The Acorn – 54

acorn 2019b

Number 54

In this issue:

  1. Mobilising against the assault on nature
  2. X-axis: the money behind the greenwash
  3. With friends like these…
  4. Neoliberalism is the new fascism
  5. George Orwell: an orgrad inspiration
  6. Acorninfo

1.  Mobilising against the assault on nature

NDFN Betrayal-by-Mario-Sánchez-Nevado
‘Betrayal’ by Mario Sánchez Nevado

The much-vaunted “green” agenda of the World Economic Forum (WEF) is coming under attack as its annual Davos summit gets underway.

A new international campaign has been launched which alleges the WEF is guilty of spearheading a bid by corporations and financial institutions to “monetize” nature on a global scale.

It is calling on people across the world to hold public meetings, disseminate information, form local campaign groups and “to take whatever action is necessary” to halt the so-called “New Deal for Nature”.

An online statement from the “No Deal for Nature” alliance, whose slogan is “life is not a commodity”, has already won the support of several academics and campaigners.

It warns that “under the guise of environmental protection” a massive exploitation scheme is in fact being drawn up, with the aim of maintaining the current wealth and power transfer from the poor to the rich.

WEF 2020

The WEF boasts on its own website that “young climate activists, including Greta Thunberg” will be attending the Davos event in Switzerland from January 21.

It insists it will be discussing “how to address the urgent climate and environmental challenges that are harming our ecology and economy” and “how to transform industries to achieve more sustainable and inclusive business models”.

However, the WEF also reveals it will be examining “how to govern the technologies driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution so they benefit business”.

The package of policies known as the “New Deal for Nature” is being promoted not only by the WEF, but also by the United Nations (UN), the World Bank and the controversial WWF.

The UN has admitted it wants to “advance a new political agenda” involving “increased promotion of innovative financing that supports green infrastructure”.

The new campaign describes this agenda as a “monstrous and unprecedented assault on our living world by the capitalist system”.

It warns that nature and humanity alike will suffer, with the threat of “further Indigenous displacement and genocide”.

The campaigners conclude: “The NDFN must be stopped. We call on all those who care about nature to speak out now”.

WEF protest

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2. X-axis: the money behind the greenwash

BankstersWe have been warning for many months that there is something profoundly rotten in the “climate” movement fronted by the likes of Greta Thunberg, Extinction Rebellion, the WWF, the UN, and George Monbiot of The Guardian.

We know that a large number of the activists involved in these campaigns are doing so from a genuine concern for nature, for the environment, for the future of this world.

But, we have been trying to point out, they need to be aware that powerful forces are trying to use their eco-idealism for very different ends – the ends of increasing industrialisation, destruction and, of course, profit.

This is not just a question of a few opportunistic business sharks trying to “co-opt” an authentic activist initiative.

The enormous environmental damage caused by industrial society has been deliberately repackaged as a mere “climate crisis”, for which capitalists are primed to sell us their lucrative “solutions”.

greenwash collage

The network which has been creating and promoting this fake-green pseudo-movement – and whose money and influence has made it so much more “successful” than other eco-campaigns – is entirely embedded in the worst kind of capitalism.

The “solutions” these deceitful wheeler-dealers are trying to sell us risk leading us into a nightmarish future of artifice, enslavement and corporate-controlled “smart” fascism.

Despite the whole library of online links we have assembled to back up this warning, notably the meticulous research of Cory Morningstar, some still refuse to take it seriously.

And yet, as the months go on, more and more evidence keeps emerging to back up what we and others have been saying.

Tug at any loose end that catches your eye on the surface of modern life and, if you keep pulling, you will find yourself hauling up the same dripping, stinking, putrid knot of industrial capitalist power, money and lies.

greggs steak bakeYou could start, for instance, from a January 2 tweet in which the official account of the WWF in the UK decided to endorse the Greggs vegan steak bake (“made with pieces of the fungi-based protein Quorn instead of beef”) as promoted by The Guardian.

As Brussels-based academic Frédéric Leroy tweeted: “The fact that this promo is coming from a WWF account tell us more about the latter than about the opportunism of food ultraprocessors”.

He added: “Geneva-based WWF Intl has received millions of dollars from its links with governments & business. Global corporations such as Coca-Cola, Shell, Monsanto, HSBC, Cargill, BP, Alcoa & Marine Harvest have all benefited from the group’s green image”.

WWF corporate links

The WWF is an extremely dubious organisation, as the excellent documentary video Silence of the Pandas reveals.

Alongside their sterling work throwing indigenous people off their land on behalf of their big business friends – under the false green flag of “conservation” of course! – the WWF are very prominent in the climate capitalist lobby calling for a New Deal for Nature (see above).

The WWF was one of the founders of the Business for Nature lobby, as Cory Morningstar has set out.

One of the many big corporations to which the WWF is close is Unilever, the massive transnational consumer goods company.

Paul Polman, former Unilever CEO, was one of the “XR business leaders” who signed their support for Extinction Rebellion last year.

A fellow signatory and XR fan is John Elkington of Volans, author of a new book called “Green Swans: The Coming Boom In Regenerative Capitalism” – whose title sort of gives the whole game away, in our opinion…

green swans

Elkington is part of the Tomorrow’s Capitalism project – slogan “Step Up or Get Out of the Way” – which held a conference in London on January 10 2020.

All sorts of lovely people were lined up to attend the event hosted by asset management company Aviva Investments.

These included representatives of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the Swiss-based World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), German chemicals firm Covestro, the transhumanist Singularity University and members of a “a team of technology, finance and market sector experts” going under the name RethinkX.

Back to food for a moment, and less than a week after The Guardian’s plug for the Greggs product, it published a gushing piece by star columnist George Monbiot about the marvellous brave new industrial world of “lab grown food” which would make farming redundant and “save the planet”.

Monbiot, who has spent decades trying to build up a reputation as an “environmentalist”, explained that his inspiring and wholesome menu for the future of food involves “multiplying particular micro-organisms, to produce particular products, in factories”.

He also echoed the language of the “Green Swan” and “Tomorrow’s Capitalism” crowd by declaring: “We are on the cusp of the biggest economic transformation, of any kind, for 200 years”.

This is perhaps to be expected from someone who is employed by a sophisticated neoliberal propaganda operation, defends US/NATO imperialism in Syria and has long supported the nuclear industry.

Monbiot has dismissed Cory Morningstar’s investigative work as “conspiracy theory”, called for anarchists to be excluded from the climate movement and blocked anti-capitalist critics (like us!) on Twitter.

RethinkX_Logo

And it should come as no surprise to learn that the “thinktank” behind the lab-grown food project promoted by Monbiot is none other than Tomorrow’s Capitalism participants RethinkX.

And what might prompt these “technology, finance and market sector experts” to take an interest in this world-changing new technology?

Jamie Arbib
James Arbib

As environmental campaigner Miles King comments: “The way I see it is that entrepreneurs (inc the rethinkx ones and others) are looking to create a market in synthetic food, corner it, then make a fortune from it. This has nothing to do with a sustainable future for the planet”.

So who is behind RethinkX? Its website says it is funded by its founders James Arbib and Tony Seba and with grants from Tellus Mater, an “independent philanthropic foundation” founded by James Arbib.

Arbib describes himelf as “a London-based investor in technology” and is the son of businessman Sir Martyn Arbib, founder of fund management company Invesco Perpetual.

Seba is a Silicon Valley venture capitalist whose work focuses on “the convergence of technologies, business models, and product innovations that disrupt the world’s major industries”.

Tony Seba
Tony Seba of RethinkX

As for the name RethinkX, we were immediately reminded of the “X”-themed language deployed by one leading climate capitalist, which we exposed here last year.

X was regarded as standing for “exponential opportunities” – thus we had “Tomorrow’s Business Models will be X-rated”, the “Sustainability X agenda” and “Think X, shorthand for Think Exponential”.

A possible connection to the name “XR” was suggested to us by the fact that the X-obsessed author was none other than John Elkington of Volans, one of XR’s “business leaders”.

And this same John Elkington is, of course, behind the Tomorrow’s Capitalism project with which Monbiot’s chums at RethinkX are involved…

An Xtremely strange coincidence?

Or does X mark the spot for artificial industrial food, for phoney philanthropists selling pseudo-sustainability, for fake-green politics, for astroturf “rebels”, for corporate grooming of public opinion, for the transhumanist death-cult and, above all else, for simply X-ponential levels of profit for the financial-capitalist elite?

X poison

See also: our page of links on the highly toxic climate capitalists.

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3. With friends like these…

stab

The Acorn is a project which emerged from the anarchist scene in the UK five years ago and the first 24 issues were jointly published on the Anarchist Action Network website.

But of late we have found ourselves in the strange position of being as anarchist as ever, and yet increasingly ideologically distanced from those we have always regarded as friends and comrades.

This came to a head, and into public view, at the start of 2020 when we were roundly castigated and “muted” by the twitter admin at Freedom Press in London.

This person wrote: “Sorry but I have very little time for conspiracy theorists, and you have proven time after time that you are one. Will give you a mute now, can’t see why I should bother any further”.

The immediate spark for this was our comradely suggestion that they might like to have a look at our Climate Capitalists page for some background info on the way environmentalism is being co-opted by big business interests.

Before that, there had been a brief and polite exchange about the lack of anarchist voices condemning US imperialist aggression against Iran.

We are not quite sure which issue was the trigger here, but in any case the response seems totally bizarre for an outfit which is – surely! – opposed both to capitalism and to imperialism.

Jaime Semprun, in his book Dialogues sur l’Achèvement des Temps Modernes, refers to a Czech intellectual and 1968 dissident who said, with regard to his authoritarian “comrades”: “If they are Marxists, then we aren’t. If we are Marxists, then they aren’t!”

We can identify with this in an anarchist context…

This issue isn’t totally new, of course. We were already trying to broach the thorny issue in our 2017 article What is Real Anarchism?

realanarch2

There we warned: “Anarchism, as a political movement, is doomed to disintegrate and disappear if it fails to reconnect itself to the roots of its own world-view”.

Subsequently, we gave up the idea of trying to claim ideological rights to the entire anarchist tradition, which has always been very diverse.

For that reason, and in order to set out our own position with more clarity, we have adopted the label of organic radicalism, without abandoning our attachment to the anarchist ideal.

It is worth quoting the orgrad website at length on this point:

Is organic radicalism a kind of anarchism?

Organic radicalism has the same relation to anarchism as anarchism has to socialism. Anarchism’s roots are in socialism, it is intrinsically socialist and yet it is more than socialism. It found its own name to differentiate itself from other forms of socialism (statist, reformist, etc), which had dominated understanding of the term. Organic radicalism is therefore both anarchist and socialist – and something else, of its own.

So what are its differences with anarchism?

Organic radicalism is an evolution of anarchism. From our perspective, contemporary anarchism does not go far enough in its opposition to industrial capitalism. In the same way as other leftists can become stuck within the broader capitalist mindset, merely seeking greater equality, individual freedom or self-management within the context of capitalism and the state, so do too many anarchists base their vision of the future on the industrial society created by and for capitalism. Orgrad also proposes a holistic world-view, based on organic belonging to community, species and nature, which is considered unacceptable by many contemporary anarchists, due to the influence of modern ideologies appropriate to capitalism. To be clear, orgrad has no interest at all in the dead-end narcissism of ultra-liberal identity politics.

orgrad logo

So it is that The Acorn remains firmly anarchist and yet has great difficulty in identifying with anarchists and other so-called radicals who:

* Happily support and promote military imperialist aggressions against countries which refuse to toe the US line, so long as the countries have been labelled “undemocratic” or “oppressive” by The Guardian.

* Happily support and promote industrialism and its destruction of the natural world, so long as this has been labelled “green” by The Guardian.

* Happily support the illegal detention and psychological torture of an anti-imperialist journalist and whistleblower, so long as he has been labelled a sex offender and creep by The Guardian.

* Happily support, promote (and eat?) the worst kind of industrially-processed non-food, so long as this has been declared a good thing by The Guardian.

* Refuse to even read any research exposing the machinations of the ruling system, automatically dismissing it as “conspiracy theory”.

* Regard the idea of “nature” or “natural” as suspicious, “dodgy” or somehow mysteriously linked to “fascism“, though they are never capable of explaining how or why.

* Refuse to read or consider anything which challenges this delusion, for fear of being contaminated by association with suspicious, dodgy or “fascist” ideas. Or maybe, for fear of being seen by others as being contaminated by association with suspicious, dodgy or “fascist” ideas.

* Appear to be incapable of critical thinking or independent thought, preferring to adhere slavishly to the latest groupthink orthodoxy, even when this makes no sense at all.

groupthink

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4. Neoliberalism is the new fascism

violences policieres

If our Western capitalist “democracies” were what they claim to be, Emmanuel Macron would no longer be president of the French republic.

After 14 months of non-stop protests against his regime and its hardcore neoliberal agenda, it is quite clear that he has no social licence to carry on.

No sooner had the Gilets Jaunes revolt in France begun, at the end of 2018, than the corporate media confidently informed their public that it was running out of steam and would soon disappear.

At the start of 2020, not only has the revolt not disappeared but it has evolved and grown into something even more powerful and widespread.

A huge movement of strikes and protests against the regime’s “work-until-you-drop” pension “reforms” has swept across French society.

manif greve

Following the same tired script, the system’s media have been trying to play down the significance of what is happening and are pretending it will all quickly fade away.

But support for the opposition movement is strong and all sorts of professions have been joining in the struggle.

Railway workers, dockers and bus drivers have been marching alongside firefighters, teachers and students.

Opera singers and ballet dancers have got in on the act, as have the staff at the Palace of Versailles and the Louvre.

Lawyers have been throwing down their gowns in protest, doctors their white coats, teachers their schoolbooks, factory workers their blue overalls.

avocats greve

Across the country Gilets Jaunes and strikers have been disrupting Macronist (LREM) meetings, often drowning them out with renditions of On est là (“For the honour of the workers and for a better world, we are here!”). See videos here, here and here.

Macron himself had to be spirited out of a theatre in Paris on January 17 when news of his presence spread and angry people gathered in the street outside.

The president’s response to all this is to dismiss criticism and discount any possibility of abandoning the hated pension “reforms”.

He cannot back down because he has a specific role to play, for which he was groomed across the Atlantic by the German Marshall Fund of the US.

Like Thatcher in the UK 40 years ago, his job is to smash social resistance to a full neoliberal takeover, with every aspect of life privatised so that big business can extract maximum profit from the population.

In order to achieve this, Macron’s regime is prepared to use every weapon at its disposal, including, of course, massive and frightening levels of police brutality against protesters.

In France, as also in post-coup Bolivia, neoliberalism is coming out of the closet and revealing itself to be a 21st century form of fascism.

bolivia fascism
Neoliberal democracy comes to Bolivia

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5. George Orwell: an orgrad inspiration

George Orwell died 70 years ago, on January 21 1950. Here is the profile of him from the organic radicals website.

george orwell3

“The heresy of heresies was common sense”

George Orwell (1903-1950), real name Eric Blair, was one of the most important English political writers of the 20th century.

He challenged totalitarianism in all its forms and, in opposition to its machine-like brutality, put forward a vision of life based on simplicity, authenticity and moral decency.

Orwell was a libertarian socialist, close to the anarchist movement, and often criticised, from within, the failure of the left to attract the widespread public support which its principles deserved.

He feared that its basic call for justice and liberty had been buried under layers of sterile dogma, boring Marxist jargon and blinkered enthusiasm for industrial “progress”.

NazifakesocialismThe result, he feared, was that people like himself would recoil from this debased left and fall into the ideological arms of Fascism, which sought to gain power by selling the public its own distorted version of socialism.

Orwell learnt his politics from life rather than from textbooks. He learned hatred of British imperialism from his years in Burma, he learned the harsh realities of capitalist society from his spells of semi-voluntary poverty in Paris and London; he learned his distrust of Stalinist Communism from fighting in Spain; he learned about state propaganda from working at the BBC.

Although Orwell revelled in the apparent contradictions in his world view, and detested “the smelly little orthodoxies” (1) of fixed systems of thought from Catholicism to Communism, his instincts were always defiantly left-wing and anti-authoritarian.

In 1936, he told Philip Mairet he was going to Spain. When asked why, he simply replied: “This fascism. Somebody’s got to stop it”. (2)

An account of a night attack against Franco’s forces on the Aragon Front the next year described “Eric Blair’s tall figure coolly strolling forward through the storm of fire”. (3)

Orwell/Blair wrote in Homage to Catalonia: “I have no particular love for the idealized ‘worker’ as he appears in the bourgeois Communist’s mind, but when I see an actual flesh-and-blood worker in conflict with his natural enemy, the policeman, I do not have to ask myself which side I am on”. (4)

poum

After his experiences on the Iberian peninsula he became distrustful of any anti-fascist struggle that was not also a revolutionary struggle against capitalism.

He wrote in a letter: “After what I have seen in Spain I have come to the conclusion that it is futile to be ‘anti-Fascist’ while attempting to preserve capitalism. Fascism after all is only a development of capitalism, and the mildest democracy, so-called, is liable to turn into Fascism when the pinch comes…

“If one collaborates with a capitalist-imperialist government in a struggle ‘against Fascism’, ie. against a rival imperialism, one is simply letting Fascism in by the back door”. (5)

Orwell was persuaded by Emma Goldman to join the International Anti-Fascist Solidarity Committee where he came into contact with anarchists such as Herbert Read and John Cowper Powys. He was also friends with the anarchists Marie Louise Berneri and George Woodcock.

He supported the war against Hitler in the hope that it would lead to revolution and joined the Home Guard which he saw, for a while, as potentially a revolutionary popular militia like the New Model Army of the 17th century.

orwell-in-the-home-guard
Orwell in the Home Guard

After the war ended, Orwell joined the libertarian Freedom Defence Committee and contributed to the anarchist journal Freedom.

But alongside his natural left-wing allegiance was something which was regarded, at the time, as somehow in contradiction with all that – a deep love for traditional ways, for old England and above all for nature.

Bernard Crick describes how Orwell was both “tender towards nature” and alarmed at “the suburban sprawl over the countryside”. (6) He adds: “Orwell thought that man should be as one with natural objects. Like Rousseau, he disliked the artificiality of the city”. (7)

George Woodcock writes that Orwell was motivated by a “nostalgia for a simpler and cleaner way of life which emerges so poignantly in Coming Up for Air and even gives pathos to parts of Nineteen Eighty-Four“. (8)

He had an “essentially naturalistic attitude” (9) and took great joy from contact with nature: “He fed from the earth, like Antaeus, and his happiest recollections of youth, like his happiest letters, were concerned in some way or another with rural experiences”. (10)

theroadtowiganpierOrwell was particularly outspoken in his condemnation of industrial society in The Road to Wigan Pier. He wrote: “It is only in our own age, when mechanization has finally triumphed, that we can actually feel the tendency of the machine to make a fully human life imposssible”. (11)

“The question one has got to consider is whether there is any human activity which would not be maimed by the dominance of the machine”. (12)

He decried the way that it was becoming difficult to imagine any way out of the machine world, as people’s preferences and habits became defined by its norms: “Mechanization leads to the decay of taste, the decay of taste leads to the demand for machine-made articles and hence to more mechanization, and so a vicious circle is established”. (13)

George Bowling, the central character in Coming Up for Air, has a glimpse of all this when he tastes a frankfurter in a 1930s Milk Bar in central London: “It was fish! A sausage, a thing calling itself a frankfurter, filled with fish! It gave me the feeling that I’d bitten into the modern world and discovered what it was really made of.

“That’s the way we’re going nowadays. Everything slick and streamlined, everything made out of something else. Celluloid, rubber, chromium-steel everywhere, arc lamps blazing all night, glass roofs over your head, radios all playing the same tune, no vegetation left, everything cemented over, mock-turtles grazing under the neutral fruit-trees.

“But when you come down to brass tacks and get your teeth into something solid, a sausage for instance, that’s what you get. Rotten fish in a rubber skin. Bombs of filth bursting inside your mouth”. (14)

soviet industrialism

Orwell expressed particular despair at the way in which socialism, influenced by rigid Marxist materialism and Soviet industrialism, had failed to oppose the “swindle of progress”. (15)

Worse than that, it had even reached the fanatical point at which “all sentiment for the past carries with it a vague smell of heresy”. (16)

Most socialists regarded with contempt the traditional beliefs and ways of life that held together pre-industrial organic community and wanted to steamroller the past to build the new scientifically-planned, efficient concrete-communist future.

Orwell remarked: “The unfortunate thing is that Socialism, as usually presented, is bound up with the idea of mechanical progress, not merely as a necessary development but as an end in itself, almost as a kind of religion”. (17)

He feared that “revulsion from a shallow conception of progress” could drive people away from socialism into the hands of the Fascists – as it already had, he argued in a BBC talk, with Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot. (18)

ingsocAt the same time, Orwell feared that lurking behind the “urban creed” (19) of socialism was “a hypertrophied sense of order”. (20) This meant that even his own ideology, English socialism, was in danger of turning into the fascistic IngSoc of his fictional dystopia.

His two most famous warnings against totalitarianism, Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four, were both influenced by his experience of Communist propaganda in Spain, which had spread the total lie that the Trotskyites of POUM and their fellow anarchist revolutionaries were in fact “Fascists” working secretly for Franco.

One young man, Stafford Cottmann, who had fought fascism with POUM alongside Orwell, returned home to the UK only to have his home picketed by local Communists denouncing him as a “Fascist”. (21)

Crick remarks: “It is still hard to recall how vile, gross and fabricated such propaganda was. Orwell saw before his own eyes not merely the distortion of evidence through differing perspectives but the sheer invention of history. One aspect of Nineteen Eighty-Four was already occurring”. (22)

When Orwell encountered the same attitude to truth in the wartime BBC, where he worked, he realised that a dangerous modern tendency was revealing itself, in which truth became secondary to control and the pursuit of power.

orwellbbcExplaining in 1949 why he wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four, he explained that “totalitarian ideas have taken root in the minds of intellectuals everywhere, and I have tried to draw these ideas out to their logical consequences”. (23)

This totalitarianism was in fact happening at a deeper level than the political surface, in the very way that intellectuals were starting to think: a way that reflected the artificiality and separation from natural reality of the industrial age.

In the novel, Ingsoc’s Big Brother dictatorship has established near-complete control of the population not merely on a physical level, but on a psychological one too – it is able to manipulate the experience of those it dominates, by denying the possibility of any objective reality.

“Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense… If both the past and external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable – what then?” (24)

Winston Smith’s struggle to keep a grip on objective reality, to know that two plus two makes four whatever the ideological demands of the Party, is a central theme of Orwell’s novel.

The character tells himself: “Truisms are true, hold on to that! The solid world exists, its laws do not change. Stones are hard, water is wet, objects unsupported fall towards the earth’s centre”. (25)

thoughtpolice

The Big Brother system has invented a new language which controls people’s minds by making heretical ideas impossible to even formulate.

One of the Party members developing Newspeak tells Smith: “You think, I dare say, that our chief job is inventing new words. But not a bit of it! We’re destroying words – scores of them, hundreds of them, every day”. (26)

He explains: “Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thought-crime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it… By 2050 – earlier, probably – all real knowledge of Oldspeak will have disappeared. The whole literature of the past will have been destroyed”. (27)

In the face of this truth-denying dogmatism, Orwell insisted that any authentic radical should always remain free to reject the dominant official ideology: “He should never turn back from a train of thought because it may lead to a heresy, and he should not mind very much if his unorthodoxy is smelt out, as it probably will be”.

While co-operating with others to some extent, a free-thinking radical had to fight the capitalist system “as an individual, an outsider, at the most an unwelcome guerilla on the flank of a regular army”. (28)

In Woodcock’s words, Orwell was “a good and angry man who sought for the truth because he knew that only in its air would freedom and justice survive”. (29)

Video link: Nineteen Eighty-Four. TV film from 1954. (1hr 47 mins)

georgeorwell2

1. George Woodcock, The Crystal Spirit: A Study of George Orwell (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1970), p. 51/
2. Bernard Crick, George Orwell: A Life (Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1982) , p. 312.
3. ‘Night Attack on the Aragon Front, The New Leader, 30 April 1937, p. 3. cit. Crick, p. 327.
4. George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1964) p. 119.
5. Crick, p. 350.
6. Crick, p. 272.
7. Crick, p. 301.
8. Woodcock, pp. 34-35.
9. Woodcock, p. 56.
10. Woodcock, p. 55.
11. George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1969) p. 167.
12. Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier, p. 172.
13. Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier, p. 180.
14. George Orwell, Coming Up for Air (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1963), pp. 26-27.
15. Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier, p. 178.
16. Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier, p. 177.
17. Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier, p. 166.
18. Crick, p. 430.
19. Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier, p. 164.
20. Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier, p. 157.
21. Crick, p. 344.
22. Crick, p. 334.
23. Letter to Francis A. Henson, 16 June 1949, cit. Crick p. 569.
24. George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four (New York: Signet, 1950) p. 80.
25. Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four, p. 81.
26. Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four, pp. 50-51.
27. Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four, pp. 52-53.
28. Woodcock, p. 220.
29. Woodcock, p. 278.

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6. Acorninfo

A week of action against the ecocidal capitalist system is being promoted by the Green Anti-Capitalist Front in the UK from February 24 to March 2. Initiatives will include reclaiming public space and unoccupied buildings, organising workshops and social events to build awareness and self-reliance, and “being loud and clear about our rage against profit-making by stockbrokers and their like at the expense of our planet and fellow humans”. More info here.

GAF logo

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A big “International Black Bloc” mobilisation against a key EU summit in Leipzig has been called for September 2020. Say the Autonomes Kollektiv Anonymus: “We want to give the participating EU rulers a lesson in practical street militancy that they will not forget… the goal of joint action must be to bring this imperialist class reunion to an early end”.

blackbloc

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Campaigners in Amsterdam are battling to protect an important green space on which organic food has long been grown. Developer SADC (Schiphol Area Development Company) wants to destroy this beautiful area, the Lutkemeerpolder, so that it can build warehouses and a distribution centre. More info at http://behoudlutkemeer.nl/en/

lutkemeer2

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“Across India’s forest areas, people are fighting for democracy, livelihood and dignity”. Read more on this website from the Campaign for Survival and Dignity, a platform of adivasi and forest dwellers’ movements from ten States in India.

CSD logo

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An important first-hand inside account of the way the media has been infiltrated and taken over by the system’s spooks has been provided by former Newsweek journalist Tareq Haddad. He writes: “The US government, in an ugly alliance with those who profit the most from war, has its tentacles in every part of the media – imposters, with ties to the US State Department, sit in newsrooms all over the world”.

tareq haddad

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“Whilst the CIA did not create postmodernism, it strongly encouraged and coerced its fruition”. This is the conclusion of very interesting 40-minute film from Prolekult, part five of their feature-length documentary “A Dying Culture”. Watch it here.

prolekult

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“Vitaphobia is the fear of life itself, a fear which becomes hatred, a hatred which begets unlimited violence against everything that is alive”. So writes Paul Cudenec in a blog article condemning the despisal of nature that underpins industrial capitalist modernity.

vitaphobia9

* * *

The ecocidal reality of so-called “green” energy is plain to see in Portugal, where people are organising against a boom in the mining of lithium, the “white gold” used to make batteries for electric cars. “Lithium mining in Portugal involves large open-cast mines that rip open huge tracts of land-destroying soils and ecosystems,” said one campaigner. “It uses huge amounts of water in the processing, which then contaminates ground and river water. The huge machines that are used have a massive impact in terms of noise and vibrations on local communities”.

lithium protest

* * *

Hambacher Forest has not been saved, despite what the German government is claiming. This is the message of a January 17 press release from the Hambi Bleibt forest occupation. It points out that plan proposed by lignite mining firm RWE will make the forest an island inside its giant pit. The ecosystem of the 12,000 year old forest is dying because RWE has been pumping out the ground water. “Furthermore, a forest ecosystem needs to be connected to the outside world, and it is especially true for the Hambacher Forest, which is 10% of the size it used to be”. More here.

hambi pit

* * *

Senior Scottish Government forestry officials have voiced concerns that a £5 million tree-planting deal with the oil giant, Shell, was blatant “greenwashing”, internal emails have revealed. An investigation by The Ferret website explains that the planting aims to earn Shell “carbon credits” to “offset” emissions from its petrol and diesel sales. But one official warned: “The tiny amount Shell is putting into green initiatives is dwarfed by what it is still spending on investigating new oil and gas reserves, and in blocking initiatives to set legally binding emissions reductions targets”.

shell greenwash

* * *

The Earth First! UK Winter Moot is fast approaching. From February 21 to 23 the direct action network is proposing “a weekend of plotting & planning, reflection & discussion, seeing old & meeting new friends, yummy vegan food & coyzness”. The location will be near a protest camp against the HS2 high-speed rail route. Details to be confirmed soon. See https://www.earthfirst.org.uk/

EF winter 2020

* * *

As we enter the glorious 2020s, stem cells from frogs are being used to build the “first living robots” and trees are being replaced with City Trees – “the perfect combination of plants and Internet of Things technology”. Meanwhile we are told that “the fruit of the future” will be artificial and “made out of 3D-printed cellulose skins and filled with a healthy mix of vitamins and minerals”. Is this the future we really want? If not, what are we collectively going to do about it? These are surely the big questions for the decade to come…

neofruit

* * *

Acorn quote: “All ownership of things, all land-ownership is in reality ownership of men. Whoever withholds the earth from others, from the masses, forces these others to work for him. Private ownership is theft and slave-holding”.

Gustav Landauer

slaves

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

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The Acorn – 53

acorn 2019b

Number 53

In this issue:

  1. Seeing through “democracy”
  2. Greta Thunberg: the billionaires’ favourite
  3. Misdirected Rebellion
  4. Calling out the imperial gatekeepers
  5. Yellow revolt takes a striking twist
  6. Jacques Ellul: an orgrad inspiration
  7. Acorninfo

1.  Seeing through “democracy”

Johnson and Trump

The capitalist system will not abolish itself.

In fact, it will always do all that it physically can to preserve itself and its control over our lives.

While it likes to pretend its structures of domination amount to “democracy”, this is not the case, because it could never leave the door open to the possibility of its own abolition by democratic means.

The only changes possible via the fake-democracy of the system are limited reforms, which leave the system very much in place.

When we say “limited”, we perhaps mean “extremely limited”, because even the mildest of social-democratic tinkering, undoing some of the worst excesses of contemporary neoliberalism, is beyond the pale for the system.

corbyn smear

However, when the system draws the line too tightly around its preferred outcomes and uses its vast powers of manipulation to prevent these limited reforms, it risks exposing its so-called “democracy” as a sham.

A whole new raft of people suddenly become aware of the true nature of the system and its fake-democratic window dressing.

Their eyes are opened to the fact that there is no point in playing by the rules devised by the system, no point in walking time and time again into the same traps that it sets for us.

These moments are risky for the system, because they risk radicalising people who, up to this point, had bought into much of its charade.

The UK is currently experiencing one such moment. A vast amount of enthusiasm and hope had been invested – naively, from our perspective – in the possibility of an election victory for Corbyn’s Labour Party.

The reforms proposed by Labour were far from fundamental and yet remained unacceptable to the system.

The unprecedented blatancy of the propaganda assault on Corbyn has left many people, particularly young people, asking themselves some serious questions about the nature of British “democracy” and the approach that is needed if real social change is ever to be brought about.

And that can’t be a bad thing!

power beyond parliament

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2. Greta Thunberg: the billionaires’ favourite

Greta Time cover

“Wow, this is unbelievable!” tweeted Greta Thunberg in response to the news that she had been named Time magazine Person of the Year for 2019.

Only it wasn’t, because the owner of Time is one of the wealthy business people who have been aiding and abetting her meteoric rise to fame.

What is truly unbelievable is that there is still anyone out there who has not grasped that the Greta brand (rather than the person herself) has been carefully manufactured and exploited to promote a particular block of vested financial interests.

Some die-hard believers have not even been swayed by the recent revelation that her original pavement protests were filmed by a documentary team who somehow sensed in advance that this particular teenager would shortly achieve global fame.

But let’s just come back to Time magazine for a moment. The article announcing Greta’s award was predictably gushing, marvelling over the “small voice” and “piercing outrage” of “the icon of a generation” who had become “the voice of millions, a symbol of a rising global rebellion”.

Greta in train
Another day, another photo shoot

It added: “She has succeeded in creating a global attitudinal shift, transforming millions of vague, middle-of-the-night anxieties into a worldwide movement calling for urgent change”.

But what kind of change, exactly?

An early clue came at the start of 2019, when Greta was pictured, alongside Jane Goodall, in front of a sign promoting the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”.

Greta1

The term “Fourth Industrial Revolution” was first used by Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum and a former member of the steering committee of the Bilderberg Group.

Schwab wrote in a key article in 2015: “We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before”.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution, he explained, would be “characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres”.

Schwab continued: “The possibilities of billions of people connected by mobile devices, with unprecedented processing power, storage capacity, and access to knowledge, are unlimited. And these possibilities will be multiplied by emerging technology breakthroughs in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage, and quantum computing”.

Not exactly a nature-friendly vision of the future!

mark benioff

Another big fan of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is American Silicon Valley billionaire Marc Benioff (above), whose role in climate capitalism has been exposed by the investigative journalist Cory Morningstar.

Benioff sits on the Board of Trustees of the WEF Forum under Schwab and chairs the WEF’s Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in San Francisco.

He enthused in 2018: “Everyone has to come together for the fourth industrial revolution in inclusive capitalism. Business is now a platform of change”.

Benioff’s company Salesforce, the cloud computing giant, is controversial to say the least.

In March 2019 it was sued by 50 women who alleged it had facilitated sex trafficking, of which they were victims.

It has also been heavily criticised and boycotted by activists for “making millions of dollars from the suffering of immigrants detained at the United States’ southern border”.

salesforce-protest-e1576762738492.png

But despite the fact that Benioff is happy for his “Fourth Industrial Revolution” technologies to be used in building a nightmarish racist-capitalist police state, he likes to paint himself as a “philanthropist“, a nice guy, a man who cares.

One of the things he claims to care about is the environment.

In a conversation with Schwab  at the WEF’s Davos event in January 2019, Benioff claimed the Fourth Industrial Revolution had “ushered in technologies that can help save the planet”.

Benioff is, like so many billionaires, a big fan of Greta Thunberg and must have been delighted to see her pose in front of his company logo and “Fourth Industrial Revolution” slogan.

He is, of course, also the owner of Time magazine. Wow. Unbelievable, as Greta might say.

benioff and thunberg
Marc Benioff (left) with Greta Thunberg at the WEF summit in Davos in January 2019. Back right is the sinister Christiana Figueres

See also: our ever-expanding page of links on the climate capitalists.

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3. Misdirected Rebellion

xr protest london train

An edited extract from Kim Hill’s important series of articles entitled Unpacking Extinction Rebellion.

A movement that is serious about extinction and climate change needs to address the root problems: capitalism, the industrial system, a culture that sees life as a resource to be exploited, and the infrastructure that holds it all together.

It needs to have clear goals, that can’t be diluted or used to manipulate and misdirect the movement. It needs to take action immediately, not in several years’ time. And it needs to target the weak points in the system, where it can have the most impact for the least effort.

The misdirection of Extinction Rebellion has come about because most urban dwellers have only an abstract idea of nature, as they don’t depend on it directly for their food, water and shelter. Their relationship with nature is mediated by the economic system, which provides for their needs by stealing resources from elsewhere and selling them on for profit.

XR nonviolentThe rebels are led to believe that the extractive economy is necessary for survival, and that new industries and investments offer benefits to humans and wild nature. So city folks are more than willing to take to the streets to defend the very system that is crushing the life out of us all. It’s a form of collective Stockholm syndrome, on a global scale.

Effective solutions require rebels to have a direct relationship with the natural world. To defend nature requires love, which is a constant, reciprocal relationship, which means listening, observing, giving and receiving, and being in communion on a daily basis.

To be effective, rebels need to identify not as a citizen, consumer or worker, demanding action from business and government, but as a living being, interdependent with all life. To identify with the living world is to see the entire planet as an extension of the self, so action taken to defend nature is an act of self-defence.

Demanding that governments and corporations change will only lead (and has already led) to changes that give them more power. The entire social and legal structure that puts them in a position of power needs to be dismantled. This violent arrangement is not deserving of the respect of polite demands and peaceful protest.

xr protest policewoman

Being effective requires a healthy mistrust of anyone offering technological or market-based solutions, and requires asking a whole lot of uncomfortable questions.

The capture of this rebellion has depended on the lack of questioning (and probably more to the point, lack of answers) as to what net-zero emissions actually means, what the rebellion aims to achieve, and what the proposed solutions really entail. Always respond to any proposal with ‘what does this mean in practice? and who benefits from this?’

The burning of fossil fuels needs to stop. Not because it is releasing carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, but because it is powering an industrial economy that is wiping out all life.

The impacts of industrialism cannot be offset, decarbonised, decoupled from economic growth, exported to the third world, or made sustainable. Fossil fuels power mining, agriculture, shipping, aviation, road and rail transport, land clearing, manufacturing, plastics, the electricity grid, and imperialist wars.

The goal needs to be not to Make Your Voice Heard, or cause a temporary, symbolic disruption to industrial activity, but to permanently shut down the industries that are causing harm.

Many people involved in XR are seeing the cracks in the green façade. There are some in the rebellion who support the goals of economic growth and the fourth industrial revolution, and don’t care about the natural world. But there are many more who care deeply, and are willing to take direct action and risk their own lives in defence of the greater web of life.

Every rebel needs to make a choice: are you on the side of the industrial economy, or on the side of the living planet? Because you can’t have both…

wind turbines

See also:

Rebellion Extinction: a capitalist scam to hijack our resistance

“The X Agenda”: what does XR actually stand for?

Extinction Rebellion training, or how to control radical resistance from the ‘obstructive left’, by Cory Morningstar

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4. Calling out the imperial gatekeepers

gatekeeper

Can there be anything more loathsome than those fake-left gatekeepers of the industrial capitalist system who work to discredit genuine radicals?

Not only do they deploy witch-hunt tactics to attack their victims, but they do so from a false position.

They always have to be seen as occupying the cutting edge of dissent, as being the real radical McCoy, otherwise they would lose their power over radically-inclined people.

So they cannot be honest and reject views more radical than theirs as “extremist” or “going too far” or as “a threat to the status quo to which I am actually still very much a part”.

Instead, they have to pretend that these dissenting views are in fact coming from an unwholesome position, reactionary or in some way polluted by associations that make them toxic to other radicals.

handsonsyria

A classic example is the way these gatekeepers treat opposition to the permanent war waged on humanity by the US-led capitalist empire.

Instead of acknowledging that such critics are opposed to US imperialism, they like to pretend that they are actually motivated by admiration for rival states with which the US is currently in conflict.

So left-wing anti-imperialists are transformed, by the power of gatekeeper rhetoric, into “Assadists” or “admirers of Putin”, thus ultimately right-wing and hopelessly tainted by association with the actions of those particular foreign states.

Likewise, left-wing supporters of Palestinian rights are depicted as supporters of Islamic terrorism or, even more effectively, “anti-semites”.

Similarly dishonest smear attacks have been used against anyone who dares question the way that the climate crisis is being exploited to sell false “solutions” which are aimed only at making the rich even richer and will only accelerate the degradation of our environment.

A leading exponent of this gatekeepering technique is George Monbiot, whose true allegiances are somewhat given away by the fact that he is employed by The Neoliberal Guardian.

Notice how in this video he manages to pull together all the various gatekeeping smear devices against radical environmentalist and anti-capitalist journalist Cory Morningstar.

Like many other gatekeepers, Monbiot tries to discredit Cory’s investigative exposure of capitalist machinations via the trusty dog-whistle term “conspiracy theory”, used by the system to smear opponents through subliminal associations with right-wingism, anti-semitism or borderline insanity.

And he tries to muddy the waters and hide the fact that he is attacking Cory to defend the system by insulting and shaming her with words such as “disgusting” and by essentially accusing her of identity-based bullying.

Monbiot totally overdoes the gaslighting here though – implying ableism, ageism and even mysogeny on Cory’s part!

Worryingly, this kind of approach is often copied by people and groups who should know better, such as Libcom, who have echoed Monbiot’s smear, also claiming that Cory’s exposure of climate capitalism was nothing but “a conspiracy theory”.

Ironically, they justifed this by pointing to her anti-imperialist position exposing the US agenda in Syria, thus looping back nicely to our first “gatekeeper” talking point.

It is crucial that serious radicals and revolutionaries do not fall for this fake-left smearing of those who genuinely challenge power.

We urge readers who spot this going on to call it out, spread the word and tell us about it, so we can highlight it in future Acorns. We can be contacted via winteroak(at)greenmail.net

Let’s name names and publicly expose these two-faced apologists for the industrial capitalist system for what they really are!

thoughtcrime2

Related video: Wikipedia: rotten to the core

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5. Yellow revolt takes a striking twist

grevedec

Resistance to the neoliberal capitalism currently being imposed on France by President Emmanuel Macron has taken on a new dynamic this month.

Plans to “reform” the pensions system, which will mean longer working lives and more privatisation, have met with furious opposition.

A serious of general strikes has managed to paralyse the country on several occasions.

And the workers’ power has been reinforced by support from the Gilets Jaunes, still on the streets a year after they burst on to the political scene.

greve17d

The combative mood is not just about pensions, but reflects a general rejection of the US-style society being foisted on France by the Macron regime.

Admitted the New York Times: “Like the Yellow Vest protests, the strike has revealed a broad rejection of ‘Macron’s world’ and a willingness of ordinary people to enter the political arena to oppose it”.

Public outrage was increased by the news that the politician leading the pension “reforms”, Jean-Paul Delevoye, had “forgotten” to disclose 13 private sector posts, both paid and unpaid, in a recent asset declaration.

It takes a lot to force neoliberal politicians to step down, but this is what Delevoye did on December 16, giving opponents of his “reforms” a scent of victory.

greve17da

The next day, December 17, it seemed as if the whole country was on strike, from railway workers and bus drivers to firefighters, school students and opera singers.

Seven of the eight oil refineries in France were blocked, meaning petrol shortages are likely to start occurring.

Hundreds of thousands of people across France poured out on to the streets to protest against Macron’s plans for their future.

The response of the authoritarian-capitalist regime was predictable, continuing the pattern set during Gilets Jaunes uprising.

greve17dc

Protesters picketing a bus depot in Saint Denis, near Paris, were brutally bludgeoned by cops and, on the massive Paris demo, firefighters in uniform, trying to protect the rest of the crowd were violently charged at by riot police, causing several nasty injuries.

Even school kids blocking their lycées have been handled with the same thuggish disdain by the neoliberal stormtroopers.

And yet still Macron and his crooked cronies cling to power, refusing to bow to what is now an overwhelming public demand for them to abandon their neoliberal assault on French society and fall on their swords like the wretched Delevoye.

greve17db

The Gilets Jaunes

6. Jacques Ellul: an orgrad inspiration

Jacques Ellul

“The myth of Progress has killed the revolutionary spirit”

Jacques Ellul (1912-1994) was a sociologist and philosopher close to the anarchist movement in France and one of the inspirations behind the contemporary décroissance, or degrowth, movement.

He was a powerful critic of industrial capitalism, which he famously described as being governed by something he termed “technique”.

This was more than simply technology or the use of technology, but implied the full range of methods used to direct the development of human society.

He wrote that it led to the uniformisation of cultures, including those in the global south which fell prey to industrial Western colonialism.

Technique, he wrote in 1954, “breaks up sociological forms, destroys moral frameworks, blows apart social and religious taboos, desacralises people and things, reduces the social body to a collection of individuals”. (1)

peugeot ad 1970sIn 1977 Ellul wrote: “The system behind technique comes equipped with its own agents of adaptation. Advertising, entertainment by mass media, political propaganda, personal and public relationships – all of this, with superficial variations, has just one function, which is to adapt human beings to technique”. (2)

In a 1981 interview with Le Monde, he insisted that quality of life was completely incompatible with “the growth of industrial production and the industrialisation of agriculture”. (3)

Although a veteran of the French Resistance against Nazi occupation, and a student of Marx in his youth, Ellul was never fully part of the radical left in France.

This was partly due to his Protestant Christian beliefs: the Situationists, for instance, felt they could not work closely with him on that account despite the similarities in their respective positions.

Jean-Luc Porquet insists that this did not mean that Ellul was somehow less revolutionary than other anti-capitalists: “We mustn’t forget that Ellul was anything but a reformist and that he declared himself to be a revolutionary: he thought that this world is unjust and absurd and that we have to make profound and radical changes to its structure (which is in itself the definition of revolution)”. (4)

jacques ellul de la Révolution auxSpanish anti-industrialist writer José Ardillo goes even further, regarding Ellul’s position as being essentially more revolutionary than those who generally liked to claim the label as their own.

A general acceptance of the capitalist idea of “progress” is, after all, hardly the basis for a truly radical opposition to the status quo. As Ellul declared: “The myth of Progress has killed the revolutionary spirit”. (5)

Ardillo describes Ellul’s emphasis on the fact that we live in a society whose sole dogma is economic growth: “For him, the revolutionaries of May 1968 targeted mirages of power which had already been discredited by modernity itself – the real structures of the system remained intact. The type of revolt he envisages therefore demands a radical questioning of the way of life in developed societies.

“The necessary revolution demands the creation of new values, because all morality has been swept aside by the advance of technical society. And, for him, there has to be a break with a large part of our revolutionary heritage, so we can go back and begin again from a new starting point”. (6)

Video link: The Betrayal by Technology: A Portrait of Jacques Ellul (54 mins)

jacques ellul2

1. Jacques Ellul, La Technique ou l’Enjeu du siècle (Paris: Armand Colin, 1954), cit. Jean-Luc Porquet, ‘Jacques Ellul: La Démesure Technicienne’, Radicalité: 20 Penseurs vraiment critiques, coordonné par Cédric Biagini, Guillaume Carnino et Patrick Marcolini (Montreuil: L’Échappée, 2013), p. 132.
2. Jacques Ellul, Le Système technicien (Paris: Le Cherche-Midi, 2004), cit. José Ardillo, La Liberté dans un monde fragile : Écologie et pensée libertaire (Paris: L’Échappée, 2018), p.157.
3. Jacques Ellul, ‘Rien d’important’, Le Monde, 27 May 1981. cit. Porquet, p. 129.
4. Porquet, p. 124.
5. Jacques Ellul, De la Révolution aux révoltes (Paris: Editions de la Table Ronde, 2011), cit. Ardillo, p. 167.
6. Ardillo, p. 167.

Orgrad website

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7. Acorninfo

Banks and shops were attacked and a Christmas tree set on fire in Athens on the night of December 18 as anarchists responded to the war which has been declared on them and their autonomous spaces by the Greek state. Read this full report on the Enough Is Enough website.

athens18d6

* * *

One man’s global ecological disaster is another man’s economic opportunity. In recent years, nature conservation has become a flourishing business sector where huge sums of money change hands and endangered organisms are transformed into financial products. Banking Nature is a must-see video.

banking nature

* * *

“Capitalism itself is a war against the planet and the poor. The global economy is built on exploited farmworkers, sweatshop labor, and a toxic electronics industry that drives workers to mass suicide. All this takes place on top of stolen indigenous lands and a legacy of ongoing genocide”. So writes Max Wilbert in a powerful article entitled The Moral Argument for Ecological Revolution, on the Deep Green Resistance news service site.

sweatshop

* * *

More than 100 doctors in Australia have urged their government to lobby for imprisoned WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to be returned home for urgent medical treatment. The group has written an open letter to Foreign Minister Marise Payne calling for the 48-year-old political prisoner to be returned to Australia. “Should Mr Assange die in a British prison, people will want to know what you, minister, did to prevent his death,” the letter says. Free Assange! Death to the empire!

julian assange

* * *

Smart fascism is creeping up on us everywhere. France is set to become the first European country (but surely not the last) to use facial recognition technology to “give citizens a secure digital identity“. Data regulator, CNIL, has warned that the Alicem program breaches the European rule of consent because it provides no alternatives to facial recognition to access certain services, but the French state is ploughing on regardless. Of course!

alicem

* * *

Jamaica is “the Caribbean country of choice to conduct climate smart & sustainable business” its Prime Minister Andrew Holness has declared, adding that the island has “the best investment environment in the Caribbean”. This is bad news indeed for the Jamaican people. Capitalist “investment” always involves robbery and exploitation, the quest for yet more profits for the rich at the expense of the poor. The “climate” variety is no exception.

Andrew Holness

* * *

“There is a large and growing body of evidence that we have been lied to about Syria to an extent and to a level of sophistication that may be historically unprecedented”. A handy new article by anti-imperialist blogger Caitlin Johnstone outlines the 12 strongest arguments that Douma was a false flag attack staged to justify US intervention.

Douma sun tzu

* * *

Courageous former Labour MP Chris Williamson has spoken out against anti-left smears and launched a new fund for its victims. He said: “First they said ‘anti-Zionism is anti-semitism’. Then they said ‘anti-capitalism is anti-semitism’… We’ll keep defending our comrades by any means necessary”.

chris williamson

* * *

A date for your 2020 diaries. Dundee Anarchist Bookfair is being held from 10am to 5pm on Saturday March 14 at the Boomerang Community Centre in the east coast Scottish city.

Dundee Anarchist Bookfair

* * *

Campaigners in South Wales are mobilising to fight the threat of a new dam. They say: “Natural Resources Wales want to build a dam in Dinas Powys woods to slow the river at peak times to stop homes from flooding. It will devastate our beautiful woods and destroy ancient woodland, and it won’t protect ALL homes in Dinas Powys. There are other ways to slow the flow.” More info at stopthedam.co.uk or on Twitter.

stop the dam in dinas powys

* * *

More than 1,700 environmental defenders were killed between 2002 and 2018, across 50 countries. This is the horrific toll revealed by campaign group Global Witness. If you are wondering why you haven’t heard about all these deaths then bear in mind that “indigenous people represent a disproportionate percentage of the defenders who are killed”. And they don’t really count, do they?

Jose_Claudio_and_Maria_do_Espirito_Santo

* * *

“Language is the soul of the people. It’s not just for communicating, but also for understanding and feeling and remembering”. These are the words of Kaipo‘i Kelling, part of an inspiring “immersion schools” initiative which in just a few decades, has helped Native Hawaiians to reclaim their language from the crushing grip of English-language internal colonialism in the USA.

hawaiian

* * *

Under capitalism, the edifice of social control is built on the collective illusion of private property, and the sanctity of the so-called ‘free market’. Any moves taken to challenge this logic will therefore provoke pushback from the system’s indoctrinated cheerleaders. But what is property anyway and what do anarchists have against it? An informative video from sub.media, What Is Property? can be seen here.

what is property

* * *

Acorn quote: “Nothing will avail to offset this virus which is poisoning the whole world. America is the very incarnation of doom. She will drag the whole world down to the bottomless pit”.

Henry Miller

mcdonalds-india

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

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“The opposite of rebellion” – Paris activists slam XR leadership

acorn 2019b

A special report 

xr paris

We are well aware that there are many genuine grassroots activists involved in Extinction Rebellion protests, people we know are on our side.

But more and more questions are being asked about the nature of the organisation itself, about the true agenda of the leadership lurking behind a flimsy illusion of horizontality.

The non-existence of a mass radical anti-capitalist movement in the UK (let alone a radical ecological anti-capitalist one!) means that XR has appealed to a lot of people who have long been waiting for some kind of rebellion to finally emerge.

Perhaps they have been tolerant of XR’s eccentricities (starry-eyed love of the police, dogmatic non-violence bordering on control-freakery, connections with business interests, refusal to consistently condemn capitalism) because they are the only show in town and it is a question of XR or nothing.

The same is not true in France, though, where revolution is often in the air and where the last year has seen a full-on yellow-coloured challenge to the neoliberal state.

XR have been active there too, but their fake radicalism and lame submissiveness to authority has shocked many eco-radicals and anti-capitalists, who have been voicing their concerns online.

On October 12 the “Désobéissance écolo Paris” collective published an open letter to Extinction Rebellion members, containing a wide-ranging critique of the organisation and its approach.

Then on Monday October 14 two reports appeared on the anti-capitalist Paris Luttes site.

The first of these was entitled “Extinction Rebellion : ni désobéissance, ni obéissance, mais servilité et crédulité” – “Extinction Rebellion: Neither Disobedience or Obedience, but Servility and Credulity”.

Reporting on the XR occupation in Châtelet, it said “Extinction Rebellion scuttled its own initiative in a total absence of strategic thinking and analysis of power struggles”.

It explained: “The ‘diversity of tactics’ working group on Wednesday evening had asked each of the six blockade points to start thinking about what we would say to the press, the authorities, the public, on the day that we were moved on.

“For instance, it was suggested, in the spirit of a convergence of struggles, that we say ‘we are not leaving without the passing of a law for carbon neutrality by 2025 and an amnesty for all activists incarcerated during the various Gilets Jaunes protests’. That would have been awesome.

xr paris camp sign“But the XR leadership decided, at a sparsely-attended assembly on Friday morning, October 11, to dismantle the camp, to move most of the equipment and to pull out from the six blockade points.

“In short, XR removed everything which made this public space a living space where we could discuss, debate, get to know each other.

“The given reason was, of course, the next day’s action, but anyone with a minimum of strategic sense should have seen that this camp, now that it was there, now that it had been reinforced by Gilets Jaunes and other anti-capitalist and environmental activists, the night before the weekend, had definite subversive potential. Predictably the action on Saturday October 12 was, on the other hand, a total flop”.

The article went on to comment: “This is not a case of ‘non-violent civil disobedience’ nor indeed of ‘obedience’ since there was no official warning from the police or the authorities. It was rather a case of servility: we ended the camp before even having been ordered to leave. This is exactly the opposite of struggle or rebellion”.

xr paris an

The second article was called “Quelques heures sur le pont de la Concorde avec Extinction Rebellion” – “Several hours on Concorde Bridge with Extinction Rebellion”.

This described a General Assembly held at the protest near the National Assembly in Paris on October 12.

“Several people spoke up to protest against XR having abandoned, the previous day, the occupation of the Place du Châtelet and the response came that since people from outside XR had joined in the blockade and did not adhere strictly to the consensus of non-violent action, with barricades apparently having been built, XR could not condone these actions by being present. And in any case they had needed the gear and the activists for today’s (kettled) actions.

“It was announced that as the police kettle had started at 10h48, the police should be letting everyone go at 14h48 because the law, since the state of emergency, dictates a period of four hours’ detention. As if the police were going to respect the law!

“In the meantime, several activists suggested some activities until the moment of liberation: a talk about XR for newcomers, training in civil disobedience and non-violence, photos for social media showing activists lying on the ground forming the XR logo with their bodies, construction of a toilet area…”

A little later, reacting to the CRS riot police, “a group of people started to chant ‘no justice, no peace!’. Next to us, a ‘peace-keeper’ (an XR activist charged with ensuring action remained non-violent) shouted, despairingly: ‘No, you mustn’t say that!’ and a colleague replied, with contempt dripping from his lips, ‘That lot are Gilets Jaunes from Drôme’.”

So is there any hope that the XR protests will do some good and will not simply lead thousands of good-hearted people into a dead end?

The report from the Concorde Bridge in Paris, for all its criticism, did point to some positive possibilities.

The authors said that when the assembly broke into smaller groups, it became apparent that individuals were keen to break free from central XR control and act independently.

They added: “It was a rather pleasant surprise to see that many XR activists did not stay stuck in the XR box, did not shy away from more radical action, less focused on media PR, and were asking real political questions about the scope of these actions. As often happens, the grassroots could quickly outgrow the organisation”.
 

Climate Capitalists

The Gilets Jaunes

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The Acorn – 52

acorn 2019b

Number 52

In this issue:

  1. Skin-deep solutions
  2. Greta and the story-tellers
  3. Regulation is a gas, for the oil industry
  4. Bristol celebrates radical history
  5. Poetry of the rebellious seed
  6. Mohandas Gandhi: an orgrad inspiration
  7. Acorninfo

1.  Skin-deep solutions

Imagine that somebody in your family falls ill, with a whole range of symptoms including breathing problems, extreme fatigue, stomach cramps, mental confusion and rashes on their skin.

Medical advice is initially unclear, until one doctor turns up who confidently announces that the skin issues are the core problem.

He produces loads of information of skin disease, refers you to all sorts of scientific studies and even starts referring to your family member’s illness as “the skin crisis”.

Others in the family pick up on this habit and soon all the other symptoms, some more troubling in fact, are half-forgotten.

One day this doctor phones up in great excitement declaring that he has found the solution to the skin crisis.

A new wonderdrug has been developed in the USA which, he says, will sort it out once and for all. The only trouble is that it is, as yet, only available privately.

When he tells you the price of a course of treatment with this new product, your heart falls. There is no way your family can afford that.

Don’t worry, he says. You could always remortgage your house, cut down on your living expenses, take out a loan. After all, this is an emergency.

The rest of your family are convinced by the doctor and start preparing to break open the piggy bank to pay for this miracle cure.

But you are not so sure. A friend puts you in touch with an alternative healer, who says the underlying problem is a general poisoning of the body.

What is needed is fresh air, plenty of water to drink, lots of exercise, a healthy non-industrial diet.

You try and persuade the rest of the family but they are scornful.

Next, your suspicions aroused, you do some online research into this new wonderdrug and the big pharmaceutical company which is selling it.

To your horror, you discover that your doctor is a paid adviser to a charity which is heavily lobbying for the new drug and lists among its “partners” the pharma company in question.

You alert the rest of your family but they say you’re being paranoid, that the doctor is a lovely fellow, totally trustworthy, and his advice must be followed.

You keep arguing the point. You point out that the new wonderdrug does not even pretend to address the other important symptoms and if the real issue is toxic overload, then it will only make the situation worse.

The family will be bankrupt and the patient still sick, probably even sicker. The only beneficiaries will be the pharma company and the doctor who is essentially on their payroll.

The whole thing is a scam, you tell them.

They are furious. They accuse you of claiming that the family member is only pretending to be ill, of being a disgusting and uncaring human being, a conspiracy theorist and “denier” whose selfish and “purist” stance can only delay or scupper the long-awaited skin cure.

This, as our quicker readers will have spotted, is pretty much the situation with the climate movement and those of us who dare to question the direction it is taking us.

The key, as we have said before, is the term “climate”. Why build a whole, supposedly environmental, movement around this single symptom of the industrial disease?

Could it be because, like the dodgy doctor above, the capitalists manipulating the movement have a “cure” on hand to sell to to us?

But this cure – this “Green Industrial Revolution” of electric cars and solar panels and wind turbines and carbon capture and “smart” everything – is not a cure at all.

It is a continuation of the industrial destruction, exploitation and pollution which has brought us to this terrible point.

It is not “purist” to point this out. It is essential, if we really want to defend the natural organism of which we are part, rather than just help kick-start a new and trendy branch of industrial capitalism.

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2. Greta and the story-tellers

Greta Thunberg’s first solo “school strike” back on August 20 2018 has become iconic in some circles.

Adoring fans insist that the lonely youngster’s charisma and determination, sitting on the pavement with her placards, forced the whole world to sit up and take notice.

If rich and powerful capitalists and politicians have since paid homage to her, they argue, it is only because they are running scared of the tidal wave of moral outrage the plucky Swede has unleashed.

But investigative journalist Cory Morningstar has highlighted some very interesting facts about that first Greta moment and the extraordinary way that some rather dubious people were already on board her climate bandwagon before it even left the pavement in Stockholm.

One of these was a certain Callum Grieve, who, on August 20 2018 itself, sent Greta a Twitter message declaring: “We’re right behind you. Stay strong”.

Callum Grieve

And who is Callum Grieve? His Linkedin profile says he is currently a “communications specialist” based in New York.

Grieve worked for five years for The Climate Group, which in 2014 launched We Mean Business in order to “catalyze action around climate change and bring it back to the top of the global agenda”.

Cory reports: “The founding partners of We Mean Business are Business for Social Responsibility, the B Team, Carbon Disclosure Project, Ceres, The Climate Group, the Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. Together, these entities represent the world’s most powerful corporations and investors”.

We Mean Business has made great use of Greta Thunberg’s name to promote “economic opportunity through bold climate action” and something it terms “new power”.

Grieve was communications director of We Mean Business from 2014 to 2016. At the same time he was director of This Is Counter Culture, sometimes described as being based in Edinburgh, although Companies House last had it listed in London.

On Linkedin, Grieve describes his role at This Is Counter Culture as selling “brand development, campaigns, storytelling” and the business’s Twitter account also boasts of its “good stories”.

A document on Changemakers.com reveals that its customers included “international corporations, small businesses, social enterprises, NGOs and government”.

This Is Counter Culture was voluntarily dissolved in the UK in December 2017 and its Twitter account last tweeted in May 2018.

Cory Morningstar has much more to say about Grieve – not least his connection to Christiana Figueres, the very powerful daughter of right-wing CIA-backed Costa Rican president “Don Pepe”. (See our own exposé ).

But let’s turn to another Day 1 Greta Thunberg fan, in fact the man who spoke to her on the pavement on that fateful day in August 2018 and tweeted the world about it.

This was Ingmar Rentzhog (above), CEO of the climate campaign network We Don’t Have Time. He also happens to be a PR professional, like Grieve.

Rentzhog founded Laika, a prominent Swedish communications consultancy firm providing services to the financial industry.

According to the Greta myth, he happened to come across her protest while walking to work and it was this piece of luck which ensured her voice was heard so widely.

Notes journalist Frank Chung: “Despite its name, We Don’t Have Time did have time to produce a short film about Ms Thunberg, which it posted to Facebook the next day”.

Remarkable!

It also turns out not to be entirely coincidental that Rentzhog came across Greta’s little protest. He later admitted had already done PR work for her mother and was “tipped off” about the event in advance.

So the bottom line is this: from the very first day of her “rebellion”, Greta Thunberg was being promoted by two corporate PR professionals paid for their skills in “brand development” and “storytelling”.

Since then, of course, she has addressed the UN, the WEF,  the European Parliament, featured on the cover of Time magazine, which named her a “next generation leader”, met Barack Obama and Emmanuel Macron and been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

This is all rather strange in a world where the usual reward for environmental activism is a criminal record.

To fully explore Greta’s miraculous rise to global fame we strongly suggest a thorough reading of The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg for Consent, which now has a second crucial volume.

We also recommend Kim Hill’s two-part analysis Unpacking Extinction Rebellion in which she also warns how climate campaigning is being exploited for capitalist profiteering – at the expense of the natural world it pretends to be protecting.

She writes: “This is the future that Extinction Rebellion is envisioning. These are the solutions that millions of people around the world have been marching in the streets to demand of their governments.

“Not to cut back on fossil fuel use. Not to protect wild nature. Not to repair and regenerate the land. Not to do anything at all to address the causes of climate change and extinction.

“Instead to save the very system that continues to wreak havoc on the land, sea, and air, and kill us off at a rate of 200 species a day.

“You might want to take a moment to let that sink in. I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling the need to go outside, and scream”.

solar panels2
The green fields of renewable capitalism

See also: our page of links on the climate capitalists.

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3. Regulation is a gas, for the oil industry

Oil-and-Gas-Authority

The Oil and Gas Authority, which is supposed to regulate the controversial industry on behalf of the UK public, is nothing but a joke, a new article has confirmed.

Will Cottrell, chairman of the Brighton Energy Coop, takes a close look at the OGA in the run-up to the recent planning verdict on plans for five new wells at Horse Hill, Surrey.

He writes: “The OGA oversees drilling permissions around the country. Its self-professed mission is to ‘maximise the economic recovery of UK oil and gas’.

“Indeed, the OGA receives £5m of funding to do just that from the UK Treasury.

Tim-Eggar
Tim Eggar

“High at the helm of the OGA is Chairman Tim Eggar. Eggar is an oil industry executive with various positions in government.

“An oil banker, Eggar’s history is a backstory of board positions for the likes of Monument Oil and Gas, Indago Petroleum, and 3legs Resources, Expro & Braemar and Energy venutures.

“Meanwhile, Eggar’s number two is chief exectutive Andy Samuel who has 20 years’ experience at BG Group, an oil services conglomerate.

“Non-executive Frances Morris-Jones spent 30 years in oil and gas. The director of operations – Gunther Newcombe – spent most of his career in the same industry. It goes on”.

The article reveals a similar saturation of industry stooges in the objective-sounding British Geological Survey.

It adds: “Back in 2012 (the last time financial figures were produced) the BGS’s annual report showed 29% of the organisation’s funds came from companies involved in the hydraulic fracturing industry, including Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon, BG Group and Schlumberger”.

imperial college

The industry connections of “experts” at Imperial College London and Bristol University are also examined.

The article concludes: “The purpose of the regulator and its stooges is to construct a seemingly-consensual smokescreen.

“The parallels to climate change denial are striking – the creation of a body of ‘opinion’ that looks like it comes from a cross-section of venerable institutions, but that in reality is thoroughly penetrated by the oil and gas industry. Plausible denial is always the objective.

“And while a smog of earthquake denial has been wafted over Surrey planners, what has not been shown is who pays for these firestarters.

“Now that Cuadrilla have been put on a temporary hold, the focus can switch to who are those that support the industry, and the vested interests that lie behind them. These denial industries and their financial ties – just as their dirty frontmen like Cuadrilla – need to be held to account”.

And the Surrey County Council planning decision for Horse Hill? The drilling was approved of course, with planning development manager Caroline Smith even citing the reputation of the OGA to reassure councillors worried about earth tremors.

As we said, a total joke.

horse hill

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4. Bristol celebrates radical history

BRH poster

The Bristol Radical History Festival 2019 is being held on Saturday October 12.

There are two themes this year: “1919 – Year of Revolutions” and “Green History: from 18th Century roots to Extinction Rebellion”.

Explains the website: “Following the success of the 2017 and 2018 events, this year’s Bristol Radical History Festival is again hosted by M Shed, Bristol’s social history museum located on the historic harbourside”.

Highlights include a talk on Green Romanticism by Stephen Hunt (10.30am), Leonard Baker on Ecology from Below (12.30pm), A People’s History of Poetry by Peter Bearder (1pm), Back to the Land by Kath Holden (3pm), Roots of Resistance: Earth First! (3pm) and a talk on the massive wave of discontent which swept through the British armed forces at the end of World War One (3.30pm).

Say the organisers: “It’s not just talks! Expect walks, films, singing, a performance space with a puppet show, storytelling and poetry, and an exhibition space, as well as stalls with books and merchandise from local and national groups.

“Not to be missed – go up to Level 2 to see the Regional Radical Press exhibition, with highlights from UWE Bristol Regional History Centre’s current project All the events are free with no booking required!”

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5. Poetry of the rebellious seed

zapatistas-2

The Zapatistas, those rebel anti-capitalists in Chiapas, continue to inspire with their communiqués.

A message from the Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee — General Command of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation (featured on the excellent Enough is Enough site) reveals some wonderful names for new caracoles and autonomous municipalities.

There is, for instance, Esperanza de La Humanidad, which means Hope for Humanity.

Others are Floreciendo la semilla rebelde (The Flowering of the Rebellious Seed) and Sembrando conciencia para cosechar revoluciones por la vida (Cultivating Conscience in order to Harvest Revolutions for Life).

But our favourite is Espiral digno tejiendo los colores de la humanidad en memoria de l@s caídos, which translates as Spiral of Dignity Weaving the Colours of Humanity in Memory of the Fallen.

zapatistas3

6. Mohandas Gandhi: an orgrad inspiration

Wednesday October 2 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Mohandas Gandhi, in 1869. Although Gandhi is mainly remembered in the West for his strategy of non-violent direct action, which proved ideal for the Indian independence movement, there was much more to his thinking, as this article from the orgrad website explains. The Gandhi Haiku posters are by Gabriel Rosenstock and available via etsy.com.

gandhi3

“Machinery is the chief symbol of modern civilization; it represents a great sin”

Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948) was a political activist who played a key role in the successful Indian struggle for independence.

His involvement in the resistance to British imperialism went hand in hand with a deep opposition to the life-crushing industrial capitalism which it imposed on the sub-continent.

Ranchor Prime notes: “Gandhi was opposed to industrialization. It wasted resources and took people’s work from them. What was the point of labor-saving devices when they created unemployment?” (1)

Gandhi himself wrote in 1909: “Machinery has begun to desolate Europe. Ruination is now knocking at the English gates. Machinery is the chief symbol of modern civilization; it represents a great sin… Railways accentuate the evil nature of man. Bad men fulfil their designs with greater rapidity”. (2)

Later he added: ” The incessant search for material comforts and their multiplication is an evil. I make bold to say that the Europeans will have to remodel their outlook, if they are not to perish under the weight of the comforts to which they are becoming slaves”. (3)

gandhi poster 3

In opposition to industrial capitalism and its insane frenzy to exploit, produce and consume, Gandhi proposed a future in which humankind lived in organic harmony with the rest of the planet.

indian villageHe wrote: “It is a fundamental law of nature that nature produces enough for our wants from day to day; and if only everyone took enough for their own needs and nothing more, there would be no poverty in this world”. (4)

Gandhi’s vision for India, betrayed by his capitalist successors, was a return to the simple village life his land had known for thousands of years.

Writes Prime: “Mohandas Gandhi, called by his people Mahatma, which means ‘great soul’, loved India’s villages. He believed that they were the key to its happiness and prosperity. In the face of powerful political and economic forces, he tried courageously to preserve their simple way of life.

“Economic behavior determines the way a society treats the earth, therefore any discussion of environmental values has to include economics. The village economics of India give a practical example of an environmental way of living”. (5)

gandhi poster 1

Gandhi argued: “Given the demand, there is no doubt that most of our wants can be supplied by the villages. When we become village-minded we shall not want imitations from the West or machine-made products”. (6)

He saw that this decentralised village economics was the only sustainable long-term way forward for humankind as a whole.

He wrote in a letter to fellow independence campaigner Jawaharlal Nehru in 1945: “I believe that if India, and through India the world, is to achieve real freedom, then sooner or later we shall have to go and live in the villages – in huts, not in palaces. Millions of people can never live in cities and palaces in comfort and peace”. (7)

Gandhi referred to himself on several occasions as a kind of anarchist and always opposed the centralised state and its inherent use of violence. (8)

gandhi poster 4

He was greatly influenced by John Ruskin and translated the title of the Englishman’s Unto This Last as Sarvodaya, or welfare for all. He was also influenced by Leo Tolstoy and Peter Kropotkin, notably by the latter’s vision of a decentralized society of autonomous village communes.

However, Gandhi’s organic radicalism arose primarily from Indian metaphysics and its belief in the cosmic unity of all beings.

shiva

Prime writes: “A way of life does not exist in a vacuum. It is based on a way of thinking, a philosophy of life. Gandhi recognized this truth. He believed that it would not be possible to bring about change in society without a corresponding change in the way people behaved.

“To change the way people behaved meant to change the way that they thought. Therefore Gandhi’s primary objective was to influence people’s philosophy of life”. (9)

Central to the Gandhian world-view were the principles of satya (truth), karmayoga (self-realization through disinterested action), varnasramdharma (the Hindu law of right conduct), and ahimsa (non-violence).

Peter Marshall adds: “The most revolutionary aspect of Gandhi’s teaching was undoubtedly his social and political interpretation of ahimsa in which he turned the principle of individual self-realization into a principle of social ethics.

“He also drew on the traditional Indian values of village life and the joint family and the practice of making decisions by consensus”. (10)

gandhi poster 2

Gandhi promoted the idea of swaraj, or self-government, which was the first step towards his ideal of an enlightened anarchy in which social life is self-regulated and “there is no political power because there is no state”. (11)

For him, swaraj had a far deeper meaning than mere political independence. He wrote: “Swaraj is a sacred word meaning self-rule and self-restraint, not freedom from all restraint which ‘independence’ often means”. (12)

At the end of his life, Gandhi was disappointed that India, which gained independence in 1947, was not fundamentally different from India under British rule, except that whereas previously Englishmen had lived in the imperial palace, now Indians did. He feared for the direction India was taking.

Prime comments: “He had always said that real independence for India was not just to become free from British rule. It was also to become free of British culture and industrial way of life and to reestablish the traditional Indian village-based culture for which he had always struggled”. (13)

Video link: Gandhi’s arrival in the UK in 1931 as seen by Pathé News.

Gandhi spinning

1. Ranchor Prime, Vedic Ecology: Practical Wisdom for Surviving the 21st Century (Novato, California: Mandala, 2002), p. 84.
2. Mohandas Gandhi, Hind Swaraj, 1909, cit. Prime, p. 86.
3. Mohandas Gandhi, Young India, cit. Prime p. 78.
4. G.A. Nateson, Speeches and Writings of Mahatma Gandhi (Madras: 1935), p. 384, cit. Prime pp. 84-85.
5. Prime, pp. 78-79.
6. Gandhi, ‘Constructive Programme’, cit. Prime, p. 87.
7. Gandhi, letter to Nehru, October 5, 1945, cit. Prime p. 91.
8. Peter Marshall, Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism (London: Fontana, 1993), p. 422.
9. Prime, p. 81.
10. Marshall, pp. 422-23.
11. Gandhi, Young India, July 2, 1931.
12. Gandhi, Young India, 1931, cit. Prime pp 83-83.
13. Prime, p. 90.

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7. Acorninfo

If governments and corporations get their way, the bright blue seas of western Greece will be turned into oil fields. The Greek government is selling vast areas of sea and land for oil and gas drilling, report Corporate Watch. The businesses involved include Energean, a fast-growing oil company with close ties to the Israeli government and Israeli corporations. “But it’s not a done deal yet,” add Corporate Watch. “Greece has strong traditions of resistance to capitalist devastation – and now, across the threatened areas, people are coming together to fight the oil plans”. See the Save Greek Seas site.

Greek no oil

* * *

Ignored by the corporate media in the UK, the Gilets Jaunes’ revolt against neoliberalism is still going strong after more than ten months, with the weekly round of protests now up to Act 46. Levels of police violence are insane and the cops increasingly coming across as a politicised fascist militia. After left-wing opposition politician Jean-Luc Mélenchon condemned them as “barbarians”, not only did authoritarian Interior Minister Christophe Castaner say he would be prosecuted for this opinion, but a police trade union staged a show of force outside Mélenchon’s party HQ in Paris on September 26. Gilets Jaunes turned up as well, to oppose the police… More about the Gilets Jaunes here.

GJ police protest

* * *

“The black bloc more or less destroyed the global justice protests at the beginning of this century. We must do everything we can to exclude them from the climate protests”. These were the words of self-styled radical George Monbiot of The Guardian, surely spelling the end of any remaining credibility for this arrogant, warmongering, pro-nuclear upper-class gatekeeper of the system, who pretends via his corporate media platform to be “one of us” in order to impose limits on our resistance.

monbiot

* * *

Degrowth is the only responsible way forward, argues an interesting article by Joël Foramitti, Marula Tsagkari and Christos Zografos. They write: “If we free our imagination from the liberal idea that well-being is best measured by the amount of stuff that we consume, we may discover that a good life could also be materially light. This is the idea of voluntary sufficiency. If we manage to decide collectively and democratically what is necessary and enough for a good life, then we could have plenty”.

degrowthpainted

* * *

Some upcoming radical events in the UK: Saturday November 2, Nottingham Radical Bookfair, 10.30am-5.30pm, Mechanics Institute, South Sherwood Street; Saturday December 7, Manchester & Salford Anarchist Bookfair, central Manchester; Friday May 1 to Monday May 4 2020, UK-wide Anarchist Festival.

afest2020

* * *

Global resistance to the nightmarish 5G network (see Acorn 51) is picking up speed. Plans to roll out 5G in Australia were ditched “due to community fears regarding the health impact of the technology”. And thousands have protested outside the Swiss parliament in Bern to call for a halt to the threatened countrywide 5G imposition. Meanwhile the International Society of Doctors for the Environment has called for a halt to 5G in Europe on a precautionary basis. In the UK, the Royal Society of Medicine’s Alan Cooke is speaking on 5G in Eastbourne, East Sussex, at the Friends Meeting House in Wish Street at 7.30pm on Friday October 25. And Dr Karl Cox of Sussex University is speaking at a day’s symposium on 5G at Fairwarp Village Hall, Fairwarp, East Sussex at 10am on Saturday October 26.

5G protest switz

* * *

Acorn quote: “Organism is spontaneous self-regulation, the mystery of formed growth, the inarticulate wisdom of the instincts”.

Theodore Roszak

tangle

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

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The Acorn – 49

acorn 2019b

Number 49

In this issue:

  1. Deepening our resistance
  2. Why I decided to fight: letter from a Yellow Vest prisoner
  3. Julian Assange: enemy of the empire
  4. The modern leftist
  5. Rudolf Rocker: an orgrad inspiration
  6. Acorninfo

1. Deepening our resistance

Synchronicity has a funny way of throwing together two apparently unrelated events in  a way that invites comparison.

This was the case, for instance, with Saturday November 17 2018, the day on which both the Gilets Jaunes in France and Extinction Rebellion (XR) in the UK were launched onto their respective national stages.

Initially, the comparison appeared to favour XR, from our perspective at least. In Britain, altruistic environmentally-aware protesters were battling to save the planet, while across the Channel the Yellow Vests were upset about a rise in petrol prices.

But that perception rapidly changed.

The Gilets Jaunes, attacked by the police, smeared by the corporate media, despised by government and business elites, clearly represent a serious and genuine radical challenge to the existing order (see our Gilets Jaunes page).

XR, big pals with the police, frequently feted by the corporate media, adored by a significant part of the government and business elites, are clearly seriously compromised by their close connections with the existing order (see our Climate Capitalists page).

We saw another synchronicity in the fact that the new organic radicalism project (see Acorn 48 and orgrad.wordpress.com) was unveiled at the same time as the latest XR happening and all the controversy surrounding it.

Again, at first sight the comparison might seem favourable to the climate protesters. One small group of people present a political ideology or philosophy built on wisdom accumulated over many decades, centuries and even millennia. But it’s all just words, which modern people are too busy to read.

Another, much larger, group actually does something. It takes to the streets, blocks one of the world’s great capital cities for days on end, draws everyone’s attention to climate change, miraculously forces the British parliament to declare a “climate emergency”.

But, in fact, close scrutiny of XR and the climate movement as a whole suggests that all this rebellious energy is in danger of being channelled into a cunning ploy to relaunch capitalism.

The plan is to use a “Green New Deal” and a “New Deal for Nature” to spark a “Fourth Industrial Revolution” which will make a lot of people very rich, including the venture capitalists who have voiced support for XR.

Obviously the people involved on the ground in the XR London protests were not willingly part of a capitalist plot. Obviously they are not stupid and many must have been aware of the danger of their struggle being co-opted. Hopefully many of them will break free from the “leadership” and organise autonomously and radically.

But there is a major problem behind this wave of environmental protest which goes beyond the detail of the signatories of the XR Business letter to The Times or the corporate links to the climate campaigns set out with painstaking detail by investigative journalist Cory Morningstar.

The problem is with the use of the term “climate” as the cornerstone of the movement.

We are not saying that climate change is not real and dangerous but it is by no means all that is really dangerous about industrial capitalism.

What about extractivism in general, not just for fossil fuels? What about pesticides? What about nanoparticles? What about all the rest of the pollution, contamination and destruction that forms part of this nightmare industrial age?

Solar panels don’t grow on trees

It won’t disappear with the measures being proposed to deal with climate change. All that hi-tech carbon capture technology, all those solar panels covering the world’s deserts, all those wind turbines cluttering our coastlines, will still need to be manufactured in polluting factories, using raw materials mined out of the flesh of Mother Earth.

Fighting under the banner of “the climate” is a severe weakness for the environmental movement because it means the issue can be picked off, channelled and neutralised.

If “the climate” is the problem, then capitalism is on hand to sell us the solution.

 

The money-orientated approach is always about superficial responses. If you have got a cold, a drugs company will sell you a product to suppress the symptoms. But you will still have a cold and it will probably last three times as long because your body will be prevented from expelling toxins in the way it knows best.

If environmentalists place climate issues within the larger context of what our culture has become, then the capitalists can have no quick-fix solution to sell us. There is no sales opportunity for them. They cannot latch on to a movement which aims to see their empire of greed and profit taken down.

The narrow fixation with “climate” on the current environmental scene is part of a larger issue, namely that of fragmented thinking.

It is here that the relevance of organic radicalism comes in. Again and again, the thinkers who inspired this philosophy condemned the modern tendency towards fragmented thought.

The same point is made in different ways by the likes of neurologist and psychiatrist Kurt Goldstein, psychologist Max Wertheimer, philosopher Alan Watts, anti-industrialist writer Theodore Roszak and  editor Satish Kumar.

Indeed Kumar has specifically mentioned “climate” in this context, saying: “I am constantly reminding people to think holistically, think in a bigger way, a spiritual way, rather than get stuck in this one idea that climate change is the problem, or this or that is the problem. Our problems are interrelated”.

He adds: “The actions of environmentalists will lead to tears if they don’t come from the place of the spirit. Their activism can end up in nuclear power or genetic engineering or the whole countryside covered with windmills or solar panels and no trees left anywhere”.

Satish Kumar: environmentalists need to think holistically

Fragmentation is a problem which goes to the heart of the failure of our civilization. We have lost sight of the holistic unity of things and see only unconnected separate items forming no coherent pattern. We don’t see a wood, just trees. There is no such thing as society, only individuals. The idea that humankind is part of nature is regarded as a naive fantasy.

On the political level, once we start fragmenting our understanding into separate issues, we cut those issues off from the whole of which they are part.

Racism and sexism, for instance, can only really be understood within a wider context of our relationship to “the other”, of complex patterns of projection, power and domination.

“We are not fighting for nature. We are nature defending itself”

An organic radical perspective insists on the unity of the human species as an organic entity, and on humankind’s belonging to the living world and the cosmos beyond.

It challenges the individualism, the subjectivism, the “me first”, the “I think therefore I am”, that underpins our whole modern culture.

Fragmented thinking just talks about racism or sexism as separate issues. And, lo and behold, in isolation they can easily be “solved” (in fact, hidden from view!) by the system.

“Racism is over – here’s a black president! Sexism is over – look how many CEOs of rapacious capitalist corporations are now women!”

“You say CO2 is the problem? We have just the machine you need? Can’t afford it? You’d better declare a climate emergency and raid the public piggy bank to buy it from us!”

Organic radicalism is an attempt to counter fragmented thinking in anti-capitalist and environmental circles.

It is an attempt to give our movements real philosophical roots, to make them strong and alive.

The name given to this deeper understanding is not important, of course. It has appeared in many forms throughout history and will do so again.

Whatever we choose to call it, we badly need this ancient and powerful wisdom to guide us away from traps and dead-ends and to steer us into the free and healthy future for which we yearn.

greenanarchistforest

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2. Why I decided to fight: letter from a Yellow Vest prisoner

Thomas P is just one of many Gilets Jaunes prisoners in France, locked up for their participation in the mass uprising against the neoliberal Macron regime. Below are some excerpts from an open letter he wrote from jail, after three months behind bars.

One is no longer innocent when one has seen ‘legitimate’ violence, legal violence: that of the police.

I saw the hatred or emptiness in their eyes and I heard their chilling warnings: ‘disperse, go home’.

I saw the charges, grenades, and beatings in general.

I saw the checks, searches, traps, arrests, and jail.

I saw people falling, blood, I saw the mutilated.

Like all those who were demonstrating this February 9th, I learned that once again a man had just had his hand ripped off by a grenade.

And then I did not see anything any more, because of the gas. All of us were suffocating.

That’s when I decided not to be a victim any more and to fight.

I’m proud of it. Proud to have raised my head, proud not to have given in to fear.

Of course, like all those who are targeted by the repression against the Yellow Vests movement, I first protested peacefully and daily, I always solved problems with words rather than with fists.

But I am convinced that in some situations conflict is needed.

Because debate, however ‘big’ it may be, can sometimes be rigged or distorted. All that is needed is for the organiser to ask the questions in a way that suits them.

We are told on one side that the state coffers are empty, but we are bailing out the banks with millions when they are in trouble, we are talking about an ‘ecological transition’ without ever calling into question the production system and consumption at the origin of all climatic disturbances.

We are millions who shout at them, saying that their system is rotten, and they are telling us how they are trying to save it.

The challenge of street clashes is to manage to push back the police, to keep them in line: to get out of a trap, to reach a place of power, or to simply take the street.

Since November 17th those who have threatened to fire their weapons, those who brutalise, mutilate, and suffocate unarmed and defenceless protesters, those who are not the so-called ‘breakers’, they are the police.

If the media does not talk about it, the hundreds of thousands of people who have been at the roundabouts and in the streets know it.

Behind their brutality and threats, it is fear that is hiding.

And when that moment comes, in general, it means that the revolution is not far away.

Read the full English translation of the letter here.

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3. Julian Assange: an enemy of the empire

Rarely has the arrogant imperialism of the USA been so blatantly exposed as by the case of Julian Assange.

On Monday May 13 Swedish authorities announced, bizarrely, that they were reopening the long-dropped “rape” investigation against the Wikileaks founder.

Assange’s lawyer Per E Samuelson told Swedish TV the decision to reopen the investigation was “an embarrassment”, while WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson said it would give Assange a chance to clear his name.

Assange is also still facing the extraordinary prospect of extradiction and trial in the US, despite not being American and not being alleged to having committed any offence on US soil.

The “world’s policeman” apparently has the right to punish anyone, anywhere in the world, who it considers its enemy, and supine vassal states like the UK are only too eager to go along with this.

The twist in the Assange case is that the “crime” he is said to have committed is precisely to have exposed, through Wikileaks, the arrogant imperialism of which he is now a victim.

Having been illegally dragged out of the Ecuadorian embassy with the UK political police, he is being treated with all the justice that might have been afforded a political dissident in Stalin’s USSR.

As historian Mark Curtis has pointed out, UK government minister Alan Duncan called Assange a “miserable little worm”, the judge called him “narcissistic” and he received a grossly disproportionate sentence on the bail issue.

“Is Assange even going to receive a fair trial?” asks Curtis. The question seems rhetorical.

Veteran investigative journalist John Pilger wrote: “The shocking arrest of Assange carries a warning for all who, as Oscar Wilde wrote, ‘sow the seeds of discontent [without which] there would be no advance towards civilisation’.

“The warning is explicit towards journalists. What happened to the founder and editor of WikiLeaks can happen to you on a newspaper, you in a TV studio, you on radio, you running a podcast”.

Our comrades at Shoal, a collective of independent journalists, also voiced concern at the precedent which would be set by the extradition of Assange to the USA.

They asked: “Would the same judicial process apply to journalists who offended the sensibilities of the governments of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel or Russia?”

Meanwhile, the constant sneering from the corporate media merely confirms what many have long known – that these so-called journalists are nothing but servile protectors of the system, ready to dance and write to any authoritarian tune their bosses ask them to.

There are also question marks over a liberal-left consensus which is too easily swayed by dog-whistle smears engineered to destroy the reputation of any effective enemy of the system.

Former ambassador Craig Murray raised this point when he wrote: “All the false left who were taken in by the security services playing upon a feminist mantra should take a very hard look at themselves. They should also consider this.

“If you seriously put forward that in allegations of sexual assault, the accuser must always be believed and the accused must automatically be presumed guilty, you are handing an awesome power to the state to lock people up without proper defence.

“The state will abuse that awesome power and fit people up. The Assange case shows us just that. And it is not the only case, currently, as everyone in Scotland should realise.

“But there is more. If you believe that any sexual accusation against a person should be believed and automatically and immediately end their societal respectability, you are giving power to state and society to exclude dissidents and critics from political discourse by a simple act of accusation.

“That power will be used and abused by the security services”.

If you are one of those comrades who has reservations about supporting Assange, we would humbly suggest you read Caitlin Johnstone’s comprehensive article “Debunking All The Assange Smears“.

For more information on the case see the Defend Wikileaks website.

 

 

 

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4. The modern leftist

This thought-provoking passage is taken from Darren Allen’s 33 Myths of The System: A Brief Guide to the Unworld. The whole book is available for free download here. We should declare that we consider ourselves to be leftists, so we have to accept our fair share of the criticism…

The modern leftist complains about ‘victim-blaming’ yet never criticises the system which relentlessly suppresses the idea that the environment causes conflict, crime, physical ill-health or outright madness.

The modern leftist complains about ‘objectification’ yet sees the entire world and everyone in it as a collection of categories; you are not an individual, you are ‘white’ or ‘a man’.

The well-to-do leftist regularly expresses ‘solidarity’ [i.e. intense identification] with those most affected by the system (the global poor and excluded) while making demeaning professional interventions in their lives and patronising pronouncements about how they should resist the system.

The modern leftist complains about ‘fragile egos,’ yet demonstrably possesses a self so extraordinarily delicate and brittle, it can shatter at (be traumatised, triggered, even infected by) a word.

The modern leftist complains about ‘being silenced,’ yet shuts down all criticism immediately and ferociously with arguments largely based on belittling interlocutors, or ruling out their entire view based on a single piece of information, rather than on making a persuasive case.

The reactive leftist regularly meets fact, knowledge and truth (1) with feeling (2) — ‘what you are saying is irrelevant, because it (it and nothing else; certainly not powerful social forces that stand to benefit from my feelings) makes me feel threatened, offended and angry; and because you do not belong to my category, you can never understand this feeling’ — a minority version of the standard mainstream position; reality is what we say it is (3).
.
The modern leftist has a great deal of difficulty speaking for himself; opinions are prefaced with ‘as a’ [homosexual, white man, a writer, a mammal].

The modern leftist believes himself to be cruelly abused, not just constantly harping on the actual insults he receives (‘see how awful they all are! look what names they call me!’) but constantly interpreting as derogatory ‘pretty much anything that is said about him (or about groups with whom he identified)’ (4).
.
The institutional leftist believes herself to be a radical while aspiring to state control and  professional advancement, regularly supporting centralised, hierarchical or artificially distributed power, happily working for a large corporation, or implicitly supporting apparently opposed ideologies (e.g. the absurd collusion between feminism and Islam).

The postmodern leftist often claims that knowledge is a product of one’s race, privilege, gender and so on, yet demands that her intensely relative philosophy (5) take first place on the institutional syllabus.

The modern leftist — black and white, male, female and transgender, able-bodied and disabled — is terrified of the total abolition of the system.

1. Which are not the same thing.
2. Actually, or more accurately speaking, emotion. The difference is discussed in 33 Myths of the Ego.
3. Or ‘power determines reality’. The modern leftist may be in an inferior or minority position, but the group as a whole is still enormously powerful and the individual still has power to stir up emotion and create justifying belief based thereon.
4. As Kaczynski points out.
5. The philosophy of the modern left is actually an extreme form of ‘nominalism’, the idea that if you change what something is called, you change the thing itself. Another word for this is ‘magic’.

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5. Rudolf Rocker: an orgrad inspiration

From orgrad.wordpress.com

Rudolf Rocker (1873-1958) was an anarchist activist, theorist and writer who became well known in Germany, Britain and the USA.

His importance lies in the way that he used the idea of a “social organism” (1) as the basis for his internationalist anarchist philosophy.

For instance, in his 1937 book Nationalism and Culture, Rocker argued that nationalism was reactionary because it imposed artificial separations within the “organic unity” (2) of humankind.

He insisted that the nation was not something that existed naturally, and which then formed a state to protect its interests, as commonly imagined, but a fake entity invented to justify hierarchy and control: “It is the state which creates the nation, not the nation the state”. (3)

He added in the book Anarcho-Syndicalism (1938): “Dictatorship is the negation of organic development, of natural building from below upwards”. (4)

Rocker had been a conventional socialist in his youth and, like Gustav Landauer, often expressed his frustration at how that movement had failed to inspire authentic revolt against the capitalist system, allowing the Nazis to exploit discontent and sweep to power in his native Germany.

The socialist movement’s historic failure was partly a result of its participation in parliamentary politics, which he said had affected it “like an insidious poison”, spreading the “ruinous delusion that salvation always comes from above”. (5)

He added: “It did not even possess the moral strength to hold on to the achievements of bourgeois Democracy and Liberalism, and surrendered the country without resistance to Fascism, which smashed the entire labour movement to bits with one blow”. (6)

Rocker reminded his readers that the German Social Democrats had, in practice, ceased to be a revolutionary party and that when the November Revolution broke out in 1918 their newspaper, Vorwärts, warned workers against rushing to take part because it said the German people were not ready for a republic.

He concluded: “Its absolute impotence contributed not a little to enabling Germany to bask today in the sun of the Third Reich”. (7)

Rocker saw that socialism at the beginning of the 20th century had drifted into a “gradual assimilation to the modes of thought of capitalist society” (8) – a fate which threatens other supposedly radical currents 100 years later.

In contrast to this, he developed a revolutionary philosophy which, in Noam Chomsky’s words, “stands in opposition to all the dominant tendencies in modern social and political thought”. (9)

Noam Chomsky

Explains Chomsky: “In Rocker’s radically different conception, people must take their lives and their work into their own hands. Only through their own struggle for liberation will ordinary people come to comprehend their true nature, suppressed and distorted within institutional structures designed to assure obedience and subordination”. (10)

In rejecting the lie of salvation from above, Rocker pointed to the potential for liberation from below, from within, from what Chomsky describes as a “deeply rooted striving for freedom, justice, compassion and solidarity”. (11)

Rocker’s vision was, of course, an anarchist vision – an organic anarchist vision, in fact – and he highlighted the contrast between the vibrant Spanish anarchism of the 1930s and socialism in his home country.

He wrote: “The libertarian labour movement in Spain has never lost itself in the labyrinth of an economic metaphysics which crippled its intellectual buoyancy by fatalistic conceptions, as was the case in Germany; nor has it unprofitably wasted its energy in the barren routine tasks of bourgeois parliaments.

“Socialism was for it a concern of the people, an organic growth proceeding from the activity of the masses themselves and having its basis in their economic organizations”. (12)

For Rocker, anarchism was not some kind of fixed, self-enclosed social system, but a current which battled for the “free unhindered unfolding of all the individual and social forces in life”. (13)

The possibility of another world, a free anarchist world, was already there within human nature and the goal of anarchism was to release this “vital concrete possibility for every human being to bring to full development all the powers, capacities and talents with which nature has endowed him, and turn them to social account”. (14)

The less the “natural development” (15) of humanity was constrained by any kind of authority, the more harmonious it would be.

Freedom, that is to say the right to unhindered individual and collective self-fulfilment, therefore had to be defended against social and economic tyranny by “the violent resistance of the populace”. (16)

Rocker wrote: “Great mass movements among the people and whole revolutions have been necessary to wrest these rights from the ruling classes, who would never have consented to them voluntarily. One need only study the history of the past three hundred years to understand by what relentless struggles every right has to be wrested inch by inch from the despots”. (17)

Rocker’s explanation of the effects of industrial society on its human victims echoes Ferdinand Tönnies’ account of the transition from traditional Gemeinschaft (community) to industrial-capitalist Gesellschaft (society).

He wrote that the natural human ties which had previously existed between the old master-workman and his journeymen had no meaning for the modern proletarian, who, since the industrial revolution, had become merely an object of exploitation by a class with which he no longer had any social relationship.

“Socially uprooted, he had become just a component of a great mass of shipwrecked beings, who had all been smitten by the same fate.

“The modern proletarian, he was the man of the machine, a machine of flesh and blood who set the machine of steel in motion, to create wealth for others, while the actual producer of this wealth must perish in misery”. (18)

Rocker fled his native Germany to escape repression in 1892 and ended up in England, “the mother country of capitalist big industry”. (19)

Although he was a Gentile, he became involved in the Jewish anarchist movement in London, learnt Yiddish and lived in the Jewish community.

He was interned during the First World War, and in 1918 he was deported from Britain and returned to Germany, only to be forced out of his home country by the arrival of the Nazi regime in 1933. He spent the rest of his life in the USA.

1. Rudolf Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism (London: Pluto Press, 1989), p. 11.
2. Rudolf Rocker, Nationalism and Culture, cit. Peter Marshall, Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism, (London: Fontana Press, 1993), p. 419.
3. Ibid.
4. Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism, p. 75.
5. Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism, p. 83.
6. Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism, p. 85.
7. Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism, p. 97.
8. Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism, p. 84.
9. Noam Chomsky, Preface, Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism, p. vi.
10. Chomsky, Preface, Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism, p. vii.
11. Ibid.
12. Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism, p. 98.
13. Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism, p. 31.
14. Ibid.
15. Ibid.
16. Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism, pp. 111-12.
17. Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism, p. 112.
18. Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism, p. 43.
19. Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism, p. 56.

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6. Acorninfo

Following the success of the 2018 decentralised anarchist festival in London, the 2019 version is being extended across the UK and Ireland. Explains the website: “The idea is simple: groups put on their own programme of anarchist events, concentrating on the dates of the long weekend of 31st May to the 2nd June 2019”. Check out the programme here.

* * *

Green Anti-Capitalist Front, the activist organisation formed to give a radical edge to XR’s London protests, is going from strength to strength. On May 4, around 70 people attended its second open assembly, noting the greenwashing agenda behind the so-called Green New Deal, putting an emphasis on anti-imperialism and solidarity with the Global South and calling for direct action in response to specific ecological threats, like airport expansions.

* * *

The fight is on to stop a theme park being built on the bonnie bonnie banks of Loch Lomond. Explain Save Loch Lomond campaigners: “The developer’s own Environmental Impact Assessments states that there will be damage to ancient woodland, pollution of standing and running water, red squirrel and otter fatalities and more, all for the construction of woodland lodges, treetop walkways, a hotel, restaurant, brewery, a monorail and much more, all to be built on what is currently public land but which will be sold off to the developer. This is about protecting our world-famous environment but it’s also about the fundamental question of who owns Scotland and who our beautiful country is for”.

* * *

Brazil is a neoliberal state which has fostered economic development at any price through capital incentives. After Australia, it is the second largest ore exporter in the world and is scarred by no fewer than 430 ore dams. This report on the guilhotina.info site warns that the mining business has turned the country into a time bomb, with disaster after disaster caused by the industry’s greed. Movements opposing the dams have been met with repression and assassinations.

* * *

Resistance News is a free monthly newsletter providing analysis and commentary on ecology, global capitalism, empire, and revolution, linked to the Deep Green Resistance News Service. The May 2019 issue can be found here.

* * *

A new international campaign has been launched to defend the Rojava revolution and its achievements. Riseup4Rojava’s online call declares: “We must expose and attack the military and diplomatic cooperation between the AKP-MHP government and opportunist governments of the USA and Western European states. We have to build a collective resistance against the cooperation of our governments with Turkish fascism”.

* * *

“Extinction Rebellion is part of our capitalist system” – according to Bill Jamieson, business writer at The Scotsman. “Climate change activism and campaigns for sustainability are part and parcel of capitalist progression”, he adds, in case we had not caught his drift. And who is Bill? “He is a passionate advocate of the positive overall economic effects of championing entrepreneurs and why over-regulation and risk aversion can damage our economy”, say specialistseakers.com.

* * *

Acorn quote: “What is an anarchist? One who, choosing, accepts the responsibility of choice”.

Ursula K. Le Guin

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

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“The X Agenda”: what does XR actually stand for?

acorn 2019b

A special report 

 

xr-letterx

On Wednesday May 1 2019 the UK Parliament declared a “climate emergency”.

Extinction Rebellion and its supporters were, needless to say, cock-a-hoop.

Their big London protest-cum-lobby had achieved one of their main demands.

After four centuries of rapacious, violent, militaristic capitalism, the British state had miraculously changed course towards a new and fluffy future.

And all because of people partying in the streets of London and smiling at the police.

A certain gloating tone had crept into XR’s communications even before the official announcement was made.

“Despite the active opposition by the established climate activist groups, the left and the big NGOs, look at what #ExtinctionRebellion has achieved” they tweeted.

Eh? What? Active opposition from whom?

[UPDATE MAY 4. XR SEEM TO HAVE NOW DELETED THE TWEET]

For many of us, XR’s moment of triumph seems less like the end of one phase of environmental campaigning than the beginning of a new one, of vast dimensions.

When XR launched their sister XR Business site on Easter Monday, they opened the eyes of thousands of people to something a little odd about their organisation.

Delaunching it two days later, because of the backlash, couldn’t put the toothpaste back in the tube.

All over the place, people are now catching up with Cory Morningstar’s detailed exposés of the climate change lobby and reaching their own conclusions.

A collective probing behind the scenes of the XR spectacle is unearthing more and more inconvenient truths.

XR-Elkington4
John Elkington of Volans

Take, for instance, this article from 2016 by John Elkington, which has been drawn to our attention.

Elkington, alongside Volans Ventures Ltd colleague Louise Kjellerup Roper, is one of the XR “business leaders” featured on the missing website and in the XR Business letter to The Times.

He is also involved in the Tomorrow’s Capitalism Inquiry backed by companies like Aviva Investors, Covestro, and Unilever, the massive transnational consumer goods company.

The article is entitled “Tomorrow’s Business Models will be X-rated” and the letter X is a theme which runs through the whole text.

Elkington starts off talking about the California Gold Rush but adds: “The latest rush — in pursuit of exponential opportunities, or ‘X’ — feels even more seismic. The deeper I dig, the more potential opportunities surface to transform capitalism, markets and business in pursuit of sustainable development”.

XR-Elkington5
XR supporter and air mile collector John Elkington.

Strangely for a supporter of environmentalism, Elkington boasts that he has been “accumulating air miles at an almost exponential rate”.

One of his many jet-set missions was to “Google’s X facility, the self-styled ‘Moonshot Factory'”, he explains.

“When visiting X last week, I was fascinated to see robotic arms, futuristic model aircraft dangling from the high ceilings (they have colonized an old shopping mall) and the sort of radar scanner used to guide autonomous cars.

“But my theme here is less the technology than the business models that are helping turn new technology into viable businesses — especially businesses that can help drive progress towards UN’s Sustainable Development Goals”.

XR-Elkington3

Talking about the “Sustainability X agenda”, Elkington calls for a radical reinvention of what he charmingly calls the “Sustainability Industry”.

The Volans boss writes: “As leaders learn to ‘Think Sustainably,’ they will also need to learn to ‘Think X,’ shorthand for ‘Think Exponential’.

“In the same way that they once looked to activists and social entrepreneurs for evidence of where markets were headed, they must now engage a very different set of players.

“These new players are not happy with 1% or even 10% year-on-year improvements, instead pushing towards 10X — or 10-fold — improvements over time”.

This last sentence is worth reading again.

“The X agenda”. “Sustainablity X”. “X-rated” business models. Massive profits. Spiralling economic growth.

If Think X is shorthand for Think Exponential, as this XR Business Leader insists, what does XR actually stand for?

XR-volans

Rebellion Extinction: a capitalist scam to hijack our resistance

 So who exactly is Christiana Figueres?

Find out more about organic radicalism

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So who exactly is Christiana Figueres?

acorn 2019b

Another special report 

“By 2050 efforts to slow climate change could make us $19 trillion richer”- The Grantham Institute

This follow-up to our exposé of Extinction Rebellion’s business wing is again intended to warn genuine eco-activists and anti-capitalists about the strange forces lurking behind the scenes of the “climate action” movement. For more info on all this we recommend Cory Morningstar’s Wrong Kind of Green blog.

 

“We have seen powerful and courageous civil disobedience in the streets of London this week”, enthuses the woman on the YouTube video.

Placing Extinction Rebellion in a proud political tradition including the US civil rights movement and the Suffragettes, she declares: “What they are doing is waking everyone up to the fact that we do have an emergency on climate change. We are simply not acting fast enough”.

The title of the video, posted by the Global Optimism channel, is “Christiana Figueres in support of Extinction Rebellion”.

Figueres, for those who do not know, is an international mover and shaker generally regarded as the architect of the Paris Agreement which resulted from COP 21 in 2015.

But where exactly is this Costa Rican diplomat coming from and what sort of “environmentalism” does she represent?

Her family background is certainly interesting.

Born in 1956, Christiana is the daughter of the three-time Costa Rican President José Figueres Ferrer, aka Don Pepe.

Don Pepe waves the flag

Remembered mainly for his fervent anti-communism, Christiana’s late father admitted to the New York Times in 1981 that he had been aided by the CIA and that he was “a good friend” of its director Alan Dulles.

Christiana’s older brother José María Figueres was also President of Costa Rica, from 1994 to 1998.

The US connection seems to run in the family. According to Wikipedia: “Figueres completed his undergraduate studies at the United States Military Academy (West Point).

“While attending West Point, he attended and completed the US Army’s Ranger Training Course in 1975. Later, he continued his academic studies at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University”.

José María Figueres

As President he aimed to “transform the Costa Rican economy towards one of higher productivity” and “the administration is credited with having worked to advance and promote further integration of Costa Rica into the globalised economy”.

Christiana’s brother shares her enthusiasm for “sustainability” – within an entirely capitalist context, of course.

He is on the Board of Trustees of the US-based Rocky Mountain Institute, which, in its own words, “transforms global energy use to create a clean, prosperous, and secure low-carbon future”.

José María’s profile on its site explains that he pioneered the linkage between sustainable development and technology while in power in Costa Rica and then with the United Nations.

He was also the first CEO of the World Economic Forum, where he “strengthened global corporate ties to social and governmental sectors”.

José María must have lots to discuss over family meals with his brother-in-law, Christiana’s husband Konrad von Ritter.

Von Ritter

Having worked for the World Bank for 20 years, von Ritter is co-founder and board member of WEnergy Global Pte Ltd in Singapore, founded in 2012.

This firm works in close co-operation with WE Renewables, founded in 2016.

One of WE Renewables’ stated aims is “to build a network of investment initiatives for renewable energy projects in Asia”.

Another is “increasing the involvement and awareness of the public and industry on sustainable energy solutions”.

But enough of Christiana’s family, fascinating though they are! What about the woman herself?

Christiana Figueres

As executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Figueres has built an impressive global reputation.

She is joint 2019 winner, for instance, of Israel’s Dan David Prize, for her efforts in “combatting climate change”.

Her profile on the World Bank website (she is World Bank Climate Leader) praises her for work in bringing people together on the climate issue, not least “corporations and activists”.

Christiana is convenor of the UN’s Mission2020, which declares: “We’re on a mission to drive urgent action to limit the effects of climate change, particularly for the most vulnerable people and countries.

“With radical collaboration and stubborn optimism we will bend the curve of global GHG emissions by 2020, enabling humanity to flourish”.

Mission2020 hopes to achieve this by means of “targeted, high-level diplomacy”, “multi-stakeholder convening” and “creative strategic communications”.

Some of Mission2020’s eco-buddies, as advertised on its site

There was a glowing report of Mission2020’s launch on The Grantham Institute’s website.

It gushed: “The Mission 2020 movement views the climate challenge, not as a burden; but a tremendous opportunity.

“Through being ambitious they aim to inspire us all to meet the challenge, spur innovation, create new jobs and economic opportunities, and while at the same time nurture the benefits we get from an unspoiled natural environment.

“The campaign states that the intrinsic value of the benefits of climate action extend beyond just economic metrics, and indicate that by 2050 efforts to slow climate change could make us $19 trillion richer”.

Among her many roles, Christiana Figueres is a member of the Rockefeller Foundation Economic Council on Planetary Health, an “assembly of global experts” launched in 2017.

Figueres is ideologically very keen on connecting the public and private sectors and has made a significant personal contribution to that fusion.

For instance, she is a member of Acciona, “a global company with a business model based on sustainability”.

Its aim is to “respond to society’s main needs through the provision of renewable energy, infrastructure, water and services”.

She is also on the advisory board of international experts set up by Italian energy company Eni to “analyze the main geopolitical, technological and economic trends, including issues related to the decarbonisation process”.

Figueres is involved in The B Team, co-founded by Richard Branson, which describes itself as an “initiative formed by a global group of business leaders to catalyse a better way of doing business”.

On its website, The B Team reveals it is supported by Ford Foundation, Kering Group, Guilherme Leal, Strive Masiyiwa, Joann McPike, The Tiffany and Co. Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, Unilever and Virgin Unite.

Chaired by Paul Polman, former Unilever CEO and one of the XR business leaders described in our last article, The B Team was of course right behind the XR Business initiative (for which the website seems to have been withdrawn for the meantime).

There may be XR supporters and activists out there who think that none of this matters, that it is better to be supported by business interests than opposed by them, that it is even an encouraging sign that big companies are getting on board an environmental struggle.

We would ask them to contemplate these two points:

1. High-profile movements like XR are good news for those who want to pressure governments to channel massive amounts of funding into the “renewables” sector.

2. They are particularly good (and lucrative) news for businesses and individuals who have a financial stake in the renewables sector.

The dangers to the environmental movement from capitalist involvement are clear. It risks being:

* Exploited for private business aims.

* Severely compromised in the eyes of the public.

* Used as “social licence” to launch a “Green New Deal”, a “Fourth Industrial Revolution”.

* Limited to calling merely for a “nicer” form of capitalism, rather than for its abolition.

* Used to prop up a global complex based on social injustice, imperialism, racism, militarism and exploitation.

* Limited to addressing the climate change impact of industrialism, ignoring all the other forms of pollution, destruction and contamination that we are facing and which would continue unabated in a “renewable” capitalist future.

* Prevented from challenging economic growth itself and instead envisioning a future of degrowth, where production is based on needs, not profit.

Our message to XR activists and supporters is simple.

If we really want to save the future of our living planet, we need to bring down the capitalist system.

And we are never going to bring down capitalism by collaborating with capitalists.

Find out more about organic radicalism

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Rebellion Extinction: a capitalist scam to hijack our resistance

acorn 2019b

Special report

XR logo

[UPDATE. WEDNESDAY APRIL 24 2019. FOLLOWING WIDESPREAD GRASSROOTS DISQUIET OVER THE XR BUSINESS WEBSITE, IT HAS BEEN TAKEN DOWN. WHAT THIS MEANS FOR XR AND ITS POSITION ON CAPITALISM IS NOT YET CLEAR. WE WILL PUBLISH FURTHER REPORTS AS INFORMATION COMES IN]

When Extinction Rebellion first burst into action in the UK last November, it felt as if something was finally going to change.

Their high-profile arrival on the political scene had a noticeable effect on awareness of environmental issues and gave people permission to speak more freely than before about our society and its relationship to nature.

Yes, there were many criticisms of XR tactics and language from the likes of the new Green Anti-Capitalist Front and activist Emily Apple.

But when this month’s big week of action in London got underway, with Waterloo Bridge and Oxford Circus blocked and Marble Arch occupied, it felt as if something important and radical was happening.

And perhaps it was, because, presumably, the vast majority of those who turned out, including the nearly 1,000 who were arrested, genuinely believe that our civilization needs to change course if life on this earth is to survive.

But the integrity of XR as an organisation was dealt a fatal blow on Easter Monday, when its Twitter account started plugging links to a new website called XR Business, which had been announced in a letter to The Times.

Among the signatories was Gail Bradbrook, director and shareholder of Compassionate Revolution Ltd and Holding Group member of XR. This is just not some separate support group, but an intrinsic part of the XR apparatus.

The very existence of the site was bad enough, but the home page was (and is) hideous. A corporate satellite view of Europe lit up like a Christmas tree. What sort of environmental movement would choose such imagery?

xrbusiness

We should have seen this coming. We had, after all, already read investigative journalist Cory Morningstar’s excellent digging into the “climate change” industry on her Wrong Kind of Green blog.

But somehow we wanted to give XR the benefit of the doubt and even naively plugged the London protests in our last bulletin.

The XR Business site, however, is a declaration of Rebellion Extinction. This is now officially an ex-Rebellion, shorn of all pretence of radicalism.

Instead, what we find is a list of “business leaders” who have identified environmental catastrophe as yet another get-rich opportunity.

And they are prepared to hijack and exploit people’s real love for life and nature in order to push their profiteering agenda.

First name on the list of these so-called “leaders” is Seb Beloe, partner at WHEB

XR-sebbeloe
Seb Beloe

WHEB describes itself as “a positive impact investor focused on the opportunities created by the transition to a low carbon and sustainable global economy”.

It adds: “We focus on nine sustainable investment themes with strong growth characteristics, derived from providing solutions to major social and environmental challenges”.

On a page headed “thought leadership” WHEB announces that it is “actively involved” in organisations “at the leading edge of sustainable and responsible investment”.

These include the Global Impact Investing Network, which explains in turn on its website that it brings together “impact investors and intermediaries who have the capacity to invest and intervene at scale, making multi-million dollar investments and aggregating funds large enough to access institutional capital”.

Another XR “business leader” is Amy Clarke, co-founder of Tribe Impact Capital LLP, which boasts the snappy tagline “A New Wealth Order”.

XR-amyclarke
Amy Clarke

Clarke is very proud of having “spent time” at investment firm EY (“helping clients embrace industry disruption as an opportunity“), PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers), Microsoft, and the Bank of America.

Needless to say, Tribe Impact Capital shows little interest in challenging capitalism (the clue is in the name!) or in calling for degrowth. Its goal is, rather, “long-term positive impact and growth for everyone”.

XR “business leaders” John Elkington and Louise Kjellerup Roper, come from Volans Ventures Ltd.

They are involved in the Tomorrow’s Capitalism Inquiry backed by companies like Aviva Investors, The Body Shop International, Covestro, and Unilever, the massive transnational consumer goods company.

XR-paulpolman
Paul Polman

Paul Polman, until recently CEO of Unilever plc, is also on the XR roll of honour, in fact.

And Jeremy Leggett, very active in promoting XR Business online, is founder and director of Solarcentury Ltd, which names Unilever as one of its “partners”.

Another XR business groupie is Jake Hayman, whose Ten Years’ Time programme “is tailored for the next generation of high-net worth families who are looking to invest capital into ambitious new ideas rather than following the crowd to safe ground”.

It’s that c-word word again!

Another XR Business enthusiast for “green” technology is Samer Salty, co-founder and managing partner of the infrastructure and private equity fund manager, Zouk Capital LLP.

Its site tells us: “Zouk’s infrastructure strategy capitalises on the global shift to greater sustainability.

XR-samer-salty
Samer Salty

“The fund targets a diverse range of sectors across Europe, including emerging utility-scale battery storage projects as well as wind, solar, waste-to-energy, electric vehicles and geothermal”.

It was announced in February 2019 that Zouk is entering into exclusive negotiations to manage the UK Government’s £400m CIIF investment fund aimed at helping to increase the uptake of electric vehicles in the UK.

No vested interests involved there, then, nor with XR supporter Michael F. H. Bonte-Friedheim, CEO and founding partner of NextEnergy Capital, “the leading international solar investment and asset manager”.

XR Business also boasts the support of Tomas Carruthers, CEO of Project Heather: “We’re building a stock exchange for the 21st century. It’s time to add ‘impact’ to ‘risk and reward'”.

The key to understanding the XR phenomenon comes perhaps from its business backers Charmian Love and Amanda Feldman.

They are co-founders of Heliotropy Ltd, terming themselves “Builders of a brighter future”.

XR-heliotropy

On the surface everything seems yummy and wholesome. Explaining its name, the site says: “Heliotropy is a phenomenon in nature where certain plants (or parts, like flowers) grow in response to the stimulus of sunlight, so that they turn to face the sun.

“We believe humans are similarly motivated by the power of heliotropy. We will grow taller, faster and stronger when motivated by light, warmth and positivity, rather than fear and despair”.

Heliotropy says it is all about “Mobilising Movements”. It declares: “Today’s problems are interconnected, and movements must join forces to solve them. We are convening emerging leaders from global movements to imagine new ways of collaborating”.

But Heliotropy is a microcosm for the world of XR as a whole. Beneath the nicey-nicey surface lurks something rather nasty-nasty.

If you click on the section entitled “Reimagining Corporate Capital” you are taken to a site called Corporate Impact X.

XR-corporateimpactx

This explains: “Corporate Impact X is a practitioner-led project designed to support corporations in developing high impact venturing, collaboration and investment strategies”.

It offers a report called “Investing Breakthrough: Corporate Venture Capital”. Sadly the link does not work properly, though it does point the would-be investor towards Volans, the aforementioned buddies of XR, Tomorrow’s Capitalism and Unilever.

The link to a second report, “Beyond the B1nary – Delivering Profits and Purpose Through Corporate Venturing” does work.

The “Thank You for Reading” section here is extremely revealing:

“Thank you to Elizabeth Boggs Davidsen of the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), of the Inter-American Development Bank Group, for managing this project and to the Inclusive Business Action Network (IBAN), a global partnership implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) for providing the funding. We are
grateful for the support of Global Corporate Venturing and Saïd Business School, Oxford University”.

It adds that the project was developed and delivered by Charmian Love (CorporateImpactX), whose email is given as charmian@corporteimpactx.com

Just to be clear, this is Charmian Love of the fluffy-sounding Heliotropy Ltd, who is one of XR’s select band of business leaders.

XR-corporateventure
This Corporate Venturing project was developed and delivered by Extinction Rebellion’s Charmian Love. Well done Charmian!

It should be clear to anyone who has taken a look at the snarling capitalist agenda behind XR’s smiley eco-mask that they are not to be trusted.

If the movement is as democratic as it claims to be, it may still be possible for genuine environmentalists to wrest control of XR. Who knows?

Otherwise, decent people should get out as fast as they can and form new networks of resistance which fight to bring down the ecocidal industrial capitalist system, rather than to prop it up.

As the eco-activist Judi Bari put it: “There is no such thing as green capitalism. Serious ecologists must be revolutionaries”.

See also: So who exactly is Christiana Figueres?

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The Acorn – 48

acorn 2019b

Number 48

In this issue:

  1. Shutting down the capital
  2. Final push against UK fracking
  3. Gilets Jaunes: “We must exit capitalism”
  4. Judi Bari: an orgrad inspiration
  5. For an anti-sectarian revolutionary left
  6. “The Land Shall Sink”
  7. Acorninfo

1. Shutting down the capital

xrap15-1.jpg

Eco-protesters are planning to bring London to a standstill from Monday April 15.

Supporters of Extinction Rebellion (XR) aim to block traffic at four central locations “around the clock” to highlight the urgent issues of climate change and wildlife declines.

They will take to the streets from 11am at Marble Arch, Oxford Circus, Waterloo Bridge and Parliament Square.

As part of an international day of protests, thousands of people will converge on the four busy locations in the UK capital, blocking traffic and creating a festival of action including people’s assemblies, performances, talks, workshops and food.

And the idea is that they be will back the next day, and the day after that, for up to two weeks. Unless, of course, the UK state suddenly sees the light and decides to dismantle the industrial capitalist system.

Say XR: “Under our current system, we are headed for disaster. Catastrophic climate breakdown will cause food collapse, destroy communities, kill millions, and render many more homeless.

“Mass extinction of wild species will lead to ecological collapse, and when they go, we go. Destruction of natural habitats will lead to genocide of indigenous peoples and the loss of our planet’s life support systems”.

XRnov

As we reported in Acorn 45, XR’s first big day of action was on Saturday November 17 2018, when some 6,000 people took to the streets of London.

While recognising XR’s amazing success in mobilising people, some activists who have “doubts about some of the tactics that XR has adopted” (see Acorn 47) have announced a parallel mobilisation.

The Green Anti-Capitalist Front is calling for like-minded folk to gather at 12 noon on Monday April 15 outside St Paul’s Cathedral.

They add: “We will be assembling at St Paul’s for a tour of the heart of global extractive finance, also known as the City of London.

“Unlike Extinction Rebellion, we are not asking you to get arrested but we must highlight the fact that capitalism is the root cause of this crisis and bring this message to the workplaces of the people profiting from environmental destruction.

“We are calling for all anti-capitalists to join us on the street and show that London is both red and green”.

GAF logo

For our part, The Acorn would add that the only real way to solve the environmental crisis is to end the global industrial capitalist system.

Governments, which are a central part of that system, are not going to do that, no matter how loudly we ask them. The people will have to do it for themselves!

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2. Final push against UK fracking!

frackfreemission2

Is the tide finally beginning to turn in the battle to stop fracking in the UK?

That was the hope sparked on April 3 by the dramatic legal victory against the draconian injunction used by fracking firm Ineos to try and stop legal protests.

The court of appeal struck out the sections applying to protests on the public highway, including slow walking protests, climbing on to vehicles and blocking the road. It also removed the section on protests against the supply chain.

The ruling declared: “The citizen’s right of protest is not to be diminished by advance fear of committal except in the clearest of cases.”

Joe Corre, one of the frack-free campaigners involved, told The Independent: “I’m pretty confident we’re going to win this war, and we are not going to have fracking in this country.

“But because they have invested so much time and energy and money into this, they are not going to go quietly, so we’re going to have to double down, up our efforts and finish them off.”

Campaigns like Extinction Rebellion and the French Yellow Vests have been effective because of the sheer numbers of people taking part, from a diversity of backgrounds.

The last push against fracking will only be successful if it is not left to the same hardy but weary group of activists who have been fighting the cause for years.

The fracking industry is well aware of the massive public opposition to its nature-destroying activities and Ineos representative Tom Pickering seemed to be in panic mode when he denounced campaigners, claiming: “We stand for jobs and opportunity. They stand for anarchy in the UK”!

anarchy in the uk

The main focus in the English battle against fracking is currently in the north. Cuadrilla’s shale gas site in Lancashire is paused, but there is still some activity there and regular protests.

Rathlin Energy’s “tight oil” site at West Newton, near Hull in East Yorkshire is planning to use acidisation.

At the IGas shale gas exploratory site in Mission Springs, Nottinghamshire, horizontal drilling is due to begin soon, then fracking.

A solidarity day is being staged at the gates there on Monday April 22, from 10am. Say Mission Springs campaigners: “We will have music, speakers, cake and hopefully beautiful sunshine!”

It is crucial for the future of the English countryside, and indeed of the living planet, that the fracking industry is kept on the run.

As one online frack-free bulletin declares: “Could 2019 be the year fracking is finally consigned to the dustbin of history?

“Well, that all depends on what each one of us does to make sure that it is! After all, fracking is stoppable, another world is possible!”

frack off protest

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3. Gilets Jaunes: “We must exit capitalism”

stnaz2

On the weekend of April 5-7, more than 800 Yellow Vest delegates from all over France gathered in the town of Saint-Nazaire for the second Assembly of the Assemblies of the Gilets Jaunes movement.

At the same time as occupying roundabouts, blocking roads, liberating motorway toll booths and filling the streets of French cities and towns every Saturday since November, the astonishing Gilets Jaunes have also been experimenting with a system of direct democracy.

A call was issued at the end of the assembly, which will now be sent back down to more than 300 local groups for their approval.

Our comrades at yellowvests.wtf have published this English translation of the call.

Sunday, April 7th, 2019

We submit this call for adoption by vote of the local assemblies.

We, Yellow Vests, constituted as an assembly of our local assemblies met in Saint-Nazaire on April 5th, 6th, and 7th 2019.

We address the people as a whole.

Following the first assembly in Commercy, two hundred delegations continued their fight against liberal extremism and for freedom, equality, and fraternity.

The struggle has taken root to overturn the system embodied by Macron! This despite the government’s escalating repression: the laws that worsen everyone’s living conditions, that destroy rights and freedoms. The only response to the movement embodied by the Yellow Vests and other struggles was government panic – and an authoritarian turn. For five months now across France we have continued: on the roundabouts, in parking lots, in the squares, at toll booths, in the streets, and in our assemblies. We have continued to debate and fight against all forms of inequality and injustice, for solidarity and dignity.

We demand:

* A general increase in wages, pensions, and welfare.

* Public services for all.

Our solidarity in this struggle is with those nine million who live below the poverty line. Fully aware of the environmental emergency we declare: end of the world, end of the month, same logic, same fight.

stnaz3

Faced with the masquerade of “great debates” and a non-representative government who serve a privileged minority, we are putting into place new forms of direct democracy.

In concrete terms, we recognize that the Assembly of Assemblies can take up proposals from the local assemblies and issue resolutions as did the first Assembly of Assemblies at Commercy. These resolutions are then systematically submitted to the local assemblies for approval. The Assembly of Assemblies reaffirms its independence from political parties, trade unions, and any self-proclaimed “leaders”.

For three days in plenary session and in working groups, we all debated and elaborated proposals for our demands, actions, and means of communication & coordination. Planning for the long-haul, we decided to organize the next Assembly of Assemblies in June.

The Assembly of Assemblies calls for actions to tip the balance of power in our favor and marshal the citizenry against the system. A calendar of actions will soon be published on a new digital platform.

The Assembly of Assemblies calls for new, expanded, and strengthened sovereign citizens’ assemblies. We call on the Yellow Vests to echo this call and the outcomes of our Assembly’s work. The results of our plenary deliberations will feed into the actions and reflections of the local assemblies.

We are making several appeals: on the European elections, the local popular citizens’ assemblies, against repression, and for the annulation of penalties against the movements’ condemned & imprisoned. We believe it is necessary in the next three weeks to mobilize all the Yellow Vests and convince those yet unpersuaded. We call for a Yellow Week of Action starting the first of May.

We invite all those who wish to put an end to the monopolization of life to fight against the current system, to create together by all necessary means a new social, ecological, and popular movement. The multiplication of ongoing struggles calls us to seek united action.

We call for a collective fight at every level across the territory to guarantee our social, economic, ecological, and democratic demands. Knowing we must fight a global system, we must exit capitalism. This way we can collectively build the famous “all together” that we sing and that makes everything possible. We are all building together across the territory.

The power of the People, by the People, for the People.

Don’t watch us, join us.

– The Yellow Vests’ Assembly of Assemblies

stnaz1

For more Yellow Vest translations, reports and articles see our Gilets Jaunes page.

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4. Judi Bari: an orgrad inspiration

orgrad logo

A new website has been launched which challenges “to the core” the thinking of the industrial capitalist system. It presents the ideological alternative of an organic radicalism which it sources from a wide range of thinkers, past and present.

This philosophy, explains the orgrad site, is based on the idea of a living community, a social organism consisting of “horizontal relationships and exchanges between free human beings, rather than on sterile hierarchy”.

We at The Acorn very much identify with this tradition – hence the change in our masthead! Below we reproduce the article on Judi Bari, one of dozens of profiles of key orgrad inspirations on the site.

judi-bari

Judi Bari (1949-1997) was an American feminist and environmental activist, who organized Earth First! campaigns against logging in the ancient redwood forests of Northern California in the 1980s and ’90s.

There was a car bombing attempt on her life in 1990.

In ‘The Feminization of Earth First!’ in 1992 she recalled: “I was attracted to Earth First! because they were the only ones willing to put their bodies in front of the bulldozers and chainsaws to save the trees. They were also funny, irreverent, and they played music.

“But it was the philosophy of Earth First! that ultimately won me over. This philosophy, known as biocentrism or deep ecology, states that the Earth is not just here for human consumption.

“All species have a right to exist for their own sake, and humans must learn to live in balance with the needs of nature, instead of trying to mold nature to fit the wants of humans”. (1)

In a 1998 essay, ‘Revolutionary Ecology: Biocentrism & Deep Ecology’,  Bari went into greater depth about her ideological position.

She wrote: “Starting from the very reasonable, but unfortunately revolutionary concept that social practices which threaten the continuation of life on Earth must be changed, we need a theory of revolutionary ecology that will encompass social and biological issues, class struggle, and a recognition of the role of global corporate capitalism in the oppression of peoples and the destruction of nature.

“I believe we already have such a theory. It’s called deep ecology, and it is the core belief of the radical environmental movement”. (2)

She stressed that the central importance of nature exists independently of whether humans recognize it or not: “And the failure of modern society to acknowledge this – as we attempt to subordinate all of nature to human use – has led us to the brink of collapse of the earth’s life support systems”. (3)

Bari shared the core organic radical understanding that basing a political belief system on “ancient native wisdom” is, in the context of today’s industrial society, “profoundly revolutionary, challenging the system to its core”. (4)

judi bari banner

She rejected as absurd the idea that human beings could “own” parts of the earth and explained that because capitalism is based on private property it is “in direct conflict with the natural laws of biocentrism”. (5)

Bari was defiantly revolutionary, declaring: “This system cannot be reformed. It is based on the destruction of the earth and the exploitation of the people.

“There is no such thing as green capitalism, and marketing cutesy rainforest products will not bring back the ecosystems that capitalism must destroy to make its profits. This is why I believe that serious ecologists must be revolutionaries”. (6)

She was unimpressed by the Marxist disregard for nature and emphasis on industry. Bari contrasted its centralism and statism with a decentralised left-wing organic model for human societies.

She insisted: “Ecological socialism would mean organizing human societies in a manner that is compatible with the way that nature is organized. And I believe the natural order of the earth is bioregionalism, not statism. Modern industrial society robs us of community with each other and community with the earth”. (7)

Bari saw clearly the links between patriarchal and industrial-capitalist ways of thinking and acting.

She wrote: “Contrary to this masculine system of separation and dominance, eco-feminism seeks a science of nature. And this science of nature is a holistic and interdependent one, where you look at the whole thing and the way that everything interacts, not just the way that it can be when you separate it.

“And also it presupposes that humans are part of nature, and that our fates are inseparable; that we have to live within the earth’s fertility cycles and we can enhance those fertility cycles by our informed interaction”. (8)

Judi bari 2

1. http://historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/barifemef.html
2. http://www.judibari.org/revolutionary-ecology.html
3-8. Ibid.

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5. For an anti-sectarian revolutionary left

RED fist

The 10 hypotheses below were published recently by the Radical Education Department, an autonomous US-based collective “dedicated to the construction of a radical internationalist Left through the training and federation of its cultural warriors”.

They stress that they are not meant to serve as rigid principles but are part of an ongoing attempt to develop tactics and strategies that will maximize collective anti-capitalist power.

1. Our historical conjuncture is characterized by the widespread victory of global capitalism, which has succeeded in oppressing and exploiting the overwhelming majority of the world’s population, while simultaneously destroying the biosphere at an unprecedented pace. As we are given daily lessons in what the “end of history” actually means, it is increasingly urgent that the entire spectrum of the anti-capitalist Left find ways of working together in order to build collective revolutionary power.

2. Sectarianism divides the Left by pitting against one another individuals and groups that share a common enemy: capitalism. This is precisely why the hegemonic order has been so intent on fostering disputes and sectarian divisions within the hard Left, as the history of Cointelpro and the CIA’s psychological warfare campaigns demonstrates in great detail. “Divide and conquer” is the Establishment’s mantra.

3. Capitalism is a socioeconomic order whose history goes hand in hand with colonialism, racism, gender exploitation, ecological destruction and so forth. In identifying it as the central enemy, it is not a matter of privileging class over race or gender, as if these were all somehow separate and isolated phenomena, nor is it a question of crude economic reductionism. On the contrary, it is a matter of recognizing that capitalism has always functioned as a socioeconomic system in which racial and gender hierarchies structure the global division of labor and stratify society in such a way as to increase the exploitation and oppression of particular populations.

4. Non-sectarian revolutionary politics does not require the dissolution of communist, anarchist, revolutionary socialist, autonomist, indigenous, ecological or other radical organizations, nor does it necessitate their unification in an umbrella organization that seeks to efface the important differences between anti-capitalist groups. On the contrary, non-sectarianism simply means being open to working across traditional party and organizational alignments toward the common end of dismantling capitalism, and it can take many forms, such as the establishment of radical left coalitions on specific projects or the founding of groups and organizations that are not aligned on a single party platform.

5. Non-sectarianism does not mean the loss of a program. Instead, it should be understood as the furthering of a common negative strategy—anti-capitalism—advanced through a diversity of positive tactics, which will vary based on the precise material contexts and the groups involved. Non-sectarianism thus aims at developing a common program of capitalist abolition that does not, however, dictate the “only acceptable” tactics for contributing to it.

RED logo

6. There is no definitive blueprint for an anti-capitalist social revolution. There is a complex and multi-dimensional material history from which we can learn, and there are ongoing experiments with radical social transformation. Rather than presuming that the course of the future can be predetermined, activists on the hard Left would be better served to trade in unquestioned self-assurance and dogmatism for experimental fallibilism that draws on the entire spectrum of past and present revolutionary struggles.

7. The fact that there have been deep and sometimes bloody conflicts between radical leftists in the past should not mean that we are destined to repeat them in the future. On the contrary, we should learn from these conflicts and seek out strategies for overcoming them so that we can work together against our common enemy.

8. Revolutionary politics is an ongoing process of collective labor, which is at once theoretical and practical, and it thrives on the reflexive incorporation of multiple perspectives. In order to foster counter-hegemonic power in the current conjuncture, we need all hands on deck, and collective contributions to the forging of new methods and techniques that draw on the Left’s unique ability to mobilize productive self critique.

9. Our conjuncture is in dire need of new political imaginaries that open up the horizons of possibility by tapping into the collective creativity of the entire Left, which far surpasses the capabilities of individual revolutionaries or parties. Experimentalism has always been one of the strengths of revolutionary traditions, as well as the creative ability to develop unforeseen tactics that put our enemies on their heels, if not on their knees.

10. Instead of fighting amongst ourselves as capitalism daily edges us closer to the veritable end of history, we should identify points of convergence and cultivate forms of coalitional solidarity that allow us to build collective power. This requires expanding our political imaginations beyond the restricted confines of established political ideologies and the entrenched conflicts of the past, in order to join forces in the very real and urgent task of vanquishing the dominant socioeconomic order before it definitively destroys all of us!

luttesanticapitalistes

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6. “The Land Shall Sink”

cthulu

Eric Fleischmann explores the Lovecraftian nature of sea level rise.

In 1917, H.P. Lovecraft wrote the following lines in his short story “Dagon“: “I dream of a day when [the nameless things] may rise above the billows to drag down in their reeking talons the remnants of puny, war-exhausted mankind – of a day when the land shall sink, and the dark ocean floor shall ascend amidst universal pandemonium.”

Now, in the 21st century, it appears as though his unnamed narrator’s horrific vision has escaped Lovecraft’s fiction and entered into the real world.

As outlined by GlobalChange.gov, sea level is expected to rise anywhere from one to four feet by the year 2100 and only continue at the current rate or an even higher one in the following centuries.

Even small rises in sea level can have disastrous effects and, as Marine Insights reports, this poses an extreme threat to coastal areas – where almost 40% of the population in the United States resides – with flooding frequency projected to rise from 300% to 900% in comparison to what was recorded fifty years ago.

Other than the outer reaches of space there is possibly no place quite as mysterious and terrifyingly unknown as the ocean.

The National Ocean Service writes that more than 80% of this realm that covers about three fourths of our planet “remains unmapped, unobserved, and unexplored.”

The ocean has also historically presented a seemingly unfathomable dimension to reality – spawning legends of enormous beasts like Charybdis from Homer’s Odyssey, the biblical Leviathan, and the infamous kraken.

hplovecraft

This is certainly a central reason for Lovecraft’s interest in – along with those furthest regions of space – the watery deep, which helped inspire such things as the octopus-like Cthulhu who resides in the sunken nightmare corpse-city of R’lyeh.

To be openly dramatic, when we cause sea levels to rise, we are messing with forces we do not fully comprehend.

But saying we, as many on the left have pointed out, is a misleading generalization.

Although most individuals do have substantial impacts on the environment, many major environmental issues can be traced directly to a minority of capitalists.

As the often quoted point goes: Only about 100 companies are responsible for around 70% of greenhouse gas emissions – gases which are causing the heating of the earth and consequently sea level rise.

These capitalists are akin to Obed Marsh from Lovecraft’s The Shadow over Innsmouth who, in order to obtain wealth in the form of gold and a strange “foreign kind of jewellery,” is said to have helped the undersea monstrosities known as the Deep Ones infiltrate and genetically infect the town.

The drive of global capitalism to squeeze every last cent out of the natural world is bringing the ocean to our doorsteps, just as if we were the partially complicit yet also victimized residents of cursed Innsmouth.

The aforementioned link between the heating of the earth and rising sea levels is specifically the expansion of water when it warms and the deterioration of ice sheets, but certainly the most famous such process is the melting of glaciers.

This is all well and widely known, but consider that the oldest glacial ice in Antarctica is possibly 1,000,000 years old and the oldest in Greenland is more than 100,000 years old.

This whole affair is not just about the stirring of deep and mysterious forces but also ancient ones, and perhaps no one mulled over the consequences of awakening ancient hibernating entities more than H.P. Lovecraft.

at the mountains of madness

At the Mountains of Madness, one of Lovecraft’s novellas, is written as an account by the geologist William Dyer of his encounter with the strange Elder Things and shoggoths – existing in a formerly-passive state beneath the arctic – in the hope it will deter further exploration.

These creatures, like the annual 260 gigatons of water released from glaciers between 2003 and 2009, are being brought back into play, and humanity is now under existential threat because of it.

Many authors have discussed how climate change poses certain cosmic and anti-humanist threats to our anthropocentric understanding of the world.

Eugene Thacker, in In the Dust of this Planet: Horror of Philosophy (Volume 1), considers how it is difficult to think “of the world as absolutely unhuman, and indifferent to the hopes, desires, and struggles of human individuals and groups.”

But this “Cosmic Pessimism” is represented by media images of, for example, “the cataclysmic effects of climate change.”

In Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World, Timothy Morton discusses the titular hyperobjects – objects massively distributed spatially and temporarily – in particular global warming along with several other items of ecological concern such as Styrofoam cups, plastic bags, and nuclear radiation.

According to Morton, “By understanding hyperobjects, human thinking has summoned Cthulhu-like entities into social, psychic, and philosophical space. The contemporary philosophical obsession with the monstrous provides a refreshing exit from human-scale thoughts.”

glacier

Glaciers and oceans are certainly hyperobjects and the images of their respective melting and rising can serve as some of Thacker’s representations, but sea level rise is Lovecraftian in a particularly vivid aesthetic dimension.

The ocean is an alien and largely unknown portion of the earth and glacial water is a primordial force finally being released after a slumber that has lasted eons.

In a video released a few months ago, academic internet personality ContraPoints makes the observation that one problem facing environmental activists is that climate change fundamentally lacks an antagonist.

Furthermore, an important point of Morton’s book as well as James Bridle’s New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future is that climate change is so vast and vague that it cannot be pinned down, quantified, or fully thought.

Bridle even derives the title of his work from a passage in The Call of Cthulhu – which he also quotes wholly within the book – that contains the line: “We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far.”

In the context of this piece, this apt metaphor seems to verge on the literal. With all this in mind, perhaps a strategy of environmental thought could be to identify an antagonism within this gargantuan, undefinable, and unthinkable thing called climate change.

If we are capable of revealing a more horrifying, Lovecraftian nature to at least sea level rise, is it possible we might induce a response closer to that which would ensue if Cthulhu truly rose from the depths?

sealevel 2

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7. Acorninfo

Action against the coal-mining industry is being planned in the Rhineland from June 19 to 24. Says the 2019 Ende Gelände call-out: “Last year we fought with thousands of other people in a broad alliance for the Hambi (Hambacher Forest). This year we stand side by side with all the people whose homes are being destroyed by coal and the climate crisis. In solidarity with the people from Keyenberg, Kuckum and the other villages at the Garzweiler opencast mine, we want to stop the destruction on site. Therefore we will block the coal infrastructure. This is our immediate measure for global climate justice. All villages remain – in the Rhineland and worldwide!”

endegelande19

* * *

Earth First! UK has announced that its 2019 summer moot will be held in north-east England from August 14 to 20. This will be a week-long camp to build a culture for active non-hierarchical grassroots ecological resistance.

EFsummer19

* * *

June 1 2019 has been designated Global Degrowth Day by campaigners calling for a “Good Life for All”. There will be public events all over the world to share alternatives to a society based on profit and economic “growth”. People are invited to take part with their own happenings.

degrowthday

* * *

“Rather than engaging with the fact that capitalism itself is destructive, governments and liberal environmentalists are promoting corporate responses to the problems posed by climate change,” warns this very relevant article by Crimethinc on false solutions to global climate change. It adds: “They aren’t going to stop destroying the planet until we make it too costly for them to continue. The sooner we do, the better”.

crimethinc-climate

* * *

Gilets Jaunes in the Basque country are calling for a massive mobilisation against the G7 when it meets in Biarritz in August. They will be protesting against “world leaders who defend an ultra-liberal economy which offers us nothing”.

GJ basques

* * *

The US state-business complex used the 9/11 “terrorism” paranoia to launch a McCarthyite “Green Scare” assault on radical environmentalists. In this in-depth article in The Intercept, Alleen Brown unveils the machinations behind the systems’s war on those it smears as “eco-terrorists”.

greenscare

* * *

The dystopian nightmare of “predictive” policing is highlighted in an article by Peter Yeung on the Wired website. He writes: “The implications of being on the matrix can be chilling, but finding out why you are on it, let alone how to be removed, is extremely difficult. One family received a letter warning they would be evicted from their home if their son didn’t stop his involvement with gangs – but he had been dead for more than a year.”

predictivepolicing

* * *

“Identity politics is not liberatory, but reformist. It is nothing but a breeding ground for aspiring middle class identity politicians. Their long-term vision is the full incorporation of traditionally oppressed groups into the hierarchical, competitive social system that is capitalism, rather than the destruction of that system”. This timely and searing attack by the Woke Anarchists Collective on the curse of reformist anarcho-liberalism is now available in the online Anarchist Library.

Woke Anarchists

* * *

The impact of direct action is explored in an April 2 article on the Conflict Minnesota site. It discusses how actions can produce “signals of disorder” and ripples that influence many other people. It explains: “When someone witnesses the aftermath of an action before it’s been swept away from view, or hears of an action later, the action can resonate with them, it can inspire them to act as well”.

conflict minnesota

* * *

Acorn quote: ““All life, whether social or individual, that is permanently divorced from communion with the vitalising influences of free air and sunshine, will be a stunted and diseased life”.

Henry Salt

Henry S. Salt

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

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The Acorn – 47

acornmastheadnew1

Number 47

In this issue:

  1. Yellow voices
  2. Defending nature means fighting capitalism
  3. Zombie archaeology
  4. Everybody expected the Neoliberal Inquisition
  5. Tall tale of “eco-terrorism”
  6. Acorninfo

1. Yellow voices

voices14

The Gilets Jaunes, or Yellow Vests, movement in France is the most important political phenomenon to emerge in Western Europe so far this century. It has smashed through the barriers of political stagnancy and sterility which so often disempower and stifle spontaneous expressions of popular discontent.

The yellow banner of revolt has rallied parts of the population previously unreached by political organising and the relentless determination of hundreds of thousands of men and women has shaken the citadels of neoliberal power to the core. As well as the rubber bullets, grenades, water cannon and tear gas deployed by the French state against the uprising, another major weapon against the Gilets Jaunes has been the corporate media.

Constant lies, smears and alarmism in France have been matched by almost total silence elsewhere, punctuated by small dribbles of largely inaccurate information. We at Winter Oak have been trying to help counter this information war against the rebellion by reporting their activities and opinions in English. Below we present five new translations which offer some useful insights into what is currently being spelled out in yellow in France.

The uprising is very much ongoing as we write this, with Act 18 of the protests on March 16 likely to be significant, particularly in Paris. For  news updates about the movement follow us on Twitter.

voices18b

i. Power to the people!

This declaration was agreed at the Yellow Vest assembly of assemblies in Commercy at the end of January, attended by delegates from across France. It was then “sent back” down to the local assemblies, who have gradually been endorsing it from the grassroots.

Ever since November 17, from the smallest village in the countryside to the biggest city, we have been rising up against this profoundly violent, unfair and unbearable society.

We are not going to be pushed around! We are revolting against the high cost of living, against precarity and misery. We want our loved ones, our families and our children to live in dignity.

26 billionaires own as much as half of the human species and that is unacceptable. Let’s share wealth and not misery!

Let’s do away with social inequality! We demand immediate increases in pay, in the minimum wage, in benefits and in pensions; the unconditional right to healthcare and education; free public services for everyone.

It’s for all these rights that every day we occupy roundabouts, that we organise actions and protests and hold discussions everywhere.

voices11

With our yellow vests on, we are having our say, which we have never had before.

And what’s the response from the government? Repression, contempt, denigration.

People killed and thousands injured, the massive use of weapons fired directly at us which mutilate, take out eyes, wound and traumatise.

More than 1,000 people have been arbitrarily prosecuted and jailed.

And now the new so-called “anti-vandal” law aims simply to stop us demonstrating.

We condemn all violence against protesters, whether it comes from police or violent factions. None of that is going to stop us!

The right to protest is fundamental. End the impunity for the government forces! Amnesty for all the victims of repression!

And what a con, this Grand National Debate which is nothing but a government PR exercise taking advantage of our desire to discuss and take decisions!

The real democracy is the one we practise in our assemblies and on our roundabouts. It is neither on the TV nor in the fake debates organised by Macron.

He insults us, says we’re less than nothing, then depicts us as hateful crowd, fascistic and xenophobic.

But in fact we are completely the opposite: neither racist, nor sexist, nor homophobic, we are proud to be together with our differences to build a society of solidarity.

voices15

The diversity of our discussions is our strength and even now hundreds of assemblies are drawing up and putting forward their own demands.

They involve real democracy, social and fiscal justice, environmental and climate justice, the ending of discrimination.

Among the most debated demands and strategic proposals we can find: the eradication of misery in all its forms; the transformation of institutions (citizen-initiated referenda, constituent assemblies, an ending to privileges for elected representatives); environmental transition (energy precarity, industrial pollution); equality and the valuing of all women and men regardless of their nationality (people with disabilities, gender equality, ending the neglect of working-class districts, rural areas and overseas territories).

We, Gilets Jaunes, invite everyone to join us, as and how they see fit. We call for a continuation of the series of “acts” of protests, of the occupation of roundabouts and the blockading of the economy and of the effort to build a huge national strike.

We call for the setting up of committees in the workplace, at places of study; and everywhere else so that this grave can be built on the basis of the strikers themselves.

Let’s take control of our own activities! Don’t stay on your own, join us! Let’s organise democratically, autonomously and independently!

This assembly of the assemblies is an important step which allows us to discuss our demands and our means of acting.

Let’s come together in federations to transform society!

We ask the whole of the Gilets Jaunes movement to circulate this call.

If, as a Gilets Jaunes group, you agree with it, then don’t hesitate to send your support to Commercy.

Please do discuss and draw up proposals for the next assembly of the assemblies, already under preparation.

Macron resign!

Power to the people, for the people, by the people!

voices8

The “nothings” are on the streets

ii. The ghost of 1789

This is an extract from a leaflet issued by a group of Gilets Jaunes in southern France after a local bigwig, the Prefect, accused “anarchists” of inciting hate of the state and confrontations with the police.

Mr Prefect, there is no need for anarchists to sow hate as your government is managing to do that all on its own. Oh, nobody for the moment is talking about reaching for their rifle, but everyone can see what they earn and what the rich earn. Hate is on the rise. The Gilets Jaunes are simple people, generally workers at the bottom of the scale on low wages, or people living on modest pensions…

They say, when they talk about the rulers and the fat cats in this country: “They are like the kings and aristocrats used to be”. They are not talking about having a revolution here and now but they talk a lot about our great revolution: it is always coming up in conversation.

Macron has said repeatedly that he won’t change course: so we can expect nothing from him but scraps of charity. One day or the other the poor, like in 1789, will take action and a lot of others with them.

This won’t be a revolt, but a revolution!

voices1

It is clear that every government since 1983 has done all it can to ensure that the poor are in this state of mind.

In our assemblies there are, among the hundreds present, lots of workers and pensioners. There are also teachers and nurses.

Some anarchists work and earn roughly as much as the other Gilets Jaunes, others are unemployed, like many others.

Sorry to disappoint you, but there is nothing to differentiate them from other Gilets Jaunes except that, perhaps, some of them are more active than most: that’s their right and we don’t hold it against them!

voices6

iii. Our community is the struggle!

This analysis comes from issue 2 of an eight-page A3 street paper, Jaune: Le Journal Pour Gagner (Yellow: the Paper for Winning).

From the start of this movement, two symbols have been competing on the roundabouts. The yellow vest and the tricolour flag. Of course, many wouldn’t put it that way. They would say that the flag is the symbol of the French people, while the yellow vest is the symbol of the struggle, so the two are complementary. And it’s true that in each instance those who sport them regard them as signs of rallying around something in common. But there are different kinds of commonality.

The idea of a community founded on belonging to a territory, defined by a state and the defence of the borders of that state, is very old. We can see it in the founding myths of the Roman Empire.

Some will say that this is a hard reality. They will argue that every country has its share of misery and that at the end of the day defending your tribe, your territory, your compatriots, is a necessary part of being human. Their slogan is “our own before the others”.

But who are “our own”? Have you really got more interests, aspirations and sufferings in common with the rich of France than with someone who works on the same building site as you but hasn’t got the same passport? More in common with the Loréal family than with an Italian or Algerian delivering for an Amazon subcontractor? More in common with someone else on the minimum wage, regardless of nationality, or with someone who used to pay the highest rate of income tax until Macron scrapped it?

Nationalism will tell you that yes, French people, regardless of their social position, have more interests in common together than with any other form of solidarity, such as that based on a common situation. But where does that lead? Who profits from saying that? Who benefits from nationalism?

voices9

Everybody knows the line about divide and rule. It implies, of course, that it those who rule who divide the others. So, let’s put the question this way: who rules? Who owns the wealth and the means of producing more wealth? The rich, the bourgeoisie. And who is divided according to passport and nationality? The poor, the workers, the unemployed.

Anyway, do you really think the bourgeoisie practises what it preaches for us? Do you really think that the French rich feel closer to you than to their friends in such or such a country, with whom they go skiing in Switzerland or Dubai while you go to work? Let’s not be naive.

But there is another community: the community of struggle. Thus, in France, for a long time now, a revolutionary tradition welcomes all those who want to struggle. As far back as the French Revolution, lots of people from every corner of the world came to lend a hand. During the Paris Commune, as well, the organisation of the barricades was partly organised by Polish revolutionaries.

And we can see this solidarity in struggle and revolution at many other times of history and in many other parts of the world. That is the community which brings us together. Today, it has a rallying call: the yellow vest. This call is universal and as such it is closer to the spirit of past revolutions, including the French one.

So we are saying it loud and clear: we are on the side of the yellow vest, of what it says about common struggle and also about a shared refusal of our dire situation, about chilly early mornings blockading and about evenings around a pile of burning palettes, talking about our rock-bottom living conditions.

Yellow Vests of every country, unite!

voices5

iv. Poisoned by neoliberalism

From an interview with François Boulo, a lawyer and a Gilets Jaunes spokesman in the northern city of Rouen (source: Thinkerview).

How do you see the current situation with the Gilets Jaunes?

There is a fight to be won in terms of communication. The mainstream media are trying to criminalise the movement. But the real question of immorality lies with the distribution of wealth. To live in a country and pile up a personal fortune that is 10, 100, 1,000 times more than you need to live, while in France 9 million people teeter on the brink of poverty and 140,000 are homeless…

What kind of politics are you proposing?

For the last 40 to 45 years there has been an ideological drive to poison our minds with the dominant neoliberal thinking, which is presented as the only possibility. This is the framing for the way we think about politics today. This economic framing is imposed on us and they tell us that there is no alternative. This has generated a mood of resignation.

The economic debate has been closed down. They explain to us that we have to have permanent growth, even though we live in a finite world. We have a cake and they tell us we can’t change the rules for allocating the slices of the cake. I think citizens’ control is needed.

What do you think of the political and policing climate around the Gilets Jaunes movement?

Right from the start, everything was done to ramp up the climate of tension. On the second Saturday of protests in France, from 8.30 or 9am people were being “kettled”, caught in a trap, and teargassed! How do you expect them to feel that their right to protest is being respected?

What about Europe ?

We have got to stop following the demands of the banks and investors, because their financial games do not help the real economy. We should finally create the social Europe we were promised.

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v. A breath of fresh air

Here is an abridged version of an in-depth article in issue 12 of Avis de Tempêtes: Bulletin anarchiste pour la guerre sociale (Storm Warning: Anarchist bulletin for social war), a 20-page A5 zine with a yellow and red cover. The piece takes a witty swipe at a certain kind of comrade who considers themself too ideologically pure to possibly be able to join in the diverse and mould-breaking Gilets Jaunes uprising.

For once, a movement has erupted in a self-organised way without political parties and trade unions, for once it immediately set its own agenda – an agenda which is often daily and not at the weekly or monthly rhythm of the big days out orchestrated by the troop masters and agreed in advance with the police – even deciding for itself its own places and routes of confrontation and blockage by obstinately refusing to beg for official authorisation.

In short, a breath of fresh air for all those activists who have been waiting for nothing other than a big collective movement before venturing out of their homes. However… While the meagre crumbs claimed by any number of reformist, trade-unionist or victimist organisations – backed up by a show of strength in the streets to help their representatives in their negotiations with authority – have never put too many people off taking part, now we see those marvellous anti-authoritarian activists diligently dissecting those who have lit the yellow-vest fuse.

The anti-authoritarian activist, well schooled in swallowing all kinds of reformist demands in order to join in various struggles, this time finds that there is not enough familiar common ground.

voices2

With the Gilets Jaunes movement, the activist has suddenly discovered the world around him. Having been in raptures over the Arab Spring without finding his enthusiasm impossibly deflated by the “interclassist” use of the term “the people” (“The people wants the fall of the regime” was a much-used popular slogan) and the abundance of national flags, he is now disgusted by the same limitations on his own side of the Mediterranean.

Having rioted against the Loi Travail labour reforms, or last May Day, without feeling his presence incompatible with that of  massed hammer and sickle flags, or with the sometimes-dubious banners at the head of Parisian demos (emblazoned with the wise words of 100%-reactionary rappers), he is now mortified by the tricolour flags and populist slogans.

He had chosen to be blind to the hundreds of tricolour flags in the left-wing France Insoumise rallies at the last elections, as well as to those wielded by hundreds of thousands in the streets after the epic victory in the footballing spectacle of July 2018 (sported in unison by poor urban youth and old rich racists).

No, the activist is as simple as his organic-supermarket ideology. An unclean symbol equals a fascist. Full stop.

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Further reading:

Tear gas and rubber bullets on the streets of southern France

Yellow is the new bloc

Yellow fever: long live the revolutionary mob!

Gilets Jaunes: unfiltered anti-capitalism

“Police everywhere, justice nowhere!” – Gilets Jaunes on the streets of Nîmes

The heartbeat of the yellow jacket revolt is rural

Christmas with the gilets jaunes

May our yellow sparks of revolt set the world ablaze in 2019!

France on the brink: either we topple the system or it will crush us

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2. Defending nature means fighting capitalism

GAF image

A radical anti-capitalist dimension to the Extinction Rebellion (XR) has emerged in the UK, with the creation of a new alliance.

The Green Anti-Capitalist Front is born of the realisation that if we want to defend nature we have to fight capitalism.

It says it wants to support the high-profile XR “with a parallel mobilisation that has a greater focus on the capitalist roots of climate catastrophe”.

GAF explains: “As we all know, capitalism is killing the Earth. We have been observing the rise of the Extinction Rebellion movement and, while we are glad to see a growing interest in fighting climate change, we do not think their critique goes far enough and believe a specifically anti-capitalist critique is needed.

“As such we are calling for the formation of an anti-capitalist block to tap into this rising interest in radical politics and to fill the vacuum of a green and anti-capitalist movement in London. We plan to loosely work alongside Extinction Rebellion’s actions, especially their week of actions planned from April 15th, while also developing our own unique
approach.

“The Green Anti-Capitalist Front is intended as a broad coalition of groups with varying ideologies, but with a common interest in tackling environmental problems at their social roots”.

GAF logo

In an open letter to XR, GAF praises it for having reinvigorated environmental activism at a time when this was most needed.

It says: “XR has been bold in its aims when much of the established movement has been cynical, and has managed to tap into a broader sense of alarm over environmental degradation, and mobilised many people not previously involved.

“XR has grown at a speed that many people would have thought impossible before we saw it happen.

“XR has also been far more radical in this broad appeal than many people would have thought, pursuing a strategy built around both local direct action while maintaining an international orientation.

“We cannot overstate the overwhelmingly positive effect that XR is having on environmental politics”.

However, GAF says it has “doubts about some of the tactics that XR has adopted” and thinks a conversation is needed about this.

GAF is inviting like-minded people and groups to get in touch via
greenanticapitalistfront@riseup.net. It has a website, Twitter account and Facebook presence.

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3. Zombie archaeology

zombie archaeology

by Eric Fleischmann

In the 21st century, the world is now veritably swamped with commodities. According to APLF ltd. American consumers purchase an average of 7.5 shoes per capita per year. The LA Times reports that “the average U.S. household has 300,000 things, from paper clips to ironing boards.”

I am not by any means claiming that everyone is an affluent borderline-hoarder. One of the fundamental problems of capitalism is the unequal access to this seeming abundance of goods.

With so much paraphernalia in the world, it is inevitable that significant portions will be wasted.

In an article for The Atlantic, Derek Thompson explains that in a year the world creates around 2.6 trillion pounds of garbage—“the weight of about 7,000 Empire State Buildings.”

Much of this is food waste, but many inorganic items are produced with cheap plastic and other materials that fall apart quickly. Some companies, such as Apple, even reportedly preprogram their products to stop functioning properly after a certain amount of time in order to force consumers to buy new wares at a much greater rate than they otherwise would.

All this waste, all this stuff tossed away, has to go somewhere. Such rubbish becomes part of the planet’s topography, enters into its ecological systems, and eventually returns to the human sphere of interaction – much to human detriment.

This is zombie archaeology; when the remnants of our past are not uncovered by human beings but return to us by themselves with a vengeance.

angelus novus

In this age of capitalism-induced ecological collapse, zombie archaeology is certain to become only increasingly suited for describing the world. Walter Benjamin, in his Theses on the Philosophy of History, writes of Paul Klee’s Angelus Novus, “This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But… …[t]he storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward.”

But what happens when the wreckage and debris – both literal and figurative – begin shambling towards the present? When the dead are, in a sense, awakened? Zombie archaeology poses these questions.

See full article here.

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4. Everybody expected the Neoliberal Inquisition

spanish inquisition

We have been drawing attention for some time now to the ideological smears being deliberately used by the neoliberal elite to stifle dissident voices.

Unlike Monty Python’s ridiculous “Spanish Inquisition”, this one has long been expected by everybody who has been paying attention.

The most important task, we feel, is to point out the essential dishonesty behind these attacks.

Neoliberals differ from the old-fashioned right in that they like to paint themselves as the Guardians (yep, quite!) of Progressive Thinking, as somehow vaguely left-wing despite their full-blooded backing for capitalism, militarism, imperialism and everything that goes with it.

So they cannot attack the left in the traditional way, by simply saying they do not like it because it is too left-wing and threatens the status quo which they support.

Instead, they pretend to be attacking their enemies from a progressive position, one which occupies the liberal moral high ground.

This is the case with the longstanding smears against deep green thinking which try to claim it is a continuation of Nazi ideology, even though Hitler’s regime was the epitome of industrialism (see our article Organic Radicalism: Bringing Down the Fascist Machine for a full analysis of this).

orpic

Neoliberals, including pseudo-leftists, aren’t honest enough to say that they oppose deep green politics because they support industrial capitalism – that would blow their ideological cover.

Instead, they have to pretend that it is because they have cleverly identified it as a sinister right-wing threat to democracy as we know it.

The same phenomenon is basically at work with the “anti-semitism” allegations cropping up everywhere at the moment.

This issue is slightly complicated by the fact that it is partly about Palestine and the need for the pro-Israel lobby to silence all criticism of the apartheid state by conflating anti-Zionism with anti-semitism.

A real witch-hunt atmosphere has been created here, which the original Spanish Inquisition would surely have been proud of.

witch hunt

Once accused of “anti-semitism”, the victim is faced with a dilemma similar to that of the famous ducking stool  – if you drown you are not a witch and if you don’t then you are a witch and you have to be burned alive.

If the person accused of anti-semitism admits guilt and apologises, not only will they not be left alone, but they will also have surrendered important political ground and will have set a precedent for the next absurd denunciation.

If they deny having said anything wrong, this denial will be regarded as a further offence of perhaps even greater severity.

This is what has been happening to UK Labour Party figures such as Chris Williamson and to US lawmaker Ilhan Omar (see here and here).

The secondary smear technique has also been used against the Gilets Jaunes in France, particularly following an incident in which intellectual Alain Finkielkraut was called a “dirty Zionist”.

Comments, or lack of comments, on the much-hyped confrontation were used to attack prominent Yellow Vest supporters such as journalist Aude Lancelin and leftist politician Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

It is important to note that all these smear attacks have been targeted at the political left. Anti-semitism on the right is rarely even mentioned.

It is clear that the Palestine question, important though it is both for supporters and critics of the Israeli state, is not the only issue at stake here, as the likes of Jonathan Cook have been pointing out.

seattle99b
Seattle 1999

One of the great successes of the wave of global protests that took place in the 1990s and at the start of the 21st century was to put anti-capitalism on the public stage.

Previously, the mainstream had never even accepted that we lived in a capitalist society, let alone that people could be against that.

The word “capitalism” was regarded as a nonsensical one, used only by communists or other left-wing cranks.

Suddenly, they were talking about anti-capitalism on the BBC, examining who these troublesome anti-capitalists were and what exactly they wanted.

Twenty years on, the Establishment feels under threat, its system crumbling and its mind-control power over the population lifting like fog in the sunshine.

It therefore seems to have decided to try to push anti-capitalism back out of the public domain, beyond the perimeter fence of ideological validity.

99 per cent

We have commented previously on the peculiar political argument that there is something “anti-semitic” about opposing the “1%” who own most of the world’s wealth (it’s a lot fewer than that…) or about condemning bankers or international capitalist organisations like the IMF, the WTO or the Bilderberg group.

As we pointed out last July: “What appears to be happening, in some cases at least, is that the ‘Jewish banker’ figure is again being deliberately deployed to thwart opposition to capitalism.

“Previously, it was used to steer people away from anti-capitalism and into anti-semitism, but now the aim is rather to steer people away from anti-capitalism with the threat of being labelled anti-semitic”.

This twisted approach is now being presented as a common-sense view by mainstream media, in tandem with the other smear attacks on left-wingers.

Right-wing Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh spun this toxic propaganda on BBC Radio 4 on March 4, with presenter John Humphreys helpfully summing up: “In other words, to be anti-capitalist you have to be anti-semitic?”

Such are the desperate, dangerous lies of a system that senses its days are numbered…

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5. Tall tale of “eco-terrorism”

edinburgh castle

In his new “extremist” novel, No Such Place as Asha, Paul Cudenec gives a fictional airing to the ideological smears often deployed by neoliberals against opponents of their ecocidal industrial capitalist system. This excerpt describes a speaker at a private conference of the “Transatlantic Alliance for Freedom” (TAF) in Edinburgh…

His special subject was environmentalism. He started off paying lip service to the importance of balancing economic growth with sustainable practices, of ensuring the well-being of human and animal communities, so on and so forth. Responsible environmental organisations acted as crucial watchdogs that reminded the authorities and industry of their responsibilities. While TAF did not always agree with their positions, they recognised the role they played, etcetera, etcetera.

Then he moved on to the substance of his talk. Unfortunately, there was always a fringe of green protesters who took things too far, who refused to play by the rules. He talked about “eco-terrorists” in the USA and “hardcore” environmentalists in Europe, such as 1990s road protesters in the UK, a mobilisation against a high-speed rail line in Italy, a protest camp against an airport in France, another against mining in Germany.

More recently, the “worst” instance of these campaigns was the anti-fracking movement in the UK. The dangers of these extremists’ illegal direct action were well known, he said, as was the “Luddite” ideology that inspired them.

But lately things had taken a turn for the worse. These groups were starting to develop a common ideology, aided by the exchange of news and views made possible by the internet. They were borrowing ideas from campaigners on the other side of the world and incorporating them into their own rhetoric. They were increasingly identifying the enemy not just as their local government, or business, but as something they termed “the industrial capitalist system”.

Up against this, they were piecing together their own counter-position. They had taken the idea of “sacred land” from indigenous struggles in North America, Australia and elsewhere and were applying it to their own sites. The use of direct action was turning into an ideology of direct action, an anarchist contempt for the rule of law and the due democratic process. French and German groups had fed into the mix the idea of “degrowth”, which rejected the very fundaments of our society – the idea of progress, economic growth and increased prosperity for humankind.

I wrote down a complete quote at this point. “Let’s be clear, these people are negationists. They are guilty of progress denial. And I would suggest that this brand of negationism should be treated as seriously as the other one of which we are all too well aware. Because that’s where it ends, ultimately. It all ends at the same place. The destruction of civilization. The deaths of millions of men, women and children in the name of fanaticism.”

There was a great burst of applause across the room at this point. Having established his moral high ground, Heath went on to spell out the particular form this Eco-Terrorist Apocalypse would take, which seemed to involve mainly a drop in the profits of “important wealth-creating institutions”, faced with increased grassroots resistance to their projects and falling levels of consumption as the “poison” of anti-growth views contaminated the population.

More info here.

asha cover

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6. Acorninfo

A top-notch new comic has been published by Corporate Watch in London. Worlds End uses words and pictures to help people understand climate change and capitalism and encourage a different approach, one that builds power to fight them. Read it online here.

worldsend

* * *

“Just because the participants in the growing number of Extinction Rebellion actions may be predominantly middle class, it doesn’t mean to say that we as working class people aren’t concerned about environmental issues”. So says a useful article in The South Essex Heckler. It adds: “What we need to do is to start to own the narrative of the campaigns around those issues so that it’s our voices that are being heard. We’re the ones on the frontline from traffic induced air pollution through to being housed in flood risk areas”.

traffic fumes

* * *

Disturbing evidence keeps emerging about the way the environmental movement, particularly the climate justice element, is being hijacked and manipulated by big business. For instance, a Daily Mail report in February revealed that Tory peer John Selwyn Gummer, who heads the UK government’s Climate Change Committee, has a private company which has been paid more than £600,000 from “green” businesses hoping to profit from government subsidies. And the full report from Cory Morningstar mentioned in Acorn 46 is now online and a must-read for any nature-defender who wants to avoid being used as a useful idiot by a bunch of lying industrial capitalists.

Gummer

* * *

The threat of new industrial capitalist mega-projects in Mexico has been highlighted in a letter from Zapatista women to their sisters across the world. The authorities’ destructive schemes include the Mayan Train, the “development” of the Tehuantepec Isthmus and massive commercial tree farms. The letter declares: “We’re going to fight with all our strength and everything we’ve got against these mega-projects. If these lands are conquered, it will be upon the blood of Zapatista women”.

zapatista women

* * *

“Fracking is stoppable, another world is possible!” is the title of a highly informative and inspiring new online bulletin from the frack free movement. Issue 1 is available here but issue 2 should be out very soon – follow the excellent frackfree_eu on Twitter for updates.

frackingisstoppable

* * *

The 2019 Liverpool Anarchist Bookfair will be held on Saturday April 13, 11am till 5pm at The Black-E, 1 Great George Street, L1 5EW. This will be a day of stalls and workshops, with a vegan cafe and kids’ space – free entry (donations towards event costs welcome). Says the website: “Books, zines & more to feed your brain  let’s learn, organise, grow & create!”

liverpoolbookfair

* * *

If the neoliberal Establishment succeeds in totally destroying the (very mild!) threat presented to its domination by Corbyn’s Labour Party, there will no doubt be a few we-told-you-soes from us anarcho-cynics. But the anger sparked by such a collapse in people’s hopes could well lead to something more interesting happening in the UK. As Jonathan Cook notes: “If parliamentary politics returns to business as usual for the wealthy, taking to the streets looks increasingly like the only option. Maybe it’s time to dust off a Yellow Vest”.

* * *

Acorn quote: “The poorest man hath as true a title and just right to the land as the richest man. True freedom lies in the free enjoyment of the earth”.

Gerrard Winstanley

Gerrard Winstanley GJ2

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

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