The Acorn – 48

acorn 2019b

Number 48

In this issue:

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

1. Shutting down the capital

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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”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

GAF logo

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

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

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2. Final push against UK fracking!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

anarchy in the uk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

frack off protest

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3. Gilets Jaunes: “We must exit capitalism”

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

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

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

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

Sunday, April 7th, 2019

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

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

We address the people as a whole.

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

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

We demand:

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

* Public services for all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t watch us, join us.

– The Yellow Vests’ Assembly of Assemblies

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

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4. Judi Bari: an orgrad inspiration

orgrad logo

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

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

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

judi-bari

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

judi bari banner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Judi bari 2

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

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5. For an anti-sectarian revolutionary left

RED fist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RED logo

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

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

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

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

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

luttesanticapitalistes

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6. “The Land Shall Sink”

cthulu

Eric Fleischmann explores the Lovecraftian nature of sea level rise.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

at the mountains of madness

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

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

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

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

But this “Cosmic Pessimism” is represented by media images of, for example, “the cataclysmic effects of climate change.”

In Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World, Timothy Morton discusses the titular hyperobjects – objects massively distributed spatially and temporarily – in particular global warming along with several other items of ecological concern such as Styrofoam cups, plastic bags, and nuclear radiation.

According to Morton, “By understanding hyperobjects, human thinking has summoned Cthulhu-like entities into social, psychic, and philosophical space. The contemporary philosophical obsession with the monstrous provides a refreshing exit from humanscale thoughts.”

glacier

Glaciers and oceans are certainly hyperobjects and the images of their respective melting and rising can serve as some of Thacker’s representations, but sea level rise is Lovecraftian in a particularly vivid aesthetic dimension.

The ocean is an alien and largely unknown portion of the earth and glacial water is a primordial force finally being released after a slumber that has lasted eons.

In a video released a few months ago, academic internet personality ContraPoints makes the observation that one problem facing environmental activists is that climate change fundamentally lacks an antagonist.

Furthermore, an important point of Morton’s book as well as James Bridle’s New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future is that climate change is so vast and vague that it cannot be pinned down, quantified, or fully thought.

Bridle even derives the title of his work from a passage in The Call of Cthulhu — which he also quotes wholly within the book – that contains the line “We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far.”

In the context of this piece, this apt metaphor seems to verge on the literal. With all this in mind, perhaps a strategy of environmental thought could be to identify an antagonism within this gargantuan, undefinable, and unthinkable thing called climate change.

If we are capable of revealing a more horrifying, Lovecraftian nature to at least sea level rise, is it possible we might induce a response closer to that which would ensue if Cthulhu truly rose from the depths?

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7. Acorninfo

Action against the coal-mining industry is being planned in the Rhineland from June 19 to 24. Says the 2019 Ende Gelände call-out: “Last year we fought with thousands of other people in a broad alliance for the Hambi (Hambacher Forest). This year we stand side by side with all the people whose homes are being destroyed by coal and the climate crisis. In solidarity with the people from Keyenberg, Kuckum and the other villages at the Garzweiler opencast mine, we want to stop the destruction on site. Therefore we will block the coal infrastructure. This is our immediate measure for global climate justice. All villages remain – in the Rhineland and worldwide!”

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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.

EFsummer19

* * *

June 1 2019 has been designated Global Degrowth Day by campaigners calling for a “Good Life for All”. There will be public events all over the world to share alternatives to a society based on profit and economic “growth”. People are invited to take part with their own happenings.

degrowthday

* * *

“Rather than engaging with the fact that capitalism itself is destructive, governments and liberal environmentalists are promoting corporate responses to the problems posed by climate change,” warns this very relevant article by Crimethinc on false solutions to global climate change. It adds: “They aren’t going to stop destroying the planet until we make it too costly for them to continue. The sooner we do, the better”.

crimethinc-climate

* * *

Gilets Jaunes in the Basque country are calling for a massive mobilisation against the G7 when it meets in Biarritz in August. They will be protesting against “world leaders who defend an ultra-liberal economy which offers us nothing”.

GJ basques

* * *

The US state-business complex used the 9/11 “terrorism” paranoia to launch a McCarthyite “Green Scare” assault on radical environmentalists. In this in-depth article in The Intercept, Alleen Brown unveils the machinations behind the systems’s war on those it smears as “eco-terrorists”.

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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.”

predictivepolicing

* * *

“Identity politics is not liberatory, but reformist. It is nothing but a breeding ground for aspiring middle class identity politicians. Their long-term vision is the full incorporation of traditionally oppressed groups into the hierarchical, competitive social system that is capitalism, rather than the destruction of that system”. This timely and searing attack by the Woke Anarchists Collective on the curse of reformist anarcho-liberalism is now available in the online Anarchist Library.

Woke Anarchists

* * *

The impact of direct action is explored in an April 2 article on the Conflict Minnesota site. It discusses how actions can produce “signals of disorder” and ripples that influence many other people. It explains: “When someone witnesses the aftermath of an action before it’s been swept away from view, or hears of an action later, the action can resonate with them, it can inspire them to act as well”.

conflict minnesota

* * *

Acorn quote: ““All life, whether social or individual, that is permanently divorced from communion with the vitalising influences of free air and sunshine, will be a stunted and diseased life”.

Henry Salt

Henry S. Salt

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

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Ultimatum

Photo : Mathias Zwick / Hans Lucas

Here is a translation of a new article from Lundi matin, a website close to the Invisible Committee, famed authors of  The Coming Insurrection. After four months of full-on revolt in France, the promised insurrection seems closer than ever to fruition…

On the streets, the Algerian authorities are responding with the same gas as the French authorities and with the same gaseous language. “It’s either us or chaos” … “watch out, you have been infiltrated” … “how dare you speak in the name of the people” … “there is a framework in which you can express your views: democratic elections!”. They have wasted no time in rolling out all kinds of trickery, new and old. In Algeria, too, they are launching a “great national debate”. This is the basis of counter-insurrection: launch false debates on the one hand, heavy repression on the other and justify the one by the other.

But this is no longer a time for respecting frameworks. It’s been 40 years now that the ruling class has been playing for time with its puppet theatre of politics and elections. Distress does not wait. The extinction of the bees does not wait. The bailiff does not wait. The climate catastrophe does not wait. Protesters who have lost an eye do not wait. Pesticide contamination does not wait. Fish stuffed with plastic and massacred dolphins do not wait.

The senators, however, can wait. The political commentators can wait. The big-city yuppies can wait. The pension funds can wait. Monsanto and Bayer can wait, that has always been the secret behind their marvellous profits. We are drowning and they tell us to wait for the next elections when some minor law might at last be voted through… What a joke! Waiting will prove to have been our big mistake, right from the start. And persuading us to wait has been the greatest achievement of our rulers.

That which has stood up won’t fall back down. If the firing of grenades, the ideological weapons of mass intimidation such as the accusation of anti-semitism against a whole movement and all the verbal diarrhoea unleashed on the TV against “sedition”, if the death threats against protesters, if the new “anti-vandal” law, if all that has been powerless to make the Gilets Jaunes give up and go home, then nothing will restore “order”. Because their apparent order was a transparent disaster. No amount of weariness can restore things to the way they were before. The mere fact that the president’s party is congratulating itself, in such circumstances, of being ahead in the opinion polls shows how defunct electoral politics has become.

The cohort of old money-grubbers who chaperone the “young” puppet-president are finding it increasingly difficult to hide their anger at the disruption to their business as usual.

The “great debate” will just have given Macron the chance to shine in the only exercise in which he excels: the class presentation, where you have to fake for the gallery an expertise that you haven’t really got. And for the regime, this will have been one of those moments of total, paradoxical, senseless, creeping, Soviet-style propaganda.

It had been a very long time since we had last seen such a gang of scoundrels become so unanimously outraged by the supposed vices of the people they are ripping off.

It is clearly not enough for the winners to have won: they also have to morally crush those they have trampled over to get to where they are.

In its timely swerve “towards the right”, the government is not concealing the fact that the great debate will give birth to a tiny mouse; to a scattering of minor technical changes spread out over three years; that a bit of authoritarianism does not do any harm and that more doses of neoliberalism are the prescribed remedy for the ravages of neoliberalism.

It cannot even see that the policing, judicial and media means it has been deploying over the last few months to cling on to power have removed the ground from under its feet. That masks have slipped. That their servings of rhetoric are now only being greeted with disgust. Such is the blindness of those who take other people’s eyes out.

On Saturday March 16, Paris will see the convergence of the Gilets Jaunes’ Act XVIII (“Ultimatum: the whole of France to Paris!”), the demonstration of “working class areas” against police violence and the “march of the century” for the climate – in other words, the convergence of more or less all the issues which the current power is incapable of addressing. All the issues which are beyond it but which are the most urgent today. All the reasons for which we have to remove our destiny from its hands. If the impulse to take over the capital of the French state is so broadly shared, it is because Paris holds the key to our situation, wherever we are in France, such is the centralisation of this country.

Media and economic power, administrative and cultural power, the presidency, the ministers, the “representatives of the nation”, the multinationals and lobbyists of every description: all of this has chosen for its home a few square miles, protected but submergeable.

“Macron resign!” isn’t the expression of an obsessive fixation with the symbolic power of the state, but the political precondition for taking back local control of our living conditions.

Macron, furthermore, fully admits to being this obstacle: “They will perhaps kill me with a bullet, but never any other way”. The insurrectional impulse to head for Paris has loomed up since the start of the Gilets Jaunes uprising on November 17 as a necessary step on the long road towards another way of organising our lives; another way of organising production, other ways of living which will be voiced and built differently region by region, canton by canton, neighbourhood by neighbourhood.

We all live somewhere; it was from this starting point that the Gilets Jaunes were born and it is from there that this shattered world can be repaired. And not from some administrative centre, whether national or European. We have seen well enough in this movement how the local easily becomes the general, through the reciprocal echoes shared across different localities.

Never as in this apocalyptic era has the slogan “revolution or death!” had such a concrete and scientifically proven meaning. Sticking with our current social organisation amounts to committing suicide and none of the capitalists will consider the slightest reduction in the rapacity of the system. But while some see revolutions as the “locomotives of history”, we see them more as the emergency brake. We have to stop everything and start again. That might be scary, but we have never seen 60 million people starve to death. And what we have found in the warmth of the roundabouts is the simplicity of organising ourselves intelligently, each on the basis of their own circumstances.

And then, truth be told, in the face of governments which have everywhere set course for the worst, we no longer have any choice.

In Paris on March 16, and everywhere else in France afterwards, what more beautiful season than the spring for getting back down to earth? And what more beautiful springtime than that which sees the end of the wretched reign of the economy?

For further recent translations from the front lines of the Gilets Jaunes uprising, see Yellow Voices in our latest Acorn bulletin.

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Other articles:

Tear gas and rubber bullets on the streets of southern France

Yellow is the new bloc

Yellow fever: long live the revolutionary mob!

Gilets Jaunes: unfiltered anti-capitalism

“Police everywhere, justice nowhere!” – Gilets Jaunes on the streets of Nîmes

The heartbeat of the yellow jacket revolt is rural

Christmas with the gilets jaunes

May our yellow sparks of revolt set the world ablaze in 2019!

France on the brink: either we topple the system or it will crush us

Home

 

The Acorn – 47

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Number 47

In this issue:

  1. Yellow voices
  2. Defending nature means fighting capitalism
  3. Zombie archaeology
  4. Everybody expected the Neoliberal Inquisition
  5. Tall tale of “eco-terrorism”
  6. Acorninfo

1. Yellow voices

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The diversity of our discussions is our strength and even now hundreds of assemblies are drawing up and putting forward their own demands.

They involve real democracy, social and fiscal justice, environmental and climate justice, the ending of discrimination.

Among the most debated demands and strategic proposals we can find: the eradication of misery in all its forms; the transformation of institutions (citizen-initiated referenda, constituent assemblies, an ending to privileges for elected representatives); environmental transition (energy precarity, industrial pollution); equality and the valuing of all women and men regardless of their nationality (people with disabilities, gender equality, ending the neglect of working-class districts, rural areas and overseas territories).

We, Gilets Jaunes, invite everyone to join us, as and how they see fit. We call for a continuation of the series of “acts” of protests, of the occupation of roundabouts and the blockading of the economy and of the effort to build a huge national strike.

We call for the setting up of committees in the workplace, at places of study; and everywhere else so that this grave can be built on the basis of the strikers themselves.

Let’s take control of our own activities! Don’t stay on your own, join us! Let’s organise democratically, autonomously and independently!

This assembly of the assemblies is an important step which allows us to discuss our demands and our means of acting.

Let’s come together in federations to transform society!

We ask the whole of the Gilets Jaunes movement to circulate this call.

If, as a Gilets Jaunes group, you agree with it, then don’t hesitate to send your support to Commercy.

Please do discuss and draw up proposals for the next assembly of the assemblies, already under preparation.

Macron resign!

Power to the people, for the people, by the people!

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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!

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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!

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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?

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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!

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iv. Poisoned by neoliberalism

From an interview with François Boulo, a lawyer and a Gilets Jaunes spokesman in the northern city of Rouen (source: Thinkerview).

How do you see the current situation with the Gilets Jaunes?

There is a fight to be won in terms of communication. The mainstream media are trying to criminalise the movement. But the real question of immorality lies with the distribution of wealth. To live in a country and pile up a personal fortune that is 10, 100, 1,000 times more than you need to live, while in France 9 million people teeter on the brink of poverty and 140,000 are homeless…

What kind of politics are you proposing?

For the last 40 to 45 years there has been an ideological drive to poison our minds with the dominant neoliberal thinking, which is presented as the only possibility. This is the framing for the way we think about politics today. This economic framing is imposed on us and they tell us that there is no alternative. This has generated a mood of resignation.

The economic debate has been closed down. They explain to us that we have to have permanent growth, even though we live in a finite world. We have a cake and they tell us we can’t change the rules for allocating the slices of the cake. I think citizens’ control is needed.

What do you think of the political and policing climate around the Gilets Jaunes movement?

Right from the start, everything was done to ramp up the climate of tension. On the second Saturday of protests in France, from 8.30 or 9am people were being “kettled”, caught in a trap, and teargassed! How do you expect them to feel that their right to protest is being respected?

What about Europe ?

We have got to stop following the demands of the banks and investors, because their financial games do not help the real economy. We should finally create the social Europe we were promised.

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v. A breath of fresh air

Here is an abridged version of an in-depth article in issue 12 of Avis de Tempêtes: Bulletin anarchiste pour la guerre sociale (Storm Warning: Anarchist bulletin for social war), a 20-page A5 zine with a yellow and red cover. The piece takes a witty swipe at a certain kind of comrade who considers themself too ideologically pure to possibly be able to join in the diverse and mould-breaking Gilets Jaunes uprising.

For once, a movement has erupted in a self-organised way without political parties and trade unions, for once it immediately set its own agenda – an agenda which is often daily and not at the weekly or monthly rhythm of the big days out orchestrated by the troop masters and agreed in advance with the police – even deciding for itself its own places and routes of confrontation and blockage by obstinately refusing to beg for official authorisation.

In short, a breath of fresh air for all those activists who have been waiting for nothing other than a big collective movement before venturing out of their homes. However… While the meagre crumbs claimed by any number of reformist, trade-unionist or victimist organisations – backed up by a show of strength in the streets to help their representatives in their negotiations with authority – have never put too many people off taking part, now we see those marvellous anti-authoritarian activists diligently dissecting those who have lit the yellow-vest fuse.

The anti-authoritarian activist, well schooled in swallowing all kinds of reformist demands in order to join in various struggles, this time finds that there is not enough familiar common ground.

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With the Gilets Jaunes movement, the activist has suddenly discovered the world around him. Having been in raptures over the Arab Spring without finding his enthusiasm impossibly deflated by the “interclassist” use of the term “the people” (“The people wants the fall of the regime” was a much-used popular slogan) and the abundance of national flags, he is now disgusted by the same limitations on his own side of the Mediterranean.

Having rioted against the Loi Travail labour reforms, or last May Day, without feeling his presence incompatible with that of  massed hammer and sickle flags, or with the sometimes-dubious banners at the head of Parisian demos (emblazoned with the wise words of 100%-reactionary rappers), he is now mortified by the tricolour flags and populist slogans.

He had chosen to be blind to the hundreds of tricolour flags in the left-wing France Insoumise rallies at the last elections, as well as to those wielded by hundreds of thousands in the streets after the epic victory in the footballing spectacle of July 2018 (sported in unison by poor urban youth and old rich racists).

No, the activist is as simple as his organic-supermarket ideology. An unclean symbol equals a fascist. Full stop.

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Further reading:

Tear gas and rubber bullets on the streets of southern France

Yellow is the new bloc

Yellow fever: long live the revolutionary mob!

Gilets Jaunes: unfiltered anti-capitalism

“Police everywhere, justice nowhere!” – Gilets Jaunes on the streets of Nîmes

The heartbeat of the yellow jacket revolt is rural

Christmas with the gilets jaunes

May our yellow sparks of revolt set the world ablaze in 2019!

France on the brink: either we topple the system or it will crush us

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2. Defending nature means fighting capitalism

GAF image

A radical anti-capitalist dimension to the Extinction Rebellion (XR) has emerged in the UK, with the creation of a new alliance.

The Green Anti-Capitalist Front is born of the realisation that if we want to defend nature we have to fight capitalism.

It says it wants to support the high-profile XR “with a parallel mobilisation that has a greater focus on the capitalist roots of climate catastrophe”.

GAF explains: “As we all know, capitalism is killing the Earth. We have been observing the rise of the Extinction Rebellion movement and, while we are glad to see a growing interest in fighting climate change, we do not think their critique goes far enough and believe a specifically anti-capitalist critique is needed.

“As such we are calling for the formation of an anti-capitalist block to tap into this rising interest in radical politics and to fill the vacuum of a green and anti-capitalist movement in London. We plan to loosely work alongside Extinction Rebellion’s actions, especially their week of actions planned from April 15th, while also developing our own unique
approach.

“The Green Anti-Capitalist Front is intended as a broad coalition of groups with varying ideologies, but with a common interest in tackling environmental problems at their social roots”.

GAF logo

In an open letter to XR, GAF praises it for having reinvigorated environmental activism at a time when this was most needed.

It says: “XR has been bold in its aims when much of the established movement has been cynical, and has managed to tap into a broader sense of alarm over environmental degradation, and mobilised many people not previously involved.

“XR has grown at a speed that many people would have thought impossible before we saw it happen.

“XR has also been far more radical in this broad appeal than many people would have thought, pursuing a strategy built around both local direct action while maintaining an international orientation.

“We cannot overstate the overwhelmingly positive effect that XR is having on environmental politics”.

However, GAF says it has “doubts about some of the tactics that XR has adopted” and thinks a conversation is needed about this.

GAF is inviting like-minded people and groups to get in touch via
greenanticapitalistfront@riseup.net. It has a website, Twitter account and Facebook presence.

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3. Zombie archaeology

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by Eric Fleischmann

In the 21st century, the world is now veritably swamped with commodities. According to APLF ltd. American consumers purchase an average of 7.5 shoes per capita per year. The LA Times reports that “the average U.S. household has 300,000 things, from paper clips to ironing boards.”

I am not by any means claiming that everyone is an affluent borderline-hoarder. One of the fundamental problems of capitalism is the unequal access to this seeming abundance of goods.

With so much paraphernalia in the world, it is inevitable that significant portions will be wasted.

In an article for The Atlantic, Derek Thompson explains that in a year the world creates around 2.6 trillion pounds of garbage—“the weight of about 7,000 Empire State Buildings.”

Much of this is food waste, but many inorganic items are produced with cheap plastic and other materials that fall apart quickly. Some companies, such as Apple, even reportedly preprogram their products to stop functioning properly after a certain amount of time in order to force consumers to buy new wares at a much greater rate than they otherwise would.

All this waste, all this stuff tossed away, has to go somewhere. Such rubbish becomes part of the planet’s topography, enters into its ecological systems, and eventually returns to the human sphere of interaction – much to human detriment.

This is zombie archaeology; when the remnants of our past are not uncovered by human beings but return to us by themselves with a vengeance.

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In this age of capitalism-induced ecological collapse, zombie archaeology is certain to become only increasingly suited for describing the world. Walter Benjamin, in his Theses on the Philosophy of History, writes of Paul Klee’s Angelus Novus, “This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But… …[t]he storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward.”

But what happens when the wreckage and debris – both literal and figurative – begin shambling towards the present? When the dead are, in a sense, awakened? Zombie archaeology poses these questions.

See full article here.

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4. Everybody expected the Neoliberal Inquisition

spanish inquisition

We have been drawing attention for some time now to the ideological smears being deliberately used by the neoliberal elite to stifle dissident voices.

Unlike Monty Python’s ridiculous “Spanish Inquisition”, this one has long been expected by everybody who has been paying attention.

The most important task, we feel, is to point out the essential dishonesty behind these attacks.

Neoliberals differ from the old-fashioned right in that they like to paint themselves as the Guardians (yep, quite!) of Progressive Thinking, as somehow vaguely left-wing despite their full-blooded backing for capitalism, militarism, imperialism and everything that goes with it.

So they cannot attack the left in the traditional way, by simply saying they do not like it because it is too left-wing and threatens the status quo which they support.

Instead, they pretend to be attacking their enemies from a progressive position, one which occupies the liberal moral high ground.

This is the case with the longstanding smears against deep green thinking which try to claim it is a continuation of Nazi ideology, even though Hitler’s regime was the epitome of industrialism (see our article Organic Radicalism: Bringing Down the Fascist Machine for a full analysis of this).

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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.

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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.

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Seattle 1999

One of the great successes of the wave of global protests that took place in the 1990s and at the start of the 21st century was to put anti-capitalism on the public stage.

Previously, the mainstream had never even accepted that we lived in a capitalist society, let alone that people could be against that.

The word “capitalism” was regarded as a nonsensical one, used only by communists or other left-wing cranks.

Suddenly, they were talking about anti-capitalism on the BBC, examining who these troublesome anti-capitalists were and what exactly they wanted.

Twenty years on, the Establishment feels under threat, its system crumbling and its mind-control power over the population lifting like fog in the sunshine.

It therefore seems to have decided to try to push anti-capitalism back out of the public domain, beyond the perimeter fence of ideological validity.

99 per cent

We have commented previously on the peculiar political argument that there is something “anti-semitic” about opposing the “1%” who own most of the world’s wealth (it’s a lot fewer than that…) or about condemning bankers or international capitalist organisations like the IMF, the WTO or the Bilderberg group.

As we pointed out last July: “What appears to be happening, in some cases at least, is that the ‘Jewish banker’ figure is again being deliberately deployed to thwart opposition to capitalism.

“Previously, it was used to steer people away from anti-capitalism and into anti-semitism, but now the aim is rather to steer people away from anti-capitalism with the threat of being labelled anti-semitic”.

This twisted approach is now being presented as a common-sense view by mainstream media, in tandem with the other smear attacks on left-wingers.

Right-wing Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh spun this toxic propaganda on BBC Radio 4 on March 4, with presenter John Humphreys helpfully summing up: “In other words, to be anti-capitalist you have to be anti-semitic?”

Such are the desperate, dangerous lies of a system that senses its days are numbered…

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5. Tall tale of “eco-terrorism”

edinburgh castle

In his new “extremist” novel, No Such Place as Asha, Paul Cudenec gives a fictional airing to the ideological smears often deployed by neoliberals against opponents of their ecocidal industrial capitalist system. This excerpt describes a speaker at a private conference of the “Transatlantic Alliance for Freedom” (TAF) in Edinburgh…

His special subject was environmentalism. He started off paying lip service to the importance of balancing economic growth with sustainable practices, of ensuring the well-being of human and animal communities, so on and so forth. Responsible environmental organisations acted as crucial watchdogs that reminded the authorities and industry of their responsibilities. While TAF did not always agree with their positions, they recognised the role they played, etcetera, etcetera.

Then he moved on to the substance of his talk. Unfortunately, there was always a fringe of green protesters who took things too far, who refused to play by the rules. He talked about “eco-terrorists” in the USA and “hardcore” environmentalists in Europe, such as 1990s road protesters in the UK, a mobilisation against a high-speed rail line in Italy, a protest camp against an airport in France, another against mining in Germany.

More recently, the “worst” instance of these campaigns was the anti-fracking movement in the UK. The dangers of these extremists’ illegal direct action were well known, he said, as was the “Luddite” ideology that inspired them.

But lately things had taken a turn for the worse. These groups were starting to develop a common ideology, aided by the exchange of news and views made possible by the internet. They were borrowing ideas from campaigners on the other side of the world and incorporating them into their own rhetoric. They were increasingly identifying the enemy not just as their local government, or business, but as something they termed “the industrial capitalist system”.

Up against this, they were piecing together their own counter-position. They had taken the idea of “sacred land” from indigenous struggles in North America, Australia and elsewhere and were applying it to their own sites. The use of direct action was turning into an ideology of direct action, an anarchist contempt for the rule of law and the due democratic process. French and German groups had fed into the mix the idea of “degrowth”, which rejected the very fundaments of our society – the idea of progress, economic growth and increased prosperity for humankind.

I wrote down a complete quote at this point. “Let’s be clear, these people are negationists. They are guilty of progress denial. And I would suggest that this brand of negationism should be treated as seriously as the other one of which we are all too well aware. Because that’s where it ends, ultimately. It all ends at the same place. The destruction of civilization. The deaths of millions of men, women and children in the name of fanaticism.”

There was a great burst of applause across the room at this point. Having established his moral high ground, Heath went on to spell out the particular form this Eco-Terrorist Apocalypse would take, which seemed to involve mainly a drop in the profits of “important wealth-creating institutions”, faced with increased grassroots resistance to their projects and falling levels of consumption as the “poison” of anti-growth views contaminated the population.

More info here.

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6. Acorninfo

A top-notch new comic has been published by Corporate Watch in London. Worlds End uses words and pictures to help people understand climate change and capitalism and encourage a different approach, one that builds power to fight them. Read it online here.

worldsend

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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”.

traffic fumes

* * *

Disturbing evidence keeps emerging about the way the environmental movement, particularly the climate justice element, is being hijacked and manipulated by big business. For instance, a Daily Mail report in February revealed that Tory peer John Selwyn Gummer, who heads the UK government’s Climate Change Committee, has a private company which has been paid more than £600,000 from “green” businesses hoping to profit from government subsidies. And the full report from Cory Morningstar mentioned in Acorn 46 is now online and a must-read for any nature-defender who wants to avoid being used as a useful idiot by a bunch of lying industrial capitalists.

Gummer

* * *

The threat of new industrial capitalist mega-projects in Mexico has been highlighted in a letter from Zapatista women to their sisters across the world. The authorities’ destructive schemes include the Mayan Train, the “development” of the Tehuantepec Isthmus and massive commercial tree farms. The letter declares: “We’re going to fight with all our strength and everything we’ve got against these mega-projects. If these lands are conquered, it will be upon the blood of Zapatista women”.

zapatista women

* * *

“Fracking is stoppable, another world is possible!” is the title of a highly informative and inspiring new online bulletin from the frack free movement. Issue 1 is available here but issue 2 should be out very soon – follow the excellent frackfree_eu on Twitter for updates.

frackingisstoppable

* * *

The 2019 Liverpool Anarchist Bookfair will be held on Saturday April 13, 11am till 5pm at The Black-E, 1 Great George Street, L1 5EW. This will be a day of stalls and workshops, with a vegan cafe and kids’ space – free entry (donations towards event costs welcome). Says the website: “Books, zines & more to feed your brain  let’s learn, organise, grow & create!”

liverpoolbookfair

* * *

If the neoliberal Establishment succeeds in totally destroying the (very mild!) threat presented to its domination by Corbyn’s Labour Party, there will no doubt be a few we-told-you-soes from us anarcho-cynics. But the anger sparked by such a collapse in people’s hopes could well lead to something more interesting happening in the UK. As Jonathan Cook notes: “If parliamentary politics returns to business as usual for the wealthy, taking to the streets looks increasingly like the only option. Maybe it’s time to dust off a Yellow Vest”.

* * *

Acorn quote: “The poorest man hath as true a title and just right to the land as the richest man. True freedom lies in the free enjoyment of the earth”.

Gerrard Winstanley

Gerrard Winstanley GJ2

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

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Tear gas and rubber bullets on the streets of southern France

An eye-witness report from Act 16 of the ongoing Yellow Vest uprising against neoliberalism, by Paul Cudenec of Shoal Collective

We had just positioned ourselves downwind from the teargas canisters that had been fired towards us from the ranks of riot police protecting the Sous-Préfecture, the French state’s HQ in Alès, southern France.

Then suddenly we were coming under attack from the opposite direction. A squadron of cops was lurking, unseen, on the other side of the modern pedestrianised square and had started firing tear gas from behind us.

Ales806 - Copie

Choking and with streaming eyes, we fled down a little side street which, ironically enough, turned out to be dedicated to the “martyrs of the resistance”.

Passers-by, women with young children, stood gawping in the direction of the clouds of chemical warfare following us down the road.

“Incredible!” said somebody behind me, astonished at the violent reaction to the protest. “They’ve completely lost the plot!”

Suddenly there was an almighty noise and on the pavement next to us rolled a hefty rubber bullet, a “flashball”, which had bounced off a nearby wall and almost hit the little group of local onlookers.

We scattered, for the moment. Some headed out of the town centre, only to be met with a baton attack by a marauding gang of cops. Others regrouped and carried on the fight, with reports of injuries from yet more rubber bullets.

The police helicopter circled overhead, frightening the herons on the river Gardon, which flows through the town.

This was all a far cry from the last report I filed from Alès for Red Pepper in December, when the Gilets Jaunes were handing out free Christmas presents to local kids.

Today was Saturday March 2, Act 16 of the Yellow Vest uprising which has seen a broad cross-section of the French public take to the streets against President Emmanuel Macron’s neoliberal regime, with a ferocious determination that puts the rest of the Europe to shame.

Alès was the location for a regional protest, uniting Gilets Jaunes from across the Gard department and beyond.

Ales754b - Copie

There was a carnival atmosphere as the protesters gathered outside the municipal theatre in Alès, with a Batacuda band creating a lively rhythm as we set off on a tour of the town centre.

The cops made a sudden and provocative appearance in the midst of the crowd before we moved and we were later told that three Gilets Jaunes had been arrested as they tried to join the protest.

Others were stopped by police on the approaches to the town, which might explain why the numbers on the march swelled remarkably in the first ten minutes or so until we had easily reached 3,000.

As ever, the protest was diverse and politically mixed, but there was a very strong showing from the local libertarian left, who had advertised the event on their networks. The loud refrains of “a-anti-anticapitalista” paid witness to their presence.

Ales77 - Copie

The festive feeling, with hardly a cop in sight, lasted until we reached a roundabout next to the Sous-Préfecture.

Here the police were lined up in full riot gear to stop us going anywhere near their masters’ property.

After a short stand-off, we headed off down the road to the rail station, which was also heavily guarded by the cops, presumably because of the Gilets Jaunes’ successful track record in blocking railway lines.

Ales795 - Copie

A back street led us back to the other side of the Sous-Préfecture and, inevitably, another line of police vans and robocops. It was not clear what sparked things off – someone told me the riot police had fired a rubber bullet at head level.

In any case, things quickly escalated. Outraged protesters shouted the familiar chants of “everyone hates the police!” and “police everywhere, justice nowhere!” and the tear gas was answered with a hail of stones and the odd firework.

Across France, it was the same story, not least in Montpellier, just 40 miles down the road from Alès.

Every week the authorities and their tame media tell the public the rebellion is petering out, there is hardly anyone out on the streets, the whole thing is a flop. And every week they deploy thousands and thousands of tooled-up thugs to attack the Yellow Vests with batons, tear gas and grenades.

After four months of revolt, those who hold power in France, and elsewhere, have ceded nothing. And those who oppose them are not ready to give up. How will this end? Where will this go next? None of us can say, because history is being written, in bold yellow lettering.

giletsjaunesimage

See also:

Yellow is the new bloc

Yellow fever: long live the revolutionary mob!

Gilets Jaunes: unfiltered anti-capitalism

“Police everywhere, justice nowhere!” – Gilets Jaunes on the streets of Nîmes

The heartbeat of the yellow jacket revolt is rural

Christmas with the gilets jaunes

May our yellow sparks of revolt set the world ablaze in 2019!

France on the brink: either we topple the system or it will crush us

The Acorn – 46

 

Number 46

In this issue:

  1. Yellow is the new bloc
  2. The system must be destroyed!
  3. Controlling the narrative
  4. Climate of manipulation
  5. Against their world of artifice
  6. Acorninfo

1. Yellow is the new bloc

x-yellow

January 19, 2019: week 10 of history-forging French uprising

For the tenth weekend running, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets all across France in the Gilets Jaunes or Yellow Vests revolt against neoliberal capitalism – and this in the face of unprecedented state violence and oppression.

President’s Macron pathetic attempt to take back the initiative with his “Grand National Debate” has been exposed as a sham, with his regional roadshows protected by armies of riot police – deployed to keep at bay the people he is supposed to be listening to!

In Paris, for Act 10 of the uprising, the latest in a series of massive marches was estimated by observers to stretch for 4km and was met with the usual hostility and teargas from the “forces of order”.

x-paris crowds

x-paris2

Gilets Jaunes in Lille set up a burning barricade to keep the cops at bay.

Down south, protesters in Avignon forced open the gate to the police station and tried to set the town hall on fire.

x-avignon
Avignon

A protester was seriously injured in Rennes.

x-rennes
Rennes: Yellow, determined and revolutionary

In Toulouse, even the city authorities admitted that 10,000 people turned out and their protest was received with the usual politeness by the police.

One Gilet Jaune was the victim of a particularly nasty attack: “At least five or six cops descended on him, he was literally smashed to the ground. There were baton blows. He started to convulse”.

This is how Macron’s neoliberal democracy defends itself against dissent.

There were reports from Bourg-en-Bresse of protesters being injured by rubber bullets, grenades and the firing of teargas.

Some Gilets Jaunes in Clermont-Ferrand invaded the city’s shopping centre, chanting “Macron resign!” and blocking the escalators.

Everywhere there were thousands and thousands of people demanding an end to the neoliberal misery being imposed on France by Macron’s regime and the whole corrupt political system.

Caen, Rouen, Nîmes, Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Toulon, Dijon, Beziers, Perpignan, Montpellier, Lyons, Angers, Poitiers, Marseilles, Bergerac, Brest, Longeville-lès-Saint-Avold, the little town of Foix in rural Ariège…

And from everywhere the same images and reports came flooding in: big crowds, police provocation, teargas, grenades, batons, water cannon, blood and defiance.

Ten weeks on, this is still only the start!

x-saintavold

x-general2

x-general3

x-sign
“12 dead, 2000 injured. Social movement or social war?”
x-poitiers2
Poitiers
x-brest
Brest: “The Gilets Jaunes are carrying on! We won’t give up. Support us – support YOURSELVES!”

See also:

Yellow fever: long live the revolutionary mob!

Gilets Jaunes: unfiltered anti-capitalism

“Police everywhere, justice nowhere!” – Gilets Jaunes on the streets of Nîmes

The heartbeat of the yellow jacket revolt is rural

Christmas with the gilets jaunes

May our yellow sparks of revolt set the world ablaze in 2019!

France on the brink: either we topple the system or it will crush us

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2. The system must be destroyed!

system

Let’s be clear about this: the system exists.

You can call it what you like – The Establishment, The Thing, The Matrix or the Industrial-Military-Prison-Propaganda-Complex – but it exists.

It has become trendy in recent years to pretend that this is not so, that what we are seeing is merely a collection of economic or interpersonal relationships.

But it is the system that promotes, protects and imposes all the layers of domination and exploitation that mark our everyday lives.

It is the system that tells us we have to spend our best life energy working for it, just for the right to eat and exist in the world it claims it owns.

It is the system that pays its hired thugs to beat us up, intimidate us, lock us up for years if we refuse to play by its rules.

It is the system that maims and murders human beings on an unimagineable scale across the world, all in the interests of its profit and power, and still always claims the moral high ground.

It is the system that lies through its teeth, with a slick smile on its face, and is always quick to accuse anyone who challenges its lies of being a liar.

It is the system that devours, poisons and destroys our air, our water, our land and our bodies.

It is the system that brings death and extinction while claiming to bring growth.

It is the system that is always looking at new ways to monitor us, to control us, to infiltrate our lives, to direct our thoughts, to crush the tiniest possibilities of our freedom and resistance.

It is also the system, of course, that insists that the system does not exist, that we should not confuse the many trees of its oppression and control with an overall wood that could be termed an entity.

It says that anyone who talks of the system is necessarily a simple-minded fool who imagines the world is all controlled in every detail by half a dozen James Bond villains sitting around a conference table in an underground bunker.

It says that anyone who talks of the system is a conspiracy theorist liable to start spouting all kinds of deranged, maybe anti-semitic, nonsense.

The system says this because it knows full well that the rest of us – the powerless nobodies it so despises – will never be able to effectively challenge the system if we don’t even know that it exists.

On this point, and this point alone, we agree with the system. Identifying the existence of the system is the necessary first step to clearing the way for a worthwhile future for humankind and our planetary home.

The second necessary step is to destroy the system in its entirety.

 

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3. Controlling the narrative

 

propaganda2

The system has always depended on being able to control the narrative of the societies it controls, ensuring that its own existence remains invisible and that all its lies are accepted as self-evident truths.

It knows that it is in big trouble if serious numbers of people start ripping the propaganda drip-feeds from their brains and sourcing their information from elsewhere, if people stop parroting the sermons of the system’s priests and start thinking for themselves.

It has been interesting to see the system in panic mode in France, being forced to work through every step of the emergency disinformation procedures as the Gilets Jaunes revolt gathers more and more momentum.

To start with, the Gilets Jaunes were just a passing nuisance. Then they were right-wing extremists, or left-wing extremists if the message was being aimed at a right-wing audience. After that, they were violent thugs and village idiots. Then it was all a flop and dying out. Then they were suddenly threatening armed revolution. They subsequently switched back to being fascists again, maybe of the elusive “red-brown” variety evoked by neoliberals everywhere in their desperate attempts to equate far left with far right and present themselves as the only safeguard against the horrors of so-called “populism”.

Again and again, the well-groomed and arrogant faces of the Parisian elite appeared to inform the French people that they were nothing but uneducated riff-raff who deserved to be shot and telling them to pack it all in. But nobody was watching TV on the roundabouts.

The media even wheeled out the tired old spectre of the Le Pen family once again, with inflated reports of how they were poised to come to power. It’s a great double-act for the capitalists, the old nice-nasty routine: support capitalism or you get fascism.

While there have been howls of media outrage over every flower-pot thrown towards the serried ranks of armour-plated riot cops, the huge levels of brutal violence inflicted by the police themselves have been sidelined or even ignored.

Individual cops have complained publicly that the instructions for this violence – by means of tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannon, grenades or just good old-fashioned beating and kicking – are political and have come straight from the state.

The system has given orders for the Gilets Jaunes to be left bloodied in the road, handless or eyeless in several cases. The system has given orders for its media to pretend this just isn’t happening.

And people have seen that. Millions of people have seen it and seen through it. The system has played its hand and it cannot keep playing it again and again with the results that it expects.

This is the scenario it fears most. The scenario in which the hologram illusion of democracy projected by its vast range of propaganda techniques flickers and disappears from the minds of the people.

Instead they see reality as it, as it has been for a long time: a criminal gang of professional liars, manipulators and thieves successfully holding millions of people in a state of thralldom, and being prepared to use unlimited violence to hold on to their power.

capitalist exploitation

It is not just in France that the system is afraid of losing control, although the population there seem to be several steps ahead of others in their awareness of what is going on and their courage in actually trying to do something about it.

That is why for years the system has been infiltrating radical political movements – and often sabotaging them from within so they can never successfully mobilise against its domination.

That is why it runs outfits like the Institute for Statecraft and its Integrity Initiative to push its propaganda and try to head off even the risk of a reformist social-democrat like Jeremy Corbyn getting a piece of power.

That is why it is rolling out products like NewsGuard to filter internet intervention and try and make sure only the system’s version of reality, the system’s views, can reach the public.

That is why it is constantly removing pages and accounts from social media, policing the internet to try to ensure that small voices of dissent can no longer be heard, while claiming that this insidious censorship is all about countering “fake news”.

That is why journalists who help whistleblowers expose the system’s crimes and manipulations are not only targeted by the system’s police but mercilessly smeared by the system’s faithful media lackeys.

But can the system ever really regain full-spectrum narrative domination and get all that information toothpaste neatly back into the mind-control tube?

We suspect not.

 

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4. Climate of manipulation

greta thunberg

Greta Thunberg: darling of the climate change reformists

Needless to say, we at The Acorn are fully behind environmental campaigns like Extinction Rebellion (see Issue 45) which warn that we face planetary disaster unless our society makes radical changes.

But we have to admit that we are often puzzled as to why there is quite so much emphasis on climate change as the primary evidence of something going badly wrong.

Why less talk of the plastic that is choking our oceans, the chemicals polluting our water sources, the nanoparticles absorbed by our bodies, the noxious fumes poisoning our air, the microwaves causing cancers in our brains?

Why so little mention that there is a name for all of this – industrial capitalism?

Why so few calls for the dismantling of this productivist profit-based insanity and the instigation of degrowth to restore a society which produces solely according to its real needs?

Surely it couldn’t be because the climate change movement is being insidiously manipulated by elements of industrial capitalism itself?

Surely it couldn’t be because the issue is being hijacked by powerful private interests as a way of getting rich on the new technologies that will supposedly solve the crisis?

Could it really be the case that genuine environmental activists, arrested and locked up for their courageous actions, are being used as human cannon fodder for a global marketing campaign?

corymorningstar
Cory Morningstar is asking some awkward questions of the climate change movement

Anyone tempted to dismiss these questions out of hand might like to take a look at the new work published online by radical ecologist researcher and writer Cory Morningstar.

This concerns the “non-profit industrial complex”, which she describes as “the most powerful army in the world”.

She writes that we are currently witnessing “the launch of a global campaign to usher in a required consensus for the Paris Agreement, the New Green Deal and all climate related policies and legislation written by the power elite – for the power elite”.

The policies this campaign is trying to push through include carbon capture storage (CCS), enhanced oil recovery (EOR), bio-energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), rapid total decarbonisation, payments for ecosystem services (referred to as “natural capital”), nuclear energy and fission, and “a host of other ‘solutions’ that are hostile to an already devastated planet”.

The overall aim is the opposite of the degrowth we so badly need and would involve the “rebooting” of the capitalist economy by creating new markets and new growth.

renewable industry

Morningstar warns: “What is being created is a mechanism to unlock approx. 90 trillion dollars for new investments and infrastructure”.

The first part of her in-depth report focuses on “the manufacturing of Greta Thunberg” and the We Don’t Have Time organisation.

Future sections promise to investigate the role of Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, 350.org, Avaaz, the World Wildlife Fund, the Green New Deal and, yes, Extinction Rebellion.

We look forward to reading them.

In the meantime, it is important that all of us who want to head off environmental catastrophe make it quite clear that this is not going to happen so long as we remain trapped inside the capitalist system.

green capitalism2

See also:

Degrowth and the death of capitalism

Envisioning a Post-Western World

End industrialism or humankind dies

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5. Against their world of artifice

luddites3

The artificiality and abstraction of life under contemporary capitalism is dragging us further and further way from a real sense of being alive – in our bodies, in our daily lives, in our environment.

That is the crucial message from anti-capitalist philosopher and writer Renaud Garcia in his latest book, Le Sens des limites: contre l’abstraction capitaliste (Paris: L’Échappée, 2018).

He describes our Western world as “a civilization with money as its universal mediation” in which capitalism “encloses” and privatises all aspects of life.

It cannot tolerate the idea of anyone living outside of its enclosure, hence its need to stamp out the practice of “subsistence” farming, where communities have the cheek to simply produce enough food for their own requirements, rather than for the requirements of the capitalist profit-machine.

It forces people into its system by giving them no choice, he explains: “Declaring war on subsistence means dissolving the autonomous ways of life of thousands of people and thereby enslaving them to commercial needs which they can only fulfil by going out to earn a wage”.

The idea of defending a natural world, which includes human communities’ relationships with the environment, has been neglected by Western anti-capitalism, he says, particularly under the influence of mainstream Marxism.

Uprooted from our previous rural existences, we today often find ourselves living in a sterile and life-denying suburban sprawl, a space created “for the demands of capital”, where people are trapped in a dependence on their cars and thus on the oil industry.

william morris
William Morris

Garcia draws much on William Morris and echoes his critique of the artificiality of industrial capitalism: “In this world of artifice, going beyond the surface to a deeper level, that of the sheer essence of things, is no longer conceivable”.

Garcia dedicates another section of the book to examining, and condemning, transhumanism, which he terms “the official ideology of technological capitalism”.

This ideology “reduces the human brain to a simple processer of information, a mere calculating machine” and is built on the “basic negation of the reality of living organisms”.

Behind it lurks a “brutal dualism” which regards mind and body as completely separate, and thus imagines the possibility of a “posthuman” self with no fleshly existence.

Worryingly, this ultra-capitalist creed is also embraced by some who term themselves left-wing and have swallowed the lie that technological and social progress amount to the same thing.

le-sens-des-limites

You can read the full version of this book review by Paul Cudenec on his blog.

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6. Acorninfo

“The Wet’suwet’en and Unist’ot’en remain steadfast in the determination that we will be successful in halting the toxic Coastal GasLink pipeline”. This was the defiant message issued on January 17 after the Canadian branch of the industrial-capitalist-military complex used shocking force against the indigenous peoples to try and clear the way for its polluting infrastructures, prompting an international wave of solidarity actions.

unistoten_camp_canada

* * *

Hundreds of people marched in Bern, Switzerland, on Saturday January 19 against the World Economic Forum being held at Davos, and against capitalism in general. They declared: “The infinite greed for profit and power that is seen at the Forum in Davos has no limits. Let the ruling class feel our anger”.

bernwef

* * *

Protests are to be held in Berlin on February 16 against the European Police Congress being hosted in the city. Says the call-out: “Let us use the police congress as an opportunity to take to the streets together against the police, the security authorities and their laws. Against state violence and repression. Against a world in which it is okay to let thousands of people drown on the borders of Europe, a world in which people are persecuted, imprisoned and killed because of their aspirations for liberation, a world that wants to destroy all forms of a life based on solidarity and collectivity”.

feb16berlin

* * *

A new book on squatting has been published by Squatting everywhere kollective (SqEK) and is available to read online. ‘Fighting for spaces, Fighting for our lives: Squatting Movements today‘ provides glimpses into a diverse and multi-faceted movement, with accounts from local struggles, experiences of repression and stories of collective forms of life which have grown out of squatted spaces in various cities and countries throughout the world, including accounts from Rio de Janeiro, Istanbul, Seattle and Australia.

squatting book2

* * *

“Stop 5G on Earth and in Space!” is the message from a new international appeal. It calls for a halt to the deployment of the 5G (fifth generation) wireless network, including 5G from space satellites, explaining: “5G will massively increase exposure to radio frequency (RF) radiation on top of the 2G, 3G and 4G networks for telecommunications already in place. RF radiation has been proven harmful for humans and the environment. The deployment of 5G constitutes an experiment on humanity and the environment that is defined as a crime under international law”.

stop5g

* * *

In India’s densely populated megacities, residents are rallying against the widespread destruction of trees to make way for capitalist development, reports Vaishnavi Chandrashekhar. She highlights grassroots resistance in Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi which are keeping alive the Indian tradition of tree-hugging and passionate defence of nature.

india tree

* * *

Brazil’s new far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has already set out his vile agenda, reducing the minimum wage and unveiling plans to step up privatization, toughen prison sentencing guidelines, and hand control over Indigenous land to the Agriculture Ministry. The pro-US, pro-Israel Bolsonaro could well be the first in a new line of authoritarian neoliberals ready to impose industrial capitalism on the world without worrying too much about the facade of “democracy”.

bolsonaro2

* * *

An eye-opening account of life for workers in China has been provided by Dissent Magazine. Uprooted from the land, peasant-workers have to take jobs in the electronic, garment, construction, or service industries whose low wages force them to work punishing hours of overtime. They live in crowded dormitories, under CCTV surveillance and the constant threat of eviction if they protest. “This is the true ‘miracle’ of Chinese industrialization: a highly vulnerable, precarious, and exploited working class”.

china workers
 

* * *

A very interesting article has been published by our US comrades at It’s Going Down, addressing the thorny issue of alleged ideological similarities between deep-green anarchism and fascists, who often used nature-based rhetoric in their propaganda. The author finds that even the way the two traditions talk about nature reveals the apparent resemblance to be superficial: “The philosophies of the fascists came to largely revolve around concepts of domestication, husbandry, design, and surgical intervention; those of the primitivists revolve around wildness, biodiversity, voluntary association, and self-determination”. ‘Fascism, Ecology, and the Tangled Roots of Anti-Modernism‘ sits nicely alongside our own 2018 article, ‘Organic radicalism: bringing down the fascist machine‘ as a step towards clearing up this area of painful ideological misunderstanding.

green anarchy tree-fist

* * *

Acorn quote: “What is the point of economic progress, a so-called higher standard of living, when the earth, the only earth we have, is being contaminated by substances which may cause malformations in our children or grandchildren?”

E.F. Schumacher, Small Is Beautiful

 

pollution

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

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“May our yellow sparks of revolt set the world ablaze in 2019!”

yellow letter

Since the start of the Gilets Jaunes or Yellow Vests movement in France, mysterious and poetic Yellow Letters have been distributed on the occupied roundabouts and on social media. This is a quick translation of the powerful and inspiring 15th missive, as published on the influential radical website lundi matin, which is close to The Invisible Committee, authors of ‘The Coming Insurrection’.

Dear Gilets jaunes, dear men and women from below.

We are getting close to a critical moment. We are getting close to a historical moment. We are getting close to a tipping point in history. We are getting close to the end.

For several months now, we have been waging a battle, together, to counter the suicidal behaviour of those above.

Our lives, our children’s lives, our grandchildren’s lives, are on a tightrope. We are not going to play the tightrope-walker by weighing up the advantages or inconveniences of this or that constitutional measure which could give us back, they say, some room for manoeuvre. We have to admit that we have lost the knack.

We are no longer in a position to define how we live, in our own way. Such as how do we work, how do we educate our children, how do we eat, how do we produce, how do we dress, how do we party, how do we look at one another, how do we struggle, how do we share, how do we kiss, how do we meet, how do we love?

All of life is hoovered up and devoured by the machineries from above which care little about our grievances, our status, our finer feelings.

Those from above are already machines and a machine, my friends, does not feel or think, it calculates.

Dear Gilets jaunes, dear men and women from below.

In 2019 our living soil, our real soil, that is everything that surround us, the beauty and richness of our countryside, the freshness of a fine morning, the scent of jasmine or lilacs filling the air in the streets, the fears of the black night, the shafts of sunlight caressing our morning faces and the laughter of our children in the gardens of their innocence – all of that is being destroyed and disappearing under a massive tide of concrete.

We have to admit, my friends, that there is no green peace on the horizon. No carbon tax even! No responsible ecologism! No social contract for the environment or Cop 21, 22 or 23! All of that is a mere lick of green paint on the horror that awaits us.

So Macron and his friends from above can well afford to wish us a happy New Year. It’s not them who suffer at the end of every month nor who despair at the end of the world. No, they despair at the lack of growth, they only worry about the failure of France-from-below to adapt to commercial diktats from above. Today, our struggle from below is a total confrontation and no doubt the last. A fight against the scheduled extinction of the human species. So it is time to create real social organisation with a local base and global reach. The problems of those from below in Congo, in Thailand or in Brazil are also our problems.

While we are encouraged to soothe our frustrations by clearing the shelves of the shopping centres in the winter sales, imagine a 20-year-old in Vietnam, uprooted from the home soil where his family have lived for generations, going off at 6am, alone, to a cotton field or to huge cold metallic blocks to produce a miserable item of clothing!

Imagine the same company congratulating itself on its great quarterly results! Imagine now, we Europeans asking for consumer credit to buy this selfsame object! Can we imagine how wretched that is? Can we really imagine the world in which we live? The face, the reflection of our daily misery. This world, our world. The one that we are making so unbearable, detestable, unbreathable and unlivable that we run and hide in our citadels of screens, in our illusions, in our denials…

On the other hand, imagine that in our blocks of flats, in our neighbourhoods, our villages, we could establish other ways of producing and consuming. Can we imagine one washing machine per block of flats? Can we imagine spending the morning fishing, the afternoon looking after the children and the evening preparing for the local festival or the next day’s football match?

Can we imagine conserving our food in old-fashioned jars and shared spaces? Can we imagine shattering the private property that pens us in, forces us out, isolates and evicts us? Can we imagine the 25-year-old pregnant woman whose needs are not the same as those of a robust 35-year-old man?

Can we imagine a night watchman working 40 hours a week in the freezing cold and also a banker working the same hours in his air-conditioned office, with a cup of coffee and posh biscuits? Can we imagine these two sorry states of affairs? Can we imagine a real inequality, and not this abstract equality, that of abstract work, that in which work is no longer judged according to real, vital needs but according to fictional, imaginary needs?

Can we imagine real work, meaningful work? Can we, ultimately, imagine a human face?

Dear Gilets jaunes, dear men and women from below.

This year, our fate is again in our own hands. Let’s seize the opportunity, raise the issues which trouble us and come up with radical and real solutions outside all institutional artifice.

Our world is dying, our world is collapsing, human life is being extinguished. We have reignited a spark of hope! So let’s set our villages ablaze, set our towns ablaze, set France ablaze, set Europe ablaze, set the world ablaze!

May our yellow sparks of revolt turn into a creative furnace! May the destruction of the everyday turn into the vitality of tomorrow!

A Happy New Yellow Year to all of us!

See also:

France on the brink: either we topple the system or it will crush us

Yellow fever: long live the revolutionary mob!

Gilets Jaunes: unfiltered anti-capitalism

“Police everywhere, justice nowhere!” – Gilets Jaunes on the streets of Nîmes

The heartbeat of the yellow jacket revolt is rural

Christmas with the gilets jaunes

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“Police everywhere, justice nowhere!” – Gilets Jaunes on the streets of Nîmes

Paul Cudenec of Shoal Collective reports from Nîmes in southern France and finds that a deeply-rooted belief in social justice lies behind the unprecedented uprising.

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Gilets Jaunes protest outside the police HQ in Nîmes on Saturday December 29

I had been warned not to say anything to anyone about the meet-up
point for the Gilets Jaunes protest in Nîmes on the afternoon of Saturday December 29.

People were going to be heading there in dribs and drabs. Some had been spending the morning together on private land, out of sight of the police. This was to be a surprise.

Half an hour after the wildcat march set off from outside the football stadium, the reason for the caution became clear.

Hundreds of protesters in their now-iconical hi-vis yellow jackets streamed on to the concourse of the city’s police HQ, the Hôtel de Police.

As helmeted riot cops emerged from the building to protect it from the intruders, a large banner was unfurled, condemning police violence.

“France isn’t the country of liberté any more,” remarked Lionel, standing at the edge of the crowd. “Most of the police brutality is hidden. By the media, yes, but also everything that people put on the internet is erased.”

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Protesting against police violence at the Nîmes police HQ

Nîmes is a good-sized city, the 19th biggest in France, but it hardly has a tradition of political unrest.

It is better known for its Roman architecture, its bull-fighting culture, its celebratory ‘ferias’ and the cloth that originally came “de Nîmes” and is now globally known as denim.

It is a sign of how far the roots of the Gilets Jaunes reach into deepest France, that the nîmois have been pouring out on to the streets in huge numbers, blocking the motorway, torching toll booths, closing down the main railway line.

From the police HQ, we headed into the centre of the Occitanian city. Outside the 1st century Roman amphitheatre we were joined by a squadron of motorcycling Gilets Jaunes, revving their engines furiously in support.

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Motorcycling Gilets Jaunes join the Nîmes protest

Then it was into the maze of narrow pedestrianised streets, where the police escort was repeatedly shaken off and their reappearance greeted with boos.

“Police everywhere, justice nowhere!” went the chants. “Macron resign!” “Everyone together!”

Social justice lies at the heart of the Gilets Jaunes’ cause – it is the first thing all of them want to talk about.

Martine is a retired company boss who describes herself as middle class. She said: “I could stay at home if I wanted to, but I can’t. I can’t stand seeing people not having enough to eat at the end of the day. And these are working people!

“France is the most envied country in the world for our culture, our know-how and our economy, but we are turning into a country in need”.

Those running the country were completely out of touch, she said, and had no idea of the everyday reality that people were living.

Lionel, who is also retired, likewise named poverty as the main reason why he was on the protest.

“People are living in misery. There are shanty towns, even here in Nîmes. People are badly paid and live in abominable conditions, but they are not necessarily on the street. We don’t see them.”

Lionel stressed it was not his own personal situation he was complaining about: “You have to protest for other people as well, not just yourself”.

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Hundreds of Gilets Jaunes took to the streets of Nîmes

Corporate media in France and beyond have made much of the involvement of some far-right elements on the fringes of the Gilets Jaunes, suggesting that the protest movement represents a slippery slope towards populist fascism.

I raised this issue with Riton, a libertarian communist from nearby Alès who had made the 25-mile trip to join the protest.

He assured me that the far right was very much a marginalised minority in the Gilets Jaunes movement.

“The movement is really about the class question, although it is not expressed in that way.

“It rejects the idea of leaders and is against all kinds of division. Racist arguments just don’t wash.

“There is also the criticism of the police and the calls for self-government. The extreme right is finding it harder and harder to identify with the movement.”

The “inter-class” flavour of the revolt had also faded after commercial traders whose businesses had been affected by the Gilets Jaunes realised the protests conflicted with their own personal interests and dropped their support, he said.

Riton said it was true that Gilets Jaunes often talked about “the people” and about being French.

“But you have to see what they mean by that. For them, being French is about being in revolt, about solidarity”.

As the Gilets Jaunes waved their tricolours and sang La Marseillaise, I realised he was right, in a way British people find it hard to grasp.

There is, after all, a world of difference between national anthems and flags that sing the stale praises of monarchies and empires and those that are the fruit of a living revolutionary tradition.

See also:

The heartbeat of the yellow jacket revolt is rural

Christmas with the gilets jaunes

Gilets Jaunes: unfiltered anti-capitalism

Yellow fever: long live the revolutionary mob!

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