Anyone who has been following the Gilets Jaunes’ struggle since November 2018 will appreciate to what extent France is slipping into 21st century neoliberal-style fascism.
From the sheer physical violence of the state’s attacks on protesters, through its draconian use of bans on protests and “pre-emptive” arrests, to the cover-up and denial of what is happening by politicians and their tame media, the situation is truly alarming.
We can expect more evidence of this in coming days when the full force of Macron’s Reich will be deployed to prevent any signs of dissent against the G7 summit in Biarritz, in French-occupied Euskadi.
But to understand the extent to which this authoritarian cancer has riddled French society from top to bottom, it is instructive to look at what has been happening in recent weeks in the little southern village of St Jean du Gard.
The place is hardly a hotbed of radicalism. However, this year a local group has been active opposing the imposition of Linky smart electricity meters and generally challenging the right-wing mayor, Michel Ruas.
The astonishing thing is that all they have been doing is handing out leaflets – mainly at the weekly market, which has been held on Tuesday mornings for a thousand years.
Incredibly, the mayor passed a law banning all leafleting for a year. Even more incredibly, the authorities from the Gard department have backed up this totalitarian gesture by sending in cohorts of cops to enforce it and to threaten those who stand up for their basic freedom of speech.
An update from local campaigners on Tuesday August 20 reported that the morning’s market had again been targeted by Macron’s uniformed thugs.
A week previously, there had been a call-out for supporters to come from around the area to challenge the year-long ban on all leafleting (unless “authorised” by the mayor/dictator Ruas) issued on July 31.
But on August 20 there was just a little Stop Linky stand as there has been every week for months.
When a woman campaigner held up a photocopy of the mayor’s new Nazi-style law to show a passer-by, the zealous gendarmes decided a ‘leafleting’ offence had been committed and tried to fine the woman.
This aggressive move shocked everyone present, but the cops weren’t finished there and not only kept pursuing the woman but used force against those trying to defend her from them, pinning people violently against a wall.
They also turned on passers-by who remonstrated with them, accusing one disabled person using a crutch of possessing an offensive weapon!
Say campaigners: “These measures are unacceptable and revolting. We are therefore calling for a protest on Tuesday August 27 from 9am at the market of Saint Jean du Gard”.
International solidarity with the freedom fighters of St Jean du Gard!
1. Paris – tear gas, grenades and hundreds of arrests
Tear gas and grenades were fired by French riot cops against brave activists who defied martial law in France – and more than 200 people were arrested.
Thousands took to the streets of Paris against the hypocrisy of the industrial capitalist system and its phoney COP21 climate summit.
For their pains they were kettled, intimidated, attacked and gassed by the cops. “The state of emergency is a police state, a fascist state!” they shouted in defiance of the brutal force deployed by a state which has been so busily depicting itself as a victim, rather than a perpetrator, of violence.
Activist media reported several hundred arrests, with the police taking arrestees away in buses.
With the state of emergency conveniently in place for the COP21 summit (see below for analysis), all protests were banned.
Originally, the big protests planned for November 29 and December 12 were apparently outlawed because the crowds were “at risk” of terrorist attack, but it quickly became clear that the state of emergency was aimed as much as opponents of the industrial-capitalist system as at armed Islamists.
Several days before the start of COP21, several house arrests and police raids were aimed at activists close to the ZAD (anti-industrial protest camp) and environmental movement across the whole of France.
Six people were put under house arrest in Rennes, along with a Paris member of the legal team for the CoalitionClimate21, which consists of 130 groups, NGOs and unions. Police also tried to impose this measure on several people in Rouen, Lyon and elsewhere.
The house arrests are timed until December 12, the day after the end of the climate summit, making it clear that they are a political device used against protesters.
There were armed police raids at Ivry-sur-Seine (Val-de-Marne) and against organic vegetable sellers in the Dordogne.
In Nice a six-year-old girl was injured during a police operation: the officers who turned up in the middle of the night had smashed in the wrong door. In Loire-Atlantique, a caravan of 200 cycles accompanied by five tractors was blocked by the cops: they didn’t want the cyclists to go to Paris for COP21.
Meanwhile, all across France any event with the slightest hint of a political nature has been banned by the authorities without the need for any justification – in the southern city of Nîmes, for instance, a bookfair planned for November 21 and 22 was cancelled, while down the road in Alès a march against plans for a golf course and luxury housing development was likewise forbidden.
In this climate of fear, hysteria and general submission to authority, a group of dissidents took the courageous step of publishing a call to defy the state of emergency.
A signed letter published in Liberation newspaper and on the lundiam website (English translation here) called for people to head for the Place de la République in Paris at 2pm on Sunday – and so they did, in large numbers, despite the threat of six months’ imprisonment and a fine of 7,500 euros under martial law.
They were blocked into the square by an army of police, with checkpoints out of sight in the Metro. An hour of static protest was apparently all that the French state was prepared to tolerate. At 3pm police shouted through megaphones: “Dispersez-vous, nous allons faire évacuer la place!” – “Disperse! We are going to clear the square!”
The cops proceeded to attack the crowds, using grenades, tear gas and charges. The rebels didn’t take this lying down and there was spirited resistance to the uniformed robo-thugs. See this video, for example.
Needless to say, the corporate media was full of condemnations of the protesters, rather than of the state and its thugs.
Make no mistake – a very deliberate psychological attack is being made on the population of France by the imposition of the state of emergency and all the fear-mongering jingoistic hysteria accompanying it.
There is a big and obvious lie behind the role of the military-style police with their grenades, batons and poison gas, along with the bureaucrats and politicians who are happy to impose military-style law in the supposed home of liberté, and the lapdog journalists who churn out their propaganda.
They are not defending the people, as they laughably claim, but reasserting the brute power and violence through which every state demands the craven submission of its population.
2. Terrorism and the state – learning from history
Regular readers of The Acorn may have noticed a couple of themes that have cropped up regularly over the last few months.
One was the enormous potential of the COP21 protests for the renewed struggle against industrial capitalism (Acorn 14) – in Acorn 17 we reported how the French authorities were in a bit of a tizzy about the possibility of dissent on the streets.
The other theme was the big lie behind “anti-terrorism” – how it is an authoritarian phenomenon which hides behind the threat of “terror” to repress the population which is supposedly being protected (Acorn 12, Acorn 13, Acorn 16 and Acorn 17).
These two subject matters have come together in spectacular fashion in France, where the November 13 attacks in Paris have prompted a state of emergency which has involved the banning of the COP21 protests as well as raids on squats and activists.
The official, and laughable, justification for this is that it is to protect the crowds of protesters from attack by terrorists – funnily enough, football matches and Christmas shopping have been allowed to resume, despite what you might have imagined was the greater risk of attack.
The truth is that the terrorist attacks, and the ensuing police-state paranoia, have in many ways proved extremely convenient for the French state.
It has allowed it to ban protests, give free rein to the cops to carry out raids on anyone they don’t like, bring in new controls and legislation. Writes Nafeez Ahmed: “Under the extension, French police can now block any website, put people under house arrest without trial, search homes without a warrant, and prevent suspects from meeting others deemed a threat”.
The attacks have also, of course, been used to justify further neo-colonial warfare in the Middle East. Jingoism is suddenly the flavour of the day in France, with flag shops doing a roaring trade just like in the USA after 9/11. An increasingly unpopular and despised president has been able to reinvent himself as some kind of heroic war chief.
Other states have also been quick to exploit the attacks for their own political purposes. Belgium experienced what looked like a dress-rehearsal for a fascist military coup. For the UK government, the Paris attacks served as a handy boost for the bomb-Syria argument and also, usefully, another stick with which to beat opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn. It has also lead to a great cry for more funding for intelligence services, more powers of surveillance and so on and so forth.
The Paris incident has also, of course, been used across the continent to turn public sympathy for refugees into fear and to justify the closing down of Fortress Europe’s borders and the brutality inflicted on migrants like those at Calais.
In the USA, the Paris attacks have somehow been twisted into a condemnation of whistleblower Edward Snowden and calls on CNN for him to be hanged.
Warns Ahmed: “The ripple effect from the attacks in terms of the impact on Western societies is likely to be permanent. In much the same way that 9/11 saw the birth of a new era of perpetual war in the Muslim world, the 13/11 Paris attacks are already giving rise to a brave new phase in that perpetual war: a new age of Constant Vigilance, in which citizens are vital accessories to the police state, enacted in the name of defending a democracy eroded by the very act of defending it through Constant Vigilance”.
Many observers have noted the way that all of this falls neatly into the pattern of the Strategy of Tension in Italy in the 1970s and 1980s.
As we have previously pointed out (Acorn 12), it is now a matter of record that the Italian state, and NATO, were involved in facilitating acts of shock-and-awe terrorism targeting the general population. The goal was to frighten the people into the arms of the state and to thus extinguish the fires of growing left-wing rebellion.
The Italian situationist Gianfranco Sanguinetti wrote in his 1980 book On Terrorism and the State: “The aim from December 12 1969 to March 16 1978, and again today, has always remained the same, which is to persuade the whole population, including those who have lost any belief in the state or have been fighting it, that they have at least one common enemy with this state, from which the state will defend them on condition that it is no longer challenged”.
Pre-echoing Ahmed’s warning regarding democracy, Sanguinetti added: “The reasoning currently in vogue is simple: if you love democracy, you have to defend it; to defend it you have to fight its enemies; to fight the enemies of democracy, no sacrifice is too great: the nobility of the end justifies every means; no democracy for the enemies of democracy! Something which was never essentially a democracy has now visibly ceased being so”.
Faced with the spectre of fascist terrorism, even the Italian left rallied to the cause and supported draconian anti-terrorist legislation.
There is a tendency in radical anti-capitalist circles to shy away from anything that smacks of the dreaded “conspiracy theory” – partly, no doubt, because it is a kind of analysis that can too easily slip into absurd paranoia and far-right fantasies.
But you shouldn’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. Or, to put it another way, just because the fibbing little boy has cried wolf far too often, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t now a pack of them coming down your street.
While theories about hoaxed moon landings or chemical vapour trails are nothing other than theories, the existence of Operation Gladio and its false-flag terror has been documented fact for the last quarter of a century, even if it is barely mentioned in mainstream media.
Another fact, as documented in great detail by the meticulous Ahmed, is that the UK, the USA and other NATO countries have close links to Islamic terrorist groups. It all began with the anti-communist “Afghan Rebels” in the 1980s, continued with the story of the good Muslims fighting the anti-NATO Serbs in the 1990s and the same “rebel” tag of approval was being applied to the broad range of Assad opponents in Syria until relatively recently.
If it doesn’t seem too much of a stretch of the imagination that the Turkish state might have collaborated with Islamists in the attack on left-wing pro-Kurd activists in Suruç this July (Acorn 12), why might we imagine that the French or British states would not be capable of something similar?
Of course, any suggestion that the Paris attacks were a modern-day version of the Strategy of Tension, in which the role of neo-fascist terrorist-puppets has been passed on to Islamist terrorist-puppets, remains firmly in the realm of “theory”.
It may seem odd that enemies of the French state, well armed with machine guns and explosives and with little apparent interest in their own survival, should prioritise attacks on cafes and a rock gig, rather than, say, the French Ministry of Defence, the police HQ or the Presidential Palace.
It may seem odd that two of them would feel the need to carry (fake) Syrian passports with them, so that they could be discovered at the scene and justify the ensuing military action.
It may seem odd that the alleged perpetrators were apparently already known to the authorities and yet allowed to move around Europe without hindrance.
It may seem convenient that the supposed “mastermind” was executed by the state and that his account will now never be heard. It was the testimony of imprisoned fascist terrorist Vincenzo Vinciguerra that did much to lift the lid on the Gladio false flag terror network – it was clearly a mistake to allow him to live to tell the tale, as Lee Harvey Oswald might agree.
All of this is merely comment, not even circumstantial evidence. We here at The Acorn are in no position to know who was behind the Paris attacks and what their aims were.
However, it is important to realise, and to remember, that the French and other states, that the industrial capitalist system as a whole, is certainly capable of sacrificing the lives of the public for its own purposes, even if that is not what happened here.
We all know that the lives of “foreigners” count for nothing in the eyes of this system – there were no crocodile tears for the 44 people killed in Beirut the day before Paris, let alone for all the innocent Iraqis, Afghans, Syrians and Libyans killed by “the West” in its endless imperialist wars, or indeed for the Yemenis and Palestinians murdered by its Saudi and Israeli allies.
But don’t imagine that European industrial capitalism draws a line at killing its own populations. One hundred years ago, a whole generation of young men was slaughtered at its behest, for instance.
More than that, remember all the men, women and children who have died in the wheels of its machineries, who have choked to slow deaths in its contaminated air, who have been eaten away by cancers feeding on its toxic excretions.
For all its sanctimonious moralising, industrial capitalism is itself a death cult.
It is a cult of power for the sake of power, growth for the sake of growth, which will do anything – literally anything – to ensure its own preservation and expansion. Murder, lies and hypocrisy are part of its very essence and we would do well never to forget that.
We warned in The Acorn 12, as recently as July this year: “The worrying lack of knowledge and understanding, even in radical circles, of the extent to which terrorism was secretly deployed by the capitalist system from the 1940s to the 1980s sadly means that there is little to stop it using the same techniques again today”.
As the Italian philosopher George Santayana wisely pointed out: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.
A powerful statement of solidarity with comrades in France was issued by Devrimci Anarşist Faaliyet- DAF (Revolutionary Anarchist Action) in Turkey after the November 13 attacks:
“We feel the massacre in Paris deeply and share your sorrow. We have lived and still living through ISIS attacks supported by the state. From Şengal to Kobane, from Pirsus (Suruç) to Ankara, we have lost many comrades and friends.
“We are aware of the fact that the massacres aim to create fear, distrust and loneliness on us. Our pain is great and increases every day. In these periods, We have to grow the solidarity against the murderers that want to bury us into fear, loneliness and isolation.
“We see the simultaneous moves of the French state and other states aiming to direct the process. We know that these same strategies are realized in our region under the name of ‘Fight against Terror’.
“In this environment of distrust, people have a psychology of panic which is directed by the ideological devices of the state; the state oppression of revolutionaries and state politics restricting the freedom of the oppressed will be politically legitimized; and the racist discourse and politics will increase. The states use these extraordinary periods for their political, economic and social interests.
“We understand the situation that the peoples living in France are and will be in. We know the difficulty of carrying on one side the sorrow of the lost ones and on the side, struggling against the fascist mobilisations in the society created by the state. We stress that, even with this hardship, the struggle should be against the fear, the state and fascism.
“The sorrow you live is our sorrow, The rage you feel is our rage, your fight is our fight!”
Democracy in the UK, as in France, is increasingly being revealed as a hollow sham.
The latest slippage of the mask comes with the government’s announcement that it will take the final decision over whether fracking should be allowed in Lancashire.
A feisty local campaign against Caudrilla’s ecocidal proposals at Little Plumpton near Blackpool and Roseacre, near Elswick, resulted in victory this June, when county councillors threw out the applications (see Acorn 11).
The decision was hailed at the time by Greenpeace as “a Waterloo for the fracking industry” and one expert told the Daily Telegraph: “This decision is a serious setback for shale gas in the UK and many must be wondering if it can ever reach production phase”.
But the pro-fracking UK government was not prepared to sit back and allow the “localism” of public opposition to get in the way of its business chums’ profiteering.
While Cuadrilla’s appeal will still be considered in a three-week public inquiry and the planning inspector will submit a report, the actual decision will be made by Secretary of State for Local Government Greg Clark, Tory MP for Tunbridge Wells – because of the decision’s “major importance”.
Anti-fracking campaigner Barbara Richardson, of Roseacre Awareness Group, told Drill or Drop website: “So much for local democracy. These applications have been rejected at every level; by the residents, by the Parish Council, by the Borough Council and by the County Council. Even our Conservative MP, Mark Menzies, has stated publicly that the decision should be left to local politicians.
“This is about industrialisation of our countryside by an industry that is both dangerous and damaging to the environment, our health and climate change”.
Sue Marshall of the Preston New Road group added: “Now even the illusion of democracy is at risk with far-reaching consequences into all aspects of our lives.
“We don’t need to look abroad for terrorist threats: currently the greatest threat to us all is closer to home, in the heart of our government, whose blatant arrogance and disrespect for democratic process and destructive denial of human rights knows no bounds”.
A new threat to the Sussex countryside is emerging, as the state prepares to drive a new motorway-style trunk road across the southern English county.
The authorities have long been planning “improvements” to the existing bypass to the south of Chichester as part of their project to turn the A27 coastal road into a freight-heavy motorway linking the South-West to the Channel Tunnel.
But anti-roads campaigners have discovered that Highways England now looks like favouring the shock option of a completely new road across countryside to the north of Chichester, which would impinge on the South Downs National Park.
One told The Acorn: “They are definitely not, as had previously been thought, of just making a show of looking at it only then to rule it out on cost grounds; seems they are now serious about it”.
Leaving the existing dual carriageway north of Fishbourne, this would cross the A286 between Lavant and Chichester – straight through a popular ‘daffodil field’ – and go along New Road near Goodwood and rejoin at the A285 junction near Tangmere.
Added the campaigner: “In addition to the direct and indirect impacts on the South Downs National Park around Chichester, this would open the A27(M) floodgates eastward into Sussex, adding to pressure for a more motorway-like approach at Fontwell/Arundel/Worthing and beyond. It would thus create much more induced (long-distance) traffic than would have been the case with Chichester as a slower location. Local traffic and rural Sussex would be the loser.
“Why would they do this, when to do so they would potentially need to reallocate money from Arundel-and-Worthing? Perhaps they believe that if Chichester is bypassed with an expressway, then the other routes will in the end fall like dominoes to the required expressway standard, and we will have to accept the south coast near-motorway-standard strategic through route which ‘they’ want – including major offline bypasses at Arundel and at Worthing”.
Local anti-roads activists are convinced that the proposal would attract widespread opposition and that concerted action could trigger a more general resistance to the motorway threat to Sussex.
But they warn that the battle could prove decisive, either way: “A loss for the countryside at Chichester would very likely be fatal for attempts to protect the countryside at Arundel and Worthing. So the Chichester outcome looks likely, one way or the other, to determine the future of Sussex”.
Consultation is due to start in Spring 2016, with a decision on the route in Summer 2016 and work starting in 2018 – so now is the time to get active!
The next Reclaim the Fields European Assembly is to be held in Poland in January 2016, the network has announced. Anyone who wants to go is recommended to book transport now to Warsaw for Thursday January 21 to Sunday January 24 – the exact location will be announced closer to the date. More info here.
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Are some trade unions little more than obedient cheerleaders for the industrial capitalist system? So it would appear from the latest disgraceful position taken by GMB. We reported back in (Acorn 11) that the “general” trade union was supporting fracking because of the “business need”. Now it is throwing the weight of its 630,000 members behind the expansion of London Heathrow Airport! Along with Unite union, it has joined forces with its industrialist friends at the Institute of Directors; the Confederation of British Industry; the British Chambers of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses, reports The New Statesman. The radical thinkers at GMB and Unite are apparently enthusing over the prospect of “jobs generated by the new infrastructure”. Words fail us.
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Repression of those who dare to challenge the system continues across the world, as ever. On November 12 a joint international police operation in Milan arrested 8 comrades – 4 of them being based in Milan and other 4 in Athens – in connection with the Mayday riots in Milan (see Acorn 9 ). Infoaut reports that two more comrades, a Greek and an Italian one, are on the run – while four more from Milan and Como and another one from Athens are charged and under investigation without being arrested. In South Korea, police used tear gas and pepper spray in water cannons against the 130,000 demonstrators demanding the resignation of right-wing President Park Geun-hye. And this video taken by a passing motorist shows police repression of an anti-fascist demo at the Complutense University in Madrid on Friday November 20. At least six students were arrested, including members of the Juventudes Libertarias and CNT-AIT Madrid. Several young people were injured by the police assault.
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In response to the likes of the above, anarchist imprisoned in Greece have issued a call-out for a “Black December” of “combative solidarity” which has been echoed internationally. Says a statement at contrainfo: “We call for the revival of the black memory of our dead and all those who have fallen in the fight for freedom and anarchy”.
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Fifth Estate magazine in the USA is marking its fiftieth birthday at the moment. Hailed as “the longest running English language anarchist publication in North America, its contributors have included Fredy Perlman, David Watson and John Zerzan. The anniversary is being publicised via this rather cool video.
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An Acorn reader got in touch having spotted a rather strange detail in an online job advert for someone to work on a “community resilience project” for a pseudo-environmental organisation called Groundwork South, whose mission is apparently “to make the South of England a greener and more prosperous place for people and communities”. The strange thing is that it says the role is about preparing people to respond to “emergencies and natural disasters” such as “flooding, pandemic flu, landslide, rioting…” Rioting? Well, nothing can be allowed to get in the way of “prosperity” after all. Biodegradable brooms at the ready, citizens, to sweep the riff-raff off the streets!
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Finally, some good news for all who can’t wait to see the final collapse of life on the planet – US regulators have given the go-ahead to genetically modified salmon, the first GM animal destined for human consumption. The business behind it, AquaBounty, has produced an Atlantic salmon injected with a gene from Pacific Chinook salmon to make it grow faster – and boost its bosses’ prosperity, of course. The salmon are sterile.
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Acorn quote:“The idea that we cannot have complete unrestricted freedom is based on the assumption that human beings cannot be trusted with that. The idea that we cannot be trusted is based on the assumption that there is no such thing as an innate tendency to goodness and co-operation. The idea that there is no innate tendency to goodness is based on the assumption that goodness is an artificial construct devoid of any practical content, rather than an inherent aspect of humanity’s ability to survive. The idea that this innate goodness has nothing to do with survival is based on the assumption that humanity is merely a collection of individuals, with their own personal survival as a priority, rather than a social organism with collective survival as its aim”.
On Saturday October 31 there was rioting in Lambeth, south London, after cops tried to block hundreds of ravers from getting into the Scumoween halloween free party. Reports the Rabble website: “Riot cops attacked the party-goers with dogs and baton charges, and the people fought back with whatever weapons came to hand. According to the police, this included fireworks, gas canisters, and a ‘suspected petrol bomb’.” There is a video here.
Then just a few days later, on Wednesday November 4, a student protest for free education also “descended into violence” as the corporate media always put it – in other words, these young people were not prepared to be pushed around and attacked by the thugs of the Met Police. There is a video here.
The very next day, Thursday November 5, saw the London version of Anonymous’s global Million Mask March end in 50 arrests amidst what London’s police chief called “despicable violence” – from the protesters rather than his own officers, needless to say.
Protesters decided to ignore the “conditions” imposed on the march by the police and the sinister order to comply with the dictates of The Law that was projected on to the side of buildings by green lasers.
The frothing hysteria in the right-wing UK media which greeted the protest culminated on Saturday November 7 with a claim that “anarchists who wreaked havoc in central London this week are now plotting to kidnap senior police officers, strip them naked and humiliate them online”!
The sequence of angry protests, involving a new generation of discontented and alienated young people, echoes the situation five years ago after the right-wing Conservatives last won an election.
An autumn of revolt was followed the next summer, 2011, by massive rioting which shook the British establishment to the core and exposed the fact that it is completely incapable of putting down mass resistance if it erupts simultaneously across the capital and the UK.
The harsh repression following the uprisings may have temporarily quenched the flames of revolt, but the underlying fire is still burning. If past experience is anything to go by, London could be the place to be in the summer of 2016…
The second way in which the cracks are starting to appear in the industrial capitalist system is the increasing fascisisation of the UK and other “democratic” Western states.
At first glance, this might appear to be a trend heading in exactly the opposite direction to the hope held out by growing resistance.
But it’s important to realise it is very much a response to the threat of widespread disobedience and revolt that the system can see approaching on its political-weather radar.
Make no mistake, our rulers would much rather there was no need for the trappings of authoritarian society to keep the population in line. They would be very happy if the “soft” approach of constant propaganda and “bread and circuses” was enough to maintain control.
But this first line of defence has already been breached. The illusions with which they imprison us are crumbling. The spread of information via the internet means people can increasingly see through the clumsy official lies.
While part of the public can be controlled by the use of “terrorism” scares and xenophobic hysteria, this doesn’t work for everyone.
So the ruling elite is forced to roll out repressive attacks on our freedom – and in doing so it reveals still further its true nature, alienating yet more segments of the population.
Extremism Disruption Orders (EDOs) will restrict the movement and activities of people the Government claims are engaged in so-called “extreme activities” and will also apply to “venues and facilitators” that are deemed to help “extremists”.
Although it’s presented under the pretext of “counter-terrorism”, this repression is also aimed at “non-violent” dissent and at opponents whose only crime is to express the wrong opinions (otherwise known as “extremists who spread hate but do not break existing laws”).
Said campaigner Peter Tatchell: “Proponents of a range of unpopular, controversial and dissident views may be liable to an EDO, including opponents of western foreign policy, campaigners against nuclear weapons and energy, animal rights activists, people who express bigoted opinions and supporters of legitimate democratic liberation movements in the Western Sahara, Palestine, Syria, Balochistan and West Papua”.
This fascistic attitude is, of course, not limited to the UK and a recent court case in France shows how the notion of “hate crime”, which would normally apply to racists and fascists, can be twisted round at will.
The French high court upheld the criminal conviction of 12 political activists for “inciting hate or discrimination” because they had handed out leaflets calling for a boycott against Israel as a means of ending the decades-long military occupation of Palestine.
As Glenn Greenwald points out, calls for boycotts against other countries (such as unofficial “enemies”) are apparently still legal: “It requires sky-high levels of authoritarianism, even fascism, to abuse the criminal law to outlaw advocacy of policies and activism when it involves one country, and one country only”.
The Spanish state is even more openly repressive than its British and French counterparts – perhaps because levels of resistance are traditionally higher there and central control is in more imminent danger of collapse.
On Wednesday October 28, nine anarchists were arrested on suspicion of belonging to a “criminal organisation” in the form of a non-existent “network” invented by the police to justify their repression.
Then on Wednesday November 4 five more anarchists were arrested in Madrid, again accused of belonging to the imaginary network as well of damaging several banks.
This is a sickening process to watch unfold, particularly when it targets our own friends and comrades.
But we must not lose sight of the fact that it only happening because that system is afraid – afraid that its lies are being exposed, that its true nature is becoming obvious and that before long the cracks that are currently appearing will spread further, join up and finally destroy it.
An Israeli drones manufacturer operating in the UK has again been successfully targeted by protesters.
Following previous rooftop occupations of the Instro/Elbit factory in Kent (see Acorn 2 and Acorn 12), this time protesters headed for the disused Manston Airport, where the weapon parts firm was seeking planning permission to open a new unit.
Says a first-hand report of the October 21 action: “Previous occupations at Instro have begun under cover of darkness, but this was different. At around noon, cars pulled up at the gate, protesters leapt out, got a ladder up against the gate and began climbing over into the compound.
“Met by a security guard with a barking dog, three of the four made it, scaled the fire escape and occupied the roof, having to leave behind a huge banner but successfully taking their tent (it was a wet and windy day) and pitching it on the roof. Outside the gate, two more locked on and the rest of the team hung banners and placards and spoke to the press.
“The missing roof banner felt like a bit of a let-down, so a particular highlight of the day was the police and security guards later falling for a classic decoy ploy: while a distraction was created on one side of the perimeter, another protester got over the fence on the opposite side and made a dash for it, successfully delivering the banner – which could be seen for a long way – and leaving police and ‘security’ very red-faced.
“The site was occupied for the rest of the working day, police were called and floodlights were hired to be shone onto the control tower. Once again there was good local media coverage in which the demonstrators’ arguments were very clearly put and not distorted.
“Once again, though, no arrests were made yesterday despite the clear potential for charges of aggravated trespass. This is extraordinary, and we have to ask: why does Instro not want to press charges? What does it NOT want to emerge if there is a court case?
“Any activist prosecuted would take the defence that they were preventing a greater crime from being committed, and in their defence they would ask for details of Instro’s export licences to be made available. Is this what Instro is seeking to conceal? And why are the police repeatedly choosing to not press charges?
“Later that evening was the crunch vote at Thanet District Council, and to our relief and joy, Instro’s application to move to Manston was turned down by councillors – a huge success”.
There is a video report here and local media reports here and here.
Bristol’s Kebele Social Centre is currently celebrating its 20th birthday with a month of “stuff”.
In what it describes as “true anarchic style”, the Novemberfest at 14 Robertson Road, Easton BS5 6JY, actually runs through to the first week of December.
A packed programme includes an evening of Songs and Stories of the Spanish Revolution on Friday November 13, a session on What’s Happening at COP21 on Thursday November 17, and Until All are Free, a workshop exploring the links between human and non-human prisons, on Thursday November 19.
Then on Saturday November 28 and Sunday 29, the Kebele will be hosting the UK Social Centres network meeting. This event currently occurs twice a year, and is for all those involved in social centres (or aiming to set one up soon) around the UK.
Since 1995, the Kebele has provided space for the development of radical ideas and activities, community campaigns, and international solidarity.
Kebele means “community place” in Amharic, an Ethiopian language. The term refers to community institutions, which dealt with their own needs & concerns, such as justice, health and community democracy.
During the revolution in Grenada in 1979, Rastafarians involved in the struggle used the term “kebele” to refer to the community centres in each neighbourhood from which, in theory at least, the revolution was based. In 1983, the USA invaded the tiny island of Grenada to crush the rebellion.
The Kebele Centre in Bristol proudly declares that it is “based on anarchist principles of opposing all forms of authority, and organising collectively without leaders”.
The Anarchist Action Network is to start planning another of its “Anarchist Travelling Circuses” with a public meeting in Nottingham on Sunday November 22.
The gathering will run from 12 noon to 4pm at the Sumac Centre, 245 Gladstone Street, Nottingham NG7 6HX.
Says the call-out: “The Anarchist Action Network is an autonomous network made up of local groups and individuals from the anarchist movement based in the UK.
“We came together after the 2013 G8 summit to help re-build an anarchist network for the UK and take action together against capitalism and other oppressive elements in society.
“The network meets once a month, in a different town or city, to make decisions by consensus about principles and strategy. We have adopted the PGA hallmarks and have other principles that define us.
“We organised two ‘Anarchist Travelling Circuses’, in Newport, South Wales and East London, as well as numerous other events, demonstrations and weeks of action, and we now plan to organise a third A.T.C. and make other plans for the network in the months ahead. We’d like to welcome you (except cops and journos) to be a part of this”.
On its website, the AAN stresses its commitment to a diversity of tactics: “We aim to show solidarity with everyone who is fighting against capitalism, and whose actions are in line with our general principles, whatever tactics they choose. For example, we will not stop supporting people just because their actions are labeled as ‘criminal’ or ‘violent’ by state authorities. Or, on the other hand, because they are accused of not going far enough”.
French corporate media are already in xenophobic propaganda mode ahead of the protests against the COP21 climate summit in Paris from November 28 to December 12 (see call-out in Acorn 16). The RTL website reported on November 5 that security services fear “a foreign threat with the possible involvement of foreign activists like the famous German Black Blocs or for that matter English groups”. This was the justification for stricter border controls over the next month which, according to France Info, will target “possible terrorists but also violent anarchist groups like the Black Blocs”.
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A Mexican anti-industrial group called the Pagan Sect of the Mountain has claimed responsibility for explosive attacks on nine buses near the capital on October 30, saying that the action was “continuing the fiercest conflict inherited from our ancestors against progress and artificiality”. Added their statement: “Cities grow exponentially, devouring mountains and wilderness areas, urban sprawl disturbingly covers the territories of coyotes, deer, hawks; usurping their habitat, resigning to a life in captivity and reducing wildlife to miserable ‘natural ecological reserves’. The result of all this forced extinction and devastation is us, and our actions in defense of all the wild”.
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Anti-roads campaigners in Sussex, UK, have produced a report exploding the absurd claim by the road lobby that a new A27 Arundel bypass (see Acorn 1) would be good for the South Downs National Park by taking traffic off local roads. They point out that building new roads causes more traffic congestion and reveal that Highways England has now admitted that it failed to take this crucial factor of “induced traffic” into account in its A27 studies. See the A27 Arundel Bypass Neighbourhood Committee site at www.arundelbypass.co.uk
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An online Degrowth Library has been launched by degrowth.de. The regularly-updated multilingual resource covers a wide range of themes, including activism, animal rights, biodiversity, permaculture, social movements, veganism, feminism, infrastructure, spirituality and technology. Go to: http://www.degrowth.de/en/media-library/
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A list of companies which supply weapons and equipment to the murderous Turkish police has been published by Corporate Watch UK. The researchers say: “Hundreds of people have been killed by the Turkish police and military in north Kurdistan since Turkey’s general election in June. While people around the world watch the actions of the Turkish police force with horror, military companies are cashing in”.
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Construction machinery at the open-cast mine Hambach, Germany, was sabotaged on the night of Monday October 26 in an attack against the industrial capitalist businesses who “are destroying the basis of life on this planet”. Says a report on the Earth First! site: “Five diggers, two bulldozers, one road roller and one other expensive-looking machine had their hydraulics and electronic cables cut. the fuel and oil tanks were filled with sand, some mechanic parts damaged and all the windows were smashed. Despite the massive security-measures RWE and the police put up against us, it was still really easy to do serious damage to these tools of destruction.”
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Acorn quote:“The first duty of the revolution will be to make a bonfire of all existing laws as it will of all titles to property”.
Winter Oak Press is delighted to announce the publication of a new book by anarchist philosopher Paul Cudenec.
In The Stifled Soul of Humankind,Cudenec depicts a humanity dispossessed, a society in which freedom, autonomy, creativity, culture, and the spirit of collective solidarity have been deliberately suffocated by a ruthlessly violent and exploitative elite hiding behind the masks of Authority, Property, Law, Progress and God.
But he also identifies an underground current of heresy and resistance which resurfaces at key moments in history and which, he argues, has the primal strength to sweep away the prison walls of our diseased civilization and carry us forward to a future of vitality and renewal.
Cudenec writes: “We have to reintroduce ourselves to history, not as observers but as participants. The power that we can rediscover in ourselves is, among other things, the power to create the future. Prophecy brings hope, hope brings courage, courage brings action, action brings inspiration, inspiration brings more determination, renewed hope, deepened courage. Once this magical spiral of revolt has started spinning, it takes on a life of its own”.
In The Stifled Soul of Humankind,Paul Cudenec delves into disparate corners of history to provide the ammunition for his deeply radical analysis, throwing up some intriguing questions about the way our society has become what it is today.
What is the connection between Sufi mystics of the Middle East and the peasant revolts that shook Europe in the Middle Ages? At what point did Protestantism turn from being a revolutionary force into a reactionary one? What links the colonization of North America with the Highland Clearances in Scotland? What is the basis of authority? Can art retain its authenticity in an industrial civilization? What on earth did Franz Kafka have in common with the völkisch predecessors of the Nazi movement? Is Marxism fundamentally opposed to capitalism? Why was Aldous Huxley targeted for ideological attack by a leading figure in MI6? And, most crucially of all, what is it that ties all these questions together and reveals a seam through the rock of history that can help us understand how so much has gone wrong and how we might yet put it right?
Cudenec’s book The Anarchist Revelation, published by Winter Oak in 2013, has earned some influential praise in anarchist circles. US eco-philosopher John Zerzan, author of Future Primitive and Running on Emptiness, described it as “the least pessimistic book I can recall reading. It brings anarchist resistance and the spirit together in a very wide-ranging and powerful contribution”.
Gabriel Kuhn, translator of Gustav Landauer’s writing into English and author of Life Under the Jolly Roger and Soccer vs the State, wrote: “The book attempts no less than equipping contemporary anarchism with a footing that is often neglected: the transformation not only of society’s structures but also of people’s souls… an inspiring read”.
Cudenec’s essay Antibodies, republished as part of a book of his collected writing in 2013, was welcomed as“very readable and profoundly thoughtful” by Peter Marshall, author of Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism and Nature’s Web: An Exploration of Ecological Thinking. Marshall said Antibodies provided “many new insights on the destructive relationship between the greater part of humanity and the planet which tries to sustain them”.
The Stifled Soul of Humankind by Paul Cudenec (160 pages) will go on sale at £7.99 and will be available from all major booksellers.
For more information, to request review copies or to arrange an interview with the author, please email email@example.com.