The Acorn – 52

acorn 2019b

Number 52

In this issue:

  1. Skin-deep solutions
  2. Greta and the story-tellers
  3. Regulation is a gas, for the oil industry
  4. Bristol celebrates radical history
  5. Poetry of the rebellious seed
  6. Mohandas Gandhi: an orgrad inspiration
  7. Acorninfo

1.  Skin-deep solutions

Imagine that somebody in your family falls ill, with a whole range of symptoms including breathing problems, extreme fatigue, stomach cramps, mental confusion and rashes on their skin.

Medical advice is initially unclear, until one doctor turns up who confidently announces that the skin issues are the core problem.

He produces loads of information of skin disease, refers you to all sorts of scientific studies and even starts referring to your family member’s illness as “the skin crisis”.

Others in the family pick up on this habit and soon all the other symptoms, some more troubling in fact, are half-forgotten.

One day this doctor phones up in great excitement declaring that he has found the solution to the skin crisis.

A new wonderdrug has been developed in the USA which, he says, will sort it out once and for all. The only trouble is that it is, as yet, only available privately.

When he tells you the price of a course of treatment with this new product, your heart falls. There is no way your family can afford that.

Don’t worry, he says. You could always remortgage your house, cut down on your living expenses, take out a loan. After all, this is an emergency.

The rest of your family are convinced by the doctor and start preparing to break open the piggy bank to pay for this miracle cure.

But you are not so sure. A friend puts you in touch with an alternative healer, who says the underlying problem is a general poisoning of the body.

What is needed is fresh air, plenty of water to drink, lots of exercise, a healthy non-industrial diet.

You try and persuade the rest of the family but they are scornful.

Next, your suspicions aroused, you do some online research into this new wonderdrug and the big pharmaceutical company which is selling it.

To your horror, you discover that your doctor is a paid adviser to a charity which is heavily lobbying for the new drug and lists among its “partners” the pharma company in question.

You alert the rest of your family but they say you’re being paranoid, that the doctor is a lovely fellow, totally trustworthy, and his advice must be followed.

You keep arguing the point. You point out that the new wonderdrug does not even pretend to address the other important symptoms and if the real issue is toxic overload, then it will only make the situation worse.

The family will be bankrupt and the patient still sick, probably even sicker. The only beneficiaries will be the pharma company and the doctor who is essentially on their payroll.

The whole thing is a scam, you tell them.

They are furious. They accuse you of claiming that the family member is only pretending to be ill, of being a disgusting and uncaring human being, a conspiracy theorist and “denier” whose selfish and “purist” stance can only delay or scupper the long-awaited skin cure.

This, as our quicker readers will have spotted, is pretty much the situation with the climate movement and those of us who dare to question the direction it is taking us.

The key, as we have said before, is the term “climate”. Why build a whole, supposedly environmental, movement around this single symptom of the industrial disease?

Could it be because, like the dodgy doctor above, the capitalists manipulating the movement have a “cure” on hand to sell to to us?

But this cure – this “Green Industrial Revolution” of electric cars and solar panels and wind turbines and carbon capture and “smart” everything – is not a cure at all.

It is a continuation of the industrial destruction, exploitation and pollution which has brought us to this terrible point.

It is not “purist” to point this out. It is essential, if we really want to defend the natural organism of which we are part, rather than just help kick-start a new and trendy branch of industrial capitalism.

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2. Greta and the story-tellers

Greta Thunberg’s first solo “school strike” back on August 20 2018 has become iconic in some circles.

Adoring fans insist that the lonely youngster’s charisma and determination, sitting on the pavement with her placards, forced the whole world to sit up and take notice.

If rich and powerful capitalists and politicians have since paid homage to her, they argue, it is only because they are running scared of the tidal wave of moral outrage the plucky Swede has unleashed.

But investigative journalist Cory Morningstar has highlighted some very interesting facts about that first Greta moment and the extraordinary way that some rather dubious people were already on board her climate bandwagon before it even left the pavement in Stockholm.

One of these was a certain Callum Grieve, who, on August 20 2018 itself, sent Greta a Twitter message declaring: “We’re right behind you. Stay strong”.

Callum Grieve

And who is Callum Grieve? His Linkedin profile says he is currently a “communications specialist” based in New York.

Grieve worked for five years for The Climate Group, which in 2014 launched We Mean Business in order to “catalyze action around climate change and bring it back to the top of the global agenda”.

Cory reports: “The founding partners of We Mean Business are Business for Social Responsibility, the B Team, Carbon Disclosure Project, Ceres, The Climate Group, the Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. Together, these entities represent the world’s most powerful corporations and investors”.

We Mean Business has made great use of Greta Thunberg’s name to promote “economic opportunity through bold climate action” and something it terms “new power”.

Grieve was communications director of We Mean Business from 2014 to 2016. At the same time he was director of This Is Counter Culture, sometimes described as being based in Edinburgh, although Companies House last had it listed in London.

On Linkedin, Grieve describes his role at This Is Counter Culture as selling “brand development, campaigns, storytelling” and the business’s Twitter account also boasts of its “good stories”.

A document on Changemakers.com reveals that its customers included “international corporations, small businesses, social enterprises, NGOs and government”.

This Is Counter Culture was voluntarily dissolved in the UK in December 2017 and its Twitter account last tweeted in May 2018.

Cory Morningstar has much more to say about Grieve – not least his connection to Christiana Figueres, the very powerful daughter of right-wing CIA-backed Costa Rican president “Don Pepe”. (See our own exposé ).

But let’s turn to another Day 1 Greta Thunberg fan, in fact the man who spoke to her on the pavement on that fateful day in August 2018 and tweeted the world about it.

This was Ingmar Rentzhog (above), CEO of the climate campaign network We Don’t Have Time. He also happens to be a PR professional, like Grieve.

Rentzhog founded Laika, a prominent Swedish communications consultancy firm providing services to the financial industry.

According to the Greta myth, he happened to come across her protest while walking to work and it was this piece of luck which ensured her voice was heard so widely.

Notes journalist Frank Chung: “Despite its name, We Don’t Have Time did have time to produce a short film about Ms Thunberg, which it posted to Facebook the next day”.

Remarkable!

It also turns out not to be entirely coincidental that Rentzhog came across Greta’s little protest. He later admitted had already done PR work for her mother and was “tipped off” about the event in advance.

So the bottom line is this: from the very first day of her “rebellion”, Greta Thunberg was being promoted by two corporate PR professionals paid for their skills in “brand development” and “storytelling”.

Since then, of course, she has addressed the UN, the WEF,  the European Parliament, featured on the cover of Time magazine, which named her a “next generation leader”, met Barack Obama and Emmanuel Macron and been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

This is all rather strange in a world where the usual reward for environmental activism is a criminal record.

To fully explore Greta’s miraculous rise to global fame we strongly suggest a thorough reading of The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg for Consent, which now has a second crucial volume.

We also recommend Kim Hill’s two-part analysis Unpacking Extinction Rebellion in which she also warns how climate campaigning is being exploited for capitalist profiteering – at the expense of the natural world it pretends to be protecting.

She writes: “This is the future that Extinction Rebellion is envisioning. These are the solutions that millions of people around the world have been marching in the streets to demand of their governments.

“Not to cut back on fossil fuel use. Not to protect wild nature. Not to repair and regenerate the land. Not to do anything at all to address the causes of climate change and extinction.

“Instead to save the very system that continues to wreak havoc on the land, sea, and air, and kill us off at a rate of 200 species a day.

“You might want to take a moment to let that sink in. I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling the need to go outside, and scream”.

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The green fields of renewable capitalism

See also: our page of links on the climate capitalists.

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3. Regulation is a gas, for the oil industry

Oil-and-Gas-Authority

The Oil and Gas Authority, which is supposed to regulate the controversial industry on behalf of the UK public, is nothing but a joke, a new article has confirmed.

Will Cottrell, chairman of the Brighton Energy Coop, takes a close look at the OGA in the run-up to the recent planning verdict on plans for five new wells at Horse Hill, Surrey.

He writes: “The OGA oversees drilling permissions around the country. Its self-professed mission is to ‘maximise the economic recovery of UK oil and gas’.

“Indeed, the OGA receives £5m of funding to do just that from the UK Treasury.

Tim-Eggar
Tim Eggar

“High at the helm of the OGA is Chairman Tim Eggar. Eggar is an oil industry executive with various positions in government.

“An oil banker, Eggar’s history is a backstory of board positions for the likes of Monument Oil and Gas, Indago Petroleum, and 3legs Resources, Expro & Braemar and Energy venutures.

“Meanwhile, Eggar’s number two is chief exectutive Andy Samuel who has 20 years’ experience at BG Group, an oil services conglomerate.

“Non-executive Frances Morris-Jones spent 30 years in oil and gas. The director of operations – Gunther Newcombe – spent most of his career in the same industry. It goes on”.

The article reveals a similar saturation of industry stooges in the objective-sounding British Geological Survey.

It adds: “Back in 2012 (the last time financial figures were produced) the BGS’s annual report showed 29% of the organisation’s funds came from companies involved in the hydraulic fracturing industry, including Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon, BG Group and Schlumberger”.

imperial college

The industry connections of “experts” at Imperial College London and Bristol University are also examined.

The article concludes: “The purpose of the regulator and its stooges is to construct a seemingly-consensual smokescreen.

“The parallels to climate change denial are striking – the creation of a body of ‘opinion’ that looks like it comes from a cross-section of venerable institutions, but that in reality is thoroughly penetrated by the oil and gas industry. Plausible denial is always the objective.

“And while a smog of earthquake denial has been wafted over Surrey planners, what has not been shown is who pays for these firestarters.

“Now that Cuadrilla have been put on a temporary hold, the focus can switch to who are those that support the industry, and the vested interests that lie behind them. These denial industries and their financial ties – just as their dirty frontmen like Cuadrilla – need to be held to account”.

And the Surrey County Council planning decision for Horse Hill? The drilling was approved of course, with planning development manager Caroline Smith even citing the reputation of the OGA to reassure councillors worried about earth tremors.

As we said, a total joke.

horse hill

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4. Bristol celebrates radical history

BRH poster

The Bristol Radical History Festival 2019 is being held on Saturday October 12.

There are two themes this year: “1919 – Year of Revolutions” and “Green History: from 18th Century roots to Extinction Rebellion”.

Explains the website: “Following the success of the 2017 and 2018 events, this year’s Bristol Radical History Festival is again hosted by M Shed, Bristol’s social history museum located on the historic harbourside”.

Highlights include a talk on Green Romanticism by Stephen Hunt (10.30am), Leonard Baker on Ecology from Below (12.30pm), A People’s History of Poetry by Peter Bearder (1pm), Back to the Land by Kath Holden (3pm), Roots of Resistance: Earth First! (3pm) and a talk on the massive wave of discontent which swept through the British armed forces at the end of World War One (3.30pm).

Say the organisers: “It’s not just talks! Expect walks, films, singing, a performance space with a puppet show, storytelling and poetry, and an exhibition space, as well as stalls with books and merchandise from local and national groups.

“Not to be missed – go up to Level 2 to see the Regional Radical Press exhibition, with highlights from UWE Bristol Regional History Centre’s current project All the events are free with no booking required!”

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5. Poetry of the rebellious seed

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The Zapatistas, those rebel anti-capitalists in Chiapas, continue to inspire with their communiqués.

A message from the Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee — General Command of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation (featured on the excellent Enough is Enough site) reveals some wonderful names for new caracoles and autonomous municipalities.

There is, for instance, Esperanza de La Humanidad, which means Hope for Humanity.

Others are Floreciendo la semilla rebelde (The Flowering of the Rebellious Seed) and Sembrando conciencia para cosechar revoluciones por la vida (Cultivating Conscience in order to Harvest Revolutions for Life).

But our favourite is Espiral digno tejiendo los colores de la humanidad en memoria de l@s caídos, which translates as Spiral of Dignity Weaving the Colours of Humanity in Memory of the Fallen.

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6. Mohandas Gandhi: an orgrad inspiration

Wednesday October 2 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Mohandas Gandhi, in 1869. Although Gandhi is mainly remembered in the West for his strategy of non-violent direct action, which proved ideal for the Indian independence movement, there was much more to his thinking, as this article from the orgrad website explains. The Gandhi Haiku posters are by Gabriel Rosenstock and available via etsy.com.

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“Machinery is the chief symbol of modern civilization; it represents a great sin”

Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948) was a political activist who played a key role in the successful Indian struggle for independence.

His involvement in the resistance to British imperialism went hand in hand with a deep opposition to the life-crushing industrial capitalism which it imposed on the sub-continent.

Ranchor Prime notes: “Gandhi was opposed to industrialization. It wasted resources and took people’s work from them. What was the point of labor-saving devices when they created unemployment?” (1)

Gandhi himself wrote in 1909: “Machinery has begun to desolate Europe. Ruination is now knocking at the English gates. Machinery is the chief symbol of modern civilization; it represents a great sin… Railways accentuate the evil nature of man. Bad men fulfil their designs with greater rapidity”. (2)

Later he added: ” The incessant search for material comforts and their multiplication is an evil. I make bold to say that the Europeans will have to remodel their outlook, if they are not to perish under the weight of the comforts to which they are becoming slaves”. (3)

gandhi poster 3

In opposition to industrial capitalism and its insane frenzy to exploit, produce and consume, Gandhi proposed a future in which humankind lived in organic harmony with the rest of the planet.

indian villageHe wrote: “It is a fundamental law of nature that nature produces enough for our wants from day to day; and if only everyone took enough for their own needs and nothing more, there would be no poverty in this world”. (4)

Gandhi’s vision for India, betrayed by his capitalist successors, was a return to the simple village life his land had known for thousands of years.

Writes Prime: “Mohandas Gandhi, called by his people Mahatma, which means ‘great soul’, loved India’s villages. He believed that they were the key to its happiness and prosperity. In the face of powerful political and economic forces, he tried courageously to preserve their simple way of life.

“Economic behavior determines the way a society treats the earth, therefore any discussion of environmental values has to include economics. The village economics of India give a practical example of an environmental way of living”. (5)

gandhi poster 1

Gandhi argued: “Given the demand, there is no doubt that most of our wants can be supplied by the villages. When we become village-minded we shall not want imitations from the West or machine-made products”. (6)

He saw that this decentralised village economics was the only sustainable long-term way forward for humankind as a whole.

He wrote in a letter to fellow independence campaigner Jawaharlal Nehru in 1945: “I believe that if India, and through India the world, is to achieve real freedom, then sooner or later we shall have to go and live in the villages – in huts, not in palaces. Millions of people can never live in cities and palaces in comfort and peace”. (7)

Gandhi referred to himself on several occasions as a kind of anarchist and always opposed the centralised state and its inherent use of violence. (8)

gandhi poster 4

He was greatly influenced by John Ruskin and translated the title of the Englishman’s Unto This Last as Sarvodaya, or welfare for all. He was also influenced by Leo Tolstoy and Peter Kropotkin, notably by the latter’s vision of a decentralized society of autonomous village communes.

However, Gandhi’s organic radicalism arose primarily from Indian metaphysics and its belief in the cosmic unity of all beings.

shiva

Prime writes: “A way of life does not exist in a vacuum. It is based on a way of thinking, a philosophy of life. Gandhi recognized this truth. He believed that it would not be possible to bring about change in society without a corresponding change in the way people behaved.

“To change the way people behaved meant to change the way that they thought. Therefore Gandhi’s primary objective was to influence people’s philosophy of life”. (9)

Central to the Gandhian world-view were the principles of satya (truth), karmayoga (self-realization through disinterested action), varnasramdharma (the Hindu law of right conduct), and ahimsa (non-violence).

Peter Marshall adds: “The most revolutionary aspect of Gandhi’s teaching was undoubtedly his social and political interpretation of ahimsa in which he turned the principle of individual self-realization into a principle of social ethics.

“He also drew on the traditional Indian values of village life and the joint family and the practice of making decisions by consensus”. (10)

gandhi poster 2

Gandhi promoted the idea of swaraj, or self-government, which was the first step towards his ideal of an enlightened anarchy in which social life is self-regulated and “there is no political power because there is no state”. (11)

For him, swaraj had a far deeper meaning than mere political independence. He wrote: “Swaraj is a sacred word meaning self-rule and self-restraint, not freedom from all restraint which ‘independence’ often means”. (12)

At the end of his life, Gandhi was disappointed that India, which gained independence in 1947, was not fundamentally different from India under British rule, except that whereas previously Englishmen had lived in the imperial palace, now Indians did. He feared for the direction India was taking.

Prime comments: “He had always said that real independence for India was not just to become free from British rule. It was also to become free of British culture and industrial way of life and to reestablish the traditional Indian village-based culture for which he had always struggled”. (13)

Video link: Gandhi’s arrival in the UK in 1931 as seen by Pathé News.

Gandhi spinning

1. Ranchor Prime, Vedic Ecology: Practical Wisdom for Surviving the 21st Century (Novato, California: Mandala, 2002), p. 84.
2. Mohandas Gandhi, Hind Swaraj, 1909, cit. Prime, p. 86.
3. Mohandas Gandhi, Young India, cit. Prime p. 78.
4. G.A. Nateson, Speeches and Writings of Mahatma Gandhi (Madras: 1935), p. 384, cit. Prime pp. 84-85.
5. Prime, pp. 78-79.
6. Gandhi, ‘Constructive Programme’, cit. Prime, p. 87.
7. Gandhi, letter to Nehru, October 5, 1945, cit. Prime p. 91.
8. Peter Marshall, Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism (London: Fontana, 1993), p. 422.
9. Prime, p. 81.
10. Marshall, pp. 422-23.
11. Gandhi, Young India, July 2, 1931.
12. Gandhi, Young India, 1931, cit. Prime pp 83-83.
13. Prime, p. 90.

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7. Acorninfo

If governments and corporations get their way, the bright blue seas of western Greece will be turned into oil fields. The Greek government is selling vast areas of sea and land for oil and gas drilling, report Corporate Watch. The businesses involved include Energean, a fast-growing oil company with close ties to the Israeli government and Israeli corporations. “But it’s not a done deal yet,” add Corporate Watch. “Greece has strong traditions of resistance to capitalist devastation – and now, across the threatened areas, people are coming together to fight the oil plans”. See the Save Greek Seas site.

Greek no oil

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Ignored by the corporate media in the UK, the Gilets Jaunes’ revolt against neoliberalism is still going strong after more than ten months, with the weekly round of protests now up to Act 46. Levels of police violence are insane and the cops increasingly coming across as a politicised fascist militia. After left-wing opposition politician Jean-Luc Mélenchon condemned them as “barbarians”, not only did authoritarian Interior Minister Christophe Castaner say he would be prosecuted for this opinion, but a police trade union staged a show of force outside Mélenchon’s party HQ in Paris on September 26. Gilets Jaunes turned up as well, to oppose the police… More about the Gilets Jaunes here.

GJ police protest

* * *

“The black bloc more or less destroyed the global justice protests at the beginning of this century. We must do everything we can to exclude them from the climate protests”. These were the words of self-styled radical George Monbiot of The Guardian, surely spelling the end of any remaining credibility for this arrogant, warmongering, pro-nuclear upper-class gatekeeper of the system, who pretends via his corporate media platform to be “one of us” in order to impose limits on our resistance.

monbiot

* * *

Degrowth is the only responsible way forward, argues an interesting article by Joël Foramitti, Marula Tsagkari and Christos Zografos. They write: “If we free our imagination from the liberal idea that well-being is best measured by the amount of stuff that we consume, we may discover that a good life could also be materially light. This is the idea of voluntary sufficiency. If we manage to decide collectively and democratically what is necessary and enough for a good life, then we could have plenty”.

degrowthpainted

* * *

Some upcoming radical events in the UK: Saturday November 2, Nottingham Radical Bookfair, 10.30am-5.30pm, Mechanics Institute, South Sherwood Street; Saturday December 7, Manchester & Salford Anarchist Bookfair, central Manchester; Friday May 1 to Monday May 4 2020, UK-wide Anarchist Festival.

afest2020

* * *

Global resistance to the nightmarish 5G network (see Acorn 51) is picking up speed. Plans to roll out 5G in Australia were ditched “due to community fears regarding the health impact of the technology”. And thousands have protested outside the Swiss parliament in Bern to call for a halt to the threatened countrywide 5G imposition. Meanwhile the International Society of Doctors for the Environment has called for a halt to 5G in Europe on a precautionary basis. In the UK, the Royal Society of Medicine’s Alan Cooke is speaking on 5G in Eastbourne, East Sussex, at the Friends Meeting House in Wish Street at 7.30pm on Friday October 25. And Dr Karl Cox of Sussex University is speaking at a day’s symposium on 5G at Fairwarp Village Hall, Fairwarp, East Sussex at 10am on Saturday October 26.

5G protest switz

* * *

Acorn quote: “Organism is spontaneous self-regulation, the mystery of formed growth, the inarticulate wisdom of the instincts”.

Theodore Roszak

tangle

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

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The Acorn – 24

acornmastheadnew

Number 24


In this issue:

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

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

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May Day in Paris

Huge crowds on the streets all over the world, at least one protester killed and many more injured by cops – May Day 2016 was as dramatic as any, as we show below.

In a way, although the people, the tear gas and the police batons were all very real, the day is a symbolic annual incarnation of a battle that goes on for 24 hours a day, 52 weeks of the year.

This is the battle between  us and them, between the exploited and the exploiters, the peasants and the squires, the workers and the bosses, the have-nots and the have-too-muches.

For them, any “rights” enjoyed by workers and the population as a whole are only ever provisional sops to keep us in a state of semi-contented complacency.

They would rather do away with them altogether and are constantly working at increasing their control and destroying our collective resistance.

They use the money they have stolen from our communal wealth to manipulate and control the means of public information, smearing or ignoring our struggles and denying all possible alternatives to their system.

They use that same money to employ people to spy on us, infiltrate our movements, divert our energies, pollute our ideologies, divide and rule.

And, of course, they use it to hire an army of tooled-up thugs to physically attack us when we venture on to the streets in a spirit of rebellion.

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A military-style operation against the people in Paris

What can we do to stand up to these brutal levels of force, particularly as the repression is smoothly covered up and even glorified by the mercenary custodians of the public’s “reality”?

All we can do is fight, and keep on fighting – on every level, in every way we can, on every single day of the year and, above all, on the symbolic First of May.

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Istanbul on May 1

This is what our comrades were doing in Istanbul when  police attacked them with water cannons and tear gas. A man in his 50s was murdered by the Turkish state’s thugs – run over by a water cannon vehicle – and there were more than 200 arrests.

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Resistance in Istanbul

That is also what people were doing in Paris, where the May Day march formed part of the current struggle against business-friendly “reforms” to the Loi Travail (see Acorn 23 and this update).

Repression in France, under cover of the “anti-terrorist” state of emergency, is reaching frightening heights (see, for instance, this video of the violent eviction of Nuit Debout in Paris on April 28 ) and the First of May procession was duly attacked by CRS riot police, using huge amounts of tear gas, who tried to split it into two.

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Paris on May 1

The mixed crowd, numbering up to 70,000, stuck together and at one point started chanting en masseNous sommes tous des casseurs” (“We are all vandals”) in defiance of the media-manufactured bogeyman of a “violent” minority of protesters spoiling everything for the law-abiding majority.

Ferocious levels of police violence, during the day and in the evening at Nuit Debout, were such that the Street Medic organisation later described the day as a “bloodbath”.

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Fighting back in Paris on May Day
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Paris, May 1

Tens of thousands also took to the streets of Seoul. Similar “reforms” to those being introduced in France are being imposed all over the world by the capitalist slave-masters and South Korea also faces a labour reform bill, pushed by President Park Geun-Hye and her conservative Saenuri Party, which will make it easier for companies to lay off workers.

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May Day protests in Seoul

In Manila, there was a massive protest against Philippines president Benigno S. Aquino III and US imperialism. Left-wing demonstrators fought with police who were protecting the American embassy (see video)

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

There were clashes in Hong Kong when more than 5,000 people demonstrated to demand laws on standard working hours and a universal pension scheme.

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May Day in Hong Kong

It kicked off in Seattle, USA, (see this corporate news video), where anti-capitalist protesters bearing a large banner that read “We are ungovernable” staged an unauthorised march through the city centre.

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Seattle, May 1
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Seattle police in action

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

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May Day in Montreal

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

Elsewhere, anarchists threw molotov cocktails through the windows of the State Savings Bank of Ukraine (see video) and protesters set off fireworks in front of the Presidential Office Building in Taipei, Taiwan, as a symbolic gesture to “declare war” on the government.

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

There were protests and parades all across the world, including Berlin and Geneva (below). In Málaga (Spanish state) the march included an animal rights bloc, while in London a May Day Fuck Parade was held in the evening (see video), with the partying going on until 3am.

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

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

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Protesters block the main rail line in Marseille, France

April 28 saw a big day of strikes and protests against the neoliberal Loi Travail “reforms” in France (see Acorn 23 and this update). Feisty protests and brutal police violence broke out all over the country – see, for instance, these videos from Paris and Rennes and this photo report from Nantes – while Nuit Debout public assemblies were held in hundreds of towns in the evening. We received this first-hand report from the protests in Marseilles.

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Marseilles, April 28

This was “a historic day” for protest in Marseilles, according to one long-time local anarchist activist, and I’m not going to argue with that.

I will certainly never forget the moment when hundreds of us on a breakaway demo refused to retreat in the face of insane volleys of tear gas and grenades fired by the fascistic “BAC” plain clothes police.

A great cheer rose up as it became obvious that the police were outnumbered and overwhelmed and we were going to get through.

Two BAC cops fled for cover as bottles and other objects rained down on them and the crowd advanced. As they got into their car, it was surrounded by triumphant protesters, cracking the glass in the windows, before the state thugs sped off to safety.

The crowd surged down the road and through a gate leading to the railway sidings and on to the main railway line close to Marseilles St Charles station. Planks, tyres and other objects were dragged on to the rails and set on fire. 400 protesters were on the line. The infrastructure was well and truly blocked.

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Street battles in the Mediterranean port

You could tell something was going to happen right from the start. The official meet-up for the demo was at the Vieux Port, but here there were only the uninspiring supporters of the CGT trade union, far too close to the ruling Socialist Party to be any sort of threat to the system.

Up the road and round the corner, positioned to be at the head of the march, was the real heart of the protest. This was a mainly youthful section – including many secondary school students. They came from diverse backgrounds and notably included a noisy group of football supporters from OM, Olympique Marseille.

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The start of the march

There were chants against the bosses, against the PS, about revolution, as the march set off, in stop-start fashion, along Cours Lieutaud.

At the end of the road, the well-established protest route turns right into Castellane, which is supposed to mark the end of proceedings.

But today, people had other ideas and the head of the protest turned left instead, then formed up ready to head off in an unauthorised direction.

Attempts to persuade the massed ranks of the CGT to join in were not too successful – they preferred a symbolic turn to the right, as ordered by their stewards.

But, thanks partly to a looping protest that led out of the march and back in again, a significant number of protesters were welcomed into the breakaway project and it set off up Boulevard Baille, where the police had set up a blockade.

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The tear gas canisters started raining down before the front of the protest was even 100 metres from the cops. Plain clothes BAC cops lurked on the pavements ready to grab anyone trying to escape the gas.

Tout Marseille déteste la police!” went up the cry from the crowd – a local variation of the “Tout le monde déteste la police!” (Everybody hates the police!”) which has rapidly become the catchphrase of this uprising.

People advanced and retreated, kicking and throwing the tear gas capsules back towards the police. Sound grenades and rubber bullets were also fired and a trade unionist suffered a nasty chest injury as the police pushed the protest down to Castellane and out on to Rue de Rome

On the positive side, a well-aimed bottle hit one of the BAC thugs right in the face.

Somehow, the breakaway group kept together and 1,000 protesters now moved together back towards the city centre, taking side streets to avoid police blockades and the constant hail of tear gas.

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The taking of the railway was certainly a triumph – although some sort of mass exit strategy would have been useful to prevent the inevitable dribbling away of protesters though holes in the railside fences as the cops advanced up the line, and the violent arrests of those remaining.

More than 50 people were arrested, many of them school students, and a solidarity campaign was set up to support them.

It is worth noting that this was very much on the agenda of the Nuit Debout gathering that attracted several hundred people back at the Vieux Port that evening. While these gatherings inevitably draw in a mixed crowd, the overall tone here was inseparable from the tone of the protest.

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

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

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

Trumped-up criminal charges and draconian bail conditions are being used by the British state as a weapon against dissidents.

This is the insidious reality behind the “justice” system, as exposed in a new Corporate Watch interview with anarchist activist Pete Simpson.

Pete was prosecuted and remanded in prison for alleged “violent disorder” and “assault of police officers” after an occupation of HSBC bank, as part of the 2015 Mayday commemoration in Cardiff, Wales.

Pete and fellow activist Josh Howe were found not guilty by a jury in Cardiff in January 2016 after it became clear that the police were telling a pack of lies and it was in fact the cops who had acted violently.

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Josh and Peter after the not-guilty verdict

He has no doubts about the political motivation for the prosecution, which put him out of circulation for months.

“They had presented evidence that we were giving out South Wales Anarchists leaflets. They made many references to it. The black flags that people had brought to the protest were also part of the evidence. They held up the flags in court, six or seven bundled together. They also asked me what I personally understood by the term ‘Anarchism’.

“The prosecutor had claimed in court that the protest was hijacked by an ‘anti-police agenda’ and had insisted that ‘we can’t have mob violence’ in the streets of Britain”, recalled Pete. “He asked the jury rhetorically. ‘is it likely that the police would lie about violence being used on them?'”

The pigs have a global reputation for telling porkies, and with the not-guilty verdict, the jury’s answer to this last question was a resounding “yes”!

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South Wales Police – liars

Pete described what really happened on the day: “Two of the cops that were there were grabbing people and I saw one cop throwing three punches in a row whilst holding a person by the shoulder, punching their kidneys. The same cop grabbed another guy and threw him to the ground without supporting his fall.

“A police officer had Josh’s neck under his arm and Josh was saying that he couldn’t breathe. There was another cop also putting his weight on Josh.

“I reached out towards Josh. The police officer turned round and elbowed me in the face, throwing me up against the wall and strangling me.

“Straight after that, the other officer came over and hit me with a ‘knee-strike’ in the part of the leg just above the knee. It’s apparently something they are trained to do to make someone fall to the ground, but they grabbed both of my shoulders and threw me to the ground anyway, head first. Then bent me in the middle somehow. My forehead hit the ground. My leg was suddenly really injured”.

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HMP Cardiff – used to incarcerate anarchists framed by cops

After Pete and Josh’s arrest in May 2015 they were remanded for several days in Cardiff prison. The judge only agreed to release them on the condition that they move away from their homes in Cardiff, sign regularly at a police station, keep to a strict curfew and wear a tag.

As Corporate Watch say, these conditions can only be described as political, aimed at restricting Pete and his co-defendant’s ability to be involved in political activism.

Bail conditions (i.e. conditions you are forced to comply with in order for the court to release you from prison or police custody) are only supposed to be used to prevent further ‘offending’ and stop people from absconding.

However, the use of draconian bail conditions against Pete and Josh, and others like them, amount to a punishment by the courts against people who have not been convicted of any crime.

Warn Corporate Watch: “Bail conditions are increasingly being used to prevent people from being involved in social movements that threaten capitalism and the state, particularly people involved in direct action networks”.

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

Pete said: “The bail conditions and tag made it hugely difficult for me. I effectively didn’t have a summer last year. I couldn’t go to any summer gatherings, activist camps or travel very far at all. I wanted to be supporting stuff all the time, all the stuff that I would normally be doing to try to change the system and fight for freedom.

“I was basically denied a social, and active, normal, life. I often thought about people going out in an evening and sometimes it was really difficult just to hear about it. I could never imagine just how controlling the state can be when people get to challenge its links to big business like we did that day.”

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

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4. Court victory for arms fair blockaders

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The DSEI defendants notched up a remarkable court victory

In a startling victory for direct action, eight anti-militarists walked free from court on April 15 after being prosecuted for trying to disrupt September’s Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair at London’s ExCel Centre last September (see Acorn 23).

And they did not get off on a technicality – District Judge Angus Hamilton accepted the defendants’ argument that they had tried to prevent greater crimes, such as genocide and torture, from occurring by blocking a road to stop tanks and other armoured vehicles from arriving at the exhibition centre.

Reported The Independent: “Witnesses described the role of the arms trade in facilitating the repressive Bahrani regime, in Saudi Arabia’s bombing campaign over Yemen, and with Turkey’s internal repression of its Kurdish population.

“The judge said the evidence of illegal weapons sales had been left unchallenged by the prosecution and that such sales would potentially break arms control laws.”

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Protests at DSEI

Said defendant Lisa Butler: “Of course, we were ecstatic with the result, but we feel that we should never have been on trial in the first place.

“At the beginning of the case, it was eight activists who were on trial, but by the end of the week, we had succeeded in bringing the corrupt activities of the arms trade to public attention. It felt as though we had successfully put Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, DSEI and the UK government on trial”.

Unfortunately, though, the court result does not mean that there is such a thing as “British justice” – as one of the defendants remarked, even a stopped watch is right twice a day.

Neither does it mean that arms dealers are generally now seen by our society to be the criminals they are. It is only if they infringe certain technical rules that they are considered to be in the wrong.

Profiting from the murder and maiming of other people is still perfectly legal and praiseworthy if it creates “jobs”, boosts “the economy” and keeps the blood-stained wheels of capitalism turning.

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Arms dealers profit from murder and repression

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

UPDATE: Just after this bulletin was published, it emerged that the British state intends to appeal against the non-guilty verdict and defend the arms trade. More information on this development can be found here.

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5. Witch hunt: antisemitism smears are ideological warfare

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Jeremy Corbyn

A toxic new ideological weapon has been unleashed by the capitalist system against its opponents – the witch-hunt accusation of “antisemitism”.

This phenomenon has come to its head in the UK in recent weeks with fevered accusations of “antisemitism” within Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, which seems to be regarded as dangerously radical by those in high places in the UK and the USA.

Former London Mayor “Red Ken” Livingstone, suspended from the party, pointed out that this line of assault from Blairite right-wingers has been shaping up for a while now: “Frankly, there’s been an attempt to smear Jeremy Corbyn and his associates as antisemitic from the moment he became leader”.

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Tony Blair

There has been a related attack on Malia Bouattia, the new president of the UK’s National Union of Students, on the grounds of her anti-Zionism.

On one level these “shifty antisemitism wars” revolve around the legitimacy of support for Palestine and opposition to the brutal apartheid policies of an Israeli state which has long been a close ally of the UK, the USA, France and other Western states.

The success of the international BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) has prompted a “very coordinated and well-financed campaign led by Israel and its supporters aiming to criminalise political activism against Israeli occupation”.

In February, an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson told the Financial Times: “We have stepped up our efforts directly and indirectly, dealing with friends of Israel in a variety of countries in which we have the BDS movement, fighting it with legal instruments.”

These “efforts” have been particularly blatant in France, where the authorities regard any call for the boycott of Israeli goods as a form of “racial hatred” .

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In the UK, too, there has been a state attack on the BDS movement, with a new set of rules that will make it harder for local councils and other public bodies including universities to make ethical procurement or investment decisions. Secretary of State for Justice, Michael Gove, has absurdly claimed that the BDS movement is committing “a crime worse than apartheid”.

The ideological distortion behind this attitude was well conveyed in a nasty attack on Bouattia published by The Guardian.

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New student leader Malia Bouattia

The author, Hannah Weisfeld, concedes that not all UK Jews support the Israeli state and that many criticise it.

But she insists: “Zionism, at its core, is the belief in the right of the state of Israel to exist. Whether Bouattia likes it or not, connection to Israel is a key part of Jewish identity for an overwhelming majority of Jews in 21st-century Britain”.

Challenging Bouattia’s very reasonable insistence that “for me to take issue with Zionist politics, is not me taking issue with being Jewish”, Weisfeld complains that “she shows a deep lack of understanding of Jewish identity”.

Essentially, Weisfeld is claiming here that Zionism and Jewishness are the same thing – to challenge Zionism is therefore to threaten all Jewish people.

Israeli-flag

With the same line surfacing all over the place in recent months (for instance, in California), we are clearly witnessing a deliberate campaign to redefine criticism of the Israeli state and its policies as “antisemitism” and, therefore, as totally unacceptable and even criminal.

On another level, however, the current “antisemitism” row is not confined to issues around Israel, Zionism or Jewishness, but is cover for a new ideological assault on all opposition to the capitalist system – “extremism” as our rulers like to call it.

A telling pointer to this came in Paris in April, when right-wing Zionists falsely claimed that a group of anti-capitalist protesters had “attacked a synagogue”.

It is important to appreciate that the aim of this lie was not to discredit the pro-Palestine movement, as one might expect from pro-Israel groups, but to smear the left-wing anti-capitalist movement as a whole, using the “antisemitism” smear as a means to this end.

The same abuse of “antisemitism” accusations can be seen in an article in the Mail on Sunday on May 1, headed “Number of hate crimes against Jews soars as report says anti-semitism is at the ‘core’ of far-Left beliefs”.

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

The Mail’s story blatantly and outrageously tries to smear all anti-capitalists as racists or even Nazis – a remarkable stance for a notoriously right-wing newspaper group, which famously trumpeted its support for fascism in the 1930s.

hurrah for the blackshirts

At one point, without providing any context or information as to who was involved,  the article declares:  “In one shocking case, a mob shouting ‘Kill the Jews’ stormed a synagogue in Stamford Hill, North London, smashing windows and attacking worshippers”.

The implication is that this “mob” was probably left-wing, echoing the absurd right-wing Zionist claims regarding anti-capitalist protesters in Paris.

labour antisemitism

This anti-left element is very much in evidence behind the attacks on Corbyn. Indeed, the undisguised hatred of Corbyn and his supporters expressed by the UK media, very much including The Guardian, is not only, or even primarily, based on his support for the Palestinian cause.

Instead it relates to other policies which, while they may not seem very radical to many Acorn readers, still  lie outside the imposed “consensus” of the US-dominated neoliberal capitalism that was safely represented by Blairite “New Labour”.

Explains a useful investigation from the Electronic Intifada website: “Although Labour’s membership has grown since Corbyn’s victory, he has been under constant attack from right-leaning politicians within the party. In an attempt to weaken his position, some of his critics have manufactured a ‘crisis’ about alleged anti-Semitism”.

It is important to understand that these smears are coming from a far-right elite of which far-right Zionism constitutes just one thread.

Zionism
A Kibbutz ceremony from 1951

Zionism is, in itself, not inherently right-wing. Its origins were largely on the left and, while any form of nationalism is incompatible with anarchism and other forms of internationalism, Zionism was born from a struggle against antisemitism and was theoretically no more unacceptable than the anti-imperialist nationalisms of Ireland, India or Algeria, putting aside the crucial issue of Palestinian land.

The far-right form of Zionism which dominates today is, however, closely allied to the imperialism of the USA, UK, France, NATO and the whole Western capitalist system.

It no more represents or defends the interests of Jewish people than the British, French or American ruling elites represent the people of those countries. Indeed, much of the story behind the fake “antisemitism” scares is to frighten the Jewish diaspora into the hands of right-wing Zionism, in the same way that the fear of “terrorism” is designed to frighten the public into the “protective” arms of the capitalist state.

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

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

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Disallowing any such analysis has always been part of the ideological war conducted by this extreme-right ruling system against its opponents.

A particularly successful approach has been the “conspiracy theory” smear. This starts from the reality that racists with a hatred for Jewish people often hide behind the term “Zionism” in order to depict a poisonous fantasy-world of “Jewish conspiracy”.

This has been turned around to imply that anyone who suggests there is any kind of behind-the-scenes co-ordination within the various elements of the ruling system is a “conspiracy theorist” and therefore somehow associated with antisemitism.

Note that it is not even necessary to include any mention of Zionism within this analysis of power – the very fact of invoking any kind of “conspiracy” involving the governments of capitalist countries is deemed evidence of a crazed and dangerous mindset that could easily lead to antisemitism, fascism and so on.

This same line is echoed by everyone from “radicals” attacking the “dangers” of conspiracy theories within their own circles to the likes of Prime Minister David Cameron with his threat to clamp down on the “ludicrous conspiracy theories of the extremists”.

This fear of “conspiracy theories” and of contamination by association with right-wing or antisemitic ideas, can be traced back to the 1960s, when US intellectual Richard Hofstadter wrote an essay called The Paranoid Style in American Politics.

the paranoid style

As Robin Ramsay has written (see Acorn 20): “For ‘serious’ people – academics, journalists, politicians – large areas of political inquiry have been contaminated ever since by an association with conspiracy theories. Hofstadter’s essay appeared just when questions were being asked about the assassination of JFK and his essay helped to shore up the ‘lone assassin’ verdict offered by the Warren Commission”.

In 1999, this approach was further bolstered by the publication of a book called Conspiracy: How the Paranoid Style Flourishes and Where It Comes From. The blurb states: “To anyone who has ever heard a friend or relative say, ‘Don’t believe what you read in the papers’, Conspiracy offers a spellbinding survey – and a wakeup call”.

The author of this book was none other than Daniel Pipes, a far-right US propagandist, recently described by writer Nafeez Ahmed as a “well-known anti-Muslim hate-monger”, who sits on the presidium of the ultra-Zionist Jerusalem Summit alongside British Islamophobe Baroness Cox.

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Daniel Pipes

Adds Ahmed: “The summit’s advisory board includes other leading notorious neoconservative ideologues like Rachel Ehrenfeld, Meyrav Wurmser (wife of David Wurmser, Middle East advisor to former vice-president Dick Cheney), and Dennis Prager, among others”.

The truth is that the engineered fear of “conspiracy theories” (conspiraphobia, perhaps?) is part of a deliberate political strategy to delegitimise all analysis of, and opposition to, the capitalist military-industrial complex. The current controversy has to be seen within that larger ideological context.

By using the spectre of “antisemitism” as a stick with which to beat opponents of the dominant system, far-right Zionists are showing that they are in no way acting in the interests of the Jewish people they claim to represent.

Instead, they are using their well-being as a pawn in a political chess game which serves nobody’s interests but those of the capitalist ruling elite with which they are closely allied.

For when anybody voicing any criticism of Israel, or indeed the global capitalist system, is branded “antisemitic”, it becomes impossible to identify the real antisemites, the racist Jew-haters who must be sniggering with delight at the smokescreen being put up around their vile prejudices by those purporting to combat them.

See also:

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

Conspiracies and contamination

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6. Acorninfo

Manufactured “terrorism” charges against anarchists in Belgium are due to be considered by a court in Brussels on May 10 2016. A report on Rabble website explains that the Belgian state has lumped together 150 different attacks on targets such as police stations, courts, banks, companies profiting from the prison system, building sites, mobile phone masts and cars belonging to diplomats, Eurocrats and NATO officials. By inventing a single fake “terrorist group” behind all of this, the prosecutors have contrived to reclassify a library as a place of recruitment, discussions as clandestine meetings, leaflets and newspapers as urban guerrilla manuals, demos and rallies as terrorism, affinity ties and self-organization as “a structured terrorist group”.

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* * *

“We cannot love your world. Your world is bad for us. We don’t like it. There are too many people. Too much noise. No peace. It smells bad”. These are the words of a woman of the Jarawa people, who have lived in peace off the coast of India for thousands of years but are now being treated as tourist attractions, or animals in a zoo, as the nightmare of industrial capitalist civilization engulfs them. Says a Jarawa man in a new documentary film: “We live really quietly in the forest, and we are happy. Here, there is everything we need. The trees are full of fruits, and the flowers are magnificent … We can find everything we need in the jungle.”

jarawa

* * *

An in-depth analysis on the influence of anarchist, environmental and feminist thinking in Kurdistan has been published online by Corporate Watch, ahead of a new book called Kurdish Struggles for Autonomy, due out this month. Says the report: “The movements for democratic confederalism in Rojava and Bakur are a place where anti-capitalist, feminist, anti-authoritarian and anti-state ideas are flourishing. They have the capability to transform the reality of society for millions of people. These changes are being made by people at a grassroots level, who are inspired by the ideas of the revolution, not by politicians or government institutions”.

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* * *

Two UK diary dates. Earth First! has announced that its 2016 summer gathering will be held between August 17 and 22 in Northamptonshire. Further info to be released later. And the 2016 London Anarchist Bookfair will be held on Saturday October 29.

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* * *

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

Unabomber, Industrial Society and its Future

unabomber

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

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The Acorn – 23

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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”.

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“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.

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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.

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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.)

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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’.

fleas

“Were he called upon to discuss the Odyssey, Apostolidès would never get beyond the fleas on Ulysses’ head, because he can never perceive anything above his own level, and everything is therefore brought down to that level.

“Such individuals may teach at a prestigious university but they are incapable of producing a real, rigorous or in any way serious historical and critical analysis: all they can muster is either the aforesaid unctuous praise or spineless outrage.

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

Professor Apostolidès will continue in any case to stand as a shining example of everything an honest and disciplined researcher should avoid – a concrete instance, if ever there was, and a caution to every student, of the disastrous mingling of those two forms of dishonesty, both on shameless exhibition in a police report poorly disguised as a work of historical scholarship.

“This book is hopelessly lacking in conviction, vigour, energy and freshness. It reads like work for hire, written on commission, a failed attempt to put Guy Debord and an entire movement in the stocks, something a world away from a faithful, legitimate and honest critique. Still, I draw comfort from its existence, for it signals that despite all their faults the Situationists continue to be a beacon of insubordination and a nightmare that still haunts the sleep of an era, a true successor to theirs, which cannot bear to have enemies that it has not manufactured for its own ends”.

Full article:

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

See also:

Paris 13.11: Morale Operation by Gianfranco Sanguinetti

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

bristolbookfair16

The 8th Bristol Anarchist Bookfair is being held on Saturday April 30 2016, from 11am to 6pm, at Trinity Centre, Trinity Road, Bristol, BS2 0NW, with the The Radical History Zone just 5 minutes down the road at Hydra Bookshop. Here is the call-out from the bookfair collective:

Every year seems to bring more bad news. The poor have to pay for the mistakes of the rich through unjust schemes like the Bedroom Tax, while the sick lose their benefits to Work Capability Assessments and the like, leaving suicide rates on the up. Those who are sanctioned have all income stripped away, and governmental Workfare schemes push businesses to choose free labour over paid staff.

The cuts, as predicted, have hit the poorest hardest, with many having to choose between heating or food. Public services like care homes and day centres continue to vanish. The NHS is being ripped apart and sold off, taking away vital services, such as mental health, from those who need it most. Massive school budget cuts lead to unqualified teaching staff. Workers must work longer and harder for less, many with the uncertainty of zero-hour contracts and part-time work, with no hope of a pension.

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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”.

dover
Police move in on anti-fascists in Dover

* * *

The British state is using the pretext of a terrorist threat to flood the country with hundreds more armed police. The Independent reports that the 400 gun-wielding cops will be “stationed across the country poised to deal with a Paris-style terror attack” and that “the beefed-up network of armed police units is intended to complement military contingency plans already in place to deploy up to 10,000 troops in the event of a terror attack”. Far from being a question of the state “protecting the public” from terrorism, as the authorities like to claim, the whole story is about the state using the threat of terrorism to protect itself better from the public. The armed cops are being installed to deal not so much with a “Paris-style terror attack” as a “Paris-style revolt” – the whole charade being  about frightening and beating the population into submission.

armedpolice

* * *

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

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Gustav Landauer

* * *

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

enchantment

* * *

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

FBI

* * *

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

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* * *

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

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 – 17

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Number 17


In this issue:

  1. Cracks in the system – Part I
  2. Cracks in the system – Part II
  3. Airport invasion targets drones firm
  4. Birthday bash in Bristol
  5. Anarchist Travelling Circuses
  6. Acorninfo

1. Cracks in the system – Part I

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A dramatic image from The Million Mask March in London

Before any empire collapses, cracks will start appearing in its structure – and the current global industrial capitalist system is no exception.

Sometimes these cracks take the form of space liberated from its monopolistic domination – such as the newly autonomous communities of Kurdistan, protest land occupations like the ZAD at Notre-Dame-des-Landes in France, or the areas of Chiapas in Mexico freed 20 years ago by the Zapatista movement.

On other occasions these cracks simply take the form of a growing sense of rebellion and a gut-instinct rejection of the system at grassroots level which breaks out on the streets.

It is the latter which seems to be happening in London at the moment, as the spate of feisty conflicts with police shows no signs of ending and catches the eye of overseas observers.

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Scumoween riots in Lambeth, London
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Riot cops in Lambeth

On Saturday October 31 there was rioting in Lambeth, south London, after cops tried to block hundreds of ravers from getting into the Scumoween halloween free party. Reports the Rabble website: “Riot cops attacked the party-goers with dogs and baton charges, and the people fought back with whatever weapons came to hand. According to the police, this included fireworks, gas canisters, and a ‘suspected petrol bomb’.” There is a video here.

Student protesters in London

Then just a few days later, on Wednesday November 4, a student protest for free education also “descended into violence” as the corporate media always put it – in other words, these young people were not prepared to be pushed around and attacked by the thugs of the Met Police. There is a video here.

The Million Mask March in London

The very next day, Thursday November 5, saw the London version of Anonymous’s global Million Mask March end in 50 arrests amidst what London’s police chief called “despicable violence” – from the protesters rather than his own officers, needless to say.

Protesters decided to ignore the “conditions” imposed on the march by the police and the sinister order to comply with the dictates of The Law that was projected on to the side of buildings by green lasers.

Groups broke through police cordons and somebody set fire to a police car carelessly left unattended near Parliament Square.

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The Million Mask March in London

The frothing hysteria in the right-wing UK media which greeted the protest culminated on Saturday November 7 with a claim that “anarchists who wreaked havoc in central London this week are now plotting to kidnap senior police officers, strip them naked and humiliate them online”!

The sequence of angry protests, involving a new generation of discontented and alienated young people, echoes the situation five years ago after the right-wing Conservatives last won an election.

An autumn of revolt was followed the next summer, 2011, by massive rioting which shook the British establishment to the core and exposed the fact that it is completely incapable of putting down mass resistance if it erupts simultaneously across the capital and the UK.

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More of this ahead? Rioting in London in 2011

The harsh repression following the uprisings may have temporarily quenched the flames of revolt, but the underlying fire is still burning. If past experience is anything to go by, London could be the place to be in the summer of 2016…

Also read:

Paint-daubing, egg-throwing and shirt-ripping!

Growing revolt on UK streets

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2. Cracks in the system – Part II

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The second way in which the cracks are starting to appear in the industrial capitalist system is the increasing fascisisation of the UK and other “democratic” Western states.

At first glance, this might appear to be a trend heading in exactly the opposite direction to the hope held out by growing resistance.

But it’s important to realise it is very much a response to the threat of widespread disobedience and revolt that the system can see approaching on its political-weather radar.

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Make no mistake, our rulers would much rather there was no need for the trappings of authoritarian society to keep the population in line. They would be very happy if the “soft” approach of constant propaganda and “bread and circuses” was enough to maintain control.

But this first line of defence has already been breached. The illusions with which they imprison us are crumbling. The spread of information via the internet means people can increasingly see through the clumsy official lies.

While part of the public can be controlled by the use of “terrorism” scares and xenophobic hysteria, this doesn’t work for everyone.

So the ruling elite is forced to roll out repressive attacks on our freedom – and in doing so it reveals still further its true nature, alienating yet more segments of the population.

V for vendetta rally

The latest initiative by the UK, on top of ongoing efforts to completely abolish online privacy, is to create what is essentially a new thought-crime of “extremism” through which to persecute anyone who opposes the current capitalist system.

Extremism Disruption Orders (EDOs) will restrict the movement and activities of people the Government claims are engaged in so-called “extreme activities” and will also apply to “venues and facilitators” that are deemed to help “extremists”.

Although it’s presented under the pretext of “counter-terrorism”, this repression is also aimed at “non-violent” dissent and at opponents whose only crime is to express the wrong opinions (otherwise known as “extremists who spread hate but do not break existing laws”).

Said campaigner Peter Tatchell: “Proponents of a range of unpopular, controversial and dissident views may be liable to an EDO, including opponents of western foreign policy, campaigners against nuclear weapons and energy, animal rights activists, people who express bigoted opinions and supporters of legitimate democratic liberation movements in the Western Sahara, Palestine, Syria, Balochistan and West Papua”.

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The British state is clamping down on thought-crime

The orders are an extension of the current policy of using “anti-terrorist” laws as a political tool to be used against anyone the states decides to target, such as volunteers travelling to Calais to help refugees.

This fascistic attitude is, of course, not limited to the UK and a recent court case in France shows how the notion of “hate crime”, which would normally apply to racists and fascists, can be twisted round at will.

The French high court upheld the criminal conviction of 12 political activists for “inciting hate or discrimination” because they had handed out leaflets calling for a boycott against Israel as a means of ending the decades-long military occupation of Palestine.

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In France it is apparently now a crime to oppose the Israeli state

As Glenn Greenwald points out, calls for boycotts against other countries (such as unofficial “enemies”) are apparently still legal: “It requires sky-high levels of authoritarianism, even fascism, to abuse the criminal law to outlaw advocacy of policies and activism when it involves one country, and one country only”.

The Spanish state is even more openly repressive than its British and French counterparts – perhaps because levels of resistance are traditionally higher there and central control is in more imminent danger of collapse.

police spanish state

On Wednesday October 28, nine anarchists were arrested on suspicion of belonging to a “criminal organisation” in the form of a non-existent “network” invented by the police to justify their repression.

Then on Wednesday November 4 five more anarchists were arrested in Madrid, again accused of belonging to the imaginary network as well of damaging several banks.

As studies like Lesley J. Wood’s 2014 Crisis and Control: The Militarization of Protest Policing have set out, the ramping up of police-state repression against dissent (“extremism”!) is a global phenomenon being carried out by a global industrial capitalist system.

This is a sickening process to watch unfold, particularly when it targets our own friends and comrades.

But we must not lose sight of the fact that it only happening because that system is afraid – afraid that its lies are being exposed, that its true nature is becoming obvious and that before long the cracks that are currently appearing will spread further, join up and finally destroy it.

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3. Airport invasion targets drones firm

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An Israeli drones manufacturer operating in the UK has again been successfully targeted by protesters.

Following previous rooftop occupations of the Instro/Elbit factory in Kent (see Acorn 2 and Acorn 12), this time protesters headed for the disused Manston Airport, where the weapon parts firm was seeking planning permission to open a new unit.

Says a first-hand report of the October 21 action: “Previous occupations at Instro have begun under cover of darkness, but this was different. At around noon, cars pulled up at the gate, protesters leapt out, got a ladder up against the gate and began climbing over into the compound.

“Met by a security guard with a barking dog, three of the four made it, scaled the fire escape and occupied the roof, having to leave behind a huge banner but successfully taking their tent (it was a wet and windy day) and pitching it on the roof. Outside the gate, two more locked on and the rest of the team hung banners and placards and spoke to the press.

“The missing roof banner felt like a bit of a let-down, so a particular highlight of the day was the police and security guards later falling for a classic decoy ploy: while a distraction was created on one side of the perimeter, another protester got over the fence on the opposite side and made a dash for it, successfully delivering the banner – which could be seen for a long way – and leaving police and ‘security’ very red-faced.

“The site was occupied for the rest of the working day, police were called and floodlights were hired to be shone onto the control tower. Once again there was good local media coverage in which the demonstrators’ arguments were very clearly put and not distorted.

“Once again, though, no arrests were made yesterday despite the clear potential for charges of aggravated trespass. This is extraordinary, and we have to ask: why does Instro not want to press charges? What does it NOT want to emerge if there is a court case?

“Any activist prosecuted would take the defence that they were preventing a greater crime from being committed, and in their defence they would ask for details of Instro’s export licences to be made available. Is this what Instro is seeking to conceal? And why are the police repeatedly choosing to not press charges?

“Later that evening was the crunch vote at Thanet District Council, and to our relief and joy, Instro’s application to move to Manston was turned down by councillors – a huge success”.

There is a video report here and local media reports here and here.

Also read:

What is Elbit scared of?

UK anarchists pull off cheeky repeat factory occupation

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4. Birthday bash in Bristol

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The Kebele Social Centre in Bristol

Bristol’s Kebele Social Centre is currently celebrating its 20th birthday with a month of “stuff”.

In what it describes as “true anarchic style”, the Novemberfest at 14 Robertson Road, Easton BS5 6JY, actually runs through to the first week of December.

kebele poster

A packed programme includes an evening of Songs and Stories of the Spanish Revolution on Friday November 13, a session on What’s Happening at COP21 on Thursday November 17, and Until All are Free, a workshop exploring the links between human and non-human prisons, on Thursday November 19.

Then on Saturday November 28 and Sunday 29, the Kebele will be hosting the UK Social Centres network meeting. This event currently occurs twice a year, and is for all those involved in social centres (or aiming to set one up soon) around the UK.

kebele social centres

Since 1995, the Kebele has provided space for the development of radical ideas and activities, community campaigns, and international solidarity.

Kebele means “community place” in Amharic, an Ethiopian language. The term refers to community institutions, which dealt with their own needs & concerns, such as justice, health and community democracy.

During the revolution in Grenada in 1979, Rastafarians involved in the struggle used the term “kebele” to refer to the community centres in each neighbourhood from which, in theory at least, the revolution was based. In 1983, the USA invaded the tiny island of Grenada to crush the rebellion.

The Kebele Centre in Bristol proudly declares that it is “based on anarchist principles of opposing all forms of authority, and organising collectively without leaders”.

kebele month

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5. Anarchist Travelling Circuses

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The Anarchist Action Network is to start planning another of its “Anarchist Travelling Circuses” with a public meeting in Nottingham on Sunday November 22.

The gathering will run from 12 noon to 4pm at the Sumac Centre, 245 Gladstone Street, Nottingham NG7 6HX.

Says the call-out: “The Anarchist Action Network is an autonomous network made up of local groups and individuals from the anarchist movement based in the UK.

“We came together after the 2013 G8 summit to help re-build an anarchist network for the UK and take action together against capitalism and other oppressive elements in society.

“The network meets once a month, in a different town or city, to make decisions by consensus about principles and strategy. We have adopted the PGA hallmarks and have other principles that define us.

“We organised two ‘Anarchist Travelling Circuses’, in Newport, South Wales and East London, as well as numerous other events, demonstrations and weeks of action, and we now plan to organise a third A.T.C. and make other plans for the network in the months ahead. We’d like to welcome you (except cops and journos) to be a part of this”.

On its website,  the AAN stresses its commitment to a diversity of tactics: “We aim to show solidarity with everyone who is fighting against capitalism, and whose actions are in line with our general principles, whatever tactics they choose. For example, we will not stop supporting people just because their actions are labeled as ‘criminal’ or ‘violent’ by state authorities. Or, on the other hand, because they are accused of not going far enough”.

The Sumac Centre in Nottingham – hosts the AAN on November 22

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6. Acorninfo

French corporate media are already in xenophobic propaganda mode ahead of the protests against the COP21 climate summit in Paris from November 28 to December 12 (see call-out in Acorn 16). The RTL website reported on November 5 that security services fear “a foreign threat with the possible involvement of foreign activists like the famous German Black Blocs or for that matter English groups”. This was the justification for stricter border controls over the next month which, according to France Info, will target “possible terrorists but also violent anarchist groups like the Black Blocs”.

Black Bloc Strasbourg

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A Mexican anti-industrial group called the Pagan Sect of the Mountain has claimed responsibility for explosive attacks on nine buses near the capital on October 30, saying that the action was “continuing the fiercest conflict inherited from our ancestors against progress and artificiality”. Added their statement: “Cities grow exponentially, devouring mountains and wilderness areas, urban sprawl disturbingly covers the territories of coyotes, deer, hawks; usurping their habitat, resigning to a life in captivity and reducing wildlife to miserable ‘natural ecological reserves’. The result of all this forced extinction and devastation is us, and our actions in defense of all the wild”.

Mexico buses

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Anti-roads campaigners in Sussex, UK, have produced a report exploding the absurd claim by the road lobby that a new A27 Arundel bypass (see Acorn 1) would be good for the South Downs National Park by taking traffic off local roads. They point out that building new roads causes more traffic congestion and reveal that Highways England has now admitted that it failed to take this crucial factor of “induced traffic” into account in its A27 studies. See the A27 Arundel Bypass Neighbourhood Committee site at www.arundelbypass.co.uk

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New roads create more traffic

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An online Degrowth Library has been launched by degrowth.de. The regularly-updated multilingual resource covers a wide range of themes, including activism, animal rights, biodiversity, permaculture, social movements, veganism, feminism, infrastructure, spirituality and technology. Go to: http://www.degrowth.de/en/media-library/

degrowth.de logo

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A list of companies which supply weapons and equipment to the murderous Turkish police has been published by Corporate Watch UK. The researchers say: “Hundreds of people have been killed by the Turkish police and military in north Kurdistan since Turkey’s general election in June. While people around the world watch the actions of the Turkish police force with horror, military companies are cashing in”.

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Turkish police

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Construction machinery at the open-cast mine Hambach, Germany, was sabotaged on the night of Monday October 26 in an attack against the industrial capitalist businesses who “are destroying the basis of life on this planet”. Says a report on the Earth First! site: “Five diggers, two bulldozers, one road roller and one other expensive-looking machine had their hydraulics and electronic cables cut. the fuel and oil tanks were filled with sand, some mechanic parts damaged and all the windows were smashed. Despite the massive security-measures RWE and the police put up against us, it was still really easy to do serious damage to these tools of destruction.”

hambach machine

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Acorn quote: “The first duty of the revolution will be to make a bonfire of all existing laws as it will of all titles to property”.

Peter Kropotkin, Law and Authority

Bonfire night fire

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

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