The Acorn – 12

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Number 12


In this issue:

  1. Anarchy resurgent!
  2. East London Rising!
  3. Anarchism, capitalism and industry
  4. Anarchism in chains?
  5. Terror and the capitalist system
  6. Anti-terrorism is not what it says it is
  7. UK anarchists pull off cheeky repeat factory occupation
  8. Anti-road resistance in Rize
  9. Acorninfo

1. Anarchy resurgent!

anarchyart

Hopeful signs are emerging that anarchism is on the point of an invigorating worldwide resurgence in the second half of the second decade of the 21st century.

The abject sell-out of Syriza in Greece, together with the general redundancy of the Left (see Acorn 11) and the increasing irrelevance of “democratic” institutions in the face of total corporate-military control are all paving the way for a revival.

And anarchism itself is responding by rediscovering some of the vigour and spirit it lost in the course of a 20th century in which radical idealism was crushed not just by capitalism but by its fake adversary, state-capitalist communism.

Anarchists are increasingly leaving behind the dull bureaucratic brand of anarchism (see below) that has sometimes given it a bad name in past decades.

And they are deepening their commitment to action as well as to words, to a heart-felt belief in the rightness of the anarchist ideal rather than to a dusty dogmatic affiliation, to an urgent need to challenge and confront the capitalist beast wherever it rears its head.

This real anarchism understands that while fascism has to be fought in the streets, it has hidden strongholds in the board rooms, in the police stations, in the prisons and detention centres.

It understands that to oppose militarism is to oppose capitalism in its most raw and directly murderous incarnation.

It appreciates that capitalism also takes on a physical form in all its infrastructure – the roads, airports, factories, power stations and high-speed rail lines that are destroying this world in a never-ending hunger for profit.

Emma Goldman
Emma Goldman

There is nothing new in all this, of course. This authentic anarchism, which has never entirely died out, was the anarchism of the great figures of the 19th and early 20th centuries – giants like Mikael Bakunin, Voltairine de Cleyre, Emma Goldman and Gustav Landauer.

And now today’s rebels are ready to turn their backs on the sterile libertarianised marxism that has too often been passed off as anarchism, as they embrace the power and glory of the real thing!

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2. East London Rising!

EL-Rising-banner2

A good example of this budding anarchist renaissance is the East London Rising event being staged by the Anarchist Action Network at the London Action Resource Centre (LARC), Whitechapel, from Monday August 3 to Sunday August 9.

With a whole week of free workshops and discussions on various themes, it sets out to bring together a diverse spectrum of campaigning issues, while explaining how they all form part of the one anarchist struggle.

Of particular significance, perhaps, is the Environment and Degrowth day, on Tuesday August 4, which emphasises the way that the anarchist fight against capitalism is also a fight against industrialism and ecocide.

As The Acorn went to press, this day was due to start at 2-3pm with a workshop by Luddites200 on “Thinking about technology and degrowth – a Luddite perspective.”

This is to be followed from 3 to 4pm with a presentation by Earth First! and then from 5-6pm the London Mining Network will talk on “Collective, horizontal and consensus-based: How Indigenous self-organisation has stopped international mining giants”.

From 7pm to 8pm Transition Heathrow will do a workshop on resistance, degrowth and anarchism and then from 8pm Corporate Watch will be dealing with climate change and anti-capitalism.

Also worth noting is the anti-militarism day, which is part of the build-up of resistance to the DSEI arms fair being held in East London this September.

resistance

The full week’s line-up is as follows:

Monday Aug 3 – Anti-racism, Anti-borders
Tuesday Aug 4 – Environment & degrowth
Wednesday Aug 5 – Skillshares
Thursday Aug 6 – Benefits claimants and workers rights
Friday Aug 7 – Housing struggles and anti-eviction
Saturday Aug 8 – Anti-militarism and anti-imperialism
Sunday Aug 9 – Anarchism

LARC is situated at 62 Fieldgate Street, Whitechapel, London, E1 1ES. The nearest underground stations are Whitechapel, Aldgate East and Aldgate.

https://www.anarchistaction.net/east-london-rising/

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3. Anarchism, capitalism and industry

cogs-in-a-machine

Neither anarcho-capitalism nor anarcho-industrialism make any sense because anarchism stands directly opposed to capitalism and to the industrial infrastructure on which it depends.

That is the conclusion to a recent article by anarchist writer Paul Cudenec, in which he questions whether this is always fully understood by anarchists.

In particular, he challenges the received wisdom that the only issue that need concern anarchists about industry relates to who controls it. He asks whether fracking would suddenly become acceptable if Cuadrilla was a workers’ co-op.

A detail from LS Lowry's The Canal Bridge (1949)

Cudenec adds: “I find it hard to believe that anyone’s idea of a future anarchist society could include factories of any kind. Who would be working in them if we didn’t live in a capitalist society where people desperately need to earn money to survive? Why would anyone work in a factory if they didn’t have to? In an anarchist society, what kind of social, economic or physical compulsion could be applied to make people work in factories if, as seems likely, they didn’t particularly want to?

“Why do anarcho-industrialists think that factories came into existence in the first place? To help the workers? To make life better for all of us? Because we collectively needed the mass production of the things that factories make?

“Or was it so that a small group of entrepreneurs could make profit out of them? Isn’t industrial society entirely a product of capitalism?”

The full article can be read at network23.org/paulcudenec

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4. Anarchism in chains?

Untitled

Some thought-provoking reflections on the smothered state of anarchism in the UK are contained in a controversial booklet called Anarchy – Civil or Subversive, now updated and online here.

In the introduction, the late Darko Matthers condemns “civil anarchism” as “a horizontal citizenism which speaks the language of democracy (rights, laws, social inclusion, consensus, protest).”

He adds: “Apart from maintaining democracy’s image of dialogue and permitted dissent, civil society also is a recuperating mediator and handily picks up services for the state and business, curbing some of their excesses to allow the smoother functioning of the system. Many ‘anarchist’ (or rather libertarian) activists work for NGOs, trade unions and the parasitic den of academia.

“There’s a direct feedback loop through academia, activists and the social bureaucracy about the bizarre language codes and identity politics of political correctness.”

One contributor to the booklet writes: “Civil anarchism turns on any anarchist or activist who dares reject the group-think and organise themselves outside of ‘acceptable limits’; and like all political groups, the civil anarchists tend toward homogeneity, centralisation, hierarchy, delegation and censorship, however much it is all dressed up as consensus”.

On a positive note, reflecting the new resurgence in authentic anarchism, another writer declares: “Anarchy appears to us as the life force of the planet, the creative destroyer which has never been extinguished from the pages of civilisation by the determined forces of ignorance and repression”.

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5. Terror and the capitalist system

suruc bomb

The massacre at the Amara Culture Centre in Suruç (Pîrsus), Kurdistan (within the Turkish state), last week has raised fears of a new phase in so-called “terrorism”.

At least two anarchists were killed in the bombing of the left-wing centre – they have been named as Alper Sapan from Anarchy Initiative Eskişehir and Evrim Deniz Erol from Urfa.

The attack is seen as an assault on the initiative to rebuild Kobanê after the ISIS attack last year. A report on the Rabble website reports: “Comrades in Turkey and Kurdistan say that it was done by ISIS in collusion with the Turkish state”.

It is not just Turkey that colludes with ISIS – along with other Islamist guerrilla groups, ISIS has many traceable links to Western intelligence. These have been apparent in various armed conflicts from Afghanistan to Bosnia to Algeria.

ISISpic

Author Nafeez Ahmed has been at the forefront of exposing what he described as long ago as 2006, in his important book The London Bombings, as “the covert alliance between British state interests and Islamist terrorist networks”.

He writes: “The international terrorist network implicated in the London bombings extends to a number of regions, including the Balkans, Asia and Africa (namely North and West). In all these areas militant Islamist networks have operated in collaboration with the military and intelligence institutions of Britain, the US and European countries.

“These policies and operations, many of which continue to exist today, can be linked to concerted attempts by American, British and European states to secure a variety of regional strategic and economic interests, largely related to energy concerns.”

The current wave of Islamist terrorism is often regarded as the modern equivalent of the Cold War “Gladio” network of far-right extremists controlled by US and UK intelligence.

As Ganser sets out in his book NATO’s Secret Armies: Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe, right-wing extremists including surviving Nazis and Fascists were recruited by US and British intelligence at the end of the Second World War to form an “anti-communist” terror network.

Ostensibly intended to fight any Soviet invasion of Europe, it quickly switched to countering the threat to capitalism posed by radicals, carrying out “false flag” attacks blamed on leftists and anarchists as part of a “strategy of tension” to create fear and drive the public into the “safe” hands of the capitalist state.

ganser

In Turkey, from the 1960s, there was an extreme right Turkish militia called the Grey Wolves (Bozkurt), described by author Daniele Ganser as “a brutal network of trained and armed men ready to use violence to further the cause of Pan-Turkism”.

The Grey Wolves were eventually exposed as having been part of a CIA-run secret army dedicated to protecting Western capitalist interests. One of those who spoke out was General Talat Turhan, himself involved in a coup d’etat, who later declared: “This is the secret unit of the NATO countries”.

Although the Gladio network was exposed most fully in Italy (the Bologna bombing was one of its murderous acts, for instance), it operated across Europe, including the UK, where the conflict in the north of Ireland was an ideal training ground.

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.

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6. Anti-terrorism is not what it says it is

anti-terrorist police

“Anti-terrorism” is not at all what it seems – it is in fact the deliberately misleading label given to a global psychological war waged against most of humanity by a controlling elite.

That is the message from an article in Guccio, a new international radical magazine.

The authors begin by stating that, despite all appearances, anti-terrorism’s main target is not the people it declares to be “terrorists”, but the population as a whole.

anti-terrorist propaganda
Fear as a means of control – anti-terrorist propaganda

 

They add: “There is no one legal definition of terrorism, and this is why there are so many definitions – more than a hundred different ones all across the world. ‘Terrorism’ is a political category.”

Essentially the label “terrorist” is an attempt to translate into legal terminology the vaguer notion of an enemy – an enemy of the system. Since the system itself designates its enemies, it also controls the definition of “terrorist”.

The idea that anti-terrorist laws are a reaction to actual “terrorist” threats is false. The authors point out: “It is known that among the 11 proposals for international anti-terrorist legislation submitted by the EU during the autumn of 2001 ‘in reaction to 9/11’, six had already been formulated before the attacks, four were already in preparation and only one, concerning asylum and immigration was actually new.

“We also know that the UK, one of the main engines behind this whole process, had already passed the Terrorism Act 2000 which, without saying so openly, was aimed at ‘subversive’ political movements, mainly the anti-globalisation movement.”

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Redefined as “terrorism” – the anti-globalisation protests in Genoa in 2001

For the Italian General Fabio Mini, after the anti-capitalist protests in Genoa in 2001 there was already no doubt that “violent contestation of the global system is equal in this case to terrorism”.

The Guccio article explains that a 2002 EU framework defines as terrorism any action likely “to severely undermine a country or an international organisation”, with the aim of “severely intimidating a population” or to “severely destabilize or destroy the fundamental political, constitutional, economic structures of a country or an international organization”.

While Margaret Thatcher had already tried to use anti-terrorist laws against striking miners in the 1980s, the practice has now become widespread.

From indignados in Barcelona to occupiers of a city hall in Greece, from the alleged authors of The Coming Insurrection in France, to environmental activists from the No Tav movement in Italy – all have been accused of “terrorism” for daring to challenge the capitalist system.

Even organisers of protests against the 2014 World Cup in Brazil were arrested under “anti-terrorist” legislation.

not-terrorists
Why do we even have to say that we are not “terrorists”?

It is not just the legal route that is used by the industrial capitalist system as part of its “anti-terrorist” war on dissent.

The article cites a paper on defeating anti-globalisation movements which suggests “disinformation and infiltration by agents provocateurs seeking to control and sabotage”.

Mark Kennedy
British police spy Mark Kennedy – infiltrated the anti-capitalist movement on a European scale

The authors comment: “If we have in mind the European scale of the infiltration carried out by British police spy Mark Kennedy, as well as the police’s strategies during some anti-summit protests, we can be certain that these few lines are not empty rhetoric, but a global policy being conducted against us. We therefore need a counter-strategy, on a scale as global as the enemy’s manoeuvres.

“It is very unfortunate that we failed to turn the scandal raised in England by the Mark Kennedy case into a European affair challenging the activities of the various police forces that resorted to his services.”

They stress this international aspect more than once, pointing out that “nowhere we have succeeded in our attempts to neutralise anti-terrorism. One of the reasons why we fail may be that we have always struggled against it at a national level, whereas it represents a global policy.

“When the enemy’s victories arise from the fact that it has a global strategy against us, whereas we do not have one against it, we have to undertake a new international strategic debate, at least European-wide, in order to be able once again to address the situation.”

They also suggest that the way we conduct our struggles can help undermine the absurd smear of “terrorism”.

“When their tactic consists in ascribing a feeling of terror to any revolutionary movement, we must make people laugh, mock our enemies, show a great deal of wit. A funny terrorist is already not a terrorist anymore.”

They say that for years now, the anti-terrorist establishment has tried to associate direct action against the system with a feeling of fear, whereas the feeling for those on the streets is one of liberation: “It is crucial to break this spell… spark complicity. Bind together once again the idea of revolution with the idea of increasing power, of joy.”

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The joy of protesting – the Carnival Against Capital in London on June 18 1999

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7. UK anarchists pull off cheeky repeat factory occupation

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The Kent occupation on July 6 2015

Activists from the Anarchist Action Network formed part of the second rooftop occupation of an Israeli factory in Kent on Monday July 6.

This marked the anniversary of the 2014 attack on Gaza and coincided with the Block the Factory protest in Shenstone, in the Midlands.

Alongside Palestine solidarity campaigners and other anti-militarist comrades, the AAN participants launched an early-morning assault on Instro, a fully-owned subsidiary of drone manufacturer Elbit, which makes optical guidance components.

The compound and roof were both taken by 4am, with a sound system on the ground inside, a lock-on to the main gate and other protesters remaining outside the premises on the Broadstairs industrial estate.

Police turned up, initially in large numbers, and at one point were spotted trying to climb on to the roof from the back of the building – however, their ladder was not long enough and they retreated!

The factory was closed for the whole day and the occupation crew exited the premises under their own steam after a 12-hour stint.

The same factory was previously occupied, again with AAN involvement, in February this year. No arrests were made on either occasion. (See “What is Elbit scared of?” in Acorn 3)

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8. Anti-road resistance in Rize

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The Turkish state sent in military police to attack local people in the Black Sea province of Rize who had formed a human chain to halt road-building bulldozers.

Fierce resistance to the ecocidal industrialist project broke out in Rize’s Çamlıhemşin district where locals opposed the connection of Yukarı Kavun and Samistal pastures, fearing that the new road would push housing and industry into the untouched nature of the region.

Havva Bekar, one of the most senior members of the group, has become a social media phenomenon. In a video shared by thousands of social media users on July 11, Bekar was heard rebuking security forces at the construction site with a stick in her hand.

“We don’t want this road. We are the people. Who is the state? The state is a state thanks to us,” she said.

Infrastructure projects threatening Turkey’s Black Sea region have become a source of growing conflict between the capitalist Turkish state and the population.

Most recently on July 9, tension rose between gendarmerie forces and locals in Artvin, with local activists trying to prevent untouched forest in the region from being cleared for new mining facilities.

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9. Acorninfo

Activists from Plane Stupid staged a dramatic lock-on protest at Heathrow on Monday July 13 in opposition to a third runway there – and to any other airport expansion. One of them told The Independent that they had a direct message to the Government and the aviation industry: “We want to be clear that the anti-airport expansion movement is back and we’re here to stay. ‘No, ifs, no buts, no third runway’. We mean it.”

heathrow protest

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“A polite knock on the door of a Mr John Shaw of Hastings got Emily Johns a visit from the police. How so? He’s the CEO of a secretive ‘non-profit company’ that’s using tens of millions of pounds of public funds to build white elephant business parks and destroy valuable nature sites. And avoiding accountability looks like a major point of the exercise.” An article exposing the activities of SeaChange in Sussex, UK, (see Acorn 8) has been published by The Ecologist. Worth a read.

SeaChange logo

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Prison abolition is on the agenda at the Cowley Club, 12 London Road, Brighton, on the evening of Monday July 27. From 7pm Sussex Anarchists will be hosting a workshop from the Open Cages Collective, calling for anarchist resistance to prisons and in particular the new super-prison to be built at Wrexham.

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Online dissent is being systematically sabotaged by a special intelligence unit run by the British state, an article has revealed. Documents published by The Intercept demonstrate how the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG), a unit of the signals intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), is involved in efforts against political groups it considers “extremist”. The spooks’ work includes creating fake online identities to promote state and corporate agendas and disrupting “extremist” websites and emails. The full report can be read here.

propaganda-ministry

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A robot killed a young man at one of Volkswagen’s production plants in Germany on Monday June 29, the firm has admitted. The machine grabbed the 22 year old and crushed him against a metal plate. A spokesman blamed “human error” – yes indeed, human error in creating robots in the first place!

robottkiller

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“Why we hate the police” is the title of an anonymous online leaflet from France. It reads, in part: “We hate the police because there will soon no longer be a single move we can make, a single road we can walk down, the smallest corner of our existences in which we can escape from their surveillance and their punishment. We hate the police because we hate control. We hate the police because a good cop is always more dangerous than a bad one. Because the police are the last bulwark stopping this rotting society from collapsing. Because they are the armed wing of the thing that is slowly and surely killing us. Because the police will always be an obstacle between the life we have and the life we want…”

why we hate police

* * *

Acorn quote: “The same era that saw the English peasant expropriated from his common lands saw the Bengal peasant made a parasite in his own country”. Edward J. Thompson, The Life of Charles, Lord Metcalfe.

british_india

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

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The Acorn – 11

acornmastheadnew

Number 11


In this issue:

  1. Delight as Lancashire rejects fracking bids
  2. Forget the lifeless Left – we want revolution!
  3. Sold out to the industry – GMB union backs fracking
  4. Marching for a Nicer Kind of Capitalism
  5. Sabotage attack on airport firm
  6. Anti-industrial rebellion in China
  7. Anti-industrial rebellion at the Vatican
  8. Acorninfo

1. Delight as Lancashire rejects fracking bids

frackdelight
Scenes of jubilation in Preston as Cuadrilla’s plans are rejected

A significant battle in the war against fracking was won by campaigners in northern England on Monday June 29.

Lancashire County Council rejected the second of two applications from Cuadrilla for large-scale fracking in the county in a decision that shocked the fracking business mafia.

Cuadrilla had hoped to drill four wells and undertake exploratory fracking for shale gas at Little Plumpton on the Fylde.

Share prices for fracking firms plummeted after the historic decision – it is now clearer than ever that there is a deep-seated and determined opposition across England to the frackers’ environmentally disastrous plans.

Greenpeace described Monday’s outcome as “a Waterloo for the fracking industry”.

John Williams of Poyry Management Consulting 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”.

A tractor joins the celebrations in Preston
A tractor joins the celebrations in Preston

Although the planning committee had already turned down Cuadrilla’s proposal for Roseacre Farm between Preston and Blackpool, it had looked as if councillors might be bullied into approving the Preston New Road scheme.

They were given controversial legal advice suggesting it would be against the law to turn it down and reported feeling under intense pressure.

But in the end they voted against their officers’ recommendation to accept the bid and they also rejected a Cuadrilla application for seismic monitoring because “the cumulative effect of the proposal would lead to the industrialisation of the countryside and adversely affect the landscape character”.

Notably, two of the three councillors who voted in favour of fracking were representing the Labour Party – mirroring the support for the ecocidal fracking industry from the “left-wing” and Labour-affiliated GMB union (see below). Draw your own conclusions…

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2. Forget the lifeless Left – we want revolution!

anarchist-in-spain2

We live at a moment when the future not just of the human race, but of the planet is at risk.

The cancer of industrial capitalism, with its secondary tumours of militarism, imperialism and repression, is choking us all to death.

We need to rise up and cast off this disease, get off our knees and rediscover our collective inner strength and health.

But where is that inspiration going to come from? What is the banner behind which we can gather in order to wage philosophical and practical war on the system that is killing us all?

For the last couple of centuries the answer has been assumed to have something to do with the Left – the idea of a loose but nevertheless coherent body of thought and practice which stands in opposition to capitalism and its world.

But increasingly that answer is looking to be the wrong one and the lifeless Left is showing itself to be another aspect of the capitalist system, rather than something that challenges its existence.

As the leftists of the UK trade union movement sell out to the fracking industry (see below) and their reformist-left comrades in the UK “anti-austerity” movement continue their glorious struggle for a Nicer Kind of Capitalism (see here), a yawning void is appearing at the spot where there ought to be a resistance movement against the whole capitalist system.

The wretched failure of the Left to oppose industrial capitalism is so complete that by comparison the Roman Catholic Church is now looking positively radical (see here)!

We need to break out of the reformist strait jacket that “left-wing” thinking has put us in. We need to throw off the blinkers of its restrictions and inhibitions and look clearly and boldly into the eyes of the industrial-militarist-capitalist beast before thrusting a stake through its putrid heart.

stake through heart

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3. Sold out to the industry – GMB union backs fracking

GMB-Union-Steward
Protecting the industrial capitalist system – the GMB

The sickening pro-fracking stance of a British trade union is a useful reminder of how the “Left” has historically failed to fight industrial capitalism.

While people power in Lancashire was persuading the council to throw out fracking applications, the GMB was busy cosying up to the industry.

The GMB is a “general” trade union in the UK, affiliated to the TUC and the Labour Party and boasting more than 631,000 members.

As it proudly declares on its own website, its Northern Region recently had the bright idea of getting a briefing on the fracking issue. And who did these “leftists” ask? Frack Off perhaps? Friends of the Earth? Nope – they went straight to the Chemical Industry Association, the leading national trade association for the chemical and chemistry-using industries in the United Kingdom.

chemical_factory
Who cares about pollution if jobs are involved?

As a result of this briefing, on June 18 2015, the GMB concluded: “Given the fragility of the oil and gas sector due to price pressures, diversification through shale gas could well become a key employer within the energy sector.”

Billy Coates, GMB Northern Regional Secretary added: “The strategic importance of fracking within the UK’s balanced energy mix must not be ignored. Along with nuclear, renewables, green coal, oil and gas, fracking could be absolutely essential to achieving near self -sufficiency which will benefit domestic and business need.”

“Business need”? What sort of language is that for a trade union to adopt?

And this is not a one-off. It follows a statement from the GMB Congress on June 8 2015 which says that “while there are important considerations, the economic, indigenous energy and employment benefits cannot be ignored”.

The union has even done a deal with UKOOG, the front group representing the fracking industry in the UK.

It is shamelessly buying in to the whole fracking circus, admitting: “GMB has welcomed UKOOG’s development of the National College for Onshore Oil and Gas.  As part of this agreement, GMB will have a seat on the Operation and Advisory Council of the National College.”

Soviet factory

Here we have the heart of the problem that has afflicted the “Left” since back in the 19th century. At heart, it is not actually against the capitalist system, it just has certain minor quibbles with the way it is run.

But, of course, these left-capitalists are in denial about all this. They refuse to admit that industrialism and capitalism are essentially the same thing – that you cannot pretend to be against an economic system and yet wholeheartedly support the physical infrastructure that enables that system to maintain and expand its control.

They are also apparently incapable of seeing through the capitalist lie that there is something inherently good about “jobs” and are happy to fight for the “right” of their members to spend their lives as slaves to the global industrial greed-monster.

Even worse is the hypocrisy surrounding this, which echoes the hypocrisy of the ruling elite with their oxymoronic “sustainable development”.

The GMB, like others on the industrial left, seem to think they can claim to be “green” at the same time as cheerfully oiling the very machineries that are killing the planet.

It is with no apparent sense of irony that the pro-fracking union boasts on its website: “GMB is recognised both nationally and regionally as being the leading trade union on health, safety and environmental issues.”

The anti-fracking movement will hopefully ensure that from now on the GMB is instead recognised as a corrupt and cowardly collaborator with the business mafia which is destroying our planet for its own profit.

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4. Marching for a Nicer Kind of Capitalism

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Anarchists on the fringes as the anti-austerity parade files by

There were several good things about the anti-austerity march in London on Saturday June 20. One of these was the sheer numbers of people out on the streets – 250,000 according to the highest estimate.

Also encouraging were the visibility of the privacy bloc (handing out free masks), the high-profile presence of Class War and other anarchists, the use of flares and the bonfire of placards at Parliament Square.

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Burning placards in Parliament Square

There was also the breakaway wildcat march that crossed Waterloo Bridge and led to an impromptu blockading of the Elephant and Castle traffic system, as van loads of riot cops moved in.

But there were some depressing aspects to the day as well. The official event was always going to be an authorised “A to B” march, but this one at time felt more stage-managed than ever, not least because of the pre-arranged invisibility of police along the route (they were all hiding round the corner or mingling in disguise).

There was also something basically wrong about marching from the Bank of England instead of on it. The aim of the event was therefore not to lay siege to a symbol of capitalism but to get to Parliament Square and listen to Russell “#lovethepolice” Brand.

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The radical part of the march

And, of course, this was not a very radical collection of citizens, for all their good intent. Many of these were the kind of people who kid themselves that salvation might come from Jeremy Corbyn or wind turbines.

A lot of them are against neither the state (which they don’t want to be “cut”) nor even capitalism – just the worst excesses that they see incarnated by “The Tories”.

What do they want? A Nicer Kind of Capitalism! When do they want it? When the police say it’s OK!

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5.  Sabotage attack on airport firm

eurovia fire
Targeted – Vinci is a giant business involved in capitalist infrastructure

A million euros of damage was caused in a sabotage attack on a business involved in the Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport project.

Ten vehicles were destroyed in the fire at Eurovia’s premises near Limoges in central France, apparently started deliberately through placing bottles full of petrol on their wheels.

Eurovia is part of Vinci, a notorious international company heavily involved in all kinds of insidious capitalist infrastructure projects, notably motorways and prisons.

vinci poster
“From Notre-Dame-des-Landes to the Khimki Forest in Russia, Vinci is concreting over our lives. Resistance!”

Most famously, it is Public Enemy Number One of the ZAD protest camp which for many years has been protecting woodland near Nantes targeted for a new and unwanted airport.

But Vinci has also attracted criticism for its involvement in the equally unnecessary Bexhill-Hastings Link Road in Sussex and the motorway threatening the Khimki Forest in Russia, where opposition was met with brutal oppression.

A local industrial-leftist was on hand to condemn the Limoges sabotage. Philippe Loiraud, of the CGT trade union, told media that his biggest worry was (yes, you’ve guessed it…) jobs: “It’s disgraceful to go after a company because it’s the employees who will pay the cost.”

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6. Anti-industrial rebellion in China

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Thousands march against industrial pollution in China

Massive resistance to industrialism continues to spread across China, as thousands of people take to the streets in anger.

On the evening of Thursday June 25, some 5,000 people marched through Shanghai to oppose the building of a new chemical factory in the suburb of Jinshui.

The protests had been going on all week and included a non-stop picket of the Jinshui District Government building.

shanghai
Environmental protests are spreading across China as neoliberalism wrecks the country

The factory in question would be manufacturing PX (paraxylene), a flammable chemical used in polyester and plastics manufacturing and a major contributor to air pollution, especially the deadly particulate PM2.5.

Reports Revolution News: “Pollution and the construction of PX plants has sparked many protests, including violent demonstrations that lasted 3 days last year in Maoming, Guangdong province.”

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7. Anti-industrial rebellion at the Vatican

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“The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.

“Economic powers continue to justify the current global system where priority tends to be given to speculation and the pursuit of financial gain.”

These are the views not of an anti-capitalist “extremist” but of the head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis.

In a hard-hitting anti-industrial statement, worth reading in full if you can stomach the religious bits, he announces the Vatican’s policy of “integral ecology”.

The church seems particularly to want to influence policies over climate change and has already invited Naomi Klein on board.

The language of the Pope’s statement is interesting – he refers to the rather pagan notion of Mother Earth, adding: “We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth; our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we re­ceive life and refreshment from her waters.

“Nature cannot be regarded as something separate from ourselves or as a mere setting in which we live. We are part of nature, included in it and thus in constant interaction with it”.

The Pope refers to Mother Earth
The Pope refers to Mother Earth

The Pope is very clear throughout that he is not only addressing his Christian flock, but “every person living on this planet”.

He says: “Regrettably, many efforts to seek concrete solutions to the environmental crisis have proved ineffective, not only because of powerful opposition but also because of a more general lack of interest. Obstructionist attitudes, even on the part of believers, can range from denial of the problem to indifference, nonchalant resignation or blind confidence in technical solutions. We require a new and universal solidarity”.

The fake solution of "green" technology is rejected by the Vatican
The fake solution of “green” technology is rejected by the Vatican

Importantly, Pope Francis rejects the argument, much favoured by the industrial left, that technology can be used to repair the devastation it has caused.

He writes: “We must be grateful for the praiseworthy efforts being made by scientists and engineers dedicated to finding solutions to man-made problems. But a sober look at our world shows that the degree of human intervention, often in the service of business interests and consumerism, is actually making our earth less rich and beautiful, ever more limited and grey, even as technological advances and consumer goods continue to abound limitlessly.”

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The Pope (pictured above) also acknowledges that any action to combat the destruction of the planet by industry is always blocked by the business mafia who have control over our society: “There are too many special interests, and economic interests easily end up trumping the common good and manipulating information so that their own plans will not be affected.”

“The alliance between the economy and technology ends up sidelining anything unrelated to its immediate interests.

“Consequently the most one can expect is superficial rhetoric, sporadic acts of philanthropy and perfunctory expressions of concern for the environment, whereas any genuine attempt by groups within society to introduce change is viewed as a nuisance based on romantic illusions or an obstacle to be circumvented.”

He attacks the very notion of infinite economic “growth” at the heart of the capitalist system: “It is based on the lie that there is an infinite supply of the earth’s goods, and this leads to the planet being squeezed dry beyond every limit”.

Land rights activists in the Pope's native Argentina
Land rights activists in the Pope’s native Argentina

Pope Francis also brings a social dimension into the equation, saying this cannot be separated from environmental issues, and notably takes a vague swipe at the idea of private property, a bulwark of the current system.

He argues: “The Christian tradition has never recognized the right to private property as absolute or inviolable, and has stressed the social purpose of all forms of private property” and adds that “the natural environment is a collective good, the patrimony of all humanity and the responsibility of everyone”.

Whatever one’s opinions of the Catholic Church, its own nefarious history and its reactionary position on many other issues, it is surely a cause for encouragement when the leader of a religion boasting 1.2 billion members comes out so strongly in favour against the lie of “growth” and the whole industrial capitalist system.

More to the point, why isn’t the “Left” saying all this?

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8. Acorninfo

Disabled protesters put their anti-austerity comrades to shame by trying to storm the House of Commons chamber during Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday June 24. They were protesting against the government’s decision to end the Independent Living Fund. There are videos here and here.

disabledprotest

* * *

Climate vs Capitalism is the title of a free workshop being staged at the Cowley Club, 12 London Road, Brighton, on Wednesday July 15. It is being run by the Corporate Watch workers’ co-op and hosted by Sussex Anarchists. “We want to be clear that we are coming from a certain political perspective: anti-capitalist and anti-authoritarian, and that certain things will not be up for discussion. How can we avoid falling into the traps of green jobs, green growth, or green capitalism? How can we stop a radical climate movement being co-opted by those that seeking to reform rather than replace existing political and economic systems? How can we break the stranglehold of capitalist realism on our political imaginations? Capitalist realism is the idea that there is no alternative to capitalism”. All welcome.

climate v capitalism

* * *

A day of “creative action” against an Israeli drone factory is being staged near Walsall in the UK on Monday July 6. The date is the anniversary of last summer’s assault on Gaza, which killed more than 2,200 Palestinians in the latest brutal chapter in Israel’s ongoing occupation and colonisation. The massacre was carried out using drones manufactured by Israeli arms company Elbit Systems. In response, activists occupied Elbit’s factory in Shenstone, causing its operations to grind to a halt and costing Elbit over £100,000. Another Elbit occupation was staged in Kent in February. Now groups and campaigners from across the UK are going back to Elbit’s factory in Shenstone to demand that the UK stops arming Israel. More info at https://www.blockthefactory.org

Elbit shenstone

* * *

The reality behind much so-called journalism has been helpfully revealed by a bizarre TV interview with a Sunday Times journalist. In what campaign group Media Lens is calling “a laugh-out-loud, four-minute interview on CNN that should be shown to journalism students from now until the end of eternity”, alleged journalist Tom Harper tried to reply to questions about “his” scoop on how Edward Snowden’s leaked files were putting British spies at risk. The whole story had clearly been planted in the Murdoch title by the British intelligence services. At one point Harper even helpfully admitted: “We just publish what we believe to be the position of the British government”.

Tom Harper of the Sunday Times explains how the corporate media works
Tom Harper of the Sunday Times explains how the corporate media works

* * *

The politics of technology are the focus of a gathering in Derbyshire, England, from July 9 to 12 2015. Breaking the Frame 2 has been organised by Corporate Watch, Luddites200 and others. Workshops will focus on the technology politics of food, the workplace, privacy/policing, gender, energy, health, militarism, mining and infrastructure.

breaking the frame2

* * *

Terrorism and cyber security were among the issues being discussed in secret by the neoliberal elite at the 2015 Bilderberg summit in Austria, held immediately following and just 16 miles south of the G7 summit. The situation in Greece was also on the agenda, according to the BBC.  Commented Charlie Skelton in his Guardian blog: “When it comes to transparency, this year’s Bilderberg summit fails in every way imaginable. Three prime ministers, two foreign ministers, one president, no press conference. No public oversight. Just a bunch of senior policymakers locked away for three days with some incredibly powerful corporate lobbyists, discussing subjects intimately related to public policy. Subjects such as ‘globalisation’ and ‘current economic issues’, which in practical terms mean the giant trade deal, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).”

Protests at the Bilderberg conference

* * *

Twentieth century anarchist George Woodcock is the focus of the latest issue of Anarchist Studies magazine. Vol 23 No 1 also includes reviews of Paul Cudenec’s The Anarchist Revelation, published by Winter Oak (“well -researched and written in a lively style… highly readable and engaging”) and the excellent Managing Democracy, Managing Dissent, edited by Rebecca Fisher of Corporate Watch.

Anarchist Studies cover

* * *

Acorn quote: “In a word, we reject all legislation – privileged, licensed, official and legal – and all authority, and influence, even though they may emanate from universal suffrage, for we are convinced that it can turn only to the advantage of a dominant minority of exploiters against the interests of the vast majority in subjection to them. It is in this sense that we are really Anarchists”. Michael (Mikael) Bakunin, The Knouto-Germanic Empire and the Social Revolution.

anarchists-in-london

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

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The Acorn – 6

acornmastheadnew

Number 6


In this issue:

  1. Highways to hell
  2. Degrowth – real anti-capitalism
  3. State’s war on anti-fracking movement
  4. Frankfurt – a firsthand account
  5. To Hell With Culture
  6. Acorninfo

1. Highways to hell

"A long term and sustainable benefit to the environment”? Roadbuilding in East Sussex.
“A long term and sustainable benefit to the environment”? Roadbuilding in Sussex, England.

The photo above shows Hollington Valley ‘Local Wildlife Site’ near Hastings in East Sussex on March 26 2015. It was posted online by the eco-action group Combe Haven Defenders to show the grim devastation caused by roadbuilding – in this case the Bexhill-Hastings Link Road.

Meanwhile, we are told that “England’s largest road investment programme for a generation” will be “a long term and sustainable benefit to the environment”.

How appropriate that the new official body Highways England is being launched on April 1! You’d have to be a complete April Fool not to see right through the glossy verbiage in its “Delivery Plan” from which these weasel words are taken.

All the smooth talk about making roads safer and reducing congestion is a barely disguised cover for its real mission of expanding capitalist infrastructure and thus increasing private profit at the expense of the public and the environment.

Hastings2
Supporting economic growth in the Sussex countryside

Readers of The Acorn will not be surprised to learn that number one on the Highways England list of “strategic outcomes” is “supporting economic growth”.

Its brochure adds: “We will do this by modernising the network to relieve congestion and reduce delays, helping businesses to grow, encouraging investment, creating jobs and opening up new areas for development.”

The last phrase here is important. “Opening up new areas for development” is in fact the opposite of relieving congestion and involves increasing the whole spiral of congestion, pollution, environmental destruction and climate change by converting yet more beautiful green fields and woodlands into ugly concrete and tarmac.

This is what new roads are about, everywhere in the world. For instance, the recent Russian proposals for a 12,000-mile east-west motorway (which would theoretically link the UK to the USA by road) not only go hand in hand with plans for new oil and gas pipelines, but have also been given the give-away name of the “Trans-Eurasian Belt Development”.

trans-siberian-road
Opening up the world for “development”

Highways England is proud of “working closely with Local Enterprise Partnerships and other local partners and stakeholders” to “identify current and future constraints to economic growth”. Like the countryside, perhaps?

In Acorn 4 we examined the Local Enterprise Partnership for parts of southern England, the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership, and how its connections to the arms industry and global construction businesses fitted in nicely with its commitment to promoting their interests under the mantle of “economic growth”.

We also exposed how it has admitted that “sustainable transport” schemes do not necessarily have to involve either transport or sustainability and that it was considering one such project, in Worthing, that is blatantly nothing more than a make-over for a town centre shopping centre.

Not only does Highways England play the same deceitful game by claiming its programme will result in “An Improved Environment – where our activities ensure a long term and sustainable benefit to the environment” but, to add insult to injury, the list of its “sustainable” projects actually includes none other than the entirely phoney scheme in Worthing!

motorway1
Highways to hell

See also:

Infrastructure is the enemy

Profit before the planet

Battle of Hastings

Road fight is back on

The road to corporate profits

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2. Degrowth – real anti-capitalism

The Only Sustainable Growth is Degrowth

“Economic growth” has replaced “progress” as the term with which industrial capitalism likes to justify its life-destroying rampage.

What the two have in common is that they are both meant to be undeniable facts of life. Within the capitalist/neoliberal mindset, it is a “given” that we need economic growth, as if it were in some way essential to our survival, like sunlight, fresh air or clean water.

This assumption is sadly sometimes also accepted by “radicals”, who fail to challenge this overall capitalist framework and focus instead on making the existing industrial system “fairer” or more “democratic”.

An alternative to this mental trap is degrowth (known elsewhere as décroissance, decrescita, decreixement and decrecimiento). Degrowth is a movement of ideas that “can trace its roots back to the anti-industrialist trends of the 19th century, developed in Great Britain by John Ruskin, William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Movement (1819–1900), in the United States by Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862), and in Russia by Leo Tolstoy (1828–1911).” (Wikipedia)

Degrowth rejects all forms of productivism (the belief that economic productivity and growth is the purpose of human organisation). It rejects the capitalist idea of “sustainable development”, which it sees as an oxymoron, as any development based on growth in a finite and environmentally stressed world is inherently unsustainable.

It is “a downscaling of production and consumption that increases human well-being and enhances ecological conditions and equity on the planet. It calls for a future where societies live within their ecological means, with open, localised economies and resources more equally distributed through new forms of democratic institutions” and proposes “a shrinking of the economic system to leave more space for human cooperation and ecosystems”. (degrowth.org)

Of course, within the degrowth movement there are differences of strategy. Some, for example, might think that the capitalist system might somehow be persuaded to dissolve itself, or that it will allow its phoney “democratic” apparatus to divest it of its power. Others fear that a more confrontational attitude will be necessary to save the planet…

décroissance

See also:

The end of endless growth

French resistance to concrete future

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3. State’s war on anti-fracking movement

The British state is going all-out to protect the fracking industry
The British state is going all-out to protect the fracking industry

Sinister signs are emerging that the British state is preparing to use the full weight of its repressive power to try to crush the growing anti-fracking movement on behalf of the business interests which really control our “democratic” society.

The threat is a response to growing support for the anti-fracking struggle, and increasing scepticism about the fracking industry’s corporate spin and its PR strategy of insisting that new sites are purely conventional and that no fracking will in fact take place – see, for instance, this local website in West Sussex.

One indication of the state’s hardline approach comes from the Network for Police Monitoring, which has warned that “police see opposition to fracking as the most significant public order issue in the coming year and are actively preparing for it”.

Another indication comes from a letter issued by government ministers urging local authorities to take a strong line against “unauthorised traveller sites, protest camps and squatters” – including, of course, anti-fracking protest camps.

There is an aspect absurd to this statement in that the ministers claim camps might “harm the local environment” – unlike fracking or roadbuilding, presumably! But there is also a sinister side to their message to all council leaders, police and crime commissioners and police chief constables. Revealing the real attitude of those in power towards the rest of us, they instruct their underlings in the state system: “Public bodies should not gold plate human rights”.

Warning: the British state will not "gold plate" your human rights
Warning: the British state will not “gold plate” your human rights

Netpol explored police attitudes towards the anti-fracking movement following a Supreme Court ruling that the taking and retention of the personal data of 90-year-old Brighton anti-militarist campaigner John Catt was lawful.

It says this may have significant consequences for the surveillance of political activism, since the judgment grants extensive discretion to the police in the operation of police databases, and in the collection of intelligence related to ‘domestic extremism’ or other protest activity. “It is, in short, judicial approval for the mass surveillance of UK political activism”, they warn.

To illustrate the point, Netpol sets out a scenario where local people set up an anti-fracking campaign in a rural village close to a drilling of a proposed new exploratory shale gas well:

Nationally, the police have identified opposition to fracking as a significant public order issue and so believe there is a likelihood of local protests outside the drilling site, though they do not know what form this might take.

In order to assess the risk that any protest might include some degree of obstruction of the site entrance or the public highway, senior officers decide to gather information through overt surveillance on all members of the campaign to establish its size, who is most active and most influential and what other groups, particularly undefined environmental ‘extremists’, local people identified as organisers are in contact with.

This involves officers attending a village hall meeting and noting what has been said, filming everyone as they leave, intimidating home visits to identified ‘leaders’ and logging the movements of activists’ vehicles as they go to and from the village. None of the people under surveillance has a criminal record – few have ever been involved in a campaign before – but this self-evident invasion of their privacy is justified as necessary “for legitimate policing purposes”.

As the surveillance expands from weeks to months, it is not long before the details of almost everyone over 16 in this close-knit local community has been added to the National Special Branch Intelligence System.

Conclude Netpol: “Alarmingly, our work alongside activists in the growing opposition to extreme energy extraction suggests this scenario may soon become entirely realistic.”

Meanwhile, anti-frackers in Bristol have launched a Solidarity Appeal to help their ongoing battle. They say: “Environmental defenders have recently incurred exceptional outgoings of more than a thousand pounds in the continued battle to stop big business destroying our planet. They need your help urgently”. Contributions can be made here.

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4. Frankfurt – a firsthand account

Torched
March 18 in Frankfurt

Following the reports in Acorn 5 of the dramatic anti-capitalist protests in Frankfurt, focused on the official opening of the European Central Bank’s new HQ, this useful firsthand account has been published on rabble.org.uk

From 5am on the morning of the 18th an estimated 6,000 people began marching on the ECB from different corners of Frankfurt. Activists had been organised into ‘fingers’, each with their own strategy to disrupt and blockade the ECB. 10,000 police, armed with pepper spray, tear gas and water cannons were concentrated around the bank.

As the fingers moved toward the ECB, banks, government buildings and shops were targeted. Paint bombs were thrown at the UBS building, windows were smashed at the local council building, Hilton Hotel and Sparkasse Bank. Slogans painted on the walls gave a clear message. ‘Smash Capitalism’ was written on buildings across Frankfurt. One person had written ‘The empire is dying’, and an advertising billboard for Intimissi underwear that objectified women was defaced with the words ‘Smash Patriarchy’. Police who came close while all this was going on were warned off by a hail of rocks.

As people got closer to the ECB, anything that could be moved was dragged into the road to blockade the area around the bank and prevent police movements. A building site was dismantled to create a strong barricade close to Ost Bahnhof metro station. Police who drove close to the crowd constructing the barricade soon thought better of it, and drove away at breakneck speed. A nearby road was blocked by an abandoned police car, which was set alight. The barricade was further strengthened by the torching of a luxury car.

Police responded by firing tear gas, charging at the crowd, punching and kicking demonstrators and kettling. Almost 400 people were held in a cordon and at least 17 people were arrested. One of the arrestees, Federico Annibale, a student from SOAS in London, has been in custody in Frankfurt since Wednesday. According to the NoTroika website he has not seen the evidence against him and has not yet been charged.

Despite police repression, people managed to set fire to dozens of police vehicles and set up burning barricades around the city centre.

burning barricade

By 11am riots had begun to abate, protesters danced on the streets at a sound truck at the end of a bridge close to the ECB, while police water cannons kept watch. The day ended with a colourful 25,000 strong anti-capitalist march through Frankfurt.

So, what is the significance of the Frankfurt riots? First of all, they are an effective example of propaganda by deed. The images broadcast around the world from the streets of Frankfurt may have brought a little hope to those suffering under the Europe’s austerity regime, to those ready to join the struggle for a different society. They send a message that people are, once again, ready to resist. They may also be the first step in a new wave of international resistance to capitalism.

On March 18th, thousands of German activists were joined by people from Italy, Greece, France, Ireland, the UK, the US, the Netherlands, Belgium, Turkey and Spain. Many of the international activists had come in large contingents, the size of which has not been seen since the heyday of international summit mobilisations. Those of us present on the day got a taste of what it is like to take part in a truly transnational demonstration, to make an impact despite the thousands of cops pitted against us, and gained inspiration and new allies.

Of course, the ECB protests had many of the problems that the international summit mobilisation movement also had. The Blockupy coalition was intentionally wide to maximise numbers, ranging from anti-authoritarians and anarchists to trade union organisations and the Die Linke party. The publicly announced planning meeting on the 17th, attended by over a thousand people, was reminiscent of attending the speeches at a traditional left wing rally. The Blockupy coalition felt the need to distance itself from the riots in the media. Ulrich Wilken, a coalition representative said “This is not what we in Blockupy had planned.” but that he “understood” people’s anger at the “policies of impoverishment”. A Blockupy statement later said that “individual actions” were “not responsible” – meaning that some demonstrators’ actions were irresponsible.

DieLinke
Party agenda – Die Linke

These so-called ‘representatives’ of the protests have their own interests at heart: the strengthening of political parties like Die Linke and other European left wing parties, in the wake of the success of Syriza in Greece. Those of us who want to see a non-hierarchical movement aimed at dismantling the capitalist system from below and creating alternatives which challenge all forms of oppression must be on our guard against our efforts being channelled into building popularity for these parties, which will not change the system and will only lead to further disappointments and failures for those who want to see real change.

Transnational resistance against capitalism needs to transcend the old cycle of counter-summits to create real solidarity between those resisting, to mobilise internationally to support local struggles, and to consider how a temporary show of resistance, as happened in Frankfurt, can make room for more permanent spaces from which to explore how to create new worlds free from capitalism and oppression.

If we are going to effectively resist capitalism, a system which defies national borders to dominate the world we live in today, we need strong local struggles, to challenge the system wherever we are and prevent further destruction of the earth and our communities by the endless drive for profit. But it is also necessary for us to see how these struggles are connected together, to get to know our allies living across borders and to recognise the power we have when we join each other. Let’s hope that the events in Frankfurt last week will spark a new wave of transnational resistance to capitalism which will strengthen our movements, reclaim space to create alternatives and inspire others to join the struggle.

"Conquer capitalism!"
“Conquer capitalism!”

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5. To Hell With Culture

readpostersmall

The first Brighton screening of Huw Wahl’s film To Hell With Culture is being organised by Sussex Anarchists at the Cowley Club, 12 London Road, Brighton, at 7.30pm on Tuesday April 7. The film will be introduced on the evening by Dr Michael Paraskos, author of Herbert Read: Art and Idealism, among other works.

To Hell With Culture is an inspiring portrait of the life and work of Herbert Read (1893-1968), one of the most influential art and literary theorists of modernism active in the first half of the twentieth century. He was also an anarchist, being directly involved in the movement both before and after the Second World War and penning some important contributions to anarchist philosophy.

Despite his passion for modernist culture, Read remained deeply attached to a rural English way of life threatened by the machineries of capitalism, declaring: “Deep down my attitude is a protest against the fate that has made me a poet in an industrial age”.

The free screening follows on from the Sussex Anarchists group meeting at 6pm. All welcome.

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6. Acorninfo

Never Mind The Ballots…It’s The 7th Bristol Anarchist Bookfair! The event is being held from 11am to 6pm on Saturday April 25, 2015, at  Trinity Centre Trinity Rd, Bristol BS2 0NW, with a Radical History Zone nearby at Hydra Bookshop. The bookfair comes just 13 days before the British general election and local elections and organisers promise: “There won’t be a single lying, corrupt, austerity-enforcing, media-spinning politician in sight”. More info at bristolanarchistbookfair.org

Bristol bookfair poster

* * *

Two chapters of the new Invisible Committee book To Our Friends have now been posted online in English, ahead of its actual publication. The latest released text is called Let’s Disappear, and stresses that revolutionaries should not fall into the trap of seeing the ‘population’ as something other than themselves, as something that has to be influenced or harnessed in some way, as the state itself does. They remind us: “We are the ‘hearts and minds’ that must be conquered. We are the ‘crowds’ that are to be controlled”. The previously-released chapter is called Fuck Off Google.

toourfriendscover

* * *

A general strike is being staged in France on Thursday April 9 against the new Macron law, with workers and students mobilising to block buildings and infrastructure and take to the streets in large numbers. The law drawn up by economics minister Emmanuel Macron is all about encouraging our old friend “economic growth”. The 106 articles in the Macron Law provide further proof, as if any were needed, of the ruling French Socialist Party’s neoliberal agenda. Working hours are to be increased, with Sunday working normalised in the way it already is in the UK, and bosses’ powers strengthened. As ever, though, the French people are ready to put up a fight!

9avril

* * *

A draconian clamp-down on dissent and resistance is being launched by the Spanish state. On March 26 three controversial laws were approved in the Spanish Congress. The Penal Code, the new Anti-Terror Law and the Law on Citizen Safety, scheduled to come into effect on July 1, 2015, pose a severe threat to freedom of expression in the streets and on the internet. For instance, there will be fines of up to 30,000€ for “crimes” such as “photographing or recording police”, “peaceful disobedience to authority”, “occupying banks as means of protest”, or “not formalizing a protest”. Online activism is also targeted, with jail sentences of between three months and a year threatened for publishing “slogans or messages” or “inciting any offence of disorderly conduct” including “disturbing the public peace”. The state’s definition of “terrorism” is widened to include hacking with the goal of disturbing the public peace. More information at revolution-news.com. The new laws follow Operation Pandora in December, in which anarchists were attacked by the Spanish state under the guise of an “anti-terrorist” operation.

Solidarity with Spanish anarchists
Solidarity with anarchists targeted by the Spanish state

* * *

Following a fire which affected the premises of anarchist publisher AK Press in Oakland, USA, it is making an appeal for funds to put right the damage.The target is a hefty $150,000, but $40,000 had already been raised in the first four days.

Fire damage at AK Press in the USA
Fire damage at AK Press in the USA

* * *

Finally, a couple of online video recommendations from The Acorn. This documentary looks at direct action protests against the DSEI arms fair in London – both the event and the opposition will be happening again in September this year. And this film shows a feisty student protest against neoliberalism in Quebec.

* * *

Acorn quote: “Dracula, king of the vampires, is the perfect fin-de-siècle cultural horror: something living hundreds of years yet dead, something dead but undead, draining the vitality of the living, like European Civilization itself”. Richard Noll, The Jung Cult: The Origins of a Charismatic Movement

dracula

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The Acorn – 5

acornmastheadnew

Number 5


In this issue:

  1. Frankfurt and the flames of resistance
  2. Why attack the ECB?
  3. “Insurrection has been waiting to break out”
  4. The road to corporate profits
  5. The Brighton Connection – how Green is your valley?
  6. Acorninfo

1. Frankfurt and the flames of resistance

A burning police car in Frankfurt on #18M
A burning police car in Frankfurt on #18M

A powerful message rose from the streets of Frankfurt on Wednesday March 18 2015 – a new phase of international anti-capitalist resistance has begun.

As European Central Bank president Mario Draghi officially opened its billion-pound HQ as if nothing was happening, the city outside was like a war zone, full of razor wire and military-style police.

The successful #Blockupy gatecrashing of the Euro-bankers’ launch party started as early as 6am. Roads and bridges were blocked with burning barricades. Cop cars were torched, police covered in paint, banks and other symbols of the capitalist system attacked.

burning barricade
Burning barricades on the streets of Frankfurt
battle
Resistance on the streets
flare
Confronting the cops
"Conquer capitalism!"
“Conquer capitalism!”
Whose streets?
Whose streets?
ecb-blockupy2
Pink as a pig
Torched
Torched

German police – 10,000 of them brought in from all over the country – were even more brutal than ever. Protesters were beaten with batons, kicked in the head, attacked with pepper spray, dragged along the ground by their hair, as well as having tear gas and water cannon fired at them as the state’s thugs tried and failed to break the spirit of defiance on the streets.

Cops
On the march to protect the bankers
Robocops on the attack
Robocops on the attack
The graffiti says it all
The graffiti says it all

The day ended with a massive demonstration through the city centre, of some 20,000 people. Observers described it as much larger than expected and the biggest of its kind since the anti-G8 protests in Heiligendamm in 2007.

demo
The massive #Blockupy demonstration against capitalism
bank paint
A bank is targeted

As we explained in Acorn 2 and Acorn 4, activists from all over Europe headed to the continent’s financial capital to show their anger at the ECB, the Troika and the whole neoliberal dictatorship being imposed everywhere – the Italian contingent was particularly visible, but it went deeper than that.

And it is here perhaps that the true significance of #18M can be found. Around 15 years ago, battles like those in Seattle, Genoa and the City of London marked the moment that a global anti-capitalist movement forced, by its very existence, a general recognition that we live in a capitalist society – before that, the word was regarded as some kind of propagandistic communist term to describe what used to be called “the free world”.

The phase of massive anti-summit protests came to an end, although opposition of course continued.

The authorities were no doubt hoping that the international movement would itself fade away and that radicals would retreat into the detail of their own local struggles and forget that these form part of a bigger picture.

But that hasn’t happened. The awareness of the existence of a neoliberal capitalist system has gone hand in hand with the awareness of a network of international resistance – informal but inter-connected in a myriad of ways.

Local struggles against specific examples of capitalist oppression will feed in and strengthen that resistance. And the joyful empowerment of being part of that wider resistance will in turn fortify and sustain the local struggle.

The signs are all there that we are entering a spiralling resurgence of the international anti-capitalist movement, of which Frankfurt is just the beginning.

Germany Protests ECB
A festival of revolt
Frankfurt - a new phase in the struggle against capitalsim
Frankfurt – a new phase in the struggle against capitalism

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2. Why attack the ECB?

“Through the Troika, the ECB has ordered living standards to be lowered and social services axed, sending millions into unemployment. The ECB has pushed the bailouts onto governments whilst at the same time it has done everything in its power to provide liquidity to insolvent banks, leaving private finance off the hook, rewarding and aiding it wherever possible“.

Christina Laskaridisby in “False Dilemmas: A Critical Guide to the Euro Zone Crisis”, published by Corporate Watch

Euro sign

“The ECB plays an important role in the infamous Troika, responsible for harsh cuts, growing unemployment, and even the breakdown of healthcare in Greece and other EU countries. Along with the EU Commission and the EU Council, the ECB has promoted austerity, privatization, and precarity. They have even had no hesitation in blackmailing elected governments in order to enforce their attacks on the social rights of the people“.

Blockupy call-out

Euro sign

“The nation as such is a dead letter. The State can do nothing more than set the table for the dreary meal dished out by the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the European Commission: the Holy Trinity known as the Troika. The Troika, not content simply to oversee or even directly administer the budgetary functioning of entire States, seeks also to dictate the very conditions of our lives, reducing the latter to a simple question of ‘human resource management’. The impression of being dominated, overwhelmed, and finally altogether crushed by a self-appointed clique of ‘Core European’ bureaucrats has become one of the more salient features of the present.”

Destroika

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3. “Insurrection has been waiting to break out”

rioting-in-England
England, 2011

A full-scale global uprising against neoliberal capitalism has been brewing for some time now and waiting for the opportunity to break out.

That is the view of French writing collective The Invisible Committee in their latest book, A nos amis.

They write of an increasing feeling of something happening, the commonly-shared intuition that “an insurrection can break out at any moment, for whatever reason, in any country and lead anywhere”.

This, they insist, is not just wishful thinking on the part of the world’s dissidents – there really is a pattern emerging: “What has been happening in the world since 2008 isn’t an incoherent series of random eruptions in sealed national spaces, but one big historical sequence”.

So who are the Invisible Committee? In 2007 a group of radicals in France, calling themselves le comité invisible, brought out a book called L’Insurrection qui vient or, in English, The Coming Insurrection.

A lot has happened since then. For a start, the waves created by their writing led to a group of people, who became known as the Tarnac Nine/Ten, being arrested on dubious charges of sabotaging high-speed rail lines, with the French state claiming they were also the authors of the pamphlet.

The wider picture of what has become of the struggle against neoliberalism, and where it might go from here, is what is addressed in their follow-up book, reviewed in English here.

Representatives of The Invisible Committee will visiting the Cowley Club, 12 London Road, Brighton, at 6pm on Saturday March 21, for what is believed to be the only public talk on the new book they are giving in either France or the UK.

COWLEY

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4. The road to corporate profits

arundel bypass
Arundel bypass

“There is an investment case for a dual carriageway bypass at Arundel to the south of the existing A27”.

That is the conclusion of official “feasibility” studies into the disastrous proposal to drive a bypass of the current bypass across wetlands and woods near the West Sussex town (see Acorn 1)

While the reports were commissioned by the Department for Transport, the actual analysis was carried out by Parsons Brinckerhoff, a subsidiary of massive multinational corporation WSP Global.

If this outfit sounds familiar, that’s because it featured heavily in Acorn 4. In that special investigation, we exposed the way that “sustainable transport” funding was at risk of being diverted into an irrelevant town centre refurbishment scheme.

We pointed out that Martin Heffer, the Coast to Capital board member focusing on infrastructure issues, is in fact a Parsons Brinckerhoff/WSP Global employee on secondment to the Department of Transport.

Martin Heffer: developing capitalist infrastructure from Iraq to the M25
Martin Heffer: developing capitalist infrastructure from Iraq to the M25

There is clearly a link between the promotion of fake “sustainable transport” proposals and the promotion of roadbuilding. Without any real alternative proposals to beat congestion, there is nothing to get in the way of the “need” to build new roads, the main profit-generating arteries of capitalist infrastructure.

Once again, the mantra of “economic growth” lies behind the proposal for an Arundel bypass-bypass, creating a spiral of justification that we would call “never-ending” if it wasn’t bound to end one day in environmental disaster or, more cheerfully, the end of this wretched industrial-capitalist system.

So the fact that this part of Sussex is “planning for significant growth” and that “over 60,000 new homes and substantial employment development are expected within the coastal study area” is used as an excuse for roadbuilding.

And when the new roads attract more lorries and more commuter sprawl and traffic, the resulting congestion will be used as the excuse for yet another round of roadbuilding! The Arundel bypass-bypass-bypass perhaps.

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5. The Brighton Connection – how Green is your valley?

The Green Party's Jason Kitcat, leader of Brighton Council
The Green Party’s Jason Kitcat, leader of Brighton Council

An interesting story was run by Brighton’s Fig website in response to our Coast to Capital investigation in Acorn 4.

This highlights Coast to Capital’s involvement in Brighton Council’s £8m Valley Gardens scheme.

Says Fig: “Despite the project being touted by the Greens who run the council as being about ‘sustainable development’, the council itself admits the controversial scheme wouldn’t just benefit the environment – or even transport: it would also deliver ‘better business links, improved retail frontages, new offices – and encourage economic growth’.”

A council document reveals the usual vision of the world seen through business-tinted glasses: “The City Region has much of the talent and many of the enterprise and liveability factors to become a Super City Region. But, to achieve full potential these must be converted into real ambition and to marry creativity to a strong technology base.”

Displaying the usual capitalist disdain for education as anything but a means of making money, it describes the two universities, Sussex and Brighton are “central to achieving ambition” and as “two of the most significant ‘anchor’ businesses.”

Perhaps this is all to be expected in our capitalist world, but is not a little surprising that this approach is being followed by a Green Party administration?

Not really – after all, the Coast to Capital board includes none other than the Greens’ Brighton council leader Jason Kitcat!

kitcatcoastsite
Jason Kitcat on the Coast to Capital website

Kitcat’s “Linked.in” entry proudly declares that he has been “one of the public sector board members for the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership” since as long ago as May 2012.

So presumably he sees no contradiction at all in Coast to Capital’s relentless focus on “economic growth” above all else (see Acorn 4) and the comment on his own party’s official website that “we currently have an economic system that prioritises growth in company profits over the wellbeing of society”. That’s politics for you!

A bizarre footnote to this story. While revisiting Coast to Capital’s website a week or so ago, after publishing our investigation in Acorn 4, we noticed that Mr Kitcat’s details had disappeared from its pages. What had happened? Had he resigned? Our researcher’s enquiries led to reassurances from both Mr Kitcat and Coast to Capital that he was still a board member. Coast to Capital’s reply, in particular, was admirably prompt, explaining that “there was an error on the ‘Coast to Capital Board’ web page that has now been amended”. Indeed it had! Mr Kitcat was back on the Coast to Capital site as if nothing had happened!

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6. Acorninfo

Two protests against police spies targeting political dissidents are being staged in Cardiff and London next week. A number of activists are taking legal action against South Wales Police and the Metropolitan Police in an attempt to hold the system to account for the activities of Mark “Marco” Jacobs, who claimed to be just another anarchist in the south Wales activist scene, but was actually an undercover cop. The campaigners say that since they first filed an application in court, police lawyers have attempted to obstruct justice by giving a “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” defence. On Wednesday March 25 they will be in the Royal Courts of Justice in London attempting to strike out this non-defence. The first protest will be outside Cardiff Central Police Station in King Edward VIII Avenue, Cardiff on Tuesday March 24, 6pm to 8pm. Then there will be a solidarity picket outside the Royal Courts of Justice in The Strand, London, WC2 (Holborn or Temple tube) on Wednesday March 25 from 9am to 10am. More info on the South Wales Anarchists website.

swa

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Rebellion has been spreading across the UK’s “gulag archipelago” of migration prisons. Rabble website reported on March 10 that hunger strikes, yard occupations and other protests were taking place in at least six UK detention centres. It said “The protests started last week in Yarl’s Wood (Bedfordshire) and in the Harmondsworth and Colnbrook migration prison complex near Heathrow airport. Today we heard that 50 people were on hunger strike in Tinsley House, with protests also at nearby Brook House, both inside the perimeter of Gatwick Airport. Hunger strike has also started at Moreton Hall (Nottinghamshire). There may well be others.” A convoy of deportation coaches was targeted at Gatwick Airport in West Sussex, said Rabble: “People managed to block the coach convoy and hold one up for a couple of hours, with one person superglued to the windscreen as the coach was stuck in the Gatwick periphery road.” More info at http://rabble.org.uk

Rebellion in Harmondsworth
Rebellion in Harmondsworth

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The Anarchist Action Network will be holding its next network meeting on Saturday March 28 in Newham, London. Open to all except cops and journalists, it will take place between 12 noon and 5pm at The Harold Road Centre, 170 Harold Rd, Upton Park, London E13 0SE. The AAN consists of individuals and autonomous local groups, based in towns and cities across the UK and further afield. In the past it has come together to organise temporary Anarchist spaces in London and Newport and resistance against the G8 and NATO summits. More info at https://www.anarchistaction.net/

aan logo

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Fracking firm Celtique has pulled out of two schemes in West Sussex in an encouraging victory for the anti-fracking resistance. It now says it will not be appealing against refusal of permission for Fernhurst and Wisborough Green (we reported the threat to rural Boxal Bridge in Acorn 3)  However, anti-frackers are still braced for a fight in Billingshurst, where Celtique’s claims of conventional-only plans are belied by the massive razor-wired security fences around their site (see Acorn 2).

fracking victories

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Campaigners are condemning the proposed sell-off of chunks of the Lake District National Park in the north of England. Says Kate Ashbrook of the Open Spaces Society: “A new owner may not have national park purposes at heart but may be driven by the potential commercial benefits to be wrung from the site. We have great sympathy with the park authorities who are suffering slashed budgets and we back the Campaign for National Parks’ battle against the cuts. But it is no solution to flog off land which should be held for the nation”. The sites for sale are Stickle Tarn, Great Langdale (£20,000-£30,000); Baneriggs Wood at White Moss, Grasmere (£110,000-£130,000); Lady Wood at White Moss (£20,000 – £25,000); amenity land with river frontage at Portinscale, Keswick (£8,000-£10,000); shoreline at Blea Brows, Coniston Water (£70,000 – £90,000); Yewbarrow Woods, Longsleddale (£110,000-£130,000); Blue Hill and Red Bank Wood, Ambleside (£100,000-£120,000). Even nature is just another commodity to be bought and sold in our soulless capitalist civilization…

Stickle Tarn - being sold off to private money
Stickle Tarn in the Lake District

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Acorn quote: “The state lies in all languages of good and evil. Whatever it says, it lies – and whatever it has, it has stolen”. Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

friedrich-nietzsche

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The Acorn 4

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The Acorn – 4

acornmastheadnew

Number 4


In this issue:

  1. Profit before the planet: a special investigation into sham “sustainability”
  2. Europeans unite against ruling elite
  3. Learning from the Syriza sell-out
  4. Fracking – resistance and repression
  5. Motor threat to Welsh valleys
  6. Acorninfo

1. Profit before the planet: a special investigation into sham “sustainability”

coastcapitalism

“Sustainable transport” funding in southern England is just another way of boosting business profits, an investigation by The Acorn can reveal.

The funding agency in question has stated that schemes do not have to be sustainable or even have to have anything to do with transport at all – they just have to contribute to “economic growth”.

Meanwhile, unchecked traffic congestion is used to justify yet more environment-wrecking road schemes, as we revealed in Acorn 1.

And the whole public-private apparatus behind the scandal is riddled with connections not just to global big business but even to the military and the arms trade.

Our investigation involves West Sussex County Council (WSCC) and Coast to Capital, the regional Local Enterprise Partnership covering a swathe of southern England stretching from Croydon and Gatwick Airport to Brighton and Chichester.

Print

WSCC is trying to get hold of some of the £31 million allocated by the Government to Coast to Capital, supposedly to fund sustainable transport schemes, and is promoting something it calls the “Worthing Sustainable Transport Package”. Phase one of this is costed at £1.2 million and WSCC is bidding for £800,000 of that from Coast to Capital.

But when local cycling and environmental campaigners took a closer look at the details of the scheme, they were astonished to discover that it was all about repaving the main Worthing shopping street, Montague Street, and knocking down a rotunda, known to residents as the bandstand.

One campaigner told The Acorn: “There is no way anyone can say that re-paving Montague Street in Worthing has anything to do with benefiting sustainable transport, when, in fact, the town is desperate for some cycleways and other sustainable transport to ease chronic motor traffic congestion.

“Councils are spending ‘sustainable transport’ money on ‘sustainable transport’ schemes that are nothing of the sort.”

Shoppers in Montague Street, Worthing
Shoppers in Montague Street, Worthing

It is indeed immediately striking how little the “Worthing Sustainable Transport Package” has to do with sustainable transport – it is blatantly just a make-over for the commercial part of Worthing town centre.

The “why it should be funded” section of the application admits that the main thrust of its pitch is that “it will attract more people to shop in the area”. This will result in “long term economic growth reversing the current decline in footfall and turnover”. It will “create jobs”, help Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership meet its economic growth targets and potentially lead to £17.7 million a year more income for businesses.

Other “benefits” of the scheme are that the works will put £2.3 million into the pockets of the construction industry and eventually push up shop rental values and thus business rates.

There is also the bonus of extra “generation of government revenues” from “taxes on business profits, employees’ wages, and profits from rental income”.

And the cherry on the cake is that “residential properties are likely to increase in value by 5.2% within the town centre”. What marvellous news for Sussex people finding it difficult to afford somewhere to live!

Amidst all of this there is no indication of how the scheme might be expected to reduce traffic or make transport “sustainable” in any way, reducing demand for new roads like the threatened Arundel bypass-bypass or the mooted Worthing A27 “improvements”.

As the local campaigner told us: “The bid document itself does not mention any beneficial impacts on journey times or reliability, and it is difficult to envisage any.” Referring to the suggested increase of 1.6 million new visits to Montague Street each year, he asked: “How are those additional people expected to travel to and from Montague Street without causing a significant increase in local traffic?”

Coast to Capitalism

But hold on a minute – a bid for sustainable transport funding that makes no mention of sustainable transport? Is that even allowed?

The local campaigners stumbled across what looks like a blatant give-away when they were examining the Coast to Capital website for details of its criteria.

Astonishingly, the section about schemes that could be funded under transport “sustainability” or “resilience” admitted: “They may also include improvements which do not affect transport, but which will help to protect or stimulate economic growth”.

No sooner had this remarkable sentence been drawn to the attention of Coast to Capital, than it suddenly disappeared from the website! Luckily, campaigners were shrewd enough to have taken a screenshot, part of which is reproduced here.

Missing sentence

In fact, it should come as no surprise that “economic growth” should prove to be the sole preoccupation of Coast to Capital.

The masthead of its website proclaims that its focus is “to create economic growth in an innovative, enterprising and international business environment” and the term repeats ad nauseam in the overview of its aims.

coast to capital mast

“Our small yet dynamic team is focused on delivering growth”… “Our focus is on those areas where we can stimulate growth” … “delivering activities to drive growth” … “our role is to help re-balance the economy and to promote private sector growth” … “ensuring that the infrastructure and conditions for economic growth are in place”.

It adds: “Coast to Capital is not a delivery organisation and we do not take on the direct delivery of business support services. However, in order to create favourable conditions for growth, we do identify priorities and strategies for improving local transport, housing and skills development.”

This line pretty much confirms the gist of the deleted give-away sentence – all Coast to Capital’s strategies on transport, housing or whatever are, by its own admission, only carried out “in order to create favourable conditions for growth”.

If we go back through its self-description and replace the word “growth” with a term that describes what it really means – “profit” or “greed” come to mind – then we begin to understand the agenda that lies behind Coast to Capital.

Decision, decisions… interests and allegiances

If all this isn’t disturbing enough, let’s now take a look at how the decision will be made about the allocation of so-called “sustainable transport” funding…

Coast to Capital reveals that the “the business cases for each scheme are currently being assessed by independent transport advisors. Parsons Brinckerhoff are assessing the sustainability schemes.”

Parsons Brinckerhoff is a massive multinational engineering corporation, employing some 14,000 staff – in 2013, the company was named the tenth largest US-based engineering/design firm by Engineering News Record. It used to be owned by Balfour Beatty, but on October 31, 2014, it became a wholly owned independent subsidiary of WSP Global, an even more massive multinational corporation based in Canada.

wsp parsons

WSP Global Inc is currently involved in projects like the rebuilding of the World Trade Center in New York, USA, and Berlin-Brandenburg International Airport in Germany. Past triumphs from these experts in sustainability include The Shard in London, Beetham Tower in Manchester, City Central Development in Adelaide, Australia, Mellon Bank Center in Philadelphia, Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand, and Trump Tower in New York.

shard
The Shard in London: a WSP Global Inc project

 

Terminal_de_l'aéroport_international_de_Bangkok
Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok: another WSP Global Inc project

The deliberation of these “independent” transport advisors will no doubt be watched with dispassionate interest by Martin Heffer, the Coast to Capital board member focusing on infrastructure issues.

Well, not that dispassionate, as his register of interests reveals that Parsons Brinckerhoff (now aka WSP Global Inc) is in fact his employer!

Heffer, a “specialist in the planning and delivery of major transport schemes”, is apparently “currently on secondment to the Department for Transport”.

His commitment to sustainable transport involves working on the High Speed 2 rail project, Heathrow Terminal 5 and the widening of the M25 motorway ahead of the Olympics.

And Heffer’s fine ethical record does not stop there! He is also a reserve army officer, having been a Royal Engineers volunteer officer for some 30 years. “He is a specialist in the area of Civil Military co-operation having worked on joint Foreign Office and UK military infrastructure initiatives in Iraq,” boasts Coast to Capital.

Martin Heffer: developing capitalist infrastructure from Iraq to the M25
Martin Heffer: developing capitalist infrastructure from Iraq to the M25

What a splendid example of the seamless interweaving of state, capitalism and war-mongering neo-colonialism!

If this is all beginning to sound like a bit of a stitch-up, don’t worry – when the decisions about funding are made, probably on March 25 2015, they will not be made by Heffer or the board, but by what Coast to Capital calls a “voluntary partnership known as
the Local Transport Body”.

Closer examination reveals that this wholesome-sounding group is chaired by none other than Pieter Montyn. Montyn shares Heffer’s commitment to ethics and sustainability, with a lifetime spent in the higher echelons of the global arms trade – “37 years in the UK aircraft and defence equipment industry (British Aerospace/BAE Systems and GEC), in which he held senior export management positions at home and overseas”.

Montyncoll
Pieter Montyn: from BAE to West Sussex County Council

He will presumably have to step aside from his role chairing the Local Transport Body when the funding bid for Worthing is actually discussed, as he also happens to be cabinet member for highways and transport at West Sussex County Council, the very organisation promoting the application!

As the leading force behind the “A27 Action” campaign calling for the bypass of the Arundel bypass and other road-building schemes (see Acorn 1), WSCC appears to be concerned by the increase in motor traffic – its pro-road-building website declares: “The A27 is a congested route which is inhibiting business investment and growth.”

Funny, then, that that very same West Sussex County Council is promoting the “Worthing Sustainable Transport Package”, rather than a scheme that would help address the congestion issue by providing cycle lanes, cheaper public transport etc?

Not really! After all, think of all the plus-boxes that are ticked by the prospect of new motorways being ploughed through the woods and wetlands of Sussex! More and more traffic, more concrete, more contracts for the construction industry – the warped greed-god of economic growth, worshipped by Coast to Capital, West Sussex County Council and all their business partners, will demand the unchecked expansion of its capitalist infrastructure right up until the very day it has triumphantly choked the last drop of life out of this planet.

See also:

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2. Europeans unite against ruling elite

venezia
Anti-capitalist protesters in Italy get in the mood for March 18 in Frankfurt

Anti-capitalist protesters from across Europe are gearing up for big protests against the European Central Bank (ECB).

As we reported in Acorn 2, they are converging on Frankfurt in Germany on Wednesday March 18 to gatecrash the opening party of the new HQ.

“See you on the barricades!” was the message from the activists pictured above in Venice, Italy, who were part of a day of anti-bank actions on March 2.

And a similar message of defiance comes across on this video call-out from destroika. Says the group’s website: “It is necessary to transpose our experiences of local struggle to a higher offensive level, beyond the national frame of reference inherent to the movement, in order to sandwich the State on the European level as well. The opening of the new headquarters of the European Central Bank will be the occasion for us to reconverge, to unite our forces against a common enemy.”

The Blockupy call-out says: “As the crisis has unfolded the EU has became more and more of an authoritarian regime with an obvious lack of democratic participation. The murderous border controls and the progressing militarization of foreign policy add to this process. They cannot, and even do not want to, represent us anymore. The ruling elites have nothing left of value to offer for us.

“But new forces are emerging from all corners of life and it will be our task to build solidarity and real democracy from below. They want capitalism without democracy, but we want democracy without capitalism!”

German authorities are showing signs of panic over the impact of the protests, with one regional minister, Peter Beuth, describing them as a huge challenge” for the security forces. Everyone had the right to “peacefully” protest against globalization, butrioters” were not welcome in Frankfurt on March 18 the minister told the Hesse Landtag (regional Parliament).

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3. Learning from the Syriza sell-out

syriza
Syriza – selling out to neoliberal capitalism

As soon as the leftists of Syriza came into power in Greece, anarchist voices were warning that things were not necessarily as they seemed.

Crimethinc, for example, published a thoughtful in-depth analysis called Syriza Can’t Save Greece: Why There’s No Electoral Exit from the Crisis.

Here it bracketed Syriza with other “radical” electoral forces such as Podemos in Spain, Die Linke in Germany, Parti de Gauche in France, Radnička fronta in Croatia, Združena levica in Slovenia, and Bloco de Esquerda in Portugal.

Warned the article: “At this historical juncture, all of them serve the same basic function. Faced with so much unrest, the ruling order suddenly has a use for new radical political parties that promise to embody calls for ‘real democracy’ within the existing system.

“Whatever the intentions of the participants, their structural role is to rebuild trust in electoral democracy, neutralize uncontrollable extra-parliamentary movements, and reestablish capitalism and the state as the only imaginable social order.

“When they enter the halls of power, they commit themselves to perpetuating the authoritarian institutions and unequal distribution of wealth that triggered the movements from which they appeared in the first place.”

DieLinke
Electoral movements like Die Linke are useful for the capitalist system, warns Crimethinc

It was not long before Crimethinc’s warning was proved correct. In an article posted on the Aljazeera website on March 3, C J Polychroniou, a research associate and policy fellow at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College, wrote: “It has taken the Syriza government less than a month to surrender to neoliberal Europe and Greece’s international lenders.”

Noting that in recent talks “the Syriza-led government accepted an extension of the bailout programme and capitulated in turn to Germany’s demands for austerity and neoliberal reforms”, he added: “One would be hard pressed to find in the annals of political history another case where a governing party has broken its word so quickly on its pre-election promises and accepted an ultimate defeat in the face of systemic opposition.“

Polychroniou fears that “Syriza’s capitulation will create a mood of defeatism among progressive forces across Europe”.

But, on the other hand, it might serve to underline the anarchist warning that attempts to reform the capitalist system will only end up reinforcing it – the whole thing has to go.

"Still our last, best hope" says Crimethinc.
“Still our last, best hope” says Crimethinc.

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4. Fracking – resistance and repression

Algerian anti-fracking2
Resisting the fracking industry in In-Salah, Algeria

Resistance to fracking continues to grow all over the world. On Sunday March 1 anti-fracking protesters in In-Salah, Algeria, torched the local daïra (government office) and the home of its boss, as well as part of a police dormitory and a police lorry. Forty cops were apparently injured.

Protests have been growing since the end of December when the Algerian firm Sonatrach, in partnership with Halliburton, announced its first test for shale gas in this part of the Sahara had been a success. In February it insisted that fracking would go ahead despite evident hostility from a local population daring to stand in the way of economic growth. Algeria has the world’s fourth biggest reserves of shale gas, after the USA, China and Argentina.

Anti-fracking protesters in In-Salah, Algeria
Anti-fracking protesters in In-Salah, Algeria

In Britain, the authorities continue to explore ways of stemming the anti-fracking revolt. One is to have subtly redefined fracking in the notorious new Infrastructure Act.

Explains DeSmogBlog: “By defining fracking as one specific phase in the entire process, it means that any environmental impacts that do occur must be proven to be associated with that specific phase in order to claim that the industry definition of fracking has caused that impact.”

So when the industry claims that “no proven instances of water contamination have occurred due to hydraulic fracturing” it is using the its own definition of hydraulic fracturing, now shared by the state, “which excludes incidents from drilling damage, failed well casings, spills, erosion and sediment, or tanker accidents”.

The other approach, of course, is to use the legal system to attack opponents of the fracking industry.

On Thursday March 5 Dr Rowland Dye was convicted of “aggravated trespass” in the office of the Chamber of Commerce in Blackpool, also home to fracking firm Cuadrilla, during Reclaim the Power protests last August. The district judge not only fined him £250 and ordered him to £500 costs and £25 victims’ surcharge, but also ordered him to pay £551.83 compensation to the Chamber, on the flimsy basis that it “had cancel an event the day after the protest” – when the protesters had long since left. More than £1,300 for an office occupation in which nothing was damaged (let alone set on fire, Algerian-style!).

The protest in Blackpool in August 2014
The protest in Blackpool in August 2014

Babs Murphy, chief executive of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber Of Commerce, revealed the political motives behind the prosecution and punishment by telling media: “This decision sends out a clear message that if protestors break the law they will be punished. It sets the precedence for our local business community who can now be assured that fracking occupancy is illegal and not welcome in Lancashire”.

And on the same day anti-fracking campaigner and journalist Paul Mobbs was arrested at the entrance to Downing Street in London. He was trying to make a citizen’s arrest of members of the government because he believes they are guilty of misconduct in public office in the way they have dealt with fracking. At about 3pm, Mr Mobbs was asked to leave the Downing Street area. When he refused and said he would try to climb over the gate he was arrested for breaching a traffic management order under the laughably-named Terrorism Act.

Mr Mobbs has updated his frackogram showing links involving the fracking industry. Meanwhile, Drill or Drop has produced an invaluable and comprehensive update on drilling, permissions, companies and consultations across the UK, including of course the Celtique site near Billingshurst, West Sussex, featured in Acorn 2.

Bill-fence3
The fracking site near Billingshurst, West Sussex, featured in Issue 2 of The Acorn

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5. Motor threat to Welsh valleys

Circuit of Wales
The proposed new “infrastructure” for the Welsh countryside

A public enquiry opens on Tuesday March 10 into a hideous assault on common land in the Welsh countryside in the name of “infrastructure”.

The Open Spaces Society explain that two years ago they objected to plans for the Circuit of Wales motor-sports development just north of Ebbw Vale in south Wales. “At that time the developer, the Heads of the Valleys Development Company, stated optimistically and inaccurately on its website that ‘planning permission is the final hurdle’.

“Although the development now has planning permission it has not yet gone ahead—because it would take common land.  There are many who claim that the objectors are holding up a development which will bring jobs and prosperity to the area.  Their ire should be directed at the developers who opted to site the motor circuit on a common.

“For the applicant has had to find land to offer in exchange for the 245 hectares (nearly one square mile) of open moorland which would be submerged under concrete, and to make an application to Welsh ministers for the exchange, under section 16 of the Commons Act 2006.”

The development website boasts: “Circuit of Wales will transform 830 acres of Blaenau Gwent in the scenic Welsh valleys on an unparalleled scale, and will shine the global spotlight on the region. The innovative scheme will wholly regenerate the area, providing unrivalled opportunities in job creation, tourism, and research and development.”

It says the scheme is “the most significant capital investment programme in automotive infrastructure in the UK in the last 50 years”.

Here we have all the assumptions of the capitalist “growth” mindset. It beggars belief that the “transformation” of countryside into a motor racing track can be seen in a positive light! Does the region want the “global spotlight” shone on it? What does it mean to “wholly regenerate” an area? Is “job creation” always a good thing, even if the jobs perform no useful function, and indeed a harmful one?

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6. Acorninfo

Thursday March 12 has been named by land activists as the date of the final eviction efforts at Yorkley Court in the Forest of Dean. As we reported in Acorn 3, for the last two and a half years residents have been trying to establish a sustainable community farm. But on February 26 a local millionaire property developer Brian Bennett won his court case for possession. A call-out has now been made for supporters to come and show their solidarity on the day.

Yorkley-New

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Following the report in Acorn 3, the fascists of the EDL have apparently changed their minds about trying to march through Brighton on April 18. Local rag The Argus says the far-right hate-mongers are now planning to head for Oxford on April 4 instead. Observes the anti-fascist EDL News: “The group have stated the demo in Brighton has been postponed but we suspect it will not get rearranged due to the fact that many of their members have stated that the idea was pretty stupid in the first place.”

brightonantifascists

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A new book of eco-poetry has been published by Permanent Publications. Ecozoa by Helen Moore calls for a new era “in great contrast to the ravages caused by the growth and impacts of industrial civilisation on our planetary ecosystems”. Moore’s work is strongly inspired by William Blake and, reviewing the latest collection, Paul Cudenec comments: “By placing herself in a direct line of ideological descent from Blake, Moore is doing more than expressing admiration for him. She is proclaiming herself as a contemporary manifestation of that same underground heretical tradition”. The full review can be read here.

ecozoa

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An annual celebration of Spring and “the renewal of life on the Downs” is once again been staged by Sussex environmental and land access group the  Worthing Downlanders. They are inviting local musicians, singers, poets and merry-makers to join them on Sunday March 22 2015 from 2pm at The Castle Tavern, 1 Newland Road, Worthing, West Sussex BN11 1JR. “Everyone is welcome to participate, or you can just turn up and watch the festivities with a glass in hand!” Entry is free. Contact: info@worthingdownlanders.org.uk

Castle Tavern Worthing
Castle Tavern, Worthing

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Members of The Invisible Committee, the radical French writing collective behind The Coming Insurrection, will be in the UK on Saturday March 21, for a talk about their new book, A nos amis. The event, hosted by Sussex Anarchists, is at the Cowley Club, 12 London Road, Brighton, at 6pm.

anosamis

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Acorn quote: “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”. Gustav Landauer, For Socialism.

Gustav Landauer
Gustav Landauer

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Anarchist Revelation at The Cowley Club

 

We are pleased to announce that Paul Cudenec’s The Anarchist Revelation is now available from the Cowley Club bookshop at 12 London Road, Brighton, East Sussex. Copies are on sale there for £7 each.

The cub is a social centre  which  houses a cafe and bookshop during the day and a members’ bar during the evenings. It also has a library and is a base for a variety of other projects.

It is collectively owned and run as a base for those involved in grassroots social change and those sympathetic to such activities. It is run entirely by volunteers.