What would an anti-capitalist revolution actually look like, if it happened?
That is the question that must be going through many an anarchist’s mind as current events unfold in France.
The Gilets Jaunes or Yellow Vest movement has staged four successive Saturdays of startling and energetic mass mobilisations across France against the neoliberal Macron regime, turning a protest against the cost of living into an attempted insurrection.
On Saturday December 8 there were more than a thousand arrests as crowds occupied central Paris and caused general havoc from Toulouse to Bordeaux, Nantes to Marseilles. The protests even spread to Brussels in Belgium.
Another huge day of action is planned for Saturday December 15, which is being billed as Act V of the show, in which neoliberal President Macron finally resigns!
Meanwhile, France’s capitalists are complaining that the protests have already cost them a billion euros of lost consumer profits in the run-up to Christmas.
On the face of it, this is every radical’s dream. Thousands of people are taking to the streets, blocking roads, setting up burning barricades, resisting the state’s robocops with their tear gas, water cannon and armoured cars.
The movement has so far bypassed all the usual organised structures of trade unions and political parties, which is no doubt why it has been able to maintain its momentum.
All sorts of people have jumped aboard, of all ages, and although they don’t necessarily speak a finely-honed ideological language, the mood is clearly anti-capitalist and anti-hierarchical.
This is an anti-capitalism which has been learned from real life, from being constantly trampled under the boot of exploitation, rather than from the pages of a left-wing textbook.
Blocking their way to actually bringing down the system is, of course, the huge power of the system itself.
This can be seen physically, in the enormous numbers of police on the streets and the violence which they have obviously been authorised to inflict on protesters.
French “democracy” is just as much a sham as UK or US “democracy” and those in power will do anything necessary to keep hold of it.
The French authorities have already threatened to shoot live rounds at protesters, if need be, and you would have to be very naive to think they do not mean it.
Having said that, the state knows it could not hold down the whole population across the country if they rose up with sufficient energy at the same time.
The system also has an enormous power of propaganda, of controlling the narrative. The French public are constantly told that the rebellion is petering out, that it has been hijacked by extremists (far-right or far-left, depending on the target audience), that it has descended into sheer vandalism.
The international public are told that the movement is just about fuel prices, or that it is dangerously “populist”, or that, absurdly, it has all been staged by the Russians!
Happily, more and more people in France are seeing through all this and understanding their Fifth Republic for what it is – yet another scowling capitalist tyranny hiding behind a smiley mask of “democracy”.
There has also been a heartening response from radicals in France and beyond. After an initial scepticism about the nature of the Gilets Jaunes (which we shared), the vast majority on the revolutionary left have decided that the protest movement needs to be actively supported and its reactionary elements challenged from within.
This makes a refreshing change from the buckets of cold ideological sick all too often thrown over anyone whose revolt does not conform with a very specific set of principles and speaks of a new maturity and determination which bodes well for the future of anti-capitalist struggles.
There will, we suppose, still be those on the liberal fringes of anarchism and leftism who treat the popular uprising in France with disdain.
Maybe it is time for these pseudo-leftists to come clean and admit that they are not actually in favour of revolution at all, but are simply using the rhetoric of resistance to bring about some small liberalising tweaks to the status quo?
Maybe it is time for them to slink silently back indoors into the soul-sapping sterility of their politically-pure “safe spaces” and let the filthy, raucous, uncontrollable mob in the streets storm and burn down the corrupt citadels of power?
“We have realized that a detachment of man from Nature, from the Life-Whole, leads to his annihilation… No longer does man alone stand in the centerpoint of thinking, but rather Life as a Whole does, as it reveals itself in all living things on earth”.
On the face of it, this statement sounds rather good. It’s the sort of thing we send out on our Winter Oak “Quote for the Day” tweets.
But in this instance, we definitely won’t be doing that. Why? Because it comes from a 1934 book called Biological Will: Means and Goals of Biological Work in the New Reich by Ernst Lehmann, a leading Nazi biologist. (1)
The occasional similarity in vocabulary or rhetoric between radical eco-anarchist thought and a certain strand of Nazi ideology has long provided a source of ammunition for enemies of radical green thinking.
Sometimes these attacks amount to little more than laughable right-wing propaganda, as with a 2018 item (2) on the Encounter Books website focusing on the “totalitarian roots” of the green movement as a whole and, in particular, of wind power.
Others are taken a lot more seriously when they warn that a radical political philosophy which is too nature-based inevitably risks carrying us down into a dark underworld of proto-fascist ideology.
While Murray Bookchin was no doubt right to take elements of the American deep ecology movement to task for not fully recognising the social roots behind ecological problems, the rhetoric he deployed, condemning what he regarded as “ecofascism”, has ultimately only increased the perceived Nazi contamination of radical green thinking in general.
Fellow social ecologists Janet Biehl and Peter Staudenmaier carried on his approach with great enthusiasm. In Ecofascism: Lessons from the German Experience, they wrote: “The National Socialist ‘religion of nature,’ as one historian has described it, was a volatile admixture of primeval teutonic nature mysticism, pseudo-scientific ecology, irrationalist anti-humanism, and a mythology of racial salvation through a return to the land. Its predominant themes were ‘natural order,’ organicist holism and denigration of humanity: Such arguments have a chilling currency within contemporary ecological discourse”. (3)
More recently, Alexander Reid Ross, a one-time editor of Earth First! Journal, has identified parts of the EF! network, as well as anarchists and left-wingers generally, as being affected by what he terms ideological “fascist creep”. (4)
There are plenty of other examples out there, plus, it should be added, actual attempts by sections of the far right to hijack environmental positions and language for their own ends. (5)
All of this has, of course, not been without an impact on the thinking of the broader environmental movement.
Sensitive to comparison with Nazi policies, Germany’s Green Party has long gone out of its way to stress its rupture from this past.
For instance in a 1987 interview with the Oxford journal Green Line, party representative Jakob von Uexküll, grandson and namesake of an archconservative behavioural biologist, said that the Greens in Germany had made a conscious decision to seek out allies in minority groups because critics had pointed out that ecological-holistic statements had historically been made by Nazi and Fascist governments. (6)
While forging alliances with minority groups is itself a positive move, the problem lies in the way that ecologists with a social critique find it safer to tack their environmentalism on to an already-existing package of left-liberal thought rather than to source it from what is seen as an entirely discredited green tradition.
Historian Anna Bramwell wrote as long ago as 1994 that since the Second World War “any talk of holism, or a love of nature that adduced certain values from nature or strove to adapt humanity to those values, was suspect” (7) – and things certainly haven’t improved since then.
We can testify to this ourselves. An article published in 2017 by Winter Oak, Envisioning a Post-Western World, proposing an exit from industrial capitalist ways of living and thinking, was only reposted by the radical American website antidote zine after much discussion and with a disclaimer that some of the arguments we put forward were “right on the knife’s edge”. (8)
The knife in question turned out to be the one being dramatically waved around by Reid Ross, which seems to have successfully intimidated a large part of the anti-capitalist movement in the US, even if some are still brave enough to publish “suspect” ideas in spite of his efforts.
But what is the truth behind this “Nazi” smear against organic deep green ideology? Is it justified? Is it something that should influence the way we collectively formulate our own vision of the world? If so, in what way?
To get to the roots of the matter, we will here be asking, and answering, the following questions:
1. What were the origins of this organic thinking? 2. To what extent was this thinking part of Nazi theory and practice? 3. Are there other possible manifestations of organic ideology? 4. What political ideology is the best fit with an organic approach? 5. Is organic radicalism the only target of the contemporary Nazi smear? 6. What is the relationship between anti-capitalism and anti-semitism? 7. So what, do we conclude, is the smear all about? 8. Why do we care so much about this issue? 9. What would we like to see happen next?
1. What were the origins of this organic thinking?
By organic thinking, we mean a vision which regards human societies, as well as the environment, as being essentially alive and of consisting of countless subtle interactions and collectivities which can never fully be described because of their rich complexity.
It regards human beings as an extension of nature. It is a holistic approach, because it understands that everything is connected, everything is ultimately one.
A holistic and nature-based view of the world was the starting point of all human cultures and inspires the indigenous spiritualities of North and South America, of Australia and Africa, and, yes, even of Europe.
It was the foundation stone on which were built the metaphysics of Chuang Tsu, Plotinus and Paracelsus. It remains a widely-shared, instinctive, “common sense” view of the world which has never been completely erased from the human spirit.
The coming of the Industrial Revolution sparked a reaction, in which some people actively sought out and revitalised these old ideas. This was not so much an intellectual movement as an instinctive response to cultural, social and environmental danger.
As Vivianne Crowley writes: “From the late eighteenth century onwards, rapid industrialization and the rape of Europe’s natural scenery and resources caused many people to feel that the time was out of joint; that common sense was being sacrificed to material progress with potentially disastrous results”. (9)
The organic thinking on which we are focusing here is this version, the one that emerged in reaction to the trauma of industrialisation, of Western civilization’s drift away from that original wisdom and towards the cold and mechanical philosophies of the modern era.
In a sense it could be termed Organic Thinking II, because it included a conscious defence of Organic Thinking I in the face of the sterile dogmas of capitalist modernity.
Everywhere affected by industrialisation saw the emergence of anti-industrial currents of thought.
The English-speaking world had the likes of William Blake (1757-1827), William Wordsworth (1770-1850), Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), John Ruskin (1819-1900), William Morris (1834-1896) and Richard Jefferies (1848-1887).
Morris spoke for many others when he admitted in 1894, two years before he died: “Apart from the desire to produce beautiful things, the leading passion of my life has been and is hatred of modern civilization”. (10)
France had its own tradition, which flowed from the anti-industrialism of the eighteenth-century philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) into the twentieth-century anti-productivism of Jacques Ellul (1912-1994) and Bernard Charbonneau (1910-1996) as well as the powerful critique of modernity voiced by George Bernanos (1888-1948), who declared: “The Civilization of the Machines is the civilization of quantity opposed to that of quality”. (11)
German-speaking Europe had a particularly strong concept of Naturphilosophie, intertwined with Romanticism, which could draw on the wisdom of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), Novalis (1772-1801), Friedrich Hölderlin (1775-1854) and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling (1775-1854).
In her book Reenchanted Science: Holism in German Culture from Wilhelm II to Hitler, Anne Harrington traces the evolution of one thread of this thinking from nineteenth-century scientists who developed holistic approaches in their own specific fields and then, as good holists, saw that there was also a bigger picture.
“From Berlin to Prague to Vienna to Zurich, these scientists began to mingle their voices with those of other kinds of cultural critics, would-be reformers, and crisis-mongers. Those other voices from outside the sciences also typically used the oppositional imagery of machine and wholeness in order to articulate what they believed had gone wrong in politics, the community and individual existence – and to identify roads to renewal. That imagery in turn had energetic links to other, overlapping political and societal oppositions of the time: Gemeinschaft (community) versus Gesellschaft (society), an opposition made famous by the nineteenth-century sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies; (German) Kultur versus (French) Zivilization; Life and Soul versus Mind and Reason, a squaring-off associated with such ‘life philosophers’ as Ludwig Klages”. (12)
The starting point of Organic Thinking II was opposition to The Machine and all the damage it was doing to human culture and well-being, as well as to the natural world.
The Machine, which spawned the ugly coke furnaces and iron and steel factories of the Ruhr valley, powered the militarism of Otto von Bismarck, Chancellor of the German Empire between 1871 and 1890.
There was a process of extraordinarily rapid industrialization at the end of the nineteenth century that, notes Harrington, had left many feeling “uprooted and aesthetically revolted”. (13)
And The Machine also reached inside people’s heads, breaking down older ways of thinking and remodelling minds according to the demands of the new industrial civilization.
A fragmentation of understanding was identified by critics of the modern age. Like the living communities replaced by urban dormitories for the factory wage-slaves, everything seemed to be broken down and torn apart.
In the sciences, research was increasingly specialist and narrow, geared towards utilitarian pragmatism rather than a quest for knowledge.
The success of individuals or nations was judged in terms of material wealth, of productivity, rather than in terms of inner integrity or happiness.
A sense of belonging to the land, to the past, to a continuum, was rased by the brutal demands of so-called progress.
An individual’s sense of self was swept away by the depersonalised speed and fury of steam-powered living and, at the same time, any sense of belonging to humanity as a whole was denied by the nationalistic fervour of industrial and imperial rivalry with other Europeans and officially-encouraged contempt for the “inferior” and “backward” peoples of the non-industrialised world.
The realm of offices, factories, newspapers and trains forced people into a state of existence where they seemed to exist purely in their own heads, on the surface of being, and were as cut off from their own bodies, their own physical reality, as they were from the natural world from which they had been separated for the first time in a million years of human history.
Organic Thinking II sought to counter that fragmentation, that separation, on every level, and to reinstate a sense of interconnecting wholeness.
Body and soul were not regarded as separate, but as two aspects of one and the same entity. Likewise with individuals and society – not industrial-capitalist society, of course, but the natural and organic one put forward as a healthy alternative.
Collective groups of people were described as living organisms, themselves forming part of even greater living organisms. Humanity itself was one living entity and part of the living natural world.
None of this was new. All of this had already been known by Organic Thinking I. But the difference here was that the new embrace of this holism was also a pro-active call for the realisation and return of that holism.
Organic Thinking II was a demand for change, for the overturning of shallow, fragmented, dehumanising, nature-destroying industrial society and for the rediscovery of authenticity, community, belonging and wholeness.
2. To what extent was this thinking part of Nazi theory and practice?
There is no doubt that Nazi rhetoric and ideology was partly shaped by the organic thinking that was such an influential counter-current in German-speaking Europe at the start of the twentieth century.
The Nazis painted themselves as being on a mission to put things to rights, to bring about a “great revolution in values”, to restore healthy attitudes towards nature.
Nazi language reflected the idea that human life was, and should be, interlaced with nature. Notes Nina Lyon: “All manner of lengthy compound nouns abstracting this ideal prospered: Erdebundenkeit, the binding or oneness with the earth; Volksboden, the connection of the people with the soil; Bodenständigkeit, or the nature by which life was shaped by earthly forces”. (14)
Nazi professor Friederich Sander named “the longing for wholeness” as one of the two basic motives behind the movement. He added: “Present-day German psychology and the National Socialistic world view are both oriented towards the same goal: the vanquishing of atomistic and mechanistic forms of thought: vanquishing through organic thinking, in the structure of völkisch life here, in the researching of psychological reality there”. (15)
Lehmann, cited at the beginning of this article, wrote a book, Biology in the Present Life, which included chapters on “individual wholeness”, “transindividual wholeness”, “the cosmos of life” and “völkische wholeness”.
He argued: “This striving for connectedness with all of life, indeed with Nature in general into which we are born – that, so far as I can see, is the deepest purpose and true essence of National Socialistic thinking”. (16)
This holistic tendency even reached down to a practical level. The Nazis promoted healthy eating and wholemeal bread. They were all in favour of homeopathy, herbalism and other natural therapies. There was a herbal plantation at Dachau concentration camp.
It is the jarring note of that last sentence that reminds us that there was something not quite right about the Nazi love affair with the organic ideal.
In fact, the closer you look, the more it becomes apparent that the Nazi version of organic thinking amounted to a distortion so severe as to render it philosophically unrecognisable. They used holistic and organic thought merely as “a fund of metaphors” (17) with which to present and justify their own totalitarian ideology.
Adolf Hitler himself, for instance, wrote in Mein Kampf that to replace the “dead mechanism” of the liberal state “there must be formed a living organism with the exclusive aim of serving a higher idea”. (18)
It is clearly nonsense to speak of a living organism being “formed”, as any real follower of organic thinking would immediately understand. A living organism could be freed from certain restraints, or even revived, but not formed by the machineries of political will.
Hitler is in fact talking about the Nazi state – centrally controlled and ruthlessly hierarchical – to which he is trying to lend an aura of natural authenticity by describing it as an organism in the language popular at the time.
He – and his followers – completely undermined Tönnies’ distinction between organic, bottom-up, community (Gemeinschaft) and artificial, top-down, modern society (Gesellschaft) by pretending that the Nazi Gesellschaft was really a kind of Gemeinschaft. The state and the Führer somehow magically represented the authentic will of the German people.
This notion of the state as organism had already been developed by the right wing of the organic movement, but in Nazi dogma it took on whole new proportions, because the idea of total power resting in the hands of the state was so central to their ideology.
Zeev Sternhell remarks: “Totalitarianism is the very essence of fascism, and fascism is without question the purest example of a totalitarian ideology. Setting out as it did to create a new civilization, a new type of human being and a totally new way of life, fascism could not conceive of any sphere of human activity remaining immune from intervention by the State”. (19)
The Nazi obsession with order imposed from above, with the absolute rule of the central state, is the opposite of an authentically organic vision.
As the anarcho-syndicalist Rudolf Rocker wrote: “Dictatorship is the negation of organic development, of natural building from below upwards”. (20)
A further corruption of the organic principle came from what Harrington describes as “the ‘racializing’ of holism’s struggle against mechanism” (21)
The right-wing generation before the Nazis, inspired by Houston Stewart Chamberlain and others, had already formulated the concept of “race”, which broke down humanity into distinct groups – as with the scientific tables and hierarchical classifications of minerals, vegetables and animals which were favoured at the time.
These race theorists, both in France and in Germany, took the philosophical idea of Gestalt, of underlying form, and twisted it into a justification for rigid racial typology. This then fed into a racially-based definition of the social organism which excluded those of whom they disapproved.
Sternhell explains their argument thus: “The nation is a living organism, and nationalism is therefore an ethic, comprising all the criteria of behaviour which the common interest calls for, and on which the will of the individual has no bearing. The duty both of the individual and of society is to find out what this ethic may be, yet only those can succeed who have a share in the ‘national consciousness,’ shaped over the course of the centuries: the Jews, as a foreign race, cannot enter upon this quest”. (22)
The anti-semitic thread incorporated into organic and holistic philosophy by right-wing nationalists became more pronounced in the 1920s. Germans projected on to Jews all the aspects of the German industrial capitalist system that they disliked most – Jews were demonized as being soulless, rootless and mercenary.
It was even said, or implied, explains Harrington, that the very capacity to think and see nature as a “whole” (the art of so-called Ganzheitsbetrachtung) was a trait peculiar to the “Indo-Germanic” mind, while the Jewish mind was fundamentally analytic, dissolutive, and materialistic. (23)
A 1935 article that appeared in the official medical journal of the Nazi party, Ziel und Weg, said the dissolute, sterile nature of Jewish thinking and Jewish science could lead only to “death” and contrasted this with the “simple, organic, creative” thinking of the “healthy non-Jew”, who “thinks in wholes”. (24)
The irony, of course, is that these racist and anti-semitic theories demonstrated that it was the Nazis themselves who were incapable of thinking holistically.
A holistic vision of the world understands the connection between all people, all creatures, all of nature, all of the cosmos and bases its vision on a sense of overall unity.
An organic interpretation of the human species necessarily recognises the human species itself as an organism.
There may be lesser, shifting, “organisms” within that unity – and humanity may form part of larger natural and cosmic organisms – but the human species is undeniably the clearest instance of a biological unity between the individual and the bio-system of Earth as a whole.
A sense of this unity is integral to the organic, holistic world-view, and yet it is entirely absent from racist, anti-semitic, Nazi ideology.
The ideas of universalism and humanism were anathema to Nazism and regarded as cosmopolitan Jewish inventions designed to undermine the German sense of national and racial identity.
Their stunted sense of human solidarity was limited to those they defined as being their own people. Anyone outside of that Teutonic enclave was simply a non-person, an object.
Like certain postmodern thinkers of a later era, the Nazis denied the very existence of humankind, which, as Johann Chapoutot points out, “makes fraternity, feeling the suffering of the other, impossible as an emotion and invalidates it as a principle”. (25)
This was what lay behind the cold look in the eyes of the Nazi scientist famously described by Primo Levi in Survival in Auschwitz. He was looking at the Jewish prisoner as if he was observing a sea creature through “the glass window of an aquarium”. (26) There was no sense of human connection.
The anti-semitism displayed by the scientist here is not simply a prejudice, but a prejudice solidified into something self-justifying by a belief in the validity of the Nazis’ pseudo-scientific racial theorising.
Chapoutot says of this racism: “Slavs were presented as such strange beings that no communication of a human kind could be imagined with them. As for the Jews, they weren’t even considered as a foreign race, but rather as a phenomenon of a bacteriological or viral type”. (27)
It was this capacity to regard fellow human beings as mere bacteria which enabled the Nazi state to embark on its inhuman policies of racial screening, sterilization, castration, experimentation and mass extermination.
Far from being inspired from a holistic view of the world, this outlook stems from the very fragmentation of which the proponents of organic thinking complained. This is mechanical thinking.
The Nazis’ approach is marked by a desire not to understand, to include and to connect, but to separate, to classify and to objectivise. As Hitler himself said: “Nazism is applied biology”. (28)
Rather than making a break with the cold, soulless, mechanical age, the Nazis were pushing it on to new levels of inhumanity.
As earlier as 1933, the psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich observed that fascism was not about Wholeness at all, but rather was the culmination of modern civilization’s mad worship of The Machine. It was possible because fascist man had let himself be transformed into a machine that was alienated from all authentic biological impulses and thus capable of ‘machine murder’. (29)
Much the same point was made in an article by Gerhard Portele in Gestalt Theory in 1979 when he argued that, despite the Nazis’ use of holistic language, the essence of their ideology lay in their neglect of the whole: “The Nazis with their calculating book-keeping rationality were trained in piecemeal thinking to an extreme degree and viewed people as cogs”. (30)
This fundamental incompatibility between organic, holistic thinking and Nazi ideology became increasingly apparent once their romantic rhetoric collided with the pragmatic realities of running the German industrial-capitalist state.
Hans Driesch (1867-1941), a biologist whose organic vision was defiantly internationalist, was among the first non-Jewish German professors to be forcibly retired after Hitler came to power in 1933 and in 1935 all public speaking and travel privileges were taken away from him.
After Germany’s defeat in World War II, a number of other organic theorists, such as the philosopher and historian of biology Adolf Meyer-Abich, came forward to report that they too had been actively persecuted by the Third Reich because of the perceived threats their holism posed for Nazi policies.
The Nazi faction which had twisted organic thinking into a racist and anti-semitic theory was itself displaced by an even more hardline group.
Harrington explains: “The second faction was made up of more pragmatic medical technocrats who wanted to use a hard-nosed form of Mendelian genetics, Darwinism, and racial biology as the basis for Nazi social policy and military strategy. This group had found a home for itself under the jurisdiction of Himmler’s SS and its daughter racial organizations, the Lebensborn and Ahnenerbe”. (31)
Human geneticist Karl Astel and his technocratic colleagues, outraged at the influence wielded by the likes of Karl Kötschua and his “nature therapy”, hatched a plot to discredit holistic views, which, he correctly concluded, flew completely in the face of narrow Nazi theories of racial supremacy.
In the same way as today’s anti-holistic propagandists try to blacken its name by linking it to the Nazis, these Nazis smeared holism by linking it to the Roman Catholic Church.
A 1936 article “exposing” this Catholic plot described “a skillfully organized and well-camouflaged attack on the entire exact sciences, including genetics and racial hygiene”.
Under the name of holism, it said, sinister Jesuits were using scientific dupes to spread a Catholic doctrine and undermine Nazi science. Their cunning ploy involved making “full intentional use of words that sound National Socialistic, like ‘wholeness’, ‘organic’, ‘biologic’, and so on” in order to spread confusion while appearing to be on-message. (32)
As a result of this propaganda, even Nazi exponents of organic theory were now hounded out of positions of influence. In 1938 Lehmann, previously quoted, was expelled from the Biologen Verband (Biologists’ Organization) which he had headed since 1931 and removed from his position as editor of Der Biologe.
A new organization within the SS was created, the Reichsbund für Biologie (Reich Division for Biology) which, under the direct supervision of the Ahnenerbe and ultimately of Himmler himself, took over the editorship of Der Biologe.
An organic theory of life, with its emphasis on natural harmony, human interconnectedness and symbiotic relationship, stood in stark ideological contradiction to the aims of the Nazi regime, which wanted to build up Germany’s industrial and military power, build motorways, develop scientific racial engineering to strengthen “The Master Race”, explore the potential of nuclear physics, and ruthlessly eliminate “alien” human elements from German society.
The new SS-run version of Der Biologe made it clear that there was no room for the woolly, holistic views of men like Lehmann and the völkisch anthropologist Ernst Krieck, even if they were Nazis and anti-semites. “Biology is research about facts!” it barked in a 1939 editorial.
Facts! This is the language of the atomistic, mechanistic, industrial thinking of The Machine, the very language that the Nazis had claimed to be opposing, at the stage when they were wooing the German population.
From the 1890s onwards, there had been a cultural battle between two German tendencies. On one side stood the tradition of Goethe, of a Romantic desire for life, for soul, for wholeness. On the other side was the new Germany, obsessed with efficiency and Technik, the militarist “machine nation” of 1914.
While Nazism was clearly influenced on one level by the first, Romantic tradition, and happy to use that association to garner support from a German public despairing of capitalist modernity, it proved ultimately to belong firmly to the second.
It incarnated, in an exaggerated form, the thinking of the industrial capitalist Machine, for whom human beings are nothing but fodder. It was not simply a question of racism; even those accepted as German were expected to be “productive”, to serve the purposes of the Machine-State in some way. Non-performing, non-productive Germans (leistungsunfähige Wesen) and scroungers (Asoziale) were not deemed worthy of living in German society.
Because of the hideous crimes committed by the Nazi regime, there is today near-universal agreement that we do not like the Third Reich and its ideas.
But we should be clear as to what it is that we don’t like. We don’t like the mass extermination. We don’t like the anti-semitism and racism. We don’t like the warmongering militarism. We don’t like the blind nationalism. We don’t like the police state. We don’t like the eugenics. We don’t like the propaganda and mass hysteria.
There were other elements present in Nazism which are not among these evils and which do not necessarily pave the way towards them.
Is wholemeal bread a bad thing because the Nazis said it was good? Are herbal plantations insidious because there was one at Dachau? Is all organic thinking suspect because a version of it was harnessed, and distorted, by some Nazi ideologues?
Continuing her discussion of the Nazis’ use of an organic and nature-based vocabulary (see above), Lyon, who describes herself as a Jewish writer, adds: “There is nothing intrinsically problematic about any of these three terms. Their adoption to make the argument that one race of people should be superior to others, because it stemmed from those values and that soil, was where it all went wrong…” (34)
3. Are there other possible manifestations of organic ideology?
As we have already noted in the last section, non-Nazi versions of organic ideology are not only possible, but existed in a very real form alongside the now-discredited right-wing racist variety.
Harrington correctly points out that it is useful to know something about the history of German holistic science, in order not to fall into the trap of thinking that any alternative to the prevailing mechanistic worldview is to be avoided because it somehow points inevitably towards fascism.
She adds: “It is important that we resist ‘discovering’ the outline of a terrible future in holism’s past or imagining that all holistic, vitalistic, or teleological views of nature are part of a larger ‘destruction of reason’ that can be tracked in some straight, degenerating line from the romantics to Hegel to Nietzsche to Hitler”. (35)
Sometimes these investigations might lead simply to the revelation that a particular scientist or thinker was not actually a Nazi. The biologist Jakob Von Uexküll, for instance, was certainly very conservative, politically, but was no white supremacist: he argued that all human groups must be respected in their distinctiveness, because all in the end are expressions of the same creative life energy. (36)
At other times, it goes a lot further than that and we see the enormous ideological potential in variants of the organic theme which point in a libertarian, humanist, internationalist, left-wing direction.
Driesch, for example, defended an ideal of cultural cosmopolitanism and rejected any idea that a nation-state could be seen as an organism. The only supra-personal collective organism he was prepared to consider was the concept of a humankind that recognised no national or völkisch boundaries.
Before Hitler came to power, Driesch had been warning, both in academic and newspaper articles, of the dangers of the growing nationalistic mood. To counter this, he stressed the biological unity of the human species. He also voiced his opposition to militarism, describing this as the “the most terrible of all sins” against the vitalistic principles of life, holistic cooperation and higher development. (37)
The Russian-Swiss neurobiologist Constantin von Monakow (1853-1930) also developed a holistic and organic theory which retained its logical coherence by talking about interconnected wholes, rather than veering off into the fragmented and divisive particularism of Nazi dogma.
Monakow came up with the idea of the horme, a kind of all-pervading intrinsic motivating and guiding force. He explained: “The horme is nothing other than the activity of the universe (Worldhorme), within which we human-children are highly organized necessary parts. As such we are temporally and partly also spatially – through free mobility – closely bound up with one another: we form ties with animals and plants and also with nonorganic bodies, into which last we merge after death. There is an undeniable glory in the thought that an indelible temporal bond links us, not only with our ancestors and our descendants, but above all also with the whole rest of the organic world”. (38)
He interpreted our relationship to the outside world in terms of expanding concentric circles of awareness. The most basic level of existence involved a preoccupation with self and survival. This was often extended to a focus on family and the immediate community around the individual.
But more evolved human beings could grasp their belonging to increasingly larger entities, up to the human species, the organic world and the cosmos.
Monakow’s holistic vision of all life as being enmeshed in one dynamic process of evolution thus naturally involved an internationalist perspective. Nothing else, in fact, would have made sense in that context.
It also placed him in opposition to the thinking of an industrial age which rejected any idea of organic subject-to-subject relationships with fellow parts of the natural organism in favour of a subject-to-object relationship based on domination and exploitation.
He saw that to heal itself and set itself back on its true evolutionary course, humanity had to trust in its deepest biological impulses. All the wisdom we needed to find that course was already within us, but stifled by the constructs of modern society. We had to tap into that natural sense of direction and rightness, he said, and realise that every tiny living fibre inside us is “so much more wonderful than all the wonders of technology and a thousand times more clever”. (39)
One of the most enthusiastic advocates of Monakow’s approach was Kurt Goldstein (1878-1965), a Jewish socialist critic of modernity, who set out to combine holistic and organic German philosophy with the values of reason, democracy and individual freedom.
Throughout his life, he warned against the dangers of applying narrow, fragmented scientific ways of thinking to other realms.
He wrote in an unpublished 1965 paper: “The progress by the application of science to all fields, also those which are related to the spiritual side of man, as education, psychology, sociology, etc, seems to be so enormous that somebody who today dares to oppose even a little this trend and warns against the fateful consequences for human existence is considered either stupid or uneducated, irresponsible or prejudiced”. (40)
From Goldstein’s holistic perspective, everything was interconnected, outside and inside the individual human being. The words ‘mind’ and ‘body’, for instance, did not point to genuine entities but were just ‘symbols’, human abstractions, denoting different aspects of an overall organic reality that could not in fact be divided.
He has been described, by Ruth Nanda Anshen, as having introduced “a new doctrine of organism which may be said to be taking the place of the materialism with which, since the seventeenth-century, science has enmeshed philosophy”. (41)
The psychologist Max Wertheimer (1880-1943), took Goethe as a starting point, developing the idea of Gestalt, or underlying form, in a promising direction far removed from the dead-end of racism into which the Nazis tried to divert it.
Born in Prague, he fled central Europe before Hitler came to power and continued his work in the USA, later becoming an American citizen.
While the Nazis claimed piecemeal or fragmented thinking was a Jewish trait, Wertheimer, who was himself Jewish, turned this round against them. He argued that the modern world had cropped humanity’s thinking capacity. Piecemeal thinking – strings of propositions torn from their original living context – was being used by demagogues and certain intellectuals to hoodwink people into accepting their ideas.
In the 1934 essay ‘On truth’ he distinguished between truth and mere facts. Facts (as fetishised by the SS biologists – see above) meant nothing on their own. Truth was a holistic understanding of the significance of various facts in the wider context of their relationship to one another and to a larger whole. He wrote: “A thing may be true in the piecemeal sense, and false, indeed a lie, as a part in its whole”. (42)
Wertheimer judged that the key concepts of truth, ethics, democracy and freedom were all under attack from contemporary academic thinking, influenced by positivism, pragmatism and cultural relativism. Indeed this anti-holistic stance had itself helped prepare an intellectual field in which it had become possible for the Nazis to succeed.
In an essay on ethics, he took a critical look at ethical relativity which – like the Nazis with their German/Aryan particularism – denied the existence of ethical universals.
As a believer in the organic unity of humankind, Wertheimer disputed this and insisted that experience showed that most people, “when faced with clear, actual injustice”, responded spontaneously in ways that human beings would universally consider decent and ethical. (43)
Gestalt psychology, which Wertheimer developed along with Kurt Koffka (1886-1941) and Wolfgang Köhler (1887-1967), was an influence on the anti-capitalist Critical Theory of Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979), Max Horkheimer (1895-1973) and the Frankfurt School in general.
The organic and anti-mechanistical approaches taken by Jewish thinkers like Wertheimer and Goldstein illustrate the fact that there existed a broad anti-industrial current in German-speaking Europe which was not simply non-Nazi, but anti-Nazi, and whose fundamental principles placed it in direct opposition to fascism.
The French-Brazilian sociologist and philosopher Michael Löwy has explored in depth the intellectual movement, mainly Jewish, which he terms “anti-capitalist Romanticism”.
Löwy writes: “In many respects, the Jewish intellectuals of Mitteleuropa, in the utopian-Romantic movement, grouped around Martin Buber’s review Der Jude, expressionist publications (such as Die Aktion), the Bar-Kokhba circle in Prague, the Frankfurt School or various left-wing parties, set themselves apart from Western or Eastern European Jewish intellectuals, as well as from their peers, the ‘gentile’ intellectuals of German culture, by the kind of culture they produced”. (44)
Their vision, he says, revolved around “a cultural critique of modern capitalist civilization in the name of pre-modern or pre-capitalist values” and they were revolting “against the quantification and mechanisation of life, the reification of social relationships, the dissolution of community (Gemeinschaft) and, above all – to take up the terms used by Max Weber – the disenchantment of the world (Entzauberung der Welt) resulting from the instrumental rationality (Zweckrationalität) and the corresponding calculating spirit (Rechnenhaftigkeit) which dominated modern culture”. (45)
The Jewish identity of thinkers like Buber or Gershom Scholem did not stop them drawing partly on the heritage of the German Romantic tradition to condemn the emptiness of modern life and search for a meaning to existence in myth, history or religion.
Buber, for instance, put forward a vision of libertarian socialist society inspired by, but not limited by, communities of the past. He wrote: “The new organic whole, founded on the regeneration of the ‘cells’ of the social tissue, will be the renaissance (rather than the return) of organic community in the shape of a decentralised federation of small communities”. (46)
His position was echoed in France by that of Bernard Lazare (1865-1903), a Jewish anarchist who rejected the myth of progress and the allure of the modern in favour of a respect for the past, particularly for medieval guilds or rural communities.
There was nothing reactionary in this opposition to the mass-produced solitude of the modern capitalist world and the desire to revive, in a different form, the organic communities which had been steamrollered by The Machine.
Löwy comments that Lazare was “projecting his Romantic nostalgia for the past into a utopian future, by embracing anarchist ideas”. (47)
Walter Benjamin, for his part, insisted: “The deconstruction of the ideology of progress isn’t carried out in the name of conservation or of restoration, but in the name of revolution”. (48) He pointed out that, in stark contrast, fascism involved the typically modern combination of technological progress and social regression. (49)
From this radical organic perspective, fascism is clearly revealed to be a counter-revolutionary force protecting the industrial capitalist system.
4. What political ideology is the best fit with an organic approach?
A good starting point is the immensely influential German sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies (1855-1936), famous for contrasting Gemeinschaft (traditional community) with Gesellschaft (modern society).
His analysis was not new in itself and could virtually be said to be part of Organic Thinking I, as set out above. It was almost a traditional way of regarding authentic society as being one rooted in the symbiotic human relationships of small-scale community.
But Tönnies’ own experience was shaped by the mechanisation and commercialisation of the German society in which he lived. His theory was very much a political response to industrial capitalism and therefore part of the ideological wave we have termed Organic Thinking II.
It is clear throughout his best-known work, Community and Society, as well as in Geist der Neuzeit, that Tönnies regarded the Western transition from Gemeinschaft to Gesellschaft as a social and cultural decline rather than a triumph of progress.
Since the Middle Ages, people had been reduced from participants in a generally harmonious, living entity into atomised victims of a system which imposed its demands and laws from above.
Tönnies spelled out clearly the difference between the two ways of living: “There exists a Gemeinschaft of language, of folkways or mores, or of beliefs; but, by way of contrast, Gesellschaft exists in the realm of business, travel, or sciences… Gemeinschaft is old. Gesellschaft is new as a name as well as phenomenon”. (50)
The term “organic” is used frequently, and always in a positive sense, by the sociologist and is placed in direct contrast with the word “mechanical”.
He writes, for instance, in Community and Society: “In contrast to Gemeinschaft, Gesellschaft is transitory and superficial. Accordingly, Gemeinschaft should be understood as a living organism, Gesellschaft as a mechanical aggregate and artifact” (51) and adds that “the tendencies and inevitableness of organic growth and decay cannot be understood through mechanical means”. (52)
Tönnies subscribes to the holistic view of the human being, writing: “The conclusion is drawn that the soul (or the will) influences the body. This is impossible as both are identical”. (53)
He puts forward the idea of “natural will”, a kind of individual manifestation of Gemeinschaft – innate, organic and artistic – as opposed to the “rational will” of increasingly artificial modern society.
Tönnies refers to “the masterly analysis of Karl Marx”, (54) one of his principal influences, and clearly presents a left-wing anti-capitalist version of organic ideology – it was not for nothing that he was ousted from his long-term presidency of the German Sociological Association when the Nazis took power in 1933.
He explicitly equates Gesellschaft, the opposite of his organic Gemeinschaft, with capitalism. “The merchants or capitalists”, he writes, “are the natural masters and rulers of the Gesellschaft. The Gesellschaft exists for their sake. It is their tool”. (55)
The move to Gesellschaft “meant the victory of egoism, impudence, falsehood, and cunning, the ascendancy of greed for money, ambition and lust for pleasure”. (56)
The city, for Tönnies, is the epitome of the soulless, artificial, capitalist modern world: “The city is typical of Gesellschaft in general… Its wealth is capital wealth which, in the form of trade, usury, or industrial capital, is used and multiplies. Capital is the means for the appropriation of products of labor or for the exploitation of workers”. (57)
Alongside his critique of how mercantile relationships – capitalist society – destroy authentic communities, comes a scathing condemnation of the modern state.
The state, says Tönnies, “is nothing but force” (58) and totally opposed to the “folk life and folk culture” (59) which underpin the cohesion of Gemeinschaft, suppressing all possibility of “a natural order in which every member does his part harmoniously in order to enjoy his share”. (60)
The common people are all too aware that the state acts against their interests, he says, and effectively stops them existing as an organic entity.
“The state is their enemy. The state, to them, is an alien and unfriendly power; although seemingly authorized by them and embodying their own will, it is nevertheless opposed to all their needs and desires, protecting property which they do not possess, forcing them into military service for a country which offers them hearth and altar only in the form of a heated room on the upper floor or gives them, for native soil, city streets where they may stare at the glitter and luxury in lighted windows forever beyond their reach! Their own life is nothing but a constant alternative between work and leisure, which are both distorted into factory routine and the low pleasure of the saloons. City life and Gesellschaft down the common people to decay and death…” (61)
This understanding of the state as an artificial entity which claims to embody community, but in reality kills it, is very much part of the classical anarchist tradition, particularly when combined with Tönnies’ class awareness and fundamental rejection of the capitalist mindset.
The idea of an organic community, Gemeinschaft, which is prevented from flourishing because of the state, is in fact essential to the anarchist argument.
Opponents claim that doing away with the state would lead to chaos, but anarchists maintain that this is not the case, because people have a natural capacity (even if this is not realised) for living harmoniously and cooperatively outside of any state hierarchy.
The anarchist vision is inherently organic, because it is based on the concept of free and authentic communities as living, collective entities.
Theodore Roszak draws attention to this in Where the Wasteland Ends, noting: “Anarchism has always been, uniquely, a politics swayed by organic sensibility; it is born of a concern for the health of cellular structure in society and a confidence in spontaneous self-regulation”. (62)
Up against this, he identifies “the anti-organic fanaticism of western culture”, which is essentially the Gesellschaft’s hatred of Gemeinschaft.
Roszak explains: “Organism is spontaneous self-regulation, the mystery of formed growth, the inarticulate wisdom of the instincts. Single vision cannot understand such a state of being, let alone trust it to look after itself”. (63)
The concept of (possible) organic community, allowing human beings to live without a top-down state structure, is necessarily implicit in all coherent anarchist thought, but is sometimes more explicitly expressed.
Gustav Landauer (1870-1919) was a German-Jewish anarchist close to Martin Buber and very much part of the anti-capitalist tradition identified by Löwy. His philosophy illustrates the exciting potential of organic thinking which is developed in an anarchist and internationalist direction.
“Landauer represents a left-wing form of the völkisch current in thought,” say Russell Berman and Tim Luke in their introduction to his book For Socialism. (64)
Landauer condemned the “unculture” of mechanistic capitalism and wrote that “anarchism’s lone objective is to end the fight of men against men and to unite humanity so that each individual can unfold his natural potential without obstruction”. (65)
Like Monakow, Landauer extended his concept of the organic to a cosmic level, regarding the universe as a living creature with a collective soul and writing that “the psyche [das Seelenhafte] in the human being is a function or manifestation of the infinite universe”. (66)
He rejected the idea that the onward evolution of humanity was dependent on the progress of science and proposed instead a regeneration based on social spirituality, or Geist, the collective energy animating authentic human community.
The Russian anarchist Peter Kropotkin (1842-1921) is well known for having developed the idea of mutual aid as a way of understanding human society.
He argued, against right-wing social Darwinists, that co-operation is at least as important in evolution as competition and that, therefore, human beings have the capacity to live together in a free anarchist society, based on organic solidarity, without any state control.
But, in fact, Kropotkin went even further in developing a nature-based philosophy which was similar in many ways to those of Driesch, Monakow and Goldstein.
He argues, in Ethics, that not only are we human beings physically part of nature but that our thinking, too, including our morality, arises from the same source. Nature was “the first ethical teacher of man” (67), he says, our ideas of bad and good being reflections of what our ancestors saw in animal life. (68)
“Mutual Aid-Justice-Morality are thus the consecutive steps of an ascending series, revealed to us by the study of the animal world and man. They constitute an organic necessity which carries in itself its own justification, confirmed by the whole of the evolution of the animal kingdom, beginning with its earliest stages (in the form of colonies of the most primitive organisms), and gradually rising to our civilized human communities. Figuratively speaking, it is a universal law of organic evolution, and this is why the sense of Mutual Aid, Justice, and Morality are rooted in man’s mind with all the force of an inborn instinct”. (69)
Like Tönnies, Kropotkin looks back favourably on the Middle Ages and previous societies where customs and codes served to protect the collective community from greedy or power-hungry individuals.
He does not shy away from talking about the “social organism” (70) and from expressing a classically holistic and nature-orientated view of the world. He writes, for example, that “we are compelled to acknowledge that every natural phenomenon – the fall of any particular stone, the flow of a brook, or the life of any one tree or animal, constitutes the necessary manifestation of the properties of the whole, of the sum total of animate and inanimate nature”. (71)
This should not surprise us, even if many of Kropotkin’s 21st century anarchist successors seem afraid of any talk of nature, social organisms, inborn instincts and universality.
Anarchism is a political philosophy whose revolutionary, destructive aspect only makes sense if it is backed up by this positive vision of a natural, organic society which will be set free to flourish once the state-capitalist machine is brought down.
It is, to directly answer the question at the top of this section, quite clearly the best political fit with the current of holistic and organic philosophy that we have been outlining in this article.
5. Is organic radicalism the only target of the contemporary Nazi smear?
So far we have seen that, although a certain strand of Nazi ideology was influenced by aspects of organic thinking, it was very much a departure from that tradition. In rejecting a universalist humanist vision in favour of narrow racism, these Nazi thinkers essentially turned their back on holism as a philosophy.
Their fragmented, piecemeal, divisive approach instead reflected the fragmented thinking of the industrial age which the new wave of organic thought had emerged to attack. Critiques of industrialism within the Nazi movement were almost entirely eclipsed by a pragmatic obsession with Technik and industrial advance.
Indeed, fascism looks more like a grotesque caricature of the inhuman industrial society opposed by organic thinking, a chillingly efficient 20th century upgrade of the steam-powered capitalist machine of the previous era.
So why, we might ask, do so many political writers seek to make a connection between the Nazis and anti-industrial, ecological, organic ways of thinking?
To help answer this, it is worth placing the issue in a wider context and looking at another instance in which alleged Nazi associations have been deployed as a political tool.
The global anti-capitalist movement, ever since the heady successes around the turn of the 21st century, has often being accused of harbouring some kind of hidden fascistic or anti-semitic tendencies.
One of the main themes of this critique was that voiced in June 1999 by the Dutch organisation “De Fabel van de illegaal” (“The myth of illegality”) which withdrew from the anti-globalization movement, complaining that it was leading left-wingers towards a kind of nationalism.
While examples were given of right-wing individuals or groups influencing the fringes of the movement, the gist of the criticism was more ideological.
De Fabel wrote back then that analyzing in terms of “international capital” or “speculation capital” is “potentially anti-Semitic”. “Potentially”, because the ideology of this kind of anti-capitalism was said to show “enormous structural similarities with anti-Semitism” even when there was no talk of “the Jews” owning international capital, as Eric Krebbers explained in 2003. (72)
In the same article, Krebbers also took issue with the solidarity with Palestinian struggles being expressed by anti-capitalists, complaining: “At the recent huge demonstrations in Italy, where the anti-globalization movement probably is the strongest, Palestine seems to have become the central point of reference. Many activists speak of ‘a worldwide intifada against globalization’ and they often shout: ‘We are all Palestinians’. Why do anti-globalization activists need to identify with ‘the Palestinians’, with some ‘nation’? Why do these inhabitants of worldpower European Union continually make out Israel and the US as ‘main imperialist enemies’?”
A similar point was made three years later, in 2002, in an article entitled ‘Anti-Globalization: The New Anti-Semitism’ which appeared on “the leading Jewish content website” aish.com.
This suggested there was an “association between the Arab world and the anti-globalization movement” which “has its roots in a common opposition to American ‘domination’. Israel and the Jews represent American capitalism”. (73)
The same line of attack was notably developed the late Moishe Postone, an academic who detected affinities between forms of anti-capitalism and anti-semitic conspiracy theory.
The anti-elitist, anti-capitalist message of the 99 per cent against the 1 per cent, which was so central to the Occupy movement, is seen from this perspective as being a disguised attack on Jews.
If you talk about bankers and financiers running the world, controlling the media, and cheerleading for war, it is argued, you are really blaming Jewish people or, at the very least, falling into the hands of those who do.
As Daniel Finn crucially pointed out in a 2018 article in Jacobin magazine, insinuations of anti-semitism can thus be used, not merely to defame critics of Israel, but “to discredit any radical critique of capitalism or imperialism in the modern world”. (74)
6. What is the relationship between anti-capitalism and anti-semitism?
At this point it is worth lending some historical perspective to this alleged connection between anti-capitalism and anti-semitism.
Very instructive in this respect is the work of Lazare, one of Löwy’s anti-capitalist Romantics, who became known as one of the principal defenders of Alfred Dreyfus, a famous victim of institutional 19th century anti-semitism in France.
As a young man, Lazare had read socialist and anarchist literature explaining that Jews were big businessmen and capitalists, and so he decided that he himself could not possibly be ‘Jewish’, even if he remained an ‘Israelite’.
He wrote in 1890, at the age of 25: “The Jew (there are many who become Jews, without being destined by their race to do so, but who are rather doomed by their native virtues) is someone who is dominated by the sole preoccupation of making a quick fortune, which he will more easily obtain by fraud, lies and cunning. He despises virtue, poverty, selflessness”. (75)
Lazare was therefore driven into an absurd form of anti-semitism by the social stereotype of the Jew as a capitalist – any anti-capitalist, it appeared even for this young Jew, therefore had to be anti-‘Jewish’.
Wertheimer was later to comment on this phenomenon in his 1935 essay on ethics. Here he describes “a young, idealistic party member” – Nazi Party, that is – who is “passionate in the negative evaluation of members of a certain race” – in other words, of Jews.
Wertheimer adds: “This young man perhaps behaves thus only because he has been brought to this state through suggestion, propaganda, through the wanton slander that this race is a poisonous snake. He does not really behave with respect to A (members of this race) but to a B which he has been taught to identify with this race”.
In other words the young idealist is instinctively opposed to capitalism, usury, greed or whatever other negative qualities have been ascribed to Jews by the Nazis. Because of their anti-semitic propaganda, he associates these negative qualities entirely with Jews and is thus turned into an anti-semite, even though he did not necessarily originally bear any ill will towards Jews as such.
Says Wertheimer: “The real problem here lies not only in the behaviour of the young man, but in the enforcement of the blind identification… To take away by artifice the possibility of seeing the true situation, through the enforcement of blind judgments, of improper narrowing of the mental field, induction of blind centering, deprives man of the prerequesites for our problems”. (76)
While a non-Jew might find themselves stuck in this induced anti-semitism, Lazare’s own Jewishness enabled him to quickly realise that what he really disliked were the materialistic and greed-driven capitalist attitudes which made life a misery both for non-Jews and for ‘Israelites’ like himself.
He wrote in another essay: “There are now thousands of Jewish workers in France, exploited like the Christians, dying of hunger like the Christians, unhappy like the Christians. They are also there in England, in Germany, in Russia…” (77)
As he matured, Lazare asked himself why it was that the sins of capitalism were conventionally heaped on this scapegoat figure of the archetypal Jew.
He noted, in an 1892 article entitled ‘Jews and Anti-Semites’ that when “liberal anti-semites” declared war on the Jews they claimed to be opposing crooked financiers. But, in fact, they were targeting anyone who was circumcised or went to the synagogue, including workers. (78)
Increasingly Lazare saw this phenomenon as one carefully fabricated by the upper classes. They used the stereotype of the greedy materialistic Jew to divert attention and anger away from their own greedy materialism.
Anti-semitism, he wrote in 1899, “is good for vicars, reactionaries and the bourgeoisie, because they are the only ones who can – or who hope – to gain from it; they rely on it to dodge the blows coming their way and to solidify their power”.
He added: “Beware of those pseudo-socialists who tell you that if your wages are too low, the fault lies with foreign workers and Jews, and that you’ll be happier when
they’ve all been kicked out. How the bourgeois would laugh if he could set you against your brothers in misery, against your companions in chains, so as to save his own skin”. (79)
Lazare refuted the supposed link between materialism and Jewishness and pointed out that there were plenty of Christian capitalists around, not least the Roman Catholic Church, which even had its own banking wing. Indeed, he suggested, the influence of Roman civilization was in fact behind many of the social ills blamed on Jews. “The deification of money, capitalist barbarity, ignorance of all human interest other than the financial or commercial interest, are the traits of the Roman soul, but not of the Jewish soul”. (80)
Lazare thus clearly explained the way that anti-semitism was used, by the ruling classes, as a way of deflecting attention away from the fundamental problems and injustices of their hierarchical industrial capitalist society and of shunting opposition into a sordid dead end of racial scapegoating.
He died in 1903, but he would surely have identified exactly the same processes at work in Nazi Germany. The Nazis were used by the ruling classes to save Germany from a genuine rebellion against industrial capitalism.
People’s natural and healthy animosity towards profiteering materialism, towards the commercialisation of society, was deliberately hijacked and diverted into anti-semitism, leaving the field clear for German capitalism to storm ahead under the Nazi banner.
The key element which allowed this scapegoating to take place was, obviously, the equation of Jewishness with capitalism, materialism and so on – the fake definition which had confused the young Lazare.
To stop it ever resurging, it would therefore seem crucial to break that link, to demolish the lie that capitalism was the property of any one people, nation or religion.
However, unfortunately, the Jewish stereotype lives on today. Even more unfortunate is that it is often kept alive by people who are ostensibly countering anti-semitism.
As we have seen, left-wingers who criticise bankers, industrialists and capitalist organisations are sometimes accused of deploying a “coded” form of anti-semitism.
Now, perhaps those making the allegations are justified in fearing a return of the scapegoating of Jews under the pretext of anti-capitalism. But it is beyond dispute that in automatically equating opposition to the global banking system with anti-semitism, they are in fact reinforcing the old stereotypes.
What appears to be happening, in some cases at least, is that the “Jewish banker” figure is again being deliberately deployed to thwart opposition to capitalism.
Previously, it was used to steer people away from anti-capitalism and into anti-semitism, but now the aim is rather to steer people away from anti-capitalism with the threat of being labelled anti-semitic.
The aim of this ideological scaremongering is not, in fact, to combat anti-semitism, but to use the smear of anti-semitic associations as a means of discrediting opposition to the dominant economic system.
In other words, capitalists, in the past, deliberately whipped up anti-semitism to protect themselves from popular fury (as Lazare outlines) and their successors are now differently – but equally dishonestly – using the spectre of that very same anti-semitism to protect themselves from a 21st century wave of anti-capitalist anger.
7. So what, do we conclude, is the smear all about?
There are several factors that might lie behind the way that radical ecological thinking is sometimes tarred with Nazi associations – wrongly, as we have established.
One is that there is a genuine fear that organic language could again be co-opted and diverted into a sinister direction by modern-day fascists. The trauma inflicted by Nazism remains so intense, more than 70 years later, that terms (mis-)used by its adherents in the past are still capable of triggering fearful reactions.
Another possible cause for the misunderstanding may lie in the way that our civilization and culture have drifted ever further from a nature-based understanding of humankind, and the organic approach is thus faced with a concrete wall of non-comprehension, which leaves the way clear for all kinds of misinterpretations of the intentions behind its approach.
Most likely is that both these factors have played a role and that they have combined to reinforce a still-more important element – a deliberate attack on the deep green, organic, ideology.
The aim of this would be, like the anti-semitism accusations described by Finn, “to discredit any radical critique of capitalism or imperialism in the modern world”.
As with the anti-semitism smears, the “eco-fascism” accusation is presented as a noble attempt to stop a new form of fascism from arising, thus seeking the support and gratitude of people who fear that very outcome.
But, in reality, it is a cynical ploy designed to attack anti-capitalist thought from behind the safe smokescreen of anti-fascism.
It has just enough evidence (of the superficial similarities of rhetoric we have discussed, of various right-wing extremists trying to co-opt deep green thought, etc) to make the claim sound plausible for those who do no further research of their own, but the accusation is fundamentally disingenuous.
To understand what is happening we need to go back to the 19th century, at the time when Organic Thinking II was developing. It was, as we have said, a reaction against The Machine in all its guises, against the industrial capitalist system that was destroying communities, countryside, everything that was worthwhile, authentic, beautiful and everlasting about our world.
To counter this opposition, The Machine (by which we mean a theoretical collective entity consisting of all the individuals who worked for it and with it) disguised itself as something other than the exploitative, destructive, inhuman, monstrous phenomenon that it really was.
Everywhere it depicted itself as representing “progress”, “prosperity”, “scientific advance” and so on and its enemies as backward-looking barbarians, stuck-in-the-mud reactionaries and dim-witted Luddites.
In German-speaking Europe, this Machine also managed to recuperate part of the very movement which had emerged to oppose it by stealing parts of its language – in the same way that capitalism recuperated punk music, for instance, or that Tony Blair’s New Labour used the language of social democracy to gain power for a neoliberal clique.
The promotion of communal Gemeinschaft, social organism and mutual aid against mechanistic industrial capitalism was transformed into a narrow racism and nationalism which diverted criticism of capitalism on to Jews and foreign powers, leaving the industrial capitalist system in Germany very much intact.
Fascism was, as we have seen, nothing but a reincarnation of The Machine itself.
It was not the only incarnation, though – and after defeating fascism, and using some of its know-how and personnel in its struggle against Soviet communism, the US/UK branch of the Machine was keen to present itself as the world’s great defender of democracy.
But by “defending democracy” what they really mean is repelling all threats to the continuation of their military-industrial-economic-prison-complex, the capitalist Machine.
In the language of contemporary “centrist” neoliberals, any political position which challenges their version of capitalism is necessarily “extremist”. They like to claim that extreme right and far left are essentially the same thing; a “red-brown” alliance against the neoliberal democratic values enshrined and protected by the USA and its allies.
This is the context in which anti-capitalism is equated with anti-semitism and in which deep green organic thinking is equated with fascism.
The Machine which we face today is indisputably the same Machine which provoked the anti-industrial, anti-capitalist philosophical revolt of the 19th century. There is an unbroken continuity there.
And that Machine, which in its fascist guise co-opted organic terminology for its own ends, is now happy to use that co-option, that misuse of organic language by the
fascists, to try to discredit the original, non-fascist, organic philosophy by a fake association with fascism.
It aims to disqualify organic/holistic thought, a philosophy which threatens the domination of its industrial capitalist system.
To do this it will use which ever means seems most effective – and the “Nazi” smear is the perfect weapon.
The immensity of this ideological deceit becomes even clearer if we look again at what it is that we, today, particularly dislike about Nazism. It is, as we said, the mass extermination, the anti-semitism and racism, the warmongering militarism, the police state, the blind nationalism, the eugenics, the propaganda and mass hysteria.
Which of those elements is present in deep green organic thinking? None of them! How can you accuse an ideological current of being “fascist” or “eco-fascist” if it doesn’t contain the ideological elements typical of fascism?
What are you left with if you start from a hypothetical “fascism” and then strip away nationalism, racism, militarism and authoritarianism? That’s simply not fascism any more. There can be no such thing as an internationalist, anti-racist, anti-militarist, libertarian “fascism”. The label is simply not appropriate and if you want to criticise it, you will have to find another language with which to do so.
Now let’s look at the industrial capitalist system. How does that compare with the Nazi model? Warmongering militarism? Yes. Police state? Yes. Propaganda and mass hysteria? Yes. Blind nationalism? Yes, despite its global character, capitalism is always happy to use this to rally the public. Eugenics? Yes, although they don’t call it that these days. Cold inhumanity? Yes. Racism? Very much so.
Anti-semitism? Although anti-semitism exists in our society, it is not systematically encouraged by the ideology of industrial capitalism. It is, however, systemically abused, as we have seen – being turned into an ideological weapon to be used not principally against anti-semites, but against anti-capitalists. The victims of this cheap weaponising of the term will be those who find it leaves them horribly exposed to the real thing.
Contemporary capitalism has not yet plumbed the depths of depravity achieved by the Hitler regime and operated mass extermination camps, but that is pretty much the only way in which it can claim any moral high ground over Nazism.
In other respects, it shares the thinking of the Nazi Machine, which is not surprising because it is essentially the same Machine. It is obsessed with industrialisation, production, technology and war. It regards people as human resources, as labour units, as consumers, as cannon fodder and as collateral damage. Its thinking is utilitarian, fragmented, non-holistic. It is cold, mechanical, exploitative. Its own inner logic of self-interest blinds itself to all morality, ethics, humanity.
And this system dares accuse its opponents of being “fascist”?
8. Why do we care so much about this issue?
Why open this particular can of worms about supposed fascist influences on organic, nature-based ideology? Why do we think this issue is so important that we feel the need to address it in this article?
There are two aspects involved here. The first is that we are concerned at the adverse effects the “Nazi” smears, and the fear of such smears, have had on radical thinking.
There are, again, strong parallels with the “anti-semitic” smears levelled against some forms of anti-capitalism.
The aim of equating talk of “the one per cent” with anti-semitism is presumably to deter people from drawing attention to the existence of a very real capitalist ruling class.
Instead, anti-capitalists are supposed to address the matter in a convoluted, theoretical way which may make sense to postmodern academics but is never going to spark a wave of public support in the way that the direct approach can.
In radical environmental circles it likewise becomes impossible to talk about nature, a return to the land or organic communities without someone like Staudenmaier popping up to identify a “chilling” resemblance to Nazi thought.
This simply rips the heart out of the ideology, destroying its fundamental coherency. How can we criticise modern capitalist society, and propose a radical alternative, if the language in which we do so has been ruled out of bounds by some kind of ideological thought police?
Instead of getting to the core of the problem with industrial capitalism, and everything that goes along with it, people are forced to retreat into positions which do not fundamentally challenge capitalism.
Either they end up accepting its claims that we “need” economic growth, never-ending technological progress and so on, or they adopt superficial nihilistic approaches which condemn capitalism without being able to propose an authentic alternative.
The second aspect of the problem relates to the ideological gap left by the abandonment of organic anti-capitalist thinking by left-wingers scared off by the smear campaigns.
Just because those ideas are not being expressed in certain circles, does not mean that they do not exist, or that they will magically be stopped from taking shape in people’s minds.
Imagine a young person who feels aesthetically revolted by the capitalist society in which they have been brought up – by its materialism, environmental destruction, fragmentation and consumer shallowness.
In contrast to all of that, this young person imagines a different world, a world where people live more simply and sanely, in small communities imbued with healthy
values, feeling a strong connection to the land and to the other creatures who live on it.
This young person looks around for other people saying the same thing, for a movement which voices those ideals and seeks to realise them.
The ideology they are looking for is organic radicalism, green anarchy, but maybe, thanks to the efforts of the ideological thought police, this ideology is no longer visible.
Imagine that there is, however, a group expressing some of these ideas in a slightly different way. They talk of going back to the land, building healthy small-scale communities and of respecting nature. The only thing is that they also talk a lot about kinship and ethnic identity, which our young person is not quite sure about, but feels is perhaps just one detail that they can learn to live with.
Later, the new recruit discovers that this movement has been exposed as extreme right-wing and fiercely criticised. But because the criticisms come from a left-wing movement which seems to reject all of the young person’s ideals, they fall on deaf years. “If these ideas are extreme right-wing ideas,” they think to themselves, “then I myself must naturally belong to the extreme right”.
This is roughly the same process that led Lazare, a Jew, into expressing anti-semitic ideas because he had swallowed the lie equating capitalism and Jewishness and the process that Wertheimer depicts twisting the mind of the young Nazi idealist.
Maybe in due course our young person will, like Lazare, see through the emptiness and inhumanity of fascist rhetoric and walk away from it in order to rebuild their own personal philosophy on a healthier basis, but that is far from being sure.
The damage will already have been done by the way the left has turned its back on a deep critique of capitalism with a powerful vision of an alternative society.
This, in fact, is what happened a hundred years ago, when much of the left, particularly in German-speaking Europe, had abandoned a nature-based, holistic anti-capitalism in favour of an industrially-orientated Marxism. (81)
Juan J. Linz, in ‘Some Notes Toward a Comparative Study of Fascism in Sociological Historical Perspective’ explains that “the lack of understanding of traditional Marxist theory and especially Central European social democracy for the plight of the peasant and pre-industrial strata” (82) left the way clear for Nazi recruitment. “A romantic youth protest against bourgeois society was captured by the fascists,” (83) he adds.
Landauer was very aware of this problem. Berman and Luke explain that he saw the need for society to break free from “the false mechanical concepts of science that impoverish human understanding” (84) but understood that Marxism was itself trapped inside this mindset, with its “scientific” belief in the supposedly inevitable transition of capitalism into socialism.
This meant orthodox Marxists had to applaud capitalist growth and capitalist progress. “In the light of Landauer’s critique, nineteenth century scientific socialism ceases to appear as a radical critique of the status quo. Rather, behind its revolutionary pretenses, it buttresses the development of capitalist structures”. (85)
In failing to take up the Romantic struggle against industrial capitalism, building on the rich organic and holistic philosophy which was being developed in German-speaking lands, the Marxists allowed this powerful anti-capitalist current to flow into the stagnant waters of fascism.
Comment Berman and Luke: “The turn of völkisch thought to the right is ultimately not indicative of the quality of such thought, but rather of the self-imposed constraints of the traditional Marxist left, which failed to appropriate the leftist potential of the völkisch movement”. (86)
The Marxist left of that place and period had become sterile and dogmatic and shied away from appealing to those who wanted to fundamentally challenge the assumptions and infrastructures of capitalist society, who were ready to embark on a total revolt against the Gesellschaft of state and business.
As Sternhell notes: “With their thirst for action for action’s sake and struggle for struggle’s sake, the fascists appeared to be the only authentically revolutionary political organizations, the only movements unconditionally opposed to the established order, the only people whose revolutionary credibility – unlike that of the parties of the left, including the communist parties – had not been damaged by compromise”. (87)
It is ironic that contemporary leftists are being urged to steer clear of emotive anti-capitalism and nature-based organic environmentalism, because of an alleged taint by Nazi associations, when it was actually a previous left-wing generation’s drift in that very same direction – its abandonment of authentic anti-capitalist ideals – which allowed the Nazis to co-opt and distort those ideals for their own dishonest ends.
9. What would we like to see happen next?
Antidote zine, the American website which reposted our Envisioning a Post-Western World article, commented that “it behooves people in contested cultural terrain to, well, contest it”. (88)
This is what we would like to see happen next. We would like to see the terrain of organic ideology contested with the aim of lifting the Nazi curse which has stifled its voice and restoring it to its rightful role as the ideological heart of anarchist and anti-capitalist thinking.
We wrote above that the holistic philosophy which emerged in the 19th and early 20th century was a kind of Organic Thinking II, because it had added a specifically anti-industrial and anti-capitalist layer on top of the older holistic heritage.
It is now time to develop Organic Thinking III, a 21st century version of the ideology that is not only anti-industrial and anti-capitalist, but specifically anti-fascist.
The reasons for this should by now be obvious. By clearly defining and explaining itself as anti-fascist, Organic Thinking III can not only shake off the smears with which Organic Thinking II has been attacked, but also shed light on the real successor to fascist ideology – the authoritarian, militaristic, racist, industrialist, science-obsessed, capitalist Machine.
It will condemn fascism not for being the “religion of nature” that it never really was, but for being the epitome of industrialism, the death-cult military-technocratic system pushed to its brutal limits.
Organic Thinking III will include the awareness that the Machine has tried to destroy anti-capitalist organicism by tarring its language with the broad brush of a deliberately misinterpreted fascism.
It will relaunch the ideological war on industrial capitalism begun by Organic Thinking II, but inoculate itself against a new take-over bid by the extreme right by placing at its core the left-wing values of humanity, solidarity, compassion and universality.
It will declare itself an implacable enemy of fascism and present a coherent and self-contained organic political vision that could never be acceptable to fascists – one fuelled by the ideas of anarchists, non-nationalist socialists and Jews, from Morris to Goldstein, from Monakow to Kropotkin, from Tönnies to Wertheimer, from Landauer to Roszak.
It will be unflinching in its complete rejection of this capitalist-fascist system in all respects – its economics, its infrastructures and its ideology.
It will condemn all the new forms being taken by fascism – the sinister techno-totalitarianism of genetic engineering, nanotechnology, surveillance, drone warfare and transhumanism.
It will challenge head-on the productivist obsession with quantity over quality, with profit, with economic growth, with “progress” and it will call for a society built on ethics, values, humanity and solidarity.
It will favour the authentic over the artificial, the beautiful over the ugly, the living over the sterile.
It will understand the distinction between Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft, as set out by Tönnies, and struggle for the revival of the former.
It will pay no heed to the demands of authority, with its states, currencies, laws, police forces, armies, courts, prisons and concentration camps.
It will reject the mercantile mindset and seek to build a society based on exchange, mutual aid and common interest, where food is grown and objects are produced on the basis of collective need rather than for private gain.
It will refuse the false construct of land ownership, recognising the land as something to which we belong, rather than as something which could ever belong to us.
It will go beyond contemporary society’s toxic separation of body and mind and embrace the holistic reality of our being.
It will likewise embrace the holistic unity of humankind and insist that within that unity all borders are fluid, all particularisms imbued with the universal human essence.
It will condemn the arrogance of Western civilization in imposing its structures and ideology on the rest of the world and find inspiration and alliance with peoples everywhere seeking to protect or restore non-Western, non-capitalist, ways of living and thinking.
It will acknowledge that humankind is a nothing but part of nature and that our future can only be healthy in the context of a healthy natural world, free from pillage, pollution and destruction.
It will understand that the universe itself is a living entity and that human well-being depends on individuals acting as part of a greater whole, a social organism.
It will know that these individuals can only be free within a free community and that this free community must always be made up of free individuals.
It will break through all the lies and taboos to spread the message that the planetary destruction being wreaked by the industrial capitalist system must be stopped.
It will inspire people to dream, to hope, to speak out, to discuss, to write, to mobilise and to turn their ideas into action.
One day it will bring down The Machine – the industrial, capitalist, fascist Machine – and clear the way for natural life once more to flourish
1. Ernst Lehmann, Biologischer Wille. Wege und Ziele biologischer Arbeit im neuen Reich, (Munich: J.F.Lehmann, 1934), cit. Anne Harrington, Reenchanted Science: Holism in German Culture from Wilhelm II to Hitler (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999), p. 177.
6. Anna Bramwell, Ecology in the Twentieth Century: A History, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1989, pp. 272-73.
7. Anna Bramwell, The Fading of the Greens: The Decline of Environmental Politics in the West (New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 1994), p. 43.
9. Vivianne Crowley, Wicca: The Old Religion in the New Millennium (London: Thorsons, 1996), p. 32
10. William Morris, ‘How I Became A Socialist’, News From Nowhere and Selected Writings and Designs, ed. by Asa Briggs, (London: Penguin, 1984) p. 36.
11. Georges Bernanos, ‘La France contre les robots’, cit. Aux origines de la décroissance – Cinquante penseurs, coordonné par Cédric Biagini, David Murray, Pierre Thiesset (Paris: L’Échappée, 2017), p. 28.
12. Harrington, pp. xvii-xviii.
13 Harrington, p. 20.
14. Nina Lyon, Uprooted: On the Trail of the Green Man (London: Faber & Faber, 2016), p. 192.
15. F. Sander, ‘Deutsche Psychologie und nationalsozialistische Weltanschauung’. Nazionalsozialistisches Bildungswesen. 2. pp. 641-643, cit. Harrington, p. 178.
16. Lehmann, cit. Harrington, p. 177.
17. Harrington, p. 188.
18. cit. Harrington, p. 175.
19. Zeev Sternhell, ‘Fascist Ideology’, Fascism: A Reader’s Guide. Analyses, Interpretations, Bibliography, ed. Walter Laqueur (Aldershot: Scolar Press, 1991), p. 356.
20. Rudolf Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism (London: Pluto Press, 1989), p. 75.
21. Harrington, p. 182.
22. Sternhell, pp. 324-35.
23. Harrington, p. 181.
24. Alfred Böttcher, 1935, ‘Die Lösung der Judenfrage’, Ziel und Weg 5: 226. cit Harrington, pp. xx-xxi.
25. Johann Chapoutot, La révolution culturelle nazie, Paris: Gallimard, 2017
26. Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz: The Nazi Assault on Humanity, trad. Stuart Woolf, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996), p. 105.
27. Chapoutot, p. 79.
28. Chapoutot, p. 85.
29. Harrington, p. 189.
30. Gerhard Portele, ‘Gestaltttheorie und Wissenschaftstheorie. Pläyoder für eine alternative Wissenschaft’, Gestalt Theory I (I), pp. 26-38, cit. Harrington, p. 211.
31. Harrington, p. 195.
32. NSDAP’s Mitteilungen zur weltanschaulichen Lage, Nov 27, 1936, cit. Harrington, p. 196.
33. Harrington, pp. 197-98.
34. Lyon, p. 192.
35. Harrington, p. xxi.
36. Harrington, p. 62.
37. Harrington, p. 190.
38. Harrington , p. 92.
39. Harrington, p. 98.
40. Harrington, p. 172.
41. Ruth Nanda Anshen, ‘Open letter to Dr Kurt Goldstein in commemoration of his eightieth birthday, November 6, 1958, Goldstein Papers, cit. Harrington, p. 172.
42. Max Wertheimer, ‘On truth’, Social Research 1 (2), cit. Harrington, pp. 133-34.
43. Max Wertheimer, ‘Some problems in the theory of ethics’, Social Research 2 (3), cit. Harrington, p. 134.
44. Michael Löwy, Juifs hétérodoxes: Romantisme, messianisme, utopie (Paris: Éditions de l’éclat, 2010).p. 23.
45. Löwy, Juifs hétérodoxes, pp. 33-34.
46. Michael Lowy, Rédemption et utopie: le judaïsme libertaire en Europe centrale, (Paris : Editions du Sandre, 2009), p. 74.
47. Löwy, Juifs hétérodoxes, p. 82.
47. Löwy, Juifs hétérodoxes, pp. 82-83.
48. Löwy, Juifs hétérodoxes, p. 36
49. Löwy, Juifs hétérodoxes, p. 121.
50. Ferdinand Tönnies, Community and Society: Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft, trad. Charles P. Loomis, (New York: Dover Publications, 2002), p. 34.
51. Tönnies, p. 35.
52. Tönnies, p. 36.
53. Tönnies, p. 121.
54. Tönnies, p. 89.
55. Tönnies, p. 83.
56. Tönnies, p. 202.
57. Tönnies, pp. 227-28.
58. Tönnies, p. 216.
59. Tönnies, p. 225.
60. Tönnies, p. 208.
61. Tönnies, pp. 230-31.
62. Theodore Roszak, Where the Wasteland Ends: Politics and Transcendence in Postindustrial Society (New York: Doubleday, 1972), p. 424.
63. Roszak, pp. 95-96.
64. Russell Berman & Tim Luke, ‘Introduction’, Gustav Landauer, For Socialism, trans. by David J Parent, (St Louis: Telos Press, 1978), p. 8.
65. Gustav Landauer, Revolution and Other Writings: A Political Reader, ed. and trans. by Gabriel Kuhn, (Oakland: PM Press, 2010), p. 22.
66. Gustav Landauer, Skepsis und Mystik: Versuche im Anschluss an Mauthners Sprachkritik, (Cologne: 2d ed, 1923) p. 7, cit. Charles B Maurer, Call to Revolution. The Mystical Anarchism of Gustav Landauer, (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1971) p. 69.
67. Peter Kropotkin, Ethics: Origin and Development (Dorchester: Prism Press, n/d) p.45.
68. Kropotkin, pp. 16-17.
69. Kropotkin, pp. 30-31.
70. Kropotkin, p. 18.
71. Kropotkin, p. 87.
75. Bernard Lazare, ‘Juifs et Israélites’, La Question Juive (Paris: Éditions Allia, 2012), p. 26.
76. Wertheimer, ‘Some problems in the theory of ethics’, cit. Harrington, p. 135.
77. Lazare, ‘La Solidarité Juive’, p. 41.
78. Lazare, ‘Juifs et Antisémites’, p. 58
79. Lazare, ‘Antisémitisme et révolution’, p. 84.
80. Lazare, ‘Conception Sociale du Judaïsme’, p. 185.
81. See Paul Cudenec, The Stifled Soul of Humankind (Sussex: Winter Oak, 2014).
82. Juan J. Linz, ‘Some Notes Toward a Comparative Study of Fascism in Sociological Historical Perspective’, Fascism: A Reader’s Guide, p. 17.
83.Linz, p. 19.
84. Berman & Luke, p. 7.
85. Berman & Luke, p. 11.
86. Berman & Luke, p. 8.
87. Sternhell, p. 343.
Anarchism is a philosophy which, over the years, has often been seriously misunderstood, thanks largely to the efforts of its enemies. But the situation seems worse than ever today, in that even those who call themselves anarchists sometimes lack a clear understanding of what it involves. Sometimes they accept the comic-book version of anarchism presented to us by the mainstream media and so help perpetuate that parody. Sometimes they undermine the whole sense of anarchism by trying to combine it with a political philosophy with which it is entirely incompatible, such as capitalism, liberalism, postmodernism, Marxism, nationalism or the politics of “racial” identity.
By real anarchism, we mean an anarchist vision unblurred by a confusion of other ideas and influences, an anarchist point of view which is strong and coherent because it is built on the foundation stone of anarchist philosophy. Anarchism, as a political movement, is doomed to disintegrate and disappear if it fails to reconnect itself to the roots of its own world-view.
Anarchy comes from the Greek terms arkh meaning “ruler” and an- meaning “without”: it therefore means a society without rulers. An anarchist is someone who thinks we should live without rulers and who tries to push society in that direction. Note that an anarchist isn’t just someone who thinks we could possibly live without rulers, in certain circumstances and if certain conditions were met, but someone who thinks it preferable to live without rulers.
The obvious question which springs to mind is why do anarchists think it would be better to live in a society without rulers, without government? After all, most of us have been brought up to believe that a state, the rule of law and so on are necessary for our well-being and protection. There may be arguments about how much power the state should have, or how it should use that power, but there is no general question about the need for some kind of authority in charge of our society. People assume that without a government, human society would fall apart into chaos, with everyone trampling over each other in a brutal “dog-eat-dog” world. The word “anarchy” is often used in this way by non-anarchists. They talk about a fear that we could “descend into anarchy”.
From this perspective, the anarchist point of view doesn’t make any sense at all. One common conclusion is that anarchists must be hopelessly naïve to believe that it could be possible to do away with authority without disastrous consequences. Another reaction is that anarchists must be destructive-minded and violent people, who actively want society to slip into a nightmarish condition of chaos. In fact, these two depictions of anarchists are used pretty much interchangeably by our enemies, particularly in the mainstream media, depending on the needs of the moment. One day anarchists are bunch of woolly-minded idealists, completely detached from “the real world”, foolishly clinging to a childish cloud-cuckoo fantasy of stateless society. The next day they are a sinister and violent gang of sociopaths, plotting underground to wreak havoc and destroy everything that is good in society.
Behind all this misunderstanding and misrepresentation of the anarchist position lies the important question of how we regard human nature. If you believe that humans are naturally selfish, greedy and violent, then you will argue that they need the structure of a state to control them. If you believe that there is no such thing as human nature, and that we are entirely shaped by the environment in which we grow up, then you will be keen to ensure that the correct environment is provided and may well look to some kind of state to ensure this happens.
But what if you believe that humans have a natural tendency for co-operation rather than for competition, for mutual aid rather than for mutual robbery? This is the anarchist point of view, most famously set out by the Russian anarchist Peter Kropotkin in his 1902 masterpiece Mutual Aid. In this case, you obviously do not believe that a state is necessary to hold society together, as this is something that happens naturally from within, because of this tendency for co-operation.
This difference between the statist and anarchist outlooks is fundamental. It is the point where anarchism diverges from all other political philosophies. So it is crucial to understand why Kropotkin and other anarchists have this particular view of human nature. Kropotkin made it quite clear in Mutual Aid, and elsewhere, that it is not just human nature he is describing. All animals show the same tendency to co-operate, simply because it makes sense. That is how species, including the human species, survive and flourish – by working together and looking out for each others’ interests. He makes it clear that this is only a tendency he is describing. There are plenty of instances of competition in nature, as well in human society. Anarchists do not suggest that a future anarchist society would never involve any conflict between individuals or groups. But the overall pattern remains one of co-operation.
This potential and natural tendency for co-operation and mutual aid is based on our belonging to the natural world, where co-operation remains intact as the general rule of life. It is a continuation of nature within humanity, the extension of the organic structure of nature into the realm of human affairs. A human society without a state can hold itself together because that is what it had evolved to do, before the modern era of hierarchies warped our ways of living.
So-called anarchist thinking in recent decades has been overly influenced by other philosophical ideas which do not share its roots. It is fashionable in some circles to reject the idea of “nature”, particularly when applied to human beings. It is wrongly seen as being some kind of restriction applied to individuals from the outside, an attempt to make them conform to someone else’s model. This hasn’t been helped by the right-wing misuse of the words “natural” and “unnatural” to describe behaviour or ways of being that are considered acceptable or unacceptable by certain groups. This has nothing to do with actual nature, which is simply the living world of which we are part.
Nature is at the heart of real anarchist thinking. The idea of a natural state of freedom that has been stolen from us by states, churches and other forms of domination underlies the whole anarchist tradition. Time and time again anarchists write of removing the constraints of the state, so that we can organise ourselves into co-operative societies where we will always have the potential to flourish.
For most people today, the existence of a state is accepted as something necessary for the general welfare of humanity. But what does the state represent for anarchists? If human society naturally functions well on its own, and then something comes along which interferes with that natural functioning, then that thing is a problem. Yes, the state is unnecessary, but it’s even worse than that. It is actually stopping us from living how we should be living. The state is a positive menace to human well-being.
Comparisons are sometimes made between anarchism and the ancient Chinese philosophy of Taoism. Taoism describes a natural flow to the world which can be blocked and disrupted by any attempts to control it, even well-meaning ones.
For those who see anarchy as being a natural and desirable condition of humankind, all kinds of authority are regarded as both unnatural and undesirable. This is the basis of the anarchist position. While those in power regard anarchists as wanting to turn their world upside down, anarchists regard the current world as already being upside down and want to put it back the right way again, how it’s meant to be.
Seen from the anarchist point of view (from the right way up), all the structures of our current society take on a different appearance. They are revealed as ways of keeping us enslaved and concealing from us the truth about our predicament. Here are some examples.
The state. Anarchists regard the state as an appalling imposition. A group of powerful people declare themselves to have some kind of right to authority, tell the people they need that authority, and then force people to obey them. This is unacceptable.
Property. The powerful people who run the state also claim to “own” parts of the surface of the Earth and exclude others from these areas.
The law. This is the way that all the theft and domination is justified, disguised and imposed. The law replaces the principle of “right” and “wrong” with narrow definitions of “legal” and “illegal” suiting the interests of those who run the state, possess the wealth and write the laws.
The police. They are the physical means by which the powerful people who run the state violently enforce obedience to their system.
The “nation”. The concept of a “nation” is a false one, designed to give legitimacy to the existence of states controlling particular territories. Obviously there are fluid cultural and linguistic identities across the world, which should be defended from statist imperialism and centralisation, but anarchists reject any idea that these identities are fixed or that humans can be defined by national or racial labels.
“Democracy”. To hide the reality behind their theft and domination, the powerful people behind the state have constructed an elaborate façade of so-called “democracy” to persuade the dispossessed majority that they do, in fact, have a say in the running of society. The usefulness of the illusion of “democracy” is to head off the need for constant violent repression of the public.
The main aim of the powerful people behind the state has always been to increase their own wealth and power at the expense of everyone else. They disguise this aim by describing it as “progress”, “development” or “economic growth”.
In order to boost their own wealth, the ruling class have stolen from the rest of humanity the ability to live freely off the natural fruits of the land and trapped us into a complex system of enslavement based on money. The basic idea is that you either become a slave to their system, or you starve. To encourage voluntary submission, we have been taught to think that any kind of paid employment has a positive value, whatever the work involves. The accumulation of money and possessions is likewise presented as praiseworthy in itself, and confers social status.
The increase in the wealth of the ruling class – or “economic growth” as they call it – is presented as an unchallengeable priority, justifying unending and ever-increasing exploitation of life in all its forms – human, animal and our natural environment.
Anarchists reject this rhetoric, and everything that goes along with it. We have our own set of values which have got nothing to do with the fake and self-serving “values” of the world of money.
Ethics form an important part of the anarchist vision. There is already an ethical dimension in the basic idea of a co-operative way of life founded on mutual aid. But real anarchists extend this further in seeing a sense of values which naturally goes hand in hand with the idea of a self-governing and organic anarchist society. These values provide an ethical structure for this society; they are the fabric that make it possible and hold it together on a physical level. This basic concept has been shared by many cultures in human history. It is the Chinese Tao, it is the Indian idea of dharma or cosmic order, or the indigenous South American sumak kawsay or “right way of living”.
This anarchist dharma is key to the superiority of anarchist society. As well as naturally having a tendency to co-operate, for survival and well-being, humans have a tendency to be guided by certain values which help build harmonious and sustainable societies. Respect for each other, respect for other creatures, for trees, plants and rivers. These values are commonplace amongst us but are not allowed to come to the fore and guide the direction of our societies, because of all the false structures imposed upon us.
Freeing humanity from the yoke of state control and enslavement would also free us to live according to values coming naturally to us, rather than being forced to obey the laws imposed on us by the slave-owning minority.
People new to anarchist ideas often misunderstand the role of the individual in anarchist philosophy. The emphasis on individual freedom leads some to imagine that anarchism is little more than an extreme form of individualism, a mere libertarianism which could theoretically be coupled with liberalism or capitalism. However, this interpretation neglects the strong social aspect of anarchism, its emphasis on our innate tendency towards co-operation and mutual aid.
Anarchism rejects the idea that there is an inherent clash of interests between the individual and the community, which has to be resolved by some kind of social contract or compromise. Instead, it understands that the individual human’s sense of belonging to a wider community is a natural one, if allowed to flourish. We do not need a state (whether capitalist or communist) to artificially impose that belonging and loyalty on us – indeed, trying to do so is more likely to destroy affinity with wider society.
Because anarchists maintain that humanity has a natural tendency towards co-operation, we trust people to organise themselves, rather than wanting to force them to behave in the ways that we see fit by means of laws, police and so on. For anarchists, the idea of complete freedom for all individuals is not something to be feared, because we recognise that, in the long run, individuals will act in the interests of the communities of which, after all, they are part. For the minority who use the structures of the current system to dispossess and exploit the majority, complete freedom is indeed to be feared – as a threat to their own privileged status.
Freedom of the individual is, for anarchists, necessary for the freedom of the community. A society cannot be considered free if its members are not free. An individual cannot be considered free if they are not free to act according to their own conscience and their own values. Those values are found deep within each of us. But, since each of us is also part of the human species, these are shared human values. When we search in our hearts for what is right and wrong, just and unjust, we are searching within the collective culture, the collective thinking, of humankind.
And embedded within that collective human culture is the idea of dharma, or Tao, or natural harmony, the sense of rightness by which human society can guide itself. When that sense of rightness has been obscured by all the false representations of contemporary society, it is the role of anarchists to bring it back to the fore.
Since anarchists demand complete freedom for all individuals, it goes without saying that we also recognise a complete equality of worth in all. The labels attached to people by current society, denoting their social or “national” or “racial” status, have no meaning for anarchists, who see only fellow human beings with a right to define themselves as they see fit and to be treated with respect by others.
We know that many in society today are subject to discrimination and oppression in ways that are not always seen, or regarded as significant, by others who do not undergo the same experiences. And we know that it is important to always remain aware of this. However, anarchists do not define ourselves in terms of our oppression, or accept the role of victim. We prefer to fight back, focusing not on the differences between us but on what we all have in common.
Anarchism is not a narrow dogma and emerges in many different forms. Sometimes it can embrace struggles which may not be anarchist themselves, but are wholly compatible with anarchism. Anti-fascism is a good example of this. Not all anti-fascism is necessarily anarchist, but all anarchism is necessarily anti-fascist, as fascism is entirely incompatible with anarchism. Likewise, while class struggle does not have to be specifically anarchist, class struggle is very much part of the anarchist struggle – specifically the struggle to abolish the whole economic system in which humans are ranked in “classes”.
It has become fashionable to dismiss any idea of revolution as naïve. It is argued either that it is impossible, or that it will merely lead to new forms of oppression. But for anarchists, real naïvety lies in imagining that real change can be brought about without revolution. This is not revolution in the state-communist sense of a transfer of power to a new ruling elite. Anarchism aims at nothing less than the permanent destruction of the state and all the layers of authority it uses to enslave us.
While short-term social gains are not to be sniffed at, they are always to be seen for what they are. Without the demolition of all the structures of current system (law, work, patriarchy, borders, etc.) the structure of enslavement will remain intact and will, in time, reassert control. Real anarchists refuse to abandon the call for revolution, because we know that it is our only hope. Moreover, the myth of revolution, the dream of the complete destruction of the current system, is something that can galvanise action, that can capture people’s imagination and create powerful energies. One thing is for sure, and that is nothing will ever change if we all give up believing that change is even possible.
The anarchist view of the individual comes into play again when the question of revolution comes up. For us, the freedom of the individual is always combined with the responsibility to use that freedom in the general communal interest. In times of social harmony (i.e. anarchy), this would involve protecting the dharma of a stable and happy community. But in times like ours, where the world is upside down, the responsibility lies elsewhere.
Instead, say anarchists, individuals must find within themselves the strength to fight against the oppressive system in whatever way they can. This is partly a question of asserting own individuality through our dissent from the status quo and our adherence to our own set of values. But, of course, we are also acting in the interests of the wider human community – as our values demand. Any anarchist who is true to themself has no choice but to act.
This courage to destroy injustice, tyranny and domination in all its forms is sometimes mistaken for negativity. But in fact anarchism has the deeply positive aim of sweeping away an existing negativity blocking human well-being and happiness. Anarchism is the spirit of life reasserting itself against oppression.
Huge crowds on the streets all over the world, at least one protester killed and many more injured by cops – May Day 2016 was as dramatic as any, as we show below.
In a way, although the people, the tear gas and the police batons were all very real, the day is a symbolic annual incarnation of a battle that goes on for 24 hours a day, 52 weeks of the year.
This is the battle between us and them, between the exploited and the exploiters, the peasants and the squires, the workers and the bosses, the have-nots and the have-too-muches.
For them, any “rights” enjoyed by workers and the population as a whole are only ever provisional sops to keep us in a state of semi-contented complacency.
They would rather do away with them altogether and are constantly working at increasing their control and destroying our collective resistance.
They use the money they have stolen from our communal wealth to manipulate and control the means of public information, smearing or ignoring our struggles and denying all possible alternatives to their system.
They use that same money to employ people to spy on us, infiltrate our movements, divert our energies, pollute our ideologies, divide and rule.
And, of course, they use it to hire an army of tooled-up thugs to physically attack us when we venture on to the streets in a spirit of rebellion.
What can we do to stand up to these brutal levels of force, particularly as the repression is smoothly covered up and even glorified by the mercenary custodians of the public’s “reality”?
All we can do is fight, and keep on fighting – on every level, in every way we can, on every single day of the year and, above all, on the symbolic First of May.
This is what our comrades were doing in Istanbul when police attacked them with water cannons and tear gas. A man in his 50s was murdered by the Turkish state’s thugs – run over by a water cannon vehicle – and there were more than 200 arrests.
That is also what people were doing in Paris, where the May Day march formed part of the current struggle against business-friendly “reforms” to the Loi Travail (see Acorn 23 and this update).
Repression in France, under cover of the “anti-terrorist” state of emergency, is reaching frightening heights (see, for instance, this video of the violent eviction of Nuit Debout in Paris on April 28 ) and the First of May procession was duly attacked by CRS riot police, using huge amounts of tear gas, who tried to split it into two.
The mixed crowd, numbering up to 70,000, stuck together and at one point started chanting en masse “Nous sommes tous des casseurs” (“We are all vandals”) in defiance of the media-manufactured bogeyman of a “violent” minority of protesters spoiling everything for the law-abiding majority.
Ferocious levels of police violence, during the day and in the evening at Nuit Debout, were such that the Street Medic organisation later described the day as a “bloodbath”.
Tens of thousands also took to the streets of Seoul. Similar “reforms” to those being introduced in France are being imposed all over the world by the capitalist slave-masters and South Korea also faces a labour reform bill, pushed by President Park Geun-Hye and her conservative Saenuri Party, which will make it easier for companies to lay off workers.
In Manila, there was a massive protest against Philippines president Benigno S. Aquino III and US imperialism. Left-wing demonstrators fought with police who were protecting the American embassy (see video)
There were clashes in Hong Kong when more than 5,000 people demonstrated to demand laws on standard working hours and a universal pension scheme.
It kicked off in Seattle, USA, (see this corporate news video), where anti-capitalist protesters bearing a large banner that read “We are ungovernable” staged an unauthorised march through the city centre.
Police fired “blast balls” at the protesters, who responded with flares, bricks and Molotov cocktails.
Elsewhere, anarchists threw molotov cocktails through the windows of the State Savings Bank of Ukraine (see video) and protesters set off fireworks in front of the Presidential Office Building in Taipei, Taiwan, as a symbolic gesture to “declare war” on the government.
There were protests and parades all across the world, including Berlin and Geneva (below). In Málaga (Spanish state) the march included an animal rights bloc, while in London a May Day Fuck Parade was held in the evening (see video), with the partying going on until 3am.
2. Blocking the railway in Marseilles: a first-hand report
April 28 saw a big day of strikes and protests against the neoliberal Loi Travail “reforms” in France (see Acorn 23 and this update). Feisty protests and brutal police violence broke out all over the country – see, for instance, these videos from Paris and Rennes and this photo report from Nantes – while Nuit Debout public assemblies were held in hundreds of towns in the evening. We received this first-hand report from the protests in Marseilles.
This was “a historic day” for protest in Marseilles, according to one long-time local anarchist activist, and I’m not going to argue with that.
I will certainly never forget the moment when hundreds of us on a breakaway demo refused to retreat in the face of insane volleys of tear gas and grenades fired by the fascistic “BAC” plain clothes police.
A great cheer rose up as it became obvious that the police were outnumbered and overwhelmed and we were going to get through.
Two BAC cops fled for cover as bottles and other objects rained down on them and the crowd advanced. As they got into their car, it was surrounded by triumphant protesters, cracking the glass in the windows, before the state thugs sped off to safety.
The crowd surged down the road and through a gate leading to the railway sidings and on to the main railway line close to Marseilles St Charles station. Planks, tyres and other objects were dragged on to the rails and set on fire. 400 protesters were on the line. The infrastructure was well and truly blocked.
You could tell something was going to happen right from the start. The official meet-up for the demo was at the Vieux Port, but here there were only the uninspiring supporters of the CGT trade union, far too close to the ruling Socialist Party to be any sort of threat to the system.
Up the road and round the corner, positioned to be at the head of the march, was the real heart of the protest. This was a mainly youthful section – including many secondary school students. They came from diverse backgrounds and notably included a noisy group of football supporters from OM, Olympique Marseille.
There were chants against the bosses, against the PS, about revolution, as the march set off, in stop-start fashion, along Cours Lieutaud.
At the end of the road, the well-established protest route turns right into Castellane, which is supposed to mark the end of proceedings.
But today, people had other ideas and the head of the protest turned left instead, then formed up ready to head off in an unauthorised direction.
Attempts to persuade the massed ranks of the CGT to join in were not too successful – they preferred a symbolic turn to the right, as ordered by their stewards.
But, thanks partly to a looping protest that led out of the march and back in again, a significant number of protesters were welcomed into the breakaway project and it set off up Boulevard Baille, where the police had set up a blockade.
The tear gas canisters started raining down before the front of the protest was even 100 metres from the cops. Plain clothes BAC cops lurked on the pavements ready to grab anyone trying to escape the gas.
“Tout Marseille déteste la police!” went up the cry from the crowd – a local variation of the “Tout le monde déteste la police!” (Everybody hates the police!”) which has rapidly become the catchphrase of this uprising.
People advanced and retreated, kicking and throwing the tear gas capsules back towards the police. Sound grenades and rubber bullets were also fired and a trade unionist suffered a nasty chest injury as the police pushed the protest down to Castellane and out on to Rue de Rome
On the positive side, a well-aimed bottle hit one of the BAC thugs right in the face.
Somehow, the breakaway group kept together and 1,000 protesters now moved together back towards the city centre, taking side streets to avoid police blockades and the constant hail of tear gas.
The taking of the railway was certainly a triumph – although some sort of mass exit strategy would have been useful to prevent the inevitable dribbling away of protesters though holes in the railside fences as the cops advanced up the line, and the violent arrests of those remaining.
More than 50 people were arrested, many of them school students, and a solidarity campaign was set up to support them.
It is worth noting that this was very much on the agenda of the Nuit Debout gathering that attracted several hundred people back at the Vieux Port that evening. While these gatherings inevitably draw in a mixed crowd, the overall tone here was inseparable from the tone of the protest.
3.Lies and bail conditions to keep anarchists off the streets
Trumped-up criminal charges and draconian bail conditions are being used by the British state as a weapon against dissidents.
This is the insidious reality behind the “justice” system, as exposed in a new Corporate Watch interview with anarchist activist Pete Simpson.
Pete was prosecuted and remanded in prison for alleged “violent disorder” and “assault of police officers” after an occupation of HSBC bank, as part of the 2015 Mayday commemoration in Cardiff, Wales.
Pete and fellow activist Josh Howe were found not guilty by a jury in Cardiff in January 2016 after it became clear that the police were telling a pack of lies and it was in fact the cops who had acted violently.
He has no doubts about the political motivation for the prosecution, which put him out of circulation for months.
“They had presented evidence that we were giving out South Wales Anarchists leaflets. They made many references to it. The black flags that people had brought to the protest were also part of the evidence. They held up the flags in court, six or seven bundled together. They also asked me what I personally understood by the term ‘Anarchism’.
“The prosecutor had claimed in court that the protest was hijacked by an ‘anti-police agenda’ and had insisted that ‘we can’t have mob violence’ in the streets of Britain”, recalled Pete. “He asked the jury rhetorically. ‘is it likely that the police would lie about violence being used on them?'”
The pigs have a global reputation for telling porkies, and with the not-guilty verdict, the jury’s answer to this last question was a resounding “yes”!
Pete described what really happened on the day: “Two of the cops that were there were grabbing people and I saw one cop throwing three punches in a row whilst holding a person by the shoulder, punching their kidneys. The same cop grabbed another guy and threw him to the ground without supporting his fall.
“A police officer had Josh’s neck under his arm and Josh was saying that he couldn’t breathe. There was another cop also putting his weight on Josh.
“I reached out towards Josh. The police officer turned round and elbowed me in the face, throwing me up against the wall and strangling me.
“Straight after that, the other officer came over and hit me with a ‘knee-strike’ in the part of the leg just above the knee. It’s apparently something they are trained to do to make someone fall to the ground, but they grabbed both of my shoulders and threw me to the ground anyway, head first. Then bent me in the middle somehow. My forehead hit the ground. My leg was suddenly really injured”.
After Pete and Josh’s arrest in May 2015 they were remanded for several days in Cardiff prison. The judge only agreed to release them on the condition that they move away from their homes in Cardiff, sign regularly at a police station, keep to a strict curfew and wear a tag.
As Corporate Watch say, these conditions can only be described as political, aimed at restricting Pete and his co-defendant’s ability to be involved in political activism.
Bail conditions (i.e. conditions you are forced to comply with in order for the court to release you from prison or police custody) are only supposed to be used to prevent further ‘offending’ and stop people from absconding.
However, the use of draconian bail conditions against Pete and Josh, and others like them, amount to a punishment by the courts against people who have not been convicted of any crime.
Warn Corporate Watch: “Bail conditions are increasingly being used to prevent people from being involved in social movements that threaten capitalism and the state, particularly people involved in direct action networks”.
Pete said: “The bail conditions and tag made it hugely difficult for me. I effectively didn’t have a summer last year. I couldn’t go to any summer gatherings, activist camps or travel very far at all. I wanted to be supporting stuff all the time, all the stuff that I would normally be doing to try to change the system and fight for freedom.
“I was basically denied a social, and active, normal, life. I often thought about people going out in an evening and sometimes it was really difficult just to hear about it. I could never imagine just how controlling the state can be when people get to challenge its links to big business like we did that day.”
In a startling victory for direct action, eight anti-militarists walked free from court on April 15 after being prosecuted for trying to disrupt September’s Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair at London’s ExCel Centre last September (see Acorn 23).
And they did not get off on a technicality – District Judge Angus Hamilton accepted the defendants’ argument that they had tried to prevent greater crimes, such as genocide and torture, from occurring by blocking a road to stop tanks and other armoured vehicles from arriving at the exhibition centre.
Reported The Independent: “Witnesses described the role of the arms trade in facilitating the repressive Bahrani regime, in Saudi Arabia’s bombing campaign over Yemen, and with Turkey’s internal repression of its Kurdish population.
“The judge said the evidence of illegal weapons sales had been left unchallenged by the prosecution and that such sales would potentially break arms control laws.”
Said defendant Lisa Butler: “Of course, we were ecstatic with the result, but we feel that we should never have been on trial in the first place.
“At the beginning of the case, it was eight activists who were on trial, but by the end of the week, we had succeeded in bringing the corrupt activities of the arms trade to public attention. It felt as though we had successfully put Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, DSEI and the UK government on trial”.
Unfortunately, though, the court result does not mean that there is such a thing as “British justice” – as one of the defendants remarked, even a stopped watch is right twice a day.
Neither does it mean that arms dealers are generally now seen by our society to be the criminals they are. It is only if they infringe certain technical rules that they are considered to be in the wrong.
Profiting from the murder and maiming of other people is still perfectly legal and praiseworthy if it creates “jobs”, boosts “the economy” and keeps the blood-stained wheels of capitalism turning.
UPDATE: Just after this bulletin was published, it emerged that the British state intends to appeal against the non-guilty verdict and defend the arms trade. More information on this development can be found here.
5. Witch hunt: antisemitism smears are ideological warfare
A toxic new ideological weapon has been unleashed by the capitalist system against its opponents – the witch-hunt accusation of “antisemitism”.
This phenomenon has come to its head in the UK in recent weeks with fevered accusations of “antisemitism” within Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, which seems to be regarded as dangerously radical by those in high places in the UK and the USA.
Former London Mayor “Red Ken” Livingstone, suspended from the party, pointed out that this line of assault from Blairite right-wingers has been shaping up for a while now: “Frankly, there’s been an attempt to smear Jeremy Corbyn and his associates as antisemitic from the moment he became leader”.
There has been a related attack on Malia Bouattia, the new president of the UK’s National Union of Students, on the grounds of her anti-Zionism.
On one level these “shifty antisemitism wars” revolve around the legitimacy of support for Palestine and opposition to the brutal apartheid policies of an Israeli state which has long been a close ally of the UK, the USA, France and other Western states.
The success of the international BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) has prompted a “very coordinated and well-financed campaign led by Israel and its supporters aiming to criminalise political activism against Israeli occupation”.
In February, an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson told the Financial Times: “We have stepped up our efforts directly and indirectly, dealing with friends of Israel in a variety of countries in which we have the BDS movement, fighting it with legal instruments.”
These “efforts” have been particularly blatant in France, where the authorities regard any call for the boycott of Israeli goods as a form of “racial hatred” .
In the UK, too, there has been a state attack on the BDS movement, with a new set of rules that will make it harder for local councils and other public bodies including universities to make ethical procurement or investment decisions. Secretary of State for Justice, Michael Gove, has absurdly claimed that the BDS movement is committing “a crime worse than apartheid”.
The ideological distortion behind this attitude was well conveyed in a nasty attack on Bouattia published by The Guardian.
The author, Hannah Weisfeld, concedes that not all UK Jews support the Israeli state and that many criticise it.
But she insists: “Zionism, at its core, is the belief in the right of the state of Israel to exist. Whether Bouattia likes it or not, connection to Israel is a key part of Jewish identity for an overwhelming majority of Jews in 21st-century Britain”.
Challenging Bouattia’s very reasonable insistence that “for me to take issue with Zionist politics, is not me taking issue with being Jewish”, Weisfeld complains that “she shows a deep lack of understanding of Jewish identity”.
Essentially, Weisfeld is claiming here that Zionism and Jewishness are the same thing – to challenge Zionism is therefore to threaten all Jewish people.
With the same line surfacing all over the place in recent months (for instance, in California), we are clearly witnessing a deliberate campaign to redefine criticism of the Israeli state and its policies as “antisemitism” and, therefore, as totally unacceptable and even criminal.
On another level, however, the current “antisemitism” row is not confined to issues around Israel, Zionism or Jewishness, but is cover for a new ideological assault on all opposition to the capitalist system – “extremism” as our rulers like to call it.
A telling pointer to this came in Paris in April, when right-wing Zionists falsely claimed that a group of anti-capitalist protesters had “attacked a synagogue”.
It is important to appreciate that the aim of this lie was not to discredit the pro-Palestine movement, as one might expect from pro-Israel groups, but to smear the left-wing anti-capitalist movement as a whole, using the “antisemitism” smear as a means to this end.
The same abuse of “antisemitism” accusations can be seen in an article in the Mail on Sunday on May 1, headed “Number of hate crimes against Jews soars as report says anti-semitism is at the ‘core’ of far-Left beliefs”.
The Mail’s story blatantly and outrageously tries to smear all anti-capitalists as racists or even Nazis – a remarkable stance for a notoriously right-wing newspaper group, which famously trumpeted its support for fascism in the 1930s.
At one point, without providing any context or information as to who was involved, the article declares: “In one shocking case, a mob shouting ‘Kill the Jews’ stormed a synagogue in Stamford Hill, North London, smashing windows and attacking worshippers”.
The implication is that this “mob” was probably left-wing, echoing the absurd right-wing Zionist claims regarding anti-capitalist protesters in Paris.
This anti-left element is very much in evidence behind the attacks on Corbyn. Indeed, the undisguised hatred of Corbyn and his supporters expressed by the UK media, very much including The Guardian, is not only, or even primarily, based on his support for the Palestinian cause.
Instead it relates to other policies which, while they may not seem very radical to many Acorn readers, still lie outside the imposed “consensus” of the US-dominated neoliberal capitalism that was safely represented by Blairite “New Labour”.
Explains a useful investigation from the Electronic Intifada website: “Although Labour’s membership has grown since Corbyn’s victory, he has been under constant attack from right-leaning politicians within the party. In an attempt to weaken his position, some of his critics have manufactured a ‘crisis’ about alleged anti-Semitism”.
It is important to understand that these smears are coming from a far-right elite of which far-right Zionism constitutes just one thread.
Zionism is, in itself, not inherently right-wing. Its origins were largely on the left and, while any form of nationalism is incompatible with anarchism and other forms of internationalism, Zionism was born from a struggle against antisemitism and was theoretically no more unacceptable than the anti-imperialist nationalisms of Ireland, India or Algeria, putting aside the crucial issue of Palestinian land.
The far-right form of Zionism which dominates today is, however, closely allied to the imperialism of the USA, UK, France, NATO and the whole Western capitalist system.
It no more represents or defends the interests of Jewish people than the British, French or American ruling elites represent the people of those countries. Indeed, much of the story behind the fake “antisemitism” scares is to frighten the Jewish diaspora into the hands of right-wing Zionism, in the same way that the fear of “terrorism” is designed to frighten the public into the “protective” arms of the capitalist state.
In Acorn 20, we explored the strong links between Islamophobic fear-mongering, far-right Zionism and shadowy CIA-backed pro-NATO organisations and individuals.
Disallowing any such analysis has always been part of the ideological war conducted by this extreme-right ruling system against its opponents.
A particularly successful approach has been the “conspiracy theory” smear. This starts from the reality that racists with a hatred for Jewish people often hide behind the term “Zionism” in order to depict a poisonous fantasy-world of “Jewish conspiracy”.
This has been turned around to imply that anyone who suggests there is any kind of behind-the-scenes co-ordination within the various elements of the ruling system is a “conspiracy theorist” and therefore somehow associated with antisemitism.
Note that it is not even necessary to include any mention of Zionism within this analysis of power – the very fact of invoking any kind of “conspiracy” involving the governments of capitalist countries is deemed evidence of a crazed and dangerous mindset that could easily lead to antisemitism, fascism and so on.
This same line is echoed by everyone from “radicals” attacking the “dangers” of conspiracy theories within their own circles to the likes of Prime Minister David Cameron with his threat to clamp down on the “ludicrous conspiracy theories of the extremists”.
This fear of “conspiracy theories” and of contamination by association with right-wing or antisemitic ideas, can be traced back to the 1960s, when US intellectual Richard Hofstadter wrote an essay called The Paranoid Style in American Politics.
As Robin Ramsay has written (see Acorn 20): “For ‘serious’ people – academics, journalists, politicians – large areas of political inquiry have been contaminated ever since by an association with conspiracy theories. Hofstadter’s essay appeared just when questions were being asked about the assassination of JFK and his essay helped to shore up the ‘lone assassin’ verdict offered by the Warren Commission”.
In 1999, this approach was further bolstered by the publication of a book called Conspiracy: How the Paranoid Style Flourishes and Where It Comes From. The blurb states: “To anyone who has ever heard a friend or relative say, ‘Don’t believe what you read in the papers’, Conspiracy offers a spellbinding survey – and a wakeup call”.
The author of this book was none other than Daniel Pipes, a far-right US propagandist, recently described by writer Nafeez Ahmed as a “well-known anti-Muslim hate-monger”, who sits on the presidium of the ultra-Zionist Jerusalem Summit alongside British Islamophobe Baroness Cox.
Adds Ahmed: “The summit’s advisory board includes other leading notorious neoconservative ideologues like Rachel Ehrenfeld, Meyrav Wurmser (wife of David Wurmser, Middle East advisor to former vice-president Dick Cheney), and Dennis Prager, among others”.
The truth is that the engineered fear of “conspiracy theories” (conspiraphobia, perhaps?) is part of a deliberate political strategy to delegitimise all analysis of, and opposition to, the capitalist military-industrial complex. The current controversy has to be seen within that larger ideological context.
By using the spectre of “antisemitism” as a stick with which to beat opponents of the dominant system, far-right Zionists are showing that they are in no way acting in the interests of the Jewish people they claim to represent.
Instead, they are using their well-being as a pawn in a political chess game which serves nobody’s interests but those of the capitalist ruling elite with which they are closely allied.
For when anybody voicing any criticism of Israel, or indeed the global capitalist system, is branded “antisemitic”, it becomes impossible to identify the real antisemites, the racist Jew-haters who must be sniggering with delight at the smokescreen being put up around their vile prejudices by those purporting to combat them.
Manufactured “terrorism” charges against anarchists in Belgium are due to be considered by a court in Brussels on May 10 2016. A report on Rabble website explains that the Belgian state has lumped together 150 different attacks on targets such as police stations, courts, banks, companies profiting from the prison system, building sites, mobile phone masts and cars belonging to diplomats, Eurocrats and NATO officials. By inventing a single fake “terrorist group” behind all of this, the prosecutors have contrived to reclassify a library as a place of recruitment, discussions as clandestine meetings, leaflets and newspapers as urban guerrilla manuals, demos and rallies as terrorism, affinity ties and self-organization as “a structured terrorist group”.
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“We cannot love your world. Your world is bad for us. We don’t like it. There are too many people. Too much noise. No peace. It smells bad”. These are the words of a woman of the Jarawa people, who have lived in peace off the coast of India for thousands of years but are now being treated as tourist attractions, or animals in a zoo, as the nightmare of industrial capitalist civilization engulfs them. Says a Jarawa man in a new documentary film: “We live really quietly in the forest, and we are happy. Here, there is everything we need. The trees are full of fruits, and the flowers are magnificent … We can find everything we need in the jungle.”
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An in-depth analysis on the influence of anarchist, environmental and feminist thinking in Kurdistan has been published online by Corporate Watch, ahead of a new book called Kurdish Struggles for Autonomy, due out this month. Says the report: “The movements for democratic confederalism in Rojava and Bakur are a place where anti-capitalist, feminist, anti-authoritarian and anti-state ideas are flourishing. They have the capability to transform the reality of society for millions of people. These changes are being made by people at a grassroots level, who are inspired by the ideas of the revolution, not by politicians or government institutions”.
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Two UK diary dates. Earth First! has announced that its 2016 summer gathering will be held between August 17 and 22 in Northamptonshire. Further info to be released later. And the 2016 London Anarchist Bookfair will be held on Saturday October 29.
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Acorn quote: “It would be better to dump the whole stinking system and take the consequences”.
1. March 39 and counting… Nuit Debout and the new French uprising
The spirit of resistance has captured the imagination of a new generation in France, as youth-led opposition to neoliberal labour “reforms” has spiralled into full-on rejection of the whole capitalist system on the street and squares.
The situation took on a new dimension after the general strike and day of action on Thursday March 31. There was a call for people not to go home afterwards but to stay on the streets, beginning a wave of overnight “Nuit Debout” occupations that has spread from Paris across France and into the Iberian peninsular, Belgium and Germany.
The March 31 “moment” has also been symbolically extended by the renaming of the following days of the mobilisation as March 32, March 33 and so on.
On Tuesday March 36 (April 5 in the old pre-revolutionary calendar) there was another massive turn-out on the streets all over France, with increased police violence and defiant resistance.
In Paris police fired tear gas and charged the crowds of youngsters who countered with stones, glass bottles and eggs, chanting “police everywhere, justice nowhere!” and “everybody hates the police!”
Police arrested a staggering 130 schoolchildren and students on the day, leading to an evening protest outside a police station involving hundreds of people and more clashes.
It was a similar story in the Mediterranean city of Marseilles. A report on the Mars-info site said that if the initial demonstrations against the Loi Travail (labour law) had felt like the first breath of Spring, the events of March 36/April 5 showed that it had well and truly arrived.
Police charges were resisted, a motorway blocked, traffic thrown into chaos, the offices of the ruling Socialist Party redecorated. And the promise of so much more to come…
In Brittany, the main railway line was blocked in Rennes city centre, while banks, chain stores and the Socialist Party offices were targeted in Nantes.
Another hotspot was in Toulouse, where a wildcat protest and invasion of the city’s railway station was followed by an overnight Nuit Debout occupation of between 500 and 1,000 people.
When an authentic wave of revolt surges up from the collective heart of a population, there is little that can stand in its way.
Like the waters of a mighty flood, it either sweeps away everything in its path or finds a different course that takes it past all obstacles.
This is what we are seeing in France at the moment, where a rejection of the capitalist system has emerged from deep within society, most notably amongst the newest generation.
As we have previously reported in The Acorn, this phenomenon has been growing for some time now and has taken many forms.
The French state, frightened of a serious threat to its power, probably imagined it had found the solution in the wake of the November 13 terror attacks in Paris.
The draconian “state of emergency” has been combined with increased police brutality and the usual “anti-terrorist” media paranoia to try to create a climate in which revolt can have no place.
It worked to some extent with the COP21 protests in Paris, where the anticipated atmosphere of rebellion was significantly dampened.
But when the state started making noises about evicting the ZAD protest camp to make way for a new Nantes airport, the huge response of solidarity and defiance showed that the underlying rebel spirit remained intact.
And with the planned El Khomri labour laws, the “socialist” French government certainly overestimated its own power over the people.
While obedient trade unions failed to make much of a fuss about this serious attack on workers’ rights, others were outraged and the very youthful grassroots campaign emerged out of nowhere to oppose it.
The state has tried to crush it by the use of ugly police violence and general levels of repression which have been made possible by the “state of emergency”.
But even this has not worked. Indeed, the flood waters of revolt have merely swept up the tools of the state’s repression and used them as battering rams against its legitimacy.
As one statement from protesters explained: “What is being born here has little to do with the labour law. This law is just the tipping point. The one attack too many. Too arrogant, too blatant, too humiliating. The surveillance laws, the Macron law, the state of emergency, the stripping of nationality measures, the anti-terrorist laws, the penal reform project and the labour law all add up to a system. It’s one big project to bring the population to heel.
“Everyone knows that what makes a government retreat is not the number of people on the streets, but their determination. The only thing that will make a government retreat is the spectre of an uprising, the possibility of the loss of total control”.
Uncontrollability has proved a key element of the current revolt, with stewards from trade unions like the CGT being very obviously used by the authorities to try to hold back the energy of the youthful revolutionaries during protests.
One eye-witness to the March 31 protests in Marseilles described how the CGT stewards stood between the young protesters and the police with their backs to the cops, “showing clearly whose side they were on”.
As the protesters chanted “All Marseilles hates the police!”, the stewards were mocked and insulted, being called “collaborators” by the young crowd whose hatred for the system also embraces the false rebels of the comfortably conformist Left.
One recent article sees the strength of the wave of revolt as lying in the fact that it is not a “movement” that lends itself to being easily manipulated and recuperated by the status quo.
The behaviour of the union stewards and cops is a tell-tale sign that they are desperately trying to gain some kind of control over a phenomenon which is completely beyond their grasp.
The response of the French state to recent rising levels of dissent has been predictable. It has emerged that at the end of last year it placed a 5 million euro order for hundreds of thousands of rubber bullets and seems determined to try and crush opposition by force.
But resistance is spreading. There is an international call-out for a European Nuit Debout on Saturday April 9 – March 40. A new generation is at war with the system. The tyrants are running scared. Vive la révolution!
The aftermath of the Panama Papers revelations has been an amusing spectacle, as professional hypocrites from Reykjavik to Westminster wriggle and twist their way out of accusations of tax-dodging.
The #ResignCameron protest called for Downing Street at 12 noon on Saturday April 9 has got to be worth supporting, especially if it feeds in to the European-wide day of revolt.
But the details of the controversy are all a bit of a sideshow for anyone who has long realised that the whole system we live under, and the elite that controls it, are hopelessly and fundamentally corrupt.
The coming and going of individual politicians and political parties changes nothing. And there is no point in trying to reform the system by removing the parts which are corrupt, because the whole thing is rotten to the core. It is, in itself, nothing other than corruption!
To get rid of the corruption we have to get rid of the system. Not just the Tories and the offshore bankers, but the whole of the infrastructure behind them. We have to get rid of the “laws” they have invented to protect their corruption, the courts and judges that rubber-stamp their criminality with legitimacy. We have to get rid of the police forces, the armies and the prisons which impose their corrupt system on us with their “lawful” violence.
We have to get rid of the borders, the states, the flags, the property deeds, the capitalist-friendly ideologies – all the fakery and illusion they have invented in order to crush human potential and freedom.
This is not always an easy thing to say in a society where the slightest, most reformist, most Corbynesque challenge to the status quo is greeted with squawkings of outrage by the ruling clique.
Real change is so unthinkable to this dominant elite that it can’t even be mentioned at all without an accompanying deluge of derision and bile.
Anyone who dares imagine such a world, free from the sordid corruption of power, must either be a naive, uninformed, unworldly, head-in-the-clouds daydreamer or a dangerous, violent and fanatic extremist-terrorist. Or both!
“Things are the way they are and they can’t be changed,” they tell us. “No other world than our world can ever be possible, so just get used to it, work within it, construct your alternatives within the framework we have provided for you”.
This approach can lead nowhere except into an ever-worsening nightmare, as industrial capitalism reduces humanity to slavery and the living planet to a steaming heap of sterile and toxic chemical waste.
Everything has to go! There can be no illusions about this. We have to wipe out the whole stinking mess of a system in its entirety, with no qualms and no hesitations.
Only then will the soil be ready for a new society to emerge in which empowerment begins within each individual and works its way up through the myriad of social relationships that make up a community, growing an organic network of mutual aid and co-operation through which humankind can again become a vital and harmonious part of the living Earth and not a cancer in its flesh.
Instead of the corruption and ugly mess of industrial capitalism we will enjoy the natural harmony of anarchy.
Eight activists accused of disrupting one of the world’s largest arms fairs are due to go on trial in London from Monday April 11.
And their defence will include evidence from high-profile expert witnesses Andrew Feinstein, Sayed Ahmed and Oliver Sprague.
The campaigners are accused of having disrupted the set-up of the DSEI arms fair at the ExCel Centre in London last September by blocking the access roads to the site with their bodies, and by locking themselves to the gates.
Defendants, including Angela Ditchfield, Tom Franklin and Isa Al-Aali, were arrested on September 9 and 10 2015, accused of obstructing the entry of tanks and lorries by blocking the roads with their bodies.
Multiple defendants are accused of having blockaded the road during the Stop The Arms Fair main day of action on September 12; of which three are accused of blocking the East gate of the ExCel centre by locking themselves to the gate with arm tubes and two are accused of obstructing the West gate by D-locking their necks to the gate.
The DSEI (Defence & Security Equipment International) arms fair exists so that arms buyers and sellers can come together, network and make deals, and it takes place every two years in London’s Docklands. DSEI is jointly organised by Clarion Events and the UK Government. Buyers include countries involved in conflict and from human rights abusing regimes.
In September 2015 over 1500 exhibitors attended from around the world, including most of the world’s largest arms companies, displaying arms ranging from rifles to tanks, fighter jets, battleships, missiles, military electronics, surveillance and riot control equipment.
The expert witnesses have supplied written reports and will attend in person to give oral evidence for the defence concerning the nature of the DSEI arms fair:
Andrew Feinstein is a former ANC Member of Parliament in South Africa who resigned in 2001 in protest at the government’s refusal to allow an unfettered investigation into a £5bn arms deal that has been identified as the biggest corruption scandal in South Africa’s history. He went on to author The Shadow World, a book described by the Washington Post as “possibly the most complete account [of the global arms trade] ever written.” He is currently Executive Director of Corruption Watch UK, an NGO which researches the global arms trade and details and exposes weapons violations, bribery, corruption and other malfeasance.
Oliver Sprague is Programme Director of Arms Control and Policing at Amnesty International UK. He has worked on technical aspects of UK arms export controls for over 20 years. Sprague gives regular oral and written evidence to the Parliamentary Select Committee working on arms export controls. He has given expert evidence on breaches of export control legislation at DSEI (and other defence exhibitions) on numerous occasions.
Sayed Ahmed is Director of Advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), a London-based NGO which seeks to improve human rights and accountability in Bahrain.
The defendants themselves will also seek to give personal testimony of their reasons for opposing the arms fair and the catalogue of oppressive regimes that shop there.
The defendants will be using the defence of necessity, arguing that their actions were justified since they were intended to prevent greater crimes including:
* The sale of weapons to internally repressive regimes including Bahrain and Saudi Arabia;
* The sale of weapons to countries imminently at war and overtly complicit in ongoing war crimes in Yemen, Kurdistan and Palestine;
* The sale of weapons to regimes that have been widely accused of arming ISIS; and
* The promotion for sale of weapons that are designed specifically for torture or banned under international law for their capabilities concerning the mass indiscriminate killing of civilians.
Defendant Tom Franklin, 57, of Clifton Without, York said: “It is intolerable that the government is supporting the sale of illegal weapons and weapons being used to kill ordinary people from the West Bank to Yemen and Sudan. ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing.’ So I had to try to prevent evil”.
In a joint public statement,the Defendants Campaign said: “We know that the tools of the type promoted for sale at DSEI will be used to reinforce apartheid, to surveil and brutalise communities from Brixton to Bahrain, and to perpetuate the border regime that kills thousands every year – as European states wage a war against the refugees they helped create.
“We know that weapons promoted at DSEI are used to incinerate whole families at the touch of a button in places from Palestine to Pakistan. We know that such weapons will continue to devastate landscapes and do permanent environmental damage across the globe. And that these weapons have been used in systematic forced evictions and ethnic cleansing; such as against the people of Kurdistan.
“And we know that weapons of the type promoted at DSEI will be used to torture and repress people based on their political views, faith, gender, or sexuality in places like Saudi Arabia. Sometimes the tools of oppression are literal – and they are for sale at DSEI arms fair.”
The week-long trial is listed to start on Monday April 11 2016 at Stratford Magistrates Court in London. The defendants will be represented in court by Kellys Solicitors of Brighton, Hodge Jones & Allen of London and Bindmans Solicitors of London.
A roundup of the week of direct action against DSEI:
4. The obliteration ofEuropean civilization via the subversion of the early Christian church by Roman emperors
by Rob los Ricos.
Having been involved with various US revolutionary organizations from the age of 12, Rob was arrested at a Reclaim the Streets festival in Eugene, Oregon, on June 18 1999. He was accused of throwing a rock at a cop, and was subsequently beaten by police. He was ultimately charged with rioting, first degree assault, and second degree assault and was given a nearly 8 year prison sentence.
This is the oldest symbol for the Christian faith. It may also be the oldest symbol of divine authority in what passes as “western” civilization.
There’s a lot more to say about this particular symbol, but for now let’s focus on its elegant simplicity. Because it was an upstart religion and illegal in the Roman empire, Christians needed a secretive way to identify one another. So, when wanting to inquire about someone’s belief, a Christian could draw half the symbol in the dirt with a finger. If the other party involved finished it, they recognized one another as part of the Church. If not, no harm done, the image quickly erased, easypeasy.
After the church was decriminalized, a new symbol was bestowed upon the Romanized religion, the cross.
The ruler of the eastern provinces of the Roman empire, Constantine, supposedly had a vision as he tossed and turned in his sleep, worried about an upcoming battle. Either that, or he was given a sign from heaven on his way there. More likely he just made this story up.
Regardless of the inspiration, Constantine was given a sign from some god or another – I’m not sure they ever specify – which he regarded as a license to kill. The two symbols combined in the banner above allegedly signify “by this sign, conquer.”
From this moment on, Christianity was not a religion of love, tolerance, sharing, and community. From this point on, Christianity was some unseen god’s holy scourge, come to rid the world of sinful non-believers with sword and fire. Ever notice how much Catholics have enjoyed burning people alive over the centuries?
The symbol of the cross eventually morphed into the more recognizable “+” form, then further transformed into… something awful.
This is the image of Jesus the ancient Churches like. It’s traumatizing. It’s meant to be.
The message sent by the authorities: “See that? There’s your god of love for you! He’s dead! If we killed your god, do you think we’ll have any mercy on you?”
Christians ever since have been very enthusiastic in slaughter, genocide, rape, and plunder. Rape, by the way, is not prohibited in the bible. There are a number of responsibilities spelt out for rapists in the old testament, including an obligation to marry the victim. I do not believe the victim is given a say in the matter.
And in the new testament, women are encouraged to be submissive to men.
Constantine undertook a war to eliminate the Zoroastrian religion. Their priests were known as Magi, and were mentioned with quite a lot of respect in the telling of Jesus’ birth.
The Romans killed every living Magi, and burned or otherwise destroyed their teachings.
I can’t help but think this was done because what the Magi taught was self-directed enlightenment and inner growth. What the Christian Church had decided on as its doctrine – in the council of Nicea Constantine sponsored ten years prior – was batshit crazy by comparison. Constantine was eliminating the competition.
He never made Christianity the official state religion (that would come later), even after his own “conversion.” As mentioned above, the conversion affected the Church more than vice-versa. The emperor has remade it in his own image.
Constantine’s end goal was likely to proclaim himself as the sun god, sol invictus, and Roman coinage, as well as works of art and architecture, portrayed him as Sol’s companion. He never did get around to announcing his own divinity. He did, however, make Sun day the official Christian day of rest and adulation.
Subsequent emperors burned the library of Antioch, and later banned teaching of science in the entire empire. People of other faiths were prohibited from being officers in the army, and a heretical Christian sect – the Manicheans – were exterminated for providing a sane, believable doctrine for Christians.
And just to rub a little salt in the wounds of a bleeding populace, pope Dumbass I outlawed public baths across the empire. Less than century later, unhygienic conditions contributed to a severe outbreak of bubonic plague.
The Church outlawed all forms of date-keeping, navigational charts and equipment, and any reference to the world as being spherical. No one believed the world was flat and the earth was the center of the universe. People started pretending to believe it when anyone saying otherwise was burned alive in public squares.
The Church also outlawed all non-Christian schools and ordered the obliteration of all knowledge kept at the great library of Alexandria – perhaps the greatest repository of human knowledge ever assembled in one place.
Not only did they destroy ancient scrolls, books, and other writings, they massacred everyone who had learned to read. Millions of tradesmen, artisans, and craftsmen were slaughtered.
A holocaust (burnt offering) of millions of people practicing another “heretical” – i.e. non-Roman – form of Christianity, the Donatists in North Africa, was ordered. An entire region depopulated. Every man, woman, and child.
The church decreed that every book not written by Christian hands be destroyed.
“There is another form of temptation, even more fraught with danger. This is the disease of curiosity. It is this which drives us to try and discover the secrets of nature, those secrets which are beyond our understanding, which can avail us nothing and which man should not wish to learn.”
–Augustine (354 C.E.- 430 C.E.)
War was declared against the cultures of Egypt and Greece. The ancient library of Athens was torn down, all the scribes and priests burned alive. Roman facades were put on ancient temples. Others were torn down and replaced with Christian churches.
Ireland was likewise invaded, but the mercenary Patrick was not up to the task and relented after merely massacring half-a-million people. He reported to Rome that the “serpents have been eliminated,” but he was really giving the Celts some time to hide their knowledge.
Just around 200 years from the time Constantine remade Christianity for his own bloody purposes, the population of the ancient European world had plummeted drastically, and human civilization set back thousands of years. Some estimates claim over 110,000,000 people had died due to conflict, sacrifice, disease, and hunger.
AND WE HAVE NO IDEA WHAT WAS LOST AS A RESULT. We can only guess, based on physical evidence left behind.
Fiction is not always the most obvious means through which to present a political and metaphysical philosophy – even a great novelist such as Leo Tolstoy turned his back on the genre in order to express himself directly to the public through essays.
So it was a little surprising to find that writer Paul Cudenec, who has so far confined himself to non-fiction works such as The Anarchist Revelation and Forms of Freedom, had decided to launch himself into the world of the novel.
Having read The Fakir of Florence (Sussex: Winter Oak, 2016), it becomes clear what attracted him to the idea. Rather than running away from his root message into the distraction of fiction, he has used the form of a novel to present this message in an imaginative and entertaining context.
On the surface, the book revolves around the story of a kind of anarchist mystic who turns up in Florence during the Renaissance, but there is much more to it than that.
Cudenec takes the opportunity to examine the corruption of art by money, the recuperation of opposing philosophies by the dominant system, the artificiality of modern life and thought, the nature of artistic self-expression, the subversive potential of godless spirituality, the need for individuals to accept existential responsibility and so on.
There is a real richness of intelligent reflection here, freed from the usual restraints of linear essay composition and allowed to flow and intertwine in a way that opens the mind of the reader to their own contemplation.
The book’s subtitle, “A Novel in Three Layers” is an important guide in two ways. Firstly, it makes it clear that the three distinct threads within the book are all part of one overall thing. Secondly, it confirms that this overall thing is a work of fiction.
I say this because the first “layer”, in which an English writer in Florence visits various sites in the Italian city, grumbles about tourism and offers layman’s commentaries on the history of art, reads initially like a non-fiction travel diary.
Likewise, the second layer, an account of the “fakir” in 15th century Florence, seems very much like historical analysis.
Only the third layer, a series of metaphorical tales from some fantastic and remote age of legends, is obviously a work of fiction.
This is all a deliberate piece of psychological trickery, as Cudenec makes clear, because it is in fact in the third layer that the greatest degree of “reality” can be found!
He has Perantulo, his most “unreal” character, declare: “Even if I were an invented character presented by a fictional story-teller in an account that was itself a mere fabrication-within-a-fabrication, my words could contain more truth than a lifetime of proven facts listed by someone whose solid physical existence was completely beyond dispute!”
This notion of an authentic inner “reality” or “truth” is key to Cudenec’s brand of anarchist metaphysics, which finds its inspiration in the likes of Gustav Landauer, Aldous Huxley and Herbert Read.
Ultimately it is an extension of the “realism” of neo-Platonists like Plotinus, in which the inner essence behind the superficial everyday world is considered more real than physical form. So when Cudenec undermines the fictional elements of his own creation, he is making the point that the form was always inherently false in any case.
The final sections of the novel have a compelling pace to them. There is a satisfying sense of convergence, as what appeared to diverse and unrelated elements prove to be nothing but different aspects of the one thing.
The story’s surprising conclusion can no more be explained away in rational terms than can the plot of films like Mulholland Drive or Donnie Darko, but it is perhaps best summed up (without giving anything away!) by the last few lines of the novel.
“And with that he doubled the speed of his whirling, tripled it, then multiplied it beyond the imagination of the sharpest mathematician. Perantulo whirled at such a speed that he caught up the passing of time itself, overtook it and then looped right round to approach it from behind, like the snake that devours its own tail. And then this hoop of time likewise began to spin, faster and ever faster, until it too had become a blur like the golden coin on the tabletop and until the vanity of its fake structure could no longer hide the all-embracing glory of its infinite and eternal fire”.
The Fakir of Florence, published by Winter Oak, can be ordered online here and will shortly be available from Active Distribution.
6. Money, sex and power: on a sham biography of Guy Debord
A new “biography” of the revolutionary thinker Guy Debord is nothing but a deliberate and dishonest attack on him and the ideas he stood for.
That is the damning verdict from writer Gianfranco Sanguinetti, who worked closely with Debord in the Situationist movement.
Donald Nicholson-Smith’s English translation of Sanguinetti’s piece on Jean-Marie Apostolidès’ “sham biography” Debord le Naufrageur (Debord the Wrecker), can be found here, with the French original here.
Sanguinetti makes it clear that Apostolidès’ book has to be seen in the context of a dominant culture that denies legitimacy to any thinking that strays outside its narrow and shallow confines.
He writes: “Nor is it only authentic opponents that must be destroyed, but also all those who may have existed earlier, whose memory and model have to be erased, demolished or besmirched.
“Every tendency to revolt and desire for change among younger generations must be thwarted and struck down, and all precedents for them and the very memory of those precedents smothered.
“Any conceivable emulation has to be forestalled. All Walter Benjamins driven to suicide. Lists of subversives drawn up. Genuine rebellions, along with genuine rebels, crushed once and for all, eliminated, denounced, smeared and pilloried in view of the absolute need to highlight only deliberately fabricated and fetishized adversaries”.
As far as Apostolidès’ book itself is concerned, Sanguinetti writes: “Let me say straight away that this work, as I shall show, apart from being a crashing bore, is in no way a biography. I spent a mere three hours with it, for after all there is no need to drink five hundred litres of wine to tell whether it is good or bad – or indeed to know that it is not wine at all (as, mutatis mutandis, is the case here).
“This is in no sense a biography of Guy Debord, but rather a long-winded piece of investigative journalism directed against Debord that offers only hostile ‘testimony’ and not a word about Debord’s work, about his art and his time, about his cinema, or about his courage in a position of virtual isolation. So the book is of strictly no value to historians. It is simply not a source. The author’s use of documentation is deeply dishonest, for he selects only what he deems inculpatory.
“The Society of the Spectacle is one of three books of the twentieth century, alongside George Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, that are still vital to any understanding of the twenty-first.
“Apostolidès does not so much as mention the Strasbourg scandal and its crucial influence as a catalyst of May 1968. That struggle, its stakes and its seriousness, find no place in his book. The author also completely ignores the proliferation of Situationist theories and practice. Not a word, for instance, about what was perhaps the first work of street art or guerrilla art, our reinstallation of a statue of Charles Fourier in Place Clichy, Paris, in 1969, the original having been removed by the Nazis.
“Nothing, of course, of the magnificently successful creation of situations by the Yesmen; or by the Russian Voina group and Pussy Riot, who acknowledge their debt to Debord and the Situationists; nothing either of the Czech Stovoven group, or Banksy, or Kommunikationsguerilla, or the hacktivists, or a host of others too numerous to cite here who have put the Situationist legacy to practical use.
“Not to mention the wide-ranging influence exerted by the Situationists not only on all subsequent critical social theory but also on various kinds of détournement, class struggle and sabotage practised in factories and offices in Italy and elsewhere. This is the sense in which the Situationist International was an avant-garde. All of this, for the professor, is a complete blank. So much for scholarship.
“Since the author is kind enough never, even on a single page, to conceal his wish to denigrate – the sole point, I have to concede, upon which he is sincere and disciplined – he renders everything he mentions vulgar, which once again speaks volumes about himself: wherever you open the book, you encounter nothing but the profoundly sordid, mean-spirited, or obscene. Henry Miller put his finger exactly on this kind of mentality: ‘Obscenity exists only in the minds that discover it and charge others with it’.
“Were he called upon to discuss the Odyssey, Apostolidès would never get beyond the fleas on Ulysses’ head, because he can never perceive anything above his own level, and everything is therefore brought down to that level.
“Such individuals may teach at a prestigious university but they are incapable of producing a real, rigorous or in any way serious historical and critical analysis: all they can muster is either the aforesaid unctuous praise or spineless outrage.
“Professor Apostolidès will continue in any case to stand as a shining example of everything an honest and disciplined researcher should avoid – a concrete instance, if ever there was, and a caution to every student, of the disastrous mingling of those two forms of dishonesty, both on shameless exhibition in a police report poorly disguised as a work of historical scholarship.
“This book is hopelessly lacking in conviction, vigour, energy and freshness. It reads like work for hire, written on commission, a failed attempt to put Guy Debord and an entire movement in the stocks, something a world away from a faithful, legitimate and honest critique. Still, I draw comfort from its existence, for it signals that despite all their faults the Situationists continue to be a beacon of insubordination and a nightmare that still haunts the sleep of an era, a true successor to theirs, which cannot bear to have enemies that it has not manufactured for its own ends”.
7. Building an anarchist future – the Bristol call-out
The 8th Bristol Anarchist Bookfair is being held on Saturday April 30 2016, from 11am to 6pm, at Trinity Centre, Trinity Road, Bristol, BS2 0NW, with the The Radical History Zone just 5 minutes down the road at Hydra Bookshop. Here is the call-out from the bookfair collective:
Every year seems to bring more bad news. The poor have to pay for the mistakes of the rich through unjust schemes like the Bedroom Tax, while the sick lose their benefits to Work Capability Assessments and the like, leaving suicide rates on the up. Those who are sanctioned have all income stripped away, and governmental Workfare schemes push businesses to choose free labour over paid staff.
The cuts, as predicted, have hit the poorest hardest, with many having to choose between heating or food. Public services like care homes and day centres continue to vanish. The NHS is being ripped apart and sold off, taking away vital services, such as mental health, from those who need it most. Massive school budget cuts lead to unqualified teaching staff. Workers must work longer and harder for less, many with the uncertainty of zero-hour contracts and part-time work, with no hope of a pension.
At the same time farmers are given false hope through the murder of hundreds of endangered badgers. Global climate change has seen droughts lasting years in many countries, with the natural result of unsustainable export-crop agriculture leaving only harvest failure and starvation. Extreme weather patterns have increased flooding everywhere, and entire ecosystems move closer to the brink.
At the same time ‘our’ government’s policies only heighten the threat of climate change through fracking and airport expansion. The weapons trade, wars for oil, and extreme right-wing politics have stirred up conflict throughout the middle east and beyond, pushing ordinary people towards drastic decisions to try and save their lives.
There is hope though – people have been fighting back. Whether that is through strikes, direct action or the taking up of arms. Capitalism isn’t working. Reformism has failed. People want change.
But if capitalism collapsed tomorrow, we ask ourselves: Would we be ready?
As anarchists, we spend a lot of time fighting against oppressive structures, whether it be patriarchy, polluters, bosses, or weapons manufacturers. But we also discuss our hopes and dreams for a new, more equal world – that of anarchism. We have developed concepts around mutual aid, solidarity, co-operation, direct action, equality, and non-hierarchical organisation, but how do we put these into practice?
At this year’s Bristol Anarchist Bookfair, we want to create a safe space for people to explore these ideas, whether you are new to the concept or an old hand. How would we do health care, education or food production differently? How will we create a more equal society, so that people will feel safe and accepted whatever their sexual orientation, gender, ability, race or age?
What about oppressive behaviour; how will we hold people to account for their actions if we abolish prisons and the police? How will we distribute resources worldwide? Who will do the cleaning, road maintenance, sewage treatment and other ‘dirty work’?
If revolutions happen tomorrow we won’t have all the answers, and an anarchist society will not occur overnight – there will be ongoing change & adaptation. But the core principles of anarchism provide us with the building blocks for the future, and how to get there. Let’s be ready!
In love & solidarity – Bristol anarchist bookfair collective 2016
A reminder that Sheffield Anarchist Bookfair is being held on Saturday April 23 2016 from 10am to 6pm at Showroom Workstation, 15 Paternoster Row, Sheffield, South Yorkshire S1 2BX.
Anti-fascists held a successful mobilisation against extreme-right wingers in Dover on Saturday April 2. Describing the latest victory over the fash, antfascistnetwork.org reports: “They had very low numbers, and it took the combined protection of about 5 different police forces for them to march 500m through town, and even then we held them up for nearly 2 hours! All this plus the fact that we proudly marched an aid convoy to Calais through the centre of town right under their noses, and they couldn’t do jack about it”.
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The British state is using the pretext of a terrorist threat to flood the country with hundreds more armed police. The Independent reports that the 400 gun-wielding cops will be “stationed across the country poised to deal with a Paris-style terror attack” and that “the beefed-up network of armed police units is intended to complement military contingency plans already in place to deploy up to 10,000 troops in the event of a terror attack”. Far from being a question of the state “protecting the public” from terrorism, as the authorities like to claim, the whole story is about the state using the threat of terrorism to protect itself better from the public. The armed cops are being installed to deal not so much with a “Paris-style terror attack” as a “Paris-style revolt” – the whole charade being about frightening and beating the population into submission.
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An invaluable new resource for admirers of the great German-Jewish anarchist Gustav Landauer has gone online. The bibliography gathers primary as well as secondary literature, it mentions all known texts and talks by Landauer. There are already more than 1,600 items, including Landauer’s own writings as well as scholarly articles, monographs, book reviews, novels, and newspaper articles dedicated to Landauer or simply mentioning his name. It can be found here.
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“It’s necessary for all of us to make a journey back to enchantment. Enchantment is a facility that we are born with, but lose as we grow older,” writes author Sharon Blackie in an inspiring online article. “We forget that we live on an animate earth, and so find ourselves lonely and alienated. We no longer know how to belong. We find meaning only in ourselves and the gadgets we’ve created to amuse us, and tell ourselves and our children that this is a necessary part of becoming ‘grown-up’. So it is that we find ourselves inhabiting a Wasteland, and the journey out of this Wasteland is a journey towards re-enchantment”.
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The FBI is ordering high schools across the USA to report students who criticize government policies and “western corruption” as potential future terrorists, reports Infoshop News. The guidelines warn that “anarchist extremists” are in the same category as ISIS terrorists.
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A reminder of a May Day invitation in London, as featured in Acorn 22. Ancient energies and modern anger will be coming together in a the fourth anti-gentrification Fuck Parade from 6pm on Sunday May 1 2016 at One Commercial Street, London E1 7PT. “Dress code: smart casual, with masks“.
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Acorn quote:“It is as simple as that: we have lost touch with things, lost the physical experience that comes from a direct contact with organic processes of nature… We know it – instinctively we know it and walk like blind animals into a darker age than history has ever known”.
Ancient energies and modern anger will be coming together in a “masked parade of fuck” on the streets of London on May Day.
The fourth anti-gentrification Fuck Parade has been announced for 6pm on Sunday May 1 2016 at One Commercial Street, London E1 7PT. “Dress code: smart casual, with masks“.
The last Fuck Parade in Shoreditch in September (see Acorn 16) managed to grab national and even international headlines when participants dared to daub paint on the outside of a hipster “cereal cafe” – unleashing a great vomiting of self-righteous hypocritical outrage from London’s smuggest.
And now, with Spring in the air, the rowdy rebels are ready to go again on a day traditionally set aside for life-affirming revolt.
Says their website: “The London Fuck Parade began as a ‘Fuck you’ to property developers who had introduced ‘Poor doors’ into one of their shiny new blocks of apartments in Aldgate on the edge of London’s East End.
“Tenants on affordable rates or social tenants were obliged to use a separate door down a dark side alley, while those paying full rate could swagger through a front concierge area with chandeliers glittering above and bag-carriers on hand 24hr.
“So some people said ‘Fuck that’, and so we had the first Fuck Parade on May Day, Saturday 1st May 2015. Hundreds gathered, sound systems on trolleys, pulled by bikes, dragged or pushed on all sorts of contraptions, a riotous parade of Fuck toured central London to finish six hours later in deepest Soho.
“And then we thought: ‘That was fun. Let’s do it again!’ And so we did…
“May Day in 2016 falls slap-bang in the middle of a true Bank Holiday weekend and as a Sunday must surely be a day of rest, quiet reflection and banging techno in our streets.
“Prepared to make the necessary sacrifices, our MaskARaid will liberate space and minds, channeling the ancient energies and the modern anger in a masked parade of fuck”.
The British state is a ruthlessly violent criminal organisation that will stop at nothing to push the interests of the rich elite that owns it.
This plain and unpleasant fact should always inform the thinking of anybody who dares to stand up to the system – and yet, all too often, activists slip into a naive liberalism that simply cannot cope with the grim truth.
This issue was recently addressed in an astute article about reactions to the Heathrow 13 trial, in which the anti-airport protesters finally avoided jail and received suspended sentences.
Here, the Free to Fight Collective point to a worrying assumption that we have the “right to protest” in the UK and that it would be unthinkable for nice peaceful protesters to be put behind bars.
The Heathrow protesters may be relatively “free” (though facing immediate jail if they step out of line again) they explain, but we are still living in a country “where we have the most privatised prison system in Europe, where people are being locked up for profit, where every single day thousands of people are harmed by the prison industrial complex.
“Violence, beatings, self-harm, drug abuse, rape and sexual assault, suicide and just the simple brutality of being caged are all endemic in our prison system. Prison is inherently violent, and it’s the tool of a violent state that serves the capitalists who are the real ones profiting from aviation and environmental destruction”.
The real nature of the British state is becoming increasingly clear to anti-fracking activists in the UK. Back in 2013 at Balcombe, many were happy to fraternise with the police, whom they regarded as neutral observers in the battle between the frackers and the public.
But experience has gradually eroded faith in the “boys in blue”, both in the North of England and now at Horse Hill, near Horley, where Surrey Police have been particularly aggressive, making violent arrests and generally doing their best to conform to the internationally-recognised “ACAB” policing standards.
“At around 12 noon on Tuesday February 23, grandmother Linda Foord thought she was being a good Samaritan by offering tea and cakes to police officers and protesters outside a proposed drilling site in Surrey”, reports the Talk Fracking site, for instance.
“But rather than a smile and gratitude, Linda was given a verbal warning and told she risked being arrested by the officers for obstructing the highway”.
The truth is, of course, that the police are nothing but mercenary thugs and enforcers for the “untouchable” business mafia, whose salaries are sourced from the centuries-old criminal protection racket known as the British state.
While still (technically!) human beings, in order to carry out their robotic role they have surrendered the right and indeed responsibility of moral choice that lies at the heart of what it means to be truly human.
The same can certainly be said of those state-mercenaries who take their anti-social activities a step further by hiding their true identity behind a cloak of officially-authorised lies.
A reminder of where this can lead came with the news this month that the case against the one remaining “suspect” in the Omagh bombing case had collapsed.
It now appears that nobody will ever be convicted for the terrorist atrocity which killed 29 innocent people, and two unborn babies, in the north of Ireland in 1998.
The reason for this is obvious for anyone who has followed this particular case, the “Troubles” in general or indeed the whole history of terrorism.
There is a hint of the truth in one paragraph of The Guardian’s report: “Omagh victims’ families have complained that police on both sides of the Irish border failed to act to thwart the attack on the town because they were running agents inside the Real IRA, and that previous bombings in 1998 were allowed to take place to bolster their agents’ reputations within the new republican terror group.”
The reality is that both “sides” of the conflict were penetrated and manipulated by UK and US intelligence agents in order to further their own nefarious ends.
Even the head of IRA internal security was a British agent codenamed Stakeknife, happily using his position to order the murder of any remaining Republicans not under orders from London.
As a detailed Spinwatch report states: “It can be shown that senior members of the British security forces/services and politicians were and are prepared to use civilian assassinations, bombings and black propaganda to achieve a military, rather than a political, solution to the Northern Ireland conflict and other conflicts in which they are involved”.
As for the motives behind the Omagh bombing, it is worth recalling that it led to Parliament being recalled and that within less than a month Tony Blair’s government had somehow written and introduced the Criminal Justice (Terrorism and Conspiracy) Act 1998.
This allowed people to be convicted of belonging to a proscribed organisation merely on the say-so of a senior police officer, created an offence of conspiracy to commit offences abroad and generally prefigured more recent “anti-terrorist” legislation. Helpfully, it included a clause giving “all crown agents immunity from prosecution under the legislation”.
Meanwhile, anti-capitalists in the UK are well aware that their movement has been targeted by state infiltration, even if those so far exposed have been lower level police spies rather than higher-level spooks.
Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance say: “It is the police characteristically failing to admit wrongdoing, let alone sanction those who did it. It results in the absurdity of police refusing to confirm whether people like Mark Kennedy and Bob Lambert were ever undercover officers.
“We only have details on 14 officers from Britain’s political secret police – 90% of them are still unknown. The only way we will know what those officers did is if the people they spied on tell their stories and, in turn, the only way for that to happen is if they are told they were targeted.
“The inquiry cannot be credible if it hides 90% of the truth. It must release the names of officers. Those who were spied on should see their files to discover what took place and why, rather than take the word of the liars who abused them.
“There will be a demonstration outside the High Court at 9am on Tuesday 22nd March, ahead of the first day of the Pitchford Inquiry’s hearing. Let’s make it clear; without truth there cannot be justice”.
The internet has always been a double-edged sword for the capitalist system. On the one hand it enables surveillance and control on a scale undreamed of by the tyrannies of yesteryear.
But, on the other hand, it allows information and opinion to circulate in the public realm that would have traditionally have been filtered out by the gatekeepers of the authorised media.
Finding pretexts for clamping down on that inconvenient freedom of expression has always been a preoccupation for the 21st century authorities and it’s worth noting some recent moves in that direction.
This article in The Guardian talks about efforts to make the internet “nice” and to “design out toxic behaviour”.
But behind the use of terms like “antisocial users” and “troublemakers” you can be sure that there lurks another, less fluffy, agenda.
Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg talks of mounting “a concerted counter-offensive of what can only be described as organised niceness”.
This sounds like an online version of the broom-wielding nice bourgeois fascists “clearing up” after those nasty riots in 2011.
And the political agenda becomes plainer with Sandberg’s explicit references to tackling these “extremists” by “shutting offensive accounts”.
Liberal Guardian readers are supposed to believe that all this is aimed at Jihadists and right-wingers, but who exactly decides what is “offensive” or not?
It’s a flexible term, as we have seen lately with the attempts by the extreme right-wing Zionist lobby to have all criticism of Israel branded as offensive “anti-semitism”.
When activists from London Palestine Action carried out some subvertising on the London tube last month, putting up posters criticizing Israel’s apartheid policies against Palestinians, Israeli politicians described them as “anti-semitic and “inciteful”.
Oxford University Labour Club’s support for Israeli Apartheid Week was also classed as “anti-semitism” by right-wing Zionists given a platform by The Guardian on February 17.
Meanwhile, the Independent reported that the British government is banning public boycotts of Israeli goods because the practice undermines “community cohesion” and Britain’s “international security”.
This report from Associated Press confirms that it is not by chance that the meme of pro-Palestinian “anti-semitism” has been spreading.
It reveals: “Israel is using its world-leading expertise in cyber security to take on the growing threat of the global pro-Palestinian movement to boycott Israel.
“Among the government officials involved in the efforts are some of Israel’s top secret-keepers, including Sima Shine, a former top official in the Mossad spy agency, and [Sima] Vaknin-Gil, who recently retired as the chief military censor responsible for gag orders on state secrets.
“Vaknin-Gil said her ministry is encouraging initiatives to expose the funding and curb the activities of anti-Israel activists, as well as campaigns to ‘flood the Internet’ with content that puts a positive face on Israel”.
This sounds strikingly similar to Facebook’s fluffy liberal plan for “a concerted counter-offensive of what can only be described as organised niceness”.
First you declare that there will be zero tolerance for extremists and offensive opinions and then you redefine all your opponents as “extremists” and their opinions as “offensive”…
The same logic will no doubt apply to government plans “to prosecute ‘trolls’ who use fake online profiles to harass others”.
The BBC reports that this clamp-down could target cases “where a false identity is used to post upsetting messages, including false information that could cause anxiety”.
If there is one present-day current of thought that stands out as even more repugnant than all the other repugnance of industrial capitalism, it is transhumanism.
For those who have not come across it before, this is a warped ideology that wants to physically merge humans and industrial technology, with the “dream” of abolishing mortality and creating a super-race of cyborgs or Daleks.
Whether or not this is ever likely to come true is pretty much beyond the point – the transhumanists are dangerous simply in that they are promoting a way of thinking, a way of envisaging the future, that is completely bound up with the extension of industrial capitalism and, of course, completely against any idea of caring about the living planet.
The transhumanists form part of an ultramodern neoliberal cult – also worryingly infecting supposedly “radical” circles – which regards the very idea of “nature” as out of date and builds its cold worldview on a fetish for all that is false, artificial, inhuman.
It was therefore rather surprising, to put it mildly, that a leading spokesman for this cult was invited to speak at an eco-fair in Lyons, France, on February 28 2016.
This was Didier Coeurnelle, a Belgian transhumanist, vice-president of the French Association of Transhumanists, who is also known by the name “Technoprog”.
A group of radical anti-industrialists from Pièces et main d’oeuvre (PMO) in nearby Grenoble reacted by publishing an open letter to the organisers of the eco-fair, the Salon Primevère.
They pointed out: “The transhumanists are picking up where the Nazis left off, with an eugenicist project for improving the race. They have an advantage over the predecessors in that they have 21st century technology on their side: nanotechnology, biotechnology, IT, neurotechnology.
“It is part of the transhumanists’ strategy to infiltrate anywhere that offers them a platform. Some years ago they decided to reach out to the largest possible audience by using slogans designed to draw in the ‘alternative’ sector: ‘Another transhumanism is possible’ is the AFT president’s slogan.
“To give a talk at a fair where people are showcasing herbal medicine, warning against the harmful effects of microwaves, criticising vaccination policies in France, is an excellent way of spreading their propaganda”.
In response to the open letter, the fair’s organisers invited the PMO radicals to come and debate with Coeurnelle, arguing that allowing him to speak was “the only way of exposing” his real agenda.
PMO replied that there was an important distinction to be made “between debating with transhumanists and fighting transhumanism”. They added: “If we follow your logic, the ‘only way of exposing’ pesticides is to invite spokespeople from Bayer, BASF and co. The ‘only way of exposing’ GM food is to invite Monsanto and biotechnology researchers…
“We are happy to accept your offer for a discussion, on the only subject that matters: why and how to fight transhumanism”.
Skullduggery is being used to push through plans for an environmentally disastrous new road across the Sussex countryside near Chichester.
With the official consultation due to begin any day now, even the local media have been kept in the dark about what is actually being proposed.
It is feared that forces behind the scenes are pushing for a new northern bypass around the city, conveniently “opening up” countryside for the profiteering of parasitical property developers.
A key figure in the pro-bypass campaign is one Pieter Montyn, a senior West Sussex county councillor.
As we reported last year in Acorn 4, Montyn has spent most of his life profiting from mass murder in the higher echelons of the global arms trade – “37 years in the UK aircraft and defence equipment industry (British Aerospace/BAE Systems and GEC), in which he held senior export management positions at home and overseas”.
And with that sort of ethical background, it is not surprising that he has been less than transparent regarding his involvement in the push for a new northern bypass.
The Chichester Observer records that the wealthy Tory was an active campaigner for the northern route before the option was originally dropped by the government in 2005, when he was not yet a councillor.
Montyn is claiming that this is all now in the past and told a public meeting in January this year: “That was ten years ago when I hadn’t been elected to anything and I was free to do what I felt I wanted to do.
“Since I was elected to district and then county (council), the situation has been very different for me. The moment I was elected I never campaigned or spoke out again.”
But this does not seem to entirely be the case – an email leaked to the local paper shows he still very much identifies himself as part of the pro-road campaign.
In this message, written 17 days before his public statement, he refers to the anti-road fight “gathering momentum” and adds: “We need to get together in the new year with willing individuals of whatever kind (PC members or not) and begin work on a better informed pro campaign.” The word “we” is significant here!
The lack of information from the authorities is frustrating residents and media alike.
Complained one local journalist on March 3: “The utter ineptitude Highways England continues to show in its handling of the A27 simply beggars belief.
“Its whole handling of Chichester’s A27 improvement plans would be laughable, if we were not talking about the biggest transport decision the area has seen for decades, a decision that will affect everyone in the area and beyond for years to come.
“Highways England continues to treat Observer residents with nothing but utter contempt. Do the well-paid bosses think we will all just sit back and allow such a major project to be allowed to lurch from one disaster to the next?”
Fortunately, there are many in Sussex and beyond who are not prepared to let Montyn and his road-lobby chums get their way.
As the “Nature Says No A27” Twitter account says: “A bypass through the beauty of the South Downs is environmental destruction of the highest order. Extensive diverse landscapes will be lost to a road that heaps yet more pollution on us all – NO A27 BYPASS!”
UPDATE 4.3.16: Hours after this bulletin was published, news broke that the battle may have been won! The government has apparently ruled out the options of northern route or any new section of road in the south. “Instead the junctions on the existing stretch will be upgraded”.
Threatened by the infrastructure of industrial capitalism
A massive show of strength was held in Nantes on February 27 by those who oppose the proposed new airport and support the ZAD protest camp.
Some 60,000 people gathered at Notre-Dame-des-Landes to send a clear message to the French state – we will not let this scheme go ahead!
Coaches travelled from all over France to the protest, the biggest yet, and there was also a contingent of UK activists who are ready to help resist any attempted eviction.
The ZAD has become an important symbol of the struggle against industrial capitalism in France and Europe as a whole – the long-term aim is not just to stop the airport but to keep the space at Notre-Dame-des-Landes liberated from state control on a permanent basis.
Both lanes of a dual carriageway were filled with protesters as far as the eye could see and much of the road surface, road signs and a petrol station were covered with graffiti – a news video can be seen here.
The police were largely invisible and if skirmishes were limited and late in the day, this suited the strategy of the ZAD supporters.
With a dubious local referendum in the offing, and no eviction attempt likely until at least the Autumn, the task at the moment is to keep the diverse anti-airport movement solid and persuade the state to stay away.
Of course, the moment that any attack on the ZAD is made, the game will change immediately and the crackling potential energy that was so evident on February 27 will be released in a quite different form.
If you’re stupid enough to believe what you hear in the media, you may think that Zika is the biggest threat to humankind since Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction.
The mosquito-carried disease is set to spread north from Brazil any day now, killing billions and threatening to bring the world as we know it to a horrible and painful end…
That’s the hype, but tucked away at the bottom of a recent Guardian article was the rather underwhelming truth: “Brazil is investigating more than 4300 suspected cases of microcephaly and more than 460 have been confirmed. The Zika infection so far has been identified in 41 of them.”
41 confirmed cases? Hardly the Black Death! Researcher Jon Rappoport adds: “Zika has been known about since 1947. It has never been considered a health threat. It has been linked to mild transient illness with few symptoms. There was no reason to assert that Zika was the cause of microcephaly in the first place. It was all hype and no science”.
Sceptics like Rappoport are suggesting that the real issues lie elsewhere. With the use and production of pesticides in Brazil, for instance. Or with mass vaccination schemes. Or with the release in Brazil of genetically modified mosquitoes.
There are many elements in our industrial society, and in the poverty afflicting many Brazilian families, that could affect immune systems and damage unborn children.
A group of doctors from South America are now saying the brain deformations the world is witnessing are caused by the mass fumigation of low-income Brazilian people with a chemical larvicide, not by mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus.
Says a report in Natural News: “What we’re seeing with the brain deformations of children, in other words, is more like the history of thalidomide, a prescription medicine given to pregnant women that caused children to be born with limbs missing.
“But the official narrative on all this is pushing a false link with Zika in order to justify more chemical fumigation, more vaccines and more genetically engineered mosquitoes”.
The Zika scare is also being used as a Trojan Horse for megalomaniac biotechnological dreams of “editing nature” and simply wiping out mosquitoes altogether – regardless of the knock-on effects on the food chain and global eco-system.
A leading force behind this insanity is the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. A propaganda piece in The Guardian on February 27 was jointly authored by Dr Trevor Mundel, president of its global health division.
The agenda is quite clear as the article calls for “a coordinated response involving infrastructure, international organisation and readily available vaccines”. It states: “When such research takes place at all, it generally relies on the goodwill of pharmaceutical companies prepared to take a loss. That isn’t sustainable… we must invest in technologies that enable more rapid deployment”.
“The goodwill of pharmaceutical companies” – there is a phrase that tells you all you need to know about the article and what lies behind it!
In the same way that the bogeyman of “terrorism” leads to massive government spending with security and arms companies, so the threat of an “epidemic” is aimed at prompting a flow of cash into the coffers of Big Pharma.
Rappoport points to a saner approach to tackling the root issues: “Cleaning up contaminated water supplies, improving sanitation, eliminating overcrowding, introducing nutritious food to replace no-food or junk food—these and other non-medical measures would make people healthier and drastically reduce their need for any medical intervention at all”.
But then that’s the last thing the global pharmaceutical industry wants to happen!
Sheffield Anarchist Bookfair is being held on Saturday April 23 2016 from 10am to 6pm at Showroom Workstation, 15 Paternoster Row, Sheffield, South Yorkshire S1 2BX. Each year, the book fair brings together over 50 radical booksellers, distributors, independent presses, and political groups from around the country, and features books, pamphlets, zines, art, crafts and films. It includes speakers, panels and workshops, and is followed by an evening social.
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Good news from St Louis in Missouri, USA, where Black Rose Books is to open the first of at least two locations on May 1 2016. The de-centralized, non-profit project says it aims “to get our favorite radical books into circulation in St. Louis. We hope to make available great books, magazines and journals on a wide range of topics, from LGBTQIA, feminism, anti-racism, direct action, radical ecology, anti-colonialism, anti-war, philosophy, peoples’ histories, and much, much more!” At least one Winter Oak title will be available!
Corporate drug-dealers GlaxoSmithKline have been fined £37.6m for cheating the NHS. The Competition & Markets Authority said the pharmaceutical firm had paid generic drugmakers more than £50m between 2001 and 2004 in return for them delaying the launch of cheaper versions of the antidepressant drug, branded Seroxat, which sold more than £90m in 2001. Unlike street-corner drug-dealers, however, Glaxo’s bosses are not looking at jail sentences for their dodgy activities…
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“To comply with the no-trespassing order, to allow a forest to be cut down, to hide our rituals and secret away our traditions – these are what is desired of us by the powerful and the rich, by world leaders and wealthy businessmen. To insist that life and the world and each other are more important, more meaningful than the demands of Capital and Authority – this is a beautiful resistance.” So say the pagan anti-capitalists behind the US-based gods and radicals website – godsandradicals.org
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Acorn quote:“The spirit of oppression, the spirit of servility, and the spirit of fraud, these are the immediate growth of the established administration of property. They are alike hostile to intellectual and moral improvement. The other vices of envy, malice and revenge, are their inseparable companions. In a state of society, where men lived in the midst of plenty, and where all shared alike the bounties of nature, these sentiments would inevitably expire. The narrow principle of selfishness would vanish”.
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.
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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.
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“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.
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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.
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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…
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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“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.
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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”.