The Acorn – 36

acornmastheadnew1

Number 36


In this issue:

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

1. Toxic clouds of capitalism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2. Envisioning a post-Western world

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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3. On the Knife’s Edge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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4. Anarchy in Hamburg

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

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

State violence and popular resistance

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

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

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

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

The Courage of the Black Bloc

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Wildfire Catches – and Spreads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 7: Battleground Hamburg

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Defense of Schanze, Police-Free Zone

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

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

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

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

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

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

Outright resistance is already popular

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

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

Further reports from Hamburg can be found here and here.

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

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5. Anarchy in London

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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6. Blocking the arms fair

Monday’s blockade

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

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

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

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

Blocking the DSEI set-up on Monday September 4

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

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

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

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

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

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7. Acorninfo

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

* * *

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

* * *

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

* * *

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

* * *

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

* * *

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

* * *

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

* * *

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

* * *

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

René Guénon, The Crisis of the Modern World

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

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The Acorn – 33

acornmastheadnew1

Number 33


In this issue:

  1. Stepping up the battle against fracking
  2. Three victories in fight to protect Sussex countryside
  3. Uprising paralyses French colony
  4. British state goes to court for the arms trade
  5. So what exactly is “extremist material”?
  6. Acorninfo

1. Stepping up the battle against fracking

Resistance to fracking in the UK has moved up a significant notch over the last  two weeks, with the launch of a series of actions against the whole support infrastructure for the toxic industry.

One activist told media: “Since last Monday Reclaim the Power has taken action against quarries, water suppliers, haulage companies, PR firms and gas companies – all with direct links to the fracking industry. By taking out the links in the supply chain we can break the whole industry into pieces. It is now or never to stop fracking in its tracks.”

The Break the Chain initiative is continuing until Monday April 10, so there are a few more surprises in store yet –  see here for updates on actions.

Even as this bulletin was being completed, on the morning  of Friday April 7, news came in from the north of England of a blockade of PR Marriott, supplier of drills to the fracking industry. There was a tripod, three lock-ons and a banner drop.

Other highlights so far include:

Opponents of fracking in Lancashire blockaded the gates of fracking contractors A.E. Yates in Bolton. Road haulage firm Eddie Stobart also had its depot in Warrington blocked. This was part of  successful ongoing local campaign, which previously saw quarry operators Armstrong Aggregates cancel a contract to supply AE Yates and drilling firm Cuadrilla with materials for the building of the shale gas exploration site at Little Plumpton after dozens of Bolton Against Fracking protesters targeted the Montcliffe Quarry.

Aggregate Industries had to work stop at their quarry in Carnforth, Lancs, when protesters on swings took over height restriction bars at two key access points. One of the protesters explained: “We’re up here today because fracking isn’t a playground game. We need to give Aggregate Industries a reason to rethink its position, which is at odds with local democracy.”

Three protesters dressed as brides chained themselves to the door of London PR firm St Brides Partners, declaring that PR firms that are “wedded to the fracking industry are locking the UK into a toxic marriage that funds dangerous and unwanted unconventional oil and gas in the UK”.

A group of anti-fracking campaigners held a party for Centrica’s chief executive, Iain Connor, at the company’s head office, to “celebrate” his £1.4m bonus.

Cuadrilla’s shale gas site at Preston New Road, Little Plumpton, Lancashire, was closed by protesters.

Activist clowns staged a wrestling match outside Barclays in Piccadilly Circus, London, in protest at its 97% stake in fracking company Third Energy.

Bare-backed protesters spelled out an anti-fracking slogan and staged a noise demonstration in protest at Union Jack Oil’s stall at London’s UK Investor show. Said Reclaim the Power: “Everyone is becoming more aware of the equipment suppliers and haulage companies propping up the fracking industry because they are physically visible delivering to the fracking site in Lancashire. Events like these are doing the dirty work behind the scenes and are just as implicated and dangerous. They should be exposed.”

With at least five companies in the fracking supply chain having already pulled out after public pressure, the strategy behind Break the Chain could well have found a weak spot in the enemy’s armour.

We can now expect the fracking industry and their friends in high places to step up their efforts both to intimidate opponents and to  demonise them as dangerous “extremists” (see below).

Indeed, Morecambe and Lunesdale’s Tory MP David Morris has already got the ball rolling by declaring of the quarry blockade: “I condemn in the strongest terms this irresponsible intimidation of companies and road users trying to go about their lawful business and get on with their daily lives.”

But with massive support for campaigners, and less than one in five of the UK public now said to support fracking, this is a battle the powers-that-be may yet lose…

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2. Three victories in fight to protect Sussex countryside

Three significant victories have been won in the struggle to protect the countryside in Sussex, England, in recent weeks, showing  once again that determined local resistance can pay off.

Campaigners in both Eastbourne and Brighton have now joined land-defenders in Worthing in having defeated sneaky council proposals to sell off publicly-owned downland.

Dave Bangs of Keep Our Downs Public, a naturalist and author of three books on the Downs and the Weald, told The Ecologist: “This is the fourth time we’ve had to defend these public estates. These are struggles against privatisation that can be won. These resources are valuable to everyone, so you can get very broad alliances of people.”

Added journalist Jan Goodey: “This current south coast battle is of national significance: if a major part of the public estate is destroyed the prospect for landscape conservation becomes ever more precarious. The countryside could be further opened up to plutocratic predators, including many super-rich foreign investors.”

In Brighton the council’s U-turn came as a result of what Green MEP Keith Taylor called “an organised, passionate and energetic campaign to stop the sales”.

Eastbourne council was forced to concede defeat, after a cunning plan to persuade people to vote for the land sell-off spectacularly backfired. Locals saw through the false choice of either “service cuts” or “downs sell-off” and 75% of them voted for the (supposed) cuts and thus in favour of protecting the downland.

Sally Boys, of Keep Our Downs Public, said: “Eastbourne people have shown that we can see through the spin and unfair choice offered by the so-called ‘consultation’ in the Eastbourne Review. Above all, we have shown that the people of Eastbourne love and cherish their downs and will fight to protect them. The downland belongs to us all.”

The depth of feeling behind the Eastbourne campaign was apparent during a ceremony on the Downs in which the land was declared to be sacred to Sussex people, in the same way as the threatened land and water at Standing Rock in the USA are sacred to the Sioux people.

Campaigners were told: “This land is our land, not only because we own it, but because this is sacred land, the land where our forebears are buried in the barrows we see across this land.

“This land is the land of our ancestors, and we would not be here, not be the people we are today, without them. Just as we honour our ancestors today in this ceremony that reconnects us with them and with the land they cared for, so we honour our ancestors by fulfilling the sacred trust placed in us by the people of Eastbourne in 1926 to care for this land.

“And care for it we must, because, as the Standing Rock Sioux have shown by their shining example, we have to stand up as the Water Protectors of our time, in this place, on this, our land, because this land is also our source of water. This land is the aquifer that supplies our drinking water and makes it safe enough to drink. As the Standing Rock Sioux say so well, Water is Life. Without Water, there is no Life.

“So we own this land because we deserve to own this land, and we deserve to own this land because we are willing to care for this land, to protect it for all the wildlife here and for all the people of Eastbourne, and for all the people around this world who recognise with us how special, unique, and important this land is. We own this land because we belong to this land just as much as this land belongs to us.”

The third Sussex victory came in Chichester, where the government scrapped plans for £250 million A27 road “improvements” in the face of what it called “significant local campaigns”, just days before Highways England was due to announce its preferred route.

The local business lobby, along with its placemen on the local council and its cheerleaders in the local media, have reacted furiously to the news and are trying to pressure the government into reinstating the road scheme.

These road enthusiasts would do well to have a look at the latest report from the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) entitled: The end of the road? Challenging the road-building consensus.

This shows that all the talk of new roads “easing congestion” is baseless propaganda.

The CPRE’s Shaun Spiers commented: “Evidence from the 13 cases analysed in detail for traffic impact concluded that road schemes generate more traffic. On average, traffic grew 47% more than background levels, with one scheme more than doubling traffic within 20 years. None of the four schemes assessed in the longer-term showed the promised reduction in congestion; all put pressure on adjoining roads”.

And, he added, the price to pay was a high one: “Sixty-nine out of 86 road schemes examined had an adverse impact on the landscape – not just obliterating views, but destroying ancient woodland and mature hedgerows. More than half damaged an area with national or local landscape designations for landscape, biodiversity or heritage”.

If the authorities choose to take no heed of polite warnings from the likes of the CPRE, then it will be down to the people themselves, in Sussex and elsewhere, to launch more “organised, passionate and energetic” campaigns to protect the sacred land to which they belong.

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3. Uprising paralyses French colony

The French state is facing a major uprising in one of its remaining colonies in South America.

French Guiana, an overseas territory which is officially part of France and the EU, has been brought to a standstill by a general strike and massive social protest movement.

Roads have been barricaded, businesses closed and protesters this week temporarily occupied and shut down the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, where European Ariane rockets are launched.

French Guiana is an Amazonian territory north of Brazil, which is the size of Scotland but has a population of only 250,000.

The people’s grievances are varied, broadly boiling down to the fact that they feel like second-class citizens who are ignored by Paris.

While the French state benefits from the prestigious rocket launch site, 15% of the local population has no drinking water and 44% of the children leave school at primary level.

The “who we are” section of the website of the Pou Lagwiyann Dékolé collective, founded on March 28 2017, states: “We are the inhabitants of French Guiana. We are the people of French Guiana. We are one. We have risen up like one man to declare our unity.”

A very high-profile protest group called the 500 Brothers are calling for more security in a country hit by crime – and their appearance and rhetoric has alienated many of the uprising’s potential supporters in Europe.

One French anarchist currently in the territory was asked about the 500 Brothers in an interview and commented: “I see it as a reactionary thing. I’ve asked a lot of questions and talked to people, but I don’t really understand what’s behind this massive support for the 500 Brothers.”

But another French commentator said: “We are all Guianese because the contempt they are feeling from the ruling class echoes the general feeling that is being voiced everywhere in France.

“All the parties of government are guilty and responsible for this dire situation. All of them have failed and are grovelling to the supporters of the financial oligarchy. In French Guiana as elsewhere, a wind of change is blowing… and not before time!”

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4. British state goes to court for the arms trade

The British state is trying to overturn an important legal victory in the fight against the arms trade.

On 15th April 2016, eight activists were acquitted at Stratford Magistrates Court in London of obstructing a road outside the DSEI arms fair the previous September.

They successfully argued that their actions were justified, as they were trying to prevent greater crimes taking place, including the marketing of torture weapons, repression in Bahrain and the mass indiscriminate killing of civilians in Yemen, Palestine and Kurdistan.

On acquitting the activists, District Judge Angus Hamilton had held that there had been “clear, credible and largely unchallenged evidence from the expert witnesses of wrongdoing at DSEI and compelling evidence that it took place in 2015.”

Following the verdict, the UK state’s Crown Prosecution Service twice sought to appeal  the acquittals, but was turned down on the basis that the CPS applications were “dishonest”, “frivolous” and “misconceived”. The CPS finally applied directly to the High Court seeking a judicial review of the activists’ acquittal.

It is hardly surprising that the UK state is desperate to overturn a verdict which directly challenges its support for, and close collaboration with, the arms industry and the regimes which buy its products.

It does not even dispute any of the facts found by the Magistrates Court as to wrongdoing at the arms fair and complicity of its regular invitees in ongoing war crimes. It simply says that the judge should not have allowed this evidence to be heard.

From the state’s point of view, the judge’s decision was outrageous. That’s not how the law is supposed to work! That’s not how the game is meant to be played!

The law was devised in order to protect Power and to justify the violence used by Power. If you are an enemy of Power, blocking a road is a crime. If you are a friend of Power, killing or torturing people is not a crime.

It’s not about “right” and “wrong”, but about “legal” and “illegal”. And it is Power which decides how “legal” and “illegal” are defined.

Andrew Smith of the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) said: “The campaigners should not be getting pursued for protesting – it should have been the arms dealers who have fuelled and facilitated war and oppression around the world.

“The arms trade is an illegitimate, immoral trade, and events like DSEI are central to it. Whatever the verdict, we need to mobilise the biggest possible opposition when it returns to London later this year. DSEI brings the world’s biggest arms companies together with some of the world’s most oppressive regimes. It needs to be closed down for good.”

In a joint public statement, the defendants’ campaign said:  “The CPS cannot dispute any of the findings of fact made at our trial concerning criminality at DSEI, or the high probability that weapons bought there would be used for war crimes.

“How could they, when every credible authoritative source only serves to confirm that the UK government and other repeat DSEI invitees such as Saudi and its coalition allies are solidly and persistently complicit in the mass indiscriminate killing of civilians?  It is little wonder then, that the CPS should seek to prohibit the admission of such evidence in court on arbitrary procedural grounds, arguing that expert evidence should not have been allowed to be heard by the court at all.

“For us it is clear that there is not only a right – but also a profound responsibility – for each of us to do all we can to stop war crimes and crimes against humanity where they start.”

Hajar Mansoor Hasan (second from right), apparently targeted by authorities in retribution for the human rights work of her son-in-law, Sayed al-Wadaei. Also pictured are Hasan’s children, aged 13 and 11, and mother, 90.

At the same time that the case against DSEI activists was being reopened, two family members of expert witness Sayed Ahmed al-Wadaei – who gave evidence at the activists’ trial – were detained by the Bahraini government in retribution for his speaking out about human rights abuses perpetrated by the regime.

His mother in law and brother in law are still being held and there is grave concern for their safety following reports that they have been subjected to torture.

More info on resistance to the 2017 DSEI arms fair here and here.

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5. So what exactly is “extremist material”?

The UK is ramping up its attack on online freedom, seizing on the excuse of last month’s Westminster Bridge attack to try and outlaw encrypted messaging.

It is also considering legislation to force firms to “take down extremist material” from the internet, although details of what this might involve are not yet clear.

The state’s definition of “extremism” has been left deliberately vague and in other contexts has already been applied to anarchism, anti-fascism and the growing frack-free movement.

Banning this kind of political content from social media or other websites might seem to be out of the question in a country that likes to claim it is a “democracy”, but it would be in line with increasingly repressive official attitudes.

After the Investigatory Powers Act was passed last year, no fewer than 48 government bodies – including the Food Standards Agency and Department for Work and Pensions – can view a record of the websites people have visited in the past year.

A year and a half ago, Theresa May launched a “counter-extremism strategy” which amounts to a McCarthyite witch hunt which The Guardian described as being targeted “against ‘entryist’ infiltration of the public sector, charities and businesses by Islamist and other extremists”.

The term “other extremists” stands out here. The UK Government defines “extremism” as vocal or active opposition to what it calls “fundamental British values”, by which it of course means the “values” of the British state, such as waging imperialist wars and protecting the arms trade that profits from them (see above).

Police monitoring group Netpol says it has spoken to many people “who are alarmed by the stifling of political debate in schools and in further and higher education – including discussion on issues like ‘eco-terrorism‘ and support for Palestine – and who are more worried than ever about attending political meetings or engaging in online discussion”.

Does “removing extremism” from the internet simply mean trying to ban dissent? We can tell them now – it won’t work!

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6. Acorninfo

Hundreds of demonstrators set fire to the National Congress building in Asuncion, Paraguay, on the night of March 31, in a furious reaction to a secret vote for a constitutional amendment allowing right-wing President Horacio Cartes to run for re-election. A 25-year-old opposition activist was later shot dead during a police raid.

* * *

Two protests against the environmentally disastrous Drax Power Station will be held in the UK on Thursday April 13. One is planned for York from 10.30pm until 2pm, where Drax’s shareholders are meeting at The Royal York Hotel York (The Principle York), close to York rail station. On the same day in London a colourful protest will visit some of Drax’s key investors from 12 noon until 2pm – meet in Gresham Street.

* * *

Encouraging people to take direct action in the defence of the environment is not always easy, particularly when they have the impression that this is something only carried out by semi-professional activists. One video that could very usefully be shown to the public, with this in mind, is La Bataille de l’Eau Noire. This inspiring and entertaining documentary tells of a village in Belgium threatened by a dam in 1978, and hears from a cross-section of decidedly non-“activist” locals as to how they unleashed guerrilla warfare to successfully see off the project. The DVD comes with English subtitles and copies are being offered to groups involved in  struggles who would like to arrange screenings. Contact benjaminhennot@yahoo.fr

* * *

Pro-capitalist trade union GMB has called for police and courts to take “a firm line” against opponents of fracking, reports Drill or Drop. As we have previously revealed here, GMB is very much in bed with the oil and gas business mafia and has even done a deal with UKOOG, the front group representing the fracking industry in the UK. Freedom News commented that the sell-out union’s latest statement comes “in an apparent total disregarding of the long history of police dirty tactics breaking strikes and picket lines in Britain, as well as numerous reports of police misbehaviour against fracking protesters”.

* * *

Anti-capitalists gearing up for the big protests against the G20 in Hamburg this  summer launched a spectacular attack on a police station on the Grundstrasse in Hamburg in the early hours of March 26, setting the police vans in the yard on fire. In a statement translated by Insurrection News, the activists explained: “Our target was selected with care, the repressive machinery has been working at full speed on the criminalization of the resistance”.

* * *

A petition has been launched to save from closure one of the few museums in the world to be dedicated to the life and works of an anarchist. The Ferdinand Domela Nieuwenhuis Museum at Heerenveen, in the Netherlands, celebrates one of the fathers of Dutch anarchism and libertarian socialism, who was also active in the vegetarian and anti-militarist movements. The petition can be signed here.

* * *

Indigenous resistance to industrial capitalism and the thorny issue of the “enemy within” in the shape of “Peace Police”, sell-out NGOs and corrupt “tribal government” – this is the subject matter of the first in a series of monthly documentaries by sub.media, going under the name of Trouble. Well worth a look!

* * *

A pioneering UK academic publishing project is aiming to make first-rate scholarship on anarchism freely accessible through a sustainable publishing model. Alexandre Christoyannopoulos of Loughborough University explained that the first volume of Essays in Anarchism and Religion is already in production and now a crowdfunding scheme has been extended in a bid to fund the next two volumes.

* * *

Acorn quote: “In a culture where profit has become the true God, self-sacrifice can seem incomprehensible rather than noble”.

Starhawk, Webs of Power: Notes from the Global Uprising

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

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The Acorn – 27

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Number 27


In this issue:

  1. ZAD alert! Eco-zone warns of imminent attack
  2. Indigenous peoples lead fight against fracking pipeline
  3. Tearing off capitalism’s “green” mask
  4. I don’t want to fuck a robot
  5. Thailand slips into dictatorship
  6. France – the social war kicks off again
  7. The Sultan and the Sage
  8. Acorninfo

1. ZAD alert! Eco-zone warns of imminent attack

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An important focus of European anti-capitalist resistance is likely to come under brutal attack from the industrial system any day now, activists are warning.

Official papers authorising the start of work on a new Nantes airport in France were signed on September 14 and the ZAD (Zone à Défendre or Zone to Defend) is currently on full alert.

Mainstream media are reporting that the protesters are ready to resist any attempt at eviction of the zone at Notre-Dame-des-Landes (NDDL).

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Since it was established in 2008, the ZAD at NDDL has become much more than an eco protest camp. It is a symbol of resistance, an autonomous zone where the cops stay away and people are able to experiment with different ways of living, growing their own food, baking their own bread, publishing their own newspaper, running their own radio station and, most recently, setting up their own library.

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The French state, in cahoots with corporate developer Vinci, has long wanted to get rid of the ZAD. A previous attempt in 2012, involving 1,200 police and two helicopters, failed when the cleared areas were rapidly reoccupied.

Now, with the help of the extra police powers under the “state of emergency” introduced and prolonged as an “anti-terrorist” measure, and in the wake of six months of state violence against the social revolt around the Loi Travail across France, the authorities are set to try again.

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Planning the defence

There were strong rumours this week that a massive military-style operation to evict the ZAD could start as soon as September 26 and 27 – according to media reports, as many as 3,000 gendarmes (military-style police) could be involved.

One activist said: “All the hotels in the area are full, gendarmes are not allowed to take annual leave for the coming month, schools and churches around the ZAD are closing simultaneously on September 26.” There is talk of military equipment having been loaned to the gendarmes.

It also seems likely that the state will make use of tooled-up private security thugs, who were used against anti-nuclear protesters at Bure earlier in the year – making it easier to deny responsibility for injuries (or even deaths) among activists.

Private security thugs

The ZAD has issued an urgent wishlist of materials and equipment needed to defend the zone, including palettes, tyres, paint, bikes, oil lamps, boots, socks, phones, radios and walkie-talkies.

The full French version is here and the English one here.

There is already a call-out for supporters to go to the ZAD for a pre-arranged solidarity mobilisation on Saturday October 8.

Some UK supporters of the ZAD can be contacted via ukzad@riseup.net and have a website at https://network23.org/ukzad/

zad-oct-8

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2. Indigenous peoples lead fight against fracking pipeline

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Resistance is growing across the USA and beyond to a £3.8 billion thousand-mile pipeline being built to carry fracked oil – forcing the courts to order a temporary halt to part of the work.

As well as damaging vast areas of countryside, the Dakota Access Pipeline is also planned to cross the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and affect numerous other sites sacred to indigenous nations.

The struggle to halt the pipeline has brought together more than 100 indigenous groups and sparked a wave of solidarity actions on top of the feisty on-site resistance.

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Like the ZAD in France, the conflict is a powerful illustration of the single most significant task facing the human species at this stage in our collective history – how to defy and destroy the industrial capitalist cancer which threatens all life on the planet.

Of course, where there is resistance there is always repression and in Dakota there have  been dozens of arrests, a local state of emergency declared and the protest camp’s water supply has been controversially cut off.

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Native American activist Winona LaDuke said: “So, a lot of people are coming here, united, a whole host of Native and non-Native people. And there are a lot of people that just do not believe that this should happen any more in this country, that are very willing to put themselves on the line, non-Indian people, you know, as well as tribal members, and they are here. And it is a beautiful place to defend.”

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#NoDAPL Solidarity explain that, if completed, the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), would run from the Bakken shale fields of North Dakota to Peoria, Illinois, passing underneath the Missouri River, the longest river on the North American continent.

They add: “Construction of the DAPL would engender a renewed fracking-frenzy in the Bakken shale region, as well as endanger a source of fresh water for the Standing Rock Sioux and 8 million people living downstream”.

But the fight has reached much further than the lands actually threatened by the pipeline. Say #NoDAPL Solidarity: “The DAPL is a massive project being organized by a shady group of the world’s largest fossil-fuel companies and banks. They have offices in cities around the world. Putting direct, nonviolent pressure on the corporations building and funding this project is critical for supporting frontline resistance to DAPL.”

daplmap

This month, there has been a wave of solidarity actions across the USA. Protesters have taken the fight directly to the banks pushing the pipeline. In Chicago, a zine has been released and protesters occupied a CitiBank. In Washington DC a TD Bank was shut down.

Controversy also surrounds the role of UK firm G4S in the violent repression of anti-pipeline protesters, which has notoriously included the use of dogs (see this video)

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3. Tearing off capitalism’s “green” mask

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An excellent new guide to the insidious threat of “green” capitalism has been published by Corporate Watch in the UK.

It is a worrying trend of our times that too many environmentalists are taken in by the lie that “alternative” energy sources and techno-fixes are all that are needed to save the world, rather than the destruction of the entire money-based industrial capitalist system that is choking it to death.

The authors of A-Z of Green Capitalism explain:”Capitalism thrives on crisis, and the multiple global environmental crises, including climate change and habitat and biodiversity loss, are creating new markets from which to generate profit. Those promoting green capitalism argue that if nature was valued correctly it will not only be protected, but even enhanced, along with the health of the economy and well-being in society.

“However, it is a contradiction in terms. Capitalism is fundamentally exploitative of people and the natural world, it is not and cannot be ‘green’. Green capitalism involves various institutions, including governments, corporations, think tanks, charities and NGOs, implementing policies, practices and processes to incorporate nature into capitalist market systems.

“It takes the same capitalist ideas and values that create environmental crises – i.e. continual economic growth, private property, profit and ‘free’ markets – and applies them to the natural world as a way to solve those crises. It serves to maintain capitalism’s dominance, both through finding new ways to generate profit, and as a way of protecting it from criticism of being environmentally destructive”.

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The guide insists that the “values” of capitalism are simply incompatible with the interests of the living planet, whatever it may claim.

“Green capitalism functions as a way to deflect questions over the role of capitalism in creating the problems in the first place, or its capacity to deal with them.

“Nature includes all lifeforms, including other sentient beings. These other forms of life don’t exist just for the purpose of serving human needs. Nature has its own inherent value that cannot be expressed in financial or economic terms. All of this is ignored or even denied by the anthropocentric (human-centred) approach that capitalism and other exploitative systems are built on.

“This guide is intended as an introduction to the ideas surrounding green capitalism as well as the alternatives to it. We hope it will support attempts to resist the threat of green capitalism and create space for real ecological alternatives”.

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Meanwhile, an article in September’s The Ecologist magazine explores why the idea of degrowth – which challenges the basic assumptions of the capitalist economy – is “gaining momentum”.

Writes Nick Meynen: “Ten years ago only a few professors and some activists used the word ‘degrowth’ as an alternative to the neoliberal model of perpetual economic growth. Today, ‘degrowth economics’ is an activist academic discipline with dozens of top-quality peer reviewed papers, widely translated books like Degrowth. A Vocabulary for a new era and massive bi-annual conferences – like the ongoing 2016 Budapest Degrowth Conference and Week.

“At least one thing unites those activists and scholars: they all agree that the basic assumption of the necessity of economic growth is fatally flawed and in urgent need of correction simply because it undermines the conditions for humanity to thrive”.

See also:

Naive illusions are propping up capitalism

“The system has got to be destroyed”

Degrowth – real anti-capitalism

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4. I don’t want to fuck a robot

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“We will happily be having sex with robots soon, according to scientists,” announced a story in The Independent on September 7. It continued: “The ‘sexbots’ could be better than humans in bed and we could be looking at human-robot marriages by the year 2050, experts have claimed. Popularity of the machines has been rising as their realism continues to improve and soon could replace human companionship altogether.”

I don’t even know where to start with this! Perhaps with the use of the word “with”. You can’t have sex “with” robots because there is no mutuality involved. A robot is not a being, but a manufactured item, a machine giving the false impression of being alive.

But then maybe the word “sex” is even wronger. We don’t generally talk about “having sex” when there is only one person involved – I believe the usual term is “masturbation”. We’re not talking about “having sex with” anyone at all, but about the use (and, more importantly, the purchase!) of an advanced mechanical aid to wanking.

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If they were honest about this, it wouldn’t be quite so bad. It’s the lying that I can’t stomach, and particularly the lie that there is no real difference between a living human being and a non-living consumer product.

It’s bad enough that in our messed-up society the “other” person is often reduced to the role of object by the self-obsessed modern individual. We see no other “subject” there, nobody real and sentient like Number One (supreme source of all reality and priority).

But this takes the whole thing a step further, to the point of assuming that we can no longer even tell the difference between appearance and reality, that we are so uninterested in the consciousness within another person (even one with whom we make love) that we would “happily” (there is a hint of irony here, surely? please!) accept a mere copy of another human being so long as this object fulfils a particular limited and rather basic physical role.

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Let me be blunt about this: I don’t want to fuck a robot. If I do happen to have sex with anyone in the future I would very much like the experience to involve:

  • mutual attraction
  • mutual tenderness
  • non-programmed responsiveness
  • skin
  • odours (other than burnt plastic)
  • sweat and the usual organic fluids
  • conversation before and after, if not during
  • a moment of intense near-spiritual connection with an amazing human being (preferably)
  • a human being (as a bare minimum)

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So, Mister Technoballs, away with your smart-seductions and artificially augmented ardour. I’m not interested in downloading an orgasm. You can stuff your nano-nooky up your sterile sexbot. And, while you’re at it, kindly pull the whole of your industrial capitalist system out at the plug and let us get back to some real living and loving, as Mother Nature intended.

Yours biologically,

A non-robot

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5. Thailand slips into dictatorship

Thailand is slipping further into tyranny, with the military junta that seized power in 2014 strengthening its rule and effectively outlawing all criticism of the state and the corporate interests it represents.

On Tuesday September 20, Bangkok South Criminal Court announced a shock guilty verdict against British migrant rights defender Andy Hall in a criminal defamation and Computer Crimes Act charges case brought against him by Natural Fruit Company Ltd.

The Court found Andy Hall guilty of all charges, sentenced him to prison for four years and ordered him to pay 150 000 baht fine. His prison sentence was reduced by one year to three years and suspended for two years because of his record as a human rights defender. Andy will appeal the ruling.

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Andy Hall

The charges related to publication in 2013 of a report called Cheap Has a High Price by Finnwatch, a Finnish civil society organisation. The report outlined allegations of serious human rights violations at Natural Fruit’s pineapple processing plant in Prachuap Khiri Khan province in Thailand.

Said Sonja Vartiala, executive director of Finnwatch: ”We are shocked by today’s verdict. The report was authored and published by Finnwatch; we take full responsibility for it. Andy has been made a scapegoat in order to stifle other voices that speak out legitimately in support of migrant worker rights.

”This is a sad day for freedom of expression in Thailand. We fear that many other human rights defenders and victims of company abuse will be scared to silence by this ruling.”

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At the same time, a new report from Privacy International examines the sinister rise of social media based surveillance in the South East Asian country, carried out potentially by people’s own networks of friends and family.

After the 2014 military coup, in which a military government led by General Prayut Chan-o-cha seized power and overthrew the administration of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, the army declared martial law, which was maintained for the following 10 months.

The declaration of martial law allowed the Thai authorities to take strict public order measures, including  reportedly closely monitoring ‘delinquent’ behaviour such as eating sandwiches in the street or reading George Orwell’s books.

A new constitution was passed in August via a very dodgy referendum, of which no monitoring was allowed by the junta. Activists opposing the document were arrested, detained, and prosecuted in military courts, whilst voters who expressed their intention to vote against the draft were also arrested and prosecuted by the military regime.

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Generally, the junta has been cracking down on anyone challenging the Thai establishment – political cases usually revolve around the use of Thailand’s lèse-majesté law (criticising the royal family), the Computer Crimes Act and the sedition law.

Says the Thai Political Prisoners website: “There are no accurate figure on how many have been charged under these draconian laws. 2010 estimates were that there have been more than 300 cases since the 2006 palace-military coup.

“The 2014 coup saw a massive spike in lèse-majesté cases. It is now calculated that the period since the May 2014 military coup has seen more lèse-majesté cases than ever before under any government in Thailand.

“Cases are seldom dropped outright, not least because prosecutors themselves worry about being charged with lèse-majesté for dropping a case”.

Privacy International reports that the NCPO [the Orwellian-named National Council for Peace and Order] is seeking ever-broadening powers. In March 2015 it issued orders giving its officers the power to: search premises, people, and vehicles; summon and arrest people; confiscate property; and request  information without a warrant if they suspect illegal activities.

“The government has various ways of identifying the authors of what it deems to be illegal content on social media; in some cases, the government has arrested opponents in the streets during protests and forced them to hand over their social media passwords. The Thai police has also reportedly created a fake application to phish the data of users trying to log on to Facebook.

According to online newspaper Prachatai, in May 2014, Police Major General Pisit Paoin, the head of a government-appointed working group responsible for censoring the internet, revealed his plan to spy on social media and chat apps. ‘We’ll send you a friend request. If you accept the friend request, we’ll see if anyone disseminates information which violates the NCPO orders. Be careful, we’ll soon be your friend,’ he said.

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The report details instances of police posing as social media “friends” in order to lure activists into traps and jail sentences.

It adds: “Shortly after the coup, Deputy Police Commissioner General Somyot Poompanmoung created a bounty programme to encourage Thai internet users to denounce dissidents. Thai citizens are encouraged to send pictures of anyone who may be ‘displaying opposition to the military coup’. For each picture sent, the denunciator receives 500 Baht (approximately US $14). As mentioned earlier, signs of dissent that have elicited Thai authorities’ interest have reportedly included reading George Orwell’s books and eating sandwiches outside.”

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Can we expect similar controls to be deployed in “the West” in the near future, as the capitalist system is threatened by popular resistance?

As far as denouncing fellow citizens is concerned, we only need to think of the permanent “terrorist” scare and the reports of people being dragged off aircraft for speaking Arabic or generally appearing to be Muslim.

And France already has its own semi-permanent state of emergency – martial law is not just something that happens “elsewhere”.

There may well be a connection between international acceptance of the Thai dictatorship and the fact that Thailand’s U-Tapao Royal Thai Navy Airfield is currently the “only facility in Southeast Asia capable of supporting large-scale logistical operations”. Thailand has allowed the US to use U-Tapao to land and refuel after traveling across the Pacific Ocean on the way to US operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Thailand is designated by the USA as a “major non-NATO ally”, meaning that although it is not technically in NATO, it is very much a close US ally with strategic working relationships with US Armed Forces – and other agencies.

Only this month, the Bangkok Post carried a revelation from a former CIA agent that the Thai king had secretly sent a 4,000-strong force of US-trained Thai soldiers known as Tahan Sua Pran to help the US in  the Vietnam War.

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6. France – the social war kicks off again

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The social war has begun again in France after a summer break – and looks set to intensify in the run-up to the presidential elections due next spring.

September 15 saw protests and strikes all over the country, with police violence immediately resuming the levels seen earlier in the year.

One trade unionist has lost the sight in one eye after being hit by a fragment of a grenade fired indiscriminately into the crowd in Paris by a CRS riot cop.

Although the protest movement was originally about the neoliberal labour reform which has now been pushed through parliament by the ruling so-called “Socialist” Party, it quickly became about much more and that energy is still very much alive.

The erosion of working conditions, the imposition of a US-style neoliberal economy, the militarisation of society, institutional racism, police violence, the draconian state of emergency and the whole misery of life in a capitalist slave-system have all contributed to a heated political climate.

The Lundi matin website has published a handy round-up of the action all across France, from which we have stolen a few highlights.

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In Rennes, there were tense confrontations with police and the usual charges and tear gas. Activists were pleased to note that a significant number of trade unionists “crossed the line” which often divides protesters and went to the aid of radical masked-up comrades.

In Le Havre 12,000 protesters took to the streets, led by the dockers. People set fire to bins and blocked access to a business, Saverglass, in solidarity with trade unionists facing discrimination. Their aim was to “block the economy”.

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In Rouen, protesters smashed the windows of the right-wing Les Républicains party, with the Socialist Party HQ also damaged. Shops and banks were also targeted and tear gas deployed by police.

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In Dijon, the front of the union-organised march was taken over by a radical and youthful block which was in full voice, singing of the memory of the Paris Commune and their hatred of the police.

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In Nantes, a 6,000-strong protest faced unprecedented police repression, with local activists heard remarking: “I’ve never seen anything like this before, you’d think we were in East Germany”.

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There was apparently a great atmosphere in Lille, as well as numerous confrontations with police. “Something new happened”, according to the report, in that there was a joyful and determined unity to the protest and it was impossible to tell the “good” protesters from the naughty troublemakers.

The next few months in France are going to  be very interesting.

* A three-part documentary video about this year’s ongoing uprising can be seen on the Taranis News website.

See also:

Paris rises up

Panicking French state tries to build right-wing militia

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7. The Sultan and the Sage

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One day while he was sitting under an olive tree, contemplating the earth, the sky and the dimensions of the cosmos, there came to the wise Perantulo a man on horseback. His face was obscured by a richly decorated silk scarf and he was accompanied by a dozen mounted warriors, whose scimitars glistened in the sun.

The man was none other than the Sultan of Khaluvia, who had received word of the teaching, the healing and the presence of Perantulo and wanted to see for himself this legendary fakir. The Sultan dismounted and approached the sage, unwinding his scarf so that he could be fully seen. He was plainly of noble character and had the look of one endowed with both intelligence and mental strength, but Perantulo saw at once that there was much that separated him from Knowledge. Having ascertained that this was indeed the sage he had been seeking, and after whom he had been enquiring for many days, the Sultan looked silently into Perantulo’s eyes and Perantulo looked silently and unflinchingly back. This moment stretched out until it became uncomfortable for the Sultan’s warriors, who did not understand what was happening and longed for it to end. But none dared move so much as a muscle or utter so much as the softest of whispered sighs as the two men remained locked in mutual scrutiny.

Finally, the Sultan dropped to his knees and, with tears welling in his eyes, declared: “Never before, Perantulo, have I seen in the eyes of man or woman what I have just discovered in yours. I must confess that I have wondered these last days whether the rumours of your wisdom were not exaggerated by the loose tongues of gossiping embellishers, but now I know that their inaccuracy strayed in the opposite direction to that which I had feared to be the case. Your reputation does not do you justice, Perantulo, and I say this without having heard you utter one word or move one finger. I beseech you, O Holy Man, to show me how I can see what you see, know what you know, shine as you shine”.

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There was a long pause. Perantulo remained so still that a small green lizard walked up one arm, across the back of his neck, and down the other.

And then he told the Sultan: “It is a fine thing, O Great Ruler, that you have come here and spoken thus. Your people are fortunate indeed to be led by a man of your sensibility. But it is no easy thing you seek. The path is long and steep and you would do well to bear in mind the fable of the traveller who feasts on his supplies in celebration at having reached the lofty summit of his destination only to realise, when the mists lift, that he has merely conquered the lowest of the foothills that come before the plain that leads to the sea across which lies the mountain he would ascend”.

“I know the path is long, kind sage. Fear not – the mist of impatience will not blind me on my journey,” spoke the Sultan.

Perantulo waited for another long moment – moments for him bore little relation to the moments of ordinary men. He was so still that a golden butterfly alighted on his upper lip and preened itself for a while before fluttering on its way.

“Very well,” said the old philosopher to the Sultan. “But you should know that the task ahead of you involves three stages. The first, which is quick and easy, is to express the Desire for True Knowledge. The second, which will be painful to you and to those who love you, is to rid yourself of all obstacles that can prevent the Torch of Eternal Truth from shining through you. This stage is dangerous for one whose commitment is not complete, for one who is not strong enough to bear the hatred of others or for one who is not supple enough inside to absorb the hurt. It is a dark voyage from which you may never emerge, O Sultan-most-Splendid”.

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The Sultan, a pensive frown creasing his brow, drew a deep breath: “And the third stage, O Holy Perantulo?”

“The third stage,” replied the fakir, “can only be imagined when the first two stages have been completed”.

The Sultan nodded. “So be it,” he said. “I have understood”.

And then he sprang to his feet, turned to his bemused men, and roared: “Let you all stand witness, my warriors, that your master, the Sultan of Khaluvia, today expresses his unquenchable commitment to the Desire for True Knowledge, that from this moment forth his days among mankind will be devoted to no other cause and that nothing and nobody can stand in the way of his Quest. Now we will ride, ride, ride – back to our famous City of Alzorika, which will soon become famed not just for its wealth, its learning and its arts, but for the devotion of its 75th Sultan to the Glory of All Being!”

He leapt on to his horse, raised his sword in the air as a sign of his energy and determination, then span to face the sage, who was still seated under the tree.

“Perantulo!” he cried, the fire of zeal scorching from his eyes. “Perantulo! I have heard your words and I will hold them in my heart! I will return!”

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[The above is the opening of The Sultan and the Sage, the first chapter of The Fakir of Florence: A novel in three layers, by Paul Cudenec. The full chapter is available on Paul’s blog. The book is published by Winter Oak and available to buy here and from Active Distribution. The author features in a new podcast on anarchy on the Natural Born Alchemist website]

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8. Acorninfo

Environmental activists blocked flights at London City Airport on September 6 in a Black Lives Matter protest highlighting the disproportionate impact of air pollution on black communities living near airports. Nine people launched a dawn action at the small airport used by rich businesspeople and managed to put up a tripod on the runway and lock themselves together.

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* * *

More than 24,000 inmates in at least 40 prisons from over two dozen states in the USA have been taking part in the national prison strike which began on September 9. Despite a virtual media blackout, it is clear that this is the biggest prison strike in US history, with inmates refusing to follow orders, failing to report for work and causing prisons to go on lockdown. The main focus of the strike is the modern-day slavery still legal in the prison system, in which businesses profit from free or very cheap forced labour. Said Azzura Crispino of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee: “Prisoners getting paid a wage at all for their labor is rare. The system is doing exactly what it’s designed to do: Extract as much money off the backs of prisoners as possible.” There are calls for international solidarity actions.

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* * *

In the face of ongoing violence in the Philippines – with a bombing in Davao City killing 14 people and the “war on drugs” seeing almost 2,000 people summarily executed – local anarchists are keeping up the struggle. On September 4, Food Not Bombs Baliuag protested against all the violence and war by providing free meal to people affected by poverty and hunger in the park of Baliuag, Bulacan. They have also staged a free market, sharing and giving away used clothes to those most in need.

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* * *

We have one year to close DSEI – that’s the message from anti-militarist campaigners 12 months ahead of the next arms fair in London’s Docklands. The big event, at which besuited individuals aim to make huge profits out of other people’s deaths, is due to be held from September 12 to 15 2017 at Excel London. Unless…

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* * *

The anarchist view of evolution, as being primarily about mutual aid and co-operation rather than competition and individualism, has been confirmed by recent research. Dr Benjamin Rubin, of Princeton University, said: “We originally set out to uncover the genetic basis of mutualistic behaviour in ants. So, we sequenced the genomes of three mutualistic species of plant-ants and four of their closely related, non-mutualistic relatives. We were surprised to learn that the mutualists actually had a higher rate of evolution across their genomes than the generalists.” Peter Kropotkin, anarchist scientist and author of the classic Mutual Aid, would not have been surprised, we imagine…

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* * *

Anarchy in a Cold War is a novel by Kurtis Sunday set in the West Berlin alternative-squatter-Punk scene during the latter part of the Cold War. The city, a focal point in the conflict between East and West, was a capitalist enclave smack in the middle of Communist East Germany. It was entirely surrounded by the Berlin Wall, complete with razor wire and machine gun posts. There is much that is familiar and much that is not. The Cold War is raging and the missiles are armed and waiting in their silos. If nuclear war breaks out there will be a four-minute warning. There is no internet and perhaps NO FUTURE. Reality? Sur-reality? Or hyper-reality?

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* * *

Acorn quote: “The life of the psyche is the life of mankind. Welling up from the depths of the unconscious, its springs gush forth from the root of the whole human race, since the individual is, biologically speaking, only a twig broken off from the mother and transplanted”. C.G. Jung, Symbols of Transformation

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

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The Acorn – 25

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Number 25


In this issue:

  1. “Terrorists” exposed as working for British state
  2. Paris rises up
  3. Whose future?
  4. The Dispossessed by Paul Cudenec
  5. Lies of His(story) by Rob los Ricos
  6. Heretical dreams of wildness
  7. What would an uncivilised world look like?
  8. Acorninfo

1. “Terrorists” exposed as working for British state

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The British state’s direct involvement in terrorism has been exposed by an official investigation.

The 160-page report by Northern Ireland’s Police Ombudsman, released on June 9, looks into the murders of six Catholic men watching football in a bar at Loughinisland, Co. Down on 18 June 1994, for which nobody has ever been prosecuted.

Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire declared: “I have no hesitation in unambiguously determining that collusion is a significant feature of the Loughinisland murders.”

Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Charlie Flanagan, said the findings were “deeply disturbing”.

Irish opposition leader Mícheál Martin said the victims were simply watching Ireland playing Italy in the World Cup soccer competition when they were ruthlessly gunned down by loyalist killers.

“The fact that the police, who were entrusted with protecting the community, were embroiled in collusion with the death squad responsible for the massacre is sinister and disturbing,” the Fianna Fáil leader said.

He called on the British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers, to apologize for and retract a statement she made in a speech last February, where she said it wasn’t the police or the British Army who “pulled the triggers at Loughinisland.”

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Theresa Villiers – pernicious counter-narrative

Villiers had said that “a pernicious counter-narrative” of the Troubles was emerging whereby responsibility for acts of terrorism was being shifted onto the security forces “through allegations of collusion, misuse of agents and informers or other forms of unlawful activity”.

Martin said her comments were “misleading and hurtful given the details of serious collusion that have now emerged”.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said the Ombudsman’s report was “just the latest exposing the depth of collusion involving British state forces and unionist paramilitaries”.

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Paddy McCreanor, nephew of victim Daniel McCreanor, said: “Collusion is no illusion and collusion happened. The truth has come out and that’s all we ever wanted.”

The families’ lawyer Niall Murphy said: “This report is one of the most damning expositions of state collusion in mass murder that has ever been published.”

The coy phrasing in The Guardian’s report on the Ombudsman’s investigation illustrates the way the truth about the British state’s relationship with terrorism continues to be hidden from the British public and dismissed as some kind of crazed “conspiracy theory”.

Journalist Ian Cobain writes: “Senior loyalist paramilitaries who were employed as police informers at the height of the Troubles smuggled an arsenal of weapons into Northern Ireland that were then used in at least 70 murders and attempted murders”.

Employed as police informers“? Paramilitaries employed by the police are nothing other than state assets, terrorists working for the British authorities. It’s as simple as that.

Continuing to couch the truth in careful, indirect language, Cobain writes: “While Maguire’s report stresses that many in the police have ‘worked tirelessly’ to bring the Loughinisland killers to justice, its damning conclusions will be seized upon by those who condemned Villiers’ comments, and who argue that security force collusion with loyalist terrorism was a central feature of the conflict.”

He adds that many in Northern Ireland are “unable to agree about the true nature of the conflict – or even the language that should be used to describe it”.

We would suggest that the appropriate language would include words such as “collusion”, “state”, “terrorism”, “deceit”, “lies” and “hypocrisy”.

Anyone keen to understand the “true nature” of the  “Troubles”, which saw 2,618 people killed and more than 33,000 injured, might also want to look more closely at:

* Freddie Scappaticci, alias Stakeknife, the British agent who infiltrated the IRA to run its internal security and ordered 40 people to be murdered as security risks – presumably the wrong ones.

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Freddie Scappaticci, alias Stakeknife – a British agent at the heart of the IRA

* Brian Nelson, the British agent who became the intelligence chief of the loyalist Ulster Defence Association – performing a similar role on the other side of the deadly maze of mirrors.

* The Birmingham Six, Guildford Four, and the Maguire Seven – all people wrongly convicted of republican bombing atrocities. Or maybe we should put some inverted commas around “republican”, because if they’re not responsible, who knows who was really behind the outrages and why the British establishment was so keen to find someone to blame for them. Incidentally, the Birmingham bomb led to the 1974 Labour government passing the original Prevention of Terrorism Act.

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The Birmingham pub bombing of 1974 – who was really behind it?

* The Omagh bombing of August 15 1998, generally blamed on a republican splinter group. Suspicious minds have pointed to the fact that public horror at the attack, in which 29 people died, allowed Tony Blair’s government to rush through controversial “emergency” anti-terrorist legislation, in the form of the Criminal Justice (Terrorism and Conspiracy) Act 1998, less than a month later in September 1998. This allowed people to be convicted of belonging to a proscribed organisation merely on the say-so of a senior police officer, created an offence of conspiracy to commit offences abroad and generally prefigured more recent terrorist legislation. Helpfully, it included a clause giving “all crown agents immunity from prosecution under the legislation”.

* Constant suspicions of the involvement of the British state in sectarian killings, which still won’t go away, even though its focus switched suddenly to a new “war on terror” just as the “Troubles” were declared over. Questions have been asked about state involvement in the deaths of Rosemary Nelson, loyalist Billy “King Rat” Wright, catholic Robert Hamill and RUC officers Harry Breen and Bob Buchanan.

In 2012 Prime Minister David Cameron was forced to admit that the level of state collusion uncovered by a report into the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane was “shocking” – though the report predictably concluded there had been “no overarching state conspiracy”. No, of course not.

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2. Paris rises up

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A massive and dramatic day of resistance to the neoliberal Loi Travail was staged in Paris and across France on Tuesday June 14, with scenes in the capital described by witnesses as like a “war zone”.

An estimated million people marched in Paris, with the back end of the protest still waiting at the start of the route when the front had arrived at the destination. 1.3 million were on the streets across France.

The Paris march was led by the biggest autonomous bloc that has been seen in the city for several decades, with a strong international anti-capitalist participation.

It was attacked repeatedly and brutally by police using all the militaristic weaponry at their disposal – not just the usual batons, tear gas and grenades but also two water cannon, used in Paris for the first time.

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Protesters responded to the police attempts to split the march with much determination and hails of stones.

Near the Duroc metro station, scene of some of the fiercest fighting,  windows of the France’s overseas territories ministry were broken and its walls covered with graffiti – it was renamed the Ministry of Colonies.

Other buildings, from banks and estate agents’ to Starbucks were also targeted.

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There were said to have been 58 arrests. The authorities ridiculously claimed only 40 people were injured, of whom 29 were supposedly cops and only 11 protesters! In reality, hundreds of protesters were hurt, many seriously, according to activist website Paris Luttes.

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Levels of police violence and the cops’ utter contempt for the welfare of injured protesters are well illustrated by this shocking video.

After the main march, protesters regrouped in the evening for further unauthorised protests, which were again attacked by cops – notably the fascistic plain-clothed thugs of the “Bac” (“Anti-criminal brigades”).

This was the biggest turn-out yet against the Loi Travail, but still the state refuses to change its neoliberal course (see below).  Instead it is now threatening to ban future protests if there is no “guarantee” that property and people will not be threatened.

This is unlikely to deter the resistance and more days of action and strikes are already being planned. Watch this space and follow us on Twitter for updates.

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“The insurrection is now…”

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3. Whose future?

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The real agenda behind France’s hotly-contested new labour laws has been helpfully spelled out by the country’s leading right-wing rag.

Le Figaro dedicated its front page and a special inside section on June 1 to the Loi Travail and the massive social struggle against it.

And the coverage makes it quite clear that the hated reforms are being violently imposed on the French people at the behest of the global financial elite.

It quotes the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, as saying the labour laws are the “minimum” that other European states expect of France, pointing out that other states have successfully imposed even harsher neoliberal measures.

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Jean-Claude Juncker

It is clear that the massive scale and determination of the rebellion has left France’s capitalists rattled. You can almost see the blue blood boiling between the lines in Le Figaro‘s reports and comment.

It condemns the “violence and absurdity” of the social struggle and “this France where people can attack a police car with a metal bar, where a backward-looking trade union with a Marxist ideology can halt the trains, the metro, the ports, the airports, the oil refineries; where repeated demonstrations can degenerate into pitched battles.”

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Nowhere does Le Figaro show any concern for the future of the French people affected by the laws – instead it merely whines about the effect of the protests on the tourist trade and the Euro2016 football, the reputation of the country among the global financial elite and the reaction of the “investors” – the capitalist sharks who are hoping to profit from the increased exploitation of the French workforce.

“France has lost its attractivity,” it moans. “Worse, it is becoming a country that people leave, from which they emigrate. Foreign investors are running away and we have lost count of the number of its children, graduates or not, who have left it. In search of a job, of a less harsh tax system, of lower levels of bureaucracy, of an attractive entrepreneurial freedom.  In short, in search of a country which faces towards the future”.

It adds that France has become a “country of the past”, stuck with “archaic” acquired rights for workers, “incapable of modernising itself” and “with neither future nor horizon”.

These repeated mentions of the word “future” illustrate one of the big lies of the capitalist system. Note that Le Figaro doesn’t talk about “a” particular future which it would like to see come about, but “the” future!

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Is this, or something like it, inevitably The Future?

This has always been the deception behind the capitalist myth of “progress” – that the increase of industrial exploitation is in some way welded to the passing of time itself, rather than being a specific direction that society happens to have taken.

Taking any other path has always been to attempt to “return to the past” or to “turn the clock back”, rather than moving forward in time to a non-industrial future.

Now the same trick is being used to scrap what few rights the population have managed to accrue for themselves over the last 200 years of industrial capitalism.

By equating “the future” with increased capitalist exploitation, and by dismissing resistance to that exploitation as “absurd”, Le Figaro reveals a totalitarian mindset in which even the possibility of a different vision of tomorrow is denied.

When this totalitarian attitude is enforced with violent policing methods to crush dissent, the resulting society is plainly far from being the “democracy” that it laughably claims to be…

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“The state: a mafia which succeeded” – Paris, June 14

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4. The Dispossessed by Paul Cudenec

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“I was born upon the prairie, where the wind blew free and there was nothing to break the light of the sun. I was born where there were no enclosures and where everything drew a free breath. I want to die there and not within walls”. These were the words of Parra-Wa-Samen (Ten Bears) of the Yamparika Comanches. For his people, as Dee Brown explains, “land came from the Great Spirit, was as endless as the sky and belonged to no man”.

Here, surely, is an unchanging truth. Land is the surface of the Earth, which is billions of years old. How can it be said to be “owned” by transient individuals of one particular species temporarily populating its surface? And yet the huge majority of human beings born today find themselves denied the natural right to live and breathe freely on the planet on which they are born – of whose living substance, indeed, they are part.

The shocking depth of this dispossession is difficult for us to fully understand, from our limited perspective inside the very pit of this reality. It is also hard for us to grasp how we have slipped to this low point and how we have stayed there for so long. It is not difficult to imagine, of course, that there once might have been greedy, violent men (perhaps women, too!) who wanted to grab land for their own selfish use and exclude others. But, first, there must have been the idea that, contrary to the oldest traditions, land was not simply part of nature but could “belong” to somebody in particular.

Before the greedy men could desire to own it for themselves, there must have been a novel conception of land as being “ownable”. How did that happen? And then, once they had made their move and claimed an area for themselves and their kin, why did everyone else, the majority after all, let them get away with it? How did their theft become permanent? Crucially, at what point was their theft no longer seen as theft? At what point did it appear to be right and proper – so right and proper, in fact, that any attempt to undo this original theft would itself be considered a crime?

Ultimately, we are talking here about the origins of authority, which cannot be separated from the idea of land – the abstract notion of authority backs up the possession of land and thus wealth, while the possession of wealth provides the physical resources to enforce that authority in its real incarnation. How did Authority (with a capital ‘A’), as a force in its own right, come to pervert human society in this way?

We will consider its metaphysical aspects later in these pages (Chapter 10), but for the meantime all we need to know is that somehow, tragically, the land thieves got away with it. Over the centuries, people forgot that the land once belonged to nobody – could belong to nobody – and accepted the twin lies that not only did it indeed belong to somebody, but also that the persons who “owned” the land did so fairly.

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For the full piece, which is the first chapter of Paul Cudenec’s book The Stifled Soul of Humankind, go to https://network23.org/paulcudenec/2016/06/07/the-dispossessed/  or see this pdf.

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5. Lies of His(story) by Rob los Ricos

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What do we know about the past? Mostly what we’ve read in books. How much should we trust this stuff? What if it was all make-believe? What if actual historic events have been jumbled in time and location, repeated as fact in several places, over centuries? How would we know?

There have been dissident scholars in the past, over several centuries, who have pointed out that kings of different countries – with different titles and names – were in fact the same person. There are scholars from the 19th century into contemporary times who believe that the stories we’re told in daily and Sunday schools have been so convoluted as to make more than 1000 years of history irrelevant; a fantasy presented as reality in order to indoctrinate people into submitting to lives of servitude.

To grasp these possibilities as anything more than paranoid conspiracy, I have to ask the reader to keep historic events in mind in a particular era, during which humanity was enslaved by ruthless, savage raiders from Eurasia, for the enrichment of their aristocracies. This time includes the seizure of the commons in England, the discovery of 4/5ths of the world by the Christian kingdoms, the obliteration of cultures and civilizations worldwide, and ends with the inquisitions, which wiped out generations of accumulated folk wisdom, libraries, and the living memories of people who had seen some of the other land’s actual cultures, prior to their destruction.

After all this had cleared the slate, so to speak, Christian monks began writing much of what we think of as recorded history. Many supposedly ancient documents do not survive today in any form older than this period. As mentioned above, entire libraries were burned over the years. And during the inquisitions in Europe, many books – a much rarer commodity in those times – were burned as well, oftentimes along with the owners and authors. Some fields of science, particularly related to medicine and healthcare, are only now recovering this knowledge in the West. Mostly by learning from the few folks traditions that have survived into modern times.

To further obfuscate what is presented as historic fact, the calendar system used by the West has been “adjusted” several times. There are many, many instances of astronomically aligned stone circles, all over the world, that still accurately depict the passage of time and the cycles of the seasons. This means that thousands of years ago, people could accurately track time, but hundreds of years ago, the calendar had to be “adjusted.” What went wrong? My first guess would be religion.

To read the full piece go to https://roblosricos.wordpress.com/2016/06/14/lies-of-hisstory/

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6. Heretical dreams of wildness

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We few began as wanderers in this wasteland, this wasted land, this land laid waste. Going through the motions every day, our hands passing over the assembly line, the steering wheel or the keyboard almost without our conscious awareness, as if ghost limbs.

We tell – or are told – the same story again and again of how we come to be here, of how we have ‘progressed’ into this age that clings to us like cellophane. Yet what is it, this thought which flashes unbidden across our minds while we submit to the bosses orders, or when we pass the clearcut forest?

 Where does it lead, this chain of feelings we could allow ourselves to follow, hooked on the tailwings of the swooping swallow, or that draws us to a mountain or seashore? Why is it that our fingers twitch, curl into fists, become ours once more, when the newscasts and adverts blare, when the landlord knocks, when police approach?

Who are they, those friends whose company seems incommensurable with the hollow commodities, the acquisition of which keeps us apart; those voices who dare to challenge these values and way of life; those who tear away at this suffocating skin which has been grafted onto ours, bringing their heretical dreams to life again and again as feral beauty, bombs and beating hearts?

How could it be, that those moments could stretch on and on, while restrictions and categories peel away to fall as so much compost for the conspiracy of dandelions blooming atwixt the cracks, from an Earth we have learned to embrace once more?

Gather your strength, the reply from our bones counsels. Your fight seems to have begun for anarchy, for wildness.

This text appears at the beginning of the latest issue of the green anarchist zine Return Fire.

The contents include an extract from the latest cover story of Italy’s eco-insurrectionary periodical Terra Selvaggia, on ‘The Advance of Urbanisation’ and the cracks opening in the concrete. Annie Archet tells a life-story of evading identity, in Portrait of the Invisible Woman in Front of Her Mirror. Also: The Intensification of Independence in Wallmapu, John Severino’s poignant reflections on a project within an indigenous Mapuche community; The ‘Wild’ as Will and Representation, about commodified and alienated approaches in the urgent need for land reconnection; and Sean Dunohoe’s polemic against the Close Supervision Centres within the British prison system.

The zine also takes a retrospective look at some Global Flash-Points of insurgent activity in the months following their last volume. To Create & Maintain Their Wealth and ‘Sensuality, Magic & Anarchist Violence address gendered and speciesist domination through reviews of Silvia Federici, Arthur Evans and Jason Hribal.

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7. What would an uncivilised world look like?

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A new documentary film about finding hope for the future in our broken industrial world is touring the UK this summer and autumn.

“wetheuncivilised, A Life Story”  follows the filmmakers as they speak to grassroots activists alongside the pioneering voices of Satish Kumar (editor of The Ecologist), Polly Higgins (ecocide lawyer), Bruce Parry (explorer), Martin Shaw (founder of School of Myth), Jewels Wingfield (ecofeminist), Mac Macartney (founder of Embercombe), Simon Fairlie (editor of The Land), Peter Owen Jones (clergyman, presenter), Glennie Kindred (author and artist), and the late Patrick Whitefield (permaculturist). On this quest, they take with them a question – what could an uncivilised world look like?

The website includes a quote from Joanna Macy on the struggle that lies ahead for those who care about the future of life on this  planet.

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Joanna Macy

Says the activist and writer:  “Yes, it looks bleak. But you are still alive now. You are alive with all the others, in this present moment. And because the truth is speaking in the work, it unlocks the heart. And there’s such a feeling and experience of adventure. It’s like a trumpet call to a great adventure. In all great adventures there comes a time when the little band of heroes feels totally outnumbered and bleak, like Frodo in Lord of the Rings or Pilgrim in Pilgrim’s Progress. You learn to say ‘It looks bleak. Big deal, it looks bleak.”

Tour dates currently advertised are:

Frome (Sat 18 June), Glastonbury Festival (Thu 23 June), Yeovil, nr Tinkers Bubble (Sun 26 June), Horncastle  (Thu 30 June).

Zig Zag, Glastonbury (Fri 1 July), Steward Community Woodland (Sun 3 July), Totnes Transition Town Film Night (Tue 5 July), Landmatters, Devon (Wed 6 July), Embercombe, Devon (Sat 9 July), Buddhafield Festival (Mon 11 July), Feed Bristol (Sat 23 July).

Stroud (Mon 1 August), The Big Green Gathering (Tue 2 August), The Northern Green Gathering (Thu 11 August), Off-Grid One Planet Community Festival (Fri 12 August), Wirksworth, Derbyshire (Sat 20 August), Belper (Tue 23 August).

Permaculture Convergence (Fri 2 September), Sheffield (Thu 8 September), Lancaster (Mon 12 September), Burnside, Cumbria (Wed 14 September), Glasgow (Fri 16 September), Findhorn (Sat 17 September), Nairn (Thu 29 September), Edinburgh (Thu 29 September).

Newcastle (Mon 3 October), Alandale (Wed 5 October), Leeds (Sat 8 October), Shrewsbury (Fri 14 October), Tywyn (Sun 16 October), Hampshire (Sun 30 October).

People are invited to set up a screening in their local community, and use it as an opportunity to bring people together – think skill sharing, talks and workshops during the day, perhaps bring-a-dish dinner, followed by a showing of the film and a community-led discussion/circle gathering in the evening.

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8. Acorninfo

First-hand accounts of struggles in Kurdistan feature in a new book by Eliza Egret and Tom Anderson. Struggles for Autonomy in Kurdistan, published by Corporate Watch, tells of the efforts to create a new society which are taking place in Bakur and Rojava – the parts of Kurdistan within the borders of Turkey and Syria. The setting up of local assemblies and co-operatives, as well as radical women’s and ecological movements, are rapidly gathering momentum in Kurdistan. The book gives a simple introduction to democratic confederalism, the idea that has inspired many of those involved in these movements. The book also compiles accounts from Kurdish people who are oppressed by the state of Turkey and profiles some of the companies that are complicit in their repression. The interviews give suggestions of how people outside of Kurdistan can act in solidarity. Buy the book or download it for free at https://corporatewatch.org/publications/2016/new-book-struggles-autonomy-kurdistan

Kurdistan book

* * *

UK supporters of the ZAD protest camp at Notre-Dame-des-Landes near Nantes in France have now set up their own website at https://network23.org/ukzad/. They say: “We are an autonomous group helping organise UK solidarity with la Zad and to help resist if and when an eviction attempt is made. Initial plans are to arrange a trip to la Zad some time in the summer and to organise a rapid response for UK people to get to. Email ukzad[@]riseup.net or use the contact form on the site”.

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* * *

A District Judge has refused to allow the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to appeal against the acquittal of eight anti-arms trade activists who were charged with blockading the DSEI arms fair in London last September. The CPS application to appeal was refused on the basis it was ‘frivolous’ and ‘misconceived’. On April 15 2016, eight activists were acquitted on the basis that they were seeking to prevent greater crimes such as torture and the mass indiscriminate killing of civilians in places such as Yemen, Kurdistan, Palestine and Bahrain. See Acorn 24 and update.

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* * *

The key study that justifies the UK Government’s claim that fracking is a climate change ‘solution’ is based on serious scientific errors, says a new report in The Ecologist. Adds the article: “Not only has the Government failed to correct them, but it is now delaying the publication of a new official report that would reveal the truth – that fracking is considerably worse for the world’s climate than coal”.

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* * *

“A major political summit, one of the biggest in the geopolitical calendar, and pretty much the only mainstream journalists who show up are inside the conference, bound by the omertà of Bilderberg… Decades of making it difficult for the press to report on the summit has led to a profound reluctance on the part of the media to bother trying”. So writes Charlie Skelton in his informative series of articles on the 2016 Bildberg Conference in Germany, published on The Guardian‘s website. And it wasn’t just the media who didn’t show. Where were the thousands of anti-capitalist protesters outside, furious at this secretive gathering of politicians, bankers, arms dealers and business people? Ah, yes, of course, Bilderberg is just a “conspiracy theory“…

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Henry Kissinger, Bilderberg stalwart

* * *

An anarchist summer camp is being held in Austria this August. Organisers say its aim is to bring people together and strengthen cooperation within the left and anarchist movement across borders. They say: “Our goal is to build up a network for cooperation and action that lasts longer than the camp itself. You neither need to be part of a political scene nor know anything about theory to participate at the A-Camp. Everybody who identifies with emancipatory and anti-authoritarian ideas is invited”.

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* * *

Acorn quote: “Things cannot go well in England, nor ever will, until all goods are held in common, and until there will be neither serfs nor gentlemen, and we shall be equal”. John Ball, Speech during Peasants Revolt, 1381

John Ball

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

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The Acorn – 24

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Number 24


In this issue:

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

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

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May Day in Paris

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A military-style operation against the people in Paris

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

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

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Istanbul on May 1

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

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Resistance in Istanbul

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

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

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Paris on May 1

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

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

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Fighting back in Paris on May Day
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Paris, May 1

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

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May Day protests in Seoul

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

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

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

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May Day in Hong Kong

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

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Seattle, May 1
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Seattle police in action

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

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May Day in Montreal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Protesters block the main rail line in Marseille, France

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

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Marseilles, April 28

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

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

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

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

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

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Street battles in the Mediterranean port

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

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

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The start of the march

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Josh and Peter after the not-guilty verdict

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

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

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

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

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South Wales Police – liars

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

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

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

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

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HMP Cardiff – used to incarcerate anarchists framed by cops

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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4. Court victory for arms fair blockaders

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The DSEI defendants notched up a remarkable court victory

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

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

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

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

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Protests at DSEI

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

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

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

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

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

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Arms dealers profit from murder and repression

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

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

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5. Witch hunt: antisemitism smears are ideological warfare

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Jeremy Corbyn

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

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

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

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Tony Blair

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

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

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

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

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

bds

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

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

Malia Bouattia
New student leader Malia Bouattia

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

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

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

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

Israeli-flag

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

hurrah for the blackshirts

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

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

labour antisemitism

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

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

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

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

Zionism
A Kibbutz ceremony from 1951

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

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

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

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

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

nato

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

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

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

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

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

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

the paranoid style

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

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

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

daniel pipes
Daniel Pipes

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

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

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

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

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

See also:

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

Conspiracies and contamination

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6. Acorninfo

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

AnarchySymbol

* * *

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

jarawa

* * *

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

kurdemfed

* * *

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

EFsummer16

* * *

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

Unabomber, Industrial Society and its Future

unabomber

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

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The Acorn – 23

acornmastheadnew

Number 23


In this issue:

  1. March 39 and counting… Nuit Debout and the new French uprising
  2. The whole system is rotten to the core
  3. Anti-militarists’ London trial to begin
  4. The obliteration of European civilization via the subversion of the early Christian church by Roman emperors
  5. Radical truth behind the fiction
  6. Money, sex and power: on a sham biography of Guy Debord
  7. Building an anarchist future – the Bristol call-out
  8. Acorninfo

1. March 39 and counting… Nuit Debout and the new French uprising

36marsnantes2
Protesters amidst the teargas in Nantes on April 5 – otherwise known as March 36

The spirit of resistance has captured the imagination of a new generation in France, as youth-led opposition to neoliberal labour “reforms” has spiralled into full-on rejection of the whole capitalist system on the street and squares.

The situation took on a new dimension after the general strike and day of action on Thursday March 31. There was a call for people not to go home afterwards but to stay on the streets, beginning a wave of overnight “Nuit Debout” occupations that has spread from Paris across France and into the Iberian peninsular, Belgium and Germany.

nuit-debout2
“Let nobody enter here who is not in revolt”

The March 31 “moment” has also been symbolically extended by the renaming of the following days of the mobilisation as March 32, March 33 and so on.

On Tuesday March 36 (April 5 in the old pre-revolutionary calendar) there was another massive turn-out on the streets all over France, with increased police violence and defiant resistance.

36marsParis
Paris, March 36
36marsParis4
Paris, March 36

In Paris police fired tear gas and charged the crowds of youngsters who countered with stones, glass bottles and eggs, chanting “police everywhere, justice nowhere!” and “everybody hates the police!”

Police arrested a staggering 130 schoolchildren and students on the day, leading to an evening protest outside a police station involving hundreds of people and more clashes.

36marsParis2
Paris, the night of March 36

It was a similar story in the Mediterranean city of Marseilles. A report on the Mars-info site said that if the initial demonstrations against the Loi Travail (labour law) had felt like the first breath of Spring, the events of March 36/April 5 showed that it had well and truly arrived.

Police charges were resisted, a motorway blocked, traffic thrown into chaos, the offices of the ruling Socialist Party redecorated. And the promise of so much more to come…

36marsMar3
Marseilles, March 36
36marsMar2
Socialist Party offices in Marseilles, March 36

In Brittany, the main railway line was blocked in Rennes city centre, while banks, chain stores and the Socialist Party offices were targeted in Nantes.

36marsRennes
Blocking the railway at Rennes, March 36
36marsnantes
Nantes, March 36

Another hotspot was in Toulouse, where a wildcat protest and invasion of the city’s railway station was followed by an overnight Nuit Debout occupation of between 500 and 1,000 people.

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Toulouse, March 36
36marstoulouse2
Toulouse, March 36

When an authentic wave of revolt surges up from the collective heart of a population, there is little that can stand in its way.

Like the waters of a mighty flood, it either sweeps away everything in its path or finds a different course that takes it past all obstacles.

This is what we are seeing in France at the moment, where a rejection of the capitalist system has emerged from deep within society, most notably amongst the newest generation.

As we have previously reported in The Acorn, this phenomenon has been growing for some time now and has taken many forms.

The French state, frightened of a serious threat to its power, probably imagined it had found the solution in the wake of the November 13 terror attacks in Paris.

The draconian “state of emergency” has been combined with increased police brutality and the usual “anti-terrorist” media paranoia to try to create a climate in which revolt can have no place.

khomri
Police invade a lecture hall in Paris

It worked to some extent with the COP21 protests in Paris, where the anticipated atmosphere of rebellion was significantly dampened.

But when the state started making noises about evicting the ZAD protest camp to make way for a new Nantes airport, the huge response of solidarity and defiance showed that the underlying rebel spirit remained intact.

And with the planned El Khomri labour laws, the “socialist” French government  certainly overestimated its own power over the people.

While obedient trade unions failed to make much of a fuss about this serious attack on workers’ rights, others were outraged and the very youthful grassroots campaign emerged out of nowhere to oppose it.

The state has tried to crush it by the use of ugly police violence and general levels of repression which have been made possible by the “state of emergency”.

But even this has not worked. Indeed, the flood waters of revolt have merely swept up the tools of the state’s repression and used them as battering rams against its legitimacy.

As one statement from protesters explained: “What is being born here has little to do with the labour law. This law is just the tipping point. The one attack too many. Too arrogant, too blatant, too humiliating. The surveillance laws, the Macron law, the state of emergency, the stripping of nationality measures, the anti-terrorist laws, the penal reform project and the labour law all add up to a system. It’s one big project to bring the population to heel.

“Everyone knows that what makes a government retreat is not the number of people on the streets,  but their determination. The only thing that will make a government retreat is the spectre of an uprising, the possibility of the loss of total control”.

36marsMar1
“Fuck the state!”

Uncontrollability has proved a key element of the current revolt, with stewards from trade unions like the CGT being very obviously used by the authorities to try to hold back the energy of the youthful revolutionaries during protests.

One eye-witness to the March 31 protests in Marseilles described how the CGT stewards stood between the young protesters and the police with their backs to the cops, “showing clearly whose side they were on”.

As the protesters chanted “All Marseilles hates the police!”, the stewards were mocked and insulted, being called “collaborators” by the young crowd whose hatred for the system also embraces the false rebels of the comfortably conformist Left.

mars31vid

One recent article sees the strength of the wave of revolt as lying in the fact that it is not a “movement” that lends itself to being easily manipulated and recuperated by the status quo.

The behaviour of the union stewards and cops is a tell-tale sign that they are desperately trying to gain some kind of control over a phenomenon which is completely beyond their grasp.

The response of the French state to recent rising levels of dissent has been predictable. It has emerged that at the end of last year it placed a 5 million euro order for hundreds of thousands of rubber bullets and seems determined to try and crush opposition by force.

balles

But resistance is spreading. There is an international call-out for a European Nuit Debout on Saturday April 9  – March 40. A new generation is at war with the system. The tyrants are running scared. Vive la révolution!

Video links

Protesters versus cops in Paris, March 31

Police violence in Paris, March 36/April 5

Man filming police violence is teargassed in face

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2. The whole system is rotten to the core

David-Cameron

The aftermath of the Panama Papers revelations has been an amusing spectacle, as professional hypocrites from Reykjavik to Westminster wriggle and twist their way out of accusations of tax-dodging.

The #ResignCameron protest called for Downing Street at 12 noon on Saturday April 9 has got to be worth supporting, especially if it feeds in to the European-wide day of revolt.

But the details of the controversy are all a bit of a sideshow for anyone who has long realised that the whole system we live under, and the elite that controls it, are hopelessly and fundamentally corrupt.

The coming and going of individual politicians and political parties changes nothing. And there is no point in trying to reform the system by removing the parts which are corrupt, because the whole thing is rotten to the core. It is, in itself, nothing other than corruption!

prison-cameron

To get rid of the corruption we have to get rid of the system. Not just the Tories and the offshore bankers, but the whole of the infrastructure behind them. We have to get rid of the “laws” they have invented to protect their corruption, the courts and judges that rubber-stamp their criminality with legitimacy. We have to get rid of the police forces, the armies and the prisons which impose their corrupt system on us with their “lawful” violence.

We have to get rid of the borders, the states, the flags, the property deeds, the capitalist-friendly ideologies  – all the fakery and illusion they have invented in order to crush human potential and freedom.

broken_overpass

This is not always an easy thing to say in a society where the slightest, most reformist, most Corbynesque challenge to the status quo is greeted with squawkings of outrage by the ruling clique.

Real change is so unthinkable to this dominant elite that it can’t even be mentioned at all without an accompanying deluge of derision and bile.

Anyone who dares imagine such a world, free from the sordid corruption of power, must either be a naive, uninformed, unworldly, head-in-the-clouds daydreamer or a dangerous, violent and fanatic extremist-terrorist. Or both!

“Things are the way they are and they can’t be changed,” they tell us. “No other world than our world can ever be possible, so just get used to it, work within it, construct your alternatives within the framework we have provided for you”.

This approach can lead nowhere except into an ever-worsening nightmare, as industrial capitalism reduces humanity to slavery and the living planet to a steaming heap of sterile and toxic chemical waste.

pollution bangladesh

Everything has to go! There can be no illusions about this. We have to wipe out the whole stinking mess of a system in its entirety, with no qualms and no hesitations.

Only then will the soil be ready for a  new society to emerge in which empowerment begins within each individual and works its way up through the myriad of social relationships that make up a community, growing an organic network of mutual aid and co-operation through which humankind can again become a vital and harmonious part of the living Earth and not a cancer in its flesh.

Instead of the corruption and ugly mess of industrial capitalism we will enjoy the natural harmony of anarchy.

greenanarchy2

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3. Anti-militarists’ London trial to begin

dseipic8
Blocking the arms fair in September

Eight activists accused of disrupting one of the world’s largest arms fairs are due to go on trial in London from Monday April 11.

And their defence will include evidence from high-profile expert witnesses Andrew Feinstein, Sayed Ahmed and Oliver Sprague.

The campaigners are accused of having disrupted the set-up of the DSEI arms fair at the ExCel Centre in London last September by blocking the access roads to the site with their bodies, and by locking themselves to the gates.

Defendants, including Angela Ditchfield, Tom Franklin and Isa Al-Aali, were arrested on September 9 and 10 2015, accused of obstructing the entry of tanks and lorries by blocking the roads with their bodies.

Multiple defendants are accused of having blockaded the road during the Stop The Arms Fair main day of action on September 12; of which three are accused of blocking the East gate of the ExCel centre by locking themselves to the gate with arm tubes and two are accused of obstructing the West gate by D-locking their necks to the gate.

dseipic7

The DSEI (Defence & Security Equipment International) arms fair exists so that arms buyers and sellers can come together, network and make deals, and it takes place every two years in London’s Docklands. DSEI is jointly organised by Clarion Events and the UK Government. Buyers include countries involved in conflict and from human rights abusing regimes.

In September 2015 over 1500 exhibitors attended from around the world, including most of the world’s largest arms companies, displaying arms ranging from rifles to tanks, fighter jets, battleships, missiles, military electronics, surveillance and riot control equipment.

The expert witnesses have supplied written reports and will attend in person to give oral evidence for the defence concerning the nature of the DSEI arms fair:

Andrew_Feinstein

Andrew Feinstein is a former ANC Member of Parliament in South Africa who resigned in 2001 in protest at the government’s refusal to allow an unfettered investigation into a £5bn arms deal that has been identified as the biggest corruption scandal in South Africa’s history. He went on to author The Shadow World, a book described by the Washington Post as “possibly the most complete account [of the global arms trade] ever written.” He is currently Executive Director of Corruption Watch UK, an NGO which researches the global arms trade and details and exposes weapons violations, bribery, corruption and other malfeasance.

Oliver Sprague2

Oliver Sprague is Programme Director of Arms Control and Policing at Amnesty International UK. He has worked on technical aspects of UK arms export controls for over 20 years. Sprague gives regular oral and written evidence to the Parliamentary Select Committee working on arms export controls. He has given expert evidence on breaches of export control legislation at DSEI (and other defence exhibitions) on numerous occasions.

BIRD

Sayed Ahmed is Director of Advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), a London-based NGO which seeks to improve human rights and accountability in Bahrain.

The defendants themselves will also seek to give personal testimony of their reasons for opposing the arms fair and the catalogue of oppressive regimes that shop there.

This will include a firsthand account from a Bahraini activist who was tortured during the Bahraini uprising; an account from a Kurdish Solidarity activist with experience of Turkey’s brutal repression and attacks on Kurdistan; and an anti-militarist activist who has previously sought to privately prosecute two arms companies for the promotion of illegal torture weapons at DSEI 2013.

dseipic9
September’s protests

The defendants will be using the defence of necessity, arguing that their actions were justified since they were intended to prevent greater crimes including:
* The sale of weapons to internally repressive regimes including Bahrain and Saudi Arabia;
* The sale of weapons to countries imminently at war and overtly complicit in ongoing war crimes in Yemen, Kurdistan and Palestine;
* The sale of weapons to regimes that have been widely accused of arming ISIS; and
* The promotion for sale of weapons that are designed specifically for torture or banned under international law for their capabilities concerning the mass indiscriminate killing of civilians.

Defendant Tom Franklin, 57, of Clifton Without, York said: “It is intolerable that the government is supporting the sale of illegal weapons and weapons being used to kill ordinary people from the West Bank to Yemen and Sudan.  ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing.’ So I had to try to prevent evil”.

dseipic3

In a joint public statement,the Defendants Campaign said: “We know that the tools of the type promoted for sale at DSEI will be used to reinforce apartheid, to surveil and brutalise communities from Brixton to Bahrain, and to perpetuate the border regime that kills thousands every year – as European states wage a war against the refugees they helped create.

“We know that weapons promoted at DSEI are used to incinerate whole families at the touch of a button in places from Palestine to Pakistan. We know that such weapons will continue to devastate landscapes and do permanent environmental damage across the globe. And that these weapons have been used in systematic forced evictions and ethnic cleansing; such as against the people of Kurdistan.

“And we know that weapons of the type promoted at DSEI will be used to torture and repress people based on their political views, faith, gender, or sexuality in places like Saudi Arabia. Sometimes the tools of oppression are literal – and they are for sale at DSEI arms fair.”

The week-long trial is listed to start on Monday April 11 2016 at Stratford Magistrates Court in London. The defendants will be represented in court by Kellys Solicitors of Brighton, Hodge Jones & Allen of London and Bindmans Solicitors of London.

A roundup of the week of direct action against DSEI:

https://www.stopthearmsfair.org.uk/week-of-action-round-up/

More information about the DSEI arms fair can be found here:

www.stopthearmsfair.org.uk/about/dsei/

www.caat.org.uk

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4. The obliteration of European civilization via the subversion of the early Christian church by Roman emperors

by Rob los Ricos.

Having been involved with various US revolutionary organizations from the age of 12, Rob was arrested at a Reclaim the Streets festival in Eugene, Oregon, on June 18 1999. He was accused of throwing a rock at a cop, and was subsequently beaten by police. He was ultimately charged with rioting, first degree assault, and second degree assault and was given a nearly 8 year prison sentence.

rlr

This is the oldest symbol for the Christian faith. It may also be the oldest symbol of divine authority in what passes as “western” civilization.

There’s a lot more to say about this particular symbol, but for now let’s focus on its elegant simplicity. Because it was an upstart religion and illegal in the Roman empire, Christians needed a secretive way to identify one another. So, when wanting to inquire about someone’s belief, a Christian could draw half the symbol in the dirt with a finger. If the other party involved finished it, they recognized one another as part of the Church. If not, no harm done, the image quickly erased, easypeasy.

After the church was decriminalized, a new symbol was bestowed upon the Romanized religion, the cross.

rlr2

The ruler of the eastern provinces of the Roman empire, Constantine, supposedly had a vision as he tossed and turned in his sleep, worried about an upcoming battle. Either that, or he was given a sign from heaven on his way there. More likely he just made this story up.

Regardless of the inspiration, Constantine was given a sign from some god or another – I’m not sure they ever specify – which he regarded as a license to kill. The two symbols combined in the banner above allegedly signify “by this sign, conquer.”

From this moment on, Christianity was not a religion of love, tolerance, sharing, and community. From this point on, Christianity was some unseen god’s holy scourge, come to rid the world of sinful non-believers with sword and fire. Ever notice how much Catholics have enjoyed burning people alive over the centuries?

The symbol of the cross eventually morphed into the more recognizable “+” form, then further transformed into… something awful.

rlr3

This is the image of Jesus the ancient Churches like. It’s traumatizing. It’s meant to be.

The message sent by the authorities: “See that? There’s your god of love for you! He’s dead! If we killed your god, do you think we’ll have any mercy on you?”

Christians ever since have been very enthusiastic in slaughter, genocide, rape, and plunder. Rape, by the way, is not prohibited in the bible. There are a number of responsibilities spelt out for rapists in the old testament, including an obligation to marry the victim. I do not believe the victim is given a say in the matter.

And in the new testament, women are encouraged to be submissive to men.

Constantine undertook a war to eliminate the Zoroastrian religion. Their priests were known as Magi, and were mentioned with quite a lot of respect in the telling of Jesus’ birth.

The Romans killed every living Magi, and burned or otherwise destroyed their teachings.

I can’t help but think this was done because what the Magi taught was self-directed enlightenment and inner growth. What the Christian Church had decided on as its doctrine – in the council of Nicea Constantine sponsored ten years prior – was batshit crazy by comparison. Constantine was eliminating the competition.

He never made Christianity the official state religion (that would come later), even after his own “conversion.” As mentioned above, the conversion affected the Church more than vice-versa. The emperor has remade it in his own image.

Constantine’s end goal was likely to proclaim himself as the sun god, sol invictus, and Roman coinage, as well as works of art and architecture, portrayed him as Sol’s companion. He never did get around to announcing his own divinity. He did, however, make Sun day the official Christian day of rest and adulation.

Subsequent emperors burned the library of Antioch, and later banned teaching of science in the entire empire. People of other faiths were prohibited from being officers in the army, and a heretical Christian sect – the Manicheans – were exterminated for providing a sane, believable doctrine for Christians.

And just to rub a little salt in the wounds of a bleeding populace, pope Dumbass I outlawed public baths across the empire. Less than century later, unhygienic conditions contributed to a severe outbreak of bubonic plague.

The Church outlawed all forms of date-keeping, navigational charts and equipment, and any reference to the world as being spherical. No one believed the world was flat and the earth was the center of the universe. People started pretending to believe it when anyone saying otherwise was burned alive in public squares.

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The Oronteus Finaeus map, showing Antarctica with ice-free coasts, mountains and rivers. It was based on older maps, lost to His-story

The Church also outlawed all non-Christian schools and ordered the obliteration of all knowledge kept at the great library of Alexandria – perhaps the greatest repository of human knowledge ever assembled in one place.

Not only did they destroy ancient scrolls, books, and other writings, they massacred everyone who had learned to read. Millions of tradesmen, artisans, and craftsmen were slaughtered.

A holocaust (burnt offering) of millions of people practicing another “heretical” – i.e. non-Roman – form of Christianity, the Donatists in North Africa, was ordered. An entire region depopulated. Every man, woman, and child.

The church decreed that every book not written by Christian hands be destroyed.

“There is another form of temptation, even more fraught with danger. This is the disease of curiosity. It is this which drives us to try and discover the secrets of nature, those secrets which are beyond our understanding, which can avail us nothing and which man should not wish to learn.”

–Augustine (354 C.E.- 430 C.E.)

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The burning of the library of Alexandria

War was declared against the cultures of Egypt and Greece. The ancient library of Athens was torn down, all the scribes and priests burned alive. Roman facades were put on ancient temples. Others were torn down and replaced with Christian churches.

Ireland was likewise invaded, but the mercenary Patrick was not up to the task and relented after merely massacring half-a-million people. He reported to Rome that the “serpents have been eliminated,” but he was really giving the Celts some time to hide their knowledge.

Just around 200 years from the time Constantine remade Christianity for his own bloody purposes, the population of the ancient European world had plummeted drastically, and human civilization set back thousands of years. Some estimates claim over 110,000,000 people had died due to conflict, sacrifice, disease, and hunger.

AND WE HAVE NO IDEA WHAT WAS LOST AS A RESULT. We can only guess, based on physical evidence left behind.

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5. Radical truth behind the fiction

Fakcoversmall

Fiction is not always the most obvious means through which to present a political and metaphysical philosophy – even a great novelist such as Leo Tolstoy turned his back on the genre in order to express himself directly to the public through essays.

So it was a little surprising to find that writer Paul Cudenec, who has so far confined himself to non-fiction works such as The Anarchist Revelation and Forms of Freedom, had decided to launch himself into the world of the novel.

Having read The Fakir of Florence (Sussex: Winter Oak, 2016), it becomes clear what attracted him to the idea. Rather than running away from his root message into the distraction of fiction, he has used the form of a novel to present this message in an imaginative and entertaining context.

On the surface, the book revolves around the story of a kind of anarchist mystic who turns up in Florence during the Renaissance, but there is much more to it than that.

florence_scene_big

Cudenec takes the opportunity to examine the corruption of art by money, the recuperation of opposing philosophies by the dominant system, the artificiality of modern life and thought, the nature of artistic self-expression, the subversive potential of godless spirituality, the need for individuals to accept existential responsibility and so on.

There is a real richness of intelligent reflection here, freed from the usual restraints of linear essay composition and allowed to flow and intertwine in a way that opens the mind of the reader to their own contemplation.

threethreads

The book’s subtitle, “A Novel in Three Layers”  is an important guide in two ways. Firstly, it makes it clear that the three distinct threads within the book are all part of one overall thing. Secondly, it confirms that this overall thing is a work of fiction.

I say this because the first “layer”, in which an English writer in Florence visits various sites in the Italian city, grumbles about tourism and offers layman’s commentaries on the history of art, reads initially like a non-fiction travel diary.

Likewise, the second layer, an account of the “fakir” in 15th century Florence, seems very much like historical analysis.

persia

Only the third layer, a series of metaphorical tales from some fantastic and remote age of legends, is obviously a work of fiction.

This is all a deliberate piece of psychological trickery, as Cudenec makes clear, because it is in fact in the third layer that the greatest degree of “reality” can be found!

He has Perantulo, his most “unreal” character, declare: “Even if I were an invented character presented by a fictional story-teller in an account that was itself a mere fabrication-within-a-fabrication, my words could contain more truth than a lifetime of proven facts listed by someone whose solid physical existence was completely beyond dispute!”

This notion of an authentic inner “reality” or “truth” is key to Cudenec’s brand of anarchist metaphysics, which finds its inspiration in the likes of Gustav Landauer, Aldous Huxley and Herbert Read.

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Plotinus

Ultimately it is an extension of the “realism” of neo-Platonists like Plotinus, in which the inner essence behind the superficial everyday world is considered more real than physical form. So when Cudenec undermines the fictional elements of his own creation, he is making the point that the form was always inherently false in any case.

The final sections of the novel have a compelling pace to them. There is a satisfying sense of convergence, as what appeared to diverse and unrelated elements prove to be nothing but different aspects of the one thing.

The story’s surprising conclusion can no more be explained away in rational terms than can the plot of films like Mulholland Drive or Donnie Darko, but it is perhaps best summed up (without giving anything away!) by the last few lines of the novel.

“And with that he doubled the speed of his whirling, tripled it, then multiplied it beyond the imagination of the sharpest mathematician. Perantulo whirled at such a speed that he caught up the passing of time itself, overtook it and then looped right round to approach it from behind, like the snake that devours its own tail. And then this hoop of time likewise began to spin, faster and ever faster, until it too had become a blur like the golden coin on the tabletop and until the vanity of its fake structure could no longer hide the all-embracing glory of its infinite and eternal fire”.

R. Silva

whirl

The Fakir of Florence, published by Winter Oak, can be ordered online here and will shortly be available from Active Distribution.

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6. Money, sex and power: on a sham biography of Guy Debord

guydebord

A new “biography” of  the revolutionary thinker Guy Debord is nothing but a deliberate and dishonest attack on him and the ideas he stood for.

That is the damning verdict from writer Gianfranco Sanguinetti, who worked closely with Debord in the Situationist movement.

Donald Nicholson-Smith’s English translation of Sanguinetti’s piece on Jean-Marie Apostolidès’ “sham biography” Debord le Naufrageur (Debord the Wrecker), can be found here, with the French original here.

debordbook
Warning – this is NOT a biography

Sanguinetti makes it clear that Apostolidès’ book has to be seen in the context of a dominant culture that denies legitimacy to any thinking that strays outside its narrow and shallow confines.

He writes: “Nor is it only authentic opponents that must be destroyed, but also all those who may have existed earlier, whose memory and model have to be erased, demolished or besmirched.

“Every tendency to revolt and desire for change among younger generations must be thwarted and struck down, and all precedents for them and the very memory of those precedents smothered.

“Any conceivable emulation has to be forestalled. All Walter Benjamins driven to suicide. Lists of subversives drawn up. Genuine rebellions, along with genuine rebels, crushed once and for all, eliminated, denounced, smeared and pilloried in view of the absolute need to highlight only deliberately fabricated and fetishized adversaries”.

vat of wine

As far as Apostolidès’ book itself is concerned, Sanguinetti writes: “Let me say straight away that this work, as I shall show, apart from being a crashing bore, is in no way a biography. I spent a mere three hours with it, for after all there is no need to drink five hundred litres of wine to tell whether it is good or bad – or indeed to know that it is not wine at all (as, mutatis mutandis, is the case here).

“This is in no sense a biography of Guy Debord, but rather a long-winded piece of investigative journalism directed against Debord that offers only hostile ‘testimony’ and not a word about Debord’s work, about his art and his time, about his cinema, or about his courage in a position of virtual isolation. So the book is of strictly no value to historians. It is simply not a source. The author’s use of documentation is deeply dishonest, for he selects only what he deems inculpatory.

“The Society of the Spectacle is one of three books of the twentieth century, alongside George Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, that are still vital to any understanding of the twenty-first.

fourier statue
Situationists put Fourier back in his rightful place in Paris in 1969

“Apostolidès does not so much as mention the Strasbourg scandal and its crucial influence as a catalyst of May 1968. That struggle, its stakes and its seriousness, find no place in his book. The author also completely ignores the proliferation of Situationist theories and practice. Not a word, for instance, about what was perhaps the first work of street art or guerrilla art, our reinstallation of a statue of Charles Fourier in Place Clichy, Paris, in 1969, the original having been removed by the Nazis.

“Nothing, of course, of the magnificently successful creation of situations by the Yesmen; or by the Russian Voina group and Pussy Riot, who acknowledge their debt to Debord and the Situationists; nothing either of the Czech Stovoven group, or Banksy, or Kommunikationsguerilla, or the hacktivists, or a host of others too numerous to cite here who have put the Situationist legacy to practical use.

“Not to mention the wide-ranging influence exerted by the Situationists not only on all subsequent critical social theory but also on various kinds of détournement, class struggle and sabotage practised in factories and offices in Italy and elsewhere. This is the sense in which the Situationist International was an avant-garde. All of this, for the professor, is a complete blank. So much for scholarship.

Pussy_Riot
Pussy Riot

“Since the author is kind enough never, even on a single page, to conceal his wish to denigrate – the sole point, I have to concede, upon which he is sincere and disciplined – he renders everything he mentions vulgar, which once again speaks volumes about himself: wherever you open the book, you encounter nothing but the profoundly sordid, mean-spirited, or obscene. Henry Miller put his finger exactly on this kind of mentality: ‘Obscenity exists only in the minds that discover it and charge others with it’.

fleas

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

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

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

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

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

Full article:

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

See also:

Paris 13.11: Morale Operation by Gianfranco Sanguinetti

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

bristolbookfair16

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

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

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

floods hebden bridge
Floods in England – at Hebden Bridge

At the same time farmers are given false hope through the murder of hundreds of endangered badgers. Global climate change has seen droughts lasting years in many countries, with the natural result of unsustainable export-crop agriculture leaving only harvest failure and starvation. Extreme weather patterns have increased flooding everywhere, and entire ecosystems move closer to the brink.

At the same time ‘our’ government’s policies only heighten the threat of climate change through fracking and airport expansion. The weapons trade, wars for oil, and extreme right-wing politics have stirred up conflict throughout the middle east and beyond, pushing ordinary people towards drastic decisions to try and save their lives.

There is hope though – people have been fighting back. Whether that is through strikes, direct action or the taking up of arms. Capitalism isn’t working. Reformism has failed. People want change.

cuts protest

But if capitalism collapsed tomorrow, we ask ourselves:
Would we be ready?

As anarchists, we spend a lot of time fighting against oppressive structures, whether it be patriarchy, polluters, bosses, or weapons manufacturers. But we also discuss our hopes and dreams for a new, more equal world – that of anarchism. We have developed concepts around mutual aid, solidarity, co-operation, direct action, equality, and non-hierarchical organisation, but how do we put these into practice?

At this year’s Bristol Anarchist Bookfair, we want to create a safe space for people to explore these ideas, whether you are new to the concept or an old hand. How would we do health care, education or food production differently? How will we create a more equal society, so that people will feel safe and accepted whatever their sexual orientation, gender, ability, race or age?

What about oppressive behaviour; how will we hold people to account for their actions if we abolish prisons and the police? How will we distribute resources worldwide? Who will do the cleaning, road maintenance, sewage treatment and other ‘dirty work’?

If revolutions happen tomorrow we won’t have all the answers, and an anarchist society will not occur overnight – there will be ongoing change & adaptation. But the core principles of anarchism provide us with the building blocks for the future, and how to get there. Let’s be ready!

In love & solidarity – Bristol anarchist bookfair collective 2016

anarchism

  • A reminder that Sheffield Anarchist Bookfair is being held on Saturday April 23 2016 from 10am to 6pm at Showroom Workstation, 15 Paternoster Row, Sheffield, South Yorkshire S1 2BX.

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8. Acorninfo

Anti-fascists held a successful mobilisation against extreme-right wingers in Dover on Saturday April 2. Describing the latest victory over the fash, antfascistnetwork.org reports: “They had very low numbers, and it took the combined protection of about 5 different police forces for them to march 500m through town, and even then we held them up for nearly 2 hours! All this plus the fact that we proudly marched an aid convoy to Calais through the centre of town right under their noses, and they couldn’t do jack about it”.

dover
Police move in on anti-fascists in Dover

* * *

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

armedpolice

* * *

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

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Gustav Landauer

* * *

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

enchantment

* * *

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

FBI

* * *

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

maydayfuck

* * *

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

Herbert Read, The Contrary Experience

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

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The Acorn – 15

acornmastheadnew

Number 15


In this issue:

  1. Capitalism is built on violence and lies
  2. Free the Love Bank Five!
  3. Panic in high places
  4. Resisting NATO in southern Europe
  5. Blocking the death-dealers
  6. Acorninfo

1. Capitalism is built on violence and lies

g8cops2

The biggest, ugliest truth hidden at the core of the capitalist system is that it is built on violence.

This is something that it never admits and that it can never allow to be generally understood – instead it spreads around a load of drivel about democracy, markets and competition, about enterprise, endeavour and opportunity.

But the fact remains that the capitalist state was created by violence, is maintained by violence and is always prepared to resort to all the forms of violence at its disposal to resist challenges to its power.

prison

The “law” itself, that foundation of its control over the population, is the flag of convenience under which this violence is carried out.

Physically attacking someone is violence, even if you happen to be dressed up in some fancy clothes provided by the state. Physically confining someone in a locked space, with the constant use and threat of force, is also violence, even if you put on a stupid wig to announce what you are going to do to them. Bombing someone is violence, as is shooting them, torturing them, spraying them with chemicals.

Wearing down someone’s resistance, forcing them to follow your rules, to live the way you tell them to, by means of a permanent, lifelong threat of violence if they step out of line is also, needless to say, violence.

Right and wrong have no place in the artificial world of “legal” and “illegal” which capitalism and its state machinery have imposed on us.

diggers

Land ownership is theft – from all the rest of us! – but is declared “legal” and the state can therefore “legitimately” use violence to protect that theft.

Everything else flows from there. Kicked off the land, former peasants are forced to work for the capitalists in order to earn money to buy the food that grows in the soil.

Wage slavery is also theft and exploitation but there is nothing “illegal” about it in the eyes of a capitalist state. Indeed, it uses its back-to-front “law” to prevent the victims from standing up to their oppressors – using violence as and when necessary.

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The British state uses violence on striking miners 30 years ago

orgreave

It is very important to the capitalist system that its violence remains invisible to most people, that it can continue its nefarious activities unchallenged by a population that has been fooled into thinking that “legal” is the same as “right”.

So it must also ensure that voices exposing its violence, and the deceit with which it hides this violence, are quickly silenced. Again, it uses the self-feeding circular logic of its own lies to justify this.

Capitalism hides behind a state, which physically imposes the capitalist system on the people. The state hides behind the idea of “legality”, having created a legal system which declares the state to be legal! Anyone opposing the capitalist system and its state are therefore opposed to this “legality” and can be regarded as criminals.

Having pre-defined all opposition to its system as criminal in itself, regardless of any specific activity, the capitalist state has proved to its own satisfaction that it is “legal” to act against them in any way that it sees fit.

policesurveillance

It is “legal” to spy on the “criminals” who oppose capitalism, to monitor their every move, to follow them, to film them, record them. It is “legal” to infiltrate their ranks, to lie to them, to betray them, to lead them astray, to sabotage their work, their lives and their ideas. It is “legal” to slander them, to frame them, to rape them.

Because the capitalist system’s thinking is closed in on itself, there is no point in trying to challenge the phoney idea of “legality” with which its justifies its oppression and violence.

To do so merely makes you more of a “criminal” in its eyes – more of a “threat to democracy”, more of an “extremist”, more of a “terrorist“.

The self-serving logic of the system can never concede that the real crime is capitalism itself.

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2. Free the Love Bank Five!

Liverpool
This spring’s Liverpool occupation

A nasty example of the oppressive violence of the capitalist British system came in Liverpool on September 17, when a court sentenced five anti-capitalists to imprisonment for a protest occupation.

The Love Activists will be locked up by the state – two of them in jail and three in a young offenders’ institution – for ten long weeks after daring to take action against homelessness.

There were disturbances inside and outside the court as the sentences were handed down. One man in his late fifties was dressed in a superman costume as he shouted at officers: “Feeding the homeless is not a crime! Homeless not banks!”

Others waved hand-painted banners saying: “Resisting homelessness” and “Homes not Banks”.

Two further people were arrested during the protest which spilled over from the court area onto the Strand behind, and at one point blocked the southbound carriageway during rush hour.

Liverpool3
The Love Bank occupation – deemed a heinous crime by the British state

As we reported in Acorn 9, the Love Activists moved into the unoccupied city centre bank in the middle of April to set up a support centre for Liverpool’s homeless people, incorporating places to sleep, an advice centre and a street kitchen, before being evicted a month later.

Their crime was “trespass” – a law which takes us right back to the core of a system which grew from the violent theft of the land from the people by a tiny elite. The imprisonment of the “trespassers” is the continuation of that historic violence.

Liverpool2

The words of District Judge Andrew Shaw also shed some light on the thinking of the system and the restraints it places on our freedom to do what we know is the right thing.

In sentencing, he condemned the “selfish actions” of the activists and added: “The apparent object of the exercise was to protest about the plight of the homeless. None of the defendants have done any work in the community to benefit the homeless. None of you worked for charities or voluntary organisations in the immediate lead-up to this offence; indeed the majority had no charitable involvement”.

What he’s saying here is that in a capitalist system it is only permissible to treat the symptoms of social ills, never the root causes which are deeply embedded in the structure of the system itself.

So it’s OK to help individual homeless people, OK for the rich to hand out patronising “charity” to the poor but completely unacceptable to try to change society so that everyone has a roof over their head or so that the earth is a common treasury for all, as Gerrard Winstanley put it, and there is no longer such a thing as “the rich” or “the poor”.

There is a limit to your right to participate in society – that’s the message of Judge Shaw to the activists he has sent behind bars. And if you dare stray beyond that point, by taking any kind of real action, the British state will unleash its age-old violence against you.

liverpool-loveactivistslogo

A statement from Love Activists said: “Love Activists are outraged and disgusted by the sentences handed out to the Love Bank Five today. The judge today showed a clear prejudice against the activists, as they openly applied their personal opinions to legislative law: they declared that it is ‘selfish’ for someone to openly help homeless people or indeed be homeless yourself.

“We, Love Activists, stand in full solidarity with the Love Bank Five, and strongly oppose the harsh sentencing imposed today by a judge clearly lacking impartiality. We fully support any campaign to see the unjust sentences overturned”.

Support the campaign against the sentences via the #freelovebank5 hashtag on Twitter.

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3. Panic in high places

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Armed police in Downing Street protect David Cameron from the public – and possibly from angry farm animals

Two recent political developments nicely sum up the increasingly authoritarian capitalism of the UK state.

One of them is the Trade Union Bill, which is currently working its way through the UK parliament.

This will place ludicrous restrictions on trade unionists’ freedom to strike and protest. For instance, it will introduce fines of up to £20,000 for unions whose members do not wear identifying armbands when picketing and will allow bosses to hire agency temps to break strikes.

picket

Adds Netpol: “Amidst its highly restrictive current provisions, the Bill will require unions to report their intention to organise any protest – including any form of demonstration related to an industrial dispute that takes place away from the workplace – to employers and regulators 14 days in advance of any action.

“The Bill’s automatic assumption is that any form of union-organised protest is ‘intimidation’ and requires curbing… the government appears intent on using ‘intimidation’ as a useful excuse for clamping down on any protests against corporate interests that include union participation”.

The Bill is clearly a draconian attack on the right to strike and organise. Even Tory MP David Davis condemned the idea of obliging picketers to give their names to the police as like something from Franco’s Spanish state and a poll showed the legislation was opposed by two thirds of the British public.

Franco (right) - a role model for fellow right-winger David Cameron?
Franco (right) – a role model for fellow right-winger David Cameron?

But the ruling clique continues to describe it with the vocabulary they always use to describe all their policies. Business secretary Sajid Javid declared that: “The heart of this is all about democracy… It is simply the latest stage in the long journey of modernization and reform”.

Inside the same parallel universe in which democracy is a synonym for capitalism, this plutofascistic new law attacking workers’ freedom is presented as good news for “hardworking people” (Javid again), with the right-wing Spectactor brazenly insisting, without the slightest hint of embarrassment, that “the Trade Union Bill defends workers”.

The same dogmatic ultra-capitalist mindset can be seen behind the British Establishment’s reaction to Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader of the Labour Party.

You don’t have to be a supporter of Corbyn, or to see his politics as particularly radical or interesting, in order to appreciate the significance of the relentless attacks on him. In fact, from an anarchist perspective the vitriol deployed against Corbyn seems even more extraordinary.

He isn’t calling for the destruction of the state (far from it!), for an end to private land ownership, for the abolition of prisons, for the disbanding of the army and the police, for an end to wage slavery, for the removal of all borders, for the abandonment of the pursuit of ecocidal “growth” and industrialism or for the complete decentralisation of decision-making to a consensus-based community level. He is happy to work within the putrid parliamentary system and to acknowledge its legitimacy, along with that of the “law” and the monarchy.

And yet he was still described by the prime minister as “a threat to our national security”. As Nafeez Ahmed pointed out on Twitter, David Cameron was here evoking “the language of Hitler and Stalin”.

Stalin - he knew a threat to national security when he saw one
Stalin – he knew a threat to national security when he saw one

Senior generals have also been warning of an army “mutiny” (or even military coup?) if Corbyn ever managed to become PM.

This extreme reaction to Corbyn’s ascendancy, alongside the government’s attack on the trade unions, doesn’t merely highlight the narrow agenda of the corporate-military ruling elite.

It also points to their growing sense of panic that they might lose control, that the public have not been completely pacified by their propaganda and scared into submission by their armies of thick-skulled uniformed thugs.

Courageous people are still prepared to take a stand against the horrors of the industrial-military-capitalist complex in all the various forms it takes – arms fairs, refugee crises, homelessness, fracking, exploitation, environmental destruction, racism, police violence and repression.

If Cameron and his venal Bullingdon buddies think the Corbynist wing of the Labour Party is alarming, we can’t wait to see their faces when they encounter the rise of the real resistance!

cameronandpig

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4. Resisting NATO in southern Europe

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Anti-militarists in southern Europe are planning resistance to massive and alarming NATO “war games” being staged in October and the start of November.

The “Trident Juncture” manoeuvres – mainly in Italy, Portugal and the Spanish State – will involve more than 36,000 troops from 30 states.

They will be “the most important NATO exercise during 2015” and “the largest deployment of NATO forces since the Cold War”, according to the Spanish Defence Ministry.

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There is a sinister sub-text to the exercises, in which NATO says it will implement the “lessons” it learned in the war of occupation in Afghanistan.

The whole thing is looking very much like a dress rehearsal for massive military intervention across the Mediterranean in northern Africa, so rich in the minerals and hydrocarbons needed to keep the industrial capitalist system churning.

Although the pretext for the focus on Africa is the Islamist threat, and the war games will also send a belligerent message to Moscow, analysts think the main target of the US-led initiative is to combat Chinese influence in the continent.

Says a report on thefreeonline blog: “China is investing in many African countries, building infrastructure to extract natural resources – especially minerals – from the continent. Curbing Chinese expansion in Africa from the main competitor of the member states of the Atlantic Alliance, is one of the hidden motives of these ‘super wargames’. All this is part of the imperialist competition between the military powers and their dependence on the commercial interests of transnational corporations”.

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Various call-outs have already been made for anti-NATO action in Madrid, Gibraltar, Zaragoza, Albacete and Cadiz.

Activists in Italy are planning protests outside NATO’s Rome HQ from October 8 to 11, as the exercises get underway, with other actions likely across the country.

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5. Blocking the death-dealers

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The body bags pile up outside the DSEI arms fair in London

Anti-militarists have been in action in London in September, with two weeks of protests against the DSEI arms fair in the Docklands.

Among the highlights of a successful mobilisation were:

* Numerous demonstrations both before and during the militarist murder-fest. There is a report on the main day of action here. Police maintained their proud tradition of using violence against those trying to stop the violence being facilitated by the arms fair – see this video, for instance.

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Blockading the arms fair

* Artists from Banksy’s Dismaland theme park visited East London to decorate bus stops and Docklands Light Railway trains with anti-DSEI subvertising.

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* The arms fair’s cyber security was breached by anarchists calling themselves the Information Liberation Front (ILF), who leaked documents to the Indymedia UK website.

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6. Acorninfo

Anti-industrial activists from ZAD protest camps across France are to converge on Paris in December for the Cop21 climate summit (see Acorn 14). They will be going to the capital on foot, bike and tractor to make a stand against the destruction of our planet by the capitalist system. Info at http://marchesurlacop.noblogs.org

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* * *

“The use of unmanned drones to launch so-called ‘risk free’ attacks in remote areas of the world has rocketed over the past decade. Technology, we are told, can control the chaos of war. The reality is that armed drones make it much easier for governments to opt to use lethal military force rather than engage in diplomatic or political solutions”. This is the warning from http://dronewars.net, a UK website packed with information about the drone menace.

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* * *

Environmentalists in South Korea are furious after the Winter Olympics construction mafia felled thousands of trees just to build a ski slope for the one-off event. Rebecca Kim of SungkongHoe University in Seoul reports: “Pyeongchang2018 has completed the destruction of the primeval forest which has stood on Mount Gariwang for hundreds of years to make way for the Alpine Downhill ski event which will last for all of three days. This act and its unbelievable criminality have gone almost entirely unreported and unremarked in the world’s media”.

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Mount Gariwang – devastated

* * *

The discovery of a previously unknown 4,500-year-old 90-stone monument near Stonehenge has led to renewed outrage at government plans to drive a new road through the area. Said the Stonehenge Alliance: “The massive stone monument recently discovered under the southern bank of Durrington Walls is yet another reason why the Government needs to abandon its proposal for a ‘short’ tunnel near Stonehenge and substantial road building within the World Heritage Site”.

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* * *

Acorn quote: “May the revolution bring rebirth. May, since we need nothing so much as new, uncorrupted men rising up out of the unknown darkness and depths, may these renewers, purifiers, saviors not be lacking to our nation. Long live the revolution, and may it grow and rise to new levels in hard, wonderful years. May the nations be imbued with the new, creative spirit out of their task, out of the new conditions, out of the primeval, eternal and unconditional depths, the new spirit that really does create new conditions. May the revolution produce religion, a religion of action, life, love, that makes men happy, redeems them and overcomes impossible situations”.

Gustav Landauer, For Socialism

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

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