The Acorn – 18

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Number 18


In this issue:

  1. Paris – tear gas, grenades and hundreds of arrests
  2. Terrorism and the state – learning from history
  3. “Our fight is your fight!”
  4. Fracking – UK ditches illusion of democracy
  5. New road threat to Sussex countryside
  6. Acorninfo

1. Paris – tear gas, grenades and hundreds of arrests

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Tear gas and grenades were fired by French riot cops against brave activists who defied martial law in France – and more than 200 people were arrested.

Thousands took to the streets of Paris against the hypocrisy of the industrial capitalist system and its phoney COP21 climate summit.

For their pains they were kettled, intimidated, attacked and gassed by the cops. “The state of emergency is a police state, a fascist state!” they shouted in defiance of the brutal force deployed by a state which has been so busily depicting itself as a victim, rather than a perpetrator, of violence.

Activist media reported several hundred arrests, with the police taking arrestees away in buses.

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With the state of emergency conveniently in place for the COP21 summit (see below for analysis), all protests were banned.

Originally, the big protests planned for November 29 and December 12 were apparently outlawed because the crowds were “at risk” of terrorist attack, but it quickly became clear that the state of emergency was aimed as much as opponents of the industrial-capitalist system as at armed Islamists.

Several days before the start of COP21, several house arrests and police raids were aimed at activists close to the ZAD (anti-industrial protest camp) and environmental movement across the whole of France.

Six people were put under house arrest in Rennes, along with a Paris member of the legal team for the CoalitionClimate21, which consists of 130 groups, NGOs and unions. Police also tried to impose this measure on several people in Rouen, Lyon and elsewhere.

The house arrests are timed until December 12, the day after the end of the climate summit, making it clear that they are a political device used against protesters.

There were armed police raids at Ivry-sur-Seine (Val-de-Marne) and against organic vegetable sellers in the Dordogne.

In Nice a six-year-old girl was injured during a police operation: the officers who turned up in the middle of the night had smashed in the wrong door. In Loire-Atlantique, a caravan of 200 cycles accompanied by five tractors was blocked by the cops: they didn’t want the cyclists to go to Paris for COP21.

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A squat is raided under the state of emergency

Meanwhile, all across France any event with the slightest hint of a political nature has been banned by the authorities without the need for any justification – in the southern city of Nîmes, for instance, a bookfair planned for November 21 and 22 was cancelled, while down the road in Alès a march against plans for a golf course and luxury housing development was likewise forbidden.

In this climate of fear, hysteria and general submission to authority, a group of dissidents took the courageous step of publishing a call to defy the state of emergency.

A signed letter published in Liberation newspaper and on the lundiam website (English translation here) called for people to head for the Place de la République in Paris at 2pm on Sunday – and so they did, in large numbers, despite the threat of six months’ imprisonment and a fine of 7,500 euros under martial law.

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They were blocked into the square by an army of police, with checkpoints out of sight in the Metro. An hour of static protest was apparently all that the French state was prepared to tolerate. At 3pm police shouted through megaphones: “Dispersez-vous, nous allons faire évacuer la place!” – “Disperse! We are going to clear the square!”

The cops proceeded to attack the crowds, using grenades, tear gas and charges. The rebels didn’t take this lying down and there was spirited resistance to the uniformed robo-thugs. See this video, for example.

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Needless to say, the corporate media was full of condemnations of the protesters, rather than of the state and its thugs.

Make no mistake – a very deliberate psychological attack is being made on the population of France by the imposition of the state of emergency and all the fear-mongering jingoistic hysteria accompanying it.

There is a big and obvious lie behind the role of the military-style police with their grenades, batons and poison gas, along with the bureaucrats and politicians who are happy to impose military-style law in the supposed home of liberté, and the lapdog journalists who churn out their propaganda.

They are not defending the people, as they laughably claim, but reasserting the brute power and violence through which every state demands the craven submission of its population.

You have the right to free speech

As long as you’re not dumb enough

To actually try it

Get off the streets! Get off the streets!

(The Clash, Know Your Rights)

Also read:

Capitalism is built on violence and lies

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2. Terrorism and the state – learning from history

paris-attacks

Regular readers of The Acorn may have noticed a couple of themes that have cropped up regularly over the last few months.

One was the enormous potential of the COP21 protests for the renewed struggle against industrial capitalism (Acorn 14) – in Acorn 17 we reported how the French authorities were in a bit of a tizzy about the possibility of dissent on the streets.

The other theme was the big lie behind “anti-terrorism” – how it is an authoritarian phenomenon which hides behind the threat of “terror” to repress the population which is supposedly being protected (Acorn 12Acorn 13Acorn 16 and  Acorn 17).

These two subject matters have come together in spectacular fashion in France, where the November 13 attacks in Paris have prompted a state of emergency which has involved the banning of the COP21 protests as well as raids on squats and activists.

The official, and laughable, justification for this is that it is to protect the crowds of protesters from attack by terrorists – funnily enough, football matches and Christmas shopping have been allowed to resume, despite what you might have imagined was the greater risk of attack.

The truth is that the terrorist attacks, and the ensuing police-state paranoia, have in many ways proved extremely convenient for the French state.

It has allowed it to ban protests, give free rein to the cops to carry out raids on anyone they don’t like, bring in new controls and legislation. Writes Nafeez Ahmed: “Under the extension, French police can now block any website, put people under house arrest without trial, search homes without a warrant, and prevent suspects from meeting others deemed a threat”.

The attacks have also, of course, been used to justify further neo-colonial warfare in the Middle East. Jingoism is suddenly the flavour of the day in France, with flag shops doing a roaring trade just like in the USA after 9/11. An increasingly unpopular and despised president has been able to reinvent himself as some kind of heroic war chief.

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The army on the streets of Brussels

Other states have also been quick to exploit the attacks for their own political purposes. Belgium experienced what looked like a dress-rehearsal for a fascist military coup. For the UK government, the Paris attacks served as a handy boost for the bomb-Syria argument and also, usefully, another stick with which to beat opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn. It has also lead to a great cry for more funding for intelligence services, more powers of surveillance and so on and so forth.

The Paris incident has also, of course, been used across the continent to turn public sympathy for refugees into fear and to justify the closing down of Fortress Europe’s borders and the brutality inflicted on migrants like those at Calais.

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Police at Calais

In the USA, the Paris attacks have somehow been twisted into a condemnation of whistleblower Edward Snowden and calls on CNN for him to be hanged.

Warns Ahmed: “The ripple effect from the attacks in terms of the impact on Western societies is likely to be permanent. In much the same way that 9/11 saw the birth of a new era of perpetual war in the Muslim world, the 13/11 Paris attacks are already giving rise to a brave new phase in that perpetual war: a new age of Constant Vigilance, in which citizens are vital accessories to the police state, enacted in the name of defending a democracy eroded by the very act of defending it through Constant Vigilance”.

Many observers have noted the way that all of this falls neatly into the pattern of the Strategy of Tension in Italy in the 1970s and 1980s.

As we have previously pointed out (Acorn 12), it is now a matter of record that the Italian state, and NATO, were involved in facilitating acts of shock-and-awe terrorism targeting the general population. The goal was to frighten the people into the arms of the state and to thus extinguish the fires of growing left-wing rebellion.

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False flag state terrorism in Italy

The Italian situationist Gianfranco Sanguinetti wrote in his 1980 book On Terrorism and the State: “The aim from December 12 1969 to March 16 1978, and again today, has always remained the same, which is to persuade the whole population, including those who have lost any belief in the state or have been fighting it, that they have at least one common enemy with this state, from which the state will defend them on condition that it is no longer challenged”.

Pre-echoing Ahmed’s warning regarding democracy, Sanguinetti added: “The reasoning currently in vogue is simple: if you love democracy, you have to defend it; to defend it you have to fight its enemies; to fight the enemies of democracy, no sacrifice is too great: the nobility of the end justifies every means; no democracy for the enemies of democracy! Something which was never essentially a democracy has now visibly ceased being so”.

Faced with the spectre of fascist terrorism, even the Italian left rallied to the cause and supported draconian anti-terrorist legislation.

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Gladio – fact not theory

There is a tendency in radical anti-capitalist circles to shy away from anything that smacks of the dreaded “conspiracy theory” – partly, no doubt, because it is a kind of analysis that can too easily slip into absurd paranoia and far-right fantasies.

But you shouldn’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. Or, to put it another way, just because the fibbing little boy has cried wolf far too often, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t now a pack of them coming down your street.

While theories about hoaxed moon landings or chemical vapour trails are nothing other than theories, the existence of Operation Gladio and its false-flag terror has been documented fact for the last quarter of a century, even if it is barely mentioned in mainstream media.

Another fact, as documented in great detail by the meticulous Ahmed, is that the UK, the USA and other NATO countries have close links to Islamic terrorist groups. It all began with the anti-communist “Afghan Rebels” in the 1980s, continued with the story of the good Muslims fighting the anti-NATO Serbs in the 1990s and the same “rebel” tag of approval was being applied to the broad range of Assad opponents in Syria until relatively recently.

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Anyone remember the US-backed Afghan Rebels?

If it doesn’t seem too much of a stretch of the imagination that the Turkish state might have collaborated with Islamists in the attack on left-wing pro-Kurd activists in Suruç this July (Acorn 12), why might we imagine that the French or British states would not be capable of something similar?

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The massacre at Suruç

Of course, any suggestion that the Paris attacks were a modern-day version of the Strategy of Tension, in which the role of neo-fascist terrorist-puppets has been passed on to Islamist terrorist-puppets, remains firmly in the realm of “theory”.

It may seem odd that enemies of the French state, well armed with machine guns and explosives and with little apparent interest in their own survival, should prioritise attacks on cafes and a rock gig, rather than, say, the French Ministry of Defence, the police HQ or the Presidential Palace.

It may seem odd that two of them would feel the need to carry (fake) Syrian passports with them, so that they could be discovered at the scene and justify the ensuing military action.

It may seem odd that the alleged perpetrators were apparently already known to the authorities and yet allowed to move around Europe without hindrance.

It may seem convenient that the supposed “mastermind” was executed by the state and that his account will now never be heard. It was the testimony of imprisoned fascist terrorist Vincenzo Vinciguerra that did much to lift the lid on the Gladio false flag terror network – it was clearly a mistake to allow him to live to tell the tale, as Lee Harvey Oswald might agree.

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Fascist bomber Vinciguerra

All of this is merely comment, not even circumstantial evidence. We here at The Acorn are in no position to know who was behind the Paris attacks and what their aims were.

However, it is important to realise, and to remember, that the French and other states, that the industrial capitalist system as a whole, is certainly capable of sacrificing the lives of the public for its own purposes, even if that is not what happened here.

We all know that the lives of “foreigners” count for nothing in the eyes of this system – there were no crocodile tears for the 44 people killed in Beirut the day before Paris, let alone for all the innocent Iraqis, Afghans, Syrians and Libyans killed by “the West” in its endless imperialist wars, or indeed for the Yemenis and Palestinians murdered by its Saudi and Israeli allies.

But don’t imagine that European industrial capitalism draws a line at killing its own populations. One hundred years ago, a whole generation of young men was slaughtered at its behest, for instance.

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A body in the trenches – just another victim of capitalist wars

More than that, remember all the men, women and children who have died in the wheels of its machineries, who have choked to slow deaths in its contaminated air, who have been eaten away by cancers feeding on its toxic excretions.

For all its sanctimonious moralising, industrial capitalism is itself a death cult.

It is a cult of power for the sake of power, growth for the sake of growth, which will do anything – literally anything – to ensure its own preservation and expansion. Murder, lies and hypocrisy are part of its very essence and we would do well never to forget that.

We warned in The Acorn 12, as recently as July this year: “The worrying lack of knowledge and understanding, even in radical circles, of the extent to which terrorism was secretly deployed by the capitalist system from the 1940s to the 1980s sadly means that there is little to stop it using the same techniques again today”.

As the Italian philosopher George Santayana wisely pointed out: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.

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Also read:

Terror and the capitalist system

Anti-terrorism is not what it says it is

Erdogan’s dirty war against the Kurds

From Rhineland to Paris, a new spirit of defiance

Tarnac – a victory against the system

Cracks in the system – Part II

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3. “Our fight is your fight!”

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A powerful statement of solidarity with comrades in France was issued by Devrimci Anarşist Faaliyet- DAF (Revolutionary Anarchist Action) in Turkey after the November 13 attacks:

“We feel the massacre in Paris deeply and share your sorrow. We have lived and still living through ISIS attacks supported by the state. From Şengal to Kobane, from Pirsus (Suruç) to Ankara, we have lost many comrades and friends.

“We are aware of the fact that the massacres aim to create fear, distrust and loneliness on us. Our pain is great and increases every day. In these periods, We have to grow the solidarity against the murderers that want to bury us into fear, loneliness and isolation.

“We see the simultaneous moves of the French state and other states aiming to direct the process. We know that these same strategies are realized in our region under the name of ‘Fight against Terror’.

“In this environment of distrust, people have a psychology of panic which is directed by the ideological devices of the state; the state oppression of revolutionaries and state politics restricting the freedom of the oppressed will be politically legitimized; and the racist discourse and politics will increase. The states use these extraordinary periods for their political, economic and social interests.

“We understand the situation that the peoples living in France are and will be in. We know the difficulty of carrying on one side the sorrow of the lost ones and on the side, struggling against the fascist mobilisations in the society created by the state. We stress that, even with this hardship, the struggle should be against the fear, the state and fascism.

“The sorrow you live is our sorrow, The rage you feel is our rage, your fight is our fight!”

Also read:

Holistic anarchism in Turkey

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4. Fracking – UK ditches illusion of democracy

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Democracy in the UK, as in France, is increasingly being revealed as a hollow sham.

The latest slippage of the mask comes with the government’s announcement that it will take the final decision over whether fracking should be allowed in Lancashire.

A feisty local campaign against Caudrilla’s ecocidal proposals at Little Plumpton near Blackpool and Roseacre, near Elswick, resulted in victory this June, when county councillors threw out the applications (see Acorn 11).

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Victory in June 2015

The decision was hailed at the time by Greenpeace as “a Waterloo for the fracking industry” and one expert told the Daily Telegraph: “This decision is a serious setback for shale gas in the UK and many must be wondering if it can ever reach production phase”.

But the pro-fracking UK government was not prepared to sit back and allow the “localism” of public opposition to get in the way of its business chums’ profiteering.

While Cuadrilla’s appeal will still be considered in a three-week public inquiry and the planning inspector will submit a report, the actual decision will be made by Secretary of State for Local Government Greg Clark, Tory MP for Tunbridge Wells – because of the decision’s “major importance”.

Anti-fracking campaigner Barbara Richardson, of Roseacre Awareness Group, told Drill or Drop website: “So much for local democracy. These applications have been rejected at every level; by the residents, by the Parish Council, by the Borough Council and by the County Council. Even our Conservative MP, Mark Menzies, has stated publicly that the decision should be left to local politicians.

“This is about industrialisation of our countryside by an industry that is both dangerous and damaging to the environment, our health and climate change”.

Sue Marshall of the Preston New Road group added: “Now even the illusion of democracy is at risk with far-reaching consequences into all aspects of our lives.

“We don’t need to look abroad for terrorist threats: currently the greatest threat to us all is closer to home, in the heart of our government, whose blatant arrogance and disrespect for democratic process and destructive denial of human rights knows no bounds”.

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

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5. New road threat to Sussex countryside

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A new threat to the Sussex countryside is emerging, as the state prepares to drive a new motorway-style trunk road across the southern English county.

The authorities have long been planning “improvements” to the existing bypass to the south of Chichester as part of their project to turn the A27 coastal road into a freight-heavy motorway linking the South-West to the Channel Tunnel.

But anti-roads campaigners have discovered that Highways England now looks like favouring the shock option of a completely new road across countryside to the north of Chichester, which would impinge on the South Downs National Park.

One told The Acorn: “They are definitely not, as had previously been thought, of just making a show of looking at it only then to rule it out on cost grounds; seems they are now serious about it”.

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Leaving the existing dual carriageway north of Fishbourne, this would cross the A286 between Lavant and Chichester – straight through a popular ‘daffodil field’ – and go along New Road near Goodwood and rejoin at the A285 junction near Tangmere.

Added the campaigner: “In addition to the direct and indirect impacts on the South Downs National Park around Chichester, this would open the A27(M) floodgates eastward into Sussex, adding to pressure for a more motorway-like approach at Fontwell/Arundel/Worthing and beyond.  It would thus create much more induced (long-distance) traffic than would have been the case with Chichester as a slower location.  Local traffic and rural Sussex would be the loser.

“Why would they do this, when to do so they would potentially need to reallocate money from Arundel-and-Worthing?  Perhaps they believe that if Chichester is bypassed with an expressway, then the other routes will in the end fall like dominoes to the required expressway standard, and we will have to accept the south coast near-motorway-standard strategic through route which ‘they’ want – including major offline bypasses at Arundel and at Worthing”.

Local anti-roads activists are convinced that the proposal would attract widespread opposition and that concerted action could trigger a more general resistance to the motorway threat to Sussex.

But they warn that the battle could prove decisive, either way: “A loss for the countryside at Chichester would very likely be fatal for attempts to protect the countryside at Arundel and Worthing. So the Chichester outcome looks likely, one way or the other, to determine the future of Sussex”.

Consultation is due to start in Spring 2016, with a decision on the route in Summer 2016 and work starting in 2018 – so now is the time to get active!

The A27 Alarm campaign has a blog at www.a27alarm.blogspot.com and can be contacted via a27alarm@gmail.com

Also read:

Road fight is back on

Highways to hell

Infrastructure is the enemy

The road to corporate profits

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6. Acorninfo

The next Reclaim the Fields European Assembly is to be held in Poland in January 2016, the network has announced. Anyone who wants to go is recommended to book transport now to Warsaw for Thursday January 21 to Sunday January 24 – the exact location will be announced closer to the date. More info here.

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Are some trade unions little more than obedient cheerleaders for the industrial capitalist system? So it would appear from the latest disgraceful position taken by GMB. We reported back in (Acorn 11) that the “general” trade union was supporting fracking because of the “business need”. Now it is throwing the weight of its 630,000 members behind the expansion of London Heathrow Airport! Along with Unite union, it has joined forces with its industrialist friends at the Institute of Directors; the Confederation of British Industry; the British Chambers of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses, reports The New Statesman. The radical thinkers at GMB and Unite are apparently enthusing over the prospect of “jobs generated by the new infrastructure”. Words fail us.

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Repression of those who dare to challenge the system continues across the world, as ever. On November 12 a joint international police operation in Milan arrested 8 comrades – 4 of them being based in Milan and other 4 in Athens – in connection with the Mayday riots in Milan (see Acorn 9 ). Infoaut reports that two more comrades, a Greek and an Italian one, are on the run – while four more from Milan and Como and another one from Athens are charged and under investigation without being arrested. In South Korea, police used tear gas and pepper spray in water cannons against the 130,000 demonstrators demanding the resignation of right-wing President Park Geun-hye. And this video taken by a passing motorist shows police repression of an anti-fascist demo at the Complutense University in Madrid on Friday November 20. At least six students were arrested, including members of the Juventudes Libertarias and CNT-AIT Madrid. Several young people were injured by the police assault.

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Mayday in Milan

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In response to the likes of the above, anarchist imprisoned in Greece have issued a call-out for a “Black December” of “combative solidarity” which has been echoed internationally. Says a statement at contrainfo: “We call for the revival of the black memory of our dead and all those who have fallen in the fight for freedom and anarchy”.

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Fifth Estate magazine in the USA is marking its fiftieth birthday at the moment. Hailed as “the longest running English language anarchist publication in North America, its contributors have included Fredy Perlman, David Watson and John Zerzan. The anniversary is being publicised via this rather cool video.

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An Acorn reader got in touch having spotted a rather strange detail in an online job advert for someone to work on a “community resilience project” for a pseudo-environmental organisation called Groundwork South, whose mission is apparently “to make the South of England a greener and more prosperous place for people and communities”. The strange thing is that it says the role is about preparing people to respond to “emergencies and natural disasters” such as “flooding, pandemic flu, landslide, rioting…” Rioting? Well, nothing can be allowed to get in the way of “prosperity” after all. Biodegradable brooms at the ready, citizens, to sweep the riff-raff off the streets!

groundwork

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Finally, some good news for all who can’t wait to see the final collapse of life on the planet – US regulators have given the go-ahead to genetically modified salmon, the first GM animal destined for human consumption. The business behind it, AquaBounty, has produced an Atlantic salmon injected with a gene from Pacific Chinook salmon to make it grow faster – and boost its bosses’ prosperity, of course. The salmon are sterile.

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Acorn quote: “The idea that we cannot have complete unrestricted freedom is based on the assumption that human beings cannot be trusted with that. The idea that we cannot be trusted is based on the assumption that there is no such thing as an innate tendency to goodness and co-operation. The idea that there is no innate tendency to goodness is based on the assumption that goodness is an artificial construct devoid of any practical content, rather than an inherent aspect of humanity’s ability to survive. The idea that this innate goodness has nothing to do with survival is based on the assumption that humanity is merely a collection of individuals, with their own personal survival as a priority, rather than a social organism with collective survival as its aim”.

Paul Cudenec, Forms of Freedom

Solidarity

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

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The Acorn – 8

acornmastheadnew

Number 8


In this issue:

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

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

Draghi protest2
Frightened of something, Mr President?

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

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

Draghi protest

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

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

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

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

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

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

arbeit_macht_frei

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Metropolis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seattle anarchists
Anarchists in Seattle

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

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

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

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3. The “regeneration” scam

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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4.  Developers erase communities and their histories

East End Howler

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

Affordable: No more than 80% of market rate.

Read: Insultingly unaffordable for most.

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

Read: getting rid of those pesky working class types.

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

Read: the cavalry is coming.

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

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

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

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

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

formsoffreedomcover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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6. Government are a bunch of fracking hypocrites!

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

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

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

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

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

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

frackingwater

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

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

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

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

frackingdefra

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

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

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

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

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

balcombeandbeyond

A full review of the book can be read here.

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7. Brighton solidarity with jailed Spanish anarchists

Spain protest
The solidarity protest in Brighton, Sussex

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

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

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

Spain protest2
Taking the road in Brighton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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8. Acorninfo

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

Block the tech commute

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

occupy democracy

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

COWLEY

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

dentonfrackban600

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

Imprisoned Voices
Imprisoned Voices

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

anarcoveganismo

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

Voltairine_de_Cleyre

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