We are delighted to report that so many protests are breaking out, that we can hardly keep up any more, but here are a few highlights…
Huge crowds protested two weeks ago in Croatia against the Covid-based dictatorship.
Banners included: “Take off the mask, turn off the TV, live life to the fullest”, “Covid is a lie, we’re not all covidiots” and “Better the grave than to be a slave”.
On September 12 a crowd of at least 1,000 gathered outside the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, demanding the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions.
Said one media report: “Protesters booed the World Health Organization (WHO), which has its headquarters in Geneva, and criticised the global health body for its efforts to find a Covid-19 vaccine. Some accused the WHO of being controlled by outside interests”.
Parents and schoolchildren in Utah, USA, have been making headlines for protesting against compulsory masks.
“Freedom is essential, rights are essential!” was the message at a massive anti-lockdown Freedom Rally in Vancouver, Canada, on September 13.
On September 14 a crowd of anti-mask protesters walked through a supermarket in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA, shouting “take your masks off!” and “we’re not going to take it any more!”.
In the UK, there are signs that the government’s new “rule of six” restrictions could prove to be the final straw that broke the Covid camel’s back.
“We’re winning!” declared Brian Gerrish of stalwartly anti-lockdown UK Column on September 14.
Even previously unquestioning individuals are now noticing that there is an agenda behind all of this, which has absolutely nothing to do with protecting people from a virus.
Some well-known figures are also starting to speak up. Noel Gallagher of rock group Oasis said on September 14 that he refuses to wear a mask, adding: “The whole thing’s bollocks. You’re supposed to wear them in Selfridges, yet you can f*cking go down the pub and be surrounded by every fucking c*nt. Do you know what I mean? There’s too many fucking liberties being taken away… I just think it’s a piss take”.
Ian Brown, erstwhile lead singer with the Stone Roses, pointed out on the same day that “conspiracy theorist” is “a term invented by the lame stream media to discredit those who can smell and see through the government/media lies and propaganda”.
Alongside general flouting of the police-state rules and increasing contempt for the system which is imposing it, demonstrations are also being staged around the country. See the StandUpX site for latest details.
Two more big protests are coming up in London, with mass gatherings being advertised for 12 noon in Trafalgar Square on both Saturday September 19 and Saturday September 26.
We are again calling for Acorn readers to take an active part in these protests, not least in order to influence other rebels in a healthily radical political direction.
The freedom-loving anarchists at The South Essex Hecklerput it this way: “While we’ve made it pretty clear we have no brief for the organisers of these protests and some of the dubious speakers they invite, we would urge anarchists and radicals to leave their comfort zones and try to engage with those who choose to attend.
“There are two reasons for this. Firstly to offer an alternative pole of attraction to the alt right elements who are sniffing round the fringes and seeking to capitalise on people’s growing anger at the imposition of the ‘new normal’.
“Secondly, if these protests are broken up with some degree of force and followed up with numerous prosecutions, bear in mind that it could well be us next in line for this treatment”.
As another anarchist, Paul Cudenec, recently wrote on his blog: “Our resistance needs to come from our hearts. We need to shake off worries about the consequences of speaking up and fighting back – we need to go with what we feel is right.
“We need to tap into the energies of solidarity, belonging and togetherness that have always played a huge role in human society but which are being deliberately destroyed by those who would control us”.
We also echo the words of Alan Hamilton, in a September 16 piece on the Off-Guardian site: “My personal opinion is that the global program of lockdowns is a mechanism for reorganizing societies around the world along the lines of the World Economic Forum’s ‘Great Reset’ agenda and all that this entails”.
“The only way we will arrest and/or reverse this trend is if we all take direct, non-violent, physical (not digital) action to exercise our civic and democratic rights at every opportunity we can. The time to speak up and stand up is now. It will be too late tomorrow”.
France and England are only 21 miles apart at the closest point, but in the political realm the distance can feel a lot more substantial.
At a moment when people across the world are rebelling against the global Covid-coup dictatorship (see above), France has a bit of a head-start.
It already has an well-organised autonomous grassroots street movement opposed to authoritarian global neoliberalism, which knows full well that the mass media pump out pro-system propaganda, that the police are violent thugs sent out to crush dissent and that western “democracy” is a hollow illusion hiding a corrupt and murderous tyranny!
The Gilets Jaunes were back in action on Saturday September 12, with big turn-outs in Paris and all over the country reminding the Macronist regime that they are still a force to be reckoned with.
The regional protest in the southern city of Montpellier attracted an impressive crowd despite inevitably being banned by the authorities.
The march got under way in almost comic circumstances, after riot cops turned up in the Place de la Comédie and tried to encircle the hundreds who were gathering.
But the roles were quickly reversed and the police found themselves surrounded by a ring of protesters.
This obviously made them feel uncomfortable and they retreated to the edge of the square, leaving the way clear for the protest to head off up the road from which the cops had initially emerged, setting off a yellow flare in celebration.
The march was feisty, up-beat and of all ages, animated by the usual songs about Macron and the fight for “a better world” and by chants of “a-, anti-, anti-capitalista” and “révolution!”.
“We are not dupes!” declared one placard. “They are not corrupt, they are the corruption!” said another.
The protest wound through little alleys in the medieval city centre, occasionally breaking into smaller groups and largely succeeding in avoiding the cops, although some protesters were confronted with tear gas.
The Gilets Jaunes’ message remains the same as before the Covid crisis and the movement as a whole is not explicitly anti-mask or Covid-sceptic.
But leaflets were going around on the Montpellier demo with a specifically anti-mask message and voices challenging the Covid narrative were certainly not shouted down or confronted by fellow protesters. There is clearly, at the very least, an overlap.
The big difference with the UK is that there is no need in France for those rebelling against the New Normal to form a new movement, because the Gilets Jaunes are already there.
When the movement emerged in November 2018, it was regarded with suspicion by many on the left, because it included nationalist and far right elements.
But, because of its fundamental anti-state and anti-capitalist position, the new movement quickly found its identity as a broad anti-system alliance untainted either by the racism of the right or the more absurd ultraliberal dogma of the left.
In other words, it already has the strength and maturity to take on board criticism of newnormalist totalitarianism without running scared of ideological contamination from a fetishized “diametric opposite”.
3. ‘Anarchists’ join the Government in the fight against nature and the stripping of our rights
by Marion (anarchist since 1982)
I wonder when the left started being in favour of the (police?) state. I wonder when people stopped thinking for themselves and started blindly believing the media. I wonder when people who believed in natural remedies started believing the pharmaceutical giants instead. I’m sure they haven’t always done that.
I wonder when anarchism stopped meaning people taking charge of their life and started meaning submitting to whatever the authorities decide is right. In fact I remember a time when the majority (not even just anarchists and the left) started to realise the government and the media were telling porkies. Suddenly, because of a virus, all that seems to have changed with some people.
Yes, we were all saying at first (and still are saying) that wet markets should be abolished. Of course they do; but isn’t that difficult to campaign about from the UK (except for the UK ones)? While wet markets continue, there will be viruses and we need to be able to deal (naturally) with those viruses while they are around. Of course, the virus may have come from a laboratory instead, accidentally or deliberately, but either way viruses should not be manufactured whether for biological warfare or to develop strategies against pathogens; it’s dangerous! But for a lot of anarchists, lefties and animal rights people this hasn’t appeared to move on to questioning how a virus could be dealt with or to advocating living in more natural ways.
Authorities know that they can control people either through fear or by telling people they are saving lives. Because anarchists tend to protect the underdog, the vulnerable, the disabled etc, this has worked superbly with them. They believe that the extreme measures in this crazy new world is protecting those people. Yet lockdown, social distancing and cancelling everything that isn’t to do with Covid makes many vulnerable people’s lives more difficult – a shame that needs to be said as it is really so obvious; elderly people not allowed to see their families or sit with others, elderly and disabled having to queue and use stairs because lifts are not in use, people dying because of cancelled operations, the stress of not being able to get through to services and organisations. And ‘containing’ the virus means keeping it.
In early March people were carrying on with their activities as normal; these were not all reckless and selfish people; they included mindful types; martial arts enthusiasts, drama groups, yoga teachers and herbalists. We agreed that sick or vulnerable people should avoid public places wherever possible – so far fine. We were helping people with compromised immune systems by leaving shopping and remedies outside their houses. Then lockdown.
Some anarchists say they were locking down, masking up etc before actual lockdown began but I’m sure it was not long before; the first case of the virus in the UK was in January yet those anarchists were not distancing for a long time unless they were sick or vulnerable. Then the fear and the idea of ‘responsibility’ seeped in, fuelled by propaganda and media hysteria and, after advice and then orders from the Government, they stopped their activities. This was not just because they were furloughed or paid by the Government; some moved them online (as if we don’t already use computers more than is good for us).
Some, bizarrely, stopped talking about vitamins, herbs, good diet, exercise. Neal’s Yard closed its shop (apparently through lack of customers). After a while some thought any group activities to be dangerous and that ‘not hugging’ is a loving act (rather than hugging actually improving the immune system).
Nearly six months after the first case of Covid-19 in the UK, we are being told to wear masks and still to social distance, yet at the beginning of the crisis, pandemic or whatever you want to call it and even in the worst part of it, there were very few people wearing them. Masks only actually protect other people, not the person wearing it, for whom it’s quite bad for their health and uncomfortable, unless you’re just wearing a scarf around your face.
During every flu epidemic, Swineflu etc, have people even discussed social distancing, locking down, wearing masks, mass vaccination of the population? Certainly we should be careful during those times, look after our health, perhaps not go to places that are too crowded etc and being responsible is a good thing if it is well-thought-out with good reasoning. But we have never before gone to these extremes, shutting everything down, distancing etc, and if you look at the facts and the science, CV-19 is no worse than any other disease we have had.*
As for vaccination, which everything seems to be moving towards and some anarchists and even animal rights people are actually wanting, well, we have natural immune systems; vaccinations tamper with them and actually make us less immune to viruses in general, and sometimes worse (brain damage etc).
Is this compliance by anarchists also because of not wanting to be associated with the Alt Right? That right-wing libertarians (including Trump) believe in freedom (or say they do), therefore the left want absolutely nothing to do with freedom? Even though the Freedom organisation is still called that!
Of course, we know that Trump and Bolsanaro and Johnson and libertarian capitalists don’t really agree with freedom, or only for themselves, not for poor people. There is a hatred of ‘conspiracy theories’ among the left. This is despite most anarchists believing in at least some of them; the facts that GM crops are bad news and that vaccinations sometimes have detrimental effects are actually classed by some as conspiracy theories. Many of those theories have quickly become facts, such as there are no WMDs hidden in Iraq.
Now many anarchists seem to disbelieve and ridicule the fact that natural remedies and herbs can often cure diseases. They identify conspiracy theories with right wing (and I think aligning conspiracy theory with right wing ideology is a conspiracy itself, by those that control us). I’m sure the ‘alternative’ people didn’t use to believe everything the medical profession and Big Pharma told them. What is right wing about a belief in natural cures and preventions?!
It’s also because they have been caught up by the old Divide and Rule tactic. The rulers (governments, Deep State, multinationals, Bilderberg or whoever) do that to people all the time; anarchists should know that, yet many of them are being duped by it. They really should know better. I guess those in power must be clever. They did Divide and Rule very well with Brexit, they’ve always done it in condemning people, via the media, who are taking strike action, and with countless other issues. We need to be cleverer; that involves thinking for ourselves more, a lot more.
Some anarchists and lefties are doing that, the ones who don’t blindly follow the pack but have questioning minds and independent views. We need to stop complying with what the government says but instead do what we think is right; if enough people do that the state(s) will have no power.
So why can’t we reclaim the concept of freedom from the ‘alt right’? Instead, a lot of anarchists are renouncing everything about freedom and self-governance, saying that actually anarchism is about mutual aid. Yes of course mutual aid comes into the anarchist ideology but the actual definition of anarchism is ‘without government’. It does not allow for coercion in any way – either by laws, physical coercion or guilt-tripping (which I have heard a lot of).
Another thing that has been happening is that some anarchists are accusing the anti-lockdowners of being selfish. Yet in reality there is selfishness and selflessness on both sides. Many anti-lockdowners are empathic about people losing their jobs and possibly their homes, about other people living on their own, people who have no garden. And many who believe lockdown was/is the right thing to do are in a situation where they are not affected by it, being paid for not having to work (and so they should be, especially in this situation), taking the opportunity to do creative or educational things, so it seems to me that some of them like lockdown because it is personally good for them.
And of course some anti-lockdowners are that mainly for selfish reasons and some who are pro lockdown are not benefitting from it but believe in some way that it is saving others. There are also a lot of people (all of us?) who contradict ourselves, eg, one minute we say it’s tragic that the elderly are on their own at the end of their life and then say it has to be done.
Whether you are pro or anti lockdown is really not about selfish or unselfish; I believe it is about behaving sanely in an insane world. It is about working with nature rather than fighting against it (and with the government and the pharmaceutical industry). It is about thinking for yourself, rather than going along with what your friends or comrades are saying or what the WHO, NHS, media and government is saying.
Actually this new normal is not that new really; a lot of things have been leading up to this point, such as new regulations against alternative remedies being brought in, extreme health and safety rules, increasingly severe anti-union laws, the criminalisation of squatting and increased surveillance.
Apart from all of this, it is so obvious that what the authorities are doing has nothing to do with a virus, so either there was a conspiracy from the beginning or they are using the situation to control us and bring in new rules and systems. It may be governments doing it but I think more likely it is a group of world technocrats making governments do it (Johnson etc being puppets).
Here are just ten of the reasons for thinking there is a hidden agenda:
There are many more. Everyone knows about the multitude of contradictions in the information about the virus and in the rules; some recent ones are ferry companies saying passengers are now not allowed to stay in their vehicles and that medical prescriptions must now be ordered by coming to the health centre while the clinics are at the same time saying they are trying to minimise visits to those clinics.
If anyone thinks this is all just ignorance and incompetence on the part of the governments and big business, no it cannot be, they are not that stupid! The answer to all of this is that the agenda is not to control the virus; that is not why they are doing all these things. But I’m not going to tell you why they’re doing it because I’d be guessing (though it could be because the pharmaceutical industry and others want to make more money, because the authorities want to control us because they’re worried we’re questioning governments too much, because they’re doing all this as a step before doing something else bigger and even more controlling, because they want to ‘re-set’, because they want to bring in a new world order); that’s for everyone to find out.
Intoxicated by our technology
Some so smitten
They wish to merge it with their biology
Eyeing up parts of their anatomy
Being human is just
Not enough for me
I swear I was born to be a God
I feel so restricted by my human form
Once I’m done
I’ll stalk the earth like Magog
it’s all perfectly natural
It’s Darwinian progress see
It’s not that I don’t like being human
Or that I’m envious of machines
and what we can do with them
I just honestly think it’s a good idea
To change my natural frequency
So I can become a superman
and live in a permanent delinquency
After all, what has the Human form done for me
I want to be like those superheroes they have on the big screens
Transhumanism is the future human you see
Some geek guy said that on a curved TV
He must be right as he has a PhD
But wait a minute what about our friends the Military
Oh those guys are just 50 steps ahead
Always have our best interests
At the forefront of their intent
They’re slowly showing us what’s behind their curtain
A twisted form of humanity they envisage
Of this, you can be certain
A cyborg soldier will never disobey
Retreat or show combat dismay
Have we really exhausted all of our potential and capabilities
Tapped every brain cell explored every possibility
Obviously, this thing will never get abused
As they’ve got a computer program
To make sure I don’t get con”fused”
Oh it’s so lucky they’ve thought of everything
The fourth industrial age is aimed at us
Inside and outside
This technological economic bubble
Will never go bust
As a human being can be conditioned to want more
In this, you can trust.
Edward Bernays proved that without any fuss
Once we’re told we can upgrade ourselves
Then I’ll know we’ve turned paradise into hell
I’m suspicious as fuck about all of this
Technological implants ain’t for me
I’ll take my chances with my faults and flaws
As they’re an intrinsic part of who I’m meant to be
Overcoming these things is the path to real personal growth
understanding what you are and are not
Is probably more important than both
Are we really standing at a possible Cyborg future
If we are I might start shooting
I’ll tell them I thought it was a giant malfunctioning toaster
But no doubt the judge will be a robot
Humans can’t be trusted it seems
But I’m more worried about some of our ideas
Once that is they’re allowed to roam free
“Unless something radical is done to Capitalism, it would seem that through it humanity is likely to be wiped out”
Bharatan Kumarappa (1896-1957) was a scholar, writer and activist close to Mohandas Gandhi and, like him, strongly opposed to industrial-capitalist imperialism.
The younger brother of J. C. Kumarappa, he was the Indian editor of Gandhi’s collected works.
He wrote the book Capitalism, Socialism or Villagism, published in 1946, while a political prisoner of the British occupying regime.
Gandhi, in his foreword to this work, credits Kumarappa with coining the word “villagism” to describe their shared vision of a decentralised community-based way of living built on traditional crafts and culture.
Kumarappa aimed the book at Indian village workers, rather than at intellectuals and used it to convey a powerful anti-capitalist message.
He declared: “Unless something radical is done to Capitalism, it would seem that through it humanity is likely to be wiped out”. (1)
Kumarappa said that capitalism’s cult of uncontrolled selfishness was the worst possible basis for any civilization and had created societies “where men in their greed for gain become worse than brutes and compete with each other in fraud, deception, inhuman cruelties and world-wide exploitation and destruction”. (2)
In the religious language of the Bhagavad Gita, he said, capitalism had in fact led “to the establishment of a world of demons”. (3)
In common with Gandhi and other thinkers who inspire organic radicalism, Kumarappa insisted that complete rejection of capitalism must go deeper than the surface of its political presence and address the physical existence of its centralised industrial infrastructures.
He wrote: “The instinct of the anarchist is right when he wants to do away with the tyranny of organisation. But, as we have already pointed out, this can be no more than a dream so long as large-scale production and distribution are adopted”. (4)
An advocate of what would today be termed “degrowth”, Kumarappa challenged the dominant definition of progress, warning that it should not be taken as meaning “a multitude of goods”. (5)
He explained: “If it is realised that progress is not so much a matter of the material environment as a growth in the intelligence, character and artistic sense of the individual, it would seem that it is only under a decentralised economic order that true progress will be possible.
“On the other hand, today, under the centralised economic order, we appear to be descending below the level of the beast, hating, exploiting and destroying each other on a world scale, and reducing the average man to a standardised automaton incapable of thinking and acting for himself”. (6)
In putting forward the idea of barter as a healthy means of exchange, he questioned why modern societies insisted on “interposing this purely human device of money between food and starvation”.
He asked: “Why should not a man who is eager to give his labour or his produce have direct access to the commodities he wants without first having to change them into money?” (7)
Kumarappa said that however much an economic system might succeed in bringing riches, it would be unstable and prove a failure if in the process it caused human suffering, or in any way hindered people from a full life.
He added: “And, conversely, even if an economic system secures only a subsistence, it will prove stable and adequate if it tends to promote the well-being of all”. (8)
This alternative Gandhian system, villagism, was rooted in ancient pre-capitalist ways of living and was not directly drawn from the Western socialist tradition, he explained.
“The idea of social ownership of production and sharing of things in common was not original to Socialism. Such an arrangement existed in some form or other even in early times, when a whole community or village held land and other property in common and distributed wealth among its members”. (9)
Indeed, Kumarappa was highly critical of orthodox socialism for its dependence on a central state to manage its supposedly egalitarian society.
He warned: “As Capitalism took away wealth which rightly belonged to the people and accumulated it in the hands of the capitalist, Socialism takes away the power which rightly belongs to the people and concentrates it in the State.
“And concentration of power is not less dangerous than concentration of wealth; for men get intoxicated with power and can use it with disastrous effect against those who disagree with them”. (10)
A decentralised village-orientated way of life was a bulwark against all concentrations of power, on the national and international level: “We must not think of Villagism therefore as only a matter of economic arrangement but as a social order aiming at ridding the world of imperialism and war”. (11)
In his 1934 book The Hindu Conception of the Deity, Kumarappa set out to counter “critics who think that morality finds no place in the philosophical and religious thought of India”. (12)
To do this, he focused on the teaching of his Tamil predecessor, Ramanuja, the medieval Hindu theologian and philosopher of the Sri Vaishnavism tradition, as opposed to the earlier theology of Adis Shankara or Samkara
Kumarappa said some in the West seemed to imagine that Hinduism regarded the world of experience, the world of life and activity, as unreal.
He objected: “Even if such a criticism be true of Samkara’s philosophy, it certainly cannot claim to be true of all Hindu philosophy.
“Ramanuja, at any rate, repudiates at every turn the doctrine of the illusoriness of the material world and the finite self, and postulates that ultimate Reality is one in which the material world and finite self find a necessary place.
“Nay more, he claims that the ideals by which we live – the perfections of truth, goodness and love – are rooted in the very heart of the Eternal”. (13)
1. Bharatan Kumarappa, Capitalism, Socialism or Villagism (Madras: Shakti Press, 1946), p. 11.
4. Kumarappa, Capitalism, Socialism or Villagism, p. 104.
5. Kumarappa, Capitalism, Socialism or Villagism, p. 193.
6. Kumarappa, Capitalism, Socialism or Villagism, pp. 193-94.
7. Kumarappa, Capitalism, Socialism or Villagism, p. 153.
8. Kumarappa, Capitalism, Socialism or Villagism, p. 112.
9. Kumarappa, Capitalism, Socialism or Villagism, p. 58.
10. Kumarappa, Capitalism, Socialism or Villagism, p. 105.
11. Kumarappa, Capitalism, Socialism or Villagism, p. 192.
12. Bharatan Kumarappa, The Hindu Conception of the Deity: As Culminating in Ramanuja (Luzak & Co, 1934), p. xiv.
13. Kumarappa, The Hindu Conception of the Deity, p.xiii.
Hinduism is the world’s largest nature-based religion, recognising the sacred in the living world around us, writes Viva Kermani in this enlightening article. She continues: “It views the earth as our Mother, and hence, advocates that it should not be exploited. A loss of this understanding that earth is our mother, or rather a deliberate ignorance of this, has resulted in the abuse, and the exploitation of the earth and its resources”.
* * *
“Our country is being run by a real-life mafia, comprised of a small group who has assumed a powerful form of global authority. These mafia heads have many minions who populate the pharmaceutical industry and government leadership and regulatory positions. These mafia underlings then have their many minions which include elected officials, university and education system officials, the mainstream media, and public health officials. And as of late, this despotic mafia has succeeded in enlisting citizens to ‘police’ one another, both voluntarily and for pay, via snitch lines, social media shaming, contact tracers, informants who report violations, and non-police enforcers of mask wearing and physical distancing”. Powerful stuff from Laura Hayes in ‘The Catastrophic Costs of Complying‘.
Scientists have created a new type of robot which they claim is “literally alive”. Says this report: “Xenobots are a scientific and technological breakthrough — a living organism that is fully programmable, capable of changing form and function essentially on command”. Coincidentally, that also seems to be the preferred destiny for what were once free human beings…
* * *
“Foundations often collaborate closely with the CIA, but it would be incorrect to say that the foundations are controlled by the CIA. It is rather that same people who control the foundations, also control the government – including the CIA”, explains Gregory Sinaisky in ‘Fabricating a Pandemic – Who Could Organize It and Why‘. He adds: “The plutocrats have huge resources and many thousands of trained professionals to perform these tasks. Therefore, they are very likely to have the appropriate tools required to create a false pandemic”.
* * *
As the rhetoric of racial division increasingly eclipses the reality of a shared suffering under the rule of the global capitalist elite, a timely analysis of ‘Fascism and the Deadlock of Race‘ has been produced by Rhyd Wildermuth. He writes: “It benefits the capitalist class – and only truly the capitalist class – to reproduce and maintain race as a identity category”.
* * *
“This New Model robs children of their childhood. It will lead them to a life of debt and servitude”. ‘Lifelong Learning‘ is a superb video exposé created by the Book of Ours team, examining the chilling way in which the newnormalist elite regard other people’s children as nothing more than “human capital” to be controlled and exploited at their sociopathic leisure.
Acorn quote: “Capitalism can only function if the mass of the population have no choice but to be part of its pyramid of exploitation. It cannot tolerate anyone opting out of its system and is always prepared to use violence to bring people under its economic control”.
These last six months have been lonely and often desperate ones for those of us who have not swallowed the Covid agenda.
Not only have we seen our basic freedoms come under attack, but we have done so in the full and bitter knowledge that these draconian measures are not in the least bit necessary and not at all about “protecting” ourselves and our fellow citizens.
We have been assuaged with unrelenting fear-mongering propaganda that we know to be just that: even if we steer clear of corporate-state media, this is blasted out at us in the form of endless announcements, posters and notices and also mirrored grotesquely in the muzzled and cowed submission of those around us.
We have had to be braced for constant conflict with the state’s officials and eager vigilantes out to impose compliance with the humiliating collective punishments of “lockdown”, “social distancing” and masks.
We have had to think twice about voicing our opinions, for fear of inviting not just disagreement, but outright hostility, abuse, insult, contempt and rejection, even from those to whom we imagined we were personally or politically closest.
And we haven’t been able to look forward to any happier years ahead of us, because all that we once hoped for has been swept aside by a chilling nightmare vision of faceless robotic slavery under the ruthless jackboot of the Fourth Industrial Repression.
But now, at the end of the 2020 summer, something has changed.
The massive demonstrations that took place in several European cities on Saturday August 29, notably London and Berlin, have broken us out of our solitary confinement.
We can see plainly now that there are others out there thinking the same way as us. Thousands upon thousands of others!
Trafalgar Square in London was packed full of protesters, with estimates of as many as 35,000 or 40,000 people, who later moved on to fill Whitehall.
They managed to turn up through their own initiative, without party political, trade union or NGO organising, without fleets of hired coaches, promoted hashtags or XR-style media hype.
Of course, where the protest wasn’t simply ignored, it was always going to be smeared.
The “conspiracy theory” tag wasn’t hard to attach, given that David Icke was making a guest appearance, but that wasn’t enough of an insult for some.
So-called “leftists” and “anarchists” scrambled to share the same photo of a couple of men on the outer fringes of the square displaying (momentarily perhaps) a flag which apparently relates to the late and unlamented British Union of Fascists (disbanded 1940).
For these critics this single image was somehow triumphant proof that all the tens of thousands of people present were either “fascists” or being manipulated by fascists.
These clowns are unwilling or (more charitably) unable to grasp that we are witnessing a historic reshaping of the essential political divide, as foreshadowed in France by the Gilets Jaunes since 2018.
This is now, quite simply, about ordinary people standing up to the exploitative dictatorship of the global capitalist technocratic elite.
At this moment of enormous existential crisis for the freedom and well-being of humankind, all certainties around previous political classifications have been thrown out of the window.
As one participant put it: “We are left, we are right, we are young, old, black, white, we are the working class. And our eyes are open. Don’t believe the hype. The Unite For Freedom march was very diverse. We cannot afford to be divided any longer”.
This new 2020s wave of revolt is all about resisting the power of both big business and the state, with an understanding that these forces have now effectively merged.
Combined with its instinctive defence of freedom and real democracy, this makes it eminently compatible with common-sense anarchism of the old-fashioned variety, to which we subscribe.
If contemporary anarchists want to turn this potential into something more solid, then they are going to have to take off their protective mind-blinkers, brave the risk of political contamination from the Great Ideologically Unwashed, and get involved with the broad front.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr, JFK’s nephew, addressed the same issue in Berlin, where the authorities (both of state and of ideological correctness) have slapped a “far right” label on the whole broad-based protest movement on the basis of minority nationalist involvement.
He told a massive freedom rally that the US media would accuse him of having come to Germany to address thousands of “Nazis”, but declared that what he was seeing before him was “the opposite of Nazism”.
“I see people who love democracy, people who want open government, people who want leaders who are not going to lie to them. People who want leaders who will not make up arbitrary rules and regulations to orchestrate obedience of the population.
“We want health officials who don’t want financial entanglements with the pharmaceutical industry, who are working for us and not Big Pharma.
“We want officials who care about our children’s health and not about pharmaceutical profits or government control”.
It felt clear to us, when we wrote in advance about this weekend (see Acorn 59), that it was going to be huge and important. And so it has proved.
But what next? Various local demos are planned across England (for the latest info see the StandUpX website) and, north of the border, there will be a ‘Saving Scotland’ March on Holyrood.
The meet-up is near the Scottish parliament in Edinburgh at 1pm on Saturday September 5.
Saturday September 26 is being mentioned as the date of the next big protest in London.
As our comrades at the South Essex Heckler point out, though, large-scale set-piece demonstrations are not the be-all-and-end-all.
They write: “Sure, there’s a place for intelligently organised street protests and actions but more than that, there’s always a place for dispersed, sustained action that aims to sabotage and eventually bring down the existing order.
“We favour long term, dispersed action that will eventually crash the new (ab)normal. We’ve frequently posted about building the new world we want inside the shell of the increasingly dystopian one we’re forced to endure – now is the time to grab the opportunity to do just that”.
Delighted though we are at the numbers now expressing their opposition to the totalitarian New World Normal, we don’t want to create any false sense of complacency.
What we are witnessing is just the start of a worldwide uprising.
The totalitarian capitalist elite have been planning this coup for years, probably even decades, and they are not going to cave in at the drop of a hat, tinfoil or otherwise.
If ignoring and smearing the protest movement does not successfully quell resistance, then we can expect other forms of repression to be deployed.
Outright police-state brutality is a real possibility, as the people of Melbourne, Australia, have been experiencing.
But this will always be a double-edged sword for the authorities, which is why they haven’t immediately leapt into that mode everywhere.
If it becomes blatantly obvious that opposition to their “Great Reset” is being crushed by force, they will start to lose the majority consent which they have been so careful to build up with their propaganda.
The cat will be out of the bag and they will risk stirring up the anger of huge swathes of the population, particularly if the resistance can remain untainted by “right” or “left” labels.
So we can probably expect lots more propaganda, divide-and-rule and other classic British “counter-insurgency” tactics to be deployed, and fail, before the state feels it needs to play its final violent card.
There is a tough struggle ahead of us, that’s for sure, with no guarantee that we will succeed in seeing off and bringing down the dark forces of corporate transhumanist dictatorship.
But at least we have those images of the August 29 protest in our heads, images of people, all kinds of people, united by their capacity to grasp what is going on and their courage to stand up and oppose it.
People with different worldviews, from various backgrounds and all with their personal faults and failings, no doubt.
But also people with faces. People with minds of their own. People with principles.
Hope is rising that people are finally seeing through the neoliberal corona-lies and are ready to stand up to the 21st century tyranny of newnormalism.
With so many sold-out phoney rebels on the “left” openly backing the new totalitarianism, other people, from a wide range of backgrounds, have had to step forward and urge resistance to the nightmarish global dictatorship.
Many of these are rallying behind the banner of StandUpX (see Resistance Update and Acorn 58) which, as this article explains, has seen numbers on its protests shoot up from dozens to thousands. “The numbers are continuing to increase rapidly – hence why more events are taking place all across the UK”.
StandUpX say on their website: “We are living in a state of authoritarian control. We do not consent to Government social distancing measures infringing upon public and private life. We do not accept enforced masks. We do not accept a dictatorship of lockdowns, threats of lockdowns, and Covid Ghettos.
“Forced, coerced and mandated vaccinations violate the principles of the Nuremberg Code which states ‘any preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic medical intervention is only to be carried out with the prior, free and informed consent of the person concerned.’
“Humanity will be a mass science experiment profiting billions for pharmaceutical companies and their partners including Bill Gates.
“Tracking & Tracing is a total violation of personal privacy and freedom to associate. It is a digital Gestapo.
“To add to this oppression, the government is proposing a Health Passport, which is designed to track your health records, purchases and public activities including travel. It will not be temporary. It is the preliminary step to 24/7 tracking via an implantable chip.
“5G is necessary for the infrastructure of 24/7 Surveillance Tracking & Implantable Microchips. This is why our roads are currently being dug up to install the fibre cable network necessary for 5G. This is why trees, which block 5G signals (and help us breathe) are being chopped all over our cities. 5G is lethal to privacy as well as to health. We have no reason to believe 5G is safe”.
The imposition of mask wearing, at a time when the virus has all but disappeared, has already opened a lot of folk’s eyes to the fact that they are being conned.
The fact that masks seem to be intended as a permanent “new normal”, plus the threat of compulsory vaccination and further lockdowns, may prove enough to push thousands of others over the edge and into rebellion.
A big bank holiday weekend of protest is coming up in London.
On Saturday August 29, 12 noon at Trafalgar Square, a huge protest and march is planned by a broad coalition of freedom lovers.
The event is due to be addressed by a number of high-profile doctors who have courageously challenged the official propaganda narrative, including Dr Adil, Professor Dolores Cahill, Dr Andrew Kaufman (live video link) and Dr Kevin Corbet.
Natural nurse Kate Shemirani and Jeremey Corbyn’s brother Piers Corbyn are also lined up to speak.
There will be a video link with the latest mass protest in Germany, where earlier this month as many as a million people took to the streets of Berlin to defy newnormalism.
The very next day, Sunday August 30, a protest has been called for Notting Hill during the famous carnival – 12 noon at Portobello Road.
Sunday August 30 will also see a Stop New Normal protest in Bristol, in Castle Park from 12 noon.
Before then, there will be a ‘Protest to Protect our Children’ in Manchester on Saturday August 22, 1pm at Piccadilly Gardens and a Picnic in the Park n Leeds on Sunday August 23, 2pm in Hyde Park.
A week after the big weekend in the UK capital, on Saturday September 5, there will be a ‘Stand Up for the Children’ protest starting in Hyde Park, London, at 1pm and marching to the BBC studios.
Smaller weekly StandUpX events are currently being held in Bedford (every Saturday, 3pm, Russell Park), Bournemouth (every Saturday, 2-5pm, Bournemouth Town Hall), Norwich (every Saturday, 1pm, Eaton Park, Chapperfield Gardens) and Sheffield (every Saturday, 12pm, Town Hall Peace Gardens).
North of the border, there will be a ‘Saving Scotland’ March on Holyrood: meet-up near the Scottish parliament in Edinburgh at 1pm on Saturday September 5.
Say organisers: “Deliberate media-managed panic, fear and propaganda made the ‘virus’ seem like it could kill us all. It was a lie!
“End the illegal Coronavirus Act 2020 Tyranny. Scotland is being destroyed! Return our civil liberties”.
Germany remains the epicentre of the revolt against dictatorship (perhaps because historical memories are still relatively fresh), with even a chief inspector of police speaking out against the global big business coup.
A ‘Mask Se Azaadi’ campaign now also seems to be underway in India, with one protester declaring: “We are burning the masks. We will not wear any masks and neither will pay any fines. Because wearing masks leads to the spread of diseases. We are being made to wear masks to shut us up”.
We urge Acorn readers, wherever they are, to cast aside their fears and their ideological insecurities, take the plunge and get involved in the resistance to the newnormalist dictatorship.
“You will not be rewarded for it. You will be ridiculed and castigated for it. Your New Normal friends will hate you for it. Your New Normal family will forsake you for it. The New Normal police might arrest you for it. It is your responsibility to do it anyway”.
In the Middle Ages, with the outright slavery of the Roman Empire left behind, medieval rebels saw ahead of them a better future, one based on social justice, freedom and local autonomy.
They were on the path leading towards the light, towards genuine social progress rather than to the fake “progress” of technological sophistication and profusion.
But this didn’t go down well with the ruling class, who feared that their power and privilege would be lost for ever.
Instead of escaping from slavery into freedom, our ancestors therefore found themselves engaged in a Great Battle for the Future with the dark forces of tyranny.
Capitalism – the new form taken by malevolent ruling class domination – subjugated our ancestors by cutting them off from their sources of subsistence and autonomy.
Common land was confiscated – enclosed – making self-sufficiency impossible. Food could no longer be freely gathered or hunted, rivers could no longer be fished, wood for fuel could no longer be picked up in the privatised forests.
People were forced into the money system, forced to earn “wages” just to live, forced into factories and workhouses, reduced to craven dependency on the capitalist system.
In her book Caliban and the Witch, Silvia Federici describes the period as one of “relentless class struggle” in which “the medieval village was the theater of daily warfare”.
“Everywhere masses of people resisted the destruction of their former ways of existence, fighting against land privatization, the abolition of customary rights, the imposition of new taxes, wage-dependence, and the continuous presence of armies in their neighbourhoods, which was so hated that people rushed to close the gates of their towns to prevent soldiers from settling among them”.
In order to impose the New Normal of capitalism on the unwilling people, the power elite used what Federici terms “social enclosure”, a precursor of today’s “social distancing”.
She writes: “In pursuit of social discipline, an attack was launched against all forms of collective sociality and sexuality including sports, games, dances, ale-wakes, festivals, and other group-rituals that had been a source of bonding and solidarity among workers”.
“Taverns were closed, along with public baths. Nakedness was penalized, as were many other ‘unproductive’ forms of sexuality and sociality. It was forbidden to drink, swear, curse”.
In another striking parallel with the 2020s (and indeed the 1920s/1930s) the elite tried to create “a new type of individual” – a servile, malleable and thus profitable type.
The primary tool used by the ultra-rich minority to oppress the majority was, of course, the state.
Far from representing some kind of benign collective self-interest, as some absurdly persist in maintaining, the modern state emerged in the 14th century “as the only agency capable of confronting a working class that was regionally unified, armed and no longer confined in its demands to the political economy of the manor”.
Whether claiming to be fighting “heresy”, “witchcraft” or disorder, the ruling elite deployed all the violence and propaganda of its inquisitions, wars and laws to bring the population to heel. And, as we all know to our cost, it won that Great Battle for the Future.
But because its socipathic greed knows no end, because its “growth” is based on ever-increasing profit for the ultra-rich, it can never stop treading us further and further into the toxic industrial dust of its total control.
Today we have reached another key moment in history, when the ruling elite – under the feeble pretext of combatting a flu virus – hopes to essentially return us to the slave status we escaped a thousand years ago.
All its liberal pretence at “democracy” is going out of the window as the brutal reality of elite power becomes clear to those who have eyes to see.
There will be resistance, you can be sure of that, even if the advance disabling of certain potential sources of dissent means it may take a while for rebels to regroup and find their common voice.
Those of us who do resist will be embarking on another Great Battle for the Future.
This is our DIY translation of an article which appears in the July/August 2020 edition of the French-language print journal anarchie! under the title ‘Qui a peur de la mort?‘
The radiant and gleaming future presented to us by the promoters of 5G, ‘a world of infinite possibilities’, has finally revealed itself for what it is: while everyone was locked up in their homes and all dissent was set aside in the name of biopolitics, masts went up all over the place to deliver a new infrastructure with which the powers-that-be aim to do nothing less than transform the whole of society.
5G’s forced entry into our lives cruelly illustrates the fact that neither in conception nor design is it meant to contribute to the well-being of the vast majority who consume it, but that it is instead intended to increase the power of the tiny minority who produce it.
Moreover, if we look back over our shoulders; hasn’t it been the same thing with every new technological advance? From the first weaving looms to motor cars and nuclear energy, how many of these would never have happened if their indisputable necessity for our lives hadn’t been forced on us?
Considering the enormous means at the disposal of the telecommunicatios industry, which in recent years has come to dominate the political narrative in every corner of the world, you get the impression that every day a war is taking place on the stage of our refusal. Precisely because 5G logically comes across as a negative thing in the eyes of the exploited, since the future it is there to build is that of the dominant class, the system tries to resolve the contradiction by using propaganda, so that people welcome the decisions made for them. But they can’t make people feel satisfied with their lot unless they reduce them to the status of insignficant cogs in a phenomenon over which they have no say.
We are already aware (even if only intuitively) of the effects on our lives of the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ invoked by the most enthusiastic experts: they are with us every day in latent form, bursting into reality each time that we catch a glimpse of another, still bigger, slice of nature eaten up by bulldozers. Each time that we realise that we have got used to the sight of a pylon or a nuclear power station. Each time that we notice to what extent the environment in which we live in is artificial and planned.
Awareness is spreading wider and wider of the fact that a technological future cannot halt the ongoing disaster, but is instead aimed at prolonging it.
Instead of opening up the horizon, it closes it down, trapping us in the eternal present. Instead of pointing to the possibility of living something completely different, it offers at the very most the certainty of surviving by managing the catastrophe.
You’d imagine the myth of ‘progress’ would today be riddled with cutting doubts… but no amount of televisual good faith can now stop people seeing the pile of corpses spat out every day on the other side of the world by the capitalist machine. And in the great cities of the ‘advanced’ (sic) world, the end result of two centuries of unquestionable progress has been an existence which is more locked-down, artificial and desperate than we have ever known before.
Only those who have totally surrendered to misery could contemplate without a feeling of dread the technological cages known as ‘smart homes’, the multiplication of ‘sensing systems’ to watch and record every detail of our movements or the alienation of lives directed by the algorithms of ‘virtual assistants’.
At the end of the day it is not just about 5G or the umpteenth new threat from technology. It is about totally refusing a world based on dominating others, that’s to say on war, on environmental destruction, on paid labour and other abominations, of which technology has become one of the cornerstones.
In truth, all of that – the bombarding of cities and spirits, the extinction both of the wild outdoors and of surges of spontaneity in our domestic lives, the state’s administration of its subjects, or the biopolitical lockdown of an entire population – all of that will only be possible if the internet is available everywhere.
That is why their emphasis on ‘connectivity’, both between individuals and between individuals and their environment, can only be understood as reinforcement of domination in every domain.
When they tell us to get closer together online, it is really business and the state that are coming closer to human experience: each interraction that takes place on their network is owned by their economy and power. We are obliged to live our everyday lives as if remotely, via more and more technological intermediaries, which put up a sort of screen between us and reality, dictating to us a certain rhythm, a certain behaviour and above all a certain pre-determined relationship with the world.
What is really at stake here, with the way we are being pushed in the direction in which things are going, even more so with the current acceleration of this process by 5G, is our very capacity to think and act autonomously.
Even as technology imposes itself as universal mediation, it paradoxically distances us from the world, in the sense that it derpives us of the moral and material means to understand it, reinvent it and affect it with our own direct, conscious action.
Indeed, the ‘smart’ concept is nothing other than the paradigm of a city, or dwelling-place, where human beings simply follow the directions provided by algorithms, without feeling the need to interrupt this with their own ideas or spontaneous actions born of their own free will… in other words a completely dead intelligence. An intelligence with no conscience.
On the back of D. Hunter’s first book, Chav Solidarity (Active 2019), which looked at life on the margins of working class Britain, this latest goes further and adds an additional layer of academic analysis into the, at times harrowing, bargain.
The series of ten essays with academic framing, plus a main narrative section, offer insights into queer methodologies; carceral abolition; class analysis; and auto-ethnography which as a terrain is a good fit for this work: “evocative, emotional, dialoguing and engaging writing…[which is]…closer to literature and art than to science”.
At times there is the temptation to rush the analysis which is interspersed and then rush back to the narrative, don’t, the two are integral.
Hunter’s early years could come straight out of an Alan Clarke drama and bear comparison to books like Alexander Masters’ biography, Stuart a Life Backwards; visceral, tortuous, no-holds barred, real life staring you squarely in the face. Muggings, ultra-violence, rape, robbery, incest, are laid bare and borne in occasionally beautiful, positive and counter-intuitive ways.
In this book, one of Hunter’s aims is to do more justice to the lives he dealt with in the first, which honed in on ‘marginalised’ communities. “I focus on the blood and bone of poor and working class people, and the ways in which the social and cultural context reproduces forms of class power… My writing is in a small way a form of activism.”
This honing down is to a ‘poverty class’ as something “distinctly less than the working class; something made of a group of people who should be stripped of their humanity, undeserving of basic dignity. The people who raised me, the people who I grew up around, the imprisoned, the sectioned, the house-less, the traumatised, those who worked in the illegal economies of sex and drugs, the white trash, and the black and brown inner-city youth”.
The often shocking acts of violence that are documented throughout Tracksuits, Traumas and Class Traitors – acts which are carried out by the author, against him and he as witness – are viewed with recognition of the political, economic and social systems in which they occur – a vital sequitur.
That he’s been given “the space, care and time to focus on recovering, that my behaviours have been anything close to the result of conscious decisions. But it’s this experience that leads me to feel compassion towards the person who has caused me the greatest harm, the legacy of which it’s doubtful I’ll ever recover”.
Here he refers to the patriarch of the family, his grandfather. And it is here we look to the restorative powers of transformative justice (TJ) and its liberatory approach to violence; seeking safety and accountability within families and communities and not alienation, punishment, state violence of prison and policing without. The bitter fruits of industrial capitalism.
We are brought to The Bay Area TJ collective in Oakland California where a pod approach is practised within the community while seeking safety and accountability front, left and centre.
These anarchistic, positive, grassroots, small scale initiatives are all about “entering into dialogues that engage with the inequity in our networks. [It] is vital in our attempts to end the reproduction of carceral and capitalist logics. If we do this, we will be able to create spaces which encourage openness and intimacy, from which we can build deep solidarity with one another”.
A deep solidarity he had rarely with his own father and more often with neighbours: the one rare moment of filial connection, playing football…”he was playing with a desperation to connect with me, to find that paternal bond; instead I imagine he was beating people, he was beating other men in a socially approved way, in a manner that those watching could not take away from him easily. I was playing for that bond, the desperation that coursed through my veins then, that wanted the world and its dog to see us together playing, moving in synchronicity with one another. I wanted that synchronicity, that connection, to last forever. It did not make it past the afternoon”.
And then we get to hear of extraordinary acts of kindness towards D and his family from neighbours– “the man who ran the Jamaican takeaway that gave me the fried chicken… For over four years, he supplied us with fried chicken, hot, rice ‘n’ peas, and many, many dumplings. I could go over there at any point during their opening times and he would supply me with a bag of food to take back to the flat”.
The book’s final segment looks at social work: “As Loïc Wacquant has pointed out,
government programmes, which set out to address poverty or more accurately address the poor, working class, have as their primary function the marking of the poor as pathological, enabling the state to criminalise poverty and the bodies of the poor. This process plays a key role in the stigmatisation of poor and working class people”.
This stigmatisation breeds new exploitation with new forms of media-manufactured class differentiation and antagonism.
Through all of this Hunter’s heart stays embedded in his working class roots and he selflessly seeks “to connect some dots and ensure that everyone who had asked for some cash [from the fruits of his first book] received some, and in some cases, set up regular payments for the duration of the social shutdown. I don’t say this to big myself up, I was in a fortunate position to have enough social capital to connect those with plenty to those with not enough”.
(Jan Goodey is a regular contributor to the Ecologist online)
Thoreau’s best-known work is Walden, a description of his attempt to put his thinking into practice by living for more than two years in the woods of his native Massachusetts, USA.
He explained: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived”. (1)
Part of the appeal for him was undoubtedly to be alone, to escape the crowds and babble of the modern world, for which a certain loss of comfort was a price well worth paying: “I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion”. (2)
Thoreau frequently stressed the importance of living unencumbered by the trappings of the modern world – “Simplify, simplify”, (3) he urged. “Why should we live with such hurry and waste of life?” (4)
It was not just that we did not need these trappings of wealth, but that they were actually bad for us.
He wrote in Walden that most of the luxuries and so-called comforts of life were not at all necessary, but were in fact “positive hinderances to the elevation of mankind” (5) and he added in ‘Civil Disobedience’: “Absolutely speaking, the more money, the less virtue”. (6)
Thoreau noted that the wisest of people had historically often lived in the simplest of ways and was convinced that this was all part of their wisdom.
“To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school, but so to love wisdom according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust. It is to solve some of the problems of life, not only theoretically, but practically”. (7)
On the other hand, the rich had “accumulated dross”, did not know how to get rid of it and had thus “forged their own golden or silver fetters”. (8)
Thoreau was interested in Hindu philosophy and also, in Walden, cites the Taoist wisdom of Chuang Tzu.
He pre-empted René Guénon in his view that the modern world represented a reign of quantity where quality, particularly inner quality, was completely neglected. He noted: “While civilization has been improving our houses, it has not equally improved the men who are to inhabit them”. (9)
Contemporary America “lives too fast” (10) he said. Commerce, communication and transport were all regarded as essential issues, but people were less interested in “whether we should live like baboons or like men”. (11)
Thoreau was more than sceptical about the point of industrial progress and all the so-called “modern improvements” it brought with it, writing that “there is an illusion about them; there is not always a positive advance”. (12)
He added: “Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end, an end which it was already but too easy to arrive at; as railroads lead to Boston or New York. We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate”. (13)
The much-heralded cable under the Atlantic would, he suggested, only succeed in bringing Americans worthless gossip such as news of the latest illnesses affecting the British Royal Family.
“As if the main object were to talk fast and not to talk sensibly… the man whose horse trots a mile in a minute does not carry the most important messages”. (14)
Twenty years later, John Ruskin was to make the same point when he described the new railway allowing the people of Buxton and Bakewell to rush from one town to the other and back in record time and for no apparent purpose.
Thoreau was also acutely aware of the human cost of industrialism, including the thousands of human lives lost in the building of the railways, the first major infrastructure of American capitalism.
He wrote: “We do not ride on the railroad; it rides upon us. Did you ever think what those sleepers are that underlie the railroad? Each one is a man, an Irishman or a Yankee man. The rails are laid on them, and they are covered with sand, and the cars run smoothly over them”. (15)
An outspoken opponent of the American institution of slavery, which was not formally abolished until after his death, Thoreau also turned his fire on the “factory system” that had been imported across the Atlantic.
He wrote: “The condition of the operatives is becoming every day more like that of the English, and it cannot be wondered at since, as far as I have heard or observed, the principal object is, not that mankind may be well and honestly clad, but, unquestionably, that the corporations may be enriched”. (16)
Against this world of money-greed and exploitation, Thoreau proposed a modest and inward-looking life in the bosom of nature.
The dust that accumulates on any object inside a house symbolised for him the choking effect of modern life on human beings and he declared: “I would rather sit in the open air, for no dust gathers on the grass, unless where man has broken ground”. (17)
Thoreau’s belief in the importance of being close to nature implied that our very thinking should emerge from that nature and effectively amount to a continuation of its unspoken wisdom.
He wrote in ‘A Natural History of Massachusetts’: “To him who contemplates a trait of natural beauty no harm or disappointment can come. The doctrines of despair, of spiritual or political tyranny or servitude, were never taught by such as shared the serenity of nature”. (18)
In this essay he described the “ghost leaves” produced by hoar frost and was prompted to reflect on the inherent form within the natural world.
He wrote: “It struck me that these ghost leaves, and the green ones whose forms they assume, were the creatures of but one law; that in obedience to the same law the vegetable juices swell gradually into the perfect leaf, on the one hand, and the crystalline particles troop to their standard in the same order, on the other.
“As if the material were indifferent, but the law one and invariable, and every plant in the spring but pushed up into and filled a permanent and eternal mould, which, summer and winter forever, is waiting to be filled”. (19)
He added: “Vegetation has been made the type of all growth; but as in crystals the law is more obvious, their material being more simple, and for the most part more transient and fleeting, would it not be as philosophical as convenient to consider all growth, all filling up within the limits of nature, but a crystallisation more or less rapid?” (20)
Here he raises one of the key elements of organic radical thinking: that there is an implicit order within nature as a whole and all its parts, including humans, which emerges from within and steers our development.
Thoreau wrote: “I perceive that, when an acorn and a chestnut fall side by side, the one does not remain inert to make way for the other, but both obey their own laws, and spring and grow and flourish as best they can till one, perchance, overshadows and destroys the other. If a plant cannot live according to its nature, it dies; and so a man”. (21)
This realisation, drawn from his observation of plants and frost, formed a nature-sourced philosophical basis for his libertarian political views.
If people were not able to live according to their nature in the contemporary world, it was because of the state and its laws.
Thoreau wrote, in ‘Civil Disobedience’: “I heartily accept the motto, ‘That government is best which governs least’; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically.
“Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which I also I believe – ‘That government is best which governs not at all’; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have”. (22)
He observed: “Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents of injustice”. (23)
Thoreau had direct experience of the power of the state, which jailed him for refusing to pay his poll tax for six years, and was struck by the “foolishness” of the thick walls and doors with which it countered his principled stance.
He wrote: “The State never intentionally confronts a man’s sense, intellectual or moral, but only his body, his senses. It is not armed with superior wit or honesty, but with superior physical strength. I was not born to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion. Let us see who is the strongest”. (24)
When Thoreau insisted that “the only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think is right”, (25) this may sound simply like rugged individualism.
But the use of the term ‘right’ indicated that he was in fact referencing a collective sense of right and wrong, one sourced from his inner human nature.
Like the anarchist psychoanalyst Otto Gross, Thoreau saw how a person who tried to live according to that nature, who remained true to their innate moral compass, was bound to come into conflict with an outside civilization founded on power, money and lies.
Our duty was to allow the sense of rightness that swelled within us to overcome the demands and expectations of a world become corrupt and not to find cowardly excuses to avoid doing so.
He wrote: “All men recognize the right of revolution; that is, the right to refuse allegiance to, and to resist, the government, when its tyranny or its inefficiency are great and unendurable. But almost all say that such is not the case now”. (26)
He urged us to follow the obligation deep within us to be true to ourselves and the natural world of which we are part: “Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine”. (27)
1. Henry David Thoreau, Walden, with an introduction by Richard Whiteing (London: The Gresham Publishing Company, n/d), p. 109.
2. Thoreau, Walden, p. 42.
3. Thoreau, Walden, p. 110.
4. Thoreau, Walden, p. 111.
5. Thoreau, Walden, p. 15.
6. Henry David Thoreau, ‘Civil Disobedience’, The Portable Thoreau: Revised Edition, ed. Carl Bode (London: Penguin, 1975), p. 123.
7. Thoreau, Walden, pp. 15-16.
8. Thoreau, Walden, p. 17.
9. Thoreau, Walden, p. 39.
10. Thoreau, Walden, pp. 110-11.
12. Thoreau, Walden, p. 61.
14. Thoreau, Walden, pp. 61-62.
15. Thoreau, Walden, p. 111.
16. Thoreau, Walden, p. 30.
17. Thoreau, Walden, p. 42.
18. Henry David Thoreau, ‘A Natural History of Massachusetts’, The Portable Thoreau, p. 33.
19. Henry David Thoreau, ‘A Natural History of Massachusetts’, The Portable Thoreau, pp. 52-53.
20. Thoreau, ‘A Natural History of Massachusetts’, The Portable Thoreau, pp. 53-54.
21. Thoreau, ‘Civil Disobedience’, The Portable Thoreau, p. 127.
22. Thoreau, ‘Civil Disobedience’, The Portable Thoreau, p. 109.
23. Thoreau, ‘Civil Disobedience’, The Portable Thoreau, p. 111.
24. Thoreau, ‘Civil Disobedience’, The Portable Thoreau, p. 127.
25. Thoreau, ‘Civil Disobedience’, The Portable Thoreau, p. 111.
26. Thoreau, ‘Civil Disobedience’, The Portable Thoreau, p. 113.
27. Thoreau, ‘Civil Disobedience’, The Portable Thoreau, p. 120.
Resistance continues against the disastrous HS2 rail line between London and Birmingham. Says the HS2 Rebellion website: “HS2 is one of the largest and most damaging infrastructure projects our country has ever seen and is representative of everything we are seeking to change within this toxic system”. For info on protest camp locations and how to help go to https://hs2rebellion.earth/camp-locations/
* * *
Wangan and Jagalingou Tribal Warriors in Australia have served mining giant Adani with an eviction notice for illegally trespassing on their land with its Carmichael Coal Mine. They say: “This eviction notice marks the start of a new phase of our resistance to Adani’s destruction of land, water and culture”.
* * *
This Spanish TV interview with a doctor went horribly wrong for the corporate propagandists, as the interviewee tore holes into the official smearmongering and its blatant vaccine-profiteering agenda. A real breath of fresh air!
* * *
“It will be done in a barbaric fashion using draconian methods and this global holocaust will probably come out from under the flag of the UN… Wake up now!” So says a character in One By One, the last ever film to feature the late Rik Mayall. Meanwhile the latest Plandemic film has been getting a lot of attention. Note that one of these is labelled fiction and the other not, but we will let readers decide for themselves how that works out!
* * *
“This is the essence of the biosecurity state, in which the citizen no longer has the right to life (familial, social, economic, political), but in which the state has absolute power over the biopolitical body of the subject”. Another hugely impressive article by Simon Elmer
of Architects for Social Housing can be read here.
* * *
A warning against the Big Pharma vaccine agenda has been issued in Cyprus. Says the author: “The so-called ‘cases’ of healthy people are exactly what each community needs to cope with the crisis. But the ‘scientific team’ is trying to reduce this natural immunity that the community is now building, because – they have made it very clear – they prefer to pursue mass vaccination”.
* * *
The dystopia of the Fourth Industrial Repression is arriving faster than any of us could imagine. In Basildon, Essex, for instance, the council has announced it will be starting a six-month trial of the use of drones to help with planning enforcement. Local activists’ fears of “mission creep” are supported by news from Melbourne, Australia, where the increasingly fascistic cops are already using drones to spy on citizens to make sure they don’t break “lockdown” rules. Will people start developing DIY anti-drone devices in response? Jamming the frequencies? Using catapults even?
* * *
Canadian constitutional lawyer Rocco Galati is taking out a lawsuit against his government, describing the COVID measures as “the biggest example of misinformation and lies on a global scale that we’ve seen”.
* * *
Another glorious triumph for technological Progress has been announced, with scientists apparently having discovered a “ground-breaking” bio-synthetic material that they claim can be used to merge artificial intelligence with the human brain. This “breakthrough” is described as “a major step towards integrating electronics with the body to create part human, part robotic ‘cyborg’ beings”. Marvellous news for life haters everywhere.
* * *
The next phase in the global techno-fascist coup, particularly if resistance picks some momentum, is likely to be full-out censorship of dissident views. We are still very much present on Twitter, but with some anti-establishment groups already being expelled from social media, we have created a back-up account on Mastodon, which can be found here.
* * *
Acorn quote: “The great ability of those who are in control in the modern world lies in making the people believe that they are governing themselves”.
These are not easy times in which to be alive if, like us, you cherish freedom and truth.
The last few months have seen us dragged into a nightmarish totalitarian world.
No sooner had “lockdown” been lifted, than masks were imposed. The spectre of a compulsory “vaccine” hovers darkly on the horizon.
All this symbolism of submission, of craven conformism and dehumanised obedience, would be hard to take at the best of times.
But when all of this naked authoritarianism is justified by blatant lies, the situation becomes still more outlandlish.
The “science” behind this medical strategy of tension is so flimsy that one would imagine that all but the dullest of TV-addicted sofa spuds would see right through it.
But, for many, believing the official version seems to have become an article of faith, a central part of their initiation into the sinister “new normal”.
In order for this psychological surrender to authority to be effective, maybe the message had to be obviously false, in the same way that Winston Smith’s torturer in Nineteen Eighty-Four is obviously holding up four fingers rather than five.
What is important for our rulers is that obedient goodthinking citizens believe anything they are told, no matter how absurd.
A further twist of the knife has come from the way that people we assumed we knew, people we imagined shared our basic ideals, have turned out to be something else.
Liberty-loving rebels, long-term opponents of the capitalist system, have suddenly become authoritarian robots, mindlessly repeating the lies and demands of the system.
Worse still, they turn on those of us who have remained consistent in our principles and accuse us of having somehow drifted into unacceptable political territory!
It comes as no comfort to have seen much of this coming, whether in the shape of the increasing authoritarianism of the neoliberal system or the dangerous narrowing of political thinking on the left.
In truth, the scale and speed of what has happened has left us gasping for breath.
Where do we go from here?
We can all, of course, keep on resisting the dictatorship in hundreds of small ways, most importantly by sharing our views and analysis with others in the virtual and real worlds.
But we can also start thinking about what our long-term resistance is going to look like, what kind of movement might emerge to fight the new white-coated fascism and the Fourth Industrial Repression it has unleashed on us.
In thinking about this future movement, we can all help to create and shape it.
To this effect, we invite Acorn readers to share their thoughts with us, not so much in the form of articles for publication (though we also welcome those!), as in an informal way.
Our email address is winteroak(at)greenmail.net and we look forward to hearing from you soon.
Protecting the environment has surely got to be A Good Thing.
Creating “protected areas” for nature in various parts of the world might therefore seem to be a positive move.
However, when these areas are being promoted by the same capitalist system which brought nature to her knees in the first place, the alarm lights start flashing!
“Protected Areas” are in fact one aspect of the global capitalist scam being sold to us under the label of the ‘New Deal for Nature’.
Because, in typical capitalist style, this scam has been wrapped up in shiny green packaging and promoted by the well-known WWF, the New Deal for Nature initially attracted little opposition.
But in recent weeks, thanks to the truth-spreading efforts of the No Deal for Nature campaign and its supporters, support has been slipping away.
The human rights charity Survival International has been doing a great job of blowing the whistle on what is nothing other than a new phase of industrial capitalist imperialism, aiming to displace indigenous peoples and further exploit Mother Nature for the profit of the usual tiny and greedy elite.
Warns Survival director Stephen Corry: “The latest idea to be heavily promoted by big conservation NGOs is doubling the world’s so-called ‘Protected Areas’ (PAs) so that they cover thirty percent of the globe’s lands and oceans.
“This is now their main rallying cry and response to two of the world’s biggest problems — climate chaos and loss of biodiversity.
“It’s a marketing gimmick designed to funnel even more money to those who have for decades demonstrated their failure to mitigate either climate change or biodiversity loss.
“Many PAs aren’t really protected at all. They include industrial exploitation — mining, logging, plantations, trophy hunting concessions, or extensive, usually high-end, tourist infrastructure.
“The locals are thrown out as the land is grabbed by one or other industry, partnering with one or other big conservation NGO.
“It’s a new colonialism, the world’s biggest land grab, supposedly ‘green’ and supposedly to save the world — a really big lie. As Odette, a Baka woman from Congo, says of such imposed conservation projects which don’t work, ‘We’ve had enough of this talk of ‘boundaries’ in the forest. The forest is ours’.”
The alert is also being sounded via the World Rainforest Movement, notably in a statement entitled “Protected Areas feed corporate profiting and destruction”.
This explains: “PAs are heavily promoted by conservation NGOs, governments and corporations. The NGOs want as much money as possible to maintain their dominance over more and more of the world’s surface, which they see as threatened by locals.
“Governments hate self-sufficient people who are difficult to tax and control and who tend to be sceptical about the state’s claim to override the community. Corporations look for more consumers, and to extract more raw materials, often from ‘wilderness’. They need places where they can claim to ‘offset’ carbon, to greenwash their image as much as possible.
“The result is that billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money are funnelled into conservation areas that ignore all checks about upholding human rights, which are routinely violated there. Most such projects are run by NGOs, profit-making private companies, or both. They are established in collaboration with logging, extractive industries, trophy hunting, tourism concessions, and agribusiness.
“They take the land which has long sustained a way of life for local people and refashioned it to churn out profit for a few outsiders. In some areas, there is a clear overlap of, for example, mining concessions with protected areas.
“Conservation NGOs are, at least in part, controlled by the corporate bosses who sit on their boards, partner with, and fund them, why expect anything different?”
We urge readers to support the No Deal for Nature campaign in any way they can.
As English speakers, we have access to a wide range of material to inform our analysis of the Coronavirus situation.
But this privilege sometimes allows us to forget the important contributions to the discussion made in other languages.
We are grateful to the friends who have shared with us their translations of several German-language articles, which we have made available via this site.
The first document calls for an immediate end to all Corona measures and a committee of inquiry to uncover all errors and deception.
It looks at why masks are harmful, useless and degrading and why all “protective measures” were – and are – senseless from the outset.
“The lockdown has more dead people on its conscience than Covid-19!”, it adds.
It cites the famous 80-page evaluation of the Corona measures by Oberregierungsrat K., deputy head of the department for crisis management (critical infrastructure protection) in the Federal Ministry of the Interior: “The observable effects and impacts of Covid19 do not provide sufficient evidence (solid evidence) that it is more than a false alarm in terms of health effects on society as a whole”.
And it includes this nice line: “This killer virus is very special and is mainly transmitted by television, radio and newspapers”.
‘The Science Fraud by Prof. Christian Drosten‘ focuses on the high-profile German virologist and also assesses his UK counterpart: “Neil Ferguson is the ghost in the machine. The machine is the World Health Organization and the CDC. The man behind the ghost is Bill Gates”.
This analysis by Dr. Stefan Lanka also takes Prof Dorsten to task. “Neither he, nor the virologists of the CCDC, nor others have demonstrably carried out these necessary control experiments to date and if they have, they have not published them… The moment this attempt is carried out and published, the Corona crisis is immediately over”.
Finally, this July 4 article, originally from Diamenten magazine (“for freedom and a self-determined life”), says that leading Corona researchers admit that they have no scientific proof of the existence of a specific virus. “Rumours and lies have created a pandemic, although there was no evidence!”
“For the Outsider, the world into which he has been born is always a world without values. Compared to his own appetite for a purpose and a direction, the way most men live is not living at all; it is drifting. This is the Outsider’s wretchedness, for all men have a herd instinct that leads them to believe that what the majority does must be right. Unless he can evolve a set of values that will correspond to his own higher intensity of purpose, he may as well throw himself under a bus, for he will always be an outcast and a misfit”. So wrote Colin Wilson in his important and best-selling 1956 book The Outsider. Wilson died seven years ago, but not until Acorn contributor Jan Goodey had secured an interview with him, which we are pleased to feature here.
When interviewed in 2001, original angry young man and all-round iconoclast Colin Wilson had lost none of the bite that made his name back in the Fifties and Sixties.
A simple throwaway comment on Aleister Crowley was seized upon with acerbic relish, “He was a shit and one of the only people I wrote about who I would not have wanted to meet.”
In his seventies then, Wilson was happily ensconced in Cornwall which became his haven when the media glare became all too much back in the days when the papers would call him ‘a genius’ and run a story on him being spotted outside a cinema, all in the same day. “Well who the fuck cares” his comment relating to the latter.
On a day in 1956 Wilson woke up and found himself lauded and a best-seller. His book The Outsider had come out in the same week as John Osbourne’s play Look Back In Anger. The book featured chapters on various writers, including Herman Hesse, outside the mainstream and influenced by great, arcane Eastern mysticism.
It was counter-cultural to the prevailing philosophies of the time: linguistic analysis, logical positivism and Marxism. For a few weeks they weren’t sure whether to call this new generation of writers Angry Young Men or Outsiders and Wilson was feted by his contemporaries, including Kingsley Amis and Francis Bacon.
It was a break for a working class lad who’d never been to university, always been broke, worked in factories and coffee houses and even slept out on Hampstead Heath to save rent. “My ‘success’ itself was an absurd paradox;” he later wrote, “I was being rewarded for telling society how much I detested it.”
The English press’s long-held reputation of building people up to knock ’em down again was something Wilson soon found out about – close quarters. The feeling of destestation could be more than reciprocated.
One of the first to wield the knife was fellow philosopher AJ Ayer who did “a filthy stinking review of The Outsider,” said Wilson. Others followed suit, taken aback that a provincial hick could turn the London literary scene upside down with his first book.
With the Beats espousing stream of consciousness bacchanalia and the Existentialists, alienation, Wilson was neither one nor the other, and eventually sought sanctuary, first in France then Cornwall: “I suppose it’s like this girl Anne Robinson (UK celeb/news journalist) who was initially very highly regarded, but now is attacked by a lot of people maybe because she’s too famous. I went to Paris to meet Camus. He was going to do an introduction to my second book but was then killed in a car crash.”
Wilson saw himself following in the tradition of Sartre and Camus, and took up a position he described as New Existentialism, proceeding from many of their assumptions but rejecting alienation in favour of a life-affirming view: the individual free to forge meaning for him/herself: “Someone once called me our only home grown existentialist. At the time when people like Ayer were saying that questions about the meaning of life were meaningless I was feeling that they’re the only questions worth answering. What the hell are we doing here?”
The answer wasn’t Christianity, although he was tempted by Catholicism until he took instruction and discovered it to be “a lot of shit”. Wilson on Jesus is interesting in itself: “I don’t believe that Jesus died on the Cross for the sin of Adam. We know pretty certainly that Jesus himself didn’t think so, that he was a member of a reformist group. and this was so hated a group by Jews and Romans that he got crucified. He would have been shocked by the notion that he was the Son of God.”
No, the answer for Wilson lay partly in the occult – he believes we are on the verge of an evolutionary leap to a higher stage,- about to come something more than man/woman. In essence a positive outlook and it was in keeping with his view of himself as the first genuine optomistic philosopher in the Western tradition.
And if you ever catch yourself asking from where the New Age interest in all things mystical, springs: “In a word me, I started it all,” said Wilson, ever so slightly mischievious.
Colin Wilson (1931-2013)
(Jan Goodey is a regular contributor to the Ecologist online)
“Modern technology has led to the concentration of economic and political power”
Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) was a philosopher and writer who consistently opposed the industrial and commercial thinking of Western capitalism.
He is best known for his 1931 novel Brave New World, which depicts a dystopic future society built on American-style consumerism.Writing to his brother Julian in August 1918, Huxley predicted that one of the most deplorable consequences of the First World War would be “the inevitable acceleration of American world domination” and warned repeatedly in the 1920s that “the future of America is the future of the world”. (1)
David Bradshaw writes that the “World State” of Brave New World was clearly conceived “as a satire on the global diffusion of the American way of life”. (2)
Huxley’s future hell does not need the machineries of a violent police state to keep its population under control, because its domination reaches deep inside people’s heads.
As he remarked: “A really efficient totalitarian state would be the one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude.
“To make them love it is the task assigned, in present-day totalitarian states, to ministries of propaganda, newspaper editors and school teachers”. (3)
In Huxley’s dystopia, as in our own industrial capitalist world, everything is judged according to its contribution to “economic growth”.
He explains in the novel that at a previous stage of the Brave New World the lower castes of society had been conditioned to like wild flowers and nature – for a very specific reason: “The idea was to make them want to be going out into the country at every available opportunity, and to compel them to consume transport”. (4)
But this conditioning had been dropped because landscapes and flowers lay outside the all-important economy: “A love of nature keeps no factories busy. It was decided to abolish the love of nature, at any rate among the lower classes”. (5)
The same productivist mentality inspires the imaginary society’s love of games and sports involving lots of complicated equipment.
Reflects one character: “Strange to think that even in Our Ford’s day most games were played without more apparatus than a ball or two and a few sticks and perhaps a bit of netting. Imagine the folly of allowing people to play elaborate games which do nothing whatever to increase consumption. It’s madness”. (6)
The consumer impulse is etched into each new generation’s minds by recorded voices played over and over again to children in their nurseries: “The voices were adapting future demands to future industrial supply. ‘I do love flying,’ they whispered. ‘ I do love flying. I do love having new clothes’… ‘But old clothes are beastly,’ continued the untiring whisper. ‘We always throw away old clothes. Ending is better than mending, ending is better than mending, ending is better…’” (7)
This brainwashing takes on a more obviously ideological shape for teenagers, as revealed when the character Lenina insists that “progress is lovely, isn’t it?” and Bernard remarks wearliy: “Five hundred repetitions once a week from thirteen to seventeen”. (8)
For most people in contemporary Western capitalist society, even those who consider themselves dissidents, it seems likewise to be a deeply conditioned self-evident truth that “progress is lovely”.
Those same people often share another of the basic convictions of the Brave New World: that there is no underlying human nature which could allow us to develop freely without the lifelong tight control of authority.
The character Mustapha Mond declares: “As if one believed anything by instinct! One believes things because one has been conditioned to believe them”. (9)
Although Huxley’s dystopia is often contrasted with the one put forward by George Orwell in Nineteen Eighty-Four, deep-down they are not as different as all that – and a hatred of “oldthink” is common to both nightmare regimes.
Huxley imagines a “campaign against the Past” that had involved “the closing of museums, the blowing up of historical monuments (luckily most of them had already been destroyed during the Nine Years’ War); by the suppression of all books published before AF. 150”. (10) The Brave New World, like the Western industrial-capitalist society which it mocks, is generally opposed to too much thinking and reading. After all: “You can’t consume much if you sit still and read books”. (11)
Books and ideas are regarded as particularly dangerous if they are “old” – that is to say, if they come from an intellectual world beyond the narrow bubble of its own cretinous consumer-conformism.
At one point in the novel, a leader of this society is asked why the work of William Shakespeare has been banned.“The Controller shrugged his shoulders. ‘Because it’s old; that’s the chief reason. We haven’t any use for old things here’. ‘Even when they’re beautiful?’. ‘Particularly when they’re beautiful. Beauty’s attractive, and we don’t want people to be attracted by old things. We want them to like the new ones’”. (12)
Huxley went on to deepen his anti-Western, anti-capitalist philosophy by exploring the “old” philosophies cast aside by the modern world. At the end of the Second World War he explicitly identified himself with the Perennialist movement which had been formed by René Guénon, Ananda Coomaraswamy, Frithjof Schuon and others.
The title of his 1945 work The Perennial Philosophy made this clear enough, and Huxley listed no fewer than three books by Guénon in his bibliography.
As well as exploring the roots of this philosophy, particularly in the East, Huxley applied its ethos to the modern world around him and, unsurprisingly, found that contemporary “wisdom” represented pretty much the opposite of all that is considered of value by the inherited wisdom of humankind.
The cult of technology came under specific attack: “Technological idolatry is the religion whose doctrines are promulgated, explicitly or by implication, in the advertisement pages of our newspapers and magazines – the source, we may add parenthetically, from which millions of men, women and children in the capitalist countries derive their working philosophy of life…
“So whole-hearted is the modern faith in technological idols that (despite all the lessons of mechanized warfare) it is impossible to discover in the popular thinking of our time any trace of the ancient and profoundly realistic doctrine of hubris and inevitable nemesis.
“There is a very general belief that, where gadgets are concerned, we can get something for nothing – can enjoy all the advantages of an elaborate, top-heavy and constantly advancing technology without having to pay for them by any compensating disadvantages”. (13)
For Huxley, as for the tradition he espoused, there was no essential difference between the everyday life of the human being and the cultural or spiritual atmosphere in which he or she lives. He could see the lack of spirituality in the contemporary world not simply in terms of an abstract over-view, but on an individual level: “The industrial worker at his fool-proof and grace-proof machine does his job in a man-made universe of punctual automata – a universe that lies entirely beyond the pale of Tao on any level, brutal, human or spiritual”. (14)
Huxley urged his readers to turn their backs on the empty folly of modern life and reconnect with a tradition that would be our natural birthright, were it not hidden away from us by those who fear its force: “The reign of violence will never come to an end until, first, most human beings accept the same, true, philosophy of life; until, second, this Perennial Philosophy is recognized as the highest factor common to all the world religions”. (15)
Huxley continued his philosophical assault on industrial civilization in a follow-up commentary on Brave New World published in 1959.In Brave New World Revisited, he highlighted the dire consequences of continuing on our current course of endless multiplication and economic “growth”, with the spiralling levels of population required to make this possible.
He warned that “this fantastically rapid doubling of our numbers will be taking place on a planet whose most desirable and productive areas are already densely populated, whose soils are being eroded by the frantic efforts of bad farmers to raise more food, and whose easily available mineral capital is being squandered with the reckless extravagance of a drunken sailor getting rid of his accumulated pay”. (16)
Huxley pointed out that our apparently democratic societies were in fact ruled by a “Power Elite” (17) – “modern technology has led to the concentration of economic and political power”. (18)
He also explained how the apparent physical liberty of the individual in contemporary society could be an illusion. Not only were people fooled into accepting their enslavement, but the meaning of the word “freedom” was twisted so far that it came to mean that same enslavement.
Huxley wrote: “It is perfectly possible for a man to be out of prison, and yet not free – to be under no physical constraint and yet to be a psychological captive, compelled to think, feel and act as the representatives of the national state, or of some private interest within the nation, wants him to think, feel and act… The victim of mind-manipulation does not know that he is a victim. To him, the walls of his prison are invisible, and he believes himself to be free”. (19)
He warned of a possible future in which “democracy” and “freedom” would remain the catchwords of the status quo, but in which at the same time “the ruling oligarchy and its highly trained élite of soldiers, policemen, thought-manufacturers and mind-manipulators will quietly run the show as they see fit”. (20)
To prevent this happening, Huxley suggested we should “break up modern society’s vast, machine-like collectives into self-governing, voluntarily co-operating groups, capable of functioning outside the bureaucratic systems of Big Business and Big Government”. (21)
Looking back, in 1946, on his best-known novel, he said if he were to write it again he would provide the protagonists with another choice of society: “In this community economics would be decentralist and Henry-Georgian, politics Kropotkinesque and co-operative.
“Science and technology would be used as though, like the Sabbath, they had been made for man, not (as at present and still more in the Brave New World) as though man were to be adapted and enslaved to them”. (22)
1. David Bradshaw, ‘Introduction’, Aldous Huxley, Brave New World (London: Flamingo, 1994).
3. Aldous Huxley, 1946 Foreword, Brave New World.
4. Huxley, Brave New World, p. 19.
6. Huxley, Brave New World, p. 26.
7. Huxley, Brave New World, p. 43.
8. Huxley, Brave New World, p. 50.
9. Huxley, Brave New World, p. 214.
10. Huxley, Brave New World, p. 45.
11. Huxley, Brave New World, p. 44.
12. Huxley, Brave New World, pp. 199-200.
13. Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy (London: Chatto & Windus, 1980), p. 288.
14. Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy, p. 197.
15. Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy, p. 229.
16. Aldous Huxley, Brave New World Revisited (London: Chatto & Windus, 1959), p. 17.
17. Huxley, Brave New World Revisited, p. 34.
18. Huxley, Brave New World Revisited, p. 35.
19. Huxley, Brave New World Revisited, p. 154.
20. Huxley, Brave New World Revisited, p. 156.
21. Huxley, Brave New World Revisited, p. 159.
22. Huxley, 1946 Foreword, Brave New World.
“Confronted with the accelerated totalitarianisation of the UK being implemented under a de facto State of Emergency, we have chosen to listen to the lies of the Government and its media telling us exactly what to do and for how long, rather than hear a truth on which we will have to think and act for ourselves”. So writes Simon Elmer of Architects for Social Housing in a recent article in his excellent series on the Coronavirus situation. He warns that we are entering “a Britain of fully privatised public services and even greater economic and social inequality in a population ruled by emergency legislation, managed by the surveillance state and governed under a permanent state of exception”.
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Issue 10 of UK anarcho-zine DIY Culture is now online, with the theme of ‘the anarchist revolution – then and now’. Articles include ‘A Study of the Revolution in Spain, 1936-1937’ by Stuart Christie, ‘Anarchy From The Ruins’ by Paul Cudenec and ‘This Is Anarchy – Eight Ways the Black Lives Matter and Justice for George Floyd Uprisings Reflect Anarchist Ideas in Action’.
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Journalist Peter Hitchens continues to put most liberals and leftists to shame with his defiance of Covid-1984 totalitarianism. In an article in Standpoint mag, he insists: “The freedom to leave your house when you wish to and go where you will is not a civil liberty or a political liberty. It is part of being a free man or woman”. And writing about masks, he adds: “The truth is that the muzzle policy is all about power and fear. The Government began its wild, disproportionate shutdown of the country by spreading fear of a devastating plague that would destroy the NHS and kill untold thousands. Now, as many people find that Covid-19 is, in fact, nothing of the kind, new ways have to be found to keep up the alarm levels”.
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“It is a fact that techniques of manipulation are part and parcel of contemporary liberal democracies,” writes Dr Piers Robinson. “Although such persuasion activities can involve consensual techniques, they also frequently include less consensual techniques, involving forms of deception, incentivization and coercion”.
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The call has gone out to physically oppose the EU-China Summit being held in Leipzig in September. Says an online statement: “More than anything else, the EU-China Summit means a further escalation of the top-down struggle. Poverty and prosperity are to be further redistributed in favour of the economy and ruling elites. We will not stand idly by and we will attack and fight the summit to the best of our ability. Despite short preparation time, despite the Corona pandemic and all the narrowness it brings with it: We call on all of you to come to Leipzig from September 13th to 15th and attack the summit with us! No rest for the rulers – not here in Leipzig and not elsewhere! No to the EU-China Summit!”
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A rally against the World Health Organisation is being held in London on Wednesday July 22. Meet 12.30pm at St James park tube for a protest at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s London office in Victoria Street from 1pm. StandUpX is also staging a protest in the UK capital on Saturday August 1, at 2pm, with a rally at Speaker’s Corner, Hyde Park, followed by a march to Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square. For info on these and their regional protests see https://www.standupx.info/
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A useful list of articles about the Covid crisis has been published by our comrades at The South Essex Heckler. Some of them will already be familiar to Acorn readers, but the resource is well worth checking out.
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“The idea that society should suddenly be ‘reimagined’ by a handful of billionaires simply due to a pandemic is the opposite of freedom and self-determination”. This timely warning against the threat of “smart” cities – designed to form a key part of the totalitarian “new normal” – comes from the Liberty Blitzkrieg site in the USA.
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The Gilets Jaunes have been back in the news, after their longstanding uprising against neoliberalism was derailed by the Covid clampdown. A group of them who had been demonstrating in Paris on July 14 bumped into their arch-enemy Emmanuel Macron in the garden of the Tuileries (see video). There followed a heated exchange in which the French president was treated to a rendition of the Yellow Vest anthem On est là (Here we are, here we are, even if Macron doesn’t want it, here we are). Meanwhile, an excellent collection of English-language articles on this historically significant movement can be found here.
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Acorn quote: “The worker’s liberty, so much exalted by the economists, jurists, and bourgeois republicans, is only a theoretical freedom, lacking any means for its possible realization, and consequently it is only a fictitious liberty, an utter falsehood. The truth is that the whole life of the worker is simply a continuous and dismaying succession of terms of serfdom – voluntary from the juridical point of view but compulsory in the economic sense – broken up by momentarily brief interludes of freedom accompanied by starvation; in other words, it is real slavery”.
There had already been signs, before the coronavirus panic, that neoliberalism was shedding its fake-democratic mask and was preparing to switch to fascist mode.
And now we are well on the way. The global ruling elite have declared war on our freedom.
So what are we going to do about it? We reported in Acorn 56 that even last month there were signs of resistance.
Since then, despite the concerted efforts of the fake left to encourage supine obedience, there have been more outbreaks of anti-authoritarian revolt.
In Brussels, for instance, an anti-police uprising took place from April 10 to 12, unfortunately resulting in 100 arrests. There has also been spirited resistance on the streets of Santiago, Chile.
In France, the biggest reaction against the confinement has come from the poorest housing estates on the fringes of Paris and other cities.
The ongoing war between brutal, often racist, cops and local youth has intensified under the new police-state atmosphere and riots kicked off all over the place after Mouldi, a young man on a moped, was “accidentally” killed by police at Villeneuve la Garenne on April 18.
For night after night, in various parts of France, police were pelted with stones and fireworks and their vehicles and at least one local police station set on fire. “Mort aux porcs!”, “Death to the pigs!” was the slogan of choice.
This declares: “We haven’t forgotten that at the end of 2018 the violence of the Gilets Jaunes had become its last remaining option for seeking dignity and social justice.
“Some denied that this was the case and today there is another battle for the general interest that many would rather not see.
“This is the battle of the working-class areas who are fighting back with violence because violence is the only option the authorities have left open to them if they are to defend themselves against a police force which has granted itself power over life and death in these areas.
“As ever, and as was frequently the case with the Gilets Jaunes, the political and media class will condemn these popular revolts and explain to us that nothing can justify such violence. That people can be angry and have legitimate complaints, but that they can’t be expressed in this fashion.
“This class will try to empty these eminently political acts of all their substance. It will tell us that this violence is just gratuitous barbarity. But the real barbarity here is injustice.
“This is a people’s revolt and we must get behind it!”
Meanwhile, at least one call for protests in France on Friday May 1 has gone out.
“Because we are being trampled on. Because we can’t let the State dictate our lives. Because ending the lockdown has got to be an integral part of our struggle”.
The post on Nantes Indymedia adds: “Small-scale or individual actions are fine, but it is also important to take back the streets, to re-open a space that the authorities would like to close down”.
In the UK, radicals are calling for Mayday action short of mass protest.
Say the Green Anticapitalist Front: “This Mayday is unlike any previous Maydays. There will be no marches in the streets and no public speeches. Yet, now more than ever, we need to show that we are still here, still angry and still fighting.
“GAF is calling for an autonomous day of action on the 1st of May. We can’t demonstrate, but that doesn’t mean we can’t revolt. Take action alone or in a small crew. Mutual aid, solidarity, and direct action, all are valid. Keep it serious, keep it quiet. But above all stay safe.
“If you want us to share your action (after the event) on our social media, send us photos and details to email@example.com”
But the determination of large numbers of Americans to stand up to tyranny is heartening.
Could it be that, from now on, the only political fault line that really matters is between those who support and bow down to the new life-crushing global techno-dictatorship and those who rise up to resist it?
We will watch with interest how things evolve on the other side of the Atlantic.
Perhaps the most interesting developments have been coming in Germany, where a collective memory of the reality of totalitarianism remains strong.
Up to 1,000 people have been turning up for what are now weekly Saturday rallies in Berlin, with other protests elsewhere.
There are conflicting reports as to who is involved in these events, with some dismissing them as essentially far-right.
But it is clear that, as with the Gilets Jaunes in France, the wave of angry opposition is flooding across the usual political divides.
This report made it clear that the latest Berlin protest “attracted mainly far-left activists”.
It added: “Some of the demonstrators wore T-shirts accusing Chancellor Angela Merkel of ‘banning life’ while others simply called for ‘freedom’. Others brandished placards bearing slogans such as ‘Stop the pharmaceutical lobby'”.
Coverage was notably more hostile from other sources, such as Vice, with its dubious sources including “extremism experts monitoring the protests”.
It conceded that the rallies were “organized by a fringe group that considers themselves left-wing anticapitalists”, while still suggesting that they were contaminated by the right.
In another piece, Vicewrote dismissively of “conspiracy theorists” and “the paranoid belief that elites are imposing an oppressive ‘corona dictatorship’ on the public”.
Anyone detect a hint of panicky state propaganda?
One of these dangerous subversives, Anselm Lenz, gives an interview in English here.
Lenz is a journalist who was thrown out of his job for questioning the official virus narrative.
He and others have now formed a Demokatrischer Widerstand (Democratic Resistance) movement, with a printed rebel newspaper.
He explains that this is being distributed all over the country. There are now more than 100 local DW groups up and running, he says.
On Friday May 1 and Saturday May 2, the dissidents will be distributing their paper in Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Berlin, from 3.30pm, with simultaneous events far and wide.
We look forward to hearing news of the resistance kicking off everywhere!
For all those who have yet to decolonise their hearts and minds from the dominant system, and are to eager to run into the arms of those offering “solutions” to what are complex societal issues.
Imagine a world where we opposed the entire system, rather than parts of it.  
Imagine a world where we ignored the mass media. 
Imagine a world where we spent our time fighting the latest corporate scam instead of being distracted by whatever the mass media is trying to distract us with.
Imagine a world free of advertising.
Imagine a world where we only consume what is absolutely necessary, reducing the need for exploitation of people and planet.
Imagine a world where communities lived off-grid.
Imagine a world free of factories producing stuff we don’t need.
Imagine a world where corporations didn’t exist because we produce what we need for ourselves.
Imagine a world where we all have access to land to grow enough food to be self-sufficient.
Imagine a world free of religion, where instead we hold in reverence Mother Earth and all her wonders. 
Imagine a world where people stopped placing their trust in NGOs and civil society organisations, and instead formed strong, organic communities to fight state and corporate greed. 
Imagine a world with minimum need for conventional medicine because Mother Earth offers us everything we need to stay healthy.
Imagine a world where we spent most of our days outdoors close to nature, strengthening our immune systems and building up resistance to any viruses that may come our way.
Imagine a world where we cared for each other without having to rely on governments, institutions or corporations.
Imagine a world where children are taught the importance of living in harmony with the natural world rather than removed from it by spending their days learning online between four walls.
Imagine a world where children are allowed to develop their imagination and creativity without having material forced down their throats.
Imagine a world where we exchanged our skills, and did away with the need for money. 
Imagine a world where we stopped arguing with each other over petty things, and instead focused on what unites us rather than on what divides.
Imagine a world where we took the time to genuinely listen to each other and understand each other, rather than making rash judgements, sticking labels on each other, putting each other in boxes, positioning each other on the left-right spectrum.
Imagine a world where we stood in solidarity with indigenous and tribal peoples instead of supporting the climate capitalists hell bent on plundering more of their lands. 
Imagine a world where we didn’t feel obliged to get married, settle down, or have children.
Imagine a world where we didn’t have to do work that we don’t enjoy.
Imagine a world where we didn’t live by the tyranny of the clock. 
Western Despotism can now unload the liberal baggage of bourgeois democratic institutions, having ruined the planet and enslaved humanity to its poisonous techno/industrial economy.
The capitalist disaster returns to its despotic origins, as the grave it is digging for itself threatens to take the rest of us and all living things that populate the planet.
The digital nightmare that will make domination inescapable is being foisted on a population terrorised by the very products it consumes and the mode of production that creates them.
The machine man and machine world that is domination’s dream of total control requires a level of servitude that can only be realized through the coercive apparatus of the state and the techno industrial Hydra that has colonized daily life with increasing speed in the last 20 years.
The choices that we humans face boil down to one: the living death of servitude, as machines in a machine world or liberty, or put in a more clear way, between life and death.
The Road to Hell Is Paved with Good Intentions: COVID-19, Corbyn and ‘Crisis’ is a new 44-page brochure on the 325 website which reflects that the UK anarchist movement has been badly led astray by the Jeremy Corbyn phenomenon and now in its reaction to the virus clamp-down. It states: “Relationships that were built on shared ideas and experiences have become damaged. This isn’t some teenage angst ridden over dramatisation, it is a genuine reflection, a question about what remains”. The full text is available here, but below are few choice segments:
We planned to get this text together and then publish and distribute it when stuff “returned to normal”. But, the reality is: there is no going back to what was “normal,” so even though some may read this text as an unsympathetic distraction from a global “crisis”, and an unhelpful poke in some festering wounds (when we should be focusing on “unity”), we hope our humble but fiery reflections will spark some much needed discourse. We are living in a hostile environment, but it was important to us not to shy away from our beliefs in these dark times, and to respond accordingly.
Already many mutual aid groups have become channels for gossip (who knows where this will go in the next few weeks… comrades in Italy warn us of neighbourhood snitching and people using these channels to do the work of the police). Already over half the police forces in England are co-opting the mutual aid groups and using them as an extension of their surveillance mechanisms. The divisive mentality that emerged with the growth of social media (the idea that you are inherently dodgy if you don’t engage; as you must have something to hide) has spiked, and like the virus, it seems unclear when it will “peak”.
To those who say that now is not the time for “civil unrest,” that division is unhelpful, that we must keep going… we say: now is the time for it all. Mutual aid and solidarity can be no more than acts of charity if they are not combined with resistance in this current context. Carefully, whilst being safe and thinking of others… rebel, resist, and plan. Find
the gaps, use the skills and networks you have. Keep yourself sane and your rebellious heart burning, because when the virus eases, the police state will continue, and food parcels and lending books are not going to dismantle it. Stay sharp.
COVID-19 is in many ways a global gift to all leaders and politicians seeking to ramp up social control. After the virus eases, we will see unprecedented changes on a global scale as legislation that was rushed through hangs over us like a spectre and people obediently go about their business, terrified of Covid-20. We hope that we will never be too scared to resist. Corona shows us that the system is fucked. Will you kick it while it’s down?
We’ve had week after week of wall to wall coverage of the COVID-19 crisis in the media. The question is, how many people are still paying attention to it and how many, for the sake of their sanity, are choosing to switch off from it? If this ever ends, it would be an interesting exercise to conduct research on what effect this barrage of coverage has had on people’s mental health. It would also be interesting to see how much this relentless coverage has further undermined people’s already shrinking faith in the media.
We’ve been doing what we can to try and keep up with developments but to be honest, we have days when the stress of trying to discern any meaningful signal from the cacophony of noise is so overwhelming, we simply switch off and try to re-focus the following day. Having said this, a still somewhat scratchy picture is starting to emerge of what we face in the coming months and years as the COVID-19 crisis evolves and morphs into something that will quite possibly be sinister and dystopian.
Fault lines are emerging. On the one hand, there are those who by and large accept the lockdown and the need for it to go on for some considerable time and also, are largely supportive of whatever tracking and monitoring measures have been mooted to ostensibly limit and eventually eliminate the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
On the other hand, there are those who have taken a look at the relentless coverage of the crisis, smelt a rat and are starting to question the narrative we’re being fed, particularly when that is being used to justify measures which will restrict our freedom and subject us to more surveillance.
As regular readers of the Heckler may have gathered, we tend towards the latter. We’re anarchists and as we’re supposed to accept no higher authority than ourselves and those we collectively organise with, it would be downright negligent of us to not question the narrative we’re being fed!
So, all of the extra powers the government has conferred upon itself and all of the surveillance and tracking that’s coming our way, ostensibly to deal with COVID-19, will certainly come in handy when the shit hits the fan as the next wave of austerity is sent to crush us. Just one example are the powers that could see restrictions or bans on large gatherings for the rest of the year and quite possibly, into 2021. As we’ve mentioned previously, large gatherings will take in demonstrations and radical/anarchist bookfairs.
Which leaves us with mutual aid work and online propagandising. If you keep your mutual aid work away from digital networks as far as possible, avoid any hierarchy, keep it grassroots and face to face, you’ll get by. Those of us who are basically propagandists and because of the dearth of opportunities to physically distribute our material, pretty much have to rely on being online, will be facing a very uncertain future as we slide towards more authoritarianism.
On the subject of restrictions, there are strong rumours that many cafes, pubs and restaurants will not open again until close to Christmas. Bear in mind, many of these establishments face the prospect of going to the wall: Pubs in the UK Might be Closed Until Christmas – If They Survive at All. As we’ve written before, that’s a massive loss of opportunities to meet up with friends for company, drink and/or food.
While those of us whose jobs have survived this massive economic shock will be gradually returning to work, there will be little or no socialising because there won’t be anywhere to go. Life will be reduced to work, commute, eat, sleep, commute, work…repeat on loop, ad infinitum. Entertainment will not be the company of friends but whatever is being piped down to our TVs. A diet of fear-mongering so called ‘news’ designed to keep us frightened and reliant on the authorities to look after us. Sprinkled with a toxic dose of divide and rule to keep us divided, atomised and easier to manipulate and control.
That’s for those ‘lucky’ enough to still be in ‘steady’ work. For the millions more who’ll be on precarious zero hours contracts or unemployed, struggling to find work in an economy that’s been gutted and reliant on Universal Credit, life will be grim. For those who are disabled and rely on Universal Credit and a gutted public sector for the support they need, life is already horrendous as they find themselves increasingly thrown to the margins. As it is for the elderly in care homes pretty much unable to access hospital treatment and finding that they’re subject to ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ notices.
We’re in a society where some lives are seen as worth considerably less than others – based on how much people can or can’t contribute to the ‘bottom line’. When that narrative starts to become widely accepted, what is essentially a cull by a combination of neglect and malice starts to become normalised.
The lockdown is tearing us apart from each other. If a loved one has been diagnosed as having COVID-19 before they passed away, not only were you not allowed to be with them in their final hours if they were in hospital, you’re not allowed to see their body before cremation. Numbers are strictly limited at the funeral with physical distancing enforced and no wake afterwards. At a point in life where you need to emotional and physical support of family and friends, it’s denied to you. People are going to be mentally scarred by experiencing the passing of a loved one in this way for the rest of their lives.
We live opposite a park with play equipment, now taped off. It’s been silent since March when the lockdown was brought in. Along with the closure of nurseries and schools, kids have been denied the opportunity to play with each other. Play is not a frivolous activity. From toddlers onwards, play is how kids learn to interact with each other. It’s how they learn to negotiate, compromise and co-operate with each other. It’s how they learn from mistakes and go on to become fully rounded human beings. Denying kids the opportunity to play for any significant length of time is going to cause long term developmental and mental health issues down the line.
Adolescence is when kids really start to work out who they are. It’s when kids quite rightly want to assert their independence and get out into the world. It’s when long term friendships are formed. It’s when they develop a support network of their peers. Can you imagine what an adolescent will be feeling when all of this is denied to them as they face what is to all intents and purposes, indefinite house arrest? A ‘normal’ adolescent will find this hard enough. Anyone with mental health issues will find this agonising. Tragically, this has already led to adolescents feeling they have no option but to take their lives.
Lockdown with an abusive partner or parent is a nightmare that doesn’t even bear thinking about. It’s a potential death sentence. Anyone advocating the continuation of the lockdown really needs to have some thought as to what urgently has to happen to prevent any more tragedies where an individual has been killed by an abusive partner or parent.
As we’ve written previously, it really does feel like we’re being subjected to a massive psychological experiment: A few readings and thoughts on the psychological impact of COVID-19 anxiety and the lockdown. One in which we’re simultaneously being subjected to an unprecedented level of fear-mongering and being torn apart from each other. One in which we’re being made to feel that the only option of being able to move forwards is to subject ourselves to a loss of autonomy through increased tracking and surveillance, ostensibly for our own good. One in which our hopes and plans for the future have been trashed. One in which we’re being atomised and made ever more dependent on the whims of our rulers for our survival. One which has already turned into a fucking nightmare for a lot of people and will do for many more of us.
It seems that when a commentator uses the word ‘reset’ to describe the social and economic turmoil that’s coming our way, the accusations of ‘conspiracy theory’ start flying around. The last few weeks have been quite revealing in terms of where those accusations have been coming from because a fair number of them have come from people who consider themselves to be ‘radical’ and a few from so called ‘anarchists’. The point is that the global lockdown has caused an economic shock of historic proportions that like previous shocks, will end up seeing more wealth concentrated in fewer hands. As has already been seen in the years since the banking crash of 2008.
So, people who may think they’re doing the right thing by supporting restrictions on movement and gatherings, as well as increased tracking and surveillance are actually supporting the creation and enhancement of an apparatus that will completely screw our lives and freedoms. All we ask is that you take a deep breath, take a few steps back, do your best to get some perspective and start to ask some hard questions about what’s being done to us. If those questions aren’t asked and we continue on the trajectory we’re on, for many of us, life will become mere existence as we’re effectively plugged into a dystopian matrix. Many may not even survive to experience this.
You may find this hard to believe but we’d really love it if we were wrong on everything we’ve written above and ended up with a copious amount of egg on our faces. Trust us, we want to wake up and find this has all been a bad dream. The thing is, we wake up every morning, check our news feed, see the deserted playground opposite us, feel that tightening, sickening feeling in our guts and realise this is reality. We’ve got an all too narrow window of opportunity to act and start to resist what’s happening to us. If we don’t, not only are we screwed, generations to come will be as well…
I am proud to have found my way to anarchism some 30 years ago, proud to have learned all I could about anarchism, to have put anarchism into practice, to have met existing anarchists, to have led others towards anarchism, to have written and talked so much about anarchism.
I have lived anarchism and I know that I will die an anarchist.
That is why it pains me to have had to say that there are today some fundamental problems at the very heart of the anarchist movement, problems which reach deep into the very way it thinks and feels.
It saddens me to have had to point out that what presents itself to the outside world as anarchism is often nothing but the empty shell of anarchism, a zombie anarchism, still stumbling ahead with black flag held aloft, but cruelly robbed of its soul.
Needless to say there are plenty of anarchists around the world who are true to the essence of the idea, some of whom have let me know that they share my concerns.
But I have got a horrible feeling that these authentic anarchists are, these days, very much in the minority.
My first inkling that all was not well with anarchism, and indeed the wider social movement to which it belongs, came nearly 19 years ago.
Up until that moment, everything had been going swimmingly well for me. I was inspired and delighted by the seemingly unstoppable tide of the global anti-capitalist revolt of which I formed a tiny part.
I should say here that I wasn’t at the great battles of Seattle, Prague or Genoa, although I was in the City of London on June 18, 1999 and at the subsequent Mayday events.
But missing out on all the “summit hopping” didn’t make me any less enthusiastic about the great revolution that seemed to be approaching.
My comrades and I made sure the inhabitants of our home town were well aware of what was happening across the world, via leaflets, bulletins, posters, meetings, protests and squatted infoshops.
I am sure I was still feeling as motivated as ever on September 11 2001, as a group of us travelled to London Docklands to protest against the DSEI arms fair.
The demo ground to halt when news started coming in of the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York and people rushed to the pub to watch the news on TV.
We didn’t, of course, understand the implications of what had happened and initially welcomed it as another sign of the impending collapse of the evil empire.
The actual effect of 9/11 on our struggle only became clear to me a few weeks later when I was attending a meeting in the nearby city whose thriving anarchist scene was, to me and my friends, a constant source of inspiration.
Someone who had been very much part of the pink-and-silver-samba-bloc Zeitgeist of the uprising told me that she wouldn’t be doing that any more. It didn’t seem right, after the terrorist attack, to continue our carnival-cum-war against the USA and its world of capitalism.
I was completely taken aback by this comment. I simply couldn’t imagine how anyone – anyone on my side! – could have come to that decision.
Stop fighting against everything that was bad in the world because something else bad had happened, something that wasn’t our fault, that was nothing to do with us, that had no bearing on the reasons or the aims of our struggle?
My disappointment resonates now across the years, vibrating with the brave new world of 2020…
Fortunately, this wasn’t the end of the movement to which I had attached myself. It morphed seamlessly into the radical wing of the anti-war movement in 2002 and 2003.
The demos were less fun-based now, maybe, but the energy was very much still in evidence, together with a firmness of ethical conviction that was well able to withstand the weapons of mass deception unleashed by Blair, Campbell and Bush.
It wasn’t just anarchists who didn’t believe their lies, of course. Millions of people rejected their message of fear and took to the streets to say so.
The authorities hadn’t quite perfected their narrative projection in those days. They hadn’t properly closed down all the possibilities of dissent. But that still didn’t stop them from going ahead with the invasion of Iraq!
Another moment of disappointment for me came in the summer of 2005 during the anti-G8 moblisation in Scotland, one which was strangely similiar to that of 2001.
Once again our protests came to a halt, this time because of the 7/7 carnage down in London.
Once again something bad had happened somewhere else, something that wasn’t our fault, that was nothing to do with us, that had no bearing on the reasons or the aims of our protest.
Some people were saying we should call off the planned demos. Why? Why would we want to do that?
I recall that we broke down into bario meetings to discuss what to do. Our group was certainly in favour of carrying on the mobilisation and I heard later that the same was true of others.
But, somehow or other, the non-leaders at the Stirling convergence space deemed that the democratic decision had been taken to throw in the towel. Their de-escalation team went into action to defuse all that inconvenient anarchist rage.
They must have diligently continued their work everywhere afterwards, because from that point on, there seemed to be decreasing levels of anger, and indeed, energy, in the UK movement.
The very idea of physically opposing global capitalist summits, which had so inspired me in the past, was now considered hopelessly old hat.
The 2013 Stop The G8 campaign was largely snubbed by what was left of the anarchist movement in the country and the London mobilisation would have been a total flop without the enthusiastic participation of European comrades.
Since then, the movement and its attitudes seem to have become progressively drained of the coherent and powerful worldview which drew me to anarchism as a young man in search of political and philosophical truth.
Every couple of years, a new fashionable obsession seems to have taken a grip, speaking a language I do not know in order to express views which are completely alien to me.
Noam Chomsky has spoken about the “incomprehensible gibberish that comes out of left-wing intellectual movements”, which he described as “just impossible to understand”. (1)
There are two obvious consequences to this relentless advance of the anarchist scene into an intellectual and political dead-end.
Firstly, the people it recruits will be those who are prepared to uncritically conform to its one-dimensional newthink, who are willing to surrender their own independence of thought and swallow what Chomsky called “the latest version of post-modern this and that”.
It now turns out, at this historical moment, that these are exactly the kind of people who are eager to accept whatever version of the truth is presented to them by authority figures.
They are also the kind of people who are eager to condemn and ostracise any old-fashioned anarchists who have the audacity to think for themselves.
I have noticed that, inevitably I suppose, they do so using the same reflexes and language with which they try to impose their dogma on their comrades.
The whole world becomes a “safer space” when they insist that you should not question martial-law lockdown because you could put others at risk.
When you point out that the virus is mainly killing those who are already sick or old, they declare that you are “ablist” and use their familiar shaming and accusatory tone in order to imply that drawing attention to the relatively low mortality rate is the same thing as welcoming the deaths of those who have sadly succumbed.
Someone saw fit to slip into his argument against my condemnation of the clampdown the fact that I am “white”, which apparently means my views on absolutely everything are hopelessly polluted by privilege and can happily be ignored by all left-thinking citizens. (He is also “white”, by the way).
The guilt-by-association smearing is pushed to the extreme. Whatever view you share which is critical of the panic and the global police state it has spawned turns out to be illegitimate because the person who expressed it is a believer in the wrong kind of freedom (see my previous post), or is an “anti-vaxxer”, or uses language or arguments that sound suspiciously alt-right, or has otherwise not earned the blue tick of ideological purity.
Their greatest magical weapon is, of course, the term “conspiracy theorist”. No sooner is it brandished, than all need to refute fact or engage logically is dispelled in a great puff of newthink smoke.
The argument has been won without even the need to address it!
The other side of the coin, the corollary to the take-over of the movement by zombie-anarchists, is the question of what has happened to all the born anarchists.
Chomsky’s comments came in the context of his concern that young people would be turned away from anarchism by the cult-like ideological fixations that are today so dominant.
It’s not even just the young. There are people of all ages who learn a little bit about anarchism, would like to find out more with a view to getting involved and so dip their toes into the water by turning up at an anarchist venue or event.
If they run a mile and never come back, what happens to them? And what happens to those who never even get that far, who get one faint whiff of the stifling intellectual claustrophobia via the internet and realise there is no place for them in that self-righteous and puritan little world?
I think they are still out there. They may or may not think of themselves as anarchists. They may use other labels or none at all. We don’t have to give ourselves labels.
But they are still anarchists, natural anarchists, the rebels who would have formed a strong and healthy anti-capitalist movement if it had not been sabotaged from within by the zombies.
They are the anarchists who would have stood up, in anger and en masse, against the coronavirus coup d’état.
These natural anarchists will keep emerging in each generation, because a love of freedom and truth is part of what it means to be human.
They may emerge and rise up now, straight away, in the face of this unprecedented global power grab.
Or it may happen later, when they have had a chance to reorientate themselves and find each other.
But we can be sure that sooner or later they will cast off their muzzles, unplug their chains and try to smash to pieces the slave-system which has stolen everything from them.
Because, after all, as Gustav Landauer (2) put it, anarchy is life. Where there’s life there’s anarchy. Where there’s anarchy there’s hope.
1. Noam Chomsky, ‘Anarchism, Intellectuals and the State’, Chomsky on Anarchism, ed. by Barry Pateman (Edinburgh, Oakland and West Virginia: AK Press, 2005), p.217.
2. Gustav Landauer, Revolution and Other Writings: A Political Reader, ed. and trans. by Gabriel Kuhn, (Oakland: PM Press, 2010), p. 74.
One name which keeps coming up again and again in the context of the Covid-19 coup is that of billionaire Bill Gates.
Indeed, he himself announced on April 27 that as from that day, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation would be focusing its “total attention” on the pandemic.
His allies and apologists are complaining that poor Bill is the victim of “misinformation” and “conspiracy theories” regarding his involvement and influence.
So horribly unfair when he has “donated $250 million toward the crisis, espoused the importance of developing a safe and effective vaccine, and supported the creation of a government-funded manufacturing infrastructure”.
But it is undeniable that the Microsoft founder has got his fingers in many a pie.
Researcher Jacob Levich has described Gates’ activities as part of a new “global health imperialism”.
He says: “Interlocking networks of foundations, foundation-sponsored NGOs, and US government institutions like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) — notorious as a “pass-through” for CIA funds — work hand-in-hand in support of imperialism, subverting people-friendly states and social movements by co-opting institutions deemed helpful to US global strategy”.
Levich adds: “The Gates Foundation exercises power not only via its own spending, but more broadly through an elaborate network of ‘partner organizations’ including non-profits, government agencies, and private corporations.
“It orchestrates vast elaborate public-private partnerships – charitable salmagundis that tend to blur distinctions between states, which are at least theoretically accountable to citizens, and profit-seeking businesses that are accountable only to their shareholders”.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation dishes out phenomenal amounts of funding every year across the global health sector. In the words of one NGO official quoted by Levich: “You can’t cough, scratch your head or sneeze in health without coming to the Gates Foundation”.
Some salient facts:
* The Gates Foundation is the World Health Organization’s second biggest donor. “This largesse gives him outsized influence over its agenda” notes the Politico website. “Gates’ priorities have become the WHO’s”.
* Gates Foundation cash has been pouring into Imperial College, London, which came up with the scaremongering death toll projections – £63 million in 2020 alone!
* Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, the US equivalent of Imperial, received at least $2,876,472 from the Gates Foundation in 2019.
* The UK’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty declared himself “delighted” in 2008 when the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded £31 million for his consortium’s malaria research in Africa. One good turn deservers another.
* The BBC, whose shock-and-awe propaganda has been keeping the UK public paralysed by fear, is funded by the Gates Foundation to the tune of many millions of pounds.
* The Guardian’s “Global Development” section declares: “This website is funded by support provided, in part, by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation”.
* Gavi, the “Vaccine Alliance”, received $2,498,750 from the Gates Foundation in 2019. On its website it lists its first partner as the Bill and Gates Foundation, followed by Unicef, the WHO and The World Bank.
* Gates has been described as “a major player in trying to get the world to go digital and ditch cash, especially relevant given his role in the COVID-19 issue”.
* The Gates Foundation is a heavy pusher of agrochemicals and patented seeds. Environmentalist Dr Rosemary Mason, questioning why pesticides did not feature in a WHO-UNICEF-Lancet report, discovered that many of the 42 listed authors had received funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
* Gates wants to create global health “governance” which would “work closely with Western military forces, specifically NATO, in operations targeting the developing world”. It would have the power to bypass national safety regulations, suspend constitutional rights and impose surveillance networks.
It is not as if nobody had noticed the evolving Gates global power grab. It has been building up for some time.
In 2016, Global Justice Now warned that it was likely that “Bill Gates, who has regular access to world leaders and is in effect personally bankrolling hundreds of universities, international organisations, NGOs and media outlets, has become the single most
influential voice in international development”.
It drew attention to the Gates Foundation’s “aggressive corporate strategy and extraordinary influence across governments, academics and the media” and the astonishing absence of voices criticising its influence.
“Global Justice Now is concerned that the foundation’s influence is so pervasive that many actors in international development, which would otherwise critique the policy and practice of the foundation, are unable to speak out independently as a result of its funding and patronage”.
But now, as events accelerate rapidly, lots more critical attention is finally being turned to the Gates empire.
Investigative journalist Vanessa Beeley, for instance, warns that behind the COVID-19 drama is “an entire pharmaceutical complex potentially protecting its own interests over any genuine concerns for the health and welfare of global populations”. This involves The Gates Foundation, the World Bank and the British Government.
Gates’ key role in advocating for a global vaccination programme is also probed by Eric Wagner in Multipolar Magazin. He examines “ID 2020”, which wants to roll out a global “digital identity” system of control and says: “The founding partners of the project are Gates’ company Microsoft, the Gates-sponsored vaccination alliance GAVI, the management consultancy Accenture and the Rockefeller Foundation, one of the oldest and wealthiest foundations in the USA”.
And a useful report on the Children’s Health Defense site adds: “Globally, roughly 70 COVID-19 vaccines are in various stages of development — a veritable gold rush that will be all the more lucrative since Gates has made sure that the vaccines will be indemnified against lawsuits”.
Gustav Landauer died 101 years ago on May 2, beaten and kicked to death by proto-fascists after taking part in the defeated Bavarian Revolution of 1919. Here we share the profile of this important anarchist thinker from the orgrad website.
“Anarchy is life; the life that awaits us after we have freed ourselves from the yoke”
Gustav Landauer (1870-1919) was an important anarchist theorist and key precursor of organic radicalism.
He took part in the Bavarian Revolution at the end of the First World War but, with its collapse, he was arrested and murdered by proto-Nazi Freikorps soldiers in Stadelheim Prison, Munich.
Like his friend Martin Buber, he saw a close link between human interrelationships and the rebirth of community which was needed to put society right.
Landauer also echoed the likes of William Morris and John Ruskin in condemning the “unculture” of industrial capitalist society.
He wrote in 1911: “Progress, what you call progress, this incessant hustle-bustle, this rapid tiring and neurasthenic, short-breathed chase after novelty, after anything new as long as it is new, this progress and the crazy ideas of the practitioners of development associated with it… this progress, this unsteady, restless haste; this inability to remain still and this perpetual desire to be on the move, this so-called progress is a symptom of our abnormal condition, our unculture”. (2)
His vision was based on living human communities, social organisms with their own guiding collective spirit or Geist, arising from below and from within. This is very much the idea of the authentic human community, the Gemeinschaft, described by Ferdinand Tönnies.
Landauer was inspired by organic medieval society, which he contrasted with contemporary top-down artificiality.
He wrote: “The state, with its police and all its laws and its contrivances for property rights, exists for the people as a miserable replacement for Geist and for organizations with specific purposes; and now the people are supposed to exist for the sake of the state, which pretends to be some sort of ideal structure and a purpose in itself, to be Geist…
“Earlier there were corporate groups, clans, gilds, fraternities, communities, and they all interrelated to form society. Today there is coercion, the letter of the law, the state”. (3)
The state combined with industrial society to destroy all authentic collective spirit, argued Landauer.
Writes Charles Maurer: “The most obvious sign of the absence of Geist was for Landauer the plight of the industrial workers.
“Separated from the earth and its products and spiritually isolated from each other despite the closeness of their living conditions, they become victims of alcohol, disease, and poverty.
“The relationship between worker and employer becomes completely dehumanized through capitalism, technology, and the state”. (4)
Landauer bitterly opposed Marxists for remaining trapped in this mechanistic mindset and for failing to lead a deep and effective resistance to industrial capitalism.
Russell Berman and Tim Luke explain that, for Landauer, Marxism was itself “part of the problem posed by industrialization”. (5)
They add: “Marxism, despite its revolutionary appearance, functions in fact as an impediment to socialism. In the light of Landauer’s critique, nineteenth century scientific socialism ceases to appear as a radical critique of the status quo. Rather, behind its revolutionary pretenses, it buttresses the development of capitalist structures”. (6)
In his booklet For Socialism, Landauer was vehemently outspoken against the Marxists who had taken control of the socialist movement of which he considered himself a part.
He described their dogma as “the plague of our times and the curse of the socialist movement” (7) and bemoaned “the grotesque wrongness of their materialist conception of history” (8) in which they reduced everything to “what they call economic and social reality”. (9)
Landauer also hinted at his disquiet over the growing influence of Marxism, and its modes of thinking, on the anarchist movement.
He refered disparagingly to “the syndicalists and the anarcho-socialists, recently so-called by a pitiful misuse of two noble names” as the Marxists’ “brothers” (10) and specifically extended his condemnation to all Marxists “whether they call themselves Social Democrats or anarchists”. (11)
Still today, Landauer’s rich and powerful brand of anarchism is sometimes dismissed as “mystical” and therefore unacceptable to the shallow modern industrial world view adopted by too many so-called anarchists.
Like Constantin von Monakow, Landauer extended his concept of the organic to a cosmic level, regarding the universe as a living creature with a collective soul and writing that “the psyche [das Seelenhafte] in the human being is a function or manifestation of the infinite universe”. (12)
Landauer’s use of terms like Geist and Seelenhafte forms an inherent part of his anarchism, flowing naturally from the rest of his philosophy.
He was opposed to all private land ownership, declaring: “All ownership of things, all land-ownership is in reality ownership of men. Whoever withholds the earth from others, from the masses, forces these others to work for him. Private ownership is theft and slave-holding”. (13)
He was equally opposed to the power of the state favoured by his Marxist rivals, which destroyed authentic and organic society inspired by the collective Geist.
The idea of Geist also fed into Landauer’s ideas regarding revolution, along with his related concept of Wahn, a kind of motivating resonance which could bring about sudden radical change.
He explained: “Wahn is not only every goal, every ideal, every belief in a sense of purpose of life and the world: Wahn is every banner followed by mankind; every drumbeat leading mankind into danger; every alliance that unites mankind and creates from a sum of individuals a new structure, an organism”. (14)
Landauer said the spark for revolution was always the stupidity, brutality or weakness of rulers, but that “the people, the thinkers, the poets are a powder keg, loaded with spirit and the power of creative destruction”. (15)
The energy of Wahn would ensure that this powder keg ignited: “There is no need to fear a lack of revolutionaries: they actually arise by a sort of spontaneous generation – namely when the revolution comes.
“The voice of the spirit is the trumpet that will sound again and again and again, as long as men are together. Injustice will always seek to perpetuate itself; and always as long as men are truly alive, revolt against it will break out”. (16)
Anarchism, said Landauer, was “a collective name for transformative ambitions” (17) and its role was to encourage Wahn and help create the resonance of revolution.
In this way it could rid the human social organism of the stifling restrictions imposed by property, the state and industrialism and allow it to breathe and flourish in a free and natural way.
As Landauer famously declared: “Anarchy is life; the life that awaits us after we have freed ourselves from the yoke”. (18)
1. Russell Berman & Tim Luke, ‘Introduction’, Gustav Landauer, For Socialism, trans. by David J Parent, (St Louis: Telos Press, 1978), p. 8.
2. Gustav Landauer, For Socialism, pp. 35-36.
3. Gustav Landauer, Aufruf zum Sozialismus (Berlin: 2nd ed, 1919), pp. 19-20, cit. Charles B. Maurer, Call to Revolution: The Mystical Anarchism of Gustav Landauer (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1971), p. 93.
4. Maurer, pp. 108-109.
5. Berman & Luke, ‘Introduction’, For Socialism, p. 10.
6. Berman & Luke, Introduction, For Socialism, p. 11.
7. Landauer, For Socialism, p. 32.
8. Landauer, For Socialism, p. 123.
9. Landauer, For Socialism, p. 56.
10. Landauer, For Socialism, p. 57.
11. Landauer, For Socialism, p. 82.
12. Gustav Landauer, Skepsis und Mystik: Versuche im Anschluss an Mauthners Sprachkritik (Cologne: 2d ed, 1923) p. 7, cit. Maurer, p. 69.
13. Landauer, For Socialism, p. 128.
14. Landauer, Beginnen: Aufsätze über Sozialismus, ed. by Martin Buber, Cologne, 1924, p. 16, cit. Maurer, p. 92.
15. Gustav Landauer, Revolution and Other Writings: A Political Reader, ed. and trans. by Gabriel Kuhn, (Oakland: PM Press, 2010) p. 170.
16. Landauer, For Socialism, p. 82 & p. 130.
17. Landauer, Revolution and Other Writings, p. 304.
18. Landauer, Revolution and Other Writings, p. 74.
A wave of direct action has broken out against 5G, the central infrastructure of what some are calling the Fourth Industrial Repression. Masts have been torched in the UK, Ireland and the Netherlands, with “conspiracy theories” inevitably being blamed by corporate media. Meanwhile, a study has emerged from Spain pointing to a very clear geographical relationship between “coronavirus outbreaks” and the presence of 5G networks. English version here.
* * *
An international day of action against mobile phones has been called for June 2O-21 2020. A new organization called End Cellphones Here on Earth (ECHOEarth) announces that its mission is “to end the root cause of the wireless web that is punching holes in our atmosphere and bathing us all in radiation”.
* * *
Three Days Against Techno-Sciences is the title of an event to be staged in Italy in July. This is described as “an informal, convivial and international opportunity for discussion and reflection among individuals and organisations engaged in building an analysis and a critique of what we may call the technoworld”. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
* * *
Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben has spoken out against the new covid-fascism. He wrote: “The disproportionate reaction to what according to the CNR is something not too different from the normal flus that affect us every year is quite blatant. It is almost as if with terrorism exhausted as a cause for exceptional measures, the invention of an epidemic offered the ideal pretext for scaling them up beyond any limitation”.
* * *
“The truth is that all that is living, all living organisms, the cells that comprise them and the ecosystems they exist within, are the sum total of our individual life”. Beyond the Dark Horizon is a green anarchist review from so-called Australia and can be found here.
* * *
“Between the SDGs, the WEF’s calls for a ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’, and the rise of carbon-markets and ‘natural capital’, it’s clear that ecomodernism is not just a buzzword for naive ex-hippies and dodgy PR agents; it is the ideological framework for an emerging green technocracy. A conservation-industrial complex, if you will”. Android Wolves, Electric Sheep: Ecomodernism and The Rise of the Green Technocracy is the first article on a brand new blog, Symbiotic Culture.
* * *
Planet of the Humans is a new film by Jeff Gibbs, in collaboration with Michael Moore, and it is currently free to view. Like the Wrong Kind of Green website, we have reservations over its emphasis on population, rather than consumption, as a key issue, but this remains a splendid demolition of the climate capitalists’ scam of selling us their industrial solutions to an industrial problem.
* * *
A very thorough analysis by Iain Davis on the Off-Guardian site presents evidence “which strongly suggests the State and the MSM, adhering to a globalist agenda, have colluded to mislead the public into believing the COVID 19 threat is far greater than it actually is”. A must-read.
* * *
“This is a war. Not a war on a pandemic but a war on the people. This is corporate authoritarianism. This is fascism. We are nothing more than torture victims at the hands of these emotional terrorists”. Quarantyranny is a remarkable 30-minute video from the Book of Ours team in the USA.
* * *
“Perhaps we’ve decided that freedom no longer has value. It would seem that safety has taken primacy in the left’s discourse in recent years”. So writes Lorenzo Raymond in a April 23 article on the Diversity of Tactics website.
* * *
“We must recognize we live in a capitalist economic system that serves capital first and foremost”, warns investigative journalist Cory Morningstar. The World Economic Forum is using “influencers” such as David Attenborough, Greta Thunberg and Jane Goodall to push us into the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the monetization of nature, in lockstep with the deployment of central bank digital currency. She adds: “Covid19 is the conduit to the #4IR now in full motion. As people come to terms with what is being forced upon humanity, we will soon regret that we did not unite to oppose to draconian lockdowns and expanding surveillance that will serve to protect/insulate ruling classes from revolt”.
* * *
We were all set to share with readers a clear, level-headed and professional exposure of the reality behind the virus scare by doctors Dan Erickson and Artin Massihi of Bakersfield, California. But then we learned that, having notched up 4.3 million views, it had been removed by YouTube for violating its “community standards”. Now why would that be? The original link was here, someone put it up again here, and it should still be available here and here…
* * *
A fake-left infiltrator of the socialist scene, spreading smears against anyone standing up to neoliberalism and imperialism… What has been recently unveiled in Germany very much chimes with the Labour Leaks scandal in the UK. Unmasking a Wikipedia propagandist is a fascinating interview with Dirk Pohlmann (pictured) of Wikihausen.de by US journalist Helen of desTroy.
* * *
Modern Medicine, the New World Religion is a book by Olivier Clerc which argues that the medical establishment has become the government’s ally, as the Catholic Church was in the past. ‘Charlatans’ are prosecuted today, as ‘heretics’ once were, and dogmatism rules out promising medical theories.
* * *
Smartphones are so out of date these days. Imagine, some people might not actually carry them around with them every minute of the day! How would the authorities know where you are so as to keep you safe from terrorists, viruses and disinformation? But don’t worry, you can get yourself microchipped! Apparently this is already catching on in Sweden, as this video report (and this) explain. This is the “new normal” they want us to swallow.
* * *
Acorn quote: “Mechanization and industrialization have rapidly transformed the planet, exploding ecosystems and human communities with monoculture, industrial degradation, and mass markets. The world now corresponds more closely to the prophetic warnings of primal peoples than to the hollow advertising claims of the industrial system: the plants disappearing and the animals dying, the soils denuded along with the human spirit, vast oceans poisoned, the very rain turned corrosive and deadly, human communities at war with one another over diminishing spoils – and all poised on the brink of an even greater annihilation at the push of a few buttons within reach of stunted, half-dead head-zeks in fortified bunkers. Civilization’s railroad leads not only to ecocide, but to evolutionary suicide”.
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”.
* * *
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.