The Acorn – 24

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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* * *

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

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* * *

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

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* * *

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

Unabomber, Industrial Society and its Future

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

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The Acorn – 18

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Number 18


In this issue:

  1. Paris – tear gas, grenades and hundreds of arrests
  2. Terrorism and the state – learning from history
  3. “Our fight is your fight!”
  4. Fracking – UK ditches illusion of democracy
  5. New road threat to Sussex countryside
  6. Acorninfo

1. Paris – tear gas, grenades and hundreds of arrests

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Tear gas and grenades were fired by French riot cops against brave activists who defied martial law in France – and more than 200 people were arrested.

Thousands took to the streets of Paris against the hypocrisy of the industrial capitalist system and its phoney COP21 climate summit.

For their pains they were kettled, intimidated, attacked and gassed by the cops. “The state of emergency is a police state, a fascist state!” they shouted in defiance of the brutal force deployed by a state which has been so busily depicting itself as a victim, rather than a perpetrator, of violence.

Activist media reported several hundred arrests, with the police taking arrestees away in buses.

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With the state of emergency conveniently in place for the COP21 summit (see below for analysis), all protests were banned.

Originally, the big protests planned for November 29 and December 12 were apparently outlawed because the crowds were “at risk” of terrorist attack, but it quickly became clear that the state of emergency was aimed as much as opponents of the industrial-capitalist system as at armed Islamists.

Several days before the start of COP21, several house arrests and police raids were aimed at activists close to the ZAD (anti-industrial protest camp) and environmental movement across the whole of France.

Six people were put under house arrest in Rennes, along with a Paris member of the legal team for the CoalitionClimate21, which consists of 130 groups, NGOs and unions. Police also tried to impose this measure on several people in Rouen, Lyon and elsewhere.

The house arrests are timed until December 12, the day after the end of the climate summit, making it clear that they are a political device used against protesters.

There were armed police raids at Ivry-sur-Seine (Val-de-Marne) and against organic vegetable sellers in the Dordogne.

In Nice a six-year-old girl was injured during a police operation: the officers who turned up in the middle of the night had smashed in the wrong door. In Loire-Atlantique, a caravan of 200 cycles accompanied by five tractors was blocked by the cops: they didn’t want the cyclists to go to Paris for COP21.

cop21squatraid
A squat is raided under the state of emergency

Meanwhile, all across France any event with the slightest hint of a political nature has been banned by the authorities without the need for any justification – in the southern city of Nîmes, for instance, a bookfair planned for November 21 and 22 was cancelled, while down the road in Alès a march against plans for a golf course and luxury housing development was likewise forbidden.

In this climate of fear, hysteria and general submission to authority, a group of dissidents took the courageous step of publishing a call to defy the state of emergency.

A signed letter published in Liberation newspaper and on the lundiam website (English translation here) called for people to head for the Place de la République in Paris at 2pm on Sunday – and so they did, in large numbers, despite the threat of six months’ imprisonment and a fine of 7,500 euros under martial law.

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They were blocked into the square by an army of police, with checkpoints out of sight in the Metro. An hour of static protest was apparently all that the French state was prepared to tolerate. At 3pm police shouted through megaphones: “Dispersez-vous, nous allons faire évacuer la place!” – “Disperse! We are going to clear the square!”

The cops proceeded to attack the crowds, using grenades, tear gas and charges. The rebels didn’t take this lying down and there was spirited resistance to the uniformed robo-thugs. See this video, for example.

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Needless to say, the corporate media was full of condemnations of the protesters, rather than of the state and its thugs.

Make no mistake – a very deliberate psychological attack is being made on the population of France by the imposition of the state of emergency and all the fear-mongering jingoistic hysteria accompanying it.

There is a big and obvious lie behind the role of the military-style police with their grenades, batons and poison gas, along with the bureaucrats and politicians who are happy to impose military-style law in the supposed home of liberté, and the lapdog journalists who churn out their propaganda.

They are not defending the people, as they laughably claim, but reasserting the brute power and violence through which every state demands the craven submission of its population.

You have the right to free speech

As long as you’re not dumb enough

To actually try it

Get off the streets! Get off the streets!

(The Clash, Know Your Rights)

Also read:

Capitalism is built on violence and lies

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2. Terrorism and the state – learning from history

paris-attacks

Regular readers of The Acorn may have noticed a couple of themes that have cropped up regularly over the last few months.

One was the enormous potential of the COP21 protests for the renewed struggle against industrial capitalism (Acorn 14) – in Acorn 17 we reported how the French authorities were in a bit of a tizzy about the possibility of dissent on the streets.

The other theme was the big lie behind “anti-terrorism” – how it is an authoritarian phenomenon which hides behind the threat of “terror” to repress the population which is supposedly being protected (Acorn 12Acorn 13Acorn 16 and  Acorn 17).

These two subject matters have come together in spectacular fashion in France, where the November 13 attacks in Paris have prompted a state of emergency which has involved the banning of the COP21 protests as well as raids on squats and activists.

The official, and laughable, justification for this is that it is to protect the crowds of protesters from attack by terrorists – funnily enough, football matches and Christmas shopping have been allowed to resume, despite what you might have imagined was the greater risk of attack.

The truth is that the terrorist attacks, and the ensuing police-state paranoia, have in many ways proved extremely convenient for the French state.

It has allowed it to ban protests, give free rein to the cops to carry out raids on anyone they don’t like, bring in new controls and legislation. Writes Nafeez Ahmed: “Under the extension, French police can now block any website, put people under house arrest without trial, search homes without a warrant, and prevent suspects from meeting others deemed a threat”.

The attacks have also, of course, been used to justify further neo-colonial warfare in the Middle East. Jingoism is suddenly the flavour of the day in France, with flag shops doing a roaring trade just like in the USA after 9/11. An increasingly unpopular and despised president has been able to reinvent himself as some kind of heroic war chief.

brussels
The army on the streets of Brussels

Other states have also been quick to exploit the attacks for their own political purposes. Belgium experienced what looked like a dress-rehearsal for a fascist military coup. For the UK government, the Paris attacks served as a handy boost for the bomb-Syria argument and also, usefully, another stick with which to beat opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn. It has also lead to a great cry for more funding for intelligence services, more powers of surveillance and so on and so forth.

The Paris incident has also, of course, been used across the continent to turn public sympathy for refugees into fear and to justify the closing down of Fortress Europe’s borders and the brutality inflicted on migrants like those at Calais.

calais
Police at Calais

In the USA, the Paris attacks have somehow been twisted into a condemnation of whistleblower Edward Snowden and calls on CNN for him to be hanged.

Warns Ahmed: “The ripple effect from the attacks in terms of the impact on Western societies is likely to be permanent. In much the same way that 9/11 saw the birth of a new era of perpetual war in the Muslim world, the 13/11 Paris attacks are already giving rise to a brave new phase in that perpetual war: a new age of Constant Vigilance, in which citizens are vital accessories to the police state, enacted in the name of defending a democracy eroded by the very act of defending it through Constant Vigilance”.

Many observers have noted the way that all of this falls neatly into the pattern of the Strategy of Tension in Italy in the 1970s and 1980s.

As we have previously pointed out (Acorn 12), it is now a matter of record that the Italian state, and NATO, were involved in facilitating acts of shock-and-awe terrorism targeting the general population. The goal was to frighten the people into the arms of the state and to thus extinguish the fires of growing left-wing rebellion.

piazza fontana
False flag state terrorism in Italy

The Italian situationist Gianfranco Sanguinetti wrote in his 1980 book On Terrorism and the State: “The aim from December 12 1969 to March 16 1978, and again today, has always remained the same, which is to persuade the whole population, including those who have lost any belief in the state or have been fighting it, that they have at least one common enemy with this state, from which the state will defend them on condition that it is no longer challenged”.

Pre-echoing Ahmed’s warning regarding democracy, Sanguinetti added: “The reasoning currently in vogue is simple: if you love democracy, you have to defend it; to defend it you have to fight its enemies; to fight the enemies of democracy, no sacrifice is too great: the nobility of the end justifies every means; no democracy for the enemies of democracy! Something which was never essentially a democracy has now visibly ceased being so”.

Faced with the spectre of fascist terrorism, even the Italian left rallied to the cause and supported draconian anti-terrorist legislation.

Gladio
Gladio – fact not theory

There is a tendency in radical anti-capitalist circles to shy away from anything that smacks of the dreaded “conspiracy theory” – partly, no doubt, because it is a kind of analysis that can too easily slip into absurd paranoia and far-right fantasies.

But you shouldn’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. Or, to put it another way, just because the fibbing little boy has cried wolf far too often, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t now a pack of them coming down your street.

While theories about hoaxed moon landings or chemical vapour trails are nothing other than theories, the existence of Operation Gladio and its false-flag terror has been documented fact for the last quarter of a century, even if it is barely mentioned in mainstream media.

Another fact, as documented in great detail by the meticulous Ahmed, is that the UK, the USA and other NATO countries have close links to Islamic terrorist groups. It all began with the anti-communist “Afghan Rebels” in the 1980s, continued with the story of the good Muslims fighting the anti-NATO Serbs in the 1990s and the same “rebel” tag of approval was being applied to the broad range of Assad opponents in Syria until relatively recently.

Afghan rebels
Anyone remember the US-backed Afghan Rebels?

If it doesn’t seem too much of a stretch of the imagination that the Turkish state might have collaborated with Islamists in the attack on left-wing pro-Kurd activists in Suruç this July (Acorn 12), why might we imagine that the French or British states would not be capable of something similar?

suruc bomb
The massacre at Suruç

Of course, any suggestion that the Paris attacks were a modern-day version of the Strategy of Tension, in which the role of neo-fascist terrorist-puppets has been passed on to Islamist terrorist-puppets, remains firmly in the realm of “theory”.

It may seem odd that enemies of the French state, well armed with machine guns and explosives and with little apparent interest in their own survival, should prioritise attacks on cafes and a rock gig, rather than, say, the French Ministry of Defence, the police HQ or the Presidential Palace.

It may seem odd that two of them would feel the need to carry (fake) Syrian passports with them, so that they could be discovered at the scene and justify the ensuing military action.

It may seem odd that the alleged perpetrators were apparently already known to the authorities and yet allowed to move around Europe without hindrance.

It may seem convenient that the supposed “mastermind” was executed by the state and that his account will now never be heard. It was the testimony of imprisoned fascist terrorist Vincenzo Vinciguerra that did much to lift the lid on the Gladio false flag terror network – it was clearly a mistake to allow him to live to tell the tale, as Lee Harvey Oswald might agree.

vinciguerra
Fascist bomber Vinciguerra

All of this is merely comment, not even circumstantial evidence. We here at The Acorn are in no position to know who was behind the Paris attacks and what their aims were.

However, it is important to realise, and to remember, that the French and other states, that the industrial capitalist system as a whole, is certainly capable of sacrificing the lives of the public for its own purposes, even if that is not what happened here.

We all know that the lives of “foreigners” count for nothing in the eyes of this system – there were no crocodile tears for the 44 people killed in Beirut the day before Paris, let alone for all the innocent Iraqis, Afghans, Syrians and Libyans killed by “the West” in its endless imperialist wars, or indeed for the Yemenis and Palestinians murdered by its Saudi and Israeli allies.

But don’t imagine that European industrial capitalism draws a line at killing its own populations. One hundred years ago, a whole generation of young men was slaughtered at its behest, for instance.

corpse in trenches
A body in the trenches – just another victim of capitalist wars

More than that, remember all the men, women and children who have died in the wheels of its machineries, who have choked to slow deaths in its contaminated air, who have been eaten away by cancers feeding on its toxic excretions.

For all its sanctimonious moralising, industrial capitalism is itself a death cult.

It is a cult of power for the sake of power, growth for the sake of growth, which will do anything – literally anything – to ensure its own preservation and expansion. Murder, lies and hypocrisy are part of its very essence and we would do well never to forget that.

We warned in The Acorn 12, as recently as July this year: “The worrying lack of knowledge and understanding, even in radical circles, of the extent to which terrorism was secretly deployed by the capitalist system from the 1940s to the 1980s sadly means that there is little to stop it using the same techniques again today”.

As the Italian philosopher George Santayana wisely pointed out: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.

prisoners

Also read:

Terror and the capitalist system

Anti-terrorism is not what it says it is

Erdogan’s dirty war against the Kurds

From Rhineland to Paris, a new spirit of defiance

Tarnac – a victory against the system

Cracks in the system – Part II

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3. “Our fight is your fight!”

DAFmarch

A powerful statement of solidarity with comrades in France was issued by Devrimci Anarşist Faaliyet- DAF (Revolutionary Anarchist Action) in Turkey after the November 13 attacks:

“We feel the massacre in Paris deeply and share your sorrow. We have lived and still living through ISIS attacks supported by the state. From Şengal to Kobane, from Pirsus (Suruç) to Ankara, we have lost many comrades and friends.

“We are aware of the fact that the massacres aim to create fear, distrust and loneliness on us. Our pain is great and increases every day. In these periods, We have to grow the solidarity against the murderers that want to bury us into fear, loneliness and isolation.

“We see the simultaneous moves of the French state and other states aiming to direct the process. We know that these same strategies are realized in our region under the name of ‘Fight against Terror’.

“In this environment of distrust, people have a psychology of panic which is directed by the ideological devices of the state; the state oppression of revolutionaries and state politics restricting the freedom of the oppressed will be politically legitimized; and the racist discourse and politics will increase. The states use these extraordinary periods for their political, economic and social interests.

“We understand the situation that the peoples living in France are and will be in. We know the difficulty of carrying on one side the sorrow of the lost ones and on the side, struggling against the fascist mobilisations in the society created by the state. We stress that, even with this hardship, the struggle should be against the fear, the state and fascism.

“The sorrow you live is our sorrow, The rage you feel is our rage, your fight is our fight!”

Also read:

Holistic anarchism in Turkey

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4. Fracking – UK ditches illusion of democracy

fracking_lancashire

Democracy in the UK, as in France, is increasingly being revealed as a hollow sham.

The latest slippage of the mask comes with the government’s announcement that it will take the final decision over whether fracking should be allowed in Lancashire.

A feisty local campaign against Caudrilla’s ecocidal proposals at Little Plumpton near Blackpool and Roseacre, near Elswick, resulted in victory this June, when county councillors threw out the applications (see Acorn 11).

frackdelight
Victory in June 2015

The decision was hailed at the time by Greenpeace as “a Waterloo for the fracking industry” and one expert told the Daily Telegraph: “This decision is a serious setback for shale gas in the UK and many must be wondering if it can ever reach production phase”.

But the pro-fracking UK government was not prepared to sit back and allow the “localism” of public opposition to get in the way of its business chums’ profiteering.

While Cuadrilla’s appeal will still be considered in a three-week public inquiry and the planning inspector will submit a report, the actual decision will be made by Secretary of State for Local Government Greg Clark, Tory MP for Tunbridge Wells – because of the decision’s “major importance”.

Anti-fracking campaigner Barbara Richardson, of Roseacre Awareness Group, told Drill or Drop website: “So much for local democracy. These applications have been rejected at every level; by the residents, by the Parish Council, by the Borough Council and by the County Council. Even our Conservative MP, Mark Menzies, has stated publicly that the decision should be left to local politicians.

“This is about industrialisation of our countryside by an industry that is both dangerous and damaging to the environment, our health and climate change”.

Sue Marshall of the Preston New Road group added: “Now even the illusion of democracy is at risk with far-reaching consequences into all aspects of our lives.

“We don’t need to look abroad for terrorist threats: currently the greatest threat to us all is closer to home, in the heart of our government, whose blatant arrogance and disrespect for democratic process and destructive denial of human rights knows no bounds”.

David Cameron won't let anything stand in the way of the fracking industry
David Cameron won’t let anything stand in the way of the fracking industry

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5. New road threat to Sussex countryside

a27 - chichester

A new threat to the Sussex countryside is emerging, as the state prepares to drive a new motorway-style trunk road across the southern English county.

The authorities have long been planning “improvements” to the existing bypass to the south of Chichester as part of their project to turn the A27 coastal road into a freight-heavy motorway linking the South-West to the Channel Tunnel.

But anti-roads campaigners have discovered that Highways England now looks like favouring the shock option of a completely new road across countryside to the north of Chichester, which would impinge on the South Downs National Park.

One told The Acorn: “They are definitely not, as had previously been thought, of just making a show of looking at it only then to rule it out on cost grounds; seems they are now serious about it”.

a27 - countryside

Leaving the existing dual carriageway north of Fishbourne, this would cross the A286 between Lavant and Chichester – straight through a popular ‘daffodil field’ – and go along New Road near Goodwood and rejoin at the A285 junction near Tangmere.

Added the campaigner: “In addition to the direct and indirect impacts on the South Downs National Park around Chichester, this would open the A27(M) floodgates eastward into Sussex, adding to pressure for a more motorway-like approach at Fontwell/Arundel/Worthing and beyond.  It would thus create much more induced (long-distance) traffic than would have been the case with Chichester as a slower location.  Local traffic and rural Sussex would be the loser.

“Why would they do this, when to do so they would potentially need to reallocate money from Arundel-and-Worthing?  Perhaps they believe that if Chichester is bypassed with an expressway, then the other routes will in the end fall like dominoes to the required expressway standard, and we will have to accept the south coast near-motorway-standard strategic through route which ‘they’ want – including major offline bypasses at Arundel and at Worthing”.

Local anti-roads activists are convinced that the proposal would attract widespread opposition and that concerted action could trigger a more general resistance to the motorway threat to Sussex.

But they warn that the battle could prove decisive, either way: “A loss for the countryside at Chichester would very likely be fatal for attempts to protect the countryside at Arundel and Worthing. So the Chichester outcome looks likely, one way or the other, to determine the future of Sussex”.

Consultation is due to start in Spring 2016, with a decision on the route in Summer 2016 and work starting in 2018 – so now is the time to get active!

The A27 Alarm campaign has a blog at www.a27alarm.blogspot.com and can be contacted via a27alarm@gmail.com

Also read:

Road fight is back on

Highways to hell

Infrastructure is the enemy

The road to corporate profits

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6. Acorninfo

The next Reclaim the Fields European Assembly is to be held in Poland in January 2016, the network has announced. Anyone who wants to go is recommended to book transport now to Warsaw for Thursday January 21 to Sunday January 24 – the exact location will be announced closer to the date. More info here.

rtfpolska

* * *

Are some trade unions little more than obedient cheerleaders for the industrial capitalist system? So it would appear from the latest disgraceful position taken by GMB. We reported back in (Acorn 11) that the “general” trade union was supporting fracking because of the “business need”. Now it is throwing the weight of its 630,000 members behind the expansion of London Heathrow Airport! Along with Unite union, it has joined forces with its industrialist friends at the Institute of Directors; the Confederation of British Industry; the British Chambers of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses, reports The New Statesman. The radical thinkers at GMB and Unite are apparently enthusing over the prospect of “jobs generated by the new infrastructure”. Words fail us.

heathrow

* * *

Repression of those who dare to challenge the system continues across the world, as ever. On November 12 a joint international police operation in Milan arrested 8 comrades – 4 of them being based in Milan and other 4 in Athens – in connection with the Mayday riots in Milan (see Acorn 9 ). Infoaut reports that two more comrades, a Greek and an Italian one, are on the run – while four more from Milan and Como and another one from Athens are charged and under investigation without being arrested. In South Korea, police used tear gas and pepper spray in water cannons against the 130,000 demonstrators demanding the resignation of right-wing President Park Geun-hye. And this video taken by a passing motorist shows police repression of an anti-fascist demo at the Complutense University in Madrid on Friday November 20. At least six students were arrested, including members of the Juventudes Libertarias and CNT-AIT Madrid. Several young people were injured by the police assault.

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Mayday in Milan

* * *

In response to the likes of the above, anarchist imprisoned in Greece have issued a call-out for a “Black December” of “combative solidarity” which has been echoed internationally. Says a statement at contrainfo: “We call for the revival of the black memory of our dead and all those who have fallen in the fight for freedom and anarchy”.

black-december

* * *

Fifth Estate magazine in the USA is marking its fiftieth birthday at the moment. Hailed as “the longest running English language anarchist publication in North America, its contributors have included Fredy Perlman, David Watson and John Zerzan. The anniversary is being publicised via this rather cool video.

fifthestate

* * *

An Acorn reader got in touch having spotted a rather strange detail in an online job advert for someone to work on a “community resilience project” for a pseudo-environmental organisation called Groundwork South, whose mission is apparently “to make the South of England a greener and more prosperous place for people and communities”. The strange thing is that it says the role is about preparing people to respond to “emergencies and natural disasters” such as “flooding, pandemic flu, landslide, rioting…” Rioting? Well, nothing can be allowed to get in the way of “prosperity” after all. Biodegradable brooms at the ready, citizens, to sweep the riff-raff off the streets!

groundwork

* * *

Finally, some good news for all who can’t wait to see the final collapse of life on the planet – US regulators have given the go-ahead to genetically modified salmon, the first GM animal destined for human consumption. The business behind it, AquaBounty, has produced an Atlantic salmon injected with a gene from Pacific Chinook salmon to make it grow faster – and boost its bosses’ prosperity, of course. The salmon are sterile.

salmonGM

* * *

Acorn quote: “The idea that we cannot have complete unrestricted freedom is based on the assumption that human beings cannot be trusted with that. The idea that we cannot be trusted is based on the assumption that there is no such thing as an innate tendency to goodness and co-operation. The idea that there is no innate tendency to goodness is based on the assumption that goodness is an artificial construct devoid of any practical content, rather than an inherent aspect of humanity’s ability to survive. The idea that this innate goodness has nothing to do with survival is based on the assumption that humanity is merely a collection of individuals, with their own personal survival as a priority, rather than a social organism with collective survival as its aim”.

Paul Cudenec, Forms of Freedom

Solidarity

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

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