists for singer and songwriter Xavier Rudd to cancel his planned concert in Israel.
* A report on how the Turkish state is continuing to try to wipe out Kurdish culture with a controversial dam which will see hundreds of majority-Kurdish villages submerged under water, displacing 78,000 people, as well as thousands of nomadic people.
* An exposé of the way the French state has been caught out using fake news in its unrelenting war against the Gilets Jaunes uprising.
* An interview with an anti-fascist fighter about defeating Daesh (Isis/Isil) in its Syrian capital.
Imagine the delight! In years to come we could all be zipping merrily across continents at almost the speed of sound through massive low-pressure tubes!
Even better, we’re talking eco-chic sustainable speed, with fossil fuel air and motor transport reduced and the super-duper shiny new “Hyperloop” tubes powered by a host of solar panels.
Following the stalling of plans for a Los Angeles to San Francisco route, US entrepreneur Elon Musk reported last year that he has now received some written authorisation to start work on a Hyperloop connection between New York and Washington, DC.
Pods travelling at 1,200 kph (750 mph) would take passengers from one city to the other in 29 minutes, he said.
The Hyperloop concept has been offered by one of Musk’s companies as open-source technology and various businesses have been showing an interest.
South Korea signed a dealto develop Hyperloop and is hoping the scheme will allow people to replace a three-hour drive from Seoul to Busan with a 20-minute trip.
Plans are also underway in France for a 40-minute Hyperloop connection between Paris and Toulouse, while the first operational route could be in the Emirates, with a Hyperloop tube planned to span the 150km between Dubai and Abu Dhabi in 12 minutes. The first stretch is due to be launched in 2020.
India, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Sweden and Indonesia are also said to be interested in building their own Hyperloops.
Over the last few years, Musk and his cheerleaders have been making much of Hyperloop’s supposedly “green” credentials.
Josh Giegel, president of Los Angeles firm Hyperloop One told the Inverse website: “We’re advertising, and we really believe in, a fully kind of green solution here.”
The techno-enthusiast Digital Trends website gushed about the “fantasy of futuristic transportation” and declared: “The Hyperloop could revolutionize mass transit, shortening travel times on land and reducing environmental damage in the process.”
Norway’s Green Party also jumped aboard the “renewable” high-speed bandwagon when it called for a Scandinavian Hyperloop connection between Oslo and Copenhagen.
But potential passengers should prepare to mind the gap… between hype and reality.
Christopher Laumanns of the degrowth.info web portal in Germany warned that there were a number of questions that needed to be asked about Hyperloop, such as “do we really want to go that fast?”, “is this the kind of technology we want?”, “who will profit from this?” and “what is the real, full ecological impact of this project?”.
He told Shoal: “The hyperloop is a mega-infrastructure-project. These projects have a rich tradition of being way more expensive than the ambitious investor says they are at the beginning.
“It will have a huge impact on the landscape, especially if the pods have to travel in a very straight line, just like highways and high-speed rail, which cut through landscapes, often with tunnels and bridges”.
Plans reveal that the giant Hyperloop tubes would either run underground, as in the New York to Washington project, or be raised above ground level on pylons – in either case cutting swathes through vulnerable landscapes and fragile habitats.
And what of the steel or reinforced concrete that would be needed to construct these continent-spanning tubes? Would this be sourced, manufactured and transported with zero environmental impact?
Not exactly. Steel depends on iron ore mines, mainly opencast, and the production process involves high levels of greenhouse gas emissions, wastewater contaminants, hazardous wastes and solid wastes.
On top of that, all the aggregates that make up concrete have to be quarried or dug out of the Earth somewhere, then transported, with further use of fossil fuel and other resources and increases in pollution.
The inclusion of solar panels in the Hyperloop marketing vision is also something of a green herring.
Enthusiasts for solar power often seem to conveniently forget that the panels themselves have a heavy environmental footprint, starting with the quartz mining, which threatens miners with the lung disease silicosis, and continuing with the caustic chemicals such as sodium hydroxide and hydrofluoric acid used in their manufacture.
The process uses not only precious water but also large amounts electricity and there is a problem with waste.
In 2011 residents of Haining in eastern China rioted for four days because the local solar panel factory was seriously polluting a nearby river, dumping toxic levels of fluoride into the water and killing large numbers of fish and some pigs.
It is unsurprising then, that Hyperloop’s claims to be eco-friendly have been greeted with scepticism by environmentalists.
Grayson Flory, editor of theEarth First! Journal in the USA, told Shoal: “The Hyperloop project is another example of dangerous greenwashing, pure and simple.
“It is a blow against a sustainable future for the planet disguised as a solution to industry-caused climate catastrophe. Environmental claims about the Hyperloop demonstrate the dominant culture’s obsession with technological progress and speed over all else.
“To prioritize high-speed transport over actual necessities for survival – such as non-toxic air, pure water, and thriving, intact ecosystems – is to ignore the very problem proponents of the Hyperloop claim they are trying to solve.
“Increasing our reliance on and dedication to technology and industry is not a rational or holistic approach to problems caused by increased reliance on and dedication to technology and industry.
“High-speed travel is not sustainable, no matter what new technology we use to make it appear so.”
Laumann, in Germany, said the broader issue of high-speed transport was important from a degrowth perspective:
“Capitalist acceleration creates the illusion of giving you more time, while it actually leads to a greater number of activities in the same amount of time, thus also creating more growth.”
José Ardillo, author of books such as Les Illusions renouvelables (“Renewable Illusions”), also agreed that the contemporary capitalist demand for high-speed transport, which Hyperloop seeks to meet, was the underlying problem.
He told Shoal: “The need for high-speed transport in modern industrial society comes within a wider historical context which was already underway at the time when the first railways were being built.
“You could say that the first need for capitalism was to efficiently link energy resources with the centres of industrial transformation, on the one hand, and on the other, of course, with distribution networks.
“The first war fought by industrial society at that stage was a war against distance. It had to nullify distance. Now contemporary industrial society is at war with time.
“Once towns and centres of production across the territory are linked together, you have to eliminate as far as possible the time needed to move between them.”
The great English writer and art critic John Ruskin died in January 1900 and so never knew the industrial insanities of the twentieth century, let alone the twenty-first.
But when he wrote in the 1870s about the madness of the railways he could just as easily have been describing the hyperloopiness of certain contemporary high-speed projects.
“There was a valley between Buxton and Bakewell, once upon a time as divine as the vale of Tempe”, he recalled.
“You enterprised a railroad through the valley – you blasted its rocks away, heaped thousands of tons of shale into its lovely stream.
“The valley is gone and the Gods with it, and now, every fool in Buxton can be at Bakewell in half-an-hour, and every fool in Bakewell at Buxton; which you think a lucrative process of exchange – you Fools everywhere”.
“No revolt against domination can really represent the general interest unless it turns itself into a rebellion against technology, a Luddite revolt”
Miguel Amorós (1949-) is an anti-industrial anarchist theorist, close to the situationist movement.
In the 1970s he was involved in setting up anarchist groups such as Bandera Negra (Black Flag) and Tierra Libre (Free Land). Jailed by the Spanish Franco regime, he then went into exile in France.
Between 1984 et 1992, Amorós was involved in producing the post-situationist review Encyclopédie des Nuisances and became known for combining full-on revolutionary anarchism with anti-industrialism.
In an article entitled ‘Where Are We Now?’, inspired by the essay of the same name by William Morris, he wrote: “The most basic task ahead of us is to bring as many people as possible together around the conviction that the system has got to be destroyed”. (1)
He added: “Technology is an instrument and a weapon because it benefits those who know best how to use it and how to be used by it. The bourgeoisie have used machines and the ‘scientific’ organisation of work against the proletariat. (2)
“No revolt against domination can really represent the general interest unless it turns itself into a rebellion against technology, a Luddite revolt”. (3)
Amorós mused on the disastrous own-goal scored by the 19th century anti-capitalist movement when it decided that industrial development offered the best route to liberation.
He wrote: “Contrary to what Marx and Engels claim, the workers’ movement condemned itself to political and social immaturity when it abandoned Utopian socialism and chose science and progress (bourgeois science and bourgeois progress) instead of community and individual flowering”. (4)
In the essay ‘Elementary Foundations of the Anti-Industrialist Critique’, he insisted that “factories, machines and bureaucracies are the real pillars of capitalist oppression”. (5)
He added: “Our critique of science, technology and the industrial system is a critique of progress. And in the same way it is a critique of the ideologies of science and progress, not least the workerist ideology, in both reformist and revolutionary guise, which is based on taking over, in the name of the proletariat, the bourgeois industrial system and its technology”. (6)
In the article ‘We Anti-Industrialists’ he wrote that in the previous phase of capitalist domination people had worked so that they could consume, whereas in the current phase we had to constantly consume so that work existed. The anti-development struggle was based on the negation of both work and consumption, in a bid to break this vicious cycle, he explained. (7)
Rather than abandon the traditional anarchist class struggle in order to embrace an anti-industrial perspective, Amorós has often stressed that they are one and the same fight.
“The anti-industrial critique does not deny the class struggle, it preserves and surpasses it and, moreover, class struggle cannot exist in today’s world other than in the form of anti-industrial struggle”, he wrote in his ‘Elementary Foundations of the Anti-Industrial Critique’. (8)
In this essay, he also made it clear that humankind will know no happiness and no future unless we can destroy the prison of industrial capitalism, writing: “An existence designed by technocrats according to industrial norms is, in effect, a life of slavery… (9) The struggle against capital is not simply a struggle for a free life, but a struggle for survival”. (10)
1. Miguel Amorós, ‘Où en-sommes nous?’, Préliminaires: Une perspective anti-industrielle(Villsavary: Éditions de la Roue, 2015), p. 22.
2. Amorós, ‘Où en-sommes nous?’, Préliminaires, p. 12.
3. Amorós, ‘Où en-sommes nous?’, Préliminaires, p. 19.
4. Amorós, ‘Où en-sommes nous?’, Préliminaires, p. 20.
5. Amorós, ‘Fondements élémentaires de la critique anti-industrielle’, Préliminaires, p. 60.
6. Amorós, ‘Fondements élémentaires de la critique anti-industrielle’, Préliminaires, pp. 60-61.
7. Amorós, ‘Nous, les anti-industriels’, Préliminaires, pp. 55-56.
8. Amorós, ‘Fondements élémentaires de la critique anti-industrielle’, Préliminaires, p. 59.
9. Amorós, ‘Fondements élémentaires de la critique anti-industrielle’, Préliminaires, p. 60.
10. Amorós, ‘Fondements élémentaires de la critique anti-industrielle’, Préliminaires, p. 61.
Political prisoner Julian Assange (see Acorn 49) is still in Belmarsh high security prison, after the hearing for his extradition to the USA was delayed until February 2020. He risks being handed a 175-year jail sentence by American courts, for revealing Uncle Sam’s dirty secrets. As the Defend Assange twitter account put it: “175 years is not a life sentence. It’s a death sentence”. Meanwhile the police raid on the ABC offices in Australia confirms that it is not just one individual facing the wrath of the authoritarian neoliberal system. All journalists who reveal truth and challenge power will be targeted as the system ramps up its attacks on dissident voices.
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The Gilets Jaunes’ revolt against the neoliberal Macron regime in France is, incredibly, still going strong after 31 successive weekends and huge levels of repression. While numbers on the protests have inevitably dropped slightly, the general feeling is that this is no passing moment of discontent and that a solid grassroots network has been built which will continue to present a serious challenge to the system. Our Gilets Jaunes page now has links to more than 30 English-language articles and videos.
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“It is easy. These spaces are designed so that a worker, who probably isn’t paid enough, can change over hundreds of these adverts in one morning!” Not content with exploiting and controlling every aspect of our lives, capitalism also visually occupies our urban environment with its advertising. If you feel like taking back what is yours, the free online Street Ad Takeover Manual from Brandalism tells you exactly how to go about it.
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“Behind financial institutions’ and NGOs’ plans to ‘combat’ the climate crisis, a project aims to generate profits through the indiscriminate sale of forests. This model is being used to green capitalism…” This is the timely warning from Aldo Santiago in Guatemala, who explains how so-called “Protected Areas” in the department of Petén are a Trojan Horse for capitalist exploitation.
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“The Zapatistas of Chiapas have shown that small autonomous and federated communities can cultivate the land by and for all, provide medical care, produce natural energy, renewable and free (an option ignored by the ecological mafias). It is essential that gratuity enter, like life, into our manners and our mentalities, from which it has been banished, excluded, forbidden for millennia. No illusions, however: the struggle against the chains with which we have deliberately held ourselves back may be very long. Which is a good reason to give ourselves over to it immediately”. So writes Raoul Vaneigem, the Belgian situationist philosopher, in an article calling for ‘A radical politics of life‘.
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A call has gone out for international action against the World Economic Forum in January 2020. The WEF paints itself as a vaguely “green” organisation, and hosted Greta Thunberg at its 2019 event, but in fact it represents the vile business interests which are destroying nature everywhere. Swiss activists are planning action and an international strike against the opening of the WEF’s next summit in Davos on January 21 – “Tuesday to End the Past, instead of Fridays for Future”.
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“The ‘smart city’ project on the Toronto waterfront is the most highly evolved version to date of what Harvard professor Shoshana Zuboff calls ‘surveillance capitalism… It is a dystopian vision that has no place in a democratic society”. This is the warning from none other than Roger McNamee — prominent Silicon Valley tech investor. Find out more on the Common Dreams site.
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Yet more shocking news of the extent to which the industrial capitalist cancer is eating away at the living flesh of our world: “There’s so much plastic in the environment that bees are making nests out of it” reveals this report from Argentina.
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Acorn quote: “We must have the earth again. The communities of socialism must redistribute the land. The earth is no one’s private property. Let the earth have no masters; then we men are free”.