The Acorn – 12

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Number 12


In this issue:

  1. Anarchy resurgent!
  2. East London Rising!
  3. Anarchism, capitalism and industry
  4. Anarchism in chains?
  5. Terror and the capitalist system
  6. Anti-terrorism is not what it says it is
  7. UK anarchists pull off cheeky repeat factory occupation
  8. Anti-road resistance in Rize
  9. Acorninfo

1. Anarchy resurgent!

anarchyart

Hopeful signs are emerging that anarchism is on the point of an invigorating worldwide resurgence in the second half of the second decade of the 21st century.

The abject sell-out of Syriza in Greece, together with the general redundancy of the Left (see Acorn 11) and the increasing irrelevance of “democratic” institutions in the face of total corporate-military control are all paving the way for a revival.

And anarchism itself is responding by rediscovering some of the vigour and spirit it lost in the course of a 20th century in which radical idealism was crushed not just by capitalism but by its fake adversary, state-capitalist communism.

Anarchists are increasingly leaving behind the dull bureaucratic brand of anarchism (see below) that has sometimes given it a bad name in past decades.

And they are deepening their commitment to action as well as to words, to a heart-felt belief in the rightness of the anarchist ideal rather than to a dusty dogmatic affiliation, to an urgent need to challenge and confront the capitalist beast wherever it rears its head.

This real anarchism understands that while fascism has to be fought in the streets, it has hidden strongholds in the board rooms, in the police stations, in the prisons and detention centres.

It understands that to oppose militarism is to oppose capitalism in its most raw and directly murderous incarnation.

It appreciates that capitalism also takes on a physical form in all its infrastructure – the roads, airports, factories, power stations and high-speed rail lines that are destroying this world in a never-ending hunger for profit.

Emma Goldman
Emma Goldman

There is nothing new in all this, of course. This authentic anarchism, which has never entirely died out, was the anarchism of the great figures of the 19th and early 20th centuries – giants like Mikael Bakunin, Voltairine de Cleyre, Emma Goldman and Gustav Landauer.

And now today’s rebels are ready to turn their backs on the sterile libertarianised marxism that has too often been passed off as anarchism, as they embrace the power and glory of the real thing!

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2. East London Rising!

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A good example of this budding anarchist renaissance is the East London Rising event being staged by the Anarchist Action Network at the London Action Resource Centre (LARC), Whitechapel, from Monday August 3 to Sunday August 9.

With a whole week of free workshops and discussions on various themes, it sets out to bring together a diverse spectrum of campaigning issues, while explaining how they all form part of the one anarchist struggle.

Of particular significance, perhaps, is the Environment and Degrowth day, on Tuesday August 4, which emphasises the way that the anarchist fight against capitalism is also a fight against industrialism and ecocide.

As The Acorn went to press, this day was due to start at 2-3pm with a workshop by Luddites200 on “Thinking about technology and degrowth – a Luddite perspective.”

This is to be followed from 3 to 4pm with a presentation by Earth First! and then from 5-6pm the London Mining Network will talk on “Collective, horizontal and consensus-based: How Indigenous self-organisation has stopped international mining giants”.

From 7pm to 8pm Transition Heathrow will do a workshop on resistance, degrowth and anarchism and then from 8pm Corporate Watch will be dealing with climate change and anti-capitalism.

Also worth noting is the anti-militarism day, which is part of the build-up of resistance to the DSEI arms fair being held in East London this September.

resistance

The full week’s line-up is as follows:

Monday Aug 3 – Anti-racism, Anti-borders
Tuesday Aug 4 – Environment & degrowth
Wednesday Aug 5 – Skillshares
Thursday Aug 6 – Benefits claimants and workers rights
Friday Aug 7 – Housing struggles and anti-eviction
Saturday Aug 8 – Anti-militarism and anti-imperialism
Sunday Aug 9 – Anarchism

LARC is situated at 62 Fieldgate Street, Whitechapel, London, E1 1ES. The nearest underground stations are Whitechapel, Aldgate East and Aldgate.

https://www.anarchistaction.net/east-london-rising/

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3. Anarchism, capitalism and industry

cogs-in-a-machine

Neither anarcho-capitalism nor anarcho-industrialism make any sense because anarchism stands directly opposed to capitalism and to the industrial infrastructure on which it depends.

That is the conclusion to a recent article by anarchist writer Paul Cudenec, in which he questions whether this is always fully understood by anarchists.

In particular, he challenges the received wisdom that the only issue that need concern anarchists about industry relates to who controls it. He asks whether fracking would suddenly become acceptable if Cuadrilla was a workers’ co-op.

A detail from LS Lowry's The Canal Bridge (1949)

Cudenec adds: “I find it hard to believe that anyone’s idea of a future anarchist society could include factories of any kind. Who would be working in them if we didn’t live in a capitalist society where people desperately need to earn money to survive? Why would anyone work in a factory if they didn’t have to? In an anarchist society, what kind of social, economic or physical compulsion could be applied to make people work in factories if, as seems likely, they didn’t particularly want to?

“Why do anarcho-industrialists think that factories came into existence in the first place? To help the workers? To make life better for all of us? Because we collectively needed the mass production of the things that factories make?

“Or was it so that a small group of entrepreneurs could make profit out of them? Isn’t industrial society entirely a product of capitalism?”

The full article can be read at network23.org/paulcudenec

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4. Anarchism in chains?

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Some thought-provoking reflections on the smothered state of anarchism in the UK are contained in a controversial booklet called Anarchy – Civil or Subversive, now updated and online here.

In the introduction, the late Darko Matthers condemns “civil anarchism” as “a horizontal citizenism which speaks the language of democracy (rights, laws, social inclusion, consensus, protest).”

He adds: “Apart from maintaining democracy’s image of dialogue and permitted dissent, civil society also is a recuperating mediator and handily picks up services for the state and business, curbing some of their excesses to allow the smoother functioning of the system. Many ‘anarchist’ (or rather libertarian) activists work for NGOs, trade unions and the parasitic den of academia.

“There’s a direct feedback loop through academia, activists and the social bureaucracy about the bizarre language codes and identity politics of political correctness.”

One contributor to the booklet writes: “Civil anarchism turns on any anarchist or activist who dares reject the group-think and organise themselves outside of ‘acceptable limits’; and like all political groups, the civil anarchists tend toward homogeneity, centralisation, hierarchy, delegation and censorship, however much it is all dressed up as consensus”.

On a positive note, reflecting the new resurgence in authentic anarchism, another writer declares: “Anarchy appears to us as the life force of the planet, the creative destroyer which has never been extinguished from the pages of civilisation by the determined forces of ignorance and repression”.

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5. Terror and the capitalist system

suruc bomb

The massacre at the Amara Culture Centre in Suruç (Pîrsus), Kurdistan (within the Turkish state), last week has raised fears of a new phase in so-called “terrorism”.

At least two anarchists were killed in the bombing of the left-wing centre – they have been named as Alper Sapan from Anarchy Initiative Eskişehir and Evrim Deniz Erol from Urfa.

The attack is seen as an assault on the initiative to rebuild Kobanê after the ISIS attack last year. A report on the Rabble website reports: “Comrades in Turkey and Kurdistan say that it was done by ISIS in collusion with the Turkish state”.

It is not just Turkey that colludes with ISIS – along with other Islamist guerrilla groups, ISIS has many traceable links to Western intelligence. These have been apparent in various armed conflicts from Afghanistan to Bosnia to Algeria.

ISISpic

Author Nafeez Ahmed has been at the forefront of exposing what he described as long ago as 2006, in his important book The London Bombings, as “the covert alliance between British state interests and Islamist terrorist networks”.

He writes: “The international terrorist network implicated in the London bombings extends to a number of regions, including the Balkans, Asia and Africa (namely North and West). In all these areas militant Islamist networks have operated in collaboration with the military and intelligence institutions of Britain, the US and European countries.

“These policies and operations, many of which continue to exist today, can be linked to concerted attempts by American, British and European states to secure a variety of regional strategic and economic interests, largely related to energy concerns.”

The current wave of Islamist terrorism is often regarded as the modern equivalent of the Cold War “Gladio” network of far-right extremists controlled by US and UK intelligence.

As Ganser sets out in his book NATO’s Secret Armies: Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe, right-wing extremists including surviving Nazis and Fascists were recruited by US and British intelligence at the end of the Second World War to form an “anti-communist” terror network.

Ostensibly intended to fight any Soviet invasion of Europe, it quickly switched to countering the threat to capitalism posed by radicals, carrying out “false flag” attacks blamed on leftists and anarchists as part of a “strategy of tension” to create fear and drive the public into the “safe” hands of the capitalist state.

ganser

In Turkey, from the 1960s, there was an extreme right Turkish militia called the Grey Wolves (Bozkurt), described by author Daniele Ganser as “a brutal network of trained and armed men ready to use violence to further the cause of Pan-Turkism”.

The Grey Wolves were eventually exposed as having been part of a CIA-run secret army dedicated to protecting Western capitalist interests. One of those who spoke out was General Talat Turhan, himself involved in a coup d’etat, who later declared: “This is the secret unit of the NATO countries”.

Although the Gladio network was exposed most fully in Italy (the Bologna bombing was one of its murderous acts, for instance), it operated across Europe, including the UK, where the conflict in the north of Ireland was an ideal training ground.

The worrying lack of knowledge and understanding, even in radical circles, of the extent to which terrorism was secretly deployed by the capitalist system from the 1940s to the 1980s sadly means that there is little to stop it using the same techniques again today.

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6. Anti-terrorism is not what it says it is

anti-terrorist police

“Anti-terrorism” is not at all what it seems – it is in fact the deliberately misleading label given to a global psychological war waged against most of humanity by a controlling elite.

That is the message from an article in Guccio, a new international radical magazine.

The authors begin by stating that, despite all appearances, anti-terrorism’s main target is not the people it declares to be “terrorists”, but the population as a whole.

anti-terrorist propaganda
Fear as a means of control – anti-terrorist propaganda

 

They add: “There is no one legal definition of terrorism, and this is why there are so many definitions – more than a hundred different ones all across the world. ‘Terrorism’ is a political category.”

Essentially the label “terrorist” is an attempt to translate into legal terminology the vaguer notion of an enemy – an enemy of the system. Since the system itself designates its enemies, it also controls the definition of “terrorist”.

The idea that anti-terrorist laws are a reaction to actual “terrorist” threats is false. The authors point out: “It is known that among the 11 proposals for international anti-terrorist legislation submitted by the EU during the autumn of 2001 ‘in reaction to 9/11’, six had already been formulated before the attacks, four were already in preparation and only one, concerning asylum and immigration was actually new.

“We also know that the UK, one of the main engines behind this whole process, had already passed the Terrorism Act 2000 which, without saying so openly, was aimed at ‘subversive’ political movements, mainly the anti-globalisation movement.”

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Redefined as “terrorism” – the anti-globalisation protests in Genoa in 2001

For the Italian General Fabio Mini, after the anti-capitalist protests in Genoa in 2001 there was already no doubt that “violent contestation of the global system is equal in this case to terrorism”.

The Guccio article explains that a 2002 EU framework defines as terrorism any action likely “to severely undermine a country or an international organisation”, with the aim of “severely intimidating a population” or to “severely destabilize or destroy the fundamental political, constitutional, economic structures of a country or an international organization”.

While Margaret Thatcher had already tried to use anti-terrorist laws against striking miners in the 1980s, the practice has now become widespread.

From indignados in Barcelona to occupiers of a city hall in Greece, from the alleged authors of The Coming Insurrection in France, to environmental activists from the No Tav movement in Italy – all have been accused of “terrorism” for daring to challenge the capitalist system.

Even organisers of protests against the 2014 World Cup in Brazil were arrested under “anti-terrorist” legislation.

not-terrorists
Why do we even have to say that we are not “terrorists”?

It is not just the legal route that is used by the industrial capitalist system as part of its “anti-terrorist” war on dissent.

The article cites a paper on defeating anti-globalisation movements which suggests “disinformation and infiltration by agents provocateurs seeking to control and sabotage”.

Mark Kennedy
British police spy Mark Kennedy – infiltrated the anti-capitalist movement on a European scale

The authors comment: “If we have in mind the European scale of the infiltration carried out by British police spy Mark Kennedy, as well as the police’s strategies during some anti-summit protests, we can be certain that these few lines are not empty rhetoric, but a global policy being conducted against us. We therefore need a counter-strategy, on a scale as global as the enemy’s manoeuvres.

“It is very unfortunate that we failed to turn the scandal raised in England by the Mark Kennedy case into a European affair challenging the activities of the various police forces that resorted to his services.”

They stress this international aspect more than once, pointing out that “nowhere we have succeeded in our attempts to neutralise anti-terrorism. One of the reasons why we fail may be that we have always struggled against it at a national level, whereas it represents a global policy.

“When the enemy’s victories arise from the fact that it has a global strategy against us, whereas we do not have one against it, we have to undertake a new international strategic debate, at least European-wide, in order to be able once again to address the situation.”

They also suggest that the way we conduct our struggles can help undermine the absurd smear of “terrorism”.

“When their tactic consists in ascribing a feeling of terror to any revolutionary movement, we must make people laugh, mock our enemies, show a great deal of wit. A funny terrorist is already not a terrorist anymore.”

They say that for years now, the anti-terrorist establishment has tried to associate direct action against the system with a feeling of fear, whereas the feeling for those on the streets is one of liberation: “It is crucial to break this spell… spark complicity. Bind together once again the idea of revolution with the idea of increasing power, of joy.”

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The joy of protesting – the Carnival Against Capital in London on June 18 1999

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7. UK anarchists pull off cheeky repeat factory occupation

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The Kent occupation on July 6 2015

Activists from the Anarchist Action Network formed part of the second rooftop occupation of an Israeli factory in Kent on Monday July 6.

This marked the anniversary of the 2014 attack on Gaza and coincided with the Block the Factory protest in Shenstone, in the Midlands.

Alongside Palestine solidarity campaigners and other anti-militarist comrades, the AAN participants launched an early-morning assault on Instro, a fully-owned subsidiary of drone manufacturer Elbit, which makes optical guidance components.

The compound and roof were both taken by 4am, with a sound system on the ground inside, a lock-on to the main gate and other protesters remaining outside the premises on the Broadstairs industrial estate.

Police turned up, initially in large numbers, and at one point were spotted trying to climb on to the roof from the back of the building – however, their ladder was not long enough and they retreated!

The factory was closed for the whole day and the occupation crew exited the premises under their own steam after a 12-hour stint.

The same factory was previously occupied, again with AAN involvement, in February this year. No arrests were made on either occasion. (See “What is Elbit scared of?” in Acorn 3)

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8. Anti-road resistance in Rize

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The Turkish state sent in military police to attack local people in the Black Sea province of Rize who had formed a human chain to halt road-building bulldozers.

Fierce resistance to the ecocidal industrialist project broke out in Rize’s Çamlıhemşin district where locals opposed the connection of Yukarı Kavun and Samistal pastures, fearing that the new road would push housing and industry into the untouched nature of the region.

Havva Bekar, one of the most senior members of the group, has become a social media phenomenon. In a video shared by thousands of social media users on July 11, Bekar was heard rebuking security forces at the construction site with a stick in her hand.

“We don’t want this road. We are the people. Who is the state? The state is a state thanks to us,” she said.

Infrastructure projects threatening Turkey’s Black Sea region have become a source of growing conflict between the capitalist Turkish state and the population.

Most recently on July 9, tension rose between gendarmerie forces and locals in Artvin, with local activists trying to prevent untouched forest in the region from being cleared for new mining facilities.

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9. Acorninfo

Activists from Plane Stupid staged a dramatic lock-on protest at Heathrow on Monday July 13 in opposition to a third runway there – and to any other airport expansion. One of them told The Independent that they had a direct message to the Government and the aviation industry: “We want to be clear that the anti-airport expansion movement is back and we’re here to stay. ‘No, ifs, no buts, no third runway’. We mean it.”

heathrow protest

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“A polite knock on the door of a Mr John Shaw of Hastings got Emily Johns a visit from the police. How so? He’s the CEO of a secretive ‘non-profit company’ that’s using tens of millions of pounds of public funds to build white elephant business parks and destroy valuable nature sites. And avoiding accountability looks like a major point of the exercise.” An article exposing the activities of SeaChange in Sussex, UK, (see Acorn 8) has been published by The Ecologist. Worth a read.

SeaChange logo

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Prison abolition is on the agenda at the Cowley Club, 12 London Road, Brighton, on the evening of Monday July 27. From 7pm Sussex Anarchists will be hosting a workshop from the Open Cages Collective, calling for anarchist resistance to prisons and in particular the new super-prison to be built at Wrexham.

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Online dissent is being systematically sabotaged by a special intelligence unit run by the British state, an article has revealed. Documents published by The Intercept demonstrate how the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG), a unit of the signals intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), is involved in efforts against political groups it considers “extremist”. The spooks’ work includes creating fake online identities to promote state and corporate agendas and disrupting “extremist” websites and emails. The full report can be read here.

propaganda-ministry

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A robot killed a young man at one of Volkswagen’s production plants in Germany on Monday June 29, the firm has admitted. The machine grabbed the 22 year old and crushed him against a metal plate. A spokesman blamed “human error” – yes indeed, human error in creating robots in the first place!

robottkiller

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“Why we hate the police” is the title of an anonymous online leaflet from France. It reads, in part: “We hate the police because there will soon no longer be a single move we can make, a single road we can walk down, the smallest corner of our existences in which we can escape from their surveillance and their punishment. We hate the police because we hate control. We hate the police because a good cop is always more dangerous than a bad one. Because the police are the last bulwark stopping this rotting society from collapsing. Because they are the armed wing of the thing that is slowly and surely killing us. Because the police will always be an obstacle between the life we have and the life we want…”

why we hate police

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Acorn quote: “The same era that saw the English peasant expropriated from his common lands saw the Bengal peasant made a parasite in his own country”. Edward J. Thompson, The Life of Charles, Lord Metcalfe.

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(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!

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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 – 8

acornmastheadnew

Number 8


In this issue:

  1. Wiping the smug look off the face of capitalism!
  2. Film: “The city is the end of the world”
  3. The “regeneration” scam
  4. Developers erase communities and their histories
  5. Forms of Freedom – new anarchist book from Winter Oak
  6. Government are a bunch of fracking hypocrites!
  7. Brighton solidarity with jailed Spanish anarchists
  8. Acorninfo

1. Wiping the smug look off the face of capitalism!

Draghi protest2
Frightened of something, Mr President?

When a young anti-capitalist leapt on to the desk in front of European Central Bank president Mario Draghi when he was giving a press conference in Frankfurt on April 15, the look on Draghi’s face was priceless.

Where was his security? Where was his certainty? Where was his unchallenged power to pontificate without any interruption from those who should know their submissive place in the social structure and stick to it?

Draghi protest

The impact of this one-woman protest (following on from the thousands-strong protests in Frankfurt a few weeks ago  and hopefully continuing with the May 1 protests against the World Fair in Milan) is something that needs to be matched on a theoretical level.

We heretics of the capitalist age need to blow a hole in the smug certainties of the neoliberal cult of which Draghi is part.

Jobs, economic growth, regeneration. These are its holy words, the sanctimonious doublespeak that is uttered every time it carries out some new abomination.

Like all such dogma, these terms “cannot” be challenged. They are supposed to be self-evidently desirable. From within the capitalists’ world, it is so obvious that “everyone” is in favour of jobs, growth and regeneration that they don’t even feel they have to argue the case.

But the truth is that it is precisely only from within their world that they make any sense. It is only by accepting all the assumptions that lie behind these loaded terms that they appear to be positive concepts.

For instance, don’t we all need jobs? How else would we have any food or shelter? How else could we live – unless we are rich or “sponging” from the state? But the reality is that most “jobs” have nothing to do with feeding us. They just provide us with tokens (money) which we can exchange for food, grown on the land which has been stolen from the commons of a non-owned planet by an elite who invented the idea of “property” to justify this theft and then invented the idea of “law” to justify the constant violence they use to hold on to their ill-gotten gains.

arbeit_macht_frei

A “job” is not a good thing in itself. It depends what you are actually doing. Nuclear weapons factories create “jobs”. Rainforest clearance creates “jobs”. Prisons, detention centres, animal testing labs, concentration camps – all of these involve “jobs”.

We, those of us who reject the capitalist world, need to break through the barriers to understanding erected by the words they use and by the assumptions behind them.

Already, the degrowth movement is pointing out that “economic growth” is about as good news for humanity as a “cancerous growth” is for an individual.

Likewise with “regeneration”. Capitalist regeneration is nothing but destruction. Real regeneration would start with the clearing away of the toxic infrastructure of the industrial capitalist machine that we are somehow allowing to destroy the one thing we can never do without – the planet we live on.

But it also must start with the clearing away of the assumptions and certainties which capitalism uses to hide the reality of its violent domination of humankind.

As long as we dissidents continue to pay lip service to the neoliberal liturgy of jobs, growth and development, the face of the capitalist system will retain its complacent certainty that we are incapable of seeing through its exploitative lies – and acting accordingly.

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2. Film: “The city is the end of the world”

Metropolis

“In the city, life is not free. It must be paid for. There is no home here, there is only money, control and order. The city is the epicentre of illusion and the absolute apex of lifelessness. It is a black hole perched along the river devouring all that is free. The city is the end of the world.”

These words come from the introductory scenes of a superb video called Metropolis, which was made in 2012 but is not yet as well known as it should be.

Its focus is on Seattle in the USA, the home of Microsoft, Starbucks and Amazon, which tries to pass itself off as some kind of eco-friendly model of a happy hi-tech future. But, as the film says, “the Emerald City is not what it seems”.

Here we see the whole infrastructure of a modern conurbation, from transport networks to power and water supplies, from offices to shopping malls to prisons.

Everything in the capitalist city is interconnected and everything is there to facilitate the flow of capital – not least the human population.

If you don’t serve the purposes of capital, you are not welcome here: “Only those with money and the intention of spending it are encouraged to enter the heart of downtown, where everything must be paid for”.

Behind the gentrification of luxury “eco-friendly” apartments, behind all the creation of jobs and boosting of the economy is the reality of an industrial civilization which pollutes our water and turns human beings into slaves of a technological master – not for nothing does the documentary feature clips from sci-fi films Terminator and Existenz.

We are shown how the police and public authorities work hand in hand with the powerful businesses of the city to ensure this is how things remain: “It is in all of their interests to have a submissive and orderly population that will help them expand the economy.”

One comment regarding the port of Seattle could just as easily apply to any other part of the system: “The pollution, the deaths at the workplace, all of it can be ignored as long as the wheels of the metropolis keep turning.”

Seattle anarchists
Anarchists in Seattle

But there is a positive side, too. In contrast to the nightmare present, projected into a nightmare future, the film presents the sense of possibility offered by revolt.

It reminds us: “Life is the force that brought us to this moment and it is life that will get us out of this trap. As soon as we make the choice, we are free.”

The film can be seen online (in segments) here. A version with French subtitles is also being created here.

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3. The “regeneration” scam

Regeneration? Trees felled to make way for a SeaChange project
Capitalist “regeneration”. Trees felled to make way for a SeaChange project

The scam of capitalist “regeneration” is being challenged by campaigners in southern England.

Behind all the talk of “job creation”, “development” and “infrastructure” is the reality of environmental destruction and a massive financial cost to those who will never benefit from the schemes.

SeaChange logo
SeaChange: a “not-for-profit” cog in the capitalist machine

The SeaChangeWatch website has been set up by residents of Hastings and St Leonards and focuses on SeaChange Sussex, a “not-for-profit economic development company” which trades under the name “East Sussex Energy Infrastructure and Development Limited”.

This is the grey area where state and business overlap. A private company funded almost completely by the public purse, SeaChange says on its own website that it is  ”working to expand the area’s economy and business community by attracting successful companies and enabling local firms to grow”.

But the campaigners are questioning “the huge amount of public money poured into SeaChange Sussex to create ‘regeneration’ in our town”, adding “Our green spaces are being destroyed by this ‘build and the occupiers will come’ policy.”

Creating "opportunities" - to trash the Sussex countryside
Creating “opportunities” – to trash the Sussex countryside

In recent years, SeaChange Sussex (or its precursor, SeaSpace) has built two business parks locally for which it “appears totally unable to find occupiers”. Despite this, it is pushing ahead with plans for two more sites – Bexhill Innovation Park and the Queensway Gateway development.

Say the campaigners: “By granting planning permission for these new sites without asking any questions about the previous ones, our local councils – Hastings Borough Council and Rother District Council – are colluding in the environmental destruction and waste of public money which these projects represent”.

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4.  Developers erase communities and their histories

East End Howler

A handy guide to “understanding developer-speak” has been put together by the East End Howler, an excellent free news sheet from London (issue 15):

Affordable: No more than 80% of market rate.

Read: Insultingly unaffordable for most.

Decanting: Councils and property developers will actually refer to people like they’re canned goods. Perhaps it’s easier on their consciences than “displacing families and shattering communities”.

Read: getting rid of those pesky working class types.

Flagship development: Huge amounts of money pumped into a single development to try to “revitalise” an area – in other words, to kick off gentrification.

Read: the cavalry is coming.

Investment, growth, revitalisation: At the same time as people are being turfed out, places are increasingly being given new names, presumably in an attempt to create a “buzz” about an area loud enough to drown out the sound of bulldozers. Usually “something-Quarter”, “something-Town”, “something-Village”. Eviction clearly isn’t enough – histories have to be erased with it.

Read: We consider the previous residents to be skeletons in our closet.

Regeneration, improvement: Making changes to an area to attract bigger businesses and richer tenants. As no attempt will be made to counteract the inevitable increase in house prices, anyone who currently lives there is screwed.

Read: Doing absolutely anything we can to attract rich overseas property investors.

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5. Forms of Freedom – new anarchist book from Winter Oak

formsoffreedomcover

A new book on anarchist philosophy from writer Paul Cudenec has been published by Winter Oak – Forms of Freedom.

In this important work, the author of The Anarchist Revelation, The Stifled Soul of Humankind and Antibodies challenges layer upon layer of the assumptions that lie largely unchallenged beneath contemporary industrial capitalist society.

He rejects limited definitions of freedom as an absence of specific restraints in favour of a far deeper and more radical analysis which describes individual, collective, planetary and metaphysical levels of freedom.

A powerful and tightly-argued work inspired by a profoundly coherent anarchist vision, Forms of Freedom is a potential classic of 21st century revolutionary philosophy.

Writes Cudenec: “How can the human race embrace freedom if it does not have a clear idea of what freedom is? How can we ever gain a clear idea of freedom if we do not even start looking for it in the right places?

“A collective delusion has taken over humanity, fogged its mind, rendered it incapable of understanding its own essential reality or the way in which it has become blinded to that reality and thus incapable of acting in its own real interests”.

More information on a special page at https://winteroak.org.uk/forms-of-freedom

Paul Cudenec will be talking about the theme of the book in a 2pm workshop at the Bristol Anarchist Bookfair on Saturday April 25.

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6. Government are a bunch of fracking hypocrites!

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

Some big lies behind the British state’s all-out support for the fracking industry are exposed in a new book by a Sussex campaigner.

Balcombe and Beyond: UK’s Frack Free Movement by Martin Dale features some important information that reveals the hypocrisy behind all the media spin.

For instance, the UK authorities have often tried to reassure the public that fracking will be perfectly safe here, because of all the lovely regulations we have in place.

But the book reveals that behind the scenes the government has in fact been trying to prevent regulations from getting in the way of the fracking industry’s profits!

Dale writes: “Leaked documents from the European Commission in January 2014 identified Prime Minister David Cameron and the UK Government as the chief opposition to new environmental legislation on fracking operations, stating in a letter to the EC President: ‘It is essential the EU minimise the regulatory burdens and costs on industry… by not creating uncertainty or introducing new legislation. The industry in the UK had told us that new EU legislation would delay imminent investment”.

frackingwater

The author reveals that the only “regulation” the UK has in mind is one conducted by the industry itself! “UK pro-shale advocates cite that there are ‘Gold Standard Regulations’ that make the process of fracking safe for the UK. However, it has been found through Freedom of Information requests that neither the Environment Agency nor the Health and Safety Executive conduct independent inspections of any oil or gas well sites, but instead rely on self-regulation by the well operators”.

He points out early in the book that “the Coalition Government are overtly pro-shale”. This is hardly a secret – indeed the Tories’ 2015 manifesto even boasts about it, declaring “our tax cuts have encouraged record levels of investment in existing North Sea gas, and the birth of a new industry, shale gas, which could create many thousands of jobs.”

As the details of Dale’s research confirm this time and time again, so he leads us on to a broader, and more disconcerting, appreciation of the close collaboration between state and business.

On every level, the state exposes itself as a tool in the hands of the fracking industry. Even the road repairs and widening around drill sites are in effect a subsidy for private industry from the public purse.

frackingdefra

The UK state has also actively prevented the public from hearing the truth about the disastrous impact of fracking if it is allowed to go ahead, even notoriously censoring one of its own reports on the issue!

Dale recalls that in August 2014, government department DEFRA released a report “on the potential impacts of shale gas exploration on rural communities. The report was only 13 pages in length but contained 63 redactions, obscuring almost all of its content. Eight sections had been deleted from the executive summary, four sections on economic impacts, four sections on social impacts, 17 sections on local service impacts and three sections specifically looking at the impact on house prices near drilling sites”.

The state’s reaction to public opposition to fracking – in particular the right to drill under people’s homes without their permission – has also exposed as a complete sham the phoney “consultation” with which it likes to dress up its edicts.

The book tells us: “On the 26th September, the Department for Energy and Climate Change announced the results of the consultation on underground access – some 40,647 responses were made with an astonishing 99% rate of objection to the plans to allow drilling without landowner permission. However, in a press release DECC stated that: ‘We acknowledge the large number of responses against the proposal and the fact that the proposal has provided an opportunity for the public to voice their concerns and raise issues. However the role of the consultation was to see arguments and evidence to consider in developing the proposed policy. Whilst a wide range of arguments were raised and points covered, we did not identify any issues that persuaded us to change the basic form of the proposals”.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, a couple of weeks later a last-minute amendment to what was to become the Infrastructure Act allowed fracking firms to put any substance at all into the ground and leave it there for ever!

balcombeandbeyond

A full review of the book can be read here.

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7. Brighton solidarity with jailed Spanish anarchists

Spain protest
The solidarity protest in Brighton, Sussex

Some 40 people took part in a Sunday evening protest in Brighton on April 12, in solidarity with Spanish anarchists jailed by their increasingly repressive state.

As we reported in Acorn 6 and Acorn 7, “Operación Piñata” is a massive and much-hyped assault by the Spanish police against the anarchist Movement in Spain. It has left five people in “preventive” imprisonment under solitary confinement.

From six in the evening people met at the Clock Tower, in the centre of Brighton, displaying banners, giving out leaflets and explaining to the public about the repression in Spain and the conditions of the comrades. Slogans against the repression and against police and prisons were heard (some of them in Spanish).

Spain protest2
Taking the road in Brighton

After half an hour activists decided to block the road for a few minutes, walking to Churchill Square, where a statement was read in front of the Santander Bank and O2 (Telefónica), two of the biggest Spanish corporations. Then the group made its way back to the Clock Tower where the action concluded.

In the demonstration there were a large number of Spanish people living in Brighton and comrades from different social movements of the city. Solidarity was shown from groups such as Brighton-SolFed, Brighton Antifascists, Sussex Anarchists and Brighton Anarchist Black Cross.

Said a statement from activists: “Spain is becoming a police state because the Government is scared. They are scared of the coherence in the criticism and the practices that the anarchists represent and the incidence that this is having in the people of a country with a long history of revolts.

“In Spain people are angry. Lots of interesting struggles are taking place―struggles in which the people are addressing their problems by themselves, pointing directly to their real enemies: Capitalism and, for a few of them, also the State.

“There are, of course, those who try to recover popular initiatives in order to become the political leaders of the future. Some of them will become council representatives, even majors or ministers. They talk about ‘democratic regeneration’ or promise to go back to the ‘Welfare State’.

“The Spanish Government is well aware of the fact that the calming siren song of the new shepherds is not enough. An army of journalists, politicians and government workers are being mobilised to make sure that nobody crosses the limits. However, their principal weapon is an old one: repression.

Police raids against anarchists have been heavily hyped by Spanish corporate media
Police raids against anarchists have been heavily hyped by Spanish corporate media

“If their intention was to intimidate and isolate what they call the anarchist-terrorists this has been a bad beginning. Just hours after the operation started, a wave of solidarity spread around the country and even far beyond it.

“Thousands of people are taking the streets in solidarity with the detained. They realise that those who are being labelled as members of a dangerous, terrorist cell, could have been them, for Spain―like many other places in Europe― is becoming a trap for those who do not want to become docile subjects.

“While living conditions are getting worse the ruling class is answering with criminalisation of the fighters. International solidarity is particularly important now. It must be shown that we are not scared, that we are very angry and that our comrades are not alone. Solidarity will go on. Liberation for the anarchists arrested now! ¡Ahora y siempre, muerte al Estado y viva la Anarquía!”

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8. Acorninfo

A good example of targeting neoliberal infrastructure comes from Oakland, USA, where there is a Mayday call-out to “Block the Tech Commute!”. Says a post on Anarchist News: “Oakland is seeing an unprecedented wave of gentrification creeping in from every direction. The rich have begun colonizing North Oakland, West Oakland, and Downtown. Their tech buses, their pricey cafes, and their luxury apartments have begun to appear with alarming frequency. This May Day, we will deliver a simple message to these colonizers during their morning commute. Starting at 7:30 AM and lasting until 9:30 AM, we call on everyone to converge at the MacArthur BART [Bay Area Rapid Transit] station to interrupt the morning commute. The tech shuttle buses for Facebook, Google, and Apple all stop outside the BART station on 40th Street, below the freeway. We will converge in front of these buses, on the platforms of the station, and in front of the BART gates to spread our message”.

Block the tech commute

* * *

As the capitalist system fears up for another phoney election in the UK, Occupy Democracy has announced a ten-day occupation of Parliament Square, London, from May 1 to May 10,  to continue building “a movement for real democracy: free from corporate control, working for people and planet”. They say: “We will return to Parliament Square to expose our broken democracy and work towards real democratic solutions through engaging workshops, lively discussions and creative direct action”.

occupy democracy

* * *

A round-up of protests around Mayday and later in the year has been posted by the Anarchist Action Network on its website. Its next meeting will be on Saturday May 30  at the Cowley Club, 12 London Road, Brighton, where you can “help organise London Rising, a week-long temporary anarchist space in the capital this August”.  There will be a practical working day on the Sunday.

COWLEY

* * *

A marvellous report of neoliberal democracy in action – in which the interests of business always take precedence. In this instance the country is the USA and the subject-matter is fracking. “The Texas state House of Representatives has passed a bill that would block cities in Texas from banning the controversial oil and gas exploration method known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The bill featured 70 co-sponsors and had the support of the oil and gas industry. The House vote comes just a few months after voters in a small Texas town called Denton approved a measure that banned fracking in the area. Denton was the first Texas city or county to ban the practice, the oil industry has already filed a lawsuit seeking to reverse the prohibition.”

dentonfrackban600

* * *

A glimpse into the struggles of Palestinian prisoners is provided by a new briefing from Corporate Watch. Imprisoned Voices results from a 2013 Corporate Watch visit to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in which researchers interviewed released prisoners about their experiences.  They have been collected together “to inspire readers to take action in solidarity with them and against the companies profiting from their suffering”. The report can be downloaded here or read online here.

Imprisoned Voices
Imprisoned Voices

* * *

Why Anti-Civilization: A Short Introduction to Green Anarchy is an online brochure from The Feral Space Collective, originally published in the zine Disorderly Conduct. “We cannot reform civilization, green it up, or make it more fair. It is rotten to the core. We don’t need more ideology, morality, fundamentalism, or better organization to save us. We must save ourselves. We have to live according to our own desires. We have to connect with ourselves, those we care about, and the rest of life. We have to break out of, and break down, this reality. We need Action. To put it simply, civilization is a war on life, we are fighting for our lives, and we declare war on civilization!”

anarcoveganismo

* * *

Acorn quote: “Do not fool yourself by saying you would like to help usher in a free society, but you cannot sacrifice an armchair for it”. Voltairine de Cleyre, The Dominant Idea.

Voltairine_de_Cleyre

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The Acorn – 5

acornmastheadnew

Number 5


In this issue:

  1. Frankfurt and the flames of resistance
  2. Why attack the ECB?
  3. “Insurrection has been waiting to break out”
  4. The road to corporate profits
  5. The Brighton Connection – how Green is your valley?
  6. Acorninfo

1. Frankfurt and the flames of resistance

A burning police car in Frankfurt on #18M
A burning police car in Frankfurt on #18M

A powerful message rose from the streets of Frankfurt on Wednesday March 18 2015 – a new phase of international anti-capitalist resistance has begun.

As European Central Bank president Mario Draghi officially opened its billion-pound HQ as if nothing was happening, the city outside was like a war zone, full of razor wire and military-style police.

The successful #Blockupy gatecrashing of the Euro-bankers’ launch party started as early as 6am. Roads and bridges were blocked with burning barricades. Cop cars were torched, police covered in paint, banks and other symbols of the capitalist system attacked.

burning barricade
Burning barricades on the streets of Frankfurt
battle
Resistance on the streets
flare
Confronting the cops
"Conquer capitalism!"
“Conquer capitalism!”
Whose streets?
Whose streets?
ecb-blockupy2
Pink as a pig
Torched
Torched

German police – 10,000 of them brought in from all over the country – were even more brutal than ever. Protesters were beaten with batons, kicked in the head, attacked with pepper spray, dragged along the ground by their hair, as well as having tear gas and water cannon fired at them as the state’s thugs tried and failed to break the spirit of defiance on the streets.

Cops
On the march to protect the bankers
Robocops on the attack
Robocops on the attack
The graffiti says it all
The graffiti says it all

The day ended with a massive demonstration through the city centre, of some 20,000 people. Observers described it as much larger than expected and the biggest of its kind since the anti-G8 protests in Heiligendamm in 2007.

demo
The massive #Blockupy demonstration against capitalism
bank paint
A bank is targeted

As we explained in Acorn 2 and Acorn 4, activists from all over Europe headed to the continent’s financial capital to show their anger at the ECB, the Troika and the whole neoliberal dictatorship being imposed everywhere – the Italian contingent was particularly visible, but it went deeper than that.

And it is here perhaps that the true significance of #18M can be found. Around 15 years ago, battles like those in Seattle, Genoa and the City of London marked the moment that a global anti-capitalist movement forced, by its very existence, a general recognition that we live in a capitalist society – before that, the word was regarded as some kind of propagandistic communist term to describe what used to be called “the free world”.

The phase of massive anti-summit protests came to an end, although opposition of course continued.

The authorities were no doubt hoping that the international movement would itself fade away and that radicals would retreat into the detail of their own local struggles and forget that these form part of a bigger picture.

But that hasn’t happened. The awareness of the existence of a neoliberal capitalist system has gone hand in hand with the awareness of a network of international resistance – informal but inter-connected in a myriad of ways.

Local struggles against specific examples of capitalist oppression will feed in and strengthen that resistance. And the joyful empowerment of being part of that wider resistance will in turn fortify and sustain the local struggle.

The signs are all there that we are entering a spiralling resurgence of the international anti-capitalist movement, of which Frankfurt is just the beginning.

Germany Protests ECB
A festival of revolt
Frankfurt - a new phase in the struggle against capitalsim
Frankfurt – a new phase in the struggle against capitalism

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2. Why attack the ECB?

“Through the Troika, the ECB has ordered living standards to be lowered and social services axed, sending millions into unemployment. The ECB has pushed the bailouts onto governments whilst at the same time it has done everything in its power to provide liquidity to insolvent banks, leaving private finance off the hook, rewarding and aiding it wherever possible“.

Christina Laskaridisby in “False Dilemmas: A Critical Guide to the Euro Zone Crisis”, published by Corporate Watch

Euro sign

“The ECB plays an important role in the infamous Troika, responsible for harsh cuts, growing unemployment, and even the breakdown of healthcare in Greece and other EU countries. Along with the EU Commission and the EU Council, the ECB has promoted austerity, privatization, and precarity. They have even had no hesitation in blackmailing elected governments in order to enforce their attacks on the social rights of the people“.

Blockupy call-out

Euro sign

“The nation as such is a dead letter. The State can do nothing more than set the table for the dreary meal dished out by the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the European Commission: the Holy Trinity known as the Troika. The Troika, not content simply to oversee or even directly administer the budgetary functioning of entire States, seeks also to dictate the very conditions of our lives, reducing the latter to a simple question of ‘human resource management’. The impression of being dominated, overwhelmed, and finally altogether crushed by a self-appointed clique of ‘Core European’ bureaucrats has become one of the more salient features of the present.”

Destroika

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3. “Insurrection has been waiting to break out”

rioting-in-England
England, 2011

A full-scale global uprising against neoliberal capitalism has been brewing for some time now and waiting for the opportunity to break out.

That is the view of French writing collective The Invisible Committee in their latest book, A nos amis.

They write of an increasing feeling of something happening, the commonly-shared intuition that “an insurrection can break out at any moment, for whatever reason, in any country and lead anywhere”.

This, they insist, is not just wishful thinking on the part of the world’s dissidents – there really is a pattern emerging: “What has been happening in the world since 2008 isn’t an incoherent series of random eruptions in sealed national spaces, but one big historical sequence”.

So who are the Invisible Committee? In 2007 a group of radicals in France, calling themselves le comité invisible, brought out a book called L’Insurrection qui vient or, in English, The Coming Insurrection.

A lot has happened since then. For a start, the waves created by their writing led to a group of people, who became known as the Tarnac Nine/Ten, being arrested on dubious charges of sabotaging high-speed rail lines, with the French state claiming they were also the authors of the pamphlet.

The wider picture of what has become of the struggle against neoliberalism, and where it might go from here, is what is addressed in their follow-up book, reviewed in English here.

Representatives of The Invisible Committee will visiting the Cowley Club, 12 London Road, Brighton, at 6pm on Saturday March 21, for what is believed to be the only public talk on the new book they are giving in either France or the UK.

COWLEY

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4. The road to corporate profits

arundel bypass
Arundel bypass

“There is an investment case for a dual carriageway bypass at Arundel to the south of the existing A27”.

That is the conclusion of official “feasibility” studies into the disastrous proposal to drive a bypass of the current bypass across wetlands and woods near the West Sussex town (see Acorn 1)

While the reports were commissioned by the Department for Transport, the actual analysis was carried out by Parsons Brinckerhoff, a subsidiary of massive multinational corporation WSP Global.

If this outfit sounds familiar, that’s because it featured heavily in Acorn 4. In that special investigation, we exposed the way that “sustainable transport” funding was at risk of being diverted into an irrelevant town centre refurbishment scheme.

We pointed out that Martin Heffer, the Coast to Capital board member focusing on infrastructure issues, is in fact a Parsons Brinckerhoff/WSP Global employee on secondment to the Department of Transport.

Martin Heffer: developing capitalist infrastructure from Iraq to the M25
Martin Heffer: developing capitalist infrastructure from Iraq to the M25

There is clearly a link between the promotion of fake “sustainable transport” proposals and the promotion of roadbuilding. Without any real alternative proposals to beat congestion, there is nothing to get in the way of the “need” to build new roads, the main profit-generating arteries of capitalist infrastructure.

Once again, the mantra of “economic growth” lies behind the proposal for an Arundel bypass-bypass, creating a spiral of justification that we would call “never-ending” if it wasn’t bound to end one day in environmental disaster or, more cheerfully, the end of this wretched industrial-capitalist system.

So the fact that this part of Sussex is “planning for significant growth” and that “over 60,000 new homes and substantial employment development are expected within the coastal study area” is used as an excuse for roadbuilding.

And when the new roads attract more lorries and more commuter sprawl and traffic, the resulting congestion will be used as the excuse for yet another round of roadbuilding! The Arundel bypass-bypass-bypass perhaps.

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5. The Brighton Connection – how Green is your valley?

The Green Party's Jason Kitcat, leader of Brighton Council
The Green Party’s Jason Kitcat, leader of Brighton Council

An interesting story was run by Brighton’s Fig website in response to our Coast to Capital investigation in Acorn 4.

This highlights Coast to Capital’s involvement in Brighton Council’s £8m Valley Gardens scheme.

Says Fig: “Despite the project being touted by the Greens who run the council as being about ‘sustainable development’, the council itself admits the controversial scheme wouldn’t just benefit the environment – or even transport: it would also deliver ‘better business links, improved retail frontages, new offices – and encourage economic growth’.”

A council document reveals the usual vision of the world seen through business-tinted glasses: “The City Region has much of the talent and many of the enterprise and liveability factors to become a Super City Region. But, to achieve full potential these must be converted into real ambition and to marry creativity to a strong technology base.”

Displaying the usual capitalist disdain for education as anything but a means of making money, it describes the two universities, Sussex and Brighton are “central to achieving ambition” and as “two of the most significant ‘anchor’ businesses.”

Perhaps this is all to be expected in our capitalist world, but is not a little surprising that this approach is being followed by a Green Party administration?

Not really – after all, the Coast to Capital board includes none other than the Greens’ Brighton council leader Jason Kitcat!

kitcatcoastsite
Jason Kitcat on the Coast to Capital website

Kitcat’s “Linked.in” entry proudly declares that he has been “one of the public sector board members for the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership” since as long ago as May 2012.

So presumably he sees no contradiction at all in Coast to Capital’s relentless focus on “economic growth” above all else (see Acorn 4) and the comment on his own party’s official website that “we currently have an economic system that prioritises growth in company profits over the wellbeing of society”. That’s politics for you!

A bizarre footnote to this story. While revisiting Coast to Capital’s website a week or so ago, after publishing our investigation in Acorn 4, we noticed that Mr Kitcat’s details had disappeared from its pages. What had happened? Had he resigned? Our researcher’s enquiries led to reassurances from both Mr Kitcat and Coast to Capital that he was still a board member. Coast to Capital’s reply, in particular, was admirably prompt, explaining that “there was an error on the ‘Coast to Capital Board’ web page that has now been amended”. Indeed it had! Mr Kitcat was back on the Coast to Capital site as if nothing had happened!

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6. Acorninfo

Two protests against police spies targeting political dissidents are being staged in Cardiff and London next week. A number of activists are taking legal action against South Wales Police and the Metropolitan Police in an attempt to hold the system to account for the activities of Mark “Marco” Jacobs, who claimed to be just another anarchist in the south Wales activist scene, but was actually an undercover cop. The campaigners say that since they first filed an application in court, police lawyers have attempted to obstruct justice by giving a “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” defence. On Wednesday March 25 they will be in the Royal Courts of Justice in London attempting to strike out this non-defence. The first protest will be outside Cardiff Central Police Station in King Edward VIII Avenue, Cardiff on Tuesday March 24, 6pm to 8pm. Then there will be a solidarity picket outside the Royal Courts of Justice in The Strand, London, WC2 (Holborn or Temple tube) on Wednesday March 25 from 9am to 10am. More info on the South Wales Anarchists website.

swa

* * *

Rebellion has been spreading across the UK’s “gulag archipelago” of migration prisons. Rabble website reported on March 10 that hunger strikes, yard occupations and other protests were taking place in at least six UK detention centres. It said “The protests started last week in Yarl’s Wood (Bedfordshire) and in the Harmondsworth and Colnbrook migration prison complex near Heathrow airport. Today we heard that 50 people were on hunger strike in Tinsley House, with protests also at nearby Brook House, both inside the perimeter of Gatwick Airport. Hunger strike has also started at Moreton Hall (Nottinghamshire). There may well be others.” A convoy of deportation coaches was targeted at Gatwick Airport in West Sussex, said Rabble: “People managed to block the coach convoy and hold one up for a couple of hours, with one person superglued to the windscreen as the coach was stuck in the Gatwick periphery road.” More info at http://rabble.org.uk

Rebellion in Harmondsworth
Rebellion in Harmondsworth

* * *

The Anarchist Action Network will be holding its next network meeting on Saturday March 28 in Newham, London. Open to all except cops and journalists, it will take place between 12 noon and 5pm at The Harold Road Centre, 170 Harold Rd, Upton Park, London E13 0SE. The AAN consists of individuals and autonomous local groups, based in towns and cities across the UK and further afield. In the past it has come together to organise temporary Anarchist spaces in London and Newport and resistance against the G8 and NATO summits. More info at https://www.anarchistaction.net/

aan logo

* * *

Fracking firm Celtique has pulled out of two schemes in West Sussex in an encouraging victory for the anti-fracking resistance. It now says it will not be appealing against refusal of permission for Fernhurst and Wisborough Green (we reported the threat to rural Boxal Bridge in Acorn 3)  However, anti-frackers are still braced for a fight in Billingshurst, where Celtique’s claims of conventional-only plans are belied by the massive razor-wired security fences around their site (see Acorn 2).

fracking victories

* * *

Campaigners are condemning the proposed sell-off of chunks of the Lake District National Park in the north of England. Says Kate Ashbrook of the Open Spaces Society: “A new owner may not have national park purposes at heart but may be driven by the potential commercial benefits to be wrung from the site. We have great sympathy with the park authorities who are suffering slashed budgets and we back the Campaign for National Parks’ battle against the cuts. But it is no solution to flog off land which should be held for the nation”. The sites for sale are Stickle Tarn, Great Langdale (£20,000-£30,000); Baneriggs Wood at White Moss, Grasmere (£110,000-£130,000); Lady Wood at White Moss (£20,000 – £25,000); amenity land with river frontage at Portinscale, Keswick (£8,000-£10,000); shoreline at Blea Brows, Coniston Water (£70,000 – £90,000); Yewbarrow Woods, Longsleddale (£110,000-£130,000); Blue Hill and Red Bank Wood, Ambleside (£100,000-£120,000). Even nature is just another commodity to be bought and sold in our soulless capitalist civilization…

Stickle Tarn - being sold off to private money
Stickle Tarn in the Lake District

* * *

Acorn quote: “The state lies in all languages of good and evil. Whatever it says, it lies – and whatever it has, it has stolen”. Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

friedrich-nietzsche

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The Acorn – 3

acornmastheadnew

Number 3


In this issue:

  1. Tear gas and water cannon
  2. What is Elbit scared of?
  3. Reclaiming the fields
  4. Sussex – fracking threat to rural bridge
  5. EDL fascists target Brighton
  6. Acorninfo

1. Tear gas and water cannon

maniftoulouse

manifnantescannon

Tear gas, water cannon and “flashball” rubber bullets have been fired at people protesting against police violence and against the destruction of the countryside brought about by the system the cops brutally defend.

Bank and shop windows were smashed and there were dozens of arrests in two cities on different parts of France on Saturday February 21.

The clashes were the latest episode in a growing wave of resistance in France against totalitarian capitalism and its environmentally-destructive infrastructure.

Two simultaneous protests were staged in Nantes and Toulouse, reflecting the struggle against the proposed new airport for Nantes and outrage at the murder by police of Rémi Fraisse, a student at Toulouse University.

manifs

The young environmentalist was killed by a grenade fired at his back at point-blank range by gendarmes during protests against a proposed new dam at Sivens near Le Testet in the south of France.

The call-out for the resistance in the two cities was “against the concreting of our countryside and the militarisation of our towns”.

The concreting of the countryside threatens to become even worse, with the French state confirming it will be pushing ahead with the airport at Notre-Dame-Des-Landes, protected by the long-established ZAD protest camp.

And, of course, the militarisation of the towns was in evidence at the protests, with the police as usual claiming they had been “forced” to deploy their frightening armoury against dissidents because a bit of paint had been lobbed in their general direction.

The French media reported that the notoriously violent CRS riot cops even attacked journalists with their batons.

manifnantes3

Various video reports can be seen here:

http://rt.com/in-motion/234559-france-airport-protest-clashes/

http://www.francetvinfo.fr/france/les-manifestations-degenerent-a-nantes-et-toulouse_831483.html

http://www.euronews.com/2015/02/22/clashes-erupt-at-anti-police-violence-rallies-in-nantes-and-toulouse/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhCirpVdbL8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCOWqKZpKR4

manifnantes2

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2. What is Elbit scared of?

elbit
The rooftop occupation in Kent in February 2015

Activists successfully shut down an arms company in Kent on Tuesday February 17.

They struck under cover of darkness, at 5am, at the premises of Instro Precision near Broadstairs, to protest against its sales to both Israel and Afghanistan. Four people took the roof with banners to shut the factory down, with ten more on the ground, one of whom locked herself to the front gate. See the video in this successful appeal for financial support.

Instro is owned by Israeli arms company Elbit Systems, which makes drones that are used to kill Palestinian civilians in Gaza. Optical and camera systems like those made at the Instro factory are also supplied by Elbit for use in drones flown over Afghanistan, as well as in Israel’s apartheid wall.

A wide range of groups came together to make the blockade happen, including: Brighton BDS, Brighton Palestine Action, Smash EDO, Stop NATO Cymru, Anarchist Action Network, East Kent CAAT and Swansea Action for Palestine.

The blockade began before dawn
The blockade began before dawn

The occupiers stayed in place for nearly 13 hours and decided to leave after having shut the firm down for the whole working day. Kent Police put out a statement describing the protest as “lawful” and nobody was arrested, let alone charged.

Good news – but why would the authorities, presumably with the tacit backing of the firm affected, decide to take no legal action against people blockading a factory?

The answer can probably be found in the story of a previous factory occupation near Birmingham, in August 2014, when activists closed down another Elbit subsidiary, UAV Engines Limited, for two days at the height of Israel’s summer military assault on Gaza.

After putting the factory out of business for two days, all activists were removed by police, arrested, charged with aggravated trespass and taken to court for preliminary hearings. However, all these charges were suddenly dropped at the end of January this year, a week before the case was due to go to trial.

It seems the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had to pull out at the last minute because company managers mysteriously decided to go back on previous commitments to testify against the nine.

Said a statement from London Palestine Action: “The decision taken by the CPS to drop charges against us shows us that either Elbit Systems were unwilling to testify in court about their activities or because the UK government was unwilling to comply with the court’s order to disclose information it holds about licenses for arms exports to Israel, or both.”

The aftermath of an Israeli drone attack
The aftermath of an Israeli drone attack

*  Corporate Watch have published a briefing called Gaza: Life Beneath the Drones.

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3. Reclaiming the fields

RTFbanner

Reclaim the Fields are holding a day of learning and network-building in Wales on Saturday March 7.

The event at the Red and Black Umbrella at 57-58 Clifton Street, Cardiff, will be built around the topics of growing projects, access to land and food sovereignty.

It starts at 1pm and will be followed in the evening, from 7pm, by a benefit gig in aid of the fight for the Yorkley Court Community Farm in the Forest of Dean, now facing eviction (see Acorninfo).

An article on Reclaim the Fields by Ed Hamer in The Land magazine says: “Taking its name from the road protest collective which swept the UK in the early 1990s, the movement intends to employ the same creative mix of political lobbying, networking and direct action in its objective to get the 21st century peasantry back onto the land.

“Just as the climate change debate has inspired a new generation to push the environment onto the political agenda, those of us who feel particularly passionate about food and farming have the potential to do the same for agriculture.”

On its website, Reclaim the Fields describes itself as a constellation of people and collective projects willing to go back to the land and reassume control over food production.

It adds: “We are determined to create alternatives to capitalism through cooperative, collective, autonomous, real needs-oriented small scale production and initiatives, putting theory into practice and linking local practical action with global political struggles.”

RTF - heathrow

Reclaim the Fields emerged in March 2011 from a small gathering at Grow Heathrow, a land squat set up to resist the expansion of Heathrow Airport.

RTF also supports the policies of Via Campesina, an international movement founded in 1993 by farmers’ organizations from Europe, Latin America, Asia, North America and Africa, which currently has its HQ in Jakarta, Indonesia.

via campesina

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4. Sussex – fracking threat to rural bridge

Boxal Bridge
Boxal Bridge in West Sussex – in the way of fracking

Nothing is to be allowed to stand in the way of the fracking industry and the authorities will do all they can to clear its path.

As we reported in Issue 2 of The Acorn, the new Infrastructure Act is designed to allow corporate interests to trample all over communities and the environment.

One small example of the way the authorities will bend over backwards for the extreme energy business comes from the West Sussex countryside between Wisborough Green and Kirdford.

In July 2014 an application by fracking firm Celtique Energy for oil and gas exploration was refused by West Sussex County Council’s planning committee at a meeting in Horsham.

One of the cited reasons for the refusal was “unsafe” road access for the fracking traffic. Committee chair Heidi Brunsdon admitted: “There were simply too many highways issues and other issues of concern for any decision other than refusal in this instance.”

One of the biggest issues involved Boxal Bridge, a beautiful rural structure dating from the 1850s, which was clearly too narrow to cope with hundreds of fracking lorries.

But where there’s a will there’s a way – and West Sussex County Council has helpfully come up with a plan to get rid of this particular obstacle to the path of ecocidal profiteering.

Two months after refusing Celtique’s plans, it commissioned a “feasibility study” on Boxal Bridge and of the six options recommended it chose number six – to demolish the bridge and build a two-lane crossing suitable for heavy industrial traffic.

This was despite the two local parish councils of Kirdford and Wisborough Green, and many local residents, opposing the demolition.

Once again, here is capitalism showing itself in physical form – as the infrastructure of the cancerous growth known as industrial civilisation.

A petition has been set up to demand that the bridge is not demolished.

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5. EDL fascists target Brighton

Anti-fascists block the racists' route in 2012
Anti-fascists block the racists’ route in 2012

Anti-fascists in Brighton are preparing for action after notorious extreme-right group the EDL announced plans for a march through the Sussex city on Saturday April 18 2015.

It was looking like being a quieter April than usual for Brighton, after the racists of the March for England announced they would be heading to Blackpool instead.

Previous years have seen dramatic scenes on the streets, with police attacking and arresting numerous anti-racist protesters in order to try to clear a way for the dwindling fascist contingent.

In recent years, mobile steel barriers have been used by the authorities to create a sterile area near the seafront where the nazis can parade away from the hostility of the Brighton public.

Anti-fascists protecting Brighton in 2012
Anti-fascists protecting Brighton in 2012

News that the EDL is stepping into the breach left by their friends in the MFE will come as a surprise to many – the EDL usually hangs its protests on the excuse of opposing “islamification” of certain areas.

Rather than merely diverting popular dissatisfaction with the capitalist system against minority scapegoats, the EDL here seems to be fulfilling the other classic fascist function of physically threatening radical opponents of the capitalist system.

Anti-racist website EDL News reports: “Due to the fact that there is not a large Muslim population in Brighton, it is thought that the demo has been called to confront what they see as a left wing city who do not put up with their politics of racism and division.”

To confirm this, it shows a screenshot from a social media conversation between EDL supporters, one of whom declares that “its time the left wing gets whats coming to them”.

With local anti-fascists already spreading the word about their intentions, the EDL may once again find it difficult to turn its belligerent online boasting into reality on the streets.

Outnumbered - the March for England in 2013
Outnumbered – the March for England in 2013

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6. Acorninfo

Land activists at Yorkley Court in the Forest of Dean are this week facing eviction. For the last two and a half years, they have been trying to establish a sustainable community farm, but a local millionaire property developer has other ideas and filed a claim for possession of the land. Said an update posted on the activists’ website on Thursday February 26: “News just received, Judge Harrington has ruled in favour of Brian Bennett for possession of Yorkley Court. We have 24 hours’ notice for the farmhouse, 3 days for the back field and the area surrounding the farmhouse, and 14 days for the bottom strip. Support will be appreciated during this stressful time, materials, bodies, hearts, minds and all. Keep an eye out for updates and ways to help.”

* * *

The theft of a local Sussex beach by a private company has been upheld by the legal authorities. Locals have been trying to stop Newhaven Port and Properties from excluding the public from West Beach, a sandy spot traditionally used and loved by townsfolk. But their latest attempt failed on Wednesday February 24) after the Supreme Court said the area could not after all be registered as a village green, overturning a decision by the Appeal Court in March 2013. NPP has now announced plans to expand its operations into part of Tide Mills beach. Newhaven mayor Judith Ost told local press: “The Supreme Court has today found that the beach has been used by local people for generations by permission of the port authority – and we see no reason why local people cannot continue to do so.” Warned Nicola Hodgson of the Open Spaces Society: “This judgment comes on top of the pernicious change in English law, the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013, which outlaws applications to register greens where land is threatened with development.  With the courts and parliament working against us, the future of our precious open spaces is increasingly perilous.”

Newhaven West Beach
Stolen – Newhaven’s West Beach
How it used to look
How it used to look

* * *

The interface between anarchism and art is explored in Herbert Read: Art and Idealism by Michael Paraskos. Reviewer Paul Cudenec says the book “makes no futile attempt to flatten out Read’s work and life in order to make it fit into some pre-determined category” and encourages readers “to step off the well-trod road of narrow thinking and forge their own path of empowering intellectual discovery”. Full article at https://network23.org/paulcudenec

Read book

* * *

Some basic tips for community campaigning have been set out by local anarchist website The Hereford Heckler,which started life in early 2008, originally as the bimonthly paper of Hereford Solidarity League. The Heckler stresses: “Remember: If you are going to do community organising, do it in your own area; don’t be a missionary!”

Hereford Heckler

* * *

Acorn quote: “Faith in the fundamental goodness of man; humility in the presence of natural laws; reason and mutual aid – these are the qualities that can save us. But they must be unified and vitalized by an insurrectionary passion, a flame in which all virtues are tempered and clarified, and brought to their most effective strength”. Herbert Read, The Philosophy of Anarchism.

NPG P1681; Herbert Read by Rollie McKenna
Herbert Read

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The Acorn – 2

acornmastheadnew

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.”

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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

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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

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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.

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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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