The Acorn – 36

acornmastheadnew1

Number 36


In this issue:

  1. Toxic clouds of capitalism
  2. Envisioning a post-Western world
  3. On the knife’s edge
  4. Anarchy in Hamburg
  5. Anarchy in London
  6. Blocking the arms fair
  7. Acorninfo

1. Toxic clouds of capitalism

On Sunday August 27 crowds of people enjoying a day on the beach at Birling Gap near Eastbourne, East Sussex, suddenly started coughing and spluttering, and rubbing their eyes, before fleeing the coast en masse.

They had fallen victim to a cloud of chemical gas, later identified as chlorine, which had drifted onto the southern English coast from the Channel. Some 150 people were treated in hospital in what was described by emergency services as “a major incident“.

The mainstream media reaction to this nightmarish episode was predictably understated and narrow, restricting itself to speculation as to where the poison gas may have specifically come from – Rotterdam, maybe, or northern France, or a ship in the Channel, or an old wreck.

With the honourable exception of the local Friends of the Earth, nobody was interested in the bigger picture.

Meanwhile, in the USA, Hurricane Harvey resulted in Houston’s petrochemical industry leaking thousands of tons of pollutants, with communities living near plants damaged by the storm exposed to soaring levels of toxic fumes and potential water contamination.

The plain truth about both instances of environmental poisoning  is, of course, that they are products of the industrial capitalist system.

This is the same system which, as revealed by a new report, has produced 8.3bn tonnes of plastic since the 1950s, polluting the world’s continents and oceans and threatening a “near permanent contamination of the natural environment”.

This is the same system which has destroyed 80 per cent of the Earth’s natural forests, which is wiping out our fellow species by dozens every single day, with as many as 30 to 50 per cent of all species heading towards extinction by 2050.

And if we are looking for a way of ensuring that incidents like the ones at Eastbourne and Houston never happen again, if we want to avoid all the pollution and extinction, the only meaningful approach is to work for the dismantling or destruction of the industrial system.

Why is this so hard for so many people to understand or to accept? Why, even among radical critics of capitalist society, is there so much reluctance to contemplate the loss of its toxic infrastructures?

People often talk about their attachment to the “little luxuries” in life that come hand in hand with industrialism. But is the ability to watch videos or play electronic games at any time and any place they fancy really more important than the ability to sit in the open air without being assaulted by drifting clouds of chemicals?

Is the personal convenience provided by a washing machine or a car really so important that future generations might not be able to walk outside without an oxygen mask?

Are all the temporary, shallow, egotistic pleasures of modern Western existence really worth more than the continuing organic well-being of our precious world?

Clearly not – and so why does this realisation not translate into a political perspective that embraces the end of the industrial capitalist era as an overwhelming priority for us all?

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2. Envisioning a post-Western world

This is an extract from a full-length article of the same name by Rob los Ricos and Paul Cudenec, which can be found here.

The West’s current incarnation as Industrial Capitalism poses a severe and unprecedented threat to the health and wellbeing of the living planet in general and the human species in particular.

The very basis of this system is the so-called need for permanent “economic growth”, involving a theoretically endless increase in the exploitation of people and nature that, logically, can only end in disaster.

This system justifies and defends itself by means of a mesh of oppressive constructs such as “property”, “law” and “nation”, which today largely go unchallenged, even by critics of capitalism’s worse excesses.

General acceptance of these constructs serves to camouflage and legitimize the violence used by the system to impose its control. It thereby helps to criminalize any resistance to this oppressive violence.

In the Mexican revolution of the early part of the 20th century, the Zapatistas had a slogan: “It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.”

In the West, the pervasive attitude is currently one of ignorance, fear, and slothful privilege, wherein the suffering caused by Western institutions in far-off lands is not of consequence to the people who are causing it through an unquenchable lust for cheap consumer goods.

Few of the beneficiaries are even aware it is happening, and most wouldn’t care if they knew. If told that wireless technology is causing genocide in central Africa, most Western consumers would likely reply “I like my cell phone.” Or their X-box, or their internet-connected refrigerator.

Western consumers have decided that it is – indeed! –  much better to live in ignorance and servitude to corporatized, military police states, and to hell with the consequences, rather than do anything to stop campaigns of genocide beyond their field of vision. The products of privilege produced in the process are precious to them, not human lives, or a living planet.

If the society produced in Europe through centuries of bloody violence and subsequently unleashed to ravage the entire planet can be thought of as “civilization,” an intelligent human being can only conclude that this civilization is something which must be eradicated so thoroughly as to never again be obtainable.

If this does not happen, and soon, our planet will become uninhabitable, and life as we know it no longer possible. Something new will evolve in the toxic, ruined wastelands the West creates everywhere. It will not likely be compatible with living things that have been predominant for the past few million years.

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3. On the Knife’s Edge

When our comrades over at Antidote Zine decided to repost the full text of Envisioning a Post-Western World (see above), they did so with the following introduction:

“In light of recent discussions among antifascists (including here within the Antidote Writers Collective) about an esoteric but significant kind of red-brown convergence—the potential for fascist counter-recruiting on the more nihilistic, misanthropic fringes of deep green, Euro-pagan, and Malthusian eco-anarchist groups—we recognize that some of the arguments put forward in the article that follows are right on the knife’s edge.

“We present them nonetheless for two reasons: firstly, of course, these ideas are out there whether we like it or not and warrant critical attention; and second, if spaces—both physical and ideological—are vulnerable to fascist counter-recruiting, this implies an overlap where antifascist counter-recruiting could (and should) be happening as well. In other words (indeed the words of Magpie Killjoy elsewhere in these pages), it behooves people in contested cultural terrain to, well, contest it.”

It was a little odd to have cited nihilism regarding an article which specifically declares that “our desire for the destruction of the current system is not nihilistic in motivation, but is born of a yearning for another way of living”.

Likewise, neither of the two authors of the original piece sees any misanthropy, Malthusianism or specifically “Euro-” paganism in their joint article.

The problem seems to be that anarchists today are forever looking over their shoulders to see if they are being watched by what is essentially an internal Thought Police, self-appointed custodians of a flattened-out and narrowed-in version of anarchism.

Seemingly born in the cloisters of Academia, this strange hybrid of ultra-liberalism and reformist post-Marxism is more interested in language than reality. It delights in over-complicating issues, in spreading the notion that cynical sophistication is superior to passionate simplicity. It very much dislikes any clear or direct physical or intellectual confrontation with the current order.

It is a fairly fluid entity, which varies in emphasis from context to context. But we can say that it generally does not approve of opposing US imperialism, of defending Palestinian rights, of protesting against capitalist summits, of Black Bloc tactics, of exposing the covert machinations of the military industrial complex, of talking about the “one per cent” or the “banksters”, of challenging the capitalist cult of technology, of using any kind of “populist” language that might actually inspire people to take to the streets in rebellion.

For instance, a reflection on the protests against the G20 in Hamburg in July, written by the “Gruppe Internationaler SozialistInnen” and reproduced in translation on the Libcom website, pours scorn on anti-capitalist enthusiasm around riots which broke out in the city’s Schanzenviertel during the mobilisation (see below).

It drones on boringly about “the intellectual failure of the so-called ‘autonomists’ to even begin to distinguish between the simple breaking of glass and the expropriation and socialisation of the means of production and consumption through the action of the proletarianised”.

Tut tut. Unpolitical youth interfering with the socialisation of the means of production

It also complains: “The riots may have been ignited by anger over the police, but they quickly took on the dynamic of a content-free event-riot, participated in by party-goers, unpolitical youth and, according to rumours which must be taken seriously, even Nazi hooligans.”

This last little snipe is interesting, as it is a common feature of these kinds of critiques that they usually claim that out-and-out anti-capitalism represents some kind of “slippery slope” towards a new kind of fascism, or the famous and yet elusive “red-brown convergence” referred to by Antidote.

In France, these techniques have been used by “journalist” Ornella Guyet on her (happily now defunct) site confusionnisme.info to lump together everyone from environmentalists of the décroissance movement to Nuit Debout, Noam Chomsky and Jeremy Corbyn as “confusionist”, anti-semitic or somehow otherwise dangerously close to a mystifyingly broad redefinition of “fascism”.

Exposing her activities, the left-wing website Le Grand Soir concludes that she is “an opportunist in thrall to the neocolonial and ultra-liberal system”. It adds: “Ornella Guyet claims to be ‘left-wing’, but her work proves the opposite.” It says she uses the cover of anti-fascism to attack genuine opponents of the  capitalist system. “In this sense she is the perfect example of the Fake Antifa, a guard dog of power”.

The UK has its own fake leftists in the Ornella Guyet mould, as discussed in Acorn 19. In that article we concluded that there seemed to be “a network of journalists and academics actively working to steer the ‘Left’ away from any criticism of the USA and the capitalist system it dominates”.

The influence of this Fake Left is such that genuine anarchists and anti-capitalists are now self-censoring to avoid falling victim to their ideological smear campaigns.

We are edging towards a situation where the only “acceptable” form of opposition to the system is irrelevantly academic and reformist.

A pedantic and humourless ideological puritanism, masquerading as radicalism, limits itself to calling for the system to be made fairer, more inclusive or more democratic and is suspicious of anyone who dares to challenge the fundamental assumptions of power.

Apparently forgotten is the urgent and inspiring anarchist demand for capitalism to be wiped from history to pave the way for a completely different way of living.

If drawing attention to this means we are regarded in some quarters as being on the “knife’s edge” of acceptability, then so be it.

As our friends at Antidote point out, “it behooves people in contested cultural terrain to, well, contest it”.

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4. Anarchy in Hamburg

As we predicted (in Acorns 29 and 35), the protests against the G20 in Hamburg in July were powerful and significant, both in terms of anti-capitalist resistance and in terms of the kind of repressive policing we are likely to be facing in the rebellious years ahead.

A very full and excellent English-language report was posted by our US comrades at Crimethinc and rather than producing our own inferior version, we thought we’d just copy and paste a few sections of their long article to give our readers a taste of what went on. The Crimethinc report and analysis can be seen in full here.

State violence and popular resistance

The 2017 G20 summit provoked the most intense clashes in Germany yet this century. This is an epic story of state violence and popular resistance on a scale rarely witnessed in the US and northern Europe.

The police attempted to use brute force to isolate and terrorize all who came to demonstrate against the G20, but in the process, they turned a large part of the population against them and the city spiraled out of control.

The police strategy underscores how central old-fashioned coercive violence is to the power of the G20 leaders; yet once again, we saw that a determined populace can outmaneuver even the best-trained and best-equipped police.

If 20,000 fully militarized officers using everything short of lethal force can’t maintain order at the most important security event of the year in Europe’s richest nation, perhaps it is possible to imagine revolution on the horizon after all.

The Courage of the Black Bloc

Imagine the scene: you are in the front lines of the Welcome to Hell black bloc. You and your friends decided to be here months in advance, to ensure that the front of the bloc would be populated by reliable people. You knew from the beginning that you would be walking into a nightmare. Still, your commitment to your comrades and to the movement outweighs fear for your personal safety; you have chosen to be here, come injury or prison, out of love of humanity and desire for a better future. Unlike the police, you have no protective gear, you are not receiving a salary, and you are not following orders.

St. Pauli Fischmarkt forms a sort of canyon here, where it drops beneath the level of the other streets—but for you, facing an impenetrable wall of police, it feels more like an arena. The railings above you are packed with viewers. They throng the pedestrian walkway that passes overhead and the hill of the park to the north; they are even gathered on the rooftops of the tall apartment buildings beyond the park. Standing there below them, you can’t help resenting those spectators passively watching from the safety of their terraces. Ahead, you can make out one—two—three—at least four water cannons and some armored cars behind them. You and your companions are like gladiators trembling as the gates go up and the lions come out.

Explosions are going off behind you. They punctuate a din of screaming, shouting, and the robotic voice of police announcements over the loudspeaker. From your vantage point, you can’t see what is going on back there, where the police are carrying out charge after charge against the back of the bloc as demonstrators struggle to hold them off with a volley of bottles and debris. You can only smell the tear gas in the air and hear the sound of detonations and shattering glass. A canister explodes in front of you, enveloping you in smoke. When the smoke clears for a moment, you see that the ranks of the bloc behind you are thinning—fearful of being trapped and brutalized, demonstrators have formed a human pyramid to escape by climbing up the wall to the south.

At this moment, the riot police ahead of you charge, forming a wall all the way around the bloc stretching from the front to the northern side. There are perhaps fifty of you left in the front now, still holding up your banners as a fragile rampart against the full might of the state.

The water cannons zoom up, sirens blaring, and halt right in front of your line. There is a scene in The Fellowship of the Ring in which the orcs fall back as the mighty Balrog steps forth to attack the protagonists. In that same manner, the lines of white-helmeted riot police inch backwards as the water cannons train their barrels directly at you. Tear gas is still filling the air. The comrades behind you have fled. Deafening pandemonium. You are surrounded on three sides now, outnumbered ten to one by storm troopers clad head to toe in full body armor.

It could hardly be more terrifying if the earth cracked open and flames leapt out of the chasm. Welcome to hell, indeed.

The Wildfire Catches – and Spreads

At one point, the water cannons on Holstenstrasse were forced to retreat while the crowd chanted “Whose streets? Our streets!” Barricades appeared across the street; for a while, the police withdrew from the area.

Shortly before midnight, people gathered at Grüner Jäger once more, where barricades had been erected earlier. They threw bottles at the water cannons as they drove by. The same scene was playing out up and down the street for blocks.

Long lines of police vans kept whizzing past us on the street. Every time they passed, people would pelt them with bottles. Incredibly, the vans didn’t even stop. “This means they’ve totally lost control,” my friend from Hamburg explained. “Normally, they would never put up with that.”

A little after midnight, the police succeeded in dispersing the main body of the demonstration, but that only spread people throughout the area, where they continued fighting in smaller groups.

At about the same time, just around the corner, special forces positioned themselves in front of Rote Flora on Schulterblatt street. Clashes soon broke out here as well, and once more, the police were repeatedly forced to retreat. People erected burning barricades to keep them at bay.

All around the city, banks, luxury shops, and cars were attacked throughout the night. This occurred as far north as Osterstrasse, where several shop windows were broken. Similar damage occurred in Altona—to Sparkasse, for example.

At about 1:30 am, water cannons and a huge number of riot cops sought to disperse the crowd that had gathered at Sternbrücke. Yet clashes continued throughout the night on the smaller streets of central St. Pauli. Supposedly, 76 cops were injured in the course of the evening, although it later turned out that police had spread flagrant lies about the number of injuries they sustained. They refused to give out the numbers of injured and arrested protesters. Rescue teams were deployed 89 times, mostly to treat head injuries, broken bones, and abrasions.

Friday, July 7: Battleground Hamburg

We woke up to the sound of sirens. From the other side of the port, thick smoke was rising from the inner city. My comrade and I exchanged glances wordlessly.

Early in the morning, a black bloc made its way through Altona building barricades, smashing the windows of shops and banks, and burning several cars. They reached Ikea and attacked it with fire. The police were nowhere to be seen; they still had not regained control over the city since the previous night. Hamburg called for police reinforcements from elsewhere around Germany to join the 19,000 cops who were already present.

Elsewhere in Hamburg, police surrounded and trapped about a hundred people by the Rondenbarg trailer park, then charged and attacked them. Some of them tried to flee over a fence 4 meters high. Shouting “Antifa swine, this is your breakfast!” the police knocked down the fence and injured 14 people, 11 of them with broken bones and other serious injuries. Some of them were still in the hospital a week later. Police announced to the media that the group had attacked them first, but videos subsequently revealed this to be an outright lie.

A decree prohibiting protests in most of Hamburg had been in effect since 6 am. Yet soon after dawn, blockades had appeared throughout the city, especially around the port, the red zone where the summit was, and the roads that G20 delegates were using. The blockaders had gathered in the metro stations at Landungsbrücken, Berliner Tor, Altona, and Hammerbrook. From there, they moved through the city in different directions, carrying out a variety of decentralized actions. Some came close enough to the location of the summit to stop delegates in their vehicles.

At 8:20 am, the harbor was blockaded at Worthdamm and Veddeler Damm. This lasted until 11 am. Police attacked blockades throughout the city, but people quickly set up new ones. In the city center, around 10 am, police pushed blockaders towards Mönckebergstrasse. Melania Trump was delayed inside her hotel on account of confrontations outside it, and missed her scheduled activities.

At 10:30 am, all the blockaders had reached their positions, delaying the summit, shutting down the harbor, and disrupting the infrastructure of capitalism. Around 11, a convoy of G20 delegates was stopped on Gorch-Fock-Wall due to blockades. At the same time, thousands of students were going out on strike.

The Defense of Schanze, Police-Free Zone

By 9 pm, burning barricades surrounded the Schanze district. The police had been forced to withdraw. At 9:30, some stores were looted, including Rewe and Budni. Goods were taken from the stores and redistributed freely. Fierce clashes were taking place along Lerchenstrasse as great bonfires burned nearby. By 10:45 pm, people were affectionately describing St. Pauli as “out of control.”

In the clashes at the edge of the liberated zone, someone was using one of those enormous umbrellas that cover outdoor tables at cafés as a shield to try to protect himself from the water cannon. The force of the blast kept pushing him back so he skidded along the asphalt. Then somebody else got another umbrella from the café and wedged it behind the first one. In that position, the water cannon couldn’t move them. It was just symbolic, but somehow it felt like a moral victory.

Further into Schanze, at the burning barricade, people were looting an electronics store. Someone got his hands on a massive flatscreen monitor and carried it towards the fire. Everyone else was shouting for him not to do it, that it was expensive, but he joyously heaved it into the flames. Then everyone cheered, feeling somehow lighter. Destroying commodities can be a kind of therapy that relieves us of covetousness.

For me, these scenes exemplify the inventiveness and festive atmosphere that prevail in moments like the ones we experienced in Schanze when it was free of police.

The critical mass that had gathered at 7 pm rode into Schanze around 11 pm, at the high point of the evening. Despite all the fearsome rhetoric portraying Schanze as a scene out of Breughel during the time the police were excluded from it, those who were there experienced an atmosphere of revelry and camaraderie. Many businesses were open, packed with people buying falafel or drinks. As people lined the streets, cheering at the arrival of the bicyclists, it could have been a family-friendly festival. The vast majority of participants were not anarchists or foreigners from Southern Europe, but ordinary people from Hamburg who had turned against the police over the preceding week. Outside of Schanze, even in areas where there were no anarchists, locals pulled their own trashcans into the street, forcing the police to spread themselves ever thinner over more and more territory.

All this time, the police had been fighting on the terrain of media as well as on the streets. Earlier, they used their Twitter account to beg people not to support the black bloc; in the evening, they demanded that journalists stop filming their operations and retreat from the Schanze district. Some officers even forced journalists to leave at gunpoint. Obviously, they did not want media documenting their loss of control, nor their violent attempts to reestablish it.

Outright resistance is already popular

Rather than imagining a faceless “general public” that disapproves of violence (except when the police enact it) and believes whatever the pundits say, let’s remember that society is comprised of countless different elements, many of whom have opinions that are never repeated on television by talking heads.

Most of the fearmongering about the resistance to the G20 is an intentional media campaign with classic talking points. It isn’t intended to reflect reality as it is, but rather to make us fearful of each other, to make it hard to imagine that there are others who want what we want. On Saturday, looking around the crowd in downtown Hamburg, it was clear that outright resistance is already popular.

Further reports from Hamburg can be found here and here.

A report on ongoing repression, including the German state’s closing-down of Linksunten Indymedia, plus info on all-important prisoner support, can be found here.

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5. Anarchy in London

One of the annual highlights of the anarchist calendar takes place in London on Saturday October 28 in the shape of the Anarchist Bookfair.

The 2017 event will see a return appearance for Winter Oak after a brief absence. We will have a stall somewhere at the venue and two speakers are lined up.

Ed Lord will be talking on Modern Madness: Mental Health, Modernity and Environmental Destruction. The anarchist author, researcher and mental health nurse discusses his recent book Modern Madness: A Wild Schizoanalysis of Mental Distress in the Spaces of Modernity published by Winter Oak. The book presents a radical critique of the modern world and the pandemic levels of mental illness we find there. Drawing on experience of mental health services and environmental activism, Ed asks the question “What if mental distress is considered as much a matter of geography as it is of personal pathology?” Followed by a discussion.

And Paul Cudenec will be talking about and reading from The Green One, which we published this summer. This book presents, in mythopoetic style, a gender-transcending archetype of natural vitality and rightness which has been present throughout the history of human culture, constantly taking on new forms to reflect the needs of each era. The Green One is Mother Earth, the Green Man, Osiris, Khidr, Robin Hood, Joan of Arc, the Luddites and authentic anarchism… Followed by discussion.

Times of the meetings have not been finalised yet, but as ever there are plenty of interesting sessions being lined up, such as:

  • Feminism and Self-Defence: Experiences of the Kurdish women’s struggles with Dilar Dirik.
  • A real revolution is a mass of contradictions: Reports from Rojava 2017 with Peter Loo and Sarah Patton of Plan C.
  • The Russian Revolution from Below – discussion opened by Simon Pirani, author of The Russian Revolution in Retreat.
  • My Buddha is Punk – a film screening and Q&A with the director Andreas Hartmann.
  • Dismantling the Prison Industrial Complex with Empty Cages Collective.
  • Does Chomsky matter? Milan Rai and Chris Knight debate Noam Chomsky’s relevance to anarchist theory and practice today.
  • Occupy, Organise … an introduction – with the Advisory Service for Squatters.
  • What it means to be libertarian, with Iain McKay, author of “An Anarchist FAQ”.
  • Zapatistas: Critical Thinking Against Capitalism, with the UK Zapatista Solidarity Network.
  • Carne Ross, Accidental Anarchist – film, followed by discussion with Carne Ross, Class War activist Lisa Mckenzie and anarchist/anthropologist David Graeber.
  • Bakunin and the International Workers’ Association, organised by Merlin Press.
  • Brian Morris on Deep Ecology and Anarchism – one of two book launches for Freedom Press.
  • Three different meetings on spy cops, from Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance (COPS), Undercover Research Group and, providing a historical perspective, from John Quail, author of Police Spies Then and Now.
  • How to fight your landlord by Brighton Solfed.
  • Intro to Earth First! With Earth First! UK, whose week-long annual gathering is the only anarchist camp in the UK, run according to anarchist organisational methods.
  • Land Rights. 69% of land in the UK is owned by 0.6% of the population, stolen many generations ago by deception and force. There are calls for a Day of Action in the UK next year.
  • Taking it to the streets – the politics of Class Solidarity with Liza McKenzie and Martin Lux.
  • Welcome to the anarchist future with the Anarchist Federation. “We are lucky to have some visitors from a future anarchist society, who will welcome you and explain how their world works”.

The event is being held on Saturday October 28 from 10am to 7pm at Park View School
West Green Road, London, N15 3QR. Seven Sisters tube station.

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6. Blocking the arms fair

Monday’s blockade

A week of action is underway in a bid to block the setting-up of one of the world’s biggest arms fairs in London.

The DSEI event has been dealing in death in the UK capital every two years since 1999 and campaigners are keen to stop it reaching its 20th birthday.

The  blockade got off to a good start on Monday September 4 with a day themed around “Stop Arming Israel”. Palestinian dancing and football matches blocked the road used by lorries bringing in equipment.

There were eight arrests as cops tried to clear a path for the warmongering profiteers, but the blockade forced the deathmongering DSEI organisers to try and sneak in their weapons through the back entrance.

Blocking the DSEI set-up on Monday September 4

On Tuesday morning, September 5, the “No Faith in War” actions saw a two-hour lock-on and reports of four arrests, including at least one Quaker.

In the run-up to DSEI, a broadside of in-depth articles was published online, exposing the arms fair, the industry’s revolving-doors relationship with government and the appalling human rights record of regimes that will be going shopping in the London Docklands, such as Saudi ArabiaIsraelTurkey and Indonesia. The investigative articles also look at DSEI’s role as a supermarket for state surveillance and border wars and at connections to animal rights abuses.

Said Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade: “DSEI will bring many of the world’s most appalling regimes together with the biggest arms companies.

“Right now UK fighter jets and bombs are playing a central role in the destruction of Yemen; what will be the next atrocity they are used in? War, repression and injustice are fuelled by events like DSEI. It’s time to shut it down for good.”

The blocking of the set-up culminates in a big day of action on Saturday September 9.

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7. Acorninfo

Environmental activists have been battling to protect the last primeval forest in Europe from commercial logging. They have chained themselves to trees and blocked felling machines in Poland’s Bialowieza Forest. This is a UNESCO World Heritage site where the habitat of the European bison, lynx and rare birds is at threat from the government-approved destruction. Follow Camp for the Forest on Twitter via @DlaPuszczy

* * *

A nasty road scheme has returned to threaten massive destruction in the last remaining block of ancient woodland on the coastal plain of Southern England. Plans for the A27 are targeting Binsted Woods, Arundel, home to a successful anti-road camp in 2003. Said West Sussex campaign group Protect Our Woodlands: “We fail to understand how anyone could support the wanton destruction that would occur in Binsted woods, or any of the Arundel A27 options Highways England (HE) has put forward. Clearly their only purpose is to create even more road space for through traffic to fill again.”

* * *

Strikes and protests will be held all across France on Tuesday September 12 against the latest labour “reforms” being imposed on the country by neoliberal President Macron, a so-called “centrist” already deeply unpopular with the public after being elected in May. Meanwhile, the day of mobilisation against the French police state featured in Acorn 35 has been moved to Saturday October 7.

* * *

The latest volume of Return Fire magazine is now available online and features a look at Ed Lord’s book Modern Madness (see above), an article on the impact of robotics, reports of direct action against industrial capitalist infrastructure and much more.

* * *

A new English-language blog has been launched from the ZAD at Notre-Dame-des-Landes. Zad for ever is subtitled  “Dispatches from the Liberated Territory Against an Airport & its World”, which nicely sets the context. It states: “The zad’s greatest strength is its radical diversity. This blog represents just some of the multitude of visions of the zone and its forms of life.”

* * *

A monument to the great German-Jewish anarchist Gustav Landauer has been unveiled in the Waldfriedhof, Munich. After he was murdered by proto-fascist soldiers in 1919, even Landauer’s grave was destroyed by the Nazis when they came to power in 1933.

* * *

More great news from the front line of Progress – an American firm has started implanting its employees with microchips which allow them to open doors, use computers or buy snacks. Todd Westby, CEO of Three Square Market, a technology firm in Wisconsin, said: “It’s the next thing that’s inevitably going to happen, and we want to be a part of it. Eventually, this technology will become standardised allowing you to use this as your passport, public transit, all purchasing opportunities.” We can’t wait.

* * *

A protest march in support of the UK’s “death sentence” prisoners is to be held in Manchester on Saturday September 16. As we reported in Acorn 32, some 4,000 people are serving IPP (Imprisonment for Public Protection)  sentences in British prisons even though these were legally abolished five years ago. These victims of blatant injustice still languish in jails with no release dates and soaring suicide rates. The protest will start at 12:30 sharp at 12 Minshull St, Manchester M1 3FR (Probation Office).

* * *

Acorn quote: “The modern West cannot tolerate that people should prefer to work less and be content to live on little; as it is only quantity that counts, and as everything that escapes the senses is held to be non-existent, it is taken for granted that anyone who is not in a state of agitation and who does not produce much in a material way must be ‘lazy’”.

René Guénon, The Crisis of the Modern World

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

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The Acorn – 35

acornmastheadnew1

Number 35


In this issue:

  1. “Welcome to hell!” Hamburg tells capitalist leaders
  2. Earth protectors: hundreds occupy Amsterdam coal harbour
  3. France: resisting the neoliberal police state
  4. Defiance in face of fracking onslaught
  5. The Green One is coming!
  6. Acorninfo

1. “Welcome to hell!” Hamburg tells capitalist leaders

Razor wire, water cannons and snipers are being lined up to protect the leaders of the capitalist world when they descend on Hamburg at the start of July.

The authorities are deploying 20,000 police to protect Trump, Putin, Erdogan, Merkel, May, Macron et al, turning the city into “a virtual fortress” under “something close to a state of emergency”, according to German media.

Summits like these were forced out of city centres 15 years ago by massive international anti-capitalist protests, with the global elite fleeing to inaccessible rural retreats.

But those in power now seem prepared to face the possible wrath of tens of thousands of opponents by holding the 2017 G20 Summit in downtown Hamburg.

The potential is clearly there for levels of resistance that would renew the energy of militant European anti-capitalism, as The Acorn previously pointed out back in November.

The authorities are of the same opinion.  Der Spiegel’s English-language website says officials are expecting up to 100,000 protesters “including militant groups seeking to disrupt or, if they can, prevent the summit”.

It adds: “The autonomous protest scene, which has a strong network across Europe, views the summit as a unique opportunity to restore their reputation within their political spectrum.

“Officials at the LKA [Landeskriminalamt] believe the radical anti-globalists will converge on summit sites from all directions in multiple prongs. If one prong fails to get through, the protesters hope another will be able to surmount the barriers.”

The article cites research conducted by Germany’s Federal Office of Criminal Investigation (BKA) as having detected activists in the Netherlands, the UK, Switzerland and Italy preparing to travel to the G20 summit. Other protest groups are expected from Austria and Greece, it says. And Kurds are likely to turn up in numbers to protest against Turkish leader Erdogan.

The authorities are, of course, rolling out their heavy weaponry to protect the powerful capitalist elite they serve. They are not only deploying miles of razor wire, but also water cannons, mounted police, dog units, snipers and “special forces”.

A new prison capable of hosting 400 people has kindly been laid on for protesters. The German federal police’s elite GSG 9 “counterterrorism” unit will also be in town.

Needless to say, extra-special protection is being laid on for the leader of the country which spearheads neoliberal capitalist imperialism – the USA. The Americans are even implying that they reserve the right to shoot dead any protesters getting in the way of Mr President.

Reports Der Spiegel:  “When U.S. President Donald Trump’s motorcade drives through the city, the streets will have to be empty. The doors of his Cadillac, nicknamed ‘The Beast’, are equipped with titanium armor and are as heavy as those of a Boeing 757 jet. The car even has its own oxygen system that can protect the president against a chemical weapons attack.

“The car has 8 tons of security technology and it cannot be allowed to come to any unplanned stops. Interior Senator Grote has already warned protesters against seeking to try and block Trump’s motorcade, saying nobody knows how the American Secret Service might react.”

Ahead of the summit, on Sunday July 2, there will be a symbolic and non-confrontational “wave of protest” with tens of thousands of people in the port city of Hamburg, on land and on the water.

Then on Thursday  July 6 there will be an international anti-capitalist demonstration against the G20 summit entitled “G20 Welcome to hell!“. This gathers at 4pm at the St Pauli Fischmarkt in Hamburg with a meeting involving cultural, musical and political contributions. From 7pm the demonstration will head towards the “red zone” and the final meeting will be held a stone’s throw from the summit’s location in the exhibition halls.

Friday July 7 will see the Hamburg City Strike, including the Block G20: Colour the Red Zone action; a bid to shut down Hamburg Harbour and with it the “logistics of Capital”;  a student strike and protest and a variety of surprise actions.

Then on Friday July 8, from 11am, there will be a mass demonstration with autonomous and anti-capitalist blocs.

As the Hamburg rebels say: “Don‘t let capitalism get you down – live resistance!”

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2. Earth protectors: hundreds occupy Amsterdam coal harbour

The fight against the ecocidal fossil fuel industry is stepping up, with an impressive mass civil disobedience action staged in the Netherlands on Saturday June 24.

Some 350 people occupied the coal harbour of Amsterdam, forcing it to shut down all activity for the day.

Said the Code Rood (Code Red) website: “We ruled the industry today, but the fight against the fossil industries continues.

“There is no time to lose. While the climate is already visibly changing and politicians allow for continued record-breaking greenhouse gas emissions we are building a militant climate movement that makes a switch from mass protest to mass disobedience.

“We are calling for everybody to join us in this collective struggle. When we join forces we can break the power of the fossil fuel industry!”

The successful action was linked to the nearby Climate Camp, which had opened two days previously.

The occupation did not go unopposed – protesters reported that once inside the site, they were sprayed with foul water “smelling of mud and manure”.

But more than 50 people managed to get to the top of a crane belonging to Coal Transport Terminal Amsterdam (OBA) with a banner declaring: ‘Robbers’ state is killing the climate.’

Wolfmann, one of the hundreds present who were taking part in a civil disobedience action for the first time, said: “It feels incredibly powerful and at the same time very vulnerable. You go with nothing other than your body to try and blockade the fossil fuel industry, that makes you feel vulnerable. At the same time you are with all these people and so you feel very strong together.”

Said another participant: “We are here because as long as there is profit to be made, they will not stop destroying the earth!”

A short video of the action can be seen here.  

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3. France: resisting the neoliberal police state

The way in which the neoliberal capitalist system uses the spectre of terrorism to impose its own social agenda has often been highlighted in The Acorn (such as here or here).

And one of the most blatant uses of this repressive device is currently unfolding in France, prompting urgent calls for resistance.

For the last 20 months, the country has been placed under a so-called “State of Emergency”. This legal device was first dreamed up in 1955, during the French state’s attempt to crush the anti-colonial Algerian Revolution.

60 years later it was rolled out again, in November 2015, in the aftermath of terrorist attacks in Paris. Since then, it has been renewed no fewer than five times, using various excuses, and is currently due to expire in November 2017, two years after it was introduced.

Right from the start it was used not just against Muslim communities, but against anti-capitalist dissidents. Initially this was against activists organising around the COP 21 Summit in Paris – homes and social centres were raided and activists placed under house arrest, without charges, until the summit was over.

The authorities also shamelessly used these “anti-terrorist” powers to combat the massive wave of revolt against neoliberal labour laws imposed by the previous “Socialist” Party regime.

Recent elections have brought in a new administration under President Emmanuel Macron. Presented as a “centrist” by the global media (see Acorn 34), he is in fact a hardcore neoliberal, determined to destroy the social structures which remain in France.

He is planning to introduce even more neoliberal labour “reforms”, stripping away workers’ rights in the interests of the ruling class he represents.

With trade unions and anti-capitalism still strong in France, Macron knows that he is going to face tough resistance in the months ahead.

Luc Rouban, a political scientist at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, has described the political situation in France as “potentially explosive” and said that “opposition is likely to express itself outside parliament.”

It is in this context that Macron is planning not to lift the State of Emergency, in the absence of any new terror attacks, but to incorporate it into French law!

This plan is already attracting wide concern from those committed to basic freedoms. The draconian and permanent new powers would allow central authorities to:

  • Ban people and vehicles from certain areas at certain times.
  • Create “zones of protection” or “security zones” to which the state can control entry.
  • Ban from any district a person considered to be in some way obstructing the actions of the authorities.
  • Order the temporary closure of any halls, bars or venues.
  • Ban any meeting considered to be liable to provoke disorder.
  • Make unconvicted “suspects” wear electronic tags.
  • Raid suspects’ homes at any time of day or night.
  • Use military courts instead of the usual ones.
  • Search any vehicle without the need for a warrant.

Activists are gearing up to resist this alarming move, as well as the onslaught of neoliberalism it is intended to help impose.

Declares a leaflet currently in circulation: “We refuse to see our fundamental rights reduced to nothing. We refuse to bow down to the police-state politics of a dictatorship!”

They are building for a “massive” day of mobilisation on [DATE NOW SATURDAY OCTOBER 7] in cities across France. Watch this space!

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4. Defiance in face of fracking onslaught

Demolished: the protection camp at Leith Hill near Dorking

Fracking remains the front line of environmental resistance in the UK, with courageous nature-protectors digging in their heels in a bid to see off this unprecedented threat to the countryside.

The frack free activists at Leith Hill, near Dorking in Surrey, featured in Acorn 29, put up a spirited resistance when bailiffs moved in to evict them at the summer solstice, June 21.

A wooden fortress and tunnel network meant that they were able to hold out for two days, as the representatives of the “law” cleared the way for the desecration of England’s land and water by the profit-hungry oil industry.

Even the mercenary in charge of evicting the protectors expressed a certain admiration for their efforts. Peter Faulding, CEO of SGI, told local media: “When we went on to the site we knew there was one tunnel already but we had no idea how complex their system was, it was a real shock to be honest. It was a completed rat run and the way they had dug them was really impressive. They had built in sections where they could lock themselves on to things and really hem themselves in”.

Keith Taylor, Green Party MEP for the South of England, said: “The people at these protection camps are defenders of the earth and they deserve medals”.

While Europa may have, disgracefully, got permission for exploratory drilling in this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and the camp may have been demolished, the fight obviously goes on and more and more people are becoming aware of what is happening.

Protesting at Broadford Bridge

Not far from Leith Hill, at Broadford Bridge near Billingshurst (see Acorn 2), UK Oil and Gas is pushing ahead with its drilling plans in the face of local opposition and lock-on blockades. It is now claiming to have found oil.

Placing Broadford Bridge in a broader context, an excellent article by journalist Kathryn McWhirter, published in the Brighton Argus, asks Sussex residents if they really want to see their countryside turned into a massive oil field.

She writes: “Are we prepared to see the countryside we love industrialised for the sake of a small, short-term reduction in our balance of payment deficit, and profits for the few?”

People are “sleepwalking into an oilfield”, she warns, adding that if the oil industry and their Tory friends get their way “there will be wells across the Weald, with West Sussex the prime target”.

Lancashire lock-on

Meanwhile, in Lancashire, there are persistent rumours that the drill will soon be arriving at Preston New Road near Blackpool.

Six opponents of the Cuadrilla’s shale gas site took part in a lock-on protest outside equipment supplier, A Plant, on June 19. Then they locked-on at the site itself on Monday June 26.

Targeting suppliers

And throughout July there will be “Rolling Resistance” to Cuadrilla, with mass actions every Friday, starting on July 7 with a “Not Here Not Anywhere” demo at Preston New Road – see the Reclaim the Power website for full details.

Over in Yorkshire on Saturday and Sunday July 7 and 8 there is a Frack Free Community Weekend at the Kirby Misperton Protection Camp.

Some good news on the fracking front came in the unlikely guise of the Queen’s Speech, which made no mention of the Tories’ manifesto threat to make fracking even harder to stop.

Campaign group Frack Free United said: “This is a good day for communities and local democracy. Yes, nothing has really changed and we will have to continue the fight to protect communities from being turned into fracking gas fields, but make no mistake, this is a tipping point.

“The industry will only flourish with government support and the Conservative party U-turn on the manifesto pledge is a real shot in the arm for the campaign, providing even more energy into our campaign for the battles ahead.”

And more good news came from the accounts of fracking parent company, Cuadrilla Resources Holdings Ltd, which showed a loss of $11.6m for the 12 months to the end of December 2016.

And who is to blame for this? Writing in the annual accounts, chief executive Francis Egan complained about “irresponsible and intimidating behaviour” by protesters

Some might suggest that “irresponsible and intimidating behaviour” just about sums up the entire fracking industry, which is why people with a social and environmental conscience are determined to stop it in its toxic tracks.

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5. The Green One is coming!

A new book by Paul Cudenec, The Green One, has been published by Winter Oak Press. It explores how the awareness of our belonging to nature has always been present in human thought and culture. Today this vital spirit, which the author personifies as The Green One, is inspiring global resistance to industrial capitalism.

I am The Green One, although I would maybe better be named The Green Many. Green is the colour of eternal youth, of rebirth, of nature springing back into life after the death-sleep of winter.

I am Pachamama, I am Isis, I am Yemoja. I am Jack in the Green, I am Tammuz, I am Khidr.

I am regeneration. I am the right way of living. Sometimes I am revolution.

I have taken up the mighty sledgehammers of the Luddites. The Virgins are escaping from the churches and heading for the woods. The May Queens are running riot in the streets. Joan of Arc is burning patriarchy at the stake.

The pylons are tumbling. The motorways are crumbling. The pipelines are fracturing.

I am your future.

The Green One is coming! The Green One is coming!

Below is an extract from The Green One. For more extracts go here.

When will the fields come back?

“When will the fields come back and the grass for my children?”  – Lord Dunsany, ‘Nature and Time’, Fifty-One Tales

Every time somebody tries to stop a copse being hacked down or a meadow being concreted over, they are me.

Whenever people come together to protect a river, and those beings that live in and around it, from the callous brutality of a dam, they are me.

Each and every person who says “no” to fracking, to pipelines, to power lines, to coal mines, to waste tips, to GM crops or to arms factories is saying “yes” to me and to my presence within them.

When “something” stirs deep within you and sends you out to fight against a new road, a new shopping mall, a new airport or a new power station, then that “something” is me.

If you ever have the feeling that the world you know is insane and risks destroying everything that you value, then you should know that this feeling is me.

And when that feeling becomes an opinion, an argument, a theory or a philosophy, it is me in yet another guise.

Sometimes that feeling takes a secondary form. It might be a theoretical hunch, an ideological sensitivity to the way that even philosophies of resistance can be recuperated by that which they supposedly oppose.

But that energy is still me, only now I am obliged to go to work on the thankless task of clearing all the philosophical tangle and debris that has been blocking your path.

I blossom in the human heart but the human heart needs to let me in. I have to become the opening-up before I can become the filling-in and the acting-out.

To lose something precious is bad enough, but what if you have forgotten that it was precious? Or that you ever had it in the first place? Why would you search for something you do not value? How will you find something that you do not believe was ever there?

Your fields and your green grass will not come back until your love calls out to them.

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6. Acorninfo

Anger is mounting on the streets of London, provoking memories of the wave of rioting which swept through the UK capital, and other cities, in the summer of 2011. The latest clashes took place in Forest Gate, on the night of Sunday June 25, and were provoked by the death of Edir Frederico Da Costa, thought to have been fatally beaten in police detention. There have also been furious scenes, amid feelings of deep injustice, in North Kensington after the Grenfell Tower blaze on June 14. Not only do people feel that working class communities are treated with contempt by the authorities, but they are also outraged by the way the death toll has been vastly underestimated: hundreds are believed to have died although officially the total is only 79.

Forest Gate on the night of Sunday June 25

* * *

The increasingly fascistic nature of the US authorities is highlighted in a video interview from Unicorn Riot with a young woman who was arrested for protesting against Donald Trump’s inauguration on January 20, J20. She, along with others, faces a jail term of 75 to 80 years! As she points out, the prosecutions are clearly political and are aimed at sending a message that dissent on the streets of the USA will no longer be tolerated. It’s not even a question of protesting “within the law” because laws have been deliberately drawn up as “traps” to make it easy to arrest dissidents, whatever they are doing. She says: “There’s no way to be an activist against oppressive systems and the State in which you are devoid of the risk of arrest.” State repression in the USA is also the theme of the latest 30-minute Trouble video from submedia.

* * *

The Earth First! Summer Gathering 2017 will be held in Hertfordshire, England, from Wednesday August 9 to Monday August 14. It offers five days of skill-sharing for grassroots ecological direct action, where people can make links, share ideas, and get involved in the struggles against fracking, new roads and more. More info at http://earthfirstgathering.org

* * *

From August 18 to 23, the Degrowth Summer School will take place at the Climate Camp in the Rhineland in Germany for the third time. This year’s main topics are “Degrowth perspectives on the future of the Rhenish lignite region”, “Psychology of change” and “Skills for System Change”.

* * *

A shocking indictment of our modern civilization comes from data released by the NHS under a Freedom of Information request. This reveals that hundreds of children in England aged six and under are being prescribed anti-depressants. Anti-depressants at the start of their lives? What sort of insane world have these precious young human beings been born into?

* * *

“The evidence suggests that the barbaric Manchester bombing, which killed 22 innocent people on May 22nd, is a case of blowback on British citizens arising at least partly from the overt and covert actions of British governments. The British state therefore has a serious case to answer.” This is the conclusion of an impressive in-depth investigation from Mark Curtis and Nafeez Ahmed which focuses on UK policies towards Libya and also touches on some of those related to Iraq and Syria.

* * *

Acorn quote: “A great part of politics and law is always theatre; once a social system has become ‘set’, it does not need to be endorsed daily by exhibitions of power (although occasional punctuations of force will be made to define the limits of the system’s tolerance).”

E.P. Thompson, Customs in Common

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

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The Acorn – 34

acornmastheadnew1

Number 34


In this issue:

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

1. Manchester: an explosion of hate and fear

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Resisting the Psychology of Terror

Terrorism and the state – learning from history

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2. Extremists of the neoliberal “centre”

New French president Emmanuel Macron

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

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

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

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

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

Tony Blair – another warmongering neoliberal “centrist”

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

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

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

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

Another inspiring revolutionary slogan from the mainstream “left”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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3. The CIA and the war of ideas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Opening up France to the rich delights of American culture

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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5. Money, power and mining

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No coal mining took place all day.

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

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

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

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

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6. Acorninfo

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

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

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

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

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

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

Invisible Committee, The Coming Insurrection

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

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