The Acorn – 37

acornmastheadnew1

Number 37


In this issue:

  1. Why Catalonia matters
  2. French rebels resist neoliberal assault
  3. We need all-out resistance!
  4. Whatever happened to the revolution?
  5. Welcome to 21st century fascism
  6. Acorninfo

1. Why Catalonia matters

As anti-statists and internationalists, anarchists often have mixed feelings about movements calling for new nation states, even small ones.

But there are times when an instinctive hatred of centralised authority, and the violence with which it is imposed, completely overwhelms such ideological qualms.

Such is the case with events currently unfolding in Catalonia, where the “unauthorised” referendum staged on October 1 has been met with alarming levels of repression by the central Spanish state.

Before the event hundreds of websites were shut down, officials arrested, printing presses raided, ballot papers confiscated and media threatened.

On the day, people who turned out to vote were physically attacked by Spanish riot cops, leaving 900 injured.  Videos circulating on social media showed one cop jumping from a staircase to stamp on a voter beneath, another deliberately breaking someone’s fingers one by one, others brutally bludgeoning people sitting passively in a road. Rubber bullets were fired at unarmed and largely passive crowds.

Anarchists have long known that violence is the foundation of the state and of all authority. Sometimes it remains hidden beneath the surface, but it is always there.

Declaring land “private property” and excluding people from their collective birthright is violent. Making people work for others’ profit, or else face starvation, is violent. The very idea of a police “force” is violent. A legal system which claims the right to chastise and imprison is violent.

The bottom line is that everyone knows that any attempt to defy the power of authority, no matter how peacefully, will be met with violence. Normally this remains unsaid, a kind of social subtext. But there are moments when the reality emerges in all its ugliness.

This is what is happening in Catalonia right now. Authority, with a capital A, is imposing itself against the people.  You can put aside all the details of the Catalan situation, it really is as simple as that.

And for those who remain convinced that the European Union in some way represents a force for good, its complete lack of condemnation for the Spanish state should act as a wake-up call.

The EU is just a centralised version of the same violent mafia that have been running all the various nation-states of Europe for hundreds of years. It is not condemning the Spanish state because all the states that it represents reserve the right to behave in exactly the same, violent, way, wherever their authority is challenged.

To his credit, Craig Murray, a radical commentator who was once UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, has admitted on his blog that events in Catalonia had proven him mistaken in his long-time support for the EU.

He writes: “The EU reacted as if no such abuse had ever happened at all, and the world had not seen it.  The institution has in fact been overrun by the right wing cronyism of the neo-liberal political class, and no longer serves the principles for which it ostensibly stands. It is become simply an instrument of elite power against the people”.

It has long been a theme of this bulletin that the system in which we live is edging ever closer to fascism, even if the 21st century form which it takes does not superficially look like the versions historically endured by Italy and Germany.

In Spain there is even some fascistic continuity. The ruling right-wing People’s Party began life in 1976 as the People’s Alliance,  founded by Manuel Fraga, a former minister under dictator General Franco.

The Francoist spirit lingering in the Spanish riot police, and the nazi-saluting Spanish right-wing nationalists who support their thuggery, is plain to see.

And there are clear echoes of Catalan resistance to the central Francoist state in the grass-roots Catalan independence movement.

While corporate media coverage aims to dilute support for Catalonia by pointing to the fact that the region is wealthy, and there are right-wing as well as left-wing independence parties,  the current repression has pushed the Catalan struggle well into left-wing libertarian territory.

In an informative interview with Jacobin Magazine, Lluc Salellas of the Catalan anti-capitalist party Candidatura d’Unitat Popular (CUP) pointed out that the clamp-down on Catalan autonomy has a social as well as a centralist dimension.

Salellas said: “The last fifteen laws we have passed in the Catalan parliament have been banned by the Spanish state. But these are not independentist laws — many of them are social laws: for example, a law about sanctuary for those fleeing persecution, a law banning energy companies from turning off people’s electricity, and a law for a higher minimum wage.

“We want to use our autonomy to improve people’s lives and we are forbidden. People see this and respond. They want to decide the future of Catalonia and that is not possible in the current arrangement.

“The movement has already moved to the Left — the laws I mentioned earlier were a sign of that, they were social measures supported even by the center-right. The streets have an idea of something new in Catalonia, something bottom-up.”

Salellas was speaking on October 3, the day of a general strike called in response to Spanish central repression. It was a strike in which anarchist unions took a leading role.

He commented: “Today we have seen the biggest general strike in the history of Catalonia. It was supported by the Catalan trade union movement, all of the pro-independence parties, and other left groups such as Podemos’s regional affiliate and Barcelona en Comú.

“There was a very widespread stoppage: almost everything closed from small shops to public institutions and transport. In total, more than fifty roads were blocked, which has significantly disrupted the transport of goods. It wasn’t just in Barcelona, either. In Girona, one of the regional capitals, there was a demonstration of 50,000. The city’s population is only 100,000, so it will be the biggest protest in the city’s history.”

And he placed the repression used by the Spanish state in a wider context. He said the Catalans’ battle was an important  moment for Europe.  “If we don’t win it, the idea that governments can meet democratic expressions with violence will spread. This weekend it was Catalonia, but it won’t end here. We could see it normalized across Europe.”

This is an important point. With its use of the whole gamut of repressive methods, from internet censorship and brutal violence to media distortion of what has been happening, the Spanish state could almost be acting out a dress rehearsal of clamp-downs on disobedient populations elsewhere.

If the authorities can get away with it in Barcelona and Catalonia, with their proud revolutionary spirit and sense of community, they might conclude they could get away with it anywhere.

In this context, the days and weeks ahead in Catalonia may well prove decisive for all of us. Solidarity is badly needed, rather than ideological hand-wringing about the dangers of expressing solidarity even with left-wing forms of nationalism (when was that ever a problem regarding Kurdistan, for instance?).

Girona

The massive crowds on the streets of Barcelona, Girona and elsewhere, along with the brutal and panicky state reaction, are increasingly conjuring up memories of the Arab Spring of 2011.

Who knows where this will lead? The Spanish state, via its courts, has already suspended the session of the Catalan Parliament at which it was expected to declare independence in the wake of the”yes” vote.

Salellas suggests: “The Spanish state will probably try to use Article 155 of the constitution to definitively end our autonomy. They may also arrest the Catalan president, as well as other political figures.

“If this happens, the streets will rise up and we will have a major confrontation. The independence movement has a lot of people — I estimate up to a million — ready to be very active in this campaign over a long period of time. It won’t be easy for the Spanish state to repress a movement of that size.”

Building barricades in Girona

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2. French rebels resist neoliberal assault

Less than six months after Emmanuel Macron was elected president of France, the streets are filling up with people opposing his so-called labour “reforms”, which are blatantly aimed at removing workers’ rights in the interests of business profits.

When the campaign against his “Loi Travail XXL” got underway on September 12, half a million people protested in 200 towns and cities.

The French police continued to use the heavy-handed approach that was deployed against the 2016 revolt against the original Loi Travail.

In Lyons, for instance, part of the demo was kettled right at the start and it was only because the rest of the protesters refused to move on, and stayed put for two hours, that they were eventually released.

An interesting twist was the involvement of France’s travelling funfair community, who  used their lorries to block motorways in solidarity with the strikes and protests.

The next big date is Tuesday October 10, when a general strike is planned.

France seems in some ways to be at the point the UK had reached in 1984, when Europe’s first neoliberal state, under Thatcher, deliberately took on and defeated the miners in order to break  the resistance of the trade union movement.

Orgreave

As in the UK in those days , the neoliberals are making a calculated bet on the physical supremacy of their power.

They are happy to use the full legal force of their system to crush dissent, the full physical force of their police and military to attack dissidents, the full psychological force of their tame media to conceal what is happening, to spread lies and disinformation, to smear their opponents.

If we are audacious enough to deploy all of this against our enemies, the authorities seem to be saying to themselves,  what can anybody actually do about it? How do our opponents even imagine they could stop us, unless it is by bringing the whole system crashing down?

The very same thought is at the same time, of course, also occurring to the dissidents…

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3. We need all-out resistance!

We had some positive feedback from comrades regarding our article in Acorn 36 about the failings of a so-called anti-capitalist movement which thinks it is “on the knife’s edge” of acceptability to actually oppose capitalism and all its assumptions.

So we thought we would clarify our position with a full bullet points pointing to the sort of movement we would like to be part of. Regular readers will spot that there is nothing new here! These are the arguments we have been making again and again in this bulletin, in the daily quotes we tweet out and in the books we publish.

  • We need to declare all-out war on the system we conveniently label “capitalism”. This must take place on a practical level, on a political level and on a philosophical level.
  • Crucially, we need to challenge the very foundations of that power. We need to entirely reject all the layers of fake justification for the “authority” that underlies the state and its legal system.
  • We need to reject all claims for “ownership” of land and insist that the land belongs to all (including non-humans) and has been stolen from us.
  •  We must take care not to accept the “morality” of the system – not to confuse legal and illegal with right or wrong, not to fall into the trap of playing by its own self-serving rules.
  • We need to expose all  the “legitimate” force with which the system imposes its “authority”, “law” and “property” as nothing but brute violence,  dressed up in wigs, uniforms and fancy language.
  • We have got to rid ourselves of the ultraliberalism which has been infecting the anarchist movement.  Its reformist individualism and fetishization of “non-violence” and “safety” has nothing to do with our struggle. Our aim is not to make the current system nicer, but to do away with it.
  • We have to be clear that industrial society has been created by capitalism and is inseparable from capitalism. To protect the world from total environmental disaster, we have to destroy capitalism, along with all its assumptions and infrastructures.
  • We are heretics and as such we will reject all dogmas, religious or political, which preach obedience or submission to power.
  • We must reject patriarchy and its domination of our cultures. We must understand its links to militarism and industrialism, its fetishization of quantity, size, speed and violence. 
  • We need to nurture a dynamic and determined  revolutionary spirit. The self-important sterility and cynicism of Academia undermines our struggles.
  • We must remain inspired by a positive vision of the anarchist society that we know is possible. Nihilism and defeatism motivate nobody.
  • We need to strongly oppose imperialism in all its forms. We must not be put off by spurious claims that anti-imperialism necessarily equals disguised nationalism. Self-determination and decentralisation are part of our internationalist struggle, from Kurdistan and Palestine to West Papua and Catalonia.
  • We must not be afraid of naming the USA as the primary bulwark of the system we oppose or of identifying its key allies, such as the UK, Germany, France or Israel.  We should not be swayed by sly ideological memes suggesting that opposition to US imperialism implies support for other regimes or that criticism of the Israeli state amounts to antisemitism.
  • We should actively expose the machinations of the military-industrial complex and not be frightened away from doing so by “conspiracy theorist” smears designed to deter investigative criticism. At the same time we should (obviously) avoid falling into a reductionist conspiracy mindset or spreading toxic right-wing analyses

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4. Whatever happened to the revolution?

The spirit of 99. Protesting against globalisation in Seattle

The contemporary “left” is giving free rein to fascist ideologists by shying away from a deep rejection of industrial capitalism and its world.

That is the warning in a thoughtful two-part article by Rhyd Wildermuth on the Gods & Radicals website.

He describes “a deep and intentional blindness particularly within American anti-fascist and ‘leftist’ thought, the product both of a marriage to Liberal Democratic hegemony and an almost ecstatic abdication of revolutionary territory”.

Looking back to the big anti-capitalist/anti-globalisation movement of the 1990s, he notes that the politics that lay behind it have all but disappeared from the US and UK radical left’s thinking, leaving nationalists and fascists able to pose as the main opponents of the global capitalist system.

Wildermuth writes: “Partially due to the all-too conveniently-timed ‘war on terror’ and systematic counter-revolutionary actions, the mass mobilizations of the anti-globalisation movement are long-gone, and few of the critiques remain in the political platforms of any leftist or liberal movement in the United States or the United Kingdom.

“However, the damage done did not simply disappear when there was no movement to fight it, and much of the current political turmoil in which we find ourselves now is a consequence both of globalisation and the left’s abandonment of that fight.”

Condemning the reformism of the so-called Left, he says: “Mass movements such as Black Lives Matter, Occupy, and the mobilizations against Trump and white supremacy expend extraordinary effort to avoid direct criticism of Liberal Democracy, contorting themselves into almost absurd positions.”

He adds: “The Left mistakes anti-modernism as fascist only because it has drunk the bloody offerings at Capitalism’s altars of progress”.

Rhyd Wildermuth

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5. Welcome to 21st century fascism

When we think about fascism, our main reference point tends to be the regimes which took control of Italy and Germany in the first half of the 20th century.

But it is now 95 years since Benito Mussolini came to power and the sort of fascism we encounter today is an updated version.

Contemporary fascists, for instance, seem to have dropped the shallow pretence of being “socialists” or “workers” which helped Adolf Hitler’s Nazis win mass support in the 1930s.

Antisemitism no longer seems to be a necessary ingredient in the toxic fascist recipe, either, with hatred of Muslims often replacing (or at least eclipsing) hatred of Jews.

Some extreme-right wing groups are also positively pro-Israel and there is growing evidence of a previously unthinkable connection between fascists and right-wing Zionists.

Writing about his country’s “flirtation with Europe’s extreme right”, Israeli journalist Meron Rapoport identifies anti-Muslim sentiment as the key factor.

Israel has long been concerned about European sympathy for the Palestinian struggle and support for the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement which aims to hit the Israeli economy.

In this context, any increase in anti-Muslim feeling in Europe “is seen as good sign in Israel” explains Rapoport.

He adds: “If Europe would just see the importance of the ‘Muslim danger’, goes this line of thinking, then it would also understand – and be grateful for – Israel’s pivotal role in the war against ‘radical Islam’. Through this common enemy, Israel could be relieved from its isolation.”

In the UK, the English Defence League was notorious for its support for Israel and its brandishing of Israeli flags on protests.

It appears that there is a similar phenomenon within Alternative for Germany (AfD), the 21st century face of the German far right. We are seeing, as Ali Abunimah points out, “a newly invigorated alliance between far-right, traditionally anti-Semitic forces on the one hand, and Israel and Zionists on the other”.

The Times of Israel confirms that “like many far-right parties in Europe and elsewhere, the AfD presents itself as staunchly supportive of Israel”.

It says that according to a wide-ranging poll commissioned by a group promoting German-Israeli relations, most AfD politicians profess to care deeply about Israel’s security, support Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state, reject unilaterally recognizing a Palestinian state, and generally support a stronger relationship between Jerusalem and Berlin.

Over half of the AfD respondents said they “totally” agreed with the statement that support for BDS was antisemitic; no other major party had such a strong opposition to BDS.

Beatrix von Storch, deputy leader of Alternative for Germany (AfD) even gave an interview with The Jerusalem Post in which she made a telling connection between her party’s views on Muslims and the Israeli state’s stance regarding Palestinians.

Von Storch

She said: “Israel could be a role model for Germany. Israel is a democracy that has a free and pluralistic society. Israel also makes efforts to preserve its unique culture and traditions.”

Indeed, an article in The Intercept by Lee Fang reveals that the AfD’s electoral success was fuelled by “news” stories from right-wing US pro-Israel organisation the Gatestone Institute.

We wrote about the Gatestone Institute in Acorn 20 when we pointed out that Baroness Cox, notorious for stoking resentment against Muslims, was on its board.

We added that she was also co-president of an organisation called Jerusalem Summit, which says on its website that the idea of a Palestinian state must be “removed from the international agenda”.

Significantly, it states that “the de-legitimization of the Palestinian narrative becomes a vital prerequisite to any comprehensive resolution of the Palestinian issue”.

Are Cox, the AdF and others playing their part in this scheme by demonising Muslims in Europe so that Europeans identify with Israelis against their Palestinian “Muslim threat”?

Baroness Cox

Israel’s apparent desire to stoke up anti-Muslim feeling inevitably puts it at loggerheads with the European left, which is fiercely opposed to racism, supportive of immigrants and, often, critical of Israeli treatment of Palestinians.

Right-wing Spanish politician Juan Carlos Girauta understood this when he wrote a recent article for The Jerusalem Post urging Israelis to oppose the Catalan independence struggle and support the fascistic repression carried out by the Spanish state (see above).

He admitted that traditionally Catalonia has always been seen as friendly territory for Jewish people. “It is well-known that historically moderate Catalanism was sympathetic to Israel and generally pro-Jewish. A lot of Catalonian Jews voted and supported those regionalist parties.

“However, the political landscape abruptly changed, and the public face of the pro-Israel movement in Catalonia is radical nationalists who use the Israel cause as a vehicle and excuse to promote their own local interests, even at the expense of Israel’s.

“Furthermore, as moderates lost prominence, the independence movement is led by violent radicals who are as anti-Israel as they are anti-Spanish. They are members of BDS-supporting parties like those that have approved boycotts against Israel in many of Catalonia’s cities or invited infamous terrorist Leila Khaled to speak at a Barcelona City Council-sponsored event.

“An independent Catalonia would be in the hands of extreme anti-Israel groups. In contrast, the constitutionalist camp is solidly pro-Israel.”

Like 21st century fascism as a whole, it would seem.

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6. Acorninfo

The use of physical violence to impose elite business interests is very evident in England at the moment in the attempt to force fracking on an increasingly hostile population. While Scotland moved to ban fracking, opponents south of the border in Kirby Misperton and Preston New Road have endured constant police assaults and intimidation. The “law” always forms a key part of the system’s violence and, in a worrying development, INEOS, a manufacturer of chemicals involved in fracking, has been granted an injunction seriously limiting protest against its activities. Campaigners have launched a crowdfunder to pay for a legal challenge, targeting £15,000 by October 11. At the time of writing it had reached £7,300.

* * *

Yet another wake-up call for all those who think that industrial capitalism is not really a problem… A new study has discovered that plastic fibres are present in tap water around the world. “Tests show billions of people globally are drinking water contaminated by plastic particles, with 83% of samples found to be polluted”. Still, never mind. Carry on regardless, eh? Business as usual.

* * *

“The modern consumer culture was born – not as a response to innate human greed or customer demand, but to the needs of industrial capital.” So writes Steven Gorelick in an excellent article on the Local Futures website. He concludes: “The global consumer culture is not only the engine of climate change, species die-off, ocean dead zones, and many other assaults on the biosphere, it ultimately fails to meet real human needs. It’s time to envision – and take steps to create – an economy that doesn’t destroy people and the planet just to satisfy the growth imperatives of global capital.”

* * *

Campaigners taking on the coal industry in Australia, in the shape of the Adani group, are holding a big day of symbolic action on Saturday October 7. They say: “If we want to move beyond coal, we’re going to have to spell out #StopAdani to our politicians. That’s why we’re asking you to join forces in creating human signs so big that they can’t be ignored, at iconic locations across Australia!”

* * *

When we reported in Acorn 36 about an American firm that was implanting its workers with microchips, some readers may have felt that this vastly repulsive idea would never take off. But one obliging corporate journalist was quick to jump on to the microchip bandwagon. Writing in The Guardian, Olivia Solon  described having an implant and enthused about all the marvellous advantages it offers. The only possible opposition to the Brave New World of Microchipped Humanity, it seems, might come from “some fundamentalist Christians”.

* * *

The full programme for the London Anarchist Bookfair on Saturday October 28 (see report in Acorn 36) has now been published and so we can update readers about our two Winter Oak workshops. Ed Lord will be talking about his book Modern Madness from 12 noon to 1pm in room LG5 and Paul Cudenec will be presenting his book The Green One from 3pm to 4pm in Room F7. We will also have a stall. The event runs at Park View School. West Green Road, London, N15 3QR, from 10am to 7pm.

* * *

Acorn quote: “Socialists cannot avoid the struggle against land ownership. The struggle for socialism is a struggle for the land; the social question is an agrarian question. Now it can be seen what an enormous mistake the Marxists’ theory of the proletariat is. If the revolution came today, no stratum of the population would have less idea of what to do than our industrial proletarians”.

Gustav Landauer For Socialism

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

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The Acorn 2

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Follow Winter Oak on Twitter at @WinterOakPress

 

 

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The Acorn – 34

acornmastheadnew1

Number 34


In this issue:

  1. Manchester: an explosion of hate and fear
  2. Extremists of the neoliberal “centre”
  3. The CIA and the war of ideas
  4. Enemy of the system – the US campaign against Julian Assange
  5. Money, power and mining
  6. Acorninfo

1. Manchester: an explosion of hate and fear

The vile bomb attack in Manchester on May 22 has left a noxious smell of racism and fascism in the British political atmosphere in the election run-up.

Prime Minister Theresa May was very quick to ramp up the terror alert status to “critical” and send the army onto the streets in a bid to show just how strong and stable she is.

The gesture has a hint of coup d’état about it. Even pro-establishment Guardian journo Jonathan Freedland had to admit that troops  being deployed in the middle of a general election campaign was “new and unsettling terrain for British democracy”.

As Gianfranco Sanguinetti noted, in his book On Terrorism and the State, regarding a similar situation in Italy in the late 1970s:  “The reasoning currently in vogue is simple: if you love democracy, you have to defend it; to defend it you have to fight its enemies; to fight the enemies of democracy, no sacrifice is too great: the nobility of the end justifies every means; no democracy for the enemies of democracy! Something which was never essentially a democracy has now visibly ceased being so”.

But even worse was to come from media commentators who seem eager to pave the way to a grim authoritarian-capitalist future.

The right-wing Muslim-hating newspaper columnist Katie Hopkins sent a tweet in which she called for a “final solution” – this apparent call for genocide is apparently now the subject of a police enquiry.

Incidentally Hopkins, formerly of The Sun and now with Mail Online and LBC, was sponsored through her university education by the British Army’s Intelligence Corps.

Allison Pearson of The Daily Telegraph tweeted:”We need a State of Emergency as France has. We need internment of thousands of terror suspects now to protect our children.”

What a bright idea, Allison! Round up those enemies of the state at once!

Meanwhile, Brendan O’Neill, editor of Spiked, struck an equally fascistic note when he tweeted: “A nation whose children are attacked must take action”, adding that “there is a strong justification for hate right now”.

O’Neill, and Spiked in general, has a proud history of amplifying authoritarian capitalist viewpoints under the cloak of a seemingly “radical” background – Spiked used to be called LM, or Living Marxism, and emerged from the very peculiar Revolutionary Communist Party.

As George Monbiot noted, O’Neill’s group has travelled “from the most distant fringes of the left to the extremities of the pro-corporate libertarian right” and it has never ceased being divisive and disruptive.

Explains Monbiot: “The organisation began in the late 1970s as a Trotskyist splinter called the Revolutionary Communist party. It immediately set out to destroy competing oppositionist movements. When nurses and cleaners marched for better pay, it picketed their demonstrations. It moved into the gay rights group Outrage and sought to shut it down. It tried to disrupt the miners’ strike, undermined the Anti-Nazi League and nearly destroyed the radical Polytechnic of North London. On at least two occasions RCP activists physically attacked members of opposing factions.”

Fake radical Brendan O’Neill addressing Australia’s Centre for Independent Studies, which promotes “the rule of law” and “free enterprise”

O’Neill, like Spiked as a whole, has a particular love of industrial capitalism and can barely suppress his hatred for anyone who dares to put the health of the environment above the quest for endless economic growth.

Indeed, he has specifically complained that environment protest “contributes to the increasingly mainstream hostility to economic growth”.

And he described eco-activists opposed to the third runway at Heathrow as “plummy-voiced enemies of progress, those most entitled and eco-pompous of millennials”.

He has also condemned the”leftish set’s warped, myopic anti-Semitism” and “the way in which attacking Israel has become a means of being derogatory about Jews”.

His Wikipedia entry describes him “a keynote speaker for the pro-Israel advocacy organisation StandWithUs”.

Meanwhile, over in France, the new “centrist” president Emmanuel Macron,  a former investment banker, has announced that he wants to further extend the country’s State of Emergency, for the sixth time since the Paris attacks of November 2015, and bring in unspecified new “anti-terror” laws.

And “anti-terrorism” was said to be high on the agenda of the NATO summit in Brussels this week (see Acorninfo, below) where Macron was meeting with counterparts such as Theresa May and Donald Trump.

Rabid support for industrial capitalism, bitter opposition to environmentalism, anti-Muslim rhetoric, hysterical calls for “action” in response to terror attacks… Funny how so many of these people seem to be reading from the same centralised script…

Resisting the Psychology of Terror

Terrorism and the state – learning from history

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2. Extremists of the neoliberal “centre”

New French president Emmanuel Macron

One of the most insidious terms on the contemporary European political scene is “centrist”.

It is a label claimed by the new French president Emmanuel Macron as well as by former UK prime minister Tony Blair.

And it is insidious because it is used to define extreme neoliberal capitalism as a norm, as a default position, as a “common sense” non-ideology whose assumptions and aims can never be fundamentally challenged, except by “extremists”.

Centrists like to make great play of being beyond the “divisive” politics of left and right and yet are always happy to exploit those divisions to cement their own position.

Thus Macron’s supporters in France urged left-wingers to vote for him to keep out the extreme-right Front National and condemned defeated left-wing candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon for not ordering his supporters to vote for Macron in the second round.

Tony Blair – another warmongering neoliberal “centrist”

Fellow “centrist” Blair saw Macron’s election as “a real victory for a more global approach to politics”, adding that he represented “a spirit which has echoes in every European country and in the western world in general”.

Blair’s supporters in the UK like to claim that the “populism” of the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn is a mirror image of the right-wing populism of Donald Trump – the centrist line is always to lump all “extremists” together and suggest that if you go far enough round the “political spectrum” in either direction you will end up in the extremist hell of a kind of Nazi-Soviet pact, an anti-American, anti-semitic red-brown alliance that poses a chilling danger to strong and stable democratic values.

From the point of view of the centrist, which is of course well represented in the corporate media, anti-capitalism is peripheral and dangerous, always liable to open a Pandora’s box of hateful savagery.

This strategy is, unfortunately, very successful in terms of preventing the emergence of an anti-capitalist worldview that is capable of challenging reality as presented by the centrists.

Another inspiring revolutionary slogan from the mainstream “left”

Too many critics of neoliberalism allow themselves to be contained within the narrow political frameworks constructed by the dominant capitalist system.

Because centrists say that opposition to neoliberal globalisation amounts to a form of nationalism, some leftists are suckered into speaking in terms of “national” sovereignty as a bulwark against global Capital, rather than espousing a radical rejection both of the capitalist system and of the nation-states which maintain and enforce it.

Because centrists are always claiming that their policies are best for “growth” and for “creating jobs”, some leftists feel they have to justify their own policies using the same criteria.

Because centrists argue that the only alternative to imposing austerity is for states to borrow yet more money, some so-called left-wingers fall into their trap of proposing more debt to the bankers rather than the abolition of the whole capitalist money-system.

Because it seems obvious that, given the nature of elections and the shaping of public opinion, nobody can win an election on an authentically anti-capitalist platform, those leftists who engage on the electoral level of politics drop all real anti-capitalism from their rhetoric and programmes, and make do with reformism.

But this is a big mistake. They are not tailoring their politics to match the views of the public, but to match the views of the public as presented by the neoliberal centrists!

They are buying into the centrist line that the vast majority of the population are very happy with the way the world is organised and are firmly opposed to any fundamental change.

But what if that is simply not true? What if most people are sick to death of this hollow, money-fixated society and are longing for something else? What if most people are horribly aware of the dull limits of their daily grind, their daily consumption, and dream of a different existence?

What if most people are appalled by the spiralling destruction of the natural world, the police-state surveillance of every nook and cranny of their lives, the hypocritical warmongering propaganda churned out by the system’s media?

What if they are just waiting for someone to speak the truth, to say plainly that industrial society is a disaster, that the grey capitalist world of production, exploitation and consumption is a world not worth living in, that there are more important things than money, that  things could be so very different, so much better, if only we could smash down the walls of the cells in which have been imprisoned?

Where is the passion? Where is the rage? Where is the desire? Where are the calls to insurrection, to revolution, capable of stirring up a powerful groundswell of contempt for the self-defined centrists and everything they represent?

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3. The CIA and the war of ideas

It is not entirely accidental that there is a distinct lack of a coherent and vibrant ideological opposition to capitalism.

For many decades the agents of capitalist power, notably the CIA, have been engaged in what the Italian socialist Antonio Gramsci called a “war of ideas” to prevent any such movement arising.

Robin Ramsay of Lobster magazine, a specialist in secretive US interference in UK politics and culture, writes: “Much of the international political landscape of the postwar era in Britain consisted of US-funded or directed political projects – propaganda or psychological warfare projects they would now be called. And this was on top of the formal military-diplomatic-financial structure of NATO, the IMF, World Bank, Gatt, the UN etc.”

The pro-US, pro-Israeli, pro-imperialist “left” in Germany

In Germany, there has long been suspicion that American influence might have been behind the emergence of the “antideutsch” strain of leftism which conveniently combined anti-fascism with a fervent admiration for American imperialism and Israeli repression of Palestinians.

And a fascinating recently-released CIA document sheds some light on American capitalist attitudes to the “French Theory” philosophical movement which gave birth to postmodernism, postfeminism, postanarchism and that whole pompous school of pseudo-radical academic thinking which delights in pouring cold water on all notions of overturning capitalist hegemony and creating the other world for which we yearn.

The document, written in 1985, radiates with American self-congratulation that the anti-capitalist ideas which had been so powerful in France in 1968 had now been replaced by a philosophy that was friendly to US corporate and military interests.

It declares: “There is a new climate of intellectual opinion in France – a spirit of anti-Marxism and anti-Sovietism that will make it difficult for anyone to mobilize significant intellectual opposition to US policies.

“Nor will French intellectuals be likely to lend their weight, as they did before, to other West European colleagues who have become hostile to the United States on broad issues like disarmament.”

This shift in attitudes, it reports with evident delight, had been “weakening the traditional anti-Americanism of the leftist intellectuals and allowing American culture and even political and economic policies to find new vogue”.

The CIA reveal themselves to be very keen on “New Philosopher” Bernard-Henri Lévy, known as BHL in France, whose position of power at the Grasset publishing house was crucial in spreading the US-friendly ideology he was promoting.

BHL – a repeated target of anti-capitalist pie-throwing.

They also single out for ideological praise “the influential structuralist school associated with Claude Levi-Strauss, Foucault, and others”.

Of vital importance for the CIA is the destruction of an intellectual climate critical of capitalism and the imposition of a US-style money-orientated culture. They report gleefully: “There is no gainsaying that French youth, who once joined every new intellectual fad, now think of careers in science or business”.

The US agents note the rise of “a new wave of genuinely pro-American sentiment, rooted in the vogue of American popular culture, in respect for the American economic vitality of the 1980s, and in admiration for the new image of self-confidence that the United States now projects in the world.”

Opening up France to the rich delights of American culture

In a perceptive article on the implications of the CIA document, US philosopher and writer Gabriel Rockhill notes that it “should come as no surprise to those familiar with the CIA’s longstanding and ongoing investment in a global cultural war, including support for its most avant-garde forms”.

He notes that the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF), which was headquartered in Paris and later discovered to be a CIA front organization during the cultural Cold War, was among the most important patrons in world history, supporting an incredible range of artistic and intellectual activities.

It had offices in 35 countries, published dozens of prestige magazines, was involved in the book industry, organized high-profile international conferences and art exhibits, coordinated performances and concerts, and contributed ample funding to various cultural awards and fellowships, as well as to front organizations like the Farfield Foundation.

Rockhill states: “The intelligence agency understands culture and theory to be crucial weapons in the overall arsenal it deploys to perpetuate US interests around the world.”

Former Marxists are particularly useful in channelling their propaganda as they provide “the perfect model for constructing deceptive narratives that amalgamate purported personal political growth with the progressive march of time, as if both individual life and history were simply a matter of ‘growing up’ and recognizing that profound egalitarian social transformation is a thing of the—personal and historical—past.”

Rockhill adds: “This patronizing, omniscient defeatism not only serves to discredit new movements, particularly those driven by the youth, but it also mischaracterizes the relative successes of counter-revolutionary repression as the natural progress of history.”

He correctly identifies the key aim of the CIA’s overall strategy to dismantle the cultural left in Europe and elsewhere as not being to abolish it entirely, which wasn’t regarded as possible, but instead “to move leftist culture away from resolute anti-capitalist and transformative politics toward center-left reformist positions that are less overtly critical of US foreign and domestic policies”.

There we have it. It’s the centre again. Indeed, the CIA report itself predicts that New Left intellectuals will weigh in heavily in supporting “moderate Socialists who are trying to create a broadbased center-left alliance”.

And the important point that Rockhill is making is that the CIA’s pro-capitalist contamination goes much deeper than mere party politics and into the heart of the contemporary ways of thinking that are considered by many self-defined radicals to be central to their “alternative” view of the world.

He says: “The CIA’s reading of French theory should give us pause to reconsider the radical chic veneer that has accompanied much of its Anglophone reception.

“According to a stagist conception of progressive history (which is usually blind to its implicit teleology), the work of figures like Foucault, Derrida and other cutting-edge French theorists is often intuitively affiliated with a form of profound and sophisticated critique that presumably far surpasses anything found in the socialist, Marxist or anarchist traditions.”

But the apparent sophistication of the postmodern position is simply intellectual bait in the CIA trap into which large sections of the so-called “left” have fallen.

As Rockhill writes: “According to the spy agency itself, post-Marxist French theory directly contributed to the CIA’s cultural program of coaxing the left toward the right, while discrediting anti-imperialism and anti-capitalism, thereby creating an intellectual environment in which their imperial projects could be pursued unhindered by serious critical scrutiny from the intelligentsia.”

Of course, the one thing the CIA report does not do is to spell out the US agency’s clandestine role  in bringing about this cultural shift away from genuine anti-capitalism and towards pro-imperialist postleftism, whether in France, Germany, the UK or elsewhere.

But then, they don’t really have to. Some of us are still perfectly capable of reading between the lines…

Exposed: fake “left-wingers” who hate the alternative media

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4. Enemy of the system – the US campaign against Julian Assange

The shocking way that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been intimidated and smeared by the pro-American neoliberal system has been condemned by investigative journalist John Pilger.

He writes on his website: “For almost seven years, this epic miscarriage of justice has been drowned in a vituperative campaign against the WikiLeaks founder. There are few precedents.

“Deeply personal, petty, vicious and inhuman attacks have been aimed at a man not charged with any crime yet subjected to treatment not even meted out to a defendant facing extradition on a charge of murdering his wife.”

Prosecutors in Sweden have now announced that they are suspending their investigation of highly dubious rape allegations against Assange, who has been sheltering in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London for five years to avoid extradition via Sweden to the USA.

“That the US threat to Assange was a threat to all journalists, and to the principle of free speech, was lost in the sordid and the ambitious. I would call it anti-journalism,” writes veteran anti-imperialist Pilger.

“Books were published, movie deals struck and media careers launched or kick-started on the back of WikiLeaks and an assumption that attacking Assange was fair game and he was too poor to sue. People have made money, often big money, while WikiLeaks has struggled to survive.

“The previous editor of the Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, called the WikiLeaks disclosures, which his newspaper published, ‘one of the greatest journalistic scoops of the last 30 years’. Yet no attempt was made to protect the Guardian’s provider and source. Instead, the ‘scoop’ became part of a marketing plan to raise the newspaper’s cover price.

“With not a penny going to Assange or to WikiLeaks, a hyped Guardian book led to a lucrative Hollywood movie. The book’s authors, Luke Harding and David Leigh, gratuitously described Assange as a ‘damaged personality’ and ‘callous’. They also revealed the secret password he had given the paper in confidence, which was designed to protect a digital file containing the US embassy cables. With Assange now trapped in the Ecuadorean embassy, Harding, standing among the police outside, gloated on his blog that ‘Scotland Yard may get the last laugh’.

“Journalism students might well study this period to understand that the most ubiquitous source of ‘fake news’ is from within a media self-ordained with a false respectability and an extension of the authority and power it claims to challenge but courts and protects.”

And the reason for the unprecedented and co-ordinated judicial-media attacks on Assange, whom some useful idiots on the fake “left” are also happy to condemn? It is simply, Pilger points out, that “WikiLeaks has exposed the way America dominates much of human affairs, including its epic crimes, especially in Afghanistan and Iraq: the wholesale, often homicidal killing of civilians”.

Challenging the criminal hegemony of the US-dominated global capitalist mafia remains the number one contemporary political heresy, it seems…

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5. Money, power and mining

“All the power’s in the hands
Of people rich enough to buy it”

As The Clash once pointed out, the close relationship between money and power is at the corrupt heart of our capitalist society.

Money buys power and money is used by those in power to ensure that money and power remain permanently in the same elite hands at the expense of the rest of the population and of the natural world.

Take, for instance, the experience of residents living close to the UK’s largest opencast coalmine at Ffos-y-Fran near Merthyr Tydfil in Wales.

Since 2007, they have been enduring what can only be described as a nightmare, with horrific levels of air and noise pollution, with cancer clusters and disturbingly high rates of childhood asthma.

Resident Alyson Austin told the BBC her family’s life had been ruined by the coal dust: “I find it difficult to put the washing out on the clothes line or enjoy my garden. On hot days we can’t even open the windows.”

Like good citizens, the locals went through all the “usual channels”, including a public inquiry, petitions, protests, High Court legal action and even a report from the UN’s special rapporteur on hazardous substances and wastes.

But their complaints have been ignored and calls for an investigation into the health implications dismissed.

Five hundred locals attempted to take court action as a group, but their application was refused by the High Court “as they were deemed unable to afford it”.

Money always wins. The game is fixed. If you have no money then you have no say in a society where money, and greed for money, is king.

With the democratic process well and truly exhausted – and exposed as a sham – the only way forward was direct action.

Thus, in the early hours of 21 April 2017, under the banner of Earth First! and Reclaim the Power, a bunch of plucky rebels disrupted the mining operations.

At 5am, two of them blocked vehicle access to the mine by using D-locks and an armtube to lock onto the cattle grid at the entrance, while three others climbed down towards the bottom of the vast hole to lock onto the 300 tonne excavators used to extract coal (see video).

No coal mining took place all day.

The response from the system? Guilty of aggravated trespass, they were ordered to pay £10,000 compensation to Miller Argent, the company which is profiting from the misery of the people living alongside its environmentally disastrous mine.

A crowdfunding initiative has been launched to help the brave activists pay off this sum and we would urge people to help out if they can.

In the meantime, we are left with a useful reminder of the fact that the judicial system, in the UK as elsewhere, exists primarily to protect private property and private financial interests. It is designed not only to favour the rich, but to systematically punish the poor for their lack of wealth.

It’s a fraud, a scam, which is imposed on us using all the “authorised” violence of a state which has always existed to serve the interests not of ordinary people but of an arrogant ruling class which despises and exploits them in every way possible.

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6. Acorninfo

Ten thousand people took to the streets of Brussels on Wednesday May 24 to tell US president Donald Trump, and the imperialist warmongers of NATO, that they were not welcome in the Belgian capital. Said the No to NATO protest call-out: “NATO and its member states participate in illegal wars and military interventions, from Yugoslavia to Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Syria, the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean. They contribute massively to international instability, fuelling the arms race and militarization. NATO remains committed to humanity’s biggest threat: nuclear weapons. NATO is the world’s most aggressive war machine. We must leave NATO and NATO must be dissolved.”

* * *

“By 2050, the US and UK will have evolved into two-class societies where a small elite lives a good life and there is declining well-being for the majority.” That is the prediction from Jorgen Randers, an academic and author of 2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years. He adds: “Western nations are not going to collapse, but the smooth operation and friendly nature of Western society will disappear, because inequity is going to explode.” The process seems to be well underway…

* * *

A victory has been notched up in the battle to save one of the few museums in the world to be dedicated to the life and works of an anarchist. As we reported in Acorn 33, the Ferdinand Domela Nieuwenhuis Museum at Heerenveen, in the Netherlands, celebrating one of the fathers of Dutch anarchism and libertarian socialism, was faced with closure and a petition was launched to keep it open. This has succeeded in persuading the municipal council of Heerenveen to lift the immediate threat to the museum.

* * *

Opponents of plans to frack in North Yorkshire have welcomed confirmation by Barclays that it plans to sell its stake in Third Energy. Barclays owns 97% of Third Energy, which has permission to frack for shale gas at its KM8 well at Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire. Friends of the Earth described the decision as “a massive blow for the fracking industry” and urged them to keep up pressure on the bank.

* * *

Anti-fascists from across the UK are mobilising to oppose the Muslim-hating English Defence League in Liverpool on Saturday June 3. Email London Anti-fascists at ldnantifascists@riseup.net with the subject line COACH2LIVERPOOL to travel from the South of England.

* * *

Acorn quote: “Revolutionary movements do not spread by contamination but by resonance. Something that is constituted here resonates within the shock wave emitted by something constituted over there. A body that resonates does so according to its own mode. An insurrection is not like a plague or a forest fire – a linear process which spreads from place to place after an initial spark. It rather takes the shape of a music, whose focal points, though dispersed in time and space, succeed in imposing the rhythm of their own vibrations, always taking on more density. To the point that any return to normal is no longer desirable or even imaginable”.

Invisible Committee, The Coming Insurrection

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

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The Acorn – 24

acornmastheadnew

Number 24


In this issue:

  1. May the First: one day in an unending battle
  2. Blocking the railway in Marseilles: a first-hand report
  3. Lies and bail conditions to keep anarchists off the streets
  4. Court victory for arms fair blockaders
  5. Witch hunt: antisemitism smears are ideological warfare
  6. Acorninfo

1. May the First: one day in an unending battle

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May Day in Paris

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.

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A military-style operation against the people in Paris

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.

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Istanbul on May 1

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.

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Resistance in Istanbul

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.

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Paris on May 1

The mixed crowd, numbering up to 70,000, stuck together and at one point started chanting en masseNous 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”.

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Fighting back in Paris on May Day
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Paris, May 1

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.

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May Day protests in Seoul

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)

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May Day in Manila
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May Day in Manila – an effigy of the president
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Manila on May 1

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.

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May Day in Hong Kong

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.

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Seattle, May 1
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Seattle police in action

Police fired “blast balls” at the protesters, who responded with flares, bricks and Molotov cocktails.

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May Day in Montreal

And in Quebec, for the 9th year in a row an autonomous coalition of anti-capitalists invaded the streets of Montreal to celebrate people’s struggles. See this video from submedia.tv

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.

Taiwanese workers shout slogans "Strive for Working Right, Want Indemnifier" during a May Day rally in Taipei, Taiwan, Sunday, May 1, 2016. Thousands of protesters from different labor groups protest on the street to ask for raising minimum wage and shorter working hours. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)
Taiwanese workers during a May Day rally in Taipei

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.

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May Day in Geneva, Switzerland
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May Day in Berlin
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Málaga
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The May Day Fuck Parade in London

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2. Blocking the railway in Marseilles: a first-hand report

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Protesters block the main rail line in Marseille, France

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.

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Marseilles, April 28

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.

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Street battles in the Mediterranean port

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.

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The start of the march

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.

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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.

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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.

For reports in French on the ongoing Marseilles protests see: https://mars-infos.org/

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3. Lies and bail conditions to keep anarchists off the streets

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Police attack protesters at a bank in Cardiff on May 2 2015

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.

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Josh and Peter after the not-guilty verdict

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”!

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South Wales Police – liars

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”.

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HMP Cardiff – used to incarcerate anarchists framed by cops

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”.

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Bail conditions are increasingly used to stop people from protesting, as during the London Olympics

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.”

Full article: https://corporatewatch.org/news/2016/apr/25/bail-conditions-used-tool-limit-political-dissent-interview-pete-simpson

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4. Court victory for arms fair blockaders

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The DSEI defendants notched up a remarkable court victory

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.”

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Protests at DSEI

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.

arms fair
Arms dealers profit from murder and repression

* Campaign Against Arms Trade is urging people to pledge to resist the DSEI arms fair when it is next held in 2017.

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.

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5. Witch hunt: antisemitism smears are ideological warfare

jeremy corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn

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”.

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Tony Blair

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” .

bds

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.

Malia Bouattia
New student leader Malia Bouattia

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.

Israeli-flag

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 report in question was produced by  pro-Israeli scaremongers, The Campaign Against Antisemitism, though this fact is buried near the end of the article.

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.

hurrah for the blackshirts

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.

labour antisemitism

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
A Kibbutz ceremony from 1951

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 the words of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, “antisemitism becomes a weapon for imposing conformity on dissidents within the Jewish community”.

In Acorn 20, we explored the strong links between Islamophobic fear-mongering, far-right Zionism and shadowy CIA-backed pro-NATO organisations and individuals.

nato

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.

the paranoid style

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.

daniel pipes
Daniel Pipes

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.

See also:

Islamophobia: the not-so-secret agenda of Baroness Cox

Conspiracies and contamination

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6. Acorninfo

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”.

AnarchySymbol

* * *

“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.”

jarawa

* * *

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”.

kurdemfed

* * *

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.

EFsummer16

* * *

Acorn quote: “It would be better to dump the whole stinking system and take the consequences”.

Unabomber, Industrial Society and its Future

unabomber

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

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The Acorn – 23

acornmastheadnew

Number 23


In this issue:

  1. March 39 and counting… Nuit Debout and the new French uprising
  2. The whole system is rotten to the core
  3. Anti-militarists’ London trial to begin
  4. The obliteration of European civilization via the subversion of the early Christian church by Roman emperors
  5. Radical truth behind the fiction
  6. Money, sex and power: on a sham biography of Guy Debord
  7. Building an anarchist future – the Bristol call-out
  8. Acorninfo

1. March 39 and counting… Nuit Debout and the new French uprising

36marsnantes2
Protesters amidst the teargas in Nantes on April 5 – otherwise known as March 36

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.

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“Let nobody enter here who is not in revolt”

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.

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Paris, March 36
36marsParis4
Paris, March 36

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.

36marsParis2
Paris, the night of March 36

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…

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Marseilles, March 36
36marsMar2
Socialist Party offices in Marseilles, March 36

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.

36marsRennes
Blocking the railway at Rennes, March 36
36marsnantes
Nantes, March 36

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.

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Toulouse, March 36
36marstoulouse2
Toulouse, March 36

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.

khomri
Police invade a lecture hall in Paris

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”.

36marsMar1
“Fuck the state!”

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.

mars31vid

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.

balles

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!

Video links

Protesters versus cops in Paris, March 31

Police violence in Paris, March 36/April 5

Man filming police violence is teargassed in face

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2. The whole system is rotten to the core

David-Cameron

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!

prison-cameron

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.

broken_overpass

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.

pollution bangladesh

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.

greenanarchy2

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3. Anti-militarists’ London trial to begin

dseipic8
Blocking the arms fair in September

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.

dseipic7

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

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 Sprague2

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.

BIRD

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.

This will include a firsthand account from a Bahraini activist who was tortured during the Bahraini uprising; an account from a Kurdish Solidarity activist with experience of Turkey’s brutal repression and attacks on Kurdistan; and an anti-militarist activist who has previously sought to privately prosecute two arms companies for the promotion of illegal torture weapons at DSEI 2013.

dseipic9
September’s protests

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”.

dseipic3

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:

https://www.stopthearmsfair.org.uk/week-of-action-round-up/

More information about the DSEI arms fair can be found here:

www.stopthearmsfair.org.uk/about/dsei/

www.caat.org.uk

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4. The obliteration of European 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.

rlr

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.

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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.

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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.

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The Oronteus Finaeus map, showing Antarctica with ice-free coasts, mountains and rivers. It was based on older maps, lost to His-story

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.)

alexandrialibrary
The burning of the library of Alexandria

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.

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5. Radical truth behind the fiction

Fakcoversmall

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.

florence_scene_big

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.

threethreads

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.

persia

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.

plotinus
Plotinus

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”.

R. Silva

whirl

The Fakir of Florence, published by Winter Oak, can be ordered online here and will shortly be available from Active Distribution.

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6. Money, sex and power: on a sham biography of Guy Debord

guydebord

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.

debordbook
Warning – this is NOT a biography

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”.

vat of wine

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.

fourier statue
Situationists put Fourier back in his rightful place in Paris in 1969

“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.

Pussy_Riot
Pussy Riot

“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’.

fleas

“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.

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“Jean-Marie Apostolidès is a cop” – a sticker which has been appearing in Paris

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”.

Full article:

http://cipmarseille.com/cahierdurefuge/sanguinetti-eng/book.swf

See also:

Paris 13.11: Morale Operation by Gianfranco Sanguinetti

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7. Building an anarchist future – the Bristol call-out

bristolbookfair16

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.

floods hebden bridge
Floods in England – at Hebden Bridge

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.

cuts protest

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

anarchism

  • 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.

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8. Acorninfo

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”.

dover
Police move in on anti-fascists in Dover

* * *

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.

armedpolice

* * *

An invaluable new resource for admirers of the great German-Jewish anarchist Gustav Landauer has gone online. The bibliography gathers primary as well as secondary literature, it mentions all known texts and talks by Landauer. There are already more than 1,600 items, including Landauer’s own writings as well as scholarly articles, monographs, book reviews, novels, and newspaper articles dedicated to Landauer or simply mentioning his name.  It can be found here.

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Gustav Landauer

* * *

“It’s necessary for all of us to make a journey back to enchantment. Enchantment is a facility that we are born with, but lose as we grow older,” writes author Sharon Blackie in an inspiring online article. “We forget that we live on an animate earth, and so find ourselves lonely and alienated. We no longer know how to belong. We find meaning only in ourselves and the gadgets we’ve created to amuse us, and tell ourselves and our children that this is a necessary part of becoming ‘grown-up’. So it is that we find ourselves inhabiting a Wasteland, and the journey out of this Wasteland is a journey towards re-enchantment”.

enchantment

* * *

The FBI is ordering high schools across the USA to report students who criticize government policies and “western corruption” as potential future terrorists, reports Infoshop News. The guidelines warn that “anarchist extremists” are in the same category as ISIS terrorists.

FBI

* * *

A reminder of a May Day invitation in London, as featured in Acorn 22. Ancient energies and modern anger will be coming together in a the fourth anti-gentrification Fuck Parade from 6pm on Sunday May 1 2016 at One Commercial Street, London E1 7PT. “Dress code: smart casual, with masks“.

maydayfuck

* * *

Acorn quote: “It is as simple as that: we have lost touch with things, lost the physical experience that comes from a direct contact with organic processes of nature… We know it – instinctively we know it and walk like blind animals into a darker age than history has ever known”.

Herbert Read, The Contrary Experience

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

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The Acorn – 4

acornmastheadnew

Number 4


In this issue:

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

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

coastcapitalism

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

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

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

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

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

Print

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coast to Capitalism

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

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

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

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

Missing sentence

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

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

coast to capital mast

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

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

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

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

Decision, decisions… interests and allegiances

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

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

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

wsp parsons

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

shard
The Shard in London: a WSP Global Inc project

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Montyncoll
Pieter Montyn: from BAE to West Sussex County Council

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

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

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

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

See also:

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2. Europeans unite against ruling elite

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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3. Learning from the Syriza sell-out

syriza
Syriza – selling out to neoliberal capitalism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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4. Fracking – resistance and repression

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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5. Motor threat to Welsh valleys

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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6. Acorninfo

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

Yorkley-New

* * *

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

brightonantifascists

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

ecozoa

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

Castle Tavern Worthing
Castle Tavern, Worthing

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

anosamis

* * *

Acorn quote: “Progress, what you call progress, this incessant hustle-bustle, this rapid tiring and neurasthenic, short-breathed chase after novelty, after anything new as long as it is new, this progress and the crazy ideas of the practitioners of development associated with it… this progress, this unsteady, restless haste; this inability to remain still and this perpetual desire to be on the move, this so-called progress is a symptom of our abnormal condition, our unculture”. Gustav Landauer, For Socialism.

Gustav Landauer
Gustav Landauer

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The Acorn – 3

acornmastheadnew

Number 3


In this issue:

  1. Tear gas and water cannon
  2. What is Elbit scared of?
  3. Reclaiming the fields
  4. Sussex – fracking threat to rural bridge
  5. EDL fascists target Brighton
  6. Acorninfo

1. Tear gas and water cannon

maniftoulouse

manifnantescannon

Tear gas, water cannon and “flashball” rubber bullets have been fired at people protesting against police violence and against the destruction of the countryside brought about by the system the cops brutally defend.

Bank and shop windows were smashed and there were dozens of arrests in two cities on different parts of France on Saturday February 21.

The clashes were the latest episode in a growing wave of resistance in France against totalitarian capitalism and its environmentally-destructive infrastructure.

Two simultaneous protests were staged in Nantes and Toulouse, reflecting the struggle against the proposed new airport for Nantes and outrage at the murder by police of Rémi Fraisse, a student at Toulouse University.

manifs

The young environmentalist was killed by a grenade fired at his back at point-blank range by gendarmes during protests against a proposed new dam at Sivens near Le Testet in the south of France.

The call-out for the resistance in the two cities was “against the concreting of our countryside and the militarisation of our towns”.

The concreting of the countryside threatens to become even worse, with the French state confirming it will be pushing ahead with the airport at Notre-Dame-Des-Landes, protected by the long-established ZAD protest camp.

And, of course, the militarisation of the towns was in evidence at the protests, with the police as usual claiming they had been “forced” to deploy their frightening armoury against dissidents because a bit of paint had been lobbed in their general direction.

The French media reported that the notoriously violent CRS riot cops even attacked journalists with their batons.

manifnantes3

Various video reports can be seen here:

http://rt.com/in-motion/234559-france-airport-protest-clashes/

http://www.francetvinfo.fr/france/les-manifestations-degenerent-a-nantes-et-toulouse_831483.html

http://www.euronews.com/2015/02/22/clashes-erupt-at-anti-police-violence-rallies-in-nantes-and-toulouse/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhCirpVdbL8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCOWqKZpKR4

manifnantes2

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2. What is Elbit scared of?

elbit
The rooftop occupation in Kent in February 2015

Activists successfully shut down an arms company in Kent on Tuesday February 17.

They struck under cover of darkness, at 5am, at the premises of Instro Precision near Broadstairs, to protest against its sales to both Israel and Afghanistan. Four people took the roof with banners to shut the factory down, with ten more on the ground, one of whom locked herself to the front gate. See the video in this successful appeal for financial support.

Instro is owned by Israeli arms company Elbit Systems, which makes drones that are used to kill Palestinian civilians in Gaza. Optical and camera systems like those made at the Instro factory are also supplied by Elbit for use in drones flown over Afghanistan, as well as in Israel’s apartheid wall.

A wide range of groups came together to make the blockade happen, including: Brighton BDS, Brighton Palestine Action, Smash EDO, Stop NATO Cymru, Anarchist Action Network, East Kent CAAT and Swansea Action for Palestine.

The blockade began before dawn
The blockade began before dawn

The occupiers stayed in place for nearly 13 hours and decided to leave after having shut the firm down for the whole working day. Kent Police put out a statement describing the protest as “lawful” and nobody was arrested, let alone charged.

Good news – but why would the authorities, presumably with the tacit backing of the firm affected, decide to take no legal action against people blockading a factory?

The answer can probably be found in the story of a previous factory occupation near Birmingham, in August 2014, when activists closed down another Elbit subsidiary, UAV Engines Limited, for two days at the height of Israel’s summer military assault on Gaza.

After putting the factory out of business for two days, all activists were removed by police, arrested, charged with aggravated trespass and taken to court for preliminary hearings. However, all these charges were suddenly dropped at the end of January this year, a week before the case was due to go to trial.

It seems the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had to pull out at the last minute because company managers mysteriously decided to go back on previous commitments to testify against the nine.

Said a statement from London Palestine Action: “The decision taken by the CPS to drop charges against us shows us that either Elbit Systems were unwilling to testify in court about their activities or because the UK government was unwilling to comply with the court’s order to disclose information it holds about licenses for arms exports to Israel, or both.”

The aftermath of an Israeli drone attack
The aftermath of an Israeli drone attack

*  Corporate Watch have published a briefing called Gaza: Life Beneath the Drones.

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3. Reclaiming the fields

RTFbanner

Reclaim the Fields are holding a day of learning and network-building in Wales on Saturday March 7.

The event at the Red and Black Umbrella at 57-58 Clifton Street, Cardiff, will be built around the topics of growing projects, access to land and food sovereignty.

It starts at 1pm and will be followed in the evening, from 7pm, by a benefit gig in aid of the fight for the Yorkley Court Community Farm in the Forest of Dean, now facing eviction (see Acorninfo).

An article on Reclaim the Fields by Ed Hamer in The Land magazine says: “Taking its name from the road protest collective which swept the UK in the early 1990s, the movement intends to employ the same creative mix of political lobbying, networking and direct action in its objective to get the 21st century peasantry back onto the land.

“Just as the climate change debate has inspired a new generation to push the environment onto the political agenda, those of us who feel particularly passionate about food and farming have the potential to do the same for agriculture.”

On its website, Reclaim the Fields describes itself as a constellation of people and collective projects willing to go back to the land and reassume control over food production.

It adds: “We are determined to create alternatives to capitalism through cooperative, collective, autonomous, real needs-oriented small scale production and initiatives, putting theory into practice and linking local practical action with global political struggles.”

RTF - heathrow

Reclaim the Fields emerged in March 2011 from a small gathering at Grow Heathrow, a land squat set up to resist the expansion of Heathrow Airport.

RTF also supports the policies of Via Campesina, an international movement founded in 1993 by farmers’ organizations from Europe, Latin America, Asia, North America and Africa, which currently has its HQ in Jakarta, Indonesia.

via campesina

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4. Sussex – fracking threat to rural bridge

Boxal Bridge
Boxal Bridge in West Sussex – in the way of fracking

Nothing is to be allowed to stand in the way of the fracking industry and the authorities will do all they can to clear its path.

As we reported in Issue 2 of The Acorn, the new Infrastructure Act is designed to allow corporate interests to trample all over communities and the environment.

One small example of the way the authorities will bend over backwards for the extreme energy business comes from the West Sussex countryside between Wisborough Green and Kirdford.

In July 2014 an application by fracking firm Celtique Energy for oil and gas exploration was refused by West Sussex County Council’s planning committee at a meeting in Horsham.

One of the cited reasons for the refusal was “unsafe” road access for the fracking traffic. Committee chair Heidi Brunsdon admitted: “There were simply too many highways issues and other issues of concern for any decision other than refusal in this instance.”

One of the biggest issues involved Boxal Bridge, a beautiful rural structure dating from the 1850s, which was clearly too narrow to cope with hundreds of fracking lorries.

But where there’s a will there’s a way – and West Sussex County Council has helpfully come up with a plan to get rid of this particular obstacle to the path of ecocidal profiteering.

Two months after refusing Celtique’s plans, it commissioned a “feasibility study” on Boxal Bridge and of the six options recommended it chose number six – to demolish the bridge and build a two-lane crossing suitable for heavy industrial traffic.

This was despite the two local parish councils of Kirdford and Wisborough Green, and many local residents, opposing the demolition.

Once again, here is capitalism showing itself in physical form – as the infrastructure of the cancerous growth known as industrial civilisation.

A petition has been set up to demand that the bridge is not demolished.

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5. EDL fascists target Brighton

Anti-fascists block the racists' route in 2012
Anti-fascists block the racists’ route in 2012

Anti-fascists in Brighton are preparing for action after notorious extreme-right group the EDL announced plans for a march through the Sussex city on Saturday April 18 2015.

It was looking like being a quieter April than usual for Brighton, after the racists of the March for England announced they would be heading to Blackpool instead.

Previous years have seen dramatic scenes on the streets, with police attacking and arresting numerous anti-racist protesters in order to try to clear a way for the dwindling fascist contingent.

In recent years, mobile steel barriers have been used by the authorities to create a sterile area near the seafront where the nazis can parade away from the hostility of the Brighton public.

Anti-fascists protecting Brighton in 2012
Anti-fascists protecting Brighton in 2012

News that the EDL is stepping into the breach left by their friends in the MFE will come as a surprise to many – the EDL usually hangs its protests on the excuse of opposing “islamification” of certain areas.

Rather than merely diverting popular dissatisfaction with the capitalist system against minority scapegoats, the EDL here seems to be fulfilling the other classic fascist function of physically threatening radical opponents of the capitalist system.

Anti-racist website EDL News reports: “Due to the fact that there is not a large Muslim population in Brighton, it is thought that the demo has been called to confront what they see as a left wing city who do not put up with their politics of racism and division.”

To confirm this, it shows a screenshot from a social media conversation between EDL supporters, one of whom declares that “its time the left wing gets whats coming to them”.

With local anti-fascists already spreading the word about their intentions, the EDL may once again find it difficult to turn its belligerent online boasting into reality on the streets.

Outnumbered - the March for England in 2013
Outnumbered – the March for England in 2013

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6. Acorninfo

Land activists at Yorkley Court in the Forest of Dean are this week facing eviction. For the last two and a half years, they have been trying to establish a sustainable community farm, but a local millionaire property developer has other ideas and filed a claim for possession of the land. Said an update posted on the activists’ website on Thursday February 26: “News just received, Judge Harrington has ruled in favour of Brian Bennett for possession of Yorkley Court. We have 24 hours’ notice for the farmhouse, 3 days for the back field and the area surrounding the farmhouse, and 14 days for the bottom strip. Support will be appreciated during this stressful time, materials, bodies, hearts, minds and all. Keep an eye out for updates and ways to help.”

* * *

The theft of a local Sussex beach by a private company has been upheld by the legal authorities. Locals have been trying to stop Newhaven Port and Properties from excluding the public from West Beach, a sandy spot traditionally used and loved by townsfolk. But their latest attempt failed on Wednesday February 24) after the Supreme Court said the area could not after all be registered as a village green, overturning a decision by the Appeal Court in March 2013. NPP has now announced plans to expand its operations into part of Tide Mills beach. Newhaven mayor Judith Ost told local press: “The Supreme Court has today found that the beach has been used by local people for generations by permission of the port authority – and we see no reason why local people cannot continue to do so.” Warned Nicola Hodgson of the Open Spaces Society: “This judgment comes on top of the pernicious change in English law, the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013, which outlaws applications to register greens where land is threatened with development.  With the courts and parliament working against us, the future of our precious open spaces is increasingly perilous.”

Newhaven West Beach
Stolen – Newhaven’s West Beach
How it used to look
How it used to look

* * *

The interface between anarchism and art is explored in Herbert Read: Art and Idealism by Michael Paraskos. Reviewer Paul Cudenec says the book “makes no futile attempt to flatten out Read’s work and life in order to make it fit into some pre-determined category” and encourages readers “to step off the well-trod road of narrow thinking and forge their own path of empowering intellectual discovery”. Full article at https://network23.org/paulcudenec

Read book

* * *

Some basic tips for community campaigning have been set out by local anarchist website The Hereford Heckler,which started life in early 2008, originally as the bimonthly paper of Hereford Solidarity League. The Heckler stresses: “Remember: If you are going to do community organising, do it in your own area; don’t be a missionary!”

Hereford Heckler

* * *

Acorn quote: “Faith in the fundamental goodness of man; humility in the presence of natural laws; reason and mutual aid – these are the qualities that can save us. But they must be unified and vitalized by an insurrectionary passion, a flame in which all virtues are tempered and clarified, and brought to their most effective strength”. Herbert Read, The Philosophy of Anarchism.

NPG P1681; Herbert Read by Rollie McKenna
Herbert Read

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