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.
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.
“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”.
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”.
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.
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?
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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“.
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’.
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)
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.
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.
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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.
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The fight is on to stop a theme park being built on the bonnie bonnie banks of Loch Lomond. Explain Save Loch Lomondcampaigners: “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”.
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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.
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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.
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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”.
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“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.
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Acorn quote: “What is an anarchist? One who, choosing, accepts the responsibility of choice”.
A collective probing behind the scenes of the XR spectacle is unearthing more and more inconvenient truths.
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”.
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”.
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?
“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.
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”.
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.
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”.
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”.
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.
[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.
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?
We should have seen this coming. We had, after all, already read investigative journalist Cory Morningstar’sexcellent 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
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”.
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.
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.
“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”.
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.
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 “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 email@example.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.
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”.
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”.
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.
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”.
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!
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”!
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.
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.
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.
* 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.
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.
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 (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.
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)
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)
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.
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!
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.
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, 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.
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.”
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.
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?
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!”
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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.
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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.
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“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”.
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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”.
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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”.
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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.”
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“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.
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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”.
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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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Power to the people, for the people, by the people!
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!
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!
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?
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
“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”.
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
firstname.lastname@example.org. It has a website, Twitter account and Facebook presence.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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“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”.
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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.
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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”.
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“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.
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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!”
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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”.
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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”.