Beer-loving Brighton journalist Jon Harvey has been dragged out of semi-retirement by an old friend, who wants him to find his missing adult son, Henry.
Relying on his famous sense of intuition and some strange coincidences, Jon follows the trail from an eccentric left-wing library in Edinburgh, to an anti-capitalist convergence centre in London and then to an isolated corner of rural France.
The questions just don’t stop coming in this intriguing political detective story from Paul Cudenec, author of The Fakir of Florence and The Anarchist Revelation.
What is Henry up to? What is the significance of the books that seem to be guiding his movements? What is the precise agenda of the Kitson Institute of Democracy, for which Henry has been working?
And, most of all, what, who or where is Asha and why does it seem to lie at the centre of this whole entangled ideological intrigue?
Three great victories have been notched up by the global struggle against industrial capitalism in the last few weeks of 2016, giving renewed energy for the battles ahead in 2017.
It is true that none of them are complete, permanent wins, but they are nonetheless significant wins and together they confirm in no uncertain fashion that courage and tenacious determination can put the dominant system on the back foot.
Our capitalist overlords are not invincible! There are a lot more of us than them! And if sometimes the level of lying, manipulation and sheer violence they use against us is overwhelming, it is important always to remember that they act this way because they are scared of us and of our collective power to resist their rule.
In France, the big December news is that the ZAD protest zone against the long-planned new airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes near Nantes has seen off the latest eviction threat (see Acorn 27).
Bernard Cazeneuve, new prime minister after a reshuffle, announced that the government would not be taking action for the meantime – and it is clear that this is completely down to the impressive levels of organisation and determination of the land protectors at the ZAD.
A report on Europe 1 said that the government felt “an intervention would be much too dangerous and there would be a real risk of violent confrontation with, potentially, deaths on either side”. It cited Cazeneuve’s experience with events at Sivens in 2014, where police attacks on a protest camp against a dam led to the death of young environmental protester Rémi Fraisse, killed by a grenade fired by gendarmes.
The report adds: “At Notre-Dame-des-Landes, the numbers involved but also the die-hard attitude of some zadistes suggest there would be an even more explosive clash.”
This long struggle is not over yet, though, as after this Spring’s presidential elections there may well be a renewed political appetite for violent repression at the top of the French state.
Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, the Standing Rock campaign against the North Dakota Access Pipeline (see Acorn 27) scored an unexpected victory when the Army Corps of Engineers, a federal agency, announced that it would deny developer Energy Transfer Partners a permit to cross the Missouri river. Thousands of protesters cheered and chanted to cries of Mni Wiconi, or water is life.
This decision comes in the last days of the Obama administration and may well be overturned under a new president with links to the industry, but, as at Notre-Dame-des-Landes, it was clearly forced on the authorities by the sheer gritty willpower of the campaigners.
The underlying issue for industrial capitalists was voiced by right-wing capitalist politician Kevin Cramer, who whined to the media: “Today’s unfortunate decision sends a very chilling signal to others who want to build infrastructure in this country.”
From the opposite perspective, the signals are highly encouraging. As “Lakota Man” pointed out on Twitter, Standing Rock has become “the epicenter all things Indigenous” and the NoDAPL campaign has “evolved into a geopolitical movement”. The land protectors are not packing up and going away and neither is the spirit of unity, understanding and determination that has been forged in the face of massive state-corporate violence.
She had been the victim of vicious legal bullying by fracking giants Cuadrilla, dating back to August 2014 and the occupation of a field near one of Cuadrilla’s proposed fracking sites at Preston New Road, Little Plumpton, near Blackpool.
Frack-free campaigners like Tina and the Nanas of northern England do not fit the usual profile of full-on environmental protesters and Cuadrilla and the UK state clearly thought they could bully them into silence and submission.
The company and several landowners had previously won more than £55,000 legal costs against Tina in a case dating back to 2014. She was judged to be in contempt of court when she refused at a hearing this summer to complete a questionnaire about her finances. But on December 9 a judge at Preston Combined Court discharged this ruling and said she would not be sent to jail.
There were cheers inside and outside the court as the outcome became known. Tina told a crowd of around 300 people afterwards: “I see this as a victory for truth. I see it as a victory for honesty because corporations have a lot of power and a lot of money. I will walk away from here and Cuadrilla will no longer pursue me for the costs.”
But, like the campaigners at the ZAD and at Standing Rock, she knows this is far from the end of the struggle. Asked if this was a victory for the anti-fracking movement, Tina replied: “An anti-fracking victory looks like this country being left untouched.”
“Degrowth” has not really taken off as a radical anti-capitalist current in the UK yet, even if it has had the occasional mention on the anarchist scene in the last few years.
But in France décroissance is well established as a powerful minority voice challenging all the assumptions of infinite economic growth and the inevitability of a technocratic future.
It has growing visibility within the anarchist movement and the current issue of Le Monde Libertaire, the journal of La Fédération Anarchiste, includes an article focusing on degrowth.
This explains that economic growth is used as “an instrument of domination” and rightly insists that “sustainable development” is a scam designed to dress up continued growth with the pretence of environmental sensitivity.
The current issue, December 2016 to January 2017, features a striking green and black cover and the word “Débranche!” (“Unplug!”) with a large fist clasping a handful of ripped-out wiring.
There is plenty of interest inside for those who refuse to succumb to the insanity of industrial capitalist life and thought.
In a feature article taking an overview of the struggle for degrowth, writer Anne Frémaux says: “Our industrial modernity is founded on the utopia of unlimited technological and human progress and on the belief in the infinite abundance of a nature which will provide resources to endlessly feed an entirely materialist and quantitative vision of wealth and progress.
“Hypermodernity has prolonged this fantasy by intensifying the western consumerist dream, leading us to quickly (and sometimes irreversibly) use up resources, erode ecosystems, lose biodiversity, exceed acceptable levels of pollution and release enormous quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere, creating the climate change that we know today.”
She condemns the fashionable “techno-optimism” which insists that the answer to the sickness caused by industrial capitalism is to simply swallow more of the same technological poison.
Frémaux concludes: “If we think about it, the fundamental question facing us all is the question of ‘good living’, in other words a question of a social, psychological or spiritual nature for which technology cannot provide the answer. What we need to learn to manage is not the planet or even the climate, but our relationship to ourselves, to others and to the land.”
Filmmaker Gilles Vernet, meanwhile, explains how “growth” has become the Holy Grail of modern society, at the cost of all common sense. “While all human wisdom warned against the dangers of hubris and material enrichment, money ended up becoming the new god. The myth of Progress is itself a secular version of paradise, something which we are supposed to be able to reach here on Earth.”
Describing the nightmare of contemporary living, he adds: “Capitalism does not tolerate free time, time as a gift. You are never allowed to stop producing and consuming. Even sleeping time is being reduced. For some years now, especially with the spread of smartphones, our mental space has become more and more saturated with news and materialism. We have less and less time to think and find our place in the world. We are left with a spiritual and emotional void: we have less time to spend with family, partner or friends.”
Vernet goes on to state that the capitalist system is manifestly on course for a major implosion. “I accept this with a certain fatalism, but somehow I think that its collapse may be necessary. In the same way that, on the individual scale, death is the precondition of life – when you die you leave room for those to come – the death of a system is also the precondition for renewal”.
If you wanted to impose fascist rule on a population, and wanted to avoid any inconvenient levels of resistance, how would you go about it? Suddenly or gradually?
It has long been apparent that the UK state has adopted the second softly-softly approach to lowering its jackboot onto the face of its hapless subjects.
But for all its efforts to hide what it’s up to, from time to time something is revealed that makes it all too obvious.
This is very much the case with the recent revelations about the way environmentalism is being insidiously conflated with “terrorism” under the government’s Orwellian “Prevent” scheme.
Bullying of the Muslim community under this flag has been ongoing for years, but has been swallowed by a general public constantly told that the Islamic religion represents a terrorist-inspiring threat.
The targeting of anti-fracking campaigners comes without even that phoney level of manufactured “justification”.
The Drill or Drop blog reported that Driffield School and Sixth Form in East Yorkshire had earlier this year unveiled a Prevent strategy which included this statement: “At present nationally, the greatest resource is devoted to preventing people from joining or supporting the so called Islamic State (IS) group, its affiliates and related groups. More locally, the East Riding’s main priorities are far right extremism, animal rights and anti-fracking.”
And research by Spinwatch has revealed this is not an isolated incident. Chesswood Junior School in Worthing, West Sussex implemented a similar policy to that of Driffield College until public reaction forced a retreat. The school’s July 2016 ‘Prevent Duty Policy’ originally suggested that ‘Environmental (Fracking)’ campaigners could present ‘safeguarding concerns’ for children.
The school actually categorised environmentalist groups as “terrorist”, stating: “Radicalisation refers to the process by which a person comes to support terrorism and extremist ideologies associated with any terrorist groups e.g Far Right, Far Left, Environmental (Fracking), Animal rights, Nationalist (IRA), Al Qaeda”.
Elsewhere, City of York council working with the North Yorkshire police force have used the strategy to link anti-fracking activism with terrorism risks.
Merseyside police force now includes ‘anti-fracking’ as a form of ‘domestic’ extremism in its latest Prevent presentation. The contentious presentation forms the basis of the Merseyside Police’s Special Branch programme of presentations to schools, governors, colleges and childcare providers.
And in June 2016 Dorset County Council in partnership with Dorset Police updated the county’s ‘Prevent delivery plan’. The revision included a statement on ‘fracking’ in the ‘specific risk’ section of the plan.
Meanwhile, the UK state is not only refusing to release details of its sinister programme but is also now interpreting requests for information as an attempt “by extremists to evade detection, thereby prejudicing national security”.
This extraordinary attitude was voiced by the government’s Information Commissioner, in rejecting an appeal by police monitoring group Netpol over the refusal of the police to release details of a programme to “deradicalise extremists”.
The Information Commissioner’s Office stated: “Prevent is a national counter-terrorism initiative that is only implemented in certain police forces across the country. The same FOI request made to multiple forces could therefore identify how Prevent resources are apportioned across the country.
“Anti-fracking campaigns organise around designated locations across the country; confirmation of the existence of the requested information would facilitate the mapping of Prevent capabilities alongside anti-fracking campaigns and, when incorporated into a radicalisation strategy, could be used by extremists to evade detection, thereby prejudicing national security.”
You don’t need to be a genius to see what is going on here. Fracking, like all the infrastructures of industrial capitalism, is close to the cold heart of a corrupt state which operates not in the interests of the people of the UK but of the financial interests that own and control it. Therefore anyone who opposes fracking in any (effective) way is a simply an enemy of this mafia and is labelled appropriately.
This is happening all over the world. As American writer Rob los Ricos says in his excellent essay on Ultramodernism: “Interference with corporate activity has become legally defined as terrorism”.
And the targeting of Muslims and anti-fracking protesters is only part of the wave of stealth fascism being introduced by a pompous and hypocritical UK state whose much-vaunted “democracy”, “freedom” and “civilized values” are all entirely fake.
Take, for instance, the news that South Tyneside Council in north-eastern England wants to fine homeless people up to £100 for accepting food or drink from passers-by.
The current weapons of choice for this kind of dictatorial institutional bullying are Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPO). “Offences” do not even have to be proven in a court of law, but are punished with an on-the-spot fine merely on the say-so of some official.
PSPOs continue the historic work of the Enclosures by turning what were once public spaces into “restricted areas” in which people’s rights are stolen from them in the interests of social cleansing and city centres are essentially turned into open air private shopping malls.
As The Canary reports, the South Tyneside PSPO bans people from drinking alcohol in the designated area (unless they are paying over the odds in some rip-off town centre pub, of course!) and also from making “verbal, non-verbal or written requests… for money, donations, or goods”.
PSPOs were introduced to the UK by the Anti-social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act of 2014 and have already been widely used to target the homeless.
Sleeping in public is a criminal offence in certain areas of Shepway, while Rushcliffe Borough Council is currently consulting residents on the same ban. It’s a crime to spend the night in a vehicle or temporary structure in Worthing, and it’s similarly illegal to spend the night in the park in Wrexham.
PSPOS are also being used to insidiously restrict people’s fundamental freedoms in other ways, reinforcing a trend towards curfews and dispersal powers that Sussex Police, among others, were already trying to impose four years ago under previous legislation.
This wider application of PSPOs has seen Kettering Borough Council introduce a curfew on under-18s, who must now be home by 11pm or risk receiving fines or a criminal record. Bassetlaw District Council has banned under-16s from gathering in groups of three or more if they’re “causing annoyance”, unless a responsible adult is present.
Redbridge in London is proposing a PSPO stating that “No person within a group of two or more shall refuse to leave an area when required to do so by an authorised officer in order to prevent anti-social behaviour, public nuisance or disorder.”
And the London Borough of Hillingdon has already criminalised the gathering of just two people – regardless of age – unless they’re waiting for the bus. As Rosie Brighouse of Liberty states: “This means it is now an offence in Hillingdon to meet up with anyone, whether you’re causing annoyance or not.”
Covert foreign interference in elections to ensure a right-wing victory has been a speciality of the CIA for decades.
So you could be forgiven for laughing out loud at the CIA’s recent claim that Russian influence swung the US presidential election Trump’s way. The main worry for anti-capitalists is perhaps that any cancellation of his win would also cancel the J20 day of resistance planned for his inauguration (see Acorn 29).
But behind the pantomime absurdity is a worrying phenomenon. You didn’t have to be a Brexit supporter to be disturbed by neoliberal elites on the losing side calling for a re-run and the involvement of secret police in overturning any election result, anywhere in the world, would surely be cause for concern.
The “Russian” scare attached to the Trump allegations also has wider implications and is tied in with the “fake news” meme by which the establishment is trying to justify moves to extinguish independent online media and re-impose a traditional corporate monopoly.
Alternet.org describes how a “website that claims ‘Russia is Manipulating US Opinion Through Online Propaganda’ has compiled a blacklist of websites its anonymous authors accuse of pushing fake news and Russian propaganda”.
It continues: “The blacklist includes over 200 outlets, from the right-wing Drudge Report and Russian government-funded Russia Today, to Wikileaks and an array of marginal conspiracy and far-right sites. The blacklist also includes some of the flagship publications of the progressive left, including Truthdig, Counterpunch, Truthout, Naked Capitalism, and the Black Agenda Report, a leftist African-American opinion hub that is critical of the liberal black political establishment.”
The blacklisting organization, PropOrNot, was described by the Washington Post’s Craig Timberg as “a nonpartisan collection of researchers with foreign policy, military and technology backgrounds.” Spooks, in other words? Their agenda certainly seems to chime nicely with that of the CIA!
In an article in Counterpunch, Mark Ames draws attention to the leading role of the Washington Post, which he describes as “essentially an arm of the American deep state; its owner, Jeff Bezos, is one of the three richest Americans, worth $67 billion, and his cash cow, Amazon, is a major contractor with the Central Intelligence Agency. In other words, this is as close to an official US government blacklist of journalists as we’ve seen — a dark ominous warning before they take the next steps.”
And on the same site, Norman Solomon sets out what one of these sinister next steps might be. A new Intelligence Authorization Act envisages “an interagency committee to counter active measures by the Russian Federation to exert covert influence.”
Warns Solomon: “This high-level committee could easily morph into a protracted real-life nightmare. While lacking public accountability, the committee is mandated to ferret out such ambiguous phenomena as Russian ‘media manipulation’ and ‘disinformation’.
“Along the way, the committee could target an array of activists, political opponents or irksome journalists. In any event, its power to fulfill ‘such other duties as the president may designate’ would be ready-made for abuse.”
In the UK, the Russian scare has been taken up enthusiastically by The Guardian, itself very close to the transatlantic neoliberal establishment despite its pseudo-radical window dressing.
Former British ambassador Craig Murray highlights on his blog the role of “the truly execrable Jonathan Freedland of the Guardian” who claimed that “few credible sources doubt that Russia was behind the hacking of internal Democratic party emails”.
Comments Murray: “In what passes for Freedland’s mind, ‘credible’ is 100% synonymous with ‘establishment’. When he says ‘credible sources’ he means ‘establishment sources’. That is the truth of the ‘fake news’ meme. You are not to read anything unless it is officially approved by the elite and their disgusting, crawling whores of stenographers like Freedland.”
Right-wing Blairite Labour MP Ben Bradshaw has also leapt enthusiastically onto the Russian-scare bandwagon. His bizarre claim that Moscow somehow influenced the Brexit referendum result, without any indication of how it might have done so, shows how the meme is transparently the latest one-size-fits-all neoliberal propaganda device to be applied to any situation without the need for any pesky “evidence”.
There are also signs that the associated “fake news” smear is being officially wheeled out in the UK, with Channel 4 executive Dan Brooke claiming that “fake news could affect the next UK election”.
By this, he presumably means he’s worried that social media are able to bypass the stranglehold on reporting imposed by organisations like his own and thus make it difficult for the mainstream media to totally control public opinion and ensure election results go the way they want.
Brooke also urged the UK government to “step in” if Facebook and other internet firms do not do more to tackle the “problem”. Alarm bells ringing, anybody?
The plan to silence critics of the capitalist system by smears and propaganda has failed, so now the aim is to create a scare around “Russians” and “fake news” to justify a fully-fledged state attack on the online dissent that threatens the capitalist system’s monopoly on “truth”.
The monstrous Black Volcano which has loomed and leered menacingly over Happy City since it was founded has finally erupted.
Vast rivers of lava are streaming down the mountain slopes towards the human settlement and ash is already beginning to rain on the rooftops. It is only a matter of time before a pyroclastic cloud scorches instant death onto the people or the molten rock pours into the narrow streets and kills everyone.
But in the city there is complete calm. Reassured by the King’s insistence that they are in no danger and that the volcano is not actually erupting at all, the city folk are going about their everyday lives. Goods are bought and sold, meals prepared and eaten, couples married and children educated.
There was a brief moment of confusion when it was discovered that the Happy City authorities had cut down every single tree in the Great Gardens in order to build a massive wooden fence on the northern limits.
But rumours that this was designed to hide from view the erupting Black Volcano were soon dismissed as malicious paranoid fantasies, as the King explained that it was a completely necessary step to protect his people from blood-thirsty foreign pirates and smugglers.
And so, as certain extinction draws ever closer, the people of the Happy City keep bustling around, making money, gossiping, squabbling over the petty details of their lives and reporting to the Official Inquisitor any citizen seen to be sniffing suspiciously at the sulphur-laden air, cocking an alert ear to the distant rumbling or trying to peer through the gaps in the Great Anti-Crime Fence in order to see if the lava is close.
That is what it feels like to me to be living at the start of the 21st century.
Humankind has taken a dangerous wrong turn. Modern capitalist society is an out-of-control nightmare. The future mapped out for us can only lead into the dead-end of destruction, disaster and death. Tinkering with the detail will change nothing. We need to abandon this experiment before it is too late and live in a completely different way. Otherwise the Black Volcano of Industrialism will kill us all.
More than 400 people took part in a walk to the top of Leith Hill near Dorking, England, on Saturday December 3 in protest against planned exploratory drilling for oil and gas in the area (see our special report in Acorn 29). An indication of the levels of local support for the campaign comes from the fact that the Leith Hill Celebration Walk, intended to demonstrate the strength of feeling against the proposed drilling within the Surrey Hills area of outstanding natural beauty, was organised by a mum and baby group called Surrey Hills Slings. The massive turn-out involved a wide cross-section of Surrey folk, from families to protectors, from horse riders to mountain bikers. Said one campaigner: “Even the sun was out in support!”
* * *
Keep Our Downs Public campaigners in Sussex have won an impressive victory against a council sell-off of public land. Brighton and Hove City Council’s policy, resources and growth committee voted to stall any sales of the remaining sites which had been earmarked. Meanwhile opposition to similar plans in Eastbourne saw hundreds of people take part in a protest walk (below) from local beauty spot Beachy Head on December 3. For background info, see our report in Acorn 29.
* * *
“Our economic system is incompatible with life on this planet”. This is the conclusion of an important article by Jason Hickel, an anthropologist at the London School of Economics. Confirming the degrowth analysis of the fundamental problem with industrial capitalism (see above), he writes: “When it comes to global warming, we know that the real problem is not just fossil fuels – it is the logic of endless growth that is built into our economic system.”
* * *
The assigned role of young American people as brutalised enforcers of global capitalism has been highlighted in a perceptive anti-militarist article in the USA. It says: “In America we will not make shoes, clothes, cars, TV’s or cell phones anymore. We will make war on behalf of corporate interests around the world. The Pentagon calls it ‘Security Export’. The airshows, violent movies, military recruitment in our schools, and many other cultural avenues are all aimed at militarizing our culture. The kids are being taught that violence is cool and normal. The word ‘freedom’ comes to mean that the US, the ‘exceptional’ nation, is free to rape, kill and pillage around the world.” The article links to a video documentary about an air show blatantly targeting kids, called “Disneyland of War”.
* * *
Wessex Solidarity is an affinity group in southern England for those in the region with an interest in anarchism, syndicalism or direct action and who share the goal of building a stateless, classless society around the principles of libertarian socialism. They say: “We aim to promote our ideas by constantly challenging the narrative of governments and the corporate media. Members of all other anti–authoritarian, anti–capitalist groups are welcome. We hope to work with all these groups in solidarity; we differ only in tactics and that’s good; the bourgeoisie won’t know who hit them or with what!” More info at https://wessexsolidarity.wordpress.com
* * *
The build-up to the July 2017 resistance to the G20 capitalist summit in Hamburg, Germany (see Acorn 29), is already underway, with a dramatic assault on the venue for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Foreign Ministers meeting. Reports RT: “About 40 unidentified men in balaclavas threw flammable materials through the entrance of the Hamburg Messe trade fair building. It only took seconds for flames to engulf the first floor.” An online claim of responsibility declares: “We placed burning tires at the south entrance of the venue for the OSCE and G20 summits, the ‘Messe Hamburg’. The glass facade on Karolinenstraße was subject to intensive attack with hammers, paint and stones. We decided on this demolition initiative since we reject the summits which are summits for a world that we reject just as much as the planned meetings.” Looking ahead to July, it adds: “Trouble Makers of the world save the dates: 7.7-8.7 2017”.
* * *
Acorn quote: “There is no culture unless an intimate relationship, on the level of instinct, exists between a people and its poets”. Herbert Read,The Forms of Things Unknown
1. Eco-campers resist oil drilling in Surrey Hills
An eco-protection camp has been set up in the woods of southern England to try and stop exploratory oil drilling at a precious rural site.
After years of planning battles, including two public inquiries, Europa Oil & Gas were last year given the go-ahead to explore for oil at Leith Hill near Dorking in Surrey and are now due to start work.
These loathsome environmental vandals want to fell hundreds of trees and permanently destroy a unique two-acre zone of beautiful woodland, polluting a much wider area, in the pursuit of short-term financial profit.
And while they are not proposing the immediate use of fracking, observers of the industry warn that the drilling at Leith Hill is about accessing data for shale and tight oil reservoirs and is therefore ‘gateway’ drilling for future fracking in the southern English Weald.
When The Acorn visited the Leith Hill Protection Camp we found the campaigners in a buoyant and determined mood.
They were delighted with the massive levels of support from local people of all types – residents have even set up a rota system to bring hot meals up to the protectors.
While we were there, a steady stream of cars and trucks were pulling up with donations of wood and other supplies for the rapidly-expanding camp occupying the drill site.
Said Dr Dave, one of the protectors: “We have been welcomed here with overwhelming warmth by people from all across the Leith Hill area who have become disillusioned with normal democratic processes being overridden, despite the fact that nobody except a handful of investors wants the drilling here at Leith Hill or anywhere in Surrey to go ahead.
“The camp is here to provide a physical presence, to embody the fact that people are saying ‘no’ to drilling at Leith Hill.”
Leith Hill is officially classed as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and an Area of Great Landscape Value with a rare and fragile environment. Organisations including the National Trust, Campaign to Protect Rural England and the Surrey Hills AONB Board have all vigorously and formally objected to the drilling plans.
The site is on Forestry Commission land and thus even owned by the public – and yet business interests have still held sway, as you would expect in what is essentially a capitalist dictatorship.
There is a nightmarish quality to the oil firm’s approved plans. The massive rig would have a flashing aircraft warning light on top, the rig would be illuminated at night and the whole compound would be floodlit. Drilling would continue 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Coldharbour Lane, which leads to the site, is an ancient Surrey Hills “sunken lane”, meaning that it has formed gradually over hundreds of years, creating a deep trough through which the lane runs.
These sunken lanes have very delicate banks, which are held together with the roots of the trees that line them. They are rare treasures and if they are damaged, they are lost forever. There is no putting them back. They are irreplaceable.
The lane in many places is only just wide enough for two standard cars or one moderate sized lorry. But Europa proposes using super-sized HGV’s to and from the proposed site, with more than 1,000 HGV movements already proposed.
Meanwhile, experts have warned that exploratory drilling, which involves pumping toxic fluid into the ground, could cause serious damage to an aquifer that feeds into central Surrey’s water supplies – as much damage as would be caused by fracking.
Protector Dr Dave told The Acorn: “The time has come to take a stand against the fossil fuel industry and its various components.
“Hydrocarbon extraction through either conventional or unconventional means is madness now, considering the fact that the UK government has signed up to the Paris climate change agreement and taken the stance publicly that fossil fuel consumption should from this point be reduced.
“The Leith Hill Action Group and the local people of Coldharbour and the area have been successfully fighting drilling for oil at Leith Hill for the past seven years and they have been doing this through recognised democratic processes.
“These are now being overridden as central government pressurises local government to accept these unrealistic policies to extract hydrocarbon in all its forms in Surrey.
“I urge everyone in Surrey and beyond who values not only our environment but also our democratic processes to make a stand here at Leith Hill and all across the Weald to say ‘enough is enough!'”
Dan Harvey, who had come to support the camp, said: “I have been coming up here since I was a kid. You couldn’t choose a worse place to drill.”
He said the area around Leith Hill had inspired the poetry of Lord Alfred Tennyson, the music of Ralph Vaughan Williams and the natural studies of Charles Darwin, who researched earthworms here: “He would be turning in his grave.”
Leith Hill Action Group has warned that the forcing-through of the drilling means no corner of the English countryside is safe from industrial capitalist pillage.
They said: “The proposed development is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and in the Green Belt. An AONB has the same legal status as a national park – development is totally prohibited unless it is in the ‘overwhelming national interest’.
“Green Belt land is there to prevent industrialisation of the countryside and fundamental characteristics of Green Belt land are its openness and permanence. We are in danger of the gradual bleeding out of these protections. If it becomes established that ‘overwhelming national interest’ includes exploring for oil this will inevitably set a precedent for the next time a protected area of land is tested.”
For Callum, one of many youngsters on the site, the struggle at Leith Hill is part of a much wider fight to pull this planet back from the brink of disaster: “If we let the oil companies take this then we’ll end up with everywhere being just one giant city”.
Lilith, a generation older, said: “When we took the site in the dark my heart leapt with joy to see the young ones shoot straight up into the trees. My thoughts went to Newbury, to Hambacher, to the ZAD. This is all one struggle”.
The sunken lane leading up to Leith Hill Protection Camp through the wooded Surrey hills seems to lead into another England, a forgotten England, long-lost and buried under all the layers of concrete, tarmac and numbed industrial indifference of the modern world.
Gnarled and twisted tree roots line either side of a route which has been worn deep over the course of hundreds, if not thousands, of years.
A short walk around the threatened site unveils a rich and earthy beauty that reaches inside you and grips your heart – tangles of bramble and ivy, the ancient living texture of bark and branch, slants of autumnal sunlight igniting the yellow, gold, bronze, orange, red, brown explosion of organic colour.
The Sioux people fighting the North Dakota Access Pipeline around Standing Rock in the USA (see Acorninfo, below) say loud and clear that the land they are protecting is sacred.
But here in England, too, we have our own sacred land, sacred water and sacred trees, even if any such ideas have been sneered at by our overlords ever since the Christian Church first declared war on those who worshipped life and nature instead of the austere authority of a distant and separate God.
Far too much of our sacred land has already been lost under the motorways, shopping centres, industrial parks and ugly suburban sprawl which have now become the depressing norm in England.
Those areas which remain, which have kept their magical vitality, are therefore more important, more sacred, than ever.
Make no mistake – the area around Leith Hill is one of those precious pieces of sacred English land. There is an energy, a power, in those woods that you can almost touch.
Surrey is renowned for the purity of its water, thanks to the filtering effect of its sandy and chalky soils. All around the camp are springs and tiny streams, which feed the Pipp Brook and then the River Mole.
One of these is Mag’s Well, an ancient sacred site, whose water was reputed to relieve rheumatism, scurvy, dermatitis, leprosy, scabs, itch, and scrofula. But no value is given to the life-giving purity of water in a modern world whose hollow dead-souled gods are money, money and yet more money.
Those defending these woodlands from the nature-hating capitalist cynics of the oil business are well aware of what is at stake.
Protector Nomo told us: “We are here to stop this beautiful ancient woodland from being destroyed by the fossil fuel industry. It should be classified sacred land.”
Added local artist Heather Ackroyd: “For me, to be drilling for oil on this site is just sacrilege”.
Lilith said: “This is a magical ancient place of beauty and noble trees and wildlife. When you have these feelings, this goes beyond the madness of any fossil fuel extraction or the folly of the proposed industrialisation of the Weald to something that touches our hearts and souls.
“There’s a surge that pulses through you and you feel a timeless connection with it all. How could they think about cutting down these trees, polluting this water? Trees are life. Water is life.”
The battle to try and stop the Newbury bypass in the mid 1990s will go down in history as a key moment in the struggle for England’s sacred land. Out of local defeat came national victory as the road-building programme was abandoned for a generation in the face of massive resistance. Jim Hindle’s beautifully written and moving 2006 book Nine Miles has been republished in a 2016 edition by Underhill Books to mark the 20th anniversary of the Third Battle of Newbury.
In a new preface, Jim, from Sussex, writes of the current threat from new roads and dirty energy extraction which means “the peace and purity of our natural landscapes are under threat now as never before”. He adds: “The safeguarding of the natural world is not only a question of our mutual survival. It’s a coming home to our inheritance; to what it means to be one with the land, so that one day perhaps we can be held by her in turn, to walk her hills and woods and lanes in peace. Its promise is a token of what the future may still hold in store.”
In the excerpt below, Jim describes the start of the biggest treetop eviction the UK had ever seen, which lasted five days and saw more than 60 people arrested and 120 removed from the trees.
They came in around eight o’clock. Six police Landrovers appeared first, pulling up in a diamond formation on the access road, immediately beneath my tree. Security started piling out of vehicles on top of the hill, assembling themselves into a yellow block of colour on the horizon. I reckoned there were at least five hundred of them: a neon legion growing by the minute.
As soon as they appeared we started shouting from the trees: yipping – high, long, war cries – banging drums and blowing whistles. We threw up a wall of noise to let them know we weren’t afraid, that we were up for anything the assembling horde had to throw at us.
More and more vehicles arrived, more and more security and police piled out onto the hillside until the whole scene had grown so big it had overtaken itself. It seemed ridiculous. Police ‘Evidence Gatherers’ appeared beneath the trees, pointing cameras up towards us. They had a new uniform – halfway between police and Star Wars extras. We shouted quotes from Monty Python at them: “We decline to speet in your jeneral direction you Engleesh peegs” and “Your mothurr smells of elderberries.” The Evidence Gatherers said nothing in return and continued to film us with all the emotion of robots.
Police moved in and dragged away anyone who hadn’t got up in a tree. This accounted for quite a few people – those who couldn’t climb and locals who had come to lend their support. It was the first wiping of the slate. A bunch of people had clambered up the climbing tree near the white tarp platform. Now they were getting pulled down by bailiffs. These men were dressed in chequered lumberjack shirts and hard hats with the rose of Lancashire on them. They were built like brick shit-houses and rough-handed with it.
At the same time, teams of red-shirted, white-helmeted climbers were making their way into the trees. They ascended simultaneously in three separate places at the other side of the frontline, near where the press had been herded. They were fast: disconcerting blurs of rapid movement up the trunks.
Scuffles started to break out around the trees and the Valley echoed to screams and shouts and the crashing of people being lowered crudely through the branches. The sun climbed higher and the heat arose, adrenaline hung thick in the air and far below, the bluebells fell in swathes under the security guards’ feet. The security had moved down to secure the area cleared by the police and now lined the route of clearance. It felt like the first day of summer – there hadn’t been any heat like this before and their coming in like this, on May the First itself, had turned everything hideously inside out.
“Attack the G20 summit! Throw Hamburg into chaos! Destroy the European fortress!”
That’s the stirring call coming from northern Germany, eight months ahead of what promises to be a powerful eruption of resistance to the global capitalist system.
World leaders, including President Trump, will be gathering in Hamburg for the 12th G20 Summit and anarchists, leftists and Kurdish groups are organising now to ensure these enemies of humanity will not have an easy ride.
Pledged an anarchist call-out for July 7 and 8: “They will feel the rage of the street, when they are rushing with their convoys through deserted districts and talk about the nightly attacks of the last few weeks”.
The authors recall how, in the late 1990s, summit protests were a real catalyst for radical resistance – “Individuals and groups came together, swapped ideas, were standing together behind the barricades and carried the flame of resistance back to their regions”.
Even police violence in Gothenburg and Genoa, or the “numerous infiltrated snitches” could not stop the development of a Europe-wide chaotic network of autonomous, anarchist and anti-authoritarian tendencies.
But then a defeatist meme started circulating, which said “summit hopping” was a waste of time and resistance to capitalism lay elsewhere. As radicals swallowed the ideological bait and stayed away, summit protests gradually went back to being NGO-led pseudo-dissent and the authorities breathed a sigh of relief.
Says another international call-out message: “Let’s show that they can’t meet in Hamburg without disturbance. It’s time to take the streets and stand up against their world of destruction and sadness.”
It says that while the G20 political representatives meet in the centre of Hamburg – in the exhibition halls, the town hall, the Elbphilharmonie – the residents are supposed to simply get out of the way and put up with blocked streets, ID checks and evacuation of homes. A living city paralysed by the demands of power.
Summits like the G20 are essentially symbolic and, as has been pointed out in the past, anti-summit protests can therefore be understood as working on the same level, hijacking and subverting the publicity around the performance of the capitalist actors.
Says the message: “The main point of this performance is to provide the illusion that the political elites of global capitalism have everything well under control, that they are somehow capable of providing security, peace, livelihood and a real future perspective to the people of the world.
“But we are witnessing the exact opposite: the prevailing world order is a further escalating disorder of brutal social inequality, structurally embedded sexism and racism, ecological destruction and spreading wars. Millions of people are forced to flee, billions are struggling to survive and the number of people affected by social insecurity is continuously rising. At the same time a small global upper class is getting richer and richer.
“In many political groups and networks the discussions on how to organize the necessary protests and actions against the G20 Summit have already begun. G20 is an international summit so the planning of activities against it isn’t just a matter of local or German groups. We want to start with the international collaboration early to identify with as many groups, networks, movements and organisations as possible if and how G20 could be a place of a common struggle; a point where we can converge our criticism against the rulers of the world, against the European regime, against the German government and against the economic elites.”
An Action-Conference against the G20 Summit 2017 is being held in Hamburg on December 3-4 2016 at HAW (Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften), Alexanderstraße 1 20099 Hamburg. The actual summit protests will be on July 7 and 8, 2017.
Although the G7 and G8 have more often been the target of big anti-capitalist mobilisations, the G20 summits also have a proud history of defiance and a shameful history of violent repression unleashed by the rattled ruling system.
In April 2009 big and angry protests against the G20 in London, to the background of the outrageous bail-out of the banking system, were met with police violence, leading to the death of newspaper seller Ian Tomlinson. After numerous police lies and cover-ups an inquest eventually found he was unlawfully killed, a cop was charged but eventually walked free.
Meanwhile, windows of a branch of the RBS bank were ritually smashed in front of the world’s waiting media and Climate Camp protesters discovered that being “peaceful” doesn’t mean the state’s thugs will be nice to you.
A second banking crisis G20 summit in Pittsburgh, USA, in September 2009 saw a violent crackdown on demonstrators, amidst a virtual lockdown of the city. Police fired gas and pellet bags at about 2,000 protesters. They also used “sound cannons”, weapons previously used in Iraq and other US military operations – a sinister hint at the future that lies ahead of us in the brave new world of capitalo-fascism.
In June 2010 some 10,000 protesters took to the streets of Toronto, Canada, to oppose the G20 summit there. More than 20,000 police, military, and security personnel were involved in suppressing the protests and more than 1,000 arrests were made, making it the largest mass arrest in Canadian history. In the aftermath of the protests, the Toronto Police Service and the Integrated Security Unit (ISU) of the G20 Toronto summit were heavily criticized for their brutality.
There has to be a positive side to the election of far right, racist, sexist, uber-capitalist Donald Trump as president of the USA and that side might well become apparent on January 20 2017.
While President Obama managed to run the Evil Empire in the usual ruthless manner while somehow appearing to be a “nice” human being, no such illusions are possible with Trump.
Across the world, the liberal facade cloaking the true face of the world’s leading exporter of violence and exploitation slipped away the moment the election results came through.
And in the US, Trump’s victory has sparked not only a wave of hate and racism but also a powerful mood of anger among the many millions who do not buy into his manipulative xenophobia – three in four potential American voters did not endorse him, after all.
It has been, basically, a kick up the backside for a lot of people who had been lured into a state of complacency by the shallow lies of a democracy whose choices are about as meaningful as the alternative of poisoning yourself with either Pepsi or Coke.
As a consequence, J20, the day of his inauguration, is shaping up to be a rather special day both in Washington, DC and all across the world’s fourth-largest country.
The Disrupt J20 website is calling for a “bold mobilization” against the new Trump regime.
It says: “On Friday, January 20, 2017, Donald Trump will be inaugurated as President of the United States. We call on all people of good conscience to join in disrupting the ceremonies.
“If Trump is to be inaugurated at all, let it happen behind closed doors, showing the true face of the security state Trump will preside over. It must be made clear to the whole world that the vast majority of people in the United States do not support his presidency or consent to his rule.
“Trump stands for tyranny, greed, and misogyny. He is the champion of neo-nazis and white Nationalists, of the police who kill the Black, Brown and poor on a daily basis, of racist border agents and sadistic prison guards, of the FBI and NSA who tap your phone and read your email.
“He is the harbinger of even more climate catastrophe, deportation, discrimination, and endless war. He continues to deny the existence of climate change, in spite of all the evidence, putting the future of the whole human race at stake.
“The KKK, Vladimir Putin, Golden Dawn, and the Islamic State all cheered his victory. If we let his inauguration go unchallenged, we are opening the door to the future they envision.
“Trump’s success confirms the bankruptcy of representative democracy. Rather than using the democratic process as an alibi for inaction, we must show that no election could legitimize his agenda. Neither the Democrats nor any other political party or politician will save us – they just offer a weaker version of the same thing. If there is going to be a positive change in this society, we have to make it ourselves, together, through direct action.
“From day one, the Trump presidency will be a disaster. #DisruptJ20 will be the start of the resistance. We must take to the streets and protest, blockade, disrupt, intervene, sit in, walk out, rise up, and make more noise and good trouble than the establishment can bear.
“The parade must be stopped. We must delegitimize Trump and all he represents. It’s time to defend ourselves, our loved ones, and the world that sustains us as if our lives depend on it – because they do.”
Details of protests in Washington, DC are to be released nearer the time. But the site is also calling on those who cannot get to the capital to organize demonstrations and other actions for the night of January 20. There is also a call for a general strike to take place: “Organize a walkout at your school now. Workers: call out sick and take the day off. No work, no school, no shopping, no housework.”
The website adds: “If you are living outside the US, you can take action at US embassies, borders, or other symbols of neocolonial power. Our allegiance is not to ‘making America great again,’ but to all of humanity and the planet. Spread the word. Join the fight. #DisruptJ20.”
Some excellent analysis of the issues and opportunities at stake can be found on Submedia’s reliably high-quality Stimulator video bulletin.
Two new titles have just been published by us here at Winter Oak Press – just in time for that annual anti-consumerist Christmas shopping spree…
Both of them challenge, on a fundamental level, the thinking that traps so many people within the fake “realities” of the industrial capitalist nightmare.
The first book is an important contribution by new Winter Oak author Ed Lord entitled Modern Madness: A Wild Schizoanalysis of Mental Distress in the Spaces of Modernity.
What are we to make of an age that delivers pandemic levels of mental illness and a physical environment at the point of catastrophic collapse? What is it that connects and infuses both modernity and psychiatry to make them seem like the only possible ways to organise our lives and aid our distress?
Could there be other options available? Other ways to explain and ameliorate our distress? What if mental distress is considered as much a matter of geography as it is of personal pathology?
These are some of the questions opened up for analysis in this radically ground-breaking investigation of mental distress in the spaces of the modern world. The philosophical legacies of Felix Guattari and John Zerzan are employed to take the reader on a profoundly challenging walk through Critical Theory, anarchy and decolonisation to create a route to sanity via a wild-schizoanalysis.
The second of our new books is Nature, Essence and Anarchy. The starting point of this collection of essays from regular Acorn contributor Paul Cudenec (The Anarchist Revelation, Forms of Freedom etc) is that very future of our species and of planetary life is at threat from the unchecked growth of the industrial capitalist cancer and that there is a need for a powerful and coherent resistance.
Cudenec argues that there has been a general thought-paralysis which makes any authentic and holistic anti-capitalist philosophy difficult to conceive and communicate. As a result of this, anarchist and anti-capitalist thinking has to look deeper than the surface of what is usually regarded as the political realm and root itself in an intellectual soil completely outside of capitalism and all its assumptions.
He writes: “As anarchists have long understood, another world is always possible and will flourish in our collective mind long before it becomes a physical reality. We need to imagine ourselves out of the suffocating confines of industrial capitalism, leaping over all the barriers of lies that it has erected around us.”
Anger is growing across Sussex, in southern England, as councils have been caught secretly selling off public downland in the South Downs National Park.
Seven years ago, countryside lovers in Worthing successfully mobilised to see off a council attempt to sell off fields on the slopes of Cissbury Ring, an iron age hill fort – and earlier this year the land was officially declared open access (see Acorn 20).
But now it has emerged that Brighton council (run by the Labour Party, for the benefit of those who imagine that makes any difference!) has started selling off some of its downland estate, without informing the public, let alone consulting them.
Said Keep Our Downs Public: “We do not believe that councillors are aware of the nature or implications of these sales. The Brighton Downland Estate, at more than 12,000 acres, is the largest and most important public asset within the new South Downs National Park.
“These sales open the door to privatisation of Brighton’s entire Downland Estate. Without democratic public accountability we must expect threats to public usage, neglect, damage to important wildlife habitat, inappropriate development, and more shooting and hunting.”
Eastbourne’s (LibDem) council is also going ahead with its own sell-off of National Park downland, as reported in Acorn 26.
Eastbourne and district Friends of the Earth warn: “Eastbourne Borough Council intends to sell off most of the Eastbourne Downland Estate, putting at grave risk the rich nature and wildlife heritage of downland that was originally purchased by the council on behalf of Eastbourne residents for them to enjoy ‘in perpetuity’.”
Campaigners sprung into action in Eastbourne on Wednesday November 16, with more than 100 people protesting outside a council meeting at the town hall (reports here and here).
And on the morning of Saturday December 3 they are staging a downland rally and walk of opposition to the sell-off, meeting at Beachy Head visitor centre car park at 10.30 sharp. They say: “Stop the sale of our downland! Bring placards and banners. Let’s make a show of it!”
Further West, Portsmouth City Council has voted unanimously to object to 20-year plans to drill for oil at Markwells Wood in the South Downs National Park, reports Drill or Drop. The Tory-led council in Hampshire joins growing opposition to the application by UK Oil & Gas, mainly because of concerns about risks to groundwater.
Other objectors include Portsmouth Water, which takes supplies from the South Downs chalk aquifer, the Environment Agency, the Council for the Protection of Rural England, Chichester City Council, eight parish councils and (currently) more than 1,300 people.
Meanwhile, members of the South Downs National Park Authority have called for stricter controls on how oil could be produced in future. At a meeting on November 10, the authority’s planning committee said a proposed policy banning hydraulic fracturing in the national park should be extended to other techniques including acid fracking or acidisation.
A high-profile campaigner against the North Dakota Access Pipeline in the USA (see Acorn 27) has spoken of her brutal treatment at the hands of uniformed thugs working for the industrial capitalist mafia. Tara Houska (below), national campaign director for Honor the Earth, said she was arrested for criminal trespass, handcuffed with zip ties, kept in a “large chainmail dog kennel” for over six hours, strip-searched, jailed and charged with a crime later that day. “Native people are being hurt right now,” she said. “There were people being maced and tasered again yesterday. These things are happening.”
* * *
Capitalist contempt for any culture other than the culture of cash has once again been exemplified by McDonald’s, a universally recognised symbol of all that is tackiest in our modern world. The burger bullies are suing the Italian Renaissance city of Florence for €18m after their insultingly insensitive bid to open an outlet in the historic Piazza del Duomo was understandably turned down. Whined the widely-reviled American business: “We cannot accept discriminatory regulations that damage the freedom of private initiative”.
* * *
Cracks are appearing in the US empire’s control of eastern Europe, with socialist-backed anti-NATO candidate Rumen Radev gaining a landslide victory in Bulgaria’s presidential elections. Said one analyst: “Only a few years ago, it was unthinkable to hear criticism of Western governments. This is no longer the case”. And elections in Moldova also struck a blow against NATO and the EU, with presidential victory going to Igor Dodon of the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova. Dodon (below) had described his campaign as being “against the oligarchs, against those who have robbed our country and want to destroy it”.
* * *
The morphing of “western democracies” into blatantly authoritarian states continues in the UK with the passing of Orwellian new laws allowing massive levels of state snooping. Whistleblower Edward Snowden declared that in passing the Investigatory Powers Act “the UK has just legalised the most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy”. The good news, of course, is that the capitalist system is only being forced to drop its phoney dissent-numbing pretence of niceness because it knows it is rapidly losing control…
* * *
Google headquarters in Munich, Germany, were attacked with red lacquer and bitumen on the night of November 6 to 7 2016, reports Insurrection News. Said the activists: “Information is power, who owns it is powerful. The main business of Google is the capitalistic utilization of information, which makes them one of the most powerful corporations in the world.” They also highlighted Google’s key role in the sinister and fascistic transhumanist movement: “Transhumanists are convinced that the way out of a world which they have decisively destroyed is the transition from human to machine. Its main players are made up of an ultra-neoliberal right which has its starting point at the Silicon Valley manufacturing center.”
* * *
The Anarchist Action Network has announced the date and time of its next meeting – Sunday December 4 2016 at Cherry Reds Café, 88-92 John Bright St, Birmingham, B1 1BN. Meet-up at 1pm, for a 2pm-4.30pm session. Says the AAN: “The network meets every three months, in a different town or city, to plan for future events and to continue building a movement that organises with consensus decision-making. We have adopted the PGA hallmarks and have other principles that define us. We organised two ‘Anarchist Travelling Circuses’, in South Wales and East London, as well as numerous other events, demonstrations and weeks of action, and we now plan to organise a third A.T.C. and make other plans for the network in the months ahead. We’d like to welcome you (except cops and journos) to be a part of this.”
* * *
Acorn quote: ““Factories, machines and bureaucracies are the real pillars of capitalist oppression”. Miguel Amorós,Elementary Foundations of the Anti-Industrial Critique
An important focus of European anti-capitalist resistance is likely to come under brutal attack from the industrial system any day now, activists are warning.
Official papers authorising the start of work on a new Nantes airport in France were signed on September 14 and the ZAD (Zone à Défendre or Zone to Defend) is currently on full alert.
Mainstream media are reporting that the protesters are ready to resist any attempt at eviction of the zone at Notre-Dame-des-Landes (NDDL).
Since it was established in 2008, the ZAD at NDDL has become much more than an eco protest camp. It is a symbol of resistance, an autonomous zone where the cops stay away and people are able to experiment with different ways of living, growing their own food, baking their own bread, publishing their own newspaper, running their own radio station and, most recently, setting up their own library.
The French state, in cahoots with corporate developer Vinci, has long wanted to get rid of the ZAD. A previous attempt in 2012, involving 1,200 police and two helicopters, failed when the cleared areas were rapidly reoccupied.
Now, with the help of the extra police powers under the “state of emergency” introduced and prolonged as an “anti-terrorist” measure, and in the wake of six months of state violence against the social revolt around the Loi Travail across France, the authorities are set to try again.
There were strong rumours this week that a massive military-style operation to evict the ZAD could start as soon as September 26 and 27 – according to media reports, as many as 3,000 gendarmes (military-style police) could be involved.
One activist said: “All the hotels in the area are full, gendarmes are not allowed to take annual leave for the coming month, schools and churches around the ZAD are closing simultaneously on September 26.” There is talk of military equipment having been loaned to the gendarmes.
It also seems likely that the state will make use of tooled-up private security thugs, who were used against anti-nuclear protesters at Bure earlier in the year – making it easier to deny responsibility for injuries (or even deaths) among activists.
The ZAD has issued an urgent wishlist of materials and equipment needed to defend the zone, including palettes, tyres, paint, bikes, oil lamps, boots, socks, phones, radios and walkie-talkies.
The full French version is here and the English one here.
There is already a call-out for supporters to go to the ZAD for a pre-arranged solidarity mobilisation on Saturday October 8.
2. Indigenous peoples lead fight against fracking pipeline
Resistance is growing across the USA and beyond to a £3.8 billion thousand-mile pipeline being built to carry fracked oil – forcing the courts to order a temporary halt to part of the work.
As well as damaging vast areas of countryside, the Dakota Access Pipeline is also planned to cross the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and affect numerous other sites sacred to indigenous nations.
The struggle to halt the pipeline has brought together more than 100 indigenous groups and sparked a wave of solidarity actions on top of the feisty on-site resistance.
Like the ZAD in France, the conflict is a powerful illustration of the single most significant task facing the human species at this stage in our collective history – how to defy and destroy the industrial capitalist cancer which threatens all life on the planet.
Of course, where there is resistance there is always repression and in Dakota there have been dozens of arrests, a local state of emergency declared and the protest camp’s water supply has been controversially cut off.
Native American activist Winona LaDuke said: “So, a lot of people are coming here, united, a whole host of Native and non-Native people. And there are a lot of people that just do not believe that this should happen any more in this country, that are very willing to put themselves on the line, non-Indian people, you know, as well as tribal members, and they are here. And it is a beautiful place to defend.”
#NoDAPL Solidarity explain that, if completed, the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), would run from the Bakken shale fields of North Dakota to Peoria, Illinois, passing underneath the Missouri River, the longest river on the North American continent.
They add: “Construction of the DAPL would engender a renewed fracking-frenzy in the Bakken shale region, as well as endanger a source of fresh water for the Standing Rock Sioux and 8 million people living downstream”.
But the fight has reached much further than the lands actually threatened by the pipeline. Say #NoDAPL Solidarity: “The DAPL is a massive project being organized by a shady group of the world’s largest fossil-fuel companies and banks. They have offices in cities around the world. Putting direct, nonviolent pressure on the corporations building and funding this project is critical for supporting frontline resistance to DAPL.”
An excellent new guide to the insidious threat of “green” capitalism has been published by Corporate Watch in the UK.
It is a worrying trend of our times that too many environmentalists are taken in by the lie that “alternative” energy sources and techno-fixes are all that are needed to save the world, rather than the destruction of the entire money-based industrial capitalist system that is choking it to death.
The authors of A-Z of Green Capitalism explain:”Capitalism thrives on crisis, and the multiple global environmental crises, including climate change and habitat and biodiversity loss, are creating new markets from which to generate profit. Those promoting green capitalism argue that if nature was valued correctly it will not only be protected, but even enhanced, along with the health of the economy and well-being in society.
“However, it is a contradiction in terms. Capitalism is fundamentally exploitative of people and the natural world, it is not and cannot be ‘green’. Green capitalism involves various institutions, including governments, corporations, think tanks, charities and NGOs, implementing policies, practices and processes to incorporate nature into capitalist market systems.
“It takes the same capitalist ideas and values that create environmental crises – i.e. continual economic growth, private property, profit and ‘free’ markets – and applies them to the natural world as a way to solve those crises. It serves to maintain capitalism’s dominance, both through finding new ways to generate profit, and as a way of protecting it from criticism of being environmentally destructive”.
The guide insists that the “values” of capitalism are simply incompatible with the interests of the living planet, whatever it may claim.
“Green capitalism functions as a way to deflect questions over the role of capitalism in creating the problems in the first place, or its capacity to deal with them.
“Nature includes all lifeforms, including other sentient beings. These other forms of life don’t exist just for the purpose of serving human needs. Nature has its own inherent value that cannot be expressed in financial or economic terms. All of this is ignored or even denied by the anthropocentric (human-centred) approach that capitalism and other exploitative systems are built on.
“This guide is intended as an introduction to the ideas surrounding green capitalism as well as the alternatives to it. We hope it will support attempts to resist the threat of green capitalism and create space for real ecological alternatives”.
Meanwhile, an article in September’s The Ecologist magazine explores why the idea of degrowth – which challenges the basic assumptions of the capitalist economy – is “gaining momentum”.
“At least one thing unites those activists and scholars: they all agree that the basic assumption of the necessity of economic growth is fatally flawed and in urgent need of correction simply because it undermines the conditions for humanity to thrive”.
“We will happily be having sex with robots soon, according to scientists,” announced a story in The Independent on September 7. It continued: “The ‘sexbots’ could be better than humans in bed and we could be looking at human-robot marriages by the year 2050, experts have claimed. Popularity of the machines has been rising as their realism continues to improve and soon could replace human companionship altogether.”
I don’t even know where to start with this! Perhaps with the use of the word “with”. You can’t have sex “with” robots because there is no mutuality involved. A robot is not a being, but a manufactured item, a machine giving the false impression of being alive.
But then maybe the word “sex” is even wronger. We don’t generally talk about “having sex” when there is only one person involved – I believe the usual term is “masturbation”. We’re not talking about “having sex with” anyone at all, but about the use (and, more importantly, the purchase!) of an advanced mechanical aid to wanking.
If they were honest about this, it wouldn’t be quite so bad. It’s the lying that I can’t stomach, and particularly the lie that there is no real difference between a living human being and a non-living consumer product.
It’s bad enough that in our messed-up society the “other” person is often reduced to the role of object by the self-obsessed modern individual. We see no other “subject” there, nobody real and sentient like Number One (supreme source of all reality and priority).
But this takes the whole thing a step further, to the point of assuming that we can no longer even tell the difference between appearance and reality, that we are so uninterested in the consciousness within another person (even one with whom we make love) that we would “happily” (there is a hint of irony here, surely? please!) accept a mere copy of another human being so long as this object fulfils a particular limited and rather basic physical role.
Let me be blunt about this: I don’t want to fuck a robot. If I do happen to have sex with anyone in the future I would very much like the experience to involve:
odours (other than burnt plastic)
sweat and the usual organic fluids
conversation before and after, if not during
a moment of intense near-spiritual connection with an amazing human being (preferably)
a human being (as a bare minimum)
So, Mister Technoballs, away with your smart-seductions and artificially augmented ardour. I’m not interested in downloading an orgasm. You can stuff your nano-nooky up your sterile sexbot. And, while you’re at it, kindly pull the whole of your industrial capitalist system out at the plug and let us get back to some real living and loving, as Mother Nature intended.
Thailand is slipping further into tyranny, with the military junta that seized power in 2014 strengthening its rule and effectively outlawing all criticism of the state and the corporate interests it represents.
On Tuesday September 20, Bangkok South Criminal Court announced a shock guilty verdict against British migrant rights defender Andy Hall in a criminal defamation and Computer Crimes Act charges case brought against him by Natural Fruit Company Ltd.
The Court found Andy Hall guilty of all charges, sentenced him to prison for four years and ordered him to pay 150 000 baht fine. His prison sentence was reduced by one year to three years and suspended for two years because of his record as a human rights defender. Andy will appeal the ruling.
The charges related to publication in 2013 of a report called Cheap Has a High Price by Finnwatch, a Finnish civil society organisation. The report outlined allegations of serious human rights violations at Natural Fruit’s pineapple processing plant in Prachuap Khiri Khan province in Thailand.
Said Sonja Vartiala, executive director of Finnwatch: ”We are shocked by today’s verdict. The report was authored and published by Finnwatch; we take full responsibility for it. Andy has been made a scapegoat in order to stifle other voices that speak out legitimately in support of migrant worker rights.
”This is a sad day for freedom of expression in Thailand. We fear that many other human rights defenders and victims of company abuse will be scared to silence by this ruling.”
At the same time, a new report from Privacy International examines the sinister rise of social media based surveillance in the South East Asian country, carried out potentially by people’s own networks of friends and family.
After the 2014 military coup, in which a military government led by General Prayut Chan-o-cha seized power and overthrew the administration of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, the army declared martial law, which was maintained for the following 10 months.
The declaration of martial law allowed the Thai authorities to take strict public order measures, including reportedly closely monitoring ‘delinquent’ behaviour such as eating sandwiches in the street or reading George Orwell’s books.
A new constitution was passed in August via a very dodgy referendum, of which no monitoring was allowed by the junta. Activists opposing the document were arrested, detained, and prosecuted in military courts, whilst voters who expressed their intention to vote against the draft were also arrested and prosecuted by the military regime.
Generally, the junta has been cracking down on anyone challenging the Thai establishment – political cases usually revolve around the use of Thailand’s lèse-majesté law (criticising the royal family), the Computer Crimes Act and the sedition law.
Says the Thai Political Prisoners website: “There are no accurate figure on how many have been charged under these draconian laws. 2010 estimates were that there have been more than 300 cases since the 2006 palace-military coup.
“The 2014 coup saw a massive spike in lèse-majesté cases. It is now calculated that the period since the May 2014 military coup has seen more lèse-majesté cases than ever before under any government in Thailand.
“Cases are seldom dropped outright, not least because prosecutors themselves worry about being charged with lèse-majesté for dropping a case”.
Privacy International reports that the NCPO [the Orwellian-named National Council for Peace and Order] is seeking ever-broadening powers. In March 2015 it issued orders giving its officers the power to: search premises, people, and vehicles; summon and arrest people; confiscate property; and request information without a warrant if they suspect illegal activities.
“The government has various ways of identifying the authors of what it deems to be illegal content on social media; in some cases, the government has arrested opponents in the streets during protests and forced them to hand over their social media passwords. The Thai police has also reportedly created a fake application to phish the data of users trying to log on to Facebook.
“According to online newspaper Prachatai, in May 2014, Police Major General Pisit Paoin, the head of a government-appointed working group responsible for censoring the internet, revealed his plan to spy on social media and chat apps. ‘We’ll send you a friend request. If you accept the friend request, we’ll see if anyone disseminates information which violates the NCPO orders. Be careful, we’ll soon be your friend,’ he said.
The report details instances of police posing as social media “friends” in order to lure activists into traps and jail sentences.
Can we expect similar controls to be deployed in “the West” in the near future, as the capitalist system is threatened by popular resistance?
As far as denouncing fellow citizens is concerned, we only need to think of the permanent “terrorist” scare and the reports of people being dragged off aircraft for speaking Arabic or generally appearing to be Muslim.
And France already has its own semi-permanent state of emergency – martial law is not just something that happens “elsewhere”.
There may well be a connection between international acceptance of the Thai dictatorship and the fact that Thailand’s U-Tapao Royal Thai Navy Airfield is currently the “only facility in Southeast Asia capable of supporting large-scale logistical operations”. Thailand has allowed the US to use U-Tapao to land and refuel after traveling across the Pacific Ocean on the way to US operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Thailand is designated by the USA as a “major non-NATO ally”, meaning that although it is not technically in NATO, it is very much a close US ally with strategic working relationships with US Armed Forces – and other agencies.
Only this month, the Bangkok Post carried a revelation from a former CIA agent that the Thai king had secretly sent a 4,000-strong force of US-trained Thai soldiers known as Tahan Sua Pran to help the US in the Vietnam War.
The social war has begun again in France after a summer break – and looks set to intensify in the run-up to the presidential elections due next spring.
September 15 saw protests and strikes all over the country, with police violence immediately resuming the levels seen earlier in the year.
One trade unionist has lost the sight in one eye after being hit by a fragment of a grenade fired indiscriminately into the crowd in Paris by a CRS riot cop.
Although the protest movement was originally about the neoliberal labour reform which has now been pushed through parliament by the ruling so-called “Socialist” Party, it quickly became about much more and that energy is still very much alive.
The erosion of working conditions, the imposition of a US-style neoliberal economy, the militarisation of society, institutional racism, police violence, the draconian state of emergency and the whole misery of life in a capitalist slave-system have all contributed to a heated political climate.
The Lundi matin website has published a handy round-up of the action all across France, from which we have stolen a few highlights.
In Rennes, there were tense confrontations with police and the usual charges and tear gas. Activists were pleased to note that a significant number of trade unionists “crossed the line” which often divides protesters and went to the aid of radical masked-up comrades.
In Le Havre 12,000 protesters took to the streets, led by the dockers. People set fire to bins and blocked access to a business, Saverglass, in solidarity with trade unionists facing discrimination. Their aim was to “block the economy”.
In Rouen, protesters smashed the windows of the right-wing Les Républicains party, with the Socialist Party HQ also damaged. Shops and banks were also targeted and tear gas deployed by police.
In Dijon, the front of the union-organised march was taken over by a radical and youthful block which was in full voice, singing of the memory of the Paris Commune and their hatred of the police.
In Nantes, a 6,000-strong protest faced unprecedented police repression, with local activists heard remarking: “I’ve never seen anything like this before, you’d think we were in East Germany”.
There was apparently a great atmosphere in Lille, as well as numerous confrontations with police. “Something new happened”, according to the report, in that there was a joyful and determined unity to the protest and it was impossible to tell the “good” protesters from the naughty troublemakers.
The next few months in France are going to be very interesting.
* A three-part documentary video about this year’s ongoing uprising can be seen on the Taranis News website.
One day while he was sitting under an olive tree, contemplating the earth, the sky and the dimensions of the cosmos, there came to the wise Perantulo a man on horseback. His face was obscured by a richly decorated silk scarf and he was accompanied by a dozen mounted warriors, whose scimitars glistened in the sun.
The man was none other than the Sultan of Khaluvia, who had received word of the teaching, the healing and the presence of Perantulo and wanted to see for himself this legendary fakir. The Sultan dismounted and approached the sage, unwinding his scarf so that he could be fully seen. He was plainly of noble character and had the look of one endowed with both intelligence and mental strength, but Perantulo saw at once that there was much that separated him from Knowledge. Having ascertained that this was indeed the sage he had been seeking, and after whom he had been enquiring for many days, the Sultan looked silently into Perantulo’s eyes and Perantulo looked silently and unflinchingly back. This moment stretched out until it became uncomfortable for the Sultan’s warriors, who did not understand what was happening and longed for it to end. But none dared move so much as a muscle or utter so much as the softest of whispered sighs as the two men remained locked in mutual scrutiny.
Finally, the Sultan dropped to his knees and, with tears welling in his eyes, declared: “Never before, Perantulo, have I seen in the eyes of man or woman what I have just discovered in yours. I must confess that I have wondered these last days whether the rumours of your wisdom were not exaggerated by the loose tongues of gossiping embellishers, but now I know that their inaccuracy strayed in the opposite direction to that which I had feared to be the case. Your reputation does not do you justice, Perantulo, and I say this without having heard you utter one word or move one finger. I beseech you, O Holy Man, to show me how I can see what you see, know what you know, shine as you shine”.
There was a long pause. Perantulo remained so still that a small green lizard walked up one arm, across the back of his neck, and down the other.
And then he told the Sultan: “It is a fine thing, O Great Ruler, that you have come here and spoken thus. Your people are fortunate indeed to be led by a man of your sensibility. But it is no easy thing you seek. The path is long and steep and you would do well to bear in mind the fable of the traveller who feasts on his supplies in celebration at having reached the lofty summit of his destination only to realise, when the mists lift, that he has merely conquered the lowest of the foothills that come before the plain that leads to the sea across which lies the mountain he would ascend”.
“I know the path is long, kind sage. Fear not – the mist of impatience will not blind me on my journey,” spoke the Sultan.
Perantulo waited for another long moment – moments for him bore little relation to the moments of ordinary men. He was so still that a golden butterfly alighted on his upper lip and preened itself for a while before fluttering on its way.
“Very well,” said the old philosopher to the Sultan. “But you should know that the task ahead of you involves three stages. The first, which is quick and easy, is to express the Desire for True Knowledge. The second, which will be painful to you and to those who love you, is to rid yourself of all obstacles that can prevent the Torch of Eternal Truth from shining through you. This stage is dangerous for one whose commitment is not complete, for one who is not strong enough to bear the hatred of others or for one who is not supple enough inside to absorb the hurt. It is a dark voyage from which you may never emerge, O Sultan-most-Splendid”.
The Sultan, a pensive frown creasing his brow, drew a deep breath: “And the third stage, O Holy Perantulo?”
“The third stage,” replied the fakir, “can only be imagined when the first two stages have been completed”.
The Sultan nodded. “So be it,” he said. “I have understood”.
And then he sprang to his feet, turned to his bemused men, and roared: “Let you all stand witness, my warriors, that your master, the Sultan of Khaluvia, today expresses his unquenchable commitment to the Desire for True Knowledge, that from this moment forth his days among mankind will be devoted to no other cause and that nothing and nobody can stand in the way of his Quest. Now we will ride, ride, ride – back to our famous City of Alzorika, which will soon become famed not just for its wealth, its learning and its arts, but for the devotion of its 75th Sultan to the Glory of All Being!”
He leapt on to his horse, raised his sword in the air as a sign of his energy and determination, then span to face the sage, who was still seated under the tree.
“Perantulo!” he cried, the fire of zeal scorching from his eyes. “Perantulo! I have heard your words and I will hold them in my heart! I will return!”
Environmental activists blocked flights at London City Airport on September 6 in a Black Lives Matter protest highlighting the disproportionate impact of air pollution on black communities living near airports. Nine people launched a dawn action at the small airport used by rich businesspeople and managed to put up a tripod on the runway and lock themselves together.
* * *
More than 24,000 inmates in at least 40 prisons from over two dozen states in the USA have been taking part in the national prison strike which began on September 9. Despite a virtual media blackout, it is clear that this is the biggest prison strike in US history, with inmates refusing to follow orders, failing to report for work and causing prisons to go on lockdown. The main focus of the strike is the modern-day slavery still legal in the prison system, in which businesses profit from free or very cheap forced labour. Said Azzura Crispino of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee: “Prisoners getting paid a wage at all for their labor is rare. The system is doing exactly what it’s designed to do: Extract as much money off the backs of prisoners as possible.” There are calls for international solidarity actions.
* * *
In the face of ongoing violence in the Philippines – with a bombing in Davao City killing 14 people and the “war on drugs” seeing almost 2,000 people summarily executed – local anarchists are keeping up the struggle. On September 4, Food Not Bombs Baliuag protested against all the violence and war by providing free meal to people affected by poverty and hunger in the park of Baliuag, Bulacan. They have also staged a free market, sharing and giving away used clothes to those most in need.
* * *
We have one year to close DSEI – that’s the message from anti-militarist campaigners 12 months ahead of the next arms fair in London’s Docklands. The big event, at which besuited individuals aim to make huge profits out of other people’s deaths, is due to be held from September 12 to 15 2017 at Excel London. Unless…
* * *
The anarchist view of evolution, as being primarily about mutual aid and co-operation rather than competition and individualism, has been confirmed by recent research. Dr Benjamin Rubin, of Princeton University, said: “We originally set out to uncover the genetic basis of mutualistic behaviour in ants. So, we sequenced the genomes of three mutualistic species of plant-ants and four of their closely related, non-mutualistic relatives. We were surprised to learn that the mutualists actually had a higher rate of evolution across their genomes than the generalists.” Peter Kropotkin, anarchist scientist and author of the classic Mutual Aid, would not have been surprised, we imagine…
* * *
Anarchy in a Cold War is a novel by Kurtis Sunday set in the West Berlin alternative-squatter-Punk scene during the latter part of the Cold War. The city, a focal point in the conflict between East and West, was a capitalist enclave smack in the middle of Communist East Germany. It was entirely surrounded by the Berlin Wall, complete with razor wire and machine gun posts. There is much that is familiar and much that is not. The Cold War is raging and the missiles are armed and waiting in their silos. If nuclear war breaks out there will be a four-minute warning. There is no internet and perhaps NO FUTURE. Reality? Sur-reality? Or hyper-reality?
* * *
Acorn quote: “The life of the psyche is the life of mankind. Welling up from the depths of the unconscious, its springs gush forth from the root of the whole human race, since the individual is, biologically speaking, only a twig broken off from the mother and transplanted”. C.G. Jung, Symbols of Transformation
The temperature is rising in the massive and long-running struggle against a new airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes in France.
On Saturday February 6 a thousand people took part in a carnival-style protest in Rennes. Some city centre buildings were redecorated, some bank windows smashed and the demo was attacked by police using tear gas, rubber bullets and batons.
Now preparations are underway for big day of mobilisation on Saturday February 27 against the threatened new industrial capitalist infrastructure and in support of the ZAD protest camp.
An autonomous group of supporters in the UK are among those heading to the west of France to show their solidarity – see below.
On January 25 a judge approved an eviction order against some people on the ZAD site. This came into immediate effect for farmland and there was two months’ grace for their actual homes.
The hundreds of others who have been living on the land since 2007 to defend it from Vinci’s bulldozers could be evicted by force at any time.
The decision as to whether to try to destroy the ZAD is in the hands of the French state and it is not yet clear how and when they will act.
As we have previously reported, there is enormous opposition to the airport in Brittany and across France – a protest on January 9 this year saw 20,000 protesters with 450 tractors shut down the main motorway at Nantes.
More impetus has been given to the fight with the timely publication of a new mini-book, Défendre la zad, by the Collectif Mauvaise troupe, which features first-hand accounts of the struggle and calls for resistance [We have been informed, post-publication, that it can now be found online in English at https://constellations.boum.org/spip.php?article143].
It declares: “Just like battles of other times and other places, the ZAD and everything it represents provides us, here and now, with a precious glimmer of hope in this era of disenchantment. We have got to defend the ZAD!”
Prime minister Manuel Valls has spoken of a move against the ZAD in the autumn, while environment minister Ségolène Royal seemed to suggest on a France 5 TV interview on February 1 that the government was backing away from lighting the fuse to massive and angry resistance.
She said the subjects of the court order would not be “evicted by force” and that she didn’t want to “end up with a civil war”.
But, on February 4, Bruno Retailleau, right-wing pro-airport president of the Pays de la Loire region, upped the political ante.
He launched a high-profile “residents’ petition” demanding that the government clear the ZAD and make way for big business.
This anti-ZAD tirade, which could have been written by Britain’s very own Daily Mail, complains of “attacks on the forces of law and order, threats against journalists and scientists, the stoning of the judge in charge of the Possession Order, the looting of a goods lorry and extortion rackets against residents forced to open their car boots and hand over their shopping”!
The day of mobilisation on February 27 will call for a halt to all eviction threats and for the immediate and permanent axing of the much-hated airport project.
Says the ZAD website: “We invite all committees and supporters to very strongly mobilise from now for this date. We invite everyone from the region, from all corners of France, and beyond, to organise convoys and buses to reach this big mobilisation.”
UK supporters of the ZAD have formed an autonomous group helping mobilise people from the UK to go to the February 27 protests and also to organise a rapid response if and when the eviction attempt begins.
Say UKZAD: “Initial plans are to travel on Friday February 26 and return on Monday 29. If you would like to go we may be able to help with transport arrangements. Email email@example.com and say where you would like to leave from and return to. Also email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to know more about a UKZAD rapid response eviction resistance”.
As ZAD supporters prepare themselves from possible attack, they are inwardly strengthened by memories of the successful resistance to the previous eviction attempt in 2012 – which the authorities provocatively and unwisely gave the name of Operation Caesar, in the homelands of Asterix the Gaul.
As recalled in Défendre la zad, a public order specialist from the gendarmerie admitted to a journalist at the time: “It’s always possible to evict, even with a significant and difficult zone like this. You just have to put enough resources into it. But holding on to it is impossible”.
There is something of the commune brewing at the ZAD. Something of the Commune of 1871, when an unstoppable collective emotion took hold of the inhabitants of Paris who became, behind the barricades, the masters of their own everyday life and of their history, raising an immense feeling of revolutionary hope and bringing about uprisings in countless other towns and cities.
There is something of the Medieval communes who managed to drag themselves free of feudal power and defend the commons – the land, tools and resources whose use was shared.
Something, also, of the short-lived commune of Nantes in 1968, during which workers and students occupied the town hall, blockaded the region and organised supplies for the strikers from the landworkers.
Something which has now become both the means and the meaning of our struggle and which we have to continue to deepen.
Some 600 miles away from the ZAD at Nantes, in the French Alps, another battle is taking place against the relentless onslaught of industrial capitalism.
“No THT” is the name of a full-on campaign against a plan to wreck the beauty of the mountain valley of Haute-Durance with two very high voltage power lines – numerous blockades and acts of sabotage have been taking place in recent months.
The environmentally-disastrous project is being jointly run by RTE (Réseau de Transport d’Electricité), which is part of EDF, and the French state.
Explain the campaigners: “This is part of European plans to develop a wide-scale network to serve the capitalist electricity market. This network will allow an even greater fluidity in commodity exchanges, as recommended by the ideology of liberalism, which we don’t like at all”.
In a recent issue of their printed campaign bulletin, No THT examine the crucial issue of so-called “violence” forming part of anti-capitalist resistance.
They write: “The struggle against the very high voltage lines in Haute-Durance, Hautes-Alpes, has recently turned into an active and concrete form of opposition, with graffiti, blockades and sabotage. The question of violence has therefore come up.
“It’s a recurring issue for collective action: when legal and democratic means have proved inadequate, what type of action should we suggest, how should we organise to make our ideas heard and practically resist?
“Direct action, on whatever scale and however radical (from a slashed tyre on site machinery to the kidnapping of the boss, by way of occupations, blockades or a simple campaign of unauthorised fly-posting), always leads to a reaction from the state, which defends its interests and tries to maintain order.
“Repression is used to punish these illegal means of action, often under the pretext that they are violent. Any law-breaking amounts to a form of violence, they say, and the struggle should restrict itself to the ‘proper channels’.
“But clearly the whole existence of struggle and collective action depends on going beyond this level of action. So we have to get together to defend words and actions which, far from sticking to the definition created by the state, define themselves as ways of resisting together.
“You don’t discuss the morality of a strike with your boss and we can’t persuade RTE of the legitimacy of blocking its sites. We are presenting them, as far as we are capable, with a factual reality that isn’t only aimed at those we are fighting but also at the rest of society, so we can get our message across as widely and loudly as possible”.
The question of “violence” has also recently been addressed in an excellent Corporate Watch report on the disappointing D12 (December 12) protests at COP21 in Paris.
The UK-based activists say: “D12 was organised on the basis of an ‘action consensus‘ that committed participants to ‘only use non-violent and pacifist methods and tactics to show our determination, but won’t contribute to escalation’.
“At various action briefings and trainings in Paris, participants were told that ‘breaking police lines’ and ‘property damage’ were against this consensus, amounting to a ban on D12 participants defending themselves from the police. This consensus was adhered to by some of the less reformist groups, including Reclaim the Power from the UK.
“The French police force have a long and ignoble history of violence. Last year, police killed eco-activist Remi Fraisse at the ‘Zone a Defendre’ in Testet in South-West France. Remi was only one of the countless people who have been killed or brutalised by French cops over the years.
“French social movements have responded by defending themselves against police violence, often rioting on the streets of French cities in response to police murders.
“To ask people to accept a consensus that would leave D12 participants defenceless against police violence discounted this culture of resistance and self defence. It is likely to have alienated people from the very social movements in Europe that the anti COP21 mobilisation should have been reaching out to.
“Even the more dogmatic adherents to non-violence usually accept that damage to property is not ‘violence’. Why then was damage to property deemed against the ‘action consensus’?
“If we are to truly deal with the causes of climate change and challenge capitalism, then the capitalist infrastructure which is destroying the planet will have to be put out of action”.
This article, written by Gianfranco Sanguinetti two days after November 13’s Paris terror attacks, has been translated from French by The Acorn, with the kind co-operation of the author.
“The French public should be aware that we are heading towards some major terrorist attacks. The political authorities should let the French people know that we are going to see acts of mass terror”.
General Vincent Desportes, 29.10.2015. 
We need some ordered thinking if we are to prevent all the current emotion, propaganda and hysteria from sidetracking any balanced analysis of what happened the day before yesterday (13.11.15).
What we were up against in Paris was a Morale Operation. In the art of unorthodox warfare, Morale Operations are those which aim to use shock, confusion and deception in order to sow distrust, terror and disarray within the ranks of the enemy or of a hesitant and uncertain ally. They are a type of psychological warfare, as set out and put into practice in 1942 by Colonel William J. Donovan of the American OSS. 
The French military high command knew very well who was hiding behind Daesh (ISIS) when General Vincent Desportes openly declared as early as December 17 2014, just before the Charlie Hebdo operation, during a public-session debate at the Senate in front of the Commission of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Armed Forces: “Who is the Dr Frankenstein who created this monster [Daesh]? Let’s make this quite clear, because it has repercussions: it’s the USA. Out of short-term interest, other actors – some of whom paint themselves as friends of the West – have, out of subservience or by their own will, contributed to its construction and its reinforcement. But those primarily responsible are the United States”. 
When Russian forces entered the game against ISIS in Syria, they completely disrupted US and Israeli plans involving their expensive toy, ISIS: France had already taken the initiative a few days before Putin, by independently bombing ISIS in Iraq and (twice) in Syria.
For the real masters of ISIS this was defiance: they had to call France to order and reunite the Western forces under their command.
Through a multi-pronged military commando action in the middle of Paris, against carefully chosen symbolic targets, France’s political leaders were thus given a stark warning on November 13.
Nowhere in the world does there exist a single waragainst terrorism, because all states make use of it: terrorism is not an enemy, but simply a particular way of waging war.
As far back as 2008, Lieutenant colonel Jean-Pierre Steinhofer was writing in la Revue Défense Nationale: “The notion of a ‘global war against terrorism’ is a semantic, strategic, military and judicial perversion which, by conflating ‘enemy’ with ‘enemy’s method of fighting’, has led Western states into an intellectual dead-end which has muddled their thinking in numerous spheres and stranded them in some absurd situations”. 
France’s vague desire to act independently, having seemly forgotten that it is now irrevocably integrated into NATO, along with the scattering of its armed forces around too many theatres, from Africa to the Middle East, the wavering and hesitancy of its government, political tangles and delirious media conditioning are all condemning its military action to failure and at the same time exposing France to all kinds of retaliation. As we have just seen in Paris.
French political leaders are now in the uncomfortable position of pretending not to know where the blow came from, preferring as usual to lie to the population and come across as witless fools rather than to instead risk incurring the wrath of their treacherous allies. The population is under control thanks to the state of emergency. The Germans and other NATO allies have been warned by means of the same blow.
The masquerade ball, the shadow theatre, the fool’s game, the showmanship, the dramatics and the “mainstream” narrative are all part of what the above-quoted Lieutenant colonel called the “intellectual dead-end which has muddled their thinking in numerous spheres and stranded them in some absurd situations”.
In the meantime, populations are getting used to the massacres served up to them. They will have to learn through bloodshed that it’s not only those who direct and execute terrorism who are complicit with it, but also all those who believe the official versions.
Without them, terrorism becomes a blunt weapon which can even be very dangerous for those deploying it. 
We will recall that modern false flag terrorism was first tried out, for the 15 years from 1969, by the secret services in Italy and on the flesh of Italians – a fact which is today universally accepted and proven by historians and by court rulings. When I denounced it at the time, I wrote that:
“Italian terrorism is the last enigma of the society of the spectacle… It is therefore necessary and sufficient to resolve this enigma in order to put an end not only to terrorism, but also to the Italian State… And whatever people might say about that today, in ten or twenty years’ time, or before then, when everything has become clear for everyone, it is what I wrote about terrorism that will be remembered and not all the rivers of ink currently being spilled on this subject by the professional liars and the foolish”. 
 Under the presidency of Jean-Pierre Raffarin, the debates saw the Commission question General Henri Bentégeat (2S), former chief of staff of the armed forces ; Lieutenant General Didier Castres, second in command to chief of staff Operations; Monsieur Hubert Védrine, former Minister of Foreign Affairs; Major General (rtd) Vincent Desportes, visiting professor at Sciences Po, Paris, and Monsieur Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Defence. We can therefore conclude that not only the military staff but also the political leaders were all aware of this. Cf. : http://www.senat.fr/compte-rendu-commissions/20141215/etr.html.
 J.P. Steinhofer, “L’Ennemi innomé”. In Revue Défense Nationale, n°712.
 In a declassified US military document dated 4 December 1942, entitled “The Use of Terror Propaganda”, we read: “Terror propaganda, while immensely successful under proper conditions, may well be used imprudently to increase the resolution and determination of the enemy”. (National Archives, declassified by NARA).
 Gianfranco Sanguinetti, Del Terrorismo e dello Stato, Milan, 1979, 1980. Translated into French as Du Terrorisme et de l’Etat, Paris et Grenoble, 1980, 1981 and into English as On Terrorism and the State by Left Bank Books in 1983. A new translation by Bill Brown was published by Colossal Books in 2014.
According to its own website, DPTRE (the Defence Procurement, Research, Technology and Exportability exhibition) is the “UK’s Premier Defence Procurement Event” and is now being hosted annually at Cardiff Motorpoint Arena.
Their first time hosting the arms fair in Cardiff was in October 2014, with exhibitors including BAE Systems, the world’s third largest arms producer with a very special relationship with the UK government and the Saudi dictatorship.
Say campaigners: “BAE also supplies Israel with the tools to wage war on the Palestinians and after the horrors seen perpetrated by Israel, from the bombing of a UN school to the killing of children playing on a beach, there is no doubt that BAE systems is complicit in these crime through its arming of the Israeli state.
“BAE is also one of many companies at DPTRE which supplies weapons to Turkey. In 2015, people in towns across Turkey’s Kurdish region have barricaded their city centres and declared autonomy from the state. The Turkish army has responded by attacking residential areas with tanks, combat helicopters and mortars, killing hundreds of people”.
There has been active opposition to DPRTE since 2013. The arms fair had previously been hosted at the UWE campus in Bristol, but was subsequently driven out, hence the move to Cardiff. The protests involved a variety of actions including blockading the UWE north entrance causing queues trailing back along the A4174.
After the arms fair was driven out of Bristol, South Wales Anarchists, Stop NATO Cymru and others resolved to show the arms dealers that there is no welcome for them in Wales either.
Food Not Bombs Cardiff had a presence, people confronted the Arms Dealers and tried to get inside and three arms dealers were covered in red paint as they tried to enter. Those arrested for this action had their charges dropped when it came to trial due to insufficient evidence.
Activists say: “We urge all that can to come to Cardiff on the 16th of March 2016 to take action against this Arms Fair and those taking part in it. When the rich make war, it’s the poor that die and we won’t stand for business people to profit from racist death, displacement and torture”.
The future of fracking in the UK is still very much in the balance, with contradictory signs of whether or not opposition is succeeding.
One excellent piece of news came on February 5, when IGas announced it will not be drilling for coal bed methane at Upton near Chester, where a protest camp was evicted last month.
The company said the site at Dutton’s Lane and another at Salters Lane, Mickle Trafford, did not meet its criteria for commercial coal bed methane development.
The news prompted the local MP to call for IGas to cough up towards the cost of the pointless £200,000 eviction, which involved 175 police from four forces and during which nine people were arrested.
Anti-fracking morale has also been boosted by some interesting items of overseas news. Canadian authorities shut down a Repsol Oil & Gas fracking operation in Alberta, after a magnitude 4.8 earthquake hit the area.
News of fracking’s many disastrous side-effects can only serve to deepen global opposition to the ecocidal industry.
There was also a significant victory in Australia, where frackers AGL have walked away from a gas project in New South Wales.
Commented business media outlet Australian Financial Review: “For once we are in total agreement with Lock the Gate and other tribes of resistance that have lined up against coal seam gas projects up and down the east coast of Australia.
However, back in the UK, Cuadrilla has not walked away from Lancashire County Council’s rejection of its drilling proposals and a public inquiry, held at Blackpool FC football stadium, started, amidst protests, on Tuesday February 9.
And another worrying sign has been the start of test activity at Horse Hill near Horley in Surrey. There it seems to be “business as usual” not only for the frackapitalists but also for their state-funded bouncers – Surrey Police have even been threatening to arrest activists using the compromise tactic of “slow walking” to hold up lorries entering the site.
Frack Free Surrey are pointing out that if the Horse Hill testing is successful, there is likely to be a spate of new test wells across the Weald of Surrey and Sussex.
In an interview in Shale Gas International Magazine, Chris Hughes, Commercial Director at NuTech, a consultancy which supports the oil industry, said: “The next stage with Horse Hill and other prospective fields in the UK shale play basins… will require the drilling of new wells in order to get maximum information back…
“The proving of the play, and the process of getting it into production, will require the drilling of more boreholes, moving further away from where we currently are in the licence…
“If we moved a mile away from the Horse Hill site and drilled another well, would the rock look exactly the same as we saw in Horse Hill or is it thinner or thicker in terms of the actual target plays? Is it tighter? Is it less hydrocarbon-rich?”
It is clear that the powerful fracking industry still represents nothing less than an existential threat to the whole of the English countryside and the health and well-being of generations to come. It must be stopped!
The fate of the human race and our place on the planet earth depend on the actions we take during the first half of this century. If we continue to follow orders and do what the Master Race demands of us, we will go extinct.
But we trudge along anyways – too stupefied by TV, the internet, religion, the crap crammed into our minds during our incarceration in schools – too demoralized and deadened by our bullshit jobs to imagine that anything could be different. So, we stumble onwards, towards extinction. What the fuck is wrong with us?
While preparations were underway for two military invasions and perpetual warfare in Central Asia, the White House’s thug-in-chief, Dick Cheney, demanded that no one had the right to tell Americans there was anything wrong with “the way we live.” And millions of Americans lined up behind him.
Americans were willing to send soldiers to their deaths for no reason anyone could explain, after being traumatized by the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center incident. The rationalization that eventually stuck was that we were fighting “them” over there, so we wouldn’t have to fight “them“ here.
Thus, the first major wars fought in the 21st century re-introduced human sacrifice to western civilization. Only now we sacrifice lives to corporate profits, while these same corporations are actively destroying our planet. This isn’t just wrong, it’s insane.
In the hysteria of the post-9/11 era, in order to protect “the way we live,” interference with corporate activity has become legally defined as terrorism. So, our soldiers are sent off to die in meaningless, horribly bloody conflicts in order to generate profits for military contractors and oil companies. And if we complain, the highly militarized police forces are called out to crush our acts of resistance – no matter how lame.
This is Ultramodernism – the vision of the future as projected in Cold War art and literature, the era when the architects of today’s political machinations grew up. This is the vision of the world the Master Race is forcing on us through highly militarized police and a court system more concerned with stock values than human needs. Their plans for our future seems to resemble an amalgamation of Soylent Green and Nazi Germany.
In order to force this vision of a never-ending, never-changing world of shopping malls and servile employment upon us, the corporate elite, their banking overlords, and their governmental guard-dogs must explain away things like the worst oil spill in u.s. history, or the imposition of corporate edicts above local laws and regulations, or the criminalization of dissent. We cannot strive for a more meaningful existence than the one they have prepared for us. It won’t be tolerated. We must live the way they want us to believe people have always lived, and will always live.
Let us prepare ourselves to turn our backs on this civilization of mass destruction and make something magical, something incredibly beautiful and nurturing. If we don’t, the human race will be gone, and we’ll have lost everything. The next couple of decades will determine our collective fate, for all time.
Cardiff Anarchist Bookfair is being staged in the Welsh city on Saturday February 20 from 10am until late. The event at the Cathays Community Centre, 36-38 Cathays Terrace, Cardiff CF24 4HX, features workshops, stalls, music, food and a creche – the full programme can be found here.
* * *
Social injustice in the UK has worsened further with the scrapping of all remaining student grants, which are designed to help poorer young people get an education. The change, which was sneaked through by the Conservative government without even a proper vote in parliament, means the less well-off will now have to take out even more loans and end up paying more than the children of the wealthy. It’s the rich and the banks who profit, as ever.
* * *
“What I have learnt is this: it is always worth fighting. And I will use all the passion and anger that those protests sparked, to light a bonfire for all time. Because, in the end, it is ourselves that we are fighting for. Ourselves, and our children.” These are the inspiring words from Nicola Chester, one of these who fought against the Newbury bypass, as she reflects on the 20th anniversary of the massive anti-road battle on her blog.
* * *
The Earth First! Winter Moot will be staged in the west of England from the evening of Friday February 19 to Sunday February 21 2016. Earth First! is a banner for independent groups who share a common need to protect our ecological systems, believing in non-hierarchical direct action to stop and reverse the forces responsible for the destruction of the earth and its inhabitants. Those taking their first steps into ecological campaigning are warmly welcomed. There will be debates, discussions on campaign planning, updates, support and solidarity, tactics, strategies, community building, sustainable activism and networking including groups campaigning against fracking, incineration, new roads and genetic engineering. The Moot is at the Centre for Science and Art, 13 Lansdown, Stroud, Gloucestershire GL5 1BB, 5 minutes from Stroud station. Vegan meals and accommodation are provided. Cost is £25/30.
* * *
Yet another undercover police spy in left-wing activist circles has been exposed by the Undercover Research Group. A man known as “Carlo Neri“ who was active in the Socialist Party and anti-fascist activities between 2001 and 2006, was in reality a cop, mostly likely deployed by the Special Demonstration Squad. Like many others, he had relationships with a number of female activists. Unfortunately, what we know so far is probably the tip of the iceberg. As well as other police spies, there is undoubtedly high-level penetration of anti-capitalist networks by intelligence services. And then, of course, there are the new armies being deployed in cyberwarfare against anyone identified as a threat to the global domination of the industrial capitalist system…
* * *
A shocking video has emerged of police assaults on activists during a Mayday protest at a bank in Cardiff last year. As ever, the lying cops claimed it was the protesters who were “violent” and two young people went through months of pre-trial ordeal, including imprisonment and house arrest, before the court declared them innocent.
* * *
Just after the last Acorn came out, we published a dramatic account of how a Bristol anarchist saw off a dodgy approach by plain clothes “anti-terrorist” police at Stansted Airport. If you haven’t read it yet, it can be found on our Acorn Resources page.
* * *
Good news from Malaysia. After over two years of struggle and resistance, indigenous groups in Sarawak have celebrated a major victory in their campaign to stop construction of the controversial Hydro Dam. Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem stated announced the project has been put “on hold” until further notice, conceding that mass opposition to the dam by local people had forced his hand.
* * *
Here are three video recommendations. The natural cycle of life and death, in which individual vanity is but a passing illusion, is beautifully presented in this short animation by Saskia Kretzschmann. This publicity documentary showing off the kind of “invisible” special effects now commonly used by Hollywood is a good lesson in why you should never believe in the reality of anything presented to your eyes via a screen! And this seven-minute video talk by US college professor Luis Almeida entitled “Breaking Free from Technology”, looks at the disturbing side-effects of compulsive computer use.
* * *
“The World Health Organisation has issued a stark new warning about deadly levels of pollution in many of the world’s biggest cities, claiming poor air quality is killing millions and threatening to overwhelm health services across the globe,” reports The Guardian. Genetically modified babies and consumer eugenics are on the way, as industrial big business tries to take control of the life process itself. Psychopathic pharma-capitalist experiments are leaving a trail of people dead or physically ruined in their perverted quest for profit at the expense of all else. All this, along with the opening of the world’s first robot-run farm and the “gene editing” of our food, presents us with an industrialist dream of the future that can only be considered a nightmare by anyone not infected with the insanity of these times. But, obviously, there is absolutely no need to consider ending humanity’s disastrous industrial experiment. “There is no alternative”, they always tell us. The show must go on, until there’s nobody left alive to watch it.
* * *
Acorn quote:“A people living on the land enjoys a certain independence that is unknown to urban populations. Access to food is direct. People enjoy a certain relationship to nature and its rhythms, which are also the rhythms of their own lives. This relationship is included within a culture shared by those living in the same area. This collective culture is a living entity, as real and complex as the ‘personality’ of an individual”.
1. Paris – tear gas, grenades and hundreds of arrests
Tear gas and grenades were fired by French riot cops against brave activists who defied martial law in France – and more than 200 people were arrested.
Thousands took to the streets of Paris against the hypocrisy of the industrial capitalist system and its phoney COP21 climate summit.
For their pains they were kettled, intimidated, attacked and gassed by the cops. “The state of emergency is a police state, a fascist state!” they shouted in defiance of the brutal force deployed by a state which has been so busily depicting itself as a victim, rather than a perpetrator, of violence.
Activist media reported several hundred arrests, with the police taking arrestees away in buses.
With the state of emergency conveniently in place for the COP21 summit (see below for analysis), all protests were banned.
Originally, the big protests planned for November 29 and December 12 were apparently outlawed because the crowds were “at risk” of terrorist attack, but it quickly became clear that the state of emergency was aimed as much as opponents of the industrial-capitalist system as at armed Islamists.
Several days before the start of COP21, several house arrests and police raids were aimed at activists close to the ZAD (anti-industrial protest camp) and environmental movement across the whole of France.
Six people were put under house arrest in Rennes, along with a Paris member of the legal team for the CoalitionClimate21, which consists of 130 groups, NGOs and unions. Police also tried to impose this measure on several people in Rouen, Lyon and elsewhere.
The house arrests are timed until December 12, the day after the end of the climate summit, making it clear that they are a political device used against protesters.
There were armed police raids at Ivry-sur-Seine (Val-de-Marne) and against organic vegetable sellers in the Dordogne.
In Nice a six-year-old girl was injured during a police operation: the officers who turned up in the middle of the night had smashed in the wrong door. In Loire-Atlantique, a caravan of 200 cycles accompanied by five tractors was blocked by the cops: they didn’t want the cyclists to go to Paris for COP21.
Meanwhile, all across France any event with the slightest hint of a political nature has been banned by the authorities without the need for any justification – in the southern city of Nîmes, for instance, a bookfair planned for November 21 and 22 was cancelled, while down the road in Alès a march against plans for a golf course and luxury housing development was likewise forbidden.
In this climate of fear, hysteria and general submission to authority, a group of dissidents took the courageous step of publishing a call to defy the state of emergency.
A signed letter published in Liberation newspaper and on the lundiam website (English translation here) called for people to head for the Place de la République in Paris at 2pm on Sunday – and so they did, in large numbers, despite the threat of six months’ imprisonment and a fine of 7,500 euros under martial law.
They were blocked into the square by an army of police, with checkpoints out of sight in the Metro. An hour of static protest was apparently all that the French state was prepared to tolerate. At 3pm police shouted through megaphones: “Dispersez-vous, nous allons faire évacuer la place!” – “Disperse! We are going to clear the square!”
The cops proceeded to attack the crowds, using grenades, tear gas and charges. The rebels didn’t take this lying down and there was spirited resistance to the uniformed robo-thugs. See this video, for example.
Needless to say, the corporate media was full of condemnations of the protesters, rather than of the state and its thugs.
Make no mistake – a very deliberate psychological attack is being made on the population of France by the imposition of the state of emergency and all the fear-mongering jingoistic hysteria accompanying it.
There is a big and obvious lie behind the role of the military-style police with their grenades, batons and poison gas, along with the bureaucrats and politicians who are happy to impose military-style law in the supposed home of liberté, and the lapdog journalists who churn out their propaganda.
They are not defending the people, as they laughably claim, but reasserting the brute power and violence through which every state demands the craven submission of its population.
2. Terrorism and the state – learning from history
Regular readers of The Acorn may have noticed a couple of themes that have cropped up regularly over the last few months.
One was the enormous potential of the COP21 protests for the renewed struggle against industrial capitalism (Acorn 14) – in Acorn 17 we reported how the French authorities were in a bit of a tizzy about the possibility of dissent on the streets.
The other theme was the big lie behind “anti-terrorism” – how it is an authoritarian phenomenon which hides behind the threat of “terror” to repress the population which is supposedly being protected (Acorn 12, Acorn 13, Acorn 16 and Acorn 17).
These two subject matters have come together in spectacular fashion in France, where the November 13 attacks in Paris have prompted a state of emergency which has involved the banning of the COP21 protests as well as raids on squats and activists.
The official, and laughable, justification for this is that it is to protect the crowds of protesters from attack by terrorists – funnily enough, football matches and Christmas shopping have been allowed to resume, despite what you might have imagined was the greater risk of attack.
The truth is that the terrorist attacks, and the ensuing police-state paranoia, have in many ways proved extremely convenient for the French state.
It has allowed it to ban protests, give free rein to the cops to carry out raids on anyone they don’t like, bring in new controls and legislation. Writes Nafeez Ahmed: “Under the extension, French police can now block any website, put people under house arrest without trial, search homes without a warrant, and prevent suspects from meeting others deemed a threat”.
The attacks have also, of course, been used to justify further neo-colonial warfare in the Middle East. Jingoism is suddenly the flavour of the day in France, with flag shops doing a roaring trade just like in the USA after 9/11. An increasingly unpopular and despised president has been able to reinvent himself as some kind of heroic war chief.
Other states have also been quick to exploit the attacks for their own political purposes. Belgium experienced what looked like a dress-rehearsal for a fascist military coup. For the UK government, the Paris attacks served as a handy boost for the bomb-Syria argument and also, usefully, another stick with which to beat opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn. It has also lead to a great cry for more funding for intelligence services, more powers of surveillance and so on and so forth.
The Paris incident has also, of course, been used across the continent to turn public sympathy for refugees into fear and to justify the closing down of Fortress Europe’s borders and the brutality inflicted on migrants like those at Calais.
In the USA, the Paris attacks have somehow been twisted into a condemnation of whistleblower Edward Snowden and calls on CNN for him to be hanged.
Warns Ahmed: “The ripple effect from the attacks in terms of the impact on Western societies is likely to be permanent. In much the same way that 9/11 saw the birth of a new era of perpetual war in the Muslim world, the 13/11 Paris attacks are already giving rise to a brave new phase in that perpetual war: a new age of Constant Vigilance, in which citizens are vital accessories to the police state, enacted in the name of defending a democracy eroded by the very act of defending it through Constant Vigilance”.
Many observers have noted the way that all of this falls neatly into the pattern of the Strategy of Tension in Italy in the 1970s and 1980s.
As we have previously pointed out (Acorn 12), it is now a matter of record that the Italian state, and NATO, were involved in facilitating acts of shock-and-awe terrorism targeting the general population. The goal was to frighten the people into the arms of the state and to thus extinguish the fires of growing left-wing rebellion.
The Italian situationist Gianfranco Sanguinetti wrote in his 1980 book On Terrorism and the State: “The aim from December 12 1969 to March 16 1978, and again today, has always remained the same, which is to persuade the whole population, including those who have lost any belief in the state or have been fighting it, that they have at least one common enemy with this state, from which the state will defend them on condition that it is no longer challenged”.
Pre-echoing Ahmed’s warning regarding democracy, Sanguinetti added: “The reasoning currently in vogue is simple: if you love democracy, you have to defend it; to defend it you have to fight its enemies; to fight the enemies of democracy, no sacrifice is too great: the nobility of the end justifies every means; no democracy for the enemies of democracy! Something which was never essentially a democracy has now visibly ceased being so”.
Faced with the spectre of fascist terrorism, even the Italian left rallied to the cause and supported draconian anti-terrorist legislation.
There is a tendency in radical anti-capitalist circles to shy away from anything that smacks of the dreaded “conspiracy theory” – partly, no doubt, because it is a kind of analysis that can too easily slip into absurd paranoia and far-right fantasies.
But you shouldn’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. Or, to put it another way, just because the fibbing little boy has cried wolf far too often, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t now a pack of them coming down your street.
While theories about hoaxed moon landings or chemical vapour trails are nothing other than theories, the existence of Operation Gladio and its false-flag terror has been documented fact for the last quarter of a century, even if it is barely mentioned in mainstream media.
Another fact, as documented in great detail by the meticulous Ahmed, is that the UK, the USA and other NATO countries have close links to Islamic terrorist groups. It all began with the anti-communist “Afghan Rebels” in the 1980s, continued with the story of the good Muslims fighting the anti-NATO Serbs in the 1990s and the same “rebel” tag of approval was being applied to the broad range of Assad opponents in Syria until relatively recently.
If it doesn’t seem too much of a stretch of the imagination that the Turkish state might have collaborated with Islamists in the attack on left-wing pro-Kurd activists in Suruç this July (Acorn 12), why might we imagine that the French or British states would not be capable of something similar?
Of course, any suggestion that the Paris attacks were a modern-day version of the Strategy of Tension, in which the role of neo-fascist terrorist-puppets has been passed on to Islamist terrorist-puppets, remains firmly in the realm of “theory”.
It may seem odd that enemies of the French state, well armed with machine guns and explosives and with little apparent interest in their own survival, should prioritise attacks on cafes and a rock gig, rather than, say, the French Ministry of Defence, the police HQ or the Presidential Palace.
It may seem odd that two of them would feel the need to carry (fake) Syrian passports with them, so that they could be discovered at the scene and justify the ensuing military action.
It may seem odd that the alleged perpetrators were apparently already known to the authorities and yet allowed to move around Europe without hindrance.
It may seem convenient that the supposed “mastermind” was executed by the state and that his account will now never be heard. It was the testimony of imprisoned fascist terrorist Vincenzo Vinciguerra that did much to lift the lid on the Gladio false flag terror network – it was clearly a mistake to allow him to live to tell the tale, as Lee Harvey Oswald might agree.
All of this is merely comment, not even circumstantial evidence. We here at The Acorn are in no position to know who was behind the Paris attacks and what their aims were.
However, it is important to realise, and to remember, that the French and other states, that the industrial capitalist system as a whole, is certainly capable of sacrificing the lives of the public for its own purposes, even if that is not what happened here.
We all know that the lives of “foreigners” count for nothing in the eyes of this system – there were no crocodile tears for the 44 people killed in Beirut the day before Paris, let alone for all the innocent Iraqis, Afghans, Syrians and Libyans killed by “the West” in its endless imperialist wars, or indeed for the Yemenis and Palestinians murdered by its Saudi and Israeli allies.
But don’t imagine that European industrial capitalism draws a line at killing its own populations. One hundred years ago, a whole generation of young men was slaughtered at its behest, for instance.
More than that, remember all the men, women and children who have died in the wheels of its machineries, who have choked to slow deaths in its contaminated air, who have been eaten away by cancers feeding on its toxic excretions.
For all its sanctimonious moralising, industrial capitalism is itself a death cult.
It is a cult of power for the sake of power, growth for the sake of growth, which will do anything – literally anything – to ensure its own preservation and expansion. Murder, lies and hypocrisy are part of its very essence and we would do well never to forget that.
We warned in The Acorn 12, as recently as July this year: “The worrying lack of knowledge and understanding, even in radical circles, of the extent to which terrorism was secretly deployed by the capitalist system from the 1940s to the 1980s sadly means that there is little to stop it using the same techniques again today”.
As the Italian philosopher George Santayana wisely pointed out: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.
A powerful statement of solidarity with comrades in France was issued by Devrimci Anarşist Faaliyet- DAF (Revolutionary Anarchist Action) in Turkey after the November 13 attacks:
“We feel the massacre in Paris deeply and share your sorrow. We have lived and still living through ISIS attacks supported by the state. From Şengal to Kobane, from Pirsus (Suruç) to Ankara, we have lost many comrades and friends.
“We are aware of the fact that the massacres aim to create fear, distrust and loneliness on us. Our pain is great and increases every day. In these periods, We have to grow the solidarity against the murderers that want to bury us into fear, loneliness and isolation.
“We see the simultaneous moves of the French state and other states aiming to direct the process. We know that these same strategies are realized in our region under the name of ‘Fight against Terror’.
“In this environment of distrust, people have a psychology of panic which is directed by the ideological devices of the state; the state oppression of revolutionaries and state politics restricting the freedom of the oppressed will be politically legitimized; and the racist discourse and politics will increase. The states use these extraordinary periods for their political, economic and social interests.
“We understand the situation that the peoples living in France are and will be in. We know the difficulty of carrying on one side the sorrow of the lost ones and on the side, struggling against the fascist mobilisations in the society created by the state. We stress that, even with this hardship, the struggle should be against the fear, the state and fascism.
“The sorrow you live is our sorrow, The rage you feel is our rage, your fight is our fight!”
Democracy in the UK, as in France, is increasingly being revealed as a hollow sham.
The latest slippage of the mask comes with the government’s announcement that it will take the final decision over whether fracking should be allowed in Lancashire.
A feisty local campaign against Caudrilla’s ecocidal proposals at Little Plumpton near Blackpool and Roseacre, near Elswick, resulted in victory this June, when county councillors threw out the applications (see Acorn 11).
The decision was hailed at the time by Greenpeace as “a Waterloo for the fracking industry” and one expert told the Daily Telegraph: “This decision is a serious setback for shale gas in the UK and many must be wondering if it can ever reach production phase”.
But the pro-fracking UK government was not prepared to sit back and allow the “localism” of public opposition to get in the way of its business chums’ profiteering.
While Cuadrilla’s appeal will still be considered in a three-week public inquiry and the planning inspector will submit a report, the actual decision will be made by Secretary of State for Local Government Greg Clark, Tory MP for Tunbridge Wells – because of the decision’s “major importance”.
Anti-fracking campaigner Barbara Richardson, of Roseacre Awareness Group, told Drill or Drop website: “So much for local democracy. These applications have been rejected at every level; by the residents, by the Parish Council, by the Borough Council and by the County Council. Even our Conservative MP, Mark Menzies, has stated publicly that the decision should be left to local politicians.
“This is about industrialisation of our countryside by an industry that is both dangerous and damaging to the environment, our health and climate change”.
Sue Marshall of the Preston New Road group added: “Now even the illusion of democracy is at risk with far-reaching consequences into all aspects of our lives.
“We don’t need to look abroad for terrorist threats: currently the greatest threat to us all is closer to home, in the heart of our government, whose blatant arrogance and disrespect for democratic process and destructive denial of human rights knows no bounds”.
A new threat to the Sussex countryside is emerging, as the state prepares to drive a new motorway-style trunk road across the southern English county.
The authorities have long been planning “improvements” to the existing bypass to the south of Chichester as part of their project to turn the A27 coastal road into a freight-heavy motorway linking the South-West to the Channel Tunnel.
But anti-roads campaigners have discovered that Highways England now looks like favouring the shock option of a completely new road across countryside to the north of Chichester, which would impinge on the South Downs National Park.
One told The Acorn: “They are definitely not, as had previously been thought, of just making a show of looking at it only then to rule it out on cost grounds; seems they are now serious about it”.
Leaving the existing dual carriageway north of Fishbourne, this would cross the A286 between Lavant and Chichester – straight through a popular ‘daffodil field’ – and go along New Road near Goodwood and rejoin at the A285 junction near Tangmere.
Added the campaigner: “In addition to the direct and indirect impacts on the South Downs National Park around Chichester, this would open the A27(M) floodgates eastward into Sussex, adding to pressure for a more motorway-like approach at Fontwell/Arundel/Worthing and beyond. It would thus create much more induced (long-distance) traffic than would have been the case with Chichester as a slower location. Local traffic and rural Sussex would be the loser.
“Why would they do this, when to do so they would potentially need to reallocate money from Arundel-and-Worthing? Perhaps they believe that if Chichester is bypassed with an expressway, then the other routes will in the end fall like dominoes to the required expressway standard, and we will have to accept the south coast near-motorway-standard strategic through route which ‘they’ want – including major offline bypasses at Arundel and at Worthing”.
Local anti-roads activists are convinced that the proposal would attract widespread opposition and that concerted action could trigger a more general resistance to the motorway threat to Sussex.
But they warn that the battle could prove decisive, either way: “A loss for the countryside at Chichester would very likely be fatal for attempts to protect the countryside at Arundel and Worthing. So the Chichester outcome looks likely, one way or the other, to determine the future of Sussex”.
Consultation is due to start in Spring 2016, with a decision on the route in Summer 2016 and work starting in 2018 – so now is the time to get active!
The next Reclaim the Fields European Assembly is to be held in Poland in January 2016, the network has announced. Anyone who wants to go is recommended to book transport now to Warsaw for Thursday January 21 to Sunday January 24 – the exact location will be announced closer to the date. More info here.
* * *
Are some trade unions little more than obedient cheerleaders for the industrial capitalist system? So it would appear from the latest disgraceful position taken by GMB. We reported back in (Acorn 11) that the “general” trade union was supporting fracking because of the “business need”. Now it is throwing the weight of its 630,000 members behind the expansion of London Heathrow Airport! Along with Unite union, it has joined forces with its industrialist friends at the Institute of Directors; the Confederation of British Industry; the British Chambers of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses, reports The New Statesman. The radical thinkers at GMB and Unite are apparently enthusing over the prospect of “jobs generated by the new infrastructure”. Words fail us.
* * *
Repression of those who dare to challenge the system continues across the world, as ever. On November 12 a joint international police operation in Milan arrested 8 comrades – 4 of them being based in Milan and other 4 in Athens – in connection with the Mayday riots in Milan (see Acorn 9 ). Infoaut reports that two more comrades, a Greek and an Italian one, are on the run – while four more from Milan and Como and another one from Athens are charged and under investigation without being arrested. In South Korea, police used tear gas and pepper spray in water cannons against the 130,000 demonstrators demanding the resignation of right-wing President Park Geun-hye. And this video taken by a passing motorist shows police repression of an anti-fascist demo at the Complutense University in Madrid on Friday November 20. At least six students were arrested, including members of the Juventudes Libertarias and CNT-AIT Madrid. Several young people were injured by the police assault.
* * *
In response to the likes of the above, anarchist imprisoned in Greece have issued a call-out for a “Black December” of “combative solidarity” which has been echoed internationally. Says a statement at contrainfo: “We call for the revival of the black memory of our dead and all those who have fallen in the fight for freedom and anarchy”.
* * *
Fifth Estate magazine in the USA is marking its fiftieth birthday at the moment. Hailed as “the longest running English language anarchist publication in North America, its contributors have included Fredy Perlman, David Watson and John Zerzan. The anniversary is being publicised via this rather cool video.
* * *
An Acorn reader got in touch having spotted a rather strange detail in an online job advert for someone to work on a “community resilience project” for a pseudo-environmental organisation called Groundwork South, whose mission is apparently “to make the South of England a greener and more prosperous place for people and communities”. The strange thing is that it says the role is about preparing people to respond to “emergencies and natural disasters” such as “flooding, pandemic flu, landslide, rioting…” Rioting? Well, nothing can be allowed to get in the way of “prosperity” after all. Biodegradable brooms at the ready, citizens, to sweep the riff-raff off the streets!
* * *
Finally, some good news for all who can’t wait to see the final collapse of life on the planet – US regulators have given the go-ahead to genetically modified salmon, the first GM animal destined for human consumption. The business behind it, AquaBounty, has produced an Atlantic salmon injected with a gene from Pacific Chinook salmon to make it grow faster – and boost its bosses’ prosperity, of course. The salmon are sterile.
* * *
Acorn quote:“The idea that we cannot have complete unrestricted freedom is based on the assumption that human beings cannot be trusted with that. The idea that we cannot be trusted is based on the assumption that there is no such thing as an innate tendency to goodness and co-operation. The idea that there is no innate tendency to goodness is based on the assumption that goodness is an artificial construct devoid of any practical content, rather than an inherent aspect of humanity’s ability to survive. The idea that this innate goodness has nothing to do with survival is based on the assumption that humanity is merely a collection of individuals, with their own personal survival as a priority, rather than a social organism with collective survival as its aim”.
The biggest, ugliest truth hidden at the core of the capitalist system is that it is built on violence.
This is something that it never admits and that it can never allow to be generally understood – instead it spreads around a load of drivel about democracy, markets and competition, about enterprise, endeavour and opportunity.
But the fact remains that the capitalist state was created by violence, is maintained by violence and is always prepared to resort to all the forms of violence at its disposal to resist challenges to its power.
The “law” itself, that foundation of its control over the population, is the flag of convenience under which this violence is carried out.
Physically attacking someone is violence, even if you happen to be dressed up in some fancy clothes provided by the state. Physically confining someone in a locked space, with the constant use and threat of force, is also violence, even if you put on a stupid wig to announce what you are going to do to them. Bombing someone is violence, as is shooting them, torturing them, spraying them with chemicals.
Wearing down someone’s resistance, forcing them to follow your rules, to live the way you tell them to, by means of a permanent, lifelong threat of violence if they step out of line is also, needless to say, violence.
Right and wrong have no place in the artificial world of “legal” and “illegal” which capitalism and its state machinery have imposed on us.
Land ownership is theft – from all the rest of us! – but is declared “legal” and the state can therefore “legitimately” use violence to protect that theft.
Everything else flows from there. Kicked off the land, former peasants are forced to work for the capitalists in order to earn money to buy the food that grows in the soil.
Wage slavery is also theft and exploitation but there is nothing “illegal” about it in the eyes of a capitalist state. Indeed, it uses its back-to-front “law” to prevent the victims from standing up to their oppressors – using violence as and when necessary.
It is very important to the capitalist system that its violence remains invisible to most people, that it can continue its nefarious activities unchallenged by a population that has been fooled into thinking that “legal” is the same as “right”.
So it must also ensure that voices exposing its violence, and the deceit with which it hides this violence, are quickly silenced. Again, it uses the self-feeding circular logic of its own lies to justify this.
Capitalism hides behind a state, which physically imposes the capitalist system on the people. The state hides behind the idea of “legality”, having created a legal system which declares the state to be legal! Anyone opposing the capitalist system and its state are therefore opposed to this “legality” and can be regarded as criminals.
Having pre-defined all opposition to its system as criminal in itself, regardless of any specific activity, the capitalist state has proved to its own satisfaction that it is “legal” to act against them in any way that it sees fit.
It is “legal” to spy on the “criminals” who oppose capitalism, to monitor their every move, to follow them, to film them, record them. It is “legal” to infiltrate their ranks, to lie to them, to betray them, to lead them astray, to sabotage their work, their lives and their ideas. It is “legal” to slander them, to frame them, to rape them.
Because the capitalist system’s thinking is closed in on itself, there is no point in trying to challenge the phoney idea of “legality” with which its justifies its oppression and violence.
To do so merely makes you more of a “criminal” in its eyes – more of a “threat to democracy”, more of an “extremist”, more of a “terrorist“.
The self-serving logic of the system can never concede that the real crime is capitalism itself.
A nasty example of the oppressive violence of the capitalist British system came in Liverpool on September 17, when a court sentenced five anti-capitalists to imprisonment for a protest occupation.
The Love Activists will be locked up by the state – two of them in jail and three in a young offenders’ institution – for ten long weeks after daring to take action against homelessness.
There were disturbances inside and outside the court as the sentences were handed down. One man in his late fifties was dressed in a superman costume as he shouted at officers: “Feeding the homeless is not a crime! Homeless not banks!”
Others waved hand-painted banners saying: “Resisting homelessness” and “Homes not Banks”.
Two further people were arrested during the protest which spilled over from the court area onto the Strand behind, and at one point blocked the southbound carriageway during rush hour.
As we reported in Acorn 9, the Love Activists moved into the unoccupied city centre bank in the middle of April to set up a support centre for Liverpool’s homeless people, incorporating places to sleep, an advice centre and a street kitchen, before being evicted a month later.
Their crime was “trespass” – a law which takes us right back to the core of a system which grew from the violent theft of the land from the people by a tiny elite. The imprisonment of the “trespassers” is the continuation of that historic violence.
The words of District Judge Andrew Shaw also shed some light on the thinking of the system and the restraints it places on our freedom to do what we know is the right thing.
In sentencing, he condemned the “selfish actions” of the activists and added: “The apparent object of the exercise was to protest about the plight of the homeless. None of the defendants have done any work in the community to benefit the homeless. None of you worked for charities or voluntary organisations in the immediate lead-up to this offence; indeed the majority had no charitable involvement”.
What he’s saying here is that in a capitalist system it is only permissible to treat the symptoms of social ills, never the root causes which are deeply embedded in the structure of the system itself.
So it’s OK to help individual homeless people, OK for the rich to hand out patronising “charity” to the poor but completely unacceptable to try to change society so that everyone has a roof over their head or so that the earth is a common treasury for all, as Gerrard Winstanley put it, and there is no longer such a thing as “the rich” or “the poor”.
There is a limit to your right to participate in society – that’s the message of Judge Shaw to the activists he has sent behind bars. And if you dare stray beyond that point, by taking any kind of real action, the British state will unleash its age-old violence against you.
A statement from Love Activists said: “Love Activists are outraged and disgusted by the sentences handed out to the Love Bank Five today. The judge today showed a clear prejudice against the activists, as they openly applied their personal opinions to legislative law: they declared that it is ‘selfish’ for someone to openly help homeless people or indeed be homeless yourself.
“We, Love Activists, stand in full solidarity with the Love Bank Five, and strongly oppose the harsh sentencing imposed today by a judge clearly lacking impartiality. We fully support any campaign to see the unjust sentences overturned”.
Support the campaign against the sentences via the #freelovebank5 hashtag on Twitter.
Two recent political developments nicely sum up the increasingly authoritarian capitalism of the UK state.
One of them is the Trade Union Bill, which is currently working its way through the UK parliament.
This will place ludicrous restrictions on trade unionists’ freedom to strike and protest. For instance, it will introduce fines of up to £20,000 for unions whose members do not wear identifying armbands when picketing and will allow bosses to hire agency temps to break strikes.
Adds Netpol: “Amidst its highly restrictive current provisions, the Bill will require unions to report their intention to organise any protest – including any form of demonstration related to an industrial dispute that takes place away from the workplace – to employers and regulators 14 days in advance of any action.
“The Bill’s automatic assumption is that any form of union-organised protest is ‘intimidation’ and requires curbing… the government appears intent on using ‘intimidation’ as a useful excuse for clamping down on any protests against corporate interests that include union participation”.
The Bill is clearly a draconian attack on the right to strike and organise. Even Tory MP David Davis condemned the idea of obliging picketers to give their names to the police as like something from Franco’s Spanish state and a poll showed the legislation was opposed by two thirds of the British public.
But the ruling clique continues to describe it with the vocabulary they always use to describe all their policies. Business secretary Sajid Javid declared that: “The heart of this is all about democracy… It is simply the latest stage in the long journey of modernization and reform”.
Inside the same parallel universe in which democracy is a synonym for capitalism, this plutofascistic new law attacking workers’ freedom is presented as good news for “hardworking people” (Javid again), with the right-wing Spectactor brazenly insisting, without the slightest hint of embarrassment, that “the Trade Union Bill defends workers”.
The same dogmatic ultra-capitalist mindset can be seen behind the British Establishment’s reaction to Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader of the Labour Party.
You don’t have to be a supporter of Corbyn, or to see his politics as particularly radical or interesting, in order to appreciate the significance of the relentless attacks on him. In fact, from an anarchist perspective the vitriol deployed against Corbyn seems even more extraordinary.
He isn’t calling for the destruction of the state (far from it!), for an end to private land ownership, for the abolition of prisons, for the disbanding of the army and the police, for an end to wage slavery, for the removal of all borders, for the abandonment of the pursuit of ecocidal “growth” and industrialism or for the complete decentralisation of decision-making to a consensus-based community level. He is happy to work within the putrid parliamentary system and to acknowledge its legitimacy, along with that of the “law” and the monarchy.
And yet he was still described by the prime minister as “a threat to our national security”. As Nafeez Ahmed pointed out on Twitter, David Cameron was here evoking “the language of Hitler and Stalin”.
Senior generals have also been warning of an army “mutiny” (or even military coup?) if Corbyn ever managed to become PM.
This extreme reaction to Corbyn’s ascendancy, alongside the government’s attack on the trade unions, doesn’t merely highlight the narrow agenda of the corporate-military ruling elite.
It also points to their growing sense of panic that they might lose control, that the public have not been completely pacified by their propaganda and scared into submission by their armies of thick-skulled uniformed thugs.
Courageous people are still prepared to take a stand against the horrors of the industrial-military-capitalist complex in all the various forms it takes – arms fairs, refugee crises, homelessness, fracking, exploitation, environmental destruction, racism, police violence and repression.
If Cameron and his venal Bullingdon buddies think the Corbynist wing of the Labour Party is alarming, we can’t wait to see their faces when they encounter the rise of the real resistance!
Anti-militarists in southern Europe are planning resistance to massive and alarming NATO “war games” being staged in October and the start of November.
The “Trident Juncture” manoeuvres – mainly in Italy, Portugal and the Spanish State – will involve more than 36,000 troops from 30 states.
They will be “the most important NATO exercise during 2015” and “the largest deployment of NATO forces since the Cold War”, according to the Spanish Defence Ministry.
There is a sinister sub-text to the exercises, in which NATO says it will implement the “lessons” it learned in the war of occupation in Afghanistan.
The whole thing is looking very much like a dress rehearsal for massive military intervention across the Mediterranean in northern Africa, so rich in the minerals and hydrocarbons needed to keep the industrial capitalist system churning.
Although the pretext for the focus on Africa is the Islamist threat, and the war games will also send a belligerent message to Moscow, analysts think the main target of the US-led initiative is to combat Chinese influence in the continent.
Says a report on thefreeonline blog: “China is investing in many African countries, building infrastructure to extract natural resources – especially minerals – from the continent. Curbing Chinese expansion in Africa from the main competitor of the member states of the Atlantic Alliance, is one of the hidden motives of these ‘super wargames’. All this is part of the imperialist competition between the military powers and their dependence on the commercial interests of transnational corporations”.
Various call-outs have already been made for anti-NATO action in Madrid, Gibraltar, Zaragoza, Albacete and Cadiz.
Activists in Italy are planning protests outside NATO’s Rome HQ from October 8 to 11, as the exercises get underway, with other actions likely across the country.
Anti-militarists have been in action in London in September, with two weeks of protests against the DSEI arms fair in the Docklands.
Among the highlights of a successful mobilisation were:
* Numerous demonstrations both before and during the militarist murder-fest. There is a report on the main day of action here. Police maintained their proud tradition of using violence against those trying to stop the violence being facilitated by the arms fair – see this video, for instance.
Anti-industrial activists from ZAD protest camps across France are to converge on Paris in December for the Cop21 climate summit (see Acorn 14). They will be going to the capital on foot, bike and tractor to make a stand against the destruction of our planet by the capitalist system. Info at http://marchesurlacop.noblogs.org
* * *
“The use of unmanned drones to launch so-called ‘risk free’ attacks in remote areas of the world has rocketed over the past decade. Technology, we are told, can control the chaos of war. The reality is that armed drones make it much easier for governments to opt to use lethal military force rather than engage in diplomatic or political solutions”. This is the warning from http://dronewars.net, a UK website packed with information about the drone menace.
* * *
Environmentalists in South Korea are furious after the Winter Olympics construction mafia felled thousands of trees just to build a ski slope for the one-off event. Rebecca Kim of SungkongHoe University in Seoul reports: “Pyeongchang2018 has completed the destruction of the primeval forest which has stood on Mount Gariwang for hundreds of years to make way for the Alpine Downhill ski event which will last for all of three days. This act and its unbelievable criminality have gone almost entirely unreported and unremarked in the world’s media”.
* * *
The discovery of a previously unknown 4,500-year-old 90-stone monument near Stonehenge has led to renewed outrage at government plans to drive a new road through the area. Said the Stonehenge Alliance: “The massive stone monument recently discovered under the southern bank of Durrington Walls is yet another reason why the Government needs to abandon its proposal for a ‘short’ tunnel near Stonehenge and substantial road building within the World Heritage Site”.
* * *
Acorn quote: “May the revolution bring rebirth. May, since we need nothing so much as new, uncorrupted men rising up out of the unknown darkness and depths, may these renewers, purifiers, saviors not be lacking to our nation. Long live the revolution, and may it grow and rise to new levels in hard, wonderful years. May the nations be imbued with the new, creative spirit out of their task, out of the new conditions, out of the primeval, eternal and unconditional depths, the new spirit that really does create new conditions. May the revolution produce religion, a religion of action, life, love, that makes men happy, redeems them and overcomes impossible situations”.
Writer Paul Cudenec has given an interview to a newspaper in England about his latest book, The Stifled Soul of Humankind.
Paul told the West Sussex County Times, which covers the area where he used to live, why he had chosen to go to France to write.
“I could feel a real negative pressure building up around me in West Sussex,” he recalled. “Not only the threat from fracking, but also from massive house-building schemes, the possible expansion of Gatwick and so on.
“I really needed to go away somewhere to try and make sense of it all and place it all in some kind of historical context.”
Paul insisted that despite the downbeat title of the book, and the rather scary cover art depicting damned souls, it contains an essentially positive message.
He explained: “On the one hand I try to describe all the factors that have blocked the freedom and the potential of humankind – from the megalomania of the Roman Catholic Church through the theft of common land and the suppression of folk culture, to the lie of ‘progress’ that is still being imposed on us today and which threatens our very existence.
“On the other hand, I also show that there is an underground stream of opposition to all of this. It takes different forms at different moments in history, but it is obviously the same stream.”
Paul said it was important to realise that this idea of resistance was spiritual in origin – an aspect which he said had been neglected by many contemporary radicals who were still attached to a “scientific” or economic analysis of society.
“One of my favouriter thinkers, the German-Jewish anarchist Gustav Landauer, was warning of this 100 years ago – he saw dogmatic Marxist thinking as the biggest enemy of any authentic human renaissance because it denied the very idea of a human spirit.
“Now that state communism is fading into history, I think dissidents today have to go back to the original rebellions against the machineries of power and profit to seek inspiration in ideas that have been mostly neglected since orthodox Marxism became so dominant.”
In his book, Paul traces a thread of ideas back to the 13th century and the Brethren of the Free Spirit – rebel Christians viciously persecuted by the Inquisition. Their anti-authoritarian heresy spread across Europe, helping to fuel centuries of peasant uprisings, and later inspired the radical Ranters and Diggers of the 17th century English Revolution.
Also woven into the story are the likes of William Blake, William Morris, Richard Jefferies, Franz Kafka, René Guénon, Herbert Read, Carl Jung and Aldous Huxley.
Paul said: “Some of the writers speaking out against industrial civilization in the 19th century have been described as ‘anti-capitalist Romantics’. For me, that is what we have got to reclaim, that sense of spirit, of life, against the dead hand of money which seems to rule everything these days. And while there is life there is always hope, no matter how bad things are looking.”
To arrange an interview with Paul Cudenec, or to invite him to speak, he can be contacted directly via cudenec(at)riseup.net
We have just brought out a series of free mini-booklets called Winter Oak Branches of Knowledge. The fourth of these is adapted from the final chapter of Paul Cudenec’s new book The Stifled Soul of Humankind and is called Spirals of Hope. Here is the text:
Deep anxiety is a common personal reaction to the world stripped of meaning and authenticity in which we find ourselves today. One solution proposed for this crisis of the spirit is to “live in the Now” and thus put into some kind of distant perspective the nagging confusions of our contemporary society, to root oneself in the physical reality of each moment, finding a firm foundation in the sensations of looking, listening, breathing, walking, eating.
But, while an obsessive nostalgia for the past is clearly unhealthy for any individual, so is the addiction to the present moment that results from living excessively in the Now. It encourages a drifting and passive kind of experience. Despite the intention of shedding the ambitious and anxious ego, the Now personality can become selfish, glorying in the irresponsible spontaneity of its own eternally present tense. It may manage to avoid anxiety in this way, but only by ignoring the fact that anxiety is a symptom. The root causes of the problem are simply ignored and any real remedial action indefinitely postponed.
What applies to the individual also applies to the macrocosm of society. Collectively we are also tempted to retreat into living purely in the Now, in the face of the disorientating storm of anxieties swirling around us. Living perpetually in the present tense of the News, we simply respond intuitively to the stimuli it offers, find ourselves carried along from one issue to the next. Attempts to reach a deeper long-term understanding of our collective predicament are made virtually impossible by the constant white noise generated by accounts of history serving the interests of the status quo. Sometimes it’s merely the sheer amount of irrelevant detail that makes it difficult to make out any real shape to what’s been happening to humankind, but often these accounts are deliberately misleading.
Los Amigos de Ludd write that capitalism imposes its own reality by “reducing History to a succession of stages in the fulfilment of its own dogma, and the past to a skeleton of concepts and abstractions”. Michael Löwy argues that reality has been obscured by a modern mindset which “sees the movement of history as a continuum of constant improvements, of irreversible evolution, of growing accumulation, of beneficial modernisation for which scientific and technological progress provides the motor”.
In contrast to this official story of Progress are visions such as Walter Benjamin’s famous imagining of the angel of history, as inspired by Paul Klee’s painting Angelus Novus. “His face is turned towards the past,” explains Benjamin. “Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. This storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress”.
Like Benjamin, we need to be able to step back from the frantic ever-changing detail of the Now and see that it is part of a much broader and more significant scenario. What we will see is a humanity dispossessed, a society in which freedom, autonomy, creativity, culture, and the spirit of collective solidarity have been deliberately suffocated by a ruthlessly violent and exploitative elite hiding behind the masks of Authority, Property, Law, Progress and God.
Such enslavement of humankind should be enough to incite the desire for change, but there is, in addition to all this, another factor: this capitalist industrial civilization is also killing the planet. The situation could hardly be more urgent and yet our culture barely responds, shows no sign of changing. The core problem is perhaps that our society is no longer alive and you can’t expect much in the way of response from a corpse! Our so-called democracy is a sham, the people disempowered and cowed into submission by Authority and there is therefore no obvious way that the majority can influence the direction society takes, even on detailed points, let alone issues of fundamental importance.
However, it is important to remember that this sensation of powerlessness is all part of the psychological trickery used by the authorities to ensure our compliance with the continuing status quo. Living collectively in the Now, we are blinded not only to the past, but to the future. More specifically, we have become convinced that just as Progress has inevitably brought us to where we are today, so it must continue to take us to wherever it must lead. We are taught that the future is essentially pre-determined, according to the historical laws which we are told have shaped our world, and there is nothing we can do about it. This lie has even come to be accepted by radical opponents of industrial capitalism, who insist that the best we can do is to adapt to the grim future that will inevitably be delivered to us by the system.
In truth, there was nothing inevitable about the way our society has turned out. It has taken centuries of repression to impose the will of a sociopathic elite on the population. That repression continues today, along with the possibility that it will fail to hold us down. Seen from our enemies’ point of view, there is nothing inevitable about the continuation of their system at all. They live in constant fear of losing control, of being overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of the lawless mob. That is why they devote so much time and energy to feeding us lies, locking us up, acting out the theatre of Authority, sending in riot cops and armies to put down any signs of resistance to their global slave-labour system.
“Now is the moment for us to explode the ultimate lie with which we have been brainwashed – that we are powerless”
We are living in an age when many of the illusions of Authority are falling away and many millions of people across the world are seeing the truth behind the false constructs which prop it up. Cynicism is rife but we seem to have stopped there, balanced on the point of no longer believing in the system but unwilling to go any further, to take the final step into outright resistance. Now is the moment for us to explode the ultimate lie with which we have been brainwashed – that we are powerless.
The first step is to understand how it is that we have been duped, how we have been reduced to a state of psychological submission. Then we have to rediscover within ourselves the vital spirit that makes us strong, the sense of collective belonging and empowerment that so frightens those who would keep us and our descendants as their slaves. It barely matters what we term this power within, so long as we do not allow it to be overshadowed by the myth of a power outside or above us – there can be no authority, no god, but ourselves.
From this perspective, the situation of the human race looks quite different. It seems impossible that it could ever bow its head in slavery or stand idly by while its mother, the Earth, is destroyed in the name of short-term greed. It seems unthinkable that people could ever have forgotten that the desire for freedom lies at the heart of their very being. Reconnected with the long-forbidden knowledge of its own power, a people will naturally be propelled towards its innate and eternal needs. Like the green shoots of a plant seeking out the sunlight, humanity will always have a natural tendency to fulfil its inner organic potential.
Peter Kropotkin could be describing our own times when he argues that “there are periods in the life of human society when revolution becomes an imperative necessity, when it proclaims itself as inevitable”. But, of course, revolution is only inevitable, or indeed possible, if we take whatever action is necessary to bring it about.
It is here that we must again confront the comfortable habit of perpetually living in the Now and with it the whole concept of time as something that sweeps us along like small twigs in a surging river. This is Time regarded as Authority, as an obstacle to our power to shape our own reality, to become the people we want to be.
We are not bound to travel to any particular future, there is nothing inevitable about any outcome, no matter how likely it may look from our present vantage point. While we recognise the existence of circumstances that stand in the way of the future we would like to see, there is no reason why we must therefore accept that their influence will be decisive. It is, as Ernst Bloch says, always possible to replace the fatalism of a “because” with the determination of a “despite everything”.
“We have to reintroduce ourselves to history, not as observers but as participants. The power that we can rediscover in ourselves is, among other things, the power to create the future”
We have to reintroduce ourselves to history, not as observers but as participants. The power that we can rediscover in ourselves is, among other things, the power to create the future. We have to create our own narrative – the narrative of revolution. Like the prophesies of rebels past, our narrative can become self-fulfilling. There is a self-feeding circular momentum that we need to get started. The understanding of the need for revolution, the dream of revolution, the hope of revolution, the belief in the possibility of revolution – all of these must be fostered in turn before revolution can ever take place.
For this task we need a powerful collective vision and determination that can inspire, that can transform, that can regenerate, that can sweep aside seemingly immovable obstacles and turn remote possibilities into hard realities. Humankind needs new generations of idealistic young revolutionaries, heretics, inspirés with a burning sense of purpose and destiny, with the unquenchable energy to will into existence the new world of which they dream. We need, as Kropotkin insists, “intrepid souls who know that is necessary to dare in order to succeed”.
We won’t get them by sticking to dry dispassionate analysis of history, by being bogged down in detail, by being waylaid into dead ends of pointless abstraction or pedantry. We won’t get them by shying away from the truth, by compromising with the system, by regarding passionate polemic as an embarrassment. We won’t get them by trying to regulate and repress the spirit of our own revolt, by pouring cold water on others’ attempts to bring about change, by sneering at hope itself.
There are those who reject hope as unrealistic and those who reject it as being passive, as being reliant on factors outside our own control. But both positions fail to see that hope is in fact a vital factor in our ability to change reality and that, far from playing a passive role, it is the key to inspiring active participation. “Let us remember that if exasperation often drives men to revolt, it is always hope, the hope of victory, which makes revolutions”, says Kropotkin and he argues that the action it inspires will itself feed back into the positive energies of the revolutionary spirit: “Courage, devotion, the spirit of sacrifice, are as contagious as cowardice, submission, and panic”.
Prophecy brings hope, hope brings courage, courage brings action, action brings inspiration, inspiration brings more determination, renewed hope, deepened courage. Once this magical spiral of revolt has started spinning, it takes on a life of its own and becomes, in Kropotkin’s phrase, “a revolutionary whirlwind”.
The authentic urge to revolution can be destructive, but never negative, and behind it there be must always be a vision born from the heart of humanity. There is something therefore much deeper behind the will to genuine revolution, to anarchy, than mere opinion. It rises from the depths of our collective soul and thus, by extension, from the natural world of which we are part. It is the vehicle of an intangible organic need for things to be made right, for humankind and the planet it dominates to once again exist in harmony with the Tao.
This restoration of the state of nature, of the Golden Age, is demanded by natural laws next to which our artificial human laws look feeble and ephemeral. Once unleashed, the mighty strength of a global uprising summoned by the life-force itself will have no difficulty in sweeping away for ever the violent machineries of a tyranny which has stifled humankind for far too long.
“Prophecy brings hope, hope brings courage, courage brings action, action brings inspiration, inspiration brings more determination, renewed hope, deepened courage. Once this magical spiral of revolt has started spinning, it takes on a life of its own”