Another political fault line has been opened up by the rapidly spiralling events of 2020.
As we wrote yesterday, the Covid scare has found us sharing the anti-authoritarian analysis of people beyond the usual anarchic spheres, while many supposed comrades are bizarrely supportive of the official state narrative.
However, the current street uprisings across the USA, sparked by the murder of George Floyd, have revealed a peculiar limit to some people’s opposition to the nascent global police state.
Unlike us, they have not found hope in the sight of thousands upon thousands of people of all races reclaiming the streets of dozens of cities, overturning police cars, setting on fire the buildings used to oppress them.
They apparently don’t think that it is reasonable, or helpful, to come together and physically resist the state and its hired thugs!
In taking this stance, they reveal that they have understood nothing about the system which has controlled and exploited us for so long, and which is now dropping its liberal mask to reveal its true totalitarian nature.
They have not grasped that its so-called “democracy” is fake, that the “reforms” it sometimes offers us are illusory, that the avenues it provides for us to try and change things are all time-wasting dead-ends.
Most of all, they have failed to see that the whole of the system’s control of us is built on violence.
As this article explains: “The capitalist state was created by violence, is maintained by violence and is always prepared to resort to all the forms of violence at its disposal to resist challenges to its power.
“The ‘law’ itself, that foundation of its control over the population, is the flag of convenience under which this violence is carried out.
“Physically attacking someone is violence, even if you happen to be dressed up in some fancy clothes provided by the state.
“Physically confining someone in a locked space, with the constant use and threat of force, is also violence, even if you put on a stupid wig to announce what you are going to do to them.
“Bombing someone is violence, as is shooting them, torturing them, spraying them with chemicals.
“Wearing down someone’s resistance, forcing them to follow your rules, to live the way you tell them to, by means of a permanent, lifelong threat of violence if they step out of line is also, needless to say, violence”.
We cannot hope to win our freedom by obediently playing by the rules the system has written to protect itself from us.
We have to break through the barriers it has built to keep us in our place, not least the psychological ones.
One of these barriers is the idea that it is “wrong” to resist state oppression, that “the law” must be respected.
This deeply conditioned response even leads some to assume that breaking the law to fight the system must necessarily be some kind of cunning trap into which we must diligently refuse to fall!
The biggest barrier of all is the notion, implanted in our minds virtually from birth, that we can never defeat the system.
Resistance is futile, they tell us. There is no alternative, another world is completely impossible. There is nothing you can do about this. Stay home, shut up, submit.
But this is a complete lie! If it was true, why would they invest so much effort into policing us, surveilling us, imprisoning us, constantly devising new laws and techniques to chain us?
It is because the tiny ultrarich elite, who run the system for their own selfish benefit, are very aware that they are hopelessly unnumbered. They are scared of us!
They know full well that if ever we broke through the barriers of fear and disempowerment with which they surround us, if ever we overcame the divisions with which they separate us, we would be able to bring their capitalist prison-world crashing down.
Early on in the Covid crisis we noticed that something very strange was happening in the world of anarchism.
In our April 3 article ‘Anarchists and the Coronavirus‘, we warned: “Because they accept at face value the narrative around coronavirus being pumped out by the corporate media, too many anarchists end up reinforcing and amplifying the fearmongering message”.
Since then we have featured several articles addressing this issue (see here, here and here).
We have not yet conducted a second in-depth analysis of anarchist reactions to the health scare and the lockdown because, frankly, the material is too depressing to read!
But the UK anarchist scene’s response to what has been happening has surely reached rock bottom with the inane comment piece published by Freedom paper of London on May 27.
This article, by an academic called Jonathan Bigger, says that although “we” have until recently been “ideologically opposed to government”, the pandemic “is helping us see things in a different light”.
Unbelievable! In other words, the personnel of the UK’s best-known anarchist institution have apparently given up on anarchism!
It gets worse. While all across the country, people are waking up to the totalitarian horror of what is being imposed on them under the pretext of the virus, it seems that for Freedom’s writer the house-arrest fascist lockdown is not the issue at all.
The problem for him, as for any good state-worshipping control freak, is “the damage of incompetent government”.
And he claims, with evident pride: “It was anarchists who led the way in terms of wanting a lockdown and being prepared for it”.
Freedom have recent form for this sort of stupidity. Well before the start of the Covid crisis, on January 6, they roundly castigated and “muted” us on Twitter.
The Freedom representative (on this occasion “zb”) was not at all interested in our perfectly polite recommendation that they dip into our online climate capitalists library to find out more about the green capitalism scam.
Instead they tweeted: “Sorry but I have very little time for conspiracy theorists, and you have proven time after time that you are one. Will give you a mute now, can’t see why I should bother any further”.
In addition to the climate capitalist issue, there had been a brief and polite exchange about the lack of anarchist voices condemning US imperialist aggression against Iran.
It seemed incredible a few months ago that Freedom might object to us opposing capitalism and imperialism, but now these “anarchists” are also calling for a strong and competent state!
In all seriousness, Freedom should not only drop any pretence at being anarchist, but in order to avoid confusion, should also very quickly change its name to something more appropriate.
The abject failure of so much of the anarchist movement to stand up to actual real-life fascism, after all those years of anti-fascist politicking, has been traumatic for many of us who feel part of the tradition.
Because of the dearth of anarchist voices condemning dictatorship and defending freedom, we have been forced to spread the net wider than usual in a desperate search for common sense.
We have come to greatly appreciate the video news bulletins put out by UK Column, for example, and the articles written by Peter Hitchens.
There is a growing sense that a realignment is taking place, in which the pro-lockdown anarcho-authoritarians are very much on the other side of the barricades to us.
As OffGuardiantweeted: “The #CoronavirusLockdown has thrown into sharp relief that left vs right is no longer the dynamic. The only fight that really matters now is authoritarians vs anti-authoritarians”.
A welcome contribution to this debate has now come from our anarchist comrades at The South Essex Heckler.
In their May 29 article ‘The emerging political divide‘, they address the way that so many anarchists have apparently been duped by the state’s “psychological warfare, also known more colloquially as psyops”.
They add: “What is also going on is what seems to be a profound reformulation of political and social divides.
“The labels left and right are starting to become less relevant. What is starting to emerge in the ongoing confusion and chaos is a divide between those of us who value personal and collective autonomy at the grassroots on the one hand and on the other, those who look to the state to provide ‘solutions’ to problems, regardless of how totalitarian those ‘solutions’ may turn out to be.
“As old political definitions and divides become redundant while new ones emerge, we’ll find ourselves with some strange bedfellows. Some may end up as firm allies, some may eventually end up as opponents or enemies.
“The point is that we have to remain open minded and flexible during this ever evolving and often confusing situation. We’re not always going to get it right and yes, if we get through this, in a few years time we may well look back and ask ourselves why the heck did we align ourselves with these particular people?!
“To come to some kind of conclusion, given that our personal and collective autonomy is on the line, it’s better to remain open minded and willing to experiment with new alliances.
“A rigid adherence to a particular line, a refusal to countenance new alliances and condemnation of those of us who are open minded and willing to experiment will inadvertently usher in a techno totalitarian future”.
The issue of how far any of us can be open to “new alliances” is obviously a thorny one.
For instance, most anarchists have no problem in siding with oppressed sectors of the population who rise up against authority, whether in the USA,France or anywhere else.
Any reluctance is likely to be from these rebels themselves, suspicious of outside activists parachuting opportunistically into their struggles with little knowledge of the long-term problems they have been facing.
But there is an enormous taboo in anarchist circles about being seen to be anything less than violently hostile to anyone who could possibly be imagined to have anything to do with “the right”.
This issue has already been confronted in France, when anarchists and leftists found themselves on the same Gilets Jaunes protests as flag-waving patriots.
There was a mixture of reactions, ranging from physical fights to a mutual adaptation of political positions in the interests of a common front.
What seems to have emerged is a kind of “populist” anti-system consensus, which rejects Macron and his neoliberal world, detests the brutal police sent to attack their revolt, distrusts corporate media, despises the smug upper classes and strongly champions social justice, protection of the environment and participative democracy.
It is also worth noting that the Gilets Jaunes remain very popular among working-class French people, despite the non-stop venom that has been spat at them by the Establishment and its media since November 2018.
Could this sort of grassroots anti-authoritarian alliance emerge in the UK, in the face of the massive and unprecedented threat to our lives we are currently facing?
Can anarchist ideals provide the vital spirit to energise a massive uprising against the would-be techno-dictatorship?
In a topsy-turvey world where puffed-up self-professed anarchists turn out to be nothing of the sort, could it be that the actual anarchists out there are only now about to discover that this is what they really are?
The fight-back against the totalitarian Corona Coup continues to build in Europe – and so, inevitably, does the repression used against it.
The bravest politician on the continent has to be Italian MP Sara Cunial.
She told the parliament in Rome on May 14: “The real goal of this is total control, absolute domination of human beings, transformed into guinea pigs and slaves.
“We, with the people, will multiply the fires of resistance in such a way as you won’t be able to repress us all”.
The biggest protests have been in Germany. On Saturday May 16 people took to the streets in cities including Berlin, Leipzig, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Bremen, Nuremberg and Munich.
The most impressive wave of revolt against what is being called the Corona-Diktatur (“Corona dictatorship”) has come in Stuttgart. The 50 people who turned out on the first weekend of protests have turned into thousands.
This time the authorities limited attendance to 5,000 people with thousands more in surrounding streets.
Two newly-formed campaign groups are involved: Querdenken (“anticonformist”) and Widerstand 2020 (“Resistance 2020”).
One of those present, Ahmed Aydin, aged 27, told the media: “People are starting to understand that this virus is being used to deprive us of our basic rights”.
He said the time had come to “enter into resistance” in order to “save what’s left of democracy”.
Günter Klein, a protester in his 60s, said he was particularly outraged by the mask issue.
“Only slaves mask their faces, not free men. We are slipping into dictatorship, even fascism. It’s good that all these diverse people here are awake to this”.
In Munich, one protester, Gerion, told a reporter that the restrictions “serve an agenda that has nothing to do with health”.
Germans have experience of resisting totalitarianism, whether of the right or “left” variety. A report from AFP explains: “Slogans like ‘We are the people’ or ‘Freedom! Freedom!’ refer back to the demonstrations that preceded the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989”.
In the UK, hundreds gathered in London’s Hyde Park on Saturday May 16 to protest against the lockdown.
The message was clear from the placards and banners: “Freedom over fear”. “No to the new abnormal”. “This is not about a virus, it is about control”. “I am a free man, I am not a number”.
Protesters chanted “freedom!” in defiance of the Met Police’s zero tolerance of dissent. “No more lies! Enough of the lies!” shouted one woman protester.
Another “Stand Up X” protest has been called for Clapham Common, London, on Saturday May 23, from 12 noon.
The French authorities banned a number of Gilets Jaunes demonstrations planned for Saturday May 16, but courageous freedom-lovers still took to the streets.
Police attacked protesters and bystanders in Lyons and there were arrests in Paris.
In Montpellier, hundreds of protesters turned out and blocked tram lines. A woman was taken to hospital after falling victim to a police baton.
One placard quoted George Orwell to the effect that dictatorship thrives on ignorance. Another declared: “We were here yesterday, we are here today, we will be here tomorrow, until victory. We won’t give up! We will win back all our rights!”
At St Nazaire on the Atlantic coast of France, police used “insane” levels of repression against 200 people who had gathered to oppose totalitarianism.
Nos flics adorent terroriser les femmes! et tripoter leurs fessses! ils empêchent ce citoyen de filmer la scène!St Nazaire pic.twitter.com/facgyeRfuU
The state violence meted out in France is nothing new and continues the brutality used by the Macron regime to try and crush the Gilets Jaunes uprising.
Also familiar is the gross distortion of the protesters’ political position by the corporate media.
The ruling elite went to great lengths to discredit the Gilets Jaunes, initially depicting them as far-right and even “anti-semitic”.
Use of phoney “fascist” smears has long been part of the lies deployed by the neoliberal system to obscure its own totalitarian nature and to disallow its opponents’ point of view.
This gaslighting approach, which inverses reality and presents victims as oppressors and defenders of freedom as fascists, is explored in some depth in this article on the organic radicals site.
An additional level to this form of repression is the use of state-manipulated pseudo gangs to physically attack dissidents in a politically-disguised manner.
This already seems to be happening in Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel is said to be “worried” by the protests uniting “ultraleft activists”; “conspiracy theorists” and elements of the right.
And here she is joined by elements of what can only be viewed as the fake left. Some of these groups are reported to have taken to the streets to oppose anti-lockdown protests and they specifically condemn “conspiracy theories“.
One website attacking the pro-freedom rebels evidently realises it is impossible to claim they are all far right, so instead bandies around terms like “hippies” and “liberals”.
But it then adds that “the wild mixture of ‘corona rebels’ is united above all by the anti-Semitic notion that a certain group, cosmopolitan and globally networked (WHO, science, etc.), is controlling and targeting the worldwide pandemic”.
So here we have it yet again! The familiar device of condemning analysis and criticism of a global capitalist elite as automatically “anti-semitic”, even when there is no mention of ethnicity and when the most commonly identified culprit, Bill Gates, is not Jewish.
Similar smears are also being rolled out in the UK, where the spectre of “anti-semitism” played a key role in keeping Jeremy Corbyn out of Dowining Street.
This time the victims include his brother Piers Corbyn, who has been a vocal campaigner against the nightmare police state being imposed in 2020.
Piers Corbyn tweeted that The Sunday Times had lied about the London protest on May 16. “We had 300 not 50. Their photo shows their lies”.
He added: “It wasn’t a Freedom Movement demo. That was a pathetic hoax to brand us Far Right. We’re StandUpX”.
As we have already complained, too many “anarchists” in the UK have taken a pro-system stance over the Corona Coup and have been hysterical in condemning those who challenge official narratives.
Their dumbed-down binary thinking sees them easily tricked into automatically rejecting anything tainted with supposedly “right-wing” associations, even when this leads them into supporting the system they supposedly oppose.
Can we expect to see this sleight of hand being used to persuade left activists to mobilise against anti-lockdown protesters?
In the 1930s it was fascist militia who were used by the state to physically attack movements which challenged the capitalist system. Will the fake left be used to play the same role in the 2020s?
In France, the Gilets Jaunes movement rose above the “far right” smears because of the vast numbers of left-wing radicals who joined its ranks and, sometimes, physically expelled fascists from protests.
It is crucial that anarchists, and other comrades on the left, are not fooled by our rulers’ lies and smears.
We must neither cede to the state nor cede dangerous long-term political ground to the far right, by stupidly standing aside and letting them be seen to lead popular resistance to the clampdown.
If our ideas and our principles mean anything at all, we need to quickly step forward to the front line of this historical struggle against tyranny.
There had already been signs, before the coronavirus panic, that neoliberalism was shedding its fake-democratic mask and was preparing to switch to fascist mode.
And now we are well on the way. The global ruling elite have declared war on our freedom.
So what are we going to do about it? We reported in Acorn 56 that even last month there were signs of resistance.
Since then, despite the concerted efforts of the fake left to encourage supine obedience, there have been more outbreaks of anti-authoritarian revolt.
In Brussels, for instance, an anti-police uprising took place from April 10 to 12, unfortunately resulting in 100 arrests. There has also been spirited resistance on the streets of Santiago, Chile.
In France, the biggest reaction against the confinement has come from the poorest housing estates on the fringes of Paris and other cities.
The ongoing war between brutal, often racist, cops and local youth has intensified under the new police-state atmosphere and riots kicked off all over the place after Mouldi, a young man on a moped, was “accidentally” killed by police at Villeneuve la Garenne on April 18.
For night after night, in various parts of France, police were pelted with stones and fireworks and their vehicles and at least one local police station set on fire. “Mort aux porcs!”, “Death to the pigs!” was the slogan of choice.
This declares: “We haven’t forgotten that at the end of 2018 the violence of the Gilets Jaunes had become its last remaining option for seeking dignity and social justice.
“Some denied that this was the case and today there is another battle for the general interest that many would rather not see.
“This is the battle of the working-class areas who are fighting back with violence because violence is the only option the authorities have left open to them if they are to defend themselves against a police force which has granted itself power over life and death in these areas.
“As ever, and as was frequently the case with the Gilets Jaunes, the political and media class will condemn these popular revolts and explain to us that nothing can justify such violence. That people can be angry and have legitimate complaints, but that they can’t be expressed in this fashion.
“This class will try to empty these eminently political acts of all their substance. It will tell us that this violence is just gratuitous barbarity. But the real barbarity here is injustice.
“This is a people’s revolt and we must get behind it!”
Meanwhile, at least one call for protests in France on Friday May 1 has gone out.
“Because we are being trampled on. Because we can’t let the State dictate our lives. Because ending the lockdown has got to be an integral part of our struggle”.
The post on Nantes Indymedia adds: “Small-scale or individual actions are fine, but it is also important to take back the streets, to re-open a space that the authorities would like to close down”.
In the UK, radicals are calling for Mayday action short of mass protest.
Say the Green Anticapitalist Front: “This Mayday is unlike any previous Maydays. There will be no marches in the streets and no public speeches. Yet, now more than ever, we need to show that we are still here, still angry and still fighting.
“GAF is calling for an autonomous day of action on the 1st of May. We can’t demonstrate, but that doesn’t mean we can’t revolt. Take action alone or in a small crew. Mutual aid, solidarity, and direct action, all are valid. Keep it serious, keep it quiet. But above all stay safe.
“If you want us to share your action (after the event) on our social media, send us photos and details to email@example.com”
But the determination of large numbers of Americans to stand up to tyranny is heartening.
Could it be that, from now on, the only political fault line that really matters is between those who support and bow down to the new life-crushing global techno-dictatorship and those who rise up to resist it?
We will watch with interest how things evolve on the other side of the Atlantic.
Perhaps the most interesting developments have been coming in Germany, where a collective memory of the reality of totalitarianism remains strong.
Up to 1,000 people have been turning up for what are now weekly Saturday rallies in Berlin, with other protests elsewhere.
There are conflicting reports as to who is involved in these events, with some dismissing them as essentially far-right.
But it is clear that, as with the Gilets Jaunes in France, the wave of angry opposition is flooding across the usual political divides.
This report made it clear that the latest Berlin protest “attracted mainly far-left activists”.
It added: “Some of the demonstrators wore T-shirts accusing Chancellor Angela Merkel of ‘banning life’ while others simply called for ‘freedom’. Others brandished placards bearing slogans such as ‘Stop the pharmaceutical lobby'”.
Coverage was notably more hostile from other sources, such as Vice, with its dubious sources including “extremism experts monitoring the protests”.
It conceded that the rallies were “organized by a fringe group that considers themselves left-wing anticapitalists”, while still suggesting that they were contaminated by the right.
In another piece, Vicewrote dismissively of “conspiracy theorists” and “the paranoid belief that elites are imposing an oppressive ‘corona dictatorship’ on the public”.
Anyone detect a hint of panicky state propaganda?
One of these dangerous subversives, Anselm Lenz, gives an interview in English here.
Lenz is a journalist who was thrown out of his job for questioning the official virus narrative.
He and others have now formed a Demokatrischer Widerstand (Democratic Resistance) movement, with a printed rebel newspaper.
He explains that this is being distributed all over the country. There are now more than 100 local DW groups up and running, he says.
On Friday May 1 and Saturday May 2, the dissidents will be distributing their paper in Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Berlin, from 3.30pm, with simultaneous events far and wide.
We look forward to hearing news of the resistance kicking off everywhere!
For all those who have yet to decolonise their hearts and minds from the dominant system, and are to eager to run into the arms of those offering “solutions” to what are complex societal issues.
Imagine a world where we opposed the entire system, rather than parts of it.  
Imagine a world where we ignored the mass media. 
Imagine a world where we spent our time fighting the latest corporate scam instead of being distracted by whatever the mass media is trying to distract us with.
Imagine a world free of advertising.
Imagine a world where we only consume what is absolutely necessary, reducing the need for exploitation of people and planet.
Imagine a world where communities lived off-grid.
Imagine a world free of factories producing stuff we don’t need.
Imagine a world where corporations didn’t exist because we produce what we need for ourselves.
Imagine a world where we all have access to land to grow enough food to be self-sufficient.
Imagine a world free of religion, where instead we hold in reverence Mother Earth and all her wonders. 
Imagine a world where people stopped placing their trust in NGOs and civil society organisations, and instead formed strong, organic communities to fight state and corporate greed. 
Imagine a world with minimum need for conventional medicine because Mother Earth offers us everything we need to stay healthy.
Imagine a world where we spent most of our days outdoors close to nature, strengthening our immune systems and building up resistance to any viruses that may come our way.
Imagine a world where we cared for each other without having to rely on governments, institutions or corporations.
Imagine a world where children are taught the importance of living in harmony with the natural world rather than removed from it by spending their days learning online between four walls.
Imagine a world where children are allowed to develop their imagination and creativity without having material forced down their throats.
Imagine a world where we exchanged our skills, and did away with the need for money. 
Imagine a world where we stopped arguing with each other over petty things, and instead focused on what unites us rather than on what divides.
Imagine a world where we took the time to genuinely listen to each other and understand each other, rather than making rash judgements, sticking labels on each other, putting each other in boxes, positioning each other on the left-right spectrum.
Imagine a world where we stood in solidarity with indigenous and tribal peoples instead of supporting the climate capitalists hell bent on plundering more of their lands. 
Imagine a world where we didn’t feel obliged to get married, settle down, or have children.
Imagine a world where we didn’t have to do work that we don’t enjoy.
Imagine a world where we didn’t live by the tyranny of the clock. 
Western Despotism can now unload the liberal baggage of bourgeois democratic institutions, having ruined the planet and enslaved humanity to its poisonous techno/industrial economy.
The capitalist disaster returns to its despotic origins, as the grave it is digging for itself threatens to take the rest of us and all living things that populate the planet.
The digital nightmare that will make domination inescapable is being foisted on a population terrorised by the very products it consumes and the mode of production that creates them.
The machine man and machine world that is domination’s dream of total control requires a level of servitude that can only be realized through the coercive apparatus of the state and the techno industrial Hydra that has colonized daily life with increasing speed in the last 20 years.
The choices that we humans face boil down to one: the living death of servitude, as machines in a machine world or liberty, or put in a more clear way, between life and death.
The Road to Hell Is Paved with Good Intentions: COVID-19, Corbyn and ‘Crisis’ is a new 44-page brochure on the 325 website which reflects that the UK anarchist movement has been badly led astray by the Jeremy Corbyn phenomenon and now in its reaction to the virus clamp-down. It states: “Relationships that were built on shared ideas and experiences have become damaged. This isn’t some teenage angst ridden over dramatisation, it is a genuine reflection, a question about what remains”. The full text is available here, but below are few choice segments:
We planned to get this text together and then publish and distribute it when stuff “returned to normal”. But, the reality is: there is no going back to what was “normal,” so even though some may read this text as an unsympathetic distraction from a global “crisis”, and an unhelpful poke in some festering wounds (when we should be focusing on “unity”), we hope our humble but fiery reflections will spark some much needed discourse. We are living in a hostile environment, but it was important to us not to shy away from our beliefs in these dark times, and to respond accordingly.
Already many mutual aid groups have become channels for gossip (who knows where this will go in the next few weeks… comrades in Italy warn us of neighbourhood snitching and people using these channels to do the work of the police). Already over half the police forces in England are co-opting the mutual aid groups and using them as an extension of their surveillance mechanisms. The divisive mentality that emerged with the growth of social media (the idea that you are inherently dodgy if you don’t engage; as you must have something to hide) has spiked, and like the virus, it seems unclear when it will “peak”.
To those who say that now is not the time for “civil unrest,” that division is unhelpful, that we must keep going… we say: now is the time for it all. Mutual aid and solidarity can be no more than acts of charity if they are not combined with resistance in this current context. Carefully, whilst being safe and thinking of others… rebel, resist, and plan. Find
the gaps, use the skills and networks you have. Keep yourself sane and your rebellious heart burning, because when the virus eases, the police state will continue, and food parcels and lending books are not going to dismantle it. Stay sharp.
COVID-19 is in many ways a global gift to all leaders and politicians seeking to ramp up social control. After the virus eases, we will see unprecedented changes on a global scale as legislation that was rushed through hangs over us like a spectre and people obediently go about their business, terrified of Covid-20. We hope that we will never be too scared to resist. Corona shows us that the system is fucked. Will you kick it while it’s down?
We’ve had week after week of wall to wall coverage of the COVID-19 crisis in the media. The question is, how many people are still paying attention to it and how many, for the sake of their sanity, are choosing to switch off from it? If this ever ends, it would be an interesting exercise to conduct research on what effect this barrage of coverage has had on people’s mental health. It would also be interesting to see how much this relentless coverage has further undermined people’s already shrinking faith in the media.
We’ve been doing what we can to try and keep up with developments but to be honest, we have days when the stress of trying to discern any meaningful signal from the cacophony of noise is so overwhelming, we simply switch off and try to re-focus the following day. Having said this, a still somewhat scratchy picture is starting to emerge of what we face in the coming months and years as the COVID-19 crisis evolves and morphs into something that will quite possibly be sinister and dystopian.
Fault lines are emerging. On the one hand, there are those who by and large accept the lockdown and the need for it to go on for some considerable time and also, are largely supportive of whatever tracking and monitoring measures have been mooted to ostensibly limit and eventually eliminate the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
On the other hand, there are those who have taken a look at the relentless coverage of the crisis, smelt a rat and are starting to question the narrative we’re being fed, particularly when that is being used to justify measures which will restrict our freedom and subject us to more surveillance.
As regular readers of the Heckler may have gathered, we tend towards the latter. We’re anarchists and as we’re supposed to accept no higher authority than ourselves and those we collectively organise with, it would be downright negligent of us to not question the narrative we’re being fed!
So, all of the extra powers the government has conferred upon itself and all of the surveillance and tracking that’s coming our way, ostensibly to deal with COVID-19, will certainly come in handy when the shit hits the fan as the next wave of austerity is sent to crush us. Just one example are the powers that could see restrictions or bans on large gatherings for the rest of the year and quite possibly, into 2021. As we’ve mentioned previously, large gatherings will take in demonstrations and radical/anarchist bookfairs.
Which leaves us with mutual aid work and online propagandising. If you keep your mutual aid work away from digital networks as far as possible, avoid any hierarchy, keep it grassroots and face to face, you’ll get by. Those of us who are basically propagandists and because of the dearth of opportunities to physically distribute our material, pretty much have to rely on being online, will be facing a very uncertain future as we slide towards more authoritarianism.
On the subject of restrictions, there are strong rumours that many cafes, pubs and restaurants will not open again until close to Christmas. Bear in mind, many of these establishments face the prospect of going to the wall: Pubs in the UK Might be Closed Until Christmas – If They Survive at All. As we’ve written before, that’s a massive loss of opportunities to meet up with friends for company, drink and/or food.
While those of us whose jobs have survived this massive economic shock will be gradually returning to work, there will be little or no socialising because there won’t be anywhere to go. Life will be reduced to work, commute, eat, sleep, commute, work…repeat on loop, ad infinitum. Entertainment will not be the company of friends but whatever is being piped down to our TVs. A diet of fear-mongering so called ‘news’ designed to keep us frightened and reliant on the authorities to look after us. Sprinkled with a toxic dose of divide and rule to keep us divided, atomised and easier to manipulate and control.
That’s for those ‘lucky’ enough to still be in ‘steady’ work. For the millions more who’ll be on precarious zero hours contracts or unemployed, struggling to find work in an economy that’s been gutted and reliant on Universal Credit, life will be grim. For those who are disabled and rely on Universal Credit and a gutted public sector for the support they need, life is already horrendous as they find themselves increasingly thrown to the margins. As it is for the elderly in care homes pretty much unable to access hospital treatment and finding that they’re subject to ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ notices.
We’re in a society where some lives are seen as worth considerably less than others – based on how much people can or can’t contribute to the ‘bottom line’. When that narrative starts to become widely accepted, what is essentially a cull by a combination of neglect and malice starts to become normalised.
The lockdown is tearing us apart from each other. If a loved one has been diagnosed as having COVID-19 before they passed away, not only were you not allowed to be with them in their final hours if they were in hospital, you’re not allowed to see their body before cremation. Numbers are strictly limited at the funeral with physical distancing enforced and no wake afterwards. At a point in life where you need to emotional and physical support of family and friends, it’s denied to you. People are going to be mentally scarred by experiencing the passing of a loved one in this way for the rest of their lives.
We live opposite a park with play equipment, now taped off. It’s been silent since March when the lockdown was brought in. Along with the closure of nurseries and schools, kids have been denied the opportunity to play with each other. Play is not a frivolous activity. From toddlers onwards, play is how kids learn to interact with each other. It’s how they learn to negotiate, compromise and co-operate with each other. It’s how they learn from mistakes and go on to become fully rounded human beings. Denying kids the opportunity to play for any significant length of time is going to cause long term developmental and mental health issues down the line.
Adolescence is when kids really start to work out who they are. It’s when kids quite rightly want to assert their independence and get out into the world. It’s when long term friendships are formed. It’s when they develop a support network of their peers. Can you imagine what an adolescent will be feeling when all of this is denied to them as they face what is to all intents and purposes, indefinite house arrest? A ‘normal’ adolescent will find this hard enough. Anyone with mental health issues will find this agonising. Tragically, this has already led to adolescents feeling they have no option but to take their lives.
Lockdown with an abusive partner or parent is a nightmare that doesn’t even bear thinking about. It’s a potential death sentence. Anyone advocating the continuation of the lockdown really needs to have some thought as to what urgently has to happen to prevent any more tragedies where an individual has been killed by an abusive partner or parent.
As we’ve written previously, it really does feel like we’re being subjected to a massive psychological experiment: A few readings and thoughts on the psychological impact of COVID-19 anxiety and the lockdown. One in which we’re simultaneously being subjected to an unprecedented level of fear-mongering and being torn apart from each other. One in which we’re being made to feel that the only option of being able to move forwards is to subject ourselves to a loss of autonomy through increased tracking and surveillance, ostensibly for our own good. One in which our hopes and plans for the future have been trashed. One in which we’re being atomised and made ever more dependent on the whims of our rulers for our survival. One which has already turned into a fucking nightmare for a lot of people and will do for many more of us.
It seems that when a commentator uses the word ‘reset’ to describe the social and economic turmoil that’s coming our way, the accusations of ‘conspiracy theory’ start flying around. The last few weeks have been quite revealing in terms of where those accusations have been coming from because a fair number of them have come from people who consider themselves to be ‘radical’ and a few from so called ‘anarchists’. The point is that the global lockdown has caused an economic shock of historic proportions that like previous shocks, will end up seeing more wealth concentrated in fewer hands. As has already been seen in the years since the banking crash of 2008.
So, people who may think they’re doing the right thing by supporting restrictions on movement and gatherings, as well as increased tracking and surveillance are actually supporting the creation and enhancement of an apparatus that will completely screw our lives and freedoms. All we ask is that you take a deep breath, take a few steps back, do your best to get some perspective and start to ask some hard questions about what’s being done to us. If those questions aren’t asked and we continue on the trajectory we’re on, for many of us, life will become mere existence as we’re effectively plugged into a dystopian matrix. Many may not even survive to experience this.
You may find this hard to believe but we’d really love it if we were wrong on everything we’ve written above and ended up with a copious amount of egg on our faces. Trust us, we want to wake up and find this has all been a bad dream. The thing is, we wake up every morning, check our news feed, see the deserted playground opposite us, feel that tightening, sickening feeling in our guts and realise this is reality. We’ve got an all too narrow window of opportunity to act and start to resist what’s happening to us. If we don’t, not only are we screwed, generations to come will be as well…
I am proud to have found my way to anarchism some 30 years ago, proud to have learned all I could about anarchism, to have put anarchism into practice, to have met existing anarchists, to have led others towards anarchism, to have written and talked so much about anarchism.
I have lived anarchism and I know that I will die an anarchist.
That is why it pains me to have had to say that there are today some fundamental problems at the very heart of the anarchist movement, problems which reach deep into the very way it thinks and feels.
It saddens me to have had to point out that what presents itself to the outside world as anarchism is often nothing but the empty shell of anarchism, a zombie anarchism, still stumbling ahead with black flag held aloft, but cruelly robbed of its soul.
Needless to say there are plenty of anarchists around the world who are true to the essence of the idea, some of whom have let me know that they share my concerns.
But I have got a horrible feeling that these authentic anarchists are, these days, very much in the minority.
My first inkling that all was not well with anarchism, and indeed the wider social movement to which it belongs, came nearly 19 years ago.
Up until that moment, everything had been going swimmingly well for me. I was inspired and delighted by the seemingly unstoppable tide of the global anti-capitalist revolt of which I formed a tiny part.
I should say here that I wasn’t at the great battles of Seattle, Prague or Genoa, although I was in the City of London on June 18, 1999 and at the subsequent Mayday events.
But missing out on all the “summit hopping” didn’t make me any less enthusiastic about the great revolution that seemed to be approaching.
My comrades and I made sure the inhabitants of our home town were well aware of what was happening across the world, via leaflets, bulletins, posters, meetings, protests and squatted infoshops.
I am sure I was still feeling as motivated as ever on September 11 2001, as a group of us travelled to London Docklands to protest against the DSEI arms fair.
The demo ground to halt when news started coming in of the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York and people rushed to the pub to watch the news on TV.
We didn’t, of course, understand the implications of what had happened and initially welcomed it as another sign of the impending collapse of the evil empire.
The actual effect of 9/11 on our struggle only became clear to me a few weeks later when I was attending a meeting in the nearby city whose thriving anarchist scene was, to me and my friends, a constant source of inspiration.
Someone who had been very much part of the pink-and-silver-samba-bloc Zeitgeist of the uprising told me that she wouldn’t be doing that any more. It didn’t seem right, after the terrorist attack, to continue our carnival-cum-war against the USA and its world of capitalism.
I was completely taken aback by this comment. I simply couldn’t imagine how anyone – anyone on my side! – could have come to that decision.
Stop fighting against everything that was bad in the world because something else bad had happened, something that wasn’t our fault, that was nothing to do with us, that had no bearing on the reasons or the aims of our struggle?
My disappointment resonates now across the years, vibrating with the brave new world of 2020…
Fortunately, this wasn’t the end of the movement to which I had attached myself. It morphed seamlessly into the radical wing of the anti-war movement in 2002 and 2003.
The demos were less fun-based now, maybe, but the energy was very much still in evidence, together with a firmness of ethical conviction that was well able to withstand the weapons of mass deception unleashed by Blair, Campbell and Bush.
It wasn’t just anarchists who didn’t believe their lies, of course. Millions of people rejected their message of fear and took to the streets to say so.
The authorities hadn’t quite perfected their narrative projection in those days. They hadn’t properly closed down all the possibilities of dissent. But that still didn’t stop them from going ahead with the invasion of Iraq!
Another moment of disappointment for me came in the summer of 2005 during the anti-G8 moblisation in Scotland, one which was strangely similiar to that of 2001.
Once again our protests came to a halt, this time because of the 7/7 carnage down in London.
Once again something bad had happened somewhere else, something that wasn’t our fault, that was nothing to do with us, that had no bearing on the reasons or the aims of our protest.
Some people were saying we should call off the planned demos. Why? Why would we want to do that?
I recall that we broke down into bario meetings to discuss what to do. Our group was certainly in favour of carrying on the mobilisation and I heard later that the same was true of others.
But, somehow or other, the non-leaders at the Stirling convergence space deemed that the democratic decision had been taken to throw in the towel. Their de-escalation team went into action to defuse all that inconvenient anarchist rage.
They must have diligently continued their work everywhere afterwards, because from that point on, there seemed to be decreasing levels of anger, and indeed, energy, in the UK movement.
The very idea of physically opposing global capitalist summits, which had so inspired me in the past, was now considered hopelessly old hat.
The 2013 Stop The G8 campaign was largely snubbed by what was left of the anarchist movement in the country and the London mobilisation would have been a total flop without the enthusiastic participation of European comrades.
Since then, the movement and its attitudes seem to have become progressively drained of the coherent and powerful worldview which drew me to anarchism as a young man in search of political and philosophical truth.
Every couple of years, a new fashionable obsession seems to have taken a grip, speaking a language I do not know in order to express views which are completely alien to me.
Noam Chomsky has spoken about the “incomprehensible gibberish that comes out of left-wing intellectual movements”, which he described as “just impossible to understand”. (1)
There are two obvious consequences to this relentless advance of the anarchist scene into an intellectual and political dead-end.
Firstly, the people it recruits will be those who are prepared to uncritically conform to its one-dimensional newthink, who are willing to surrender their own independence of thought and swallow what Chomsky called “the latest version of post-modern this and that”.
It now turns out, at this historical moment, that these are exactly the kind of people who are eager to accept whatever version of the truth is presented to them by authority figures.
They are also the kind of people who are eager to condemn and ostracise any old-fashioned anarchists who have the audacity to think for themselves.
I have noticed that, inevitably I suppose, they do so using the same reflexes and language with which they try to impose their dogma on their comrades.
The whole world becomes a “safer space” when they insist that you should not question martial-law lockdown because you could put others at risk.
When you point out that the virus is mainly killing those who are already sick or old, they declare that you are “ablist” and use their familiar shaming and accusatory tone in order to imply that drawing attention to the relatively low mortality rate is the same thing as welcoming the deaths of those who have sadly succumbed.
Someone saw fit to slip into his argument against my condemnation of the clampdown the fact that I am “white”, which apparently means my views on absolutely everything are hopelessly polluted by privilege and can happily be ignored by all left-thinking citizens. (He is also “white”, by the way).
The guilt-by-association smearing is pushed to the extreme. Whatever view you share which is critical of the panic and the global police state it has spawned turns out to be illegitimate because the person who expressed it is a believer in the wrong kind of freedom (see my previous post), or is an “anti-vaxxer”, or uses language or arguments that sound suspiciously alt-right, or has otherwise not earned the blue tick of ideological purity.
Their greatest magical weapon is, of course, the term “conspiracy theorist”. No sooner is it brandished, than all need to refute fact or engage logically is dispelled in a great puff of newthink smoke.
The argument has been won without even the need to address it!
The other side of the coin, the corollary to the take-over of the movement by zombie-anarchists, is the question of what has happened to all the born anarchists.
Chomsky’s comments came in the context of his concern that young people would be turned away from anarchism by the cult-like ideological fixations that are today so dominant.
It’s not even just the young. There are people of all ages who learn a little bit about anarchism, would like to find out more with a view to getting involved and so dip their toes into the water by turning up at an anarchist venue or event.
If they run a mile and never come back, what happens to them? And what happens to those who never even get that far, who get one faint whiff of the stifling intellectual claustrophobia via the internet and realise there is no place for them in that self-righteous and puritan little world?
I think they are still out there. They may or may not think of themselves as anarchists. They may use other labels or none at all. We don’t have to give ourselves labels.
But they are still anarchists, natural anarchists, the rebels who would have formed a strong and healthy anti-capitalist movement if it had not been sabotaged from within by the zombies.
They are the anarchists who would have stood up, in anger and en masse, against the coronavirus coup d’état.
These natural anarchists will keep emerging in each generation, because a love of freedom and truth is part of what it means to be human.
They may emerge and rise up now, straight away, in the face of this unprecedented global power grab.
Or it may happen later, when they have had a chance to reorientate themselves and find each other.
But we can be sure that sooner or later they will cast off their muzzles, unplug their chains and try to smash to pieces the slave-system which has stolen everything from them.
Because, after all, as Gustav Landauer (2) put it, anarchy is life. Where there’s life there’s anarchy. Where there’s anarchy there’s hope.
1. Noam Chomsky, ‘Anarchism, Intellectuals and the State’, Chomsky on Anarchism, ed. by Barry Pateman (Edinburgh, Oakland and West Virginia: AK Press, 2005), p.217.
2. Gustav Landauer, Revolution and Other Writings: A Political Reader, ed. and trans. by Gabriel Kuhn, (Oakland: PM Press, 2010), p. 74.
One name which keeps coming up again and again in the context of the Covid-19 coup is that of billionaire Bill Gates.
Indeed, he himself announced on April 27 that as from that day, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation would be focusing its “total attention” on the pandemic.
His allies and apologists are complaining that poor Bill is the victim of “misinformation” and “conspiracy theories” regarding his involvement and influence.
So horribly unfair when he has “donated $250 million toward the crisis, espoused the importance of developing a safe and effective vaccine, and supported the creation of a government-funded manufacturing infrastructure”.
But it is undeniable that the Microsoft founder has got his fingers in many a pie.
Researcher Jacob Levich has described Gates’ activities as part of a new “global health imperialism”.
He says: “Interlocking networks of foundations, foundation-sponsored NGOs, and US government institutions like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) — notorious as a “pass-through” for CIA funds — work hand-in-hand in support of imperialism, subverting people-friendly states and social movements by co-opting institutions deemed helpful to US global strategy”.
Levich adds: “The Gates Foundation exercises power not only via its own spending, but more broadly through an elaborate network of ‘partner organizations’ including non-profits, government agencies, and private corporations.
“It orchestrates vast elaborate public-private partnerships – charitable salmagundis that tend to blur distinctions between states, which are at least theoretically accountable to citizens, and profit-seeking businesses that are accountable only to their shareholders”.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation dishes out phenomenal amounts of funding every year across the global health sector. In the words of one NGO official quoted by Levich: “You can’t cough, scratch your head or sneeze in health without coming to the Gates Foundation”.
Some salient facts:
* The Gates Foundation is the World Health Organization’s second biggest donor. “This largesse gives him outsized influence over its agenda” notes the Politico website. “Gates’ priorities have become the WHO’s”.
* Gates Foundation cash has been pouring into Imperial College, London, which came up with the scaremongering death toll projections – £63 million in 2020 alone!
* Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, the US equivalent of Imperial, received at least $2,876,472 from the Gates Foundation in 2019.
* The UK’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty declared himself “delighted” in 2008 when the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded £31 million for his consortium’s malaria research in Africa. One good turn deservers another.
* The BBC, whose shock-and-awe propaganda has been keeping the UK public paralysed by fear, is funded by the Gates Foundation to the tune of many millions of pounds.
* The Guardian’s “Global Development” section declares: “This website is funded by support provided, in part, by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation”.
* Gavi, the “Vaccine Alliance”, received $2,498,750 from the Gates Foundation in 2019. On its website it lists its first partner as the Bill and Gates Foundation, followed by Unicef, the WHO and The World Bank.
* Gates has been described as “a major player in trying to get the world to go digital and ditch cash, especially relevant given his role in the COVID-19 issue”.
* The Gates Foundation is a heavy pusher of agrochemicals and patented seeds. Environmentalist Dr Rosemary Mason, questioning why pesticides did not feature in a WHO-UNICEF-Lancet report, discovered that many of the 42 listed authors had received funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
* Gates wants to create global health “governance” which would “work closely with Western military forces, specifically NATO, in operations targeting the developing world”. It would have the power to bypass national safety regulations, suspend constitutional rights and impose surveillance networks.
It is not as if nobody had noticed the evolving Gates global power grab. It has been building up for some time.
In 2016, Global Justice Now warned that it was likely that “Bill Gates, who has regular access to world leaders and is in effect personally bankrolling hundreds of universities, international organisations, NGOs and media outlets, has become the single most
influential voice in international development”.
It drew attention to the Gates Foundation’s “aggressive corporate strategy and extraordinary influence across governments, academics and the media” and the astonishing absence of voices criticising its influence.
“Global Justice Now is concerned that the foundation’s influence is so pervasive that many actors in international development, which would otherwise critique the policy and practice of the foundation, are unable to speak out independently as a result of its funding and patronage”.
But now, as events accelerate rapidly, lots more critical attention is finally being turned to the Gates empire.
Investigative journalist Vanessa Beeley, for instance, warns that behind the COVID-19 drama is “an entire pharmaceutical complex potentially protecting its own interests over any genuine concerns for the health and welfare of global populations”. This involves The Gates Foundation, the World Bank and the British Government.
Gates’ key role in advocating for a global vaccination programme is also probed by Eric Wagner in Multipolar Magazin. He examines “ID 2020”, which wants to roll out a global “digital identity” system of control and says: “The founding partners of the project are Gates’ company Microsoft, the Gates-sponsored vaccination alliance GAVI, the management consultancy Accenture and the Rockefeller Foundation, one of the oldest and wealthiest foundations in the USA”.
And a useful report on the Children’s Health Defense site adds: “Globally, roughly 70 COVID-19 vaccines are in various stages of development — a veritable gold rush that will be all the more lucrative since Gates has made sure that the vaccines will be indemnified against lawsuits”.
Gustav Landauer died 101 years ago on May 2, beaten and kicked to death by proto-fascists after taking part in the defeated Bavarian Revolution of 1919. Here we share the profile of this important anarchist thinker from the orgrad website.
“Anarchy is life; the life that awaits us after we have freed ourselves from the yoke”
Gustav Landauer (1870-1919) was an important anarchist theorist and key precursor of organic radicalism.
He took part in the Bavarian Revolution at the end of the First World War but, with its collapse, he was arrested and murdered by proto-Nazi Freikorps soldiers in Stadelheim Prison, Munich.
Like his friend Martin Buber, he saw a close link between human interrelationships and the rebirth of community which was needed to put society right.
Landauer also echoed the likes of William Morris and John Ruskin in condemning the “unculture” of industrial capitalist society.
He wrote in 1911: “Progress, what you call progress, this incessant hustle-bustle, this rapid tiring and neurasthenic, short-breathed chase after novelty, after anything new as long as it is new, this progress and the crazy ideas of the practitioners of development associated with it… this progress, this unsteady, restless haste; this inability to remain still and this perpetual desire to be on the move, this so-called progress is a symptom of our abnormal condition, our unculture”. (2)
His vision was based on living human communities, social organisms with their own guiding collective spirit or Geist, arising from below and from within. This is very much the idea of the authentic human community, the Gemeinschaft, described by Ferdinand Tönnies.
Landauer was inspired by organic medieval society, which he contrasted with contemporary top-down artificiality.
He wrote: “The state, with its police and all its laws and its contrivances for property rights, exists for the people as a miserable replacement for Geist and for organizations with specific purposes; and now the people are supposed to exist for the sake of the state, which pretends to be some sort of ideal structure and a purpose in itself, to be Geist…
“Earlier there were corporate groups, clans, gilds, fraternities, communities, and they all interrelated to form society. Today there is coercion, the letter of the law, the state”. (3)
The state combined with industrial society to destroy all authentic collective spirit, argued Landauer.
Writes Charles Maurer: “The most obvious sign of the absence of Geist was for Landauer the plight of the industrial workers.
“Separated from the earth and its products and spiritually isolated from each other despite the closeness of their living conditions, they become victims of alcohol, disease, and poverty.
“The relationship between worker and employer becomes completely dehumanized through capitalism, technology, and the state”. (4)
Landauer bitterly opposed Marxists for remaining trapped in this mechanistic mindset and for failing to lead a deep and effective resistance to industrial capitalism.
Russell Berman and Tim Luke explain that, for Landauer, Marxism was itself “part of the problem posed by industrialization”. (5)
They add: “Marxism, despite its revolutionary appearance, functions in fact as an impediment to socialism. In the light of Landauer’s critique, nineteenth century scientific socialism ceases to appear as a radical critique of the status quo. Rather, behind its revolutionary pretenses, it buttresses the development of capitalist structures”. (6)
In his booklet For Socialism, Landauer was vehemently outspoken against the Marxists who had taken control of the socialist movement of which he considered himself a part.
He described their dogma as “the plague of our times and the curse of the socialist movement” (7) and bemoaned “the grotesque wrongness of their materialist conception of history” (8) in which they reduced everything to “what they call economic and social reality”. (9)
Landauer also hinted at his disquiet over the growing influence of Marxism, and its modes of thinking, on the anarchist movement.
He refered disparagingly to “the syndicalists and the anarcho-socialists, recently so-called by a pitiful misuse of two noble names” as the Marxists’ “brothers” (10) and specifically extended his condemnation to all Marxists “whether they call themselves Social Democrats or anarchists”. (11)
Still today, Landauer’s rich and powerful brand of anarchism is sometimes dismissed as “mystical” and therefore unacceptable to the shallow modern industrial world view adopted by too many so-called anarchists.
Like Constantin von Monakow, Landauer extended his concept of the organic to a cosmic level, regarding the universe as a living creature with a collective soul and writing that “the psyche [das Seelenhafte] in the human being is a function or manifestation of the infinite universe”. (12)
Landauer’s use of terms like Geist and Seelenhafte forms an inherent part of his anarchism, flowing naturally from the rest of his philosophy.
He was opposed to all private land ownership, declaring: “All ownership of things, all land-ownership is in reality ownership of men. Whoever withholds the earth from others, from the masses, forces these others to work for him. Private ownership is theft and slave-holding”. (13)
He was equally opposed to the power of the state favoured by his Marxist rivals, which destroyed authentic and organic society inspired by the collective Geist.
The idea of Geist also fed into Landauer’s ideas regarding revolution, along with his related concept of Wahn, a kind of motivating resonance which could bring about sudden radical change.
He explained: “Wahn is not only every goal, every ideal, every belief in a sense of purpose of life and the world: Wahn is every banner followed by mankind; every drumbeat leading mankind into danger; every alliance that unites mankind and creates from a sum of individuals a new structure, an organism”. (14)
Landauer said the spark for revolution was always the stupidity, brutality or weakness of rulers, but that “the people, the thinkers, the poets are a powder keg, loaded with spirit and the power of creative destruction”. (15)
The energy of Wahn would ensure that this powder keg ignited: “There is no need to fear a lack of revolutionaries: they actually arise by a sort of spontaneous generation – namely when the revolution comes.
“The voice of the spirit is the trumpet that will sound again and again and again, as long as men are together. Injustice will always seek to perpetuate itself; and always as long as men are truly alive, revolt against it will break out”. (16)
Anarchism, said Landauer, was “a collective name for transformative ambitions” (17) and its role was to encourage Wahn and help create the resonance of revolution.
In this way it could rid the human social organism of the stifling restrictions imposed by property, the state and industrialism and allow it to breathe and flourish in a free and natural way.
As Landauer famously declared: “Anarchy is life; the life that awaits us after we have freed ourselves from the yoke”. (18)
1. Russell Berman & Tim Luke, ‘Introduction’, Gustav Landauer, For Socialism, trans. by David J Parent, (St Louis: Telos Press, 1978), p. 8.
2. Gustav Landauer, For Socialism, pp. 35-36.
3. Gustav Landauer, Aufruf zum Sozialismus (Berlin: 2nd ed, 1919), pp. 19-20, cit. Charles B. Maurer, Call to Revolution: The Mystical Anarchism of Gustav Landauer (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1971), p. 93.
4. Maurer, pp. 108-109.
5. Berman & Luke, ‘Introduction’, For Socialism, p. 10.
6. Berman & Luke, Introduction, For Socialism, p. 11.
7. Landauer, For Socialism, p. 32.
8. Landauer, For Socialism, p. 123.
9. Landauer, For Socialism, p. 56.
10. Landauer, For Socialism, p. 57.
11. Landauer, For Socialism, p. 82.
12. Gustav Landauer, Skepsis und Mystik: Versuche im Anschluss an Mauthners Sprachkritik (Cologne: 2d ed, 1923) p. 7, cit. Maurer, p. 69.
13. Landauer, For Socialism, p. 128.
14. Landauer, Beginnen: Aufsätze über Sozialismus, ed. by Martin Buber, Cologne, 1924, p. 16, cit. Maurer, p. 92.
15. Gustav Landauer, Revolution and Other Writings: A Political Reader, ed. and trans. by Gabriel Kuhn, (Oakland: PM Press, 2010) p. 170.
16. Landauer, For Socialism, p. 82 & p. 130.
17. Landauer, Revolution and Other Writings, p. 304.
18. Landauer, Revolution and Other Writings, p. 74.
A wave of direct action has broken out against 5G, the central infrastructure of what some are calling the Fourth Industrial Repression. Masts have been torched in the UK, Ireland and the Netherlands, with “conspiracy theories” inevitably being blamed by corporate media. Meanwhile, a study has emerged from Spain pointing to a very clear geographical relationship between “coronavirus outbreaks” and the presence of 5G networks. English version here.
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An international day of action against mobile phones has been called for June 2O-21 2020. A new organization called End Cellphones Here on Earth (ECHOEarth) announces that its mission is “to end the root cause of the wireless web that is punching holes in our atmosphere and bathing us all in radiation”.
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Three Days Against Techno-Sciences is the title of an event to be staged in Italy in July. This is described as “an informal, convivial and international opportunity for discussion and reflection among individuals and organisations engaged in building an analysis and a critique of what we may call the technoworld”. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben has spoken out against the new covid-fascism. He wrote: “The disproportionate reaction to what according to the CNR is something not too different from the normal flus that affect us every year is quite blatant. It is almost as if with terrorism exhausted as a cause for exceptional measures, the invention of an epidemic offered the ideal pretext for scaling them up beyond any limitation”.
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“The truth is that all that is living, all living organisms, the cells that comprise them and the ecosystems they exist within, are the sum total of our individual life”. Beyond the Dark Horizon is a green anarchist review from so-called Australia and can be found here.
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“Between the SDGs, the WEF’s calls for a ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’, and the rise of carbon-markets and ‘natural capital’, it’s clear that ecomodernism is not just a buzzword for naive ex-hippies and dodgy PR agents; it is the ideological framework for an emerging green technocracy. A conservation-industrial complex, if you will”. Android Wolves, Electric Sheep: Ecomodernism and The Rise of the Green Technocracy is the first article on a brand new blog, Symbiotic Culture.
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Planet of the Humans is a new film by Jeff Gibbs, in collaboration with Michael Moore, and it is currently free to view. Like the Wrong Kind of Green website, we have reservations over its emphasis on population, rather than consumption, as a key issue, but this remains a splendid demolition of the climate capitalists’ scam of selling us their industrial solutions to an industrial problem.
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A very thorough analysis by Iain Davis on the Off-Guardian site presents evidence “which strongly suggests the State and the MSM, adhering to a globalist agenda, have colluded to mislead the public into believing the COVID 19 threat is far greater than it actually is”. A must-read.
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“This is a war. Not a war on a pandemic but a war on the people. This is corporate authoritarianism. This is fascism. We are nothing more than torture victims at the hands of these emotional terrorists”. Quarantyranny is a remarkable 30-minute video from the Book of Ours team in the USA.
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“Perhaps we’ve decided that freedom no longer has value. It would seem that safety has taken primacy in the left’s discourse in recent years”. So writes Lorenzo Raymond in a April 23 article on the Diversity of Tactics website.
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“We must recognize we live in a capitalist economic system that serves capital first and foremost”, warns investigative journalist Cory Morningstar. The World Economic Forum is using “influencers” such as David Attenborough, Greta Thunberg and Jane Goodall to push us into the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the monetization of nature, in lockstep with the deployment of central bank digital currency. She adds: “Covid19 is the conduit to the #4IR now in full motion. As people come to terms with what is being forced upon humanity, we will soon regret that we did not unite to oppose to draconian lockdowns and expanding surveillance that will serve to protect/insulate ruling classes from revolt”.
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We were all set to share with readers a clear, level-headed and professional exposure of the reality behind the virus scare by doctors Dan Erickson and Artin Massihi of Bakersfield, California. But then we learned that, having notched up 4.3 million views, it had been removed by YouTube for violating its “community standards”. Now why would that be? The original link was here, someone put it up again here, and it should still be available here and here…
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A fake-left infiltrator of the socialist scene, spreading smears against anyone standing up to neoliberalism and imperialism… What has been recently unveiled in Germany very much chimes with the Labour Leaks scandal in the UK. Unmasking a Wikipedia propagandist is a fascinating interview with Dirk Pohlmann (pictured) of Wikihausen.de by US journalist Helen of desTroy.
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Modern Medicine, the New World Religion is a book by Olivier Clerc which argues that the medical establishment has become the government’s ally, as the Catholic Church was in the past. ‘Charlatans’ are prosecuted today, as ‘heretics’ once were, and dogmatism rules out promising medical theories.
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Smartphones are so out of date these days. Imagine, some people might not actually carry them around with them every minute of the day! How would the authorities know where you are so as to keep you safe from terrorists, viruses and disinformation? But don’t worry, you can get yourself microchipped! Apparently this is already catching on in Sweden, as this video report (and this) explain. This is the “new normal” they want us to swallow.
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Acorn quote: “Mechanization and industrialization have rapidly transformed the planet, exploding ecosystems and human communities with monoculture, industrial degradation, and mass markets. The world now corresponds more closely to the prophetic warnings of primal peoples than to the hollow advertising claims of the industrial system: the plants disappearing and the animals dying, the soils denuded along with the human spirit, vast oceans poisoned, the very rain turned corrosive and deadly, human communities at war with one another over diminishing spoils – and all poised on the brink of an even greater annihilation at the push of a few buttons within reach of stunted, half-dead head-zeks in fortified bunkers. Civilization’s railroad leads not only to ecocide, but to evolutionary suicide”.
The fact that this anarchist was me (in my 2015 book Forms of Freedom) should hint strongly that I am not in fact advocating the me-first kind of freedom touted by capitalist libertarians.
But this is how it apparently seemed to my critics, purely because of my opposition to the global police-state lockdown of our basic freedoms imposed on the back of the coronavirus panic.
From their point of view, it was irrresponsible to complain about loss of individual freedom (sorry, “individual freedom”) when the greater good of the community, the need to protect ourselves and others from contagion, was at stake.
I disagree with this on two levels.
In the specific context of what is happening today, I do not accept that the virus is a threat that justifies the authoritarian clamp-down on our lives that has been rolled out, as I have already stated.
Therefore, the freedom of the individual is not trumped by an overriding social responsibility to accept what is basically a state of martial law.
Moreover, because the virus has been massively exaggerated as cover for a totalitarian-financial grab of power and wealth, the true social responsibility lies in the opposite direction.
From my point of view, the freedom of the individual to seek out a quiet life by just going along with all this, by keeping his or her head down, is overriden by the responsibility to speak out, to challenge the propaganda, to alert society to what is happening and to urge people to resist.
Obviously from my critics’ stance, this is not a valid argument, because they are starting from the assumption that the virus is as real and as deadly as we have been constantly told by the authorities and their media.
This, in itself, is deeply problematic. What happened to “question everything?” It is not possible to build a critique of oppression without being prepared to challenge the assumptions used to justify that oppression.
The anarchist argument about collective responsibility, when transplanted into the soil of deceit, grows upside-down.
The logic that should require people to act for the common good is reversed and serves to instead condemn those who are acting for the common good and trying to expose the fraud.
The second level of my disagreement with these critics concerns their ideological interpretation of responsibility and freedom.
Here, I find that their thinking strays a very long way from the anarchist outlook.
I did, in fact, deal with all this in Forms of Freedom. It’s now available as a free pdf on the Winter Oak site (as are all my other books) and to understand my position in more depth, I recommend having a look.
This passage on responsibility is particularly relevant:
“Part of the confusion surrounding the term responsibility arises from the manner in which it is abused to suit certain purposes. It is often conflated with the notion of conformity or obedience not to the interests of the collectivity, but to an entity which is passing itself off as representing those interests”.
By this I meant the state, of course, as I went on to explain: the entity which tells people that their responsibility to obey orders overrules their individual freedom.
I pointed out in the book that this responsibility to obey the law is never imagined as emerging from an individual’s own judgement – hence the perceived irresponsibility of ‘taking the law into your own hands’ – but is seen as required in the interests of a collective good defined from above rather than below.
Whether that law is good or bad is irrelevant: “The important point is that the responsibility in question is seen as something that must be accepted regardless of one’s free conscience, rather than as the result of it”.
“There is an important conflict here between fake and real responsibility, between imposed and free responsibility, between responsibility dictated from the outside and responsibility assumed from the inside of the individual.
“Ultimately, those who propose an imposed responsibility do so because they are afraid of the real responsibility which emerges from within.
“An imposed responsibility can be invoked to demand obedience to arbitrary rules constructed for the selfish interests of a minority which maintains control of stolen wealth through the violence of authority in all its forms.
“A real responsibility could well lead individuals, or communities, to challenge those arbitrary rules and the phoney morality built up around them”.
“To turn our backs on the symbiotic relationship between individual and collective interests is to turn our backs on anarchism”
Anyone who champions a duty of collective responsibility which involves suppressing individual freedom is not invoking real responsibilty, but the imposed kind.
“The individual is part of the collectivity and the collectivity is made up of individuals. They are the same living thing with the same interests at heart“.
Freedom and responsibility are two aspects of the same thing and so are the individual and the collectivity.
The collectivity needs individuals to be free, because without that freedom the social organism would be dead.
“It is important for the collectivity that individuals are free to live according to the subtlest demands of their nature, for only in that way can the collectivity also live according to the subtlest demands of its nature.
“A collectivity cannot be free unless the individuals who make it up are all free. An individual cannot be free unless they are living in a collectivity which is free, that is to say in which all individuals are free”.
To turn our backs on the symbiotic relationship between individual and collective interests is to turn our backs on anarchism.
It is, in fact, to adopt a way of thinking shared by liberalism and fascism, which are not at all the opposites which they might appear, as this article explains.
Both these systems of control (the first more subtle than the second) are based on lies. They twist the truth, even reverse the meanings of words in order to impose their own agenda, as George Orwell so perfectly showed us in Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Liberalism and fascism both use a language which suggests the full participation of the population in the workings of society, which even appears to involve a kind of symbiosis like the one referred to above.
Liberals label this involvement “democracy” and have, until now at least, gone to great lengths to maintain this illusion, which is the principal justification for the legitimacy of their system.
But it’s just a sham, of course. It always has been. The game is rigged in so many ways and on so many levels.
Fascists don’t like the term “democracy” and prefer to talk about “the nation”, which is supposedly the incorporation of the collective interests of the people.
Sometimes they have even stolen the language of the social organism to give the impression that there is something natural about their system.
“They are systems which impose the control of the ruling class over the people”
But the social organism, for fascists, can never be a living entity of free individuals acting according to their own consciences, as it is for anarchists.
Their imagined organism is more like a robot, under the total control of the fascist state.
The reality behind the liberals’ fake democracy and the fascists’ fake organism is one and the same – a ruling elite which only pretends to be acting in the interests of everyone.
A contempt for the “masses”, for the “mob”, for the “great unwashed”, the “Untermensch” is shared by both systems because they are elitist and authoritarian.
They are systems which impose the control of the ruling class over the people.
From the perspective of the ruling class, the idea that we could run our own lives and our own societies without their structures of control is a dangerous one.
That is why they talk fearfully about “descending into anarchy”. Their worst nightmare is that their slaves might break free.
This is why they often depict human nature as selfish, greedy and violent – thus needing the firm hand of the liberal/fascist state to keep it under control.
This is why they sometimes prefer to say that there is no such thing as human nature at all, thus rejecting the empowering anarchist idea that we are all born with the natural capacity or tendency to live co-operatively and more or less harmoniously.
It is a primary assumption of liberalism/fascism that we cannot be trusted to make our own decisions, that we are basically irresponsible and in need of control and “protection” from our wise and benevolent leaders.
Why do they regurgitate the liberal/fascist lie that individual freedom and the collective good are incompatible?
The problem, for me, is that too many anarchists are today entirely trapped within what I called “the inherent thought-restriction of the dominant system”.
This stifling contemporary newthink completely negates the timeless human wisdom from which anarchist philosophy emerged.
It sees human beings as programmable and malleable machines. Artificiality triumphs over authenticity. Any talk of social organism is seen as reactionary or borderline fascist (a typical inversion, as noted above – see also this article).
The notion of essence is dismissed out of hand, the idea of innateness can provoke panic attacks, meaning is regarded as meaningless, nature as reactionary, ethics as a construction, quality as an illusion.
There is no truth or reality. Two plus two can equal five if it suits the liedeology.
“Any way of thinking outside this ever-narrowing framework becomes impossible in a post-natural, post-human, post-authentic intellectual climate that effectively constitutes a complete paralysis of the collective human mind”, as I wrote.
Contemporary newthink is binary, one-dimensional. It does not understand multi-dimensional thinking and cannot embrace creative paradox.
It can only ever see individual freedom and collective responsibility as opposites.
It is incapable of even hearing, let alone understanding, oldthink arguments that soar above its empty and flattened-out dogmas.
In short, people are attaching the anarchist label, and a sort of shallow parody of anarchist ideology, to something which is not anarchism at all.
This pseudo-anarchist thinking has not grown from anarchist philosophy and therefore can never be anything but a replica anarchism, a zombie anarchism which appears to be the real thing but lacks the anarchist soul.
This fake anarchism is the sworn enemy of true anarchism. By stealing the body of anarchism, it banishes real anarchism from the world.
Whenever real anarchism does emerge, this zombie anarchism points an accusatory finger at it and declares it to be dangerous.
This is anti-anarchism, upside-down anarchism, inverted anarchism.
I have been going on about all this for years. Sometimes I have wondered if it is as important as all that, whether I could not just accept some philosophical differences with comrades in the interests of working and campaigning together.
But now that anarchists are getting angry with me for believing in freedom, I can see very clearly what was worrying me all along.
Moments of crisis like the one we are currently experiencing can allow us to see through the surface of our world and grasp with greater clarity some hitherto hidden truths. It is with this in mind that we present this provisional and far-from-comprehensive analysis of the reaction to the coronavirus situation from anarchist and left-libertarian outlets.
Mutual aid features prominently in the anarchist response to the current situation.
Here is, after all, a perfect opportunity to put theory into practice and to show that acting together, by and for ourselves, is more effective and empowering than waiting passively for the state to save us.
There is also the possibility that the self-help community networks built up now could evolve into the bases of future revolutionary activity.
There has been occasional reflection on the limits of such an approach, asking how we can ensure that mutual aid networks do not simply turn into temporary means of helping people adapt to a situation they maybe ought not to be adapting to…
Looking beyond the immediate measures being taken to “control the virus”, there is also criticism of the “new normal” which seems to be on its way, a post-coronavirus world of “biosecurity” and virtual “connectivity” which looks very much like the beginnings of a nightmare high-tech dystopia.
Among the details of this “new normal” now emerging are “terrifying” plans for a mobile phone app that tracks people to check if they have been in contact with someone testing positive for the virus – initially optional, this may become obligatory in the post-crisis smart-fascist world.
We should also note what is generally absent from anarchist analysis. Fortunately, there is no take-up of the eco-fascist line that “humanity is the virus” or that the coronavirus represents nature’s “revenge” against humankind.
But unfortunately, there is also little critical questioning of the reality of the coronavirus “threat” which is being so ably manipulated by the capitalist system to push its own agendas.
It increasingly looks as if the coronavirus scare has been whipped up as cover for a power grab by the network of capitalists promoting the Fourth Industrial Revolution of 5G, smart meters, the internet of things, nanotechnology and AI.
These are broadly the “climate capitalists” who have been flying the false flag of environmentalism to engineer massive “emergency” state subsidies for their “exponentially” lucrative investment projects.
They react hysterically and irrationally to the new heretics of the day – termed “Covid Deniers” by the CCDH, which incidentally played a key role in smearing former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn with alleged “anti-semitism”.
Drawing the public’s attention to official statistics, or to the fact that the UK government itself has declared the coronavirus mortality rate to be “low”, is regarded as the spreading of irresponsible “misinformation“.
A sceptical attitude to the tsunami of fear-mongering is interpreted, bizarrely, as a eugenist desire to wipe out old or vulnerable people: anyone who suggests that the coronavirus death toll has been massively over-hyped is held to be somehow morally responsible for the deaths of those who have succumbed.
Retweeting the thoroughly lucid coronavirus analysis of Peter Hitchens is considered a thoughtcrime because his general politics are not of the left.
Anyone questioning the official line risks being smeared with “right-wing” or even “fascist” associations, even when they are exposing a manipulation which is imposing a very real form of fascism on much of the global population.
This is, of course, a classic authoritarian liberal gaslighting technique, as outlined here.
So why this head-in-the-sand refusal on the part of so many anarchists to even consider the possibility that the risks from coronavirus have been massively and deliberately exaggerated, let alone to examine what might lie behind such deceit?
There are several possibilities. One of these is that they are making a tactical or strategic decision. In order to make their message understandable to the general public, it has to be be based on something which the public recognises as reality.
Rather than trying to tell people that everything they have been told is a lie, it is more effective to go along with the reality of the “danger”, but to point out that bosses are sacrificing workers to health risks.
The argument about neoliberal cuts to the health service also involves no contradiction of the mainstream message. Indeed, suggesting that the risks from the virus have been overhyped would undermine this line of attack.
However, accepting the official narrative as a strategic ploy would be not only dishonest, but would risk undermining long-term anarchist credibility.
Another, ostensibly more plausible, possibility is that these people simply do not accept the dissenting narrative, being firmly convinced that the fear is justified.
However, the panicked and emotive tone of their responses (including a wave of blocking on Twitter) suggests that there is something else in play here, namely fear.
There is the fear being whipped up over the virus, of course, and with that the fear of being seen by society as a whole not to be respectful of other people’s concerns and well-being. But beyond that there is the fear of being rejected by other anarchists.
In particular there is the fear of being considered a “conspiracy theorist”. We have questioned in the past why this anxiety is so prevalent in our circles and seems now to be so deeply embedded in anarchist culture.
People seem uneasy even talking about well-documented historical phenomena like the “Gladio” network of NATO-sponsored terrorists in late 20th century Europe.
Any such reflections concerning more recent “terrorist” atrocities are considered completely out of bounds. Even investigations of contemporary capitalist manipulations, by “green” capitalists or Big Pharma, are rejected as “conspiracy theory” by people who nevertheless lay claim to opposing capitalism…
Those anarchists who have fallen for this trick are, per se, victims of ideological manipulation.
It would be very helpful if the anarchist milieu could assess whether further manipulation has taken place to the point where its capacity for collective critical thinking has been severely compromised – disabled, even – by state-corporate interference.
But, of course, it won’t do that because any such reflection has been rendered impossible in advance by that very same “conspiracy theory” taboo.
As the weeks pass, disagreements over the severity and extent of the coronavirus, about the means by which we arrived at this new point in history, will become less relevant.
Instead, the sole issue will be how to come together to fight and organise in the context of whatever it is that is facing us – whether a collapsing economic order ripe for toppling or a totalitarian new fascist order.
The fighting spirit of anarchism, its life-affirming call to revolt, to risk everything for our freedom, is still much in evidence as we write.
Jails are also burning in Colombia – in Bogota alone more than 20 prisoners died in the process.
Hundreds of prisoners escaped from four semi-open prisons in São Paulo state in the south-east of Brazil after Easter prison holidays were cancelled and restrictions on visitors tightened because of coronavirus.
And prisoners rioted and set fire to part of a prison complex in northeastern Thailand on Sunday March 29.
Enough Is Enough report that there have been further uprisings in Argentina and in Africa.
Meanwhile, in the giant continent-sized prison previously known as Europe, French authorities have reportedly had to abandon attempts to impose the crackdown in some poorer suburbs.
Brutal and exaggerated harassment by racist cops prompted a feisty reaction, with police ambushed and atttacked by large groups and cars torched.
In Brussels, police trying to impose “social distancing” sparked a riot in the Schaerbeek district on Friday March 27.
In Sicily, cops with batons and guns have moved in to protect supermarkets after looting by locals who could no longer afford food.
In Panama, central America, which is under a coronavirus “state of emergency”, people also came together in the spirit of mutual aid on Saturday, March 28, and looted a supermarket.
Resistance looks set to spread as the clampdown continues, even if the authorities take the êmergency step of closing down much of the internet.
If the coronazis have not abandoned their attempt to imprison humanity by the end of April, a historic day of worldwide revolt could well lie ahead.
May Day is always an occasion for coming together to commemorate not only the political struggle of the people against the ruling elite, but also the annual resurgence of the force of life itself.
We don’t need emails, messaging or the internet to be collectively aware of the potential significance of Friday May 1 2020.
In the current malaise regarding the health of nations, calls are growing for 5G to be SWITCHED OFF.
Wuhan, the epicenter of the SAR-Cov-2 virus which causes the killer disease COVID-19, was China’s first smart 5G city and location of its first 5G highway.
The epidemic was first discovered when 8,000 high 5G antennae were being built all over the city.
Royal Society of Medicine member Alan Cooke is in no doubt about the causal links. He told The Acorn: “If there’s any doubt about health issues then it should be stopped. It’s too late after there’s already been exposure. The most vulnerable people are … the elderly, but everyone is at potential risk.
“The World Health Organisation (WHO) class microwave technology as a possible 2b carcinogen on the same level as lead, engine exhaust and the pesticide, DDT.
“It’s absolutely diabolical what is happening with all this. We are the guinea pigs”.
The predominant cause of death from this coronavirus is pneumonia. Pneumonia is known to be exacerbated by the deleterious effects of 2/3/4/5G radiation and Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs) via Voltage -gated calcium channels (VGCCs).
According to Cooke, Lloyds of London refused to insure Telecoms companies over the health risks more than five years ago. There have been no safety tests with 5G and if you think the closest thing, we have to it frequency-wise is actually a US military grade weapon nicknamed ‘the Growler’ then it’s hardly surprising.
All this as the telecoms and utility industries rake in huge profits from the Western indulgence with the ‘internet of things’ provided by 5G as well as the riches accruing from smart meter roll out.
Resistance is growing with groups springing up all over Europe concerned about health dangers and lack of public consultation.
Fifth generation cellular network technology (5G) transmits on a higher radio frequency than 4G, and in smaller millimeter waves which can interfere with small cells, like those in human and animal bodies as well as plants.
Stop 5G groups in the UK stretch from Brighton to the West Country to Waterford near Dublin. Ayse Leflef from Waterford said: “We raise awareness about this – about 40 people were on our last protest. All the different active groups around Ireland protest on the last Saturday of every month.”
In Glastonbury, which became the first in the UK to ban the development of 5G, the Mayor, Cllr Denise Michell said: “We are standing up and saying enough is enough – other councils may wish to follow our lead. 5G is being slipped through underhandedly and I think it’s very dangerous. The precautionary principle is key – we are postponing it until our working group finds out more about the risks.”
And worldwide people are waking up to this – in California 16 5G masts were blocked in 2019; the Polish PM has voiced his opposition; and in Geneva and Brussels 5G is on hold over radiation safety standard fears.
In May 2019, scientists and doctors from 40 countries appealed to the World Health Organisation for a moratorium and for wireless to be reassigned as a Group 1 carcinogen, the same level as arsenic and asbestos. France, Cyprus and Canada have already banned the use of wireless technology in schools.
In the home, smart meters, which are being installed in UK homes as we speak, use the same wireless technology, pulsing out yet more radio frequency (RF) radiation into enclosed spaces.
“Smart Meters are the biggest swindle since time began but an absolute gold mine for the utility companies. There are absolutely no benefits to the consumer whatsoever,” said a spokesperson for the group, Smart Meters Health Problems UK.
“They are not compulsory and there is no plan for them to become compulsory by 2020. The initial roll out is costing us £12bn, that’s £420 per household, Smart Meters only live for 5 years. My analogue is 55 years and still going strong.
“Energy Suppliers can switch our power off remotely by the flick of a switch with an analogue meter they have to go through a legal process to gain entry to your property.
“There are [also] privacy concerns. Smart meters are computers that can be programmed to record everything we do and pass that info on to the utility. Utilities will make more money from selling our data than selling us fuel.”
Public Health England maintains that wireless technology is safe and points you to regulations regarding safe radiation levels.
On Friday February 28, activists from the Green Anti-capitalist Front courageously tried to storm the London Stock Exchange (above), causing it to be locked down for some four hours. They asked us to publish this statement, in which they call for “a new kind of environmental movement” which harnesses popular anger against the capitalists who are destroying our world.
At the Rally Against Capital, the Green Anti-capitalist Front wanted to show that it’s not regular working people but the rich, the bankers and those who protect them who are causing climate change.
We led our demonstration to the London Stock Exchange, a centre of finance and capital for some of the most destructive companies on the planet, to attempt to disrupt some of their capitalist system.
We feel that what many environmental movements of the past have lacked is a direction of anger towards the capitalists, the rich and their industries of destruction and GAF London want to be a part of the new kind of environmental movement, a movement that will not only help activists but also regular working people in the struggle against oppression.
As per usual, this demonstration showed how aggressively the police will attempt to protect the rich and their property against the people, using fists, batons and choke-holds to stop us gaining entry to the building.
The climate movement will not get anywhere without radical direct action; this can sometimes be hard, dangerous and painful but we are thankful that we had medics from Queercare and a Legal Observer from the Activist Court Aid Brigade (ACAB) to assist GAF during the day.
We hope this action will inspire others to take action against capitalism and show that the people will not let the planet go down without a fight.
This is our planet, not theirs. They’re about to start realising that whether they like it or not. Let’s show them – get involved.
“True freedom lies in the free enjoyment of the earth”
Gerrard Winstanley (1606-1676) was a revolutionary writer and activist who has inspired generations of socialists, communists and anarchists.
Writing in 1906, Lewis H. Berens declared that “Winstanley was, in truth, one of the most courageous, far-seeing and philosophic preachers of social righteousness that England has given to the world”. (1)
He was the best-known spokesman of the Diggers, or True Levellers, a group of men and women who occupied and cultivated common land at St George’s Hill in Surrey in 1649 and called for an egalitarian society free of the chains of property, wealth and authority.
Along with like-minded people elsewhere in the country, Winstanley and his comrades wanted to push the English Revolution to a second stage.
After the execution of Charles I, they did not want to see power simply transferred to a new parliamentary authority promoting the interests of the mercantile classes.
Unfortunately, their revolt was crushed and, after this key moment in its history, the country took the disastrous path of rapacious capitalism, industrialism and imperialism, destroying the freedom and social stability not just of its own population but of peoples all across the world.
Winstanley’s writings are strongly marked by a heretic and pantheistic form of Christianity, inherited from the revolutionary spirituality of the medieval Free Spirit movement and the early Protestant rebellions against the Roman Catholic Church.
Rather than being an unfortunate anachronism than can safely be ignored by 21st century radicals, Winstanley’s spirituality is the foundation of his holistic anarcho-communism.
As Kenneth Rexroth wrote: “It was not his economics that was most important to Winstanley. What he sought was a spiritual condition in mankind which would be in harmony with the working of Reason in nature — the return of man, who had fallen into covetousness, to the universal harmony.
“Winstanley’s communism was not an economic doctrine, but mutual aid followed from his organic philosophy as a logical consequence”. (2)
Winstanley rejected the whole basis of authority in England as being an imposture, part of the “Norman Yoke” that had been inflicted on the people in 1066.
Central to this imposture, which had robbed ordinary folk of their god-given natural freedom, was the idea that land could be “owned” by certain individuals or families. Instead, he said, the earth should become “a common treasury for all”. (3)
Winstanley declared in The Law of Freedom: “The poorest man hath as true a title and just right to the land as the richest man. True freedom lies in the free enjoyment of the earth”. (4)
He told the landed class, in one of his characteristic broadsides, that the power of “enclosing land and owning property” had been created by the violence of their ancestors – “which first did murder their fellow creatures, men, and after plunder or steal away their land, and left this land successively to you, their children”. (5)
So although the rich of his day might not personally have had to kill or steal to attain their inherited wealth and power, they would have to answer for their ancestors’ crimes “till your bloody and grieving power be rooted out of the land”. (6)
The law was also frequently identified by Winstanley and his comrades as a central part of the violence inflicted on the common people by the wealthy elite.
He wrote in A New Year’s Gift for the Parliament and Army in 1650: “England is a prison; the varieties of subtleties in the Laws preserved by the Sword are the bolts, bars and doors of the prison; the Lawyers are the Jailers; and Poor Men are the prisoners”. (7)
He had no illusions about the legitimacy of the power which dressed itself up either as The Crown or, under William Cromwell, The Commonwealth: “It was clearer to Winstanley than to most radicals that the state and its legal institutions existed in order to hold the lower classes in place,” remarks Christopher Hill. (8)
It was a measure of Winstanley’s radicalism that he understood that royal power, church power, legal power and commercial power were all linked and could all be brought tumbling down by a real people’s revolution: “If one truly fall, all must fall”. (9)
Although the revolutionary idealism expressed by Winstanley and his fellow Diggers was clearly forward-looking, there was another aspect to their vision which looked back to the past.
In many ways, they were rebelling against England’s transition from traditional co-operative community (Gemeinschaft in Ferdinand Tönnies’ terms) to a modern, individualistic, commercial society (Gesellschaft).
In The Law of Freedom, Winstanley repeatedly condemned “buying and selling” in the same moral tone in which Leo Tolstoy was to condemn artificial money-based society, or in which René Guénon was to condemn the modern “Reign of Quantity”.
Winstanley regarded the society he knew as a perversion of the natural, ethical, egalitarian way of life which should have been the birthright of every man and woman.
This perspective was rooted in Winstanley’s heretical brand of Protestant Christianity, which identified God not as a personal deity or supreme being, but as an all-pervasive guiding spirit which he often referred to as “Reason”.
In this, he was close to the ideas of the 16th century natural philosopher Paracelsus. Writes Hill: “Winstanley was certainly acquainted with the Paracelsian tradition, from which he no doubt took the antithesis of light/darkness which pervades his thought as it does that of Clarkson, Bauthumley and the Quakers, the Children of Light.
“Winstanley may also have learnt from this source that ‘to know the secrets of nature is to know the works of God’, the ‘secrets of nature’ being a familiar phrase in this tradition”. (10)
In The Law of Freedom, Winstanley described “the law of nature” which “does move both man and beast in their actions; or that causes grass, trees, corn and all plants to grow in their several reasons; and whatsoever any body does, he does it as he is moved by this inward law”. (11)
In The True Levellers Standard Advanced, he invoked the universal pantheistic view of nature as the mystical source of life when he referred to “thy mother, which is the earth, that brought us all forth; that as a true mother loves all her children”. (12)
For Winstanley, this age-old sense of natural belonging was the basis of his egalitarianism, the belief that all of us were equally-loved children of Mother Earth.
1. Lewis H. Berens, The Digger Movement in the Days of the Commonwealth, 1906. http://diggers.org/17480-Digger-Movement-BERENS.pdf
2. Kenneth Rexroth, Communalism: From Its Origins to the Twentieth Century, http://diggers.org/rexroth_diggers.htm.
3. Gerrard Winstanley, The True Levellers Standard Advanced (1649).
4. Gerrard Winstanley, The Law of Freedom (1652).
5. Gerrard Winstanley, A Declaration from the Poor Oppressed People of England (1649).
7. Gerrard Winstanley, A New Year’s Gift for the Parliament and Army (1650).
8. Christopher Hill, The World Turned Upside Down: Radical Ideas During the English Revolution (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1975), p. 269.
9. Winstanley, A New Year’s Gift for the Parliament and Army.
10. Hill, p. 299.
11. Winstanley, The Law of Freedom.
12. Winstanley, The True Levellers Standard Advanced.
Eco-activists targeted the premises of Tesla, the electric car firm, in Hamburg on the night of February 26 in solidarity with those resisting its factory in the forest at Grünheide. They report: “We attacked at least 12 luxury cars and one company car of Tesla with bitumen. Tesla is a company that profits from the ideology that all problems of this world can be solved via the further development of technologies. An important part of their image is that the technologies that they are working on (e.g. they are pioneers in the fields of artificial intelligence and autonomous driving) are of value to the general public in the areas of social and environmental safety. We reject the constant perfection of human beings through technology, as it is associated with the extension of control and the further restriction of freedom. We also oppose the destruction of nature, which, contrary to popular claims, is inevitably accompanied by the expansion of technology”.
* * *
“Vaccine revolution. Financialization of Nature. Fourth Industrial Revolution (Green New Deal). A global shock/disruption as we step into, in the words of Salesforce (& WEF founder & CEO Klaus Schwab) ‘the future of global governance’. The new world of #BioFascism.” This forms part of an important thread on Twitter from investigative journalist Cory Morningstar.
“They make people beg for the police state”. New York journalist @velocirapture23, aka Helen of desTroy, explains how Coronavirus is being used as “a NEW new Pearl Harbor” in this video.
* * *
Two important and informative articles on coronavirus have been published on the Off Guardian site. They give details of no fewer than 22 medical experts whose opinions on the Coronavirus outbreak contradict the official narratives of the MSM, and the memes so prevalent on social media.
* * *
Anyone trying to make sense of what is happening today would do well to take a look at a 2015 article in The American Journal of Economics and Sociology by Jacob Levich. This explains that Bill Gates tried to use the Ebola scare (remember that, anyone?) to create a worldwide, militarized, supranational health authority governed by Western powers and targeting the underdeveloped world. This, warns the author, amounts to nothing less than “global health imperialism”.
* * *
“One would think you could trust the WWF to know what’s best when it comes to conservation, but they are merely a front and a tool for the interests of capitalists”. So writes Jordan Lunness in an excellent new article in The Commoner, entitled The Brutal Marriage of Capitalism and Conservation.
* * *
An interesting video has been posted on YouTube about the need to stand up to threats and intimidation. Warns Richard Grannon: “I’m warning you it’s coming. If you don’t say ‘no’ you will get hurt. And if you won’t do it for yourself, do it for the people around you. If you’re thinking of saying ‘no’, start early. You need to gird up your loins now. They can’t win. There is nowhere anywhere near enough resources for them to win. It’s a threat. They’re relying on you being nice”.
* * *
Acorn quote: “In France, as everywhere else, nostalgia for certain moral values from the past, the idealisation of certain pre-capitalist social forms (rural living or cottage industry) and the rejection of industrial/bourgeois civilization were an essential component of anarchist culture” .
Said a statement from the Green Anticapitalist Front: “The future of the planet is under attack. We are living through the willful destruction of Earth’s ecosystems and the billions of people who depend on them to survive.
“We know what is causing this destruction – the capitalist system we live in and the people who get disgustingly rich while knowing that they are only able to do so by destroying the future for everybody.
“Currently they ignore the plight of the global south while stealing resources to pad their pockets all the same; it’s about time we said no more. No more exploitation. No more capitalism. No more climate change!
“Join us on the 28th of February at 2pm in the City of London to tell the bankers, the rich, the powerful that we won’t let them take our planet – the people will not go down without a fight and we’re taking the fight to them to show them what we can do when we organise ourselves”.
GAF were quick to express their solidarity with anti-capitalist comrades in Paris who carried out a powerful action on Monday February 10.
They invaded and occupied the French HQ of BlackRock, Inc. an American global investment management corporation.
The radical environmental activists, along with some Gilets Jaunes and other individuals, poured into the business’s premises in the French capital – see this video.
They managed to take the police by surprise and barricaded themselves in the building for the whole morning.
This infamous multinational corporation, very close to President Emmanuel Macron, makes billions in profits on privatised pensions.
Coincidentally, of course, Macron’s neoliberal regime is pushing through controversial pension “reforms” in the face of massive opposition (see Acorn 54).
BlackRock’s premises were redecorated with an assortment of graffiti, and some “trophies” awarded to BlackRock went out with the rubbish.
As they tried to make their escape before heavily armed state units reached the building, the environmental activists were surrounded by dozens of CRS riot cops.
The youth climate militants (only distantly related to the UK’s law-abiding mainstream climate scene) were celebrating the birthday of their movement.
Said a statement from Désobéissance Écolo Paris: “We are therefore inaugurating a new cycle of friendly visits to our beloved ’policy-makers’, by organising an ’open day’ in the offices of the BlackRock corporation, known for its financial ties with Vinci, Total, BNP, and Société Générale.
“Obviously the choice of this corporation is a nod to our friends fighting against Macron’s pension reform, who know that BlackRock insisted on the French government to make this reform”.
“Liberal environmentalism – a lie of capital” read one piece of graffiti inside the business’s HQ. “Corrupt system”, someone had added.
“BlackRock murderers” and “Burn BlackRock. Save a dolphin”, recommended others.
And, expressing a prophecy of life-affirming insurrection against the impending industrial capitalist doom – “Future on fire”.
“The world nowadays teems with people who have fits of enthusiasm whenever they hear of state intervention, planned economy, five-year plans, and the end of laissez-faire.
“They do not care to ask who are the social groups in whose interests the state, ie. bureaucracy and the party in power, is to intervene and plan.
“Yet the first question which should be asked when invoking the end of laissez-faire is precisely this: in the interests of whom should such abolition take place?” (1)
When Gaetano Salvemini wrote these words, he wasn’t referring to the 2020s, but he might as well have been.
There are plenty of anti-capitalist comrades out there, who, even when they oppose the limited content of a Green New Deal or a New Deal for Nature, are tempted to give such schemes the benefit of the doubt in that they appear to be a step in the right direction, away from the unchecked market forces of “laissez-faire” capitalism.
But, as Salvemini points out, we need to look carefully at who exactly is pushing these ecnomic plans and whose interests they are designed to serve.
Here, the hard work has already been done for us by investigative journalist Cory Morningstar and other writers featured on our Climate Capitalists page of links.
The briefest dip beneath the fake green surface of this contemporary political pond reveals it to be less a source of environmental and social hope than a rancid cesspit of private interests (see also article below).
In this strange upside-down world, in which Big Business is going to “save the planet”, we come across brave “solo” campaigners supported and promoted every inch of the way by international PR professionals, youth movements described as “grassroots” which are in fact funded and steered from above, high-profile activist “rebellions” cheered on by venture capitalists.
In short, as Morningstar explains, the so-called Green New Deal is being promoted “as the catalyst to unlock the 100 trillion dollars required to unleash the ‘fourth industrial revolution’. This project, of unparalleled magnitude, is the vehicle to save the failing global capitalist economic system and bring in the financialization of nature”.
Having found the answer to the question recommended by Salvemini, we might reflect that it is not exactly surprising to find capitalism manoeuvring to incite state support for its money-making activities.
It was in 1469 that the banker Lorenzo Medici observed: “Things can go badly for the rich if they don’t run the state”.
It is a big mistake to fall for the capitalist lie that their world of “market forces” somehow operates independently of the existence of states.
We perhaps might expect that naivety from advocates of the oxymoronic absurdity known as “anarcho-capitalism”, but it is strange to witness anti-capitalists likewise imagining that the involvement of state machineries in capitalist activities will inevitably act as some kind of brake on profiteering.
Capitalism has always depended on the existence of a state in order to impose and enforce its domination. Indeed, we would argue that the state only exists in the first place as a tool of the wealthy elite.
Its role has always been to rubber-stamp, with its self-proclaimed “authority”, the theft from the majority carried out by a greedy and self-interested minority.
It is the state that announces that “property” is sacred and lawful and that any attempt to take it back amounts to “crime”.
It is the state that physically protects the property and wealth of the rich by employing gangs of thugs to intimidate, attack or imprison anyone who threatens to confiscate it, by whatever means.
It is the state that legitimises and enforces the expulsion of people from their land, that cuts them off from subsistence, from communal autonomy, and forces them into the waiting jaws of capitalist wage slavery.
It is the state that raises armies and navies to conquer foreign lands so that its capitalists can plunder , cheat and exploit still further afield.
It is the state that taxes the population, ostensibly in “our” interest, only to divert vast amounts of collective wealth into the pockets of capitalists, whether via their highly lucrative construction schemes (needed for “our” infrastructure), via their profitable arms dealing (needed for “our” defence) or, today, via their pseudo-green technologies (needed to save “our” planet).
When state and capital work together in a more visible way, as with the planned “Green New Deal” and “New Deal for Nature”, this does not mean that capitalism is on the retreat.
It just means that, in order to get through a period of crisis, capitalists are, once again, pretending that their interests are “our” interests, that we are all facing an “emergency situation”, that “our” future is at risk and that, therefore, trillions of dollars of public money should be stuffed, by the state, into the pockets of our capitalist saviours.
Those who persist in seeing a state-intervention version of capitalism as necessarily a step in the right direction, would do well to heed Salvemini’s study of one particular “limited planned economy deferential to capitalism”, (2) which just happened to be the Fascist regime in Italy.
He wrote: “Italy has never seen anything similar to the type of planning exhibited by the government of Soviet Russia. When an important branch of the banking system, or a large-scale industry which could be confused with ‘the higher interests of the nation’, has threatened to collapse, the government has stepped into the breach and prevented the breakdown by emergency measures.
“The policies of the Italian dictatorship during these years of world crisis have been no different in their aims, methods, and results from the policies of all the governments of the capitalistic countries. The Charter of Labour says that private enterprise is responsible to the state. In actual fact, it is the state, i.e. the taxpayer, who has become responsible to private enterprise. When the depression came, the government added the loss to the taxpayer’s burden. Profit is private and individual. Loss is public and social”.
Salvemini summed up the overall impact of Fascist state intervention in the dealings of “laissez-faire” capitalism, by concluding: “The intervention of government has invariably favoured big business”. (3)
Why would we expect things to be any different today?
1. Gaetano Salvemini, Under the Axe of Fascism (New York: Howard Fertig, 1969), p. 379, cit. Ishay Landa, The Apprentice’s Sorcerer: Liberal Tradition and Fascism (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2012), p. 73.
Following our report in Acorn 54 on the launch of the No Deal for Nature campaign (which has websites here and here), some people have asked us to explain what exactly the New Deal for Nature is and what is bad about it.
In response, we suggest that these readers take part in a little experiment.
Search for “New Deal for Nature” on the internet as a whole, Twitter or wherever you fancy.
When you find a website promoting the idea, note who is behind it, what language they use in describing the plan, what other sites they link to, where they get their funding from, who they list as their “partners”.
Follow their links and perform the same exercise with every organisation you come across.
It won’t be long before you have found out – for yourself! – that the New Deal for Nature is an entirely corporate phenomenon, which uses the language of “sustainablity” to promote a 21st century version of the state-backed capitalism historically favoured by the Fascist and Nazi regimes.
This, in itself, should be enough to turn you against the New Deal for Nature, if you have been paying sufficient attention.
As Brussels-based academic Frédéric Leroy has explained: “Geneva-based WWF Intl has received millions of dollars from its links with governments & business. Global corporations such as Coca-Cola, Shell, Monsanto, HSBC, Cargill, BP, Alcoa & Marine Harvest have all benefited from the group’s green image”.
“Alongside their sterling work throwing indigenous people off their land on behalf of their big business friends – under the false green flag of ‘conservation’ of course! – the WWF are very prominent in the climate capitalist lobby calling for a New Deal for Nature.
But let’s not stop there. Let’s follow the links down to one particular area of The New Deal for Nature – food.
We learn that the New Deal will “enable us to provide enough food and water for a global population that will grow to nine billion people in coming decades”.
Adds the WWF, on behalf of the New Deal for Nature lobby: “In particular, we support consumption of independently verified (credibly certified) sustainably produced food”.
To this end it says is working “with a variety of stakeholders”. Stakeholders, eh? Now who could that possibly be?
The link below this statement reveals all, taking us to the “Future 50 Foods” report, jointly produced by the WWF and Knorr, the dehydrated food brand owned by WWF’s bestest friend, Unilever.
Game over? Point proved? No, let’s dig little further yet by having a look at the list of acknowledgements at the end of this charming brochure.
This says that “the creation of this report” was led by Dorothy Shaver of Unilever and that it “ultimately reflects the views of Knorr, WWF and Adam Drewnowski”.
Drewnowski is a trustee of the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) which, according to a study reported in The Guardian in June 2019, is “an industry lobby group that masquerades as a scientific health charity” and is “used by corporate backers to counter public health policies”. Surely not?
Others involved include:
* Crops for The Future, which researches “Biotechnology and Crop Genetics”.
* EAT Foundation, the “science-based global platform for food system transformation” which, Gaetano Salvemini would have been interested to hear (see above), aims to “influence and align political and business action”.
* Edelman, the giant US PR and marketing consultancy firm which boasts: “We develop powerful ideas and tell magnetic stories that move at the speed of news, make an immediate impact, transform culture and spark movements”. One of these “powerful ideas”, is that “the way forward is for government to revitalize its role as an essential partner to business”. Of course – what else are governments for?
* The Food and Land Use Coalition (FOLU), whose aim is “growing better business” and declares: “We believe business has a critical role to play in achieving the outcomes for climate, biodiversity, public health and prosperous livelihoods that the world needs”. Prosperous livelihoods, eh?
* FReSH (Food Reform for Sustainability and Health) which is “one of the key initiatives of World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s effort to create a set of business solutions to drive the transformation of the food system”. Not just any old “solutions”, note, but business solutions!
* Gro Intelligence, a data-orientated business interested in how “the next agricultural revolution might work with artificial intelligence”.
* The Global Crop Diversity Trust, aka The Crop Trust, which is “extremely grateful” to donors such as pharmaceutical corporation Bayer, agrochemical giant Syngenta, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and… wait for it! … Unilever.
We’ll stop there and let you while away happy hours carrying out your own research into the New Deal for Nature and People.
One thing that is totally clear to us is that this scam is corporate to its core.
It has nothing to do with either “nature” or “people” and everything to with racking up state-facilitated big business profiteering, exploitation and control.
More and more voices are speaking up in defence of Julian Assange, a political prisoner of the neoliberal US empire.
The 48-year-old WikiLeaks founder has been locked up in HMP Belmarsh in London since April 2019, after spending seven years in the Ecuadorian embassy under political asylum.
He is facing up to 175 years in prison in the USA in relation to charges filed under the Espionage Act, despite not being American and not having been in the USA when the alleged offences were committed.
The increasingly desperate US state seems to be declaring the right to punish anyone, anywhere in the world, who exposes and challenges its war crimes and impunity.
The servile UK authorities are, of course, happy to go along with Washington’s orders.
At a meeting in London on February 4, Professor Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, condemned the way Assange has been treated.
“We are living in a time when our own war crimes are no longer prosecuted,” he said.
“175 years for whatever they are accusing Mr Assange of, it’s certainly not violence, certainly it’s not genocide, certainly it’s not massacring civilians or torturing anybody, and people for genocide in the Hague they receive 35 or 45 years. I’m genuinely outraged.”
In Germany, more than 130 prominent figures from the world of art, politics and media have signed a petition calling for Assange to be released from prison.
In France, young lawyer and author Juan Branco has followed his anti-Macron book Crépuscule with a book about Assange, called Assange: l’anti-souverain.
He says: “Julian Assange is a completely unique personality and his actions mean he will long retain a place in history”.
Meanwhile, 100 supporters of the Gilets Jaunes movement in France travelled to London at the end of January to take part in an Assange solidarity protest at HMP Belmarsh.
Magali Chastaing told The Canary: “The case of Julian Assange is not just only about one person, it’s the symbol of the treatment given to truth today… and this is affecting all of us”.
In Brussels, Assange was hailed as a “resistance fighter of the 21st century” as journalists gathered to demand that the Belgian government take urgent action to block his extradition to the US.
International Federation of Journalists general secretary Anthony Bellanger asked for Assange to be recognised as an honorary citizen of Brussels.
In Sweden, Karin Pettersson wrote on February 9 that “the process against Assange risks having far-reaching consequences for journalism and press freedom” and noted that “there is evidence that he is subjected to torture-like conditions in prison”.
In Assange’s native Australia, academic Alison Broinowski noted on the same day that the WikiLeaks man had been jailed for “telling the truth”.
Commenting on the possibility of a 175-year sentence in the USA, she wrote: “The absurdity of such a sentence, when the worst war criminals get 45 years, reflects the fury of the US security state at being caught out and the subservience of its UK colleagues.
“Those on both sides of the Atlantic determined to get Assange are unrelenting”.
And, reports The Canary, Australian MP Andrew Wilkie has announced that he will travel to London to visit WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange in Belmarsh prison. On February 10 , Wilkie also tabled a “massive petition” in defence of Assange in Australia’s parliament.
Nearly 300,000 people have now signed a global petition to “Free Julian Assange and to stop the legal precedent being established of a USA Extradition for a non USA journalist that exposed USA war crimes”.
Julian Assange’s extradition hearing begins on Monday February 24. A protest is lined up from 9.30am. Latest info from the Defend Wikileaks site.
On Tuesday February 25 an event called “Imperialism on Trial – Free Julian Assange” is being staged at St Pancras New Church, Euston Road, London, from 6.30pm, with speakers including George Galloway, Craig Murray, Neil Clark, Tareq Haddad and Mike Barson from the ska-pop group Madness. Entry is £8.
“There remains nothing, in culture or in nature, which has not been transformed, and polluted, according to the means and interests of modern industry”
Guy Debord (1931-1994) was a philosopher and social critic, part of the Letterist and Situationist movements.
He and his comrades, such as Jaime Semprun, forged a deep-rooted critique of the industrial capitalist system, not merely in economic terms, but as a cultural and psychological prison.
This “spectacle” was “the superficial reign of images” (1) he wrote, where “the commodity contemplates itself in a world of its own making”. (2)
This modern world was inherently false and artificial, Debord said: “The whole life of those societies in which modern conditions of production prevail presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. All that once was directly lived has become mere representation”. (3)
It was not merely false, but presented its own falsity as an unchallengeable reality, he added: “What is false creates taste, and reinforces itself by knowingly eliminating any possible reference to the authentic”. (4)
Debord’s analysis in 1967’s La société du spectacle was strongly anti-industrial, stating:
“The society which rests on modern industry is not accidentally or superficially spectacular, it is fundamentally spectaclist”. (5)
He condemned “the dictatorship of the automobile”, “the domination of the motorway” and “temples of frenzied consumption”. (6)
This industrial society was devoid of any real content, or intent, with its sole aim being its own meaningless perpetuation. It was a dead thing, “the concrete inversion of life”. (7)
“Separation is the alpha and omega of the spectacle”, (8) wrote Debord, and the system imposed its vertical domination on the population by denying them any horizontal connections.
Organic, authentic, society was made impossible by the crushing force of industrialism: “From the automobile to the television, all the goods selected by the spectacular system are also its weapons for the constant reinforcement of the conditions of isolation of ‘lonely crowds’”. (9)
Debord made it clear time and time again that the spectacle was nothing less than the commercialisation of the world, the reduction of the world to the empty level of product and profit.
This commercialisation had gone deeper than the economic domain and destroyed the health of the human social organism itself.
“The spectacle is the other side of money”. (10) “The economy transforms the world, but transforms it only into a world of economy”. (11) “The spectacle is the moment when the commodity has achieved the total occupation of social life”. (12)
Debord reported in his 1988 Commentaires sur la société du spectacle that the situation was now even worse than in the 1960s: “There remains nothing, in culture or in nature, which has not been transformed, and polluted, according to the means and interests of modern industry”. (13)
And where did this leave the individual who had been reared within the capitalist cage and had never known anything but the illusions of its artificial anti-society?
No matter how hard he might try to speak out against the system, he risked remaining trapped inside its basic mindset and assumptions.
“He will essentially follow the language of the spectacle, for it is the only one he is familiar with; the one in which he learned to speak. No doubt he would like to be regarded as an enemy of its rhetoric; but he will use its syntax. This is one of the most important aspects of spectacular domination’s success”. (14)
Debord highlighted the role of the secret state and its involvement in imposing this underlying capitalist syntax, even within ostensibly radical circles.
He warned that its highest ambition was “to turn secret agents into revolutionaries, and revolutionaries into secret agents” (15) and that it could use all its traditional techniques in an ideological context – “provocation, infiltration, and various forms of elimination of authentic critique in favour of a false one which will have been created for this purpose”. (16)
Terrorism, he wrote, was something constructed by the system itself because “its wish is to be judged by its enemies rather than by its results”. He explained: “The spectators must certainly never know everything about terrorism, but they must always know enough to convince them that, compared with terrorism, everything else must be acceptable”. (17)
1. Guy Debord, La société du spectacle (Paris: Gallimard, 1992), p. 152.
2. Debord, La société du spectacle, p. 31.
3. Debord, La société du spectacle, p. 3.
4. Guy Debord, Commentaires sur la société du spectacle (Paris: Gallimard, 1992), p. 56.
5. Debord, La société du spectacle, p. 8.
6. Debord, La société du spectacle, p. 133.
7. Debord, La société du spectacle, p. 3.
8. Debord, La société du spectacle, p. 13.
9. Debord, La société du spectacle, p. 15.
10. Debord, La société du spectacle, p. 29.
11. Debord, La société du spectacle, p. 24.
12. Debord, La société du spectacle, p. 25.
13. Debord, Commentaires, p. 20.
14. Debord, Commentaires, p. 38.
15. Debord, Commentaires, pp. 21-22.
16. Debord, Commentaires, p. 59.
17. Debord, Commentaires, pp. 32-33.
Opposition is growing to a massive sand and gravel quarry which threatens to ruin the rural landscape between East Tilbury, Linford and Stanford-le-Hope in Thurrock, Essex. Write local anarchist campaigners at The South Essex Heckler: “The applicant can stick this proposal for a quarry extension where the sun doesn’t shine – this quarry is a step too far. Sod the bottom line and the cult of endless growth that sees the earth as nothing more than a resource to be plundered, regardless of the cost to nature and humanity. Suffice to say, this fight does not end at the conclusion of the planning process, it’ll go on beyond that…”
* * *
There’s no stopping capitalist “progress”. Despite all the hot air about climate crisis and all the claims that there is no “magic money tree” to fund public health services, the UK state has announced it is going ahead with the £106 billion HS2 high-speed rail line. This will destroy ancient woodlands, nature reserves and hundreds of classified wildlife sites, wrecking the landscape across a huge swathe of England. Resistance is expected.
* * *
“The insurrectionary movement is becoming increasingly radical. I am betting firmly on a phase that, after the phase of frontal struggle against power, will destroy the State from its foundations, creating communes or territories managed directly by the people and for the people”. So says Raoul Vaneigem, Belgian Situationist and survivor of the May 1968 revolt in France, in an article making a link between events in France and the anti-capitalist uprising in Chile.
* * *
A thoughtful article on the situation around the Hambacher Wald has been published on the Hambi Bleibt website (see Acorn 54 for news of the apparent “saving” of the forest by a government U-turn on lignite mining). The new piece says: “Beyond safeguarding the trees still standing, the significance of what has happened around this neck of the woods lies within the propagation of a spirit of defiance as an epoch of climate chaos and growing authoritarianism is dawning. As capitalism overstretches its ecological constraints and people grow increasingly conscious of the self-destructiveness of our current course, more cracks are to be expected. Let them burst and then bloom!”
* * *
Angry protests have been held in London against the far-right Tory government’s expulsion of people of Jamaican origin. “This wholesale deportation of people to Jamaica, tearing them away from their families is unjust, inhumane and racist in intent”, said campaigner Zita Holbourne.
* * *
Is the Evil Empire crumbling? The Philippines has officially told the USA that it is scrapping a security pact that allows US forces to train and take part in joint exercises there. News agency Reuters comments that the move “could be a blow to Washington’s interests in maintaining a troop presence in the Asia-Pacific, amid friction over the presence of US personnel in Japan and South Korea and regional security concerns about China and North Korea”.
* * *
“For more than 15 years successive British governments have covered up the role that the UK’s foreign intelligence service, MI6, and its security service, MI5, played in the abduction and subsequent torture of people they regarded as potential terrorists”. That is the finding of a report by Richard Norton-Taylor for the Declassified UK journalism project. Read the full article here.
* * *
“Drugs, dynasties, and Nottingham Forest: Marinakis and Greece’s Mafia State” is a fascinating piece of investigative journalism on the Stateless website. While the Greek authorities claim to be fighting crime, drugs and terrorism in their war on the insubordinate Athens neighbourhood of Exarchia, the real villains lie within the country’s ruling business elite.
* * *
A multi-millionaire businessman has come up with a spiffing plan to help those who fall victim to the capitalist system of which he is a part, and end up without a roof over their heads. They can sleep in a “pod” made from two plastic dustbins. “Let them eat cake” and “let them live in bins”. Two examples of the elite’s blind arrogance that can only end badly… for them.
* * *
Acorn quote: “It has taken me all of my life so far to realize that the single great obstacle in the way of survival and an extended human vision is the industrial society itself and its expropriation and suppression of the most sensitive & creative qualities of the mind”.
The much-vaunted “green” agenda of the World Economic Forum (WEF) is coming under attack as its annual Davos summit gets underway.
A new international campaign has been launched which alleges the WEF is guilty of spearheading a bid by corporations and financial institutions to “monetize” nature on a global scale.
It is calling on people across the world to hold public meetings, disseminate information, form local campaign groups and “to take whatever action is necessary” to halt the so-called “New Deal for Nature”.
An online statement from the “No Deal for Nature” alliance, whose slogan is “life is not a commodity”, has already won the support of several academics and campaigners.
It warns that “under the guise of environmental protection” a massive exploitation scheme is in fact being drawn up, with the aim of maintaining the current wealth and power transfer from the poor to the rich.
The WEF boasts on its own website that “young climate activists, including Greta Thunberg” will be attending the Davos event in Switzerland from January 21.
It insists it will be discussing “how to address the urgent climate and environmental challenges that are harming our ecology and economy” and “how to transform industries to achieve more sustainable and inclusive business models”.
However, the WEF also reveals it will be examining “how to govern the technologies driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution so they benefit business”.
The package of policies known as the “New Deal for Nature” is being promoted not only by the WEF, but also by the United Nations (UN), the World Bank and the controversial WWF.
The UN has admitted it wants to “advance a new political agenda” involving “increased promotion of innovative financing that supports green infrastructure”.
The new campaign describes this agenda as a “monstrous and unprecedented assault on our living world by the capitalist system”.
It warns that nature and humanity alike will suffer, with the threat of “further Indigenous displacement and genocide”.
The campaigners conclude: “The NDFN must be stopped. We call on all those who care about nature to speak out now”.
We have been warning for many months that there is something profoundly rotten in the “climate” movement fronted by the likes of Greta Thunberg, Extinction Rebellion, the WWF, the UN, and George Monbiot of The Guardian.
We know that a large number of the activists involved in these campaigns are doing so from a genuine concern for nature, for the environment, for the future of this world.
But, we have been trying to point out, they need to be aware that powerful forces are trying to use their eco-idealism for very different ends – the ends of increasing industrialisation, destruction and, of course, profit.
This is not just a question of a few opportunistic business sharks trying to “co-opt” an authentic activist initiative.
The enormous environmental damage caused by industrial society has been deliberately repackaged as a mere “climate crisis”, for which capitalists are primed to sell us their lucrative “solutions”.
The network which has been creating and promoting this fake-green pseudo-movement – and whose money and influence has made it so much more “successful” than other eco-campaigns – is entirely embedded in the worst kind of capitalism.
The “solutions” these deceitful wheeler-dealers are trying to sell us risk leading us into a nightmarish future of artifice, enslavement and corporate-controlled “smart” fascism.
And yet, as the months go on, more and more evidence keeps emerging to back up what we and others have been saying.
Tug at any loose end that catches your eye on the surface of modern life and, if you keep pulling, you will find yourself hauling up the same dripping, stinking, putrid knot of industrial capitalist power, money and lies.
You could start, for instance, from a January 2 tweet in which the official account of the WWF in the UK decided to endorse the Greggs vegan steak bake (“made with pieces of the fungi-based protein Quorn instead of beef”) as promoted by The Guardian.
As Brussels-based academic Frédéric Leroy tweeted: “The fact that this promo is coming from a WWF account tell us more about the latter than about the opportunism of food ultraprocessors”.
He added: “Geneva-based WWF Intl has received millions of dollars from its links with governments & business. Global corporations such as Coca-Cola, Shell, Monsanto, HSBC, Cargill, BP, Alcoa & Marine Harvest have all benefited from the group’s green image”.
The WWF is an extremely dubious organisation, as the excellent documentary video Silence of the Pandas reveals.
Alongside their sterling work throwing indigenous people off their land on behalf of their big business friends – under the false green flag of “conservation” of course! – the WWF are very prominent in the climate capitalist lobby calling for a New Deal for Nature (see above).
Elkington is part of the Tomorrow’s Capitalism project – slogan “Step Up or Get Out of the Way” – which held a conference in London on January 10 2020.
All sorts of lovely people were lined up to attend the event hosted by asset management company Aviva Investments.
These included representatives of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the Swiss-based World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), German chemicals firm Covestro, the transhumanist Singularity University and members of a “a team of technology, finance and market sector experts” going under the name RethinkX.
Back to food for a moment, and less than a week after The Guardian’s plug for the Greggs product, it published a gushing piece by star columnist George Monbiot about the marvellous brave new industrial world of “lab grown food” which would make farming redundant and “save the planet”.
Monbiot, who has spent decades trying to build up a reputation as an “environmentalist”, explained that his inspiring and wholesome menu for the future of food involves “multiplying particular micro-organisms, to produce particular products, in factories”.
He also echoed the language of the “Green Swan” and “Tomorrow’s Capitalism” crowd by declaring: “We are on the cusp of the biggest economic transformation, of any kind, for 200 years”.
And it should come as no surprise to learn that the “thinktank” behind the lab-grown food project promoted by Monbiot is none other than Tomorrow’s Capitalism participants RethinkX.
And what might prompt these “technology, finance and market sector experts” to take an interest in this world-changing new technology?
As environmental campaigner Miles Kingcomments: “The way I see it is that entrepreneurs (inc the rethinkx ones and others) are looking to create a market in synthetic food, corner it, then make a fortune from it. This has nothing to do with a sustainable future for the planet”.
So who is behind RethinkX? Its website says it is funded by its founders James Arbib and Tony Seba and with grants from Tellus Mater, an “independent philanthropic foundation” founded by James Arbib.
Arbib describes himelf as “a London-based investor in technology” and is the son of businessman Sir Martyn Arbib, founder of fund management company Invesco Perpetual.
Seba is a Silicon Valley venture capitalist whose work focuses on “the convergence of technologies, business models, and product innovations that disrupt the world’s major industries”.
As for the name RethinkX, we were immediately reminded of the “X”-themed language deployed by one leading climate capitalist, which we exposed here last year.
X was regarded as standing for “exponential opportunities” – thus we had “Tomorrow’s Business Models will be X-rated”, the “Sustainability X agenda” and “Think X, shorthand for Think Exponential”.
A possible connection to the name “XR” was suggested to us by the fact that the X-obsessed author was none other than John Elkington of Volans, one of XR’s “business leaders”.
And this same John Elkington is, of course, behind the Tomorrow’s Capitalism project with which Monbiot’s chums at RethinkX are involved…
An Xtremely strange coincidence?
Or does X mark the spot for artificial industrial food, for phoney philanthropists selling pseudo-sustainability, for fake-green politics, for astroturf “rebels”, for corporate grooming of public opinion, for the transhumanist death-cult and, above all else, for simply X-ponential levels of profit for the financial-capitalist elite?
This person wrote: “Sorry but I have very little time for conspiracy theorists, and you have proven time after time that you are one. Will give you a mute now, can’t see why I should bother any further”.
The immediate spark for this was our comradely suggestion that they might like to have a look at our Climate Capitalists page for some background info on the way environmentalism is being co-opted by big business interests.
Before that, there had been a brief and polite exchange about the lack of anarchist voices condemning US imperialist aggression against Iran.
We are not quite sure which issue was the trigger here, but in any case the response seems totally bizarre for an outfit which is – surely! – opposed both to capitalism and to imperialism.
Jaime Semprun, in his book Dialogues sur l’Achèvement des Temps Modernes, refers to a Czech intellectual and 1968 dissident who said, with regard to his authoritarian “comrades”: “If they are Marxists, then we aren’t. If we are Marxists, then they aren’t!”
We can identify with this in an anarchist context…
This issue isn’t totally new, of course. We were already trying to broach the thorny issue in our 2017 article What is Real Anarchism?
There we warned: “Anarchism, as a political movement, is doomed to disintegrate and disappear if it fails to reconnect itself to the roots of its own world-view”.
Subsequently, we gave up the idea of trying to claim ideological rights to the entire anarchist tradition, which has always been very diverse.
For that reason, and in order to set out our own position with more clarity, we have adopted the label of organic radicalism, without abandoning our attachment to the anarchist ideal.
Organic radicalism has the same relation to anarchism as anarchism has to socialism. Anarchism’s roots are in socialism, it is intrinsically socialist and yet it is more than socialism. It found its own name to differentiate itself from other forms of socialism (statist, reformist, etc), which had dominated understanding of the term. Organic radicalism is therefore both anarchist and socialist – and something else, of its own.
So what are its differences with anarchism?
Organic radicalism is an evolution of anarchism. From our perspective, contemporary anarchism does not go far enough in its opposition to industrial capitalism. In the same way as other leftists can become stuck within the broader capitalist mindset, merely seeking greater equality, individual freedom or self-management within the context of capitalism and the state, so do too many anarchists base their vision of the future on the industrial society created by and for capitalism. Orgrad also proposes a holistic world-view, based on organic belonging to community, species and nature, which is considered unacceptable by many contemporary anarchists, due to the influence of modern ideologies appropriate to capitalism. To be clear, orgrad has no interest at all in the dead-end narcissism of ultra-liberal identity politics.
So it is that The Acorn remains firmly anarchist and yet has great difficulty in identifying with anarchists and other so-called radicals who:
* Happily support and promote military imperialist aggressions against countries which refuse to toe the US line, so long as the countries have been labelled “undemocratic” or “oppressive” by The Guardian.
* Happily support and promote industrialism and its destruction of the natural world, so long as this has been labelled “green” by The Guardian.
* Happily support the illegal detention and psychological torture of an anti-imperialist journalist and whistleblower, so long as he has been labelled a sex offender and creep by The Guardian.
* Happily support, promote (and eat?) the worst kind of industrially-processed non-food, so long as this has been declared a good thing by The Guardian.
* Refuse to even read any research exposing the machinations of the ruling system, automatically dismissing it as “conspiracy theory”.
* Regard the idea of “nature” or “natural” as suspicious, “dodgy” or somehow mysteriously linked to “fascism“, though they are never capable of explaining how or why.
* Refuse to read or consider anything which challenges this delusion, for fear of being contaminated by association with suspicious, dodgy or “fascist” ideas. Or maybe, for fear of being seen by others as being contaminated by association with suspicious, dodgy or “fascist” ideas.
* Appear to be incapable of critical thinking or independent thought, preferring to adhere slavishly to the latest groupthink orthodoxy, even when this makes no sense at all.
If our Western capitalist “democracies” were what they claim to be, Emmanuel Macron would no longer be president of the French republic.
After 14 months of non-stop protests against his regime and its hardcore neoliberal agenda, it is quite clear that he has no social licence to carry on.
No sooner had the Gilets Jaunes revolt in France begun, at the end of 2018, than the corporate media confidently informed their public that it was running out of steam and would soon disappear.
At the start of 2020, not only has the revolt not disappeared but it has evolved and grown into something even more powerful and widespread.
A huge movement of strikes and protests against the regime’s “work-until-you-drop” pension “reforms” has swept across French society.
Following the same tired script, the system’s media have been trying to play down the significance of what is happening and are pretending it will all quickly fade away.
But support for the opposition movement is strong and all sorts of professions have been joining in the struggle.
Railway workers, dockers and bus drivers have been marching alongside firefighters, teachers and students.
Opera singers and ballet dancers have got in on the act, as have the staff at the Palace of Versailles and the Louvre.
Lawyers have been throwing down their gowns in protest, doctors their white coats, teachers their schoolbooks, factory workers their blue overalls.
Across the country Gilets Jaunes and strikers have been disrupting Macronist (LREM) meetings, often drowning them out with renditions of On est là (“For the honour of the workers and for a better world, we are here!”). See videos here, here and here.
Macron himself had to be spirited out of a theatre in Paris on January 17 when news of his presence spread and angry people gathered in the street outside.
The president’s response to all this is to dismiss criticism and discount any possibility of abandoning the hated pension “reforms”.
Like Thatcher in the UK 40 years ago, his job is to smash social resistance to a full neoliberal takeover, with every aspect of life privatised so that big business can extract maximum profit from the population.
In order to achieve this, Macron’s regime is prepared to use every weapon at its disposal, including, of course, massive and frightening levels of police brutality against protesters.
In France, as also in post-coup Bolivia, neoliberalism is coming out of the closet and revealing itself to be a 21st century form of fascism.
George Orwell (1903-1950), real name Eric Blair, was one of the most important English political writers of the 20th century.
He challenged totalitarianism in all its forms and, in opposition to its machine-like brutality, put forward a vision of life based on simplicity, authenticity and moral decency.
Orwell was a libertarian socialist, close to the anarchist movement, and often criticised, from within, the failure of the left to attract the widespread public support which its principles deserved.
He feared that its basic call for justice and liberty had been buried under layers of sterile dogma, boring Marxist jargon and blinkered enthusiasm for industrial “progress”.
The result, he feared, was that people like himself would recoil from this debased left and fall into the ideological arms of Fascism, which sought to gain power by selling the public its own distorted version of socialism.
Orwell learnt his politics from life rather than from textbooks. He learned hatred of British imperialism from his years in Burma, he learned the harsh realities of capitalist society from his spells of semi-voluntary poverty in Paris and London; he learned his distrust of Stalinist Communism from fighting in Spain; he learned about state propaganda from working at the BBC.
Although Orwell revelled in the apparent contradictions in his world view, and detested “the smelly little orthodoxies” (1) of fixed systems of thought from Catholicism to Communism, his instincts were always defiantly left-wing and anti-authoritarian.
In 1936, he told Philip Mairet he was going to Spain. When asked why, he simply replied: “This fascism. Somebody’s got to stop it”. (2)
An account of a night attack against Franco’s forces on the Aragon Front the next year described “Eric Blair’s tall figure coolly strolling forward through the storm of fire”. (3)
Orwell/Blair wrote in Homage to Catalonia: “I have no particular love for the idealized ‘worker’ as he appears in the bourgeois Communist’s mind, but when I see an actual flesh-and-blood worker in conflict with his natural enemy, the policeman, I do not have to ask myself which side I am on”. (4)
After his experiences on the Iberian peninsula he became distrustful of any anti-fascist struggle that was not also a revolutionary struggle against capitalism.
He wrote in a letter: “After what I have seen in Spain I have come to the conclusion that it is futile to be ‘anti-Fascist’ while attempting to preserve capitalism. Fascism after all is only a development of capitalism, and the mildest democracy, so-called, is liable to turn into Fascism when the pinch comes…
“If one collaborates with a capitalist-imperialist government in a struggle ‘against Fascism’, ie. against a rival imperialism, one is simply letting Fascism in by the back door”. (5)
Orwell was persuaded by Emma Goldman to join the International Anti-Fascist Solidarity Committee where he came into contact with anarchists such as Herbert Read and John Cowper Powys. He was also friends with the anarchists Marie Louise Berneri and George Woodcock.
He supported the war against Hitler in the hope that it would lead to revolution and joined the Home Guard which he saw, for a while, as potentially a revolutionary popular militia like the New Model Army of the 17th century.
After the war ended, Orwell joined the libertarian Freedom Defence Committee and contributed to the anarchist journal Freedom.
But alongside his natural left-wing allegiance was something which was regarded, at the time, as somehow in contradiction with all that – a deep love for traditional ways, for old England and above all for nature.
Bernard Crick describes how Orwell was both “tender towards nature” and alarmed at “the suburban sprawl over the countryside”. (6) He adds: “Orwell thought that man should be as one with natural objects. Like Rousseau, he disliked the artificiality of the city”. (7)
George Woodcock writes that Orwell was motivated by a “nostalgia for a simpler and cleaner way of life which emerges so poignantly in Coming Up for Air and even gives pathos to parts of Nineteen Eighty-Four“. (8)
He had an “essentially naturalistic attitude” (9) and took great joy from contact with nature: “He fed from the earth, like Antaeus, and his happiest recollections of youth, like his happiest letters, were concerned in some way or another with rural experiences”. (10)
Orwell was particularly outspoken in his condemnation of industrial society in The Road to Wigan Pier. He wrote: “It is only in our own age, when mechanization has finally triumphed, that we can actually feel the tendency of the machine to make a fully human life imposssible”. (11)
“The question one has got to consider is whether there is any human activity which would not be maimed by the dominance of the machine”. (12)
He decried the way that it was becoming difficult to imagine any way out of the machine world, as people’s preferences and habits became defined by its norms: “Mechanization leads to the decay of taste, the decay of taste leads to the demand for machine-made articles and hence to more mechanization, and so a vicious circle is established”. (13)
George Bowling, the central character in Coming Up for Air, has a glimpse of all this when he tastes a frankfurter in a 1930s Milk Bar in central London: “It was fish! A sausage, a thing calling itself a frankfurter, filled with fish! It gave me the feeling that I’d bitten into the modern world and discovered what it was really made of.
“That’s the way we’re going nowadays. Everything slick and streamlined, everything made out of something else. Celluloid, rubber, chromium-steel everywhere, arc lamps blazing all night, glass roofs over your head, radios all playing the same tune, no vegetation left, everything cemented over, mock-turtles grazing under the neutral fruit-trees.
“But when you come down to brass tacks and get your teeth into something solid, a sausage for instance, that’s what you get. Rotten fish in a rubber skin. Bombs of filth bursting inside your mouth”. (14)
Orwell expressed particular despair at the way in which socialism, influenced by rigid Marxist materialism and Soviet industrialism, had failed to oppose the “swindle of progress”. (15)
Worse than that, it had even reached the fanatical point at which “all sentiment for the past carries with it a vague smell of heresy”. (16)
Most socialists regarded with contempt the traditional beliefs and ways of life that held together pre-industrial organic community and wanted to steamroller the past to build the new scientifically-planned, efficient concrete-communist future.
Orwell remarked: “The unfortunate thing is that Socialism, as usually presented, is bound up with the idea of mechanical progress, not merely as a necessary development but as an end in itself, almost as a kind of religion”. (17)
He feared that “revulsion from a shallow conception of progress” could drive people away from socialism into the hands of the Fascists – as it already had, he argued in a BBC talk, with Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot. (18)
At the same time, Orwell feared that lurking behind the “urban creed” (19) of socialism was “a hypertrophied sense of order”. (20) This meant that even his own ideology, English socialism, was in danger of turning into the fascistic IngSoc of his fictional dystopia.
His two most famous warnings against totalitarianism, Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four, were both influenced by his experience of Communist propaganda in Spain, which had spread the total lie that the Trotskyites of POUM and their fellow anarchist revolutionaries were in fact “Fascists” working secretly for Franco.
One young man, Stafford Cottmann, who had fought fascism with POUM alongside Orwell, returned home to the UK only to have his home picketed by local Communists denouncing him as a “Fascist”. (21)
Crick remarks: “It is still hard to recall how vile, gross and fabricated such propaganda was. Orwell saw before his own eyes not merely the distortion of evidence through differing perspectives but the sheer invention of history. One aspect of Nineteen Eighty-Four was already occurring”. (22)
When Orwell encountered the same attitude to truth in the wartime BBC, where he worked, he realised that a dangerous modern tendency was revealing itself, in which truth became secondary to control and the pursuit of power.
Explaining in 1949 why he wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four, he explained that “totalitarian ideas have taken root in the minds of intellectuals everywhere, and I have tried to draw these ideas out to their logical consequences”. (23)
This totalitarianism was in fact happening at a deeper level than the political surface, in the very way that intellectuals were starting to think: a way that reflected the artificiality and separation from natural reality of the industrial age.
In the novel, Ingsoc’s Big Brother dictatorship has established near-complete control of the population not merely on a physical level, but on a psychological one too – it is able to manipulate the experience of those it dominates, by denying the possibility of any objective reality.
“Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense… If both the past and external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable – what then?” (24)
Winston Smith’s struggle to keep a grip on objective reality, to know that two plus two makes four whatever the ideological demands of the Party, is a central theme of Orwell’s novel.
The character tells himself: “Truisms are true, hold on to that! The solid world exists, its laws do not change. Stones are hard, water is wet, objects unsupported fall towards the earth’s centre”. (25)
The Big Brother system has invented a new language which controls people’s minds by making heretical ideas impossible to even formulate.
One of the Party members developing Newspeak tells Smith: “You think, I dare say, that our chief job is inventing new words. But not a bit of it! We’re destroying words – scores of them, hundreds of them, every day”. (26)
He explains: “Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thought-crime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it… By 2050 – earlier, probably – all real knowledge of Oldspeak will have disappeared. The whole literature of the past will have been destroyed”. (27)
In the face of this truth-denying dogmatism, Orwell insisted that any authentic radical should always remain free to reject the dominant official ideology: “He should never turn back from a train of thought because it may lead to a heresy, and he should not mind very much if his unorthodoxy is smelt out, as it probably will be”.
While co-operating with others to some extent, a free-thinking radical had to fight the capitalist system “as an individual, an outsider, at the most an unwelcome guerilla on the flank of a regular army”. (28)
In Woodcock’s words, Orwell was “a good and angry man who sought for the truth because he knew that only in its air would freedom and justice survive”. (29)
1. George Woodcock, The Crystal Spirit: A Study of George Orwell (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1970), p. 51/
2. Bernard Crick, George Orwell: A Life (Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1982) , p. 312.
3. ‘Night Attack on the Aragon Front, The New Leader, 30 April 1937, p. 3. cit. Crick, p. 327.
4. George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1964) p. 119.
5. Crick, p. 350.
6. Crick, p. 272.
7. Crick, p. 301.
8. Woodcock, pp. 34-35.
9. Woodcock, p. 56.
10. Woodcock, p. 55.
11. George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1969) p. 167.
12. Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier, p. 172.
13. Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier, p. 180.
14. George Orwell, Coming Up for Air (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1963), pp. 26-27.
15. Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier, p. 178.
16. Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier, p. 177.
17. Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier, p. 166.
18. Crick, p. 430.
19. Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier, p. 164.
20. Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier, p. 157.
21. Crick, p. 344.
22. Crick, p. 334.
23. Letter to Francis A. Henson, 16 June 1949, cit. Crick p. 569.
24. George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four (New York: Signet, 1950) p. 80.
25. Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four, p. 81.
26. Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four, pp. 50-51.
27. Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four, pp. 52-53.
28. Woodcock, p. 220.
29. Woodcock, p. 278.
A week of action against the ecocidal capitalist system is being promoted by the Green Anti-Capitalist Front in the UK from February 24 to March 2. Initiatives will include reclaiming public space and unoccupied buildings, organising workshops and social events to build awareness and self-reliance, and “being loud and clear about our rage against profit-making by stockbrokers and their like at the expense of our planet and fellow humans”. More info here.
* * *
A big “International Black Bloc” mobilisation against a key EU summit in Leipzig has been called for September 2020. Say the Autonomes Kollektiv Anonymus: “We want to give the participating EU rulers a lesson in practical street militancy that they will not forget… the goal of joint action must be to bring this imperialist class reunion to an early end”.
* * *
Campaigners in Amsterdam are battling to protect an important green space on which organic food has long been grown. Developer SADC (Schiphol Area Development Company) wants to destroy this beautiful area, the Lutkemeerpolder, so that it can build warehouses and a distribution centre. More info at http://behoudlutkemeer.nl/en/
* * *
“Across India’s forest areas, people are fighting for democracy, livelihood and dignity”. Read more on this website from the Campaign for Survival and Dignity, a platform of adivasi and forest dwellers’ movements from ten States in India.
* * *
An important first-hand inside account of the way the media has been infiltrated and taken over by the system’s spooks has been provided by former Newsweek journalist Tareq Haddad. He writes: “The US government, in an ugly alliance with those who profit the most from war, has its tentacles in every part of the media – imposters, with ties to the US State Department, sit in newsrooms all over the world”.
* * *
“Whilst the CIA did not create postmodernism, it strongly encouraged and coerced its fruition”. This is the conclusion of very interesting 40-minute film from Prolekult, part five of their feature-length documentary “A Dying Culture”. Watch it here.
* * *
“Vitaphobia is the fear of life itself, a fear which becomes hatred, a hatred which begets unlimited violence against everything that is alive”. So writes Paul Cudenec in a blog article condemning the despisal of nature that underpins industrial capitalist modernity.
* * *
The ecocidal reality of so-called “green” energy is plain to see in Portugal, where people are organising against a boom in the mining of lithium, the “white gold” used to make batteries for electric cars. “Lithium mining in Portugal involves large open-cast mines that rip open huge tracts of land-destroying soils and ecosystems,” said one campaigner. “It uses huge amounts of water in the processing, which then contaminates ground and river water. The huge machines that are used have a massive impact in terms of noise and vibrations on local communities”.
* * *
Hambacher Forest has not been saved, despite what the German government is claiming. This is the message of a January 17 press release from the Hambi Bleibt forest occupation. It points out that plan proposed by lignite mining firm RWE will make the forest an island inside its giant pit. The ecosystem of the 12,000 year old forest is dying because RWE has been pumping out the ground water. “Furthermore, a forest ecosystem needs to be connected to the outside world, and it is especially true for the Hambacher Forest, which is 10% of the size it used to be”. More here.
* * *
Senior Scottish Government forestry officials have voiced concerns that a £5 million tree-planting deal with the oil giant, Shell, was blatant “greenwashing”, internal emails have revealed. An investigation by The Ferret website explains that the planting aims to earn Shell “carbon credits” to “offset” emissions from its petrol and diesel sales. But one official warned: “The tiny amount Shell is putting into green initiatives is dwarfed by what it is still spending on investigating new oil and gas reserves, and in blocking initiatives to set legally binding emissions reductions targets”.
* * *
The Earth First! UK Winter Moot is fast approaching. From February 21 to 23 the direct action network is proposing “a weekend of plotting & planning, reflection & discussion, seeing old & meeting new friends, yummy vegan food & coyzness”. The location will be near a protest camp against the HS2 high-speed rail route. Details to be confirmed soon. See https://www.earthfirst.org.uk/
* * *
As we enter the glorious 2020s, stem cells from frogs are being used to build the “first living robots” and trees are being replaced with City Trees – “the perfect combination of plants and Internet of Things technology”. Meanwhile we are told that “the fruit of the future” will be artificial and “made out of 3D-printed cellulose skins and filled with a healthy mix of vitamins and minerals”. Is this the future we really want? If not, what are we collectively going to do about it? These are surely the big questions for the decade to come…
* * *
Acorn quote: “All ownership of things, all land-ownership is in reality ownership of men. Whoever withholds the earth from others, from the masses, forces these others to work for him. Private ownership is theft and slave-holding”.
In fact, it will always do all that it physically can to preserve itself and its control over our lives.
While it likes to pretend its structures of domination amount to “democracy”, this is not the case, because it could never leave the door open to the possibility of its own abolition by democratic means.
The only changes possible via the fake-democracy of the system are limited reforms, which leave the system very much in place.
When we say “limited”, we perhaps mean “extremely limited”, because even the mildest of social-democratic tinkering, undoing some of the worst excesses of contemporary neoliberalism, is beyond the pale for the system.
However, when the system draws the line too tightly around its preferred outcomes and uses its vast powers of manipulation to prevent these limited reforms, it risks exposing its so-called “democracy” as a sham.
A whole new raft of people suddenly become aware of the true nature of the system and its fake-democratic window dressing.
Their eyes are opened to the fact that there is no point in playing by the rules devised by the system, no point in walking time and time again into the same traps that it sets for us.
These moments are risky for the system, because they risk radicalising people who, up to this point, had bought into much of its charade.
The UK is currently experiencing one such moment. A vast amount of enthusiasm and hope had been invested – naively, from our perspective – in the possibility of an election victory for Corbyn’s Labour Party.
The reforms proposed by Labour were far from fundamental and yet remained unacceptable to the system.
The unprecedented blatancy of the propaganda assault on Corbyn has left many people, particularly young people, asking themselves some serious questions about the nature of British “democracy” and the approach that is needed if real social change is ever to be brought about.
“Wow, this is unbelievable!” tweeted Greta Thunberg in response to the news that she had been named Time magazine Person of the Year for 2019.
Only it wasn’t, because the owner of Time is one of the wealthy business people who have been aiding and abetting her meteoric rise to fame.
What is truly unbelievable is that there is still anyone out there who has not grasped that the Greta brand (rather than the person herself) has been carefully manufactured and exploited to promote a particular block of vested financial interests.
Some die-hard believers have not even been swayed by the recent revelation that her original pavement protests were filmed by a documentary team who somehow sensed in advance that this particular teenager would shortly achieve global fame.
But let’s just come back to Time magazine for a moment. The article announcing Greta’s award was predictably gushing, marvelling over the “small voice” and “piercing outrage” of “the icon of a generation” who had become “the voice of millions, a symbol of a rising global rebellion”.
It added: “She has succeeded in creating a global attitudinal shift, transforming millions of vague, middle-of-the-night anxieties into a worldwide movement calling for urgent change”.
But what kind of change, exactly?
An early clue came at the start of 2019, when Greta was pictured, alongside Jane Goodall, in front of a sign promoting the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”.
Schwab wrote in a key article in 2015: “We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before”.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution, he explained, would be “characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres”.
Schwab continued: “The possibilities of billions of people connected by mobile devices, with unprecedented processing power, storage capacity, and access to knowledge, are unlimited. And these possibilities will be multiplied by emerging technology breakthroughs in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage, and quantum computing”.
Not exactly a nature-friendly vision of the future!
But despite the fact that Benioff is happy for his “Fourth Industrial Revolution” technologies to be used in building a nightmarish racist-capitalist police state, he likes to paint himself as a “philanthropist“, a nice guy, a man who cares.
One of the things he claims to care about is the environment.
In a conversation with Schwab at the WEF’s Davos event in January 2019, Benioff claimed the Fourth Industrial Revolution had “ushered in technologies that can help save the planet”.
Benioff is, like so many billionaires, a big fan of Greta Thunberg and must have been delighted to see her pose in front of his company logo and “Fourth Industrial Revolution” slogan.
He is, of course, also the owner of Time magazine. Wow. Unbelievable, as Greta might say.
A movement that is serious about extinction and climate change needs to address the root problems: capitalism, the industrial system, a culture that sees life as a resource to be exploited, and the infrastructure that holds it all together.
It needs to have clear goals, that can’t be diluted or used to manipulate and misdirect the movement. It needs to take action immediately, not in several years’ time. And it needs to target the weak points in the system, where it can have the most impact for the least effort.
The misdirection of Extinction Rebellion has come about because most urban dwellers have only an abstract idea of nature, as they don’t depend on it directly for their food, water and shelter. Their relationship with nature is mediated by the economic system, which provides for their needs by stealing resources from elsewhere and selling them on for profit.
The rebels are led to believe that the extractive economy is necessary for survival, and that new industries and investments offer benefits to humans and wild nature. So city folks are more than willing to take to the streets to defend the very system that is crushing the life out of us all. It’s a form of collective Stockholm syndrome, on a global scale.
Effective solutions require rebels to have a direct relationship with the natural world. To defend nature requires love, which is a constant, reciprocal relationship, which means listening, observing, giving and receiving, and being in communion on a daily basis.
To be effective, rebels need to identify not as a citizen, consumer or worker, demanding action from business and government, but as a living being, interdependent with all life. To identify with the living world is to see the entire planet as an extension of the self, so action taken to defend nature is an act of self-defence.
Demanding that governments and corporations change will only lead (and has already led) to changes that give them more power. The entire social and legal structure that puts them in a position of power needs to be dismantled. This violent arrangement is not deserving of the respect of polite demands and peaceful protest.
Being effective requires a healthy mistrust of anyone offering technological or market-based solutions, and requires asking a whole lot of uncomfortable questions.
The capture of this rebellion has depended on the lack of questioning (and probably more to the point, lack of answers) as to what net-zero emissions actually means, what the rebellion aims to achieve, and what the proposed solutions really entail. Always respond to any proposal with ‘what does this mean in practice? and who benefits from this?’
The burning of fossil fuels needs to stop. Not because it is releasing carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, but because it is powering an industrial economy that is wiping out all life.
The impacts of industrialism cannot be offset, decarbonised, decoupled from economic growth, exported to the third world, or made sustainable. Fossil fuels power mining, agriculture, shipping, aviation, road and rail transport, land clearing, manufacturing, plastics, the electricity grid, and imperialist wars.
The goal needs to be not to Make Your Voice Heard, or cause a temporary, symbolic disruption to industrial activity, but to permanently shut down the industries that are causing harm.
Many people involved in XR are seeing the cracks in the green façade. There are some in the rebellion who support the goals of economic growth and the fourth industrial revolution, and don’t care about the natural world. But there are many more who care deeply, and are willing to take direct action and risk their own lives in defence of the greater web of life.
Every rebel needs to make a choice: are you on the side of the industrial economy, or on the side of the living planet? Because you can’t have both…
Can there be anything more loathsome than those fake-left gatekeepers of the industrial capitalist system who work to discredit genuine radicals?
Not only do they deploy witch-hunt tactics to attack their victims, but they do so from a false position.
They always have to be seen as occupying the cutting edge of dissent, as being the real radical McCoy, otherwise they would lose their power over radically-inclined people.
So they cannot be honest and reject views more radical than theirs as “extremist” or “going too far” or as “a threat to the status quo to which I am actually still very much a part”.
Instead, they have to pretend that these dissenting views are in fact coming from an unwholesome position, reactionary or in some way polluted by associations that make them toxic to other radicals.
A classic example is the way these gatekeepers treat opposition to the permanent war waged on humanity by the US-led capitalist empire.
Instead of acknowledging that such critics are opposed to US imperialism, they like to pretend that they are actually motivated by admiration for rival states with which the US is currently in conflict.
So left-wing anti-imperialists are transformed, by the power of gatekeeper rhetoric, into “Assadists” or “admirers of Putin”, thus ultimately right-wing and hopelessly tainted by association with the actions of those particular foreign states.
Likewise, left-wing supporters of Palestinian rights are depicted as supporters of Islamic terrorism or, even more effectively, “anti-semites”.
Similarly dishonest smear attacks have been used against anyone who dares question the way that the climate crisis is being exploited to sell false “solutions” which are aimed only at making the rich even richer and will only accelerate the degradation of our environment.
A leading exponent of this gatekeepering technique is George Monbiot, whose true allegiances are somewhat given away by the fact that he is employed by The Neoliberal Guardian.
Notice how in this video he manages to pull together all the various gatekeeping smear devices against radical environmentalist and anti-capitalist journalist Cory Morningstar.
Like many other gatekeepers, Monbiot tries to discredit Cory’s investigative exposure of capitalist machinations via the trusty dog-whistle term “conspiracy theory”, used by the system to smear opponents through subliminal associations with right-wingism, anti-semitism or borderline insanity.
And he tries to muddy the waters and hide the fact that he is attacking Cory to defend the system by insulting and shaming her with words such as “disgusting” and by essentially accusing her of identity-based bullying.
Monbiot totally overdoes the gaslighting here though – implying ableism, ageism and even mysogeny on Cory’s part!
Worryingly, this kind of approach is often copied by people and groups who should know better, such as Libcom, who have echoed Monbiot’s smear, also claiming that Cory’s exposure of climate capitalism was nothing but “a conspiracy theory”.
Ironically, they justifed this by pointing to her anti-imperialist position exposing the US agenda in Syria, thus looping back nicely to our first “gatekeeper” talking point.
It is crucial that serious radicals and revolutionaries do not fall for this fake-left smearing of those who genuinely challenge power.
We urge readers who spot this going on to call it out, spread the word and tell us about it, so we can highlight it in future Acorns. We can be contacted via winteroak(at)greenmail.net
Let’s name names and publicly expose these two-faced apologists for the industrial capitalist system for what they really are!
Resistance to the neoliberal capitalism currently being imposed on France by President Emmanuel Macron has taken on a new dynamic this month.
Plans to “reform” the pensions system, which will mean longer working lives and more privatisation, have met with furious opposition.
A serious of general strikes has managed to paralyse the country on several occasions.
And the workers’ power has been reinforced by support from the Gilets Jaunes, still on the streets a year after they burst on to the political scene.
The combative mood is not just about pensions, but reflects a general rejection of the US-style society being foisted on France by the Macron regime.
Admitted the New York Times: “Like the Yellow Vest protests, the strike has revealed a broad rejection of ‘Macron’s world’ and a willingness of ordinary people to enter the political arena to oppose it”.
Public outrage was increased by the news that the politician leading the pension “reforms”, Jean-Paul Delevoye, had “forgotten” to disclose 13 private sector posts, both paid and unpaid, in a recent asset declaration.
It takes a lot to force neoliberal politicians to step down, but this is what Delevoye did on December 16, giving opponents of his “reforms” a scent of victory.
The next day, December 17, it seemed as if the whole country was on strike, from railway workers and bus drivers to firefighters, school students and opera singers.
Seven of the eight oil refineries in France were blocked, meaning petrol shortages are likely to start occurring.
Hundreds of thousands of people across France poured out on to the streets to protest against Macron’s plans for their future.
The response of the authoritarian-capitalist regime was predictable, continuing the pattern set during Gilets Jaunes uprising.
Even school kids blocking their lycées have been handled with the same thuggish disdain by the neoliberal stormtroopers.
And yet still Macron and his crooked cronies cling to power, refusing to bow to what is now an overwhelming public demand for them to abandon their neoliberal assault on French society and fall on their swords like the wretched Delevoye.
“The myth of Progress has killed the revolutionary spirit”
Jacques Ellul (1912-1994) was a sociologist and philosopher close to the anarchist movement in France and one of the inspirations behind the contemporary décroissance, or degrowth, movement.
He was a powerful critic of industrial capitalism, which he famously described as being governed by something he termed “technique”.
This was more than simply technology or the use of technology, but implied the full range of methods used to direct the development of human society.
He wrote that it led to the uniformisation of cultures, including those in the global south which fell prey to industrial Western colonialism.
Technique, he wrote in 1954, “breaks up sociological forms, destroys moral frameworks, blows apart social and religious taboos, desacralises people and things, reduces the social body to a collection of individuals”. (1)
In 1977 Ellul wrote: “The system behind technique comes equipped with its own agents of adaptation. Advertising, entertainment by mass media, political propaganda, personal and public relationships – all of this, with superficial variations, has just one function, which is to adapt human beings to technique”. (2)
In a 1981 interview with Le Monde, he insisted that quality of life was completely incompatible with “the growth of industrial production and the industrialisation of agriculture”. (3)
Although a veteran of the French Resistance against Nazi occupation, and a student of Marx in his youth, Ellul was never fully part of the radical left in France.
This was partly due to his Protestant Christian beliefs: the Situationists, for instance, felt they could not work closely with him on that account despite the similarities in their respective positions.
Jean-Luc Porquet insists that this did not mean that Ellul was somehow less revolutionary than other anti-capitalists: “We mustn’t forget that Ellul was anything but a reformist and that he declared himself to be a revolutionary: he thought that this world is unjust and absurd and that we have to make profound and radical changes to its structure (which is in itself the definition of revolution)”. (4)
Spanish anti-industrialist writer José Ardillo goes even further, regarding Ellul’s position as being essentially more revolutionary than those who generally liked to claim the label as their own.
A general acceptance of the capitalist idea of “progress” is, after all, hardly the basis for a truly radical opposition to the status quo. As Ellul declared: “The myth of Progress has killed the revolutionary spirit”. (5)
Ardillo describes Ellul’s emphasis on the fact that we live in a society whose sole dogma is economic growth: “For him, the revolutionaries of May 1968 targeted mirages of power which had already been discredited by modernity itself – the real structures of the system remained intact. The type of revolt he envisages therefore demands a radical questioning of the way of life in developed societies.
“The necessary revolution demands the creation of new values, because all morality has been swept aside by the advance of technical society. And, for him, there has to be a break with a large part of our revolutionary heritage, so we can go back and begin again from a new starting point”. (6)
1. Jacques Ellul, La Technique ou l’Enjeu du siècle (Paris: Armand Colin, 1954), cit. Jean-Luc Porquet, ‘Jacques Ellul: La Démesure Technicienne’, Radicalité: 20 Penseurs vraiment critiques, coordonné par Cédric Biagini, Guillaume Carnino et Patrick Marcolini (Montreuil: L’Échappée, 2013), p. 132.
2. Jacques Ellul, Le Système technicien (Paris: Le Cherche-Midi, 2004), cit. José Ardillo, La Liberté dans un monde fragile : Écologie et pensée libertaire (Paris: L’Échappée, 2018), p.157.
3. Jacques Ellul, ‘Rien d’important’, Le Monde, 27 May 1981. cit. Porquet, p. 129.
4. Porquet, p. 124.
5. Jacques Ellul, De la Révolution aux révoltes (Paris: Editions de la Table Ronde, 2011), cit. Ardillo, p. 167.
6. Ardillo, p. 167.
Banks and shops were attacked and a Christmas tree set on fire in Athens on the night of December 18 as anarchists responded to the war which has been declared on them and their autonomous spaces by the Greek state. Read this full report on the Enough Is Enough website.
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One man’s global ecological disaster is another man’s economic opportunity. In recent years, nature conservation has become a flourishing business sector where huge sums of money change hands and endangered organisms are transformed into financial products. Banking Nature is a must-see video.
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“Capitalism itself is a war against the planet and the poor. The global economy is built on exploited farmworkers, sweatshop labor, and a toxic electronics industry that drives workers to mass suicide. All this takes place on top of stolen indigenous lands and a legacy of ongoing genocide”. So writes Max Wilbert in a powerful article entitled The Moral Argument for Ecological Revolution, on the Deep Green Resistance news service site.
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More than 100 doctors in Australia have urged their government to lobby for imprisoned WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to be returned home for urgent medical treatment. The group has written an open letter to Foreign Minister Marise Payne calling for the 48-year-old political prisoner to be returned to Australia. “Should Mr Assange die in a British prison, people will want to know what you, minister, did to prevent his death,” the letter says. Free Assange! Death to the empire!
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Smart fascism is creeping up on us everywhere. France is set to become the first European country (but surely not the last) to use facial recognition technology to “give citizens a secure digital identity“. Data regulator, CNIL, has warned that the Alicem program breaches the European rule of consent because it provides no alternatives to facial recognition to access certain services, but the French state is ploughing on regardless. Of course!
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Jamaica is “the Caribbean country of choice to conduct climate smart & sustainable business” its Prime Minister Andrew Holness has declared, adding that the island has “the best investment environment in the Caribbean”. This is bad news indeed for the Jamaican people. Capitalist “investment” always involves robbery and exploitation, the quest for yet more profits for the rich at the expense of the poor. The “climate” variety is no exception.
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“There is a large and growing body of evidence that we have been lied to about Syria to an extent and to a level of sophistication that may be historically unprecedented”. A handy new article by anti-imperialist blogger Caitlin Johnstone outlines the 12 strongest arguments that Douma was a false flag attack staged to justify US intervention.
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Courageous former Labour MP Chris Williamson has spoken out against anti-left smears and launched a new fund for its victims. He said: “First they said ‘anti-Zionism is anti-semitism’. Then they said ‘anti-capitalism is anti-semitism’… We’ll keep defending our comrades by any means necessary”.
Campaigners in South Wales are mobilising to fight the threat of a new dam. They say: “Natural Resources Wales want to build a dam in Dinas Powys woods to slow the river at peak times to stop homes from flooding. It will devastate our beautiful woods and destroy ancient woodland, and it won’t protect ALL homes in Dinas Powys. There are other ways to slow the flow.” More info at stopthedam.co.uk or on Twitter.
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More than 1,700 environmental defenders were killed between 2002 and 2018, across 50 countries. This is the horrific toll revealed by campaign group Global Witness. If you are wondering why you haven’t heard about all these deaths then bear in mind that “indigenous people represent a disproportionate percentage of the defenders who are killed”. And they don’t really count, do they?
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“Language is the soul of the people. It’s not just for communicating, but also for understanding and feeling and remembering”. These are the words of Kaipo‘i Kelling, part of an inspiring “immersion schools” initiative which in just a few decades, has helped Native Hawaiians to reclaim their language from the crushing grip of English-language internal colonialism in the USA.
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Under capitalism, the edifice of social control is built on the collective illusion of private property, and the sanctity of the so-called ‘free market’. Any moves taken to challenge this logic will therefore provoke pushback from the system’s indoctrinated cheerleaders. But what is property anyway and what do anarchists have against it? An informative video from sub.media, What Is Property? can be seen here.
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Acorn quote: “Nothing will avail to offset this virus which is poisoning the whole world. America is the very incarnation of doom. She will drag the whole world down to the bottomless pit”.