The Acorn – 16

acornmastheadnew

Number 16


In this issue:

  1. “The system has got to be destroyed”
  2. Resisting the prison industrial complex
  3. London Anarchist Bookfair 2015
  4. Erdogan’s dirty war against the Kurds
  5. Paint-daubing, egg-throwing and shirt-ripping!
  6. Acorninfo

1. “The system has got to be destroyed”

nantes protest2
Anti-industrial protesters in Nantes

“The most basic task ahead of us is to bring as many people as possible together around the conviction that the system has got to be destroyed”.

These words from an article called Where Are We Now? (¿Dónde Estamos? or Où en sommes-nous?) by Miguel Amorós remain as true today as when they were written some 15 years ago.

December’s Cop21 climate summit in Paris presents an excellent opportunity to vastly expand the numbers of people committed to the destruction of capitalism.

As we have already reported in The Acorn, the protests against this smug neoliberal showcase are bound to go a lot further than the A to B parades typical of mainstream UK “climate” campaigning.

There is a new spirit of defiance in the European anti-capitalist and radical degrowth movement, with rebels from ZAD autonomous zones all over France heading for the capital, Climate Games being advertised (see this video) and the international call-out (see below) talking of “an end to capitalism and productivism”.

nantes protests
Protests in Nantes

It is now a year since the death of young eco-activist Rémi Fraisse at the hands of the French gendarmes on October 26 2014. Given the feisty nature of radical environmental protests both before and after his murder by the French state – in Nantes, Toulouse and elsewhere (see Acorn 3) – the French cops are going to very busy between November 28 and December 12. Indeed, French corporate media are already reporting that police are braced for a “Black Bloc” assault on the capitalist summit.

If there is anyone out there who still thinks of the menace of industrialism as an environmental side-show to the main class struggle against capitalism, they would do well to consider Amorós’s article.

He writes: “Technology is an instrument and a weapon because it benefits those who know best how to use it and how to be used by it. The bourgeoisie have used machines and the ‘scientific’ organisation of work against the proletariat. No revolt against domination can really represent the general interest unless it turns itself into a rebellion against technology, a Luddite revolt”.

luddites
Luddites in action

Amorós muses on the disastrous own-goal scored by the 19th century anti-capitalist movement when it decided that industrial development offered the best route to liberation.

He writes: “Contrary to what Marx and Engels claim, the workers’ movement condemned itself to political and social immaturity when it abandoned Utopian socialism and chose science and progress (bourgeois science and bourgeois progress) instead of community and individual flowering”.

And it is no coincidence that Amorós’s text takes its name, and its opening quote, from the great 19th century English green-anarcho-socialist William Morris.

William Morris
William Morris – a passionate opponent of industrial capitalism

Morris wrote in his own Where Are We Now?: “What was it which we set out to accomplish? To change the system of society on which the stupendous fabric of civilisation is founded, and which has been built up by centuries of conflict with older and dying systems, and crowned by the victory of modern civilisation over the material surroundings of life.

“The shouts of triumph over the glories of civilisation which once drowned the moans of the miserable have now sunk into quavering apologies for the existence of the horrors and fatuities of our system; a system which is only defended as a thing to be endured for lack of a better, and until we can find some means of packing it off into limbo”.

cop21 call-out

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2. Resisting the prison industrial complex

prison week

Nothing better sums up the capitalist world than its prison system – where brutal oppression and cynical private profiteering combine to such lucrative effect.

Because fear of crime is one of the core anxieties instilled in the population to keep them obedient, few raise their voices in support of the victims of the prison industrial complex.

The week of action being organised from November 2 to 8 against the massive new jail being built in North Wales is therefore especially important.

Says the call-out: “A week of action has been called to encourage people of the UK & the world to take action against the construction of the North Wales Prison in Wrexham.

northwalesprison
The planned mega-prison

“The prison will be the second largest prison in Europe, holding more than 2,100 people and costing £250 million to build. Australian contractor Lend Lease was awarded the contract to build the Wrexham titan prison by the government in May 2014.

“Local people have resisted the prison for over half a decade; objecting to planning applications, lobbying, going to meetings. Full planning permission was eventually granted in November 2014 despite local resistance. It is now a construction site and this place of abuse and oppression is being built as we speak.

“Our aims are to resist it, slow it down and send a message to the state and the prison industry that it is not acceptable to profit from caging human beings. The Government wish to build more prisons in the UK, this is our opportunity to intervene and prevent this industry from expanding. We must take the offensive against prison expansion and the social control of our lives. We are fighting until all are free”.

emptycageslogo

During the week there will be demonstrations at the prison and also against its suppliers – collaborators in crime. Find your local prison profiteer at: www.cape-campaign.org/prison-profiteers

Solidarity demos at other prisons across the UK are also planned, along with information nights, workshops and film showings to ignite more resistance to the prison industrial complex.

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3. London Anarchist Bookfair

londonanarchistbookfair2

The 2015 London Anarchist Bookfair is being staged on Saturday October 24, from 10am to 7pm, and there is wealth of interesting workshops on offer, on top of all the stalls – and the socialising opportunities!

It’s at a new venue this year – Central Saint Martin’s, University of the Arts London, Granary Building, 1 Granary Square, London N1C 4AA. This is a huge building behind Kings Cross station – a lot easier to get to than Mile End.

The full list of workshops can be found on the bookfair website, but we’d thought we’d pick out a few that appeal to us.

Of particular relevance to this edition of The Acorn is a talk called “Red Lines in Paris: mobilising for the UN climate talks this December” from Reclaim the Power, which asks: “How can we use the international mobilisation in Paris to popularise the use of direct action against polluter interests and to strengthen our movements for climate justice back home?”

reclaimthepower 

Corporate Watch are leading an important session discussing ways forward for the anti-capitalist, anti-authoritarian climate movement in the UK. They say: “Much of the climate/environmental movement lacks a serious political analysis, and at the same time anarchists can have a blind spot about climate change and ecological crises, sometimes adopting a misanthropic or fatalist attitude. This workshop will explore ways to communicate and organise around climate change that place it as an important part of the struggles against capitalism and other systems of oppression”.

Earth First! will also be holding a workshop, encouraging people to become more involved in exciting direct action projects planned for coming months or to set up their own local group.

earthfirst

One of many other highlights promises to be a session on Women and Armed Struggle, which declares: “From bomb throwing suffragettes to Female Urban Guerrillas to the thousands of Women who participate in the Armed Struggle of the Zapatistas and the Kurds, there is a rich history of Women’s Armed Struggle. But much of this history is forgotten or deliberately ignored by Liberal Feminists who wish to ‘clean up’ our history.”

zapatista-women
Zapatista women

It’s good to see a healthy emphasis on the core philosophy behind the event, with an illustrated talk by Kevin Eady on the history and theory of the anarchist movement and Iain McKay (author of An Anarchist FAQ) exploding some of the common myths about anarchism and anarchists.

Kurdistan features prominently this year, as you might expect, with one workshop on The Rojava Revolution and another, from Corporate Watch, focusing on how to build effective solidarity with Kurdistan.

There are also two different workshops on current developments in Greece and two on Cuba.

The Undercover Research Group will introduce its work on mapping out the activities of the British state’s undercover units, those responsible and the networks between them, while the Radical Anthropology Group will be hosting a session on primitive communism: “We evolved under egalitarianism, not class despotism”.

There are also workshops on Militant Anti-Fascism, Art and Anarchism, No Borders Morocco and on social centres and co-ops – among many others!

Winter Oak titles are available via our friends at Active Distribution, who will, as ever, have a stall at the bookfair.

active stall
An Active Distribution stall

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4. Erdogan’s dirty war against the Kurds

The appalling bomb attack in Ankara on October 10 has helped focus more attention on the deeply unpleasant nature of the Turkish state (see Acorn 12).

Although corporate media shy away from criticising a key NATO ally, an understanding is spreading that the Erdogan regime is heavily implicated in so-called ISIS terrorism, with the re-emergence of a “deep state” linked both to mafia figures like Sedat Peker and to right-wing terrorist groups.

Right-wing mafia boss Sedat Peker
Right-wing mafia boss Sedat Peker

A useful analysis of the situation is provided in an article from the French-language journal CQFD on The Turkish State’s Dirty War Against the Kurdish Movement, which describes how the regime pays only lip service to opposing ISIS.

“In fact, since July 20, the exclusive targets of repression by the Turkish authorities are the PKK and the Kurdish population in the south-east of the country, the pro-Kurdish and far-left legal opposition movements and certain media outlets and social networks which have been subject to censorship.

Rojava

“The ‘double or quits’ poker gamble that Erdogan is making has two aims – on the one hand to halt the Kurdish moves towards autonomy bolstered by the system in Rojava (where YPG and YPJ guerrillas are the only ground resistance to ISIS) and, on the other hand, to counter opposition from the HDP, a pro-Kurdish party which won 13% of the vote in the last legislative elections and which got in the way of  the Turkish president’s autocratic drift by costing him his absolute majority.

“After the elections in June, Erdogan decided, without the prior consent of parliament, to rerun the vote. By provoking confrontations and by tarring the PKK with the same ‘terrorist’ brush as ISIS, he is hoping for a nationalistic reaction that will lead to him regaining his absolute majority in November’s elections. For Engin Sustam the desire to ‘divide and rule’ is obvious – ‘The AKP offensive against the Kurds is a way of polarising Turkish society in order to try and prop up the crumbling power of the nationalistic and authoritarian state’. ”

The “strategy of tension” has long been a favourite ploy of states to reassert their authority by means of covert state terrorism. Observers may well wonder if the Ankara bombing of 2015 will prove to come from the same textbook as the Bologna bombing of 1980, now widely believed to have been carried out by a NATO state with close links to the mafia and fascist terrorists.

bologna
Bologna in 1980

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

fuck parade
Class War in Shoreditch, East London

A spirit of lively physical resistance seems to have been reborn of late, which augurs well for the months and years to come.

Class War’s anti-gentrification Fuck Parade in Shoreditch managed to grab national and even international headlines when participants dared to daub paint on the outside of a hipster “cereal cafe” – unleashing a great vomiting of self-righteous hypocritical outrage from London’s smuggest.

In case anyone missed it, there are videos here, here and here.

Protests against the Conservative party conference in Manchester also proved lively, with the stand-out moment being the dead-eyed egging of a ridiculously pompous young Tory (video here).

tory egged

An excellent round-up of all the action in the Salford Star concludes: “Most people on the protests who the Salford Star spoke to were furious that the Tories had dared to come to Manchester, one of the cities most hard hit by Government attacks on people who have the least.

“As delegates filed out of the Conference Centre for the final time yesterday, they were pointed in the direction of the city’s must-see food banks and homeless camps, as they were serenaded to the tune of the Ugly Duckling… `Oink Oink! Get out!… Oink Oink! Get out of town!’…”

manchester pigmask

The French have been getting in on the physical comedy protest-genre as well, with angry trade unionists literally ripping the shirt from the back of an Air France executive announcing job losses (video here).

air france
An Air France executive, deprived of his shirt

Back in London, the next excitement may well come on Thursday November 5, with the Million Mask March gathering in Trafalgar Square from 6pm. “We call to arms our many brothers and sisters. The war crimes can no longer go unnoticed, the people can no longer pay the price of the corrupt politicians, the bankers can no longer profit, the bloodshed must stop… Liberty must be reinstated”.

Similar events are planned internationally.

million mask march

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6. Acorninfo

Authorities in Western Australia are clearing the way for a motorway to be driven across an Aboriginal heritage site that is “older than the pyramids”. The sacred area between Bibra and North lakes – in Noongar culture the birthplace of the creation spirit Waugyl –  has been removed from the Aboriginal heritage register because it inconveniently stands in the way of the proposed Roe 8 freeway extension, scheduled to be built next year as part of the first leg of the $1.6m Perth Freight Link.

bibra protest
A protest against Roe 8

* * *

A warning against US imperialism targeting Africa, via its military organisation Africom, has been issued by the Pan African Alliance. It says: “Instead of helping Africa, the United States is currently engaged in secret missions to keep African Nations destabilized. Uganda, Somalia, Sudan, Nigeria, and Mali are primed to be the sites of the next major genocides. For 400 years, our ancestral homeland has been bled dry, and with the rise of China as a new colonial competitor, things are about to get much worse for our people and our motherland.”

africomgraphic

* * *

Four people were killed in massive protests against a mining project at Las Bambas in the Apurímac region of Peru at the end of September. Troops were sent to the area to put down popular opposition to industrial capitalist destruction and a state of emergency was declared. The blood-stained $10 billion project will involve the extraction of 400,000 tons of copper every year.

peru mine
The huge protests against copper mining

* * *

George Orwell’s nightmare is coming true in the town of Saint Denis in Réunion, a French overseas department in the Indian Ocean. Not only are there CCTV cameras to spy on people in the streets, but they are now also being equipped with loudspeakers to bark orders at those being monitored.

cctv speakers
CCTV loudspeakers are installed

* * *

Resistance continues against the destruction of the Hambach Forest in Germany by lignite mining. There have been numerous arrests as activists block access roads and sabotage work. On October 8 the local police station was sprayed with paint and shit in protest at heavy-handed repression. For latest info see the blog at http://hambachforest.blogsport.de/

hambacher

* * *

Sussex Anarchists are hosting a talk by anarchist writer Scott Crow on Sunday October 25, from 7.30pm at The Cowley Club, 12 London Road, Brighton. It is part of a UK/Ireland tour presenting the new book Black Flags and Windmills, from PM Press. Sussex Anarchists, which are part of the Anarchist Action Network, can be followed on Twitter via @sussexanarchist. The author is also talking at Freedom Bookshop in London (Oct 21), Hydra Bookstore, Bristol (Oct 22), Sumac Centre, Nottingham (Oct 23), the London Anarchist Bookfair (Oct 24), CCEA, Derry (Oct 24), Wharf Street Chambers, Leeds (Oct 26), Loughborough University (Oct 27), The Annexe Cafe, Glasgow (Oct 28) and the Independent Radical Book Fair, Edinburgh (Oct 28).

Black Flags book

* * *

A new activist website has been launched for southern France – Marseille Infos Autonomes features local and global news and analysis. The site is at http://mars-infos.org/

mars-info

* * *

Only degrowth – the abandonment of industrial capitalism – can be a credible answer to Europe’s current refugee situation, argues Dennis Eversberg of the Research Group on Post-Growth Societies at the Friedrich-Schiller-University of Jena. He writes on the degrowth.de site: “The knowledge that European lifestyles cannot be made available to everyone logically implies that people will have to be repelled at Europe’s borders and sent back to poverty and war – unless we accept that it is our own societies that cannot go on with business as usual”.

refugee sign

* * *

airportqueues

Acorn quote: “Let us consider things for a moment from the standpoint of those whose ideal is material ‘welfare’, and who therefore rejoice at all the improvements to life furnished by modern ‘progress’; are they quite sure they are not being duped? Is it true that, because they dispose of swifter means of communication and other things of the kind, and because of their more agitated and complicated manner of life, men are happier today than they were formerly? The very opposite seems to us to be true: disequilibrium cannot be a condition of real happiness. Moreover, the more needs has, the greater the likelihood that he will lack something, and thereby be unhappy; modern civilization aims at creating more and more artificial needs, and as we have already said, it will always create more needs than it can satisfy, for once one has started on this path, it is very hard to stop…”.

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 – 11

acornmastheadnew

Number 11


In this issue:

  1. Delight as Lancashire rejects fracking bids
  2. Forget the lifeless Left – we want revolution!
  3. Sold out to the industry – GMB union backs fracking
  4. Marching for a Nicer Kind of Capitalism
  5. Sabotage attack on airport firm
  6. Anti-industrial rebellion in China
  7. Anti-industrial rebellion at the Vatican
  8. Acorninfo

1. Delight as Lancashire rejects fracking bids

frackdelight
Scenes of jubilation in Preston as Cuadrilla’s plans are rejected

A significant battle in the war against fracking was won by campaigners in northern England on Monday June 29.

Lancashire County Council rejected the second of two applications from Cuadrilla for large-scale fracking in the county in a decision that shocked the fracking business mafia.

Cuadrilla had hoped to drill four wells and undertake exploratory fracking for shale gas at Little Plumpton on the Fylde.

Share prices for fracking firms plummeted after the historic decision – it is now clearer than ever that there is a deep-seated and determined opposition across England to the frackers’ environmentally disastrous plans.

Greenpeace described Monday’s outcome as “a Waterloo for the fracking industry”.

John Williams of Poyry Management Consulting 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”.

A tractor joins the celebrations in Preston
A tractor joins the celebrations in Preston

Although the planning committee had already turned down Cuadrilla’s proposal for Roseacre Farm between Preston and Blackpool, it had looked as if councillors might be bullied into approving the Preston New Road scheme.

They were given controversial legal advice suggesting it would be against the law to turn it down and reported feeling under intense pressure.

But in the end they voted against their officers’ recommendation to accept the bid and they also rejected a Cuadrilla application for seismic monitoring because “the cumulative effect of the proposal would lead to the industrialisation of the countryside and adversely affect the landscape character”.

Notably, two of the three councillors who voted in favour of fracking were representing the Labour Party – mirroring the support for the ecocidal fracking industry from the “left-wing” and Labour-affiliated GMB union (see below). Draw your own conclusions…

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2. Forget the lifeless Left – we want revolution!

anarchist-in-spain2

We live at a moment when the future not just of the human race, but of the planet is at risk.

The cancer of industrial capitalism, with its secondary tumours of militarism, imperialism and repression, is choking us all to death.

We need to rise up and cast off this disease, get off our knees and rediscover our collective inner strength and health.

But where is that inspiration going to come from? What is the banner behind which we can gather in order to wage philosophical and practical war on the system that is killing us all?

For the last couple of centuries the answer has been assumed to have something to do with the Left – the idea of a loose but nevertheless coherent body of thought and practice which stands in opposition to capitalism and its world.

But increasingly that answer is looking to be the wrong one and the lifeless Left is showing itself to be another aspect of the capitalist system, rather than something that challenges its existence.

As the leftists of the UK trade union movement sell out to the fracking industry (see below) and their reformist-left comrades in the UK “anti-austerity” movement continue their glorious struggle for a Nicer Kind of Capitalism (see here), a yawning void is appearing at the spot where there ought to be a resistance movement against the whole capitalist system.

The wretched failure of the Left to oppose industrial capitalism is so complete that by comparison the Roman Catholic Church is now looking positively radical (see here)!

We need to break out of the reformist strait jacket that “left-wing” thinking has put us in. We need to throw off the blinkers of its restrictions and inhibitions and look clearly and boldly into the eyes of the industrial-militarist-capitalist beast before thrusting a stake through its putrid heart.

stake through heart

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3. Sold out to the industry – GMB union backs fracking

GMB-Union-Steward
Protecting the industrial capitalist system – the GMB

The sickening pro-fracking stance of a British trade union is a useful reminder of how the “Left” has historically failed to fight industrial capitalism.

While people power in Lancashire was persuading the council to throw out fracking applications, the GMB was busy cosying up to the industry.

The GMB is a “general” trade union in the UK, affiliated to the TUC and the Labour Party and boasting more than 631,000 members.

As it proudly declares on its own website, its Northern Region recently had the bright idea of getting a briefing on the fracking issue. And who did these “leftists” ask? Frack Off perhaps? Friends of the Earth? Nope – they went straight to the Chemical Industry Association, the leading national trade association for the chemical and chemistry-using industries in the United Kingdom.

chemical_factory
Who cares about pollution if jobs are involved?

As a result of this briefing, on June 18 2015, the GMB concluded: “Given the fragility of the oil and gas sector due to price pressures, diversification through shale gas could well become a key employer within the energy sector.”

Billy Coates, GMB Northern Regional Secretary added: “The strategic importance of fracking within the UK’s balanced energy mix must not be ignored. Along with nuclear, renewables, green coal, oil and gas, fracking could be absolutely essential to achieving near self -sufficiency which will benefit domestic and business need.”

“Business need”? What sort of language is that for a trade union to adopt?

And this is not a one-off. It follows a statement from the GMB Congress on June 8 2015 which says that “while there are important considerations, the economic, indigenous energy and employment benefits cannot be ignored”.

The union has even done a deal with UKOOG, the front group representing the fracking industry in the UK.

It is shamelessly buying in to the whole fracking circus, admitting: “GMB has welcomed UKOOG’s development of the National College for Onshore Oil and Gas.  As part of this agreement, GMB will have a seat on the Operation and Advisory Council of the National College.”

Soviet factory

Here we have the heart of the problem that has afflicted the “Left” since back in the 19th century. At heart, it is not actually against the capitalist system, it just has certain minor quibbles with the way it is run.

But, of course, these left-capitalists are in denial about all this. They refuse to admit that industrialism and capitalism are essentially the same thing – that you cannot pretend to be against an economic system and yet wholeheartedly support the physical infrastructure that enables that system to maintain and expand its control.

They are also apparently incapable of seeing through the capitalist lie that there is something inherently good about “jobs” and are happy to fight for the “right” of their members to spend their lives as slaves to the global industrial greed-monster.

Even worse is the hypocrisy surrounding this, which echoes the hypocrisy of the ruling elite with their oxymoronic “sustainable development”.

The GMB, like others on the industrial left, seem to think they can claim to be “green” at the same time as cheerfully oiling the very machineries that are killing the planet.

It is with no apparent sense of irony that the pro-fracking union boasts on its website: “GMB is recognised both nationally and regionally as being the leading trade union on health, safety and environmental issues.”

The anti-fracking movement will hopefully ensure that from now on the GMB is instead recognised as a corrupt and cowardly collaborator with the business mafia which is destroying our planet for its own profit.

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4. Marching for a Nicer Kind of Capitalism

j207
Anarchists on the fringes as the anti-austerity parade files by

There were several good things about the anti-austerity march in London on Saturday June 20. One of these was the sheer numbers of people out on the streets – 250,000 according to the highest estimate.

Also encouraging were the visibility of the privacy bloc (handing out free masks), the high-profile presence of Class War and other anarchists, the use of flares and the bonfire of placards at Parliament Square.

j205
Burning placards in Parliament Square

There was also the breakaway wildcat march that crossed Waterloo Bridge and led to an impromptu blockading of the Elephant and Castle traffic system, as van loads of riot cops moved in.

But there were some depressing aspects to the day as well. The official event was always going to be an authorised “A to B” march, but this one at time felt more stage-managed than ever, not least because of the pre-arranged invisibility of police along the route (they were all hiding round the corner or mingling in disguise).

There was also something basically wrong about marching from the Bank of England instead of on it. The aim of the event was therefore not to lay siege to a symbol of capitalism but to get to Parliament Square and listen to Russell “#lovethepolice” Brand.

j204
The radical part of the march

And, of course, this was not a very radical collection of citizens, for all their good intent. Many of these were the kind of people who kid themselves that salvation might come from Jeremy Corbyn or wind turbines.

A lot of them are against neither the state (which they don’t want to be “cut”) nor even capitalism – just the worst excesses that they see incarnated by “The Tories”.

What do they want? A Nicer Kind of Capitalism! When do they want it? When the police say it’s OK!

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5.  Sabotage attack on airport firm

eurovia fire
Targeted – Vinci is a giant business involved in capitalist infrastructure

A million euros of damage was caused in a sabotage attack on a business involved in the Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport project.

Ten vehicles were destroyed in the fire at Eurovia’s premises near Limoges in central France, apparently started deliberately through placing bottles full of petrol on their wheels.

Eurovia is part of Vinci, a notorious international company heavily involved in all kinds of insidious capitalist infrastructure projects, notably motorways and prisons.

vinci poster
“From Notre-Dame-des-Landes to the Khimki Forest in Russia, Vinci is concreting over our lives. Resistance!”

Most famously, it is Public Enemy Number One of the ZAD protest camp which for many years has been protecting woodland near Nantes targeted for a new and unwanted airport.

But Vinci has also attracted criticism for its involvement in the equally unnecessary Bexhill-Hastings Link Road in Sussex and the motorway threatening the Khimki Forest in Russia, where opposition was met with brutal oppression.

A local industrial-leftist was on hand to condemn the Limoges sabotage. Philippe Loiraud, of the CGT trade union, told media that his biggest worry was (yes, you’ve guessed it…) jobs: “It’s disgraceful to go after a company because it’s the employees who will pay the cost.”

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6. Anti-industrial rebellion in China

shanghai2
Thousands march against industrial pollution in China

Massive resistance to industrialism continues to spread across China, as thousands of people take to the streets in anger.

On the evening of Thursday June 25, some 5,000 people marched through Shanghai to oppose the building of a new chemical factory in the suburb of Jinshui.

The protests had been going on all week and included a non-stop picket of the Jinshui District Government building.

shanghai
Environmental protests are spreading across China as neoliberalism wrecks the country

The factory in question would be manufacturing PX (paraxylene), a flammable chemical used in polyester and plastics manufacturing and a major contributor to air pollution, especially the deadly particulate PM2.5.

Reports Revolution News: “Pollution and the construction of PX plants has sparked many protests, including violent demonstrations that lasted 3 days last year in Maoming, Guangdong province.”

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7. Anti-industrial rebellion at the Vatican

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“The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.

“Economic powers continue to justify the current global system where priority tends to be given to speculation and the pursuit of financial gain.”

These are the views not of an anti-capitalist “extremist” but of the head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis.

In a hard-hitting anti-industrial statement, worth reading in full if you can stomach the religious bits, he announces the Vatican’s policy of “integral ecology”.

The church seems particularly to want to influence policies over climate change and has already invited Naomi Klein on board.

The language of the Pope’s statement is interesting – he refers to the rather pagan notion of Mother Earth, adding: “We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth; our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we re­ceive life and refreshment from her waters.

“Nature cannot be regarded as something separate from ourselves or as a mere setting in which we live. We are part of nature, included in it and thus in constant interaction with it”.

The Pope refers to Mother Earth
The Pope refers to Mother Earth

The Pope is very clear throughout that he is not only addressing his Christian flock, but “every person living on this planet”.

He says: “Regrettably, many efforts to seek concrete solutions to the environmental crisis have proved ineffective, not only because of powerful opposition but also because of a more general lack of interest. Obstructionist attitudes, even on the part of believers, can range from denial of the problem to indifference, nonchalant resignation or blind confidence in technical solutions. We require a new and universal solidarity”.

The fake solution of "green" technology is rejected by the Vatican
The fake solution of “green” technology is rejected by the Vatican

Importantly, Pope Francis rejects the argument, much favoured by the industrial left, that technology can be used to repair the devastation it has caused.

He writes: “We must be grateful for the praiseworthy efforts being made by scientists and engineers dedicated to finding solutions to man-made problems. But a sober look at our world shows that the degree of human intervention, often in the service of business interests and consumerism, is actually making our earth less rich and beautiful, ever more limited and grey, even as technological advances and consumer goods continue to abound limitlessly.”

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The Pope (pictured above) also acknowledges that any action to combat the destruction of the planet by industry is always blocked by the business mafia who have control over our society: “There are too many special interests, and economic interests easily end up trumping the common good and manipulating information so that their own plans will not be affected.”

“The alliance between the economy and technology ends up sidelining anything unrelated to its immediate interests.

“Consequently the most one can expect is superficial rhetoric, sporadic acts of philanthropy and perfunctory expressions of concern for the environment, whereas any genuine attempt by groups within society to introduce change is viewed as a nuisance based on romantic illusions or an obstacle to be circumvented.”

He attacks the very notion of infinite economic “growth” at the heart of the capitalist system: “It is based on the lie that there is an infinite supply of the earth’s goods, and this leads to the planet being squeezed dry beyond every limit”.

Land rights activists in the Pope's native Argentina
Land rights activists in the Pope’s native Argentina

Pope Francis also brings a social dimension into the equation, saying this cannot be separated from environmental issues, and notably takes a vague swipe at the idea of private property, a bulwark of the current system.

He argues: “The Christian tradition has never recognized the right to private property as absolute or inviolable, and has stressed the social purpose of all forms of private property” and adds that “the natural environment is a collective good, the patrimony of all humanity and the responsibility of everyone”.

Whatever one’s opinions of the Catholic Church, its own nefarious history and its reactionary position on many other issues, it is surely a cause for encouragement when the leader of a religion boasting 1.2 billion members comes out so strongly in favour against the lie of “growth” and the whole industrial capitalist system.

More to the point, why isn’t the “Left” saying all this?

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8. Acorninfo

Disabled protesters put their anti-austerity comrades to shame by trying to storm the House of Commons chamber during Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday June 24. They were protesting against the government’s decision to end the Independent Living Fund. There are videos here and here.

disabledprotest

* * *

Climate vs Capitalism is the title of a free workshop being staged at the Cowley Club, 12 London Road, Brighton, on Wednesday July 15. It is being run by the Corporate Watch workers’ co-op and hosted by Sussex Anarchists. “We want to be clear that we are coming from a certain political perspective: anti-capitalist and anti-authoritarian, and that certain things will not be up for discussion. How can we avoid falling into the traps of green jobs, green growth, or green capitalism? How can we stop a radical climate movement being co-opted by those that seeking to reform rather than replace existing political and economic systems? How can we break the stranglehold of capitalist realism on our political imaginations? Capitalist realism is the idea that there is no alternative to capitalism”. All welcome.

climate v capitalism

* * *

A day of “creative action” against an Israeli drone factory is being staged near Walsall in the UK on Monday July 6. The date is the anniversary of last summer’s assault on Gaza, which killed more than 2,200 Palestinians in the latest brutal chapter in Israel’s ongoing occupation and colonisation. The massacre was carried out using drones manufactured by Israeli arms company Elbit Systems. In response, activists occupied Elbit’s factory in Shenstone, causing its operations to grind to a halt and costing Elbit over £100,000. Another Elbit occupation was staged in Kent in February. Now groups and campaigners from across the UK are going back to Elbit’s factory in Shenstone to demand that the UK stops arming Israel. More info at https://www.blockthefactory.org

Elbit shenstone

* * *

The reality behind much so-called journalism has been helpfully revealed by a bizarre TV interview with a Sunday Times journalist. In what campaign group Media Lens is calling “a laugh-out-loud, four-minute interview on CNN that should be shown to journalism students from now until the end of eternity”, alleged journalist Tom Harper tried to reply to questions about “his” scoop on how Edward Snowden’s leaked files were putting British spies at risk. The whole story had clearly been planted in the Murdoch title by the British intelligence services. At one point Harper even helpfully admitted: “We just publish what we believe to be the position of the British government”.

Tom Harper of the Sunday Times explains how the corporate media works
Tom Harper of the Sunday Times explains how the corporate media works

* * *

The politics of technology are the focus of a gathering in Derbyshire, England, from July 9 to 12 2015. Breaking the Frame 2 has been organised by Corporate Watch, Luddites200 and others. Workshops will focus on the technology politics of food, the workplace, privacy/policing, gender, energy, health, militarism, mining and infrastructure.

breaking the frame2

* * *

Terrorism and cyber security were among the issues being discussed in secret by the neoliberal elite at the 2015 Bilderberg summit in Austria, held immediately following and just 16 miles south of the G7 summit. The situation in Greece was also on the agenda, according to the BBC.  Commented Charlie Skelton in his Guardian blog: “When it comes to transparency, this year’s Bilderberg summit fails in every way imaginable. Three prime ministers, two foreign ministers, one president, no press conference. No public oversight. Just a bunch of senior policymakers locked away for three days with some incredibly powerful corporate lobbyists, discussing subjects intimately related to public policy. Subjects such as ‘globalisation’ and ‘current economic issues’, which in practical terms mean the giant trade deal, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).”

Protests at the Bilderberg conference

* * *

Twentieth century anarchist George Woodcock is the focus of the latest issue of Anarchist Studies magazine. Vol 23 No 1 also includes reviews of Paul Cudenec’s The Anarchist Revelation, published by Winter Oak (“well -researched and written in a lively style… highly readable and engaging”) and the excellent Managing Democracy, Managing Dissent, edited by Rebecca Fisher of Corporate Watch.

Anarchist Studies cover

* * *

Acorn quote: “In a word, we reject all legislation – privileged, licensed, official and legal – and all authority, and influence, even though they may emanate from universal suffrage, for we are convinced that it can turn only to the advantage of a dominant minority of exploiters against the interests of the vast majority in subjection to them. It is in this sense that we are really Anarchists”. Michael (Mikael) Bakunin, The Knouto-Germanic Empire and the Social Revolution.

anarchists-in-london

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

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The Acorn – 2

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Number 2


In this issue:

  1. Fracktion stations in Sussex
  2. Fracking’s far from finished
  3. Infrastructure is the enemy
  4. M18 – gatecrashing the Euro-bankers’ party
  5. Smart spies in our homes
  6. Acorninfo

1. Fracktion stations in Sussex

Sinister: Celtique's heavily-defended drilling site near Billingshurst in West Sussex
Sinister: Celtique’s heavily-defended drilling site near Billingshurst in West Sussex

Razor wire lines the top of the 15-foot high fence surrounding the concreted compound in the heart of the West Sussex countryside between West Chiltington and Billingshurst.

It looks for all the world like some ghastly concentration camp, but here the fortifications are designed to keep “miscreants” out rather than in.

Oil and gas firm Celtique Energy has permission for an exploratory oil and gas borehole at Wood Barn Farm, Adversane Lane, Broadford Bridge – work on the site between Prince’s Wood and Pocock’s Wood off the B2133 is nearly complete and drilling could start any time now.

Bill-fence3

 

The formidable defences around the drill compound betray the business’s knowledge that their activities are highly controversial and liable to meet opposition. There are some “enemies of progress” out there who strangely don’t welcome the prospect of contaminated water, soil and air, of devastated countryside, of lorry-congested roads, of a night sky constantly lit up by flares and of the occasional frack-induced earthquake.

Bill-fence1

But so far things have been fairly quiet in this corner of the Weald. Perhaps locals are happy to take Celtique at their word when they insist that their aims here are purely “conventional“ and will not involve fracking?

That’s certainly not a claim being taken too seriously by Frack Off, the extreme energy action network, who have exposed what they call the “Celtique borehole deception”.

Cynics suggest that Celtique’s non-fracking line was merely what they needed to get drilling permission from West Sussex County Council – and to try and keep the protest wolves at bay for as long as possible.

Inside the compound
Inside the compound

It just happens that in boring down 10,000 feet in supposed search of conventional fuel, their drill will pass through the both the Kimmeridge Clay and Lias shale layers, giving them a coincidental chance to assess the fracking potential.

Celtique’s joint investment partner Magellan Petroleum was certainly selling the shale side of the West Sussex operations in a letter to its American shareholders in May 2013.

It boasted: “In the UK, we maintain a large acreage position in the Weald Basin, which we believe is a very promising unconventional play.  In recent months, it appears that the regulatory and political climate has warmed considerably to unconventional production onshore UK.

“The Department of Energy and Climate Change recently lifted its moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, and the government is exploring new tax incentive proposals to encourage unconventional drilling onshore.  We believe that these developments should have a favorable impact on the perceived value of our acreage.

“In order to substantiate this value, we, together with our partner Celtique Energie, plan to drill one or two evaluation wells at the end of 2013, through which we will gain a better understanding of the shale potential of our acreage.  In the meantime, Magellan remains one of only three publicly traded companies to offer significant exposure to this emerging UK shale play.”

Bill-view2
The Celtique Energy site at Broadford Bridge, near Billingshurst

 

And Celtique itself somewhat gave the game away on a page that has now mysteriously disappeared from its website, but has been preserved on the Frack Off site.

The firm is more or less rubbing its hands together in greedy delight as it details the profits to be made by despoiling the Central Weald area “located in countryside south west of London, close to the large south east UK energy market and proximal to major gas trunk lines and refineries.”

Celtique declares: “Several material size conventional prospects and major shale oil and shale gas unconventional resource potential have been established within the boundaries of the licences. The shale oil and gas resource position provides a low risk and very significant up side to the conventional prospects.”

“In the Weald Basin, it is believed that the oil shales in their acreage which cover an area of 1,000 sq. kms (123,000 acres) could hold up to 200 mmbbls of recoverable oil resources, with a mid-case estimate of 125 mmbbls”.

Anyone still tempted to believe that Celtique’s drilling plans are strictly conventional might also want to take a look at the IGas conventional site at nearby Cootham. No sign of any barbed wire, let alone razor wire, on top of the modest fencing around that compound… So what’s so different about Broadford Bridge?

Compare and contrast: no sign of any razor wire on top of the gate or fences at this conventional drilling site at nearby Cootham
Compare and contrast: no sign of any razor wire on top of the gate or fences at this conventional drilling site at nearby Cootham

 

Celtique's prison-camp style front gate - note the second line of defence inside!
Celtique’s prison-camp style front gate – note the second line of defence inside!

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2. Fracking’s far from finished

frackoffposter

The temporary drop in crude oil prices, drops in fracking firms’ share prices and the talk of fracking moratoriums in Scotland and Wales, is in danger of lulling some opponents into a false sense of security.

But there is absolutely no reason to imagine that the threat is over or even diminished.

As Frack Off point out succinctly in a new poster, the much-heralded protection for certain parts of the English countryside has failed to materialise, Scotland has no moratorium, just a 12-week “public consultation” period and Wales has no power to halt fracking even temporarily.

The Infrastructure Act (see below), which some naively imagined might rein in the frackers, in fact leaves them stronger than ever.

Meanwhile, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) due to come into effect later this year will further boost corporate power.

The Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clauses in the EU-US (TTIP) and EU-Canada (CETA) agreements would allow corporations to sue governments for damage to profits as a result of measures taken to protect the environment, public health, etc. This means that even if fracking bans were introduced, they could be overturned by the industry, via closed tribunals outside the control of any national or European court.

And, of course, the British state continues to deploy large numbers of its hired thugs to intimidate fracking protesters and deter all opposition.

Democracy is a sham anyway and business interests have always ruled behind the scenes. What we are now seeing is the rapid abandonment of even the pretence of democracy – welcome to the new era of totalitarian capitalism!

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3. Infrastructure is the enemy

No-Tav

In the first issue of The Acorn we mentioned the position of The Invisible Committee, which has recently described localised battles against infrastructure – like the NO TAV campaign in Italy – as the front line in the global struggle against capitalism.

It is appropriate, then, that the latest capitalist assault on our communities and environment in the UK should come in the form of the new Infrastructure Act!

The legislation unleashes yet another new wave of neoliberal insanity upon us.

*  It will turn the Highways Agency into an “arms-length” government-owned company, Highways England, charged with funding a £15 billion programme of more than 100 road schemes between now and the end of the next Parliament.

* It will promote the selling-off of publicly-owned land and property to private developers, via the Homes and Communities Agency, cutting the “red tape” holding back business profiteering.

*  It will allow property developers to avoid some planning conditions with a new ‘deemed discharge’ provision to “help speed up house building”.

*  And, of course, the Infrastructure Act represents a significant intervention on the side of the fracking industry, as set out in detail on the excellent Drill or Drop website.

Fracking flare

The frackers are delighted, with Marcus Pepperell, spokesperson for Shale Gas Europe saying: “The UK has taken a decisive step in embracing the shale gas opportunity. We may now start to see the emergence of Europe’s first commercial shale gas industry.”

Most significantly, the Act actually makes it a principal objective of the government to maximise the economic recovery of UK petroleum and grants the right to drill underground someone’s land without their consent.

There are hardly any restrictions on fracking, with firms allowed to leave land in a different condition than they found it and to leave any infrastructure or substances in the land. Despite all the talk of National Parks being protected, it even allows fracking companies to drill horizontally under national parks from outside their boundaries.

The official government statement on the Act makes it clear as to what it is all about, for all those capable of translating Capitalese into plain English.

It says: “These powerful new measures will drive investment, making it easier, quicker and simpler to get Britain building for the future”. This means: “These draconian new laws will pander to our global corporate paymasters, making it easier, quicker and simpler for them to walk roughshod over the concerns and interests of the public and carve up the country for their own profit.”

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4. M18 – gatecrashing the Euro-bankers’ party

blockupy-plakat-engl-small

Anti-capitalists from all over Europe are converging on Frankfurt in Germany on March 18 to gatecrash the opening party of the new European Central Bank (ECB).

Says the Blockupy network, which has been staging protests against institutional European capitalism since 2012: “On March 18th 2015 the European Central Bank (ECB) wants to open its new headquarters in Frankfurt. A dizzying 1.3 billion euros was spent on a 185-meter-high fortress-like twin tower building, surrounded by a fence and castle moat. This intimidating architecture of power is a perfect symbol of the distance between the political and financial elites and the people.”

Adds the call-out on the M18 site: “The ceremony will allow the representatives of the European member-states to pat themselves on the back for their crisis-solutions whilst using the celebrations to prepare themselves (and us) for the next round of austerity programmes. They want to institutionalize the state of exception.

”But a lot of people are going to crash the party – because the solutions for the crisis that is capitalism are a catastrophe for the people. Hence the spring of 2015 will hopefully also see a landmark of resistance against the European crisis regime as thousands of different people from all over Europe and beyond travel to the action days against the ECB-party. We call for the antiauthoritarian movement to participate in these actions and discussions. Let’s use this possibility to promote transnational self-organisation in the fight against state and capital and turn this party of domination into our party.”

At a previous protest in November 2014, some 2,000 protesters climbed over barbed wires and threw stones and bags full of coloured water at the ECB’s new building.

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5. Smart spies in our homes

telescreen

The new privacy policy for Samsung’s smart TVs allows the company and its partners to listen in on everything their users say, it has been revealed.

The policy states: “Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition.”

Similarities have been widely spotted with George Orwell’s novel 1984, in which telescreens listen in to people’s conversations, ensuring they do not criticise the police state personified by “Big Brother”.

The issue goes further than merely listening to conversations – the webcams fitted to the latest TVs for internet use can be activated to secretly spy on people in their own homes, as hackers have demonstrated.

This all goes a lot further than specific companies or equipment, of course. The whole new generation of “smart” devices are designed to build an “internet of things”, where privacy, freedom and, indeed, humanity will be consigned to the past and we will all be reduced to the status of permanently monitored and controlled slaves to a techno-industrial global state that will make Orwell’s nightmare look like a whimsical daydream.

That is, if we don’t bring it down first.

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6. Acorninfo

A new article by Nafeez Ahmed, published by Insurge Intelligence,  a crowd-funded investigative journalism project, explores the dystopian implications of Britain’s new Counter Terrorism and Security Bill, and the efforts to rush it through without public scrutiny. He writes: “In the name of fighting terror, the UK government, hand-in-hand with the US, is leading the way to turn freedom of speech and dissent into mere formalities that, in practice, have no place in societies that will function, effectively, as full-fledged police-states.”

* * *

The anarchists of Class War have restarted their campaign against separate doors for rich and poor residents at a London development, with a protest held at Aldgate East on Thursday February 12. They had paused their efforts at One Commercial Street after new owner Taylor McWilliams promised to discuss the ending of the socially divisive arrangement. Writes Daniel Brett of the controversial development: “Included within its heavy shaft is 70 units of affordable housing. Generosity? They have apartheid doors to prevent the socially transmitted disease of class awakening. One door for the Rich, one door for the Poor. The Rich have concierge service, executive kitsch and chandeliers, while the “poor” scurry round the back to an ill-liturine-smelling alley. Segregated refuse areas, segregated parking, segregated post: a barrier that sterilises society.”

PoorDoors2ndRound

* * *

An eco-activist journal that inspired a generation has now been archived online. Do or Die, the world’s biggest English-language anarchist journal, was published in the British Isles from 1993-2003, crammed with reports and analysis from the world-wide ecological frontlines. The voices collected here are not those of outsiders, journalists or academics, but of those involved in the struggles themselves. In these times of concrete alienation these voices shine hope from movements that took action to defend nature, create revolution and re-wild humanity.

Dor or Die

* * *

A guide to the Euro Zone Crisis has just been published in English by Corporate Watch and is available to read online, as well as to buy in printed form. The work by Christina Laskaridis, called False Dilemmas: A Critical Guide to the Euro Zone Crisis, has a particular emphasis on what has been happening in Greece and shows how to debunk common myths about the crisis, and counter arguments justifying austerity . It asks who profits from the crisis and provides information on grassroots resistance and alternatives.

* * *

Animal rights activists around the UK campaigned against “The British Heartless Foundation” on Saturday February 14. Says the campaign: “The British Heart Foundation are huge funders of sick animal experiments. A quick look on PubMed, a publicly accessible archive of research papers, reveals over 1,500 papers documenting cruel research funded by BHF involving animals on this website alone. Despite their claims of transparency and openness, BHF do not make public a list of which animals and how many are killed in the course of the research they fund. What have they got to hide?” More info at www.britishheartlessfoundation.co.uk

BHF demo

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