The Acorn – 28

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Number 28


In this issue:

  1. What fracking democracy?
  2. James Lovelock – enemy of Gaia
  3. Criminalising anti-capitalism
  4. Resisting the neoliberal coup in Brazil
  5. London Anarchist Bookfair 2016
  6. Acorninfo

1. What fracking democracy?

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“This is not democracy, it is dictatorship”. So said one member of the Lancashire farming community after the UK government this month overruled Lancashire County Council’s decision and gave Cuadrilla the green light to start fracking in the north-west of England.

Others were of the same opinion. Pam Foster, a Residents Action on Fylde Fracking  campaigner, said:  “This is a total denial of democracy. Our parish council, our borough council, our county council all threw out this application. We have pursued every democratic channel we can do.”

Pat Davies, chair of Preston New Road Action Group, said: “This is a sad day as it is clear to all that this government neither listens nor can it be trusted to do the right thing for local communities. It is deplorable that an industry that has been rejected on every level has inflicted itself on Preston New Road. Profit clearly comes before people.”

Jackie Sylvester, a local resident, told The Guardian, “They’ve gone against the will of the people. I think the people of England don’t realize that once this starts it’s not going to stop and there’s going to be hundreds of drills.”

Another supporter of Frack Free Lancashire, Heather Speak, said, “I’m so, so angry that a government minister has turned their back on local democracy.”

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Sadly, the government’s decision hardly comes as a surprise to anyone who understands the relationship between industrial capitalism and its so-called “democracy”.

The whole thing is a manipulative trick, designed to give the public the impression that their political rulers are answerable to their views, while ensuring that this is never in fact the case.

It usually more or less works, because there are numerous layers in place to maintain the illusion. The mass media, for example (and the educational system, academia, the book publishing industry and so on) help to “manufacture consent”, in Noam Chomsky’s phrase, by presenting certain “facts” as being true, certain issues as being “relevant” or “irrelevant”, certain viewpoints as being “plausible”, certain futures as being “possible” or “impossible”.

The whole democratic system runs very smoothly indeed if you can make sure that the wishes of the population coincide with what you have in mind for them anyway!

Sometimes, this doesn’t work. The build-up to the Iraq war of 2003 is an example of this. The lying propaganda was so blatant, so desperate, that people just didn’t believe it and took to the streets in their millions to say so.

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Another line of defence for the system is the way that politics works, right down to the local authority level. Even local councillors are usually representatives of central political parties. Representation itself is a step away from real participatory democracy, but someone who represents a political party no longer even theoretically represents the community which elected them.

On top of this come the various restrictions on local authorities’ options laid down by Whitehall – the parameters for local decision-making are very narrow.

Sometimes, this doesn’t work, either! Such was the case in Lancashire, where the threat of fracking was so alarming, and public opposition so motivated, that even the normally tame and controllable local authorities said “no”.

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It is at moments like this that the illusion of “democracy” is no longer sustainable. The British state, which is a capitalist body operating solely in the interests of capitalists, wants to go ahead with fracking. So it has overruled the Lancashire County Council decision.

Likewise, in 2003 the Blair government, which was part of the global neoliberal military complex, wanted to go ahead with the invasion and occupation of Iraq. So it ignored the public.

This obviously creates something of a crisis for the system, because the fog suddenly lifts and a large number of people see that they are not living in the green and pleasant land of a benign democracy at all, but in the concrete and razor wire prison camp of a corporate dictatorship.

There are various ways that the system copes with this. One is to wait for the whole thing to blow over, to blame certain individual politicians or political parties, to pull people back into the illusion of democratic choice.

Another parallel approach is to ramp up the propaganda, attack their opponents as dangerous extremists (see below) and try to cut them off from the support of the population.

Along with these, and other techniques, will invariably come an increase in political repression and in the levels of the violence that capitalism has always used, and always will use, to impose its tyranny on a population which fundamentally does not share its core “values”.

The frack-free movement in the UK has already faced severe levels of intimidation and this will only spiral as resistance continues.

Balcombe fracking protest

As well as physically attacking people who get in its way, the capitalist system also spies on its subjects in a manner that would once have been associated only with the Nazi Gestapo, the East German Stasi or the Soviet KGB.

It was confirmed this month that, for more than a decade, British security agencies have been secretly and unlawfully collecting massive amounts of our supposedly confidential personal data.

And it’s getting worse. On October 10, the Bristol Cable presented evidence that Avon and Somerset Constabulary and five other forces had bought devices that can spy on thousands of mobile phones at a time.

Says its report: “‘IMSI-catchers’ are surveillance devices that can both track the movements of mobile phone users within a given area, and intercept texts and calls. The potential scope of IMSI-catchers’ capabilities is frightening.

“The data they harvest creates a live-updating map of everyone in a certain area. Some models can intercept hundreds of mobiles a minute. The devices can also block communications, and in some cases can intercept the text messages and phone calls – and read or listen to them – of thousands of people in the vicinity.”

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Two days later, the evidence in question disappeared – Avon and Somerset police had removed the appropriate documents from the internet because of “national security” concerns.

As the farmer wisely said: “This is not democracy, it is dictatorship”.

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2. James Lovelock – enemy of Gaia

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Fracking is a great idea, its opponents “have behaved deplorably instead of being reasonably sensible”, and climate change doesn’t matter because happily the world will soon be taken over by robots.

To anyone who has not really been paying attention, it may seem surprising that these opinions come from none other than James Lovelock, the former NASA scientist regarded as the creator of the environmentalist concept of the Earth as Gaia, a living entity.

But, in fact, the views he expresses in a recent Guardian article are totally consistent with the pro-industry, anti-nature worldview he has been expressing for decades – make no mistake, Lovelock is no friend of Gaia’s.

In his work, he repeatedly twists the idea of a self-regulating planet in order to suggest that we need not take action against pollution. He argues, for instance, that we should regard toxic industrial waste as being like cow dung. It is not so much pollution as a “valued gift”, he absurdly suggests.

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Industrial waste is a “valued gift” says Lovelock

Lovelock is a supporter of nuclear power and totally refuses to accept that industrialisation is affecting the health of the planetary organism, even asking in a 1986 paper: “Could it be that our very deep concern about the state of the world is a form of global hypochondria?”

He actively discourages resistance to industrial capitalism. A newspaper article about his 2014 book A Rough Ride to the Future reports: “The scientist and inventor James Lovelock claims we should stop trying to save the planet from global warming and instead retreat to climate controlled cities”. And it quotes Lovelock as concluding: “We should give up vainglorious attempts to save the world”.

Lovelock also explicitly supports transhumanism, the peak of industrial capitalist insanity which dreams of a merger between the human species and machines.

He says: “Our species has a limited lifespan. If we can somehow merge with our electronic creations in a larger scale endosymbiosis, it may provide a better next step in the evolution of humanity and Gaia”.

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Lovelock as a young scientist

In the light of this, it should come as no surprise to find Lovelock expressing hostility to green thinking in his latest Guardian interview.

There is a sickening hypocrisy to the way the corporate media builds him up as some kind of ecological prophet, only to delight in relaying his latest anti-environmental statements in order to bolster their cap-doffing defence of the status quo.

For the Guardian interviewer he is an “incorrigible subversive”, as if it were somehow clever and edgy to support fracking and nuclear power, as if there were anything remotely daring or dangerous about ridiculing opposition to industrial capitalism on the tired technocratic basis that it is “totally unscientific”.

Lovelock is now 97 years old and when he dies we can expect a flood of adulatory obituaries both from the industrial capitalist establishment and from those defenders of the living planet who never saw through his sly ideological scam.  There will probably be a special pull-out supplement in The Observer, sponsored by Shell.

But Gaia herself will be shedding no tears.

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3. Criminalising anti-capitalism

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Accusations of antisemitism against critics of Israeli policy have become a familiar feature of the political landscape, particularly since Jeremy Corbyn took over leadership of the Labour Party in the UK.

There are now even proposals that the use of the word “Zionist” in a negative context should become a criminal offence.

But a still more sinister trend is the attempt to smear any criticism of the global capitalist system with the same label, even when no reference is made to Israel or Zionism.

This came to the fore lately in the unlikely context of the US presidential campaign, when the allegation was levelled against Donald Trump. Trump is not someone we would ever want to defend and we are obviously totally opposed to his right-wing, misogynistic, xenophobic capitalist views, but the basis of this particular accusation is cause for general concern.

The Guardian reported on October 14 that in addition to his sexist behaviour, Trump had been “invoking shocking antisemitic tropes”.

However, later in the same story we learn that this is based on a comment by Trump about his rival Hillary Clinton meeting “in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of US sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers”.

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Whatever you think about the idea of “US sovereignty”, it is clear that this statement is not in itself antisemitic, making no reference at all to Jewishness.

The suggestion that it was offensive seems to have come initially from Jonathan Greenblatt, the head of the Anti Defamation League, who tweeted: “@teamtrump should avoid rhetoric&tropes that historically have been used ag. Jews & still spur #antisemitism. Lets keep hate out of cmpgn”

The Guardian was at pains to point out that “Trump has not made any explicitly antisemitic statements” but echoed Greenblatt in claiming his comments “bore similarities to antisemitic tropes like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion”.

Similarities? So does any critical mention of the global banking system now amount to a “shocking” form of coded antisemitism even without any reference to Jews? Is it now a “hate” crime to denounce capitalism?

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This would be a less pertinent question if it was just Trump we were talking about, as there may well be some kind of hate lurking behind his words.

But the very deliberate use of supposed “antisemitism” to attack the left wing of the Labour Party in the UK suggests there is something more significant and worrying here: a coordinated long-term ideological manoeuvre to delegitimise and then criminalise criticism of the capitalist system.

This meme was already apparent in 2003, when Mark Strauss wrote a book called Antiglobalism’s Jewish Problem.

Here, he approvingly quotes the high-profile French Zionist banker Roger Cukierman as labelling the anti-globalisation movement “an anti-Semitic brown-green-red alliance”.

Strauss tries to persuade his readers that, in his own words, “anti-capitalist rhetoric provides intellectual fodder for far right groups”.

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Hillary Clinton at the Carnegie Endowment, which was behind Strauss’s book

To understand the motivation behind Strauss’s stance, it is useful to glance at his background and connections. His book was published by his employer at the time, Foreign Policy, a journal then owned  by the neoliberal CIA-linked Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

He was previously a research assistant on the Foreign Policy Studies program at the Brookings Institution, a high-profile US “Think Tank“, recently accused of having a “cozy relationship” with its corporate donors.

The Brookings Institution gets funding from the likes of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, bankers JPMorgan Chase, David Rubenstein (co-founder of the extremely dodgy Carlyle Group), John L. Thornton (former president of Goldman Sachs) and the state of Qatar. It also enjoys excellent relations with the CIA, whose director John Brennan gave a key speech there in July 2016.

CIA director John Brennan speaks at the Brookings Institution

A common theme of the propaganda in question is to claim that anti-capitalism equals anti-Americanism which, in turn, equals a disguised form of antisemitism.

In 2004, Josef Joffe (editor and publisher of Die Zeit, climate change denier, member of the AJC Transatlantic Institute and the Trilateral Commission) claimed that the famous wrecking of a McDonald’s in France by anti-globalists including José Bové was part of a broadly “antisemitic” outlook which included support for Palestinian rights.

Joffe argued that Kapitalismuskritik, the criticism of capitalism, is a “mainstay of the antisemitic faith, a charge that has passed smoothly from Jews to America. Like Jews, Americans are money-grubbers who know only the value of money, and the worth of nothing. Like Jews, they seek to reduce all relationships to exchange and money. Like them, Americans are motivated only by profit, and so they respect no tradition.”

In the right-wing British magazine The Spectator in 2005, Wolfgang Munchau warned that in Germany there was “a poisonous cocktail of the three big As: anti-Americanism, anti-Semitism and anti-capitalism”.

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Is this antisemitism?

And the same trope turned up at the time of the Occupy movement in the USA, with Joe Carter, web editor of the right-wing First Things journal, declaring: “The brand of leftism on display at Occupy Wall Street is anti-capitalist and at the core of anti-Semitism is a mistrust of capitalism and a fear of economic liberty… Wherever you find a group that is railing against capitalism, it won’t be long before you attract types who want to blame Jews.”

This line is, of course, still being pushed today. An opinion piece by Dave Rich in the New York Times in September 2016 also seeks to link an “anti-American, anti-imperialist strain of the British left” with “a visceral objection to Israel’s existence” and thus also with antisemitism.

Rich, like the other opinion-shapers spreading this “antisemitism” meme, is hardly a disinterested observer. He is deputy director of communications at the Community Security Trust, a UK organisation which has been at the forefront of attempts to promote this broader concept of so-called “new antisemitism” and which, according to investigative journalist Asa Winstanley, “has strong links with government departments”.

Theresa May, now the UK’s Prime Minister, was even guest of honour at the CST’s annual dinner earlier in 2016.

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State-induced paranoia conflating dissent with “extremism” and “terrorism” has already had a chilling effect on freedom in the UK.

Police monitoring group Netpol says it has spoken to many people “who are alarmed by the stifling of political debate in schools and in further and higher education – including discussion on issues like ‘eco-terrorism‘ and support for Palestine – and who are more worried than ever about attending political meetings or engaging in online discussion”.

Building up a fake narrative according to which anti-capitalism is regarded as being close to antisemitism can only serve extreme right-wing agendas.

Not only does it risk creating a smokescreen for real race-hate antisemitism, but it will also  make it easier for the British state to brand anti-capitalism “extremist” under its sinister and Orwellian “counter-ideology campaign”.

With the Home Office declaring earlier this year that new legislation will give police “a full range of powers to deal with extremism”, criminalisation of views fundamentally challenging the global industrial capitalist system seems to be approaching at speed.

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4. Resisting the neoliberal coup in Brazil

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The headline in the Financial Times tells you all you need to know about what the people of Brazil should expect in the wake of the “constitutional coup” against former president Dilma Rousseff.

“Brazil’s exchange chief rejoices at post-impeachment opportunities” it declares, with the article below explaining that “Edemir Pinto — chief executive of BM&FBovespa, the country’s exchange operator — can barely contain his excitement”.

While she was ostensibly impeached for manipulating government accounts, it seems Rousseff’s real crime was “stunting the growth of the country’s capital markets”.

The FT explains that the new president, Michel Temer, has appointed “some of the market’s most respected figures” to run the finance ministry and Brazil’s state-controlled companies, setting the country up for what Mr Pinto hopes will be “a shock of capitalism”.

“The economic team put together by today’s government is a dream team … they are music to the market’s ears,” says Mr Pinto.

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The coup has not been music to the ears of anti-capitalists such as Brazil’s landless rural workers’ movement, the Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST).

It has condemned the neoliberal seizure of power and refuses to recognise the Temer government.

It has also pledged to resist: “We announce that our mobilization does not end with the coup now installed. We will continue fighting, organizing the people of the countryside and building unity with urban struggles.”

Because it challenges neoliberal rule, the MST has already been declared a “criminal” organisation by the state and protests are being met with brutal police repression.

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The MST warns that the impeachment is “not the last act of violation of the Brazilian people’s rights promoted by economic and political elites of Brazil”.

It has denounced  the government’s attempt to reduce workplace rights, pension rights and to scrap the Unified Health System, its bid to privatize the assets of the Brazilian people and the commodification of land, water and minerals for foreign capitalists and the complete halt to agrarian reform.

In a video interview, Ana Moraes of the MST explains that it is gearing up to take part in a general strike in November.

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But she says she expects the neoliberal system to respond with its usual levels of violence: “Repression is a characteristic of fascist governments that implement a coup”.

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5. London Anarchist Bookfair 2016

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It’s nearly time for “Anarchist Christmas” in the UK, with the 2016 London Anarchist Bookfair being staged on Saturday October 29, from 10am to 7pm.

The venue this year is Park View School, West Green Road, London N15 3QR, near Turnpike Lane and Seven Sisters tube stations.

As ever there will be hosts of stalls (notably from Active Distribution who stock Winter Oak titles!) offering not just books , but journals, posters, badges, t-shirts, stickers and so on, plus a packed programme of meetings.

There is never a problem finding things worth going to at the London Bookfair – the real headache is that, with workshops and talks being held simultaneously in no fewer than 12 different spaces, there are too many to choose from and you are inevitably going to miss something interesting!

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For instance, from 11am to 12 noon there is the chance to Meet the Anti Fascist Network and also to discuss Fallacies of class analysis in the conception of black existence.

From 12 to 1pm, Earth First! are hosting a meeting on how to “help make next year’s Direct Action camp even better”; the Anarchist Federation are presenting a workshop on Capitalism, Anarchism and Mental Health; the Empty Cages Collective are talking about growing resistance to prisons as a frontline of anti-state struggle and, elsewhere at the very same time, there is a meeting on Resisting Political Undercover Policing.

And all of this clashes with Netpol’s workshop, Cover Up! The Case for Protest Anonymity (12-1pm), which will explore how anarchists overcome barriers to greater protest anonymity, such as targeting and arrest by police, separation from other protesters and questions of legitimacy.

Meanwhile, Chris Knight will be Decoding Chomsky in a 12pm to 2pm workshop, which also overlaps not just with the Radical Routes session on housing and workers’ co-ops (1-2pm) but also with Haringey Solidarity’s lessons from four decades of radical anti-authoritarian community action in north London (1-2pm) and the Anarchist Federation meeting on Land and Anarchism: The Struggle for the Commons.

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And you wouldn’t want to miss the 1pm to 2pm session with Silvia and Costa, arrested and convicted with Billy for an attack with explosives against a Nanotechnology Institute in Switzerland. They encourage us to Stand up Against the Technoworld, adding: “Resistance is not only possible but now more than ever necessary for a free and wild world”.

From 2pm to 4pm the Anti Raids Network are running a workshop on Anarchism and the struggle against the borders, while at exactly the same time Robin Yassin-Kassab and Leila Al Shami will be talking on Syrians in Revolution and War.

Attending either of these two-hour sessions would mean missing Andrea Needham’s first-hand account of how a small group of women broke into a British Aerospace factory in Warton in 1996 and disarmed a Hawk warplane (2-3pm) and Working Class Anger in West London (2-3pm).

It would also mean missing Iain McKay mark the impending centenary of the Russian Revolution by explaining how the Marxist vision of “socialism” harmed the revolution and deliberately shunted it towards state capitalism (2-3pm), Donald Rooum presenting new editions of What is Anarchism? and Wildcat Anarchist Comics (3-4pm), and also a report on the current police crackdown on anarchists in the Czech Republic (3-4pm).

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And all of this clashes with Climate organising against Green Capitalism, hosted by London Rising Tide and Corporate Watch, who have just brought out the excellent A-Z of Green Capitalism, as featured in Acorn 27.

It doesn’t stop there. Boycott Workfare’s 2016 workshop (4-5pm) coincides with Brian Morris’s talk on Anthropology, Ecology and Anarchism and a promising workshop on Art and Anarchism.

But going to any of those means not going to Capitalism and the car: how the ‘need’ for the car was manufactured and what this means today from Corporate Watch (4-5pm): “Cars are choking our health and the environment, dividing our communities and locking us in debt. A new road building programme is under way in the UK. What can we do about it?”

From 5pm the London IWW Unwaged Workers Group will be proposing the creation of a Revolutionary Labour Exchange and in another part of the venue two anarchists who have recently returned from several months living and working in Rojava will be explaining why, in their view, Rojava. It’s complicated…

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South London in Struggle: strategies in local resistance (5-6pm) will explain how over the past few years a number of groups have emerged in South London to fight against state violence in the forms of policing, housing, and immigration enforcement.

And at the same time as all this , Kevin Eady will be asking What have the Anarchists ever done for Us? (5-6pm) in which he will address other key questions such as “How did Marlon Brando get things so badly wrong?”, “Why do Greek anarchists love sausage?” and “How did the long-running anarchist controversy over facial hair finally get resolved?”

Decisions, decisions!

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6. Acorninfo

A massive show of defiance against the proposed new Nantes airport in France was staged on October 8, with 40,000 people turning up to protest at Notre-Dame-des-Landes. The feared eviction attempt on the ZAD protest zone (see Acorn 27) has happily not yet materialised, no doubt largely thanks to the prospect of spirited mass resistance. The government’s latest comments seem to hint that they may prefer to put off any confrontation until after the 2017 presidential elections.

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Britain’s complicity in the USA’s covert drone war has  been exposed in secret documents from US whistleblower Edward Snowden. They show that work on targeting the victims of the drones was conducted at “RAF” Menwith Hill in North Yorkshire, a base which is in fact largely staffed by the US National Security Agency (NSA). Meanwhile, this ten-minute video interview with David Vine, author of Base Nation, outlines how the USA uses its network of 100s of military bases in no fewer than 80 different countries to physically impose its global hegemony.

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“RAF” Menwith Hill in Yorkshire

* * *

The “Aleppo Media Centre” in Syria, which came up with the widely publicised photo of the “dusty boy”, is funded by the French Foreign Office, the EU and the US, reveals independent journalist Vanessa Beeley. She writes of the manipulation of news coverage from Syria: “This shadow media enclave is being installed in order to erect the US-NATO propaganda tent – one which suppresses and silences the voices which would normally be heard from inside Syria, but which are blacked-out in favour of contrived, and hoax imagery, and other twisted reporting that categorically refers to Islamist terrorists as ‘rebels’ and ‘freedom fighters’.”

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A public building on the Franco-Italian border, owned by the SNCF (French railways), has been occupied by migrants and anti-border activists. The squat in the Roya Valley was opened  on the night of October 17, but by October 19 was surrounded by riot police, with eviction alerts circulating. The occupiers said the situation on the border was getting worse all the time, with hundreds of people trapped at Ventimiglia and dozens of daily deportations to the south of Italy. People refusing to show ID were being beaten or given electric shocks and the French army was hunting down people, including minors, in the mountains. They said: “We refuse to play the game of the states and the humanitarian organisations who are collaborating with these deadly arrangements. We are asserting our ability to self-organise.”

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After our report in Acorn 27 on natural mutual aid among ants, a reader drew our attention to this article about how collective interests dominate the evolution of insects. It reveals that “group living insects have developed a unique capability of mounting collective anti-parasite defences, such as allogrooming [social grooming] and corpse removal from the nest”. We human beings like to think we are far superior to mere insects, of course, but maybe favouring individualism and competition over solidarity and co-operation isn’t as clever as all that…

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* * *

The UK’s Anarchist Action Network will be having its next national meeting at the start of December, although the date had not been confirmed at the time of publication – check for updates on its website. In the true anarchist tradition, the network is made up of autonomous groups and individuals, with no leaders or “central committee”. Meetings are open to everyone except cops and journalists.

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Guerilla Tactics: How Activists Can Fight to Win is the title of a thought-provoking article on the London anarchist website rabble.org.uk, drawing on the tactics of Che Guevara, the IRA, Sun Tzu, General Von Clausewitz and Nestor Makhno to suggest ways of taking on the capitalist system. It insists: “Our situation isn’t hopeless at all – by using overwhelming force to win small victories, gradually gaining people, resources and confidence as we go, we can build a strong resistance movement despite the strength of the rich and powerful.”

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* * *

Acorn quote: “Deep down my attitude is a protest against the fate that has made me a poet in an industrial age”. Herbert Read

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

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The Acorn – 23

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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

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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
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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.

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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
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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.

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Blocking the railway at Rennes, March 36
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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
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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.

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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.

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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.

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3. Anti-militarists’ London trial to begin

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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.

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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.

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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”.

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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.

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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.

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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’.

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“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.

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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”.

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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 – 20

acornmastheadnew

Number 20


In this issue:

  1. Motorway blocked in  massive anti-airport protest
  2. Naive illusions are propping up capitalism
  3. Islamophobia: the not-so-secret agenda of Baroness Cox
  4. Conspiracies and contamination
  5. Whose land? Our land!
  6. Acorninfo

1. Motorway blocked in massive anti-airport demo

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20,000 people and 450 tractors blocked the motorway

A massive and powerful display of determined opposition to plans for a new Nantes airport was staged on Saturday January 9.

The motorway system around the sixth largest city in France was closed down for the day as 20,000 people and 450 tractors took it over.

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Tear gas is fired at anti-airport farmers

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Farmers who tried to block a major motorway bridge all night were eventually pressured to leave by riot police, who couldn’t resist attacking them with tear gas even though they were moving off.

Solidarity protests were also held in more than 40 other places, including Paris, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Marseilles, Strasbourg, Lyons, Albi, Rennes, Chambéry, Nîmes and even Barcelona.

The turn-out was much bigger than the organisers had dared hope, particularly since the mobilisation was brought forward a week from the original January 16 date.

NDDL2

NDDL1

The urgency comes from the fact that Vinci, the giant construction business building the airport, are going to court on Wednesday January 13 to try to secure an emergency order for the eviction of four small farmers and 11 families currently living and working on the land earmarked for the profiteering development.

With no apparent sense of irony, the same French state which revelled in the phony environmental “breakthrough” at COP21 in Paris (see below) is looking likely to deploy the full brutal might of its militarised police to attack the ZAD protest zone at Notre-Dame-des-Landes and clear the Breton countryside for Vinci’s airport.

The state of emergency still in place after November’s terror attacks in Paris will make it even easier to impose the destructive will of the industrial capitalist system with legitimised violence.

In a post-protest statement, opponents of the airport called for President Hollande to halt the eviction process and pledged to do everything possible to stop the project going ahead. The next step will be a protest outside the court in Nantes at 10.30am on Wednesday for Vinci’s eviction application.

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Campaigners have pledged to fight Vinci all the way

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2. Naive illusions are propping up capitalism

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The absurdities of the mainstream “environmentalist” movement were tragically plain to see around the tepid COP21 mobilisation in Paris in December (and nicely summarised in this video bulletin from submedia.tv)

As  Kevin Anderson writes, “the vested interests won out” at COP21, and for all the fine words we were left with the sorry prospect of “future techno-utopias, pennies for the poor, more fossil fuels, co-opted NGOs and an expert community all too often silenced by fear of reprisals and reduced funding”.

The principal reason is simple, says Anderson: “In true Orwellian style, the political and economic dogma that has come to pervade all facets of society must not be questioned”.

If you are looking for a long-term in-depth analysis of what has gone wrong, and can read Spanish or French, we would recommend Las ilusiones renovables: la cuestión de la energía y la dominación social by José Ardillo of Los Amigos de Ludd, now published as Les Illusions renouvelables. Énergie et pouvoir : une histoire by L’Echappée in (ironically enough) Paris.

les_illusions_renouvelables

From the title and the wind turbines that grace its cover, you might think that this is a technical work, for those with a particular interest in the details of energy production.

But, in fact, Ardillo’s book operates on two levels and interwoven through the pages of very specific information about all aspects of energy is a powerful ideological critique not just of the industrial capitalist system, but of those who claim to be opposing it and yet are fundamentally failing to do so.

Ardillo’s frustration with the self-imposed limits of radical thought reaches back 200 years to the beginnings of modern socialism and anarchism.

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A shiny green industrial utopia

He complains that “19th century social thinkers and agitators nearly all positioned themselves within the movement for scientific and technological progress”.

This was particularly pronounced among socialists: “Although the emancipation of humankind was a central idea in the early years of socialism, it ended up being sacrificed on the altar of economism, political praxis and mass strategy”.

He acknowledges that, in contrast, “the anarchist movement still managed to keep a critical approach to technology and industrialisation, the thread of which can be followed from Bakunin through to the present day”.

Bakunin
Mikael Bakunin, an enemy of the industrial capitalist system

But he identifies a blind spot in the anarchist approach, which meant that it often remained attached to hi-tech visions of future utopias based on the idea of some “magical” source of clean electricity.

“Anarchists were appalled by mines, urban pollution, city stress and factory assembly lines. The only bit of progress they wanted to hang onto was the end product: the little electric airplane flying silently through a clear sky”.

Ardillo is very critical of Murray Bookchin’s role in perpetuating this blinkered faith in capitalist “progress” among contemporary anarchists. He writes: “Bookchin believes that technological development must continue; in his view, the liberation of humankind depends on this. According to him, criticism of ‘abundance’, that’s to say the political consideration of a possible self-limitation based on simple methods and human energy, is therefore consigned to the scrapheap of reactionary thinking.

“It’s to be regretted that Bookchin’s views on energy and industrial abundance have had, and continue to have, such an influence on the opinions of a large part of the anarchist movement”.

murraybookchin
Murray Bookchin

He contrasts Bookchin’s views with those of Ivan Illich: “Without being dogmatic, Illich’s suggestions show that the only way of getting out of the trap of societies built on high energy consumption is to confront the structure of their habits, their organisation, the ethics on which they are built”.

As far as the broader environmentalist movement goes, Ardillo’s main source of unease concerns its naive view of power – something all-too-apparent in Paris amongst those protesters absurdly imagining that the leaders of global industrial capitalism were likely to do anything to check the excesses of the very system they represent.

cop21protest2
Some protesters in Paris seemed to imagine industrial capitalism might agree to dismantle itself

He writes: “For environmentalists, only the state and centralised neocapitalism have the means to act with a view to social transformation”.

They fool themselves that a process which empowers people at the expense of industry and the central state could actually be initiated by the capitalist system itself.

This fundamental mistake underlines the whole deluded fixation with the liberatory potential of renewable energy, he explains.

“In the 1970s people thought that renewable energy would provide technical support for significant social change, and that the new structural demands of society, once the fossil-fuel and nuclear models had been abandoned, would favour decentralisation and the organisation of direct democracy.

“We can see from the hesitant efforts that have so far been made to move towards the production of renewable energy that this process is never going to be in the hands of communities or small groups of individuals.

“How could it be? State and industry maintain a firm grip on everything affecting the way in which the majority are forced to live. The reappropriation of work and energy are impossible without first reappropriating the decision-making processes”.

greenanarchy

See also:

“The system has got to be destroyed”

Degrowth – real anti-capitalism

Degrowth: complete system change

Anarchism, capitalism and industry

Fighting capitalism’s domination of our lives

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

cox1

If any public figure in the UK could be described as the “acceptable” face of Islamophobia it would probably be Baroness Cox.

She has built her criticism of Muslims on the apparently liberal basis of concern for equality and women’s rights – she presents herself as, in the words of The Daily Telegraph, “the feisty baroness defending voiceless Muslim women”.

It would seem at first sight that the 78-year-old peer, with her very public espousal of “humanitarian” causes, is a million miles away from the hate-mongering thugs of anti-Muslim organisations like the EDL.

But a little bit of background reading reveals a rabid extreme-right agenda behind her political activities – and links to some sinister and powerful global players.

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A clue to Cox’s affiliations comes from her role in founding the far-right Committee for a Free Britain in 1987.

The immediate aim of this organisation seems to have been to stop the Labour Party under Neil Kinnock from winning the general election that year.

As Robin Ramsay recalls (in Politics and Paranoia), the US government had said that it regarded the Labour Party’s policies “as a serious threat to NATO”.

Cox’s CFB therefore swung into action and “ran a series of powerful and outrageous anti-Labour newspaper adverts, for which the expression ‘scaremongering’ seems somehow inadequate” (Mike Hughes, Spies at Work)

tory poster 1987
Tory propaganda from 1987

The CFB was extremely right-wing: “It was especially opposed to homosexual and lesbian rights. It supported the privatization of the education service, abolition of the NHS and substantial reductions in taxation”. (Encyclopedia of British and Irish Political Organizations: Parties, Groups and Movements of the 20th Century by Peter Barberis, John McHugh and Mike Tyldesley)

This was perhaps only to be expected, given that the other co-founder was none other than David Hart, a die-hard “anti-communist” who had played a key role in the Tories’ election campaigns of 1983 and 1987 and in their battle against the miners during the 1984 strike.

David Hart2
David Hart

Old Etonian Hart had a vested interest in protecting the capitalist financial empire, being the elder son of businessman Louis Albert Hart, the chairman/principal shareholder of the Henry Ansbacher merchant bank.

He was well connected on both sides of the Atlantic, as Observer journalist David Rose noted in 1990: “Mr Hart had been a friend of the late CIA director, William Casey, and was generally feted in Washington. One dinner in his honour was attended by Dick Cheney, now the US Defence Secretary”.

Hart’s CIA connections no doubt account for the fact that the CFB arranged a visit to the UK by Adolfo Calero, the leader of the notorious Nicaraguan Contras, a US-backed terrorist group fighting the left-wing Sandinista government.

contras

Cox is herself described by Nafeez Ahmed as having “intelligence connections”. He writes how she was also involved with the Institute for the Study of Conflict, which was “created jointly by the British and American intelligence services, specifically the CIA and the Foreign Office”.

Investigations carried out by Rose also revealed the source of some of the money which allowed Cox and Hart to run their right-wing organisation – media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

murdoch
Rupert Murdoch

Murdoch’s The Sun was at the forefront of the campaign against Labour in 1987 and again in 1992 when it was “The Sun wot won it” for the Tories.

These days it has been busily combining a rabid hatred of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn with the promotion of extreme anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant views, notably those of repulsive columnist Katie “Cockroaches” Hopkins.

hopkinssun2

Cox has been described as “a lynchpin of the UK neo-con right” and, after the end of the Cold War, her political priorities shifted along predictable lines.

Today, it is no longer the “threat” from gays and communists that dominates her media appearances, although she still has the occasional pop at the “pro-Muslim” Left, but the new bogeyman of Islam.

In 2009, she and UKIP peer Lord Pearson notoriously invited the extreme-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders to screen his hate-inciting film, Fitna, in the House of Lords.

And in April 2014 she hosted the House of Lords launch of Sharia Watch UK by Anne-Marie Waters, an erstwhile “left-wing critic of Islam” now regarded as close to the EDL.

anne_marie_waters
Anne-Marie Waters

Cox is also on the board of governors of the repugnant Gatestone Institute, which plays a key role in pumping out anti-Muslim scare stories.

Like many other far-right Christians she is a fervent supporter not only of the Israeli state but of a particularly unpleasant and extreme form of right-wing Zionism.

zionists

Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, explains that “Baroness Cox is a prominent supporter of organisations which actively and openly promote the ethnic cleansing of all Palestinians from Gaza”.

One of the most sinister of these organisations is called Jerusalem Summit, of which Cox is a co-president, alongside the likes of Daniel Pipes, the notorious American Muslim-hater.

On its website, Jerusalem Summit declares that the idea of a Palestinian state must be “removed from the international agenda”.

In order to “ensure the survival of Israel as the nation-state of the Jews” it proposes that Palestinians should be encouraged to leave their homeland, Palestine, and “build a new life for themselves and their families in countries preferably, but not necessarily exclusively, with similar religious and socio-cultural conditions”.

palestine

It also concludes, in bold type that “the de-legitimization of the Palestinian narrative becomes a vital prerequisite to any comprehensive resolution of the Palestinian issue”.

The “de-legitimization of the Palestinian narrative”? Could this part of the motivation behind the anti-Muslim bile constantly being spewed up by Cox and her friends?

Just how far would these right-wing fanatics go in their efforts to turn public opinion in the USA and Europe against Muslims and, thus, Palestinians?

Baroness Cox and her fellow well-heeled hate-mongers certainly merit being just as closely tracked by the anti-fascist movement as the wretched anti-Muslim footsoldiers of the EDL or Pegida (see Acorninfo below).

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4. Conspiracies and contamination

In the last issue of The Acorn we commented, in passing, that “for some reason” any analysis which involves anything smacking of “conspiracy” is almost taboo in certain radical circles.

Some interesting suggestions as to why that might be the case can be found in Politics and Paranoia, a 2008 book by Robin Ramsay, editor of Lobster magazine.

Ramsay points out that the exposure of covert wrong-doing by the authorities originated, as you would naturally imagine, on the Left.

But then came a key moment in the 1960s when US intellectual Richard Hofstadter wrote an essay called The Paranoid Style in American Politics.

Hofstadter
Richard Hofstadter

Says Ramsay: “Hofstadter’s essay linked an interest in conspiracies or conspiracy theories with paranoia and with the loony radical Right. Hofstadter thus helped to contaminate the subjects for the liberal-left which then – and now – is unwilling to be associated with almost anything on or of the Right.

“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”.

It’s easy to see why analysis exposing deceit at the heart of the system would be shunned by those who work within and on behalf of that system.

More difficult to understand, however, is how the fear of “conspiracy theories” has even infected outright opponents of the system, including anarchists.

Bilderberg2012
Conspiracy theorists? Protesting against a Bilderberg conference

When elements of the “radical” Right in the USA started criticising the US-dominated military-industrial complex, or “New World Order”, in the 1980s and 1990s, some on the Left turned and ran.

Comments Ramsay: “There is almost nothing the Left fears more than being associated in some way with the Right. We are dealing with concepts and psychological forces here such as purity and contamination”.

This, of course, is very handy for the Establishment. If anti-capitalists refuse to protest against the Bilderberg meetings of global capitalist leaders because they might find themselves rubbing shoulders with right-wing conspiracy nutters, then opposition to the Bilderberg gatherings can easily be presented as borderline insanity.

bilderbergtimes
Only nutters challenge the capitalist elite, according to corporate media

The core concern for the Left seems to be that to identify a particular conspiracy is to risk tumbling down a slippery slope towards scapegoating specific groups or individuals.

It is felt that this can also easily end up in the nightmare of anti-semitism and other dangerous delusions into which conspiracy theorists often seem to sink.

However, while it is obviously important to be on the guard against this risk, it is simply not true to suggest that the exposure of a particular conspiracy is incompatible with a broader social, cultural or economic analysis.

A dull-witted right-wing conspiracy theorist might get stuck at the level of mere specifics and come to the facile conclusion that the people responsible for such-and-such wrongdoing must also be responsible for all wrong-doing, everywhere and throughout history.

But anyone endowed with the powers of reason will understand that this is not the case and that there is also a bigger picture. As Ramsay says, there is a difference between “theories about conspiracies” and an all-embracing “Conspiracy Theory” which seeks to explain everything in one neat little package, at the expense of any deeper understanding.

kennedy
Exposing a particular conspiracy is not the same as saying conspiracies account for everything

The activities of the Bilderberg group, for instance, are simply a small detail in the practical functioning of a global capitalist system which can itself be analysed and challenged on a more abstract level.

It is possible to zoom in and out of different levels of analysis without feeling the need to sacrifice one of them for the sake of another.

If we zoom out from the Bilderbergs we see capitalism. If we zoom out from capitalism we see that it is merely the current form of an exploitation that has been going on for centuries.

Zooming out still further, we see the original intertwined lies of “authority” and “land ownership” which allowed capitalism to develop in the first place – and we see the violence of power through which it is imposed.

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The law is a conspiracy to codify and legitimise the violence of a dominant elite

All of this is not contradicted or undermined by exposing the clandestine machinations of contemporary elites.

Indeed, zooming back in to close-up revelations of the real conspiracies with which they are involved can only reinforce the message that their power is illegitimate and inherently based on deceit!

That is exactly why these elites want to hide their dodgy activities from the public – because a general awareness of what they are up to would shatter the illusions of democratic accountability with which they maintain consent and control.

Why would any genuine opponent of the capitalist system have a problem with exposing, to as many people as possible, detailed evidence of the hypocrisy and mendacity of that same system?

See also:

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

Terrorism and the state – learning from history

Capitalism is built on violence and lies

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5. Whose land? Our land!

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The protest in November 2009

A six-year battle by land campaigners in the south of England has successfully turned on its head a plan by authorities to sell off much-loved public land.

Not only have the slopes of Cissbury Ring, Worthing, Sussex, remained in public ownership, but they have now been officially declared open access land, as the campaigners had demanded.

The fight began six years ago, in 2009, when local residents discovered that Worthing Borough Council had put on the market publicly-owned downland at Mount Carvey and Tenants Hill, next to Cissbury Ring.

A group called Stop the Cissbury Sell-Off was formed and alerted the public to the secretive proposals.

cissburyprotest

This prompted the Tory-led council to announce it was going to “review” its decision to sell the land – but SCSO smelled a rat, declaring: “They clearly hoped to sneak through the sale of the land without anyone noticing and we are suspicious that this so-called review may turn out to be just a delaying tactic”.

The campaigners kept up the pressure and, on November 14 2009, 400 people marched across the disputed land with banners and placards, setting off distress flares.

Open Spaces Society general secretary Kate Ashbrook spoke during the rally and backed the “crucial campaign”.

Campaigners pledged to keep fighting until the sell-off was definitively halted and, even before the end of the month, Worthing Borough Council had backed down.

SCSO became Worthing Downlanders in February 2010 and began the lengthy process of persuading the authorities to turn the Cissbury slopes into open access land so it could be fully enjoyed by its owners!

Although the wheels of bureaucracy turned at a frustratingly lethargic pace, the hard work finally paid off and at the very end of 2015, six years after the initial protest, the land was officially registered as open access.

Cissburyopenaccess
The public land in Sussex which is now officially open access

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6. Acorninfo

Anti-fracking activists from across the UK will be flocking to Cheshire on Saturday January 16 for a Solidarity Saturday with the Upton Community Protection Camp in Duttons Lane, Upton CH2 2PE. The camp could be evicted at any time to allow test drilling for fracking to take place. The call-out urges supporters “to draw the line against an elite who pay lip service to the Paris Climate Agreement while trashing subsidies for renewables, guaranteeing them for nuclear and making ‘closing coal’ conditional on replacing it with gas”. As opposition to fracking continues to grow, a report in The Independent has revealed that insurance firms are not going to be covering people for fracking-related damage. And the state has notched up its intimidation by detaining an anti-fracking campaigner at an airport under “anti-terrorist” laws, reports Drill or Drop website.

UptonJ16

* * *

“We were trying to act like an antibody for the Earth – trying to protect nature, to protect what was being destroyed in beautiful places”. This is the recollection of an eco-activist who took part in the battle to stop the Newbury bypass 20 years ago, as related in an anniversary report from the BBC. Comments BBC local reporter Paul Clifton: “The protesters lost the battle. But perhaps they won the war. There is no doubt the tree climbers swayed public opinion and, later, political policy changed too. It virtually halted the construction of major new roads for a generation. As Newbury was being built, a tunnel past Stonehenge in Wiltshire and a bypass for Arundel in West Sussex were being talked about. Twenty years later, they are still only being talked about”. Today the road battle is starting again and public opinion continues to mobilise against the threat of an A27 bypass across the Sussex countryside north of Chichester, as revealed in Acorn 18. Local media have now published leaked maps showing the draft route options, which were being kept from the public by the authorities.

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Nature’s antibodies protect trees at Newbury

* * *

Two important dates are coming up for anti-fascists in England. The first  is in Dover on Saturday January 30, when The South East Alliance will be holding an anti-immigrant march alongside a gaggle of other far-right groups. Then the following Saturday, February 6, former EDL chief Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson) has announced his return to far-right street protests, leading a PEGIDA UK march in Birmingham. More info on counter-protests on the Anti-Fascist Network website.

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* * *

Eco-activists struck against the open cast lignite mine at Hambacher Forest in Germany on New Year’s Eve. They report: “We set up homemade stingers on the road used by the mine security forces to harass and distract them whilst we set fire to various bundles of cables and some wiring boxes by the side of the train tracks which are used to transport brown coal from the mine to nearby power stations. Halting the trains for some time. Then we put the torch to a telecommunications mast on the edge of the mine and watched from a distance as the entire device went up in flames and continued to burn for over an hour. And finally, just after midnight we attacked again, setting up more stingers on the security road closer to their compound. We then set fire to a burning barricade of car tyres and a large pile of logs by the roadside to lure security into our traps before retreating again into the forest to the sound of fireworks”.

hambach

* * *

The next Anarchist Action Network is to be held on Sunday January 17, from 1pm to 5pm, at Clockworks, Queens Street, Derby. All anarchists are welcome. For more info on the network and directions to the meeting go to www.anarchistaction.net

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* * *

The fascisisation of society shows no sign of abating in the UK, as elsewhere. An indication of the levels of surveillance imposed on the population came from a recent report revealing that visitors to London’s Hyde Park all had their identities and movements secretly tracked via their mobile phone data during a “trial”. And there was a strong warning regarding planned new UK surveillance laws from American National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower William Binney (below) in an interview on the Wired website. He said: Retroactively analysing people, anybody you want, any time you want, that’s certainly possible with bulk acquisition of data but that’s certainly not what democracies are built on. That’s what totalitarian states are built on”.

binney

* * *

Does postanarchism, influenced by deconstruction theory and the likes of Michel Foucault, represent an ideological attempt to undermine anarchism? This is the question currently being raised in some anarchist circles in France, and summarised in English in this blog post by Paul Cudenec. Meanwhile, this fascinating archive video shows a 1971 discussion between Foucault and Noam Chomsky on anarchism, human nature, justice and revolution.

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Foucault v Chomsky

* * *

Cardiff Anarchist Network (Rhwydwaith Anarchaidd Caerdydd) is hosting an anarcho-punk winter warmer on Saturday January 30 from 6pm at the Welsh city’s Cathays Community Centre. Bands will include Atterkop, 51st STATE, Think Pretty, WolfPunch, Regrethc and Failed State. There will be a full bar at cheap prices, plus a wide range of vegan snacks available as well as loads of stalls.

cardiffanarchistnetwork

* * *

Acorn quote: “Our critique of science, technology and the industrial system is a critique of progress. And in the same way it is a critique of the ideologies of science and progress, not least the workerist ideology, in both reformist and revolutionary guise, which is based on taking over, in the name of the proletariat, the bourgeois industrial system and its technology”.

Miguel Amorós, Elementary Foundations of the Anti-Industrial Critique

industry2

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

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Follow Winter Oak on Twitter at @WinterOakPress

 

 

The Acorn – 14

acornmastheadnew

Number 14


In this issue:

  1. From Rhineland to Paris, a new spirit of defiance
  2. The adrenaline of disobedience
  3. Degrowth: complete system change
  4. Yorkshire on the fracking front-line
  5. Always anti-fascist, always anti-capitalist
  6. Holistic anarchism in Turkey
  7. Acorninfo

1. From Rhineland to Paris, a new spirit of defiance

endegelande4
Direct action – protesters push through police lines on their way to the mines

A new spirit of defiant energy has energised the radical environmental and anti-capitalist movement in Europe over the summer.

Signs of this resurgence have been evident for some months (see Acorn 7 ), but a notable catalyst has been the dramatic mass action against lignite mining in Germany’s Rhineland on August 15.

Videos like this, alongside first-hand accounts, have enthused activists and injected a new sense of purpose that goes beyond the specific climate cause to a broader and deeper anti-capitalism and anti-industrialism.

endegelande6
Mass invasion – this mega-industrial site was closed down for the day

As one participant at the successful, if damp, Earth First! summer gathering told The Acorn: “People have been so inspired by what happened in Germany, even if they didn’t succeed in everything they tried to do. It’s all changed now – you can feel that a surge towards a radical, direct-action approach in all sorts of areas.”

The Ende Gelände (“Here and No Further”) mass action saw people push through police lines and storm a huge lignite mining site at in Garzweiler, west of Cologne, closing it for the day.

Said a live report from the action: “Today has been a greater success than anyone could have imagined. 1500 people taking part in the action is more than anyone was expecting. 1000 of those people were able to enter the mine and shut down two diggers for the day. Each digger is capable of tearing 240,000 tons of coal from the ground every day so the significance of this should not be underestimated”.

The Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination (Labofii) blog site says: “In that brief day everything changed for the European climate justice movement. Thousands experienced a collective power rarely felt within the competitive obedient individualism of capitalism”.

cop21-paris

Eyes are now turning to the COP 21 climate conference in Paris in December, where protests are set to be much more lively than previously thought possible.

An alliance of hundreds of NGOs and grassroots groups from around the world have called for a day of action on December the 12th, named D12, to be held at the end of the summit (officially the talks end on Friday 11th but historically, they have never finished on time and have always stretched into the next day).

Adds the Labofii blog: “Thousands are estimated to come to Paris to take part and if we play things right it could well be the next biggest act of disobedience for climate justice.

“The problem is that there aren’t any big excavators, pipe lines or power stations to block in Paris, so what kind of tactics would be relevant especially as we don’t want to give legitimacy to the broken UN process?

“The corporations and governments have failed us, it is time to take things into our own hands”.

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2. The adrenaline of disobedience

endegelande7
“I’m just so scared” – many courageous protesters were well outside their personal comfort zone

An important element this summer has been the involvement in direct action of people who would not normally be engaged on that level, due to the growing awareness of the seriousness of the environmental crisis and the evident fact that the system is not going to address it.

Take, for instance, this dramatic account of the Rhineland action:

“I’m running and I’m running and I’m just one, just one amongst hundreds of people running to escape the batons and the pepper spray, running to break through the police line and run on and on across the field to the mine.

“But as we’re running and my legs are pumping and the adrenaline’s thumping I turn and see something that makes my blood turn cold and time stand still. I see a man made massive with body armour and a helmet and a baton, and I see him throw his shoulder back and form a fist and smash the full brutal weight of his aggression into the face of an oncoming woman.

“She crumples but I don’t even see her hit the floor because I’m running and oh fuck me am I running and I’m thinking that this isn’t what I signed up for and I don’t want to be here and christ I’m just so scared. Because I am not an activist. This isn’t what I do. I’m a relatively normal, middle aged chap who does clicktivism when he can find the time.

“Direct action is not my thing. I’m not cut out to be here, running with hundreds of people across the fields of the Rhineland to try and close for one day a sodding great lignite mine”.

Ende Gelände Aktion

The Labofii writer confirms: “I have never seen so many people jump so far out of their comfort zones and take direct action for the first time. Never have I been part of such disciplined determined disobedience, whose tone seemed so perfectly balanced”.

Of course, the reality of being scared, and out of your comfort zone, means that the movement needs a collective inner strength. This can only be drawn from a world-view that accepts the reality of repression and the logical necessity of disobedience that strays beyond the narrow limits of “protest” as dictated by those who want it to remain safely ineffective and uninspiring.

The writer adds: “The more successful we become the more repression we will see. I lived through the rise and fall of the antiglobalisation movement and Occupy and neither of these movements were prepared enough for the inevitable repression that was to come.

“The liberal myth that ‘if we are non-violent then the state will not be violent towards us’ must be buried once and for all, it is dangerous and strategically useless.

“When you start to win, they start to fight harder than you ever imagined. First they divide and conquer, then co-opt and digest the movements. Only a broad space of disobedience where we do not condemn the actions of others will keep us strong.

“The tactical success of the 90s anti roads movements in the UK, which managed to force the government to cancel 700 road schemes, was that whilst there were the people living in tree houses and tunnels on the sites blocking the destruction and many big days of openly called disobedience where we would digger dive together, there were also forays at night by what were known as pixies, who armed with sugar and wrenches put the earth wrecking machines gently to sleep.

“Our movements are going to need these big open days of disobedience, the long months of Blokadia and site occupations and the night time secrets if we are to be efficient”.

Ende Gelände Aktion

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3. Degrowth: complete system change

The Only Sustainable Growth is Degrowth

The title of a recent book describes degrowth as presenting “A Vocabulary for a New Era”, but because the term “degrowth” is relatively unknown in the UK, there is sometimes confusion as to what it implies.

Degrowth book

Some activists imagine that it refers purely to a reformist approach, some kind of watered-down pale green theory, whereas in fact the term increasingly describes a complete opposition to the capitalist system and everything that comes with it.

Following on from the degrowth day at the Anarchist Action Network’s East London Rising week, there was a Degrowth Summer School in Germany linked to the mine protests.

degrowth summer school2

The emphasis there was very much on fighting the capitalist industrial system with the broadest possible range of tactics, including direct action.

Reports the Labofii blog: “In the main circus tent which holds several hundred people, we heard from speakers fighting against coal mines and nuclear power in India, oil extraction in the Amazon, first nations communities resisting the toxic disaster of the Alberta tar sands and eco-anarchists living in tree-houses to stop the expansion of one of the Hambach forest defence lignite mines nearby.

“We watched plays created and performed by refugees and asylum seekers. We took part in debates around new forms of radical democracy between people from the anti austerity M15 spanish movements, Greek Anarchists describing the self managed health, food and production systems that have risen from the economic collapse and a Kurdish representative explaining the experiments in municipal libertarianism which is building a nation without a state, founded on feminism, ecology and radical autonomy in northern Syria”.

degrowth summer school3

In her report for the Degrowth.de website, Christiane Kliemann reported that there had been discussion about the COP 21 summit in Paris, in which it was stressed that it was important not to repeat the reformist NGO-inspired mistakes of Copenhagen by creating hope around the official process and thus accepting the lies of the capitalist system.

“The movement has to stay firm instead and insist that it is not about climate change alone, but complete system change”.

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4. Yorkshire on the fracking front-line

Fracking Yorkshire

Yorkshire is being seen as the new front-line in the UK battle against fracking, with just under a third of the proposed oil and gas licences announced in August targeting it, reports the Drill or Drop website.

Northern anti-fracking groups have vowed to unite to prevent any fracking in the north of England as a whole – Lancashire, Cheshire and Lincolnshire are also in the sights of the fracking business, whose profiteering is to be fast-tracked past growing public opposition by the complicit British state.

Pippa Hockey from Frack Free East Yorkshire said, “The more they try and push fracking on us, the harder we will fight back. We have made friends all over the UK, especially with other groups in the north, and now we will all work together to stop fracking happening anywhere”.

Frack Off have produced an online guide to fighting fracking – it is available here.

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5. Always anti-fascist, always anti-capitalist

Anti-fascists owning the streets in Liverpool
Anti-fascists owning the streets in Liverpool

A significant moment in the struggle against the British extreme right was enjoyed in Liverpool on August 15 2015.

The mobilisation against the neo-Nazi ‘White Man March’ in Liverpool was, in the words of the Anti-Fascist Network, “an outstanding victory for militant anti-fascism and an utter humiliation and total rout for National Action”.

A spokesperson was also quoted as saying: “The event has already been dubbed the ‘Battle of Lime Street’. This might be the biggest anti-fascist victory in the UK for 20 or 30 years”.

While this might be disputed by Brighton anti-fascists who have consistently seen off threats from EDL-supporting fascists, or indeed anti-fascists in the likes of Walthamstow, the Liverpool action was certainly impressive.

The neo-Nazis didn’t manage to march, or even stage a static rally – in fact they didn’t even leave the railway station and were forced to hide in a left luggage shop as a huge crowd of anti-fascists jeered and heckled them and pelted them with water bottles, eggs, bananas, milk, orange juice and sundry other grocery products.

wmm2

One of the many good things the day achieved was to show that the most effective way of stopping and humiliating fascists is not by holding a worthy-but-dull rally at the other end of town, but to go to them and directly face up to them.

This approach not only works, but also illustrates the strength of the general anarchist approach of confrontation and non-collaboration with police and authorities.

It is a reminder that the radical anti-fascist movement in the UK is very much part of the broader struggle. It does not take to the streets to defend fake “democracy” but to defend our freedom and to defend the political space from which we can attack the capitalist system.

In many ways, in fact, it actually is the anti-capitalist movement, but in the defensive mode needed to stop the streets being taken over by nazis.

And anti-fascists are not going to wait until the last fascist has disappeared off the face of the planet before they commit to destroying the sick capitalist system that spawned them.

Always anti-fascist, always anti-capitalist!alwaysantifascist

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6. Holistic anarchism in Turkey

DAF2

An interview shedding light on the Turkish anarchist movement, and its links to the Kurdish struggle, has been published by Corporate Watch.

Researchers spoke to three members of Devrimci Anarşist Faaliyet (DAF, or Revolutionary Anarchist Action) in Istanbul. DAF are involved in solidarity with the Kurdish struggle, the Rojava revolution and against ISIS’s attack on Kobane, and have taken action against Turkish state repression and corporate abuse. They are attempting to establish alternatives to the current system through self-organisation, mutual aid and co-operatives.

DAF describe their anarchism as “holistic”, an anarchism without adjectives that refuses to be limited by too specific an orientation.

They say: “The main issue for DAF is to organise anarchism within society. We try to socialize anarchism with struggle on the streets. This is what we give importance to. For nearly nine years we have been doing this.

daf

“On an ideological level we have a holistic perspective. We don’t have a hierarchical perspective on struggles. We think workers’ struggle is important but not more important than the Kurdish struggle or women’s struggles or ecological struggles.

“Capitalism tries to divide these struggles. If the enemy is attacking us in a holistic way we have to approach it in a holistic way”.

Part of their outlook is to stress the historical anarchist continuity between the struggles for freedom towards the end of Ottoman Empire and today’s struggle for freedom in Kurdistan.

They explain: “In Ottoman times anarchists organised workers’ struggle in the main cities: Saloniki, Izmir, Istanbul and Cairo. For example [the Italian anarchist, Errico] Malatesta was involved in organizing industrial workers in Cairo.

Armenian anarchist Atabekian
Armenian anarchist Atabekian

“The freedom struggles of Armenia, Bulgaria and Greece had connections with anarchist groups. Alexander Atabekian, an important person in the Armenian freedom struggle, was an anarchist, translating leaflets into Armenian and distributing them. He was a friend of Kropotkin and distributed Kropotkin’s anarchist leaflets.

“Towards the end of the Ottoman Empire, at the end of the 19th century, Sultan Abdul Hamid II repressed the actions of anarchists in Turkey. He knew what anarchists were and took a special interest in them. He killed or deported anarchists and set up a special intelligence agency for this purpose.

“Anarchists responded by carrying out attacks on the Yildiz Sarayi palace and with explosions at the Ottoman bank in Saloniki.

“The government of the Ottoman Empire didn’t end at the Turkish republic. The fez has gone since but the system is still the same”.

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7. Acorninfo

More details are emerging of the multiple actions planned against the DSEI arms fair in London’s Docklands this month (see Acorn 13). A bid to disrupt the setting-up of the event includes a Stop Arming Israel day on Monday September 7 and an environment day of action on Wednesday September 9, before the big day of protest on Saturday September 12. More info at http://www.stopthearmsfair.org.uk/events/

DSEI poster

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A street party against the gentrification of London is being staged in Shoreditch on Saturday September 26. Says the call-out for Fuck Parade 3: “Our communities are being ripped apart – by Russian oligarchs, Saudi Sheiks, Israeli scumbag property developers, Texan oil-money twats and our own home-grown Eton toffs. Local authorities are coining it in, in a short sighted race for cash by ‘regenerating’ social housing. We will protest this economic warfare with a street party on September 26th”. Meet Shoreditch overground station from 7pm.

fuckparadesep26

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Police in the USA are reacting to the swelling wave of protest by buying acoustic cannon that can be used to fire deafening noises at crowds of people, a report has revealed. The weapons have been used, mainly as loudspeakers, at various Black Lives Matter events over the last 12 months and in Ferguson, the LRAD cannon was fired on protesters who had assembled in the street. The device can reach 152 decibels, a level that can cause permanent hearing damage.

June 3, 2010 Police demonstrate the Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD). The Integrated Security Unit for the G20 held a technical briefing at the Toronto Police College. The technical briefing is designed to feature specialized units from the Toronto Police Service, Peel Regional Police, the OPP, the RCMP and the Canadian Forces that will be utilized during the G20. It will provide an opportunity for the media to become familiar with what they will see on the streets of Toronto during the summit from a law enforcement and security perspective. Units on display include Police Dog Services, Mounted Unit, Marine Unit, Public Safety Unit, Traffic Services, Video Services, Emergency Task Force and Tactical Emergency Services from both Toronto EMS and Toronto Fire Services. (Carlos Osorio/Toronto Star)

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The role of British police spy Mark Kennedy in the persecution of the alleged “Invisible Committee” in France (see Acorn 13) is explored in an article on the undercoverinfo blog. Part of his role was to provide “intelligence” on an alleged international meeting of anarchists in New York, says the article.

Mark Kennedy
Police spy Mark Kennedy

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A video of a feisty No Borders demonstration on the French-Italian border has been posted online. Migrants living in the camp at Ventimiglia (see Acorn 13) had tried to travel by train to Menton in France but were forcibly turned back by police.

ventimiglia protest

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Two anarchist bookfairs are to be held within a couple of days in October. First there is the 2015 London Anarchist Bookfair, which is being staged on Saturday October 24 from 10am to 7pm at a new venue – Central St Martin’s behind Kings Cross rail station. And on October 24 and 25 comes the fifth annual Helsinki Anarchist Bookfair in Finland, at Peace Station, East-Pasila district of Helsinki (Veturitori 3).

anarchist bookfair

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Acorn quote: “Sociability and need of mutual aid and support are such inherent parts of human nature that at no time of history can we discover men living in small isolated families, fighting each other for the means of subsistence”.

Peter Kropotkin, Mutual Aid.

mutual aid

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

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